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oh don't you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me

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Darcy is thirty feet out of Stark-cum-Avengers Tower when she starts craving cinnamon rolls--the sticky-sweet iced-up old-fashioned kind, yummy and messy and dripping gooshy icing all over your mouth and hands and down your yuuuup, yup, that is a super, super fertile omega that she is smelling, holy shit is it ever.

“Jesus Christ,” she groans in frustration, then follows her alpha instincts (and, more easily and importantly, her nose) to go track them down. They’re in the middle of New York City; middle of the day or not, not checking on somebody who smells like that is, like, the ultimate dick move.

She also pulls out her taser and cell just in case there are less altruistically-minded alphas doing the same as her, because Darcy Lewis is a realist and also let’s not even play, right now her alpha hormones wouldn’t mind the excuse for a fight. That is hindbrain-thinking, though, and she doggedly ignores it even if it’s been six months since they left Ian and his delicious melty marshmallow and milk chocolate pheromones back in London to finish his--

Anyway. Here. Now. Omega.

Sticky-sweet yummy messy gooshy omega--not helping, hindbrain.


Three blocks and infinite weird twisty turns later Darcy ends up in a skinny dead-end alley with crummy lighting even this time of day and boarded-up windows on all its buildings, which is not a smart choice for either her or this omega to be making, she thinks. There’s a few other alphas already there, one crouched down and talking real quiet to the omega and two standing a little further away, so Darcy conceals her taser and hovers her finger over the emergency call button on her cell just in case, hanging back automatically.

The omega she’s just chased down is about her age and huddled up in the darkest and least safe-looking corner of the place, a male with long dark hair wearing thick jeans, heavy boots, a good three layers of shirts, and a denim jacket, all topped off with a baseball cap. It is genuinely terrible heat clothing--okay, well, any clothing is pretty terrible in heat, but even if he’d slept in those clothes last night the guy must’ve at least been in pre-heat when he got dressed, how the hell he’s standing being grated on by that much rough and heavy fabric is completely--

His hair’s kind of greasy, Darcy realizes. He hasn’t shaved in a few days; at least long enough that even an omega jawline is showing stubble. The clothes are a little dingy, and under that yummy cinnamon-bun scent he smells more like antiseptic wipes and public bathroom soap than the kind of lush and lovey bath products and lotions most omegas Darcy knows pamper themselves with in pre-heat, making themselves all soft and pretty and yummy-smelling, with scents deliberately chosen to complement their heat pheromones.

“Antiseptic wipe and cinnamon sugar” is definitely not a complementing combination.

Okay. So he’s homeless, or at least thoroughly temporarily stranded--a tourist who missed a flight and couldn’t afford a hotel or a local who got kicked out of the apartment by a dick roommate or who knows, really. Either way he clearly didn’t have the resources to be nice to himself in pre-heat and looks like he’s paying for it now; he smells like he’s pretty early in his cycle and already looks unhappy as hell. Which is kind of a shame because he smells sweet as hell even with the antiseptic and yeah, her clit’s already sitting up and taking notice enough to make her pants a little uncomfortable, but she’s not the actual scum of the earth and under the circumstances can’t really enjoy it.

The omega looks up at the alpha crouched in front of him then, and his expression is absolute misery. Darcy loses her chub entirely at the sight and it takes everything in her to suppress the instincts that want to go kill, like, a mastodon for the guy and also everyone who’s ever been rude to him in his life. Jesus.

The alpha looks alarmed, and his fingers twitch towards--

His gun. He has a fucking gun on him. He has a fucking gun on him and just aborted the instinctive grab for it after making eye contact with a distressed omega, what the fuck. What the fuck.

“Hey now, sweetheart. Don’t be like that,” the alpha says, just the edge of wariness in his voice. “Don’t you want to come home with us? You know we’ll take care of you good.”

“What the fuck,” Darcy says incredulously, and all three alphas stiffen at the sound of her voice, but none of them take their eyes off the omega on the ground. And not in the pheromone-drunk way she’s used to, either the sweet or creepy version; more like they’re waiting to see if a vicious-looking dog is inclined to try biting.

Darcy immediately wants to stick her taser in all their fucking crotches. A heated-up omega isn’t a threat, not to anybody who’ll take “no” for an answer and isn’t trying to drag them home with a bunch of their buddies like a damn party favor.

“I’m calling the cops,” she announces loudly, holding up her phone, and that makes the other alphas glance over to her.

And also reach for their guns.

Well, this explains how she could scent this guy for three blocks but no other alphas are hanging around in New York, she thinks briefly in the terrifying second before the omega starts growling. The alphas all go white-faced, and one even more terrifying blur later all three are smeared across the ground with multiple broken bones and the omega is standing over them and snarling with blood splattered on his fists, one bare and one gloved.

“Shit!” Darcy blurts, wondering if she should be calling the cops. The omega bares his teeth at her.

“Fuck off!” he snarls viciously, hackles up. “I’m not going back!”

“Dude, believe me, I am in no way trying to take you anywhere you don’t wanna go,” Darcy says feelingly, half-hiding behind the probably-not-that-much-protection mouth of the alleyway. She should really be either running or tasing him or tasing him and then running, and is fairly sure that if she were an omega or beta she would be.

But yeah, fuck everyone’s romanticized view of them, the protective alpha instincts are shit. Even after watching the guy take out three other dudes like they were nothing, Darcy’s instincts are still parsing like he’s in distress and needs her. Her useless-ass hindbrain is reading this big asskicking dude’s pheromones like he’s a fawning virgin in a period piece bodice-ripper.

A delicious fawning virgin, for the record. Like, it’s embarrassingly hard not to salivate right now.

Jesus, like it wasn’t bad enough that Captain freaking America’s spent the whole week scenting up the tower with his apple pie pre-heat--seriously, not even a joke, literally apple pie, what even is that man--but now she can’t even go out for lunch without tripping over the only omega she’s ever met who smells better than that did.

Darcy is control of her head and her hormones and her stupid greedy knot, okay, but this is just mean.

“You’re--not?” The omega hesitates, shifting back a step. His eyes stay fixed on her but his head ducks a little. Darcy does not think about putting her teeth in the bared back of his neck at all. Not even a little.

“Definitely not,” she says. “Also, pretty sure I couldn’t even if I wanted to, you are like a force of freaking nature over there. Also, stay over there. Like . . . very firmly there.”

“I--why?” the omega asks, looking lost.

“. . . because you’re scary?” Darcy says, staring at him a little. She’d figured that one would be pretty self-explanatory, under the circumstances. “Look, do you need, like--I have my phone, I can call somebody for you. Do you need me to call somebody for you? Like a friend or--”

“I have a friend!” the omega snarls, instantly looking terrifying all over again.

Well. Okay then.

“So that’s a yes on the call?” Darcy manages weakly, holding her phone up. The omega stares at her. One of the alphas on the ground groans, and the omega flinches, curling in small on himself, which is . . . quite a feat on a guy that size, frankly.

And fucking awful to watch.

“Jesus, come on, let’s at least get you out of here,” Darcy says, scowling down at them. “Like I’m not trying to make you come anywhere with me, I just don’t feel right leaving you with them.”

“They wanted to take me back,” the omega says abruptly. “I don’t--I don’t hurt people that don’t deserve it. I’m--am I in trouble?”

“You’re not in trouble,” Darcy says, carefully pocketing her phone and even more carefully reaching out a hand towards him, because the alphas on the ground are still stirring and the omega’s looking increasingly nervous and small. He must be way deeper into it than he seems, if he’s asking questions like that--hell, omegas don’t usually get this sensitive about an alpha’s opinion until they’ve actually fucked, and Darcy would definitely remember this guy locking her knot. “C’mere though, okay? I think you’re in it pretty deep.”

“Yes ma’am,” the omega says, wearing that miserable face again as he steps over the alphas on the ground to come to her. Darcy kind of wants to throw up at the sight, and also cuddle him until her arms go numb. He drops his head and pushes it into her hand, and he’s tall enough that the gesture means he’s got to duck low enough to bare the back of his neck to her eyes, even with the shirts and jacket in the way.

The universe is a terrible place, Darcy decides while she’s busy reining in her hormones.

“Do you have a heat partner?” she asks. Mercifully, the omega straightens up. Less mercifully, he still looks miserable.

“My friend,” he says. “My friend and I used to help each other out, I think, but . . .”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Darcy says, trying to sound soothing as she digs for the wet wipes in her purse and passes one over. She’s not that great at the soothing thing; Ian was always flattered when she tried, even if she screwed it up, but this guy doesn’t know her well enough for that so she really hopes she’s pulling it off. “I can walk you to a clinic, okay? In case any other assholes like those guys come sniffing around, I mean, not--uh, you know.”

“I can’t go to a clinic,” the omega says, his fingers twisting roughly around the wet wipe. Darcy frowns.

“They’ve got a free one over on--” she starts, but he shakes his head.

“There’s cameras in the waiting rooms,” he says. “And out front.”

“And cameras are bad,” Darcy says, voice slow. He nods, but doesn’t explain why. He cleans his hands very carefully with the wipe, though, and Darcy realizes belatedly that the glove is not a glove. That . . . that is metal, yes. All the way through, as far as she can tell. Holy crap.

Okay. Cameras are bad. Which also rules out the hospital and the cops and really even just standing around on the street, so they’d better think of something quick.

“What are your feelings on semi-sentient buildings?” she asks, glancing back into the alley to make sure no one’s on their feet yet.

“Uh. What?” the omega asks blankly.

“Walking and talking, buddy, let’s go,” Darcy says, reclaiming the used wipe and not quite putting a hand on the small of his back to guide him along but strongly telegraphing the intent to. He follows it even without her making contact, so that’s . . . good, probably. He flinched at the “buddy”, though, so maybe it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. Or . . . something.

She might actually be using that phrase wrong, but whatever.

At least he didn’t punch her into a wall for trying it, she muses as she tosses the wipe into a convenient trash can. She’s already doing better than those creeps in the alley. There’s actual people on the street proper and the omega gets a few appreciative sniffs, but he keeps letting Darcy guide his steps as they head down the sidewalk and no other alphas or betas come up to challenge her claim. Which, well--why would they? It’s the middle of the damn day in an expensive neighborhood and these people have no way to know the guy’s not her boyfriend or fiance or even her mate outright.

“. . . you smell like apple pie,” the omega mutters, distracting Darcy from her thoughts. She blinks. She took a shower this morning and Steve hasn’t been on any of the common floors since yesterday--he and Sam have been on the road for months, no one was surprised he’d wanted to nest heavily this round, especially while preparing for the luxury of having an extra heat partner in Natasha--and she knows damn well there’s been no actual apple pie around. Apparently Steve’s pheromones are even more ridiculous than she’d thought.

“One of my friends is heated up this week,” she says. “His heat scent’s a lot like apple pie, you’re probably smelling him.”

“My friend . . . I don’t remember what he smelled like,” the omega says, staring at the sidewalk. “But--I liked it.”

“I have met very, very few people who do not like heat scent,” Darcy tells him, wondering if he’s trying to admit to being a little queer. Or a lot. She wouldn’t judge, she’s gotten a little swoony over Jane’s rut pheromones before. “Anyway, like I was saying, normally I would not be doing this and I swear I’m not a creep, but my building is kind of huge and amazing and if you don’t want to go to a clinic, I will gladly give you a heat’s worth of protein bars and water bottles and let you barricade yourself into our guest room. Hell, I’ll even barricade my side of the door too, if that helps.”

“How?” the omega asks, frowning.

“We’ve got, like, chairs and shit, I’ll stick one under the doorknob or push the couch in front of the door,” Darcy promises.

“No, I mean--how would you do that from inside the room?” he asks, still frowning.

“. . . well, we can skip that step,” Darcy says, because duh she is not telling a super-hot cinnamon-sticky sugar-iced omega that she won’t have his back for his heat. Literally. Uh, that is unless--“I mean, if you want me to be your heat partner. Like, I’m willing, but it’s not like you can’t crash if you don’t, the place is basically a hotel anyway.”

“You challenged for me,” the omega says, looking confused. “The last alpha standing gets me.”

“That’s, uh . . . old-fashioned,” Darcy says carefully, more than a little nauseous at the thought. Okay, maybe it’s not just a bad heatdrop throwing this guy off his game. In retrospect, his eyes are clearer than they should be for that anyway, so . . . yeah. She has no idea, really. “Also you seem to be remembering the events of the alley going a lot more favorably for me than they actually did. You’re the only reason I was the last alpha standing.”

“Yeah,” the omega says, his eyes darkening as he looks her over. “I am.”

. . . well then.

“Well, in that case,” Darcy says, clearing her throat as she settles her hand properly on the omega’s back. The muscles under her palm are tense as a drum for all of a second before going pliant and sweet as anything, and then he somehow manages to look up at her through his lashes while also looking down at her, which is a pretty impressive feat for anybody and probably an invaluable one for an omega who’s got to be a good six feet tall, considering.

It definitely does things to her hindbrain, either way.

God this omega is attractive. Like, both the amount and quality of random ass-kicking omega hobos in her life is much, much more impressive than she was led to believe growing up.

“I’m Darcy Lewis,” she says. The omega mumbles something back, sounding weirdly uncertain for an introduction; Darcy just tries as hard as she can to catch it. “Uh--Thacket?” she thinks she picks out accurately from the tangle. He hesitates, but nods. “There a first name with that?” she tries. He mumbles again, and the best she can get is--“Jamie?”

He hesitates before nodding again, but at least it’s a name. Maybe not his real one, but whatever, Darcy’s not going to blame him if it’s not.

“Okay,” she says, stopping across the street from Avengers Tower and gesturing with her free hand. “Well, Jamie, here we are. Home sweet . . . uh, skyscraper.”

Jamie looks, and goes weirdly pale.

“I can’t go in there,” he says.

“No, it’s totally cool, you absolutely can,” Darcy assures him. “I’m a live-in, there’s a bunch of residential floors and the whole place is already running on heat protocol for the friend I told you about anyway. All the floor-to-floor vents are filtering and nobody can get on anyone else’s floor without being buzzed up.”

Not that that particular protocol is necessary in Avengers Tower, of all places, but it does prevent people from accidentally tripping over each other at a bad time in their hormonal cycles, so Darcy’s definitely not complaining. It was embarrassing enough the time she accidentally walked in on Jane rutting Thor over the--well, it’d been an education in addition to the embarrassment, definitely. But the embarrassment had also been a pretty big thing.

Seriously, though, like her clit is not already stirred up enough without her remembering what the alien god-prince looks like in heat. Jesus.

“But it’s . . .” Jamie trails off, hesitant, and Darcy strokes the small of his back really carefully. He goes soft under the gesture, mercifully, and ducks his head again.

“It’s okay,” she repeats, because obviously there’s more than one reason an asskicker with a metal hand and a phobia of cameras might be nervous about going into Avengers Tower. “It’s safe, I swear, and the security cams black out on anybody with heat or rut hormones coming off them. I mean, we can get a hotel if you want, but--”

“Cameras,” Jamie says, expression miserable again. That look should not make Darcy want to knot, but on an omega whose hormones are crying out to be knotted? Yeah. Yeahhh, it really does.

“I can--” she starts, but he’s already shaking his head.

“It’s okay,” he says. “Just--you’re sure it’ll black me out?”

“At this rate it’s going to black us both out,” Darcy says, biting her lip. “Seriously, I’m this close to the beginning stages of sympathy rut, man.”

“. . . promise?” Jamie asks, his eyes getting glittery and dark in a very distracting way.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Darcy says, trying not to stare too hard. Jamie ducks his head again and gives her that sweet under-the-lashes look with those glitterdark eyes and yup, yup, her clit is definitely with that program. Her clit is signed up and on board and majoring in that program.

Then he ducks his head a little lower and bares the back of his neck to her as he leans in to press the softest little kittenish kiss to the shoulder of her coat, and--okay, yes. Yes, Darcy is totally going to sympathy rut for this guy. No doubt at all.

“Nargh,” is about all she actually manages to say about that before she grabs him by the sleeve and drags him across the street, and Jamie follows her easy as anything, like a lamb on a leash. Darcy tries not to think very hard about that because she is never living it down if she blows her knot before she even gets the guy to her floor.

She runs her keycard and tells J.A.R.V.I.S. she’s got an emergency heat partner she’s bringing up, and he helpfully directs her to the backmost elevator and promises to warn Thor and Jane and Erik to keep their heads down while she gets her omega settled in. He uses that phrasing, even--“your charming young omega”, all prim and proper in his synthetic accent. Darcy can’t help the shy little grin at hearing it, and when she glances over at him Jamie’s staring a hole in the floor and blushing pretty as a fucking picture.

“Thanks, J.A.R.V.I.S.,” she says.

“Of course, Ms. Lewis,” J.A.R.V.I.S. says graciously, as clearly the best wingman ever.

They hit the Thor floor--Darcy is never getting sick of calling it that--and Darcy leans out of the elevator to double-check real quick, but true to J.A.R.V.I.S.’s word there’s no sight of anyone else, although she can smell faint traces of Thor’s mead and metal-tinged scent. He might be early this cycle, actually, and come to think Steve was a little late; she wonders if they’re synching up. That would be . . . amazing, and also terrifying. And amazing.

Prooobably not good for the free world, though, since if Thor and Steve synch up with each other then Tony will almost definitely get dragged in too and that’s half the Avengers right there. At least Bruce and Clint are betas, thank God, because someone’s going to have to save the world if something comes up, and Natasha is going to be really fucking scary if she misses the chance to knot Steve because of AIM or HYDRA or whoever. They won’t be getting any support from Sam or Pepper, though. Maybe Rhodey, if the Air Force actually lets him and he doesn’t synch up with Tony, but--

Come to think of it, Darcy reflects, she’s an unmated alpha with next to no use in a firefight; there’s every possibility Steve might ask her to be his heat partner if there’s an emergency and Sam and Natasha get called out.

She glazes over briefly at the thought, then remembers that she literally has a heat partner right here and turns bright red, immediately looking over to him. Fortunately Jamie seems distracted by staring out the apartment’s huge windows with a half-awed, half-traumatized look on his face. Darcy steers him away from them politely because the stress is showing a little--the view’s gorgeous any time of day but from the look on his face she’s pretty sure he’s scared of heights.

Also, he is smelling increasingly cinnamon-sugar-perfect, and there’s definitely some stuff they have to do before their pheromones hit the tipping point.

“My room’s this way,” she tells him as she leads him down the hall. “Is that okay, or do you want to use one of the guest suites?” She knows some omegas don’t feel comfortable in an alpha’s den for heat--Ian didn’t, and Steve mentioned similar feelings over breakfast last week when heat-planning with Sam and Nat. And that’s omegas who know their heat partners. Jamie just shakes his head, though.

“Yours is fine,” he murmurs. Darcy suddenly wishes she’d cleaned it any time in the past month, but it’s a little late now. She takes him into her room and shoves last night’s pajamas off the bed sheepishly, kicking them into the closet quick. He laughs a little, which is . . . fucking gorgeous, frankly, and Darcy nearly glazes over all over again.

“I have stuff!” she blurts. Jamie looks confused, and she bolts for the bathroom door in an attempt to preserve her dignity before he starts thinking she’d meant sex toys or something. “I mean, I have omega-grade bath products, if you want,” she clarifies, leaning against the door and pointing at the cute little emergency gift basket of them she keeps in the back corner of the tub, just in case. It’s vanilla-scented, fortunately, and should go fine with Jamie’s warm cinnamon bun scent. Definitely better than the antiseptic wipes, anyway.

She hasn’t really met an omega who wouldn’t want one last pampering session before true heat set in, honestly, asking is really just a formality in--

“I’m--allowed?” Jamie asks, looking uncertainly at the little basket. He’s in so close his heat-scent almost makes her stupid, but nothing could make her stupid enough that the bottom wouldn’t drop out of her stomach at that question. What kind of fucked up heat partners has he had?

“You are totally allowed, go nuts. Like, absolutely nuts, to your heart’s content,” Darcy tells him fervently, because the alternative option is tracking down all his exes and tazing them in their fucking knots and she really doesn’t have that kind of time right now. “There’s bath bombs, even. Um, slightly glittery ones, fair warning, but they smell really good.”

“What’s a . . . uh, ‘bath bomb’?” Jamie asks, sounding a little skeptical.

“They’re awesome, trust me, just toss one in when the tub’s full up,” Darcy says, leaning over to start the water since Jamie’s still hanging back uncertainly. “Unless you like bubble bath. Do you like bubble bath?”

“I don’t, uh . . . I don’t know,” Jamie says, glancing nervously at the bath basket.

Maybe she’ll track down his exes and taze them in their fucking knots after this, Darcy thinks.

“There’s instructions on everything,” she tells him. “Use as much hot water as you want, it’s literally limitless. I’m gonna go grab some supplies while you get cleaned up, okay?”

“Understood,” Jamie says, eyes flicking to the water. “How long do I have?”

“As long as you want,” Darcy says, thinking longingly of her taser. “Like . . . that’s the point, you know? So you can relax and feel good and get all clean and pretty?” It’s actually a little embarrassing to say out loud and with all her clothes on, but that’s probably just because most of her early ventures into softcore porn involved omega-on-omega action in a shared heat bath, sooo . . . yeah.

“I’m not pretty,” Jamie says, just barely frowning at her.

“Okay, well . . . the relaxing and feeling good part, at least,” Darcy says, not even knowing how to address that level of disconnect. Jamie is definitely pretty--or, well, maybe a little closer to handsome than the omega ideal, but still, there’s alphas who are into that. Her, for example. She is definitely into that. “I’m gonna be a bit anyway, just take your time and enjoy it, okay? Hell, try out the whole basket while you’re at it, I bet it’s awesome.”

“. . . yes, alpha,” Jamie says, frown deepening in confusion. Darcy can’t decide how horrible a person it makes her that she wants to sit on the edge of the tub and pull him down across her lap right now, but is pretty sure it’s unnecessarily horrible.

“Awesome, good, excellent,” she says instead of actually doing that, fleeing the bathroom past him out through her room, pausing only long enough to ditch her hat and coat before heading straight into the hall. Jane and Thor are in the living room now and cuddled up all cute on the couch, and Darcy was right, Thor does smell like he’s coming up on his cycle, which makes it really hard not to picture those old omega-on-omega softcores she used to get so into when she was a kid with no idea what to do with her knot. Like, Thor could be washing Jamie’s hair for him right now, maybe help him braid it all cute, that’s a thing that could feasibly be happening--annnd yup, yup, her hindbrain is definitely working overtime, awesome, good, excellent.


“The hottest omega in the world is in my bathtub right now,” Darcy announces, speaking of her hindbrain.

“I’ll accept that statement only because Thor is technically not of our world,” Jane replies primly, cuddling closer to him, and Thor laughs.

“You are too kind, my Jane,” he says. “Congratulations on being chosen by such a fine omega, Darcy! I’m sure they will appreciate your attentions.”

“You guys don’t even know, he literally beat up three other alphas right in front of me,” Darcy says, cracking open the emergency heat supplies closet and grabbing two of the reusable shopping bags off the back of the door to fill with snacks and bottled drinks. She’s got a mini-fridge parked next to her bed courtesy of Tony Stark, he of the infinite-clean-energy/no-power-bill, but it’s empty right now. Fortunately the heat closet is well-supplied with high-protein snacks and bottled drinks and yummy little sweets for pampering, although she’s gonna have to hit up the big fridge in the kitchen for some actually fresh fruit and not just the dried stuff.

“He beat them up?” Jane repeats, blinking. “What, literally?”

“Literally,” Darcy confirms, grabbing water bottles and then eyeing a few different kinds of juice before just tossing one of each into the bag. She forgot to ask Jamie how long his heats usually run and if he’s on the longer side of the spectrum they might need the extras. Hell, they might need the whole closet; dude’s the size of a truck, he probably eats like one too. “Hand to God, Jane, I have not seen an omega kick ass so thoroughly since Thor delivered the dark elf smackdown. He keeps going all super-shy on me, too, it’s like . . . the most destructively hot dichotomy, seriously.”

“I don’t know, there’s something to be said for an omega who’s confident in bed,” Jane says, giving Thor a little smile as she reaches up to pet his hair, and he preens into the contact with a pleased smile of his own.

“He also flat-out told me he beat them up because he wanted me to take him,” Darcy says, grabbing trail mix and granola bars from the top shelf and beef jerky from the one below it. Jamie definitely looks like the type to appreciate beef jerky.

“. . . well then,” Jane says, fanning herself with her free hand as her eyebrows shoot up. Thor laughs again, head tipping under her petting and eyes going half-lidded like they always do when Jane’s pheromones spike. Darcy’s are definitely spiking, so she’s sure Jane’s are.

“I know, right?” she stresses disbelievingly, tossing a box of condoms into the bag and then rifling through the selection of lube just in case. Jamie’s clearly had some shit heat partners, she wouldn’t blame him if he had a little trouble getting wet even heated up. “It’s awful. And by awful I mean amazing, oh my god, and he’s so hot, did I mention that? He smells like iced cinnamon rolls and sex.”

“We noticed,” Jane says, extremely politely. Thor’s laugh is heavier this time, and he curls up around her with it. Definitely responding to pheromone spikes, Darcy decides, trotting over to the kitchen for fruit and at least one actually cold water bottle for Jamie to have if he wants while the others chill up in the mini-fridge. She also gets a few bottled smoothies, some veggies and hummus, and the box of chocolate cheesecake truffles she was saving for this weekend, because of course she gets the chocolate cheesecake truffles, what kind of terrible alpha would have chocolate cheesecake truffles lying around and not give them to their omega?

Those shits in the alley, probably, and also all of Jamie’s asshole exes who still need tased, which frankly is all the more reason to give him the truffles.

“We need more truffles,” Darcy decides.

“Wow, Darcy, you really like this guy,” Jane says, looking surprised. Darcy frowns in confusion, then looks down at her bags and realizes both are full to bursting and she’s still holding a bag of baby carrots and the truffles.

“Um,” she says, turning pink. “Look, it’s not . . . he’s had shitty heat partners in the past, is all, and when I found him there were these asshole alphas creeping on him and it was--I just really want it to be nice for him, you know?”

“We’ll get truffles,” Jane promises.

“You’re my hero,” Darcy says fervently, then stomps on the urge to flee back to her room and double-checks the heat closet for anything she might’ve forgotten instead. For all she knows Jamie hasn’t even gotten into the bath yet, much less gotten anywhere near “relaxed”. “God, Jane, he doesn’t even think he’s pretty. And he’s so pretty! Fuck all his previous heat partners, those fucking knotheads--well, almost all, he had an omega friend he used to be synched up with, they might’ve been decent. But all the alphas, definitely fuck them. Are you sure you don’t mind getting the truffles?”

“We don’t mind, Darcy, it’s not like you’ve never done it for us,” Jane reassures her. “And we’ll get Erik to carry them so they won’t smell like a challenging alpha or rival omega while you two are distracted, if he’s had bad partners. Is there anything else you need?”

“Truffles,” Darcy repeats, gesturing with both arms as best she can with the bags weighing them down. “Just--he deserves so many truffles, Jane. Although I don’t even know if he likes truffles so maybe some other dessert options would be, uh, a good idea. Chocolates? Pecan clusters? Fuck, I have no idea.”

“We’ll figure something out,” Jane says, smiling at her. “Don’t worry about it, all right?”

“All right,” Darcy says, definitely worrying about it.