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i like how desperate you seem (in the way you look at me)

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“We’re going to be late!” Taehyung sulks, head poking out of the door again, and it’s not like they’re really missing out on anything. The elders are probably telling the pack lies about how this is a peaceful merging, as if a certain level of hostility isn’t evolved. Jimin’s pack is smaller, the size of their land harder to defend with a pack steadily shrinking in size each year. It’s not like pack takeovers are uncommon.

“You just want to see that alpha,” Jimin says none too kindly, rolling his eyes. He’s having trouble sewing a button back onto his coat, unwilling to leave without something on.

“So?” Taehyung pouts, shoulders slouching as he comes over and falls onto Jimin’s bed. Their log cabin is empty, everyone else having already left for dinner. It had taken a day’s trek to reach the Evergreen pack’s territory and another half to get to their new homes. They’ve barely settled in and Jimin really needs some new furs, doesn’t think his old ones will hold up to the quickly dipping temperature. “Not every omega has alphas falling all over themselves to please them.”

Jimin knows Taehyung doesn’t mean that spitefully, or even with a hint of jealously, has seen first hand the kind of harassment Jimin’s dealt with. It probably doesn’t help that unlike Taehyung, Jimin has a hard time saying no. He snorts, “You want to trade places?”

“God, no, ew,” Taehyung protests, face twisted into disgust. Jimin’s finally got his button in place, slipping the coat on. “Besides, you’d be terrible at pranking all the shitheads who bother me.”

“You almost got us kicked out of the pack with your last ‘prank’ so tell me again about my ‘terrible’ pranking,” Jimin laughs, grabbing Taehyung’s hand to pull him off the bed. He leads them out of the cabin, Taehyung eagerly winding their arms together.

“It’s not my fault Minsoo throws temper tantrums as often as a five year old. Like I was gonna let him get away with trying to corner you like that,” Taehyung simpers, practically pulling Jimin along in his hurry. He’s got his neck stretched out, looking ahead at the fire pit in the middle of the pack’s central gathering place. The Evergreen pack’s made a clearing among the woods, trees chopped down to make space for the pack, with smaller cabins tucked away along the edges of the woods for those wolves who still had families to raise. Jimin likes it. “And he should have known better than to wander around with a leaking lamp — There she is!”

Jimin spots her just as quickly, Taehyung practically buzzing with excitement next to him. She’s pretty, short hair tucked behind each ear. Jimin and Taehyung find themselves at the back of the crowd, away from the heat of the fire, but hardly anyone is standing, leaving the alphas on the other side of the fire in plain view.

Their pack’s alpha sits next to the Evergreen pack’s alpha and well, Jimin figures he should stop trying to differentiate. They were one pack now. Jimin’s not as upset as some of the others, thinks that if such a merging is better for the safety and success of their pack, then there is nothing to complain about. But the prides of wolves weren’t so easily mollified.

There are two fires, each roasting a boar and Jimin supposes this is a special enough occasion. Taehyung’s whispering something into Jimin’s ear, probably about that alpha girl again but there’s a shiver running down Jimin’s spine, the feeling of being watched. He’d felt it earlier too, when they’d finally made it past the denseness of the woods. They were nearer to the mountains now, Jimin’s pack having lived closer to the human towns dotting the edges of the forest. The Evergreen pack lives so deep in the woods, Jimin’s not sure human feet have ever made it so far north. It’s colder, the furs he’s brought along to keep warm feeling like too little.

There’s definitely someone watching him, Jimin can tell, but he can’t pinpoint who, ignoring the nagging feeling to turn his attention to his new pack alpha. Jimin hasn’t caught a word he’s said so far, and they’d definitely missed the initial welcoming.

“As you know,” the alpha says, voice booming over the crowd, “with the joining of two packs, it is important to restore a hierarchy, create a sense of responsibility in our alphas to the whole pack. Afterall, it is hardly our omegas whose egos need to be kept in check.” This earns him a chuckle, and he allows the pack to fall silent once more before continuing.

“As is tradition amongst our kin, those wolves who are able to prove themselves in the days to come will serve as this pack’s first line of defense. They will serve our pack, protecting us from outside threats, against other packs. A strong pack, a healthy pack, is harmonious. There must be union amongst us, and in order to ensure this, I, along with your elders have decided upon a challenge.”

A murmur of excitement breaks out within the pack, and Jimin watches as Taehyung’s alpha perks up, attention captured. Jimin knows the hidden meaning behind their alpha’s words. This “challenge” would keep infighting at bay. The alphas from Jimin’s pack will want to prove themselves, but fights mean injured wolves, wolves who wouldn’t be able to help keep the pack fed, protected. Wolves are, after all, prideful.

“To all those wolves who accept this challenge, you will be given a week’s worth of time to bring back to the pack a kill. The difficulty of your kill will prove to us not only your strength, but your sense of duty. Remember that a true wolf puts his pack before himself. A wolf provides. We are a community before we are an individual,” the alpha intones, eyes piercing as he glances through the members of his pack.

“Those wolves who are able to bring back game deemed worthy of an alpha’s skill will be given a chance to prove themselves in a final fight,” he adds, rising from his seat. “To ensure the prosperity of this challenge, of this newly formed pack, participating wolves will be allowed to present their kill to the beta or omega of their choice and should that wolf accept your kill as worthy, you will move on to the fight.”

The whispers among the pack increase, the omegas surrounding Jimin suddenly far more alert than they were before. Their alpha offers nothing more, turning to Jimin’s old alpha as she continues where he left off.

“Before this fight, each wolf who has managed to move forward will present the fur of the beast they slaughter to a beta or omega as a prize. This is a laying of claim, but do not forget that simply laying claim does not mean the beta or omega must accept!” she exclaims, hands clasped behind her back. She’s aged significantly since Jimin’s youth, the grey in her hair too early. Keeping a pack together was a greater strain than perhaps any of them understood. Jimin watches her move forward, take position between the two fires. She glows in the heat of the flames.

“When the fight is complete, the new pack hierarchy will be announced, and alphas may make a final offer to their claimed beta or omega for a chance to become their mate. It will be the beta or omega’s decision to deem you worthy, do not forget. Any alpha found coercing another wolf will be exiled, without mercy! Is that understood?” she bellows and the resounding boom of howls that fill the air drown everything else out.

Jimin’s head spins, his hand tightening in Taehyung’s. He can sense the excitement radiating off his best friend but it’s not shared with quite the same vehemence. Since his coming of age, Jimin’s found himself at the center of a lot of attention, and while he doesn’t usually mind, it’s also tiresome, downright upsetting how often he has to defend himself from unwanted alpha advances.

Taehyung drags him into the hustle of their pack, roused for the days to come and Jimin flashes a weak smile as he returns greetings directed at him. He ends up with a plate of food in his hands somehow, seated next to Taehyung by one of the smaller fires started after the welcoming. Taehyung chatters animatedly, Jimin shyer, quieter and it’s always been this way; Taehyung makes friends easily.

It’s not until later, their elders retiring for the night, that Jimin feels like he’s being watched again. When he looks around, he can’t spot anyone and it unnerves him, but the gaze feels curious, not malicious. Jimin ignores it.

“It’s not like we can’t drive into one of the towns to get more food,” Taehyung huffs, scribbling down the number of apples on his clipboard. They have barrels full of them and they won’t last forever, even with proper preservation.

“The closest town is four days away by car,” Jimin reminds him, back aching from tallying cabbages. It’s getting late and they’ve barely made a dent in the storage room. To top it off, it’s chilly and Jimin didn’t think to dress for it. His hands are freezing. “And the pack easily has nearly 300 wolves. How do you plan to buy enough food for them all?”

“You know, it’s not written down somewhere that you have to be a know it all,” Taehyung mutters, nose scrunched up as he sticks his tongue out at Jimin.

Jimin laughs, grinning as Taehyung stands up to stretch out all the kinks in his back. They’re going to have to ask for help if they want to get all the inventory down before winter breaks. It was difficult enough getting large quantities of goods in the warmer months of the year, let alone when there’d be ten feet of snow trapping them to the woods.

“When do you think they’ll start that challenge thing? I haven’t seen Hyeri even once since they announced it,” Taehyung whines, starting in on counting onions. It’s only been three days and Jimin hasn’t really concerned himself with any new alphas, keeping to himself and his delegated tasks. There’s always a lot of work to do before winter.

“I’m sure you’ll get to see her soon,” Jimin replies, voice wavering as he fights back a sneeze. Taehyung had told him to go get his coat earlier and Jimin, stubborn as usual, had waved him off, saying he’d be fine. He regrets it now.

“Stop being an ass and go get your coat, or I’m going to leave you in this miserable cabin and go help with dinner instead,” Taehyung says, eyes narrowing and tone hard. There’s no point arguing with him now, Jimin knows, not when he’s clearly shivering.

Jimin sighs, scribbling down his count for the cabbages before straightening out. The storage cabin is a bit of a cluttered mess, crates of cabbages piled haphazardly on top of one another. “Okay, okay, I’m going. Sheesh.”

“And get your gloves too!” Taehyung yells from behind, just as Jimin pushes the door open. Jimin doesn’t bother replying, heading out into the cold of the evening, shivering as the bitter November wind hits him. He has a thick sweater on, but it’s not enough and really he should take better care of himself.

The walk back to his cabin isn’t long, the shrieks of some of the younger wolves filling the room as they play. Jimin laughs as one of them chases the other around his legs, rushing to catch his friend, nearly tripping in the process. He makes it to the bunk in front of his bed, pulling his coat out. The gloves are harder to find, and Jimin has to look under his bed before he spots them, mouth twisting as he shakes the dust off of them. His mother would give him a scolding for being so careless.

A quick glance at the clock tells Jimin it’s nearly four, and he needs to hurry back. Dinner would be at sundown and that’s hardly an hour or more away. He rushes back out into the cold, gulping down the sting of winter coming, lungs burning. As he turns the corner past the cabin, Jimin collides into something, someone, the force of it sending him toppling over.

Except Jimin doesn’t crash into the ground like he’s expecting, strong arms wrapping around his waist to steady him. Jimin gasps, hands fisting into the furs of the person holding him, smoky scent engulfing Jimin’s senses whole.


Jimin’s eyes widen at the realization, immediately shoving the stranger back roughly, cheeks burning with humiliation. “Let go of me!”

The stranger’s arms loosen immediately, and Jimin steps back quickly, willing himself to look the alpha in the eye. He regrets it, feels like he’s just been slammed into a wall, the wind knocked out of him. Sharp, piercing eyes look back at him, widened in alarm, hands raised with his palms showing, nonthreatening.

“Hey, sorry, I was just ― Didn’t want you to fall,” the alpha says, looking wary, almost nervous. Jimin finds it curious but he can’t shake the embarrassment simmering hot on his skin.

“Well maybe you should have been watching where you were going!” Jimin snaps, still trying to gather himself. He’s handsome, and that’s an understatement if Jimin’s ever made any. Black hair falls into big eyes, a strong jaw rounding out to a small face. Jimin thinks he might be younger than him. “I thought alphas were supposed to be good hunters.”

The alpha’s eyes harden and maybe Jimin’s overdone it but well, he can’t exactly take the words back now. The arrogance Jimin expects doesn’t come, instead, the alpha smirks, hands disappearing into his coat. “A good hunter always learns more about his prey before he attacks.”

Before Jimin can ask what that’s supposed to mean, the alpha leaves, and Jimin doesn’t have all day to stand here and stare at his retreating back. He hurries off back to the storage cabin.

Taehyung’s dragged him to the official sending off, alphas lined up near the edge of the woods, ready to leave. Jimin thinks there must be forty or so, the rest of the pack crowded around them. His mother had told him to air out their quilts today and Jimin’s worried it might snow, the chill in the air not nearly as brittle as it’s been the past few days.

Thanks to Taehyung they’re right at the front, his eyes fixed on Hyeri and Jimin would gag if he didn’t think it were so cute how smitten he was. He’d managed to talk to her the other day at dinner, offering her some of the apple tarts he’d made, giggling when she’d complimented his skill.

Hyeri waggles her fingers in Taehyung’s direction and Jimin has to pinch him to keep him from screaming something too embarrassing back at her, lovesick expression on his face indication enough.

“You’re so mean,” Taehyung whines, rubbing at his side, looking for all his worth like a newborn pup.

“Do you really want everyone staring at you as you blurt out ‘I love you’ to her,” Jimin counters, giving Taehyung a pointed look.

“I was going to wish her luck!” Taehyung exclaims, arm looping through Jimin’s. “You’ll understand one day, when you stop being such an ice queen.”

“No thanks,” Jimin says with a roll of his eyes. It’s not even that he doesn’t want a mate, he just doesn’t want to settle. Maybe he’s being difficult.

“I wanna go say good luck,” Taehyung pouts, arm still locked with Jimin’s. He better not be thinking Jimin’s going to come along, standing there like a third wheel as he makes love eyes at Hyeri.

“Then go,” Jimin encourages, giving him a little nudge and flashing Taehyung a smile. He looks uncertain for about point two seconds before he’s off, and Jimin watches as other omegas go and greet alphas, too. Some alphas are already mated, stealing kisses from their mates in good luck and Jimin thinks it’s cute. There’s a bit of a crowd around one of them, but Jimin doesn’t pay much attention. He should probably stop being such a stick in the mud all the time.

Their elders have already explained the rules. The alphas have one week to bring back their kill, present it to the wolf of their choice, and they could accept it or not. The fact that a single wolf can also be given multiple offers is what makes Jimin feel slightly queasy. He’s already been skirting around the new alphas he didn’t know, could smell their interest.

“Hey Jimin,” a voice greets and Jimin startles out of his thoughts, glancing up to find Namjoon’s smiling face. His dimple is peaking through, silvery blond hair even longer now, tied up into a small bun.

“Hey,” Jimin says, returning the smile, a shyness creeping down on him. “How’re you doing?”

“I’m good, although it’s been a bit of an adjustment,” Namjoon answers, hands shoved into the pockets of his pants. It makes sense, given that Namjoon had been something of a high ranking alpha in their old pack. Jimin hums in agreement, unsure what to say; he hadn’t lost any status.

There had been a time when he’d had something of a crush on Namjoon and Jimin’s not sure if it’s still lingering on the peripheries or if he’s just terrible at talking to people who aren’t his mother and Taehyung.

“You’re, uh, you’re participating, I imagine,” Jimin says, noting with a shiver that he can feel that same gaze again, the one that’s been following him around these past few days.

“Yeah, of course,” Namjoon grins, and it’s indulgent, the way Jimin’s used to seeing it. Back when they were younger, Namjoon had always brought Jimin wildflowers, said that pretty things suited him and it had been enough back then. Far better than the crude remarks other alphas had made since. “You’ll be cheering for me I hope.”

Jimin’s cheeks heat up at the suggestion, Namjoon giving him a waggle of his brows, teasing. He laughs, butterflies in the pit of his belly, “Of course.”

“Hmm, guess I’ll have to bring something pretty big back, won’t I? Caribou’s your favourite, right?”

He’s wrong but Jimin doesn’t have the heart to tell him, not when he’s always treated Jimin politely, respectfully. “I don’t mind it.”

“I’ll have to catch you a pretty one. You deserve something as pretty as you,” Namjoon grins, and Jimin imagines he’s referring to the fur. Omegas always wear the furs their mates bring them from their hunts, a sign of how well they’re being taken care of. The idea of mating Namjoon isn’t as exciting as Jimin imagines it should be, but he’s flattered anyways, thinks he’d be happy.

“I’ll be waiting,” Jimin smiles, attempts to fight back the flush slowly sinking down his neck. “But, ah, be careful when you’re out there.”

“Thank you, pup,” Namjoon grins, laughing when Jimins scowls at the endearment. He reaches to fix up Jimin’s scarf, although he’d worn it in excess today, having been caught in colder weather one too many times.

Jimin’s about to reply, but there are goosebumps rising against his skin, eyes fixed on him with such an intensity, Jimin feels overwhelmed. When he looks in the direction of the gaze, Jimin finds the stranger from the other day surrounded by a gaggle of omegas. Namjoon glances in the same direction but Jimin hurriedly draws his attention away, hand touching Namjoon’s briefly.

“Good luck, Namjoon,” Jimin says, but he’s drowned out by a howl, the final call. Namjoon’s off before Jimin can say anything else, the rest of the alpha wolves disappearing into the woods with speed. Jimin finds the stranger stays the longest, staring at Jimin until he looks away, flustered by the intensity of the gaze.

“Why was Jeongguk staring at you like he’s never seen an omega before?” Taehyung asks, suddenly next to Jimin. The pack lingers by the edge, and when Jimin looks back up the alpha, Jeongguk, is gone.


“Jeongguk, the pack alpha’s son?” Taehyung offers, eyebrow raised. “Do you ever listen to me?”

“Of course I do,” Jimin mumbles, except he can’t remember a single incident where Taehyung’s told him anything about the pack elder’s son. Had he been the one watching Jimin this whole time? After all, Jimin had felt that gaze before, since the first day…

“Liar,” Taehyung accuses, but he doesn’t look mad. Instead he flicks Jimin’s ear, laughing when Jimin winces in pain. He dodges Jimin’s punch easily enough, sticks his tongue out in victory.

“Asshole,” Jimin huffs, rubbing over the bruised skin. “How do you even know his name, you gossip.”

“One of us has to be the social butterfly,” Taehyung retorts, already grabbing Jimin’s hand and tugging him away from the other wolves still chattering around the edge of the clearing. Taehyung pauses only when he thinks he’s outside of earshot, dipping down to whisper in Jimin’s ear. “He’s apparently very powerful, Hyeri was saying. Has a lot of omegas interested in being his mate but it looked like he might have a thing for you. Poor things.”

Jimin snorts, shoving Taehyung away. “God, you’re so stupid sometimes. I’ve barely even talked to him, exactly why would he have a thing for me?”

“What do you mean barely even talked to him?” Taehyung, of course, had to zoom in on the one thing Jimin didn’t want to recall.

“He bumped into me a few days ago,” Jimin answers, shrugging.

Taehyung gapes at him, as if in disbelief that Jimin would keep such important information all to himself. Jimin really didn’t think anything of it, least of all the big deal it seemed to be for Taehyung. “Why didn’t you tell me before! Oh my god, I bet you a week’s worth of dessert he’s gonna lay a claim on you!”

“Just shut up and help me get my mom’s quilts back in before it starts snowing,” Jimin sighs irritably, heading off in the direction of their cabin. Taehyung runs to catch up with him, chattering about how he’s so going to be right and Jimin was going to have to watch him eat all of his desserts.

Jimin doesn’t mind his excitement so much as the thought he might have more than one alpha interested in him. Namjoon would be bringing him his kill as well. Fuck.

He glances back at the woods, at the spot Jeongguk had been standing at and all he can think of is his scent, burnt and smoky.

The first snowfall comes two days into the week with no end in sight. The pack stays mostly indoors, trapped to their cabins. At the very least, Jimin has Taehyung for company, but he finds he can’t stop staring out the window at the blizzard obliterating everything in white.

“It’s been four days,” Taehyung murmurs, the ends of his nails bitten clean off. Hyeri hasn’t made it back yet. For that matter, of the forty alphas who’ve left, only eleven have come back. Jiwon had brought back a wild boar two days in, dragging it between his teeth, throat ripped right out. The blood dripping down from his chest had told everyone the kill hadn’t been quite as easy as he was making it seem. The way Hanbin’s face had dropped, skin ashen, rushing to Jiwon’s side, had put quite a damper on everyone’s spirits, and then the snow had started.

Jimin curls up into his side, tired from the day’s activities. Taehyung’s got a hand playing with his hair, the downward curl of his mouth distressing. “She’ll make it back, and you’ll get to wear the pretty furs she prepares.”

“She might not even like me,” Taehyung says, mouth pressed into Jimin’s hair.

“I think she likes you,” Jimin says, having seen the way Hyeri returned Taehyung’s lovestruck look. It’s not as though Jimin hasn’t seen it before, knows not to mistake a look weighed down with interest with only friendship.

Taehyung doesn’t respond, just wraps an arm around Jimin, squeezing him tightly. It’s enough.

Jimin’s chest burns from the cold, each breath in searing, but he’s also got a crate full of apples in hand, seemingly getting heavier with each step Jimin takes. The blizzard finally came to an end a day ago, leaving a good two feet of snow around them, and while he can trek through it easily enough in his wolf form, human legs aren’t as efficient. A gust of wind knocks the hood off his coat, sprinkling snow into his eyes. He almost doesn’t catch it, nearly dropping the crate in his haste to draw his hood back up.

The taste of blood is metallic on his tongue, sits heavier in the air.

Jimin’s heartbeat thunders in his chest, eyes drawn to the edge of the woods. There’s nothing there, but Jimin finds himself leaving the crate at his feet, picking up his speed as he reaches the edge. It takes him seconds to strip out of his clothes, bones contorting to shift and lock into new places, paws hitting snow.

He's quicker like this, nose sharper, picks up the scent of blood easier. In seconds Jimin sees him, a massive carcass dragging behind him. There's a trail of blood accompanying him, and Jimin's honestly not sure if it's from the bear or Jeongguk himself.

The week's ended, the pack busy preparing for the feast in honour of their alphas’ return. Jeongguk's the last one, every other alpha in the pack finding their way back, sore and tired but victorious. But Jimin had seen the strain of tension in Namjoon everywhere, the limp in his left leg. Hunting is easier in a pack, not meant for a solitary wolf.

Taehyung hasn't stopped teasing him about Jeongguk since the send off, and Jimin's not sure what exactly he thinks he's doing, but he skids to a stop next to Jeongguk, notes the ugly gashes running from his shoulder down to his stomach. He's covered in blood, but the determination in his eyes is fiercer than anything Jimin's ever seen.

He doesn't make an effort to interact with Jeongguk, head bowing in submission in front of the alpha's domineering gaze, just wanders behind the dead bear, fur as stark white as untouched snow. Jimin's not sure where Jeongguk found such a thing, head pushing the animal from behind in an effort to lighten Jeongguk's load.

They work in tandem, pushing and pulling the beast until they break into the clearing, a small gathering of wolves already present. Jimin falls back, thinks the commotion will hide his presence well enough that he can wander back from around.

He finds his clothes where he left them, shifting back into his human form. The change back is always worse, bones cracking into place, claws disappearing back into his skin. Jimin's covered in a sheen of sweat, the ache scorching through his muscles stiffening in the cold as he scrambles back into his clothes.

The crate of apples is where he left it, his tracks through the snow almost embarrassing in their haste. A gust of wind blows his hood off again, and this time Jimin doesn't bother with it. He feels overheated anyways, feeling almost sticky with sweat in his clothes.

“Jimin!” Taehyung's voice rings out, and he finds his best friend clumsily attempting to run through two feet of snow toward him. Jimin can't help but smile, already knows why Taehyung's sought him out.

“Slow down, you're going to fall on your face,” Jimin yells back, continuing toward the kitchen. He wants to get rid of this crate, maybe start helping his mother with some of the cooking. It's not his forte, Taehyung's the better cook, but he’d rather help with preparing the food than be left to wash the dishes.

“You're going in the wrong direction! He's back!” Taehyung's finally managed to catch up, completely under dressed for the weather and it makes Jimin scowl. He's ready to drape his coat over Taehyung's sweater but he’s grabbing Jimin by the shoulders, shaking him urgently.

“Who's back?” Jimin asks, playing dumb. He shrugs off Taehyung’s hands, eyes narrowing when Taehyung attempts to reach back.

“Jeongguk! Alpha Jeon's livid,” Taehyung exclaims, taking half the crate's weight from Jimin. It's a little awkward carrying it between them but Jimin doesn't mind, the ache in his arms dulling out.

“Why?” Jimin asks, brows furrowed. “Shouldn't he be happy his son's back? He’s the last one to make it back.”

“He brought back a bear, Jimin. He could have died!” Taehyung answers, animated. “The pack alphas never go after bears alone.”

“Leave it to an alpha to overdo himself,” Jimin snorts, heaving the crate the last few steps. The kitchen is bustling, black smoke drifting off into the air. As much as Jimin does want to shrug this whole Jeongguk thing off, there’s something tugging at him to go see if Jeongguk’s okay. When Namjoon had come back two days ago, he’d been limping. The healer had said he’d put a sprain in his hamstring and Jimin’s mouth had twisted at the thought of so many injuries. This whole challenge was proving to be far more harmful than fun.

“He probably wanted to impress you,” Taehyung insists, grabbing Jimin by the hand. There’s a path carved out of the snow, heading in the direction of the fire pits. He lets Taehyung pull him along, hardly putting up a fight, the crowd around the edge of the woods where Jimin left Jeongguk already quite big.

“There’s half a dozen omegas dying to be his mate, I highly doubt he wants me,” Jimin reasons, the bite from the cold forgotten as they near the crowd. Shrugging his coat off, Jimin drapes it over Taehyung’s shoulders, glaring when Taehyung opens his mouth to protest.

“Thanks,” Taehyung mumbles instead and Jimin gives him a smile, stepping back as the crowd parts. He can see the dead bear now, fur glistening white, dirtied with blood and mud. There’s Jeongguk, too, steadfastly refusing his father’s help, looking paler than Jimin remembers. He must have lost a lot of blood and Jimin finds himself with his lip caught between his teeth, chest feeling tighter and tighter by the second.

“He’ll be okay, right?” Jimin asks just as Jeongguk’s eyes find his in the press of people. His breath catches in his throat despite himself, the earlier rush of adrenaline and worry fueling him to find Jeongguk now gone.

“What possessed you to go hunt down a bear?” Alpha Jeon exclaims, looking exasperated with his son.

Jeongguk doesn’t look to his father as he replies, eyes still locked on Jimin. “I wanted the fur to be worthy of its wearer’s beauty.”

“Who — ” his father starts, following his son’s gaze. Jimin shrinks back, but still finds himself under the intense scrutiny of the pack alpha. His head ducks on impulse, heartbeat rapid against his chest. “Ah, I see.”

Jimin’s never wished for the ground to swallow him whole quite so hard in his life, but anytime now would be spectacular. His face is aflame, sneaking a glance back up. Alpha Jeon’s discontent has transformed into an amused smile, disbelief colouring his eyes. Jimin’s light-headed, doesn’t remember to breathe until Jeongguk is walking past him, his father at his side. Their pack alpha tells them not to worry but Jimin can’t squash the feeling down fast enough.

“Are you still going to pretend he doesn’t have his eye on you, or?” Taehyung smirks, eyebrows waggling as Jimin finally turns to look at him and not Jeongguk’s retreating back. They’re headed toward the healer’s cabin and Jimin has to remind himself he can’t follow.

“Shut up,” Jimin mutters, fighting the heat cascading down his neck in waves. He notices he’s clutching Taehyung’s arm like some sort of lifeline, hastily letting go.

“And look at you! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you quite so taken with someone,” Taehyung accuses gleefully, arm slinging over Jimin’s shoulder until he nearly has him in a headlock. “Jimin’s in love.”

“Oh my god, shut up, Tae,” Jimin hisses, shoving at his friend. The crowd’s dispersing, but not without a few glances falling back at Jimin. He tries to smile them off, but there’s quite a few jealous looks and this is what Jimin hates. Taehyung let's go, Jimin straightening out quickly before heading back in the direction of the kitchen, Taehyung right behind him.

“It’s not your fault,” Taehyung starts but Jimin doesn’t want to go through this conversation again.

“It’s fine, Tae. I know. But they’re still going to be jealous,” Jimin sighs, hand running through his hair. The cold’s creeping through his sweater and he can’t quite hide the shiver that runs through him.

“Yeah but — ”

“But nothing. You should go check up on Hyeri,” Jimin says, steering the conversation away from him. He’s always been shy, but it’s never helped that the other omegas sometimes gave him the cold shoulder for garnering attention he didn’t want. “What did Healer Seo say?”

They’ve reached the kitchen again, Taehyung wrapping Jimin up in his own coat. “She said it was nothing. Just a scratch. I, uh,” Taehyung flushes, pulling the sleeves of his sweater down. “She let me, she let me clean the wound.”

Jimin’s eyes widen, smile spreading so fast over his face it almost hurts. “Taehyung! You’re supposed to start with that!” He barrels into his best friend, squeezing tight and Taehyung’s giddy with laughter, infectious in his happiness. “Shit, you’ve bagged yourself an alpha, huh?”

“Something like that,” Taehyung grins, Jimin pinching his cheeks as he steps back.

“Go on, go check on her. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

Taehyung runs off and Jimin steps into the kitchen, the heat packed inside the cabin overbearing. He swallows around the tightness in his throat, Jeongguk’s blood soaked chest swimming back into his vision. There’s a strange urge that floats up his chest from the pit of his belly and Jimin does his best to ignore it.

He didn’t even know Jeongguk.

The pack alpha gives everyone three days to rest up after Jeongguk’s arrival back, the feast Jimin had spent nearly two days preparing for turning into something of a never ending party. The snow’s melted down since, hardened under the crunch of repeated footsteps.

It’s noon time, the sun peaking out from behind a few scattered clouds, sharp enough to sting everywhere Jimin looks. Alpha Jeon’s called for a meeting, and Jimin’s finally managed to drag himself out of bed, his mother’s disapproving scowl urging him to get going. Taehyung’s bed is neat and made, Taehyung nowhere to be found. Jimin already knows he’s gone to see Hyeri before the day’s chores swallow up all his time.

It’s cute really, how smitten the two of them are and Jimin almost wants to give this whole mate thing a chance when he looks at them. Hyeri’s got Taehyung’s same goofy sense of humour, her smile seemingly melting away any coherency left in Taehyung.

It’s been two days since Jimin’s laid eyes on Jeongguk, ignoring the way his wolf seems to fill with longing to see him. He hasn’t even gone to see Namjoon, feeling guilty. What’s worse is that he’s a pretty adept healer, would probably have been more help in the infirmary than trapped in the kitchen with his mother.

As he reaches the fire pit, Jimin takes note that he’s early. Wolves trail in steadily, Jimin finding a seat somewhere in the front with enough space for Taehyung and Hyeri.

The weight of the gaze falls on Jimin before he actually spots the healer, greying hair tied back in a long braid, cane supporting her weight. Jimin immediately stands, waits for her to take a seat before he sits back down, enough space between them to fit another person.

“How are you doing, Jimin?” she asks, voice gravelly, as if unused. Jimin finds her presence soothing, as always.

“I’m good Healer Seo,” Jimin murmurs. She’d been Jimin’s pack’s best healer and in the merging, she’d taken over as head healer for the entire pack. Jimin had spent hours in her cabin once, learning everything he possibly could, hoping to one day follow in her footsteps. Since the merging, he’s barely gone to see her, busy adjusting, helping his mother out with all her various duties.

She tuts, head shaking before fixing Jimin with a knowing smile. “You seem troubled, child.”

“Ah, it’s — it’s really nothing. Nothing to worry about,” Jimin assures, fingers twisting together in his lap. He can’t bring himself to look at her, eyes fixed on the ground.

“You should come to the infirmary today. I could use your help,” she says just as Taehyung and Hyeri show up, hands held together between them. Jimin nearly sighs in relief, smiling at the two of them before meeting Healer Seo’s gaze.

“I’d love to,” Jimin replies, refusing to think about how Jeongguk must be lying in a bed somewhere within the infirmary’s walls.

Healer Seo rises, smiling wider as she does so. “I’ll see you then.”

She moves toward the bench reserved for the elders, taking a seat next to Jimin’s old alpha. Alpha Jeon still hasn’t shown up but Jimin notices that quite a few of the pack’s alphas are present, a few with furs in hand. Jimin’s jaw tightens.

“What was that about?” Taehyung asks, just as their pack alpha’s presence shutters down the noise of the crowd. He looks severe and Jimin imagines he’s worried about his son, about the state of the alphas in the pack.

“I’m just gonna go help at the infirmary,” Jimin answers, leaning into Taehyung’s warmth.

“Good afternoon,” Alpha Jeon opens, standing at the very front. The fires have been started, warmth cascading over them in a glow of orange. “I’ve gathered you here today to announce that the final fight will be in five day’s time. All alphas have until then to offer their gift to the wolf of their choice, keeping in mind that should that wolf reject, you will automatically be disqualified. Choose wisely and know where your defeat lies.”

A murmur falls over the pack, Alpha Jeon leaving in a hurry. They’ve delayed the fight, and Jimin knows it’s due to the state of the alphas. A few extra days would give them enough time to heal, be at their full strength.

“Guess you’ll have to wait a little longer for your furs,” Hyeri teases, a finger lightly tapping Taehyung on the nose. Taehyung’s mouth immediately falls into a pout, eyes sad and imploring.

“But you said you were done!”

“Only the best for the best, right?” Hyeri grins, leaning in and placing a quick peck on Taehyung’s cheek, laughing when Taehyung turns beet red. “You’re so cute.”

“I am, aren’t I?” Taehyung simmers, practically glowing next to Hyeri. Jimin resists the urge to roll his eyes at them, can’t quite keep the smile off his own face. It was nice to see Taehyung so happy.

“Uh, not to ruin your mood or anything,” Jimin interrupts, getting up from the bench. “But Tae, can you let mum know I’m helping Healer Seo.”

Taehyung’s eyes light up with a mischievous glint but before he can say anything, Jimin’s off, waving goodbye. He isn’t going to have Taehyung tease him about Jeongguk in front of Hyeri, the two of them were like peas in a pod. She’d be just as relentless.

It hasn’t escaped him that he’ll probably have to see Jeongguk but Jimin imagines he’ll be resting. Healer Seo will probably have him helping with cleaning the place up, maybe checking up on some of the lesser injured wolves.

When he reaches the infirmary, Jimin squeezes in through the door, trying to keep his presence discreet. Healer Seo doesn’t seem to be back yet, at least Jimin can’t scent her out, the soothing smell of aloe lingering in the air faint. Instead Jimin picks up on lavender and rosemary, sharp but not overwhelming. There’s a wolf working at a desk in the corner, mixing together what smells like a salve. He glances up as Jimin shuffles in, face slim and eyes big.

“Can I help you?”

“Um, h-hello. Healer Seo asked me to come by to help,” Jimin answers, uncertainty lacing his voice. He lingers by the door, ready to head back out.

“Oh! That’s great! We could use an extra hand,” he smiles, getting out of his seat. The friendliness eases Jimin’s nerves and he manages to return the smile, taking note of the full beds in the infirmary. A few beds have been warded off, turned into makeshift rooms using separators. Even with the culmination of medical herbs swarming the inside of the infirmary, Jimin can make out Jeongguk’s scent and he nearly scowls at his own eagerness.

“Seokjin,” the other wolf introduces, coming to a stop in front of Jimin. They’re measuring each other up, instinct more than anything, Jimin noting that he’s a beta. It makes sense, Seokjin seems level-headed, gave Jimin the same sense of assurance that Hoseok always did. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too. I’m Jimin,” he echoes, nose finding exactly which separator Jeongguk’s bed is behind. Seokjin ushers him over to his desk, Jimin trailing behind him obediently.

“I’m just finishing up another batch of healing salve for some of the open wounds a few of the wolves have,” Seokjin explains, handing Jimin a tub of finished salve. It smells overwhelmingly of pennywort and witch hazel, but Jimin can make out the aloe and chamomile. “If you wouldn’t mind, until Healer Seo gets back, can you just change the bandages on beds four, seven, and twelve? They’ve got the most fatal wounds.”

“Yeah, no problem,” Jimin answers, already looking around for new bandages.

“They’re in the third cupboard from the right.”


Jimin heads for bed four, swallows down his anxiety until it swims in his stomach, nauseating. It’s not like he hasn’t done this before, but an alpha is still an alpha. Except Hyojung doesn’t give him any trouble, smiles at Jimin happily as he changes the bandages wrapped around her wrist. The gash had run deep enough to show bone, she tells him, her stitches neat and clean. Bed seven’s temporary resident is just as accommodating, the lacerations running down Yunho’s back long and thin, but plentiful. Jimin notes the flowers next to his bedside as he leaves, stopping short of bed twelve.

It’s possible the tightness in his chest is just for this alpha alone, Jeongguk’s scent strong even past the layer of curtains surrounding his bed. Jimin lets out a breath, sneaks a glance over at Seokjin but he’s busy working, grinding some leaves into a paste. Gathering up his courage, Jimin steps past the curtains, nearly shuddering as he catches sight of Jeongguk.

He’s shirtless, bandages wrapped around his right shoulder and arm, carrying down to his abdomen. There’s blood soaking through, Jimin’s heart sinking at the sight. His wolf feels anxious, as if Jeongguk is still in harm and not in capable hands. His eyes are closed, head resting on his hands as he leans back against a mountain of pillows, upright. There’s a light sheen of sweat against his skin, body fighting against his wounds, and Jimin’s never felt such a compulsion toward another person before, not like this.

“Hey,” Jimin greets, purposefully quiet. Jeongguk cracks open an eye and there’s no way he didn’t already know Jimin was standing here.

“Hey,” he responds, arms coming down, shifting to sit up in his bed. Jimin catches the wince he tries to hide, finds himself rushing forward to press Jeongguk back into his pillows. He sinks into the bed knee first, sitting on top of his leg as he ensures Jeongguk leans back.

“You shouldn’t move,” Jimin instructs, hoping he sounds stern, yanking his hand back as he realises it’s still pressed against Jeongguk’s naked shoulder. “Um, sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Jeongguk assures, smiles softly and Jimin willfully ignores the little leap in his chest at the sight, staring down at his pot of salve. “Seokjin wanted me to change your bandages.”

“Do you want to change them?” he asks, voice quiet. Jimin feels like there’s a right answer here, an answer Jeongguk’s looking for, but there’s a lump in his throat and all he can do is nod. He sneaks a glance up, catches a faint dusting of pink across Jeongguk’s cheeks and it’s bewildering really. Jimin’s never seen an alpha blush.

“You didn’t,” Jimin starts but he doesn’t know where he’s going with this, just that he’s sorry Jeongguk’s hurt and still bleeding.

“I didn’t?”

He doesn’t want to finish the thought, thinks it would be brazen to assume Jeongguk will try to claim him, that the bear’s fur is for him. A part of him isn’t even sure he would want to accept, lingering fear of commitment sinking its claws into him. “Nothing. Is it still very bad?” Jimin asks, hand motioning toward the wound.

“Healer Seo said it was deep, any worse and I would have been breathing in my own blood,” Jeongguk smiles but it’s mirthless and Jimin feels like he’s upset him. He’d anticipated this being difficult but perhaps not quite to this extent.

“May I see?” Jimin asks, Jeongguk nodding in response immediately. Leaning forward, Jimin rests the salve on Jeongguk’s bedside table, doing quick work of Jeongguk’s bandages. Wolves usually didn’t take very long to heal, one of the advantages of their kind. The toll the body took in a change was too great, the added ability to heal quickly helping them to acclimate.

Jimin has to hold his breath, teeth catching his bottom lip between them as he stares at the gashes, angry and red, running down Jeongguk’s chest almost vehemently. They would heal faster if he licked them clean, but it’s an intimate gesture reserved for mates and parents to their children. Jimin and Taehyung used to clean each other up after a bad tussle, little scratches healing before their eyes, but that was before they’d hit puberty, before Jimin’s hopes that Taehyung might be a beta after all were dashed.

Jeongguk’s skin burns under his touch, and he still has that ghastly quality to him, too much blood loss in too quick a time. How would he be ready to fight in five days time?

“They’re not that bad,” Jeongguk mutters, snapping Jimin out of his daze. He flushes, feels bad for staring, head ducking to hide his embarrassment.

“You have a fever,” Jimin points out, eyes flickering over to the salve. It won’t be that effective, but then, neither will his saliva if there isn’t some kind of bond between them. They barely know each other and yet, Jimin can’t quite get Jeongguk’s words out of his head.

I wanted the fur to be worthy of its wearer’s beauty.

Being complimented isn’t something he’s unused to, but for some reason his wolf won’t let the words go, chest puffed out in pride. He glances back up at Jeongguk who’s quite unabashedly staring at Jimin, pads of his fingers feather-light as they smooth over the skin of Jimin’s wrist, his touch like fire. Jimin can’t bring himself to move, his hand still resting at the base of the longest gash. They’ve been stitched up, the same meticulous work he’d seen on Hyojung and Yunho. Healer Seo had tried to teach him how to stitch up wounds but Jimin hadn’t been ready then, thinks maybe he wouldn’t find it so terrifying now.

Lip caught between his teeth again, Jimin watches Jeongguk’s hand ghost over his skin, the sensation far too pleasant for his liking. He still wants to know, wants to hear it from Jeongguk’s lips, not just from what he’s reading between the lines. This isn’t even like him, fixated on attention from an alpha, especially one so stupid as to put himself in harm to prove himself better than the others. Except Jimin’s heart won’t stop hammering in his chest and he wants to know. It’s not like he won’t get an answer to his question eventually but for some reason Jimin can’t keep it in, voice quivering. “Is it really for me?”

Jeongguks stills, head tilting ever so slightly to the right, attention fixed on Jimin. “Is what for you?”

“T-the bear.”

He’s met with silence, Jeongguk’s fingers tightening around his wrist. “If you want it to be.”

Jimin’s breath shudders out of him, hands fisting, and he expects the guilt but the relief, the way his wolf wants him to pounce onto Jeongguk is unexpected, borderline terrifying. “Don’t ever do something so dumb for me again,” he bites out, eyes stinging and Jeongguk looks shocked, a little speechless.

“Okay,” Jeongguk finally says, whispers, and Jimin slips his hand out of Jeongguk’s grasp, looking anywhere but directly at him. Jimin doesn’t expect the easy acquiescence, adds it to the list of things that surprise him about Jeongguk.

“This — this is for,” Jimin starts, runs out of courage, his wolf moving him forward until he’s licking tentatively at the nastiest part of Jeongguk’s wound, tastes blood on his tongue and the shudder that runs through Jeongguk. He doesn’t pull back or away like Jimin nearly expects him to, stock still under Jimin’s administrations. Jimin takes it as acquiesce, shifting bodily so that more of his own weight falls against Jeongguk’s thighs, the hand keeping him upright on Jeongguk’s other side. This close, he can smell nothing except Jeongguk’s intoxicating scent, Jimin’s mouth carefully working over Jeongguk’s gashes, salve forgotten.

Blood mixes with smoke, clouding his senses, and Jimin doesn’t register the hand sliding up from the small of his back until fingers curl possessively around the back of his neck, Jeongguk’s breath hitching. It doesn’t stop him, Jimin’s tongue sliding further down. He knows that if he lets himself falter, stop for even a single breath, he won’t have it in him to continue, embarrassment already burning red hot in the pit of his belly. His skin burns where Jeongguk touches him, breathy sigh escaping lips Jimin only allows himself to think of tasting in the split second before he slips away to sleep.

Jeongguk’s touch is light, almost reverent, and Jimin feels bolder for it, sinking lower until he’s level with his nipple. The wound’s ripped through it, careful stitches holding skin together and Jimin wants to see them gone, wants to pull them out after he’s done, Jeongguk’s wounds healed. If he lingers — tongue laving at the bud, wound shallower as Jimin strays from Jeongguk’s neck — neither of them acknowledge it.

By the time Jimin’s made it all the way down to the ends of the lacerations, Jeongguk is shivering under him, the taste of his arousal, his desire sharp in the air. Jimin finds it heady, feels almost dizzy, tongue dragging over the least fatal of Jeongguk’s gashes. The hand in his hair is tight, almost painful, but it only encourages him more, nearly breathless as he finds himself back at Jeongguk’s neck.

“F-fuck,” Jeongguk rasps, Jimin’s trance broken, body immediately jerking away, eyes widening as he realises what he’s done. The alpha’s eyes are half-lidded, something raw and all-consuming holds Jimin still, the taste of blood still heavy on his tongue.

When Jeongguk reaches for him, hand fisting into Jimin’s shirt, Jimin goes, allows Jeongguk to pull him in until their teeth clatter painfully against one another. Jeongguk kisses like he wants to devour Jimin, a hungry wolf and Jimin’s nails dig into the flesh of his thigh, mouth opening up, eager to please. He barely holds back a keening whine, Jeongguk’s hands dragging him closer, closer, fingers wrapping around Jimin’s neck, holding him in place. Every nerve ending in Jimin’s body feels like it’s been set on fire, mind a blurred haze, body submitting too easily.

Jeongguk breaks skin, teeth sinking into the flesh of Jimin’s lips too greedily, his lip splitting, and it’s enough, has Jimin falling back out of Jeongguk’s hold. He stumbles off the bed, nearly tripping over his own feet and he can’t look at Jeongguk, doesn’t even dare, rushes out of the makeshift room. Seokjin is still preoccupied at his desk, and Jimin can’t sense Healer Seo.

Panic has him running out the front door without so much as a goodbye, the taste of his own blood mixing too readily with the metallic tang of Jeongguk’s. He runs, frantic, bones contorting and shifting with each step forward until Jimin is tearing through his clothes, skin morphing to fur and then he’s gone. The woods swallow him.

And he runs.

Chapter Text

“Jimin, why’re you holed up in here when the entire pack’s out by the fires?” His mother asks, voice filtering through the blanket Jimin’s got draped over his head. Taehyung had come by earlier and he’d pretended to sleep, the easy way out. He’s pretty sure Taehyung knew he was awake and just let him be but his mother is less sympathetic to his plight, apparently.

“Didn’t wanna go,” Jimin answers, knowing that she’s not going to leave him alone. “Why aren’t you there?”

“Suji’s mother asked me if I had any embroidery needles to spare.”

“You could have checked later.” Jimin throws the blanket off to see his mother, finds her bent over her trunk, rummaging through it. She's got her hair plaited in a long braid, having long ago stopped decorating it with flowers. Jimin remembers when she did, back when his father had still been alive.

“I could have," she agrees, pulling out the bin she kept all her needles and thread in. "But I thought I would check in on you.”

“I’m fine,” Jimin insists, worrying his lip between his teeth. He stares at his hands, unable to look her in the eye. Relatively speaking he is fine, if he ignores the snakes coiling around in the pit of his belly, nausea like a shadow following him around these past few days.

He hasn’t seen Jeongguk in three days, has avoided the infirmary and Healer Seo with a doggedness that has him feeling guilty, ashamed. Falling back into bed, Jimin sighs, eyes closing, the sound of his mother humming keeping him from sinking too far into overthinking the whole situation again.

His bed dips and he knows it's his mother, her hand carding through his hair. She pushes his fringe out of his eyes, and when he opens his eyes, she’s giving him a soft, knowing smile. “Healer Seo was asking after you.”

Jimin’s cheeks heat up. He can’t look his mother in the eye. “Oh?”

“Said she misses your help in the infirmary.”

“Was supposed to help out,” Jimin mumbles, carefully avoiding his mother’s eyes. Hiding things from Taehyung was easier, but his mother just had to look at him and Jimin would spill everything.

His mother hums, taking Jimin’s sketchbook off his night side table. He’d tried drawing earlier but nothing had looked right, a set of piercing eyes haunting his imagination. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” Jimin lies.

“It’s not like you to go back on your promises,” she comments, opening the book to Jimin’s last used page. He’d tried drawing the mountains on the horizon, had distorted the distance and been left feeling unhappy. The eyes though, those he always nailed and it frustrated him endlessly.

“I did go help, just left before she came back,” Jimin retorts and it’s the truth. Everytime he thinks back to that day, his body pulses with heat at the memory of Jeongguk’s hands on him, his mouth burning through Jimin’s defenses.

“You sound defensive,” his mother smiles, amused, and Jimin huffs, sitting up. His mother has his sketchbook open to a page where he’s drawn Taehyung playing with some of the pups. That, at least, is a favourite. Taehyung is fun to draw, always animated, excitable.

Jimin’s running out of ways to deflect where this conversation is going, sighing in defeat as he looks at his mother. She turns the page and Jimin stares at the eyes, he’d left the rest of the page blank but Jimin can fill everything in. The rounded face, jaw sturdy but boyish, the mole just under his mouth. “How’d you know?”

“Know what?”

“That it was Dad.” Jimin doesn't say the rest, doesn't really want to drag up old memories his mother’s had a hard enough time putting away. Losing your mate as young as she had, he’s lucky he still has her.

“I didn’t like him at first, you know,” she tells him, smiling as she looks at him. ‘He was just like the rest of them, prideful and arrogant.”

“What changed?”

“He did,” she says. “If he’s willing to shed away the alpha exterior, then he’s worth a shot. Your father courted me for three months before I gave in and this Jeongguk boy,” she taps a finger against Jimin’s sketch, the eyes, and he flushes at her knowing smile, “he’s ready to break the moon out of the sky for you.”

Mom,” Jimin cries, wishing he’d just stayed lying in bed with the blanket covering his humiliation.

“What? You think I didn’t know.”

“Taehyung told you, he must have, that ass,” Jimin scowls, resolving to get back at him somehow.

“The entire pack is gossiping over you and the Alpha’s son. Taehyung didn't have to tell me anything, although, I’m a little hurt you didn’t mention anything to me yourself.” She pinches his cheek, eyes narrowed but the smiles still there and Jimin wants to crawl under a rock.

“It's embarrassing,” he mutters, pushing her hand away.

“Telling your mom your problems?” She arches an eyebrow at him.

“Telling your mom you might ― ” Jimin cuts himself off, unwilling to say the rest. He doesn’t even want to admit it to himself.

She laughs, standing up and placing Jimin’s sketchbook back on his table. “Follow your heart, sweetheart; it won’t guide you in the wrong direction. Now come on, Taehyung looked lonely without you.”

“As if, everyone’s his friend.”

“Maybe,” she hums, “but none of them are his best friend except for you.”

Taehyung’s a step ahead of him, firewood in both arms as Jimin carries a bag of coal. Behind them, Yugyeom and Bambam are chatting animatedly about who they think will win the alpha fight. Jimin does his best ignoring most of it, knows Taehyung’s hurried pace is in part due to his own haste to get away from the conversation. He doesn’t want Hyeri to get hurt and Jimin doesn’t know how to tell him that that’s not going to be something he can control.

“This should be enough, right?” Taehyung asks, dumping the firewood down by the largest pit in the gathering place. They have a hefty pile going already, Taehyung’s furs dirty with dust from the wood.

“Looks good enough to me,” Jimin says, emptying the bag of coal under a grilling rack set up in another pit. They were having another feast before the fight and Jimin is starting to think the pack will just use anything as an excuse for a big meal. Not that he minds, but the unrelenting worry hasn’t left him, Jeongguk’s wounds swimming in the forefront of his mind. He knows there’ll be different rules for the fight, but that doesn’t make him feel better.

“Great,” Taehyung grunts, patting the dust out of his furs. They’re Hyeri’s, fashioned into a winter coat. She’d given them to Taehyung last night at dinner, Jimin catching the tail end of things when his mother had dragged him to the fires.

Taehyung looks even taller in them, fills out the coat, and Jimin's seen the way some of the other wolves have been looking at him. He’s also seen the possessive glint in Hyeri’s eyes, purposefully sitting in his lap at dinner yesterday. Jimin had tried not to flush red at the sight. “Wanna go for a run?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jimin agrees easily, following Taehyung to the edge of the clearing. They make their way into the trees slowly, Jimin catching Taehyung’s hand, hoping his reassurance seeps into Taehyung's skin. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung answers, the tension sitting rigidly in his shoulders seeping out, almost like Jimin’s presence alone has washed it away. “It’s just hard not to worry.”

“I know,” Jimin agrees, only lets go of Taehyung’s hand when they’re a good ways off from the pack grounds. They strip with a learned efficiency, the bite of winter barely catching up with them as they shift, bones crackling between them, fur covering exposed skin. Taehyung’s wolf, bigger than Jimin’s, fur a shimmering gold, stands before his own. Jimin feels at ease for the first time in days, snout pushing his clothes closer to the trunk of a pine tree before he starts off at a slow pace, disappearing further into the woods. Taehyung follows close behind, blood warming up as they set out.

Taehyung picks up speed, yipping as he passes Jimin and then they’re trying to outrun each other. Jimin already knows who’s going to win, he doesn’t have Taehyung’s longer legs but the chase is fun either way, the rush of the wind against his fur a comfort. He howls at Taehyung as he darts between trees, happiness blooming from his heart as the muscles of his body begin to ache with a familiarity. He’s missed this, just him and Taehyung, sprinting through the woods in tandem.

Taehyung growls when Jimin pushes past him, mind set on getting to the river before him, but in his haste he doesn’t notice Taehyung lunging forward. Suddenly, Jimin’s pinned down by Taehyung’s heavy weight but he’s done this a million times, rolling Taehyung off of him easily, teeth snapping at his friend, eyes narrowed. Taehyung lets out a squeal of delight, the sound rumbling out of him and just like that Jimin thinks the world is finally back on kilter.

He gets his face licked for his trouble, caught off guard and then Taehyung’s bolting off, Jimin left behind. Growling in frustration, Jimin follows, pushes himself harder, contemplates yanking on Taehyung’s tail but they reach the river before Jimin can sink his teeth in. Taehyung howls triumphantly, even as Jimin butts into him, annoyed at the cheating but happy to see Taehyung in better spirits.

There’s a sheet of ice forming on the river’s surface, water rushing down the center where the ice hasn’t bridged together from the banks. They curl up together by the edge, Jimin’s lungs burning pleasantly as he nuzzles into Taehyung. He’d thought once that they’d be enough for each other always, back when they hadn’t known how they would present. Jimin had never thought Taehyung would be an omega, too.

They head back to the pack’s grounds just before dinner, Taehyung trudging along behind Jimin. When they get to their clothes, they shift back and Jimin helps button up Taehyung’s new coat, fingers running over the soft fur.

“Pretty isn’t it?” Taehyung grins and Jimin mirrors the smile.

“Very,” he replies, smoothing out the lapels. “She’s really good at sewing.”

Taehyung laughs, delighted before leaning in conspiratorially. “Sojin helped her out. Hyeri’s terrible at clothes making.”

“Did she tell you that?”

“Sojin did,” Taehyung answers solemnly. “I can’t wait until you have your furs! I bet Jeongguk’s even worse than Hyeri.”

Jimin’s heart stops, spluttering back to life only when Jimin sucks in a shaky breath, attempting a smile at Taehyung. “We don’t know if he’ll pick me.” The thought that he might not bites at Jimin and he doesn’t want to accept what that means.

“Right,” Taehyung snorts. “I go around killing bears for every guy I have a mild crush on, too.”

“Tae ― ”

“Nope, not listening,” Taehyung huffs, arm looping into Jimin’s as they start walking back out of the woods. “He practically wanted to claim you on sight after he dragged that monstrosity back to the grounds.”

“But isn’t it...isn’t it too much, too quickly? We don’t even know each other,” Jimin says, airing out his thoughts. He bites down on his lip, worried he may have said too much. Afterall, Taehyung and Hyeri had swan dived in and never looked back.

“What do you think Hyeri and I have been doing the past few days?”

“Uh, making out?”

Taehyung rolls his eyes, a faint pink tinge sitting high on his cheeks. “Okay, I walked into that but! That’s not what I mean. You’re only going to get to know him if you talk to him. And I know you want to talk to him.”

“Oh, you’re a mind reader now, huh?”

“It’s a talent,” Taehyung simpers, and Jimin rolls his eyes at his friend’s antics. They walk out of the woods, the sun dipping on the horizon and from a distance, Jimin can see Jackson running about with Mark in tow, lighting the lanterns along the perimeters of the pack’s grounds.

Suddenly, Taehyung stops, grabbing Jimin roughly by his shoulders and this way Jimin’s forced to look at him. “What do you want, Jimin?”

Jimin’s blanks out for a split-second because that’s just the problem, isn’t it? He doesn’t know what he wants. His wolf does though, from the way he whines at the thought of Jeongguk not selecting him. He grumbles, “It’s just a bunch of hormones, you know.”

Taehyung gives him a withering glare. “Hormones that have kept our species alive for centuries, so, you know, no biggie. He wouldn’t smell so good if you weren’t compatible.”

“He doesn’t ― ” Jimin starts to protest, face flushing as Taehyung arches a knowing eyebrow at him. He should really stop trying to lie to Taehyung. Maybe himself, too. Taehyung looks at him expectantly.

“We should go help with dinner,” he says instead, and Taehyung sighs in exasperation, letting go of Jimin.

They’ve hardly taken one step toward the kitchens when Namjoon’s there. Taehyung lets out a low whistle before making himself scarce and Jimin’s left with a growing sense of unease. He wishes he was back in the woods with Taehyung.

“Hey,” Namjoon smiles, dimple peeking through. He looks so happy to see Jimin and he wishes he could return the sentiment. Instead, Jimin nods his head, fighting off the growing sense of guilt worming its way into his belly.

“Shouldn’t I be the nervous one?” Namjoon teases, grinning and Jimin can see it, the tension in Namjoon’s shoulders, the tightness around his smile, how his posture’s kind of stiff.

“We can both be nervous,” Jimin says, tries his best to smile, but it probably looks worse than Namjoon’s attempt. He’s the third alpha to have approached Jimin, the two before him decidedly turned down.

“Deal,” Namjoon agrees, a hand curling around the back of his neck for a split second, falling back down. The other hand is hiding something behind his back and Jimin knows what it is, eyes looking back up to meet Namjoon’s. “Wanna sit down?”

Jimin nods again, let's Namjoon guide him over to the benches by the fire pits. They’re empty right now, the pack preparing for dinner and Jimin should be helping. Instead, he sits down next to Namjoon, who holds his furs tightly in his hands. He should say no, he thinks, but then Namjoon looks at him, hopeful and nervous and Jimin doesn’t know anymore.

“I know,” Namjoon starts, licking his lips, “I know I’m probably not your first choice, and that’s okay, really. I could have given them to someone else but I guess I just want a chance.” Jimin feels pinned by his earnestness, ducking his head to stare at his hands. There’s embarrassment burning bright in his cheeks.

“You don’t like anyone else?” he asks softly, worrying his lip between his teeth.

“I don’t want to burden you — ”

“I’m not! I’m not burdened,” Jimin rushes to say, interrupting Namjoon. He looks surprised and Jimin feels like he’s fallen into a well of guilt. “I just. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Namjoon’s expression softens, and he takes one of Jimin’s hands tentatively, smoothing his fingers out until his palm is open, facing upwards. He places his hand over top, fingers loosely intertwined with Jimin’s. “It’s okay if it’s not me. Promise.”

Jimin’s chest squeezes, and it feels harder to breathe but he nods, smiles, “Okay. I accept.”

“Thank you, Jimin,” Namjoon says softly, hand squeezing Jimin’s harder. Jimin swallows, takes the offered furs into his lap.

“I hope you do well,” Jimin says, hand smoothing over the caribou fur. It’s not his to keep, he knows already.

“With you watching over me, how would I not?” Namjoon grins, the tension between them diffusing a little.

Jimin smiles, genuine this time, finally looking up at Namjoon. “Then I’ll be sure to watch.”

“Thanks, pup,” Namjoon smiles, standing. “See you at dinner.”

“Yeah,” Jimin says, watches Namjoon leave, shoulders deflating once he disappears from sight. He needs to put the furs away, and then go find Taehyung or something but he doesn’t feel like moving, an invisible weight holding him in place. Jeongguk hasn’t even given Jimin his furs yet, so really, Jimin shouldn’t be feeling so guilty about accepting Namjoon’s. And it’s not like there was any guarantee that Jeongguk was going to chose him.

Annoyed, Jimin sets off back to his cabin. He’s letting one wolf hold too much power over him and yet the idea that Jeongguk might not pick him made his wolf howl in misery, heart seizing up. He’d accepted Namjoon’s furs if only to give him an equal opportunity in the fights. The idea of accepting him as a mate...well, Jeongguk had burned that right out of Jimin’s mind.

By the time Jimin makes it to the kitchens, dinner’s ready to be set. He’d tucked Namjoon's furs away in his trunk, heading over to the kitchens to help but everyone had already started to gather by the fires. Jimin walks over, seeking Taehyung out. He spots Hyeri first and then spots the head of gold hair between her legs.

“Couldn't find an empty seat?” Jimin grins when he finally makes his way to them, weaving through the crowd. He plops down next to them, tired but relieved just to be in their familiar company.

“This seat was empty,” Taehyung points out, grinning when Hyeri runs a hand through his hair. Jimin wonders how it’s so easy for both of them, how they’re so willing and ready. He feels like he’s floundering chest deep in water, fighting against the current, refusing to be swept away.

“I didn't know the ground was so comfortable,” Jimin retorts, looking from Taehyung to Hyeri. She shrugs helplessly, smiling fondly down at Taehyung.

“You should try it some time,” Taehyung teases, eyebrows waggling suggestively. Jimin rolls his eyes, watches as the pack's Elders take the first plate of food. He spots Namjoon with some of his friends, and carefully avoids making eye contact. There’s a lump forming in his throat.

“How about I get us some food?” Hyeri says, shuffling out of her seat. Taehyung brightens up instantly, nodding but well, Hyeri’s not his alpha.

“I’ll help,” Jimin says, but Hyeri places a hand on his shoulder, holding him in place.

“It’s okay,” she smiles. “You can help next time.”

“But ― ”

Hyeri tuts, pressing a finger to her mouth before she leaves, getting in line with the other wolves. Jimin immediately feels guilty but then Taehyung’s sitting down next to him on the bench, hand finding his.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Jimin answers, but he knows better than to lie to Taehyung, head falling against his best friend’s shoulder as his body sags.

“She’s really good at reading people, you know,” Taehyung murmurs, thumb rubbing small circles into the back of Jimin’s hand. Jimin squeezes tighter. “And she really likes you.”

“I’m very likable, apparently,” Jimin laughs, the hint of self-depreciation he’d been hoping to hold back escaping despite himself. He just wants to go to bed, maybe wake up after all this is over.

“Jimin,” Taehyung says softly, voice laced with worry. He feels like an ass always making Taehyung fuss over him, especially when he should get to enjoy all his happiness with his new mate. “Did Namjoon say...anything?”

Jimin knows what Taehyung's asking, shakes his head quickly to dispel that train of thought. “He was really nice about everything. I accepted.”

“You did?” The surprise in Taehyung’s voice makes Jimin’s gut churn miserably.

“He deserves a chance to prove himself,” Jimin says, “just like everyone else.”

“Okay,” Taehyung acquises, refusing to let go of Jimin’s hand when he attempts to pull it away. Jimin’s grateful for the stubbornness for once. They sit in silence, Jimin watching the fire crackle and burn, flames flickering before their eyes. He’s not really sure when Hyeri comes back, settling on Taehyung’s other side, a plate of food pushed into his hands. His earlier hunger’s gone, tucked away with Namjoon’s furs and there’s only one night left. Jimin feels stupid.

“Be right back,” he tells Taehyung, excusing himself as he goes looking for some water. Jeongguk’s still in the infirmary, he tells himself, knows it for a fact because he’d caught Halla talking about it with Jaein, voices hushed in the storage rooms that morning. The frustration he feels with himself for the steadily increasing feeling of desperation gnawing at him increases with every step he takes toward the water tank. The kiss didn’t mean any ―

“Hey.” The voice startles him, eyes widening as he takes in Jeongguk’s broad shoulders, dark furs draped over his well-built frame, and Jimin’s world narrows down to just him.

“H-hey,” he hears himself say, swallowing, and Jeongguk gives him this warm smile, eyes soft and cheeks tinged with just the slightest hint of pink. Jimin’s heart skips a beat, his wolf crooning happily.

Jeongguk takes a step closer to him, and Jimin feels rooted to the spot, unwilling even to blink, wishing he could see Jeongguk’s wounds, that they’d healed, that he’d be alright. His scent is stronger this close, smoky and cloying. Somewhere in the back of his head, a little voice reminds him that the whole pack can see them, that he already has enough gossip floating around about him.

“Think I can borrow you for a few minutes?” Jeongguk asks, voice dipped low, and Jimin nods quickly, a noise of surprise escaping him when Jeongguk’s hand takes ahold of his. Jeongguk doesn’t pull him away, seems to give Jimin a minute to catch up with everything and then Jimin remembers exactly where they are, tugging Jeongguk away, heading straight for the woods.

“How’re you feeling?” Jimin asks, blush rising to his cheeks as he steadfastly moves forward, ignoring the hot feeling in his belly.

“A lot better,” Jeongguk replies, “thanks to you.”

Jimin’s cheeks burn even brighter, and he’s quietly grateful that Jeongguk can’t see his face right now. He stops abruptly, the glow of the fires behind them. They’re back where Jimin helped Jeongguk drag the bear back to the pack, the memory searing through Jimin. Except now they have nothing but the shine of the moon to light the woods, the marks of Jeongguk’s efforts obscured by melting snow and the hurried footsteps of other wolves.

He’s about to turn around when his heart stops, Jeongguk’s taller, bigger frame pressing up against him, but the touch is gentle, leaves Jimin plenty of room to step away if he wants to. He doesn’t.

Jeongguk inhales, hands settling on Jimin’s hips, and Jimin’s blood rushes to his head, heart hammering so quickly in his chest he thinks it might burst out. “J-Jeongguk?”

“Thank you,” Jeongguk whispers softly, lips pressing chastely against Jimin’s neck, and he can’t think beyond the softness of his lips, of Jeongguk’s scent wrapping around him. He sucks in a shuddering breath.

“For what?”

“For healing me,” Jeongguk answers, kissing Jimin again. “For agreeing to see me,” he adds with another kiss, higher up this time and Jimin’s skin burns, as if branded. He doesn’t think he would mind Jeongguk’s mark.

“I ― I wanted to,” he says, head tilting just the slightest bit to the left, exposing more of his skin. Jeongguk nuzzles into his neck, the gesture at odds with how his touch seems scalding, setting Jimin aflame.

“Really? Because you ran away last time,” Jeongguk mumbles, breathing Jimin in and like this, Jimin knows he’ll carry Jeongguk’s scent back with him to the fires. The thought sends a spark of electricity up his spine.

Jimin doesn’t have a response to that, the knots in his belly tightening as Jeongguk’s hands grip his hips harder, holding him closer. Jeongguk is firm and lean against Jimin’s back, a shiver running through him as dares to tilt back into his steady warmth.

“I’m,” Jeongguk starts, nosing along Jimin’s neck, as if seeking assurance. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”

“You didn’t,” Jimin exhales, a hand tentatively coming to rest against the one Jeongguk has gripping his hip. His wolf sings in happiness. “I mean, I’m not scared of you.” And that much should be obvious, Jimin thinks, but he wants to...reassure Jeongguk regardless.

“Not even a little bit?” Jeongguk teases, nipping at Jimin’s skin and he bites back a breathless moan, body arching into the touch. “I scare most people.”

“L-liar,” Jimin accuses, but he barely gets the word out, feeling light-headed and warm.

"You smell so good, Jimin,” Jeongguk breathes, arms winding around him and Jimin flushes bodily at the compliment, tucked into Jeongguk by strong arms. He tries not to whine, arousal seeping into him with a heady rush. It’s the first time Jeongguk’s ever said his name, and Jimin loves how soft and sincere it sounds.

“Do I?” Jimin teases back, head turning to glance at him, still cocooned in Jeongguk’s warmth. A part of him is content to just to stay like this.

“Yeah,” Jeongguk replies, pulling back just the slightest, eyes taking in Jimin’s profile. Under the moonlight, Jeongguk’s face glows and Jimin notes the mole on his right cheek. Jimin’s chest feels like it’s caving in, lungs too small for all the air Jimin thinks he needs. Jeongguk’s teeth sink into his bottom lip, Jimin watching the motion, mouth suddenly dry. “This is okay ― ” his arms squeeze around Jimin’s waist, “with you?”

Jimin almost laughs, can’t hold back his smile as he leans back more firmly into Jeongguk. “I don’t think I’d be here if I wasn’t okay with it.”

Jeongguk doesn’t seem convinced, his hold on Jimin loosening up, but he smiles, however tentatively. Jimin takes the opportunity to turn around, fighting off the blush that’s burning his cheeks red red red. Jeongguk’s eyes widen and Jimin’s breath is lodged somewhere in the back of his throat, the air around them impossibly difficult to breathe.

“When,” Jimin licks his lips, “when did you get out of the infirmary?”

“Today, after noon,” Jeongguk answers, pulling away from him. He leaves a small gap, hands dragging away and off of Jimin, reluctant. Jimin misses the loss of warmth, of Jeongguk’s firm body against his own.

“Did ― did everything heal, properly?’ he asks, hand reaching out hesitantly, eyes on Jeongguk’s expression. When he pushes back the fur covering Jeongguk’s neck, the alpha doesn’t force Jimin’s hand away. Instead, he stands impossibly still, and Jimin thinks he can taste Jeongguk’s heartbeat in his mouth, his scent thick with want.

“There’s some scarring,” Jeongguk mumbles, stands patiently as Jimin’s fingers run over the raised flesh. It’s not a lot, could have been worse if Jimin hadn’t ― His eyes flicker to meet Jeongguk’s, hand pulling away. “I kinda like them,” Jeongguk adds.

Jimin’s afraid to ask why, arms wrapping around himself as he stares at Jeongguk. He wonders if Jeongguk can hear how loud his heart is beating.

Jeongguk swallows, head ducking before he looks back up at Jimin. “The furs ― Um, I cleaned everything up. There’s ― uh, well, I mean ― fuck.”

Jimin almost giggles, finds Jeongguk’s embarrassment cute. He manages to scrounge up enough courage to reach for Jeongguk’s hand, lacing their fingers together. Jeongguk seems surprised by the action, cuts off a little choke of astonishment, but he’s thankful all the same, smile a little sturdier as he looks at Jimin.

“Will you ― do you accept them?”

Jimin’s heart sings, smile spreading so quickly over his lips that he has to duck his head down, cheeks aching from the effort. Jeongguk squeezes Jimin’s hand, the ever-growing knot in Jimin’s belly unravelling as he looks back up, hope and fear written blatantly across Jeongguk’s features. “I do.”

“You do?” Jeongguk asks, eyes wide, disbelief colouring his voice. Embarrassment burns bright in Jimin’s cheeks, indecision and fear washed away as his mother’s words ring in his ears. Follow your heart.

“You sound surprised,” Jimin mumbles, glancing down at their hands and Jeongguk tugs lightly, pulling Jimin’s attention back up.

“A little,” Jeongguk confesses, cheeks tinged with pink, eyes heated. “Guess I was scared you’d say no.”

Jimin thinks about his mad dash away from Jeongguk and he supposes he can’t blame him. “I didn’t though,” he smiles.

“You didn’t, no,” Jeongguk agrees, grinning stupidly and Jimin’s heart flutters, belly filling with warmth at the sight of Jeongguk’s smile. “Thank you.”

Jeongguk’s fingers lace between Jimin’s, their palms pressing together, and then he’s pulling away. Jimin’s chest aches, smile faltering as Jeongguk takes in a big breath. “I have to go get them.”

“Get what ― the furs?” Jimin asks and Jeongguk nods his head, and Jimin’s lungs seem to loosen up, relief rushing through him. “You didn’t bring them? That’s a little forgetful.” Jimin’s tone is teasing, nose crinkling up as he smiles at Jeongguk’s flushed face.

“I wanted to make sure you accepted,” Jeongguk defends, looking indignant and Jimin nearly coos at him, at how cute he looks.

“Well, aren’t you going to get them? Or do I have to wait even longer?” Jimin huffs, acting put upon. Jeongguk’s eyes widen and he shakes his head.

“I’m gonna ― "

“Go,” Jimin insists, waving Jeongguk away as he lingers by him, as if unable to leave. Jimin kind of doesn’t want him to, but Jeongguk shuffles back turns and then he’s off. Something wells up in his heart, belly full, and Jimin thinks the water’s settled a little, the current isn’t quite trying to drown him anymore.

His feet carry him back to the fires, curious glances following him all the way back to Taehyung and Hyeri. There’s this giddy, light-headedness seeping into him, a smile he can’t bite down and Taehyung looks confused.

“You look like someone just ― ” Taehyung’s eyes widen, leaping out of his seat to sniff at Jimin and despite pushing him away, Jimin finds himself with his hands full. “Jeongguk! You smell just like him!”

“God, we’re in the middle of ― ” Jimin starts but Taehyung’s already talking over him: “Nuh uh, you’re gonna tell me what happened right now! Jiminie!”

Jimin laughs, shoving Taehyung back down, finds himself staring at Taehyung’s pout and Hyeri’s expression of amusement. He’s about to answer, when the pack quiets down and Hyeri’s pointing subtly to something behind Jimin, Taehyung’s brows disappearing into his fringe.

Turning around, Jimin hardly blinks before a swirl of white clouds his vision, Jeongguk’s arms lifted up as he throws his furs around Jimin’s shoulders. For a split second, Jimin doesn’t know what’s happening, just feels the weight of Jeongguk’s hands on his shoulders, the burn of his eyes on him. Then there’s loud cheering around him and Jimin’s cheeks alight with embarrassment, Jeongguk’s smirk anything but sorry.

He’s crafted the furs into a coat, long enough to reach Jimin mid calf, and they’re so soft, thick enough to keep Jimin warm through the worst of winter and Jimin’s dumbfounded. Jeongguk steps closer, leaning down to press a chaste kiss to Jimin’s lips. “I’m gonna win tomorrow, for you, Park Jimin.”

The fire pits have been removed, benches placed along an imaginary circle in the ground until their central gathering place looks like the ring it’s meant to mimick. Their alpha stands in the middle now, a gathering of wolves collected around him. A number of them are still holding their furs, and Jimin swallows thickly, eyes fixed on a certain wolf despite himself.

“Pretty sure every wolf here can smell how anxious you are,” Taehyung points out, lips pursed in concern. Jimin shrugs, attempting to regulate his breathing, hands fisted in his lap. He’s as tense as a tightly coiled spring, ready to fling himself away at a second’s notice.

Taehyung sighs, forces Jimin to open up his hand so he can lace their fingers together. He’s wearing Hyeri’s furs again, deer skin the softest brown, startling beautiful against Taehyung’s golden skin. Jimin finds himself squeezing Taehyung’s hand back, wishes he had gathered up the courage to tell Taehyung what had happened in the infirmary. Instead, he’d obstinately said nothing even when Taehyung had asked if anything had happened. Even now, he thinks he would have been fine if Jeongguk hadn't shown up last night, fur crafted into the most beautiful coat Jimin had ever seen. Sighing, Jimin runs a hand through his hair. Unlike Taehyung, he hadn't worn Jeongguk or Namjoon's furs, had thought selecting one over the other would be disheartening, unkind. And he knows, despite his fears, that if he was wearing anyone’s, they wouldn’t be Namjoon’s. He worries his lip into his mouth, eyes finding Jeongguk's and Jimin can't read him beyond the squared off determination in his shoulders and jaw.

The commotion dies down abruptly, silence settling around them as Alpha Jeon comes to stand at the front of the crowd. He raises a hand, scans the crowd, a smile settling on his features. He looks tired, the severe air of patience that usually followed him not there. In it's place is a nervousness, an anxiety and Jimin understands, more than he'd like to admit. The challenge seems ridiculous now, but even under all of Jimin's stifling panic, he knows it was necessary. Settling fights between individual wolves would have been more costly. The pack's success took priority and even knowing that Jimin wishes he didn't have to watch this, be a part of it.

His mother had told him to listen to his heart and Jimin knows what it's saying, loud and clear, but that doesn't mean he likes it.

Jeongguk’s still staring at him. Jimin swallows.

“Thank you for gathering here today, my wolves. It is a formidable occasion, one that will mark the history of our pack for the years to come,” Alpha Jeon bellows into the crowd, pausing when the pack howls in appreciation. “I know we have all been waiting for this fight, and I'll be honest, the anticipation has me quite nervous. In the days that have led to today, we have all shown a solidarity, a spirit to take care of our alphas, and while many of us had fears that the uniting of our two packs would not be so successful, we have proven those fears wrong. We have proven that their is strength in our numbers and a willingness to work together, to prosper. I am proud to be the Alpha of such a pack.”

The howls from the crowd are resounding, a thrum of pride and happiness echoing through the noise and Jimin loosens up just slightly. Taehyung's belting out his cheers, glows in the midday sun and Jimin glances back in Jeongguk's direction, finds he can't spot him. Something twists in Jimin's belly, eyes scanning the group of alphas. He catches sight of Namjoon, his head bowed, legs shoulder length apart as he stands with his hands clasped behind his back. This was it, after all.

“Now now, we still have one final task in our challenge. Our alphas were given a chance to prove themselves, and they have done so with great skill. We have feasted over these last few days, and we can only be thankful to our alphas for their hard work and dedication.

“In their final task today, they will fight one another, the results of which will set our pack hierarchy. The Elders will not change, but with this fight, we will put an end to any disputes arising between our younger alphas. Should any posturing continue, be sure that there will be severe consequences.” Here Alpha Jeon glances only at the alphas, his back to the crowd, and Jimin finally spots Jeongguk, having moved somewhere further back.

“Elder Jung will explain the rules of the fight,” Alpha Jeon tells them, hand stretched out toward Jimin’s old alpha. She steps up from the Elder's bench, now moved to the very head of the circle.

“Thank you, Alpha Jeon,” she smiles, and Jimin notices that she looks happier, seems more at ease, hands twined together in front of her. As she moves to stand before the alphas, they begin to straighten up, heads held high. “The rules are simple. First, this is not a fight to the death and anyone caught attempting to leave a fatal wound will be immediately disqualified. Your rank will be taken completely and should you protest, you will find yourself without a pack.”

A murmur breaks out in the crowd, Jimin’s heart clenching at the thought. Lone wolves died quickly, lacking the support of a pack, of other wolves to keep them sane. There was no worse fate.

Elder Jung ignores the crowd, continuing on, “Second, all fighting will occur in your Changed form. Third, if you find yourself out of the circle, you have lost. You must immediately remove yourself from the fight. Fourth, if a wolf surrenders during a fight, their opponent must immediately back off and the wolf must remove themself from the circle. Fifth, and finally, the faster you lose, the lower your rank. Do I make myself clear?”

The alphas let out a collective howl, moving toward the edges of the circle and Jimin watches as they make quick work of their clothes. Elder Jung moves back to the bench, Alpha Jeon seated to her right. Healer Seo is at the very edge, Seokjin hovering behind her and Jimin wishes he had sat somewhere closer. They would need help.

In the blur of changing wolves, Jimin almost doesn't catch Jeongguk but as his eyes land on the black fur of a wolf double his size, he knows. Jeongguk's eyes glow golden, his fur the colour of the night sky, so black that Jimin can hardly see any of his features, heart thrashing against his chest. His wolf itches to be let out, restless and impatient and Jimin swallows, mesmerized. He's never seen such a beautiful wolf.

The day doesn't have winter's biting chill, snow melting from trees in quick drips, leaving slush and muddy snow in it's wake. The circle's been cleared almost entirely, dirt wet and visible as the wolves pace around the edge of the pit.

When Apha Jeon lets out a howl, the pack follows, and suddenly every alpha in the pit lunges forward, a blur of claws and tails and fur. Jimin’s breath catches in his throat, heart hammering wildly in his chest and he can’t pick out Jeongguk in the swarm. One second everything’s a blur, the next two wolves go careening through the air, landing outside the circle, bodies skidding to a stop. Jimin’s eyes widen, body straining forward as he nearly rises out of his seat to see who it is. Neither has black fur, and Jimin’s relief is quickly replaced by guilt. Those wolves were still part of his pack.

Focus shifting back, Jimin notes that some of the alphas have hung back, and Jimin notes that Jeongguk isn’t among them. There’s nearly thirty alphas fighting, some of them finding no one to accept their furs, and every time Jimin hears a growl, the snap of teeth, the sound of someone whimpering, his blood runs cold.

Beside him, Taehyung is nearly out of his seat, his hand clutching Jimin’s desperately and Jimin can’t really make out Hyeri’s red coat either, or Namjoon’s grey. The alphas eyeing the horde in the middle are older, white lining their coats and Jimin wishes Jeongguk had the same sense of preservation. He’s got his bottom lip caught between his teeth, his nerves bad enough that he thinks he might break skin.

“I can’t fucking see her,” Taehyung hisses just as the alpha pile breaks apart, five wolves simultaneously pushed right out of the circle. Jimin recognizes one as Minsoo, ignoring the swell of satisfaction that comes with his loss. Serves him right.

“She’s there,” Jimin breathes, pointing out Hyeri’s wolf as she butts her head into a larger alpha, unrecognizable to Jimin. The alpha, caught unaware, skids back, just close enough to the edge of the circle that another wolf shoves them right out. Hyeri yips, rushes right back in but this time Jimin knows Taehyung’s got his eyes locked on her.

It’s then that Jimin notices them, the whirl of black and grey blurring into one, and Jimin can’t tell where Jeongguk begins and Namjoon ends, claws lashing out at each other’s faces. His heart lurches in his chest, fear rumbling through him like the clash of thunder and he can’t think, throat closing up with each passing second. Jeongguk’s bleeding, there’s a gash running down his side and Jimin can’t see enough of Namjoon to tell if he’s hurt, the two wolves rolling together, one over the other as they try to cower the other into submission, jaws snapping.

In their tumble, they knock into three other wolves all caught in a brawl and the fight expands, swallowing Jeongguk and Namjoon into the mix. Jimin, unable to keep track of who was winning against who, finally notices that the number in the pit has dropped easily to half, injured wolves sitting along the sidelines. Healer Seo, Seokjin, and a few other volunteers tend to their wounds.

The sight spurs Jimin into action, tugging Taehyung up along with him as he races over to help. Taehyung comes along obediently, eyes never leaving the fight and Hyeri still hasn’t lost her own.

“Healer Seo,” Jimin rushes, “how can I help?” He sinks to his knees beside her as she tends to a severe laceration running down a wolf’s leg.

“Bandages,” she answers, not glancing up once and Jimin is quick on his feet, grabbing salve from the bag of supplies they’ve already brought with them. He finds bandages, too, taking both back to the healer.

In the commotion, Jimin makes out Taehyung aiding one of the betas he’d met while prepping for dinner, Hoseok. They’re both helping an older man get back into his clothes, no visible wounds marking him.

Jimin works with a mindlessness only brought on by sheer understanding of what he needs to do, handing Healer Seo whatever she needs as they move from one wolf to the other, his eyes always falling back to the pit. Jeongguk and Namjoon have separated, both fighting different wolves, and while Jeongguk flings his opponent out of the circle, snarling as he turns back to face the remainder of alphas, Namjoon struggles to hold his own.

The weakness is enough for Jeongguk who lunges, knocks Namjoon down into the ground, physically dragging him out of the pit by the neck, teeth sinking into his fur. Jimin’s eyes widen, he doesn’t remember to breathe until Healer Seo is snatching the pot of salve out his hands.

Jimin looks away for ten seconds, scrambling to find Healer Seo her stitching needle, and when he looks back, Namjoon’s out of the circle. He’s on the far side, Seokjin immediately checking him over. There’s blood matting his fur around his neck and Jimin winces. Jeongguk howls next to him, eyes finding Jimin’s, the golden glow rooting Jimin to the spot.

“He’s going to be fine,” Healer Seo tells him, sniping her thread as she finishes her stitches. None of the wounds have been as bad as what Jimin had seen after the alphas had come back from their hunts, and so far, that’s kept Jimin from panicking.

Jimin wants to ask her how she knows, but he can’t seem to find his voice, can’t seem to tear his eyes away from Jeongguk as he paces in a circle, eyeing down his next opponent. Before the two of them engage, there’s a loud howl as their alpha dashes into the circle, fangs out as he pulls two other fighting wolves out. Within seconds, he’s flung them both to opposite ends of the ring, blood pooling rapidly from one wolf’s throat.

Jimin’s on his feet in seconds, Healer Seo on his tail and everything’s a blur after that: Alpha Jeon changes back, barks out that both wolves have been disqualified for breaking the rules, tone furious, Healer Seo’s hands as she races to seal the wound ripping the wolf’s shoulder open, the seven wolves left in the pit taking the moment to ease up as they eye each other down. Jimin’s heartbeat is so loud he can’t hear anything, terrified that Jeongguk could end up like this, and where is Hyeri, she’d still been fighting ―

He’s frantic when he spots her, Taehyung holding her in his arms but she looks unharmed and something loosens up in Jimin’s chest, even as he looks back down at blood covered hands. The wolf changes, and Jimin finds himself staring down at Hyojung. He’d bandaged her wounds just last week.

The other wolf is older, Shin something, Jimin can’t remember but Hyojung’s gouged his eye clean out, claw marks having ripped the skin of his face open.

“Jimin, I need more salve,” Healer Seo says, and Jimin rushes back to the bag, everything already spilled over on the floor. He grabs more alcohol to clean the wounds, too, running back to the healer. Behind him, Alpha Jeon tells the remaining wolves to either continue or disqualify themselves.

Tears well up in Jimin’s eyes, frustration ebbing under his sense of responsibility. There’s a girl sobbing next to him, and Jimin’s not sure when she got there, but she keeps repeating Hyojung’s name. Jimin glances at her, the pain and fear in her eyes striking deep at his core. He’d seen his mother like that before. Worse than that, in fact.

“She’s going to be okay, dear,” Healer Seo tells her, voice calm and soothing and Jimin doesn’t know how she keeps it together. Experience. His hands shake as he cuts the thread from the stitches, dousing the wound in alcohol.

There’s a loud whining sound from the circle, another alpha tossed out of the circle and it’s Jeongguk snarling in victory before turning back to four more wolves. They’re all older than him, Jimin knows from the white in their fur. Instead of fighting them, however, Jeongguk bows his head in submission, walking out of the ring himself.

Jimin thinks he’ll go to his father but Jeongguk pads over to him, feet dragging with each step. There are scratch marks covering his body, fur glistening with blood and Jimin’s hands shake as he reaches out for Jeongguk, eyes wet as they finally make contact. Jeongguk nuzzles into his palm, collapsing at Jimin’s knees, head resting in Jimin’s lap and his heart feels like it might burst out of his chest. He smooths Jeongguk’s fur back, tired golden eyes blinking at him once, twice, before closing. Jimin buries his face into Jeongguk’s fur, gasping through his relief, and he’s okay, he’s okay.

Twin howls indicate that the fight is over but Jimin doesn’t care, has never cared about alpha hierarchies and who was more powerful. His heart trembles. Jeongguk is okay.

Jimin spends the rest of the day in a daze, helping at the infirmary to make sure every alpha is okay. The wounds are minimal on most of the injured, save for Hyojung and her opponent, but they’d separated the two wolves. Hyojung’s been left in the infirmary, her opponent taken back to his family’s cabin. The girl from earlier, Soyu, the one who’d rushed over to Hyojung, hovers around her bed, teary eyed. They’re mated, or at least, Jimin thinks so. Soyu doesn’t wear Hyojung’s mark, but she reeks of Hyojung’s scent.

Glancing out the window, Jimin sees darkness, the stars hung out for everyone to see. He’s just finished taking inventory of their medical supplies for Healer Seo, a list started on what they’re going to need to stock up on. His shoulders feel stiff, an ache settling at the back of his head, pulsing.

Taehyung had left earlier, after Healer Seo had reassured him Hyeri was fine for at least the twentieth time. Jimin’s sure he’d gone straight to her cabin, too, and he feels that spike of longing, of having something so easy and accessible.

Jimin glances over at the bed in the corner again, the infirmary a mixture of scents and yet Jimin can pick out Jeongguk's easily. He leaves the list he’s made on Healer Seo’s mixing table, heading over to bed twelve. Jeongguk had followed him back to the infirmary, refusing to change until Healer Seo had told him she wasn’t going to let a wolf into her infirmary. Jimin had tugged him in by the hand, taking him straight to bed twelve and told him in his best strict voice to sleep.

He’d put up the partitions himself, thinking Jeongguk might want some privacy, or maybe Jimin just wants him to get proper rest. As he pulls them apart, Jimin finds Jeongguk asleep on the bed, just like he’d left him. The blanket’s pulled up halfway to his chest, various scratch marks half healed already. Seeing him, Jimin’s filled with relief and he thinks about the furs he’s left in his trunk, the coat Jeongguk’s made for him. He’s also reminded of Namjoon’s furs, gut twisting in guilt. He needs to return those first thing tomorrow. They weren’t his to keep.

Sinking into the empty chair beside Jeongguk’s bed, Jimin sags, head tipping back as he closes his eyes. Jeongguk’s scent is soothing, calming, and Jimin’s so tired he’s positive he’ll fall asleep in seconds. After Seokjin had left, eying Jeongguk’s bed in the corner, Jimin had purposefully tried to occupy himself, skittish despite his exhaustion. Eventually he’d run out of small tasks, deciding to take an inventory count to draw out the evening. He knows he’d just been trying to delay the inevitable, finding himself next to Jeongguk’s bed, an ache he doesn’t want to think about filling him.

He shifts forward in his seat, swiping Jeongguk’s hair out of his forehead, lip caught between his teeth. Jeongguk’s temperature is a little high but it makes sense, his body is trying to fight off a number of injuries. He’d seen the dark purple blooming across his ribs even as Jeongguk had tried to hide it from him. Jimin’s just grateful he’d gone into the fight mostly healed, otherwise his wounds could have easily ripped open.

The reminder sends a rush of thoughts to the forefront of Jimin’s mind, heat sinking into his belly as he remembers what he’d done last time he’d been here. Jeongguk’s skin, Jeongguk’s mouth, Jeongguk’s taste. Jimin’s eyes wander down the length of Jeongguk’s toned chest, travelling back up to his scars. They’re faint.

“You'll get cold,” Jeongguk says, startling Jimin out of his thoughts. He looks tired, his age, doe eyes fixed on Jimin with a stubborn determination. Jimin’s mouth feels kind of dry, like it's been stuffed full of cotton.

“I’m okay,” Jimin mumbles, and it’s true enough. He’s not cold. The infirmary is kind of stuffy. Too many people staying overnight. Sleep drags at his eyelids, Jimin shooting Jeongguk a smile he hopes puts an end to this. But when Jimin tries to lean back into his chair, Jeongguk grabs ahold of his wrist, grip firm.

“Please,” Jeongguk insists, but he doesn’t tug on Jimin's wrist like he expects, fingers loosening up. Jimin pulls his hand away, hesitation disappearing when Jeongguk scoots back in his bed, lifting the blanket up. His father had brought him a new set of clothes and Jimin knows that while Jeongguk had forgone the shirt, he’d worn the pants. It eases his mind, the exhaustion from the day leaving him weary and a little easier to coax.

Jimin’s cheeks heat up. He thinks about Taehyung, the other wolves eager to be with their alphas, their mates, and Jimin lets go of the worry for a moment, climbing in next to Jeongguk. He radiates heat and Jimin shivers, lets Jeongguk wrap an arm around his waist as he twists around to fit his back to Jeongguk’s chest.

“You okay?” Jimin asks, heartbeat going a mile a second.

“Better than okay,” Jeongguk answers, nuzzling the back of Jimin’s neck. Jimin’s enveloped in Jeongguk’s scent, quickly overcome by a sense of safety as his eyes slip close. An arm worms it’s way under Jimin and Jeongguk holds him closer, breath fanning over Jimin’s skin.

He thinks Jeongguk says something, but Jimin doesn’t catch it, falling asleep.

Waking up next to Jeongguk in bed doesn’t send hot fiery embarrassment burning through him quite like he expects. Instead, he feels warm and hazy with sleep, face burying into Jeongguk’s chest and then his brain catches up to him, body stilling. Jeongguk’s chest.


Jimin pulls away gently, breath caught in the back of his throat. Jeongguk doesn’t wake up as Jimin slowly pulls out of his hold, nearly falling right out of the bed and last night he had a full day's worth of stress to blame for his decision making skills. Right now, he has nothing but the voice in his head telling him he acted in haste.


Jimin’s got this pasty taste in his mouth, like he’s swallowed down that cotton from last night after letting it soak in his mouth for a few hours. He should go, technically. If Healer Seo or Seokjin saw him here, like this, they’d both send him knowing looks just to watch him turn bright red. So yeah, he should go but he doesn’t want to leave Jeongguk...least of all thinking Jimin ran away out of shame or something. Even if maybe that is why he thinks he should leave. Jimin bites back a groan, running back to Healer Seo’s mixing table. The notepad he’d left on her table is still there, and Jimin rips out a page, grabbing his discarded pen before rushing back to Jeongguk’s bed.

don't be mad, Jimin writes, scrawling down went home to change to explain why. He’s not sure how valid that is, but Jimin knows he needs to clear his head right now, not snuggle into an alpha's chest. However nice the thought may be. Or the chest.

Jimin leaves the note under the glass of water on Jeongguk’s bedside table, hand pushing through his hair as he sighs bodily. He heads home, hopes seeing his mother and maybe Taehyung will get his heart to stop trying to beat out of his chest. It’s not as though he doesn’t know what he wants, he does, and if he has to pick a mate, then he’s pretty sure his wolf’s already decided it can only be Jeongguk. Jimin feels compelled to agree, even if he thinks everything’s going too fast. He doesn’t really know Jeongguk, but even so, Jimin can’t deny that he’s a little smitten.

Heat floods his cheeks again, the crisp cool of the morning air stinging at his ears as he hurries to his cabin. Everyone’s sleeping when he slips through the door, even his mother, who normally wakes up at the crack of dawn. Taehyung’s not in his bed or in Jimin’s and despite himself, his stomach sinks. That could only mean Taehyung was with Hyeri.

Jimin knows what a new mating is like, has seen it in other wolves. The near codependency in the first few days and Jimin supposes Taehyung got quite the scare, probably didn’t want to leave Hyeri after the fight. Jimin’s reluctant to admit it but he didn’t want to leave Jeongguk either, the thought still somewhat alarming.

He opens the chest at the foot of his bed, pulling out Jeongguk’s furs, face burying into the softness. The coat smells like Jeongguk and Jimin doesn’t think, peeling off his old coat to wrap himself up in the new one. He feels a little silly, but giddy nonetheless, his wolf yipping in contentment.

“Sneaking back in?” His mother’s voice sounds loud in the silence of the cabin, Jimin nearly jumping out of his own skin as he whips around to look at her. She’s gotten out of her bed to come stand next to Jimin’s trunk, eyes filled with amusement.

“Mom!” he exclaims, flushing as he attempts to shrink in on himself but he’s not an imploding star, no matter how much he wishes he were right now. “You were sleeping.”

“I was,” she agrees, hair disheveled, and her night gown a wrinkled mess. “But I was wondering when you were going to get back from helping at the infirmary.” Here she gives him a pointed look, all too knowing and Jimin hates it.

“I fell asleep,” Jimin mumbles, not quite meeting her eye. It strikes him then that he never even considered just going home, leaving Jeongguk at the infirmary. He’d wanted, needed, to be there.

“From the way you smell, I would think quite close to that new mate of yours, hmm?”

“He’s not ― I mean, we’re not mated yet,” Jimin insists, chewing on his lip as he tells himself this is his mom, she’s already done this before. There was nothing to be embarrassed about.

“Yet,” she confirms, mouth pursing as she attempts to hide her smile.

“Mom,” Jimin whines, and his mother laughs as she tugs him over to his bed. Jimin doesn’t bother taking off Jeongguk’s coat, lets his mother run a hand over the furs as they both sit down. The other omegas they share the cabin with are still asleep but then, they probably aren’t sensitive to non-family member scents. Jimin’s sure that's what alerted his mother.

“It'll be a lot more official today, you know,” she smiles, a sadness touching the corners of her eyes. “They’ll announce the hierarchy and you can either accept or refuse the claim. Although, something tells me you’ve finally made up your mind about that.”

Jimin pretends his face isn't burning from embarrassment, his mother probably can’t even tell. It’s dark in the cabin. “You said to follow my heart.”

“I’m happy you are, sweetheart,” she says, smoothing down Jimin’s hair. “I was worried. Taehyung didn't have any of your worries but then you second guess yourself too much.”

“Taehyung doesn't think,” Jimin grumbles, doesn't mean it rudely. Taehyung just had the ability to act first and think later, and Jimin always over thought everything. They were probably good friends because of it.

“Sometimes it’s good to not think, just feel,” Jimin’s mother comments, eyebrow quirked up at him. He sticks his tongue out, eases up as she laughs.

“Is Taehyung at...?” Jimin asks, kind of unsure how to phrase the question. “Like, for good?”

“His things are still here,” she answers, “He hasn't packed up and left, if that’s what you're wondering.”

“But he will.” Jimin stares at his hands.

“So will you.”

Jimin wants to say that it’s not the same thing but it is, it’s both of the boys his mother has raised leaving her at once. Jimin’s mother has never treated Taehyung as anything other than her own flesh and blood and he’s happy for it, doesn’t know what Taehyung would have done otherwise. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” She asks, voice achingly sweet. “You think I didn’t know you’d both be leaving one day?”

“Still,” he mutters, glancing up at her. She doesn’t look upset, like she expected this from him all along.

“Everyone has to leave the nest, Jimin,” she smiles softly, and Jimin feels like he’s the one being comforted, not the other way around. “You have to spread your wings someday.”

Jimin sighs, slumps into his mother for a hug, her hand running up and down his back. He’d pack his things later, after he gave Namjoon his furs back, and then, he’d go see Jeongguk.

The pack seems more sombre as Jimin heads out, freshly showered and with Namjoon’s furs in hand. Breakfast is late, most of the wolves waking up later and Jimin understands, the emotional fallout is always high after a big community event. Hyojung’s fight had quickly put a damper on things and Jimin thinks Jeongguk only bowed out of the fight out of respect for the older wolves. He’s grateful.

He hasn’t seen Namjoon since the fight, not even at the infirmary, but then Seokjin had been there to see to him as soon as he’d been pushed out of the ring. His wounds couldn’t have been too serious. The thought is comforting, even if Jimin feels guilty for not going to check on him sooner. There’s a feeling of trepidation swarming around in his belly, but he has to do this and he owes Namjoon a refusal face to face.

As he trudges along in the cold, Jimin finds himself thinking about Jeongguk’s broader chest, the warmth radiating from him. His cheeks heat up, admonishing himself even as his wolf seems to race around at the thought of Jeongguk. He’d see him later, he tells himself resolutely.

Namjoon’s cabin is out on the edges of the grounds, small and quaint and it suits him, Jimin thinks. There’s a second cabin quite close by, and Jimin imagines it belongs to his parents. Not for the first time, Jimin remembers exactly who’s son Jeongguk is, and the accompanying swell of anxiety bubbles in his belly.

Reaching Namjoon's front door, Jimin takes a big breath before knocking. He’d purposefully worn his old coat, not wanting to upset Namjoon any more than necessary. When no reply comes, Jimin knocks again, rolling on the balls of his feet as he waits.


Jimin’s brows furrow, shuffling around the cabin’s perimeter to see if Namjoon had some kind of light on. Maybe he’d already left for the day? Jimin’s about to try knocking one last time when the scent of mint and pine hits him. He turns around to find Namjoon standing behind him, eyebrow raised in Jimin’s direction as he gives him a lopsided smile.

“Well, this is a pleasant surprise,” Namjoon grins as Jimin swallows down the antsy feeling crawling it’s way up his throat. He could do this, he owed Namjoon this.

“Good morning, Namjoon,” Jimin says, fixing his sight on a tall pine far behind Namjoon’s right shoulder. “Um, I ― Your furs…”

He holds them up in both his hands, looking at Namjoon, expecting hurt or something worse, but Namjoon’s expression is only a little sad, lips pursed. “Can't say I wasn’t expecting this.”

“I’m sorry,” Jimin blurts out, taking a step forward, feeling helpless. “I just wanted you to have a fair chance in the fight. I’m sorry I can’t accept.”

“I know,” Namjoon smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. He takes the furs out of Jimin’s hand, wind tousling his hair. It's shorter now. “I didn’t offer them thinking you’d accept. You kind of tunnel vision on Jeongguk every time you see him.”

Jimin flushes bodily at that, head ducking as he squeezes his eyes shut. Namjoon laughs, coming a little closer as he steps toward his cabin. “That bad, huh?”

“Just a little,” Namjoon agrees, still smiling. “Thanks for letting me get a chance at the fight. I really do appreciate that.”

“S’nothing,” Jimin mumbles, willing down his embarrassment to look Namjoon in the eye again. Namjoon’s giving him this fond look, and Jimin feels wholly undeserving of it.

“You’re a good person, Jimin. Jeongguk’s a lucky guy.”

“Namjoon,” Jimin starts but Namjoon doesn’t let him finish, tutting over Jimin’s.

“I’m okay, really,” Namjoon insists. “I knew what I was getting into.”

Jimin wants to say something, something that’ll make him feel like this is all okay but he comes up short. There’s nothing he can say to make this better. Namjoon reaches out and ruffles Jimin’s hair, before turning back to his cabin, hand on the doorknob.

“Your alpha’s probably wondering where you are,” Namjoon tells him pointedly. He shoots a glance toward the kitchens before opening the door. “I’ll see you around, Jimin.”

“Yeah,” Jimin says, watching Namjoon disappear into his cabin. He turns in the direction of the kitchens, not quite as relieved as he’d hoped he’d be after returning Namjoon’s furs. A gloomy feeling sticks to him as he wanders over to the kitchens to get food, stomach growling in anticipation.

Namjoon had called Jeongguk his alpha, and the words shoot electric in his belly, warmth flooding through him as he repeats them to himself. They hadn't exactly talked about anything yet but all signs pointed to yes and even Jimin wasn't going to overthink himself out of this one. It'd be easy enough to take a page from Taehyung's book, right? Act first, think later.

Jimin walks into the kitchens to find the seating area mostly empty. A few fireplaces have been lit, families and mates gathered around the heat. There's still food set out along the tables, some platters entirely full and Jimin wishes Taehyung was here with him. His eyes scan the large cabin for any sign of Jeongguk but he’s not here, Jimin can’t pick up on his scent. Maybe he’d left after Namjoon.

Sighing, he grabs an empty plate for himself, piling on some toast and fruit before looking around for a seat. His mother had headed off to help prepare for lunch when Jimin had headed out to see Namjoon. She'd told him the Elders would announce the new pack hierarchy then, leaving the afternoon for newly mated wolves to move in with their mates if they so chose.

The thought’s been sitting at the back of his mind since the very beginning of this challenge, that he’d leave the communal omega cabins to live with an alpha, raise a family someday. Jimin presses a hand to his stomach, walks himself over to one of the windows, hand slipping away as he takes a seat.

He wonders if Taehyung’s gone back to pack up his things, headed back out to see Hyeri. Jimin’s not even sure if he’ll see Taehyung at lunch, and it’s as if he’s back in the heavy current, swimming neck deep and quickly drowning. Sagging back into the chair, Jimin makes quick work of his plate, deciding that he'd go check on the infirmary again. He needed something to do before lunch rolled around.

Jimin steps out of the infirmary to head out for lunch, Seokjin waving him off, when he collides bodily into someone. The smoky scent immediately stills him, Jeongguk’s hands coming to rest on his hips as he looks down at him, holding him steady. They’re there and then gone, Jimin ducking his head in embarrassment before looking back up, heartbeat thrumming loudly in his ears.

“You keep running away,” Jeongguk murmurs quietly, and Jimin’s not sure if he’s upset but he feels guilty all the same. “But I found you.”

“Was it hard?” Jimin asks, hand reaching out to hold Jeongguk’s, his palms a little rough. There’s a split second of surprise on Jeongguk’s face before he laces their fingers together, and Jimin stares at their hands before looking back up at Jeongguk, head tilting to the right.

“Harder than it should have been,” Jeongguk scowls, thumb tracing circles into Jimin’s skin. The touch is soothing, calms down the swell of panic, the giddy rush that always accompanies Jimin when he’s near Jeongguk.

“I’m sorry,” Jimin breathes, getting up on his tippy-toes to press a quick kiss to Jeongguk’s cheek. The way Jeongguk flushes when he settles back on his feet is adorable, eyes darkening as they fix on Jimin. His free hand reaches to cup Jimin’s cheek, stroking the skin before sliding down his neck, his arm, taking Jimin’s other hand in his, too. Jimin licks his lips, throat dry, but he manages a smile. “We should head to lunch, Alpha Jeon ― ”

Jeongguk tugs him in a little closer, Jimin’s trail of thought ended as Jeongguk’s eyes seem to pin him to the spot. Jimin swallows.

“I don’t care about the hierarchy,” Jeongguk says, a hand unwinding from Jimin’s to settle on his hip. Jimin nearly shivers, flushing under the attention. “I just want to know if you accept, Jimin.”

Jimin feels a little breathless, Jeongguk’s expression determined. His belly swoops, and Jimin hadn’t been sure at first but every time Jeongguk touches him, something settles in him. His wolf’s restlessness eases, and maybe it is just hormones but Jimin has to start somewhere, right?

“I accept,” Jimin answers, feeling surer and surer of himself, and when he sees Jeongguk’s smile so wide, Jimin doesn’t know what to do with himself. There’s a fluttering feeling in his belly, heart racing in his chest and Jimin has to remind himself to breathe, lungs suddenly too small.

“Really?” Jeongguk asks, surprised, and Jimin can’t help but laugh, falling into Jeongguk’s chest, arms wrapping around his waist.

“Really.” There’s this giddy rush bubbling inside of him, makes him feel like he’s floating and when Jeongguk wraps his arms around Jimin, squeezing tight, Jimin thinks everything’s going to be alright. “Are you always going to sound so surprised?”

“Probably,” Jeongguk murmurs.

Jeongguk’s cabin is tucked away behind three large pine trees, carving a place into the woods, almost as if it's been hidden away from the rest of the pack. Jimin’s things feel heavy in his hands, bag digging into his shoulder as he walks up to the front door. He's barely stepped up to the door when it flings open, Jimin finding a wide-eyed Jeongguk on the other side.

“Hey,” Jeongguk breathes, stepping forward to take Jimin’s trunk out of his hands. Jimin’s appreciative of the help, his arms burning. The trek from his cabin to Jeongguk’s had been longer than he’d expected and he kind of regretted not accepting Jeongguk’s earlier offer to help. “Did you get everything? I can go back to ― ”

“I can get everything else later,” Jimin interrupts, feeling oddly alert as he steps into Jeongguk’s place. It’s neater than he expected, but mostly bare, lacks an omega’s touch. There’s a small kitchen in the lefthand corner, and Jimin’s happy to see it, not always eager for communal meals. A hallway stretches to the right, and Jimin can see a single door at the end. His stomach flip flops. “Did you build everything yourself?”

Jimin had heard the Evergreen pack’s tradition, how an alpha couldn’t move out of his childhood home until he made a new home for himself, proving not just his strength and independence, but his ability to provide for his future mate.

Jeongguk beams at the question, posture straightening out as he nods his head. “Took me a year just to make the frame, you know? And then Yoongi taught me how to get the plumbing right but he did the electrical stuff himself. I’m good with my hands.”

Jimin refuses to let his mind take that the wrong way.

“That’s really amazing, Jeongguk,” Jimin offers, even more in awe now. “I’’s really well built.” He follows Jeongguk down the hallway, pausing behind the alpha when he swings open one of the doors.

“I, uh, brought you some dinner. It’s in the kitchen,” Jeongguk says, placing Jimin’s trunk at the foot of the bed. The bedroom’s big, possibly just a little smaller than the entire living room and kitchen and Jimin doesn’t want to think about what that could mean. There’s a large window trickling in moonlight, the night sky easily visible. A large fur rug sits in the center of the room, an open door revealing a bathroom off to the left.

“Thank you,” Jimin smiles, grateful. He’s hungry, hasn’t actually eaten anything since breakfast this morning. Walking over to his trunk, Jimin places his bag on the top, finally taking in the large bed. There’s about ten pillows set against an elaborately carved headboard, the centerpiece a wolf’s head. “Did you make that?” Jimin asks before he can stop himself, glancing at Jeongguk in awe.

This time Jeongguk looks embarrassed, hand curling around the back of his neck. “Uh, yeah. I like woodwork.”

“It’s beautiful, Jeongguk,” Jimin breathes, noting that each of the four bed posts has an ornately carved wolf adorning it, too. Reaching out, Jimin traces over the lines of one, ears carved to a sharp point.

“Thanks,” Jeongguk smiles shyly. “I’ll, uh, I’m gonna go take a shower. The closet’s over there,” Jeongguk points to a set of doors, “and there's an armoire ― Dad gifted me that," he points to a large, wooden armoire by the window, "but like feel free to put your things wherever you want. I don’t mind.”

Before Jimin can even say thank you, Jeongguk disappears into the bathroom and he’s left standing in the middle of the room staring at the space Jeongguk was occupying seconds before.

This was it.

Jimin flops down backwards on the bed, arms spread and the mattress is so damn comfortable he nearly groans, eyes shutting. He still hasn’t taken off his boots, still needs to unpack, still get his brain wrapped around everything that was happening but he figures he can rest for a little bit. After all, this was his bed now, too.

Chapter Text

Jimin rolls onto his side. Or rather, he attempts to but an arm is locking him in place, solid chest pressed firmly against his back. Jimin inhales Jeongguk’s smoky scent, remembers exactly where he is, eyes shooting open. It’s his third morning in Jeongguk’s ― no, their bed ― you’d think he’d be used to it. Except he isn’t, heart beating rapidly in his chest as Jeongguk’s breath ghosts over the back of his neck. An almost kiss.

The heat in his cheeks sinks down lower, butterflies in his belly as Jimin attempts to figure out how to get out of bed without waking Jeongguk. The last two days, Jeongguk had woken up before him, carefully pulling away from Jimin.

It hasn’t escaped Jimin’s notice, the way they go to sleep with a foot of space between them and somehow end up plastered against each other. In his defense, Jeongguk’s scent leaves him hazy, body gravitating toward the easy heat he provides. They’re supposed to be mates, and Jimin shouldn’t really be looking for excuses but he finds himself making them up anyways.

Jimin hasn’t even seen Taehyung for the last two days, a lot of the other newly mated wolves similarly missing and then there’s him, still helping out wherever he can. His mother had given him a concerned look the first day after but he’d brushed it off, not wanting to talk about why he wasn’t holed up with his new alpha mate.

He is, technically, just not the way everyone expects. Jeongguk’s walked home with him the last two nights, careful to keep a certain distance. It’s cute. They’ve spent most of their free time with each other, Jimin curled up on the couch with a book or his sketchpad, Jeongguk busy working on a carving.

Jimin knows he’s been watching the tendons shift in Jeongguk’s arms, veins prominent as Jeongguk holds his knife. There are about ten sketches of Jeongguk’s arms alone and Jimin nearly groans at the reminder. He could stand to be a little less awestruck.

Jeongguk’s grasp hasn’t lessened any and Jimin wonders how long he can lie here without accidentally waking Jeongguk up, if he can pretend to sleep when he does. If he’s honest with himself, he kind of likes it. How Jeongguk holds him tight, practically pinning Jimin to the bed, plastered to his side.

There’s a shift in Jeongguk, the palm of his hand stroking Jimin’s belly, and Jimin can’t hold back the shiver, thinking it best to get out of bed. When he attempts to slide Jeongguk’s hand up and off of him, he’s met with a growl instead, Jeongguk bodily pinning Jimin to the bed, a leg draping over one of Jimin’s. Suddenly, Jimin can’t remember how to breathe, Jeongguk’s mouth on his neck, planting a soft kiss just under his ear. He nuzzles into the same spot, kisses lower and Jimin’s heart shakes, hyperaware of every inch of their bodies touching. Jeongguk sleeps in nothing but his underwear and Jimin thinks that might be more of a courtesy to him.

Jimin’s not uncomfortable with nudity by any means; there was no place for it as a wolf but the hot, overwhelming feeling he got at the sight of Jeongguk’s bare chest, of his thick thighs left Jimin shy and flustered. He always opted for his pajama bottoms at least.

Jeongguk hasn’t stopped nuzzling him, in some kind of daze as he inhales in Jimin’s scent. There’s a hand on his hip, holding him down, liquid heat pooling in Jimin’s belly, spreading outward.

“J-Jeon ― ” Jimin starts, breathless, the sound of his own voice sounding so airy leaving him embarrassed.

Jeongguk doesn’t seem to notice, teeth sinking into the skin just at the base of Jimin’s neck. It’s hardly a bite, Jimin knows Jeongguk could leave worse, but the way he laps at it afterwards, tender, has Jimin squeezing his legs together, purposefully rolling away from him.

He doesn’t get far, entangled as he is with Jeongguk’s limbs, but the alpha startles awake, eyes widening as he looks at Jimin. There’s no way Jimin’s face isn’t bright red, skin singing, the distinct feeling of sticky wetness between his thighs leaving him even shier. It only took a small scenting session to get him like this. Jimin’s not sure how he’s going to survive more.

“Shit,” Jeongguk curses, repeats the word several times more as he pulls back from Jimin, retreating quickly. “I’m so fucking sorry, Jimin. I’m so sorry, that was ― I’ll sleep on the couch to ― “

Jimin grabs at his shoulder on instinct, Jeongguk’s closed eyes blinking open, confused. “S’okay,” he mumbles, doesn’t know how to tell Jeongguk he liked it. His chest feels like it’s caving in, Jeongguk’s body frozen as he holds himself up above Jimin.

Jeongguk swallows. “What?”

“You don’t have to apologise,” Jimin murmurs, kind of wishes he’d sink right through the mattress and disappear but he doesn’t like the panic in Jeongguk’s eyes. As if needing to prove his point, Jimin leans up, places a kiss in the curve of Jeongguk’s neck, mouth lingering longer than necessary. Jeongguk seems to relax though, sinking back down against Jimin, scent overwhelming. Jimin can’t help but burrow his face into Jeongguk’s neck, breathing him in. They haven’t properly scented each other and Jimin kind of wants to. He could always smell the scent of someone’s mate on the other mated wolves.

The thought of smelling like he belonged to someone is ― it leaves Jimin’s chest heavy and aching, small whimper escaping him as Jeongguk noses along his jaw. Jimin winds a hand into Jeongguk’s hair, thick and soft, heart in his throat. When Jeongguk’s lips find his own, Jimin kisses back, slow, happy to take his time.

Jeongguk is hungrier, kisses Jimin as if ready to swallow him whole but he doesn’t push, kisses growing shorter, chaster, his hand smoothing down Jimin’s side, thumb rubbing at his hip. Jimin gasps at the touch, feels the loss of Jeongguk’s mouth when he pulls back, his eyes clouded with something Jimin feels in the thrum of his chest.

Maybe it’s too much, or not enough, but Jeongguk pulls back completely and Jimin misses the heat of his body immediately. He doesn’t say anything though, still a little breathless, unbelieving.

“I’ll go get breakfast,” Jeongguk mumbles, sliding off the bed, unwilling to look Jimin in the eye.

“Yeah,” Jimin says, watches Jeongguk disappear into the bathroom.

Later, when Jeongguk’s left the cabin, Jimin stands in front of the bathroom mirror, neck twisting to catch a glimpse of the mark Jeongguk’s left there. Jimin’s cheeks burn.

Jimin’s been lying on the couch for an hour now, his sketchbook sprawled over his chest, hiding a page full of doodles. Most of them, predictably, are of Jeongguk.

Jeongguk’s eyes, his hands, his mouth, the length of his back, arms raised over his head as he pulls off a sweater. Jimin’s been thinking about that all day, cheeks heating up at the memory, unable to hold back his embarrassed smile.

He’s bored; Jeongguk’s still not home, having volunteered to help move and set up some of the heaters they’d been keeping in storage. The pack’s a little short-handed with so many wolves in the early stages of their new bondings. Jimin chews on his bottom lip, simultaneously envious and relieved. Everything was new with Jeongguk ― they still tiptoed around each other, careful of boundaries, of saying the wrong thing. And it wasn’t that Jimin didn’t want more, but that he wanted to know Jeongguk beyond his physical attractiveness. He didn’t want this to all be hormones, for their bonding to be fueled by nothing more than biology.

Stifling a yawn, Jimin glances at the clock above the living room’s window. It’s late, and he should go to bed if he wants to be well rested to help with breakfast the next morning but he also wants to spend time with Jeongguk. Stubbornness has him fighting away the sleep tugging his eyes shut, and when he finally lets out a frustrated growl, he stands up, hand running through his hair. He’d make some tea.

Their kitchen’s pretty bare, has the necessities, and Jimin’s going to have to fix that soon, needs to prepare for the harsher months of winter. If the snow came like it had last year, they’d be snowed in a for a few days, confined to their cabins. The thought sends a surge of something hot in his belly, mind filling Jimin’s head with images of him and Jeongguk curled up in bed together, tucked into each other. Jeongguk’s lips leaving soft kisses against his skin, Jimin’s hand carding through Jeongguk’s hair.

The water’s at a near boil, Jimin so wrapped up in his thoughts, and he hurries to take it off the burner. The cups are, of course, on a shelf too high for Jimin to reach, and as he’s about to find something to stand on, a body presses into from behind, smoky scent immediately enveloping Jimin’s senses. Jeongguk grabs a mug, sets it down in front of Jimin, head dipping until his nose brushes against the bare skin of Jimin’s neck, inhaling. Jimin shivers, one of Jeongguk’s hands settled on his hip.

“When’d you get in?” Jimin asks, hardly a whisper but with Jeongguk this close, he doesn’t need to be loud. He’s pretty sure Jeongguk can feel his heartbeat, heart attempting to hammer out of his chest.

“Just now,” Jeongguk answers, voice a little scratchy, gruff. Jimin likes how it sounds. If Jimin weren’t burning up from the inside out, he’d have noticed sooner that Jeongguk’s hands and nose are cold to the touch. He hadn’t even heard the door open.

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?” Jeongguk asks, doesn’t seem to have any intention of moving away as his chin hooks over Jimin’s shoulder. He must be tired to be this openly tactile, Jimin thinks, Jeongguk having kept a certain distance from him at all times otherwise. The only time they really seemed to touch was when they woke up wrapped up in each other.

“Couldn’t sleep,” Jimin lies, swallowing around the lump forming in his throat. He busies himself, taking the tin of green tea he’d set on the counter and popping the lid open. Scooping the tea into an infuser, Jimin drops it into the empty mug. The hot water follows. Jeongguk’s arms wrap around Jimin’s waist fully, weight leaning against Jimin’s frame, as he burrows his nose into the crook of Jimin’s neck.

“Sorry I got so late coming home,” Jeongguk mumbles, words softened by sleep. Jimin smiles, leaning back into Jeongguk’s hold just slightly.

“S’okay,” Jimin assures, hand tentatively touching Jeongguk’s to tug his arms loose. “Come on, bed.”

Jeongguk doesn’t protest, allows Jimin to pull him to their bedroom. He’s left his coat draped over the back of the couch, and Jimin wonders how Jeongguk had snuck in so quietly. Jeongguk doesn’t even bother getting out of his clothes, bodily falling into the bed. Jimin can’t keep the fond smile off his face.

He’s asleep in seconds, and Jimin’s left standing by his side, itching to crawl into bed next to him but he’s got a cup of tea he doesn’t want going to waste.

On his way back from the kitchen, he grabs his sketchpad, and settles into bed next to Jeongguk. In the glow of the lamplight, Jimin sketches out Jeongguk’s sleeping form, careful to capture the peaceful expression, the messy, windswept hair.

He’s not sure when he falls asleep, cup of tea empty on his bedside table.

Jimin’s barely stepped out of his cabin when a barrelling weight knocks into him, sending them both stumbling backwards, knocked over into a pile of untouched snow. His wolf is unfazed, not even a spike of worry and Jimin realises it could only be one person.

“Kim Taehyung, you fucking idiot,” Jimin huffs, annoyed but it passes quickly, relief at seeing his best friend again washing everything else out. It’s been nearly six days. “You’re heavy, you know.”

“Jiminie!” Taehyung crows, his smile giddy as he finally pries his arms away from Jimin’s neck only to straddle him. Jimin scowls up at him but he can’t maintain it, pretending to sigh in resignation. “I missed you!”

“Don’t lie, you ass,” Jimin accuses, attempting to shove Taehyung off. He doesn’t budge. “Like you had time to be thinking about me.”

“Oh, so it’s like that, huh? Bet you were even more preoccupied,” Taehyung sniggers, leering at Jimin but the expression falls as Jimin’s face flushes, and he flops back down into the snow.

“We didn’t…,” Jimin trails, refusing to look at Taehyung.

What?” Taehyung exclaims in disbelief. “Like…”

“Like nothing,” Jimin grumbles, fighting off his embarrassment.

“You’re lying,” Taehyung scoffs, shifting off of Jimin to sit next to his prone body in the snow.

“Do I look like I’m lying?”

“Half the omegas in the pack were dying to get on that knot, you know. What a waste,” Taehyung says sorrowfully.

Taehyung,” Jimin screeches, punches Taehyung right in the stomach, face aflame. “Not everyone has to fuck like the world’s about to end.”

Even doubled over, half on top of Jimin, Taehyung manages to gasp out a, “It’s the best kind of fucking.”

“I hate you.”

“My stomach hurts,” Taehyung whines, head falling onto Jimin’s abdomen, face turned to look up at Jimin from his bent over position. “Meanie.”

“Good,” Jimin grumbles, hand pushing back Taehyung’s hair. He grins at Jimin, looks happy and content, and Jimin’s grateful to Hyeri. “You’re glowing. She already knock you up?”

Taehyung gasps, sitting up eagerly and then he’s practically in Jimin’s lap again. “You think so? Do I smell different?”

Jimin rolls his eyes. It wasn’t exactly a secret that Taehyung wanted a litter of pups. “Your alpha’s gonna be the first one to know, you ass.”

Taehyung pouts immediately, put out, and collapses on top of Jimin like a dead weight. “That could take like a month. What if nothing happened?”

Jimin weaves a hand through his hair, feeling sympathetic. “Have you ever heard of an omega who didn’t give their alpha pups after a heat?”

“No,” Taehyung mumbles, still sounding put out. “What if I’m the first?”

Jimin hums, shoving at Taehyung to get up. They can’t just lie in the snow like two pups. He’d told Healer Seo he’d come by before lunch. “With your luck, I really doubt that.”

They start heading over to the kitchens, Jimin sneaking glances at the mark on Taehyung’s neck. It’s small, like Hyeri’s mouth, but it looks…good against Taehyung’s golden skin. Jimin can’t help but wonder what Jeongguk’s mark will look like on him, something hopeful and terrifying twisting in his belly.

“Everything was okay, yeah?” Jimin asks, eventually. They’re steps away from the kitchen. Jeongguk had left before Jimin had even woken up. He’d mentioned, last night, that his father had asked him to help clear up the makeshift road into town. They’d been going to get breakfast the last few days, attempting to overcome their awkwardness with one another.

Taehyung gives him a look, rolls his eyes when Jimin refuses to make eye contact. “Stop worrying so much. Just let things happen, you control freak.”

“I’m not a ― ”

“You can lie to yourself, Jiminie, but not me,” Taehyung cuts him off, hand finding Jimin’s. It’s automatic, lacing their fingers together, Jimin squeezing Taehyung’s hand, teeth worrying his lip.

“It’s know, if you’re scared,” Taehyung adds, voice softer. He tugs Jimin into the dining hall, the steady murmur of the pack filling the large cabin. For once, they’re just on time.

“I’m not…” Jimin starts but the pointed look Taehyung’s giving him shuts him up pretty quickly. Okay, so maybe he’s scared, but doesn’t he have a right to be? Mates are forever and forever is a long time and what if Jeongguk doesn’t love him forever? What if it’s all just hormones? Why did Jeongguk even pick him in the first place? They didn’t even know each other.

Jimin puffs out his cheeks, dragged over to one of the empty tables in the middle of the hall. Taehyung pulls him down and Jimin leans into him on instinct. Taehyung’s always been Jimin’s safest place. “What am I doing, Tae?”

Taehyung laughs, and it rumbles through his chest, arm wrapping around Jimin’s small frame. “Figuring things out like the rest of us.”

Jimin doesn’t say that Taehyung seems to have everything solved, sighing bodily against him. “I’m hungry.”

“Good thing we’re in the dining hall,” Taehyung points out, but gets up to get them both food regardless. Jimin slumps against the table, chin resting on his arm. He wonders what Jeongguk’s up to; they hadn’t really gotten a moment together this morning since he’d hurried out of the cabin at the crack of dawn. It’s silly really, but Jimin...kind of misses him. Glancing over at Taehyung, he can’t help but feel just a little more sad, wishing for something he’s not sure he entirely understands. Or feels ready for but the idea that Jeongguk would be with him makes it seem a lot less scary.

Part of him wonders why Jeongguk hasn’t tried anything himself; always shying away and skirting around Jimin as if Jimin was going to run off scared. But then, Jimin thinks it unfair to place all the responsibility on Jeongguk. After all, he’d been the one to approach Jimin first.

Taehyung brings them back two plates laden with food, grinning from ear to ear as he excitedly tells Jimin about the pancakes Jimin can see on their plates.

“You’re going to eat five pancakes?” Jimin questions, and Taehyung scoffs, insulted.

“Uh, this is round one. Do you know how many calories I bu ― ”

“Okay, okay, I don’t need the details,” Jimin interrupts, shoving at Taehyung to shut up, who only laughs as he shoves a forkful of pancake into his mouth. Jimin rolls his eyes, starts on the fruit on his plate first.

“Hurry up and mate with Jeongguk,” Taehyung nags, poking Jimin in the side. Jimin threatens to jab him with his fork but Taehyung only pokes him some more. “Hurry, hurry. Our kids have to grow up together!”

Jimin laughs at that, feels a little lighter already. “Yeah, yeah.”

By the time Jimin makes it back home, the sun’s set. He’s missed dinner entirely, stomach growling as he trudges back to the cabin, weary from the day. Offering to help with the pups for the day had maybe been a mistake, except that Jimin is good with kids and doesn’t mind running around with them all that much. They’d spent the day out by the river, sniffing around for game to give the kids something to do, but as winter grew increasingly impatient, the year’s first snowstorm early, it was harder to find anything running around.

Jimin had noticed that Jeongguk wasn’t out as much either, disappearing to go help Yoongi with repairs around the pack grounds. They’d built up reserves for the winter, were working on clearing a path to get down to the human towns if it became necessary.

He opens the front door, the fur coat Jeongguk had given him draped over his small frame, exceedingly warm. Jimin had never owned such a warm coat, the fur thick enough that he felt almost sweaty even in the chill of early winter. He knows it’ll keep him snug and warm even when December dawns on them, the snow trapping them to their cabins until it settles down. Jimin’s fingers run over the fur along his chest, shy smile tucked behind the collar he’d pushed upwards to keep his neck warm. Nonetheless, his cheeks sting, fingers kept warm by the long sleeves of the coat.

Jimin pulls off his coat, hopping around on a foot to get his boots off before realising that Jeongguk’s not in the living room and that the cabin seems quiet in general. It’s hardly past dinner, Jeongguk couldn’t have gone to bed already and his suspicion is confirmed when he sees two covered plates left on the kitchen counter for him. Jimin’s cheeks tinge pink for an entirely different reason, touched that his alpha somehow knew to bring him food.

“Jeongguk?” Jimin calls, a little hesitant, not actually wanting to wake Jeongguk up if he really had gone to sleep. The thought does make Jimin a little sad; they haven’t really seen each other all day.

“In here,” Jeongguk answers and Jimin heads for their bedroom, the door shut as he reaches it. Jimin cracks it open, the scent of blood hitting him first and panic has him pushing through, rushing to Jeongguk’s side on the bed.

Jeongguk’s got some bloody bandages lying on the floor, a wound on his hand that looks like it needs stitches. He glances up at Jimin, looks embarrassed, almost guilty, head ducking back down.

“What happened?” Jimin worries, kneeling and taking Jeongguk’s hand in his own. There’s a first aid kit sitting on the bed on Jeongguk’s other side, clean bandages sitting on the open lid.

“Had an accident,” Jeongguk mumbles, scratching at his nose. Jimin inspects the wound, lips pursing as he takes in the damage. "We were fixing some piping in one of the omega cabins and I managed to slice my hand open. It’s fine.”

“Did you even go to the infirmary?” Jimin asks, sounds almost accusatory but really, Jeongguk should take better care of himself.

“I’ve had worse,” Jeongguk mutters, still unwilling to look at Jimin. He’s picking at their blanket, cheeks tinged pink and Jimin suppressed a sigh, a hand tentatively placed on Jeongguk’s thigh. That gets his attention right away, eyes wide as they look between Jimin and his hand. Jimin thinks his blush is getting deeper, and it’s cute, really.

“Having worse doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself,” Jimin tells him, grabbing a cotton swab to wipe away at some of the blood. With a closer look, Jimin can tell it’s pretty shallow, probably doesn’t need stitches. He could probably just —

“Sorry,” Jeongguk says softly, Jimin looking back up at him. He looks repentant and Jimin feels guilty for scolding him, apology on the tip of his tongue. “I didn’t — sorry for worrying you. I’m okay, I promise.”

“You’re bleeding,” Jimin mutters, something warm and sure surging up from his belly, cheeks burning. Biting his lip, Jimin steals a glance at Jeongguk, finds him pouting, and he looks kind of adorable, the mole just under his bottom lip standing out. Jimin, feeling brave, leans up and gives him a quick, soft kiss, ignoring the way all the blood rushes to his face. Jeongguk’s look of surprise is worth it though, eyes wide, mouth parted in a little ‘o’.

“Besides, I’m your mate,” Jimin says, voice croaking, throat clogged up and it takes every ounce of his resolve to keep going. “I get to worry about you.”

“Y-yeah,” Jeongguk manages, swallows thickly, and Jimin watches his adam’s apple bob, face flushing as he looks back at the cut. He lets out a breath, leaning down to tentatively lick at the wound, Jeongguk freezing up under his touch. Jeongguk doesn’t pull his hand away though, and Jimin wants it to heal properly, quickly, lapping at the blood, metallic taste filling Jimin’s mouth.

The redness of the gash lessens considerably, Jimin braving a look up at Jeongguk. His eyes are dark, the intensity in them making Jimin’s chest squeeze up, and he can’t seem to look away. Jeongguk’s hand winds into his hair, Jimin’s fingers digging into Jeongguk’s thigh harder as he licks the wound to a smaller cut, swallowing down the taste of blood filling his mouth. He doesn’t pull back until the cut’s just a small pink scar, cheeks flushed, a little breathless but Jeongguk’s fingers are curled around the nape of Jimin’s neck, holding him in place. Feeling braver, Jimin gives the cut one last lick, tongue laving upwards between Jeongguk’s first two fingers, Jeongguk’s hand twisting to alleviate the awkward angle. Jimin takes it as permission to lick up the length of Jeongguk’s fingers, sucking in two in one go, unable to hold back his moan when Jeongguk’s hand tightens around his neck.

“Jimin,” Jeongguk growls just as Jimin hollows his cheeks out, let’s Jeongguk drag his fingers out. Jimin feels a little dazed, blinking at Jeongguk owlishly, heartbeat drowning out everything else. Jimin surges forward, seeking Jeongguk’s scent, until he’s got his face buried in the crook of Jeongguk’s neck, a hand fisting into his shirt. Want rushes through him so dizzyingly quick, it has Jimin forgetting himself. Jeongguk’s scent is so thick, heavy with his desire, and as Jimin inhales it in deep lungfuls, he can’t help the way he whines. But before he can taste the sweat of Jeongguk’s skin, he finds himself being pushed back, ass hitting the floor as Jeongguk pins him to the ground in one quick move.

His chest feels heavy, body electric as Jeongguk straddles him, hands pinning Jimin’s wrists to the floor. For a split second, Jeongguk’s just staring at him, eyes half lidded. It makes the heat thrumming under Jimin’s skin rise to a boil, flush burning up Jimin’s skin. Jeongguk’s scent is sharp and nearly overbearing with want and it makes Jimin squeeze his eyes shut, wishing he could just bury his face into Jeongguk’s neck.

Please,” Jimin whispers, terrified but frantic, daring to look at Jeongguk. The look in Jeongguk’s eyes sends a shiver down Jimin’s spine, the gap between them closing as Jeongguk leans in closer. He noses along Jimin’s jaw, inhaling Jimin’s scent in deep lungfuls, and when Jimin feels Jeongguk’s mouth on him, he can’t help the way his body shudders.

Jeongguk nips at the skin just under Jimin’s jaw, takes little tastes of Jimin for himself as he grows more confident, teeth sinking into the juncture between Jimin’s neck and shoulder. It’s not a hard bite but it makes Jimin shiver and whine nonetheless, anticipation for the mark he’ll carry there after they’ve mated burning through him. His hips buck up desperately, Jeongguk’s thigh solid muscle against Jimin’s throbbing cock. He can’t help the moan he lets out, a helpless little sound, wrists twisting in Jeongguk’s hold. If anything, it feels like Jeongguk tightens his grip, a growl rumbling through his chest, reverberating through Jimin like an echo. He finds himself baring his neck, whimpering, and Jeongguk bites harder, lower this time, Jimin arching into it, gasping.

Jimin wants to beg, wants Jeongguk to touch him, kiss him but he can’t seem to form words, body searing with heat. Jeongguk licks at every little bite he leaves against Jimin’s skin, bruises likely to fade by tomorrow morning. Face rubbing and nuzzling into Jimin’s bared skin, Jeongguk grinds down against Jimin’s hips, pulling a lilting moan from him. Tomorrow he’ll reek of his alpha, and the thought sends a spark of electricity coursing through him, urges him to rut up against Jeongguk’s thigh.

When Jeongguk presses a kiss just under Jimin’s ear, he whines louder than he has all night, turning to look at him. Jeongguk’s eyes are glazed, and Jimin can feel the telltale slick dripping out of him. He stares at Jeongguk’s mouth, finds himself licking his own before Jeongguk finally leans down. He’s gentler than Jimin expects, lips soft as he sucks on Jimin’s fuller bottom lip. Jimin opens up to him readily, moans when Jeongguk’s tongue licks into him, body pliant under his hold.

Jimin wishes he could touch Jeongguk too, tugs against Jeongguk’s grip on him a second time and this time Jeongguk gives, lets Jimin’s hands fist into his shirt, dragging him closer. Even with their chests flush against each other it doesn’t feel like enough, Jimin’s hips grinding up against Jeongguk’s thigh, seeking more. This close, Jimin can’t smell anything but Jeongguk, can’t feel anything but Jeongguk and the thought is dizzying, a need for even more burning through him. He’s panting into Jeongguk’s mouth, kiss hungrier, desperation seeping through as Jeongguk’s teeth sink into Jimin’s lip, pulling out moans.

Jimin can feel the wetness between his thighs now, pants so loudly the sound seems to echo in the four walls of their bedroom. It’s a mistake, because suddenly Jeongguk’s not nipping at his collarbones, his weight shifting until it’s barely against Jimin’s body. Jimin’s fingers curl tighter into Jeongguk’s shirt, head cloudy from arousal but he knows, he knows. He needs Jeongguk close.

“I should,” Jeongguk says, eyes wide as they look down at Jimin. They’re filled with lust, pupils blown and Jimin doesn’t understand why Jeongguk is pulling away, further and further away. “I should shower.”

“What?” Jimin blinks, his voice hoarse and low, chest heaving. Suddenly he’s very, very embarrassed. Jeongguk isn’t looking away, eyes locked on Jimin as he straddles his hips and stares at him, expression shifting into something unreadable. Jimin’s cock is so hard, so obvious and he can’t do this, arm coming up to cover his eyes. In the next second, Jeongguk’s weight is gone and Jimin feels like his chest’s caved in, wolf screaming at him to get up and follow his mate.

The loss is so sudden it leaves Jimin gasping, body curling in on itself as he breathes through the rejection. Jimin didn’t think anything could feel so painful, eyes blurry with tears and it takes him a moment, much longer than he knows it should, to sort out his own emotions from his wolf’s roaring agony.

Not a rejection, Jimin tells himself, but the ache in his chest doesn’t lessen. He pulls himself off the floor, blinks back tears as he reminds himself and his wolf that Jeongguk clearly wanted him, scented him, but he can’t shake the need, the want. He feels helpless in a way he never has before, chest still heaving. Jimin’s not sure how long he stays on the floor, holding himself up, eyes fixed on the bandages that have fallen to the floor from the bed. Jeongguk doesn’t come out of the bathroom, and finally, Jimin manages to get to his feet.

It feels like he’s been scrapped out of himself, hollowed out by his own desire, his own need. Jimin’s hands shake as they pick up the bandages, as they close the first aid kit and place it on Jeongguk’s night table. He yearns to touch Jeongguk, finds himself sinking onto Jeongguk’s side of the bed, the quiver in his hand visible as he splays it over Jeongguk’s pillow.

His pride seems to have shrunk up into a pit inside of him, wolf begging and whining for him to burrow his face into the softness of Jeongguk’s pillow and he can’t control himself. It’s easy, bringing the pillow up to his face, inhaling Jeongguk’s scent as deeply as he can. Jimin can’t control the pathetic little sob that escapes him either. His cock twitches, and Jimin wonders how desperate it would be if he rubbed himself off sniffing Jeongguk’s pillow.

Behind him, he hears the sound of the shower turning off and Jimin’s quick to place the pillow back, rolling onto his side of the bed. Only then does he notice the vase of wildflowers by his bed. Jimin’s brows furrow. Where could they have…?


But where did Jeongguk find flowers? Logic doesn’t seem to concern his wolf, who preens at the small gesture, somehow mollified, and suddenly Jimin is hit with the exhaustion adrenaline and lust had pushed away. He pulls the blanket up and over himself, refuses to face Jeongguk’s side of the bed but finds himself staring at the flowers instead.

They’re pretty, delicate looking things. The flowers are small, but a vibrant violet. Jimin wonders, sleepily, how Jeongguk knew he liked flowers.

“Why are we making stew? I hate stew,” Taehyung whines, pouting as he picks rosemary leaves. Jimin’s been in the greenhouse all day, tending to Healer Seo’s herbs when Taehyung had shown up, sent to gather some spices for dinner.

“No you don’t,” Jimin retorts. “You’re going to eat like three bowls.”

“Uh, that’s because I’m a growing boy? I have to eat, Jimin,” Taehyung huffs, put upon.

Jimin rolls his eyes, slicing another leaf of aloe vera off in one clean swipe. He has two large baskets filled with herbs, the aloe vera the last on his list. With winter at their doorstep, they needed to ensure they had enough stock. Otherwise, they’d need to make a final trip into one of the human towns. That had been easier when Jimin’s pack had lived closer to the edge of the woods, but they lived so deep in the forest now, it’d be a day’s walk just to make it out of the dense pines and another two before they hit the main road.

“I think you’ve grown enough,” Jimin snorts, going over his mental list one last time. He has everything.

“I have to make up for how short you are,” Taehyung snickers, laughing louder when Jimin glares daggers at him.

“I’m not short,” Jimin hisses, fists clenched, hackles raised.

“Aw, look at you. A cute little — ” Taehyung doesn’t finish the sentence, eyes widening as he stares at something behind Jimin.

When Jimin turns around, he finds himself surprised too, especially since the two of them haven’t spoken in nearly a day. Not after what happened. “J-Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk looks a little out of place, the black fur of his coat standing in startling contrast to the white of the snow behind him. He closes the door, stepping into the greenhouse.

“Hey,” he greets, voice hoarse. He won’t look at Jimin, nodding at Taehyung instead who seems to just be gaping at Jeongguk like an idiot. “I wasn’t doing much, thought you might want some help...”

“I’m almost done,” Jimin mumbles, looking away from him and back at his baskets. They probably would have taken him two trips, since he’d have hated to drop anything. At least this way Jeongguk can help. For some reason he can’t will away the flush that’s seeping up his neck, tips of his ears burning. He hasn’t told Taehyung anything yet, and well, what exactly was he supposed to say? Taehyung had given him a waggle of his brows earlier, smile smug, when he’d walked into the greenhouse and smelled Jeongguk’s scent on Jimin but Jimin had refused to fall for the bait.

“That’s so cute, he came to pick you up,” Taehyung grins, only adding to Jimin’s embarrassment. He feels like a twelve year old pup, completely at odds with his body.

“Taehyung, right?” Jeongguk asks, having walked further into the greenhouse. He lingers on Jimin’s periphery as Jimin uselessly shuffles some herbs around, attempting to seem busy. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“The one and only,” Taehyung smiles, and Jimin knows he’s going to regret this entire conversation. “Jiminie’s so lucky. Hyeri’s never come to help me out.”

“That’s because you’re always trailing around after her like a lost pup,” Jimin says dryly, twisting around to glare at his best friend. Taehyung’s smirking, mischievous twinkle in his eyes and Jimin knows this doesn’t bode well.

“Can’t help it, she’s just so pretty. Besides,” Taehyung simpers, batting his eyelashes, “we don’t all have big, strong alphas who can carry us around everywhere if we asked them nicely.” He looks pointedly at Jimin, who narrows his eyes even further.

“Hyeri could bench press you,” Jeongguk points out, a tinge of pink colouring his cheeks. Jimin fights the urge to punch Taehyung in the face.

“Probably,” Taehyung agrees, “but you’re the Alpha’s son. Gonna lead the pack one day, right, big guy?” Taehyung brushes some imaginary dust off of Jeongguk’s shoulder, smirk even bigger now.

“Taehyung!” Jimin screeches mortified, yanking Taehyung away from Jeongguk, who’s got a wide eyed look on his face. Jimin can’t tell if he’s upset. “Sorry, he has a really big mouth.”

“Oh, would you look at that? I really have to get back. Help with dinner, you know,” Taehyung exclaims happily, ruffling Jimin’s hair as he squeezes past Jeongguk. “Don’t worry, Jiminie’s just shy, okay? Good luck, Jeonggukie!”

He manages to give Jeongguk’s shoulder a clap on his way out, leaving Jimin nearly speechless.

“Asshole!” Jimin hollers after him, flustered beyond belief. He almost attempts to chase after Taehyung, who’s laughing as he runs out of the greenhouse, but stutters to a stop with Jeongguk so bodily in the way. Jimin can’t even look at him, the same heat in his cheeks burning down the back of his neck. “Sorry, he’s just — ”

“He’s your best friend,” Jeongguk interrupts, stepping past Jimin, his scent wrapping around Jimin cloyingly. It’s not as though Jimin hasn’t been carrying Jeongguk’s scent around with him all day but it doesn’t come with the same heady rush. Jimin’s body almost sags with relief. “It’s better him teasing us than like my Dad, or something.”

He grabs both of the baskets from the floor, straightening out and turning back to Jimin. “You should get your coat; it’s cold out.”

“I can take one of the baskets,” Jimin insists, stepping toward Jeongguk in a hurry and reaching for the handle of a basket only to have it pulled out of reach. Jimin stumbles forward, too much momentum in his steps and collides with Jeongguk’s sturdy chest. His heart seems to burst through his chest, embarrassment flooding through Jimin like a forest fire. “S-sorry.”

Jimin’s about to push himself off, shaky hands gently touching Jeongguk’s torso, when Jeongguk nuzzles into the crook of his neck, there and then gone. The pink in Jeongguk’s cheeks has deepened and he nods toward Jimin’s fur coat in the corner, hanging off a hook. Jimin bites back on his smile, rushing over to his coat. Jeongguk heads toward the door with Jimin hot on his heels. “I can take one of the baskets, Jeongguk!”

“They’re not even heavy,” Jeongguk tells him, nudging the door open. The winter chill blasts in and Jimin hurries out, not wanting to harm any of the plants inside. “For the infirmary, right?”

“Yeah,” Jimin nods, reaches for one of the baskets anyways. Jeongguk doesn’t let go and now they’re just holding the basket together, Jimin sneaking a glance up at Jeongguk. “You’re being stubborn.”

“And you aren’t?” Jeongguk retorts, eyebrow raised as he looks at Jimin. The response surprises Jimin, who hasn’t gotten much out of Jeongguk beyond polite, quiet agreement. The pushback is nice.

“What, you think I can’t carry a basket? Just because you’re an alpha,” Jimin accuses, nose scrunching up as he sticks his tongue out.

Jeongguk laughs, grinning as he tugs the basket out of Jimin’s hold. Not a leaf falls out of place. “I’m just trying to be nice. What does that have to do with being an alpha?”

“What if I don’t need you to be nice, hmm?”

“I’m your mate, aren’t I?” Jeongguk asks, suddenly more serious. There’s a darkening red in his cheeks and he can’t seem to look Jimin in the eye. “Don’t I get to be nice to you?”

Jimin flushes immediately, averting his eyes from Jeongguk to stare down at his feet. He can’t even bring himself to be annoyed, the previous night flashing before his eyes. Jimin chews on his lip, gaze flickering to the baskets. “That’s so cheesy,” he mumbles.

That gets him an embarrassed laugh, Jeongguk’s voice cracking as he replies, “I thought so too.”

Jimin bites back his smile, a warmth spreading out from his chest to the tips of his fingers. They walk in silence after that, the infirmary a few steps away when Jeongguk clears his throat. “Do you,” he licks at his lips, “Do you usually help at the infirmary?”

“Oh, um, yeah. I like to. Healer Seo taught me everything I know,” Jimin answers, the healer’s cabin currently empty as he peeks his head in. Everyone’s probably gone to dinner. Jeongguk follows Jimin inside and he points to where Jeongguk should leave the baskets. “Our pack was smaller, so I — I guess I wanted to follow in her footsteps. But Seokjin was the pack healer before, right?”

“Seokjin’s father was the pack healer, but he passed away a few years back. The responsibility sort of fell to him,” Jeongguk explains, placing both the baskets up on a high table. Jimin had cleared the space that morning. “But if you like it, you shouldn’t stop coming by,” he adds with a shrug.

“Well, it’s here or go help with the pups. I’m not as great as Taehyung is in the kitchens,” Jimin says, looking over all the herbs he’s picked. Everything seems in order. “Besides, it’s mostly just the pups and some of the elders that need help. Everyone else thinks they’re going to be just fine. Just like you, getting hurt all the time and then not even coming to the — ”


Jeongguk’s shifted away from Jimin, eyes fixed on the door and really, Jimin should watch what comes out of his mouth. His heart pounds in his ears loudly, skin prickling from embarrassment.

“Guess I’m lucky I have my own healer at home,” Jeongguk mumbles.

There’s a limit to how much Jimin should be made to blush in one day and Jeongguk really seems to be testing to see how long Jimin can spend with his face flushed pink. “Are you always this gross?”

“Just since the moment I saw you,” Jeongguk answers, already cracking up as Jimin smacks him in the chest, face heating up another notch as he stifles his own laughter.

“That was terrible.”

“Oh, like you can do better,” Jeongguk grins, hand finding Jimin’s, their fingers lacing together. Jimin tries not to think about it too hard, despite the way his stomach flip flops. Jeongguk’s all pink in the face, too, and Jimin feels better about his own state. “We’re gonna be late for dinner.”

“Whose fault is that?”

“Definitely yours. You made me lift those heavy baskets all the way over here,” Jeongguk pouts, tugging Jimin back outside even as Jimin hits him several times over, gaping at Jeongguk’s audacity.

“You wouldn’t let me hold them, you jerk!”

Jeongguk just laughs, doesn’t let go of Jimin’s hand even after they make it to the dining hall.

Taehyung’s draped over Jimin’s back, feet dragging as Jimin heads back out into the cold. Jimin would complain but he’s used to it, and Taehyung, despite his height, barely weighs anything.

“I hate leaving the pups,” Taehyung whines, glancing back at the sleeping pups they managed to put down after some solid negotiating.

“Then have some of your own,” Jimin tells him, allowing one of the pack elders to cut him off as she walks into the cabin behind them. He glances back, kind of wishes they could have spent a little more time with them, too. But there was always tomorrow, considering that Healer Seo hadn’t requested his help since he’d picked the herbs she needed from the greenhouse.

“We agreed to have them together!” Taehyung exclaims, squeezing Jimin’s shoulders. “They’re gonna be best friends just like us.”

“You’re ridiculous, you know that?” Jimin sighs, giving up on trying to reason with Taehyung. He’s not sure why he tries in the first place.

“You tell me every day,” Taehyung nods, moving to fall in step with Jimin, an arm still draped over Jimin’s shoulders.

“To no effect,” Jimin mutters. He finds himself standing in front of his old cabin, and it has been a while since he’s seen his mom. He’s expecting Taehyung to follow but he doesn’t, let’s Jimin climb the few steps to the door. “You’re not coming?”

“I see auntie all the time. You’re the negligent son,” Taehyung smiles sweetly, fluttering his lashes. “Also, Hyeri promised we’d go on a walk before dinner and I really wanna hold hands.”

Jimin nearly rolls his eyes, smiles instead at how cute and eager Taehyung is. “’Kay, go hold hands loverboy.”

“See you tomorrow, short stuff!” Taehyung grins, shooting Jimin finger guns before dashing away laughing.

“I’m not short, you asshole!” The words fall on deaf ears, as they always do, and Jimin sighs, twisting the door open to go see his mother. He’s been visiting her in the mornings mostly, when he’s expected to help with the cooking and she’d fussed over him not spending more time with Jeongguk. It’s not like they did much except sit around awkwardly, deliberately ignoring the tension that seemed to sit in the room with them.

“It’s been a few days. I just haven’t been able to go around to Jinhee’s cabin to put in a request,” Jimin’s mother says. She’s standing at the foot of a ladder looking up and Jimin’s surprised to find Jeongguk at the top. He seems to be smoothing out compound for a patch in the ceiling.

“You can always just ask me, I mean it,” Jeongguk replies, seems happy with his work as he hands Jimin’s mother his joint knife, his tray of compound in his hand as descends the ladder. “I really don’t mind.”

“Thank you sweetheart,” Jimin’s mother smiles, taking the tray from Jeongguk’s hands, too. She puts it aside, back turned to Jimin before she adds, “Were you planning on just standing there, Jimin?”

Of course his mother knew he was there. Jimin darts his eyes away from the look of surprise on Jeongguk’s face, ignores the way his face heats up. “I just...came to visit.”

“Jeongguk was just patching a hole in the ceiling for me,” she says, turning around and smiling at Jimin. He misses her, misses his old cabin, the warmth of it. Living with Jeongguk hasn’t been terrible by any means, but Jimin knows his old cabin inside out. The newly presented omegas always came to live with them and Jimin enjoyed helping them get comfortable with their status.

“How sweet,” Jimin murmurs, pulling his boots off by the door. He pads inside, smiling at Jeongguk as he collapses the ladder and sets it down at the base of some of the beds. Jimin goes to his mother, hugging her warmly, her scent like freshly baked pie. “I didn’t know you guys had, um, spoken.”

“Jeongguk comes by all the time,” his mother says, kissing his cheek in greeting. “He’s a darling. Even brought me some new furs on his first visit.”

Jimin looks over at Jeongguk, who’s very obviously pretending to stare at his patched ceiling, the tips of his ears burnt red. He hides his smile behind a hand, allows himself to sit on edge of his mother’s bed as she goes to get a broom. “And you? You don’t even come by to see your own mother. What a brat.”

“Mom!” Jimin whines, flushing a shade darker. This time it’s Jeongguk’s turn to hide his smile, a hand coming to stifle a fake yawn. “I see you almost every morning.”

“In the kitchens,” his mother points out, broom in her hand. Jimin hurries to take it from her, pushing her hands aside as she protests.

“I’ll do it. You sit.”

She sighs, but can’t help her smile and it makes Jimin feel lighter. He starts by the foot of her bed, working his way to the mess on the floor under the patched ceiling. “You could have told me your roof was leaking.”

“And what were you going to do? The last time you fixed something, you hurt yourself,” she scoffs, grabbing Jeongguk by the wrist to pull him over to her bed. She has him seated next to her and he looks like a shy, little pup, not their supposed alpha in line. Jimin bites back his laughter at his terrified expression.

“That was Taehyung’s fault and you know it,” Jimin retorts, gathering dust and debris with his broom.

“Well, it’s fine now, isn’t it? I have Jeongguk here to patch things up for me,” she smiles, pointing to a spot Jimin’s missed. He nearly rolls his eyes but doesn’t want a glare sent his way. “I’m always troubling the poor thing.”

“It’s really no trouble,” Jeongguk mumbles, head ducked down. He really looks like a pup.

“Jeongguk’s good with his hands,” Jimin singsongs before realising what’s just come out of his mouth. His eyes widen, momentarily stilling in his movements as his mother arches a brow at him, her laughter muffled by a cough.

“I’m sure you know all about that,” she says, and Jimin’s neck prickles and burns, eyes squeezing shut for a minute. His own mother. Jeongguk looks motified and Jimin diligently ignores everything, returns to sweeping the floor. Even Jimin’s wolf whines in embarrassment and god, he was an idiot, wasn’t he?

“Omega Park,” Jeongguk starts, making to get up off the bed but Jimin’s mother grabs him, scowling.

“Didn’t I tell you to call me Mina?” Jimin’s mother scolds, pinching his cheek and the tension dissipates. Jeongguk looks a lot like a deer that’s just realised it’s been surrounded, and Jimin can’t help the giggle that escapes him, Jeongguk panicking as he apologises.

“Sorry! Sorry!” he exclaims, eyes wide as he attempts to get away from Jimin’s mother. She’d go for his ear next, twisting it sharply, and Jimin might miss his cabin but he doesn’t miss that. Jimin was on the receiving end of a lot of ear twists. “M-mina it is.”

“Stop harassing him, Mom. You’ll scare him off and then no one’s going to fix your roof,” Jimin says, heading to the back closet to find the dustpan. When he comes back out, Jimin’s mother has a hand on Jeongguk’s wrist.

“You look after him, okay. He’s terrible at taking care of himself,” she says to Jeongguk who nods. Jimin wonders how many times his mother is planning on embarrassing him today.

“I can hear you, you know,” he points out, cleaning up the dust pile he’s made in the center of the cabin. “If anything, he’s the one who’s terrible at taking care of himself.”

“What did he do?”

“Nothing!” Jeongguk shouts out before Jimin can even reply. Jimin purses his lips to keep from laughing and it really looks like Jeongguk wishes he maybe hadn’t come by today. He’s all frazzled and it’s cute. “We should — we should get going. Dinner’s soon. I’ll come by afterwards, to make sure the compounds dried properly.”

“Of course,” Jimin’s mother smiles. “Thank you so much for your help.”

“It’s really nothing,” Jeongguk assures, glancing over at Jimin. He looks ready to run out the front door.

“Right. It was nice seeing you Mom,” Jimin tells her, emptying his dustpan in a garbage can in the corner. His mother’s cabin was always spick and span.

“Come by with Jeongguk more often,” she instructs, standing up herself as she cups Jeongguk’s cheek. “It’s nice seeing you two together.”

“Sure Mom,” Jimin smiles, leases the dustpan by the garbage as he goes to hug her goodbye. “I’ll see you at dinner.”

“Perhaps,” she says. “Suji’s mother needed help with something. I might be late.”

“Oh, okay.” Jimin follows Jeongguk to the front door, lingering in the doorframe as he puts on his boots and waves bye to his mother.

“Have a goodnight, Omega Park,” Jeongguk smiles, closing the door quickly behind them both to escape Jimin’s mother’s protests. Jimin laughs, watches as Jeongguk takes a big breath, like he’s just finished an impossible task.

“Mom has that effect on people,” Jimin explains, smoothing down Jeongguk’s ruffled hair. He stares at Jimin, cheeks red from the cold or his residual embarrassment, Jimin isn’t sure. “You looked like a little pup in there, you know? So cute.”

“A pup?” Jeongguk balks, offended.

“Mmhmm, a pup. The cutest, sweetest pup,” Jimin hums, nodding sagely, face nearly hurting from how hard he grins at Jeongguk’s darkening expression.

“I’m not a pup,” he grumbles.

“Could have fooled me,” Jimin coos, reaching to pinch Jeongguk’s cheek but he grabs Jimin’s wrist tightly before he can even make contact. Before Jimin knows it, Jeongguk has him hoisted over his shoulder, a hand smacking Jimin’s ass.

Shock turns into mortification as Jeongguk sets off toward their cabin with Jimin still over his shoulder. “You can’t just — Oh my god, put me down Jeongguk!”

“This ‘pup’ will put you down when he feels like it,” Jeongguk replies, an arm gripping both of Jimin’s thighs. He contemplates kicking Jeongguk in the stomach but some passing pack members are watching them, smirks on their faces.

“I’m going to fucking kill you,” Jimin hisses, fists punching into Jeongguk’s back with about as much effect as a small child’s would. “You’re being an ass!”

“Better an ass than a pup.” Jeongguk shrugs, Jimin bouncing on his shoulder as he struggles to twist off. The snow would break his fall.

“Okay, fine, fine, you’re not a pup. I’m sor — Sorry,” the word comes out with a struggle, Jimin’s pride putting up a fight but it’s not like he has much of it to latch onto now. Jeongguk’s carrying him like rag doll, like he weighs nothing at all. “Jeongguk, come on! I said sorry.”

“Say it again.” Jeongguk’s come to a stop and they’re right by the fires, some families sitting by them watching the two of them. Jimin’s entire body feels like it’s on fire, like maybe he’s going to combust from embarrassment alone.

“I’m sorry,” Jimin huffs.

“No, the other thing.”

“What other — Oh, right, of course. You’re not a pup. Now please put me — ” Jimin practically squeaks as Jeongguk sets him back down, feet hitting the ground and Jimin, furious, knows it’s now or never. “Happy?”

“Ha — ”

Jimin doesn’t let Jeongguk finish, wiping the smug smirk right off his face as he shoves him back with everything he’s got. Jeongguk topples over easily, unprepared for Jimin’s retaliation and ends up ass first in the snow.

“Jeon Jeonggukie is the cutest, smallest, naughtiest pup in the pack!” Jimin yells loud enough to ensure that the families sitting by the fires hear him too, finger pointing at Jeongguk, before turning around and running as fast as he can.

Jimin doesn’t make it very far, much to his disappointment, before two arms are grabbing him around the waist and hoisting him up in the air. His surprised wail turns into laughter as his flailing results in both of them falling to the ground, Jeongguk losing his balance.

“At least I’m on top this time,” Jimin grins, rolling off of Jeongguk into the snow. It’s cold but the warmth spreading through him seems to be enough for now. Jeongguk’s got his eyes closed, cheeks rosy, and Jimin wants to kiss him.

“You look pretty under me,” Jeongguk drawls, an eye cracking open to watch Jimin blush violently. He laughs at Jimin’s shocked expression, reflexes faster than Jimin’s this time as he protects himself from the fistful of snow Jimin chucks at him.

Jimin’s flustered beyond belief, manages to throw another fistful of snow in Jeongguk’s face before he sits up, unwilling to look at Jeongguk. “I’m going home!” he tells Jeongguk, leaves him lying in the snow as he scrambles to his feet.

“Okay,” Jeongguk calls after him, and really Jimin knows he’ll catch up to him in no time. Jeongguk had taken a bear down on his own. Jimin was barely the size of a small deer.

Still, the audacity! Did Jeongguk think he was some obedient, little omega? That he was just going to lie under him? Even as Jimin thinks it, he can’t bring himself to be angry.

“Are you mad?” Jeongguk asks, already instep with Jimin as he stalks to their cabin. Jimin doesn’t answer. “I was only teasing.”

Jimin only flushes, refusing to look at Jeongguk. The worst part to all of this is how his wolf is preening, seemingly complimented. Like lying under Jeongguk was its dream or something. His body feels suddenly hot, Jeongguk’s hand coming to wrap around Jimin’s wrist, pulling him to a stop. He doesn’t snatch it away and that surprises even himself.

“Hey, I’m really sorry if I — ”

“I’m not mad,” Jimin interrupts him, wishes they were already at the cabin. He could go hole himself up in the bathroom like Jeongguk always does.

“Oh. I — I’m still sorry, I shouldn’t have — ”

“It’s fine,” Jimin mutters, face flaming. He braves looking at Jeongguk for a split-second, finds him staring at Jeongguk equal parts confusion and guilty. “It was embarrassing,” Jimin adds on. “Not upsetting.”


“You’re an idiot,” Jimin tells him, pulling his wrist out of Jeongguk’s grasp. He feels bad though, lip caught between his teeth as he takes Jeongguk’s hand instead. “Let’s go home.”

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, just allows Jimin to tug him in the direction of their cabin. They walk silently for a while but Jeongguk’s words keep repeating in Jimin’s head like an echo. You look pretty under me.

“When did you start visiting my Mom?” Jimin asks by means of distracting himself. Their cabin’s in sight.

“It’s, uh, tradition to thank your mate’s parents for allowing the bonding,” Jeongguk mumbles, scratching at his nose. “The alpha’s supposed to gift them something. Furs, new furniture, something.”

“Oh.” Jimin sounds like he’s repeating after Jeongguk. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Sorry,” Jeongguk mumbles, opening the door for them to step inside of their cabin. Jimin notices that there’s quite a dusting of snow on Jeongguk’s furs, and reaches to brush some of it off.

“I’m not mad,” Jimin repeats because he really isn’t. Jeongguk stares at him, dark eyes fixing Jimin to the spot. Sometimes Jimin thinks he could drown in them. Swallowing, Jimin gets up on his tiptoes, pecks Jeongguk on the mouth and ignores the way his belly flip flops. “Thank you for looking after her.”

Jeongguk’s smile is, for the first time, completely sure and it looks so soft Jimin wishes he could keep it all to himself.

Things settle down after that. They’re still awkward but they get better at navigating the silences, the way they catch the other staring with a quiet sort of desperation in their eyes at the other.

Jeongguk’s guiding Jimin through the tables. They’re late for dinner, Jeongguk caught up in some maintenance work with some of the generators. Jimin spots Taehyung with Hyeri near one of the windows, and his mother’s sitting with some of the pack elders, her eyes briefly meeting his. He waves at her, still allowing Jeongguk to pull him over to the food laden tables.

Jimin’s whole body seems to pulse in tandem with his heartbeat, Jeongguk’s proximity and the warmth of the dining hall leaving him feeling a little overheated. “There’s nowhere to sit,” he tells Jeongguk, the tables all seemingly packed.

“I’ll find a spot,” Jeongguk says, letting go of Jimin’s hand. He fights the pout threatening to form on his lips. “And you get the food?”

“Okay,” Jimin nods, already reaching for a plate, but Jeongguk catches his wrist. “Huh?”

“It’s hot in here,” Jeongguk answers, tugs on the sleeve of Jimin’s coat with a smile. Jimin slips it off, ignores the way his heart skips a beat as his wolf preens. He’s always a little surprised when Jeongguk is so forward, the cautious trepidation peeled back.

Jimin can feel a few members of the pack staring at them, their eyes burning into Jimin’s skin as he gives Jeongguk a shaky smile. By the time he gets them both food, everyone’s attention is focused back on their own meal and Jimin doesn’t feel so self-conscious scanning the hall for Jeongguk. He’s by one of the fires and Jimin’s pretty sure there isn’t enough space for the both of them anywhere around there. When he makes it to Jeongguk, he finds him in one of the single armchairs, brows furrowing curiously at his alpha. “We can’t both fit here.”

“Yeah we can,” Jeongguk assures, taking both plates of food from Jimin and setting them on the small wooden table next to him. He’s draped both their furs over the back of the chair and as Jimin blinks, trying to figure out what Jeongguk’s angle is here, he pulls Jimin down into his lap by the wrist. “See,” Jeongguk grins, “we both fit.”

Jimin goes red in the face in a split second, horrified as he realises how many eyes are on them. A few of the omegas he knows were interested in Jeongguk stare at them with open jealousy and Jimin finds himself hiding his face in the crook of Jeongguk’s neck. “Oh my god, you’re the worst! Everyone’s looking!”

Jeongguk shrugs, grabs one of the plates, his arm coming around Jimin’s back to hold Jimin in place. “There was no where to sit. They know that. Besides,” he says grinning at Jimin, “it’s not like you’re the first omega to sit in his alpha’s lap.”

“Am I showpiece?” Jimin snips, carefully watching Jeongguk’s expression.

“Only if you want to be,” Jeongguk smiles innocently, taking in a spoonful of rice. Jimin narrows his eyes, but settles down in Jeongguk’s lap either way. It’s not like he has anywhere else to sit and if he moves, everyone will only stare more.

As the month had progressed, Jimin had realised that Jeongguk’s strength generally lied in manhandling Jimin. He was tactile, and while most wolves were, with Jeongguk the touches were always a little possessive. He’d wrap his arm around Jimin’s waist whenever they were around a lot of the other members of the pack, bodily press Jimin to him until they were flushed together. Jimin didn’t mind, really. He didn’t have Jeongguk’s mark to feel like be belonged to him, so the touches were nice reminders. Plus, they gave Jimin an excuse to bury his nose into Jeongguk’s chest and just breathe him in.

The problem was that Jeongguk didn’t do any of that when they were home. He skirted around Jimin, seemed to leave an arm’s length of space between them and the mixed signals were getting well past the point of confusing. Jimin wanted to go to sleep with his head tucked under Jeongguk’s chin, not just wake up that way.

Jeongguk offers Jimin some of his food and Jimin opens his mouth to take the spoon in, eyes fixed on the giant tapestry covering the wall next to the fireplace. Intricate floral embroidery borders around the edges and Jimin thinks back to the flowers Jeongguk had brought home and left quietly in a corner. Tracing the edge of Jeongguk’s ear, Jimin swallows down his mouthful before asking, “Where did you get those flowers from?”

“Hmm?” Jeongguk’s plate is nearly clean but he seems to have saved all the best pieces of meat for Jimin, offering them to Jimin with little bits of rice.

“The flowers, you put them on a vase next to the bed,” Jimin explains, allows Jeongguk to feed him again.

“They grow up in the mountains by some hot springs. I found them while I was hunting.” Jeongguk’s plate is empty, having fed Jimin what he seems to have saved for him. “Made me think of you.”

Jimin smiles, lets his head fall to rest on Jeongguk’s shoulder. He puts the empty plate down somewhere next to him, hand coming to rest on Jimin’s thigh. “They were pretty.”

“I’ll take you there sometime,” Jeongguk murmurs, a hand caring through Jimin’s hair, fingers rubbing at the base of Jimin’s neck. It feels good, and Jimin’s kind of happy Jeongguk decided to sit like this.

“I’d like that.”

“Promise you’ll be more careful next time?” Jimin asks, pinky finger sticking out. The little girl, Jieun, nods as she rubs at her wet eyes, sucking in a deep breath. She sticks out her pinky finger for Jimin to take, sniffling as she stares down at her bandaged knee.

“It’ll be gone in the morning,” Jimin smiles softly, brushing her tears aside. “You were such a brave girl, Jieun.”

“It hurts,” she tells him quietly, mouth trembling, and Jimin doesn’t want her to cry more, glances at her mother quickly. He smoothes her hair back, grabbing a clean handkerchief to wipe her tears.

“I’m sorry it hurts,” Jimin sympathises. “It’s okay if you wanna cry. I cry when things hurt, too.”


“Really,” Jimin assures, lets her take the handkerchief, still sniffling. She looks over at her mother, eyes still glassy but refusing to cry anymore. Her mother thanks Jimin as she takes Jieun into her arms, running a soothing hand up and down her back as she leaves the infirmary. Jimin sits back on his haunches, sighing. He’s daydreaming’d be nice to have his own little girl; she’d have Jeongguk’s eyes and maybe Jimin’s nose.

Jimin wonders what Jeongguk will be like with pups, if he’ll feel overwhelmed at first. He takes good care of Jimin, would probably be just as caring for his pups. Overprotective, maybe. Jimin only ever had his mother growing up, their pack’s Alpha the only alpha presence Jimin had ever had any lengthy exposure to.


He startles as he hears his name, heat rising to his cheeks as he realises that he’d just been squatting on the floor daydreaming about having kids with Jeongguk. Jolting to his feet, Jimin wills his embarrassment down and smiles at Seokjin, who’s looking at him expectantly.

“You okay?” Seokjin asks, head tilting to the side and Jimin nods eagerly, pushing all his silly daydreaming thoughts away.

“Yeah, of course. Was there something you needed?”

“An alpha just came in, seems to have sliced his hand open. I just need to grab some ointment but can you stop the bleeding?” Seokjin requests, head jerking toward a closed curtain over bed four.

“Right on it!” Jimin agrees, heading over after he’s grabbed a clean towel, his steps slowing down when he realises the scent is familiar. It’s Namjoon.

Jimin swallows. He hasn’t spoken to Namjoon since he’d returned Namjoon’s furs to him and Jimin hasn’t heard anything about Namjoon finding a mate yet. He hesitates in front of the curtain before putting his duties before his own personal qualms.

“Namjoon?” Jimin calls, finds Namjoon hunched forward on the edge of the bed, a rag of some sort wrapped around his hand. Namjoon’s head jerks up, eyes wide as he takes in Jimin.

“Jimin,” he says, sounds surprised. Jimin wonders how he didn’t pick up on his scent, how lost in his own head he was.

“Hey,” Jimin smiles, stepping past the curtain. There’s an awkward air about them, Namjoon’s smile a little tight around the corners. Jimin’s own heartbeat is agitated, thrumming against his chest too quickly. “Long time no see.”

Namjoon nods, his smile not quite reaching his eyes. Jimin doesn’t blame him. “Yeah, I guess.”

“Jin just — your hand,” Jimin explains, pointing to the injury.

“Oh, yeah. I — I was helping in the kitchens. I’m not the best with a knife.”

Jimin frowns, grabbing the visitor’s chair next to the bed and dragging it in front of Namjoon. “Why were you in the kitchens?” he asks, hand stretching out to take Namjoon’s. “May I?”

Namjoon gives his injured hand over, lower lip caught between his teeth. “I’m not great with repair work and I didn’t want to just sit around doing nothing.”

“You could have gone hunting,” Jimin murmurs, carefully unwraps the rag Namjoon’s used to contain the bleeding. Once Jimin has it completely uncovered, it already looks to have eased up on the bleeding. The wound’s not very deep but it’s a long gash.

“There’s not much out to hunt mid-afternoon, Jimin,” Namjoon tells him, and it’s not condescending, but it’s defensive. Jimin realises he’s stepping over some boundaries, Namjoon’s scent seeping into the space quicker, stronger.

“Sorry,” he apologises quickly. “I guess...Alphas don’t usually offer to help in the kitchens. I was surprised.” He’s even more surprised that Namjoon came to the infirmary for the wound, considering it would have healed by the end of the day but then Jimin wishes more alphas were as sensible.

Namjoon only shrugs, seems mollified, head ducking down. He’s staring at Jimin’s boots and Jimin’s quietly grateful they don’t have to make eye contact. This is a lot more awkward than even he anticipated, lip caught between his teeth as he wipes away the excess blood around Namjoon’s cut.

“It won’t take long to heal,” Jimin smiles, hopefully reassuringly. “It’s, it’s sweet of you to want to help out in the kitchens. I’m sure Mom appreciated it.”

Namjoon looks embarrassed now, his unhurt hand coming up to rub at the back of his neck. “It’s whatever. I mean, your mom always looked out for me, it’s nice being able to return the favour.”

“If only you didn’t slice your hand open, huh,” Jimin teases, smiles warmly at Namjoon’s embarrassment. “You’re better than Jeongguk though. He doesn’t even come for help.”

Namjoon tenses at Jimin’s mention of Jeongguk and he’s about to apologise, can’t believe he’d be so insensitive when Namjoon meets Jimin’s gaze. “How...How’re things with him?”

“Good. I — Thank you for asking. We’re good,” Jimin mumbles, head ducking briefly before he doesn’t feel so embarrassed about the burn in his cheeks. Namjoon’s expression is soft, a worried furrow between his brows.

“Are you happy?” he asks.

The question surprises Jimin and he flushes, touched by Namjoon’s concern. “Yeah! He takes good care of me.”

“But he hasn’t, you know,” Namjoon says, motions at Jimin’s still unmarked neck. Jimin’s hand flies to his skin immediately, slapping over the smooth skin. Someone was bound to ask eventually and Jimin’s not quite sure how to reply, his own insecurities and worries bursting through his carefully built dam.

“I just haven’t — My heat — ” Jimin replies, feels like he’s been put on the spot, not quite wanting to bring this up. It’s a little surreal, if he thinks about it. Namjoon would have been his mate, his Alpha, but then the merge happened and Jimin hadn’t really thought about it before, but would he already have Namjoon’s mark? Jeongguk never initiated anything, as if afraid that Jimin would push him away. Sometimes, if Jimin thought about it hard enough, the sting of rejection from that night would slap him in the face again. Jeongguk had bolted, left him there on the floor of their room. Why hadn’t he marked Jimin yet?

Why didn’t he want Jimin? Was that it?

“Sorry! Shit, it’s not even in my place to ask, I just — I got carried away. As long as you’re happy,” Namjoon hurries to say, actually looks apologetic. Jimin realises his eyes are wet, the back of his hand brushing away unshed tears.

“No, it’s okay,” Jimin assures, trying to laugh it off. He feels stupid. “It’s fine. I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Namjoon exclaims, reaching over to wipe away a tear clinging to Jimin’s jaw. “It wasn’t my place. I was curious, that’s all. You’re just — I hope he figures himself out soon.”

Jimin nods, the tightness in his chest only getting tighter. He’d heard some of the other omegas hadn’t gone into their heats either but they still bore their mate’s mark. He’d heard that they’d only create a half-bond, would still need the fervour of a heat to complete the mating but they seemed happy enough.

“Thanks,” Jimin mumbles, realizing that they’d been so caught up, he’d let Namjoon’s wound start bleeding more freely again. “We — We need to wash it up, before we can bandage it, make sure the bleeding stops.”

“Yeah, of course,” Namjoon says, standing up after Jimin tugs him up lightly. The alpha follows Jimin over to a washing basin obediently, allows Jimin to clean up the wound and wash away the blood, doesn’t wince once. He knows it must hurt a little, at least. “Seokjin’s bringing over some ointment. It’ll speed up the healing process.”

“Oh,” Namjoon responds, glancing over at the cabinets. Seokjin’s busy talking to Healer Seo but Jimin finds Namjoon’s behaviour curious. He takes the clean towel and dries Namjoon’s hand, wrapping it up over his palm tightly afterwards. Namjoon looks back at Jimin, then looks at his hand, swallowing. “Uh, does he — is he usually at the infirmary?”


“S-Seokjin,” he mumbles. Jimin thinks it’s cute how Namjoon won’t look up at him.

“He was their pack healer before Healer Seo came over with us,” Jimin answers, humming softly to hide his knowing smile.

“Oh,” Namjoon says, attempts to keep his facial features impassive, unaffected. He glances over at Seokjin once more before turning to face Jimin. “He looked after me. After, the — you know — fight.”

“Did he?” Jimin smiles, hasn’t let go of Namjoon’s hand as they stand there by the basin. Seokjin’s making his way over to them, but behind him, the door to the cabin opens, and Jimin can see Jeongguk’s head of black hair, can smell his smoky scent even twenty feet away. He’d promised to come pick Jimin up for dinner.

“Is that why you came over to the infirmary?” Jimin asks, avoids looking at Jeongguk. He unwraps the towel around Namjoon’s hand. “To see Seokjin?”

“What!” Namjoon exclaims sharply, looking horrified, but before he can defend himself, Seokjin’s there next to them. Jimin can’t help laughing at Namjoon’s embarrassed expression, nearly leans into him to hold off his giggles.

“What’s so funny?” Seokjin asks, blinking as he looks between them and Jimin shakes his head.

“Nothing, nothing. I think you should look after Namjoonie,” Jimin grins, places Namjoon’s hand in Seokjin’s. “Jeongguk’s here to get me for dinner. I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Seokjin looks confused but nods anyways, waves goodbye to Jimin as he leaves him with Namjoon, who’s only gotten more pink in the face. Jimin’s smiling when he looks over at Jeongguk, who’s shoulders are stiff and sharp, tongue jabbing into his cheek, expression dark. He has Jimin’s furs in a hand, the other tightly fisted at his side. Jimin slows down in his approach, Jeongguk’s smoky scent suddenly too heavy.

“Jeongguk?” Jimin calls, cautious. He’s never seen Jeongguk like this, his jaw clenching as he offers Jimin his coat. Jimin reaches out for his arm, hand trailing down the length to take his hand. “Jeongguk?”

He doesn’t reply, takes his hand from Jimin to wrap Jimin’s furs around him. “It’s cold out.”

Jimin lets Jeongguk pull him out of the cabin, saying goodbye to Healer Seo on the way out. Jeongguk’s grip on Jimin’s wrist is almost painful, but he trudges along a step behind him, waits to see if Jeongguk is going to say anything. The rigid line of his shoulders doesn’t slope down and that’s when Jimin notices that they’re not heading in the right direction.

“Jeongguk, aren’t we going to dinner?” he asks, and whatever daze Jeongguk’s in seems to break. He comes to a halt, Jimin nearly colliding into him, the grip on Jimin’s wrist suddenly gone.

“Shit, sorry, I — ” Jeongguk starts, facing Jimin. They’re not very far from their cabin, and Jimin’s confused as to why Jeongugk was taking them there in the first place.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Jimin asks, reaching over to touch Jeongguk’s cheek, but Jeongguk flinches away from the touch. A sharp pain cuts through him and Jimin’s wolf whines, whimpering at the rejection. Jimin swallows, fingers curling into a fist as he moves his hand back.

Jeongguk grabs it, pained expression crossing his face. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.”

“But you did.” Jimin hates how accusatory he sounds, yanks his hand away from Jeongguk, is tired of being skirted around, of being rejected. Clenching his jaw, he leaves Jeongguk standing there, storming off toward the cabin. He isn’t feeling very hungry anymore.

“Jimin!” Jeongguk calls after him, already hot on his trail. “Jimin wait!” Jeongguk tries to hold his wrist again but Jimin doesn’t give him the chance, speeding up until he’s throwing the door to their cabin open and barging inside. He doesn’t get very far, Jeongguk finally grabbing Jimin to twist him around, Jimin nearly colliding with his chest.

“What’s your problem?” Jimin grinds out, doesn’t want to do this. He wants to curl up in bed and cry, is tired of feeling all over the place about Jeongguk.


“Yeah,” Jimin says, voice hardening. “If you — If you didn’t want me, why did you lay a claim on me? I could have fucking been with someone else!”

“Like Namjoon?” Jeongguk bites back, and Jimin can’t fucking believe this. He attempts to break Jeongguk’s hold on his wrist but Jeongguk won’t let go, grip tightening. Jimin’s frustration morphs to annoyance, and who does Jeongguk think he is? Jimin shoves at him, but Jeongguk only grabs his other hand, too.

“So that’s what you’re so pissed off about? You’re jealous?” Jimin snaps at him, attempting to twist his wrists out of Jeongguk’s hold. “Let go!”

“His scent is all over you!” Jeongguk grits out, pulls Jimin closer roughly, a gasp leaving Jimin’s mouth. “I hate it.”

Jeongguk’s eyes are so dark, the red burning through and his mouth goes dry. When he leans down, nose nuzzling against Jimin’s neck, Jimin’s whole body goes lax, his wolf yipping in satisfaction. Jeongguk breathes Jimin in like he’s dying, hands letting go of Jimin’s wrists to wrap around his waist, the flat of his tongue swiping over Jimin’s skin. A shiver runs down Jimin’s spine.

“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk whispers, holds Jimin tighter. “Of course I want you. I’ve only ever wanted you. I’m not — I’m not very good at this. It’s just his scent — And you’re — ”

Jeongguk cuts himself off, litters kisses along Jimin’s neck, his breath coming out in white puffs as Jimin bares his neck to Jeongguk. They haven’t even closed the door to the cabin yet, cold air blowing in. “I’m what, Jeongguk?”

“Nothing,” Jeongguk mumbles, pulling away. He looks guilty, won’t look Jimin in the eye and all the anger’s vanished, all of Jimin’s confusion. Jeongguk was jealous. That means something, right?

“You’re really silly,” Jimin murmurs, curls his fingers into Jeongguk’s furs. He leans up and gives him a kiss, enjoys the look of surprise on Jeongguk’s face. “Is his scent gone?”

Jeongguk shakes his head, strokes Jimin’s neck, eyes on Jimin’s mouth. Jimin closes his eyes, the pads of Jeongguk’s fingers tracing his jaw, dragging down Jimin’s neck. He’s not surprised when he feels Jeongguk’s mouth against his pulse point, breath hitching, hand winding into Jeongguk’s hair.

“The door’s still open,” Jimin reminds, squeaks when Jeongguk just tightens his hold on Jimin, lifting him up. He turns around with Jimin still in his arms, pushes the door close. Jimin’s breath catches at the back of his throat as Jeongguk presses him up against the door, crowding him in. Pushing Jimin’s coat out of way, Jeongguk lets it fall to the ground, noses along Jimin’s jaw and Jimin wants to feel the hard planes of Jeongguk’s body but he has his hands fisted in Jeongguk’s furs, unwilling to let go.

“Does it — ah — bother you that much?” Jimin asks, Jeongguk’s hands firm as they slide down his flanks, settling on his hips. He nips at Jimin’s jaw, kisses down the column of Jimin’s neck, teeth sinking into the jut of Jimin’s clavicle. Jimin whines, low and needy, hips stuttering upwards.

“Want you to,” Jeongguk starts, sucks deep and hard against the juncture of Jimin’s neck and shoulder, doesn’t stop until Jimin’s got a grip in his hair. “Want you to only smell like me.”

Jimin’s cock throbs, a gasp escaping him at the confession. He’s dazed, wants to kiss Jeongguk so desperately he finds himself jerking Jeongguk’s head back, mouth chasing his lips. Jeongguk figures out what Jimin wants, kisses him hard enough to knock Jimin’s head back against the door, their teeth clacking. He presses up bodily against Jimin, pins him to the door and Jimin whines into the kiss, moans when Jeongguk’s tongue slides against his own.

Jeongguk kisses ravenously, like he’s been left to starve and Jimin can hardly keep up, mewls and arches into Jeongguk’s hungry body. His scent’s so strong, Jimin can’t even smell anything except smoke, the heady rush of it leaving him stunned.

Jeongguk’s hands move lower, grab at Jimin’s ass, and before he knows it, Jeongguk’s sliding him up the door, Jimin’s feet lifting off the floor. Jimin pushes away at Jeongguk’s furs, manages to get them off his shoulders, arms scrambling to wrap around Jeongguk’s neck as he pulls him closer. Jeongguk’s mouth is hot and wet, teeth nipping at Jimin’s lips, and then sucking, drawing out desperate little moans from Jimin.

“Fuck,” Jimin gasps, can feel Jeongguk’s hard muscle through his shirt, the press of his cock through his pants. Grinding his hips against Jeongguk’s, Jimin relishes the way Jeongguk groans, can already feel himself getting wet. Jeongguk’s hands squeeze his ass, and Jimin whines, ruts against Jeongguk, needy. He wraps his legs around Jeongguk’s waist, squeezes as hard as he can, wants to be as close to Jeongguk as bodily possible, feel his cock against his own.

Jeongguk breaks their kiss, pants into Jimin’s mouth, kisses Jimin in small, chaste pecks, litters them across his jaw, down his neck. He noses along Jimin’s collarbones, grinding his hips against Jimin’s, their cocks rubbing against each other. Jimin’s pretty sure his nails are digging into Jeongguk’s shoulders.

“You’re so pretty, Jimin. So good,” Jeongguk breathes, keeps grinding against Jimin, and Jimin’s spent heats with other omegas before but he’s never felt so overwhelmed before, ready to fall off whatever precipice Jeongguk’s holding him over. “Smell so good, just for me, right, Jiminie?”

“J-just for you,” Jimin agrees readily, pants when Jeongguk’s hips grind down against his harder. Jeongguk’s teeth sink into Jimin’s skin, not hard enough to break skin, but Jimin finds himself sobbing into the touch. “Please, please, please, Jeongguk — I’m so close — ah, please.”

Jeongguk sucks on the bite he’s left hard, works his hips faster, harder until all Jimin can feel is the heat of Jeongguk’s cock through two layers of fabric rutting against his own. Jimin can feel how big Jeongguk is, his cock fatter and longer than Jimin’s own, the thought of it pounding him open nearly leaves Jimin senseless. Slick pours out of him and he’s sure Jeongguk can smell it now, knows how desperate Jimin is.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk moans, fingers digging into Jimin’s ass, pulling his cheeks apart. Jimin whines in embarrassment, can feel the slick dripping out of him. Jeongguk’s fingers dig into the wet patch forming on the underside of Jimin’s pants, dangerously close to Jimin’s hole. “You’re so fucking wet, shit.”

“W-wet for you,” Jimin gasps out, practically humping Jeongguk now. He’s close, so close and he just wants to come. “A-alpha, please.”

“Come for me, little omega,” Jeongguk soothes, a hand cupping Jimin’s cheek as he kisses him again, softer this time. Jimin doesn’t know what to focus on: Jeongguk’s scent drowning him in warmth, his big hand on Jimin’s ass, fingers digging into his skin, Jeongguk’s alpha cock grinding against his own. “Wanna know what you sound like, what you smell like, what you taste like.”

Jimin’s eyes squeezes shut, Jeongguk’s name falling from his lips with a whining lilt, the heat in his belly liquefying his senses until he can feel Jeongguk’s skin under his fingernails, knows he’s left scratches across Jeongguk’s shoulders. His entire body sags and it’s a good thing Jeongguk’s holding him up, hot spurts of cum coating the inside of his pants. The sticky mess seeps through the fabric and Jimin’s a little horrified at the mess he’s made of himself.

“So pretty,” Jeongguk praises, kisses Jimin even as his chest heaves, and Jimin realises then that Jeongguk’s come, too. The wetness between them isn’t just Jimin, the sharp, salty scent of Jeongguk’s release mixing in with the scent of smoke lingering around them. Jimin finds it heady, body pulsating with his orgasm.

Jeongguk just keeps kissing him, even as Jimin whines, fisting Jeongguk’s shirt. The mess in his pants is starting to get uncomfortable but he doesn’t want to move.

“Dinner?” Jeongguk asks, forehead resting against Jimin’s as he pants. He still hasn’t let Jimin back down and Jimin can’t find it in himself to complain, legs tightening around his waist despite the sticky wetness in his crotch.

“‘M tired,” Jimin mumbles, eyes blearily opening to look at Jeongguk. His mouth’s kiss swollen, pink and wet with spit and Jimin’s chest tightens at the sight, cock twitching. He did that to his Alpha.

“Go shower,” Jeongguk instructs, hoists Jimin up and off the wall. He carries Jimin straight to the bathroom, one hand around Jimin’s waist, the other on his ass. Jimin leaves kisses along his jaw, wishes he could sink his teeth into Jeongguk’s neck and mark him. But the moment’s over, and Jeongguk had been careful not to break skin. He places Jimin down on the small counter carefully. “I’ll go get us food. You shouldn’t sleep on an empty stomach.”

Jimin’s not sure when Jeongguk lost his coat, but it’s not there and he can’t help but run his hands down Jeongguk’s arms, slowing down as his fingers skate over Jeongguk’s biceps. “Okay.”

“Good boy,” Jeongguk murmurs, kisses Jimin again, smiling. Jimin swallows, can feel his heart pounding against his chest so hard it’s nearly all he hears.

“What about you?” he asks softly, looks down at Jeongguk’s crotch.

“I’ll clean up and come back, don’t worry,” Jeongguk assures him, nuzzles Jimin’s neck and he hadn’t realised what a calming gesture that was until now. Jimin’s body always relaxes under the touch. He nods, watches Jeongguk leave the bathroom and close the door behind him. Jimin’s heart beats so fast, it’s almost like it’s trying to break out of his chest.

Jeongguk didn’t push him away.

The giddiness washes over him so quickly, it feels like he’s just had his head dunked in a bucket of water. Jimin’s wolf is restless, yips and mewls, and Jimin brings a hand up to his mouth to hide his own stupidly, big smile.

Jeongguk’s scent is all over him, and when Jimin scurries off the counter to look at himself in the mirror, he finds dark bruises all over his neck, eyes widening. Is that would Jeongguk’s mark would look like? He traces over them, finds his hand wandering down to the mess of cum covering the crotch of his pants. Jimin dips his fingers into some of it, hand shaking as he brings it up to his neck, rubs it against his skin. A shiver runs through him, cock semi-hard as he repeats the action. He’s not even sure how much of it is really Jeongguk’s but it feels good. Right.

Jeongguk’s scent is all over him.

Chapter Text

Jeongguk’s hand is flat against Jimin’s stomach, the heat of it like a brand against his skin.

Jimin’s been awake for an hour now, hyper aware of Jeongguk’s touch, the warmth of his body seeping into Jimin through a single threadbare shirt. If he shifts ever so slightly forward, Jeongguk follows, nose nuzzling into the back of Jimin’s neck, trying to find the curve between his neck and shoulder. It makes Jimin shiver.

The previous night feels like a hot coal in Jimin’s belly, liquefying his insides until the heat burns pink in his cheeks. When Jeongguk had come back with food in hand, Jimin hadn’t even been able to look him in the eye. Every bone in his body wanted to sit there, head bowed submissively, ready to do anything his alpha asked.

Before the packs had merged, the mere thought of being so pliant for an alpha would have made Jimin’s eyes roll. Now it makes him want to squirm and hide his face.

He bites on his lip, sucking the flesh between his teeth, his hand trailing down. Jimin’s fingers slide over Jeongguk’s hand, tentative, as if Jeongguk may pull away. He doesn’t, Jimin’s fingers sliding between Jeongguk’s and he’s smiling giddily, embarrassment burning in the tips of his ears.

There’s a contentment in just lying in bed with Jeongguk that Jimin never thought he’d feel, that he’d need. Jeongguk is warm, safe, his steady breathing calming against Jimin’s nerves. Their legs are tangled up together and Jimin had never fantasized about what things would be like with his future mate but he thinks if he had, it’d all pale in comparison.

He’s still not entirely convinced this isn’t all just pheromones and hormones, but that gnawing fear that Jeongguk didn’t want him is at least at bay. He still wants to know Jeongguk better, worries his lip between his teeth as he struggles with the knowledge that he still didn’t know his mate very well. Jimin had never been upset that he’d presented as an omega, but he certainly knew what the weaknesses of his kind were. It was easy letting his instincts get the better of him. Sometimes he couldn’t figure out if it was him who wanted intimacy with Jeongguk or if that was just his wolf. He felt robbed of something, wondered if Jeongguk would have wanted him without his status, without their supposed biological compatibility.

“What’s wrong?”

Jeongguk’s voice jostles Jimin out of his thoughts, sheepish.

“N-nothing, I was just thinking,” Jimin mumbles, keenly aware of Jeongguk’s hand dragging higher up his abdomen. Jeongguk nips at his neck, kisses the spot right after, humming.

“Is that why your scent is so anxious?”

Jimin’s a little annoyed at himself for letting his worrying get the better of him, but mostly he’s amazed Jeongguk woke up because he could smell the anxiety.

“I’m sorry,” he says, twisting around just enough to be able to look at Jeongguk. His hair’s sleep mussed, but he’s alert, probably looks better than Jimin imagines he does. He always woke up with his eyes puffy and his face even puffier. “I’m a chronic worrier.”

“What’re you so worried about?” Jeongguk asks, leaning forward to give Jimin a kiss against the corner of his mouth. It’s sweet, and Jimin, embarrassed, quickly turns back around. Jeongguk just kisses the nape of his neck, nose nuzzling along his hairline.

“Everything,” Jimin confesses, but even as he says it, he feels relaxed. Jeongguk’s scent has gotten sharper, a protectiveness engulfing Jimin and Jimin feels warm, looked after.

“You can’t control everything, Jimin,” Jeongguk tells him. “You have to let some things go.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were so wise, Alpha,” Jimin snorts, teasing, and he gets another nip at his neck for his retort. This time there’s no kiss to follow.

“Brat,” Jeongguk huffs, but he’s still got Jimin half pinned under him, nose buried in Jimin’s neck. “I’m just trying to make you feel better.”

“I know,” Jimin says softly, wishes he could kiss Jeongguk but he doesn’t want to move, to look Jeongguk in the eye. He doesn’t know how to tell Jeongguk he’s scared. “Do you ever — ”

“Do I ever what?”

Jimin doesn’t know how to phrase it, mouth twisting into a frown, not sure if he wants to hear the answer to his question. Jeongguk waits patiently, and Jimin gathers up his courage. “Do you ever think about what would have happened if you’d lost?”

Jeongguk goes very still next to him and Jimin’s ruining the mood but he wants to know. He wants to know how Jeongguk had been so sure that he wanted Jimin.

“I didn’t lose.”

“Well, duh,” Jimin starts but Jeongguk’s arm tightens around him, pulling Jimin even closer and Jeongguk’s body temperature must have risen because suddenly he feels scorching to the touch.

“Losing wasn’t an option,” Jeongguk says quietly into the skin of Jimin’s neck and it sends shivers down Jimin’s spine.

“And if I hadn’t wanted you?” Jimin knows he’s pushing it, but the words tumble out on their own.

Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, the loud thud of Jimin’s heartbeat all he can make out over his anticipation. “Then you wouldn’t have wanted me. I wouldn’t force anything on you.”

“Just like that?”

“Even a pup knows no means no.”

They’re in the middle of breakfast, Jimin snug against Jeongguk’s side as they eat. Jeongguk had found them a seat near the Elders’ table today and while Jimin isn’t keen on sitting so close to the pack’s alpha, Jeongguk was always happy about it. He didn’t get to spend a lot of time with his dad anymore, and there was a certain boyishness to Jeongguk that only came out around the pack alpha.

Jimin’s only conversations with Jeongguk’s father were quick exchanges, small talk. They’d never been left alone in each other’s presence long enough for much else and while Jimin feels bad about it, he’s still grateful. He finds the pack alpha intimidating even if he’s always been friendly. Maybe Jimin was just scared of making a bad impression, he was Jeongguk’s dad after all.

“Jimin?” Jeongguk asks, fingers squeezing Jimin’s side to get his attention.


Jeongguk laughs, kisses the tip of Jimin’s nose as he smiles and Jimin’s cheeks bloom with heat at the attention, at the fondness. “I asked you if you wanted dessert.”

“Sorry, I was just — ”

“Thinking? Do you ever just enjoy the moment?”

Jimin pouts at the humour in Jeongguk’s voice, like he has Jimin all figured out. “Well, I have to make up for a certain someone.”

“What’re you trying to imply there, little omega?” Jeongguk leans in, a brow raised, his hand curling around the back of Jimin’s neck. Jimin shivers, even as he fights his own instincts to submit.

Scowling, Jimin pinches Jeongguk’s thigh hard and finds himself even more annoyed when Jeongguk’s completely unfazed. “I’m not little!”

“You sure? You’re about this tall,” Jeongguk says, leveling his free hand at about the height of the table they’re sitting at. Jimin’s jaw drops, hand flying to smack Jeongguk right in the chest. A few heads turn to look at them, Jimin’s cheeks aflame.

“Take that back!” he threatens, arms crossing over his chest as he glares, and Jeongguk’s snickering at him, nose crinkling up as he leans away.

“You’re really cute, you know that? Especially when you’re huffing and puffing like that,” Jeongguk grins, his hand leaving the back of Jimin’s neck, two fingers tracing along his jaw.

“You’re not even that much taller than me, you asshole,” Jimin grumbles, turning away from Jeongguk, face flushed with heat, just as another alpha greets him. Jimin doesn’t recognize the guy so he ignores them both, still irritated that Jeongguk thought he could make fun of Jimin’s height. He got enough of that from Taehyung.

He catches snippets of conversation from other tables, finding himself focusing on one just behind them at the Elders’ table.

“How bad is it?” That's the pack alpha, always direct and no nonsense.

“One of them’s going to blow out eventually. We need to buy new ones. Every few days we’re fixing a different one. They’re old.”

Jimin turns in his seat to face the Elders’ table, as subtle as possible, and spots someone he doesn’t know talking to the table. Jimin’s sure he’s seen the guy before, possibly talking to Jeongguk but he’s not sure.

“Is Yoongi that interesting to look at?” Jimin’s head whips back to Jeongguk, the way his brow’s arched and his mouth is twisted sourly telling enough.

Jimin bites back his smile, eyelashes fluttering. “Why? You jealous?”

Jeongguk’s eyes narrow. “You wish.”

Jimin laughs, can’t help reaching over to pinch Jeongguk’s cheek but his hand is swatted away, a deepening scowl forming on Jeongguk’s face. “You’re so ridiculous. What, you don’t trust me?”

“It’s not you!” Jeongguk insists instantly, glaring at Yoongi despite the fact that Yoongi hasn’t even glanced over at them one.

Jimin rolls his eyes. “So I should only look at you, huh?”

“Yes,” Jeongguk says, eyes widening when he realises what he’s just said. Jimin’s surprised himself, stomach flop-flopping as he takes in the hint of pink colouring Jeongguk’s cheeks. He doesn’t even have it in him to tease Jeongguk back, mouth suddenly dry and when had he turned into such a tongue-tied pup?

“Stupid Alpha,” Jimin mutters under his breath, unable to look at Jeongguk or keep the embarrassment from showing on his face. “We should — we should get going. I have to help with the pups today.”

“You mad?” Jeongguk asks, voice small and Jimin’s just flustered, not upset.

“No, you idiot,” Jimin sighs, finally looking at Jeongguk. There’s a downward tilt to his mouth, brows furrowed together and Jimin doesn’t like it.

He kind of expects the arm that wraps around his waist, pulling him closer. What he doesn’t expect is Jeongguk nuzzling into the crook of his neck, something hot and burning sinking into the pit of Jimin’s belly at the touch.

“I'm sorry.” Jeongguk’s breath ghosts over the shell of his ear, soft and sincere. “Just — ”

“Just what?” Jimin asks, a little dazed by the proximity, at the intensity of Jeongguk’s scent. He wonders if he’ll ever get used to it, if it’ll always knock the breath out of him like this.

Jeongguk’s struggling with the words, Jimin’s fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt and they’re being a little shameless but Jimin’s seen worse. At least they were only scenting each other. “Just like you a lot.”

Jimin’s heart feels like it’s going to burst out of his chest, the wooziness suddenly doubling and it’s not like he didn’t know but hearing the words from Jeongguk is different. He can’t stop the stupid smile that spreads across his whole face or the way he knows he’s blushing all the way down his neck.

Jimin’s about to say it back but out of the corner of his eye he sees Alpha Jeon rising out of his seat and then all Jimin can remember is exactly where they’re sitting, who they’re sitting in front of. His body goes rigid. Jimin pushes Jeongguk away, standing up so fast his head spins and Jeongguk looks shocked, hurt flashing in his eyes so fast Jimin’s not sure he really sees it. His expression closes off quickly and Jimin’s face is burning with shame.

“Your dad,” Jimin offers by explanation but it’s too late, Jeongguk’s already slipped on a fake smile, the indifference evident in his eyes. Jeongguk gets up swiftly, and Jimin’s heart sinks, the realization of just how much he’s fucked up shackling him to the spot. "Jeongguk, I’m — ”

But Jimin doesn’t get a chance to finish, the pack alpha greeting them both. “Jeongguk, Jimin.”

“Alpha Jeon,” Jimin murmurs, Jeongguk putting a certain distance between himself and Jimin. It cuts through Jimin so sharply, the feeling is staggering.

“Did you have a minute, Jeongguk?” Alpha Jeon asks, his son’s shoulders squaring as he nods. He doesn’t even say goodbye to Jimin, following after his father and Jimin wants to sink back down onto the bench behind him but he can’t. He needs to go help with the pups today, even if he feels miserable

Jimin scrubs at his eyes as he twists around to grab their dishes. He’s ruined everything.

Jimin’s exhausted, the muscles in his shoulders aching as he lets himself sprawl out in front of the fireplace. They’d managed to get most of the pups to fall asleep, a few of the older ones curled up together reading their own books on their own. He hadn’t been planning to stay so late, but he’s afraid to go home, isn’t sure what to expect from Jeongguk.

“I found it!” Taehyung exclaims in his quietest voice. He’s got a picture book in his hands, one Jimin knows distinctly. One of the pack wolves had written it, a fairytale of sorts, about how the first werewolf had come to be. Jimin’s mother used to tell them that story before bed and it had always been a favourite for both of them.

“You want me to start from the beginning or after the curse?” Taehyung asks, excited.

“It’s not a curse,” Jimin scolds, sitting up from his prone position on the floor despite the softness of the furs. He tries not to think about how much nicer his bed at home is, how much nicer the furs Jeongguk’s brought home are.

“It was intended as one,” Taehyung corrects with a little huff, sitting down next to Jimin. He shamelessly lies down with his head in Jimin’s lap, grinning up at him. Jimin snorts, but he runs a hand through Taehyung’s hair nonetheless.

“It’s a gift,” Jimin corrects, taking the book from Taehyung’s hands. Sometimes he thinks about writing stories of his own, adding in his own illustrations. The cover is smooth, the book bound together by hand. “A curse is spiteful.”

“You sound just like Aunt Mina,” Taehyung smiles, a little teasing but Jimin knows it’s affectionate and he rolls his eyes, smacking Taehyung lightly on the forehead. “It’s cute.”

“You know who’s not cute? You.”

Taehyung’s mouth hangs open immediately, appalled that Jimin could say such a thing. “I’m really fucking cute, you asshole!”

“Says who?”

“Says everyone!”

Jimin laughs, hand running through his hair as he grins at Taehyung’s offended face. “Who’s everyone?” he asks, purposefully playing dumb.

Taehyung frowns, loud and petulant, his arms coming to cross over his chest. “Jerk.”

“Well, someone has to keep your head from floating off.”

“I’m not talking to you,” Taehyung sniffs, closing his eyes and turning his head away from Jimin.

“Then you should get out of my lap, too.” Jimin tries to keep his voice steady but he can’t help the laughter that sneaks it’s way in.

Taehyung’s similarly struggling but gives in as he huffs in exasperation. “Why were you all mopey today, huh?”

“I wasn’t mopey!” Jimin defends, a little surprised that Taehyung had seen through him so easily. He really should have seen it coming.

Taehyung snorts. “You’re the worst liar, you know that?”

“You’re only saying that because I’ve never actually tried to lie to you.”

“So then tell me what’s wrong.”

Jimin lets himself run a hand through Taehyung’s hair, petting the soft strands as he looks down at his best friend’s furrowed brows. Sometimes Jimin wonders if Taehyung and him would have met in different circumstances. Like if they were humans living in some unfathomably large city and not here in the comfort of the woods.

“Jeongguk said he likes me,” Jimin says quietly and Taehyung’s expression morphs so quickly Jimin nearly topples over from his excitement. He’s bounding upwards like a pup, grabbing Jimin by the shoulders.

“Really? He fucking — Wait, then why are you moping? Shouldn’t you be happy?”

Jimin deflates, shoulder sagging and he lets himself slump forward until his head’s resting against one of Taehyung’s arms. “I shoved him away.”


“I’m so dumb, I know,” Jimin mutters, the tightness in his chest squeezing around his heart.

Taehyung’s voice is a lot softer when he responds, “What happened?”

“We were in the dining hall and then his dad — the fucking pack alpha — came over and I freaked out and...yeah…,” Jimin explains, feeling miserable. He can still picture Jeongguk’s expression vividly, the closed off indifference, the brief flicker of shock, hurt.

“You’re mates, what was the pack alpha going to say? Stay away from my son?” Taehyung snorts, flicking Jimin on the forehead.

“Ow!” Jimin scowls, shoving Taehyung back while he rubs at the pain. “We’re not mated! And it’s embarrassing!”

“What’s embarrassing?”

“I dunno — Being so — ”

“Intimate?” Taehyung smirks, eyebrows waggling and Jimin’s face goes scarlet, punching Taehyung in the chest. His best friend yells at the impact, nearly falling over, but he’s too busy laughing at Jimin’s mortification for the groans mixed into his laughter to mean much.

“You’re such an ass!”

“Oh, can’t handle a taste of your medicine, huh?” Taehyung accuses, but he’s grinning, big and wide like this is the funniest thing he’s heard all day. “I can’t believe you’ve been moping all day because of this.”

“What should I be doing? Celebrating? Jeongguk thinks — ”

“Jeongguk thinks you’re the sun in the sky. All you have to do is apologise,” Taehyung interrupts, sitting up again from where he’s toppled over. “Stop being so afraid of your feelings.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Jimin scowls, despite the fact that he knows Taehyung’s right. He just needed to apologise and tell Jeongguk he liked him, too. He did, after all, like him. The thought terrifies him, the way it sends a thrill up his spine, leaves him a little breathless with realization.

“I thought it was going to take you another two months to confess you liked him. Thank god it didn’t,” Taehyung says with an exaggerated roll of his eyes. Jimin smacks him again, but it’s not as hard as the punch.

“Not everyone is as reckless as you,” Jimin retorts, drawing his knees up to his chest. Taehyung’s sitting up now, arms holding him as his legs spread out in front of him. The pups in the corner absorbed in their book haven’t paid attention to them at all.

“You have to take chances sometimes, you know. The world isn’t always going to wait for you to be ready.”

Jimin’s nose scrunches up as he takes Taehyung in, hair longer now, parted down the middle. His words settle in Jimin’s belly, churning around uncomfortably. It’s not that Jimin needs the world to wait for him, but rather that he doesn’t think he can keep up. “It’s scary,” he hears himself saying. “You can’t...predict how someone will react to you.”

“Aren’t you the one reacting to Jeongguk?” Taehyung counters, head tilting down as he looks at Jimin. He lets his chin rest on the peaks of his knees, staring back to Taehyung.

“Yeah, I am.”

“Maybe it’s time to take some initiative.” Taehyung’s smile is encouraging, soft. Jimin’s too afraid to voice his own hangups so it’s not like he can expect Jeongguk to tell him why he’s so hesitant about everything.

“I’m annoyed that you’re right,” Jimin tells Taehyung, mouth pursing into a thin line.

Taehyung only laughs.

This time the pups look over, and Jimin resolves that he’ll find Jeongguk and tell him. I like you, too.

By mid afternoon, Jimin’s bored out of his mind. There’s nothing to do, the pack’s efficiency at preparing for winter surprising. Before they’d merged, Jimin remembers how they’d still be scrambling to get everything done with winter already at their door step. Since the first snowfall of the season, they’ve gotten only two more snowfalls, both light. The snow crunches under their feet, melted to nearly nothing.

He’s spent the morning helping Seokjin prepare their medicinal supply for the winter but eventually Seokjin had told him to go eat something since it was past noon. When Jimin had gone home the night before, Jeongguk had already been fast asleep and Jimin had only felt ashamed of his own terror, of his own inability to give Jeongguk what he deserved: his honesty. He’d slept fitfully, as if aware even in his sleep that he was missing the warmth of Jeongguk’s body against his.

He’d skipped breakfast, appetite gone when Jeongguk had walked out of the bathroom and given Jimin a curt nod. Jimin had rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as Jeongguk had told him he couldn’t go to breakfast that morning, he had something to get done for the pack. Jimin had nodded, tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth and Jeongguk had walked out. The alpha always had breakfast with Jimin.

In his upset, Jimin had skipped lunch, too, and now with nothing to do, he needed to find something to occupy his time. He knew Jeongguk had venison back at the cabin, but Jimin didn’t want to be there, surrounded by Jeongguk’s smoky scent. And he still didn’t feel particularly hungry.

He’s spent all day thinking about what Taehyung had said, how he needed to take initiative and decides while standing outside of the communal omega cabins that he’s going to find Jeongguk. Besides, his mother likely wouldn’t even be there, too busy in the kitchens.

The problem, of course, is that Jimin has no idea where to start looking for Jeongguk. He never really mentioned what he was going to be off doing — Jimin just knew it was “alpha” stuff.

He switches tracks, heading to the nursery where he knows he’ll find Taehyung. At the very least Taehyung could tell him where Hyeri is and Jimin could ask her if she had any idea where Jeongguk might be.

Jimin’s barely opened the door to the nursery before Hyeri’s flowery scent is mixing in with the clean, milky scent of the pups. Jimin can make out Taehyung’s, too, along with the few other omegas on pup duty. He nearly rolls his eyes when he spots Taehyung and Hyeri cooing over a newborn.

“Don’t you two ever get sick of each other?”

“Oh, if it isn’t Mr. Grumpy Pants,” Taehyung greets him, the brief smile he’d offered Jimin morphing into a pout as Hyeri takes the baby out of his arms.

“Is it a slow day for everyone?” Jimin asks, glancing around. There are more than the usual five omegas in the nursery today, as if everyone had become bored and come to play with the pups for some fun.

“Looks like it,” Hyeri smiles, cradling the newborn in her arms. She’s stroking the baby’s cheek, absolutely in love. “Aren’t you the prettiest little thing, hmm?”

“Last winter I don’t remember having time to sleep until the snow had us trapped in our cabins,” Taehyung mutters, a hand pushing through his hair. It had been a particularly brutal winter, and it made more and more sense that their pack had merged with the Evergreen pack.

Hyeri looks up, eyes softening as she looks at Taehyung. “Well, I’m glad this winter is better.”

“It’s nice but I don’t know what to do with all the free time,” Jimin grumbles, stepping a little closer to Hyeri to look at the sleeping pup in her arms. He almost coos looking at the baby’s chubby cheeks, eyelashes long and dark against creamy skin.

“I have a few ideas,” Taehyung grins, practically leering as he drapes an arm over Hyeri’s shoulder. This close, Jimin feels like he’s intruding on Taehyung and Hyeri’s time together, ready to take a step back but the baby lets out a soft, quiet yawn and they all coo in unison.

“Is your mind always in the toilet?” Hyeri asks, looking up at Taehyung for a flicker of a second.

“It takes two to tango,” Taehyung retorts, not looking the least bit ashamed.

Hyeri rolls her eyes, attention returning to the baby. She looks so fond, smitten with this kid that isn’t even hers. Jimin can’t imagine what they’ll be like when they have their own pups. They have a feeling to them now, this cozy warmth that Jimin finds himself just a little jealous of. He wants that.

“Anyways, ignoring my idiot mate, how’re things, Jimin?” Hyeri’s learning into Taehyung and they look so cute, Taehyung the perfect height to tuck her in against himself.

“Oh, they’re...good,” Jimin answers, refusing to look at Taehyung. He already knows Taehyung’s got his brow cocked up as he gives Jimin a condescending look. Damn Jimin for telling him everything.

“Mmm, Tae was saying there’s trouble in paradise,” Hyeri says, glancing up at Jimin. He glares at Taehyung immediately, who very purposely isn’t looking at Jimin now and god, he just needs to know where Jeongguk is. He doesn’t have time for this.

“No more than usual,” Jimin asserts, keeping his glare fixed on Taehyung. “I was actually wondering if you’d seen Jeongguk at all today? He said he — ”

“He’s probably at Yoongi’s cabin,” Hyeri answers, turning around to place the pup back in the crib. There are a few others, all sleeping even through the noise of the older kids running around the nursery. Jimin supposes they got used to it. “That’s a guess though. I didn’t see him at this morning’s hunt but some of the back-up generators aren’t looking too good and I know he usually helps with repairs.”

“Oh, awesome. Thank you!” Jimin grins, already ready to run back out into the snow before realising he has no idea where Yoongi’s cabin is.

Hyeri seems to pick up on that, too, smiling knowingly at Jimin. “He’s on the other side of the kitchens, right by the edge of the woods.”

“Thank you!” Jimin repeats, failing to ignore Taehyung’s suggestive eyebrow waggle.

“Have fun seducing your alpha, Jiminie!”

“God, I fucking hate you,” Jimin mutters, face flushing about ten shades of red as he rushes out of the nursery. Hyeri’s laughter follows him out and Jimin’s thankful it’s her that Taehyung mated.

Yoongi’s cabin is small. That isn’t what catches Jimin off-guard though.

Next to the cabin is a bigger log cabin, something similar to the communal omega cabins but not quite as large. The door’s to the cabin are flung open and are twice the size of the doors on the rest of the pack’s buildings. Jimin can see an open forge inside, crackling fire disappearing into smoke through a chimney.

Inside he can spot Jeongguk, completely shirtless.

Jimin’s breath catches, eyes widening as he nearly stumbles in his steps toward the cabin. He flushes at his own reaction — this isn’t the first time he’s seen Jeongguk shirtless, but Jimin didn’t exactly get to look at Jeongguk when they were lying in bed together. Jimin almost doesn’t want to go to the cabin but he needs to get this over with and stop chickening out.

There’s another guy in the cabin, too, but he’s occupied sanding a piece of wood. He is decidedly not shirtless. Jimin recognizes him as the same guy Jeongguk had gotten all riled up over at breakfast a few days ago. At least Jimin had found the right cabin.

Jimin hadn’t realised they even had such a nice woodworking building or forge but he sees all kinds of strange tools in the shop, ones Jimin doesn’t even have a name for.

As a precaution, packs that lived so far out from the human cities tended to rely on technology as little as they possibly could. There were benefits, of course. Heating and indoor plumbing had obviously improved the quality of their lives but there was hesitancy when it came to other things. The woodworking cabin looks as advanced as their kitchens.

Sucking in a deep breath, Jimin approaches the doors, hoping the two will just pick up on his scent. Yoongi does, looking up from the wood but Jeongguk’s got his back turned to Jimin, long prongs holding something in the fire of the forge. Jimin’s chest tightens at the sight of the sheen of sweat glistening against Jeongguk’s tanned skin, the firelight illuminating him in a startling, mesmerizing way. He can see the way Jeongguk’s muscles shift under his skin as he moves, shoulder blades pulling farther apart as he moves closer to the fire.

Nodding at Yoongi, Jimin wonders if he should step in or just wait to be acknowledged. He finds himself chewing on his bottom lip, watching Yoongi abandon whatever he’s working on to walk over to Jeongguk. He takes the prongs out of Jeongguk’s hands, head jerking in Jimin’s direction.

When Jeongguk looks over, he looks momentarily surprised, like he’d never have expected Jimin to show up here. He abandons whatever he’s doing to Yoongi and comes over to Jimin slowly, and Jimin wonders if he even wants to see him. The thought is a lot more agonizing than Jimin thought it could be, a tremble settling in his hands.

“H-hey,” Jimin breathes, voice cracking. Jeongguk gives Jimin a tight smile, stopping a few feet away. Jimin very purposefully doesn’t stare at the defintion of his pecs or the dark aerolas of his nipples. There’s very faint scarring from the bear he took down for Jimin and the sight of it makes Jimin’s heart skip a beat. His fingers curl into themselves as Jimin tells himself that no, he can’t reach out and touch the scars

He swallows, mouth suddenly very dry. The look of careful neutrality on Jeongguk’s face is too much to bear so Jimin ends up staring at his abs, watches as Jeongguk breathes in and out.

“Um, I was — I’m sorry,” Jimin starts again, hands fisting into his furs, face aflame as he gets more and more overwhelmed. He sucks in a big breath. To his utter horror, he can feel the wetness of slick between his cheeks. “I’m sorry for um, i-interrupting you. Did you — I mean, if you didn’t mind — ”

Jimin feels hot all over, the skin on the back of his neck prickling, utterly tongue-tied. Braving a look up at Jeongguk quickly, he finds an amused smirk looking back at him. Jimin grits his teeth, unsure if he was annoyed with himself or Jeongguk or both.

“Aren’t you cold?” he snaps, looking away from Jeongguk entirely, arms crossing over his chest.

“It’s pretty hot in here,” Jeongguk answers, adopting a similar stance as Jimin. Now Jimin has to deal with the way his biceps flex, full and big, and Jimin’s positive Jeongguk’s doing it on purpose. He tries not to outright glare.

“Yoongi’s not — ”

“Not what?” Jeongguk inquires, blinking innocently, as if he doesn’t know what Jimin’s referring to. He sounds entirely too smug.

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Jimin bites out, willing himself to get his wits together. When Jeongguk doesn’t make a move to step out of the cabin, Jimin tacks on an, “alone.”

“Okay,” Jeongguk acquises, about to step out of the cabin shirtless. Jimin’s jaw nearly drops.

“It’s cold out here!”

“I’ll be fine,” Jeongguk dismisses but Jimin shoves him right back into the cabin.

“Go put some fucking clothes on!”

Jeongguk rolls his eyes, but listens and Jimin’s thankful, letting out a relieved sigh. His gut churns with nervousness but when Jeongguk steps out of the cabin, Jimin finds he’s only just thrown on his furs. He’s still shirtless.

Now Jimin definitely knows he’s doing it on purpose and he doesn’t even try to hide his scowl. Jeongguk looks like he’s biting back his laughter.

“Right,” Jimin says, more to himself, the heat in his face still burning through his skin. He walks toward the forest, Jeongguk trailing behind him and when he’s sure Yoongi can’t eavesdrop on them, he slows down. Jeongguk’s patient, tugging his furs closer together so Jimin can only make out the jut of Jeongguk’s clavicles, the golden skin of Jeongguk’s neck and chest in the v-shaped neckline. He’s grateful for the respite.

“You wanted to talk?”

Jimin’s at a loss for words again but this time for entirely different reasons. He wraps his arms around himself, eyes fixed on the crisp untouched snow at their feet. He lets out a puff of air, swallowing down his nerves.

“I miss you,” Jimin says, surprised at the confession but it’s honest and it feels right.

There’s a spike in Jeongguk’s scent and Jimin looks up sharply, isn’t sure if Jeongguk was standing this close or if he’s just stepped closer. Jimin’s words feel lodged in his throat, their heaviness settling over his lungs. It’s hard to breathe.

“A-and I’m sorry,” Jimin pauses, “for — for how I reacted.”

Jeongguk steps even closer and now Jimin’s surrounded by his scent, smokey and sweet, and he has to tell himself not to reach out and just touch Jeongguk even if he wants to. He manages to look Jeongguk in the eye, feels lightheaded under the intense look.

“I got — God, I really suck at this.” Jimin laughs at himself, head ducking. “I just, I didn’t mean to upset you. I got nervous but he’s your dad and I know that’s stupid — I’m sorry. But I miss you. A lot.”

“So you just miss me?” Jeongguk says quietly, a tendril of hurt laced into his voice. Jeongguk’s let his furs drop openly again and Jimin swallows, a shaking hand reaching for the coat. Jeongguk’s furs are completely black, still soft from years of Jeongguk’s care. Jimin’s fingers fist into the material.

“No,” Jimin whispers, teeth catching his bottom lip. “I mean — I do miss you! And I don’t like not talking to you and feeling like I can’t even touch you and I — ” He takes a big breath. “I like you, too.”

Jeongguk’s voice is gravely. “Say it again.”

Jimin looks up, breath catching in his throat and Jeongguk’s looking at him like he wants to devour him, slick pouring out of Jimin as his hand tightens in Jeongguk’s furs, knees suddenly weak. “I l-like you.”

“Again,” Jeongguk repeats, pulling Jimin flush against himself as he nuzzles Jimin’s neck, breathing him in like he’s never done it before. Jimin feels a little dizzy, the hard planes of Jeongguk’s body difficult to ignore as the alpha’s hold on him seems to tighten.

“It’s embarrassing, you jerk,” Jimin mutters, lets himself hide his face in the curve where Jeongguk’s neck meets his shoulder. The intensity of Jeongguk’s scent makes him feel lightheaded.

“One more time,” Jeongguk pleads, pressing a kiss just under Jimin’s ear. “Please.” Jimin shivers bodily, arousal flickering through him at the desperation in Jeongguk’s tone.

“I like you, Alpha,” Jimin breathes, words ghosting over Jeongguk’s ear and he isn’t expecting the growl, the way Jeongguk’s suddenly hitching him up, hands under Jimin’s thighs. His fingers nearly slip in their hold on Jeongguk’s furs, but he locks his ankles behind Jeongguk’s back, just soon enough as Jeongguk slams him back into the trunk of a tree.

Jimin gasps, Jeongguk’s mouth on his in an instant, and he’s ravenous, bruising in his grip on Jimin, tongue delving into his mouth. Jeongguk kisses like he wants to conquer him, and Jimin is ready to surrender, can barely keep up, hands clambering up the slope of his chest to wrap around his neck, clinging. He’s moaning, can hear himself in the quiet of the woods. Anyone could see them, hear them.

Jeongguk doesn’t seem to care, sucking on Jimin’s tongue, biting his way into Jimin’s mouth until it feels like he’s pulled the breath right out of Jimin’s lungs. Jimin’s woozy, whining into Jeongguk’s mouth, but Jeongguk is relentless, hiking Jimin up higher. The hardness of Jeongguk’s cock drags across Jimin’s own and he moans, mind completely blanking out.

Jimin’s eagerness outdoes his embarrassment, hips rolling to meet Jeongguk’s, breath hitching as he ruts against Jeongguk’s cock. Their kisses are hungrier, and the heat of Jimin’s desire burns through him with a scorching intensity.

Jeongguk breaks away, leaves Jimin panting, white puffs of air escaping him as Jeongguk’s mouth latches onto Jimin’s throat, teeth scraping deliciously against Jimin’s skin. His wolf keens as it imagines Jeongguk’s teeth breaking skin, marking him once and for all. Jimin whines, hands finding Jeongguk’s bare skin, nails digging in. Jeongguk sucks against Jimin’s skin, tongue laving at the bites he leaves along the column of Jimin’s neck and it’s not enough. It’s not enough.

Just as Jimin whines out Jeongguk’s name, his stomach growls. Jeongguk stills, nosing his way back up to Jimin’s mouth.

“Did you eat today, pup?” Jeongguk asks, his concern cutting through any arousal. Jimin can’t even find it in himself to be indignant over the endearment. He shakes his head, buries it into the curve of Jeongguk’s neck and shoulder. He finds himself clinging to Jeongguk, arms wrapped around his neck tight.

“You know you have to take care of yourself,” Jeongguk scolds but he sounds less mad and more worried. Guilt swims up his throat, an apology ready on his lips when Jeongguk lets him down carefully, still pressed up against the tree. He cups Jimin’s face in his hands, kissing him tenderly, carefully. “You have to eat, Jimin.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Jimin insists, even if he can barely hold Jeongguk’s gaze. His skin is burning with a different kind of embarrassment now, Jeongguk stroking his cheeks with calloused fingers. “Just forgot.”

The way Jeongguk’s lips purse, eyes sad, makes Jimin’s chest prickle and he recognizes the feeling immediately. Jeongguk’s blaming himself.

“It’s not your fault!” Jimin rushes to assure. “I’m just dumb and I was sad…and...” He swallows, unable to maintain eye contact. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m supposed to take care of you.” Jeongguk’s voice is soft, his lip catching between his teeth. Jimin can see the mole under his bottom lip clearly. He wants to kiss it. “I haven’t been doing a very good job.”

“You take really good care of me,” Jimin assures, voice coming out less clearly than he’d like. Giving himself away to his own feelings like this is foreign, a self-consciousness he’s having trouble getting used to always getting the better of him. Jimin’s skin feels hot. He gathers up the scraps of courage he still has left and looks up at Jeongguk properly. “I made you sad first.”

“I shouldn’t have — ”

“I would have been upset, too,” Jimin interrupts, lip catching between his teeth. He gets up on his tiptoes and presses a chaste kiss to Jeongguk’s cheek, pretends he’s not blushing. “I’m sorry.”

Jeongguk looks dazed for a split second, hand finding Jimin’s and squeezing tight. “I’m sorry, too.”

He follows up with a kiss, and Jimin would find it all very sweet if Jeongguk wasn’t still shirtless and they weren’t standing at the edge of the woods. He tugs Jeongguk’s furs closer together, refusing to look up at Jeongguk.

“You’ll get a cold,” Jimin mumbles, hands dropping back down to his sides. Jeongguk takes one in his own immediately, the other tipping Jimin’s chin up. He kisses Jimin again, this time it’s less sweet, Jeongguk’s tongue licking at Jimin’s upper lip as he pulls back.

“I’m not a pup, love,” he says with amusement, “but it’s very sweet how worried you are.”

“Shut up,” Jimin grumbles, face flaming. He’s completely caught off guard by the swell of heat that seems to bubble in his belly at the endearment, his wolf yipping in delight. Jimin’s ready to pull his hand away from Jeongguk and stalk back to their cabin but Jeongguk laces their fingers together, bringing Jimin’s hand up to his lips to press a kiss against his cold skin.

“Come on, let me get some food in you.” Jeongguk pulls Jimin away from the tree and Jimin’s one step behind him. Normally he’d rush to catch up but he doesn’t want to, as if keeping behind Jeongguk will somehow hide the sweetness of his scent or the obviousness of his attraction. “I’ll even put a shirt on for you. Although, I have to admit, I was hoping you’d want me in less clothes.”

“Jeongguk!” Jimin gasps, in complete disbelief at his shamelessness, his hand reaching out to smack Jeongguk in the arm. Jeongguk just laughs, eyes crinkled up, and even in the depths of his embarrassment, Jimin knows he’s a goner.

Jeongguk bids Yoongi a quick farewell, grabbing Jimin’s hand as he leaves the forge now properly clothed. Jimin allows himself to indulge in the giddiness of it all, his hand fitting into Jeongguk’s large one perfectly. They don’t go to the kitchens but rather Jeongguk takes Jimin back to their cabin, announcing that he would make dinner for Jimin himself.

They’ve been skirting around each other for so long that the straightforwardness of everything is refreshing. Jimin’s heart feels like it’s going a mile a minute, Jeongguk’s warmth and scent enveloping him as they make their way through their little village.

Jimin had been afraid of accepting this all. When the announcement had initially been made, he’d been angry. Their pack would lose everything ― their homes, their identity ― to be part of the Evergreen pack but now it felt like home. He’d understood the logic then, but that hadn’t meant he was happy about it. Now, he feels grateful.

If not for anything else, then just for Jeongguk.

Jimin hadn’t thought he’d ever feel so much for someone.

There’s a stupid smile he can’t keep off his face and when Jeongguk glances back at him, he’s wearing a matching expression. The giddy feeling swells up, embarrassment flushing his face as he ducks his head down unable to maintain eye contact with Jeongguk.

Jeongguk only tugs him closer and Jimin falls into him with an ‘oof’, surprised by Jeongguk’s sudden manhandling. He finds himself walking backwards, Jeongguk’s arms wrapped around his waist.

“What are you doing!” Jimin yelps, face aflame but Jeongguk only smirks, holding onto him tighter.

“You look really cute when you’re all flustered, you know that?”

“Let me go!” Jimin squirms to try and get out of Jeongguk’s hold but Jeongguk just holds onto him tighter. “I’m gonna fall, Jeongguk!”

“I won’t let you,” Jeongguk says, immediate and so sure of himself. It only flusters Jimin further. He ends up ducking his head, fingers twisting into the fur of Jeongguk’s black coat as he waddles backwards, trying to keep his balance

“Is this really necessary?” he grumbles, twisting to look over his shoulder. They’re not that far from their cabin at this point.

“Well, if it were up to me, I’d have thrown you over my shoulder and carried you home,” Jeongguk grins, lets Jimin put a little distance between them, hands interlocking. Jimin’s still walking backwards.

“I’m not a sack of flour, Jeongguk.”

“I never said you were.”

“And yet you want to toss me around like one.” The words leave Jimin’s mouth before he really considers them, eyes widening as he catches the grin on Jeongguk’s lips morph into a smug smirk.

“You got me there,” Jeongguk confesses, eyes darkening and he’s pulling Jimin right back in, flush against himself. Jimin hates how easily his heartbeat thunders in his ears, stomach twisting itself into knots. “You’re just so cute,” Jeongguk whispers, walking Jimin right up against their front door. “Especially when you look at me like that.”

Jimin swallows, fingers digging into Jeongguk’s furs to keep himself grounded, finding himself breathless. “Look at you like what?”

“Like you want me to eat you up,” Jeongguk says, leaning in close enough for their foreheads to touch, his breath ghosting over Jimin’s lips. Jimin’s chest feels like it might implode.

It takes him a second, mind muddled and hazy as Jeongguk’s finger strokes along his jaw, to realise just how far gone he is. But Jimin doesn’t run this time, closing the gap between them to kiss Jeongguk, noses brushing, fingers tightening in Jeongguk’s furs.

Jeongguk’s even more impatient, his tongue slipping past Jimin’s lips to taste him, greedy as ever. Jimin whines, shuddering when Jeongguk nips at his bottom lip a little too hard. Heat flares in his belly, and Jimin feels lost to the feel of Jeongguk, the way his scent seems to overwhelm him.

He pulls back first, nuzzling into Jeongguk’s neck before his mouth latches onto the skin there, suckling. Jeongguk’s hand finds it’s way to Jimin’s ass, squeezing, and Jimin feels the tingles all the way up his spine, a needy whimper escaping him.

“I didn’t know you were such a hungry little pup,” Jeongguk murmurs, teasing. His other hand is gripping Jimin by the base of his neck and Jimin, despite himself, can’t keep his mouth off of Jeongguk’s skin, teeth sinking into Jeongguk as he gropes Jimin’s ass again. “Are you gonna have me for dinner, Jiminie?”

Heat floods through Jimin at the way Jeongguk says his name, catching him completely off guard, and he’s spluttering out an “Oh my god.” He shoves Jeongguk back just enough to get through their door, the inside of their cabin feeling cooler than outside. Jimin can feel the burn of his embarrassment run all the way down his neck and Jeongguk’s just laughing behind him.

He feels an arm wrap around him from behind after a moment, a kiss pressed tenderly just under his ear. “You can still have me for dessert, you know.”

You’re the worst!,” Jimin exclaims, whipping around to give Jeongguk another shove. He’s laughing even harder now, and Jimin wishes he could turn invisible, skin prickling with embarrassment. “Don’t you have an off button?”

“That’s not very nice,” Jeongguk says, almost pouting as he steps closer to Jimin. “I’m your mate.”

As soon as Jeongguk says it, they both go crimson, like Jeongguk’s said something he shouldn’t have. Jeongguk avoids looking at him, hand coming to wring at the back of his neck. “I’ll go make dinner,” he says, shuffling past Jimin.

Jimin hurries off toward their bathroom after taking his boots off, can still feel the heat of his embarrassment burn down the back of his neck. His wolf’s howling gleefully, annoyingly smug as he pounces around, delighted. Jimin would tell him to fuck off but his heart’s about to burst out of his chest, and now that he’s out of Jeongguk’s sight, there’s a stupid smile on his face he can’t control.

I’m your mate.

So maybe Jimin’s wolf has a right to feel so elated because Jimin kind of wants to run up to Jeongguk and kiss him stupid. It’s almost like all the secret hopes he’d been harbouring have been validated.

Jeongguk saw Jimin as his mate.

Jimin feels giddy, Jeongguk’s abashed expression dancing before his eyes. It felt different hearing it outloud, said so surely. Jimin feels a little dazed, feet carrying him right to the bathroom. He ends up washing his face, cool water bringing him back to earth but he still can’t contain his grin.

Everything felt like it was falling into place.

By the time Jimin gets back out to the kitchen, having stripped out of his heavy winter wear and slipping into his favourite at home clothes, Jeongguk’s well into dinner. He’s making venison — Jimin’s favourite.

He’s started a fire in the living room, too, warmth seeping into their cabin. For a moment, Jimin just watches him, his furs thrown over the couch in the living room. He’s got his sleeves rolled up, the fabric thin enough that Jimin’s sure it’d be see through with enough sweat. The thought has him blushing.

Jimin’s barely taken a step in the kitchen before Jeongguk’s piping up. “You’re not allowed in the kitchen.”

“What?” Jimin says, staring at Jeongguk as he turns around just slightly to shoo Jimin away. “Why not?”

“Because I told you I’m making dinner,” Jeongguk explains, turning back to the onions he has cooking in a pan.

“I can cook, you know,” Jimin argues, walking up to Jeongguk but he doesn’t let Jimin get very close before he’s scooping him up, thrown over a shoulder easily. Jimin’s stunned into silence, Jeongguk carrying him right to their couch and planting him down carefully. He’s about to ask if that was necessary but Jeongguk’s already kneeling down in front of him, smile sincere.

“I know you can cook,” Jeongguk says, the hand he’s placed on Jimin’s knee squeezing gently. “But I’d like to cook something for you. Fair?”

Jimin tries not to blush, probably fails, but nods and the smile Jeongguk rewards him with is more than enough to fill Jimin’s empty belly. He leaves Jimin there, whistling as he goes about the kitchen. Jimin doesn’t know what to do with himself, feeling a little overwhelmed but he figures he shouldn’t waste his free time.

He goes and gets his sketchbook and predictably finds himself sketching out Jeongguk. Except this time, Jimin’s drawings aren’t careful imitations of Jeongguk’s smile or his eyes. Jimin fills the page with the planes of Jeongguk’s back from memory alone, glancing over at Jeongguk in the kitchen every now and then to ensure he doesn’t get caught. It feels silly, really, but Jimin’s not sure he could stomach the embarrassment.

Still, Jeongguk is breathtaking and Jimin can’t help but want to immortalize it. He thinks he might even do a painting, something to gift Jeongguk with.

By the time Jeongguk finishes dinner, Jimin’s almost done with his sketch, and has contemplated various ideas for his painting. He’s not sure what he’ll go with, thinks something too elaborate might turn out badly.

Jeongguk brings a plate of food directly to Jimin, grinning as he sets it in front of Jimin on the table. Jimin flips his sketchbook shut in seconds, shoving it next to him. To his credit, Jeongguk doesn’t pry, settling down next to Jimin. The smell of potatoes and meat waft up to Jimin’s nose and his stomach growls just on time.

“Someone’s eager,” Jeongguk teases, and Jimin shoves his shoulder playfully.

The food’s good, not that Jimin should have expected anything different when Jeongguk keeps proving his hand at nearly everything. He can’t help the satisfied noise he makes at the first bite, and from the corner of his eye, he catches Jeongguk’s pleased smile.

“Like it?”

Jimin shoots him a sideways glance. “If I say yes, are you going to be full of yourself for the rest of the night?”

“Me?” he fakes innocence, pretty eyes twinkling in the firelight. “Full of myself? Never.”

Jimin swats at his stomach, but Jeongguk catches his hand before it makes contact. He stares at their joined hands, lashes casting shadows against his skin, before bringing them to his lips. Jimin’s breath catches in his throat, unable to look away as Jeongguk drops a soft kiss against each of his knuckles, the brush of his lips unbearably light. A flush rises to Jimin’s cheeks, heat bubbling under his skin even though the fire had been comfortably warm just a moment ago.

Jeongguk’s gaze finally flickers to meet his, and Jimin’s flush deepens.

“Eat your food,” Jimin protests weakly, but he can’t bear to pull his hand away. Jeongguk just smiles, lets him go, and Jimin returns to his food with the heat still simmering inside him. He wants dinner to be over already.

“What’s the matter?” Jeongguk says slyly, as if he doesn’t already know.

“You’re too much,” Jimin mumbles, glaring at him over his plate and shifting a little bit away. Jeongguk shifts closer.

“Will I ever get to see any of your drawings?” He nods toward Jimin’s sketchbook, still tucked safely against his leg. He doesn’t sound pushy, just curious.

“Maybe,” Jimin evades, heat rising to his skin again at the thought of Jeongguk opening the sketchbook only to find it full of himself. “They’re nothing special.”

“I’m sure they’re amazing,” he says without an ounce of hesitation.

“You don’t know that. For all you know, this could be full of stick figures.”

“And they’d be the best stick figures around.”

“You’re so cheesy.”

“You’re saying that like you don’t like it.” When Jimin nudges him, Jeongguk scoots in even closer, caging him against the side of couch. “How come you’re always pushing me around? Thought that was my job.”

“Who said?” Jimin bites, growing flustered under the heat of Jeongguk’s stare, unconsciously leaning away. “We’re never going to finish eating like this.”

“Fine, fine.” Jeongguk lets him go and returns to his food. “I’ll behave.”

They eat in amiable silence until their plates are cleared, when Jimin finally tells him, “The food was really good.”

Jeongguk beams, sweeping both their plates up and heading for the kitchen. Jimin hops up and trails after him as he beelines for the sink.

“I can wash the dishes,” Jimin insists, trying to edge his way to the sink but Jeongguk won’t budge, the dishwashing sponge already soapy and wet in his hands.

“I said I was making you dinner and part of that is cleaning up afterwards,” Jeongguk argues, picking up a plate. “Go sit.”

“You can’t alpha your way into washing the dishes!” Jimin pouts, but his attempts at pushing Jeongguk away from the sink haven’t gotten any more successful. Jeongguk hasn’t budged an inch.

Jeongguk laughs, enjoying Jimin’s futile efforts. “Come on, pup, just let me clean up.”

“Who’re you calling a pup, huh?” Jimin huffs, finally managing to get his hand to the tap, still struggling against Jeongguk. He twists the knob on, faucet running water and immediately diverts the water to spray Jeongguk.

Jeongguk lets out a shout of surprise, stepping back from the sink, t-shirt and face soaked and Jimin laughs at the look of shock on his face, nearly toppling over as he giggles.

“What happened to the big, strong alpha now, hmm?” Jimin smirks, arms crossed over his chest. His smugness is quickly overshadowed by Jeongguk pushing his hair out of his face, the strands wet, droplets of water dripping from Jeongguk’s jaw.

“Oh, so was this your plan,” Jeongguk drawls, the white of his t-shirt practically see through everywhere Jimin’s managed to soak him. Jimin shifts back, hitting the edge of the sink and it’s common sense that has a him reaching to turn the tap off. When he looks back, Jeongguk’s already crowded him up against the counter, smile wicked. “Get me wet so I take off my shirt?”

“That wasn’t — ” Jimin starts but the words die in his mouth just as quickly, Jeongguk pulling his shirt off in one easy take. He drops it right there, too, uncaring.

“What’s wrong, Jimin?” Jeongguk whispers, the amusement evident in his tone. He lets his hands settle on Jimin’s hips, leaning in until he’s nosing up Jimin’s jaw until he gets to his ear. “Cat got your tongue?”

Jimin’s brain feels like it’s short-circuited, suddenly unable to form any words at all. Heat floods through him but his face feels like it’s about to melt off, Jeongguk’s brazenness always catching him completely off guard.

“You — ” Jimin doesn’t really know what he’s trying to say, Jeongguk’s scent enveloping him as he struggles to figure out what to do with his hands. So far, Jimin’s just got a grip on the counter, the edge digging into his palm painfully.

“I...?” Jeongguk teases, his lips pressing the softest kiss against Jimin’s neck. It still makes Jimin gasp, eyes squeezing shut. “You sure seem at a loss for words, pup.”

“J-Jeongguk,” Jimin stutters, failing miserably at sounding firm. He needs to get away from Jeongguk, unless he wants his brain to really melt out of his ears. Jimin makes to shove Jeongguk away, realising a split second later what that entails, hand hovering mid air.

Jeongguk snickers, one of his big hands wrapping Jimin’s wrist. The touch has Jimin’s eyes flickering open, and he regrets it almost instantly, finds Jeongguk staring back at him, pupils already dilated. His mouth parts with a soft “Oh”, unable to look away from the intensity of Jeongguk’s eyes.

“You can touch, you know,” Jeongguk murmurs, taking Jimin’s hand and pressing it right over his heart. Jimin feels the slick drip out of him, the fire in his cheeks burning the rest of him down, too.

Jeongguk’s other hand finds its way up to Jimin’s mouth, thumb brushing over his lips as he lets his weight fall against Jimin, trapping him against the counter. Jimin’s not sure how long his knees are going to hold up. “Can I kiss you, baby?”

“Yes, please,” Jimin breathes, not entirely sure where he found the words when all he can focus on is the pink pout of Jeongguk’s mouth and the word baby repeating itself over and over in his head.

“Oh? Even a please,” Jeongguk grins, voice barely above a murmur. But Jimin doesn’t care about the taunt, the breath leaving him as Jeongguk’s mouth meets his, eyes slipping shut. Jeongguk drags Jimin’s hand lower, brushing over his nipple and scar tissue and lower still, until Jimin can feel the ridges of Jeongguk’s abs, softer now that’s he just eaten.

He moans, traces Jeongguk’s cupid’s bow with his tongue, kissing Jeongguk sweet and gentle. His other hand finds its way to Jeongguk’s bicep and he finds himself giving an appreciative little hum as he touches the dense muscle. Jeongguk rolls his hips and suddenly Jimin is all too aware of how hard he is, of how wet he’s gotten.

“Jeongguk,” he hears himself say, not entirely sure what’s to come next.

“Yeah baby?” Jeongguk breathes, their kisses turning heated as Jeongguk nibbles and tugs on Jimin’s fat bottom lip. It makes Jimin want to squeeze his legs together, horrified at the realisation that he’s leaking precum, too.

Jimin doesn’t get a chance to respond, not that he really knows what it is he wants as Jeongguk licks into his mouth, a hand fisting into Jimin’s hair. When he’s yanked back, Jimin gasps, so turned on that he can’t even hide his pleasure, embarrassment attempting to render him speechless.

Jeongguk kisses Jimin like he’s still starving, taking and taking and taking, and Jimin feels helpless to him, hands all over the planes of Jeongguk’s body. His cock twitches in his pants as he smooths his hands down Jeongguk’s abs, thumb grazing as low as the jut of his hips. A hand grips Jimin’s thigh and next thing he knows, he’s being jerked up, legs wrapping around Jeongguk’s waist without hesitation. He can feel Jeongguk’s cock against his own, wants to grind against it but Jeongguk’s got such a tight grip in his hair, Jimin feels like he can’t move.

He’s like a rag doll in Jeongguk’s hands and the horrible thing is that Jimin loves it.

Jimin moans when Jeongguk’s hand slips under his shirt, whole body shuddering and jerking forward when the other hand squeezes at his ass. Through his fevered haze, all Jimin can think about is Jeongguk inside of him, fucking him open and it has him digging his nails into Jeongguk’s skin, needy.

“Please,” Jimin whines, the slide of Jeongguk’s tongue against his own leaving him tingly all over. He feels like a pre-heat pup, overwhelmed and desperate all at once. “Please, Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk’s kisses are less hungry, easing off just so he can hear Jimin’s begging. “What do you want, Jimin? Tell me.” He noses down Jimin’s neck, a sweet kiss pressed right again the mole Jimin knows he has on his collarbone. When Jeongguk’s teeth sink in right after, Jimin moans, arching into the touch as Jeongguk’s tongue soothes the bite he’s left. The harder Jeongguk sucks, the less Jimin can think straight, a hand slipping from Jeongguk’s shoulder. It lands in their dishes and then Jimin’s laughing, breathy as Jeongguk pulls back.

“We should move,” Jimin murmurs, staring at his wet hand and Jeongguk grins, kissing the darkening bruise he’s left on Jimin.

“What, you don’t like the kitchen?” Jeongguk asks, but he’s already moving, hands hooked under Jimin’s thighs. He carries Jimin all the way to their room and Jimin can’t help but think about the last time they did something similar.

“I’m not the one who got overzealous,” Jimin scoffs, fighting against the blush that’s trying to take over his face. With Jeongguk looking at him so intently, it’s difficult. Jimin thinks it’s unfair how Jeongguk does everything with such intensity.

“I think your cock says differently, Jiminie,” Jeongguk smirks, absolutely wicked and Jimin thinks he might die from mortification, punching at Jeongguk’s chest weakly.

“You’re — ”

“The worst? I’ve been told,” Jeongguk grins, walking them to the bed. He’s not rough when he deposits Jimin onto their bed, but Jimin lands on it with a jump, flushing all the way down his neck when he sees the way Jeongguk’s looking at him.

It’s not as though Jimin hasn’t noticed, Jeongguk always persistently needing to be the center of his attention; hands always seeking to touch, to hold, to caress, like Jimin might disappear otherwise. There are days when it feels like Jimin’s heart is collapsing in on itself, overwhelmed by the idea that someone could want him so much.

The way Jeongguk looks at him leaves him breathless.

“God,” Jeongguk exhales, climbing up onto the bed. Jimin manages to push himself up, eyes scanning down the length of Jeongguk’s torso again. It’s a little unfair just how attractive Jeongguk is. “You’re beautiful.”

The compliment catches Jimin off-guard, eyes widening as he looks back up at Jeongguk, heartbeat stuttering to a stop as Jeongguk kisses him. It’s tender, reverent, and Jimin melts, breath lodged in his throat as Jeongguk engulfs him.

His head hits the mattress and Jeongguk kisses him deeper, takes his time, Jimin’s arms looping around his neck to bring him closer. Jeongguk’s scent is inescapable, this close, and Jimin wishes he could live in it. Hands work their way up and under Jimin’s shirt, palms petting Jimin’s flanks. He doesn’t think he’s ever been this wet in his life, not outside of a heat.

“You smell so good,” Jeongguk tells him, kissing down the line of Jimin’s neck. He sucks more bruises along the way, tugging Jimin’s shirt down to continue marking Jimin down lower. “Drives me fucking wild.”

“Only seems fair,” Jimin breathes out, a moan stuttering on his lips as Jeongguk bites down on the mark he left on Jimin earlier. He finds himself arching into Jeongguk bodily, cock twitching as he leaks more precum. His underwear is a mess, wet and sticky, and Jimin wants out of it.

“How’s that?” Jeongguk asks, his hands dragging down lower, settling right on Jimin’s ass. When he squeezes both cheeks, Jimin’s whole body shudders, skin burning even through his pants.

“Like you don’t know,” Jimin bites out, lip catching in his teeth when Jeongguk lifts Jimin up by the ass to grind their hips together, cocks trapped between the heat of their bodies. “You’re a menace.”

Jeongguk finds his way back to Jimin’s mouth, tongue sliding against Jimin’s. He seems to enjoy leaving Jimin rendered stupid, panting into Jeongguk’s mouth. “You like seeing me shirtless that much, Jiminie?”

“S-shut up,” Jimin exclaims with mortification, an arm coming up to cover the hot flush taking over his face.

Jeongguk clicks his tongue, pushing Jimin’s arm out of the way. Jimin finds his wrist pinned to the bed, Jeongguk’s fiery gaze fixed on him. The scent of smoke seems to intensify, has Jimin feeling almost delirious. Jeongguk’s eyes glow golden for a split second and it has Jimin leaking slick instantly.

“You all wet for me, baby?” Jeongguk asks, his free hand palming at Jimin’s cock, and he’s leaked through his pants, can feel it. When Jeongguk squeezes at the head, Jimin moans, loud and aroused, precum oozing out. He’s so sticky. “Practically dripping.”

“Jeongguk,” Jimin whines, hips arching upwards, chasing more. Jeongguk laughs at Jimin’s desperation, has managed to drag Jimin so his thighs are draped over Jeongguk’s own, ass hanging in the gap between.

His shirt rides up in the process and it’s annoying, Jimin finds. But at this angle he can’t take it off himself. Jeongguk helps, pushing Jimin’s hands aside to peel it off of him, hands intentionally dragging over Jimin’s nipples.

Jimin can practically taste the smoke in the room, Jeongguk’s eyes on him unwavering.

“Can I take these off, too?” Jeongguk tugs on the band of Jimin’s pants and Jimin finds himself nodding, blood rushing past his ears. Jeongguk takes his time teasing them off, gets them down just past the head of Jimin’s hard cock before he stops. Jimin lets out a frustrated growl and Jeongguk snickers, dipping down and licking the tip over Jimin’s underwear. That has Jimin gasping, cock twitching under the touch.

“Someone’s excited,” Jeongguk teases, peeling Jimin’s underwear down and freeing his cock. He gets Jimin’s underwear and pants down his thighs, leaves them there, a finger trailing down the length of Jimin’s cock, cruelly slow. When he drags his finger down to Jimin’s hole, wet with slick, Jimin’s ass clenches in anticipation. “Look at the mess you’ve made, pup. You’re filthy.”

“Please,” Jimin begs, toes curling as Jeongguk’s touch becomes a little firmer. “J-Jeongguk, y-you’re being mean.”

“I’m sorry,” Jeongguk murmurs, sweet, leaning down to kiss him. It gives Jimin the chance to loop his arms around Jeongguk’s neck again, craving the closeness, kissing him harder.

“It’s just that my pretty, little omega has such a pretty, little cock,” he adds, pulling away from Jimin to press fleeting kisses to his jaw. His hand wraps around Jimin’s cock and to his embarrassment, Jimin gets even wetter, hips jerking up into Jeongguk’s touch. “You’re so eager, baby.”

“Aren’t you,” Jimin starts, voice breaking when Jeongguk’s hand forms a tight ring just under the head of Jimn’s cock and rubs. “Aren’t you supposed to take care of m-me, Alpha?”

“But I am, baby,” Jeongguk hums, stroking Jimin’s length languidly, enjoying all of Jimin’s gasps and mewls. He kisses just under Jimin’s ear, trailing kisses down, scenting Jimin as he goes.

“N-no,” Jimin pants, frustrated and desperate. “Want more.”

“What do you want, Jimin?” Jeongguk says his name so earnestly, Jimin isn’t even sure how to respond, kissing Jeongguk instead. He lets one of his hands trail down Jeongguk’s torso, relishing the naked skin.

It’s embarrassing to say, but the words slip out of Jimin anyways, his neediness winning out. “Wanna feel you inside me.”

“Shit,” Jeongguk curses, forehead hitting Jimin’s shoulder, his hand stilling on Jimin’s cock. Jeongguk’s scent is so palpable, Jimin thinks he can taste it on his tongue. Arousal burns so hotly through Jeongguk, permeating the air, it leaves Jimin feeling like he’s heatdumb. “Fuck, Jimin.”

“Ideally, yes,” Jimin murmurs, kissing at Jeongguk’s neck, hands greedy as they touch Jeongguk’s skin.

Jeongguk laughs, pulls himself back up. Jimin can’t help but lean up and kiss him, finding the little mole under Jeongguk’s mouth so hot. “We can’t. I’m sorry, love.”

Jimin’s heart sinks so fast he’s sure Jeongguk can see the hurt on his face. “Why not?”

“I wouldn’t be able to help myself. I’d mark you.” Jeongguk’s gaze drifts from Jimin’s eyes to the arch of his neck and Jimin doesn’t understand why that’s such a bad thing.

“Then mark me.”

“Not like this,” Jeongguk insists, kissing the skin of Jimin’s neck. He looks back at Jimin, eyes heartfelt, sincere and Jimin thinks his own are watering up.

“You don’t — I don’t understand,” Jimin says, voice quivering and Jeongguk’s eyes widen, cupping Jimin’s face in his hands and kissing him, grounding him.

“I want you,” Jeongguk breathes, a tear slipping down the side of Jimin’s head. It’s uncomfortable and Jimin hates crying but Jeongguk isn’t making any sense. “I only want you but not — not like this, not with a half-bond. I want you to — to want it.”

“I do want it,” Jimin insists, brows furrowing together. Of course Jimin wants a bond! He wants to feel Jeongguk through it, to understand him, to know his hopes and fears. He wants to feel it all with Jeongguk.

Did Jeongguk think Jimin didn’t? Because his heat hadn’t come? Did he think Jimin was — was broken?

Panic swells like a flooding dam in his chest at the realisation, but before Jimin can unleash it on Jeongguk, the alpha nuzzles him. Maybe he could see it, sense it, but he calms Jimin down, murmuring softly that everything was okay. His scent soothes Jimin’s racing mind.

“I believe you,” Jeongguk assures him, kissing Jimin again. He lets himself lie on his side, pulling Jimin to himself. “It’s just...important to me that it’s a full bond. Is that — Is that okay?”

Jimin nods mutely, feeling silly with his pants halfway down his thighs. He ends up squirming out of them, cock soft as he lies naked next to Jeongguk. The mood’s ruined and Jimin’s not sure he’ll sleep now, not with this new revelation to worry over.

“Hey,” Jeongguk says, tipping Jimin’s chin up. “Look at me, pup.”

Jimin looks but he thinks he might cry, wolf whinging. Everything had felt so perfect only a moment ago and now —

“Jimin.” Jeongguk says his name so firmly, Jimin forgets to think about anything else. “It doesn’t matter if we have to wait. We have our whole lives ahead of us and I — God, this is gonna sound so fucking cheesy — but I’d wait forever for you. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I want it to be perfect.”

He’s red in the face as he says it, and Jimin believes him, sucks in a shuddering breath. He can wait for Jeongguk. After all, Jeongguk is waiting for him, too.

“Okay,” Jimin agrees, doesn’t expect the kiss Jeongguk presses against his lips. It’s silly, how easily Jeongguk overwhelms him. There’s a reassurance in the kiss, Jeongguk’s palm sliding down the curve of Jimin’s spine, stroking his naked skin.

“I really like you, pup,” Jeongguk tells him, smiling, and Jimin hides the way his belly flip flops at the admission with a scowl.

“Don’t call me that.”

“I’ve been calling you that all night. You didn’t seem to mind then,” Jeongguk smirks, that mischievous look back in his eyes. Jimin’s eyes narrow and he’s ready to tell Jeongguk to fuck off but he doesn’t get the chance. Jeongguk kisses him again, filthier this time, leaning his weight into it.

Jimin finds himself on his back, pinned to the bed, kissing back, hand winding into Jeongguk’s hair. Jeongguk trails a hand down Jimin’s thigh, kissing Jimin open-mouthed and sensuous, gripping the meat of it and hiking it up.

The desperation from earlier doesn’t rush back and Jimin prefers it, doesn’t think he could handle it. There’s an ache in his chest, spreading like a slow fire, and Jeongguk is breathing life into it.

Jimin’s other hand trails down the curve of Jeongguk’s back, feeling muscle flex under his fingertips, hand dipping under the waistband of Jeongguk’s pants. Even Jeongguk’s ass is firm. He groans above Jimin, balance himself on his arms as he kisses Jimin, pulling back, kisses sweet but reluctant, unwilling to part from Jimin.

“Really like you, Jimin,” Jeongguk murmurs, nosing along Jimin’s neck, nuzzling into him. Jimin’s breath hitches, the ache in his chest expanding too quickly, pressing down on his heart. “So,” he kisses Jimin’s pulse point, “much.”

“Me too,” Jimin hears himself say but it almost feels like he’s out of his own body. When Jeongguk trails kisses down his neck, Jimin shivers. His hand wraps around Jimin’s cock, half-hard and begging for attention, and Jimin arches off the bed, gasping softly into the touch.

Jeongguk doesn’t tease this time, but he’s not hasty either, mouthing his way back to Jimin’s lips, kissing him silly. His hand moves along Jimin’s cock in firm strokes, Jimin’s cock sticky with precum, the slide easy.

“Wanna come at the same time,” Jimin breathes out between kisses, Jeongguk’s face cupped between his hands. “Please.”

“Yeah, baby, anything you want,” Jeongguk agrees easily, pulling his cock out. Jimin kisses his neck, tastes Jeongguk’s scent and sweat, a little frantic now. He moans, loud and lewd, when Jeongguk’s cock touches his own, Jeongguk’s hand rubbing over the heads, gathering precum.

It feels like Jimin’s first time, terrifying and new, exhilaration letting him be brave enough to wrap a hand around Jeongguk’s cock. His fingers barely touch around the girth of it, but the way Jeongguk moans, the way his head falls to Jimin’s shoulder makes him feel confident.

Jimin’s not going to last long, face flushed, eyes barely staying open. Every time Jeongguk’s breath hitches as his hand works up and down his length, Jimin’s own cock seems to twitch in Jeongguk’s hold. Jeongguk’s hand envelops Jimin’s own, their cocks squeezed between them.

Jeongguk sets the pace, guiding Jimin’s hand with his own, and the arousal builds and builds, Jimin’s chest heaving as he tries to breath, mind cloudy from the pleasure, from Jeongguk’s scent soaking into him.

“Jeongguk,” he gasps, foot hooking over Jeongguk’s thigh, drawing him closer. They’re flush together, Jeongguk holding himself up from collapsing entirely on Jimin with one arm alone. Jeongguk’s wrist flicks as he jerks them off, cocks rubbing together, the sound of it a quick, urgent rhythm. “Jeongguk, g-gonna — ”

Jeongguk focuses his attention just under the heads, hand twisting before rubbing insistently over and around the head of Jimin’s cock. Slick pools out of Jimin, pleasure building up just to the edge of completion.

“Come for me, baby.”

Jimin spills over Jeongguk’s hand with a loud, drawn out moan, shoulders lifting off the bed as he comes, so overcome by pleasure. Jeongguk kisses his bared neck, teeth sinking in, hand working over Jimin’s length, milking his cock dry.

It takes a moment for Jimin to come back down, movements languid as he works his hand over Jeongguk’s hard cock. Jeongguk’s hand cover his own, wet with Jimin’s cum, speeding the process up. Jimin manages to find Jeongguk’s mouth through his haze, kissing him, and when Jeongguk comes, groaning deep, it’s as if Jimin can feel it sing through him.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk gasps, giving Jimin the opportunity to lick into his mouth, tongues sliding against each other. He works his hand along the underside of Jeongguk’s cock, rubbing just under the head. Jeongguk’s cum oozes out now, cock spent, strings of cum leaving a mess all over Jimin’s stomach.

Jeongguk lets himself fall onto Jimin, the mess between their bodies wet and sticky. Jimin doesn’t care, a surprised squeak escaping him when Jeongguk rolls them over so he’s on his back. He wedges a thigh between Jimin’s legs, plush against his balls and ass. It’d be embarrassing if Jimin weren’t so sated. So what if Jeongguk knew how wet he’d gotten, how his thighs are sloppy with his slick.

“You good?”

“Yeah,” Jimin murmurs, letting himself nuzzle into Jeongguk’s neck. He feels too good to think about what Jeongguk had admitted to him and maybe that had been the intention, so Jimin wouldn’t freak out.

He appreciates it.

Jeongguk’s hand winds into Jimin’s hair, the clean one, or at least Jimin thinks so. “You sound so cute when you come.”

Jimin flushes hard, heat scorching through him and how could Jeongguk just say that? “Shut up.”

Jeongguk doesn’t.

“You look really cute, too. Such a pretty pup,” Jeongguk murmurs, fingers rubbing circles into the base of Jimin’s neck. “So good for me.”

Jimin has a hard time not smiling at that, the praise rushing through him, heady. He wonders how he got so lucky.

“Clean me up,” Jimin whines, not sure if he could quite handle any more compliments from Jeongguk just yet. His face felt like it was going to melt off. “You got me all dirty.”

Jeongguk laughs, a hand slapping Jimin’s ass before soothing the bite with a deliberate rub. Jimin yelps in surprise, eyes widening at the quick realisation of how much he liked that. “I don’t think that’s all my fault.”

“D-doesn’t matter,” Jimin insists, pulling away from Jeongguk. He refuses to look him in the eye. “You said you wanted to take care of me so take care of me, Alpha.”

Jeongguk grips Jimin’s chin in a hand, eyebrow cocked, but he’s smiling, leaning in to steal a kiss. “Tread carefully, little omega.”

Jimin doesn’t manage a retort back, Jeongguk leaving the bed and disappearing into their bathroom. Jimin lies on the bed, eyes slipping shut, heartbeat pounding in his ears. Jeongguk’s effect on him is too much. A few months ago it would have scared him and maybe it still does but now Jimin is so ready to surrender.

The sound of the tap turning off has Jimin opening his eyes, eager to see Jeongguk walk back into the room. Jimin can’t get enough of seeing Jeongguk: the breadth of his shoulders, the definition of his muscles, the taper of his torso down to his slim waist. Jimin’s cheeks heat up the most at the sight of his cock.

“Like what you see?” Jeongguk smirks, never letting Jimin get away with anything. Jimin refuses to answer, the pink in his face a dead giveaway. He didn’t need to give Jeongguk the satisfaction of his voice cracking.

“Such an honest pup,” Jeongguk adds, voice smug. He brings his wet washcloth to Jimin’s skin, cleaning him slowly, thoroughly. Jeongguk even wipes between his cheeks, the slick between his thighs uncomfortable. “Pretty, too.”

Like what you see?” Jimin tosses it back in Jeongguk’s face but to his horror, Jeongguk’s eyes only darken. He brushes the washcloth very purposefully over Jimin’s cock.

“I do,” he says easily.

“I hate you,” Jimin grumbles, hiding his face in his hands, unable to look at Jeongguk at all.

Jeongguk laughs, pulling Jimin into his arms as he gets the blanket over them both. He’s dropped the washcloth over the side of the bed somewhere, and Jimin’s grateful he feels clean. “You can’t be shy if you wanna play games, Jimin.”

“Where’d you learn to be so smooth?” Jimin mumbles, back to hiding his face in the crook of Jeongguk’s neck.

“When I see you all red in the face, all flustered, I can’t help it,” Jeongguk answers, his hand working up and down Jimin’s spine, the lightest of touch. It almost tickles. “I love knowing I can do that to you. That you get like that because of me.”

“So you’re just a big meanie,” Jimin concludes, even as he can feel the heat radiate from his face.

“Meanie? Me?” Jeongguk plays along. “You’re the one who likes it.”

“I do not!” Jimin attests, loud and whiny, but Jeongguk just laughs, his hand cupping Jimin’s ass. Tingles run all the way up Jimin’s spine and Jimin doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of the sensation.

“Sure, pup,” Jeongguk indulges, pulling back from Jimin so he give him a cheeky smile, kissing his nose. “You’re really cute.”

“Shut up,” Jimin grumbles, but he can’t hold his pout, a stupid smile getting the better of him and he goes right back to hiding his face in Jeongguk’s chest. Their legs are all tangled up and Jimin thinks maybe it’s fine that they don’t have a half-bond, that Jeongguk wants to wait for his heat. He ignores the twinge in his heart because it doesn’t matter. He still has Jeongguk and as unbelievable as it feels sometimes, Jeongguk only wants him.

“We forgot to do the dishes,” Jimin mumbles, sluggish with sleep.

“Well someone wanted to get my shirt off,” Jeongguk points out as if he hadn’t seduced Jimin in the first place.

“It’s your fault,” Jimin whines, content in Jeongguk’s arms, his scent like a blanket around him. Everything feels warm. “You hoe.”

“Oh, we’re name-calling now?”

“You wanted to take your shirt off.”

Jimin can feel the laughter vibrate through Jeongguk. “You just looked so cute, all red and flustered. I could smell — ”

“Shut up!” Jimin exclaims, hot all over. “And go to bed.”

“Yes, Alpha.”

Jimin groans.

“Look at you, just ogling him in front of everyone.” Taehyung’s smirk is full of the smug satisfaction of someone who’d been proven right. Jimin’s already burning cheeks grow a shade darker but he doesn’t fall for the bait.

“Well, he’s mine to look at, isn’t he?” Jimin shoots back, nose upturned just the slightest. So what if he’s shamelessly checking Jeongguk out. He is Jimin’s Alpha. His mate.

Just the thought of that has Jimin smiling stupidly, even if desire curls in his belly, a simmer ready to be ignited. It’s not as though Jeongguk’s helping, what with him chopping the wood absolutely shirtless. If Jimin were more prone to jealousy — it’s possible he is a little furious that some of the unmated omegas and betas are also ogling Jeongguk — he’d go up to Jeongguk and get him back into a shirt.

But truth be told, Jimin’s enjoying the view. Watching Jeongguk’s muscles flex, shoulder blades rippling under his skin, is more satisfying than wiping Taehyung’s smirk off his face.

“Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?” Taehyung accuses, eyes narrowing.

“Shut up,” Jimin huffs, smacking Taehyung in the bicep. They’re supposed to be setting up for a pack campfire celebration. The alphas had caught a hefty caribou; the antlers alone were half Jimin’s size. Set up, however, also meant that Jimin has the perfect view of Jeongguk chopping wood. Granted, there were other alphas helping out but, well. Jimin only had eyes for one.

Everytime Jeongguk raises the axe up, Jimin finds his eyes glued to his biceps and then his pecs. In the sunlight, Jimin can see the faint scars from the bear, too. “Look at him. God. He’s so annoying.”

“Yeah, annoying,” Taehyung mocks, over exaggerated. Without looking, Jimin knows Taehyung’s rolled his eyes, too. “You can just say you wanna suck his dick. Or maybe you already did that.”

“Taehyung!” Jimin screeches, completely red in the face as he rushes to close Taehyung’s mouth from saying something worse. Jimin’s positive Jeongguk’s not so discreet smirk means he heard, too.

“So I’m right?” Taehyung mumbles against Jimin’s hand, attempting to push it away, a delighted wickedness in his eyes. “Oh my god! You did!”

“I fucking did not!” Jimin exclaims, flustered and wishing he’d just gone to help in the kitchens. Taehyung’s outright laughing and some of the other pack members are staring at them. Jeongguk continues to diligently chop wood and Jimin swears he doesn’t feel himself get wet when Jeongguk lets out a grunt.

“Oh, so what kind of fucking did you get up to, huh, Jiminie?” Taehyung grins, eyebrows waggling. “It’s certainly on your mind.”

“Can you shut the fuck up?” Jimin snaps, his heartbeat pounding loud and fervent in his ears. Heat floods through Jimin, skin prickling in embarrassment.

“Stop bothering Jimin, Taehyung.” Hyeri’s voice shuts Taehyung up quickly, a guilty expression morphing out of his smile as he turns to look at Hyeri.

“I’m not bothering Jimin!” Taehyung pouts, looks as petulant as a pup, too.

Hyeri snorts, taking the chair in Taehyung’s hands away from him. “Of course not.” She carries the chair all the way to the other end of the campfire pit at the center of their pack grounds. When she makes her way back, Taehyung still pouting, she pinches his cheek.

“How about I take that?” she asks, taking the basket in Jimin’s hand from him. He’s been bringing out fruit to set up on a dessert table for the pack members less inclined for sugary treats. “Where are these going?”

“Over here.” Jimin points toward the table he helped set up earlier. There’s only a handful of omegas and betas on set up duty. They always made it a point to have plenty of seats for everyone, dragging out the benches from the dining hall and chairs from the school.

Hyeri hums and takes the basket over. Jimin and Taehyung trail after her, taking survey of what was left to do.

“I’m glad things are good with him,” Taehyung says, voice soft and quiet. When Jimin looks over at him, he gets this sweet smile and Jimin’s really grateful he has him. “Not that I ever doubted it.”

He shrugs, head ducking as the silly giddiness gets the better of him. They’re far enough away from the alphas chopping wood that Jimin isn’t so worried about being overheard, least of all over all the sound of chopping. “I stopped being so scared.”

“Am I hearing that right?” Taehyung grins, wicked. “You took my advice?”

“Oh, shut up,” Jimin scowls, but he’s smiling just as easily. “We still have to bring out all the plates and utensils, right?”

“I think Bora and Sunyoung were gonna do that,” Taehyung replies, stretching bodily. Hyeri smiles at Taehyung as he does it, patting his belly as she walks past Taehyung.

“I’m sure we can help,” Hyeri says, knocking shoulders with Jimin. She gives him a knowing smile and he’s not entirely sure what’s going on, but shoots a glance over at Jeongguk. He’s busy, attention focused now that Jimin isn’t openly drooling at him.

“Yeah, sure.”

They head off toward the dining hall, Jimin feeling a little awkward. Taehyung is holding hands with Hyeri, swinging their clasped hands between them. Jimin’s eyes catch on the sight of Hyeri’s mark and he feels his heart sink a little. It’s stupid that he feels so upset over it.

“Why’d you get all quiet? Still checking out your mate?” Taehyung teases, glancing back at Jimin to catch him in the act. He catches Jimin staring at Hyeri and when he looks at her, he sees what Jimin’s seeing. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Jimin deflects, shifting away from them. He falls in step with Taehyung, shrugging away his stupid insecurities. Jeongguk just wants to wait, he tells himself. It’s perfectly valid.

“Jeez, are we really doing this? Come on, Jiminie,” Taehyung insists, dropping Hyeri’s hand and throwing an arm over Jimin’s shoulders. “You know I don’t like seeing you sad.”

“Who said anything about me being sad?”

“Um, we’re soulmates. I think I know when my soulmate is sad.” Taehyung makes a big show of it, too, all pouty as he holds Jimin’s face in his hands.

Jimin wrinkles his nose at Taehyung, smacking his hands away. He glances quickly at Hyeri, still standing behind them, a good foot away. Despite her playful teasing with Taehyung, she’s always been sweet to Jimin and he knows she’ll eventually know. If not from Taehyung’s mouth directly, then through their bond.

Jimin rolls his eyes, sighing. “I just haven’t had my heat yet. You know, the usual stuff.”

“But that’s not your fault,” Taehyung frowns, taking Jimin’s hands. “You can’t beat yourself up over that.”

Jimin wants to say that’s easy for you to say but he doesn’t, wouldn’t. Taehyung’s just trying to help and Jimin doesn’t resent him anything. He’s just frustrated.

“Hey, sweetheart,” Hyeri says, one of her hands tugging at Taehyung’s arm. She gives him a smile, eyes soft. “How about you go ahead and get those plates ready. Let me talk to Jimin.”

Taehyung looks a little uncertain for a moment but he nods, letting go of Jimin’s hands. He gives Jimin a weak smile as he trudges off, leaving Jimin with his mate.

Hyeri’s cheeks puff out, hands resting on her hips. Jimin’s not entirely sure how to react, if maybe he’s upset her by being difficult with Taehyung. He’s about to apologise when she looks at him, something akin to sympathy in her eyes.

Jimin bristles, shoving his hands into the pockets of his coat.

“It’s okay to be upset,” she says, and Jimin doesn’t quite feel like he’s being talked down to, pitied. “And Taehyung’s right, none of this is your fault. Or anyone’s fault, really.”

Despite his best efforts, Jimin lets his frustration get the better of him. He doesn’t particularly like being looked down on, however imagined it might be. “And what would you know?”

“I may not have personal experience,” Hyeri agrees, tucking some of her hair behind an ear. “But I know what it’s like. It happens, you know. Omegas don’t always go right into heat when they’ve found their mate. It’s a big step, being marked and claimed. You might think you’re ready on one level but unconsciously the idea might terrify you. It’s scarier for an omega.”

“How…how would you know?”

“Because my older sister is an omega, and she didn’t go into heat for almost half a year. It’s not your fault though.”

“Oh.” Jimin sounds stupid even to his own ears, shoulders shagging, feeling horrible for getting so defensive with Hyeri. She’s only trying to help. “I’m sorry, I didn’t — ”

“Come on,” Hyeri hushes, reaching out for Jimin’s hand. He gives it to her, and she squeezes it, smiling. “It’s hard to talk about; I know that. I just...I know how upset it made her.”

“She didn’t have her quarterly heat either?”

Hyeri shakes her head. “Healer Seo told us it happens, especially when you’re feeling stressed out.”

Jimin’s last heat had only been one month before meeting Jeongguk. He’d been hoping that at the very least his quarterly heat would occur and put an end to everything.

“Did they — did they try a half-bond at least?” Jimin can’t help but ask, not even entirely sure if he wanted to know.

“They did,” Hyeri answers, still holding his hand. “But Jeongguk doesn’t want to, does he?”

Jimin’s surprised that she sees through him so easily, the way her eyes go softer indication enough that she knows she’s right. He just nods mutely.

“It makes sense,” she says. “He’s the alpha’s son. A half-bond might look weak to the rest of the pack.”

“That’s stupid,” Jimin mutters, thinks his eyes might have watered up. He looks down at his shoes, wills himself not to cry.

“It is, but there’s more to it.” Hyeri shuffles a little closer, holding Jimin’s hand between both of hers. She’s warm. “Jeongguk has a lot on his shoulders and he has to set an example for everyone else in the pack. More than that, I don’t think he wants to seem pushy or wants to pressure you into anything. He wants you to be sure. Any good alpha should want that.”

“Yeah,” Jimin mumbles, the wetness in his eyes not quite as intense. He brushes his eyes quickly, happy he didn’t start crying.

“If you want, I’m sure Sojin wouldn’t mind talking to you,” Hyeri offers, lets Jimin pull his hand from hers. He stuffs them back into his coat.

“I’ll think about it.” Jimin looks back up at Hyeri, offering her the best smile he can muster. “Thank you.”

“Well, you are Taehyung’s soulmate,” Hyeri says with an overexaggerated air of upset but she’s grinning at Jimin, sweet as ever. “I’m just his mate.”

Taehyung shows up then, hands full of a tray with plates lined up from one end to the other. He looks at both of them suspiciously and Hyeri coos, already reaching to take the tray from him.

“That looks heavy, pup.”

“I can carry it!” Taehyung scoffs, offended, but he makes absolutely no effort to take the tray back.

“Of course you can,” Hyeri agrees, nodding her head, somehow supercilious. “My strong baby.”

Taehyung huffs, sticking his tongue out at her before grabbing Jimin’s arm. “Fine, you carry all the plates. Me and Jiminie are tired anyways.”

“I didn’t know I was tired,” Jimin says with surprise, but he laughs when Taehyung glares at him, quickly schooling his features into solemn agreement. “I’m exhausted, you’re right, Tae.”

“Poor things.” Hyeri sends Taehyung a kiss, lips smacking in the air, and it’s entirely obnoxious. “Go rest, baby.”

“Ugh, is Jeongguk like this, too?” Taehyung grumbles, but he watches Hyeri leave, eyes never wavering. “I have muscles, too.”

“Mmhmm,” Jimin agrees, pulling Taehyung into the dining hall. “The pack’s strongest muscles.”

“Don’t take her side!” Taehyung exclaims, scandalized and offended all at once. “You’re my best friend!”

Jimin just rolls his eyes, dragging Taehyung to the remaining dishes that need to be hauled out. Strangely enough, he feels a little lighter, more hopeful, like maybe everything would sort itself out in the end. For now, he was going to enjoy the campfire and he'd think about half-bonds and heats later.

Chapter Text

Jimin laughs as one of the pups hurries over to hide behind his legs. She’s got a thumb in her mouth, face hiding in Jimin’s leg.

“Aw, sweetheart, Soohyun just wants to play.”

Eunae shakes her head stubbornly, still the shiest amoung all her peers. She’s been curled up in a corner, a stack of books next to her that she was determined to get through. For a five year old, she loved reading. Jimin had always loved reading as a kid, too, so he didn’t blame her.

The pack has about eighty or so pups among them, even fewer if Jimin eliminated the older ones who helped out with the pack’s chores. They usually had some forty or so pups in the nursery ranging in age. Jimin knows why Soohyun is so smitten with Eunae; she’s one of the only ones his age.

Jimin’s old pack had been so small that some years they didn’t even have any new pups born but it seemed there were at least three to four kids around the same age now. Jimin had been lucky to have Taehyung, who’d brought him out of his shy shell.

“You don’t wanna play?” Jimin asks, looking down at Eunae. Soohyun is just staring at them from about two feet away. He has a toy truck in one hand and a sad pout on his face.

Eunae doesn’t say no, looking up at Jimin and revealing her face. She looks uncertain.

Jimin crouches down, taking her other hand in his own. “Tell you what, if you don’t have fun with Soohyun, you can just come back to me and we can read the rest of the afternoon. Does that sound good?”

Her thumb slips out and she still looks a little uncertain but she nods. “Will you read to me, Minnie?”

“Of course, darling,” Jimin smiles. She looks less terrified now and walks up to Soohyun who looks elated. He offers his hand to Eunae after rubbing it clean on his pants and she doesn’t look entirely impressed but takes it. Soohyun runs off with her immediately after, taking her right to the little city he’s been building out of blocks, chattering away.

“You never call me darling,” a voice says from behind him, startling Jimin. He nearly topples over backwards, but a pair of legs prevents his fall. Jeongguk’s scent overpowers the mixture of scents in the nursery and when he looks up, his alpha’s grinning as he looks down at him.

“I didn’t know you were a five year old.” Jimin doesn’t bother righting himself, all his weight against Jeongguk’s legs. “Although, maybe I should have figured it out after yesterday. You don’t share very well.”

Jeongguk had outright refused to let Jimin sit anywhere except his lap at the campfire yesterday and maybe if Jimin weren’t so smitten with him, he’d have found it annoying. Instead, he’d let Jeongguk scent him and kiss him lazily despite how embarrassed it made him feel every time he remembered the whole pack could see them.

“Why would I share what’s mine?” Jeongguk quirks his head a little to the right, eyes darkening. Jimin doesn’t expect the bold answer, cheeks heating up quickly. He glances around the room quickly, the two betas helping out today in separate corners.

“I don’t recall saying I was yours,” Jimin reminds, pushing away from Jeongguk. He accepts his hand to get up but regrets it when Jeongguk doesn’t let go, tugging Jimin in close, arm looping around his waist. A small part of Jimin resents that Jeongguk has a few inches on him, especially when he has to tip his head up to look Jeongguk in the eye.

Jimin almost tacks on a you haven’t even marked me yet but he doesn’t feel quite so upset anymore, doesn’t want to upset Jeongguk. He’d mulled over what Hyeri had said to him, tried harder to see things from Jeongguk’s perspective. “Let go.”

“Say you’re mine first,” Jeongguk whispers, somehow both playful and expectant. Jimin doesn’t expect that either, the flush working its way to the tips of his ears.

“We’re in the nursery!” Jimin exclaims, eyeing the betas in the room again. One’s busy helping some of the kids with homework and the other is helping a pup clean her hands.

“So?” Jeongguk’s not even slightly fazed, smirking at Jimin’s flustered expression.

Jimin narrows his eyes, ready to shove Jeongguk away, but he’s one step ahead, stealing a kiss from Jimin and then grinning victoriously at Jimin’s shock. “You’re a menace.”

“I’m your menace,” Jeongguk grins cheekily and Jimin’s mouth goes a little dry at the emphasis on “your”. He can feel the heat in his face too, ducking his head into Jeongguk’s neck and breathing him in.


It’s one of the older kids, Minjun, eyes sparkling with awe as he bounds over. Two of his friends are right behind him.

“Did you come to play with us, Gukie?” Minjun asks, and Jimin steps away from Jeongguk quickly, spotting two pups by the paints about to make a mess. Jeongguk looks reluctant to let go but he bends down to get eye level with Minjun, grinning widely.

“It’s been a while since I came to play, right?”

Minjun nods his head very enthusiastically and Jeongguk laughs, ruffling his hair. Jimin’s heart flutters a little.

Jeongguk catches his eye one last time before the pups drag him off and winks, grinning. Jimin makes a big show of rolling his eyes before heading over to the pups in the painting corner.

“Hey guys,” Jimin greets the two pups, their hands covered in paint. “Are we finger painting?”

The pups have the decency to look guilty, a pot of paint already lying on the floor, red paint spilling out. Jimin sighs but smiles taking both pups by the wrists. “Okay, let’s go wash you guys up and then we’ll clean up the mess, hmm?”

Jimin busies himself with the kids, glancing over a shoulder at Jeongguk. He’s occupied with a handful of pups; they’ve created an entire city and are proceeding to lay down the tracks for the toy train they want running through the city. Jeongguk’s helping them figure out where to put everything down, playing along with how they know better than him.

He can’t help but daydream about their own pups, the image of Jeongguk running around after them flashing before his eyes. It makes his belly flip flop, excitement getting the better of him. He turns away from Jeongguk, heat in his cheeks. They’d have their own pups one day, if Jimin ever had his heat.

His mood sours a little at the reminder, a feeling of inadequacy settling in the pit of his belly. Jimin couldn't figure out why it was taking so long, especially when things had been so instantaneous for some of the other omegas. It’s not like he didn’t want his heat to come so he couldn’t understand why it hadn’t. And despite his best efforts, he couldn’t pinpoint what he was feeling so stressed out over that his subconscious had suppressed it entirely.

The pups run off once Jimin’s got them all cleaned up and he sighs to himself, going back to the table to clean up the rest of the mess. He’s surprised when he finds it already clean, glancing over at the betas to see if they’d helped. Both are still preoccupied.

“Thought I’d help out,” Jeongguk says, his voice coming from behind Jimin. He twists around to find his alpha smiling at him, his little group of pups all by the door to the nursery slipping into their furs. The group’s gotten bigger, too, more eager pups joining in. Jeongguk’s arm curls around his waist, Jimin pulled into his side. “We’re gonna go play outside, wanna come?”

“Sure,” Jimin smiles, getting on his tiptoes to lean in and give Jeongguk a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for the help.”

Jeongguk’s smile only grows bigger, eyes crinkling as he pulls Jimin in closer, hands settling his waist. “Was that my reward?”

“Is that why you helped out? For a reward?” Jimin frowns, smoothing out the neckline of Jeongguk’s shirt, the pads of his fingers rubbing at his collarbones.

“Maybe,” Jeongguk hums, giving Jimin a chaste kiss. “Mostly I did it because I can tell you’re stressing out over something.” He gives Jimin an expectant look, a sort of easy way for Jimin to tell him whatever’s bothering him. Jimin’s always surprised by Jeongguk’s perceptiveness, eyes dropping to where his hands are resting against Jeongguk’s chest as he flushes. Was he really that easy to read?

“It’s nothing, promise,” Jimin mumbles, pulling away from him. He doesn’t let go, which shouldn’t surprise Jimin but it does. He pouts as he looks up at him, Jeongguk’s eyes quietly searching his.

“You can tell me anything, you know that right?”

Jimin huffs, rolling his eyes. “I know.”

Jeongguk doesn’t buy it, tugging Jimin in closer to scent him. It sends a shiver down Jimin’s spine and he lets himself enjoy Jeongguk’s touch. “Everything’s gonna be okay, baby. I promise.”

Jimin doesn’t bother saying how do you know?, doesn’t want to be difficult. On some level, he understands what he’s being promised and he appreciates it, believes Jeongguk even. But the knot growing in his gut isn’t quite as easily mollified. Still, Jeongguk does make him feel a little better, chest suddenly too tight as he’s overcome with how much he likes Jeongguk.

“Okay,” he whispers back, pulling away first. His smile is mostly genuine, Jeongguk’s attention focused in on him. Even now, it feels overwhelming, his adoration always so apparent. Jimin’s heart skips a beat, the feeling of being so wanted still brand new. “The pups are going to wonder why you’re taking so long to play with them.”

“Don’t worry, they know you have to take care of all the pups in the pack,” Jeongguk grins, laughing when Jimin squawks in indignation.

“I’m not a pup!” Jimin shoves at Jeongguk,

“Are you sure?” Jeongguk teases, pressing a quick kiss to Jimin’s cheek. “You sure act like one.”

“I’m going to elbow you,” Jimin tells him before proceeding to do just that. The infuriating thing is that Jeongguk only laughs, letting Jimin go. He throws a glare over his shoulder, Jeongguk’s smile big and wide as he trails after Jimin. He has to fight the smile that threatens to take over his features, biting his lip as he marches over to the kids. They’re all ready and eager to go play outside, denied the privilege until now.

“Are you gonna play with us too, Minnie?” one of the pups asks, her eyes big and wide and delighted. Jimin smiles at her, leaning down to fix a button she's missed.

“Would you like me to play with you, Hyunae?”

She nods eagerly, grabbing his hand. “Alpha Gukie said you have to put your furs on first because you don’t wanna catch a cold.” She tugs him over to his furs and Jimin grins at her excitement.

“Alpha Gukie is right,” Jimin agrees, grabbing his furs from the hook he’s left them hanging on. Hyunae watches him get dressed, bouncing on her feet in excitement. She barely lets Jimin button up before tugging him out the front door, the rest of the kids having already disappeared outside with Jeongguk.

“I wanna build a snowman!” Hyunae tells him, hand still clutching Jimin’s hand.

“Okay baby,” Jimin smiles, kneeling in the snow next to Hyunae once she’s determined that the spot she’s picked to gather snow is adequate enough. “We can build a snowman.”

Hyunae occupies his attention for the next little while, two other pups joining them to build the snowman. Jimin lets them roll the balls of snow around, stacking them up for the kids himself. The pups split up to go find their snowman eyes and arms and a nose, leaving Jimin to sit by their creation.

He’s staring up at it when the snowball hits him square on the back, Jimin letting out a surprised yelp. His head whips back and he finds Jeongguk snickering with some of the pups, their smiles hidden behind their hands.

“Who threw that?” Jimin demands, eyes narrowed, already knowing the culprit.

“We didn’t see,” one of the pups says solemnly, eyes widening innocently. Jimin can’t believe Jeongguk’s teaching the pups to lie.

“You’re sure Jeongguk didn’t throw it?” Jimin asks, standing up. He brushes the snow off of his furs, giving them a chance to fess up. The pups all crowd a little closer to Jeongguk, shaking their heads.

“You know what happens to bad pups who lie?”

Jimin can see the growing fear in one particular pup’s face, his eyes widening with each step Jimin takes toward them. “What happens, Minnie?”

“The Witch comes and gets them,” Jimin says deliberately, a gasp escaping the pup. The other pups all stare up at Jimin with rapt attention, a few glancing between Jeongguk and Jimin.

“The Witch isn’t real,” Jeongguk says but the pups are too scared to believe him now, Jimin’s somber expression drawing them in.

“It was Gukie!” one of the pups confesses, Sungwoon, a finger pointed at the alpha and Jimin has to stifle his laughter, Jeongguk’s betrayal written all over his face.

“You think I wouldn’t protect you from the Witch?” Jeongguk accuses, already grabbing Sungwoon and tickling him silly.

“Didn’t you say the Witch isn’t real, hmm, Alpha Jeonggukie?" Jimin asks innocently, squating down to get eye level with the pups. They look between Jimin and Jeongguk as Sungwoon’s giggles die down - he’s managed to worm his way out of Jeongguk’s grasp. Jeongguk gives Jimin a glare but he brushes it off, adding, “You shouldn’t listen to this bad alpha.”

The pups all giggle. One of them, only four if Jimin recalls, tugs on Jimin’s sleeve, her eyes big and wide. Haneul’s cheeks are all rosy from the cold and Jimin nearly coos at how cute she is. “Minnie, won’t the Witch get Gukie? Cause he’s bad.”

She looks like she might cry and before Jimin can console her, Jeongguk’s scooping her up in his arms, grinning big and wide at her. “I’m a big strong alpha, baby. She won’t get me.”

“Are you sure?” Haneul asks, her big eyes fixed on Jeongguk.

“I’m sure,” Jeongguk insists, the corners of his mouth curled upward in amusement. Jimin tries very hard to ignore the way his belly flutters at the sight, swallowing down the spike of affection. He knows they’ll have their own pups one day but seeing Jeongguk playing with the pack’s pups and assuring them so easily has him daydreaming about their own future. He’d be just as good with their own pups, wouldn’t he? And maybe it’s sappy, thinking about Jeongguk playing with their pups, imagining how he’d carry them around but Jimin can’t help it.

Jeongguk would be a good dad. He’d never really given it much thought, having his own family one day. But everything is so easy to imagine with Jeongguk.

He can’t take his eyes off of Jeongguk, watching him let Haneul run off with her friends to go play. Jeongguk turns back around to face him, quirking an eyebrow at the dumbstruck expression likely on Jimin’s face.

“I thought you believed the Witch wasn’t bad," Jeongguk says, snow crunching under his boots as he trudges back to Jimin. Jimin doesn’t bother standing up, falling back down on his ass when Jeongguk squats down next to him.

“My dad used to scare me by telling me the Witch would get me,” Jimin explains, reaching out to brush some of Jeongguk’s hair back. “Always got me to behave.”

Jeongguk catches his hand when he’s pulling it away, kisses the palm before holding it between his own. “I never believed in it, the whole curse thing. Humans aren’t nearly as resourceful as wolves.”

Jimin laughs, squeezing Jeongguk’s nose playfully. Jeongguk gives him a scowl as he pulls away, but doesn’t retaliate. “If the story is true, then the first werewolf existed hundreds of years ago. You think we didn’t learn to adapt? The Elders haven’t passed the story down for hundreds of years because they have nothing better to do. It means something.”

“And what does it mean, oh wise one?”

“Don’t be a brat,” Jimin huffs, shoving Jeongguk’s arm. He falls back, ass in the snow just like Jimin. “You know our history and traditions are important.”

Jeongguk’s grinning though, falls back into the snow until he’s lying in it, arms splayed out. Jimin gets up onto his knees to scoot a little closer, staring down at Jeonguk. “If the Witch is really real, she’ll definitely get you. You’re a bad pup.”

“It’s okay,” Jeongguk grins lazily, grabbing Jimin by the wrist and yanking him down. Jimin stumbles, caught off guard, falling down hard across Jeongguk’s chest. “She’ll spare me ‘cause she’ll be too busy going after you.”

Jimin gasps, hitting Jeongguk in the chest, appalled. Jeongguk’s laughter rumbles through him, the vibrations throwing Jimin’s heart off beat. He holds Jimin there, staring up at him with his big, starry eyes and Jimin would flush under the attention if he wasn’t so busy glaring. “Am I the one teaching the pups to lie?”

He pushes himself up on a hand to get back up, but ends up looming over Jeongguk, his dumb smile fixed on Jimin. “Yeah, you’re right. You’re too pretty to take.”

This time Jimin does blush, rolling his eyes. Even then, he can barely keep his smile at bay. “Shut up. That doesn’t even make any sense.”

“Make me,” Jeongguk retorts, his smile turning into a playful grin, eyebrows waggling.

“You’re impossible,” Jimin sighs, giving up. He doesn’t mind leaning down to give Jeongguk a quick peck, sticking his tongue out when he pulls back too quickly for Jeongguk’s liking. Jeongguk pouts, grabbing Jimin’s hand, their fingers lacing together. “Come on, get up.”

“Do you miss him? Your dad.” Jeongguk asks instead, his voice quiet. Jimin’s eyes widen, his gaze flickering from their hands, to Jeongguk’s face. He finds Jeongguk’s inquisitive eyes fixed on him. It catches him off guard, the question, but maybe that was Jeongguk’s plan all along. Jimin would have deflected the question if he’d been asked earlier.

“I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him,” Jimin answers truthfully, staring at the snow next to Jeongguk’s head, “but I miss him in a good way now. If that makes sense.”

Jeongguk nods his head, finally pushing himself up into a sitting position. He cups one of Jimin’s cheeks in a hand, leaning forward to kiss him tenderly. The kiss is so warm, Jimin can’t feel the chill in the tips of his fingers, eyes fluttering shut. “He’d be really proud of you.”

“How do you know?” Jimin whispers, lips brushing against Jeongguk’s as he asks. When he opens his eyes, Jeongguk’s gaze is settled on him, kind and intense.

“’Cause you’re a good pup,” Jeongguk smiles, kissing Jimin again before nuzzling his neck. The sweetness of Jeongguk’s scent feels like a blanket being wrapped around him. Jimin’s fingers curl into Jeongguk’s furs, holding him close.

“Thank you,” he mumbles, eyes a little wet.

Jeongguk only hums, scenting Jimin, his nose rubbing against the bare skin of his neck.

“Jimin!” It’s one of the pups, her voice carrying over to the two of them. Jimin pulls back from Jeongguk quickly, head turning in the direction of the voice. Hyunae is waving at him to come over, the look on her face both impatient and cross.

“Duty calls,” Jimin smiles, giving Jeongguk’s cheek a quick kiss before pulling himself up. “Don’t lie in the snow all day.”

“Yes, mom.”

“Ugh,” Jimin groans, a stupid grin plastered on Jeongguk’s face. He rolls his eyes as he heads over to Hyunae, leaving a snickering Jeongguk behind in the snow.

When he glances back later, Jeongguk’s building a snow fort with some of the pups and everything feels right in the world.

Jimin’s got his sleeves rolled up, the heat from the forge filling every square foot of the cabin. He doesn’t understand how Yoongi can just stand in front of it for ages, hammering away at whatever he’s manipulating. Jimin thinks he’s making handles for something.

“You’re not paying attention,” Jeongguk says right against the shell of Jimin’s ear, his voice cutting through Jimin’s daze. A hand settles on Jimin’s hip as Jeongguk stands behind him, chest pressed to his back. Heat blooms in Jimin’s cheeks, his eyes looking back down at the planks of wood Jeongguk has set out for him.

He can hear the annoyance in Jeongguk’s voice.

Jimin had been the one who’d begged Jeongguk to help him make an easel in the first place. He wants one of his own rather than having to use one of the easels from the nursery. Jeongguk had offered to make it himself but Jimin thought this would be an excellent excuse to spend time together.

Maybe he should be focusing on the task rather than staring at whatever Yoongi’s doing.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, sneaking a glance at Jeongguk. His jaw’s tight, sweat dripping down the side of his face. Jimin had come by after lunch, Jeongguk having spent the morning helping Yoongi with whatever it was he had to do. When Jimin had tried asking about it, Jeongguk had pinched his cheeks and told him not to be nosy.

“You want to cut everything yourself too?” Jeongguk asks, pointedly ignoring Jimin’s bashful look.

“I can use a saw, you know!” Jimin huffs out, glaring at Jeongguk.

“That’s why you were so good at it, right?” Jeongguk reminds, quirking a brow up at Jimin. The first plank of wood Jimin had tried sawing was currently splintered and lying next to the forge. Somehow, Jimin had managed to create a crack along the length of the wood so it was essentially firewood now.

“Meanie,” Jimin grumbles, but he lets Jeongguk guide his hands where he wants them. He’s never done any woodworking before, and truthfully, he hadn’t expected it to be quite so difficult. Jeongguk has marked out where all the cuts have to be, measuring each piece out himself. He’s building it so Jimin can sit in front of it comfortably, having told Jimin he’d make him a matching stool, too.

Jimin didn’t bother offering to help with that.

“Focus,” Jeongguk instructs, his hands engulfing Jimin’s as he has Jimin hold the wood on one end, the other hanging off of the work table. He guides the saw to the line he’s drawn, holding Jimin’s hand in place. They start together, Jeongguk’s weight pressing against him and Jimin wonders how he’s supposed to focus when Jeongguk is so very obviously shirtless behind him.

The forge is already hot enough without Jeongguk’s body heat seeping into Jimin, bare chest pressed to Jimin’s back, Jeongguk’s thick arms surrounding him. He’d find it comforting if it weren’t so distracting.

“Are you always such a bossy teacher?” Jimin asks, watching the excess wood fall to the ground as they finish sawing.

“Only when I have a bad student,” Jeongguk comments, stepping away from Jimin. He watches Jeongguk grab the next piece, eyes raking over his tanned skin, mouth dry. Maybe he’s too far gone at this point, but Jimin can’t help but be attracted to Jeongguk’s single minded focus, his diligence. Even if it means he’s a little short with Jimin. He likes that Jeongguk wants to do things right, wants the final product of his effort to be well made.

“Don’t worry, Jimin,” Yoongi says from across the room, “Jeongguk was shit at sawing when he started, too.”

“Really?” Jimin’s wide eyed excitement has Jeongguk glaring at Yoongi, who just shrugs, smirking.

“Be nice to him,” Yoongi says, pulling his googles back on. He turns back to the forge, stepping even closer than Jimin has seen Jeongguk approach it. He’s working on something different now and Jimin’s curious about what it is but he’s not sure how much more he should rile Jeongguk up.

“Yeah, be nice to me,” Jimin parrots, sticking his tongue out at Jeongguk.

Jeongguk snorts, handing Jimin the next piece of wood. “Make the cuts where I’ve marked. I’m gonna start sanding.”

Jimin pouts, but gets to work, focusing on his cutting this time. They work in silence, Jimin occasionally glancing up to see Yoongi hammering away at something before sticking it back in the flame. It looks like he’s trying to flatten a sheet of metal out.

Jeongguk works next to him, tongue in his cheek and Jimin wonders if he’s just focused or if he really is getting jealous. He has to bite back his smile, nearly cooing at Jeongguk’s ridiculousness, but Jeongguk still catches him. It only makes the sharpness of his scent increase, his annoyance obvious. Jimin finds the whole thing entirely too endearing.

He’s also opted for wearing a shirt again, and Jimin’s not entirely sure if he prefers that or not. Not that he can’t see the outline of Jeongguk’s pecs through it regardless.

“I’m all done!” Jimin informs Jeongguk, looking expectantly at Jeongguk as he shuffles a little closer to him. He leans his weight onto Jeongguk, smiling at him, maybe a little proud of himself.

Jeongguk hands him a scrap of sandpaper but his expression softens. “You did a good job, baby.” He gives Jimin a smile, kissing him sweetly and Jimin’s heartbeat flutters, toes curling. “But we’re not done yet.”

“I know,” Jimin hums, stealing one more kiss before getting to work. He can see why Jeonguk enjoys this so much. It’s calming and Jimin’s so focused on doing everything right that he’s not busy worrying over anything.

It takes them another hour to finish things up. Jeongguk drills the holes he needs, Jimin watching with rapt attention as his biceps curl. The furrow of concentration between Jeongguk’s brows never leaves him as he works, and Jimin can’t take his eyes off of him, doing as he’s told whenever Jeongguk instructs him.

Yoongi steps out at some point, Jimin’s attention so focused on finishing up the easel he doesn’t notice. Jeongguk’s even managed to make it adjustable, much to Jimin’s delight. He’d have to go over to Hoseok’s to get a proper canvas and maybe request some paint supplies. Jimin thinks he’s running low.

“Is there anything you can’t do?” Jimin asks, sitting on Jeongguk’s work table, legs swinging under him. Jeongguk’s taking a walk around the easel, making sure it’s perfectly even and sturdy.

“We already made the easel, you don’t have to butter me up,” Jeongguk says, voice a little gruff. He glances up at Jimin, kneeling down to look at the legs of the easel.

Jimin’s smile only widens, and he blows a kiss to Jeongguk. “Didn’t you say you were gonna make me a matching stool?”

“That explains the compliments.” Jeongguk’s smiling even as he says it, coming over to Jimin once he’s satisfied with his craftsmanship. He slots himself right between Jimin’s legs, pulling Jimin closer to himself by the waist, hands settling on Jimin’s hips as he leans in to kiss him.

Jimin winds his arms around Jeongguk’s neck, kisses Jeongguk deeper, their tongues sliding against each other. He lets out a content hum, pulling back just a little. “Did I do good?”

Jeongguk smiles against him, pecking Jimin’s lips. “Don’t you always, hmm?”

Jimin lets out a whine, frowning, and Jeongguk only laughs, squeezing Jimin’s hips. “You did good, baby,” he murmurs, kissing his forehead. Jimin preens under the praise, nuzzling into Jeongguk’s neck. His smokey scent sweetens and Jimin wishes he could just bottle it up, and breathe it in whenever he wanted.

“Thank you,” Jimin mumbles, happy to just stay here, curled up into Jeongguk.

“For what? Complimenting you? It’s not like I had a choice.”

“No, you jerk!” Jimin exclaims, pulling back from Jeongguk as he laughs and hitting him in the chest. “For making me my easel!”

“We made it together,” Jeongguk reminds, picking Jimin off the table, his hands gripping Jimin’s thighs. His legs curl around Jeongguk’s waist, a surprised squeak escaping him. Jeongguk kisses his jaw, carrying Jimin over to their furs. “You can thank me when I finish your stool.”

“Such a good Alpha,” Jimin coos, kissing Jeongguk sweetly, warmth flooding through him. “So good to me.”

Jeongguk’s fingers dig into the meat of Jimin’s thighs, a low growl escaping him. He pushes Jimin right up against the cabin wall, nosing along Jimin’s neck. Jimin’s heart stutters to a stop when he feels Jeongguk’s teeth nip at the curve where his neck meets his shoulder, nails digging into Jeongguk’s muscle.

His breath hitches, the quiet gasp attempting to escape catching in his throat when Jeongguk’s teeth sink in harder. For a split second, Jimin’s mind goes blank, his wolf bearing its neck in complete submission and Jimin catches himself doing the same, eyes glazing over.

It should terrify him but it doesn’t. Jimin thinks he’d let Jeongguk rip his throat out.

Jeongguk soothes the sting of his teeth, licking over the bite. Jimin hears himself whine, but he can’t think straight, Jeongguk’s scent sharpening to the point where it’s all he can breathe in, overwhelmed.

“A-alpha.” His voice breaks, body pulsing with want. Jeongguk only sucks against the mark he’s making, and it hurts but Jimin knows he's still getting wet. He’s completely dazed, can feel himself going limp in Jeongguk’s hold, can feel the hard press of Jeongguk’s body pushing him right up against the wall. He’s pinned in place.

It’s not until Jeongguk’s happy with his work that he pulls back to assess it, kissing the mark and then Jimin, his tongue delving into Jimin’s ready mouth without any resistance. Jeongguk kisses him filthy, a hand slipping under Jimin’s shirt, palm smoothing up his back before it’s tracing its way back down, fingers dipping past the waistband of Jimin’s pants.

He lets out a pathetic whine at that, clutching desperately at Jeongguk’s shirt, practically panting into Jeongguk’s mouth. Kissing Jeongguk always left Jimin scrambling to keep up, Jeongguk completely devastating him. His cock’s half-hard, the wetness at his ass becoming more apparent when Jeongguk’s hand slips lower, gripping the fat of his ass.

Suddenly Jeongguk’s pulling back, growling again but this time it’s angry, a warning. Jimin realises they’re not alone, brain registering Yoongi’s scent too late. He flushes red hot, hiding his face in the curve of Jeongguk’s neck.

“Yeah, yeah,” Yoongi says, his voice sounding almost dreamlike. Jimin’s head’s still not on straight. “You two done yet?”

It takes a moment for Jeongguk to respond, his tone not quite pleasant. “Sorry.”

Yoongi only snorts, clearly not giving a shit. Jimin finds his feet touching the floor again, finally looking up at Jeongguk. He gives Jimin a soft smile, pupils still glowing red. Jimin swallows, willing himself to be less turned on.

“Go wait outside baby,” Jeongguk murmurs, kissing his forehead. “We should go get dinner.”

Jimin nods mutely, not trusting his own voice. He can’t even look in Yoongi’s direction, still embarrassed — and horny, unfortunately. Granted, Jimin has seen plenty of mated couples with their tongues shoved down each other’s throats and doing much worse. Yoongi is still Jeongguk’s closest friend. He doesn’t exactly want Yoongi to see him like this.

He grabs his furs and walks out very quickly, taking in big breaths as the cold air hits him all at once. It’s a reprieve from the stifling temperature of the forge but the cold quickly catches up to him. He wraps himself in his furs, glancing back at the cabin. Yoongi’s telling Jeongguk something, a smug smile on his face as Jeongguk nods, looking just the slightest bit flustered.

Jimin averts his eyes, flushing himself. Jeongguk was probably getting teased.

The mark Jeongguk’s left on his neck throbs, pulsating with his heartbeat, and Jimin can’t even imagine how obscene it looks. The worst part is that Jimin doesn’t want to immediately hide it like he may have a month ago. The sinking realization that he wants everyone to see it sits in his belly like a hot coal as if embarrassed by his own shamelessness.

Jeongguk finishes talking to Yoongi, smiling as he spots Jimin standing a few feet away from the cabin. He’s always a sight to behold in his black furs, a stark contrast to the white surrounding them. Jimin wants to paint him, immortalize the image.

“Yoongi says they made boar today,” Jeongguk tells him, leading Jimin in the direction of the kitchens. Jimin looks over his shoulder at Yoongi one last time — he’s already back to work and still decidedly wearing a shirt. He’d thought maybe Yoongi hadn’t wanted to deal with Jeongguk’s alpha posturing earlier, since Jimin was there, but the beta hasn’t gotten half naked now that Jimin isn’t there. Jimin looks back at Jeongguk, hurrying to catch up to him, and wonders why Jeongguk had such a problem keeping his shirt on.

“You know,” Jimin says nonchalantly, hand slipping into Jeongguk’s, fingers intertwining. “Yoongi wasn’t shirtless in front of the forge.”

Jeongguk’s smile falters, his eyes narrowing. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing,” Jimin simpers, biting his lip to keep himself from giggling at the way Jeongguk’s scent has spiked up defensively.

Jeongguk stops walking, turning to face Jimin, lips pursed into a thin line, brows furrowed. He’s so annoyed, so jealous, it’s palpable in the air around them. “You wanted to see Yoongi shirtless?”

Jimin bursts out laughing, falling into Jeongguk’s chest, giggles right against him, the incredulous tone of his voice breaking Jimin’s resolve. “Oh my god, you’re so cute.”

He just gives Jeongguk’s glower a cheeky grin, pressing a quick kiss just under his jaw as he pulls back. Tugging on Jeongguk’s hand, Jimin tries to get him to start moving toward the dining hall again. Jeongguk doesn’t budge.

Jimin sighs dramatically with a roll of his eyes, turning to look at him. Jeongguk’s expression has only darkened. “You didn’t answer the question.”

“You think I want to see anyone else shirtless when I have you? Really, Jeongguk?" Jimin exclaims, cocking his hip out as he holds a hand there.

That mollifies Jeongguk somewhat, the open jealousy on his face dissolving into an almost guilty expression. Except Jimin can still tell by his scent that he’s jealous, heat curling in his belly.

“Then why did you — ”

“I was teasing you,” Jimin says, stepping closer to him. “Since you love being shirtless everywhere.”

“Is this about when I chopped wood outside and all the unmated omegas and betas were oogling me?” Jeongguk asks, smirking widely. This time it’s Jimin who’s caught off guard, heat blooming in his cheeks.

“Shut up,” Jimin says, voice haughty, as he tries to pull his hand out of Jeongguk’s.

“Oh, you can dish it but you can’t take it, huh?” Jeongguk grins, holding onto Jimin tighter. He pulls Jimin right in, Jimin stumbling into his chest, flustered that Jeongguk could always so easily manhandle him.

“Who said I can’t take it! You’re the one who has an exhibionist streak.”

“I’m just giving the people what they want,” Jeongguk drawls, but he’s snickering, hands locking behind the small of Jimin’s back to hold him in place. Jimin attempts shoving Jeongguk off but his efforts are, quite predictably, futile.

Jimin lets out an aggravated groan, annoyed and simultaneously aroused by how strong Jeongguk is. “I hate you.”

“Oh, I know baby,” Jeongguk grins, nose wrinkling up as he laughs at Jimin’s pout.

“You’re the worst!” Jimin accuses at the same time Jeongguk somberly tells him, “I’m the worst.”

That only has Jeongguk snickering harder, and Jimin can’t even actually muster up any real outrage, smacking Jeongguk in the chest as he pouts harder. Jeongguk gives him a squeeze, his grin big and wide as he looks down at Jimin. He plants a kiss on the tip of Jimin’s nose before kissing his lips.

“At this rate, we’ll never get to dinner,” Jeongguk murmurs, fingers coming up to trace along Jimin’s jaw. Jimin doesn’t miss the way Jeongguk’s eyes linger on the mark he’s left on his neck, his response lodging in his throat when Jeongguk kisses the mark. “We should go before I eat you up instead.”

“I’m not on the menu,” Jimin huffs, shoving at Jeongguk. This time he gives, lets Jimin have his way. The smile Jeongguk gives Jimin is so indulgent, eyes practically sparkling. Jimin’s chest tightens in his chest and he wonders when Jeongguk will stop rendering him so tongue-tied and infatuated.

“You sure?” Jeongguk asks, allowing Jimin to tug him in the direction of the dining hall. “You’re definitely the tastiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Jimin feels the heat flood into his cheeks, eyes narrowing at Jeongguk, even as he can’t keep the half-shriek, half-groan he lets out at bay. His wolf preens under the compliment despite Jimin’s own abashed horror. He’s almost too flustered, somehow still surprised that Jeongguk is so shameless. Jimin smacks him in the chest repeatedly, hates how Jeongguk just laughs. “Do you ever shut up?”

“Ooo, did I fluster my baby?” Jeongguk teases, already tugging Jimin right back against his chest. His laughter echoes through Jimin as Jimin falls backwards against him, still embarrassed.

“Fuck off,” Jimin manages, allowing Jeongguk to waddle them both forward as he laughs. He kisses over the mark he’s left on Jimin’s neck again, arms curled tight around Jimin’s waist. Jimin attempts to break Jeongguk’s hold on him but Jeongguk only squeezes tighter, grinning. He gives in, sighing, can’t even hide his smile, head falling back against Jeongguk’s shoulder.

“Are you done?” Jimin asks, Jeongguk nuzzling into his neck, scenting him. Jimin still feels butterflies at the sensation of Jeongguk’s nose dragging along his skin. He can’t say he minds reeking of Jeongguk lately.

“No,” Jeongguk answers, kissing Jimin’s neck again. “I’m never done. I’m never satisfied.”

Some of their packmates pass them on the way to the dining hall, some sending sneaking glances their way, others tittering. Jimin tries not to be too embarrassed.

“And why aren’t you satisfied?” Jimin whispers, afraid of the answer.

“Won’t be satisfied until you’re all mine,” Jeongguk answers, voice muffled into Jimin’s skin. He squeezes Jimin tighter, his heartbeat sinking into Jimin despite the layers of clothes between them. “Until I’ve devoured you.”

His heart slams to a stop, body pulsing with heat before it kicks back up again. “Oh.

Someone whistles at them, loud and sharp, and Jimin remembers where they are, blushing hotly. Jeongguk doesn’t seem like he’s letting go anytime soon and Jimin has to gather his wits before he manages to tug on his arms.

“Dinner,” Jimin mumbles, avoiding looking at anyone passing by them directly. Jeongguk takes a big breath, inhaling Jimin’s scent before he lets go. His pupils are blown wide and Jimin can smell his arousal.

“Dinner,” Jeongguk echoes, his voice rough with want. Jimin swallows, something simmering hot in his belly. His hand slips back into Jimin’s and somehow they make it to the dining hall without anymore incidents.

All Jimin can think about is Jeongguk’s hand in his, his presence next to him. The burning mark on his neck.

“You two are disgusting,” Taehyung informs him, scowling as he looks between Jimin and Jeongguk. They’re across the room from each other, Jimin helping Taehyung and his mother with some sewing as Jeongguk sits with his father and some other alphas discussing something. There’s some kind of issue, Jimin knows as much, but the pack alpha hasn’t made any sort of announcement and Jeongguk hasn’t mentioned anything either.

We’re disgusting?” Jimin retorts back, incredulous. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hyeri sit anywhere but in your lap.”

“Why would she sit anywhere else?” Taehyung asks, blinking at Jimin owlishly. Jimin rolls his eyes, not the least bit fooled by Taehyung’s practised innocence.

“Yeah, why would she,” Jimin snorts, finishing up the hem of some pants for one of the pups. His mother smiles between the two of them, amused by their antics.

Taehyung looks put out, pouting at Jimin but he doesn’t fall for the bait. His eyes end up wandering back to Jeongguk, who’s staring back at him. Heat prickles in his cheeks and he hides his smile, trying not to distract Jeongguk even if Jeongguk’s existence is a distraction to Jimin.

“He’s not going to disappear if you stop staring at him,” Taehyung adds on and Jimin can hear him rolling his eyes.

“What crawled up your ass and died there, huh?” Jimin asks, finally looking at Taehyung. He’s staring at the stitching he’s just finished, ensuring it’s seamless.

“Boys,” Mina warns, smoothing out the furs she’s working on. She’s embroidering a beaded design onto the lapels and Jimin wonders which lucky pup would get the jacket.

“He started it,” Jimin whines, knowing he sounds just like a young pup. Taehyung sticks his tongue out, not helping his case.

Before Mina can admonish either of them, a beta calls her over, a look of embarrassment fluttering across her features. She’s holding a rather mangled looking shirt in her hands, the stitching all over the place. Jimin sympathizes with her, remembers his own disasters when he’d been younger.

Mina laughs, getting up but before she leaves, she fixes Jimin and Taehyung with a reprimanding look, a finger wagging between the both of them. “Sort this out, whatever it is.”

“Yes ma’am,” Taehyung mumbles, looking chastised. Jimin apologises to his mother, guiltily looking over at Taehyung. He’d felt like something had been off since he’d seen Taehyung that morning but Taehyung could be very secretive when he wanted to, unwilling to share anything until he was absolutely ready. Jimin considered himself an expert at navigating Taehyung’s moods.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, focusing his attention on his best friend. He can still feel Jeongguk’s eyes on him, and it’s a comfort.

Taehyung sighs, giving up on his stitching, teeth worrying over his bottom lip. “Nothing.”

“Uh huh,” Jimin says, abandoning his own work. He grabs Taehyung’s hand and yanks him up, heading out of the communal cabin. It’s freezing outside but Jimin just shoves his hands into the pockets of his furs, staring expectantly at Taehyung once they’re well past anyone’s hearing range.

“It’s dumb,” Taehyung says, chin tucked to his chest, mouth hiding in the soft brown of his furs.

“You know I won’t care if it’s dumb.”

“But I’ll feel bad.”


“Because…” Taehyung trails, staring down at his feet. “You and Jeongguk aren’t even mated yet and I’m...I dunno, I don’t want to complain about me and Hyeri…”

Jimin immediately feels guilty, but he’s annoyed that Taehyung would think he’d be upset to hear about whatever’s going on with him and his mate.

“Ugh, you idiot!” he exclaims, shoving at Taehyung’s shoulder. He can’t believe Taehyung’s being so silly. “You’re right. This is dumb. Why didn’t you tell me right away that something’s wrong? You really think I’d feel bad just because of Jeongguk?”

Taehyung purses his lips, eyes fixing on Jimin, his chin still tucked to his chest. He’s all curled up into himself and Jimin hates it. Then he lets out a groan, kicking some snow away with his foot. “I’m dumb, I’m sorry.”

Jimin pouts, grabbing Taehyung’s arm and clinging to him. “You’re not dumb. Now tell me what happened.”

"I...I didn’t get pregnant,” Taehyung mumbles out, looking miserable. His scent sours in seconds, whatever resolve he’d built up washing away in one quick wave.

“Oh,” Jimin says hollowly, the breath knocked out of him. His heart squeezes tightly in his chest. He can feel the tears beginning to burn at his lashes already. “I’m so sorry, Taehyung.”

Jimin’s already pulling Taehyung into a hug, arms wrapping around him tight and he feels like shit for not noticing earlier, for not asking Taehyung how things were going. He’d just assumed that eventually Taehyung would be telling him the good news. Taehyung holds him tight, and Jimin thinks he might be crying.

“Sssh, it’s okay. Let it out, baby,” Jimin murmurs, rubbing Taehyung’s back. It takes a moment for Taehyung to stop sniffling, Jimin murmuring how sorry he is until Taehyung finally pulls away. He wipes at his nose with the back of his hand, eyes red rimmed. Jimin cleans his face, holding both of Taehyung’s hands when he’s managed to compose himself.

“I know how much you want your own pups,” Jimin says, squeezing Taehyung’s hands. “But it’s okay if it hasn’t happened right away. That doesn’t mean you won’t get to have them.”

Taehyung nods mutely, still sniffling. “Yeah. Healer Seo — she said it’s harder to conceive sometimes when it’s a female alpha and a male omega.”

Jimin’s eyebrows raise in surprise, shocked that Taehyung has spoken to Healer Seo already. He’d been preparing himself to convince Taehyung to go. “You went to see her?”

“This morning,” Taehyung mumbles, eyes fixed on their hands. “Hyeri made me.”

Jimin laughs at Taehyung’s darkening pout. “She really is perfect for you, hmm.”

“Yeah yeah,” Taehyung mutters, wiping at his eyes one last time. “I guess I was just…hoping it would happen right away.”

“You’re allowed to have hoped that,” Jimin assures, reaching up to brush some of Taehyung’s hair out of his face. He’s grown it out a lot longer, bangs almost always in his eyes. “Did Healer Seo mention anything else? Like what would make conceiving easier?”

Taehyung goes a little pink in the face and Jimin bites back his smile, enjoying the switch in dynamic. Taehyung almost never got embarrassed. “She said it might be easier during Hyeri’s rut.”


“Stop making that face!” Taehyung squawks, shoving at Jimin. He’s gone a much brighter shade of red and Jimin doesn’t bother holding his laughter now, hands coming up to cover his mouth.

“Well, guess you just have to wait for her rut then, huh,” Jimin teases, enjoying the way Taehyung can’t even look Jimin in the eye. Jimin schools his expression back into something more somber, looping his arm through Taehyung’s and guiding him back inside. “When’s her rut supposed to come?” he asks as nonchalantly as possible.

Taehyung lets out a scream, whining, “You suck so much!”

“Serves you right for always teasing me,” Jimin retorts, sticking his tongue out. Taehyung’s embarrassment deflates, a sigh of resignation escaping him. At least he knew what a demon he is.

“Thanks,” Taehyung mumbles once they’re at the door to the cabin, finally escaping the cold.

“For what? I’m always complaining to you about shit,” Jimin brushes off, opening the door. “Next time, don’t wait so long to tell me, okay, dummy.”

“I promise,” Taehyung says, following in after Jimin. They leave their furs by the hooks by the door, Jimin almost bumping into someone when he turns toward the communal sitting area.

He doesn’t have to see his face to know who it is. Jimin could recognise his rancid scent anywhere. Very purposefully, Jimin walks right back to where he was sitting, Taehyung hot on his heels.

“You okay?” Taehyung asks, glancing back over his shoulder.

“Yeah,” Jimin answers, picking up the pair of boots he’d started working on.

“He leaves you alone, right?” Taehyung sits down right next to Jimin, the concern in his voice overshadowed by the protective sharpening of his scent. Jimin smiles, grateful for Taehyung.

“Honestly, I haven’t even noticed him since the challenge,” Jimin says, finally looking at Taehyung. He hadn’t been that close to Minsoo since before they’d merged packs. The sick feeling he expects never comes and it’s a relief.

“Good!” Taehyung affirms, voice firm as he gives Jimin a little nod.

“Good riddance,” Jimin mutters, getting back to work.

Taehyung spends the rest of the evening with his chin hooked over Jimin’s shoulder, moping. Jimin doesn’t push him to help, occasionally ruffling his hair when he tells Jimin what a good job he’s doing.

The whole time he can feel one pair of burning eyes on him.

Jimin doesn’t look at Jeongguk until he’s done, smirking at the bratty glower on his face. He blows him a kiss, taking pity on him, giggling when Jeongguk catches the kiss and kisses his fist.

“Stop being so cute,” Taehyung grumbles, his arms looped around Jimin’s waist lazily. It’s like having an overgrown pup clinging to him.

“Aw, do you miss Hyeri?”

“She’s at home. Said she wanted to surprise me with something,” Taehyung tells him. Jimin can hear the pout in his voice.

“Shouldn’t you be excited about your surprise?” Jimin asks, maneuvering himself to glance at Taehyung from the corner of his eye. “What if she’s gone into — ”

“I’ll kill you,” Taehyung threatens, squeezing Jimin tight as if to hurt him but it only makes Jimin laugh, his body falling into Taehyung in his fit of giggles.

“I’ll walk you to your cabin,” Jimin offers, a little out of breath, pinching Taehyung’s cheek. “So don’t be so mopey.”

“You mean, you and Jeongguk.”

Jimin shrugs, grinning at Taehyung’s look of disgust, “We’re a packaged deal now.”

Taehyung just groans.

Jimin spots the pack alpha before he even gets to the front door, rushing to cover his canvas. He’s been hiding it from Jeongguk, too, still conscious of sharing his work with him . It didn’t help, of course, that Jimin was literally working on a painting of Jeongguk. He wanted to finish it before the winter solstice came.

Thankfully, he’s not covered in paint, still finishing the underlying sketch. Jimin thinks he’d be twice as mortified if he opened the door with paint all over himself.

The knock that comes is brisk and Jimin wishes he weren’t home alone right now. He’s never been in the pack alpha’s presence without at least one person with him. Normally, Jimin just stood awkwardly beside Jeongguk as he spoke to his father.

Jimin opens the door after he smooths down his shirt and runs a quick hand through his hair. He probably still looks like a mess.

“Alpha Jeon,” Jimin greets, holding the door open. He steps aside to give room for Jonghyuk to step inside the cabin. He lingers in the doorway, a hint of surprise in the way he raises his brows.

“Jimin,” Jonghyuk greats him, nodding his head toward Jimin as he steps in.

Jimin takes Jonghyuk’s furs from him, hanging them on Jeongguk’s empty hook. “Have a seat, Alpha Jeon,” Jimin says, guiding Jonghyuk to the couch. Anxiety knots itself in his stomach, heartbeat erratic. “I’ll get some tea ready for you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to trouble yourself with that Jimin,” Jonghyuk hurries to assure, but Jimin’s already heading to the kitchen. Like he wasn’t going to make tea for Jeongguk’s father.

Jimin sets the water to boil as he readies the cups. He steadfastly ignores how sweaty his palms are, wishing Jeongguk was home. Per his mother’s instructions, he turns the water off just before it begins to boil, pouring the water into the cups. He steeps the green tea for just over a minute before pulling the tea bags back out, leaving them in a third cup. Jimin could reuse them later.

Jimin walks back to the living room area, eyes trained on the two cups, terrified that he’d trip over his own two feet and make a fool of himself in front of the pack alpha. Jimin’s clumsy enough as is.

“Thank you,” Jonghyuk smiles, his eyes kind as he takes a cup from Jimin. Jimin takes a seat in the single chair closer to the fireplace, angling it toward Jonghyuk. He tries not to think about how often he’s sat in the chair with Jeongguk — or rather how often he’s sat in Jeongguk’s lap.

Jimin jerks out a nod, setting his own cup of tea down on the table in front of him, too hot to hold.

Jonghyuk takes a sip out of his own cup, seemingly unbothered by the heat. “Jeongguk isn’t home I take it.”

“Uh, no, Alpha. I think Yoongi needed him for something. He came by earlier.”

Jonghyuk nods his head slowly, taking another sip of his tea. Jimin studies his profile, takes in how similar he looks to Jeongguk. They have the same prominent nose and high cheekbones. The biggest difference is their eyes. Jeongguk’s are much bigger, almost innocent in comparison to his father's cat like shape.

“Is there anything I can help with? I can go get Jeongguk — ”

“No, no,” Jonghyuk interrupts, looks amused by how frazzled Jimin sounds. He worries his hands in his lap, swallowing down the rest of his words. “I only came by to ask how things were going with the generators. He’s been taking care of the issue for me.”

“Oh,” Jimin says, reaching for his cup now. He can’t stop fidgeting with his fingers. A part of him is almost preening that the pack alpha trusts Jeongguk to look after things in his place, knows the responsibility is a point of pride for Jeongguk. Mostly, however, being alone with Jeongguk’s father has him nervous even if he really has no reason to be. “Jeongguk hasn’t really mentioned anything to me about how things are going, sorry.”

“It’s okay, Jimin. I’m sure I can ask him tomorrow at breakfast,” Jonghyuk smiles. He’s nearly done his tea, and Jimin wonders how he can drink such hot tea so quickly. Didn’t it burn his mouth?

“Sorry I couldn’t be of more help,” Jimin mumbles, finally taking a sip of his own.

“You have nothing to apologise for,” Jonghyuk tuts, a soothing sort of calm befalling Jimin as he sits in the room. He realises it’s because of Jonghyuk’s scent, an earthy deepness to it, and nearly thanks him for being so kind as to look after Jimin’s nerves. Jimin imagines Jonghyuk deals with plenty of nervous wolves.

“Actually,” Jonghyuk continues, setting his cup down. He sits up a little straighter, turning to face Jimin. “Since I’m here, I wanted to thank you for giving my Jeongguk a chance. He’d never shown any interest in anyone before you. For a while, I’d thought I would have to arrange something myself to get him a mate.”

There’s a fond smile on his face, Jimin’s own cheeks burning at the praise. “O-oh, um, you’re welcome...I think…”

Jonghyuk laughs, his eyes crinkling up and it reminds Jimin so much of Jeongguk. “As his father, I’m happy he’s found himself such a good mate. And as pack Alpha, even happier that we have such a skilled and compassionate future head Omega.”

“I — I mean, Jeongguk’s really the great one!” Jimin argues, now even more flustered. He has to put his tea down, afraid he’d spill it all over himself. Alpha Jeon certainly wouldn’t be singing such high praises of him after such a display. “I’m — I’m very lucky to have him.”

Jonghyuk snorts, the awkwardness between them from earlier beginning to bleed away. “Trust me, he’s the lucky one. You’ve really helped him loosen up, realise there’s more to life than his responsibilities. I worried that he’d always be fussing over his future duties, that perhaps I’d failed him. You’ve eased an old man’s mind.”

“He thinks very highly of you,” Jimin immediately assures, leaning forward in his seat. “I don’t think you could let him down if you tried.”

“Ah,” Jonghyuk’s smile turns a little sad. “I don’t want him to idolize me. It’s important that he understand we all make mistakes, even me.”

Jimin’s brows furrow at that but before he can ask more, Jonghyuk is rising to his feet. Maybe Jonghyuk senses Jimin’s confusion, smiling at him with the same kindness he’s been displaying all afternoon. “Jeongguk is prone to perfectionism,” he explains, walking himself toward his furs.

Jimin hurries after him, not wanting to seem rude. He waits by the door as Jonghyuk wraps himself in his furs. His are the same obsidian black as Jeongguk’s.

“Having someone to share your burdens with is a gift,” Jonghyuk says, turning to Jimin. He reaches for the door knob, pausing there. “I truly am grateful that he has someone so capable at his side.”

“I’m sure he would do great either way,” Jimin says, brushing the praise away. It feels undeserved. Jimin hasn’t done anything of note but he doesn’t want to insult Jonghyuk either. “But thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Jonghyuk says, squeezing Jimin’s shoulder before leaning forward, his forehead touching Jimin’s briefly. Jimin wells up with emotion, blinks back tears, the memory of his own father doing the same nearly blindsiding him.

“Have a goodnight, son,” Jonghyuk smiles warmly, stepping out of the cabin. It takes a moment for Jimin’s brain to catch up to what just happened — the act of kinship catching Jimin completely off guard.

He chokes out a goodnight in return, waiting at the open door until Jonghyuk disappears between the cabins despite the cold. Jimin’s heart hammers in his chest, eyes wet with unshed tears. If he’d wanted some kind of blessing that Jonghyuk accepted him, he had it.

Jimin had never entertained the idea of ever having a father figure again, but being Jeongguk’s mate had given him even that. Not for the first time, Jimin feels overwhelmed by his life but lately it was a good kind of overwhelmed.

Jimin had so much to be grateful for and it was all thanks to Jeongguk.

“Have a good night, Healer Seo, Seokjin,” Jimin smiles, heading out of the infirmary. He’s spent the whole day cooped up inside, helping to restock on various medications for the pack. He’d learned a particularly difficult tonic today — the heat suppressant. The tonic didn’t eliminate the heat entirely but it certainly made it a lot more bearable. Jimin had taken it when he’d been younger, unwilling to share his heat with anyone.

Things had gotten easier when his heat synced up with some of the other omegas in the pack and then they’d all just helped each other out. The ingredients for the tonic weren’t always the easiest to find out in the wilderness anyways and Jimin’s pack had never had their own greenhouse.

“l’ll see you tomorrow, Jimin,” she smiles, waving him off.

“Make sure you get some dinner,” Seokjin calls after him just as Jimin leaves through the front door, oofing when he collides into someone bodily. Jimin stumbles back, nearly falling flat on his ass when whoever he’s bumped into — Namjoon, his nose tells him — catches him by the hand.

“Are you okay!” Namjoon exclaims, steadying Jimin by grabbing him by the elbow. He straightens out, blinking up at Namjoon and almost laughs at the panicked worry on his face.

“I’m fine, Joonie!” Jimin smiles, reassuring the alpha. He’d heard Seokjin call Namjoon that a few times now, and watches in glee as Namjoon goes red in the face. Seokjin chokes on something behind him and Jimin titters through the whole thing, a hand coming up to hide his laugh. “The real question is, are you okay?”

Namjoon rubs at the back of his neck, letting go of Jimin when it’s clear he doesn’t need any assistance standing up. “Yeah, I’m good. Came by to get some of Healer Seo’s pain tonic. My ma’s having some knee pain.”

Jimin’s smile falls, shuffling aside to let Namjoon through the front door. “Oh my gosh, is she okay?”

“Yeah!” Namjoon insists, stepping in. He brushes against Jimin, woodsy scent wafting around Jimin. He lingers in the doorframe, knows he should just step in if he wants to stop letting the cold in but he needs to go, knows Jeongguk’s probably waiting for him. “She’s always had the one bad knee. Hunting accident.”

“I have it here,” Seokjin mumbles, waving a vial in his hand. As far as Jimin knew, Namjoon’s mother was an older alpha. His parents had had Namjoon really late in life — the rumour being that they’d had a lot of trouble conceiving. Jimin can’t help but think of Taehyung, worrying his lip between his teeth.

He’s about to tell Namjoon that he hopes his mother feels better when he picks up on Jeongguk’s scent, still quite a while off but a bitterness already apparent. Jimin nearly rolls his eyes, unable to understand why Jeongguk had such a problem with Namjoon. He was harmless and had zero interest in Jimin.

There had been more instances where Jeongguk had tensed up at the scent of Namjoon lingering on Jimin but he’d brushed it off, not wanting a repeat of the last fight they’d had over it. Jimin glances in the direction of Jeongguk’s scent, sees him striding over, the snow melted down from the day’s heat.

“Um, I’ll see you around, Namjoon. Bye everyone!” Jimin says, leaving the cabin and bounding over to Jeongguk. He smiles at him, almost laughing at Jeongguk’s attempts to hide his scowl.

“Hey pup,” Jimin grins, arms reaching up, waiting to be caught. Jeongguk doesn’t disappoint, scooping him right up, immediately nuzzling his face Jimin’s neck. He squeezes Jimin tight, letting out a soft growl as he holds Jimin close, lifting him right off the ground.

Jimin giggles, hugging Jeongguk back just as tight. The warmth that rushes through him is something he doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to. Being with Jeongguk feels like he’s basking in the glow of the sun.

“Missed you,” Jeongguk murmurs, finally pulling back when he’s scented Jimin to his heart’s content. He kisses Jimin a little harder than he’s expecting, a quiet gasp escaping him. Jeongguk’s tongue swipes against his own, teeth nipping at his bottom lip. He whines when Jeongguk sucks on it too hard, easing off, kissing him sweeter. Jimin uses the chance to lick into Jeongguk’s mouth, moaning at the way Jeongguk grabs his ass, just as needy.

As much as Jimin wouldn’t mind just making out with Jeongguk endlessly, he’s hungry and well, he’d rather they be curled up at home on the couch or in bed. He pulls back first, knows he probably looks a mess, enjoying the sight of Jeongguk’s kiss-swollen lips. His scent’s sharpness has diluted into something softer, Jimin’s wolf whining at the sweetness of it.

“Hi,” Jimin smiles, nose brushing against Jeongguk’s.

“Hey baby,” Jeongguk murmurs back, kissing Jimin again, tongue flicking over Jimin’s cupid’s bow. He shivers at the touch, arousal curling in his gut.

“I missed you too,” Jimin confesses as Jeongguk finally lets him go, his feet touching the ground again. Jimin just hugs Jeongguk again, arms curling around his waist, face rubbing against Jeongguk’s chest, knowing he probably hates Namjoon’s scent still lingering on him.

“You have a busy day?” Jeongguk asks, carding his hand through Jimin’s hair. Eventually, his hand curls around the back of Jimin’s neck, thumb brushing over the mark he’d left on Jimin’s neck some days ago. It’s almost disappeared, the mottled purple fading back to red.

“Mm, I helped with some inventory,” Jimin answers, content to just stay buried in Jeongguk’s chest. The hand at his neck squeezes, his natural instinct to bare his neck only overridden by Jimin’s contentedness. “What about you?”

“Helped with some winter repairs,” Jeongguk murmurs. “There were a few roofs that needed some patching up.”

“You were on top of roofs? They’re still icy!” Jimin exclaims, head shooting up to look at Jeongguk with concern. Jeongguk smiles at him indulgently, kissing his nose.

“I’m a big boy,” Jeongguk says, like that means anything. Jimin smacks him, huffing, annoyed that Jeongguk never worried about himself.

“Does being a big boy mean you don’t break your neck when you fall off a roof?” Jimin asks, eyes narrowed.

“No, it doesn’t,” Jeongguk acquises, grabbing Jimin’s hand and kissing it before he nudges him in in the direction of their cabin. “But someone has to do the repairs. We can’t have leaking roofs before winter really sets in.”

Jimin just makes a sound of irritation, allowing Jeongguk to walk him to their house. He’s annoyed enough that he almost forgets about Jeongguk’s reaction to Namjoon, only reminded when he remembers how Namjoon had once hurt himself helping with roof repairs, too. He’d broken his leg and had spent the winter cooped up in his cabin.

He glances up at Jeongguk from the corner of his eye, thinks Jeongguk’s probably forgotten about Namjoon, too. But his defenses were always up whenever Namjoon was around, barely able to keep the glare off his face and Jimin just wanted to reiterate some things.

“You okay?” he asks, head leaning on Jeongguk’s shoulder as they walk. Sometimes, he finds the easy intimacy he has with Jeongguk terrifying, heart shuddering in his chest, terrified of something that never comes. Jeongguk never rejects him, never pushes him away. Jimin’s always enjoyed physical touch with his mother and Taehyung, sought it out as a comfort. For a while, it had been scary to seek it with Jeongguk but Jeongguk is tactile by nature and that had quickly soothed any of Jimin's anxieties.

It takes a moment for Jeongguk to realise what Jimin’s referring to before he lets out a gruff reply, “Yeah.” Jimin squeezes his hand tighter in his own.

“Namjoon’s my friend,” Jimin tells him, glancing up at Jeongguk. He looks surprised by Jimin’s directness. “You really have nothing to worry about, you know.”

Jeongguk nods, and it feels like Jimin’s words are being brushed aside but then he stops, running a hand through his hair, head jerking to the right. “I know he’s your friend.”


“And I’m working on it.”

“Okay baby,” Jimin murmurs, getting up on his tippy toes to give Jeongguk a kiss. It’s just a chaste press of their lips together, Jimin humming as he pulls back. Jeongguk looks at him with a fondness that Jimin feels is misplaced but he lets himself swallow it down, tuck it between his ribs.

“Did you eat?” Jeongguk asks, hand settling on Jimin’s hips. They wander, sliding back to settle just above the swell of his ass, pulling him in close.

Jimin nuzzles into his neck, murmuring a quiet, “No.”

Jeongguk lets his cheek settle on Jimin’s head, kissing the tufts of hair before he pulls back. “Let’s go eat.”

They walk back to the cabin in silence, Jimin enjoying the swing of their hands between them. Jeongguk doesn’t insist on cooking alone this time, even concedes to letting Jimin be in charge. He takes orders well, letting Jimin boss him around the kitchen. Jimin ignores the lazy smirk ever present on his lips.

They probably could have still gotten dinner at the dining hall but Jimin likes it when they cooked together, enjoys having Jeongguk’s company all to himself. There was a certain comfort in knowing they worked well together, humming around the kitchen in harmony.

It’s not until they’re settling for bed that Jimin spots his empty vase, remembering the flowers Jeongguk had brought him over a month ago.

“Jeonggukie,” Jimin hums, curled up against his bare chest.

“Mmm?” Jeongguk replies, already sounding half asleep.

“Didn’t you say you were gonna show me where you got me those flowers from?"

Jeongguk goes very still all of a sudden, the hand rubbing at the small of Jimin’s back stilling. “You still remember those?”

“I even sketched them, you jerk,” Jimin pouts, wiggling back so he can look at Jeongguk properly. His cheeks are a little pink, scent just that little bit shy. Jimin almost squeals in delight.

“You really wanna go see them?”

“You’re the one who promised you would take me,” Jimin huffs, eyes falling to the light scar still cutting across Jeongguk’s chest. He lets himself trace over it with the pad of his finger, waiting for Jeongguk’s response.

“We can go,” Jeongguk finally says. “I think you’ll really like it.”

“I’d like doing anything with you,” Jimin mumbles, hiding his face back in Jeongguk’s chest. Heat flares in his cheeks and he appreciates the way Jeongguk squeezes him, kissing his head.

“You’re getting even cheesier than me,” Jeongguk teases, shifting a little. Jimin just ends up lying half on top of him, eyes fixing on one of Jeongguk’s nipples. He twists it in retaliation, laughing when Jeongguk curses out loud, slapping Jimin’s hand away.

“Better be careful, Alpha,” Jimin simpers. “I know all your weak spots.”

“I’ll remember that,” Jeongguk says ominously. Jimin nearly shudders at his tone, thinking maybe he’d just bit off more than he could chew.

Jeongguk leads him through the woods, black fur gleaming under the full moon. Jimin is still awed by Jeongguk’s sheer size. He's almost double Jimin’s size, golden eyes glancing back at Jimin whenever he falls behind.

Jimin just finds himself marveling at Jeongguk’s beauty, enjoying their trek out to the mountains. They’ve only been out in their Changed forms once: Jimin had wanted to go for a walk, tired of being cooped up. He’d been annoyed and Jeongguk had suggested they go up to the creek.

That walk had been short, this one a lot longer. It made sense for them to go as wolves, alleviating a lot of the exhaustion their human bodies would endure.

Jeongguk stops ahead of him, patiently waiting for Jimin to catch up. Unlike Jeongguk’s stark contrast to their surroundings, Jimin blends in easily. His fur is as white as the snow, paws disappearing with each step he takes.

When he’s right next to Jeongguk, Jimin gives into his whims, nuzzling his face into the softness of Jeongguk’s fur, their bodies rubbing against one another as Jimin presses in closer. He lets out a happy rumble when Jeongguk returns the gesture, nuzzling his head against Jimin’s.

Jimin takes the opportunity to lick at Jeongguk’s face, whining softly. He has little control over how his wolf shows affection, a little embarrassed by his own eagerness. Jeongguk takes the opportunity to nip at Jimin’s throat, growling contently. Jimin whines in submission, baring his neck to Jeongguk completely as he lowers himself down. His eyes squeeze shut as Jeongguk nuzzles him, nudging him back up. Part of Jimin just wants to roll over right there and spend the night curled up into Jeongguk but he still wants to see this spring Jeongguk’s told him about so he bounces back up, licking at Jeongguk’s face before they’re heading for the mountains again.

They go on for a while, trudging through snow with the light-footedness afforded to them as wolves. When they finally make it to the rockier terrain, mountains rising upward in a slow roll before seemingly just shooting up into the sky, Jeongguk nips at his ear, snout motioning to his tail. Jimin nods, following after him, careful to stay directly behind him and use his bigger footprints as a guide on where to step.

The climb up isn't for too long, the sound of trickling water reaching Jimin’s ears. They twitch at the sound, excitement bubbling up inside of him. Jeongguk keeps glancing back at him, like Jimin’s going to fall behind and he almost wants to run off in front of him, follow the sound of the water but Jeongguk would probably snap him up by the neck. Jimin couldn’t outrun Jeongguk, he knew that much.

The mountains become steeper as they get closer to the sound of water, and Jimin can spot the stream trickling down, still not frozen over by the cold. He can see the steam rising, eager to see Jeongguk’s flowers.

Jeongguk waits for Jimin to climb the final few steps, even helps Jimin up, head pushing him up by his rump when he misses a step, the hillside icy. He topples over onto the plateau, face in the snow but is immediately awed by the spring, flowers still sprouting up around the pool of water. Rocky terrain holds the water in a natural pool, steam even more visible now, the water crystal clear and reflecting the half moon hanging in the sky.

Jimin stares at the yellow flowers growing in little bunches around the area, smaller patches of the violet wildflowers Jeongguk had brought him mixed in, some closer to the water than others. There’s little grass left, the cold of winter eating away at it.

Unlike Jimin, Jeongguk bounds right up, his delight evident in the way his scent dilutes the air, hazy and soft. Jimin whines, watches Jeongguk jump right into the water. The great black wolf disappears in the spring and Jimin can see his body shift, fur disappearing into skin. He can’t take his eyes off of Jeongguk, mesmerized as he breaks through the water, steam rising around him in white plumes.

Jimin watches in rapt attention, Jeongguk’s bare skin on display, every line in his body seemingly carved into him. Water trickles over hard-built muscle, Jimin staring at the few scars that have never faded, even with their faster healing. Jeongguk’s not as broad as some of the other wolves in the back but he’s tightly built, his upper body tapering down to a slim waist, the cut of his hips disappearing into the water.

Jeongguk tosses his head back, water spraying in an arch behind him, and brushes his hair back and out of his face as he fixes Jimin with a grin. The mountain side looms behind him, an immense backdrop. Jimin can see the moon twinkle in the ripples of the water, padding closer. He sniffs at some flowers along the way, amazed that the snow had melted around the plateau enough to let them grow, inching closer to the water.

“Aren’t you gonna join me, pup?” Jeongguk asks, wading closer to Jimin. He can stand easily in the water but Jimin thinks the spring’s a little deeper closer to the mountainside. It disappears into the rocky cliff, appears darker closer to the mountain’s edge.

Jimin inches closer, staring at his reflection in the water before dipping a tentative paw in the water. It’s warm, just a touch too hot but Jimin imagines once he’s soaking in it, it’ll feel good.

He glances up when Jeongguk’s in his space, hands cupping his head and brushing his fur back. Jeongguk presses a kiss between Jimin's eyes, and if Jimin were in his human form, he’d have gone beet red.

“Come on,” he murmurs, grinning when Jimin lets out a growl as he rubs behind his ears. Nudging Jeongguk away, Jimin shifts back into his human form, teeth gritting as bones rearrange and snap back into new places. There’s a bit of a strain to the shift, the half moon not helping quite as much as a full moon.

Jimin blinks through a different set of eyes, readjusting to the more limited senses his human form possesses. Jeongguk’s wandered back into the water, eyes fixed on Jimin as he gives him his space.

He swallows, a little self-conscious as he steps into the pool, immediately pleased by the warmth. The mountain air is definitely colder than what he’s used to back in the woods. Jimin lets himself sink right into the warmth, eyes slipping shut. For awhile, he just lies in, half afloat, arms and legs spread out like a star.

“You like it, baby?” Jeongguk asks, his voice a lot closer than Jimin expects. He looks up, finds Jeongguk standing in front of him, the water pooling around his waist.

“It’s so pretty,” Jimin murmurs, standing up himself. He misses the heat of the water immediately, the air chilly but Jeongguk’s smiling at him, a hand combing Jimin’s wet hair back. “Are there more flowers in the springtime?”

“Mmm, yeah,” Jeongguk hums, leaning down to nose along Jimin’s neck. He kisses the soft skin, pulling Jimin in flush against himself. Jimin’s heart jumps in his chest but he enjoys the attention, eyes slipping shut. “No one else knows about this place, you know.”

“Really?” Jimin’s surprised by the admission, head jerking away to look at Jeongguk. He kisses Jimin’s shoulder, sinks back into the water with a splash, smiling.

“I found it on my own,” Jeongguk says, staring at Jimin as he floats in the spring. Jimin watches as he drifts farther away, suddenly wanting to close the distance between them immediately. “When I went too far on a hunt. I think I was fifteen?”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” Jimin asks, walking along the rocky floor of the pool, closing the distance between them. As he walks farther in, the spring gets deeper. Jimin finds himself chest deep soon enough, finds it difficult to keep his feet on the floor, body floating.

“Dunno,” Jeongguk hums, completely relaxed. Jimin doesn’t push him for more, allows himself to enjoy the lull of the spring, the quiet trickle of the stream the only sound drifting up to his ears. Swimming to the edge, Jimin balances his weight over it, water splashing around him. There’s a patch of flowers growing next to the spring that Jimin ghosts his hand over, smiling at how pretty they are. He still remembers the bunch Jeongguk had brought him. Maybe he’d take some more home this time.

Jimin hears the water slosh behind him, body twisting around to find Jeongguk settling against the rocks along one edge of the spring, nearer the mountainside. The rocky terrain has eroded in a way to leave enough space for him to sit against it.

He watches Jeongguk for a while, content to float across the spring from him. Jeongguk smiles at him, easy and relaxed, and Jimin finds himself sinking lower into the spring, submerging himself until the water hits his neck. He swims inward, wonders how someone as gorgeous as Jeongguk even exists. There’s a familiar heat in his belly, cheeks flushing as Jeongguk holds eye contact with him.

It’s not as though Jimin hasn’t noticed, Jeongguk always persistently needing to be the center of his attention; hands always seeking to touch, to hold, to caress, like Jimin might disappear otherwise. There are days when it feels like Jimin’s heart is collapsing in on itself, overwhelmed by the idea that someone could want him so much.

He sinks lower, face half submerged in the warmth of the water, finds himself understanding that desperation. If Jeongguk wants to consume Jimin whole, Jimin wants to be devoured by him.

Jimin stills in the middle of the spring, eyes glued to Jeongguk as steam rises around him, water droplets trickling down the lines of his body. It’d be an understatement to say that Jeongguk is attractive, heat curling in Jimin’s gut at the sight of him. He wants to put his mouth all over him, taste Jeongguk’s skin to his heart’s fill.

Jeongguk’s got his head tossed back now, elbows hooked over the edge of the spring as he soaks in the hot water. Jimin can’t stop staring at the sharp cut of his jaw, the taut stretch of his neck, eyes traveling over his clavicles, to his defined pecs, his dusty nipples.

His heart jumps in his throat when Jeongguk finally looks at him, the hint of a smirk already playing on his lips. Jimin wants to squirm, sink even further into the water and disappear, embarrassed at being caught for blatantly staring but he swallows instead, swimming a little closer. Jeongguk runs a hand through his hair, pushing it back and off his forehead. Jimin only finds him hotter.

Jeongguk’s amusement is quickly replaced with an intensity that leaves Jimin’s mouth dry. He closes the distance between them, just out of arm’s reach, feels compelled to keep moving forward. There’s something about the way Jeongguk looks at him — it’s like nothing Jimin’s ever experienced before. He feels like his body is out of his control, at the mercy of his Alpha. Jimin’s never felt so wanted before.

It’s impossible to take his eyes off of Jeongguk, now close enough to touch. Jeongguk doesn’t move, head tilted to the right, the browns of his eyes darkening. Jimin thinks he can see red, ignores the way his heart is beating so hard it feels like it might burst out of his chest.

When he does reach out, his fingers meet the sturdy muscle of Jeongguk’s thigh first. He lets his hand smooth over Jeongguk’s skin, hand inching higher and higher up, enthralled by how thick Jeongguk’s thigh is. He nearly shivers, pushes himself out of the water slowly, until he’s level with Jeongguk’s chest, gaze flickering up to see Jeongguk’s reaction.

Jeongguk’s expression is impossible to read; Jimin doesn’t let it stop him. He braces himself on Jeongguk’s thigh, kisses the sliver of exposed skin on Jeongguk’s abdomen just above the water line. Jimin feels the hiss that escapes Jeongguk more than he hears it, spurred on.

His heart’s quivering in his chest as he presses another kiss to Jeongguk’s skin, his touch delicate but deliberate. Jeongguk doesn’t stop him either, eyes burning into Jimin as he kisses his way up, lips ghosting over skin, teeth nipping every now and then. Jimin traces every ridge of Jeongguk’s abs with his tongue, heart hammering in his chest, his own cock swelling with blood. He’s never wanted someone so much in his life, hadn’t thought it possible.

It’s not until Jimin licks over a sensitive nipple that Jeongguk’s hand curls into Jimin’s hair, yanking his head back. Jimin’s gasp of surprise is devoured by Jeongguk, tongue slipping into Jimin’s mouth greedily. His mind goes blank, moaning into Jeongguk’s mouth as he slides his tongue against Jimin’s, licking at the roof of his mouth. If Jeongguk weren’t gripping him by the hair, Jimin thinks his hands would slip, body giving out.

Jeongguk drags him right into his lap, arm looping around Jimin’s waist when he’s pulled him close enough, grip tight and possessive. Jimin whines into his mouth, fumbling to steady himself, hand slipping from Jeongguk’s wet shoulder only to dig into his bicep. Jeongguk only seems to kiss him harder, his thick cock twitching between their bodies, already hard. Jimin can't help but want it inside of him.

Whatever restraint Jeongguk had been showing all night disappears with Jimin in his lap, a growl like nothing Jimin’s ever heard rumbling through him. It makes Jimin’s entire body pulsate, head already hazy.

Jeongguk kisses him like he has something to prove, hand squeezing at Jimin’s ass as he pulls him as close as he can, their bodies flush against each other. His other hand curls around the back of Jimin’s neck, holds him exactly where he wants him, tongue licking into Jimin's mouth filthily. There’s drool dribbling down Jimin’s chin, every overwhelmed sound he lets out swallowed down by Jeongguk.

Jimin clutches at Jeongguk’s shoulders, knows he’s wet, cock hard as Jeongguk’s teeth sink into his bottom lip, the sting soothed by the flat of his tongue. He’s already breathless, a loud whimper escaping him when Jeongguk’s hand fists into his hair, yanking his head back to bare Jimin’s neck to him.

Jeongguk bites into him immediately, so hard that Jimin thinks he might’ve broken skin but the scent of blood never comes — Jimin can only breathe in Jeongguk's sharp arousal. He whimpers, cock twitching when Jeongguk soothes the burn with kisses, sucking against the skin to mark Jimin.

“J-Jeongguk,” Jimin breathes, trying to get Jeongguk’s attention. As much as he loves Jeongguk’s intensity, he’d had something else on his mind. He’s going to be too dazed to think soon with how Jeongguk’s going, can’t stop thinking about how he wants the weight of Jeongguk’s heavy cock in his mouth, how he wants his jaw to be sore the next day from pleasuring his alpha.

“Wai — wait!” Jimin stutters, gently pushing at Jeongguk’s chest to get him to straighten up. Jeongguk doesn’t look pleased about it, already squeezing at Jimin’s neck to bring him back in. “Wanna — wanna suck you off, Alpha.”

“Fuck,” Jeongguk curses, sounds just as breathless as Jimin. He’s surprised, eyes widening as he stares at Jimin. Jimin flushes under the attention, chest squeezing around his heart tight. “You want me to fill you up, baby? Didn’t know you were so hungry for cock.”

Jimin’s already flushed face goes a shade redder, heat creeping down his neck and he can’t hold eye contact with Jeongguk, the smugness in his voice making Jimin’s gut twist. “S-so what if I am?”

“Mmm,” Jeongguk hums, two fingers lifting Jimin’s chin up, forcing him to look at Jeongguk. “Wouldn’t that make you a little cockslut, Jiminie? Is that what you are?”

Jimin’s heart lurches in his chest, Jeongguk’s words like a hot coal in the pit of his belly erupting into flames. He wants to squeeze his eyes shut, cock pulsing with arousal. Even in the water he can tell he’s dripping wet.

“And if I am?” he says, tries his best to hold his own. Jeongguk’s smirk only grows more amused as he leans in and kisses Jimin, tongue swiping over Jimin’s bottom lip as he pulls back.

“I’d say I’m a very lucky alpha,” Jeongguk murmurs against Jimin’s mouth, his hand squeezing Jimin’s face. Jimin finds himself parting his mouth open, whining, pliant and overwhelmed as Jeongguk slips his tongue in, kissing Jimin filthy. His scent is so sharp, surrounding Jimin and leaving his mind dazed until all he can think is Jeongguk, Jeongguk, Jeongguk. When he pulls back this time, Jeongguk pushes his thumb into Jimin’s mouth, eyes half-lidded as he watches Jimin swirl his tongue around it, sucking it farther into his mouth.

He moans around it, watches Jeongguk’s every reaction, the way his breath hitches, shoulders tensing. Jimin pulls back with a pop, tongue licking his lips as he leans forward, kisses along the jut of Jeongguk’s jaw. His mouth trails down, heart racing in his chest. He’s nervous, despite his eagerness, wants to make Jeongguk feel good, wants to take care of him like he always takes care of Jimin.

Jimin presses a kiss against Jeongguk’s pulsepoint, sucking against it until he’s sure that it’ll leave a mark. He nips at Jeongguk’s neck, teeth sinking in between sweet kisses, his wolf ravenous to mark Jeongguk as his.

Jeongguk’s grip on his waist is loose enough that Jimin starts sinking back into the water, kissing his way down to Jeongguk’s cock. This time he’s even slower, preening every time Jeongguk lets out a groan or a hiss, his hand already winding into Jimin’s hair. He rolls his hips in Jeongguk’s lap, grinding their cocks together and shivers when his ass clenches, arousal burning through him hot.

Getting brave, Jimin licks at his nipple again, sucking it into his mouth, relishing the way Jeongguk shivers, his hand tightening in Jimin’s hair. He traces the tip of his tongue around the hardened nub, gasping when Jeongguk grips his hair tight enough to hurt. In retaliation, Jimin bites it, soothing the sting with the flat of his tongue. Jeongguk moans, chest stuttering and Jimin feels heady knowing he can have such an effect on his alpha.

“Should have known you’d be a tease,” Jeongguk comments, sounds a little breathless, his hold on Jimin’s hair loosening. He cards his hand through Jimin’s hair, almost petting him, lets his head roll back as Jimin continues lower, grinning.

“I learn from the best,” Jimin murmurs, kissing right between Jeongguk’s pecs and then lower. When he gets to his abs again, Jimin can’t help but sink lower, pulling off of Jeongguk’s lap until his knees hit rock bottom. He mouths his way down, cock throbbing as he traces Jeongguk’s abs, still awed by how hot Jeongguk is. His hand trails down Jeongguk’s side, the other settled on the meat of Jeongguk’s thigh. When he kisses lower, Jeongguk’s cockhead pokes him in the chin, and he nuzzles it, the water rippling around them.

“Aren’t slutty little omegas always teases, Jimin?” Jeongguk drawls, looking back down at him, smug. He has this mischievous look in his eyes, hand dragging down the side of his face to cup his chin. “You would know.”

Jimin flushes, hates how he loves the humiliated burn, how it makes him wetter. He’s too embarrassed to throw something back at Jeongguk, gaze dropping to Jeongguk’s erect cock. It’s under water, and Jimin already knows he won’t be able to take the whole thing. He’s not even sure his mouth can stretch that wide but he finds himself salivating at the thought of tasting it, of his jaw aching.

He almost can’t believe the sheer size of it, thinks it’s thicker than his own wrist even at the tip. The mushroom head is red from arousal, thick veins disappearing down to his balls, heavy with his seed. Jimin swallows, heat flooding his cheeks.

Jeongguk’s cock is the kind of cock he heard the other omegas gossiping about, the kind that was big and thick enough that it left you breathless the first time you took it and every time thereafter. The kind of cock every omega dreamt about.

And it’s all Jimin’s for the taking.

“Come on, baby, I wanna see your mouth on my cock,” Jeongguk encourages, stroking Jimin’s cheek languidly. He hates how easy it is for Jeongguk to seem unaffected by him, by his actions. “Show me what a good little omega you are.”

Alpha,” Jimin whines, nearly pouting. He’s wet enough that he can feel the stickiness at his ass even in the water, almost ashamed by how needy Jeongguk’s got him without even doing anything.

He glances up at Jeongguk one last time before leaning down, face submerging into the water and gives the tip a kittenish lick. Jeongguk doesn’t make any move to get out of the water, to make this easier for Jimin. He pulls back, water dripping from his face as he looks up at Jeongguk, a hand covering the amusement on his lips.

“Is something wrong?” he asks, head tilting to the left as he watches Jimin, eyes sharp and fixated. He doesn’t understand how Jeongguk can focus so intently on him, how he makes it so difficult for Jimin to swallow, to breathe. “Thought you wanted to suck me off, baby. Is that it?”

“N-no,” Jimin stutters, face aflame. “Need — need you to get out of the w-water, Alpha.”

“You sure you’re ready for that?” Jeongguk’s tone is almost condescending, still playful, like he doesn’t think Jimin can even handle the sight of his cock, and Jimin likes how it makes his cock twitch and ache. It’s as if he enjoys the belittlement, enjoys the way Jeongguk wants him to prove himself.

“I’m,” he starts, swallowing, “I’m ready.”

Jeongguk’s smile is a touch dark, nearly a sneer, but his hands settle on the edge he’s sitting against, lifting himself up on his strength alone. Jimin nearly drools. Water sloshes around him, dripping back into the spring as he sits on the edge and Jimin finds himself face to face with Jeongguk’s cock.

His heart thuds in his chest, unable to look away from it. There’s spit collecting on his tongue, embarrassment fighting against Jimin’s desire to please. Leaning forward, Jimin suckles the tip into his mouth, making a pleased sound when he tastes the salty tang of precum.

Jeongguk leans back against his hands, taut lines of his body glimmering under the moonlight, water droplets clinging to his skin. Jimin sucks on the head, tongue pushing along the underside, his body throbbing with his own heated desire.

He wraps a hand around the base, gut twisting hotly when he realises he can’t even get his fingers all the way around. Jeongguk coos at the sight, brushing some of Jimin’s hair out of his eyes. Shame floods through him, a whine escaping him as he feels the slick pour out of him. His scent’s nearly as sickeningly sweet as Jeongguk’s is sharp and dark.

Slowly, Jimin works more of Jeongguk’s cock into his mouth, lips stretching around the girth until he can feel the burn. He makes it about halfway down, Jeongguk’s cock hitting the back of his throat. He moans around it, pulling off just enough that he can swirl his tongue around the head, drool already dripping down his chin. He bobs his head up and down Jeongguk’s length a few times, getting a feel for it, enjoying the way Jeongguk’s lazy pose becomes more tense as he shifts forward, biceps bulging.

Jimin sucks against the tip harder as he pulls back, wraps both hands around Jeongguk’s length, squeezing around his girth. Jeongguk groans into it, his hand finally settling back in Jimin’s hair as he suckles on the tip, eager to taste him.

Salt fills his mouth, but Jimin persists, working Jeongguk’s length in his hands as he focuses on the head. His mouth pops off the tip, and he’s panting, tongue hanging out of his mouth as he licks along the underside of Jeongguk’s cock.

Jeongguk’s right; Jimin is a cockslut.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk groans, grip tightening as he yanks Jimin’s head back, cursing when Jimin tries to push against his hold to take Jeongguk’s cock back into his mouth. “You that desperate, baby? Drooling all over yourself for my cock.”

Jimin manages a nod, feels like his head isn’t all there as he whines. Jeongguk just groans at the sight of him, leaning down to kiss him. It catches Jimin by surprise, his hands scrambling to clutch at Jeongguk’s shoulders as their tongues slide against each other. Jeongguk kisses him so slowly, deliberately licking into his mouth and Jimin moans into it, overwhelmed.

“Such a good boy,” Jeongguk murmurs against his mouth, kissing him sweeter. Jimin can’t think straight, mind clouded with Jeongguk’s scent and his praise. He whines pathetically when Jeongguk pulls back, wiping at his chin with an indulgent look. “You’re making a mess, pup.”

“I’m — I’m sorry,” Jimin slurs, obediently settling between Jeongguk’s thighs as he straightens back up. His hands drag down Jeongguk’s torso, cock throbbing as his fingers trace over muscle, mesmerized.

“What’re you sorry for, baby?” Jeongguk asks, amused and maybe a little patronizing. Jimin should find it annoying but he doesn’t, just wants Jeongguk’s cock back in his mouth.

Jimin’s not sure exactly, his thoughts hazy, brows furrowing together. He looks up at Jeongguk waiting for him to tell him but Jeongguk just laughs a little in disbelief. “Fuck, you’re perfect, aren’t you? Got myself such a hungry little cockslut.”

“Say ah, baby,” Jeongguk instructs and Jimin obeys, mouth hanging open, tongue out. Jeongguk slaps his cock against it, precum smearing on Jimin's tongue as the slap slap slap of his cock hitting Jimin’s mouth fills the air. He even traces the tip over Jimin’s upper lip, smearing precum along Jimin’s cheek when he slaps Jimin’s face with it before placing his cock right back on Jimin’s waiting tongue. “Now suck.”

Jimin does, eager to do as he’s told, blood singing from Jeongguk’s praise and his disparagement alike. He sinks down onto it as far as he can take it, nearly gagging when it hits the back of his throat. Jeongguk moans out a “fuck” above him, stroking Jimin’s cheek.

“You look so good with my cock in your mouth,” Jeongguk breathes, voice strained as Jimin sucks him off, head bobbing. He brushes Jimin’s hair back, little groans and growls escaping him every time his cock hits the back of Jimin’s throat, Jimin swallowing around it, or when Jimin speeds up, fucking his mouth on Jeongguk's length. “Such a pretty little cocksucker, aren’t you, baby?”

Jimin whines at the compliment, hands wrapping around Jeongguk’s cock to work the length of him his mouth can’t reach. When he pulls off of it, he’s panting, eagerly licking along the shaft until he’s suckling on the head again and moaning at the taste of Jeongguk’s precum. He wants to be good for Jeongguk, be his good slut.

“Shit,” Jeongguk grits, Jimin’s tongue prodding against the sensitive underside of his cockhead. Jeongguk’s gripping him by the hair again, hips canting forward when Jimin takes him in further, the flat of his tongue pressing insistently against his cockhead.

Jimin can tell Jeongguk’s going to come soon, can see it in the strain in his muscles, the way his thighs shake. He licks all the way up Jeongguk’s length, balls to tip, Jeongguk’s cock pressed against his face when he goes back down to suck on his balls. He works a hand over Jeongguk’s length as he takes each one into his mouth, sloppily sucking on them. Jeongguk’s scent is so strong the closer Jimin is to his balls that he can’t breathe in anything else, mind going blank.

“You gonna swallow for me baby?” Jeongguk asks and Jimin nods, practically slobbering over Jeongguk’s balls. He’s only ever felt so mindless in a heat, wants so desperately to make Jeongguk come, to make him feel good.

Licking his way back to the tip, Jimin takes Jeongguk’s cock back into his mouth, works himself over it, a pleased noise escaping him when Jeongguk holds him in place, hips bucking into his mouth. His thrusts are sharp and fast, Jimin’s jaw aching from how long he’s had Jeongguk’s fat cock in his mouth. Jimin moans, hands still working up and down along Jeongguk’s shaft as Jeongguk fucks into him, tears beginning to prickle at the corners of his eyes.

“Fuck fuck fuck, baby, Jimin,” Jeongguk breathes, voice gravelly, his grip in Jimin’s hair getting tighter and tighter. Tingles spark down his spine, slick pouring out of him and Jimin wants so desperately to come, to be fucked, but he knows he has to make his alpha feel good first.

Jeongguk’s thrusts begin to turn erratic as he fucks Jimin’s mouth, a growl erupting out of him on a particularly hard thrust, and then his cum is hitting the back of Jimin’s throat and quickly flooding his mouth. Jimin can’t swallow it down fast enough, cheeks bulging, and there’s so much Jimin thinks he might choke on it.

He pushes at Jeongguk, spluttering when he heaves in a breath as Jeongguk lets him off his cock. Cum splatters across his face, Jeongguk’s load still coming and Jimin’s gasping to catch his breath as Jeongguk paints his face white.

Cum dribbles down his chin, droplets rolling down the length of his neck as Jimin’s throat burns from the fucking it’s just been given. He swallows the cum still in his mouth, licking his lips clean before he lets himself open his eyes. There’s cum all over his face, he can feel the heat of it everywhere: across his cheeks, on his forehead, globs making it hard to even open his eyes.

Jeongguk’s panting in front of him, eyes half lidded and glazed over as he groans at the sight of him. He’s flushed pink, cum still oozing out of his cock and Jimin can’t help it, finds himself leaning forward to suckle on the tip, drinking the last remnants of his cum down.

“Jimin,” Jeongguk says sharply, but he’s so focused on his task that even Jeongguk’s tone doesn’t get him to pull away, licking the trail of cum that’s made its way down to Jeongguk’s balls. “Fuck, baby, that’s enough.”

Jimin’s mind feels like it’s floating off and he lets out a confused sound, blinking up at Jeongguk. He thinks Jeongguk curses under his breath, reaching to swipe some cum on Jimin’s chin up and into his mouth. Jimin licks it clean, moaning around the digit until Jeongguk pulls it out, too. He’s satisfied with how well he’s cleaned Jeongguk’s cock up, knees pulsing from kneeling for so long.

His cock is even worse, thoroughly neglected and aching to be touched.

“So fucking hot,” Jeongguk growls, more to himself than Jimin. He’s sliding off the spring’s edge, pushing Jimin back into the water. All he wants is for Jeongguk to kiss him, to tell him he did good. He sinks all the way into the water, face submerging as he lets the cum wash off of him. When he rises back up, water rolling off of him and splashing all around him, Jeongguk’s the one pushing his hair back, swimming him into a corner.

“I — I did good?” Jimin asks, looking up at Jeongguk. His back hits the rocky edge and Jeongguk’s just nodding, hands cupping Jimin’s face, pining him to the edge bodily. It’s as if he’s hypnotized, eyes fixed on Jimin, the look in his eyes curling hotly in Jimin’s belly, his cock twitching at the attention.

“So good, baby, the best,” Jeongguk praises, nosing along his neck. The way he sucks in a breath, Jimin knows all he’s inhaling in is his own scent on Jimin’s skin. Jimin’s scent is barely traceable in the air; he reeks of Jeongguk.

He expects the kiss, is seeking it, hungry for affection, for Jeongguk’s affirmation. Jeongguk barely lets him breathe, holding Jimin exactly where he wants him. Jimin’s hands tighten around Jeongguk’s wrists, whimpering when Jeongguk licks into his mouth like he wants to taste himself there, wants to own Jimin from the inside out.

“Such a good omega,” Jeongguk murmurs to him, shifting to grab Jimin by the thighs, his big hands squeezing the meat of his thighs. He jerks Jimin up in one swift go, pulling a gasp out of him, his legs wrapping around Jeongguk’s waist. “So good for me,” Jeongguk says between kisses, “such a pretty, obedient baby.”

Jimin whines into Jeongguk’s mouth, blushing under the praise. He wraps his arms wrap around Jeongguk’s neck, pulling himself in closer, their chests flush against one another. Jeongguk’s single-mindedness has him wading through the water with Jimin in his arms. He never stops kissing him, nose digging into Jimin’s cheek as he kisses him deeper, tongue sliding against Jimin’s.

He’s breathless by the time Jeongguk carries him out of the spring, the cold of the air sending shivers up his spine and leaving goosebumps all over his skin. Jeongguk just holds him tighter, the water splashing off their bodies as he steps onto the grass and flowers. Jimin’s so dazed he can barely keep up with Jeongguk’s kisses, mouth just hanging open to let Jeongguk do as he pleases. He’s panting as Jeongguk kneels down, a hand smoothing up his thigh to his ass as Jeongguk sets him down. Jeongguk lays him down into a patch of flowers, purple and yellow surrounding Jimin as Jeongguk hovers over him, settled between his legs.

“So beautiful,” Jeongguk whispers, brushing Jimin’s hair back, kissing Jimin’s forehead before he leans down to kiss his mouth again, teeth sinking into Jimin’s bottom lip and tugging. Jimin mewls into it, so pleased to be the center of Jeongguk’s attention. His arms tighten around Jeongguk’s neck again, wanting him closer but Jeongguk’s mouth trails from his mouth to his jaw until he’s pressing a kiss behind Jimin's ear.

Jimin shivers from the touch, head turning to bare his neck to Jeongguk. He growls at the display of submission, nosing down Jimin’s neck, tongue laving at Jimin’s skin.

“Want you so bad, baby,” Jeongguk breathes, his words ghosting over Jimin’s ear as Jeongguk nips at his ear, sucking on the lobe to hear Jimin moan. His one hand grips Jimin’s waist, pinning him down as the other hikes Jimin’s leg up, fingers digging into Jimin’s thick thigh. Jimin’s cock aches between them, squeezed between their bodies and he finds himself rolling his hips upwards for any kind of friction.

Jeongguk’s grip on his hip doesn’t let him do very much, a pathetic sob escaping him as his fingers dig into Jeongguk’s back and shoulder. “Please, Jeonggukie, w-want you, too.”

Jeongguk nuzzles into his neck, kissing the skin. Jimin can feel his smile pressed into him, kisses littered down the length of his neck until he’s kissing the curve where Jimin’s neck meets his shoulder. And then he’s sinking his teeth into Jimin’s neck, Jimin’s body arching into him as the breath’s knocked right out of him.

The bite isn’t deep enough to bond, but Jimin sobs through it anyways, shuddering under Jeongguk as he laps at his skin to soothe the sting. There’s precum oozing from his cock, making his skin sticky and wet, chest heaving as he tries to focus on Jeongguk’s touch and not how badly he wants to come.

“A-alpha,” he stutters, gasping as Jeongguk sucks against the mark he’s left on Jimin’s neck.

“Yeah baby?” Jeongguk asks, humouring him. He pulls away from Jimin, his back hitting the ground again. Jeongguk’s hand comes to trace over the mark he’s left, eyes hungry and pleased with himself.

“Wanna come, Alpha,” Jimin begs, blinking back tears and Jeongguk’s cooing at him softly, kissing him sweetly, his hips rolling down against Jimin’s hard cock.

Jimin hisses at the friction, relief flooding through him at the attention but it’s short lived, Jeongguk’s smirk amused and a little cruel. Was he playing with Jimin?

“Baby wants to come, huh?” Jeongguk taunts, pulling away from Jimin entirely, his hands dragging down Jimin’s torso until they settle on his hips. His eyes trace over Jimin’s body, laid bare, and Jimin’s cock twitches under Jeongguk’s gaze, humiliation burning through him like a forest fire.

“So cute,” Jeongguk grins, fingers curling around Jimin’s cock. His thumb teases over the head and Jimin gasps, hips bucking up into the heat of Jeongguk’s hand. Jeongguk lets out a laugh, smirking as he lets go of Jimin’s cock, a single finger trailing up the length of his cock. “You have such a cute cock, too, baby. Look at it, twitching every time I give it even the slightest bit of attention.”

Jimin whines, his hands come to cover his face, burning red hot, and Jeongguk clucks his tongue, pushing his hands out of the way. “Did I say you could do that?”

“N-no,” Jimin answers, the heat in his face sinking down his neck and onto his chest. It feels like he’s burning up from the inside out.

“Your Alpha wants to see you,” Jeongguk says, voice laced with authority, eyes half lidded as they drag down Jimin’s body and then flicker back to his face. Jimin’s chest squeezes tight, heartbeat thundering in his ears as he stares at the darkness in Jeongguk’s eyes, the raw want. “You’re gonna be good for your Alpha, aren’t you, Jimin?”

“Yes,” Jimin breathes, wishing Jeongguk would touch him, kiss him.

“Gonna make my pretty baby feel so good,” Jeongguk tells him, pressing a kiss right over Jimin’s heart. His mouth trails down, leaving kisses over Jimin’s trembling skin, and despite Jeongguk’s tender touch, Jimin still feels like he’s being devoured by a predator. His body arches into Jeongguk’s touch, eager to follow the trail of his mouth, hands crushing the flowers he’s lying in as he clutches them.

Jeongguk bites and sucks his way down to Jimin’s navel, breath ghosting over it, his eyes fixed on Jimin’s face. Jimin’s ass clenches around nothing, body pulsing with need and Jeongguk’s teeth sink over the jut of his hip bone, sucking the bruised skin into his mouth. Jimin wonders how many marks he’s been littered with, pleasure darkening with satisfaction, the knowledge that Jeongguk wanted to mark Jimin as his burning through his blood like a fire.

Jeongguk keeps going, settling between Jimin’s thighs, kissing and marking him, soothing every bite with the flat of his tongue and sweet kisses. He spreads Jimin’s legs apart, has Jimin exposed and on display and Jimin’s belly twists into knots, breath lodged in his throat.

“So pretty,” Jeongguk compliments, a finger running through the slick coating the inside of Jimin’s thighs. He brings it up to his mouth, watching Jimin’s reaction carefully, sucking his finger in. The heat in Jimin’s face only flares hotter, mouth hung open as his chest shudders. Jeongguk moans around the finger, slipping it out with an obscene pop.

“You even taste good, baby,” Jeongguk murmurs, smiling. “My perfect little omega.”

Alpha,” Jimin cries, eyes stinging as his heart hammers in his chest. Jeongguk leaves him overwhelmed, unable to digest his emotions, head woozy under the attention.

“Come on, turn over for me,” Jeongguk orders, patting Jimin’s thigh. He rolls over, flushing at the way Jeongguk’s eyes burn as they rake over him.

“Ass up, baby," Jeongguk instructs, a hand spanking his ass when he takes too long to get himself up on his knees. He yelps, scrambling up and shudders when Jeongguk gropes his ass, squeezing it between his hands, spreading his cheeks. A second spank comes, Jeongguk’s hand soothing over the sting as Jimin lets out a yelp. His spine tingles, cock oozing precum where it dangles between his legs, neglected.

A fresh wave of slick ebbs out of him, trailing down his thighs and Jimin feels sticky with it, his arms bracketing his head as he hides his face there.

It feels like he’s in heat, desperate to come, to be filled, but he knows Jeongguk won’t give him his cock. Jimin sobs pathetically, thighs shaking as he forces himself to stay up. He should be embarrassed, Jeongguk’s fingers slipping between his slick wet cheeks but he only tenses up in anticipation, breath catching in his throat. He rubs at Jimin’s entrance, pulling a moan out of Jimin as his cock twitches, precum dribbling out.

“You’re such a mess, baby,” Jeongguk teases, spreading Jimin’s ass with his other hand as he rubs his finger up and down between his cheeks. “So wet just for me, hmm? Such a filthy little omega, so desperate to get fucked.”

Jeongguk,” Jimin whines, heat prickling down his neck. Jeongguk only responds by pushing a finger into Jimin, spearing him open and Jimin gasps into it, back arching down. He thinks his knees slip further apart and Jeongguk only snickers, slick gushing out of him as Jeongguk’s finger pushes in deeper.

“Got myself a little slut, hmm?” Jeongguk hums, thrusting the finger in leisurely as Jimin pushes against into it, needy.

“A-ah — please Alpha, please w-wanna come,” Jimin hears himself beg, desperately wanting more. His head’s a mess, cloudy and dazed, his entire world shrinking down to Jeongguk’s touch, Jeongguk’s scent, Jeongguk’s voice.

Jeongguk’s finger pulls out and Jimin sobs at the loss, every inhibition breaking away as he begs Jeongguk to let him come. Jeongguk isn’t easily swayed, shifting to envelop Jimin bodily, his mouth at Jimin’s ear, half hard cock snug between Jimin’s cheeks. “You sound so pretty when you beg, Jimin. Do you like putting on a show for me? Like being my little slut?”

“L-like it,” Jimin answers, shuddering at the tone of Jeongguk’s voice, at once playful and dark. “Like being your slut.”

“Good boy,” Jeongguk praises, gripping Jimin’s ass in his hands again. He kisses the nape of Jimin’s neck before the heat of his body disappears again, and then Jeongguk’s spanking him again, the pain blooming along Jimin’s skin. “Good boys get to come.”

“Oh — p-please, Alpha,” Jimin blabbers, “I’ll be a g-good boy for you. Be a — a good slut.”

“I know you will, baby. You’d never disappoint me,” Jeongguk soothes, Jimin’s spine tingling when Jeongguk kisses the dip in his spine, mouth trailing down. When he gets to Jimin’s ass, he spreads Jimin’s cheeks apart, and licks his way down, tongue licking up Jimin’s slick.

Jimin whines and shakes under the attention, cock throbbing, still untouched. The pointed tip of Jeongguk’s tongue traces along his rim, Jimin’s lilting moan touched with his desperation. He teases just that little bit longer, licking all the way down to Jimin’s balls, before dragging his tongue back up, nose digging into Jimin’s ass. He can hear Jeongguk groan at the taste of his wetness, at once embarrassed and aroused.

Jeongguk kisses his hole before he’s pushing his tongue in, dragging a sob out of Jimin as his body jerks at the intrusion. Relief floods through him as Jeongguk starts fucking into him, hands working Jimin’s cheeks further apart and Jimin’s moans hitch higher and higher, hiccuping at how good Jeongguk makes him feel.

“Ah — ah — ah — J-Jeongguk,” Jimin mewls, grinding his ass back into Jeongguk’s face. He only grips Jimin tighter, fingers digging into the meat of Jimin’s ass as his tongue works into Jimin deeper.

He hooks a thumb on Jimin’s rim, slurping at his wetness, the flat of his tongue dragging over his hole. Jimin’s so lost in the pleasure it takes him a second to realise Jeongguk’s pulled back, a frantic edge taking ahold of him. “No, Alpha, p-please, n-need you — ”

“Shhh,” Jeongguk soothes, rubbing a hand up and down against the base of Jimin’s spine. “I’m right here. Be good, baby.”

Jimin’s fingers dig into the dirt of the ground, chest heaving, before he realises that Jeongguk’s crawled up under him, his mouth kissing up the length of Jimin’s cock. Two fingers push into his hole, thrusting shallowly as Jeongguk’s lips wrap around his cock.

“Oh!” Jimin cries, the tremble in his thighs worsening. He can see the top of Jeongguk’s head as he sinks down on Jimin’s cock, taking his whole length in in one easy go. His fingers fuck into Jimin harder, head bobbing on Jimin’s cock, one hand gripping Jimin’s hip. It’s a good thing, too, because when he finally brushes along Jimin’s prostate, his whole body jerks forward, cock thrusting into Jeongguk’s mouth as he lets out a lewd moan.

Jeongguk’s fingers only rub against his sweet spot insistently, throat swallowing around the tip of Jimin’s cock. He pulls off to suck on the tip and Jimin comes so hard, for a split second his mind blanks out into nothing, a scream tearing past his lips. His body convulses as the orgasm rips through him, legs giving out as he collapses on top of Jeongguk.

There’s drool escaping his mouth as Jeongguk pulls off his cock, careful hands flipping Jimin onto his back as his head swims. Jimin feels like he’s not all there, the only thing grounding him to reality is Jeongguk’s touch. His chest heaves as he comes back down to earth, completely limp in Jeongguk’s hold as he manhandles him up. He curls up into Jeongguk’s arms, face hiding in the curve of Jeongguk’s neck, content to spend the rest of his night there.

“You with me, baby?” Jeongguk asks, an edge of panic in his scent despite the calm in his voice. Jimin nods his head, breathing in Jeongguk’s scent. The dazed feeling ebbs away slowly, his body strung out and oversensitive.

“’M ’kay,” Jimin mumbles, arms curling around Jeongguk’s neck as he’s picked up, knows he’s being carried back into the spring. The hot water feels good, his muscles almost singing as they sink right in. Jimin stays curled up into Jeongguk, tucked between his arms, thighs bracketing Jeongguk’s as they sit in the heat.

“Does it feel good?” Jeongguk asks, rubbing Jimin’s back and he only nods, eyes having slipped shut. “You were so good, baby. Make me feel so lucky.”

He flushes at the compliment, whining as his arms tighten around Jeongguk. He feels the kiss pressed to the side of his head, Jeongguk’s hand carding through his hair as he holds him close. His scent’s usual smokiness is so sweet, content, and Jimin lets that sink into his skin, buries the knowledge that he’s made Jeongguk happy into his bones.

“Jeonggukie,” Jimin says, nuzzling into his neck. He’s not sure what he wants to say, just knows that the feeling is sitting on his chest with an almost suffocating weight.

“Yeah baby?”

“Really like you, Jeonggukie,” Jimin mumbles, skin thrumming at every point of contact with Jeongguk. There’s such a languid contentedness that Jeongguk always draws him into, always has him simmering in. Jimin thinks he could soak in it forever.

“Really like you, too, baby,” Jeongguk smiles, kissing Jimin’s shoulder before nuzzling into his neck. Jimin lets his arms drop, drawing back just enough to kiss Jeongguk’s cheek. He’s not satisfied with just that much, grabbing Jimin’s face in a hand and kissing his lips as he holds him there. This time it’s unhurried, closed mouth as Jeongguk just savours the plushness of Jimin’s mouth.

“Thank you for being such a good omega,” Jeongguk whispers to him, stroking Jimin’s cheek. “For making your Alpha feel so good.”

Jimin’s breath catches in his throat, fluttering there like a trapped bird. He whines, hiding his face in Jeongguk’s neck again, pleased and embarrassed all at once. “You — you a-always take care of me. Wanted to t-take care of you, too.”

“What a thoughtful pup,” Jeongguk murmurs, rubbing at the base of Jimin’s neck. It’s a comforting touch, draws Jimin out of his flushed excitement back to his lazy comfort. “You know,” Jeongguk adds, after a moment, his voice thoughtful, “I always thought about bringing my future mate here.”

The confession sinks into Jimin like a hot coal, eyes widening. “Oh.”

“I’m really — really happy it’s you.”

There’s something in Jeongguk’s voice that makes Jimin’s heart ache, pulling back up to look at the seriousness on Jeongguk’s face, the soft smile on his lips. Jimin cups his face in his hands, kisses him tender, with all the sweetness Jimin can muster. Jeongguk’s hands curl around his waist as Jimin kisses him again, scenting him when Jeongguk’s grip turns tighter.

“Thank you for sharing it with me,” Jimin says, voice soft, a warmth sitting in his belly. He doesn’t remember ever being so happy, so at peace.

“I never thought I’d find someone,” Jeongguk tells him, a hand smoothing up Jimin’s back. He can’t seem to stay still, Jimin’s mind thinking back to his father’s words. “Thought I’d just mate someone for the pack but that always felt shitty — and unfair. Especially to the person I’d be mating. I don’t know — Dad raised me on his own, so I just never thought it was necessary to have a mate.”

“Your mom…?”

“She died during childbirth,” Jeongguk answers, a sadness in his scent that makes Jimin’s heart squeeze tight. He kisses Jeongguk’s neck, pads of his fingers rubbing soothingly along his clavicle. Jimin had heard that Jonghyuk’s mate had died early on but he had no idea that Jeongguk had never even known the touch of his mother. “She wasn’t a born wolf so dad says the strain of the pregnancy was probably too much for her. I think he still blames himself for her…”

“She was bitten?” Jimin asks, surprised. Most humans didn’t survive a werewolf bite, died during their first Change. Jimin only knows one other bitten wolf — Hoseok — but he’s heard countless stories of humans who’d ended up dead from a bite.

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, head resting on Jimin’s shoulder. He shifts, lets more of Jeongguk’s weight fall against him, a hand stroking his hair as his free arm wraps around his shoulder.

“Your mom would be proud of you, baby,” Jimin soothes, “and your dad. He raised such a good Alpha.”

“It’s weird missing a person I don’t even know,” Jeongguk mumbles into Jimin’s skin and his heart squeezes in his chest, helpless.

“I think it’s okay if you do,” Jimin offers, holding Jeongguk a little tighter. “She was still your mom and it’s hard — it’s hard losing someone you’re supposed to have. I’m sorry, baby. I wish you got to know her.”

“I’m sorry, too,” Jeongguk says, squeezing Jimin closer. “Shouldn’t have brought her up.”


“’Cause it’s — it’s probably a difficult topic for you, too.”

Jimin smacks him, scowling despite the way his heart turns tender at Jeongguk’s thoughtfulness. “You’re an idiot. Like I don’t want to know everything about you.”

Jeongguk hugs him so tight at that, face buried in Jimin’s neck and his heart clenches in his chest, hand running through Jeongguk’s hair. He sighs when Jeongguk kisses against the mark he’s left on Jimin, content to just sit in the pool holding him.

“Wanna know everything about you, too,” Jeongguk says, words muffled into Jimin’s skin. He stills in his petting for a split second, picking back up as he draws in a shaky breath. “But,” Jeongguk adds, kissing just behind Jimin’s ear, “only if you want it, too.”

“My dad was killed by human hunters,” Jimin says, voice neutral. It doesn’t cut through him as sharply as before, time softening the blow. “I was eleven. He went out to a human town with Taehyung’s parents and...none of them came back.” Jimin’s voice grows a little distant, memories flashing past his eyes. He doesn’t think he’ll ever wipe out the image of Taehyung’s knees giving out, of his mother’s agony. “We never even got their bodies.”

“Jimin,” Jeongguk starts, sitting upright but Jimin shakes his head, hands cupping Jeongguk’s face again. He leans and kisses him.

“It’s okay,” he says, as if convincing himself. And maybe it wasn’t. Jimin still missed his dad, still found himself crying every anniversary. He still doesn’t know how his mother made it, how she raised him and Taehyung and never grew bitter. “It had been a bad winter, we needed food but,” he shrugs, “humans always see us as a threat.”

“How did you find out?” Jeongguk asks, his voice barely above a whisper.

“The other two wolves who went made it back. They had really bad injuries though and I guess the humans had just been particularly hostile that year,” Jimin explains, eyes dropping to Jeongguk’s mouth and then his neck. He rests his head against Jeongguk’s shoulder, drawing lazy patterns against his bicep. “I really resented them as a kid.”

“I would have, too,” Jeongguk comforts, kissing his forehead. They stay like that for a little while, Jimin’s heartbeat syncing up with Jeongguk’s, the heat of the water lulling them “I made everything sad.”

Jimin laughs, squeezing Jeongguk’s arm as he pulls back up. “It’s okay. This was nice.”

“Was it?” Jeongguk murmurs, stroking Jimin’s cheek, his hand cupping Jimin’s face. Jimin hums, nuzzling into the touch.

“I’m happy it’s you, too.”

“Huh?” Jeongguk’s confusion washes away quickly, realization washing over him. “Oh.”

Jimin grins, his heart heavy with more than just missing the ghosts of people and lost opportunities. Jeongguk filled him with so much happiness, so much comfort. Jimin kisses him, lets their tongues drag lazily against each other, letting out little contented sounds.

“Are we gonna stay here all night?” Jimin asks after he’s a little breathless and flushed with warmth.

“Why, you don’t like it?”

Jimin pouts, wiggling his fingers in front of Jeongguk’s face. “But I’m getting all wrinkly.”

“Well, you’re getting older Jimin, wrinkles are inevitable.”

Jimin lets out a squawk of indignation, slapping at Jeongguk’s shoulder, unbelieving that Jeongguk’s just laughing, eyes crinkling up. “You’re such an ass!”

“I’m your ass,” Jeongguk grins cheekily.

Jimin snorts, “No, my ass is cuter than you.”

Jeongguk looks momentarily appalled before bursting out in laughter, kissing Jimin just under his jaw as he grins. “I can’t disagree with the truth.”

“Good,” Jimin says, trying his best to sound benevolent but he can’t keep the giggle out of his voice. “Now carry me home.”

Jeongguk’s eyes darken, pushing off the edge of the spring he’s sitting against to swim into the pool of water. “Don’t you think you’ll freeze your little cock off if I carry you home?”

Jimin flushes but doesn’t let the smirk on Jeongguk’s face get to him. “Who said I wasn’t going to shift, huh?”

“So demanding,” Jeongguk says with a purse of his lips but he kisses Jimin anyways, sweet and tender. “Your wish is my command.”