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Love Me Harder

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The hall is hot and crowded, but for once Xiao Zhan doesn’t mind as he sits quietly surveying the crowd. His fellow cast and the filming crew of Chen Qing Ling are scattered throughout the room, and where they’d started this venture as strangers, there’s not a face that Xiao Zhan does not recognise here tonight. As a treat for finishing up filming, and on schedule too, there’s an open bar for the occasion. Everywhere he looks Xiao Zhan is gratified to see relaxed and smiling faces. Zhu Zanjin has already pulled Jiyang Song into a whirling dance with him in the centre of the room. Any other day it would be mesmerising to watch but tonight Xiao Zhan feels dizzy just watching them. 

Yibo laughs next to him, and he realises he’s been spacing out. He takes the last sip of his beer to cover up his lack of response, turning to watch Yibo reach over to swat playfully at Ji Li. This raises a flurry of protests from the latter, complaining about how awfully mistreated an omega he is, to which Yibo just laughs harder, completely irreverent. A quiet smile is all he can manage right now as exhaustion sags into him like a full body ache. His day is finally catching up with him now that the celebrations are winding down. It doesn’t help that he’s had a maximum of four hours sleep in the last 48 hours. Fatigue has been chasing him recently, despite the efforts he’s making to keep it at bay.

Xiao Zhan can admit that taking his old sleep modulating prescription was probably ill advised. Yes, he’s had a lot of late filming schedules as they have neared the end of filming, but it isn’t like he is getting much chance to sleep during the day either. Combining that with a celebratory beer at the wrap party is probably asking for trouble. His theory is quickly proved true by how off balance he suddenly feels even as he sits here, his vision doubling. He breathes quietly through it, setting his empty beer bottle aside.

The atmosphere of the room is quietly chaotic. By this stage everyone has eaten their fill, speeches have been made and everyone is doing the last of their mingling. No one is paying too much attention to the time -- after all, what is a little sleep deprivation in the face of everyone disbanding the next day. Sure enough, another beer is pressed into Xiao Zhan’s hands, and he is obligated to at least take a sip upon accepting.

The low buzz of conversation ebbs and flows around him even as he feels the warm press of another body next to him. Yibo has turned towards him, leaning in and lowering his own drink from his mouth to smile and say… something.

“Hm?” Xiao Zhan is sure he still has his contacts in, but he sways closer to Yibo because he just can’t focus well.

“Zhan-ge, have you had too much to drink?” Yibo plucks the beer bottle out of Xiao Zhan’s hand.

“That’s only my second one,” Xiao Zhan whines, disbelieving. It doesn’t make sense. He still has his contact lenses in, so why is it so hard to see? It shouldn’t be so hard to see clearly.

From behind him Xiao Zhan hears Xuan Lu chuckle, as she too leans into his space.

“Yibo, you might want to help him, he’s totally out of it,” Xuan Lu says, and Xiao Zhan feels her hand settle on his arm. He can just make out her alpha scent, even with his impaired ability to scent. Even that hint of an alpha’s presence makes his hackles rise.

Oh, that’s not good.

“Don’t worry, jie.” Yibo’s voice sounds very close to Xiao Zhan’s ear as he sees him reach past Xiao Zhan’s body to clasp Xuan Lu’s hand in a quick greeting. “I’ll take him to his room. We’re both pretty much done here.” Xiao Zhan watches their hands make contact, and feels a strange vibration wash over him. He sees Yibo and Xuan Lu quickly pull their respective hands back as if they too have been startled.

“Zhan-ge, did you just growl?” Yibo asks, and he’s got a perplexed look on his face. Xiao Zhan has to lean very close to see it clearly. Xuan Lu, somewhere behind him, is laughing again.

“Oh, calm down, Xiao Zhan. You might both be betas, but your posturing around each other makes it very clear you’re staking a claim. Yibo, go on, get him settled, before he tries to challenge someone.”


It takes Xiao Zhan a ridiculously long moment to remember that here and now, he’s not considered an alpha. And he’s still looking closely at Yibo’s face, which is the only reason he sees the shifting of facial expression that accompanies Xuan Lu’s words.

“Staking claims?” Xiao Zhan repeats, for no good reason, checking.

“Neither of you have been very subtle. It’s in the posturing.” Xuan Lu stands, reaching under Xiao Zhan’s arms to lift him up, and almost instantly Yibo is there pushing her hands away. Xiao Zhan steps naturally, if gracelessly, into Yibo’s arms. 

“See you, jie,” Yibo says. Then he makes some sounds of politely excusing himself and Xiao Zhan from the remainder of the cast and crew scattered around the room, and guides Xiao Zhan to the exit. Soon they’ve left the remains of the wrap party behind and taken an elevator to their floor.

“Ge, can you get me your room key?” Yibo asks, the words a rumbling vibration along Xiao Zhan’s side from where Yibo has Xiao Zhan’s arm thrown over his shoulder. He doesn’t feel that unsteady, but Yibo seems to be taking no chances. Yibo waves a hand before his face to get his attention, and something about the motion snaps Xiao Zhan into action. Before he can even consider his action, he’s grabbing a hold of Yibo’s hand and pressing his nose into his wrist, just over his pulse, where his scent should be strong. 

Xuan Lu had held this hand. He can still smell her vaguely. And isn’t that strange, because he hasn’t been able to smell anyone clearly for what feels like a long time. Definitely not since-

“Ge?” Yibo’s voice is sharp. “What are you doing?” He’s tugging, as if to get his arm back. 

Xiao Zhan tilts his face enough to catch Yibo’s eyes without pulling away from his skin at all. “I can’t smell you,” he mumbles, breath fanning over Yibo’s skin.

“Betas can’t scent.” Yibo is looking at Xiao Zhan with his brows pulled together. “I need your room key. I’m going to reach around you to check your pockets. I need you to let go of my hand,” he says, slow and patient. Xiao Zhan watches as his mouth forms the words,  before nodding his understanding.

He feels Yibo pull at his arm, and belatedly remembers to let go. Yibo’s voice echoes in his ears, and he remembers suddenly that he’s not an alpha here. Ha, how did he forget that again.

“You’re right, betas don’t smell anything, or of anything either. Silly me,” he says. This earns him another long look from Yibo, before the door behind Xiao Zhan’s back is swinging open and he’s stumbling into his room.

Immediately Yibo’s hand wraps around his arm, hand encircling his wrist entirely, preventing him from stumbling. As Yibo guides him across the room, Xiao Zhan feels like he’s breaking into a cold sweat. Does he have a fever? He’d been feeling flush all week, his throat had felt scratchy and his joints had ached more than usual.

It’s not far before Yibo deposits him on his bed, turning to find him some water and an aspirin. He hands the water to Xiao Zhan, already opened, and gestures for him to drink.

“You don’t want to have a hangover after this. Drink up. It might help get you more clear headed,” Yibo says, watching Xiao Zhan carefully. “Are you feeling dizzy? Sick?” he follows up almost immediately.

Xiao Zhan’s vision hasn’t gotten any better since before and, finally remembering this, he stands with the intention of removing his contact lenses and slipping on his glasses instead. He almost immediately pitches over, uncoordinated.

“Hey, woah! What are you doing?” Yibo looks entirely unimpressed, but Xiao Zhan is standing now, and stubbornly determined.

“My contacts are bothering me. I don’t want to sleep with them in.” He gestures to his ensuite, where his contact lens case is, and Yibo huffs but helps him over. Xiao Zhan leans into the counter as Yibo retreats back to the bathroom doorway to give him a little space.

“You really shouldn’t drink if you’re this affected by so little alcohol, ge,” Yibo points out rather unhelpfully just as Xiao Zhan takes a stab at poking out his first contact lens. 

“I think it might be my medication not agreeing with the alcohol,” Xiao Zhan confesses, wincing a bit as he sticks a finger carefully into his other eye.

“What medication?” Yibo asks, immediately concerned. He steps into the cramped bathroom to put the back of his hand to Xiao Zhan’s forehead. “You feel warm. Have you been feverish?”

It’s then that the faintest trace of scent hits Xiao Zhan’s senses. The barest hint of it, like the remainder of a taste on the back of his tongue. Something fresh and sharp, and too much for his confused senses to puzzle out after months of being scent blind.

“Zhan-ge, I asked you, are you sick,” Yibo repeats, this time waving his hand before Xiao Zhan’s face to regain his attention. But Xiao Zhan has no interest in his question now that he’s had that unexpected taste of… Yibo’s scent?

Xiao Zhan feels his heart beating at his pulse points like it’s about to beat out of his chest.

It’s only because they’re standing so close to each other that Xiao Zhan can make out Yibo’s face, and the play of expressions it is busy undergoing, so clearly. Yibo is about to speak, Xiao Zhan sees him take a breath in preparation, but then he stills, his brow furrowing, his eyes snapping to Xiao Zhan, going wide and surprised.

They move in at the same time, heads angled to try to catch a hint of scent on each other’s necks.

At first, Xiao Zhan smells nothing, but Yibo makes a sound in the back of his throat that arrests Xiao Zhan’s heart. And then there it is, a bloom of orange blossoms and petrichor permeates the air and Xiao Zhan’s eyes flutter shut as he breathes it in over his tongue.

Yibo smells like a ripe omega, lush and healthy and just a little turned on.

Xiao Zhan doesn’t even get a chance to react before he feels Yibo pressing the soft curve of his cheek to Xiao Zhan’s neck with a moan, unquestionably marking him.

“You’re an omega?”

“You’re an alpha.”

It’s said in unison, Xiao Zhan disbelieving, Yibo in awe. 

Then Yibo says, quiet but sure, “Zhan-ge, I think you might be going into rut.”

Xiao Zhan startles back. “That’s impossible.”

An old conversation comes unbidden and ominously to mind. Xiao Zhan’s manager’s voice crystal clear in his memory, explaining to him how it was in his best interest to not fight, to repress his alpha instincts, to blend in and work hard. Or he could risk his career. As if it was a choice. 

 He remembers vacillating about how he’d felt about going beyond simply using scent blockers, to actually taking suppressants. Hormones meant to repress his rut and his urges, to dull his libido and make him more docile. He’d considered himself to be pretty docile and reasonable as it was.

Advice wrapped up in insults and a threat.

Now here he stands before Yibo, a familiar heat pooled low in his stomach as confirmation of Yibo’s words. His suppressants have failed. Sure enough, this could ruin him.

In a moment of devastating clarity, Xiao Zhan moves to push Yibo bodily out of the bathroom. Which turns out to be a bad idea. Yibo sidesteps him with the ease of quick reflexes and the added benefit of not being physically impaired by alcohol and medication admixtures. Xiao Zhan stumbles past him into the room, narrowly avoiding falling over all together. By the time he turns around Yibo is in his face, hands reaching out to steady him, guiding him to sit back down onto the bed. From his seated position Xiao Zhan has to look up to meet Yibo’s eyes and his words of protest die a swift and ruthless death at the look of absolute fury he sees on Yibo’s face.

“Wang Yibo.” The words fall from his mouth, resigned and suddenly exhausted. He’s just about to open his mouth again to tell Yibo he should just leave, but Yibo cuts him off before he can even start.

“Correct me if I’m getting anything wrong here, Xiao Zhan, but your company has been making you, an alpha, pretend to be a beta?” Yibo asks with exaggerated calm. It’s not that his face is contorted with anger. For Yibo it’s more of a confined expression, visible in the down tug of his mouth and his tightening brow and his hands flexing as if they’d like to be wringing the necks of his opponents.

“Isn’t it the same for you, though? I can smell you.” Even just saying it makes Xiao Zhan hyper aware that, yes, in fact, he can. Yibo’s scent might have been hidden under blockers before, or Xiao Zhan’s sense of smell had just been that impaired, but now the world smells of tart flowers and rain. He can hear his pulse in his ears and feels sweat break out over his lip. His clothes are beginning to feel like they’re chafing against his skin, and he’s starting to wonder why he should be trying to chase the sweet and willing omega away.

“I signed a dumb contract when I was too young to know any better. I do have the minor benefit of not being incapacitated by heats every few months. But what fucking reason could anyone have to put an alpha on hormone suppressants?” Yibo demands, his eyes looking suspiciously wet.

Xiao Zhan doesn’t feel his management’s rationale really bears repeating.

Instead he is hit with the sudden urge to kiss the defiant look off of Wang Yibo’s face, to press his body up against him to offer him comfort. A shiver runs down his spine even as he feels his shirt dampen with sweat all down his back.

“Yibo,” he is suddenly unable to meet Yibo’s eyes anymore, “you need to leave.”

“How about I don’t.” Where just yesterday Yibo would have stepped into his space in challenge like it was his right, now he holds himself still, shoulders squared as if expecting rebuke. He casts an assessing look over Xiao Zhan. His gaze is like a physical caress.

“You’re my co-worker, it would be inappropriate for you to stay,” Xiao Zhan finds it in himself to grit out. Just that day his interactions with Yibo had been friendly and flirtatious, building up on weeks and months of thinly veiled mock courtship. He’d be quick to denounce his eagerness to play the part of a docile beta, but if he was completely honest, without the expectations of proper alpha behaviour he’d been allowed a certain freedom. To indulge in rough play with Yibo without reproach, to play provider with his tea and doting attention. It allowed him to fix Yibo’s clothes and a myriad other casual touches, to shoulder his way between Yibo and his co-stars as if it wasn’t a display of possessiveness.

Knowing that Yibo had also been hiding behind the same pretense suddenly paints their  interactions in a whole new light.

“When you think about it, we’re long past the bounds of appropriate behaviour, Zhan-ge. We’re long past being just co-workers,” Yibo says, holding his ground, no less wary than before.

“I don’t want your pity.” Xiao Zhan has to take a long slow breath to retain some semblance of calm and stay his course. If anything, what they’d been becoming was friends. Xiao Zhan had wanted that, and more. He wanted Yibo’s attention, he wanted Yibo’s smile, he wanted to tell everybody how amazing Yibo was. And now, more viscerally, he wants to breathe Yibo in, and taste him, undress him and devour him. He wants everybody to know Yibo is his. 

But Yibo isn’t his.

Yibo crouches down before him so that they are face to face, unsmiling and determined even as he rolls his eyes and pokes a finger hard into Xiao Zhan’s shoulder.

“I don’t pity you. I like you. If anything, I’m worried.” He pauses, as if to give his points time to hit home, then adds, “I want to. Let me help you.”

Xiao Zhan grabs his hand mid-poke, holding it still. “Yibo, don’t joke.”

“I’m dead serious.” Yibo’s pupils look blown up close.

Xiao Zhan can’t accept it’s that simple, so he tightens his grip on Yibo’s hand even as he stands, pulling Yibo up with him. With a twist of their bodies he’s got them turned around enough that he can push Yibo to sprawl across the mattress where he settles down on top of him. They’re pressed up against each other as Xiao Zhan looks down into Yibo’s startled face.

“This is what you want?” Xiao Zhan asks, unable to prevent himself from rolling his hips against Yibo where they are pressed together. “This is how you want to help?”

“Do you want a written invitation?” Yibo snarks.

“This is not how I wanted to court you,” Xiao Zhan says with an aggravated sigh. On the one hand he just wants to take what Yibo is offering. But on the other, how could this go well? It was not too late to avoid doing something he’d regret. That they might both regret.

“When exactly were you planning to get around to that?” Yibo softens his words with a smile. “Just because I haven’t managed to seduce you yet doesn’t mean I haven’t been trying.”

Xiao Zhan doesn’t know what to say to that declaration, but also, it’s a bit hard to have this conversation while lying on top of one Wang Yibo. Yibo shifts beneath him and Xiao Zhan’s immediate instinct is to hold him still, hold him down. Win his submission.

“If you want to change your mind, now's the time. I can’t guarantee I won’t put up a fight if you try to leave when my rut is in full swing,” Xiao Zhan warns, and Yibo goes still beneath him, the teasing smile melting from his face.

“You do want me to stay, don’t you?” Yibo goes from flirtatious to doubtful between one heartbeat and the next. “You also want this, don’t you?” he asks, more urgent this time, pushing at Xiao Zhan’s shoulders to give himself some space. His scent has taken on a sharply acidic tang, which causes Xiao Zhan’s throat to constrict as his instincts perceive his partner to be unhappy and in distress.

“I couldn’t want anyone more if I tried,” Xiao Zhan admits, hushed like a secret. 

The assurance makes Yibo instantly sag with relief.  Hooking his arm around Xiao Zhan’s neck to pull him down, he rubs his cheek against Xiao Zhan’s, happily staking his claim to the alpha above him. His scent has grown warm and sweet.

“Then what are you waiting for? Unless you really do want a written invitation?” he asks, lips brushing Xiao Zhan’s ear. He turns his face to catch Xiao Zhan’s eyes, gaze lingering as he cards his fingers through the hair at the nape of Xiao Zhan’s neck. The cool brush of Yibo’s palm against his skin makes Xiao Zhan acutely aware of just how overheated he feels. The room feels like it’s sweltering.

“This is probably a bad idea,” he says, holding still, speaking slowly.


“There’s no way that I can hide that I’m in rut, but no one knows you’re an omega. Everyone is going to be able to smell me on you. Everyone is going to be able to smell you on you. There’ll be no hiding this,” Xiao Zhan clarifies.

“It’s about time, honestly,” Yibo shrugs, unconcerned.  “Anything else?”

“I didn’t exactly pack for sex, so I don’t have lube or condoms,” Xiao Zhan admits. That is surely the nail in the coffin of this idea.

“I’m clean. I’m sure you’ve been tested by Wajijiwa. My suppressants are working just fine, so I’m not the least bit fertile right now,” Yibo says, shooting down each argument as if it’s an Olympic sport he’s mastered. “Also, as an omega, I come with my own lube, Zhan-ge.”

Xiao Zhan groans at the sheer awfulness of the line and Yibo is laughing like the gremlin he is. It’s endearing, and Xiao Zhan has always found this side of Yibo cute. It makes him want Yibo all the more. He wants Yibo so much he aches with it in a way that has nothing to do with his rampaging hormones.

“Then here’s my last question,” Xiao Zhan says. He is really breaking out into a sweat now, reaching the end of his clear headedness. “I have to ask, because it’s important. Have you done this before?” His tongue is flicking over the corner of his mouth, but otherwise he holds himself perfectly still. “You’re not in heat, so spending my rut with me might be a little overwhelming. Especially if you’re never been knotted before. So I need to know.”

Yibo’s eyes go wide and discernibly glassy as his smile falls into a slack mouthed moue.

“You’re going to knot me.”

Xiao Zhan feels the full body shudder that ripples through Yibo as the smell of rain and ozone thickens in the room, intensifying with Yibo’s arousal. Their scents are saturating the air, trapped in the room to hang heavy around them: the combination of Xiao Zhan’s clove and cardamom with the sweet tones of orange blossom curling warm and right in Xiao Zhan’s belly. 

Xiao Zhan doesn’t know if he’ll survive the exertion of will it is going to take to be as slow and patient as Yibo needs him to be this first time.

“I really want to get my mouth on you first,” Xiao Zhan says and Yibo flushes, pulling Xiao Zhan down into a kiss. It’s a first kiss born of months of attraction with the added dimension of bone deep need. It lasts a full second being wondering and exploratory before disintegrating into hungry lips and teeth and tongue. Yibo holds Xiao Zhan close, keeps him where he wants him while Xiao Zhan nudges Yibo’s legs apart to settle between them.

Xiao Zhan pulls off Yibo’s clothes steadily and efficiently before he quickly discards his own. Yibo wriggles out of his underwear even as Xiao Zhan discards the last of his clothes. Yibo’s eyes drop instantly to Xiao Zhan’s half hard erection, both eyebrows rising almost into his hairline. Xiao Zhan breaks out into a surprised giggle at Yibo’s reaction, and has to hide his face in his hands to compose himself. It’s not fair he has to be so horny and so amused at the same time.

“How is that meant to fit?” Yibo, true to form, speaks his mind without any trace of shame.

Xiao Zhan hooks his left hand under Yibo’s knee, pushing his leg up and out the way. The fingers of his right hand reach unerringly towards the wet sheen of slick between Yibo’s legs, and Yibo yelps at the sudden touch.

“Xiao Zhan!” Yibo swats flustered at Xiao Zhan’s shoulder, and Xiao Zhan looks up from where he’d been watching his fingers nudge at the entrance to Yibo’s body to meet his eyes. Xiao Zhan draws back his fingers, waiting for Yibo to continue, almost absentmindedly bringing his fingers to his tongue. Whatever Yibo may have been about to say dies a quick death as Xiao Zhan sees his eyes drop to where Xiao Zhan’s fingers now disappear into his mouth. He sucks the last traces of slick off his fingers. It’s not that it has a flavour so much as it is a superconcentrated source of Yibo’s scent. It draws a low rumble up from his throat. Xiao Zhan leans in close over his body to rub his cheek against Yibo’s, to bury his nose in the nape of Yibo’s neck even as he presses those fingers back to Yibo’s slick entrance.

“Xiao Zhan-ah! How can you be like this? One kiss and you’re ready to dive in?” Yibo hits at his shoulder again, even as he arches into the touch, tilting his head to give Xiao Zhan better access to his neck. In the next moment Xiao Zhan has pulled back from his neck, laying claim to his mouth again instead.

At the first touch of their tongues Yibo is moaning into his mouth and Xiao Zhan loves the sound. To reward him, Xiao Zhan pushes his fingers more firmly against Yibo’s rim, feeling it yield as the tip of his finger presses in. Yibo is wet enough that it’s an easy slide, and it elicits another bitten-off moan even as Xiao Zhan deepens their kiss.

With one last suck on Yibo’s tongue, Xiao Zhan levers himself up from the kiss, eyes dropping to where his finger is easing back out of Yibo.

“I’ll do my best to take it slow,” Xiao Zhan says, but he moves with an urgency as he untangles them before picking Yibo up bodily, pressed securely against his chest before he turns them to lay back against the headboard with Yibo loosely in his lap. “You keep me here this first time. This way you can control the pace. Understand? Nothing is meant to hurt.” He punctuates this last bit with a quick kiss, holding still, waiting for a response.

“Nn.” Yibo makes a noise of assent, reaching out with one bold hand to grip lightly at Xiao Zhan’s engorged cock, his fingers wrapping around the base. “Won’t the knot hurt? I’m not sure I believe it’s going to fit.”

“Nothing should hurt, none of it. It’ll fit.” Xiao Zhan’s speech is becoming short and distracted as his eyes glaze over. He’s practically vibrating from how still he’s holding himself.

“Hn, so I just sit down on you?” Yibo asks, lifting up onto his knees as if to do just that. His words snap Xiao Zhan back out of the daze he’d fallen into and his hands grip tighter at Yibo’s hips. 

“Stay,” Xiao Zhan instructs, before rearranging them to his liking, with Yibo kneeling above him. “First I stretch you.” The words come out sounding incredulous and mesmerised before, without further ado, Xiao Zhan pulls Yibo down to sit on his face, tongue questing forward to get another taste of his slick from the source. 

Yibo nearly jumps right off the bed in surprise, but Xiao Zhan grips his thighs harder and pulls him down more firmly as he moans happily into his task.

Xiao Zhan’s nose nudges at Yibo’s perineum and balls as he tongues at the tight furl of Yibo’s entrance. He licks broad stripes over Yibo’s skin, tasting slick and Yibo, then nudges the tip of his tongue to dip shallowly in. He sets as slow and deliberate a pace as he can, hands holding Yibo still and steady above him as he pushes into him, deeper in each pass, before pulling back for soft, sucking kisses. At the next pass when Yibo rocks forward on this tongue he moans into it, encouraging, curling his tongue just so. He’s surrounded by the scent and feel and taste of Yibo and it feels like he’s ready to burst out of his skin, his cock starting to ache, full and in need of attention.

It’s a bit of a struggle to get his hands under Yibo like this, and the best he could do is to spread him wider, pressing his thumbs into the skin. Next time, though, he’ll get his fingers and his tongue in him.

“Wait, Xiao Zhan!” Yibo reaches down to grab at his hair, yanking until Xiao Zhan pulls his mouth off of him. “If you don’t stop I’m not going to last.”

Xiao Zhan’s lips and tongue tingle, his nose clogged with Yibo’s scent, his cheeks and chin wet. He sucks his bottom lip into his mouth before licking up at the other as he meets Yibo’s gaze, then turns his face to press a damp open mouthed kiss to Yibo’s inner thigh.

“Go ahead.” He scrapes his teeth over the soft skin, a second finger dipping into Yibo alongside the first. Whether it is the extra stretch or the tickling near-bite, the result is Yibo making the most adorably startled sound, then promptly kicking Xiao Zhan against his side with the heel of his foot.

“Who would have thought you’d say such a thing, bullying me even now!” 

Xiao Zhan laughs against Yibo’s thigh at his protests, sucking hard at the skin there, while scissoring his fingers to start loosening Yibo up properly. 

“Ah! Treat me more gently, Zhan-ge,” Yibo says, but he rocks back onto Xiao Zhan’s fingers, then forward into his biting kisses. By the time Xiao Zhan is sliding three fingers easily in and out of the clutch of Yibo’s body, both of Yibo’s thighs are peppered with red marks, precome steadily sliding down his cock. The view is magnificent.

Yibo is flushed from his face, all down his chest. His body arches into a perfect bow, his mouth open and gasping, hands clenching tight over Xiao Zhan’s wrists, engulfing them and holding on to them for dear life.

“I’m close, I’m close!” That is as good a cue as any for Xiao Zhan to add a fourth finger, slow and careful, to be sure Yibo is stretched enough to take a knot. Xiao Zhan has a front row view to Yibo reaching down to palm his cock, striping his hand white with a shout.

The smell of semen, and the gush of slick that accompanied Yibo’s orgasm are the last straw for Xiao Zhan’s control. His rut is now no longer just a suggestion hovering over him. Tasting Yibo, pleasing him, marking him, has just kept it at bay, but Xiao Zhan’s cock is engorged and aching and he needs it to be inside Yibo immediately.

Yibo manages not to topple over as Xiao Zhan rearranges them until Xiao Zhan is lying on the bed  with Yibo settled in Xiao Zhan’s lap. A quick adjustment, and Xiao Zhan guides the head of his cock against Yibo’s rim. 

Xiao Zhan holds Yibo’s gaze as he helps Yibo lower his weight to sit on the flush tip of his cock. Yibo’s mouth falls open as the head presses him open and presses in. Yibo’s own slick wets Xiao Zhan’s cock as he pulls Yibo down by increments, lifting him up before pulling him down another inch. 

Xiao Zhan welcomes the weight of Yibo pressing down with one hand on his chest to help control his descent, thighs flexing as he moves, his body opening as his alpha’s cock makes a home of his body. Yibo is tight and hot around him as he sinks impossibly deeper. His thoughts are reduced to white noise at how impossibly perfect this moment feels as Yibo finally starts to open up around his growing knot.

Once completely seated, Xiao Xhan gives him a little time to adjust before pushing up onto his elbows. Yibo folds down to meet him, breathing into the kiss. Then Xiao Zhan settles back down, allowing Yibo to have control over the depth and speed he needs, and then the world catches fire, springing into motion as Xiao Zhan rocks up into Yibo’s body.

The first full slide out and all the way back in is almost overwhelming. Xiao Zhan sucks in a breath and all he can taste in the back of his throat is the two of them. He pushes up into Yibo’s body again, chasing that shivery feeling in his stomach, Yibo’s thighs tightening,  and his breaths quickening.

Xiao Zhan’s hands grip firm and steady as Yibo sits back to lean his weight with one hand on Xiao Zhan’s drawn up knee, and Xiao Zhan watches as Yibo’s fingers curl into his palm as Yibo presses the back of his hand into his mouth to stifle the desperate sounds being forced out of him.

Xiao Zhan digs his heels into the mattress, pushing up harder and faster. He pulls almost completely out of the clutch of Yibo’s body before thrusting back in for a few strokes then breaking the rhythm with a circular grind of his hips. Yibo’s abdomen ripples with contractions and he releases an overwhelmed moan into his hand. Xiao Zhan is rapt with attention as he lifts Yibo to start the sequence again.

Yibo’s cock hasn’t fully gone soft and Xiao Zhan watches now, between bouts of staring intently at Yibo’s wrecked expression, as Yibo’s cock begins twitching and firming up again. Later, when he’s not chasing a quick and brutal release, Xiao Zhan wants to draw this out, thumb Yibo’s nipples until they are hard, pinch them until they are swollen, overwhelm him with a barrage of sensations. 

Where Yibo’s scent had been completely new to him before, he can’t imagine him smelling any other way than he does right now. Yibo smells of happy omega. He also smells of Xiao Zhan’s musk and spice. They smell good together, the combination an unmistakable signal to all that Yibo is well loved and looked after.

After months of pushing his natural tendencies and urges as deep down as possible, Xiao Zhan allows himself to revel in this moment of instinct and abandon.

His rut won’t allow him peace until both he and his partner are sufficiently satisfied. Xiao Zhan is on the brink and he feels Yibo’s body seem to tighten as his knot starts to engorge. His instinct to protect and care for his omega keeps his rut in check. Reins in his desire enough that he lets Yibo guide their movements as he starts popping on and off Xiao Zhan’s slowly filling knot. The sensation sends an ache through Xiao Zhan’s teeth, the squeeze and slow slide on the verge of overwhelming.

Yibo drops the hand at his mouth to give himself a few quick pulls until he’s spilling again, his body contracting around Xiao Zhan’s rapidly swelling knot. With one last press up of his hips, pushing in as deeply as he can, Xiao Zhan groans out his release. His fingers press bruises into Yibo’s skin while his knot stretches Yibo to capacity, locking their bodies together.

“Ah!” Yibo has gone rigid, head thrown back. Yibo’s free hand snaps around Xiao Zhan’s wrist, nails digging into Xiao Zhan’s skin as he hangs on and shudders out another moan. Sporadic contractions squeeze around Xiao Zhan’s knot and it feels like he’s going to wring Xiao Zhan dry. There’s a temporary clarity that comes with release, and Xiao Zhan releases his grip on Yibo’s hips to rub his hands soothingly up his sides and down to his thighs. Yibo relaxes in increments as his body finally adjusts. He runs his hands up through his hair before rolling his head down with a dazed and wondrous smile.

Satisfaction has a smell, and that smell is the smell of Yibo in that exact moment. Languid and triumphant and smug. They’d both been reduced to hungry creatures, but it’s Xiao Zhan’s body that has wrung this response out of Yibo. Xiao Zhan groans from deep in his chest as Yibo experimentally clenches around his knot, eyes fluttering shut at the feel of it.

“Don’t-- don’t rile me up again until after the knot deflates, please.”

“Oh? What will happen if I rile you up before then?” Yibo tilts his head to the side, smiling like he knows the answer but wants to hear Xiao Zhan say it anyway.

“Nothing comfortable for either of us. If you were in heat maybe it’s something we could try.” Just the idea has Xiao Zhan’s throat going dry and he has to resist the urge to hide his face. 

“I’ll pencil that into my schedule then, Zhan-ge. Now come up here and kiss me.” Trust Yibo to make demands. Xiao Zhan growls low in his throat, but carefully levers his torso up off the mattress as carefully as he can. Yibo leans down to meet him midway.

The kiss feels like a first kiss again. It starts off tentative and almost shy. Then Yibo tries to adjust their positions and they are both reminded of how intimately they are attached. Xiao Zhan has to lie back to stop himself from laughing out loud at the absurdity of the moment, but then Yibo is pulling him back up with single minded focus, ready to kiss the laugh right out of him. Xiao Zhan really isn’t sure how they got to this point, but now that they’re here, what he wants is more.

The kisses after that are an assurance of interest, a promise of more. Xiao Zhan runs his hands over Yibo’s thighs and hips, stomach and sides as they wait out his knot. When it does go down he is careful to check Yibo, sinking two fingers into him, finding no signs of injury much to his relief and satisfaction. A scent of rising arousal rolls off of him as he pushes his cum back into Yibo’s slack ass. Yibo lays lax, allowing Xiao Zhan his ministrations. The room smells of ash and smoke, musk and lightning. Xiao Zhan’s rut is ramping up again and the omega in Yibo seems to preen that he is going to satisfy his alpha again soon, judging by the smug look he’s throwing Xiao Zhan’s way.

Xiao Zhan presses Yibo flat onto his belly, with a playful swat to his ass, before taking a minute to massage the globes of Yibo’s ass as they bask in afterglow before Xiao Zhan rolls them over to settle over him and kiss at his neck and the underside of his jaw until Yibo is all but purring.

Soon heat is building up under Xiao Zhan’s skin again, and it’s not enough just to kiss Yibo, to only rock against his thigh or scrape his teeth against his skin. This time he does turn Yibo over and gets him on his knees, pausing to kiss all up his back for one last scrape of teeth at the edge of his scent gland. A request or a promise, he’s not sure yet. But for now Xiao Zhan pulls himself away.

He doesn’t clean Yibo up, instead he pushes into Yibo just as wet as he’d made him. This time Xiao Zhan slides in to less resistance. Yibo pushes back into him with each stroke. This time Xiao Zhan is not as frantic to reach release, this time Yibo doesn't need him to be quite as careful. So he rides Yibo hard, pulling his hips up higher and pressing his face into the pillows. Yibo gasps and moans as the bed creaks under the onslaught. Yibo’s arms are up around his head and Xiao Zhan watches the stretch of his back, watches his cock disappear into Yibo’s body. At the sight, his knot starts swelling again and this time it eases in and out with ease. This time it’s Xiao Zhan that reaches around to help give Yibo the last stimulation he needs to come, and Yibo shakes his way through it even as Xiao Zhan gives a handful more thrusts before his knot lodges tight and deep inside him. 

This time Xiao Zhan’s rut retreats enough that he feels like he can finally relax enough for a nap. He manoeuvres them onto their sides while they are still attached, lying close behind Yibo. They both relax as he winds an arm around Yibo and laves at his scent gland.

Xiao Zhan falls asleep to the taste of Yibo’s skin, hand pressed to Yibo’s belly. He dreams of Chongqing, of Yibo there. He dreams of them being mated. He dreams of sinking his teeth just so into the skin over Yibo’s scent gland, precise and careful. He dreams of Yibo doing the same for him.

There isn’t a particular moment when Xiao Zhan goes from asleep to awake. He is just aware gradually of his surroundings, of being comfortable and warm, of being pressed up against another warm body. Of the scent of content omega, of the smell of rain and oranges. As he opens his eyes he’s made aware of the glow of Yibo’s skin in the morning light filtering in through the curtains. He can’t remember right now how or when they’d fallen asleep, but Yibo is curled up against him, one long leg slung over Xiao Zhan, head pillowed on his shoulder. His breath fans out over Xiao Zhan’s chest where he’s resting his hand, curled like a paw over Xiao Zhan’s heart.

As his brain slowly comes back online, he runs through the events of the previous day, jumbled as they are. Being in rut is a little like being drunk; you wake up from it astonished by what you remembered of the lowering of your inhibitions. Plus he’d actually been drinking, and had a mild medication reaction. Xiao Zhan feels a profound urge to hide his flaming face as he remembers the night before regardless of the fact that there was no one here to see. Yibo is still asleep, so Xiao Zhan can have his mini freak-out in relative privacy. 

If you had told him just 24 hours ago that he would be tumbling into bed with Yibo, he wouldn’t have dismissed the possibility out of hand, but he would definitely not have foreseen this exact scenario. Up until the previous night they had both been operating under the assumption that the other was a beta. Xiao Zhan’s biggest worry had been how he'd possibly be able to hide that he was not one. Of course that would be very hard if they got naked together. It was hard to hide a knot. He’d fantasised, alone in his room, about just telling Yibo. It had been sitting like an uncomfortable weight in his belly, each and every time he perpetuated the lie or said nothing and confirmed it.

Sometimes he felt alone in the experience, as he slowly chipped away at his identity.

Now he looks down at Yibo and realises there were far more people around him being quietly smothered just like he was.

What are they meant to do about it now?

There is a dull ache in his joints, like the residual marks of a fever. Scratches sting on his wrists and even his jaw aches faintly. These all serve to remind him that somehow, some way, he’s been well and truly exposed and Yibo has met him half way, reciprocating Xiao Zhan’s interest. But how deep does that reciprocation go?

A quick, loud banging knock at the door startles him out of his thoughts.

Xiao Zhan’s heartbeat nearly triples as he scoots out from under Yibo to throw on some clothes. Yibo grumbles but doesn’t wake up, curling into the spot Xiao Zhan has just vacated, face pressed into his pillow. Xiao Zhan manages to spot his glasses on the bedside table, and fumbles them one-handed onto his face as he opens the door with the other. There’s no point delaying the inevitable. There was no way to hide this.

Liu Haikuan stands at the door, smelling like aftershave and soap like only a beta can.

It makes Xiao Zhan painfully aware that the room behind him smells very much like the aftermath of a lot of sex. Enough so that even Haikuan scrunches his nose, before turning his head politely aside.

“Sorry for bothering you, Xiao Zhan, but a few of the staff thought it might be better if someone not alpha or omega came to check on you. These rooms aren’t very well insulated against the scent that’s been surrounding your room since last night.”

It was definitely safer to not send an alpha. For that matter, sending an omega might have gone over even worse. What omega would willingly approach an alpha in rut unless they mean to spend said rut with said alpha, after all. Most importantly, what alpha would go into rut on set? Xiao Zhan’s stomach cramps into knots.

“Ah, yes, I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I really wasn’t expecting this to happen.” The lack of response from Haikuan has Xiao Zhan suddenly remembering that he’s been deceiving everyone here. Not in some superficial way with perfectly acceptable scent blockers either. None of them had expected him to be an alpha. None of them had thus expected him to go into rut, either.

Xiao Zhan thinks he catches sight of Wang Zhuocheng at the end of the corridor, trailing a heavy suitcase behind him, stopping to throw a pointed look over his shoulder before disappearing into the elevator.

“I have to ask, but it seems Wang Yibo didn't return to his room last night.” Zhuocheng roomed next to Yibo. What did they discuss before sending Haikuan here? Xiao Zhan feels cold suddenly in the stifling summer heat. “Is he here?”

Xiao Zhan’s mouth opens, but what could he say except yes? He’s damned either way, whether he’d fraternised with Yibo as the beta everyone assumed, but more so as the omega he turned out to be.

Instead it is Yibo cursing in the room behind him that confirms his presence.

“Fuck! Ge, did you break my back?” A rustle of sheets and a thump later, Yibo totters groggily into view of the door, the bedsheet pulled mostly around him. It is enough to hide his body, but not enough to hide the livid red bite mark over the top of his shoulder, the sight of which just about stops Xiao Zhan’s heart.

“Shit! Yibo!” He turns, brain stalling as he realises he's bitten Yibo. What the fuck had he done last night? They aren’t even properly together -- what if he had mated them?

He doesn’t get a step forward though before Liu Haikuan is yanking him back by the arm, brows furrowed in a look between anger and uncertainty.

“Yibo, are you okay?” Haikuan asks past Xiao Zhan’s shoulder, grip tightening painfully on Xiao Zhan’s arm as Xiao Zhan tries to shake him off.

“If you let me go, I can check,” Xiao Zhan hisses, forgetting everything except that he has to make sure he hasn’t hurt Yibo last night.

“Haikuan-ge?” Yibo blinks owlishly, stepping towards them as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on. At any other time this might have been adorable, but there’s no one in the room with the capacity to appreciate that at the moment.

Then Yibo crosses the last of the distance between them, to press right up against Xiao Zhan, of his own volition, angling his head to breathe in Xiao Zhan’s scent. He opens his arms and the bed covers he’s draped himself in so he can envelop Xiao Zhan in them too. It’s with his face still pressed into Xiao Zhan’s neck, and his arms wrapped securely around Xiao Zhan’s waist that Yibo breaks the awkward stalemate.

“Ge, what are you doing in the doorway? Are we late for something?” Yibo doesn’t really bother to specify who he’s asking, and Xiao Zhan is still somewhat stunned by how naturally Yibo inserted himself into his space, effectively placing himself between Xiao Zhan and Haikuan. It’s a very possessive move. Something not unexpected from an alpha, usually. 

Haikuan recovers faster than Xiao Zhan does, stepping back away from the room door.

“We, the others and I, were just worried. We thought it would be best to come and check on you before your teams arrived. Also, Xuan Lu-jie was worried when she caught the scent of Xiao Zhan’s rut. We were worried when you didn’t come back to your room either.”

There are no traces of sleep left as Yibo turns his face to Haikuan. “There’s no reason to worry, I was here with Zhan-ge,”  he says, words delivered like a challenge. 

Haikuan looks from Yibo to Xiao Zhan then steps back, hands up and clearly visible to both. “Then I’ll leave you to your morning. They’re still serving breakfast downstairs for another hour, if you’re both interested to join us.” And then Haikuan is gone.

Yibo nudges the door closed with his foot, but doesn’t free Xiao Zhan from his hold, instead steering him back into the room. Xiao Zhan stops them short of reaching the bed again, casting a wide eyed look at it and then at Yibo before reaching up to touch the bite on his shoulder. His fingers hover above the skin before landing just shy of the wound before he takes a small step back. Yibo huffs but releases Xiao Zhan, dropping the bedding he’d been  draped in, in favour of pulling on his pants from the previous night.

“I bit you,” Xiao Zhan says, unable to take his eyes off the mark he has left on Yibo. Yibo looks like he was about to respond, but instead takes in Xiao Zhan’s expression and waits. “I could have hurt you. Or bonded you without your consent.”

Yibo breathes out a long slow breath, choosing his words with care this one time. “Xiao Zhan, I may not have been expecting to get bitten, but I assure you that you of all people have my consent.”

Xiao Zhan feels conflicted between relief that he didn’t give Yibo a mating bite against his will but horrified that he’d bitten him without his knowledge or consent at all. How could Yibo not feel the same? “You want me to bite you?”

“I’d obviously be biting you as well, to seal the bond.” Yibo is still and watchful. “I more than like you, and I want you too. I thought we cleared that up.”

“You just turned 21, you can’t mean to make this decision already.” It’s too soon, and as the eldest between them it’s his responsibility not to let Yibo make any irrational decisions on the tail end of them sharing his rut. Especially not life changing decisions like mating.

“We’ve had months of courting, Zhan-ge, whether we were entirely up front about it or not.” Yibo points out.

“But that’s when you were under the impression that I was a beta. Friendly, agreeable, safe,” Xiao Zhan protests on principle.

“Being an alpha doesn’t change what I know about you. You are friendly, agreeable and safe. You’re also kind, hardworking and loyal.” Yibo steps up to Xiao Zhan, the words rooting Xiao Zhan to the spot. “I think you know as well as I do how hard it is to try to have any sort of physical relationship with someone while having to conceal your presentation. I don’t seduce just anyone, ge. You  better take full responsibility, because I don’t think I can be satisfied with anyone else.”

Xiao Zhan is left utterly speechless.

Yibo takes full advantage of this fact to continue, “I was asleep when you bit me here, do you remember?” 

Xiao Zhan shakes his head.

“Well, I woke up because of the bite. Even when you weren’t thinking clearly you had enough control to not claim me without my consent. That’s how good you are. I don’t want us to go back out there pretending to be something we’re not.”

“Just like that? To hell with the consequences?”

“Some consequences are more important than others. Hiding like this comes with a cost. Is it worth it?” There is a haunted kind of silence as Yibo’s words sink in, and Xiao Zhan takes a moment to think about what hiding his omega status must have meant for Yibo, who had entered this industry as a 13-year-old. 

“I’ve been pretty much told that to reveal myself as an alpha would be to end my career?” It comes out as more of a question than the absolute statement he’d mean it to be. Xiao Zhan’s  is shaken.

“Yeah, who says?” Yibo shrugs off the words as if they weigh nothing at all.

“Ah, I’ve really created a monster. You’re going to do this whether I join you or not, aren’t you?” It’s frightening, witnessing this single-minded focus take root in Yibo. But then that had been one of the first things that had attracted Xiao Zhan to this bright, beautiful boy. Yibo lives like he had no fear.

“You’ll realise I’m right soon enough, Zhan-ge. You’re smart. And so handsome too. Maybe I could convince you? I need your opinion on just how to word informing my agency that they have some PR statements to prepare. Shower?” Yibo gestures over his shoulder, taking hold of Xiao Zhan’s hands to tug him in the general direction of the ensuite.

And while Xiao Zhan could make several arguments, they all seem suddenly flat and void of logic. Why should he continue to submit to the whims of his company, the same company that treated his career as an afterthought and thought it was a good idea to repackage him down to his status. 

Eventually, if he made it in this industry, the truth would make itself apparent, and honestly, if this was going to break him in the industry, maybe it was best to find out sooner rather than later. 

“I think, maybe, you’re right, Lao-Wang. A shower sounds like a good idea too.” He allows Yibo to pull him forward. “Besides, I need to make sure I didn’t hurt you, too. Two birds, one stone.” 

“I should make you carry me,” Yibo gripes, but leads the way obediently.

“Well, we both know I can. Unlike someone who can’t pick me up in his arms,” Xiao Zhan teases, the beginnings of a grin growing on his face.

Yibo squawks in response, dropping Xiao Zhan’s hands, swinging a hit at him in retaliation. If this isn’t love, then Xiao Zhan doesn’t want to know. His heart is full to brimming with a brilliant young man, one who had proclaimed he would be his mate before the day was out. Impulsive though it may be, he can’t help but feel it is the right choice. Yibo would always be the right choice. They’d deal with the consequences together.