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What An Alpha Should Do

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Jon knows that his heat is coming in when he finds himself crying while he’s washing his dishes. 

Perhaps there had been other signs before that. He’s researched the topic in the hopes of not continually being caught off guard every single time it happens. It varies from omega to omega, but there are many different common symptoms to help warn an omega that their time is coming. Sudden spikes in body temperature, an increased desire for touch and companionship, an exaggerated reluctance to be out in open crowded spaces, the urge to eat far more food than is usual (to bulk up for the activity to come, supposedly), and, one of the more universal symptoms out there, drastically heightened arousal. 

None of those are of any help to him. Changes in body temperatures, increased hunger, and touch starvation are all far too subtle sensations, and he shrugs them all off without paying it so much as a single thought. Disliking being in crowds is his baseline. And he seems to be one of the few exceptions to the ‘heightened arousal’ rule, to the point that he’d spent a long time suspecting that it was perhaps just… an exaggeration? A lie? A joke? 

But no. He’s the strange one, apparently. And he’s not lucky enough to be one of those omegas who can map out their cycle onto a calendar with perfect reliable accuracy-- he’s wildly irregular, always has been. 

Instead, his first sign is always this. He reaches up to swipe at the tears trickling down his face, and swears as he gets some soap bubbles into his eye. He’d decided to finally get up and do the dishes that he’s let lie for several days now; a bowl, a spoon, a plate, a knife and fork, and a glass. The idle thought had drifted into his head: this truly was a pathetically small amount of dishware to have accumulated over the course of three days. But that was only to be expected, wasn’t it? He lives alone. All alone. 

He doesn’t know what about that had set him off, but now his eyes are streaming like a leaky faucet, and he can’t make himself stop no matter how much he grits his teeth and rubs the sleeve of his shirt to dry away the tears. He never cries, and he doesn’t have any reason to do so now, so there is only one possible conclusion to draw. At least he’s not out in public, this time. The last time, there had been a terribly concerned couple sitting across from him that wouldn’t stop badgering him about it, until he’d finally had to pretend like his stop had already arrived and he’d beat a hasty retreat. He’d had zero idea of where he was. 

It’s not fair, that he gets this little warning, or that the warning is this stupid. 

But there’s nothing he can do about it, so. He resolves to go and buy himself some pads tomorrow, before the other obnoxious leaking that is a part of this whole ordeal starts. 

 

“Hey boss, managed to find that statement you wanted-- woof,” Tim says. He wrinkles his nose in disgust, and then quickly tries to smooth his expression out. “Er, trying out a new perfume?” 

It’s a scent blocker, to be correct. He has one that he wears daily and is much more subtle, but it is frankly not up to the test for the scent glands of an omega in heat. There isn’t any scent blocker made specifically for omegas in heat, in fact, which is why he had to turn to this pungent off brand sludge that makes his neck itch. The idea of an omega wandering around in public, going to the grocery store and work, while in heat simply isn’t a common one. Apparently, it’s inadvisable and dangerous and reckless. 

But here’s the thing: Jon isn’t in heat yet. It’s just the lead up to heat. And it would be very silly of him to lock himself up in his flat for a full week just because he might be feeling some oncoming effects, wouldn’t it? It certainly would be a complete waste of time. He’s fine. People always act like omegas should go and shutter themselves away with the closest available alpha the second they start feeling anything, but that’s honestly utterly unreasonable. If Jon manages to power through until Friday, he can ride through his heat over the weekend and show back up on Monday with no one the wiser of what has happened. He doesn’t need time off before his heat to prepare himself, and he certainly doesn’t need time off afterwards to recover. 

“Do you like it?” Jon asks bluntly. He’s not a good liar, but if Tim’s going to go ahead and offer him an out, well. He’ll take it. 

“It’s… unique,” he says, his voice going high with uncertainty. 

“I’m glad,” he says flatly. “Because I like it. A lot.” 

“Oh,” Tim says with dismay. He’s clearly repressing the urge to pinch his nose shut. “That’s-- that’s great. Real… happy for you.” 

“Thank you,” he says. “The statement, Tim?” 

Tim surrenders the statement to him, and then beats a hasty retreat. Alphas have sensitive noses, he knows. 

Don’t go, some pitiful voice cries out in the back of his head. He bites his tongue and ignores it, even as his eyes prickle with fresh unshed tears. For heaven’s sake. He really does become obnoxious when he’s in heat. His hindbrain may think that inviting the closest friendly alpha to come stay with him is a fantastic idea, but his hindbrain is wrong. He’s tried sharing his heat with an alpha before, after all, and it just doesn’t… it doesn’t work. Not for him. 

Jon does what he’s become very practiced at over the years, and ignores his… unfortunate heat symptoms. As he reads, he has to be careful not to let any tears fall onto the pages. 

Obnoxious. That’s what he is. 

 

Jon gets through Wednesday with no incident. On Thursday, he has to hide away in the bathroom for twenty minutes longer than anticipated, because he’d started crying for no reason that he could see, and then when no one had come to check on him (which is what he’d been hoping for, to not be found in such a humiliating state) he’d gotten more upset, and then he’d gotten even more upset that no one was there to comfort him even though he was outright choking back sobs, and-- it had been a vicious cycle. Crying because no one was there to comfort him as he cried. Ridiculous. 

It is on Friday, the very last day that he has to hold onto his composure with his fingernails before he can go back home and collapse and just survive, that things… go wrong. 

Jon had known that he was, perhaps, pushing things a bit. But he needs to push, with his new position and the expectations that come with it bearing down on him-- he has more than once overheard people tsk about how that’s why omegas don’t get promoted, whenever they have to take the week off at an inconvenient time. He thought that he’d be able to get away with it, though. Pushing it. Because he’s down in the Archives now, and there are only four people here. There’s Sasha, who is a beta, and so is safe. There’s Martin, who is an alpha, damn him. But Jon barely knows him, and certainly doesn’t like him. Sure, his arms look remarkably strong and soft now that he looks at them more closely, but-- 

No. He is not going to let his stupid hormones make him make a complete fool of himself for Martin Blackwood. He dislikes the man, and that is that. 

The only real problem, he supposes, is Tim. Who is also an alpha. Who Jon does, in fact, like. Who he knows, has known for years. Jon looks at him, and can’t help but think that being held close in his arms, his face buried in his chest, must surely be the safest place in the entire world. 

Tim, he reminds himself over and over again, enjoys sex. He is very open about this. Not in a crass way, but… Jon may be bad at catching certain implications and innuendos, but he’s not a complete idiot. Tim doesn’t hide his preferences and predilections. 

So, Jon shuts himself away in his office. Away from his nice tempting alpha friend whose lap he wants to crawl into, away from his scent and his arms and his-- his everything. No one makes any remarks about this, as it isn’t particularly out of character for him to do so. The only difference, truly, is that Jon is barely managing to get any work done, uselessly reading the same paragraphs over and over again because the words are refusing to sink in, occasionally having to resentfully take a break because his eyes are too blurry with tears for him to read anything at all. 

He shuts himself away, and he holds onto his sanity with every last bit of effort and strain that he can muster, and he desperately waits for everyone else to leave so that he can too. He’s afraid that if he sees Tim now, he might do something… unfortunate. Such as think that it might actually be a good idea to ask him to spend his heat with him. It’s not. He thinks about the last time he tried that, to discourage himself. It makes him weep, of course. 

Normally, everyone else leaves the archives at five o'clock on the dot. Occasionally Sasha will linger, but he had made sure not to give her any particularly challenging or interesting cases today to avoid just such an outcome. He paces restlessly back and forth across the floor of his office. It doesn’t make for a long circuit. He keeps looking at the clock over and over again, and the minutes crawl by. Five thirty. He can leave at five thirty. Everyone will be gone by then, surely. No one will be there to ask him why he’s taken off his jumper and unbuttoned the first three buttons of his shirt, or why his shirt clings to the small of his back with sweat. Strangers passing him by on the street won’t make any comments. 

A noise of raw, desperate relief leaves him when the number on his phone finally goes from 17:29 to 17:30. He grabs at his messenger bag, his jumper and jacket already stuffed into it, throws his office door open-- 

Tim is standing right outside of his door, and he flinches back even as Jon yelps and almost trips over his feet as he backs away. 

“Shit,” Tim hisses, hand to his chest. “You scared me!” 

“I scared you!?” Jon demands, his heart thundering. “Good lord. What the devil are you still doing here?” 

Noise doesn’t travel all that well to his office when his door is closed--which is very convenient for when he needs to do his recordings--but he could have sworn that there hadn’t been anyone left down in the archives. No voices, no sound. What had Tim been doing? Just quietly standing outside of his door? For how long? 

“Er,” he says awkwardly. “I was… gonna ask you if you wanted to come out for drinks with me and the others and then-- I smelled, uh, you. Through the door.” 

Jon suddenly notices that Tim’s eyes are very, very dark. His gaze is glued raptly to Jon’s throat, the gap at his collar bone where he’s unbuttoned his shirt-- Jon’s hand flies to his neck. His heavy duty scent blocker. He’d positively slathered it onto himself this morning, but-- he’s been sweating quite a lot, in the last few hours. He realizes that it must have worn out and been overwhelmed by the sheer force of his heat, his need. 

“Fuck,” Jon swears. He can’t go out like this, his pheromones unmuffled and unrestrained. 

The laws in the United Kingdoms when it comes to raping an omega in heat are… unfortunate. The argument goes, can you truly even rape an omega who is in heat? Don’t they inherently want it? Isn’t there an implied baseline of consent, when an omega is in need? They like it, don’t they? They ask for it, don’t they? Just with their pheromones, if nothing else. Can an alpha be blamed for listening to what their pheromones are crying out for? What their heat needs to be satisfied? 

It is possible to be arrested for raping an omega in heat, but it takes a rather extreme case. Such as breaking into the home of an omega in heat to take advantage of them during their moment of weakness, when they’ve already settled down with a nest and whatever supplies they may need to privately ride it out on their own behind a locked door. Or deliberately separating an omega in heat from their chosen alpha partner, so that the criminal alpha can have them instead. The most clear cut, obviously maliciously intended cases. 

But if an omega were to wander around out in public, absolutely reeking of ‘please take me, alpha?’ Well, then they’re obviously just desperately waiting around for someone to come and take care of things for them, aren’t they? Nevermind what they say, during or after. If they hadn’t wanted it, they shouldn’t have been out in public, where their pheromones could overpower any passing helpless alpha. They should have known better. 

It isn’t a guarantee that Jon is going to be dragged into some alleyway on his way home. It’s just a risk that he can’t take. He can’t believe that he was foolish enough not to bring the tub of scent blocker with him to work, in case of just something like happening. How could he have been so thoughtless? 

Well. He has been a touch distracted lately. 

“I’m guessing that this snuck up on you,” Tim says, and his voice is… raspier than normal. The alpha clears his throat. His eyes are still dark and, Jon realizes, he’s standing closer than is warranted. 

“You should leave, Tim,” Jon says. He can’t bring himself to say I want for you to leave, because it would be a lie. He should leave, though. He makes himself firmly take a step back from him. He isn’t worried about Tim doing something against Jon’s will necessarily-- he trusts that the alpha will listen to him if he says no. He’s more worried about what he might do. 

Tim blinks rapidly, as if coming back to himself. 

“What about you?” he asks. 

“I will manage,” he says firmly. 

“What, are you planning on spending your heat here?” Tim asks, in a way that makes it clear that the answer should be no, of course he isn’t. 

Jon doesn’t say anything. 

“Oh, Jon,” Tim says, horrified and incredulous. “You can’t.” 

“I don’t see why not,” he says stiffly, defensively. “There will be no one else here for the weekend. I won’t bother anyone.” 

“What are you going to nest with, Jon?” 

There’s a blanket and rather pitiful pillow for the cot hidden away in Document Storage. That’s about it. 

It will have to do. His heats are always miserable things anyways. What’s a little more added on top? 

“I’ll figure it out,” he says sternly. 

“You are not going to spend your heat in a dank basement,” Tim says, and there’s a hint of a commanding alpha rumble underlying his words. Certain kinds of alphas like to throw it around whenever they want to have their way, but Jon has never heard it in Tim’s voice before. In his current state, it hits him like a truck. He has to reach out and grip at the door frame to balance himself, his knees going weak. The urge to agree with him, to let him decide, to let him sweep Jon off his feet and deposit him wherever he thinks is best, is so thick that he can taste it. He bites his tongue to make sure that it doesn’t escape his mouth. 

God, he so hot. He’s so tired, so stressed, so frayed. All he wants is to settle down somewhere soft and dark and warm, Tim nestled close to his side to keep him safe from the rest of the sharp, bright, noisy world. He feels exhausted, shaky, worn thin. There would be nothing better in the world to just… cave in and succumb to what his instincts are crying out for him to do. To collapse into Tim’s chest and mewl pitifully for help, for comfort, for his presence. 

But no. He can’t. That never ends well, does it? He’s learned his lesson. His instincts can’t be trusted. 

“Fuck,” Tim says, and his voice is very carefully devoid of any kind of demanding alpha rumble this time. “I’m sorry. That just slipped out-- that’s not an excuse. I’ll reign it in. But Jon, you can’t have a heat here.” 

“I don’t see what other options I have,” he says through gritted teeth. 

“There’s-- there’s a ride share app and you can choose if you want to have an omega driver or not. It’s for situations like this. Come on, let me call one and take you home. Please?” 

Tim speaks in a very deliberate sort of way, as if to make sure that anything extra doesn’t leak out into his words again. If he did, Jon is fairly certain that he would collapse like wet cardboard at this point. He’s been holding onto his composure with every last drop of stubborn bloody minded determination that he has in his body for days now, and he knows that there wouldn’t be any greater relief right now than to just-- give up. To give into Tim in every single way that he can. He feels almost feverish with just how desperately he wants just that. He’s not in heat, precisely. He’s just on the very razor's edge of falling off the cliff of his sanity into the all consuming ocean of his heat, is all. 

Tim is letting Jon have a fighting chance of saying no to him. That’s what he should do. He should tell him to go away, tell him that he knows what he’s doing, that he’ll ride out his heat here and then scrape himself off the floor as soon as he can do so and shamble his way home to recover. 

It sounds so much nicer to do all of that in his safe, familiar flat, though. To say yes to Tim, to let him have his way. Jon should let him take care of everything. Let him take care of Jon. 

This is bad, he thinks distantly. His thoughts are starting to get… irrational. His heat is very, very near now. 

“Fine,” he hears himself say, as if letting Tim make sure that he can have his heat in the safety and privacy of his own flat instead of a chilly basement is some sort of favor he’s grudgingly doing for him. 

Wait. Shit. He’d been supposed to say no. 

“Okay!” Tim says, and whips out his phone before Jon has the chance to tell him that he’s changed his mind, which is most likely his intent. Jon watches him fiddle with his phone, arranging things so that Jon can be as comfortable as possible and feels… 

This is very, very bad. 

 

Tim just barely stops himself from just picking Jon up and carrying him to the car when it arrives. The poor guy can’t even walk in a straight line by now, his eyes glazed over, distracted. He tries not to inhale too deeply as he breathes, because the way Jon smells right now is heady, and makes him desperately want to hide him away somewhere only he knows about, so no one else can hurt or paw at him. 

Keep it together. Jon needs his help, not him being another problem. 

He could help a lot, though. If Jon would let him. 

He shakes his head. He opens the door and lets Jon climb in first, after he spends a moment just confusedly blinking at the open door, as if it takes him a bit to realize what he’s supposed to do. He gets in after him, and can’t stop himself from locking the door after he gets in. It’s stupid and pointless, but it makes him feel as if he’s doing something. Keeping Jon safe. 

“Hey-- whoa,” the driver, who blessedly is an omega, says. Tim’s pretty sure that he’d pull some stupid alpha bullshit if some stranger alpha suddenly appeared close to Jon right now. “That’s-- wow, that’s strong. It must have really hit you hard and fast, huh? I’ll make sure to step on it.” 

“Thanks,” Tim says tightly, and then proceeds to roll down the window because being in a confined space with Jon, with the way he’s smelling? Not a good idea. He definitely, definitely shouldn’t ravish him in the backseat of this car. Definitely not. 

The driver really does step on it, thankfully. They get to Jon’s place in less than twenty intolerable minutes. Jon spends the entire ride looking hot and dazed, shifting restlessly where he sits. Tim wonders if he’s soaked through the pad that he’s got to be wearing. He can smell it, underneath the sheer force of his pheromones hanging thick in the air. That sweet scent of fresh slick, mouth watering and beckoning. He’s very familiar with that scent. He’s got at least three omegas on his contacts list that call him to come over and help whenever their heat comes along. He’s approachable, apparently. 

He’s heard some alphas complain about how hard to get some omegas play, but honestly? In his experience, they don’t. And whenever he says that people roll their eyes and act like that’s just because of his looks, because omegas are vain and shallow, but no, it’s not that. Maybe his looks capture omegas attention at first, but most people can’t help but be drawn in by a pretty face, omega or not. A pretty face never keeps people around for long, though, not if all the rest of it is rotten. Tim isn’t some super suave seductor, like some people seem to think he is. All you have to do is be decent. Not talk to them like they’re idiots or bitches or sex toys or whatever-- unless that’s what they’re into in bed or their nests, of course. It’s not hard. He doesn’t get why so many alphas just don’t seem to grasp that. How easy it would be for them to be likable, approachable, charming. The kind of alpha that an omega asks for help around the time their heat rolls in. It doesn’t take much. Really. 

A big, big part of that whole ‘being decent’ thing? Don’t take a heat as an unspoken invitation. Don’t assume and grab and touch and growl or whatever, just because someone smells sweet and welcoming. Keep your hands to yourself, until you know for sure that they’re wanted. 

God, Jon really does smell intoxicating, though. He’s never been this close to an omega this close to heat without there being an agreement made beforehand, before. 

Tim leans towards the open window, and tries to inhale through his mouth. The omega drives. 

“We’re here,” the driver says, and Tim opens the door and jumps out before they’ve even slowed all the way down. He leans down and in to help Jon out, because he looks unsteady and also just every single fiber of his being is screaming at him to help him. Jon leans into Tim’s touch, and makes a small pitiful noise in the back of his throat as he does so. It makes a weird burst of adrenaline spike inside of him, like he needs to be ready to fight a dozen other alphas for Jon’s honor. 

“Thanks,” he says to the driver, raspy. Jon stumbles out of the car, and Tim can’t bring himself to let go of Jon entirely, to stop supporting him. He needs the help, he tells himself. That’s all he’s doing. Helping. 

Before they’ve gotten into the apartment complex Jon lives in, Tim hears the car they’ve just left drive away. He’d been vaguely planning to use it to go home after ushering Jon into his flat, having texted Sasha earlier that he couldn’t go out for drinks after all. The driver, he realizes, had assumed that Tim was going to stay with Jon. Take care of him. It’s not a strange assumption to make. It’s just the wrong one. 

Tim wishes it wasn’t. The idea of leaving Jon all alone for his heat, lonely and whimpering-- he knows that some omegas choose to spend their heat alone. Sometimes, it’s hard to find someone you’re willing to be that vulnerable around. One of his friends whose heats he helps out with here and there had said that she’d just used to spend her heats alone before she met him. It’s better to be alone than to be with someone you don’t even like, she’d confided in him. 

She’d also confided in him that being alone still sucked, though. 

It wouldn’t even have to be Tim. He might be feeling weird and territorial right now, drunk on Jon’s scent, but if he just knew that he’d be leaving Jon behind with someone who would take care of him? He wouldn’t care that he wouldn’t get to do it himself. It’s the leaving him alone part that itches with how wrong it feels. 

He helps Jon up the stairs, because he knows that he wouldn’t be able to handle being alone in an elevator with him right now. Jon stumbles a few times, but Tim keeps him steady. He shouldn’t badger Jon. Shouldn’t boss him around, shouldn’t push. Not right now, not when he’s like this. Tim’s hindbrain is screaming at him to push Jon up against the nearest wall and make him purr, help all of that restless anxiety melt away. Tim’s hindbrain is being really, really stupid right now. If Jon wants to spend his heat alone, then-- then Tim needs to keep his mouth shut and just respect that. 

They get to Jon’s flat. Tim has been here before exactly once, after he’d managed to convince Jon to come out for drinks with him and Sasha years ago. It hadn’t been as rare of an occurrence, back then. They’d decided to play Never Have I Ever, and Jon had had to take a drink an absolutely hilarious amount of times, to the delighted shock of both him and Sasha. By the end of the night, he’d been properly sauced, to the point that they’d both had to help the poor bastard back home so that he wouldn’t end up falling asleep in a ditch or something. In the morning, Jon had grumbled about how he’d never go out drinking with them again. Tim had just laughed at him. 

Jon still apparently has enough of his wits about him to manage to dig his keys out and get his door unlocked after a couple of tries, which is a relief. If Tim had had to root through Jon’s trouser pockets, then-- it would have been a trial, is all he’s saying. 

“Well,” Tim says, and tries to be satisfied with just this. Thanks to him, Jon at least won’t be spending his heat at the archives, of all places. Hospitable, that place is not. That’s going to have to be enough for him. “Remember to hydrate, all right? And eat enough, have lots of easy snacks close at hand. Just-- you can call me, if you need help with anything. Or you can call anyone, really-- there are apps for this, you know? I can send you a link.” 

He really can’t help himself. As if Jon isn’t an omega who’s been dealing with heats for his entire adult life, as if he doesn’t know that he’s supposed to hydrate and eat, that there are plenty of alphas out there who’d happily take care of him right now. There’s a part of him that wants to growl at the idea of another alpha pawing at Jon right now, much less a stranger alpha. He bites it back. Stupid alpha nonsense. Keep it on a leash. 

Jon steadies himself against the doorframe, and looks at him for a long moment in incomprehension. He looks so small and lost like this. Not all puffed up with academic bravado or stubbornness. It makes Tim’s heart ache to not be pressed up as close as possible to him. He’s going to have to put his outfit through a wash cycle three times to get this dizzying scent out of them, he’s sure. 

“You’re leaving,” Jon says. Not a question, a statement. 

“Yeah,” Tim says anyway. “Don’t worry, I--” 

Jon bursts into tears. 

Tim feels his jaw fall open, and just stares at him in wide eyed alarm for a long moment. Then he reaches forwards and tucks Jon’s head underneath his chin, his arms tight around him. 

“Don’t go,” Jon sobs. There’s a distressed omega warble underlying the words, a please help me. Mixed with the heady fuck me alpha scent in the air, it manages to neatly knock all sense left out of Tim’s head. 

“I won’t!” Tim says, and yeah, his voice is doing stuff too now. Reassuring, possessive things. “I won’t, I won’t. I’ll stay, shh, don’t worry.” 

Jon clings to Tim like he thinks that he might be lying. Tim walks them inside of Jon’s flat before one of his neighbours comes out to see what the hell is going on, kicking the door shut behind them. 

“Come on, let’s get you to your nest,” he soothes into the top of his head. Jon hiccups, and Tim can feel tears soaking into his shirt. It’s literally the most heart wrenching thing he’s ever witnessed. He needs to protect him, he thinks wildly. “I’m here, I’m here. I’m not going to leave, shh.” 

He does end up picking Jon up after all. Bending his knees a bit and then hoisting him up with a grunt so that Jon’s legs end up on either side of his waist, Jon’s chin now resting on top of his head. Jon holds onto him, and Tim walks them over to Jon’s bedroom, where his nest probably is. Going into heat isn’t something that happens overnight, and the nesting instincts start up before the heat properly hits so that the omega has something prepared by the time they get… distracted. 

There is, in fact, a nest ready for them. It’s smaller than the nests he’s used to seeing, but then again, he’s used to only seeing nests that were planned for two, not one. But it should do. It’ll just be… cozy. And nests are supposed to be cozy, right? So it’s fine. He deposits Jon into his nest-- tries to. Jon won’t let go of where his arms are circled around his neck. 

“Jon,” he says, awkwardly bent over the nest with Jon clinging to him. “I promise I’m not gonna run away, so could you please let go of me for a second?” 

“Tim,” Jon says, desperation in his voice. It’s all he says, like that explains everything. Tim supposes it does, sort of. 

“Here,” Tim says, and grabs the nearest pillow. “Hold onto this instead for a moment, okay? You can do it.” 

After a bit of coaxing, Jon does end up clutching the pillow to his chest, relinquishing Tim. Tim stands up, looks down at Jon-- his face tear stained, his eyes bright--and thinks about what he should do next. 

“I have to go and lock the door,” he says. If he doesn’t, he’s going to lose his mind at the thought of someone else seeing Jon like this, touching him, hurting him. He’s the only person in the world who could possibly touch Jon in the right way right now, his stupid pheromone drunk hindbrain thinks. Anyone else would get it all wrong. 

Jon makes a pitiful noise at that. Tim rumbles reassurance at him, and then practically sprints to the front door to lock it, do up the lock chain, and slide the security bolt into place. And then he shoves a chair up underneath the door handle for good measure. He seriously considers shoving a bookcase in front of it as well, but just in time manages to convince himself that he’s letting his hormones make him act like an idiot. Plus, he shouldn’t leave Jon alone for too long. He swings by the kitchen to get a glass of water and an orange, which is all the time he can bring himself to spend on this right now, and then goes right back into Jon’s bedroom, firmly closing the door behind him. 

“Tim,” Jon says raggedly the second Tim enters, like he thought that he was never going to see him again. Tim fumbles not to drop the orange and water in his haste, setting them down on the night table, and then he shuffles into Jon’s nest. It is, like he’d thought, a tight squeeze. He doesn’t mind being close to Jon right now, though. He takes the omega back into his arm and squeezes him, Jon still clutching tightly at the pillow he gave him, as if for comfort. 

“Sorry,” he says, and then, “Need anything?” 

He can guess what Jon needs. Omegas are, everyone agrees, insatiable during their heats. He has to admit, he’s been pushed to his very limits by omegas before, wrung boneless and exhausted while his partner whines with frustration for more, more, more. He does his best, but after a certain point the flesh is weak. 

Instead of doing any of the things that Tim had expected, though, Jon instead curls up smaller and tighter around his pillow, as if trying to hide. 

“Jon?” he asks, an everything’s okay I’m here I will protect you sort of rumble rising steadily from his chest. 

“I shouldn’t have made you stay with me,” Jon says wretchedly. “What a-- such a foolish thing for me to do.” 

“Hey, no,” he says, a surprised lance of hurt going through him. He has Jon tucked safely away in his nest, he has him in his arms, and yet he’s still miserable. That stupid, instinctual part of him that all of the pheromones hanging thick in the air have brought up to the surface ache at this, make him feel like he’s a failure of an alpha. “There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be alone during your heat. No one wants that.” 

Jon shoves his forehead into Tim’s chest, avoiding his eyes. 

“The last time I tried to share my heat with an alpha,” Jon mumbles shamefully, “I bit him.” 

Tim blinks. 

“Sorry?” 

“I bit him,” Jon says, louder. “Hard. Not in a-- not in a fun sort of way.” 

“Oh,” Tim says. “What did he do wrong?” 

Jon stills at that. Then he wriggles back just a bit, just enough so that he can look up into Tim’s face as he talks. 

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” he says. 

“I kind of doubt that,” Tim says. “Since you bit him, and all.” 

“I’m the wrong one,” Jon says, which makes Tim’s heart break, for the record. “He was just trying to do what alphas are supposed to do during heats. He was just trying to-- to do what I’d asked him to do.” 

Jon’s voice is starting to wobble, so Tim lets loose another soothing sound from deep within his chest. 

“Did you ask him to do it?” he asks, carefully neutral. Frankly, no matter what Jon says, Tim sort of already hates this other alpha with a passion. He wouldn’t make Jon have to bite him to get him to back off. 

“Well--” Jon says, and yeah, he’d thought so. “I changed my mind. But I had asked for it earlier, and-- I invited him into my nest, to spend my heat with me. Of course he thought that he was supposed to-- to fuck me. That’s what alphas are supposed to do, during heats. And then I bit him and made him leave.” 

Tim takes a moment to absorb this. 

“I’m not gonna fuck you,” he says. “Not unless you want to. Promise.” 

“But I don’t want for you to leave,” Jon says, plaintive and despairing. Like he can’t have one without the other. 

“Then I won’t leave,” he says. 

“But-- my scent-- would you even be able to resist?” 

“That whole ‘I couldn’t resist my urges’ thing is a load of bullshit, you know that, right? It’s just a shitty excuse. Yeah, you smell good--okay, really fucking good--but I can still think. I don’t need to fuck you, Jon. I don’t even want to, if it would just make you upset. I wanna help. Take care of you.” 

Jon shivers at that. 

“Won’t it be hard for you?” he asks, like he can’t believe it. 

“Leaving you all alone would be way harder. Trust me, I can deal. Your heat, your rules. Now, is there anything you do actually need?” 

Jon stares at him for a long moment, and then says, “Hug me.” 

Tim’s already hugging him, but he gets the message. He tucks him in as tight and close as he can, and holds onto him like someone’s going to come along and try and take him away from him. Jon clutches at him, his scent thick and heavy in the air. Tim tries to read it as stay close to me instead of knot me, alpha. It must be hard, not wanting sex during your heat but still not wanting to be alone, and all the while his body keeps putting out signals like it wants to be fucked. His hole all slicked up for absolutely no good reason. Poor thing. Tim rubs his jaw against the top of Jon’s hair, scent marking him. 

“Can’t have been fun,” he says. “Being alone during your heats.” 

Jon shudders. “No.” 

“You don’t deserve to be alone. That’s not fair.” 

“Tim.” 

“Don’t deserve to have to put up with assholes either. I’m gonna fight anyone who tries to pull something like that with you again, you hear me?” 

Jon makes a surprised, happy chirp at that, and Tim hides a grin into his hair. Yeah, he knows what buttons to push. Omegas love the idea of a mate being willing to fight for them when they’re like this. Tickles something deep and primal in them. 

He really will fight anyone who tries to pull something like that with Jon, though. He shouldn’t have to bite anyone when he’s like this. He should get to be safe and pampered and protected. 

Tim makes possessive, adoring alpha noises at Jon until the omega finally starts to melt in his arms, going loose and soft and trusting, finally. He starts to purr. Tim is delighted. 

“Anything else?” he asks. There’s a lot of cuddling involved in heats usually, it’s true, but that’s usually more of a ‘between rounds of frantic fucking’ thing. He’s not used to there being this little… activity. If there’s anything that he can do for Jon-- a massage, maybe? 

“... There is something,” Jon says shyly after a long moment. “That I’ve-- that I’ve always wanted to try.” 

“Yeah?” he says encouragingly. Omegas are to be indulged during their heats, that’s just the basics. 

“It’s misleading,” Jon says. “I don’t want to send mixed signals.” 

“Lemme hear it, and I can be the judge of that.” 

“I want to-- to do a mating call.” 

Ah. That-- Tim’s familiar with it. A sort of call and response between alpha and omega, chirping and rumbling at each other. It’s seen as a very intimate thing. Tim’s also only ever seen it happen, both in his life and in media, when an alpha’s knot swells and locks in place inside of an omega. Culturally speaking, it’s a sexual thing. Tim’s done it plenty of times in his life, but if Jon doesn’t like sex, not even during heat, then… yeah, he’s probably never had the chance to do it before. That’s-- unexpectedly depressing. Jon should get to do a mating call without worrying that means he’s giving someone permission to do something that he doesn’t want. 

“Yeah,” he says, feeling terribly soft for his friend at this moment. “We can do that. It’s okay, Jon.” 

Jon shivers again, as if being doted on and indulged is a new and foreign experience, the very height of luxury. And then, he calls out to him-- Jon has a deep voice, but these aren’t exactly his vocal chords that he’s using. Omega noises tend to be higher, sweeter. Tim’s never mate called someone while he wasn’t sheathed deep inside them before, but his answering rumble rises up naturally in response to that. How could he hear such a sweet noise and not answer it? 

They go back and forth like that for a long time, and he watches the restlessness and the misery and the stress just bleed out of Jon, evaporate into thin air. It is profoundly satisfying to watch. 

“Such a good omega,” he says softly. It’s the sort of condescending, possessive talk that would get an alpha scowled at out of the bedroom, but he’s been a heat partner enough times to be familiar with what omegas like to hear when they’re like this. If he’s wrong, Jon will let him know. “You make such lovely noises, Jon.” 

Jon blinks rapidly at that, his eyes glossy and bright. 

“Everything okay?” he asks, concern perking up inside of him. 

“Yes,” Jon says. “It’s-- they’re not bad tears.” 

“Oh, good,” he says, relaxing. It’s going to be a nice heat, he decides. He’ll make sure of it.