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And Winter Comes

Chapter Text

Hikaru sat in Yo-Ka’s lap, his head on his shoulder, their arms around each other. They were watching Tsuzuku feed Tatsuya in the dining room, a whole bunch of omegas cooing around him and the baby instead of preparing dinner like they should. Yo-Ka and Hikaru had been on laundry duty and were done for the day, their arms tired from carrying the heavy baskets down to the lake and up again. Asanao had promised to make them some sort of trolley, and Yo-Ka swore to himself that he was going to hold him to that when he felt his aching muscles. Well, at least he was more fit than he’d ever been Before, he mused, leaning his head on Hikaru’s.

It had taken almost four months, but Reo was finally allowed out of bed for more than short moments at a time, and he was sitting next to his mate, watching his little family with a smile on his lips. The whole ordeal seemed to have aged him, adding grey to his hair, and if the age difference between him and Tsuzuku had been noticeable before, it was glaring now. But the couple seemed even happier than they had been, despite how tired Tsuzuku looked from lack of sleep and Reo from his injuries.

“I’m so glad everything’s fine now. I’m never going to forget hearing him scream like that when Tatsuya was born. I can’t imagine having to go through it knowing your mate is unconscious and everything. I wouldn’t have been able to,” Yo-Ka admitted softly in the ear of the small body snuggled up in his lap.

Hikaru nodded, scrunching up his little button nose at the thought of being pregnant, and even worse, having to give birth.

“I’m never ever getting another mate,” he mumbled with conviction.

“Well, sweetheart, you can’t,” Yo-Ka laughed.

Hikaru stared at him. “What do you mean?” he asked, eyes even bigger than usual. He looked incredibly small and boyish at that moment. As if his usual cuteness isn’t enough, Yo-Ka thought.

“Omegas can only mate once, didn’t you know?” Yo-Ka continued, a little surprised Hikaru wasn’t aware of this commonly known fact. “Only alphas can mate again. It’s something about scar tissue over the nerves from the first bite, I think. Tatsurou explained it to me once. So, no more alpha for you!” Yo-Ka laughed at Hikaru, who suddenly looked very elated, his eyes sparkling.

“So you mean I’ve worried for nothing?” he said, pouting his plush lips, and he looked so adorable that Yo-Ka couldn’t help letting his fingers run through the soft, black hair, caressing his cheek.

“I can’t believe you didn’t know!” Yo-Ka said. “I keep forgetting how young you are.”

He smiled at the omega, admiring his pretty face. All the bruises and cuts were healed, and Yo-Ka marveled at the soft skin and perfectly formed features. He really is perfect. Hikaru couldn’t help noticing and blushed a little, fidgeting with Yo-Ka’s sweater.

“So how about you,” he asked shyly. “Do you want a baby? Or a mate?”

Yo-Ka tilted his head as he looked at the smaller omega curiously. Would he dare say…? But if there ever was a moment, this was it.

“Well,” he said slowly, gently brushing Hikaru’s hair from his face again, “I’m not needing babies of my own, or a mate. Not an alpha anyway,” he added, feeling his voice tremble a little and wondering how much of it was noticeable.

Hikaru looked at him, wide-eyed, biting his lip. “Not… an alpha?” he whispered shakily, needing to hear it spelled out in case he had misunderstood.

Yo-Ka leaned his forehead on the younger omega’s, his breath brushing against the other’s lips as he whispered the words.

“There is someone I want, though. Someone very close to me. That is, if he wants me back. And only when he’s ready for it.” He gently lifted Hikaru’s hand to his lips, pressing them ever so softly to the small fingers.

Hikaru’s breath hitched, and he swallowed before he managed an answer, his voice equally trembling.

“He wants it. He really, really does. And if it’s slow and gentle, he thinks he’s maybe ready for it,” he whispered, feeling a tear run down his cheek. He couldn’t say if it was from happiness, relief or just emotion, but he didn’t try to stop it.

When their lips met, he felt like he had finally found his way home.

. . . . .

From across the room, Koichi watched the two with a smile on his face. He had seen this coming forever, and had just been waiting for it. He knew some of the alphas thought it was weird, but they accepted Kaoru and Tatsurou without a problem, so they would just have to suck it up in Koichi’s not very humble opinion. He couldn’t see why two omegas in love would be any different than two alphas, or an alpha and omega for that matter. Alphas were just their usual brand of stupid, he thought, relieved at least Hazuki didn’t seem to think any of it. They rarely fought over anything, having the same opinions on most things, and paired with lots of love, it was what made their relationship so comfortable.

Sometimes, when he thought back on their first chance meeting, he couldn’t believe how far they’d come in a little over a year. They were mated for one, and they were like an extension of each other, always in sync. There was only one thing worrying him. Not that he really wanted it, it was just… shouldn’t he be pregnant by now? Everything was amazing between them in bed, and it wasn’t as if his body didn’t go through the motions, his heat always on time. So why wasn’t it happening? Was there something wrong with him?

It had been worrying him for a while, but he didn’t want to raise the subject in case he would start something. He didn’t know if Hazuki even wanted a kid, or if he expected Koichi to have one soon, or what the alpha would do if he turned out to be sterile. Would he still want him? The alpha sure looked happy when one of the kids came his way though, always playing with them whenever he could. He probably really wanted a kid, Koichi decided, but was too nice to bring up the subject. It was the only thing they never talked about, and the longer he took to raise the question, the harder it was. It was getting to a point where the whole discussion felt like forbidden territory. He looked back to Tsuzuku and Reo, Reo holding his young mate close as Tatsuya fed with content little noises, and sighed deeply. It looked so…

With great effort, he tore his eyes off the scene of domestic bliss and made his way into the kitchen garden to start on the belated dinner chores. Fall was here, and the harvests were making dinner a joyous affair. Of course they had to put as much potatoes, carrots and the likes away to last them until they could have fresh vegetables next year, but they still had some fresh vegetables to feast on that made this season extra special. He picked some herbs before he ventured over to pick some chard and spinach. When he was back in the kitchen, most of the omegas on kitchen duty today had managed to draw themselves away from the abundance of cuteness in the dining room, and had started preparing the fish that Yukke and Miya had brought in an hour earlier.

As they cooked, Kochi felt a little off his game, almost dropping the precious salt on the floor and spilling water all over himself. Ryoga came up to help, and eyed his friend a little worriedly.

“Are you ok?” he asked, quietly.

Koichi just nodded. He didn’t want to talk about it. This was between him and Hazuki, or at least… it was supposed to be. He sighed heavily but smiled at Ryoga.

“It’s fine. I’m fine. Let’s just finish dinner,” he said, turning back to the pots and swearing when he burnt his pinkie on the hot stove, shoving it in his mouth and sucking on the burnt finger.

. . . . .

Toshiya looked around the dining room at a lot of tired faces. They had been working hard all summer, trying to finish as much as possible before winter fell and they had to pause a lot of building. They were nearly done with two large cottages, built to take two couples each, and they had finally fixed Tatsurou’s old cottage, putting on a new roof and insulating the walls so it was inhabitable again. But between all the building, taking care of the crops, hunting, fishing and building defenses around the island’s weak points, they had no time to do anything else.

Still, Toshiya called to a gathering that evening. They had things to discuss, and best sooner rather than later, he thought, as the alphas gathered around their largest table. The omegas threw glances at them, but stayed away, leaving the planning to the alphas knowing they would get the important news later that evening anyway.

Toshiya went straight to the point.

“Winter’s coming, and we have some problems we need to address while we still can. We’ve talked about them here and there, in smaller groups, but it’s time we make some decisions,” he said, looking around at his friends, solemn eyes meeting his.

“First of all, I think we can agree we’ve emptied the nearby towns of things of value, and now that the tool shed is filled and we’ve got all the supplies we need for our houses and ourselves, we have to start planning better on how to make things on our own or fix stuff that breaks. There’s no more going out to find what we need anymore, especially if we need to venture far. We can’t afford for everyone not to be here in case something happens, or for that matter, lose someone on the roads.”

They all mumbled in agreement. The last year it had been increasingly hard to find something of value out there, and they had gathered enough tools, nails, sheets, clothes, pots and pans, mattresses and furniture to last them a long time. But things broke with time and use, and they knew they had lots to learn when it came to fixing them.

“I have an idea,” Toshiya continued, “but I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. So far we’ve had to do pretty much everything at once, everyone pitching in where it was needed. And it’s worked up until now, giving us all a base to stand on when it comes to building, farming and so on. But let’s face it, Hazuki is better at taking care of the crops than you are, Satochi. And I would prefer it if Kaoru never held a hammer again, to be honest.”

They chuckled at that, Kaoru throwing his hands up, admitting defeat.

“I second that,” Tatsurou laughed. “I’d much rather not patch him up once a week.” Kaoru squinted at him through his curly locks, pretending annoyance but not really putting any effort into it.

“Yeah, I think we’ll leave Satochi and Yukke to do the heavy building,” Toshiya grinned. “And that’s kind of my point. Maybe it’s time we specialize a little more. I mean, with winter coming up, we will have much more time to read all those books we’ve gathered, and if we all agree on who should read up on what, we’ll save time learning one thing well instead of ten things so-so, and it might really help us in the spring. What do you think?”

They thought about it. It made sense that everyone focused on something they were good at, even though there would still be times when they needed all hands on deck for certain things. One after another they nodded, agreeing to the idea.

“Dibs on not having to read that thick-ass book on weaving,” Kyo suddenly offered, making everyone laugh.

Toshiya smirked, shaking his head. “No, I didn’t think you would. Any ideas?”

“On what, Kyo weaving? I think he’d look cute doing it.” Aoi quipped, and they all laughed again.

Ichirou hummed a little, leaning forward. “I know it’s all old-fashioned and shit, and they might say up yours, at least Ruki probably will. But if the omegas agree, maybe it would make sense that they took care of the more domestic stuff? That would keep them closer to the kids. I mean, they have done that mostly already, but still.”

“As long as I don’t have to weave,” Kyo grinned. “And good luck in getting Ruki to take care of the kids.”

They smirked at that, images of the loud-mouthed little omega with a kid on his lap floating through their minds. Not likely, no.

“Isn’t the point here to do what you’re good at?” Kai offered. “Most of our omegas are stronger than we think, both physically and mentally. And sure, those with kids will want to be near them, but for the rest, I think they should be able to choose just like us. I mean, I’d prefer to help with the cooking. It’s heavy as well, lifting pots of food for that many people. And we all know I’m no star when it comes to building stuff either,” he added, waving his bandaged thumb in the air.

Toshiya nodded. “I think you’re right. There’s no point in us forcing ourselves to learn stuff we’re no good at when there is stuff that needs to be done that we are good at. And exceptions will always be made. I really wouldn’t feel safe knowing Shinya was working with cutting down trees, but somehow I doubt he’d choose that anyway. I figured we could maybe make a list of stuff we need to learn that we’re missing today as well as stuff we’re already doing but could get better at. And then everyone could put their name up for something they think would fit them, and we’ll start from there. Obviously some things we all have to do on some sort of rota to share the burden, like latrine duty. And maybe some will have to get their second choice, but at least we’re getting started. I feel like we’re just floating along here, and it’s worrying me a little.”

Tatsurou raised his hand immediately. “I think it sounds like a great idea, and I just want to say I would really like it if Kei and Tomo could train medicine under me. And then I can study some of the more advanced medical books we found and look more into natural remedies. They boys have both agreed to do it, and I’m honestly scared shitless of what would happen if I got killed or something, and there’s no more nurse here.” Kaoru flinched at the word “killed” and grabbed Tatsurou’s hand hard, getting an apologetic glance from his lover.

“Of course, that’s already in the plan,” Toshiya said. “But I’m glad you brought it up. Anyone else have any thoughts already, apart from Kai cooking?” He looked around the table, noticing Reo looking a bit grim.

“Reo?”

The alpha glanced at him. “Yeah, no, not really. I guess that’s the problem. It’s a good plan. I just don’t know where I can help right now, and I kinda hate feeling all useless like this.” He sighed, a pained expression passing over his face. Yukihiro put his hand on the greying alpha’s shoulders, patting it for comfort.

“We’ll find you something,” Toshiya said, sounding confident. “There is always stuff we need to do, and not everything is heavy. You’ve got to have time to heal, but come spring you’ll probably be up and running again.”

Reo nodded, looking tired but relieved, and their leader looked around the table again. “Anyone else?” When no one answered, he wrote their decision down on a piece of paper before he continued.

“Ok, so, number two is more worrisome. People. I know this community is growing fast and we can barely keep up, but if we are to defend this place we need more people that can fight. We used to be more alphas than omegas here. Now, the omegas outnumber us. Even if those assholes we let go spread the word like we wanted, they saw how many we are. What if someone comes back in larger numbers? And there are bound to be others who have heard of us but didn’t hear of the failed attack.”

The mention of another attack made the others sit up more straight, looking uncomfortable.

“But how do we get the right people here?” Yukke asked. “So far it’s been up to chance, and if we’re not going scavenging in the towns anymore, the chances of meeting new people are down to almost zero.”

“Maybe some kind of recruiting trips?” Reika offered. “It’s dangerous, but so is being too few. We’d have to weigh benefits against dangers if we need more people here.”

“You’re right. Which leads us to number three. We need to improve our defenses, and not just finish the dock that Kaoru designed. Because there is another thing we need to take into consideration for a winter here that we’ve ignored so far.” He made a small pause, to see if anyone would get it. The group looked at him, frowning in confusion.

“Damn. Ice.” Yukihiro’s groaned word made them all pause as the realization sank in.

“Oh fuck,” Aoi muttered, burying his head in his hands.

“Yup,” Toshiya said. “Ice. When I was last up here in the winter, maybe seven or eight years ago, we walked over to the island on the ice.”

He looked around, meeting dejected faces. “We’ve had mild winters for two years now, and the ice never really settled on the entire lake, plus it was too thin to walk on. We can’t count on that happening every winter. Also, there is no time to fortify the whole island with palisades, that would take years considering the island’s size and our numbers. So we need to come up with a plan. We should have ages ago, but…”

The mood had turned decidedly worse the more Toshiya spoke. These were serious things to consider, and somehow they had managed without thinking of it for so long, their location working in their favor. But now they had to man up and prepare for things they hadn’t ever done, any of them.

“Did anyone remember to pack their copy of ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu?” Kyo offered grimly, the joke met with complete silence. He immediately took it back. “I’m sorry, bad joke. Just some gallows humor,” he said, making an apologetic grimace.

For a moment, there was silence, as they thought it through, their hearts heavy.

“Well, we’re not gonna solve everything here and now,” Kaoru finally said. “How about we make some sort of smaller groups to discuss this, see if we can come up with ideas. What do you think?”

Toshiya nodded. “Good idea. We’ll get stuck if we think more about this now. Any volunteers to think over our defenses?”

Everyone squirmed a little on their seats, unsure about that large responsibility, but eventually Reo sighed. “I guess I can do it, so I can contribute in some way.”

“Good, I’ll put you down as the leader of the group if that’s ok?”

Reo nodded, tilting his head questioningly at Kaoru. “It could be useful to have an engineer’s perspective on this, telling us what is possible to do and not.”

Kaoru grimaced, but the thought had merit, and he agreed.

“Yeah, ok, I’m in,” Satochi muttered, and Ryo nodded as well.

Toshiya wrote the names down, and then he looked up again.

“Anyone for thinking about recruiting?”

“Not me,” Aoi groaned. “I have poor bullshit detection and a bad track record.”

The rest snickered a little, the newer faces looking nonplussed. “I brought in Reita,” Aoi explained with a grimace.

“Yeah, well, so did I,” Yukke muttered. “Fair’s fair. We both made a mistake on that one.”

Soon enough, they had decided that Reika, Die and Toshiya would form the group, and the notes were jotted down with the rest. Toshiya sighed. He wasn’t done, but he wished he didn’t have to say another word. Of course these weren’t new things, they had discussed most of them at different points, but they hadn’t really had time to do much about it. He knew they needed to talk about and decide on these things, but he’d hardly ever seen his friends so down before, their shoulders heavy with the weight of their worries. Best do it like a band aid, he thought, just rip it off.

“One last thing. Food. We’ve got to figure out better ways of storing food for longer times, in case we can’t go hunting for a long time for some reason. I mean, these past winters we relied on keeping fresh meat frozen with ice from the lake, and we could still hunt, but that leaves us vulnerable to changes in weather. And what if for example another group of alphas comes to attack and manage to put us under siege? Sure, we can always fish from the ice, but what if we’re snowed in? Like I said, we’ve been lucky to have mild winters for two years now…”

“Didn’t feel very mild when you were out there sleeping on the floor somewhere,” Hazuki muttered, but quickly waved at Toshiya to continue with an apologetic nod. Toshiya sighed, knowing his friend was right, but went on.

“… but the winters aren’t usually this mild up here. Also, the more people we become, the more we will have to hunt, and the more vegetables we will have to grow, and it all needs to be stored right so it will keep. I know they used to salt meat and fish so it wouldn’t spoil, or dry it. I just don’t know how. We need to figure it out, now.”

To everyone’s relief, Kai put his hand up. “I can do that research. If I’m gonna cook, it’s only natural it falls under my duties, right?”

After that, they quickly finished up the meeting, seeing it was getting late, anxious to get some rest. If rest would ever come, Toshiya thought, considering all the thoughts that kept spinning around in his head. When he got back to the cabin, he found Shinya already asleep, curled up under the blankets with his shoulder length, incredibly silky, hair draped over the pillow. He looked so tiny and fragile, lying there, and Toshiya had to stop and admire him for a while before he did anything else. He felt so utterly blessed to have this little omega in his life, and he would do anything in this world to keep him safe and happy. After a few moments, the alpha undressed as quietly as he could so he wouldn’t wake the sleeping beauty. He carefully climbed into bed and curled up around his lover, letting his scent overwhelm him and calm him down.

Sometimes he wished this hadn’t been his island to begin with.

Chapter Text

“Are you ok?” Hazuki asked the next morning, holding a needy omega close. Koichi just hummed but snuggled even closer, his fingers idly tracing the tattoos on his mate’s chest. The alpha sighed, letting his fingers comb through the black and pink hair. The locks were starting to resemble the way they looked when the two had first met, and for a second an image of that moment flashed before his eyes. He shuddered at the memory of a beaten Koichi and hugged the smaller body tightly for a second.

Lately, he had been noticing Koichi glancing at him when he thought he didn’t notice, looking a little worried and down. He had become moodier, cold sometimes and then sometimes needy, begging for hugs and kisses as often as he could, and even though Hazuki didn’t mind giving them, he was wondering what brought this on. Whenever he asked what was wrong, the omega just shook his head, and so he had almost stopped asking. But something was weighing on the omega’s mind, and he hadn’t a clue as to what. He was afraid to just come out and ask, because somewhere in the back of his mind, he was scared Koichi was regretting the mate bite. They had bonded pretty fast after all, and maybe he had been wrong to let it happen. But god, he loved the omega so much. The thought that Koichi might regret what they had was unbearable, and so he kept his quiet and just tried to be the best mate he could to keep Koichi happy.

He turned to kiss the top of the head resting on his shoulder, breathing deeply and just trying to will the swirling thoughts away.

. . . . .

The omegas were surprisingly happy about the idea to choose chores and specialty areas, Toshiya thought, as he stood with Hazuki and watched the group hanging over the list a few days later, discussing wildly the pros and cons of each area. He watched Shinya, a little curious as to what the omega would choose. He had told his lover about the idea, and he had hummed approvingly but didn’t give any comment as to what he would like to do. But now the tall alpha watched those long fingers caressing a book on herbs, longingly eyeing the pile of books on kitchen gardening, and he sighed a little with relief inwardly. He would never stand in his lover’s way if he wanted something else, but he would feel a lot better having Shinya do something safe.

“Construction? Really?” Kazuki said and stared at Koichi in surprise, making Hazuki’s head jolt in surprise next to Toshiya. The alpha gaped at his mate across the room, and Toshiya felt a sting of sympathy as he watched his friend’s reaction. Thank god it’s not Shinya. But Hazuki kept his mouth shut and just stared at his mate with those intense eyes of his, looking a bit uncomfortable for a second, and Toshiya suddenly felt as if there was something else happening there. He wrote down a mental note to ask his friend later, in a more private setting.

On the other side of the room, the pink-haired omega put his hands resolutely on his hips, narrowing his eyes at his friend.

“So? Why not? I like building stuff! Don’t think I can do it?” he asked, the question an obvious challenge that Kazuki wasn’t about to accept.

“Of course you can! I’m just surprised, that’s all, I didn’t know you liked that kind of stuff.” Kazuki beamed at him, his eyes narrowing into a cute bow resembling that of a maneki neko whenever he smiled, charming everyone to bits. Koichi crumbled under the cuteness, and only pouted a little, pretending to pull at the omega’s lip ring in revenge. It turned into a playful tussle that ended in a big hug, and Toshiya smirked when he saw Hazuki draw a breath and blush faintly. As much as he knew that Hazuki loved his mate and would never cheat on him, the sight of two adorable omegas locked in an embrace wasn’t lost on either of them.

“What about you?” he asked to distract the alpha.

“Hm? Oh, what I chose?” Hazuki shook his head a little as if to clear it. “I chose the fields. After all, I helped grandma out on the farm when I was growing up, so I guess I have a head start on that skill set. And you?”

“Mmm, good choice for you. If you hadn’t suggested it yourself, I would have asked you if you’d reconsider, actually. Me, I’m not really sure. I figured I could wait until everyone has picked and see what’s left. I’m not that great with anything useful to us, I’m afraid,” he shrugged. Hazuki eyed him with surprise.

“Oh, come on. You’re not that clueless, are you?”

Toshiya blinked at him, uncomprehending. “What?”

“Totchi, when this first happened, who took charge and led everyone up here? And since I got here, I’ve watched you lead us all with a firm but gentle hand. You keep pushing us forward in the same direction, never leaving anyone forgotten, and you always put the good of others in front of your own wishes. You’re our leader, the one that keeps us together. If that’s not being great at exactly what we need, I don’t know what is.”

Toshiya looked stunned at Hazuki’s speech, as well as the use of the nickname no one had used since Before. It took a while before he gathered enough wits to answer, and he was teary-eyed when he finally spoke.

“Oh, wow. Thanks. I… don’t know what to say.”

Hazuki grinned, leaning up to give his emotional friend a quick hug. “You don’t have to say anything. Just keep leading us on, and we’ll follow.” He winked at the taller alpha before he turned and walked over to Kai to discuss the food situation.

When Shinya came by a few moments later, he was surprised to be pulled into a big hug, his alpha kissing him deeply, a tear on his cheek.

. . . . .

Even though they’d said they would read up on their specialty areas during winter, everyone agreed there was no point in waiting to redistribute those work assignments that could be changed already. Of course, some chores were not very exiting to anyone, and were therefore shared by all, but in general the switch gave the whole community a much-needed boost. Shinya happily started reading up on herbs and vegetables every night, looking through what they had and how to salvage the seeds properly for better germination. Koichi started helping with the building of the cottages, proving to be a great asset as he was quick with his hands, could bang a nail in straight and was lighter and more agile than the alphas, giving him an advantage when it came to climbing around on roofs.

Ruki begrudgingly chose helping in the kitchen and serving the meals, since, he claimed, it did the least damage to the nails. He also proclaimed himself their new hairdresser, despite never having cut anyone’s hair before, but was immediately downvoted when it was discovered Yuki had worked as a hairdresser for a few years after he quit school. Ruki was unhappy, to say the least, and Kyo had a rough night with a very annoyed omega stomping around their cottage until he finally settled on calling himself interior designer and stylist.

Masa, Uruha, Yuuki and Tsuzuku joined forces and took turns caring for the kids while the rest of them worked on things that would allow them to stay close by. It was almost a fulltime job keeping tabs on Shou by now, the four year old getting into trouble every few minutes since he couldn’t keep his hands off anything interesting. And in Shou’s eyes, everything was interesting. It didn’t help any that Tora and Hiroto ran around, stumbling over their own feet every two seconds, and that Saga was learning to walk and could now reach things to put in his mouth that he couldn’t before. Any given second was an opportunity for disaster, and the four omegas were always pretty worn out by the day’s end.

Cazqui found himself working with Uta on various duties, such as taking care of the hens they kept in the kitchen garden. They had been a lucky find, giving them eggs and hopefully more chickens next spring. Aki and Miya had brought them home about a month back, having found them wandering around an empty farm, feeding on grain still kept in an outhouse. The two had been greeted like heroes when they returned with six hens and a rooster in two cages, and a sack of seed that they could sow next year. They had taken a trip back to the farm with several other alphas after, gathering as much grain as they could, most of it rotting away, but still several sacks in good enough condition for them to store lots of seed, save some for the hens and make a little flour off of the rest. Most domesticated animals had faired badly when disaster struck and people abandoned their farms, and those who hadn’t been locked up and died from starvation had taken to the woods. But the chickens had stayed where their food was, to the islanders‘ benefit.

Another of the new duo’s duties was gathering wood for the fires, something they had previously done in groups once a week. Most of the timber they took down went straight into building, and the rest had to dry before you could use it for firewood, so they would need additional wood for the cold winter months. The two omegas became close as they wandered the woods on a daily basis, talking about this and that as they stopped to gather sticks and barque. They wore a contraption for carrying the wood on their backs, something Kaoru had drawn up and Yukke constructed after medieval drawings that they had found in a history book. It looked more or less like a fork with open sides and a bottom, attached to a harness. The idea was that you put the sticks in so that they were lying down, ends sticking out the sides. The woodpacks, as they called them, were surprisingly comfortable as long as you didn’t try to stuff too long pieces of wood in them.

They also carried a basket each as they wandered, the season right for mushrooms. It was a welcome addition to their diet (though Hazuki didn’t agree, his aversion to mushrooms a new source of amusement to the group), and Kai dried most of it for storage during the winter, but also added them fresh to stews and such. Picking mushrooms daily had given their fingertips a yellowish tinge, and they joked about their hands turning into mushrooms as well.

“So, how are you settling in?” Cazqui asked as he bent his knees to pick up a stick, careful not to tilt too much either way and shift the balance of the sticks he already had on his back. His new friend seemed happier, his face healed and his weight going up from skeleton to just plain thin. He still couldn’t help flinching whenever an alpha came too close, but they all understood why and tried to be careful around him. They were quite the pair to look at. Cazqui was eternally pale no matter how much time he spent outside, his narrow chin making his face almost triangular. Uta was more tanned after years on the roads, but still stunningly beautiful with a rounder face, plush lips and expressive eyes that seemed to have seen too much.

“Fine. Everyone’s been so nice to me,” Uta said, smiling faintly at his friend.

“I’m glad,” Cazqui said as he was struggling to break the stick in two so he could carry it easily. “We’re happy to have you.”

“And you? How are things progressing with Satochi?” Uta asked, trying hard to mask his shudder at the thought of his friend being with an alpha voluntarily.

Cazqui sighed. “We talk, and hang out sometimes. And I think he likes me well enough, but he hasn’t made any attempt at taking it further.”

Uta watched him curiously. “You really like him, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” the pale omega smiled. “I really do. I just hope he’ll come around and like me too sooner rather than later.” He glanced over at his friend, who was examining a mushroom closely to see if it was the right kind. They had decided to learn one new mushroom every week, starting with four of the easiest and most common ones straight away. He decided against it since he wasn’t sure, and tossed the mushroom in a bush before he looked back to Cazqui.

“I… I remember what it was like. Before, I mean,” he suddenly said, hesitantly. “I used to have a boyfriend. He was nice to me, treated me well. But then, well… I never found him After. I’m guessing he’s dead, but I don’t know. Maybe not. So, I mean, I know it can be… nice. But now, I just can’t see it anymore. Not for me. I just can’t bring myself to even think of an alpha touching me again, and…” He broke off, looking away for a second, trying to find the right words. “And I’m sorry if I’m not as supportive as I should be, but I’m so scared you’ll get hurt too.”

Cazqui sighed, shaking his head. “You don’t have to apologize, I understand. We all do. But I hope that if he becomes interested, and we start dating, and down the line my dream scenario happens where we move in together and all that romantic stuff that I can’t help but wanting. If that happens, you won’t start avoiding me for fear of him. I would be really sad if that happened.”

He was met with a soft smile. “Of course not. Friends forever, right?”

“Damn right.”

. . . . .

“So do you like working with the guys on the new cottages?” Hazuki asked one evening when they were getting ready to go to bed.

“Mmm, it’s fun,” Koichi nodded. “Why, are you going to try to convince me not to?” he asked, suddenly suspicious, but relaxed at the other’s shake of the head.

“Not at all. I’m not gonna lie and say I wouldn’t prefer you somewhere on ground level, but I would never stand in your way if that’s what you want to do.”

“Well, I like making something with my hands. And climbing around on the roof is fun, you have a good view of everything from up there. I saw you today when you were digging in the fields. You should work without your shirt on more often.”

Hazuki laughed as he got undressed for bed. “You little minx, shouldn’t you concentrate on work instead of ogling me? Don’t you see enough of me without a shirt at home?”

Koichi swallowed, shaking his head and reaching out a hand to cop a feel of Hazuki’s bare chest, licking his lips with a sultry look in his eyes. He then proceeded to undress, rather lewdly. Hazuki felt his cock twitch as the omega slid his hand down a naked chest, playing a little with the belly piercing before he teasingly slowly started unbuttoning his pants.

Before he had time to react, Koichi found himself on his back on the bed, yelping but grinning happily as the alpha tugged his pants and boxers off in one quick motion.

“Too damn slow,” the alpha muttered, his voice thick with desire as he took in the naked beauty in front of him. He leaned down and let his tongue slide lecherously into a willing mouth, tugging lightly at the tongue piercings, Koichi’s moan going straight to his crotch.

“God baby, how are you so hot?” he mumbled as he worked his way down the omega’s pale body, kissing and nipping slightly with his teeth at the perky nipples. Koichi licked his lips enticingly beneath him, watching him under heavy lids. When the alpha took his time exploring and kissing his body, he squirmed a little, wrapping his legs around his lover’s hips, pulling him closer.

“Need you,” he panted in Hazuki’s ear as his hands came up to circle the alpha’s neck, fingers nestling in his hair. Hazuki relented and positioned himself, groaning as his cock worked its way inside the omega. He set a quick, rough pace, sensing it was what Koichi craved right now, his hand coming up to pull harshly at the pink and black strands. The answering moan proved him right as Koichi threw his head back and offered his neck, and he unthinkingly bit down over the scars from the mate bite, not hard enough to break skin but hard enough to reassert his claim on the omega beneath him.

They both came hard shortly after, the sex being short but satisfying, and they snuggled sleepily while they waited for the knot to shrink. Hazuki caressed his lover’s pretty face tenderly, marveling as so often before at that gorgeous cupid bow and that little nose that he loved to kiss. Koichi smiled softly and yawned a little, smacking his lips cutely as he was going to sleep, making his mate fall in love just a little bit more with him every second.

“I love you, baby,” Hazuki whispered sleepily, as he felt his own eyes grow heavy. He heard Koichi mumbling something, but by then, he was too far away to understand the words.

. . . . .

A sound woke him up a few hours later, and it took a second for him to understand what it was. Koichi was crying next to him, rolled up with his back to the alpha and hiding his face in the pillow to muffle the sound.

“Baby?” he said, alarm in his voice. The sound quickly stopped, as the omega held his breath, struggling to be silent. The alpha reached over and tugged his mate back towards him, turning him around so that he could see his face. Koichi tried to look away, but Hazuki quickly cupped his hands around the omega’s face and turned it back towards him.

“Babe, what’s wrong?” The worry was heavy in his voice, and Koichi seemed to shrink into himself as he shook his head slightly.

“It’s nothing.”

“Babe, it’s not nothing. Tell me what’s going on.”

Koichi bit his lip a little and hesitated, but then he shook his head again, his long hair falling over his eyes. “It was just a bad dream,” he mumbled. “I didn’t want to wake you to hear about Mia and Meto for the thousandth time.”

Something in his voice made Hazuki uneasy. He knew it was a lie, he could always tell when his mate tried to bend the truth a bit, but as he opened his mouth to ask what the real reason was, he hesitated. He remembered their moment of passion earlier in the evening, and the bite he hadn’t been able to hold back. Was that it? Did it remind Kou of something bad, something he regretted? He felt a chill go through him at the thought, and he just couldn’t bring himself to ask, too afraid of the answer. So he settled for pretending to believe the lie, his gut churning and his heart hurting as if cut by knives.

“It’s ok baby, you can always wake me up when you have a bad dream, you know that,” he mumbled, pulling the omega close and hiding his face in the black and pink locks. He forced himself to breathe steadily, acting like the strong alpha, while all he really wanted to do was cry himself to sleep.

. . . . .

“Why are they looking at us like that?” Hikaru asked, curled up to Yo-Ka in bed, his small head on his lover’s chest.

“Because they’re idiots,” Yo-Ka replied, irritated. He had also noted that some of the alphas threw them glances now and then, and it pissed him off. Why couldn’t they just be allowed to be happy together? If everyone could accept two alphas together, why were two omegas so strange? Because it doesn’t involve one of their precious cocks, he thought bitterly, turning his head to press a kiss to Hikaru’s forehead.

“Ignore them,” he sighed. “At least none of the omegas mind, and most of the alphas just don’t care. And we can deal with the handful that thinks it’s strange.”

As Hikaru nodded, Yo-Ka went through the short list in his head. Aoi. Ruka. Ichirou. The older Hiro. Aki. Even Kai – even though he was too nice to hold it against them, it was still obvious he found it strange.

When the small body shifted next to him he looked down, meeting his boyfriend’s large, pretty eyes. “But we’re still happy, right?” his lover asked a little nervously, and Yo-Ka hurried to reassure him.

“I’m happier with you than I’ve ever been,” he whispered, smiling as the soft lips came up to meet his.

. . . . .

Koichi watched Hazuki from a distance as he read a book to Tora and Hiroto, smiling happily at the two boys who sat in his lap and pointed at the pictures. His mate looked relaxed, laughing openly at the boy’s comments, and when Tora leaned into him he turned to give the boy a kiss on the top of his head.

The sight made Koichi’s stomach twist into a tight knot. What if he couldn't have kids, and Hazuki chose to leave him? Then he'd have to live with feeling the alpha's presence, knowing where he was, forced to be close by but never close. He nearly panicked at the thought, and before anyone noticed he quickly got up and left the room to find a place where he could be on his own for a while.

. . . . .

Hiyuu and Koichi sat on the bench in the kitchen garden one evening, enjoying the last of the sun, Koichi redoing his two long braids that had become slightly ruffled during the days work. Hiyuu eyed his long hair with envy, his own hair refusing to grow past his shoulders before it turned bushy and frizzy.

“I wish I could do that to my hair,” he sighed, pulling a little at the offending strands.

“You look fine,” Koichi smiled, “and at least you don’t have a sharp line between two colors like me.” He lifted a pink braid longingly. “I mean, I know it’s pointless, but I wish I could be pink forever. Why does hair have to grow?”

“Because that’s life,” Hiyuu laughed, showing off his dimples. “How long has it been since you last dyed it?”

“A little over a year,” Koichi sighed. “Just before I got here. Hazuki found some bleach and dye for me, but I guess that’s the last box ever to come my way.”

Hiyuu shrugged. “Probably. Sorry. But it was very sweet of him to get it for you though.”

“Mmm, it was. He’s a sweet guy...” The answer sort of trailed off, and Koichi seemed to get lost in thoughts for a moment, Hiyuu eyeing him with a hint of worry in his eyes.

“Hey, is everything alright between you two?” he asked, hesitantly. His friend jumped a little, his cheeks sporting a decidedly pink hue as he answered.

“Yeah, of course it is. Why?”

“I don’t know, both of you just seem more tense than usual, that’s all. Listen, I don’t mean to pry, but you know you can always come and talk to me if you need it, right? Or talk to Tsu if you prefer. Just don’t bottle it up, ok?”

Koichi closed his eyes, taking a sharp breath. Talk to Tsu about this. No, he couldn’t, not with Tatsuya always on his friend’s arm. “Thanks. But I’m fine. Everything’s fine. Really.”

Hiyuu didn’t look like he bought the lie, but he kept quiet, reaching over to pat a tense shoulder. They sat in silence for a while, watching the sunset. It was a beautiful evening, one of the last warm and sunny days of the season, and they soaked it up as much as they could.

“Hiyuu? How long have you and Hiro been together?” The voice was nonchalant, as if the question didn’t really matter, but the body language spoke an entirely different story.

“Six years this Christmas. Why?”

“Just curious.” They sat in silence for another moment, Hiyuu glancing at his pink haired friend in the corner of his eye, sensing something else was coming from the tension in the omega’s shoulders.

“So, did you ever think about kids?”

Ah. So that was it. Hiyuu smiled a little and shrugged.

“Not really. I can’t have kids.”

Koichi looked horrified, and hurried to apologize for his insensitivity.

“God, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean….”

Hiyuu waved him off. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not an issue anymore, I’ve known since I came of age and I’ve come to terms with it long ago. I had this disease when I was a kid, I was really, really sick for a long time. And when I was going to have my first heat, I had the check-up as usual, and they told me that it had made me sterile.”

“Oh, wow. I’m so sorry,” Koichi said, grabbing his friend’s hand. Then, hesitantly, he got to what Hiyuu suspected was the heart of the matter. “Does… Does Hiro know? And what does he say?”

“Of course he knows, I told him when we were starting to get serious to give him a chance to back out if he wanted to. But he just hugged me and said I was more precious to him than any baby in the world, and that was that. So he’s fine with it.” He eyed Koichi, gently squeezing his hand. “Are you…?” He trailed off, knowing the omega would understand what he was asking without him having to spell it out.

Koichi shrugged, biting his lip to keep it from trembling. “I… I don’t know. It just seems like… it should have happened by now, you know? And I don’t know if… if it’s me.” He swallowed and looked away, blinking against the tears, the last few words coming out choked. Hiyuu sighed and put his arm around the trembling shoulders, pulling his friend into a hug.

“Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry. But you know, it could be anything. There doesn’t have to be something wrong, maybe you two just need time, a year isn’t that long. Or maybe it’s him, not you.” Koichi sobbed against his shoulder, and the omega held him closer, stroking his back soothingly.

“What does Hazuki have to say about this?” he asked gently, and turned his head in surprise when he felt his friend stiffen in his arms. “Wait, don’t tell me you haven’t talked to him about it?”

Koichi shook his head, sobbing wildly by now. Hiyuu watched him, bewildered.

“But why not?”

Koichi tried to steady his breath enough to speak, and finally managed to squeeze out the words between sobs. “I’m… scared… he’ll want… to leave… me.”

Hiyuu felt his heart fall at the words. Koichi must know how much his mate loved him, right? The two were inseparable. Well, had been up until recently anyway, when a certain unease had settled upon them. Suddenly Hiyuu realized the source.

“Sweetie, you have to talk to him before you two mess this up. He loves you, I’m sure he won’t leave you over this. He’s your mate, not just a casual date or a flimsy boyfriend, for god’s sake. It should take a lot more for a decent guy like him to walk out, and I highly doubt he could ever walk out on you, no matter what you did. And you don’t even know what’s wrong! Just talk to him, get through this together. Go talk to Tatsurou and see if he’s got any ideas if you’re still worried after you talk it through. But do it together.”

Koichi just sobbed, his shoulders shaking slightly, and he made some sort of non-committing noise in his throat. They sat there for a while longer, before they heard movement behind them, Shinya coming to pick herbs and fresh vegetables for dinner. The two disconnected, Koichi discreetly drying his eyes on his sleeve. Shinya cast a glance their way but walked quickly past, pretending he hadn’t noticed to give his friend some privacy.

Before they got up and left, Hiyuu leaned in to whisper softly. “Talk to him. Don’t let it fester and poison what you have together.” Koichi swallowed and nodded almost imperceptibly, sniffling a little as he went to wash his face so no one would notice. Especially not Hazuki.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Reika and Die got ready to go on the recruiting trip they had planned, not really seeing any other option except leaving it up to chance that someone good might come by. Yes, it was risky, and they had thought about not going and do the best they could with what they had. But after much discussion, they finally agreed to give it a shot.

A whole bunch of the others had gathered to say goodbye, but soon, the farewell had come to a halt. Subaru was frantic, something they weren’t used to seeing, and Die was apparently a little shocked by his usually so cheery lover’s blatant distress.

“I’ll be back soon, baby,” he tried, holding the crying omega in his arms.

“But what if something happens to you?” Subaru cried, clinging to Die desperately.

“I’ll be fine, baby, and Reika’s with me to help keep me safe. I swear I’ll come back to you. I swear, cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Not hope to diiiieeeee,” Subaru wailed, “Don’t say that!”

The alpha looked miserable by now, hating to see his normally happy boyfriend this desperate.

“I have to go, sweetie, I have to. We need this, you know we do,” he said, kissing Subaru’s forehead before leaning his cheek on the top of his head, his eyes squeezed shut. The omega suddenly wriggled out of his arms and took a step back, looking up at him, his stance determined.

“Bite me,” he said.

Die stared in shock, his mouth agape. “What?”

“Bite me. Make me your mate. I want to feel you’re there.”

Die shook is head in disbelief. “Baby, no. I can’t do that, not like this. You’re not thinking straight, sweetie, we can talk about it when I get back but…”

“But by then it’s too late,” Subaru cried. “And I won’t know if something happens to you. I need to know…”

Die closed his eyes, his heart breaking as his lover was crumbling before his eyes. But the truth of it was, he couldn’t promise that he would come back. Who knew what would happen out there? And he couldn’t bite Subaru, knowing the omega could never have another mate if he didn’t come back, that would be cruel. But he couldn’t exactly tell his boyfriend that, not when he was already on his knees on the ground before him, falling apart more with every passing second. He was very worried by now, Subaru not seeming himself at all, and Die didn’t know what to do to help him. He kneeled before the trembling omega, pulling him into his arms, biting his lip not to start crying himself.

“I’ll go.”

Their heads turned in surprise, eyes searching for who had spoken.

“I’ll go,” Yukihiro repeated, his square jaw set in determination, making his undershot even more noticeable. “I don’t have anyone here to leave behind in case…” He didn’t finish the sentence. Everyone already knew what he meant to say.

Die looked at his friend, trying to will himself to say ‘you don’t have to’ or ‘no, I’ll go’ or even ‘are you sure?’. But the shivering body he held in his arms was like a glue that kept his mouth shut. He knew he couldn’t leave Subaru behind like this, or he would worry as much as the omega and not be able to do his job right.

So he nodded in thanks, his eyes expressing all the gratitude in the world. Yukihiro nodded, understanding. “I’ll just go pack,” he said, walking off to his cottage swiftly. Die turned to Subaru again, softly caressing his long bangs away from his face.

“Did you hear that, sweetie? I’m staying here with you. I’m not going anywhere.”

His lover clutched him tight, nodding but still not able to stop the crying, his hands shaking terribly. “I think we should go see Tatsurou,” Die mumbled, lifting the short omega easily into arms made strong by hard labor. “Tell Yuki thanks from me,” he said to Toshiya who simply nodded, waving them off towards the big house.

They stood there, watching the two disappear into the building, looking at each other without knowing what to say for a moment. It was disconcerting to see their friend act so out of character, and it worried them all. Soon enough, Yukihiro returned, his navy blue backpack slung over his shoulders, and the two were off after another round of goodbyes. Kai, Toshiya, Hazuki and Aki rowed them over, letting them off on the shore and lingering as they watched the two disappear up the road. The silence was heavy as they rowed back.

. . . . .

“He’s depressed,” Tatsurou said simply, Die looking dumbfounded.

“Depressed? But… he’s like the happiest person I know,” he stuttered, meeting the nurse’s eyes with an uncomprehending look.

“Well, yeah, but he’s a sensitive soul, and a lot of shit has happened lately. You can only repress emotions for so long. And he’s probably tried to keep the façade up, looking like he was happy so he wouldn’t worry you. It’s pretty common that depressed people hide their true feelings. He probably felt like he would be a burden to you if he said anything. Have you noticed anything different lately? Anything at all?”

Die looked stunned, blinking away tears. “I guess… He’s been a bit more quiet since the attack on the island, and that whole thing with Reo and Tsuzuku, and… God, I should have seen it, I feel so stupid.” He buried his face in his hands, letting his fingers continue up into his hair and pulling it backwards, his eyes closed.

Tatsurou sat down next to him on the bed in the sickroom, the bed creaking from the added weight, and put his hand on the other’s shoulder.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. He’s hid it well, and if anyone should have seen it coming it should have been me. So don’t put yourself down, ok? Just be there for him now, that’s all.”

Die took a deep breath, drawing strength from the nurse’s warm hand on his shoulder, and he nodded slowly. “Yeah. You know, he’s always had a tendency to not see the bad things, just pretend like they haven’t happened, looking the other way.”

“It’s a way of coping,” Tatsurou explained. “He can’t handle it, so he shuts it out. But as I said, it only works for so long, and with everything that’s happened… It’s not like he could avoid knowing about the attack, or see Uta’s or Hikaru’s roughed up faces, or hear Tsuzuku scream when we brought Reo in. He had to see it, and so his coping mechanisms aren’t working anymore.”

“Yeah, ok, so… what do I do now? How can I help him?” Die asked, his eyes filled with equal parts pain and determination.

“I’ve got some anxiety meds if it gets worse, but I want to try without first,” Tatsurou said, trying to sound calm for his friend’s sake. “I talked to Shinya once a week or when he needed it about his experiences out there, and I could offer the same to Subaru and see what he says. I’m no psychologist, but I think Shinya felt it helped him, and I’ve got books to read on the subject so I can study a bit.”

The former redhead nodded, casting the nurse a thankful glance. “And me? What do I do?”

“Just listen. Don’t try to fix it for him, just encourage him to talk and listen if and when he does.”

Die shut his eyes again, taking in the advice, and sighing deeply. “Yeah, ok, I can do that. But just tell me… Do you think he can get well again?”

Tatsurou smiled, patting Die’s shoulder again. “Yeah, I do. It’ll probably take time, considering how long he’s probably been keeping it in, but don’t give up on him, ok?”

His words were met with a vigorous shake to the head.

“Never.”

. . . . .

Toshiya grabbed Hazuki’s arm one night, stopping him just outside the cabin he shared with Shinya.

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” he said, nodding to the cabin. Shinya was still at the house, reading yet another book about vegetable gardens, and they had the cottage to themselves.

“Sure. What’s up?”

Toshiya waved him in, pointing invitingly at a chair before he sat down by the table, waiting for Hazuki to join him before he spoke.

“I’m just wondering… Is everything alright? You seem… tense. You and Koichi both.” He saw the answer straight away in the way his friend’s shoulders slumped, his head hanging slightly.

“What’s going on with you two? You don’t have to tell me of course, but just know that you can if you want to.”

Hazuki sighed, a deep body sigh, his eyes filled with grief.

“I think… I think he regrets the bite,” he said finally, fighting against the urge to break down and cry.

Toshiya gasped. “Oh come on, what makes you say that? That doesn’t sound like the Kou I’ve come to know. He adores you!”

“Yeah, well, I thought so too, but lately… I don’t know. He seems tense, and he switches between not talking to me and being clingy, and he’s lying to me, and sometimes… Sometimes I wake up to hear him crying. He just passes it off as a bad dream, but I know it’s not. I’ve held him too many times after a nightmare to know what they do to him. This is different.” He wringed his hands, looking at the floor as he spoke quietly.

Toshiya looked at the dejected alpha with sympathy and worry. “Have you talked to him and asked?”

Hazuki shook his head. “When I ask what’s wrong, he lies, and I haven’t pushed. I didn’t want to hear the answer, I guess.”

“But couldn’t it be something else that worries him?” the taller alpha tried. “I mean, you two are like the perfect couple. You’ve always seemed to have the kind of relationship we all want, loving and supporting.”

“I’ve tried to think of what else it could be, but I can’t think of anything else that he wouldn’t talk to me about. I mean, we did bond pretty quickly, and sure, we talked about it and I asked him if he was sure that he wanted to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he said yes. But after all he’d been through, maybe he wasn’t thinking as straight as I thought. And I hate the thought that I might have been too quick, that I’ve forced him into something he didn’t want once the novelty wore off. And I feel like such a jerk, trapping him with me for the rest of his life if he really wanted something different. And I’m just so… I’m so goddamn scared.” The last words came out muffled, as he couldn’t keep the tears in anymore. His host got up and walked around the table, crouching next to his friend and putting his arm around his shoulder, just letting him cry it out for a while before he spoke.

“Go talk to him about it. You two need to talk this out, or it will fall apart, and I don’t want to see you two hurting like this. You’re his mate, Hazuki, whether he – or you – likes it or not. You’re stuck with each other, so you’d better make the best of it. Talk it out.”

The alpha swallowed, his breath ragged. “I don’t know if I can,” he whispered.

. . . . .

As the weeks went on, they were starting to finish the dock. They now had a nice long bridge to tie the boats to with a palisade to protect if from the outside. They had removable hatchways here and there if they wanted a better look over the lake or wanted to do some fishing from the dock rather than by boat, and a system of ropes and pulleys controlled a grate that could be opened or shut at their leisure, letting the boats in and out. Of course, once the ice settled, it would be useless, but by then they would not be able to bring the boats out anyway. Instead, they planned on climbing out of the hatchets to walk on the ice from there when needed.

The three other landing sites that they had identified had all been protected with palisades, and for now they had to hope the bushes and trees around the rest of the island were too thick to get through on foot if the lake froze over completely.

They were filling their food storages with the last of the crops. Kai directed them to put crates of slightly moist sand in the cellar to store carrots in, and he made sure the potatoes were kept cool and dark. Shinya went around with his book under his arm all day, collecting seeds, but apart from that he left the larger fields to Hazuki and concentrated on the vegetables they grew in the garden behind the big house. He had Ryoga and Kazuki to help him weed and dig when needed, and the three delivered delicious berries to the kitchens that they found hidden among mountains of weeds in the far back of the garden. The house had been in Toshiya’s family for generations, and used to be a permanent residence long ago, so now and then they found old plants and bushes hiding in the weeds.

The cottages were also almost done, and Daichi came by almost every day to check on their progress, eager to move in with Aoi finally. When Aoi moved out, that meant Natsu could move in with Yukke, and the two couples were beaming every time the subject came up in conversation. Hiro and Yuki were also happy to be getting their own place, having shared with Ryo and Nao since Satochi moved in with Asanao. All in all, things were falling into place for most of them.

. . . . .

Shinya spent the night watching Toshiya over a book. He tried to concentrate on a text about herbs that could be used for tea, but found his eyes wandering over to the alpha all the time. The alpha was working on some sort of plans with Kaoru and Reo, something to do with keeping the well from freezing if the winter was very cold, pointing to drawings and discussing possible solutions. He was beautiful where he sat, looking thoughtful.

For the last month, Shinya had been thinking about his and the alpha’s relationship. Satochi had left his mind finally, and he no longer saw the alpha as an ex but as a friend. The shift was subtle but significant, and now he spent a lot of time thinking of where his and Toshiya’s relationship was heading in the future. They spent his heats together now, and Shinya wasn’t taking any contraceptives, so it stood to reason that he could get pregnant. He wouldn’t mind, but didn’t give it much thought. What did occupy his thoughts, however, was the question of whether they were ready for the next step.

Mating was not something Shinya had ever expected or thought about for himself, but when he watched the alpha, he felt an urge he never had felt before. Maybe? Was it too soon? Or was it perfect? He couldn’t decide, and so he kept wondering, his eyes caressing his lover.

. . . . .

Natsu put the net down, his fingertips sore from fixing the holes. It was tiring and fiddly to work on the thin threads. But it was necessary if you wanted the next fishing trip to go smoothly, and he did, considering it was him who had to fix it if it didn’t. He had taken quite a liking to fishing, and he and Ichirou did most of the fishing now, delivering their catch to Kai who took care of it, experimenting on different methods of preserving it, trying to create some diversity in flavor by choosing different methods. Some went well, others not so much, but their food storage was quickly growing. With the meat Kyo, Die and Miya brought home from their hunting trips, they were starting to feel good about the winter supplies. Hunting was still an open issue depending on the amount of snow they would get, but they figured they would be able to fish from the ice during the winter either way. The number of fish they caught would decrease of course, but they hoped it would be enough to have at least a mix of dried and fresh food to offer in the winter.

Right now, though, Natsu was mainly counting down the days to when he would be moving in with Yukke. He was both nervous and exited, and Yukke laughed at him when he came bounding by to see how the construction was going.

“Eager?” he asked, kissing Natsu deeply, and the omega could only admit that he was, very eager in fact. Yukke was better at hiding his excitement, but couldn’t help groping the omega a little extra, mumbling in his ear about all the lewd things he’d do to him once they were alone together every night. Natsu blushed every time, but his stomach did somersaults in expectation, and he just couldn’t wait for it to happen. Time seemed to stretch into infinity as he waited, trying to feel satisfied with stealing a short moment of intimacy now and then when no one was watching. Couldn’t they work a little faster on those damn cottages?

. . . . .

Hikaru and Yo-Ka worked in the kitchens with Ryoga and Nao, Kai being the head chef. Hikaru had been nervous around Kai for a while, but since the alpha was always kind and cheery, and did his best to make the tiny omega feel welcome, he eventually let his guard down a bit. He was slowly coming to terms with them having alphas around, and though he hadn’t been happy about Yukihiro and Reika going out to find more of them, he hadn’t been as upset as Yo-Ka had thought he would be. Uta seemed more nervous, actually, Yo-Ka thought as he watched his boyfriend stir in a pot. Kai came by to taste it and give gentle instructions, and Hikaru didn’t even flinch once. Yo-Ka was amazed, and happy for the omega.

With time, Kai had also seemed to care less about their relationship. At the beginning, he had glanced at them now and then when they touched or kissed, though he of course never said anything. But lately, he didn’t even seem to notice the occasional kiss, and Yo-Ka felt very relieved and relaxed in the kitchens now. Hikaru seemed happier as well, and it warmed the older omega’s heart every time his boyfriend smiled at something. God, he was beautiful. They really were a perfect match, and he was glad at least one of the weirded out alphas saw the error of his ways. Maybe the rest would come around with time?

Chapter Text

Koichi worked diligently, keeping his eyes on the job at hand, which today consisted of putting in the last of the work on the roof of one of the two-family cottages. Inside his head, though, things were less orderly. He had been feeling off the entire day, having a stomach ache and a lingering headache from lack of sleep. No wonder, the way his mind was swirling, he thought sadly. He still hadn’t talked to Hazuki, despite Hiyuu coming by to remind him now and then, and the longer he waited, the more he convinced himself that if he couldn’t give Hazuki a child, the alpha was bound to leave him. It had become an obsession that stressed him out to no end, making him desperate for sex that might give him a baby, but tense and nervous in every other aspect of their relationship. He knew of course that the chances of getting pregnant outside of a heat were minimal, but he tried none the less, thinking it was the key to healing their relationship.

Simultaneously, Hazuki had seemed to pull back, staying out late and claiming to be tired when he got back, going directly to sleep. It was all spiraling out of control, Koichi could feel it, and he saw he others noticing too. In a few weeks, his heat was coming, and he didn’t know whether to be happy or scared about it. A whole week together. They had hardly spoken at all this last week, and the omega was scared out of his mind about it. His grumbling belly wasn’t exactly happy either, but he did his best to ignore it.

He shook his head to clear it before he got ready to climb down, the last nail driven into the roof where he sat. This was no place to be unfocused, so he carefully rose and made his way down to the edge of the roof and the ladder that was leaned against it. He reached out for the ladder carefully, lifting his left foot to put it on the top rung.

The sudden pain in his gut came as a complete surprise. It felt like someone had shoved a knife into his stomach and twisted it firmly. He yelped in pain, doubling over in reflex, and that and the momentum of his moving foot combined made him lose his balance. It felt like he fell in slow motion. He could see the ladder passing him as he fell, desperately grasping for it. He saw the ground coming for him, and strangely noticed there was a patch of grass that was brown just beneath the ladder. Somehow, he registered Satochi and Yukke staring at him, their eyes widening as they realized what was happening. And then his breath was knocked from him, and everything turned black.

. . . . .

“Oh god, is he ok?”

“Go get Tatsurou, tell him to hurry!”

“Shit, he’s bleeding. I can’t see from where.”

“Don’t move his head, he might have hurt his neck! You could paralyze him!”

“Where is that goddamn nurse?!”

“He’s coming, he’s almost here.”

“Oh god, make him hurry up for fuck’s sake!”

“Has anyone gone to get Hazuki?”

“Here, hold his head just like that while I lift him.”

“Where is the blood coming from?”

“For god’s sake, someone go find Hazuki!”

. . . . .

Hazuki really put his back into it as he was digging into the soil, still wet and heavy from the previous night’s downpour. He’d been at it for hours, hardly taking any breaks, taking his frustrations out on the dirt. Things had gone from bad to worse between him and Koichi, and he wanted so bad for everything to just turn back to how it had been not too long ago. He just didn’t know how, and it made him so incredibly angry with himself and the world. How did his perfect relationship turn into this jumbled mess of emotions? If he could just figure out where he went wrong, what he did to make his lover change his mind, maybe he could take it back, redo it and make everything ok again. He had been thinking about it all day, trying to find something in his memories that could have triggered this, but he came up empty, and in his frustration he vehemently thrust the shovel down to stand in the dirt and then reached for some water.

He had gulped down half a bottle when he heard running feet coming up the hill. He was too annoyed with himself to even turn around to see what it was all about, knowing Aki or Hiro could deal with it. Instead he leaned heavily on the shovel, leaning his head on his hands for a moment. His muscles were aching, and he was dead tired. There was no way he would be able to keep going like this all day. Stupid, he thought angrily, slowly straightening his back again, feeling pain shoot down his spine at the movement.

“Ha… Hazuki!” Miya panted out his name behind him, his chest heaving, his hands on his knees. “You… You have… to come.”

The alpha turned, alarmed by the alpha’s desperate tone of voice. Aki, who had gone over to greet Miya, glanced over at Hazuki worriedly.

“Kou… He fell…” Miya panted, and Hazuki felt the world come to a stop all of a sudden. A chill went up his spine, the hairs on his arms standing up, as his mind tried to make his body move. It felt like trudging through thick mud, everything going in slow motion, and he forgot to breathe for a moment. And then the world started moving again, and he was at the alpha’s side, grabbing his arm.

“Where? What happened? Is he ok?”

“He… He fell off the roof of one of the big cottages. Tatsurou’s there, but… He was unconscious when I left. He’s bleeding, don’t know from where. That’s all I know, I’m sorry.”

All thoughts of aching muscles were forgotten as Hazuki sprinted as fast as he could down the hill, heart in his throat.

. . . . .

Koichi had been moved inside when Hazuki got there. Yukke waited below the hill to wave him in the right direction when he came running. He slammed the door open and rushed into the house towards the back, not bothering with taking his muddy boots off or closing the door behind him. When he got to the sickroom, he saw Tatsurou bent over the bed, his fingers prodding at Koichi’s stomach. The omega was awake, lying on the bed with a blanket over his legs and hips, big black eyes full of fear turning to Hazuki as he entered. The alpha rushed up to the bed, quickly grabbing his mate’s outstretched hand as he looked between him and the nurse, frantically.

“God, babe, are you ok? Are you hurt? Is he hurt?” The last part was directed at Tatsurou, who just threw a glance his way before he quietly continued his examination. Hazuki tried to catch his breath, getting down on his knees next to the bed, his still slightly muddy hand coming up to wander over Koichi’s face and head as he looked him over for wounds, leaving dirt in his hair. The omega’s cheekbone was scraped and dirty, and he had a good sized bump forming on the side of his head, but to his relief Hazuki couldn’t see any blood.

“They said he was bleeding. What’s wrong with him?” he asked nervously as Koichi suddenly flinched and hissed as the nurse felt his belly. Tatsurou felt around for another moment before he sighed and pulled the blanket back up over Koichi’s stomach.

“I think you got away with just some bad bruises and scrapes from the fall,” he said, still looking disheartened.

“But?” Hazuki said nervously, Koichi trembling beside him, clutching his hand desperately but not looking at him.

“But,” the nurse sighed, looking at the omega with sympathy, “I’m sorry to have to tell you that you just had a miscarriage.”

Hazuki stared in shock at the alpha, and then at his mate who seemed as stunned as he was.

“You mean…” Koichi whispered weakly, “that I was… pregnant? And lost the baby?”

Tatsurou nodded. “Probably from your last heat, so maybe two months in. I’m sorry,” he said again, patting the omega’s hand a little and glancing to Hazuki to judge his reaction. The alpha’s jaw was working, no sound coming out at first. He hadn’t even considered the possibility that the omega could be pregnant, and that was almost as much of a shock as finding out they had lost the baby. Finally, he found his voice again.

“Did the fall cause it? I mean, did he hit his stomach?”

The nurse shook his head slightly. “It was probably the other way around, the miscarriage caused the fall. You said you’d had a stomach ache all day? And that you felt a sharp pain just before you fell?” He looked questioningly at Koichi who nodded, tears filling his eyes as he chewed his bottom lip to keep from falling apart completely. Hazuki looked at his mate. He hadn’t known he’d had a stomach ache. He should have known, if they had talked properly in the morning like they used to before. He gripped his mate’s hand tightly, his other hand cupping the omega’s face as Koichi tried to look away, closing his eyes.

“Oh baby…” he said softly, and that was all it took. Tatsurou got up and quietly left the room, closing the door behind him, as Koichi burst into desperate tears. Hazuki leaned over and pulled his lover into a tight embrace, tears falling down his own cheeks as he felt all the emotions of the past month welling up in him at once. For a long time, they just sat there, crying, Hazuki slowly rocking his lover and caressing his hair.

“I’m… I’m so sorry,” Koichi managed to get out after a long while.

“What for?” Hazuki asked, frowning in confusion.

The omega sniveled, taking a few moments to gather up the courage, before he whispered his worst fear.

“For losing the baby. For not being able to give you a child.”

Hazuki stopped his rocking motion, staring with an open mouth at the omega. “For not… Babe, for god’s sake, you don’t have to apologize. You’re alive, that’s all that matters. When Miya told me you had fallen, I thought my heart had stopped. God, I was so scared.” He hugged the omega tightly, resuming the rocking. “Could you please stop making it a habit to be unconscious? It’s actually not very amusing.”

Koichi almost smiled at that, his head leaning on his alpha’s chest, tears still falling down his cheek. “I’ll try,” he whispered, wiping his nose on his sleeve.

“Hazuki?” he mumbled after a moment, hesitantly, his body curled up into a tight ball of tension.

“Yes, baby?” The alpha kissed him on the top of his head.

“How long do I have?”

“What do you mean? Until what? I don’t understand, love.”

“How long until you leave me if I can’t have kids?” The words were so quiet Hazuki could hardly hear them, and when he finally deciphered them, he was sure he must have heard them wrong.

“Until I leave…? God, babe, I’m not… Why would I?” he stuttered, completely nonplussed.

“But if I can’t… What if I can’t have children, ever?” Koichi whispered, shaking badly by now. Hazuki closed his eyes, burying his face in the pink and black locks, wrapping himself as tightly as he could around his mate.

“Then we won’t have children,” he said, his voice trembling as it started to dawn on him where he had gone wrong. He hadn’t realized what the omega wanted or what he feared most of all. “Babe, if we ever have a son I will love him to the moon and back. But if we don’t, that’s fine. Because I have you to love, all the way to the stars and beyond, and I will never stop loving you.”

At the words, his mate broke down in tears again, but Hazuki could feel the tension in his shoulder’s lessening. These were tears of relief, not pain and sadness.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t understand,” he mumbled. “When I heard you crying at night, and you lied when I asked what was wrong… I… I thought you regretted the mate bite, and that you were crying because you were stuck with me. And it hurt so much, and I got so scared, and I pulled away when you needed me the most. I’m so, so sorry.”

For the first time since the alpha came into the room, Koichi lifted his head and looked at him with red-rimmed eyes, stunned.

“But I love you!” he exclaimed. “Why would I regret the bite?”

“And I love you, so why would I ever leave you?” Hazuki retorted, smiling through the tears. For a moment, they just looked into each other’s eyes, and then Hazuki leaned down and kissed his mate, a slow, deep kiss with all the love and devotion he could muster poured into it. Their lips and tongues danced, comforting and loving rather than sensual, all of their pent up longing for each other coming through in the kiss. When they finally parted, Koichi threw his arms around the alpha’s neck and leaned his head on his shoulder, breathing in his musky scent in deep, long breaths. In turn, Hazuki nuzzled his mate’s neck, kissing the two parallel scars. They sat like that for a long while, slowly relaxing into each other again.

All of a sudden, Koichi huffed softly.

“Hm?” Hazuki lifted his head to look at him.

“We could have just talked about it two months ago. We’re a bit stupid, aren’t we?”

The alpha couldn’t help laughing at that, giving his mate a big kiss.

“Yeah. We are.”

. . . . .

When Hazuki came into the dining room for dinner, getting some food for himself and Koichi, a room full of nervous people shifted and fidgeted, trying to decipher his face without staring. It felt a little unnerving, and he was grateful to see Toshiya get up from his chair to greet him. He smiled at the tall alpha as he approached.

“Hey. How is he doing?” Toshiya looked troubled, but not worried to death, and Hazuki suspected Tatsurou had filled him in on at least the basics.

“Better. He’s gonna be sore for weeks, though. I think his thigh is just one big bruise, to be honest, so I’m making him stay in bed for a few days. But at least he didn’t break his arm again, so that’s something at least,” he offered rather loudly for the benefit of the room. A collective sigh of relief swept the room as he walked over to the serving table and started loading up dinner for the both of them, Toshiya helping him carry plates and glasses back to the sickroom. They stopped for a moment outside the door. This time, Hazuki kept his voice down, eyeing Toshiya.

“So, Tatsu told you what happened? All of you?”

“About the baby? Yeah, he did, but just me, not the rest. Do you want me to tell them?”

“I don’t know,” the alpha said, hesitating. “I think Kou should decide. It’s his body, after all.”

Toshiya nodded, understanding, looking at his friend with sympathy. “I’m so sorry.”

Hazuki nodded in thanks, making a little grimace. “Yeah, well. We didn’t know, so… But Kou’s pretty shaken up. He really wants a kid. Something else I didn’t know.”

Toshiya studied his face carefully. “And you…?

“Me? I want it if it happens, but it doesn’t have to happen for me to be happy with him. But he thought I really did, so he felt like a huge failure for not giving me a child yet. Turns out, that was what the crying was about. He was scared I’d leave him if he couldn’t have kids.”

“Oh, wow, that’s harsh. Poor guy.” Toshiya looked pained. “So… the bite thing?”

“Was just me being stupid.” Hazuki smiled a crooked smile and scratched his chin with a tattooed hand, almost tipping the glass he was holding. “Basically, we should just have talked it out a lot sooner, like you said. We’re good now though.”

Toshiya smiled widely, giving him a quick hug while balancing the plate.

“I’m so glad to hear that. I was getting very worried about you two there for a while.”

“Yeah, well, worry no longer and help me with the door instead,” Hazuki grinned, dripping some water on the floor as he stumbled a little on the threshold.

. . . . .

Toshiya asked the same question a little while later, as he delivered food to Die’s and Subaru’s cottage. This was one of the nights Subaru couldn’t make it out the door, and Toshiya had taken it upon himself to bring them dinner on those evenings. Die came outside to get the food, looking a little worn out from worry.

“He’s not doing so good, actually. He’s crying a lot, and when he’s not, he’s kind of quiet and doesn’t want to talk too much. He’s embarrassed as well, worried about what everyone thinks of him.”

“Well, tell him from me no one thinks badly of him, ok? And that we’re there for him when he needs us.” He watched Die closely as the slender alpha nodded. “And you? How are you holding up?”

Die looked up quickly, sighing before he looked back down on the ground. “I’m… doing better than him. But I’m not gonna say it feels great. I just wish I could help him, you know?”

“You are,” Toshiya assured him. “Just give it time. It’s only been about a month.”

“Yeah. I will. Anyway, thanks for this.” He gestured at the basket of food, before the two nodded goodbye and he went back into the cottage to try to convince Subaru to eat a little. Toshiya wandered slowly back up to the big house, his heart filled with worry.

. . . . .

After dinner, Tatsurou came back to have a look at Koichi, before he gave the go-ahead for him to go back to his cabin if he wanted to. Hazuki looked down on his mate.

“What do you say, babe? Do you want to spend the night in here or should I take you home?”

“I want to go home and sleep in my own bed,” Koichi said, sitting up slowly on the bed, groaning as his sore muscles protested the movement. “I’ll have to take it slow, though.”

A moment later he found himself scooped up bridal style by his mate, the blanket still wrapped around him. He smiled softly and put his arms around the alpha’s neck, leaning his head on a strong shoulder, as he was carried out of the house and down towards their cottage. They passed a few people on the way, but no one stopped them as they made their way home. Asanao and Satochi stood talking outside their cottage, maybe ten meters from the couple’s, and Asanao quickly walked up and helped open the door for them. Hazuki nodded in thanks, hearing the door close behind him again as he carried his mate over to their bed and gently put him down on it.

“There,” he said, smiling softly. “Home at last. Here, let me help you get out of those dirty clothes.”

Koichi mumbled something but let the alpha undress him carefully, wincing as he moved sore muscles and touched bruises. He crawled underneath the covers with Hazuki’s help, trying to find the least painful position, as he watched the alpha undress and put his own muddy clothes in a pile on the floor. He had already washed off most of his dirt up at the house, while Tatsurou cleaned the scrapes on Koichi’s cheek, and so he was soon ready to climb into bed next to his lover. He climbed in, lying next to the omega a little hesitantly, not knowing what to do.

“Zu?” Koichi whispered, using the pet name he only used when they were alone.

“Yes, baby?”

“Can we… talk about this now? I don’t want any weirdness or things left unsaid between us.”

Long, calloused fingers caressed his cheek lovingly, lips softly pressing against his for a moment before they were pulled away again.

“I really think we should.”

And so they talked, and talked, and talked. They spoke about their fears and their wishes, their hopes and their pain, and eventually, when they felt they had said all they could and bared their souls completely to each other, they finally curled up close together and slept dreamlessly well into the morning.

Chapter Text

Almost six weeks after they had left, Reika and Yukihiro returned. One morning they were spotted standing on the shore, three more figures standing beside them. The two alphas were waving at the boat as it came closer, big grins awaiting their friends.

Toshiya went over for such an event, bringing Kyo, Miya and Kaoru. As he jumped out of the boat, he was greeted with a big hug each from Reika and Yukihiro. He then turned to the newcomers as the others were getting out on the shore behind him, greeting their friends happily.

There were three alphas watching them, their expressions not giving away any thoughts. They were rather thin, of course, but looked like they had managed to stay away from utter starvation so far. The eldest seemed to be their leader, Toshiya guessed his age to be around 50, while his two friends were probably about a decade younger. They all had a rather imposing aura despite their lean bodies, standing with their backs straight. Military? Their leader had a rather angular face, straight shoulder-length hair with streaks of grey framing it. He also had very intense eyes that felt like they could bore holes through people, and right now they were scanning the islanders. The other two had rounder features but looked equally stern, staying one half step behind their leader. For a moment, they just assessed each other with their eyes, before Toshiya bowed lightly.

“Welcome,” he said. “My name is Toshiya.”

“And you’re the leader?” the older alpha said, not giving his own name but instead inspecting the alpha from head to toe.

“I am. In what way we have a leader. It’s my island. And this is Miya, Kaoru and Kyo,” he said, gesturing to his friends who nodded in greeting.

The alpha looked him straight in the eyes for a moment, Toshiya meeting his gaze head on. He sensed they were having some sort of battle of wills, and he was not going to back down and let someone else think they had the upper hand on his island. Eventually, the alpha nodded shortly, as if he accepted what he saw, and bowed lightly back.

“Pleased to meet you. My name is Atsushi. These are my friends Shuse and Jun-ji.” He gestured to the two alphas behind him, who bowed shortly and then stood back up, still saying nothing.

“You’re ex military, I take it?” Toshiya asked and received a short nod in confirmation. He gestured to a log lying on the beach, a remnant from the failed attack on the island. They had gathered up the rest of the logs from the rafts and used them on the island for building and firewood, but left this one lying for those who were guarding the boat during hunts to sit on.

“Please, have a seat. I’m sure you understand we would like to talk for a while and get to know each other better before we take you to the island?”

Atsushi nodded. “If you hadn’t, we wouldn’t have come. Not screening people is stupid. We don’t join stupid people.”

Toshiya raised an eyebrow at that and smirked a little, before turning to Kaoru who handed him a bag. “I’m guessing you’re hungry and thirsty from your walk. Let’s talk over some lunch.” He glanced over his shoulder at Reika and Yukihiro. “I’ll just have a chat with my friends real quick before we join you.”

“Thank you. We’ll wait for you to eat with us,” Atsushi said, sitting down on the log and crossing his arms, his friends joining him.

The three waited while the islanders gathered a bit away, close enough to be able to stop the others from reaching the boat if they tried, but far enough away to not be heard if they kept their voices down.

“So, talk to us,” Toshiya said, turning to Reika and Yukihiro. The alphas glanced at each other, before Reika started.

“Well, I think we can safely say there aren’t a lot of us left out there. We walked for almost two weeks before we met anyone at all, and trust me, we did not want those people on our island. Food is getting really, really scarce too, so we were lucky we could bring as much as we did from here. But still, it was hard going for a while. We met these guys three weeks ago, and approached them carefully. It took a while to be able to sit down and talk – these guys aren’t exactly trusting – but once we did they turned out to be pretty nice from what we can tell.”

Yukihiro nodded, filling in. “Yeah, Atsushi seems really harsh at first, but from what we can tell he’s got the right values and he’s nice when you’ve talked for a while. Kind of like a rougher Reo.”

Reika agreed and continued. “He used to be a major in the army, and Shuse and Jun-ji were his sergeants. They were stationed together when things fell through, and they stuck together. Shuse and Jun-ji are really happy and fun guys when they let their guard down. We’ve talked a lot with these guys in the last three weeks, and we both believe in them.” He glanced questioningly at Yukihiro, who affirmed with a nod.

“I’m sorry we could only bring three people, but to be honest, they were the only good guys we could find. And we think they could be useful to us.”

“How much have you told them about us and the island?” Kaoru asked.

“Only what we agreed on,” said Yukihiro. “Enough to entice them, but not enough to give up our strength or defenses. The ‘we offer food and shelter, but you’re expected to work for it’ speech.”

Toshiya and the others listened, and Toshiya nodded when they were done, patting Reika, who was closest, on his back.

“You did good,” he said. “Now, let’s talk to them some more and get you guys something to eat.”

The alphas lit up as he mentioned food, happily coming along as they all moved back to the log. Miya opened the backpack and started bringing out some containers of food, handing it out together with forks, before he opened another backpack and pulled out water bottles.

The former military men accepted the food with a gracious nod but waited to bite into it until the others had tasted theirs. Their returning islanders had no such qualms however, throwing themselves over the stew Kai had packed for lunch. Reika groaned as he bit into a piece of meat, stuffing some potato into his mouth next, sounding more and more like he would have an orgasm any second. The others laughed at him, but he just grinned at them, swallowing.

“Oh my god, I’ve missed this. It tastes even better than I remembered.” A thought suddenly struck him. “Wait… Is this Kai’s doing?”

Toshiya grinned back. “Yup. Putting him in the kitchen turned out to be one of out best ideas yet.”

“No shit!” Reika said happily, stuffing a large piece of meat in his mouth. Yukihiro was too busy eating to say anything, and after a moment of observing the others, Atsushi, Jun-ji and Shuse also took their first bites.

“Holy fuck!” Shuse suddenly exclaimed, making the others jump in surprise. He looked a little embarrassed as he pointed to the food with his fork while chewing and swallowing. “Sorry, but this was really good,” he said. “It’s been a while since we had cooked food.”

Toshiya smiled at him, noting that the alpha looked surprisingly open and friendly for a moment before he slipped back into military mode. “Most say that when they come to us,” the islander said, tilting his head and watching the other two.

“Taste ok? We’re trying out a new chef,” he asked, knowing full well that Kai had proved to be a master in the kitchen, but wanting to see what the others would say.

“It’s delicious. Thank you.” Atsushi was calm and collected when he answered, but he couldn’t quite hide the eagerness with which he ate. Jun-ji didn’t even try, he just grinned and made a thumbs up, continuing to stuff his face, apparently very hungry. The sergeant also had a nice happy smile, Toshiya noted. He was not as furrowed as Shuse, and his hair was long and tied into a pony tail, while Shuse had his cut shorter.

The islanders waited while the rest finished their meals, nibbling a little on their own since they had breakfast not long ago. Miya handed out a bowl for their guests to have seconds if they wanted, and they all happily refilled their containers. Finally, Reika put the empty bowl down, leaning back with a hand on his stomach.

“Ok, I’m full,” he said and burped loudly. Yukihiro leaned back and used his backpack as a pillow as he lay down, huffing and puffing from having to move with a full stomach.

“Told you the food was good,” Reika said, eyeing the older alphas and grinning.

“So you did,” Atsushi said, but he looked pleased as he handed his container and fork back to Miya to stuff back into the bag. “Thank you very much. But now, I would like to hear more about this place with the excellent chef.”

Toshiya and Kaoru exchanged glances. They had agreed beforehand on what to say, and what to find out before they agreed to let the alphas come to the island. The taller alpha looked back to the others, looking thoughtful.

“Why don’t we start,” he said slowly, “with introducing ourselves a little better. All of us,” he stressed, watching the major. He got a searching look, but soon Atsushi smirked.

“Sure. Why don’t I start. As I said, my name is Atsushi. I am, or was, a major in the army. I’ve been in the military for 28 years. I was stationed with these two gentlemen on the east coast, and we had just gotten orders to relocate to another base the day before the worldfall. We spent the night driving there, and when we got to the base the morning after, the world had changed. The base was only manned to a fifth of its capacity, and we had received no news and no orders. A day after, people started getting sick, and soon enough those who weren’t dead had deserted. Eventually, we left as well, and have been on the road ever since, like everybody else. Our stories are all the same.” He paused his story, looking to his friends to see what he had missed before he turned back to Toshiya. “Your turn, and then we can do questions after.”

Toshiya nodded, giving a recap of their stories and how they got to the island, mentioning that some had come early on and others had joined later. He still kept the description of the community itself very general, but did mention that it consisted of both alphas and omegas in fairly equal numbers, keeping a close look on their guests’ reaction. Atsushi lifted one eyebrow in surprise at the information, and Jun-ji whistled.

“Wow. That’s unusual nowadays,” Shuse offered, looking intrigued. “Few omegas seem to have made it on their own, and those who are with alphas are usually not faring very well.”

“No, they’re not. But what we are offering is a safe haven for them. I want to make that very clear, right now. No alpha on this island is allowed to do anything to an omega that he hasn’t expressively allowed. We have a few omegas that have been sorely mistreated and are very distrustful of alphas, and we will expect them to be met with extra consideration. That means no groping, no threatening words, nothing. Any transgression will have the alpha in question immediately banned from the community and taken off the island, not allowed to return.”

“Hmmm. And has that happened?” Atsushi asked, noting the glances between the alphas at the question.

“Once,” Kaoru said shortly. “We made a bad call and let an alpha join us who later tried to rape one of our omegas. He tried to get off the island on his own before we could catch him, but drowned trying.”

“Drowned?” Shuse inquired, looking at them intently, trying to tell if they were telling the truth.

“He tried to take that boat out alone in a storm,” Kaoru said, waving his hand at the boat on the shore. Shuse glanced at the boat and then nodded shortly in understanding.

“Better death than he would have had if we’d caught him,” Kyo muttered, his first words of the morning. “Hazuki would have ripped him apart.”

Toshiya turned to the militaries, sighing. “The omega’s mate,” he explained. “Or his boyfriend at the time, actually, but…”

“Hmmm, yes. You have mated couples, I’ve noticed,” Atsushi said, looking straight at Miya.

“We do,” Miya admitted, “I met my mate Before but some are newer.” He was debating on whether to tell him they had kids as well when Kaoru interrupted.

“No mate bites are forced upon an omega. Everything is voluntary, always. We need to know if you can sign off on that. We will not have anyone with us who cannot agree to our terms and abide by our rules.”

Their guests exchanged glances, before Jun-ji spoke for all of them. “Of course. We will respect the boundaries, and agree not to force ourselves upon an omega or hurt them in any way.” The islanders nodded, but Jun-ji continued. “However,” he said, “we will need a full list of these rules before we agree to them.”

“Of course,” Toshiya said. “We would expect no less.” And so he told them of their setup, how the community was set up and what was expected of each and everyone. He also told them what their contribution would earn them, exchanging work for food, shelter and a strong friendship within the community. The fact that all major decisions were made together made the alphas’ interest peak, but they said nothing about it. When he was done, Atsushi nodded, his brow furrowed in thought.

“Yes, this we can agree to, and we would work to do our part. But I must ask, why us? You seem to have everything in order, even having your own nurse. What made you send two of your friends out to search for others?”

Toshiya sighed, he had been dreading this question, but it had to be said even though the information exposed them. Kyo leaned forward, eyeing their guests carefully, and the others tensed up a little as well. Their guests took note, their stance stiffening a little.

“We… we need help and reinforcements, strength in numbers,” Toshiya said finally. “A while back, we were attacked by a large gang of alphas. Maybe you noticed the large grave on the way here? Those were our attackers. We fought them off and killed most of them, but we lost one of our own and had another severely hurt during the attack. We are not fighters. We have bettered our defenses at key points, but there is still much left to do. And we fear what will happen if they come back again in greater numbers.”

Atsushi leaned back, his piercing eyes judging the alpha as he spoke. When Toshiya was done, he glanced to his two friends.

“I think we need to discuss this among ourselves,” he said, the other two nodding. “But first, we need to know one thing. How many of you are there on that island, exactly?

Ok, this was it. Toshiya’s heart was pounding and he glanced to the others before he answered, their faces grim as well. He took a deep breath and then just took the plunge.

“48 in total. 21 alphas, 22 omegas and 5 kids.”

“Whoa, kids?!” Shuse’s jaw was dropping like a rock, and the other two froze, staring at them. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“We’re not,” Miya said. “I have a son. He was born a few months after the world burned, and we have found a safe home for him here.”

Shuse still looked shocked. “Geez… I don’t know what to say… I didn’t think there were any kids left. I haven’t seen one for years. I figured we were going extinct and this was just our dying breaths.”

He turned to his two friends, a determined look in his eyes. “I don’t know about you guys, but kids? Doesn’t that kind of decide the issue for us?”

The islanders looked between them, wondering what that meant. Which way had the scales tipped? They soon found out, as Jun-ji nodded in silent agreement, and Atsushi turned to the islanders.

“So,” he said slowly. “We agree to your terms, and we would be honored to come to your island and help protect it.”

The islanders let out a collective breath, relief clear on their faces. Still, Toshiya wanted one last safeguard.

“We appreciate the offer, and welcome you to our midst. But to be safe, how about we say that you are our guests for a week, and if we feel the arrangement works out on both sides, we make it permanent. If not, we give you enough food to make it back to where you were.”

Atsushi smirked a little but bowed his head in agreement. They all gathered their stuff and got into the boat, the newcomers looking curiously towards the island. When they approached the new dock, the palisade closing them off from the shore, they examined it closely from the outside.

“Interesting,” Atsushi said, looking from side to side, watching as Kyo hollered to the people on the inside, the grate slowly starting to rise after a moment to the clattering of pulleys. Jun-ji and Shuse also watched with great interest as they rowed through the opening, the grate dropping behind them at a faster pace than it had been pulled up. They turned in the boat, watching the mechanism, Atsushi nodding approvingly.

“Who designed this?” he asked, whistling as he scanned the construction as they pulled up to the bridge built all along the inside of the palisade.

“I did,” Kaoru said, their guests turning in surprise. “I’m an engineer,” he explained. “I mainly used to design ships, but the physics are the same no matter the field. And I study when I can.”

“Well done,” the alpha admired, Kaoru bowing his head in thanks.

Aki and Ryo was there to catch the rope, and they quickly pulled the boat in and tied it to a pole, everyone climbing out of the boat on a wooden ladder extending into the water. The alphas introduced themselves to each other before Toshiya led the way up towards the village. When they reached the part where the path opened up and you could see the buildings clearly, their guests stopped in their tracks.

“Wow.” Shuse looked amazed as he looked around, looking over the little village. “You weren’t kidding.”

Toshiya felt more than a little pride in his chest as he watched the military men admire their work. They kept looking around as they walked up towards the big house, Atsushi keeping his facial expressions in check while the two ex sergeants allowed themselves to ogle.

“Shou! Shou, I’m warning you… Get back here!” Masa’s voice came just before a four-year-old cannon ball came shooting in from the left, where Uruha’s and Kai’s cottage stood, its door open. The boy ran happily, his little legs drumming away as he made his way over the open grass area, a hair brush clutched in his small hands. Miya smirked and stepped in to swoop the kid up into his arms, tickling him mercilessly on his still round tummy, Shou squirming and giggling hysterically in his arms.

A few seconds later, Masa showed up, a little out of breath. “I swear, Shou, you’re gonna make us all grey before our time,” he said, but the stern tone was softened by a smile as he reached out and accepted the child from Miya, hanging him on his hip while grabbing the hair brush and pulling it out of the little one’s hands, cleverly replacing it with his favorite bunny plushy to avoid whining.

“Hey babe,” he sighed, leaning in to give his grinning mate a kiss. Miya smirked at him, kissing him eagerly back.

“Having a busy day?” he asked innocently and received a glare from his mate.

“If Tora starts to mimic Shou I’m blaming you,” Masa said emphatically, Miya laughing.

“Like you’re so innocent,” he grinned. Masa’s eyes narrowed into slits as he peered at the alpha for a second, before he gave up the pretence and chuckled.

“Well, at least I didn’t run away with things we need every two seconds, like this little guy,” he said, smirking at Shou and nuzzling his head. Shou squirmed in response, wanting to run some more, despite being stuck in his caretaker’s arms. Masa’s gaze shifted to the newcomers, eyeing them curiously as they watched him and the boy interestedly. Miya hurried to introduce them.

“This is my mate, Masa, and this little guy is Shou, Kai and Uruha’s kid. They’ve got two, Hiroto is younger.”

“And asleep along with our son Tora and the other kids,” Masa added, bowing quickly at the alphas who bowed back, introducing themselves. The islanders watched them carefully, wanting to see their attitude towards the omega. But everything seemed fine, and they relaxed a little. Masa excused himself and went back to the cottage, Shou babbling on about what he really needed the hair brush for (which had absolutely nothing to do with hair, and everything to do with digging), the omega calmly trying to explain why hair brushes should not be stuffed into sand. The alphas chuckled at the conversation before they continued on to the big house, Jun-ji looking after the omega.

“It’s kind of amazing to see kids again,” he said, smiling. Toshiya smiled back, a warm smile. Maybe this would work out the way they hoped.

When they entered the big house, Toshiya steered them into the dining room first. It was mostly empty at this time of day, but Ruki was there, cleaning the tables. He happily bounded over and plastered himself onto Kyo as he came in, completely ignoring the newcomers. One very dedicated kiss later, he begrudgingly let go to notice the new alphas.

Here comes the first real test, Toshiya thought as Ruki tilted his head and glared at the newcomers. “More alphas? How about you let us omegas fight smart instead?” he leered, eyeing his lover. Kyo was just about to answer when Atsushi opened his mouth.

“That’s not a bad idea, actually.” The room fell quiet as everyone turned to look at him. He shrugged, looking to Toshiya. “In our units, we had omega scouts. They did really well. There are ways to put omegas in the fight without putting them on the front line,” he said, as a matter of fact. Ruki stared at him, and then at Kyo.

“Who is this guy? I like him! I totally vote for him staying,” he exclaimed, earning himself a glare from his alpha. Atsushi chuckled a little at Kyo’s growl, and watched as the alpha lifted his omega easily, tossing him over his shoulder as he walked out of the room and out the front door, Ruki protesting loudly and banging on his back. Toshiya looked after them, shaking his head.

“That was Ruki, Kyo’s boyfriend. Him and Kyo are kind of… shall we call it special?” he grinned, the others laughing.

“I gathered,” Atsushi said, allowing himself a brief smile. As Toshiya waved at them to sit down, they took a seat at one of the tables, looking around.

“This is our dining room,” Toshiya explained. “We serve breakfast here every morning at seven thirty, lunch at noon and dinner at seven.”

Shuse raised one eyebrow. “Specific times?” he asked. “How do you keep track of the time?”

“We found some solar powered watches,” Toshiya explained. “Some run on batteries, but so far they are still running. We also gathered enough batteries to hopefully run them for a few more years. Also, since we have the ones who are solar powered, we can keep a few that needs to be taken care of manually and keep them in working order. So far it’s worked out.”

Shuse opened his mouth to say something more, but got interrupted by a sudden squeak from the door. They turned in surprise, the sudden sound making the new alpha’s tense and reaching for the knifes in their belts.

Hikaru stood there, watching them with wide eyes, his breathing quick and shallow. He had not expected any alphas in the house at this hour, and certainly not newcomers with threatening demeanour, and so he had run down the stairs ahead of Yo-Ka and now found himself on his own.

Toshiya quickly put a hand on Atsushi’s shoulder, the alpha glancing at him before he relaxed, his sergeants following suit. Hikaru still stood transfixed in the doorway however, shaking like a leaf.

“It’s ok, Hikaru, they won’t hurt you, I promise.” Toshiya’s soft voice shifted Hikaru’s gaze, but he seemed no calmer. “Where’s Yo-Ka?” the alpha asked, his tone gentle. Jun-ji eyed him a little curiously. At that very second, Yo-Ka appeared, quickly taking in the situation before wrapping his arms around the frozen omega.

“It’s ok, baby, I’m here. I’ll keep you safe. Come on,” he said softly, caressing Hikaru’s hair as he gently pulled the omega back out of the room.

At the word ‘baby’, Atsushi frowned, eyeing the omegas strangely and throwing a glance at Toshiya. He kept his mouth shut though, just pursing his lips a little. Toshiya noticed but waited for a comment, and when it didn’t come he kept his silence, mentally noting the reaction for future reference.

“That was Hikaru,” he said, making sure the three alphas looked at him so he could make his point very clear. “He came to us only a few months ago, after over a year of horrible abuse and a forced mate bite in the hands of alphas. He’s healing bodily, but he’s got trust issues, especially with alphas he doesn’t know. His friend Uta is here as well, and those two are the ones I mentioned that most require extra deference.”

Shuse and Jun-ji just nodded, and Atsushi gave Toshiya a short nod but still threw a strange glance after the two omegas.

It was almost lunch time by now, people started sifting in from work, and the real introductions started. The militaries were politely greeting everyone, alpha and omega alike. Soon everyone settled down for lunch and Toshiya showed the alphas where to get food if they wanted more, and the three managed to squeeze down another good-sized portion each on top of what they had already had. Reika, Kai and Tatsurou joined them at the table, the nurse and cook introducing themselves and getting appreciative responses. Toshiya also discreetly pointed out Uta, who stayed at the other side of the room, eyeing the newcomers warily.

“He’s beautiful,” Jun-ji pointed out, raising an eyebrow. “Hard to believe anyone could bear hitting that pretty face.”

Toshiya was just about to answer him when the room stirred, people turning towards the door. Koichi was standing there, leaning on Hazuki’s arm, limping on his left leg and with bruises on his face, but walking on his own. He smiled happily as his friends greeted him enthusiactically. Hiyuu came up to give him a quick hug before Hazuki helped him over to a seat at Toshiya’s table, going to get them some food. Koichi blinked a little at their guests, suddenly a little nervous at being without his mate in the presence of three unknown and rather commanding figures.

“Nice to see you back on your feet,” Kai said, smiling at him.

“Thanks,” Koichi said, blushing a little. “I was going crazy in bed, so…”

“Good, then we can have a look at you after lunch,” Tatsurou smiled. “It’s about time we do a check-up now anyway.”

At that moment, Hazuki came back with their food. He put the plates down and then introduced himself to the new alphas, bowing politely.

“And this is my mate Koichi,” he said as he sat down, giving the omega a quick kiss on the side of his head. Koichi blushed again and looked at his mate with large, adoring eyes, leaning into his touch.

“What happened?” Shuse asked, waving his hand a little, indicating the bruised face.

“I fell from a roof,” the omega admitted quietly. “But I had reasons! I’m not clumsy,” he added, eyeing his alpha.

“I know you’re not, babe, but couldn’t you at least consider choosing something else to do that didn’t put you on a roof again?” his mate sighed.

“No! I like construction!” The omega’s face was determined, and Hazuki couldn’t help chuckling and throwing his hands up, giving up.

“Fine, I won’t argue anymore. But I’m insisting Kaoru build you a safety harness of some kind.”

Koichi huffed but shrugged before he dug into his food, not really caring as long as his mate didn’t take away his newfound favorite chore. Atsushi watched them, that small smile playing in the corner of his mouth, but he kept his silence.

The rest of the lunch was spent chatting, getting to know each other better. Tsuzuku came over after finishing his meal to talk to Koichi, little Tatsuya hanging on his arm to the interest of the new alphas. His friend bit his lip but said nothing about it, though he gratefully melted into Hazuki’s chest as his mate glanced at the baby and then put his arm around him, pulling him close.

“Hi there, who are you?” Jun-ji said, gently letting the baby grab his index finger and making a cute face at him.

Tsuzuku smiled proudly. “His name’s Tatsuya,” he said and kissed the boy on top of his little head before he gave Jun-ji a dazzling smile.

“And I’m his dad,” a voice came from behind, Reo stepping up and putting his arm protectively around his mate. “I’m Reo. This is my mate, Tsuzuku,” he said, slightly stressing the word ‘mate’ as if Jun-ji wouldn’t be able to feel the omega’s scent. The sergeant smiled and bowed his head in greeting, noting the alpha’s possessive nature.

“You have a beautiful family,” he said, cooing a little at Tatsuya before he retrieved his finger and turned to Reo again. “You’re a lucky guy.”

Reo relaxed slightly and nodded. “More than you know,” he said, leaning down to kiss his mate’s head. Tsuzuku smiled up at him and reached out to let his fingers stroke through Reo’s whitening temple. “We’re both incredibly lucky,” he mumbled and received an affectionate smile from his mate.

“Reo got shot in the stomach during the attack I told you about,” Toshiya explained. “Thank god we had Tatsurou, or things would have turned out differently.”

The militaries stared from Toshiya to Reo to Tatsurou and back, and Shuse gave a low whistle.

“Wow, gut wounds are dangerous and hard to deal with. You’re good,” he said to Tatsurou who looked a little flustered at the sudden praise and tried to wave it off, leading the conversation back to other topics as the little family walked back to their table.

When they were done eating, Tatsurou stood up, helping Koichi up from his chair to go do the check-up. Hazuki threw Reika a glance.

“I’ll be with you in a second, love,” he said, and Koichi pouted a little but left with the nurse. As soon as they were out of the room, Hazuki turned to his friend.

“Did you get it?” he asked, Reika smirking in reply.

“You’ll be the most popular mate on the island come December,” he grinned.

“Great! Thanks man, I owe you one!”

“No worries,” Reika said, waving him off to go be with his mate.

Toshiya looked after the alpha’s disappearing back and then to Reika. “What was that all about?” he asked curiously.

“You’ll see,” Reika grinned, refusing to say anything else.

Chapter Text

“How about my heat? Can I have my heat as usual?” Koichi asked nervously once Tatsurou had finished his examination. He nervously held Hazuki’s hand, waiting for the nurse’s judgement. By now everyone knew what had happened, and the nurse knew of more than a few omegas who were awaiting the news as anxiously as Koichi.

“If you feel like your body can handle it, I don’t see why not,” Tatsurou said, smiling at him. “But I want you to be careful, any pain in your stomach before then and you come to me for suppressants instead.”

“Ok,” the omega agreed, having no intention of taking suppressants no matter what. “But could I… get pregnant… this time around you think? And would it be dangerous for the baby if I did?”

“Or would it be dangerous for Kou to get pregnant again so soon?” Hazuki filled in, giving his omega a meaningful look that clearly stated what he thought was most important.

“I don’t think you should hope for it. But I don’t think it would be dangerous, for either of you, if it happened. Better not to believe it will happen though.” The nurse looked serious. “Your body’s taken a huge hit in more ways than one, and it needs to take its time. Just let it.”

“Fine,” Koichi sighed, snuggling up to Hazuki and letting his head rest on his shoulder.

“You’re the most important thing in the world to me, babe. Promise you’ll take care of yourself, ok?” The alpha leaned his cheek on the top of his mate’s head, holding him close.

“Mmmmm. You too,” the pink-haired omega mumbled, sighing happily.

Tatsurou watched the couple, enjoying seeing them snuggling cutely again, a big smile on his face. “Now, you have about three weeks to your heat, right? Use them to relax and take care of yourself. No working whatsoever, and follow the programme I gave you. I entrust him to you, Hazuki,” he finished, the alpha nodding.

“I’ll take care of him, I promise.”

“I know you will,” the nurse smiled.

. . . . .

The three guests were put up in Tatsurou’s old cottage for the time being, since it had been fixed up during the summer. It was small, but Atsushi assured Toshiya they were used to barracks and hard floors, if they had shelter at all, so this was perfect.

“We’ll have the other two cottages finished in a week or two,” Toshiya said.

“We’re fine, honestly,” Shuse said, smiling at their host. Toshiya smiled back, bowing slightly before he left them to their own devices for the night. They had, however, arranged a watch all night, taking shifts to stealthily make sure their guests didn’t turn out to be something else than they claimed, trying to do any harm under the cover of darkness. He exchanged a glance with Asanao and Aki, taking the first watch, as he passed them on his way to his own cottage.

When he opened it, he found Shinya in bed already, his nose buried in a book on vegetables. The omega hardly looked up as Toshiya entered, just mumbling a distracted hello behind his book. The alpha eyed him as he got undressed, feeling a mixture of pride over Shinya doing his homework so diligently and frustration at how absorbed in his books his lover had been lately. He quickly came up with a cunning plan to get some attention.

At first, Shinya didn’t notice the fact that Toshiya was underneath the covers, pulling the duvet over him as he crawled upwards from the foot of the bed. He couldn’t help noticing, however, when hot lips pressed against his cock, a wet tongue sliding out to play around his balls, suckling them softly. The omega gasped, dropping the book he was holding in surprise, the thump when it hit Toshiya’s head too loud in the room. He hurried to push it away, lifting the duvet and looking with remorse at the alpha who was groaning and rubbing his head.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry!”

“You didn’t have to hit me if you weren’t up for it,” Toshiya said, sitting back on his haunches and grimacing.

“I didn’t mean to! You just surprised me so I dropped the book! Are you alright?” Shinya sat up, stretching out his hands and cupping the alpha’s face, his fingers feeling through the curly head to make sure his lover wasn’t hurt.

Toshiya chuckled suddenly, grabbing the omega’s hands and kissing them. “I’m fine, sweetie. The sexy mood might have gotten a little roughed up though.”

Shinya stared at him, and then he suddenly burst out in giggles. They laughed together for a minute, before Shinya got up on his knees so that he was eye level with his lover. He snaked his arms around the alpha’s neck, leaning forward slowly to kiss him softly without tongue. Then he pulled back just far enough for his breath to caress the other’s skin as he whispered.

“Maybe I can rekindle the flame?”

Toshiya’s breathing immediately got heavier as he licked his lips suggestively.

“Yeah,” he whispered. “I think you can.”

They kissed lovingly at first, but soon their hunger took over, their tongues plunging eagerly into each other’s mouths, moans leaving them. One hand slid down Shinya’s back, lightly following the curve of his lower back before it moved down to grab an ass cheek firmly, kneading it. A small whimper left the omega’s mouth at the touch, his head falling back and to the side, exposing his neck.

Toshiya growled in his throat, teeth closing around a pale and slender neck, biting hard enough to leave a mark before he let go and licked over the sore spot.

“Mine,” he growled, pushing Shinya down on his back and letting himself fall after him, catching himself mere centimeters over Shinya’s face, heavily lidded eyes looking into the omega’s slightly dazed.

“Yes, yours, all yours” Shinya mewled, bucking up at the alpha.

His lover didn’t wait any longer, but plunged down, his tongue snaking its way into his lover’s mouth as he parted his legs and got in position.

“God, fuck me, just do it,” Shinya whimpered. Toshiya lost it completely when he heard the lewd words leaving his usually more demure boyfriend’s lips, and a moment later he was thrusting into the omega, both of them groaning. He grabbed the omega’s wrists and held him down as he set up a languid rhythm, his mouth nipping and marking every patch of skin he could reach. Shinya let himself be controlled and held down, enjoying the feeling of strong hands holding him in place.

When Toshiya suddenly pulled out he whined, desperately reaching for his lover, wanting to feel him inside again. He soon found himself flipped around, the alpha grabbing his hips and pulling them up, his ass pointing in the direction of Toshiya’s cock. They both nearly lost it as the alpha thrust into him again, and it didn’t take long until the knot had grown enough to make any further change in positions impossible. With a small shout, Toshiya came, Shinya only two thrusts behind. The small omega almost tumbled to the bed in exhaustion, but his lover caught him and gently put him down, curling up protectively around him and kissing his neck and shoulders, paying extra attention to all the marks he had left with his teeth.

They relaxed for a minute, catching their breaths. After a few minutes, Shinya carefully entwined his fingers with his lover’s, turning his head as much as he could in this position. “Toshiya?”

“Mmm, what is it babe?” a voice mumbled beneath a mass of curls.

“I was just wondering…” He paused, biting his lip. Toshiya brushed the hair from his face, rising on his elbow so he could watch the uncertain face.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” he asked, a little worried.

“Nothing! Nothing’s wrong. It’s more like… very right,” the omega whispered, as if saying it any louder would make things go wrong. “I love you, and you love me, right?”

“Of course I love you! More than anything. You’re scaring me, what’s going on?”

“I just… I was wondering… I…” Shinya fought with the words, until he finally just spit it out, blushing furiously. “Would you consider me as your mate?” The words rushed out of him, and he almost took them back when he saw Toshiya’s jaw drop. Before he had time to say anything though, the alpha swooped him into his arms, kissing him hard. When he finally pulled back, he had tears in his eyes.

“Do you really want to be my mate? Because I want you, so, so much, but I wasn’t sure you’d want to, with all that’s happened. But I’d love to be your mate, if you’ll have me.” His voice was shaking slightly, and Shinya felt himself tear up at the sight of his big, strong alpha reduced to tears.

“I do,” he whispered. “I want to feel you wherever you are, know you’re there. My heart is yours, and I want it to be forever.”

Toshiya burst out into actual tears, burying his face in Shinya’s neck, holding him close for a long while. When he was finally calmer again, his knot had shrunk enough to slip out, and the omega slowly turned around to face him. For a while, they just lay there, looking deeply into each other’s eyes, fingers softly caressing each other.

“Are you really sure? It is forever you know, no taking it back or changing your mind. Are you sure you won’t change your mind and get tired of me?” Toshiya asked after a long while, his thumb brushing over the omega’s cheek, his voice serious.

Shinya nodded. “I’m very sure. I’ve already had to think about this, you know, when Satochi showed up. I did my soul searching then, and I chose you because I know I will love you forever. I want you, no one else. And I want it to be forever.”

The words earned him a shudder and a deep breath, Toshiya smiling at him with trembling lips. “When should we…? Did you have something in mind?”

The omega looked at him and blinked, his wide eyes tugging at the alpha’s heartstrings. “How about now?” he whispered, snuggling even closer, melting into the other’s touch.

“Oh, sweetheart, are you sure? Really, really sure? You don’t want to sleep on it for a few more days?” Toshiya looked him deeply into the eyes, searchingly, but met nothing but honesty and love.

The omega shook his head. “I’ve thought about us mating every day for over two months now. I’m sure,” he whispered. “If you’re sure,” he added, nervously looking up at his lover. In response, his lips were claimed in a soft, loving kiss that gradually grew deeper as they worked on setting the mood again. Hands started to roam over each other’s bodies, hips slightly rocking and groins grinding against each other. Toshiya let his hands slip down and close around both of their cocks for a while, his larger alpha cock rubbing deliciously against the omega’s smaller.

Gently, they shifted so that Shinya was on his back once again, the alpha licking his sensitized nipples, massaging one while his tongue was occupied with the other, before switching sides. Shinya let his long fingers run through Toshiya’s curls, his eyes closed in pleasure. He parted his legs and threw them around the alpha’s hips, offering himself and pulling the alpha close in one swift movement. When the cock slid into him, teasingly slow, he impatiently bucked his hips, trying to get more of it, and Toshiya smiled as he complied.

The rocking of their hips shook the bed, pounding it into the wall rhythmically. They were reaching their climax quickly, and Toshiya slowed down, pausing for a moment, Shinya whining and reaching for him, egging him on.

“Last chance to change your mind, my love,” the alpha whispered, trying hard to restrain himself as he looked down on the body shivering in need beneath him.

“Bite me,” Shinya whispered, their eyes meeting for a second, and then Toshiya resumed his thrusting, quickly ramping them back up to where they were. As he was approaching his climax, Shinya threw his head back, offering his neck as he lingered on the edge to orgasm.

The feeling of teeth that sank into his neck was a shock in so many ways. The pain made him muffle a scream, but the pleasure beneath it, oh god… It felt like being struck by a wave of pure Toshiya, his scent overwhelming him, the feeling of his lover etching itself into his soul in a way he couldn’t explain. It was the most intimate moment of his life, and he clambered to the alpha’s body, holding him there as he felt their scents merging, their lives irreversibly merging into one.

And then they both came hard, their worlds exploding in the most intense orgasm of their lives. When they came back down from their high, Toshiya slowly pulled back from the bite, licking away the blood that trickled down the omega’s neck, closing the wounds as well as he could. They were both breathing heavily, not ready to let go of each other just yet, so they stayed wrapped around each other, just breathing, for a long time after Toshiya’s knot had shrunk. When they finally shifted, it was to the alpha lying on his back, Shinya curled up next to him with his head on his shoulder, his arm on the alpha’s chest and one leg thrown over his legs.

“God I love you,” Toshiya whispered, his arm around the omega, pulling him closer as he pressed his lips to Shinya’s forehead.

“I love you too.” The response was quiet but heartfelt, the omega finally feeling as if he had found the inner calm he had been searching for for so long.

. . . . .

The next morning when they stepped out to go for breakfast, the world felt different somehow. Shinya looked up at his mate (oh, god, he actually had a mate) and was met by the happiest smile he’d ever seen and soft lips capturing his. As they made their way up to the house, hand in hand, Hiyuu and Hiro came walking from their cottage. They were idly chatting with each other when Hiyuu suddenly stopped dead, sniffing the air. Hiro looked confused at first but suddenly caught on as his mate turned to the other couple, staring at them.

“Oh my god! You’re mated!” he exclaimed, eyes lighting up and a big smile forming on his face, Hiro laughing happily.

Shinya blushed, his cheeks taking on a deep red hue when Hiyuu threw himself around his neck, hugging him tightly, but Toshiya just laughed and accepted Hiro’s outstretched hand and congratulations.

“I’m so happy for you,” Hiyuu said, his arms still around Shinya, and the omega whispered a quiet ‘thanks’ before his friend let go, offering him another one of his dimpled smiles.

It only turned worse from there, in Shinya’s opinion, as they walked into the dining room. Almost everyone was there already, including their three guests, and he grabbed Toshiya’s hand tightly as Hiro stepped up, knocking the door frame to get everyone’s attention.

“Is everyone up for a morning surprise?” Hiro started, everyone’s heads turning in their direction. “Please join me in congratulating our latest mated couple, Toshiya and Shinya!” Toshiya grinned and Shinya tried to sink through the floor as the room erupted in cheers, everyone getting to their feet to come and congratulate them. Shinya let his eyes quickly scan the room, searching for Satochi, finding him towards the back. When their eyes met, he swallowed, a little fearful of the reaction. But to his relief, the alpha smiled at him weakly, bowing his head in a silent greeting. That was all he had time for as Kuina threw himself at Shinya, the first in a long line of omegas who wanted to hug and congratulate him.

Satochi watched the scene from a distance, letting the others take the lead in congratulating the couple, staying at the back of the line. He felt eyes on him and looked up to see Cazqui studying him with large eyes, and he smiled back at the omega, trying to show without words that he was fine with what had happened. The omega blushed a little but smiled back, his pale skin showing off the pink tint of his cheeks very well. He’s actually pretty adorable. Satochi’s thought surprised himself, and he blinked, shaking it off as he turned to face Toshiya. The alpha watched his eyes closely as they shook hands, but Satochi smiled reassuringly.

“Congratulations. You two deserve each other, and I’m glad it’s you,” he offered, his former rival’s relieved grin making his own smile wider. He felt surprisingly ok about it all, he thought, as he stepped back and let Ichirou take his place. Even their guests came to congratulate the couple, Atsushi eyeing Shinya curiously, as if to see what kind of omega Toshiya had chosen. Shinya was still blushing, his old shyness back in full force, and he threw his arms around Toshiya and leaned in, burying his face on the other’s shoulder. He felt his mate (mate, god, that would never get old) snake his arms around him and hold him close as he talked to the former militaries.

“So, did you have a good night?” he asked, the well wishes over and done with. The three nodded, Jun-ji and Shuse offering big smiles. He had started to get the feeling those two were rather goofy and fun-loving when they weren’t in soldier mode, and he hoped he was right. They could use more goofy around here.

“It was nice to sleep indoors in the warmth,” Atsushi said, bowing his head. “And breakfast was just as good as dinner last night. Thank you again.”

Steps behind them made them turn their heads, Die and Subaru standing in the doorway. The alpha held his arm around the omega, who was decidedly paler than usual, his eyes darting around the room to see who was where and if they were watching him. His interest was soon caught by the new mates, however, and he lifted his head, the beginning of a sparkle in his eyes as he sniffed the air.

“Shinya! “ he exclaimed, a small smile actually gracing his lips. “Oh, Shinya, I’m so happy for you!”

Die threw his hand out, congratulating Toshiya with a big grin on his face. As the omegas hugged, he watched his boyfriend with a smile, glad to see him smile a little finally. He looked tired, but his eyes were still sharp as he took in the newcomers.

“Hi,” he said, bowing lightly. “I’m Die, and this is my boyfriend Subaru.” The omega glanced at the alphas and bowed quickly, but soon went back to fussing over his friend instead. After introductions were made, the militaries returned to their table to talk to Reika, Aki, Kai and Uruha. Shinya gave Toshiya an apologetic glance that clearly said ‘Sorry, but I have to take care of Subaru’ and pulled the omega with him over to his friends, everyone happily greeting them both. Subaru looked a bit more relaxed after a while, when everyone just greeted him as usual without commenting on his illness.

“How is he doing?” Toshiya asked, quietly, and Die shrugged. “A little better, I think. It changes each day. But it seems as if it helps to take him up here now and then to meet his friends, so he can see they’re happy to see him and don’t think he’s an idiot for being ill.”

Toshiya nodded, patting his friend on the back. “Just remember to take care of yourself as well, yeah?” he said, and Die nodded and gave him a tired smile. They both went to get breakfast, settling down next to Asanao.

“So, any news from tonight?” Toshiya said in a low voice, eyes following the new alphas.

“Yeah, I heard some couple got mated,” Asanao smirked, and chuckled at Toshiya’s huff. “No, but seriously, it’s been calm. I checked in with the other guys this morning, and apparently Jun-ji wandered off to take a piss around two o’clock, but he went straight to the latrines and straight back, and the others stayed where they were. I think he knew we were there though, ‘cause he stopped to listen and look around before he went back inside.”

Toshiya nodded. “Yeah, they are military after all, and we’re not. Makes sense they’d notice. Did he look annoyed?”

“Too dark to tell. He hasn’t said anything today though, at least not yet.”

“Yeah, well, I guess we’ll see later,” Toshiya said, digging into his breakfast when Asanao hummed in agreement.

. . . . .

After breakfast, Kaoru and Toshiya got ready to show the island and its defenses (and lack thereof) to Atsushi, Shuse and Jun-ji. When they got ready on the stairs to the big house, Tatsurou came by to offer the new arrivals a check-up later in the day, which they kindly accepted.

“Don’t fall into any holes out there,” the nurse smirked, eyeing Kaoru teasingly, and his boyfriend replied by pulling him in for a hot kiss.

“Will you come rescue me and patch me up if I do?” he murmured huskily, enjoying the sight of Tatsurou’s eyes darkening at the sound. He laughed, kissing the nurse again, before he turned back to the others and hoisted his backpack onto his back.

Atsushi was looking between him and Tatsurou, seemingly taken aback for a moment. The sergeants didn’t seem to care, but the major was another story, Toshiya thought as he interrupted the other.

“Is there a problem?” he asked, his voice carrying a sharp edge as he looked Atsushi in the eye. The military stared back for a moment, and then he just shook his head slowly.

“You have some strange relationships on this island,” he said calmly. Behind him, his sergeants threw their leader a brief, unintelligible look, and then watched the islanders, sensing a tension in the air.

Kaoru’s eyes quickly snapped to the alpha and he frowned. Toshiya quickly reached up and put his hand on the alpha’s arm, a signal to calm down.

“We don’t see any relationships between two willing participants as strange here,” he said slowly and with conviction. “We see them as loving relationships, period. No matter whom it involves. And we expect everyone to accept them as well.”

Atsushi’s eyes flicked between them, finally nodding and bowing slightly. “I understand,” he said, Kaoru relaxing slowly. As if proving a point, he leaned over and gave Tatsurou a smoldering kiss before they left, Atsushi smirking slightly but saying nothing else.

Toshiya led the group down over the grass, ready to hear the verdict on their defenses.

Chapter Text

Cazqui and Uta took the path past the fields where Hazuki, Aki and Hiro were digging up the last of the potatoes, carrots and swedes. Kuina and Kazuki collected the vegetables, brushing the worst of the dirt off and carefully putting them in separate wheelbarrows so they wouldn’t be bruised more than necessary on their way to storage. In a few days, they would be done, and the last of the harvest stored for the winter. The two omegas waved when they walked by, baskets in their hands for the last of the mushrooms, the woodpacks on their backs.

When they entered the forest path, the musty smell of wet, decaying leaves hit them, and Cazqui smiled a little.

“I’ve always loved this smell,” he said, Uta humming. “It reminds me of when I was a kid and spent the autumn breaks at grandma’s. She and I took long walks in the forest.”

“I’ve always been a city person myself,” Uta said. “Before, I used to stay in the city all summer, so when all this happened I had no clue of how to survive without electricity and supermarkets and all that, outdoors no less. Thank god I met a few people who did.”

“Who were they? What happened?”

“Just a gang of omegas I hooked up with for a while. We got separated after only three months, some alphas attacked us one early morning and we ran in different directions. I don’t know what happened to them, I never saw them again. But anyway, I learned the basics of survival from them.”

Uta looked sad, and Cazqui reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing it for a second. They veered off the path a little further up the hill than usual, trying to find new places to go where they hadn’t been before. They spread out to cover more ground, walking just within talking distance from each other.

“So what do you think of these new alphas? They seem kinda gruff, I don’t know. Military types scare me a bit, but if Toshiya and the guys think they’re ok then I guess I should trust them,” the pale omega said, eyeing his friend.

“I don’t like them,” Uta said immediately. Then he sighed and gestured vaguely. “Don’t mind me, I’m just being me. I wouldn’t like any alphas that came here, no matter how much I know that we need them. It’s just like… I don’t think I can ever trust one of them again, you know? Maybe I can, with time, I mean, both Shinya and Koichi have, but… I don’t know.”

“But you had it worse than them,” Cazqui said. “As horrible as they had it, what you and Hikaru went through was even worse. Don’t feel bad about it, you have every right to be distrustful.”

His friend smiled briefly before he leaned down to pick a mushroom, a little soggy from the rain and cold but still ok to eat. “Yeah, I guess I do… I envy Hikaru sometimes though, he’s so happy with Yo-Ka. When we were with the alphas, I never saw him smile, not once. And now he’s all sunny and smiling all the time, and I just wish I could have that too, you know?”

Cazqui watched as his beautiful friend turned his face the other way, discreetly drying a tear. “I know,” he said softly. “I’m so sorry. But is there anyone you like? Are you into omegas at all?”

Uta laughed, a little bitterly. “No, that’s the worst part. I’m not, at all. So I guess that leaves me alone for the rest of my life.”

When Cazqui moved up to hug him tightly, his hand caressing his friend’s hair, the tears flowing were no longer discreet.

. . . . .

Tatsurou was just leaving Die and Subaru’s cottage after a long session with Subaru when the alphas got back from their inspection round. It was getting to be late afternoon, and he waited at the path for them to catch up with him, Kaoru grabbing his hand as he fell in next to them.

“So?” he asked, trying to glean any information from the others’ facial expressions.

“We have stuff to do, but it could be worse,” Kaoru said, squeezing his hand. “We’ll talk about it properly with the group after dinner.”

Tatsurou nodded. “Good. Maybe this is a good time for check-ups then?” He watched their three guests, wondering if they would back out of their appointments now that they knew he had an alpha boyfriend. But Shuse and Jun-ji just mumbled their agreement, and Atsushi threw him a glance but nodded shortly.

They walked past the two new cottages to check on the progress, and found Yukke and the younger Hiro on the roof of one of them, pounding in the last nails. Aoi and Satochi were fixing the last on the door, making sure it swung easily on its hinges, while Ruka was fixing the drain from the roof. Yukke saw them coming and waved, starting to make his way back to the ladder. Below it, Koichi sat on the ground sorting through a box of nails and screws, dividing them up into different containers according to size and length. He had his back to them and didn’t notice them coming.

“I thought I told you to take it easy and not work for a few weeks?”

Koichi jumped at Tatsurou’s voice, getting up from the ground with some difficulty, looking a little guilty. “I know, but I got super bored. It’s not like I’m working hard or anything!”

“I already tried sending him home twice,” Yukke chuckled. “But whenever I turned around he was there working on something again, so I figured I’d better give him an easy job that he could do sitting down but that still needed to be done.”

Tatsurou grinned. “Fine, but don’t you dare lift something heavy.”

“I won’t,” Koichi said and smiled widely before he clumsily sat down, grimacing at the pain in his bruised hip, and went back to his sorting.

The alphas exchanged an amused glance, but left it at that. “Anyway, we should be done so that people can start moving on Tuesday,” Yukke said.

“Great,” Toshiya nodded, at the same time as Shuse exclaimed “Tuesday?” Everyone turned to watch the sergeant, who looked surprised. “Don’t tell me you keep tabs of the weekdays as well?”

“We do,” Kaoru grinned, amused by the other alpha’s shocked glance. “And dates. Today is Thursday, 17th October. In case you were wondering.”

He was met with three stares, the militaries in disbelief.

“But… why?” Shuse looked dumbfounded.

Toshiya was also pretty amused by the display. “Well, for several reasons actually,” he explained. “At first, it was a way to keep some sense of normalcy when everything got crazy around us. And then we realized it comes in kind of handy. For example, we keep Sundays for rest, so ticking off the days give us something to look forward to at the end of the week. And dates, well, a lot of books on for example agriculture tell you when you’re supposed to do things. Also, the seed bags tell us when it’s a good time to sow that particular seed. And until we’ve learned enough to properly interpret the signs of Mother Nature, well, as I said. It comes in handy.”

Shuse stared at him for a second, and then he let out a loud laugh. “Hey, I like you guys! You’re clever.” He grinned, patting Kaoru’s shoulder since he was the closest. Jun-ji also had a large grin on his face, while Atsushi kept his facial expressions to a minimum as usual, only smirking lightly.

“Come on,” Toshiya said. “Let’s get back up to the house and look at those maps of the island I was talking about, and Tatsurou can look you over.”

The others nodded, and they made their way back up to the big house, idly chatting.

. . . . .

“Ok, you’re done. You can put your shirt back on,” Tatsurou said, smiling at Jun-ji who was the last in for his check-up. The alpha pulled his shirt on again, concealing a large number of scars, and smiled back.

“So, what’s the verdict then?” he asked while struggling with one sleeve.

“You seem fine, except for the allergy you told me about. But it seems you’re doing ok without medication, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Get back to me if it gets worse, we have some medicine but I don’t want to waste it if I don’t have to.”

“Thanks,” Jun-ji said, getting off the bed. He turned to the door and Tatsurou started putting his stuff back in order, when he noticed the alpha hesitating. He looked up to see the sergeant standing by the door, looking at him.

“Was there anything else?” the nurse said.

Jun-ji seemed to debate with himself for a moment, before he finally spoke. “Yeah, just… Don’t take it too hard, what Atsushi said about you and Kaoru. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just a little old-fashioned. He needs some time to get used to it, that’s all. He’ll come around.”

Tatsurou pursed his lips a little, but then he just shrugged. “He can think whatever he wants, as long as he keeps it to himself. Kaoru and I love each other, and that won’t change because of some grumpy major.”

Jun-ji smiled briefly and bowed his head before he turned back to the door. The nurse’s voice stopped him.

“Thanks… though. For saying something.”

“No worries. You two seem like a nice couple. It’s nice to see happy people at last, it’s been a while.” Jun-ji smiled, a warm smile, and then finally turned to open the door, almost bumping into Kazuki who was on the way in. The both of them jumped, startled, and then Jun-ji let out a short laugh at their little dance.

“I’m sorry,” Kazuki said, bowing quickly. “I didn’t look where I was going.”

“No, I’m sorry,” Jun-ji grinned. “I should have opened the door more carefully. But then you wouldn’t have had the pleasure of watching me do a silly jig.”

Kazuki laughed at that, smiling his sunniest and most dazzling maneki neko smile at the alpha, before he walked into the room to see Tatsurou. Behind his back, Jun-ji turned to look after him, a stunned look on his face. Then he noticed the nurse studying him, a smirk on his lips, and the military quickly snapped out of it, walking out and closing the door behind him.

. . . . .

Hiyuu and Koichi knocked on the door of Subaru’s cottage. Die was away hunting for the day, so they knew their friend was home alone and could probably use some company. It took a little while for the door to open to a half dressed Subaru, hair a little on end.

“Hi,” Koichi smiled. “Guess what we have?”

Subaru blinked at him, shaking his head. “What?” he said.

“Plums!” Koichi proudly shoved a small bowl of the fruit into his friend’s hands, while he and Hiyuu herded the omega into the cottage and shut the door behind them. “They’re the last of the season,” Koichi explained, happily. “We saved them for you!”

Subaru couldn’t help smile a small smile at that. It felt nice to know his friends were thinking of him, even when he stayed in the cabin a lot. Hiyuu and Kou weren’t the only ones to show up, all of his friends checked in at one point or another. Yesterday Kuina and Kazuki had claimed they had a need for ‘Subaruness’, which was apparently cured by sitting chatting or just relaxing around each other, and today he was presented with a ripe plum, cool from the slight chill outdoors. His friends never forced him to talk or actively take part in the conversation if he didn’t want to when they came by, they just sat there a while for company, and gave him a hug now and then when they decided he needed it (which was, quite frankly, a bit more often than he actually needed it, but who was he to argue?).

Subaru was very grateful for his friends, and as he bit into his plum and felt the sweet juice fill his mouth, he felt like the world was actually pretty ok today. He sat there, listening to the other two chatting, sometimes even offering a word or two of his own. Maybe things would feel like this tomorrow as well? That would be nice. For the first time in a while, he actually thought that two good days in a row was possible, and the thought made him smile. Koichi noticed, and decided it was time for a hug, Hiyuu joining in. Yes, today was actually pretty good.

. . . . .

After dinner, the alphas all sat down around a table, a map of the island spread out with a cup on each corner to keep it from curling back up.

“Well,” Toshiya said, “as you all know, we took a tour of the island today. I think it’s best if I just let you guys tell us what you thought.”

Atsushi stood, greeting the others. “Thank you, Toshiya. First of all, let me start by saying that you have an amazing place here. You’ve done a lot in very short time, and we’re all very impressed so far.”

“Very much so,” Shuse said and Jun-ji nodded.

However,” Atsushi continued, stressing the word slightly, “there are things that you need to look at to stay safe, especially in case of a cold winter with ice.”

He leaned forward over the map, the rest gathering around to look carefully.

“Here, here and here,” Atsushi pointed, “the bushes are too thin to keep cover, you’ll see it better once the leaves have fallen, and you can get through without too much trouble. You should think about putting up some sort of barrier here. And the palisades you built are great, but they can be climbed over if you’ve got the right equipment and leverage from a hard, sturdy surface, like ice. Do you have any barbed wire?”

“No, but I know where to find it,” Kyo said, the major nodding in approval.

“Good, then we should add some on top, leaning outwards.” He pointed at a new spot, near the meadow where Akinori and Tetsuya were buried. “And here, you have a small brook leading into the lake. You can hardly see it for all the shrubbery, but it’s a great entry point for someone who wants to get in and is willing to crawl through water. It needs to be seen to. At the docks, I suggest some sort of a watch tower or lookout spot so you can see over the palisade. Maybe in that big tree on the right? Also, we should think about training for an attack, so everyone would know what to do at each location.”

As the list went on, Kaoru took down notes, and they discussed priorities. Three hours later, they had a list of things to do, the most important on the top. Finally, they leaned back, tired. They had a lot to do and not a lot of time, but at least they had a plan, Toshiya thought.

“Right, so that’s it then I guess. Yukke, can you take charge of building the watch tower and barricades as soon as Kaoru’s done with the plans for construction? That should give you just enough time to finish the cottages, right?” The alphas nodded, and Toshiya smiled tiredly, thanking their three guests for their help and work during the day, the alphas bowing politely.

“Good, then that’s it for tonight I guess. Unless someone else has something to say?”

“I do.” Heads swiveled to their nurse, who was looking troubled. He glanced around, hunching his shoulders slightly. “It’s the meds. We’re running out of some things, which we already knew would happen.“

Toshiya nodded, sighing deeply. “We knew it was coming, but yeah. But you wouldn’t look like that if we weren’t running out of something really important. So what is it?”

The nurse sighed. “I should’ve known you would see right through me, but yeah. Supplies are getting really low, and it’s got the potential of disaster, I’m afraid.” He looked up at his friends, is face dead serious. “We’re running out of heat suppressants.”

A groan met the words. A few silent swearwords could be heard, as the alphas processed this.

“But I thought we had enough for a while?” Aoi asked.

“We did. Shinya brought lots, Koichi had another batch that he stopped using quickly, and we have found a few pills here and there since. But there are more omegas here now, and it wasn’t like we had enough to last forever even before then,” Tatsurou said, Aoi nodding in understanding.

“Shit,” Toshiya swore. “How long do we have?”

“It depends on how many that need them, but with the numbers we have today? I’d say four months or so. ”

A mutual groan could be heard. This was bad news indeed. That meant that in the middle of winter, they would have omegas going into heat, and no sure way to get more suppressants.

“I’m gonna try hard to find natural remedies instead,” Tatsurou said. “I mean, I know they used to exist before modern technology, the trick is finding out what they used and how, and then hope we’ve got the ingredients growing here and at this time of year. I figured I’d talk to Shinya and see if he’s found something in his books on herbs.”

Toshiya looked around, his jaw set. “Ok, well, we’re gonna have to figure it out. And this is a concern for all of us, not just the omegas, so we need to tell them immediately tomorrow and we can all think about ideas on how to deal with this. I propose we have a big meeting all of us on Sunday and discuss it. What do you say?”

They all nodded, looking troubled. And then, with nothing else to say, the meeting was adjourned and they all went back to their respective homes to get some rest for the night.

. . . . .

Silence followed Uruha’s words. The mated omegas had all heard of their latest problem from their mates last night, and now they all sat gathered in the dining room, the news being relayed to the single omegas.

“I won’t.” Uta’s quivering voice broke the silence. “I can’t. I’d rather leave the island than go into heat and risk an alpha…” His voice broke, and he leaned into Cazqui when his friend put an arm around him.

“No one is leaving the island,” Uruha said calmly. “We will figure something out. We do have some pills left, but it won’t last forever. Tatsurou says he’s going to try to find some natural suppressant as fast as possible, but he can make no guarantees.”

“Maybe we could bring the omega in heat to the heat cabin and lock them in for the week, making sure they couldn’t get out, and then another one of us could stay with him to feed him,” Kazuki said, hesitantly.

Tsuzuku and Koichi exchanged a long look. “That’s how I ended up mated,” Tsuzuku sighed, the others turning to him. “That’s really, really hard. Has any of you ever had your heat without someone to fuck? For one, it hurts like hell when you’ve gotten all ramped up and can’t do anything about it. I would not stand a whole heat like that, I tell you. And second, locks won’t help. Trust me on this. I punched Kou so he fell and hit his head and passed out, because I was so goddamn desperate to get out.” He glanced at his friend, adding, “Sorry about that again, by the way.” Koichi just waved it off, but looked around at the others.

“He’s right, you know. I mean yeah, maybe if I had been really tall and strong and stuff I could have held him down, or if we had been two or three, but it would have been an awful struggle 24/7, and he would still have been in pain. It’s extremely stressful for the body.”

Kei shivered at the thought, and the others looked pretty discouraged. “So then what do we do?” Kazuki said, nervous.

“Uta can have my pills,” Ryoga said, looking at the others, his cheeks having a certain pink tinge. “Hikaru and Yo-Ka can use the heat cabin like anyone else, but Uta needs the pills more than any of us. If it’s needed for his sake, I can see myself asking an alpha friend to spend his heat with me.”

“You’re just trying to cover up for the fact that you’ve got the hots for Aki,” Kei grinned, Ryoga blushing furiously while he hurried to deny it. The others laughed, and Ryoga hid his face in his hands, wanting to sink through the floor and take the comment back.

“Come on guys,” Hiyuu said finally, grinning at the sight of a very flustered Ryoga, but soon returning to the serious topic at hand. “That’s great if Ryoga has an excuse to finally get into Aki’s pants, but what about the rest of you? These are your bodies, and no one should feel forced or obligated to do like Ryoga if they don’t want to. The whole reason this place has been good for us is that we haven’t had to worry about an alpha forcing us to do something we don’t want.”

Silence fell again, everyone contemplating their meager options.

“What about unwanted pregnancies, if we have friend heats?” Kei said.

Ruki waved his hand at that. “We’ve got contraceptives by the bucketful,” he offered, the others looking at him in surprise. He shrugged, a little embarrassed. “Apparently I’m the only one taking them, so we still have lots, or so Tatsurou tells me,” he said.

“You’re taking contraceptives?” Koichi asked, surprised.

“Well, yeah, it’s not like I’m gonna back down from having my heats with Kyo, it’s waaay to good for that. And can you see me with a kid?” Ruki raised one eyebrow at his friend, who thought about it for all of half a second before he shook his head.

“I just had my pills, so my heat is over two months away, but… I guess, since we have contraceptives… I don’t know what he’d say… But I could maybe ask… Satochi.” Cazqui’s cheeks were suddenly bright pink, and Hiyuu smiled at him, reaching out to rub his shoulder.

“And I’ll ask Aoi, we’re boyfriends after all. I mean, we haven’t had a heat together yet, but if this isn’t a good time to start, I don’t know what is,” Daichi said.

Tomo looked like he wanted to join Ryoga beneath the floor when he quietly said he’d ask Ruka, the others grinning at him.

Kuina, Kei and Kazuki looked at each other. “I… wouldn’t know who to ask,” Kuina admitted. I mean, there are fewer alphas than omegas, if you don’t count those new military guys who might not even stick around. And if I’m gonna have my heat with an alpha I’m not in love with, I want to feel safe and know him well. So that means Yukihiro, Reika or Asanao, since Aki is apparently spoken for.” Ryoga blushed again as Kuina smirked at him, before he continued. “And even though they’re great guys and I really like them as friends, I can’t see myself with either of them for my heat. I mean, if I have to because we’re all out of meds, sure, but… It’s not like I’d choose to on my own.” Kei and Kazuki nodded in agreement.

“That’s fine, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. We’re not there quite yet,” Uruha said. “But if some of you can see yourselves asking an alpha to join you for your heat, that at least saves some pills and makes them last longer. Think about it. Don’t force yourselves, any of you. That’s the most important thing.”

They all nodded, looking uncomfortable. The whole thing made them feel like their safe haven was threatened, and it didn’t help knowing that there was nowhere else that could offer them anything else. Even the island had the potential to become a dangerous place.

“Ok, so we can wait and see for those of you who are unsure, but we can tell the alphas our idea to have friend heats for those who feel they can, and see what they say. Is that ok?” Uruha asked, and with some hesitation, they all agreed. This was not the way they had hoped to have their heats.

It would be one very awkward meeting on Sunday.

. . . . .

Awkward did not even begin to cover it. Once the meeting was over, everyone went their separate ways, not only omega cheeks blushing red. But they had agreed that those who felt it was ok, omega and alpha both having to be completely ok with it, would have friend heats to save suppressants for those who really needed them the most. Uta’s name was never mentioned aloud, for which the omega was grateful, but it was on everyone’s mind.

Some, like Aoi and Daichi, declared immediately that they would spend heats together from now on, having already discussed it before the meeting. Yukke and Natsu did the same, something they had already thought about since a while back. Some other embarrassed glances were thrown across the room, but no one else said anything, preferring to discuss it in private first.

Their three guests kept quiet during the meeting, letting the residents decide. They looked as concerned as everyone else, though, and Tatsurou couldn’t help notice the small flicker of Jun-ji’s eyes towards Kazuki. Oh yeah, the omega definitely had a new fan, he thought.

Cazqui glanced at Satochi, but the alpha didn’t make eye contact with anyone, just listening and looking down, deep in thought. It made him feel even more edgy than usual. He wouldn’t be able to bear it if another omega had his heat with Satochi, he really wouldn’t. Not that he thought anyone would ask, since they all knew about his crush. But what if Satochi offered someone else…? No, it hurt too much to think about.

The mood was strange during dinner that night, and as they went to bed, more than one omega stayed awake a long time, thoughts swirling.

Chapter Text

Come Tuesday, the cottages were done as promised, and the day was spent moving in furniture that they had kept in the basement until the cottages were done. Everyone helped to make it go faster, and by dinner time, Aoi and Daichi had one half of a big cabin, while Ryo and Nao moved into the other half. That left Yuki and Hiro with a cottage to themselves, finally. Aki and Ruka shared a half of the other new cabin, leaving the other half empty for now. The unspoken thought was that some of their new guests would move in, if they stayed. Aoi moving out allowed for Natsu to move in with Yukke, leaving Kazuki with his own room again.

The two newer couples were nowhere to be seen at dinner, claiming they wanted to ‘unpack’, a white lie that fooled no one. Yukke had had obvious problems keeping his hands off Natsu for the final hour of moving, and Daichi had adopted a sultry look every time his boyfriend glanced in his direction, leaving Aoi flustered and breathing heavily by the time they were done moving things into their new place.

Yuki and Hiro excused themselves early, but made no pretense at doing so to fix their cabin. Instead they just stated that they would enjoy their first whole night alone together in, well, ever, and left. Ryo and Nao took one look at each other and rose to follow their example.

It was half hilarious, half endearing, and no one begrudged the couples their happiness or alone time. Everyone went to bed that night feeling a little lighter, enjoying the good things that were happening and ignoring the bad ones, at least for the night.

. . . . .

They were completely exhausted. Aoi was lying on his back, one arm slung out of the bed and the other around his lover’s waist. Daichi was stretched out over him, his head on Aoi’s shoulder, their skin slick with sweat.

“God, that was…” Aoi said, Daichi humming in agreement. The alpha grinned. “Again?”

“What, ready to go already? We’ve already done two rounds,” Daichi mumbled, nuzzling his boyfriend’s neck sleepily.

“Well, we’ve got to practice for your heat now, right? We’ve got to make sure I can keep you satisfied for that long.” Aoi’s eyebrows wiggled suggestively, and he turned over to nip his lover’s plush lips, receiving a snort in reply.

“I’m sure you’ll do fine, you horny thing you. But I’m tired now. Let’s just rest for a little while first,” he giggled, pinching Aoi’s nipple in reprimand. He watched the other’s mouth form a pout, and laughed, going back to nuzzling that beautiful neck.

On the other side of the wall, the unmistakable pounding of a bed frame to a wall started up again, and the couple turned their heads.

“What, again?!” Daichi muttered, glaring at the wall.

“See, they’ve got strength enough for a third go!” Aoi pouted, his fingers slithering down a sweat slicked body to cup an ass cheek. At that moment, they heard Nao’s voice through the wall. It was faint, but they could clearly make out the words.

“Oh god, oh fuck, yes! Right there, oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck… Harder, just like that, oh yes, FUUUUUCK!”

Aoi could feel his already half hard cock swell even more at the sounds, a soft whimper leaving him as he grabbed his lover tighter, pulling him into a harsh kiss. By the time he let go the omega’s pupils were shot, and Daichi was breathing heavily. At a loud ‘FUCK FUCK FUCK’ from the other side of the wall, the omega closed his eyes and bit his lip, before easing himself up to sit. The sultry look was back as he slid one leg over Aoi, slowly and sensually straddling him. His hand found the large cock, stroking it a few times, before he held it up and positioned himself, sliding down and taking all of it in at once.

Aoi watched through lidded eyes as the slim body started moving, hips rolling sensually over him, taking him in deep. He felt almost like one giant dildo, the way Daichi hardly looked at him while he moaned and caressed his own body, pleasuring himself on the thick cock. It turned him on to no end when the omega played with his own nipples, moaning, and he watched hungrily. He let his hands glide from the slim hips down those long, lean legs, admiring the silky soft skin. “How are you even mine?” he whispered, hands going back up to those hips again, one hand sliding up further and pressing the omega on the back so that he had to lean forward and kiss him. They stayed like that for a while, hungrily kissing while the motion of those gorgeous hips never ceased. But soon, they were craving more, and Daichi sat back up, riding Aoi harder and faster, fucking himself thoroughly on the large alpha cock.

The tension in Aoi’s belly was nearing unbearable, and he gritted his teeth to keep it together until the omega had come. He was helping now, pushing his hips up into the omega, who looked completely out of it, his mouth hanging open and his eyes closed in pleasure as he moaned loudly. And then Daichi came with a shout, clenching around Aoi as the cum spurted all over his stomach. It was the last straw, and Aoi groaned as he plunged into the omega as hard as his swollen knot let him and came hard.

Daichi fell down over him, and they panted heavily for a while until Aoi found the strength to rearrange their limbs so that the omega would lie more comfortably.

“See?” he mumbled sleepily. “We had one more in us after all.”

His lover just huffed, and when Aoi turned his head to kiss the plump lips, he found the omega already sleeping. On the other side of the wall, things had gone equally quiet. Aoi smiled softly to himself as he watched the sleeping omega on his chest and the room that was theirs and theirs alone. Yeah, he could get used to this.

. . . . .

Shinya was intrigued. It had been nearly a week since he and Toshiya bonded, and he was starting to realize that the alpha had conquered a part of his subconscious that he never knew he had. For example, he could always point in the direction the alpha was in, just knowing he was there even when he shouldn’t really have a clue.

Like now. He had been in their library all day, on the second floor of the big house, studying anything he could find on medical herbs and plants to find something to use as suppressants. At the same time, Toshiya had first been down by the dock, and then he’d gone up to the new buildings after about an hour. He couldn’t tell that was exactly where he was, of course, but he knew the direction without doubt so it wasn’t too hard to guess where he was. It was very strange but also very comforting in a way, and he very much enjoyed the feeling of having Toshiya so close to his heart and soul.

The only problem was, it actually made him think of the alpha even more. He couldn’t go a minute without thinking of his curlyheaded mate, and it was hurting his concentration. When he had mentioned it to Koichi, his friend had laughed and said that he knew the feeling but that it would settle in the background of his consciousness eventually, and that Shinya would get used to it in time. He wasn’t too sure about that, he was so filled with everything that was Toshiya that he didn’t know how he could ever think of anything else.

He leaned back on the chair, feeling for Toshiya. He was still at the new cottages, probably checking so everything was working out alright. Maybe he would like a visit? Just a short break, they could both need a break, right? That was about the amount of justification he needed, and he rose, putting down the book. He wandered out into the hall, his mind focused on his alpha, so much so that he didn’t hear the voices outside and jumped in surprise when he opened the door.

Three steps away, on the landing, Ryoga was pushed against the wall, Aki’s hands underneath his sweater and the omega’s circling the alpha’s neck, their tongues deep in each other’s mouths. Shinya’s sudden appearance made the two quickly separate, Ryoga quickly smoothing down his shirt and Aki licking his lips. For a moment, they all just stared at each other, and then Shinya started giggling. He really couldn’t help it, the other two looked hilarious with their faces red and their hands fidgeting. Ryoga stared into the floor, blushing.

“We’re just discussing my heat,” he blurted out, and then blushed even worse when he realized how that sounded. Aki couldn’t help grinning at the omega’s obvious embarrassment.

“Well, I’d say sorry, but…” he said, shrugging at Shinya.

“Don’t be,” Shinya giggled, knowing full well Ryoga had been hoping for something like this to happen for a while. “But maybe… somewhere more private?”

Aki chuckled. “Yeah, we thought everyone was out, but apparently not. Wait, Ruki’s not around here somewhere, cleaning, is he?”

“No, he’s out, don’t worry,” Shinya said, smiling at the two and turning to walk down the stairs.

“Oh, and the library’s empty right now. It has a lock. Just saying,” he added cheekily over his shoulder, giggling again at Ryoga’s red cheeks.

. . . . .

“We all agree then?” Toshiya looked around the room where all the islanders were gathered, while their guests had gone to their cabin for the night. Most of them nodded, mumbles of ‘yes’ and ‘sure’ filling the room, with only Uta and Hikaru looking very skeptical.

“Ok. I’ll talk to them tomorrow then.”

. . . . .

Atsushi, Shuse and Jun-ji stayed behind after breakfast at Toshiya’s request, and the four sat down around one of the smaller tables.

“You’ve been here a week now,” the islander started, their guests nodding. Atsushi once again took the lead.

“So we have. And I assume you wish us to discuss our future here?”

“I would. I hope you have felt welcome and that you have seen enough of our island and our community to know your wishes in this,” Toshiya said, looking at the militaries, an eyebrow raised questioningly. Atsushi bowed his head lightly, indicating that they had.

“And I hope you have seen enough of us to make your decision also,” Atsushi enquired, the islander nodding.

“We have. We had a meeting all of us last night, which I’m sure you noticed, and discussed it.”

The alphas smirked knowingly and glanced at each other, and Shuse mumbled “Yeah, we noticed.”

“Good, then you know we are all behind the decision when I say this,” Toshiya said, the alphas’ attention fixed on him. “We would like to offer you a place here with us, if you wish it.”

He hadn’t noticed the small tension in Jun-ji’s shoulders or the slight clenching in Shuse’s jaw before it went away. When he voiced his offer, however, the alphas both seemed to breathe easier, relaxing. The only one who seemed unperturbed was Atsushi, who watched Toshiya for a second before he bowed his head.

“And we humbly accept,” he said, the sergeants grinning widely next to him. Toshiya smiled, nodding at them.

“I’m glad. This means we will have to think about a more permanent solution to your accommodations. There is room in the new cottage still, and I would suggest that two of you move in there while one of you keep the cottage you are all in now. Is that acceptable to you?”

“Hell yeah,” Shuse said emphatically. “And we appreciate it.”

Toshiya grinned, nodding to the alpha. “I’m glad.” He turned serious for a moment. “One more thing. I have noticed not all of you approve of our two omega and alpha couples. I just want to remind you that they shall receive the same amount of respect as everyone else on the island.”

Atsushi smirked slightly before he answered. “I hear you, and I will do as you say. No disrespect is intended, I assure you. I’m just raised differently, but even old dogs can learn new tricks, or so I am told.”

“Good. Also, please continue the extra care with which you approach Uta or Hikaru. They are very distrustful of alphas in general, and your former vocation doesn’t really help in that department.”

“We will keep it in mind. Tatsurou told me briefly what they had been through, and I am truly sorry for their sake,” Atsushi said, his two friends nodding.

Toshiya smiled. “Ok, I think that’s all. Welcome to our community.”

They all shook hands as if agreeing to a contract, and then they went on with the day with a smile on their lips.

. . . . .

The first snow came when they were out on the grass, the alphas training hand to hand combat under Shuse’s lead. Atsushi watched from the side and Jun-ji moved around the group, stopping here and there to correct someone’s stance while Shuse showed them the exercises. When the first snowflakes started falling, they ceased their practice and just watched the skies with a sense of dread. Winter was here.

. . . . .

Subaru was smiling widely when Tatsurou came by for their talk, him and Die teasing each other about this and that, as they used to do before the omega fell ill. The nurse stopped to watch them for a moment, smiling. It was good to see the omega happier again. He was not back to his old bouncy self, but Tatsurou and Die both felt they saw a new Subaru, who was more content than the old version.

“Hey,” he said, greeting the two. “Having a silly morning, are we?”

“He started it!” the couple said at the same time, and then resumed their playful bickering for another moment before Die threw his hands up, giving in.

“Fine, whatever, you win! But now I have to go work. See you later, baby. Be nice to Tatsurou.”

His lover just threw out his tongue at him, but couldn’t help getting up on his toes to kiss the alpha goodbye and wave him off before he closed the door behind him.

“Brr, it’s getting really cold, isn’t it?” he said, throwing a glance at the thin layer of snow on the ground.

“Yeah, colder than the same time last year,” the nurse agreed, settling in. Subaru offered him a cup of herbal tea, one of Shinya’s autumnal experiments that had turned out well. It was brewed from a wild flower that grew in abundance all over the island, and though the taste was a bit odd at first, they soon got used to it. The alpha accepted the cup, nodding in thanks, and took a sip while the omega sat down on the other side of the kitchen table with a cup of his own.

“So, how has the week been?” he asked, watching the young omega over his mug.

“It’s been fine, actually, Ruki came by with Koron yesterday to let me play a little and get some awfully wet doggy kisses. And yeah, all in all, it's been good,” Subaru said, his shoulders relaxed and his smile genuine.

Tatsurou smiled. “I’m so glad to hear you say that,” he said.

“Not as glad as I am being able to say it.” The omega looked down into the tea. “I… I need to thank you. I feel like I haven’t enough, but this, our talks, it’s really helped. So thank you.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you feel it has helped you.”

“It has. Really. I mean, it goes up and down, and sometimes it’s worse and sometimes better.” Subaru bit his lip a little, scratching the small hole beneath his lip where his piercing used to be before he took it out. “But I feel like I can look at what’s really there and take it for what it is, you know? Not try to ignore or make everything black or white. It can be grey, and that’s ok. And if I really think it’s black, I feel it’s ok to be sad about it and not hide behind some mask, pretending to be happy when I’m not.”

The nurse nodded. “Good, that’s the most important thing. Just accept what you feel and know it’s ok to be sad sometimes. Do you feel you can talk to Die about this now?”

“Mmm, much more than before. I don’t know, I sucked so much at explaining how I felt, and it’s like we practiced together. Me to say how I really felt, and him to understand how I see things. I think we understand each other a lot better now. It’s brought us closer together, actually.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Tatsurou smiled. “So maybe it’s time you continue working on your own, remembering the things I told you and keep doing what you have been doing? I’ll always be available for you if you need me though, just let me know and I’ll be there. But for now, should we try this and see how it works out?”

Subaru hesitated a second, not sure, but eventually he nodded. “I can come to you anytime, right? If it doesn’t work we can start again? Or if it comes back?”

“Of course. We’ll just give it a shot. I’m sure you can do it now, with support from Die and your friends. And I’ll keep an eye on you as well, don’t worry.”

The omega took a deep breath as if bracing himself for the inevitable, and then nodded again. “Yeah. I can do this.”

There was no mistaking the conviction in Tatsurou’s voice. “Of course you can.”

. . . . .

Ryoga and Aki spent their first heat together the week after, coming back hand in hand, their relationship continuing after the heat. Ryoga spent his days with a happy smile on his face, and Aki proved to be a very affectionate boyfriend, the two often found cuddling in a corner somewhere. In rather quick succession in November, Koichi, Hiyuu, Natsu, Uruha and Kei went into heat, and they made full use of their two heat cabins.

Koichi claimed to feel great, despite some lingering pain in his leg and hip from the fall. With some grumbling and hesitation, Hazuki agreed that they would use the cabins instead of suppressants, and Tatsurou signed off on it after an examination. They came back happy and invigorated, their relationship back on track in every aspect. It was almost annoying for everyone else to see them constantly kissing, cuddling and staring into each other’s eyes for long moments of time, at least it would have been had not everyone been so relieved to see them happy again.

Yuuki had his first heat since Saga was born about a year and a half ago, and the toddler spent most of the week glued to Masa, whom he apparently had decided was the only one worthy of replacing his bearer. With a jealous three-year-old Tora who wanted Masa to himself and would not accept his dad instead, the omega had a very tiring week.

When Uruha went into heat, Hiroto mimicked Saga and would only accept Masa to take care of him, the omega starting to look a little worn out by now as he had to keep both Tora and Hiroto happy. Shou, on the other hand, ignored his little brother’s whining and had the time of his life playing with every adult on the island. He made fast friends with Shuse, the alpha spending most of his free time playing with the boy in the first snow. Uruha sighed deeply when he and Kai got back and found their son spoilt rotten during the week.

Until the last few days before his heat, Kei was uncertain of what to do. He spent a lot of time on his room alone thinking, and discussing with Yo-Ka, whom he trusted to keep his mouth shut about it. But after much consideration and thought, he made a decision. There was some surprise all around when he and Yukihiro announced they would be spending his heat together.

“I thought you didn’t like him that way?” Kazuki said, Kei shrugging.

“I don’t, but I really don’t want to use up the suppressants for Uta, and it’s not like Yukihiro’s ugly or anything. He did his yearly physical with Tatsurou the other day and I assisted, so I got to see him shirtless. And yeah. He’s really fit. Besides, do you know how long it’s been since I got to fuck? The more I thought about those abs, the hornier I got. This is the perfect excuse to get to fuck without any strings attached.” He grinned, the others scoffing slightly but smiling at him.

“What did he say when you asked him?” Kuina asked, dreading to have to make his own decision later in the winter.

“He seemed a little surprised at first, but I explained about Uta and he just said ok, he was fine with it if I was sure. He’s not one to use many words. And Tatsurou gave me a pack of contraceptives. As long as I take one every day, I’m good. Or well, as long as Yukihiro remembers to give me one when I’m in a daze, but I trust him. It’s not like he wants a kid from a casual fuck either.”

The others glanced at each other, biting their lips. What should they choose when their time came? And if it came to that, who would they choose?

. . . . .

Kei was ecstatic when he got back. The other omegas watched the two curiously through the windows of the big house, Yukihiro giving Kei a hug before the two parted ways, the alpha returning to his cottage and Kei coming inside.

“Well?” Subaru asked the second the omega came in the door, his interest in other people’s relationships not any less than before he got ill.

“It was great!” Kei exclaimed, his eyes shining. “Yuki’s really nice, and sooo god in bed. Very dominant, and he really knew how to push all my buttons. I sure as hell did the right thing asking him.”

“Oh, it’s just Yuki now?” Ruki smirked, Koron rolled up on his lap. The comment earned him a grimace before Kei went back to his happy grin.

“Yeah, well, it’s not like we’re together or dating or anything, but I am so asking him again next time. Best. Sex. Ever. I almost wish my next heat was sooner.”

The others smiled, glad it had worked out so well for their friend. Cazqui smiled with the rest, but inside, his chest clenched. What if Satochi turned him down? What would he do then? He would be too heartbroken to ask anyone else. He still had a month to think about it, and he was beginning to dread his heat. Maybe he should ask in advance, so he had time to process a ‘no’ before his heat struck? He just couldn’t pull up the courage just yet. Soon. Yeah, soon.

Chapter Text

One morning, they woke up to a white wall coming down outside their windows. It had apparently been snowing during a large part of the night, and by now, it was high enough that their trousers were wet up to the knees when they made it up to the big house for breakfast. The children were ecstatic, making snowmen and snow angels all morning, but the rest had more pressing issues to deal with. They quickly realized what they hadn’t thought of before, with two mild winters behind them.

“We’ve only got three snow shovels,” Yukke said, looking around the table of mostly alphas. “And we need to make clear paths at least between our cottages and the big house, and down to the docks to fish. It will take forever if we can’t work more than three people at once. Any bright ideas?”

“We’d better make some as fast as we can,” Kaoru offered. “If we had something to use for blades, that is.”

“How about the old barrels behind the shed? They’re too rusty to use for storing food, but they’re good enough for shovels to last one winter at least. And they should be easy enough to pound into the right shape,” Koichi offered, sitting cutely snuggled up in Hazuki’s lap and listening in on their conversation. The alphas fell silent, staring at him, and he stared back, nonplussed.

“Not a good idea?” he said, hesitantly. Suddenly, Yukke laughed at the same time that Hazuki pulled him in, hugging him tighter.

“I love you, you know that right?” he said, grinning as he kissed the omega hard on the mouth.

Yukke shook his head, still chuckling. “I see there’s a reason why you chose construction,” he said. Kaoru tilted his head and eyed the omega with interest, a thoughtful expression on his face, before he spoke.

“The barrels would be perfect actually. Wanna help make them?”

Koichi stared back. “Me?”

“Well, yeah, it was your idea.”

“Uhm, yeah, sure! If that’s ok,” the omega said, twirling a pink lock between his fingers, his eyes flicking quickly to Hazuki. His mate just smiled and kissed his cheek.

“Of course it is. We’ll get Reo to help with the blades, I have a feeling he wants to do something useful with his hands that’s not too heavy, and maybe you could make some handles?” Kaoru glanced at Yukke who nodded.

Right then Koichi looked like Shou when he was handed a present, and Hazuki couldn’t help laughing and nuzzling his mate, kissing him again. “You’re adorable when you’re happy,” he whispered in the omega’s ear, getting an even cuter smile in response.

. . . . .

They did their best with what they had, getting enough snow out of the way to at least get to the food cellar and down to the first of the cottages. It wasn’t until three o’clock that Kaoru, Koichi and Reo showed up carrying six simple but functional shovels. With their help, they cleared paths to all the cottages before dark. When they gathered for a late dinner, everyone was completely exhausted.

The next morning they had to do it all over again, as the snow kept falling during the night.

“How will we get to the heat cabin if this continues?” Shinya asked nervously, his heat coming on in a week’s time. Toshiya looked thoughtful, before he took the question to Kaoru who soon constructed eight pairs of simple snowshoes. He brought Koichi in to help, showing him the basic design and explaining how it would work and why, the omega listening intently.

Later that night, Kaoru pulled Hazuki with him to sit at Toshiya’s table for dinner, Koichi off talking to Shinya at another table. Hazuki eyed him questioningly, but followed and took his seat next to Toshiya.

“Hey, I have something I’d like to discuss with you guys,” Kaoru said, looking around at Tatsurou, Toshiya, Hazuki, Yukke and Reo.

“What’s up?” Yukke said.

“I’ve brought Koichi with me a few times when I’ve done some construction plans recently, as I’m sure you’ve seen,” Kaoru started, and they nodded, Hazuki’s interest awoken. “He’s good. Really bright, asking intelligent questions, adding things up in his head and offering helpful ideas of his own.”

Hazuki couldn’t help look a little proud at the engineer’s words, glancing at his mate quickly with a soft smile on his lips.

“And you want to take him on as your apprentice?” Toshiya asked, Kaoru chuckling a little.

“You’ve always been clever, Toshiya. You see right through me. Yes, that’s exactly what I want, if we all agree it’s a good idea. And if he wants to, of course.” He turned his head to look at Hazuki, who grinned.

“I think he’d love to. He’s been really happy about building things, but I think it’s great if he can be more involved in the entire process.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Kaoru said. “He’s good both with his hands and at figuring out solutions to problems, while I’m good with the thinking part but can’t bang in a nail straight to save my life. And you,” he nodded at Yukke, “are a great builder but you don’t like the maths behind it. Koichi would be a good bridge between the two of us.”

Yukke nodded, agreeing. They looked to Toshiya, waiting for his thoughts on the matter.

“Ok, great then. It sounds like a good plan. Ask him and see what he says, and let me know,” he said, looking over at the omega. He had a feeling a new era was beginning for all of them, opening up for new solutions and possibilities as they got better at using each other’s strong sides. He couldn’t help smiling a bit as he dug into his dinner, feeling like they were building a stronger community every day.

. . . . .

“Jun-ji offered to go with me for my heat.”

Kazuki’s cheeks were bright red, Tomo, Ryoga and Kuina staring at him.

“He what?” Ryoga said, and Kazuki frowned, a bit annoyed.

“What, is it so impossible for someone to want me?” he asked, pouting.

“No, no, of course not,” Ryoga hurried to say. “I just never thought an alpha would offer. I always thought they’d all let us come to them.”

“What did he say?” Tomo asked, incredulous.

“He said he just wanted to let me know he was available, if I wanted to when it was my time, but that it was completely up to me. That was all,” Kazuki said, suddenly giggling nervously, throwing a hand over his mouth to shut himself up. The others laughed at him, but they were all still in awe, Kuina just a tad jealous since he hadn’t been approached.

“Cool, you have an admirer! So, are you gonna take him up on his offer?” Tomo asked, Kazuki shrugging and smiling embarrassedly.

“I don’t know. We’ll see when the time comes.”

. . . . .

“Just ask him,” Uta said, sighing when he looked at his fretting friend.

“But what if he says no?” Cazqui mumbled, throwing out some seed for the hens. They had been moved into a converted outhouse now that the snow had fallen, coops built for them and hay put on the floor.

“Could you see yourself asking anyone else?” Uta asked, already knowing what the answer would be.

“Of course not,” Cazqui whined, looking near tears.

“I can’t see that you have much choice then. Your heat is only three weeks away now, and unless you want to chicken out and take suppressants, you should ask him.”

“I thought you didn’t want me to be with an alpha!” Cazqui exclaimed, glowering at his friend.

“I want you to be happy. Being with him would make you happy. So be with him.” Uta put his hand on his hip, his eyes fixed on the pale omega. “Stop whining and man up.”

Cazqui bit his lip, shaking his head, and went back to feeding the hens silently. Uta watched him for a moment before he sighed and started collecting the eggs.

. . . . .

Kaoru sat drawing in the library, Koichi curled up reading a book on physics on the sofa in the corner. He had been ecstatic when he was asked if he wanted to be an apprentice, and he studied diligently everything the alpha put in his hands. So far it seemed to work out fine, and everyone involved was happy with the arrangement.

Right now, though, Kaoru had taken a break from his own work, doodling on something he had been thinking about for a while. It wasn’t his specialty, but it was something he really wanted to be perfect. He was so engrossed in his sketching that he didn’t notice Koichi coming up behind him, and he jumped when the omega placed the book next to him, open on something he wanted to ask about.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” the pink-haired omega said, smirking a little and then noticing the sketches. “What’s that?”

Kaoru made a half-hearted attempt at hiding the papers, but soon realized it was too late. He sighed, pulling his hand through his curls.

“Not a word of this to anyone, especially not Tatsurou, ok?” he said, looking sternly at the omega. When he nodded, the alpha continued. “It’s… It’s a ring for Tatsurou and me. I figured… You know, since we can’t mate, that we could still have something to show we belong together. So I thought maybe we could wear identical rings or something. I know, it’s stupid…”

Koichi squealed, interrupting him. “Oh, that’s so sweet! It’s not stupid at all! He’ll love it, I’m sure of it.”

Kaoru looked at the omega, a little embarrassed. “You think so?”

“Absolutely! Can I see the designs?” Koichi leaned over, excited, and the alpha hesitantly showed him what he had drawn up so far.

Koichi whistled. “Wow, they’re all beautiful! Have you decided on one yet?”

“Not yet. I was thinking of this one,” he pointed to a simple design where the letters K and T had been worked together into one, “but I’m not sure how to make it so that it looks good without the right tools.”

“It’s amazing. It’s my favorite as well,” Koichi said, looking at it. “You need a smithy,” he joked, and Kaoru shrugged, a lopsided smirk on his face.

“Yeah, I guess. Or maybe I could engrave it somehow, I don’t know.”

“Do you have metal to work with?” Koichi asked.

“Yeah, I found some simple gold bands in a town this spring, and I made Tatsurou try on some really stupid garish jewelry for fun to find out his size without having to ask. So I’ve got the rings, and some extra gold stuff to melt down if I needed more for a design. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.”

The omega smiled. “I can help figuring it out, if you want?”

Kaoru’s eyes flickered up to him, and then down to the design. He was quiet for a while, studying it, before he spoke. “Thanks. That would be kind of you. I want to be the one to make the rings though. It’s supposed to be a symbol of my love for him, and I want it to be my hands completing it.”

“Sure,” Koichi said, endeared by the alpha’s sudden shyness and sweet idea. Kaoru put the designs away, pulling up the book, but as they went back to the world of physics again, a part of his mind was still working on the ring problem.

. . . . .

“I’m just not sure what to say if he asks,” Satochi told Asanao that night, as they sat with a mug each of Shinya’s flower tea in front of the fireplace and sucked up some warmth.

“Well, do you want to go with him?” Asanao asked, watching the flames.

Satochi hesitated. “I… Yeah, I do. I like him, and he does turn me on, and I’m getting there emotionally as well, at least I think so. But if we go away for a week to fuck, it’s like… a promise, you know? And I’m not sure I’m there yet. I don’t want to hurt his feelings or get his hopes up when I’m still unsure. But I don’t want to hurt him by saying no either. I mean, I like him a lot, but… I just don’t know what to do.”

Asanao pursed his lips, nodding. “Yeah. It’s a dilemma. I’m sorry, I can’t really advise you here. When I met Akinori, we both knew what we wanted pretty much immediately. We never had to think about stuff like this.”

They sat in silence for a while. “You really miss him, don’t you?” Satochi asked softly.

“Every day. It’ll be three years this summer, but I still think about him all the time. What he would have said or thought of this and that.”

Satochi swallowed, glancing at his friend. “I’m truly sorry.”

“Yeah. So am I. But that won’t change what happened, and I’m just hoping I would have made him proud of me if he had been here.”

“I’m certain he would have been.”

They drank the rest of their tea in silence, deep in thought.

Chapter Text

December was here, and with it, intense cold. The lake was beginning to freeze over entirely, and they did all their fishing from the ice now, climbing in and out through one of the hatches in the dock’s wall. They had been foreseeing enough to find ice picks and an ice drill before snow fell, fishing through the holes. It was slower and gave a smaller catch than the nets in the summer, but they got by. In a little while, they would be able to walk all the way to the other side of the lake to hunt.

The snowshoes made everything easier on everyone, and they got around fairly well when they needed to go outside of their usual paths. Right now though, they were mostly shuffling snow, trying to get fresh fish and studying. Kai and his kitchen staff got creative, and still managed to cook tasty food every day, with all their dried herbs and mushrooms helping. Still, they were getting bored. Everything seemed quiet on the enemy front, and they guessed that the snow and cold didn’t really help anyone who wanted to attack them either.

When Toshiya and Shinya packed their things and went off to the heat cabin, everyone was getting a little antsy. To give them something to do, Toshiya told them to prepare for Christmas, finding a tree and using the old ornaments stuffed away somewhere on the attic to dress it. For a few days, they had fun going through the attic to see what they could find in old boxes from Before, actually finding some things that proved useful to them. They also cleaned the house thoroughly and got to work fixing garlands and other things to make the dining room look nice.

Cazqui decided it was time to ask Satochi when he had a little over a week left until his heat. He practiced to himself beforehand. ‘My heat is coming up and I was wondering… if you’d be my alpha. Just for the heat, of course! To save suppressants!’ God that sounded desperate. Right, there was no good way to do this.

When afternoon came, he still hadn’t gotten the alpha to himself, but he suddenly saw his chance when he was going out to check on the hens and clean out the coops. Uta had a cold and was in bed, sniveling, so he would be on his own. Satochi had been away to find some evergreen for the garlands, and as Cazqui was getting ready to go he saw the alpha approaching alone through the window, a bag full of green branches in his hand. If he stopped him on the stairs… He got himself ready quickly and was just about to open the door when he heard Satochi’s voice on the stairs, and then Asanao answering him. Crap, where had the other alpha come from?

“Nah, I’m gonna have to say no,” he heard Satochi say, and he froze with his hand hovering over the door handle.

“Oh yeah? You’re sure? Too bad, he’s gonna be upset you know,” Asanao said, and then the door opened to a wide-eyed omega who was staring at the two, his breath short and shallow.

“Oh, hi,” Asanao said, surprised. Behind him, Satochi looked equally startled. And was that… embarrassment… he saw? What he had overheard, was it about him? About his heat? Oh god, it was, wasn’t it. It must have been.

“Are you going out?” Asanao asked, watching the omega. Cazqui nodded, trying hard to find his voice to answer. He finally gave up and squeezed between the two, running down the stairs and around the house to the chicken coop. The alpha had been talking about him, he was sure of it now. He was the one Asanao had said would be upset. That chance he had thought he had, the possibility of something developing… Apparently it hadn’t. The alpha didn’t want him any more now than he did when they had talked about it on the bench that night ages ago. He would never be with Satochi, would never get to feel those lips on his, never feel those arms around him…

Once into the chicken coop, he closed the door behind him, leaning against it. Two deep breaths, struggling to keep it together, don’t cry, let him say it to your face first. And then he felt himself shatter into a million pieces, and he started to cry desperately.

. . . . .

“He looked upset,” Satochi said, hanging up his snowy jacket in the hallway. “Should I go after him and see what it was about or wait until he comes back inside?”

Asanao frowned, his eyes troubled. “I don’t know, depends on what it was about. Maybe give him a moment to calm down and then talk to him when he comes back inside, se what the trouble was?”

Satochi sighed, pinching his eyes. “Yeah, maybe. But I’ve got something that might make him in a better mood later anyway. I decided yesterday I’m gonna offer to be his heat partner, if he wants me to be.”

“Oh yeah? That’s great, he’ll be glad to hear it.”

“Yeah, I realized I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, and I just kinda felt that, fuck it, I’m ready. Can’t mope around forever, and here’s a gorgeous guy who wants me and whom I like, so… Yeah. We can give it a shot and see where it takes us.” Satochi smiled, shrugging a little embarrassedly.

“Mmm, he’s a nice guy. I hope it works out, but I’m sure it will.” Asanao grinned at him.

“Yeah. I actually have a good feeling about it now. Just wish I had been able to decide a bit sooner, that’s all. Why is this stuff never easy?”

“I wish I knew,” Asanao said, patting his shoulder. “Now, let’s go tell Yukke you’re chickening out of the naked snow bath.”

“Hey, I’m being sensible here, you guys are being lunatics!”

“Bah,” Asanao grinned. “You just gotta toughen up and do it. A bet’s a bet, after all.”

. . . . .

Cazqui cried desperately for a long while, curled up against the door, before he forced himself to clean up the coops and feed the hens, innocent bystanders in his plight. When he was done, almost 45 minutes had passed. The thought of going back inside made him feel nauseous again, and he debated what to do. He couldn’t go back and face Satochi right now, he just couldn’t. And he didn’t want the others asking questions either, it would just set him off again.

He needed a moment to himself, he decided, until he felt ready to face the alpha. A walk would do it, he knew his way around so it was safe, and better than just sitting here crying to himself. Yeah, a walk would do it.

. . . . .

Over an hour later, the omega still wasn’t back from the chicken coop, and it was getting dark soon. Satochi was getting worried, and he finally went outside, pulling his jacket tight around him as he walked to the chicken coop. It was damn cold out, and night would soon fall, making it even colder. It was also beginning to snow again, large snowflakes falling slowly, giving the feeling of white feathers swirling to the ground.

The door to the shed was closed, and he knocked on the door. “Cazqui?” he called out, listening for sounds from inside. There were none, and he tried the door, finding it unlocked and with no one inside. He furrowed his brow, concerned. Where had the omega gone? He remembered those large eyes staring at him, looking like he was half in shock and half about to cry. When he’d seen him earlier in the day, helping Kuina with something or other, he had looked a little nervous and strung up but happy enough. What had happened between then and now to make him so upset?

Satochi went back to the house, where he found Yo-Ka in the hallway and asked him if he could please check if Cazqui was in his room upstairs? The omega’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he did as he was asked, coming back down to report that the omega was nowhere to be found upstairs.

Getting really worried now, Satochi looked through the bottom floor, without finding him. Going back out, a lantern in his hand, he started looking around the chicken coop to find any trace of the omega.

. . . . .

Cazqui pulled at his leg again, trying to get it free, but it was of no use. He had trampled through branches hidden under the snow, and the snowshoe had gotten stuck. His foot had twisted in a strange angle, and it hurt like hell.

He had been stuck for probably fifteen minutes by now, and the snow that had started to fall was covering his jacket and hat, making him as white as the surroundings. He hadn’t made it that far from the house towards the fields before he got himself stuck, following a path he thought he knew well. But somewhere, he had gotten confused by all the snow, and stepped beside the path. Right now, it didn’t matter that he was pretty near the house, it could just as well have been miles. He had been screaming for help for what felt like forever, but no one could hear him from inside. Finally, he had just given up screaming, his throat raw by now.

His hands were completely numb, and totally useless for any further attempts to get loose, and as he looked up at the sky, the snow was whirling down in strange patterns that made him feel dizzy. He closed his eyes and felt tears well up again, the salty water freezing on his cheeks as he cried.

A sound startled him, and he snatched his head up, staring into the dark. Was it an animal? God, what if it was a hungry fox or something? He was starting to panic, flailing in another desperate attempt to get himself free, when he saw a light approaching and a a voice called through the dark.

“Cazqui!”

It took a moment for the omega to fathom that someone was actually calling for him, that it wasn’t a dream.

“He…here!” he croaked, his voice coming out harsh from all the crying and screaming. He tried again. “I’m here! Help!”

The light and sound came nearer, and suddenly Satochi was there, pulsing through the snow towards him.

“Are you alright?” The alpha kneeled beside him and started to brush the snow off of him.

“I’m stuck. My foot…”

Satochi held the lantern over the hole where his leg disappeared into the snow.

“Yeah, ok, I see it. I’ll get you out, don’t worry,” he said, and Cazqui felt tears fall again as his savior started digging.

. . . . .

Pulsing through the snow with Cazqui in his arms proved to be difficult, but eventually he got them inside and called for Tatsurou. The nurse carefully helped the pale omega take his shoe off and Satochi went to get more blankets and something hot to drink, the omega refusing to look at him as he accepted the tea. The alpha sighed but waited to talk until the examination was done.

“Is he gonna be ok?” Satochi asked the nurse, a bit scared of the answer.

“He’s twisted his ankle and has been chilled to the bone, but I don’t think anything’s broken,” Tatsurou said, finishing the bandages around the ankle.

Satochi nodded. When Tatsurou left he sat down next to Cazqui and pulled the blankets tighter around him. The pale omega shifted slightly when the alpha sat down but didn’t say anything.

“Hey,” Satochi said softly, “how are you feeling?”

The pale face was tinged with red from the cold and the tears freezing on his cheeks. The alpha wanted badly to reach out and caress a cheek, but he held back and waited for the omega to react. Those beautiful big eyes finally glanced at him, and the pain in them made Satochi cringe. Cazqui studied him for a moment before he finally spoke, his voice always a bit deeper than the alpha expected it to be.

“Are you going to tell me now?”

Satochi looked confused, and the omega clarified. “That you don’t want me for my heat.” His voice choked a little at the last part, and Satochi blinked.

“Well, no, actually I was going to ask you if you’d accept me for your heat,” he said, the omega staring at him in surprise.

“But… I heard you. You told Asanao on the stairs that you would say no when I asked.”

Satochi shook his head. “But that wasn’t about you at all! Yukke has been trying to get me to do a stupid bet and I’ve told him no.”

Cazqui swallowed, closing his eyes before he asked. “So… you weren’t gonna turn me down?”

“I was gonna say yes, and ask if you maybe would want to try us out. Dating, I mean.”

At the alpha’s words, those beautiful eyes popped open, and they watched each other for a moment, before the omega suddenly burst into tears. Satochi reached out, hesitantly, and caressed his cheek gently, hoping his touch was ok with Cazqui. The omega didn’t stop him, and after a while, his hand came up and cupped Satochi’s. Those long slender fingers were freezing, and Satochi gasped at the cold. He grabbed the hand with his own, warming it as best he could, while stroking the omega’s hair with the other hand.

The door opened to reveal Tatsurou with a bowl of warm soup, eyeing them to see if he could come in. Satochi waved at him to come put the bowl down by the bed, and the alpha glanced at the crying omega before he quickly tiptoed out of the room again, closing the door behind him.

. . . . .

“No,” Tatsurou said. “I understand you’re impatient, but you’ve got a bad cold and a hurt foot, and your body is in no shape for a heat. Leave it this time. Satochi will still be there when your body’s ready.”

Cazqui sighed, and immediately coughed. His fever left him weak, but now that he finally had Satochi within his grasp, he was not about to let something as stupid as a cold stop him. In the end, it took Satochi to persuade him to just relax and get well first, promising he’d wait for him for as long as it took.

As Tatsurou had predicted, his heat didn’t come when expected. Once the cold went away, the omega still spent every day trying to feel for signs of his heat coming on. But when Christmas approached, it still hadn’t come, and he was feeling rather down about it as he limped down to the dining room on his sore foot a few days before Christmas. Once inside, he stopped to stare at the scene in front of him.

Koichi was jumping up and down on the floor, squeaking loudly. He threw himself around Hazuki’s neck, putting big sloppy kisses all over his face, before he let go and did a little dance again. The alpha laughed, looking very pleased with himself.

“Happy birthday, baby,” he said, a wide grin on his face. Koichi’s happiness was extremely infectious, and the alpha felt all warm inside as he watched his mate dance giddily.

“What’s happening?” Hiyuu asked, stepping into the room beside Cazqui. The pale omega just shrugged, he had no idea.

“I have the best mate ever!!!” Koichi exclaimed, throwing himself around Hazuki’s neck again.

“I’m glad you like it, babe. But you should thank Reika as well, he got it for me.”

Reika had no time to react before he had a small omega wrapped around him, squeezing him tightly, and then he was gone again, dancing away. The alpha blinked in surprise before he shook his head, but he couldn’t help smiling. “If I had known it would be that easy to achieve sainthood…” he quipped, grinning.

Koichi danced up to Cazqui and Hiyuu, hugging them both happily. “Hazuki gave me pink hair dye for my birthday!” he squealed excitedly, jumping up and down again. His friends grinned back.

“He did? Awesome! And you thought you’d seen your last pack, remember?” Hiyuu said.

Koichi nodded enthusiastically before he whirled back to his alpha, finally settling in his arms for a long, deep kiss. “You’re the best,” he whispered when their lips finally parted, his eyes glittering.

“Anything for you, babe,” Hazuki smiled affectionately and hugged his lover again.

Cazqui watched the happy couple for a moment, wondering if he and Satochi would ever become that close. They were off to a slow start, still a bit unsure around each other. They had agreed to give it a try, and Satochi was very sweet to him. They were slowly getting there, but they didn’t really do more than hug and share the occasional chaste kiss, and the omega was still scared Satochi would back out. He felt like his heat would seal the deal so to speak. If it ever came.

He was pulled out of his musings by an arm snaking around his waist, his back against a broad chest. Satochi’s scent filled his nostrils, and he smiled softly, turning his head to look up at the alpha.

“Hi,” he said quietly, looking into warm brown eyes.

“Hi yourself,” the alpha mumbled, nuzzling his hair a bit. They stood close for a second, not speaking, the rest of the room disappearing around them. Cazqui felt butterflies fluttering in his stomach every time the alpha held him, and this time was no exception. He wanted badly for the alpha to be more forward, but he was also scared of pushing him too hard, and so he let the alpha set the pace no matter how impatient he was. For now, just standing here and feeling the other’s arm around him had to be enough.

Ruki’s voice brought them back to reality, and as Kyo once again found himself faced with a demanding and jealous omega, Satochi let go of Cazqui’s waist and grabbed his hand, gently pulling him backwards out of the room. Once in the hallway, he leaned down to whisper in Cazqui’s ear.

“Asanao will be here for another few hours, so we can have the cottage to ourselves. Want to get away from Ruki for a while?”

A thrill settled in the omega’s gut at the words, his pale cheeks tinged with pink as he nodded eagerly. Satochi smiled, and they quickly got their jackets and shoes on, slipping out into the evening. They made their way to the cottage, Cazqui supported by the alpha so he wouldn’t hurt his foot. Not a word was spoken on the way, and the omega felt extremely nervous as the door was opened and he stepped into the cabin.

Satochi stepped in and closed the door behind them, before he reached over to take their jackets and put them over a chair and helped the omega out of his shoes. Once that was done, the omega stepped to the side a little as Satochi took his own shoes off. He bit his lip nervously as he looked around the cottage, unconsciously wrapping his arms around himself.

“Come on in,” the alpha said, his muscles flexing under his shirt as he stretched languidly and walked into the room, sitting down on the bed on the right side of the room. Cazqui blushed a little as he slowly made his way over to the bed and sat down gingerly next to his new boyfriend. Satochi smiled at him, reaching out to gently rub his back.

“Are you ok, sweetie? I just figured we could use some alone time, we haven’t really had time to talk.”

Cazqui nodded. Oh yes, he wanted alone time. Too bad his tongue seemed to have disappeared. He felt very awkward and nervous, and he bit his lip as he turned his wide eyes to the alpha, blinking. What if he made a fool out of himself again, and the alpha backed out?

And then soft warm lips suddenly caught his, slowly and gently getting to know the new territory. He closed his eyes and tilted his head slightly, returning the kiss, enjoying the taste and feel of the alpha’s lips and tongue against his. It wasn’t as chaste as their previous kisses, and he felt his heart beat a little faster. At what particular time he had ended up on his back on the bed, he didn’t know, but when they broke the kiss, he was stretched out beneath the alpha. Satochi’s leg was between his, gently pressing against his groin, and he blinked as the alpha moved slightly and rubbed against him through the fabric of his pants.

“Do you want this? Or do you want us to wait for your heat?” Satochi asked tentatively while he played with the omega’s hair, watching him closely.

It took two tries, but Cazqui finally found his voice. “I want it,” he whispered, as he eagerly grabbed the alpha’s hand and put it on his waist where the sweater had ridden up a bit. The alpha parted his lips and groaned quietly at the feeling of warm skin beneath his fingers, and he purred deeply as he leaned down and licked the long lean neck, his hand finding its way in underneath the shirt to pull it up over the nipples. Cazqui tilted his head to the side, enjoying the licking and nipping immensely. He could feel the slick starting to flow between his legs in anticipation and he moaned, his hand coming down to unbutton his own pants.

“Mmm, impatient. I like it,” Satochi said huskily, smirking as he leaned back out of the way to give the omega room to open his pants. Conflicting emotions came over Cazqui. On the one hand, he wanted his clothes off as soon as possible, and on the other, he whined at Satochi moving away and the loss of that tongue on him. His lover grinned and solved the problem by grabbing his pants and pulling them off in one swift movement, his hand trailing over a pale thigh.

“Gorgeous,” he muttered, taking in the sight of the omega with only a shirt on, bundled up underneath his chin. He leaned down and licked a long slow line from the bottom of the omega’s cock, over the head and up his stomach and chest to end on a nipple. The whimper that the action caused made his own cock twitch, his pants getting very tight by now. He sat back to work on his own pants, his lover eagerly helping with the buttons. And then they were finally open and his big cock sprang free, Satochi groaning at the relief. He looked down at Cazqui, watching his cock with open mouth and hungry eyes, taking in its size, and he smirked.

He shifted to pull off his pants and then grabbed his shirt and quickly pulled it over his head, discarding it on the floor, before he did the same to the omega’s shirt. Finally naked, he pushed his lover down on the bed with a growl, grabbing his thighs and pulling them apart to settle between them, his cock rubbing against Cazqui and making the omega writhe, bucking up to feel him closer.

“Do you want me inside you?” the alpha asked teasingly, and the whine he received in reply made him chuckle. But he kept his lover waiting, kissing and exploring the luscious body for a while until Cazqui was getting frantic beneath him. He finally relented and thrust into his new lover, setting up a slow and gentle rhythm. Long legs wrapped around him, and he caught Cazqui’s lips with his, the kiss just as gentle as his thrusting. Soon, he picked up the speed and grabbed the omega’s shoulders to hold him in place as the pace turned harder and faster. The omega was getting very ramped up, his eyes lost in bliss, and he couldn’t stop the surprised mewl when the alpha pulled out without warning. He reached up towards the alpha, wordlessly begging for him to come back. But the alpha leaned back, panting, his chest heaving as he looked down on his lover.

“Suck me,” he ordered, and Cazqui scrambled to obey, quickly getting on all fours and closing his lips around the large, weeping cock. He could taste himself there, the clear lubrication making the searing hot cock slick, and it turned him on even more to taste himself and Satochi at the same time. They were finally coming together the way he had longed for forever, and he savored the taste of their union on his tongue. He arched his back to get just the right angle, Satochi’s hand on his neck guiding him onto his dick as he groaned loudly. Soon, the other hand traveled down Cazqui’s back, fingers dipping into his hole making Cazqui suddenly gasp and buck against the hand.

He sucked and slurped happily, feeling himself get oh so very close with the aid of the alpha’s fingers. He could taste the alpha getting close as well, his lips white with the alpha’s precum. And then he was pulled off of that tantalizing cock, and strong hands quickly manhandled him back onto his back. Cazqui almost came just from the feeling of his lover breaching him again, the knot so swollen Satochi had to push hard to get it in, but he managed to hold back for a few moments before he came with a high pitched wail. Satochi thrust into him a few more times, before he too came deep inside, his knot making any more movement impossible.

They collapsed on the bed, the alpha rolling them around before he threw his arms around the smaller omega, nuzzling his neck.

“You smell amazing,” he whispered, kissing the neck affectionately. Cazqui had lost the use of his mouth again, and just panted, turning his flushed face to his lover with a smile.

“Aren’t you glad we had some alone time?” Satochi smirked, and Cazqui grinned widely, snuggling down on the broad chest. He heard the steady heartbeat, still beating fast, and felt the knot between his legs, the large cock still filling him deliciously. “Mmm,” he managed finally, closing his eyes to try to memorize this amazing feeling. Finally.

Chapter Text

Christmas was perfect. It was sunny but freezing outside, the snow lying deep around the houses, making everything look like a postcard. Reo surprised the kids with a small sled that he had built, Kaoru helping with the design, and the families spent a few hours outdoors after lunch. Kai, Miya and Ichirou took turns pulling the sled around with a bunch of happy kids on it, and when it was time for dinner, the little ones were all pretty exhausted and were put to bed in a room at the big house after a quick meal.

 

They had decorated the dining room with lots of evergreens. Ruki proved to be exceptionally good at his self-proclaimed job as interior decorator, and they all admired the skillfully tied wreaths and table decorations. The Christmas tree was tastefully decorated, and the children had eyed it with awe that morning, watching the glitter and colorful baubles. Ruki beamed at the praise and strutted around with his chin high for the rest of the night, Kyo watching his boyfriend prance with a happy grin on his face.

They had decided against Christmas presents in general, except for the sled for the kids, and instead they sat down and sang together for a while before dinner. They had found and brought a few guitars they rarely had time to play, but today they were brought out and passed around between them since many wanted to contribute. Koichi listened to Hazuki sing with glittering eyes, sitting curled up on the floor and leaning on his mate's knee as he enjoyed the deep voice that sang a beautiful song to Reo’s guitar. Kyo sang an old traditional Christmas song accompanied by Die and Kaoru, and Yo-Ka sang a more modern number that Kei knew how to play on guitar. When it was time for dinner, they were all happily immersed in the Christmas spirit.

Kai and his kitchen staff had outdone themselves with tender deer steak, a rabbit casserole and lots of roasted potatoes and vegetables. The very last of the fresh kale was picked in the snow and provided a fresh feeling to the meal that felt luxurious in the winter. They all ate until they were about to burst. As an extra surprise, Kai had secretly gathered plums and made a wine. It was delicious, but also stronger than expected, and when dinner was over, quite a few of them were getting a bit tipsy.

After dinner they were all mingling around, happily talking to their friends. Yo-Ka and Hikaru found themselves alone on the stairs later in the evening, making out underneath the mistletoe Miya had found and put up just over the bottom stairs. Hikaru was curled up in Yo-Ka’s arms, his eyes shining as he looked at his boyfriend. At first they didn’t even notice Atsushi standing there, swaying a bit from the wine. When they did, Hikaru jumped and hid against the other omega, still a bit scared of the militaries.

“You two are… weirdsh,” Atsushi slurred, pointing vaguely in their direction. Hikaru clung to his boyfriend, but Yo-Ka was getting mad.

“What we are is none of your business,” he snapped, frowning at the drunken major.

“Schtill, not nashural…” Atsushi persisted, and he was just about to continue when Jun-ji and Aoi stepped into the hallway, waving their glasses as they were discussing something animatedly. They stopped to take in the situation, Jun-ji groaning slightly as he guessed what was going on from Yo-Ka’s angry face and the major’s less than steady movements.

“What’s happening?” Aoi said, looking between them, suddenly a lot more sober. Yo-Ka knew Aoi was one of the alphas that found them strange, so he expected no support when he bit out the words.

“He’s got opinions about our relationship, apparently.”

Aoi looked at him, a surprised look on his face, before he turned to Atsushi, frowning.

“Hey, you leave them alone. What they choose to do is none of your business.”

Atsushi blinked dazedly at him, opening his mouth to speak when Jun-ji intervened.

“Right, enough for you. Come on, let’s get you back to your cottage.” He grabbed his jacket and pulled it on, before he took his former superior under his arms and pushed him out the door. As Atsushi growled something at it being freezing, he sighed and took the alpha’s jacket, looking over his shoulders to the two omegas.

“I’m very sorry… He’s drunk. It’s no excuse, but I can assure you he’ll regret it in the morning.” And then he disappeared into the night, getting the major home and into bed.

Aoi turned to look at the couple on the stairs, chewing his lip ring a little. Hikaru was still shivering, a tear in the corner of his eye, and Yo-Ka was fuming mad.

“Are you guys ok?” the alpha asked, looking serious. Yo-Ka’s eyes snapped from the door to Aoi, a grim look on his face, but he soon relented when he remembered his friend had defended him.

“No, we’re not. But thank you, for standing up for us, I mean. I know you think our relationship is strange too.”

Aoi blinked, having the decency to look a bit ashamed. “It’s not that I think it’s strange,” he mumbled. “I’m just not used to it. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad thing. I’m glad you two have each other, really, I am.”

Yo-Ka blinked, a bit startled, but nodded and smiled faintly at the alpha. “Thank you,” he said, standing up and pulling Hikaru up with him. “I think we’ll go to bed now.”

Aoi nodded. “I’ll talk to Toshiya and tell him what happened.”

Yo-Ka sighed, glancing into the dining room where happy laughter could be heard. “Wait until the morning,” he said. “Let everyone have their fun for tonight.”

Aoi watched him, searchingly, but then he bowed his head in acknowledgement. “Ok. Good night. And merry Christmas to the both of you.”

Yo-Ka smiled briefly. “Merry Christmas,” he said before he turned and guided his boyfriend up the stairs to their room.

. . . . .

The next morning, they slept in. Yo-Ka had taken a long while to calm down last night and had fallen asleep late, and Hikaru loved long mornings and could sleep for what felt like forever. When they finally got up and out of bed to go down for breakfast, most of the others had already eaten (or chosen not to after last nights drinking). Hikaru held Yo-Ka’s hand in a steel grip as they stepped downstairs, and it made Yo-Ka furious that his boyfriend was scared in his own home.

When they stepped into the dining room, they found Toshiya, Aoi and Die sitting at a table, Atsushi, Jun-ji and Shuse sitting opposite. The major looked a little worse for wear, and they all looked up when the omega couple stepped in.

“Ah, Yo-Ka, Hikaru, could you please join us?” Toshiya asked, his tone mild but his face stern and serious.

Hikaru’s hand grasped Yo-Ka’s impossibly harder and he hid behind his boyfriend as they walked up to stand by the table.

“We are discussing what happened last night. It was not acceptable, I want you to know that straight away. We do not accept that kind of behavior here, and Atsushi was made aware of that the moment he came here.”

Yo-Ka’s eyes flicked to the major, who looked deeply repentant, his head hanging. The omega looked back at Toshiya, still not saying anything.

“Listen, Yo-Ka, Hikaru…” Atsushi’s voice was coarse, but he looked sincere as he turned to the omegas. “I… I stepped out of line yesterday, and I’m truly sorry about that. I will accept whatever judgment you decide, but I just want you to know it was the alcohol talking, not me. It’s a lame-ass excuse, and I know it. I just want you to know I will never touch a drop again. And I’m so sorry I ruined your Christmas.”

Yo-Ka looked at the alpha for a long moment, and then he glanced at Hikaru who leaned on him, eyeing the alpha. Toshiya’s voice brought him out of his thoughts.

“The final decision has to be yours on this, and we will support you in any decision you make. We will either give Atsushi a warning, and any new transgression will mean he has to leave the island. Or we ask him to leave straight away. Think on it for a while. Talk it over between the two of you, and get back to me. I would like this settled as soon as possible, so I would like your answer before two o’clock today. Is that acceptable?” He looked at Atsushi who nodded, and then back to the omegas. Yo-Ka nodded faintly, suddenly feeling sick. His anger had faded a little, and now he was faced with a horrible decision. He turned, arm around Hikaru, and the two walked back up to their room, breakfast completely forgotten.

. . . . .

Kaoru and Tatsurou opted to go back to bed after an early breakfast, spending the morning snuggled up in bed together, a small fire making the room warm and cosy. It was calm and comfortable, and for a while at least, they were just happy being close to each other without the outside world intruding.

Tatsurou was lying with his head on Kaoru’s shoulder, half asleep as he played idly with his boyfriend’s nipple. When his lover shifted and leaned down under the bed, he grunted as his Kaoru-shaped pillow disappeared. He soon forgot about his annoyance though, as a small box in his lover’s hand caught his attention.

“What’s that?” he asked, curious as to why Kaoru suddenly seemed so shy and blushing. He reminded Tatsurou about that night when they first got together.

“It’s… Well, it’s a Christmas gift. Sort of. If you like it. And want it.” Kaoru looked extremely embarrassed and nervous now, crumbling under Tatsurou’s gaze.

“For me? That’s so sweet,” he said, smiling as he accepted the box, caressing the lid with his thumb as he watched his lover fidget nervously.

“Well, it’s for… us. Maybe. If you want.” Kaoru was really getting awkward now. He couldn’t even look up and kept reaching out one hand to almost touch Tatsurou’s arm and then pull it back, as if he was trying to stop his lover from opening the gift but changed his mind all the time.

Ok, better do this or he’s going to have a heart attack, Tatsurou thought and gently lifted the lid of the box. The action revealed two identical gold rings, painstakingly etched with the letters K and T worked into one pattern. The etching was obviously handmade but beautiful, and Tatsurou was stunned as he lifted one of the rings and looked closer at the pattern. Kaoru must have done these himself, and Tatsurou felt his chest constrict with emotion as he realized how much love his boyfriend must have poured into the work to make something like this. It took him a moment to realize he hadn’t said anything, and that Kaoru had more or less stopped breathing next to him, waiting for his reaction.

“Oh, Kao, they’re beautiful!” he exclaimed, looking into eyes hidden behind curls as if to protect himself from possible rejection. Tatsurou reached out and brushed away the curls gently, leaning forward to kiss his lover softly on the lips. “Thank you so much,” he whispered, and watched as Kaoru almost fainted as he finally dared to breathe again.

“So… You like it?” he asked, still uncertain. “Since we can’t mate or anything, I figured we could use these to sort of show that we… belong together.” His face was beet red, and Tatsurou couldn’t help smiling widely at him.

“That is the most romantic and beautiful thing I’ve ever heard, Kao, and I’d be honored to wear your ring,” he said, feeling a tear of joy trickle down his cheek.

“Really? You would?” The relief in Kaoru’s eyes could not be mistaken, and he reached for the rings, quickly comparing them and selecting the slightly smaller one. Then he gently held out his hand in offer. Tatsurou slowly put his left hand in his lover’s, unable to hold back a few more tears as Kaoru carefully put the ring on his finger. He lifted his hand and examined it closely before he looked at his boyfriend with teary eyes.

“Can I… put yours on?” he asked. Kaoru’s breath hitched, and he quickly nodded, his hand shaking a little as he offered the ring and his hand to Tatsurou. The alpha lifted his lover’s hand to his lips, before he slowly put the ring on his finger, letting their fingers entwine before he leaned forward for a kiss.

The kiss soon turned into more, and the two didn’t leave their cottage until well after lunch, having no clue as to what had went on in the big house during the morning.

. . . . .

Yo-Ka was pacing back and forth in his room, while Hikaru sat on the bed watching him. It would have been so much easier to just someone else decide for them, Yo-Ka thought, but he understood Toshiya’s sentiment in making them make the decision. He stopped and looked out the window for a moment while he thought. The bright skies of yesterday had clouded over, and more snow threatened to fall later in the day. He sighed and turned to Hikaru.

“What do you think?” he asked. Hikaru sat with his arms around his legs, his chin on his knees, as he watched his boyfriend. He made a thoughtful face, but didn’t answer right away.

Yo-Ka sighed. “Sending someone out in this cold and snow feels very harsh, but he pissed me off like crazy. I hate that you’re scared, baby, I can’t stand it when someone makes you feel bad.”

Hikaru watched him with large eyes, and reached out a hand for Yo-Ka. His boyfriend quickly stepped up and grabbed his hand, sitting down next to him on the bed. Hikaru leaned his head on his shoulder, and they sat in silence for a moment. Then came Hikaru’s voice.

“Would he die if we told him to leave?”

Yo-Ka looked out the window, the snow clouds thickening. “I don’t know, sweetheart. Maybe. He could. It’s cold, and there’s a lot of forest to trudge past before you get anywhere.”

The smaller omega sat quietly for another moment, before he spoke again, his voice small.

“Would it be our fault if we made him leave and he died?”

Yo-Ka closed his eyes for a moment, before he answered slowly.

“I… I guess it would be.”

They sat in silence for a long while, Hikaru leaning his head on Yo-Ka, the two holding hands. A small ding from the old clock out in the hallway told the time to be one thirty, and Yo-Ka finally shifted. He watched Hikaru closely.

“Are you sure you would feel safe enough then, with him here?”

Hikaru nodded slowly. “If you’re here with me. I don’t want to kill anyone.”

Yo-Ka sighed, biting his lip, and then he nodded. “Neither do I. Ok, let’s go downstairs and tell them our decision then. And then let’s grab some food, I’m starving.”

. . . . .

Atsushi sat in his cabin, anxiously awaiting news of the decision. Jun-ji and Shuse sat with him, their jaws set.

“We should go with you,” Shuse said, once again, and once again Atsushi shook his head.

“I said no, sergeant. You’re never gonna get another chance at something like this, and I’m not gonna let you leave that behind because I fucked up.”

“But…”

“No, sergeant. That’s an order.” Atsushi glowered at Shuse, who shut his mouth, looking unhappy.

“Do you really think they’ll kick you out though?” Jun-ji asked. “I mean, yes, you were damn stupid, but at least it wasn’t a threat or anything physical.”

Atsushi hung his head a little, shaking it. “I have no idea. They are in their right. I knew the rules and agreed to them, so it’s up to them to decide. Maybe if it hadn’t been Hikaru…”

Shuse winced at that. The omega was extra sensitive, they knew that and understood why. But it sure complicated things right now.

“What time is it?” Jun-ji asked, looking at the clock over the door that showed the time to be a quarter to two.

A knock on the door startled them, and Shuse got up quickly to open it. Toshiya and Yo-Ka stood there, jackets firmly closed against the cold. The sergeant waved them inside, and Atsushi sat up straight, swallowing nervously.

“Yo-Ka has a final question before he tells you their decision,” Toshiya said, waving at the omega. Atsushi nodded, his gaze shifting to Yo-Ka.

“I need to be sure Hikaru’s safe,” Yo-Ka started. “I can take chances with myself, but not with him. And I need to know something now, and I want an honest answer.”

Atsushi nodded and waved at him to continue.

“Have you ever hurt an omega before? Physically or mentally?”

The major watched him for a moment, and then he sighed. “Physically, not on purpose, though once by accident in military training. Mentally… Does it count if you break up with someone who wanted to stay together?” He watched Yo-Ka’s reaction.

“Were you serious? Mated?”

“Not mated, no. Serious enough to live together. But we drifted apart, and I fell out of love before he did.” Atsushi made a face at the memory, and Yo-Ka studied him for a moment.

“Ok,” he said finally. “You are to promise me not to say anything about our relationship, ever again, and you will be extra careful around Hikaru all the time. Preferably stay away from him as much as you can, but when it can’t be helped, you are to treat him with the utmost respect.”

“Of course,” Atsushi nodded, hope suddenly lighting up his eyes. “And I will never drink another drop of that wine or any other alcoholic substance, I assure you. Apparently, I don’t hold my liquor well anymore.”

Yo-Ka nodded. “Good. Then you can stay.”

The three militaries let out deep breaths, Atsushi’s shoulders slumping. He looked up at Yo-Ka and Toshiya.

“Thank you,” he said, gratitude in his eyes.

Toshiya nodded. “It was the boys’ decision, but I think it was a good one. But I do expect this to never happen again, as you understand. And you are fully aware of what will happen if you break our rules again.”

“Of course, I understand. Thank you again.” As the two left the cabin, he felt his shoulders slump even more as he finally let himself relax completely. He hardly noticed Shuse and Jun-ji patting his back, he could only concentrate on one thing. He wasn’t thrown out of a community he, to his own surprise, had come to love already.

Chapter Text

“I think that the snow’s too thick, actually.” Jun-ji was standing in the new tower, looking out over the lake that was completely devoid of enemies or other people in general. “This is a bit of a walk from anywhere, and without the right gear, it will be hard to come here with this much snow on the ground. If it had been cold but with less snow, we would probably have been in bigger trouble.”

Shuse nodded, watching their new friends push their sleds out onto the snowy lake, going off for a hunt. The snowshoes had proven very efficient, but a little fragile, and so they had worked on the design and Koichi had come up with a great solution to fix the problem. The sleds were good for pulling the meat home, so they wouldn’t have to carry it too far, a clever idea of Reo’s.

“I’m glad things have settled with Atsushi,” he said, Jun-ji nodding beside him. “I was a bit scared things would fall apart there for a while. I really like it here, and it would have felt shitty if we had to leave.”

“Would you have gone with him? Even though he said no?” Jun-ji asked solemnly.

“I… Yeah, I guess I would have. We go way back, after all. But it would have sucked big time. And you, would you have gone or stayed?”

Jun-ji pursed his lips in thought, before he slowly answered. “I guess I would have gone as well. Even though it had been refusing an order. But yeah, it would have sucked. Very, very much.”

“Especially since that would mean no Kazuki around?” Shuse smirked, eyeing his fellow sergeant cheekily. Jun-ji couldn’t help chuckling a bit.

“Yeah, there’s that. I kinda like having him around.”

“So I noticed.” Shuse grinned and patted his friend on his shoulder. “Think he’ll want to have his heat with you?”

“I don’t know,” Jun-ji sighed. “I mean, he doesn’t really know me that well, so… But I would be very happy if he did. I mean, have you seen those eyes when he smiles? He’s like an adorable little kitten.”

“I have,” Shuse grinned. “He is cute. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, then.”

“Yeah, please do,” was the short answer.

. . . . .

New year’s came and went, the weather staying cold for a few more weeks. During the worst of the cold spell, they mostly stayed indoors, and Kai used the dried fish and meat they had stored away to make dinner. Some of the vegetables were going soft, and they had a lot of root beets for a while as they needed to be finished before they went bad. After a while though, being stuck inside eating the same thing became boring, and they were happy when milder weather made it possible to go hunting again.

Shuse and Atsushi had offered to go on the hunt, feeling the need to stretch their legs, and so Jun-ji was alone in his cottage when a knock came on the door. He put the belt he was fixing down and went to answer the door, blinking a little in surprise at a nervous looking Kazuki.

“Oh, hi! Come on in!” He took a step back and quickly offered the omega to step inside. Could it be…?

Kazuki stepped inside and allowed Jun-ji to take his jacket and hang it on a hook by the door. He took his shoes off and took a step inside, biting nervously on his lip ring.

“Why don’t you have a seat? Would you like some flower tea?” Jun-ji offered, pulling out a chair for the omega, who sat down gingerly before he realized he needed to answer.

“Yeah. Thanks. That would be nice.”

Jun-ji smiled and started making the tea, butterflies in his stomach at what this could mean.

“I’m not going into heat,” Kazuki suddenly blurted out, and Jun-ji quickly looked up.

“Oh,” he said, feeling more than a bit disappointed, but trying desperately for it not to show. “Well, you should do what feels…” he started, but was interrupted by the omega.

“No, I meant, I’m not here because my heat is coming. It’s still two weeks off… is what I meant.” Kazuki was blushing furiously now, but Jun-ji felt hope rise again.

“Oh, I see. So, what did you want to talk to me about?” he asked gently, continuing with the tea while he glanced at the omega in the corner of his eye. God, he’s cute.

“Well, I… I thought about your offer, and… I realized I don’t know you that well.”

Crap. Was that a no?

“And I thought that I can’t really make my decision without getting to know you better.”

Wait, was that a yes?

“So I thought, maybe we could just hang out or something. For a while. And talk.”

Ok, neither, but till good news.

“I’d really like that,” Jun-ji said, smiling widely at Kazuki as he put their cups of tea down on the table. He was answered by one of those smiles that brought out the curved maneki neko eyes, the ones that made his knees go week and his stomach flip, and he unconsciously licked his lips as he sat down.

“So, where are you from originally?” he started, and the conversation flowed easily from there.

When it was time for his heat two weeks later, Kazuki and Jun-ji bounded off quite happily to a cabin together, Kazuki clutching the contraceptives in his hand.

. . . . .

They were nearing the end of January, and so far, they were doing well. The snow wasn’t as deep as it had been, packed harder together by the milder weather, but now the cold was back and they were using more firewood than expected. The log they had saved for sitting on by the beach had to go, they decided, and they spent a few days working to get more firewood. Food was still not an issue though, their potato and carrot storage working just fine. They were running out of cabbage, but they still had plenty of swedes, and all in all, they ate well.

Since work outdoors were kept to a minimum in the snow, they got a little restless, but did their best to keep themselves occupied with reading up on their chosen tasks, as well as fixing tools and doing work that could be done indoors. Reo had turned out to be very good with his hands, fixing everything from broken clasps to one of the old clocks.

There were still no signs of others coming their way, and Uta mumbled something about unnecessary alphas brought in to his friends. He kept very quiet around the alphas in question though, and the general opinion was that the three militaries had made a nice contribution to their community. Atsushi did his utmost to work hard and show his worth, and he kept out of Hikaru and Uta’s way as much as possible. Shuse had become the kids’ new favorite babysitter, and he usually had at least one child hanging off of him when he wasn’t working. Jun-ji spent a lot of his spare time with Kazuki, and even though the two weren’t dating, most just waited for the two to proclaim they were a couple.

Tatsurou and Shinya worked diligently to find some solution to their suppressants problem. They had found five different sources that mentioned a certain herb were brewed into a suppressant in the old days, but how often and in what concentration it should be ingested, the books didn’t say. When the nurse complained about the fact aloud at dinner one day, it was discovered than Reika had in fact studied chemistry at university Before, but never finished his degree as he chose to go into economic studies instead. Still, it was better than nothing, and the two worked together to try to solve the puzzle.

Luckily, they had the herb in question in the collection of seed bags Hazuki had brought, put away in a dark cupboard since it wasn’t useful in the kitchen. They put some of the seeds in pots in a southern window and saved the rest for spring in case it didn’t grow well indoors in the limited winter light, and then nervously checked on it several times a day to see if it would grow. The seeds were almost four years old by now, but to their relief about 25 percent still popped up from the soil, and the plants were nursed tenderly as they grew.

Kuina had eventually decided he wasn’t ready for a friend heat, and offered his services as guinea pig for the new herbal remedy. When he was beginning to feel the first signs of his heat, Tatsurou, Reika and Shinya carefully brewed some of the still small plants into a concoction. Both the nurse and the test subject were a little nervous, Tatsurou unwilling to give too high a dose at once, scared it would make the omega sick in some other way. Just in case, they had borrowed Toshiya and Shinya’s cabin to keep the omega away from everyone in case it didn’t work, as the two heat cabins were in use for Ruki’s and Tomo’s heats. Toshiya spent a few nights in the bed in the sickroom while Shinya, Natsu and Hiyuu were staying with Kuina, checking on him, the pills at the ready if they were needed. Tatsurou and Shinya kept communications as to dosage, and during the first day, the results were promising. Kuina seemed a bit flushed, but still able to keep his wits about him.

A day in, however, as his heat instincts grew stronger, he started to become restless and dazed, and his scent grew stronger. Soon, they found themselves having to stop him from going outside, Kuina getting more and more agitated. Around two o’clock, Shinya had gone to discuss raising the dose with Tatsurou, when they suddenly heard commotion from the hallway. When they got there, they found Hiyuu and Natsu struggling to keep a very flushed Kuina away from Atsushi. The alpha had come out of the dining room when the door opened, and had been pinned to the wall just inside the door by a very horny omega. He was breathing heavily, apparently struggling hard to keep himself in check, his pants tented in obvious arousal.

“Get him out of here, now!” he croaked desperately, trying to keep his breath as not to breathe in the omega’s scent. Shinya rushed over and Tatsurou almost did the same until he caught himself and hung back as far away as he could instead.

“Alphas, stay away from the hallway, omegas, get here now!” he yelled, feeling Kuina’s scent reaching his nose. He quickly stepped back and closed the door between him and the omega. He heard steps rushing down the stairs, and a few muffled cries before the front door slammed shut. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door again to find the hallway empty of omegas, and a ragged looking Atsushi panting harshly from the effort to keep himself from ravishing Kuina. He looked up at the nurse as he opened the door.

“I might need a little help here,” the major murmured, lifting his hands to show the blood from where his fingernails had dug into his palms. Tatsurou swallowed and nodded, waving the alpha into the sickroom, Atsushi walking a little funny with his still hard erection making his pants uncomfortable. Tatsurou opened the front door quickly to see the door to Shinya’s cabin closed, the omegas presumably inside.

“All clear,” he yelled into the house before he turned and went to help Atsushi with his hands. Toshiya came down the stairs from the library and joined them, Tatsurou updating him on what had happened.

“So we’re not there yet,” Tatsurou concluded, concerned.

“No, that could have become very bad. But it worked for the first day, so if you adjust the dosage?”

“Probably, but until we’re sure that we can use a heat cabin for our tests, I’m not trying this again,” Tatsurou said, glancing at Atsushi. His hands had been bandaged, but his erection had still not fully deflated. He looked a little calmer now, though, as he nodded.

“I’d rather not do that again,” he muttered, groaning a bit as he shifted on the bed to try to get his pants to be a little less uncomfortable.

“You’re right,” Toshiya said, “we have to be even more careful. Two omegas is not enough as a guard, apparently, and we need to make sure there are at least three or four people with the omega in question at all times the next time we try this.” He turned to Atsushi, smiling a bit. “You did good, staying in control of yourself. I’m very thankful, not to mention impressed,” he said.

Atsushi only gave him a bow to the head in reply, groaning a little as he shifted on the bed again.

. . . . .

Uta had been one of the omegas to rush down to the hallway, and together with Shinya, Natsu, Hiyuu and Ryoga, he helped bundle Kuina up and shove him back into the cabin, Hiyuu almost forcing a heat suppressant into Kuina’s mouth and Shinya making him swallow it down with water. It took three hours before Kuina was back to normal, though greatly embarrassed.

“God, I’m never going to be able to face Atsushi again,” he grumbled, hiding his face in his hands. Shinya smiled, sitting down next to him to give him a hug.

“Sure you can, he knows you couldn’t control yourself.”

“Actually, it’s kind of impressive that he could control himself,” Hiyuu said, the others nodding.

Uta didn’t say anything, but he was quietly re-evaluating the alpha in his head. The look on Atsushi’s face had been one of pure torture, and still he had kept himself in check and did nothing to Kuina. The alphas he had known on the road would have long since ripped the clothes off an omega who offered himself like that. It was reassuring to see that not every alpha acted on his instincts without a fight, and he was honestly surprised the major had managed. It made him feel a little better about having their newest alphas around.

Kuina, on the other hand, wished the alpha were ten thousand miles away right about now.

Chapter Text

Koichi was very disappointed to feel the first signs of his heat mid February, but he sucked it up and grabbed Hazuki’s hand, practically dragging him off to the heat cabin for his heat. The alpha laughed, but was more than happy to do his part of the process.

Kei, on the other hand, was getting nervous. He had gone into heat just after Koichi, and he should be starting to feel the signs of his heat as well. Only, he didn’t. He felt nothing out of the ordinary at all, which was anything but ordinary. After a week of fretting, he nervously went to knock on Yukihiro’s door one night. It was Reika who answered the door, the two alphas sharing a cottage. He just smirked, guessing the omega was here about his heat, and reached for his jacket.

“I’ll be at the big house for a bit while you two discuss… things,” he said meaningfully over the shoulder as he left. Yukihiro looked surprised at the door as Kei stepped in, closing the door behind him.

“Oh, it’s you. I was wondering why he took off like that,” Yukihiro said, smiling at the omega. His smile soon slipped off his lips as he noticed Kei’s nervous stance, the omega looking anywhere but at him.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, getting up from his chair to walk over to the door, helping the omega take off his jacket and inviting him in with a hand gesture. He didn’t say anything else, waiting for Kei to settle on the very edge of a chair. For a moment, it was quiet, as Yukihiro waited and Kei gathered up the courage needed to speak.

“I… should have had my heat a week ago,” he finally mumbled, holding his hands together in his lap to keep them from shaking. His eyes flicked up to Yukihiro and then quickly down again, too scared to meet the alpha’s gaze.

“Oh.” The words were not ones the alpha was expecting, and he rubbed his square jaw a little while he thought about what to say. “Uhm… Is it… usually late?”

Kei shook his head, still not daring to look up. He was shivering by now, his breaths quick and shallow. Yukihiro watched him for a second, his brow furrowed.

“Did you talk to Tatsurou yet?” he asked, biting his lip as Kei shook his head again. “Then I think we should. Now?”

Kei glanced up quickly, assessing the alpha’s face, and when he couldn’t interpret the facial expression, he nodded faintly. He accepted the alpha’s arm in support when he rose on wobbly legs, the two getting dressed and stepping out into the snow.

. . . . .

“And you’re sure you gave him one pill every morning in this exact order?” Tatsurou asked, Yukihiro nodding in answer where he stood next to the bed. The nurse watched Kei, sitting on the edge of the bed with his shoulders slumped and his eyes on the floor.

“Kei?” he asked softly. The omega flinched a little at hearing his name, and looked up at Tatsurou with big eyes. “Can I have a look at you? It’s still a bit too early to tell for sure without the right instruments, but I could get an idea.” The omega swallowed and nodded faintly, lying back as Tatsurou gently guided him to lie on his back on the bed. As he felt warm hands feel through his belly, he had to fight to keep it together. Tears were welling up in his eyes, and he felt about ready to run when he felt a large hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to Yukihiro, his desperate eyes meeting the alpha’s concerned but calm ones.

“It’ll be fine,” he said, his voice soothing. Kei felt himself relax a little at the words, taking strength from the hand on his shoulder, and he closed his eyes and let Tatsurou finish the examination. Once the nurse was done, he sat back up, thankful for Yukihiro’s hand still on his shoulder.

“As I said, I can’t be a hundred percent sure yet,” Tatsurou said, “but the signs are there. It does seem likely that you’re pregnant. I’m sorry,” he added when Kei started crying. Yukihiro squeezed his shoulder and sighed.

“But how?” he said, looking at the nurse questioningly. “I gave him the right pills, when he was supposed to get them, so how?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry, I wish I could be sure. Do you still have the box?” Yukihiro shook his head. “Too bad, I would have liked to have seen it, checked the date. Most of our medicine passed its expiration date long ago, but it should still have been ok. Ruki’s been using contraceptives almost since we got here, and it’s worked fine. Although…” He suddenly looked thoughtful.

“Although what?” Yukihiro said, shaking Tatsurou out of his thoughts.

“Although he’s allergic to one of the substances in the kind you got, so he gets a different brand. Since you’re not allergic, I thought I’d save those for him.”

A shuddering breath from Kei made them both look at him. He was still crying, and the nurse gave him a handkerchief to blow his nose in. The omega was shaking slightly, and Yukihiro sat down next to him, putting his arm around his shoulders for comfort.

“So what now?” he asked, looking between the omega and the nurse. Kei’s held his breath as he heard the question, and he lifted his red-rimmed eyes to look at the nurse.

“Well, you have two options. Either you keep the baby, or we go through with an abortion.”

Kei stiffened at the alternatives, nearly fainting, and Yukihiro clenched his jaw and closed his eyes for a moment, breathing deeply. Then he nodded, looking at Tatsurou.

“We know what the first option means, but could you please explain the second option? What kind of procedure would we be talking about?”

Tatsurou explained, softly, keeping his eyes on Kei who was not feeling well at all by now. Halfway through, Tatsurou stopped and fetched the omega a bag to breathe in, before he continued. Once he was done, he hunched down in front of Kei, taking his hand in his and giving it a squeeze.

“Are you ok?” he asked gently, Kei shaking his head. Tatsurou tried to remain calm for Kei’s sake, but he felt incredibly guilty when he saw the omega’s distress. “I’m very sorry this happened to you. I think you two need to talk this through. Take your time, but if you decide on option two, it will be best to do it within a week from now.”

Yukihiro nodded his thanks as the nurse stood up to leave the room. Kei was still shaking, and the alpha put his arms around him for a while to calm him down, petting his hair softly.

“It’ll be ok, we’ll get through this,” he mumbled.

After a long while, Kei was finally calm enough to speak again, his eyes swollen from crying. He looked up at the alpha next to him and sniffed.

“Thanks for coming with me,” he mumbled. “I’m sorry I got you into this mess.”

“It’s not your fault,” Yukihiro said, patting his hand a little. He took a deep breath before he asked the big question. “So, what do you want to do?”

Kei shook his head. “I don’t know, god…” He buried his face in his hands for a second before he glanced up at the alpha. “Make it magically go away, maybe? Wake up from this bad dream?”

Yukihiro sighed. “Can’t help you there I’m afraid. It’s you who have to decide finally. If you decide to have an abortion, I will stay by your side and get you through it. But if you decide to keep it…” The alpha paused, and Kei steeled himself for what was to come.

“I… I want to be involved. I know we’re not actually a couple, but if there’s a kid running around that I helped make, I want him to know I’m his dad.”

Kei blinked. That was so not what he had expected to hear, and he looked at Yukihiro with wide eyes.

“You… would?” he asked, unsure of if he heard the alpha right.

“Yeah. If that helps any in your decision for or against. I will support you no matter which choice you make, but that’s my only wish in this. If you keep him, I want to be his dad.” Yukihiro watched him closely, to try to gauge the omega’s reaction. Kei was more or less in shock, his mind shutting down.

“I think… I need to think this through,” he said, shivering again.

“Of course. Can I do anything to help you?”

Kei blinked, feeling the world spin. “You could help me get to my room, please,” he said weakly. He wanted to cry again, and threw his arms around Yukihiro’s neck and buried his face there as the alpha scooped him up and carried him upstairs to the room he shared with Tomo. The omega was there, reading on his bed, and he looked up in surprise when the alpha came in. He quickly got up and got the covers in order so Yukihiro could put Kei down, looking very worried when he saw the state his friend was in.

“God, what happened?” he asked, sitting down next to his friend on the bed. Kei shifted from holding Yukihiro’s neck to burying himself against Tomo, and he started crying again, his friend patting his back. Yukihiro looked as if he wanted to say something, but then he thought better of it, and just reached out to squeeze Kei’s hand quickly.

“You know where to find me. Come talk to me anytime,” he said, throwing one last glance at the omega as he left the room and closed the door behind him.

. . . . .

“He’s pregnant?” Toshiya blinked at the news. “But I thought you… they…”

“Used contraceptives, yeah. Apparently, they didn’t take.”

“Oh. Shit.” Toshiya looked at Tatsurou with a pained expression. This was very bad news indeed.

“Very much so. I’m going to put away all the pills from that brand and check the dates on them again, to see if I can find a clue as to what went wrong,” the nurse said. He looked dejected, feeling awful about what happened. “I’ve given the same brand to Ryoga, Natsu and Kazuki, and Ryoga’s had his heat and Natsu’s off now, so at least those two worked out. Kazuki still has a while left before we know. They were supposed to be safe,” he sighed. “I just fucked up someone’s life because I trusted meds that are too old, and there could be more coming.”

“You couldn’t know,” Toshiya said, sighing. “We’ll just have to deal with what we have in front of us. Do you have any other brand to give the others?”

“Yeah, I do, the ones Ruki takes and one more. But it will always be a gamble now. We can never know if they work or not. They should, but… I doubt the omegas will want to take the chance.”

Toshiya nodded. “What do Kei and Yukihiro say?”

“They’re shocked, of course. Kei more than Yuki, I think, but I guess that’s natural. They’re gonna think it through and get back to me.”

“Ok. In the meantime, I think we need to talk to the others who got the same meds. They should be told as soon as possible. Did Ryoga get the same kind for his second heat?”

Tatsurou sighed and nodded. “He did, and Natsu as well. I’ll tell them.”

. . . . .

As it turned out, Ryoga and Aki were fairly calm since the pills had worked the first time around. Ryoga stressed a bit, but they soon left the worry to later when they knew more. Kazuki was another matter, Jun-ji having to calm a panicky omega down by holding him tight and repeating ‘I’ll take care of you, don’t worry’ for at least ten minutes.

But that meant the news was out, and Kei felt very awkward wherever he went. Everyone was looking at him, either slyly or openly, and he could see the pity in their eyes. It was unbearable, and he kept mostly to himself, staying in his room. He talked to Tomo a bit, swearing the omega to secrecy, but he was still no closer to his answer three days later. At dinner that night, he walked into the dining room to feel everyone watching him from the corners of their eyes again. He felt very uncomfortable, but grabbed a plate and sat down at a table, settling between Yuuki and Hikaru. Yuuki leaned over and grabbed his hand in comfort, and Kei bit his lip, nodding a short thanks.

“Hey,” Kuina started on the other side of the table, “How are you feeling? Have you decided what to do yet?”

Kei’s eyes flicked around the table at his friends’ curious faces before he looked down onto his plate and shook his head a bit. He started eating quickly, trying to ignore the lump in his throat, and glanced around the room. Yukihiro was there, sitting talking and laughing with a bunch of alphas at a corner table. Why wasn’t anyone staring at him strangely? Kazuki was nowhere in sight, though, he was still too upset and scared to eat.

“Are you considering keeping it at all?” Yuuki asked, Saga on his lap stuffing his face with potatoes (the only food Saga approved of this week).

“But isn’t giving birth awful?” Hikaru asked, and then the discussion had started, everyone giving their view of the pros and cons of having children. Kei listened quietly for a few minutes, but soon he couldn’t stand it, it was just too much. He got up abruptly, mumbling an excuse, before he rushed off and up to his room. The others stared after him, looking a bit sheepish.

“Oh, wow, that was stupid of us. I feel bad for him,” Yuuki said, hanging his head a little in shame. “We should go apologize.”

“Not right now, though,” Daichi said, nodding carefully at Yukihiro who had noticed Kei’s quick exit and gotten up from his chair and followed him.

They nodded quietly, all deciding to apologize later, their cheeks blushing a bit.

. . . . .

Kei sat on his bed, his knees pulled up and his arms around them, burying his face against them as he shivered. He jumped a little at a knock on the door, and then it opened to reveal Yukihiro. His square jaw was set as he came in and closed the door behind him, sitting down next to the smaller omega. For a moment they just sat there, neither of them really knowing what to say, and then finally the alpha reached out a hand and grabbed Kei’s, squeezing it.

“They should show more respect,” he said, huffing a bit.

Kei shrugged. “They don’t mean anything by it, but… I just… It’s hard enough to decide without everyone giving me advice. And they’re all talking to me, I don’t see you having to defend a decision you haven’t even made yet,” he muttered, a bit annoyed.

“I’m sorry. Can I help in any way?” The alpha looked sincere, and Kei regretted lashing out a bit.

“No, I… I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to do, and it’s scaring me.”

“What are you thinking so far?”

Could he? But if anyone would understand, it would be Yukihiro. And he was involved after all. He had a right to know. Slowly, Kei started talking, listing his pros and cons, going through a big medical procedure being a major con. The alpha listened intently and asked questions that were helpful instead of upsetting. Once the omega had poured his thoughts out, he sighed, watching the alpha.

“And you? If you could choose freely, what would you want me to do? This will affect you as well, if I keep it.”

“It’s your body. Your choice.” Yukihiro looked away as he said it, and Kei frowned.

“Don’t give me that shit. I said, if it were your decision, which decision would you want me to make? I promise I won’t do what you say just because you say it. But I want to know how you feel about this. Please?”

Yukihiro glanced at him and then looked away again, scratching his chin a bit, making the undershot more noticeable. After a while, he tentatively reached out his hand and grabbed the omega’s.

“If it were up to me… I’d want to be a dad.”

Kei lifted his head in surprise and stared at the alpha. The grip on his hand tightened a little, the alpha’s palm a bit sweaty. Yukihiro still wouldn’t look at him, and when Kei didn’t say anything he retracted his hand and put it in his lap, looking a little lost.

“I know we’re not dating or anything. But I think we could make it work anyway. But yeah… It’s your choice.” The alpha was about to stand up when Kei grabbed him.

“Wait,” he blurted out. “How… How would we make it work? Can we… talk about that? Just in case?”

Yukihiro looked a bit surprised, but sat back down, turning towards the omega finally. After a moment of awkward silence, they started talking. The conversation went on for four hours, until Tomo carefully stuck his head in the door and asked if it was ok he went to bed now? He didn’t want to disturb them, only it was getting really late. The pair were a bit embarrassed to have forgotten the time, but they exchanged a small smile before the alpha got up, bowed shortly and bid the two goodnight. Kei crawled into bed that night a little bit closer to making his choice.

Chapter Text

The week was coming to an end, and Kei was almost sure of his choice. Almost. But first there was one more test he wanted to make. He made sure to catch Tsuzuku away from the others, Tatsuya on his hip, and trampled a bit nervously before he managed to put the question out there.

“Can I hold Tatsuya for a while? Just to see how it feels?” He was blushing furiously, but Tsuzuku just smiled and grabbed his hand, pulling him away from the rest and up the stairs into the library.

“Here, it’s a bit more private in here,” he smiled, and Kei gave him a grateful smile in return. Tatsuya wasn’t exactly a tiny baby anymore, coming up on 9 months now, but he was still their youngest. Kei gently accepted the boy from his bearer, Tsuzuku instructing him on how to hold the child on his hip. Luckily, Tatsuya was in a good mood today and thought Kei was hilarious, laughing happily at anything the omega made.

He had held the boy before, of course, but it hadn’t felt the same way when he hadn’t expected to maybe have his own in the near future. And so, he held Tatsuya for a long while as he spoke to Tsuzuku about what it felt like to find yourself pregnant without warning, to have a baby, to raise a child. When Tatsuya started to get hungry and whiny, he handed the boy back and smiled.

“Thank you,” he said, quietly.

“Any time,” Tsuzuku said, smiling. “And if you need to talk some more, with or without this little brat, you know where to find me.”

Kei leaned over to give his friend a hug before they left the library. As Tsuzuku went back to his babysitting duties, Kei had a different destination in mind.

. . . . .

He found Yukihiro at the docks, just back from a hunt. Kyo, Die and Miya eyed them curiously as he approached, the alpha turning towards him with a questioning glance.

“Hi,” Kei mumbled, a little embarrassed by the others watching. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Yeah, sure.” Yukihiro followed him a bit up the path, out of ear shot of the other hunters, before he turned to Kei, scanning his face for clues.

“I think I’ve decided,” Kei started, a bit nervous now that he had reached the moment of truth. Yukihiro didn’t say anything but just watched him in anticipation, waiting to hear what he had to say.

“I’m keeping the baby.” He nearly shocked himself when he heard the words leave his lips. Yes, he had decided, but hearing himself say it loud like this was still scary. But he didn’t really have time to think about it, before he found himself enveloped in a hug. He blinked, but carefully put his arms up and put them around the alpha. Yukihiro pulled back just a tad so they could look at each other, and then he smiled.

“We’ll make it work,” was all he said, Kei smiling back at him. Yeah. They would.

. . . . .

Tatsurou was also rather relieved that he didn’t have to perform an abortion, and he smiled at the two expecting parents. He had gone through all the ‘good to knows’ and the ‘let me know ifs’ and had done a quick examination again, confirming beyond a doubt now that Kei was most certainly pregnant. The fact that he had started to feel a bit queasy in the mornings in the last few days was another dead give-away.

“So, have you discussed how this arrangement is going to work?” he asked, very aware that the two were not romantically involved.

“Well, we thought that we’d try to spend more time together for a while to get to know each other better. We’ll see how we work it out when the baby comes, but it would be more practical to live together if we’re gonna share the work load a bit. I mean, we could have separate beds and all, and then put the baby between us or something. But until there’s a cabin available, we’ll just have to work it out somehow.” Kei was a bit nervous to lay out their thoughts to someone else like this, it felt so final, but the nurse nodded approvingly.

“It sounds like a good idea, I think. Get into the same frame of mind for when the baby comes.”

“Yeah, that’s the plan. If we’re gonna be parents together, we’d better have the same views on things.” Kei looked serious and a bit nervous as he glanced at Yukihiro, but the alpha just nodded. It was beginning to be very clear to the omega that he would have to ask the alpha straight out about things if he wanted to know, since Yukihiro didn’t give much away through his facial expressions. He wasn’t a man of many words, but at least he always seemed to mean what he said, so Kei felt he could be trusted and relied upon. It was a big part of the reason as to why he finally decided to keep the baby, that he trusted Yukihiro to do his part.

When they went to have lunch, Kei and Yukihiro sat down to eat together to discuss their plans further, and the omega could feel his friends’ curious glances on him. He felt better about it now that the decision was made, though. As the dining room filled up with others coming in for lunch, they were joined by Reika, Toshiya, Die and Subaru. They eyed the pair a bit when they sat down, Subaru practically stuffing his face with lunch to keep himself from asking questions. He was feeling a lot better by now, and was back to a more mature version of his bubbly, gossip-loving self.

Kei looked at Yukihiro for a moment, questioningly. They were going to have to find a way to deal with decision making, now that they were bound to each other but still not a couple. Had they been together, it would have been more natural for the omega to defer to the alpha’s decisions and orders, but until they figured it out, it felt like things were a bit uncertain.

“Can I tell them the decision?” he asked, not wanting to jump ahead of things without the alpha’s approval. Yukihiro just nodded, making a gesture that Kei interpreted as ‘of course’ and took another bite. He turned to the others, who were waiting (not so) patiently for the news.

“I’ve… We’ve decided to keep the baby,” he said, and hardly had time to get the words out before Subaru gave off a squeal and threw himself at his friend, hugging the thin shoulders tightly. The room stirred a bit around them, everyone looking and guessing the news, but not sure if it was appropriate to get up and congratulate the two. Kei thought he heard a general mumble of approval, though. Toshiya beamed at them, and Reika patted Yukihiro’s back. As his roommate, he had seen Yukihiro’s nerves play tricks on him during the week, and he was glad to see his friend calmer now that the decision was made.

“I’m glad,” Toshiya said. “We’ll help the two of you any way we can. Do you have any plans for now?”

They told them of their plans, finishing up with how they would like to get in line for a cottage together so the baby would live with them both. Reika looked thoughtful.

“Me and Atsushi could share,” he said. “We would have to move in two in Tatsurou’s old cottage, but it would work. It’s not that tiny.” He looked at Toshiya and then to the expecting parents. “We could do that any time you’re ready, really. Well, if Atsushi says yes of course.”

Kei’s eyes widened at the thought. It would be practical of course, but it was so sudden. Should they really move in together already? What if they had a falling out even before the baby was born? But then again, that would be bad no matter when it happened, and maybe it would be better to get it over and done with before they were yelling at each other over the head of a child. But he had only been with Yukihiro alone a few times, one being his heat where you did a completely different type of bonding that didn’t really involve the intellect, and then when they had discussed the pregnancy. That was it. Could he really move in with the alpha so soon?

His head was swirling, and Yukihiro glanced at him before he nodded to Reika and smiled. “That is a very kind offer. Check with Atsushi first and we’ll see if and when would be a good time.” Reika nodded, and Kei felt himself relax, a deep sigh escaping him before he could stop it.

“Sorry,” he said, glancing at Yukihiro. “It’s just a lot to take in at once.”

The alpha smiled at him and squeezed his hand quickly, before going back to his lunch, and the others nodded. “Of course, I’ll see what Atsushi says and then you can take your time to decide on your end.” Reika smiled, and Kei was relieved. He had time to think about it.

Subaru still patted his arm happily, and Kei smiled at his friend. “Happy to have another baby to borrow now and then?” he asked, and Subaru grinned.

“Babies are so cuuuute,” he cooed, Die eyeing his boyfriend with a smirk on his lips.

“Hold it babe,” he joked. “Let’s finish discussing mating first.”

Subaru blushed as the others picked up on what the alpha said. “Wait, are you talking about getting mated?” Toshiya said, a big smile on his face. Die grinned, pulling his bushing boyfriend in for a hug,

“We’re talking about it, yes.” Which was basically the same as saying they were going to, since they announced it in public, Kei thought and smiled at his friend. Now it was his turn to hug Subaru, though the angle was a little awkward since his friend was still lodged in Die’s arms.

The mood was a lot lighter the rest of the day.

. . . . .

The weather was bleak for the rest of February and the beginning of March, the winter alternating between melting away and becoming freezing again, leaving a hard crust on the snow which was easy to walk on. This meant they tightened their guard of the island again, the three militaries in charge of their defenses. There was still no sign of anyone, but they took the opportunity to go to a town and find more snow shovels and some other things they hadn’t realized they needed before the cold of winter came along. For one, they looted a children’s clothing store of just about everything they had. The more children they were having, all growing in different paces, they would need several full sets of everything. Just after Christmas, they had started realizing that Saga grew out of his clothing before Hiroto was ready to move on to a bigger size, and they made do and fixed it, but it was a matter of constant washing of clothing. They had thought they had lots of clothes for the kids, but none of them had been prepared of the pace with which small children ruined their clothing.

Ruki had asked them to bring back as much cloth as they could find as well, taking on the task of sewing. He was a stylist after all, he said, and no one argued even though they suspected clothing that was maybe a bit more garish than was needed to come out of it. They were thankful for their sleds, as they found and brought back what felt like a mountain of things. By now, moist had found its way into most places, and they had to look around for a while to find things that weren’t moldy, but they still found more than they expected.

The town was completely deserted, and they were beginning to wonder if they ever would get to see more people again. The cold winter had probably been hard on many, warm clothes only got you so far, after all. It was likely many had lost their lives during the last few months.

As March moved on, spring slowly started to feel closer as the snow melted. Kazuki, who had been more or less a nervous wreck for a month, was starting to feel his heat coming on and was so relieved he cried for an entire day. Jun-ji was secretly a little relieved as well. He had fallen for Kazuki in every way, but it was very soon for them to have kids, and he wouldn’t mind them having a more stable relationship first. That didn’t stop him from being a bit disappointed when Kazuki offered to be a test subject for the new herbal suppressants, and arrangements were made to use one of the heat cottages.

This time around, they adjusted the dosage and made a plan for when and how they would raise it if needed. Tatsurou instructed Shinya, Tomo and Kei, and they brought Natsu along for muscle since he was one of the stronger omegas. The nurse himself stayed away, pacing nervously for a week as the omegas were taking care of business. One night, Kaoru got tired of the pacing and decided Tatsurou needed a distraction. He proceeded to fuck his boyfriend into oblivion, and for at least a few hours after, the nurse was in a calm state of bliss before he went back to his fretting.

Once the week was over, the bunch of omegas came back with happy grins on their faces. The remedy had worked, after a few initial adjustments, and they had spent six days playing board games, reading and talking instead of fighting off a crazed and horny friend. They handed over their calculations of the dose to Tatsurou, and though they had to make sure things worked with more trials, everyone was very relieved.

With a sense of gratitude that things had worked out, Tatsurou and his helpers started trying to crack the next problem open – contraceptives.

. . . . .

Cazqui’s body had decided to skip one entire heat cycle after his bad cold, and as annoyed as he was by the fact, he was very happy with everything else. His and Satochi’s relationship was progressing nicely, and the two were no longer awkward or cautious around each other. For the most part, Cazqui had relaxed and stopped worrying daily that the alpha was about to leave him. He did, however, look forward to his heat immensely. That was until Kei’s pregnancy, of course. Now he was forced to make a completely different choice than he had expected.

Take a chance on that the contraceptives would work? Use the old heat pills? Take the new herbal heat suppressant? Or even offer to be a test subject for the new herbal contraceptives they were working on, once those were done of course?

It was something he couldn’t decide on his own, and one night when he and Satochi lay curled up naked in bed, the alpha’s knot still lodged inside him, he just couldn’t help it. Maybe it wasn’t the best time, both of them in a slight daze after sex, but he was comfortable enough to dare raise the question at least.

“Oh, wow. I don’t know, that’s a tough choice,” Satochi said when the omega laid out the alternatives.

“Yeah, I mean, I really, really wanted to have my heat with you,” Cazqui said, “but I don’t know if we’re ready for a kid. Then again, it’s worked for lots of others. Maybe Kei is just extra fertile or something?”

“And you’re sure you’re not?” Satochi asked, one eyebrow raised, and the omega blushed a little.

“No, I’m not, and thanks for pointing that out. So I guess… no heat then.” He felt his stomach sink at the words. He had longed for it so much, to finally feel like they were sealing the deal on their relationship. And he actually wouldn’t mind a kid, not if it was with Satochi, but he also didn’t want to push his luck with the alpha and say that out loud.

“I don’t know,” Satochi said. “It just feels like such a shame, I know you’ve wanted it for so long, and I was looking forward to ravaging your lewd body for a week.” He smirked at Cazqui’s dazed smile when he heard (and imagined) the last part, before he continued. “And if we look at the statistics, we have a really good chance you won’t get pregnant.”

Cazqui blinked and turned to face him. “You mean…?”

“What do you say? Do you want to dare take a chance with me?” Satochi smiled cheekily.

Cazqui thought his heart was about to burst, and since his mouth refused to form words, he used it to kiss the alpha thoroughly instead.

. . . . .

“It’s starting to show,” Yukihiro said one night, eyeing Kei’s stomach. The omega looked down, carefully smoothing out the fabric of his sweater over the small baby bump.

“Yeah, it is,” he admitted. Then, hesitantly, “Do you want to touch it?”

The alpha blinked but nodded, tentatively reaching out a hand to touch the stomach where his offspring was growing steadily. He smiled a little as he caressed the stomach, and then he looked up at the omega.

“Have you thought about what to do with the cottage?” he asked. Kei bit his lip but had to admit that he had.

“Maybe… Maybe it’s better to get it over with? I mean, that way we have time to get used to having each other around before the baby comes. One newness at a time,” he said.

The alpha nodded. “I think we should. It will make it easier once the baby comes. Atsushi said yes, and Reika has been kind enough to leave the bigger cottage to the two of us, so I guess we just have to settle for when.”

“Next week? Give Reika time to move his stuff first?” Kei asked, and the alpha nodded.

“I’ll talk to him.”

It was a bit nerve wrecking, Kei thought, but he was still curious. He was about to enter a new phase in his life, and he was equal parts scared and exited.

. . . . .

“You’re moping,” Shuse said, smirking at Jun-ji where they stood in the watchtower looking out over the lake. The ice and snow was slowly melting, and they worried others would be able to come now that the roads were easier to walk on.

“I’m not moping.” Jun-ji raised his binoculars and scanned the shoreline.

“You’re moping. Is it because Kazuki chose not to have his heat?”

“No.”

Pause.

“Yes.”

Shuse chuckled. “Told you you were moping. Well, can you blame him?”

Jun-ju sighed deeply. “No, of course not. I get it, I really do. It’s not like I’m ready for a kid either. But, you know. It was nice.”

“The sex was ‘nice’? Doesn’t sound too exiting.” Shuse did his very best impression of a straight face as he said it, giggling hysterically in his head.

“Asshole, you know what I mean! The sex was amazing, ok? But I was sort of hoping it’d become more sooner or later. But then this happened, and it sort of set us back to square one again.”

Shuse sighed, his smirk gone. “I know. I’m sorry. But don’t let it. I mean, if you want more, go tell him so. It’s not like he’s got to have his heat for you two to be a couple, right?”

“No, I know. I just don’t want to seem too pushy and scare him away, you know? I really, really like him. I just don’t want to fuck this up.”

“Yeah, but there is such a thing as fucking things up because you wait too long as well.”

“I know, I know. I’ll talk to him.”

. . . . .

The move into the new cottage went fast, since no furniture had to be moved, and they really didn’t own that many personal items apart from clothing. So after only two hours, Kei found himself in his new home, sitting on the bed that used to be Reika’s but was now his. He looked around, arms slung around himself, suddenly a bit intimidated by everything that had happened. It didn’t really help any that he had been feeling sick for the last three days, morning sickness apparently extending all through the day for him. Tatsurou had assured him it would pass, but for now, everything he ate either came up again or made him feel nauseous. As a result, he was feeling a little weak, and his stomach rumbled. He rubbed it gently in circles, something he remembered his bearer doing when he was little. It helped, strangely enough, and he lay down on his side on the bed and kept rubbing his belly, eyes closed.

He heard the door open and Yukihiro come in after helping Reika move the last of his stuff, and he opened his eyes but didn’t stop the motion of the hand. Yukihiro took off his shoes and jacket and came into view, sitting down on the bed opposite his.

“Hey, how are you feeling?” the alpha asked, noticing Kei’s grimace.

“Sick,” he mumbled, groaning a bit. “He won’t let me eat, the little bastard. He’s mean to me already.” He smiled weakly at the alpha to let him know he was joking.

Yukihiro chuckled, tilting his head a little as he watched the moving hand curiously.

“When I was a kid, my bearer used to rub my belly until it felt better, so I thought I’d give it a try,” the omega explained quietly.

Yukihiro nodded and continued to watch him for a long moment, before he slowly got up and came over to Kei’s bed.

“I can help, if you want?” he offered, looking a bit uncertain and awkward.

The omega looked at him in surprise. “You’d do that for me?” he asked.

Yukihiro nodded, and to Kei’s shock, he carefully climbed into the bed and settled behind the omega’s back.

“Tell me if it’s too much,” he mumbled, and then his hand reached around the omega, slowly starting to rub his belly in circles. For a moment, it was all Kei could do not to freak out from the unexpected closeness. But soon, he found himself relaxing, the warmth of the alpha against his back and the soft rubbing on his belly slowly lulling him to sleep.

Chapter Text

The contraceptive trials would have to wait until later in the summer, they discovered, since every source pointed to a mix of a berry and several herbs that grew wild on the island or its surroundings. The berries would ripen in July, and until then they didn’t have the ingredients needed. But since the new suppressant seemed to work fine, they were at least out of the woods there, those plants still growing happily in their window and more seeds put in pots to grow.

Jun-ji was both happy things had worked out and sad that it meant no more heats with Kazuki, at least not for the time being. He had been putting off talking to the omega, but tonight, he had decided, was the night. He felt his heart pounding hard as he approached the omega, currently playing with Koron while Ruki was off sifting through the fabrics they had brought back. The omega tossed a ball lightly into the hallway, and Koron took off happily after it.

“Hi,” Jun-ji said as the omega looked up, smiling at him. “Having fun?”

“He’s adorable, isn’t he? Nothing can look as happy as a dog wagging its tail,” Kazuki said, accepting the ball from Koron and tossing it again.

“He’s cute.” Jun-ji was about to say ‘but not as cute as you’ but realized it sounded too corny and decided against it. Instead he stood there, shifting his weight from foot to foot awkwardly for a second until Kazuki turned to him.

“What’s up? Is something wrong?” the omega asked, looking a little concerned.

“No, no, everything’s fine. I was just… Damn, I don’t know how to say this right. Would you like to go out with me? Like, dating?” Jun-ji watched the omega nervously as he spoke, and felt his knees almost give way as the omega blinked and then smiled brightly.

“Oh, do you really mean that? Wow, I mean, yes! Of course I would!”

“Yes!” Jun-ji couldn’t help himself as he threw his fist in the air and did a little victory dance, Kazuki laughing at him. But he really couldn’t help it, he just couldn’t. He felt like he was on cloud nine, and he smiled giddily when he stepped up and cupped the omega’s face in his hands, leaning in for a kiss. Kazuki closed his eyes, tilted his head slightly and parted his lips, allowing the alpha to claim his mouth as he threw his arms around his neck. On the floor next to them, Koron trampled impatiently, the soggy ball lying at their feet, forgotten by the new couple.

. . . . .

Kei woke up while it was still early, a little chilled under his blankets. He wasn’t used to the cold, the big house was always warmer, thanks to the tiled stoves that kept the heat better than the open fireplaces of most cabins. He shivered beneath his covers, his eyes still closed, debating with himself on whether he should get up and fetch another blanket or suffer the cold for the hour that was left until it was time to get up. When he heard the bedding rustle on the other side of the room, feet softly padding over the floor, he opened his eyes a little. He watched Yukihiro kneel in front of the fireplace to start a fire, clad in only underwear and a shirt.

His morning wood tented his underwear a bit, and Kei couldn’t help eyeing the crotch lecherously. It was a very nice cock indeed. He remembered it vividly from when he woke up that last morning and had come out of the heat daze. The alpha had still been sleeping, and Kei had spent a good while looking over the body that had given him so much pleasure. Eventually, he hadn’t been able to resist touching that gorgeous thing, the feel of the soft skin sliding over a harder core intoxicating. The more he touched, the harder it became, until Yukihiro woke up with a proudly thick and veined cock, very ready to rut. It had led to the last time they had sex, and Kei remembered every second of it with reverence.

But it had also led to where he was now, he suddenly remembered, his nerves reasserting themselves. Was this a good idea? Should he really have a baby with an alpha he hardly knew? When the alpha had successfully managed to get the fire going and put the grate in place to keep embers from falling out on the floor, the omega quickly closed his eyes, pretending to still be asleep. He hadn’t expected the soft footsteps to lead up to his bed, or the extra blanket that was draped over him. But he didn’t open his eyes again until he heard Yukihiro’s bed creak and the alpha lying down. When he was fairly certain the alpha had gone back to sleep, he opened his eyes and studied his face. He was relaxed, his eyes closed, the square jaw giving him a manly look that Kei liked. He had always thought of the alpha as stoic, quiet and a little boring, but he found himself have to re-evaluate the father of his child. He had been amazing during the heat, doing everything right, and now he was caring and loving, taking responsibility for the omega and the child they had made together. He had also proven to have a sense of humor, always making Kei laugh when they had their evening tea in the cabin before they went to bed.

He could’ve been a lot less lucky, he thought, as he felt himself warm up and the shivering stop. Maybe this would turn out ok after all. After a while he drifted off to sleep again, and when he woke up, his morning tea was ready and waiting for him.

. . . . .

Toshiya felt a bit down. He should have foreseen the problem with the suppressants and contraceptives, and he was angry with himself for not dealing with the problem sooner. It didn’t really help that Shinya was feeling a bit under the weather, and he was worried his mate would get sick. The omega moaned a little in his sleep next to him in bed, and Toshiya shifted slowly behind him so as not to wake him up, carefully wrapping himself around his lover. He nuzzled the slender neck slightly, drinking in Shinya’s scent. It always calmed him when he was the most on edge, and he spent a long while just holding his mate close.

When the clock turned six, he sighed and let go of his mate, stretching and yawning widely. Shinya shifted but continued sleeping, and Toshiya let him, hoping some extra sleep would make him feel better. The alpha carefully climbed out of bed and got dressed before he started a fire, warming the cabin slowly. He was almost ready to go get breakfast when the omega woke up, snuggling his pillow.

“Mmm. Tired,” Shinya mumbled.

“Sleep some more if you want. I’ll come down and wake you up later and bring you breakfast,” Toshiya said, still a little concerned the omega would fall sick. He had been very tired for a while now, and he looked a little pale. But his mate stubbornly shook his head and sat up in bed, pouting his lower lip a little.

“I won’t. I have work to do just as you. Wait for me, I’ll be done soon,” he said, giving the alpha a reproachful look.

“But are you feeling ok? I don’t want you getting sick.”

Shinya didn’t answer and just threw his legs over the side of the bed, reaching for his clothes. “I’m fine,” he said, getting up on his feet. “My tummy’s just a little upset, that’s all. It’s probably tired of the same food and longing for spring as much as me.”

Toshiya frowned, but said no more. He reached out to grab his lover’s hand as they walked up to the big house together to get breakfast.

. . . . .

“I think I’m pregnant,” Masa said at breakfast, shocking his friends so much that Yuuki almost choked on his food.

“What!?” Kazuki exclaimed. “How do you know? Your heat isn’t due yet, is it?”

“No, it’s still a week off, but I feel just like I did in the beginning when I was expecting Tora. Queasy all the time, and sort of swollen everywhere. Here, see? My fingers are thicker than usual. Tatsurou agrees.”

Shinya stared at his friend, his food forgotten halfway to his mouth. Queasy? Swollen?

“I know the feeling,” Yuuki said. “And you feel like you just want to sleep forever, tired all the time. Wow, so Tora’s gonna get a sibling?”

And the conversation went on, everyone congratulating Masa, who was smiling happily and throwing loving glances at his mate who was talking to Tatsurou by the door. Shinya had long since stopped listening though. Tired?

. . . . .

Shinya’s legs trembled when he came up to Toshiya after breakfast, blinking wide-eyed at his mate. Toshiya immediately got up from his seat, worried.

“What’s going on, sweetie? Are you feeling ok? Are you ill?”

Shinya shook his head, and took the alpha’s hand, dragging him away from the rest. Toshiya was really worried by now, and when Shinya pulled him into the sickroom and closed the door behind them, he was anxiously scanning the omega’s soft features for clues.

“Masa said he thinks he’s pregnant…” Shinya started, and Toshiya blinked in surprise.

“Oh? That’s nice, I’m happy for them, but… Baby, why do you have that look on your face?”

Shinya swallowed. He looks so fragile, Toshiya thought, feeling the usual urge to protect the omega come over him.

“Because… He described why he knew, and said he felt like when he was expecting Tora.“ He paused, gathering up the courage to continue. “Queasy, swollen and tired all the time…” he finally whispered, and bit his lip as he saw the penny drop, Toshiya’s mouth opening in shock.

“You mean… you’re pregnant?” He stared at his mate, unable to believe the news.

“I don’t know. But it fits,” Shinya mumbled nervously.

Suddenly, Toshiya’s open mouth twisted into a grin. He leaned down and kissed his mate deeply before he pulled back, smiling widely. “God, I hope so. Let’s ask Tatsurou to have a look at you straight away!”

As Toshiya went to find the nurse, Shinya just stood there, blinking slowly. Could it really be?

. . . . .

“Looks like we’ll have a baby boom this fall,” Tatsurou said, smiling at Shinya when the omega sat back up after the examination.

“You mean he’s pregnant?” Toshiya asked, exited.

“It’s still a bit too early to be sure without instruments, but yeah, I think I’m pretty safe when I say yes.”

Shinya blinked, still in shock when his mate threw his arms around him, hugging him tightly. He couldn’t really grasp it. Him? A parent? Wow, a few years ago he was wondering if he’d ever meet someone, and now he was mated and expecting a child. It was surreal, and when Toshiya kissed him he didn’t respond as usual.

“Honey? Are you… not happy?” Toshiya looked scared suddenly, as he noticed his mate’s lack of response. Shinya watched him with a stunned look on his face for a full fifteen seconds before he answered, Toshiya feeling like an eternity passed as he waited for the answer.

“No, that’s not… I’m happy. I think. I… Parents? Us?” Toshiya laughed, relieved now that he realized the omega was shocked more than anything. Still, he wanted to hear the words.

“But you want it, right? You want to have a son with me?”

On this, Shinya didn’t hesitate in the slightest. “Of course I do! I’m just… I didn’t expect it to happen right now.”

Toshiya smiled, kissing him again, getting a much better response this time around.

“I know, sweetie. But I think it will be amazing.”

. . . . .

The news of their coming baby boom soon spread, and the two new expecting couples were congratulated by everyone. Miya was ecstatic and reminded everyone of their rooster, strutting about, looking mightily proud of himself and his mate. When the couple tried to tell Tora he would get a sibling, however, the response was a little less enthusiastic. Their son sulked for two whole days before he let it go for more exiting things.

Toshiya, for his part, walked around with a big smile on his face for a week, stopping whatever he was doing to go find Shinya and kiss him stupid at least five times a day. Shinya was very happy as well, once he got over the initial shock, but he wasn’t as pleased with the added attention he got from everyone. It was even worse than when they got mated, and he blushed most of the day for at least a week, not comfortable to be the center of attention.

Kei, on the other hand, was a little relieved that someone else was getting the brunt of things for a while. Yukihiro didn’t seem to mind either, though he didn’t say much about it and just went about his business. The omega was also a little relieved that Masa, who had already done this once, would have a baby just a few weeks after him. He was hoping to be able to ask his friend things he didn’t know during the pregnancy and after, in a more relaxed and natural way than going to the nurse every time he freaked out because something new happened. Shinya seemed to have the same idea, and the three soon seemed to gravitate towards each other, with Masa the natural center of their circle.

Koichi took the news patiently, unconsciously stroking his own stomach a little, hoping he would be next. He didn’t feel any of the signs the others did though, and it worried him a little that he didn’t get any morning sickness or felt tired. Hazuki soon noticed his mate’s nerves, and sat him down one night to tell the omega in no uncertain terms that he would do his utmost to give him the baby he wanted so badly, but that he had to relax and let it happen when it did. The evening ended in the most amazing sex they had had in months, and when Hazuki let his fingers trail through the pink hair afterwards, affectionately kissing the tip of that gorgeous little nose he loved so much, the omega happily agreed that it was ok if it took a few more heats to get pregnant if it meant more time for sex like this.

. . . . .

As March rolled in, the snow was melting slowly. The ice was still rather thick on the lake, but they made sure to check it thoroughly before they went out, not taking any chances. Their food supplies were getting lower, but since they still got a lot of fresh fish and meat, they were doing ok. If nothing went wrong, Kai calculated, they would have enough food stored to keep them well fed until the first of the new harvest arrived.

Shinya spent his days looking through the seeds, putting the earliest of them in pots indoors and nursing them religiously. He also put in an order for a greenhouse, and Kaoru, Koichi and Yukke started drawing and calculating how many windows they would need to find to build one. The problem, they decided, was not finding windows, they had done that for their cabins and it was tricky to get them to the island in one piece, but it was possible. The problem was finding enough windows of the same size that wasn’t already broken. They debated the problem for half a day until Kyo came by, overheard their discussion, and promptly told them there were at least two greenhouses in the gardens of the village closest to the island. All they had to do was go dismantle them and bring them back. Shinya was ridiculously happy for the entire day after.

They also started looking over what needed to be done and making lists after priority, all in preparation for the spring. They gathered in the dining room for a few hours twice a week to talk it through and see if any new ideas had come up.

It was during one of those meetings that Shuse suddenly came running in, going up to Toshiya’s table quickly.

“We’ve got company,” he panted, his breathing loud in the sudden silence of the room.

Chapter Text

Toshiya watched the group through the binoculars from the tower. They counted five of them, but it was hard to make out since most of them were huddled into a group, probably for warmth. Only one of them stood on his own, his back straight, watching the island from the shore. They hadn’t tried the ice yet, and it was hard to tell if they were alphas or omegas with all their bulky winter clothing on.

“They’re not many enough to attempt an invasion at least,” Atsushi said, standing beside Toshiya in the tower.

“No, and thank god for that,” Toshiya sighed, trying to see the group clearer but finally giving up and lowering the binoculars. “What is your assessment?”

Atsushi was quiet for a moment, pursing his lips as he looked out at the lake. He was every bit the major now, his steely eyes sharp and his body unconsciously slipping into a military stance.

“I haven’t seen any signs that there are more than five of them. Judging by how they move, and the relative size to each other, my guess is two alphas and three omegas. The one standing on his own is no doubt their leader, and the other alpha is cowed by him, but protective of the omegas. They have at least one wounded among them. My guess is that they are desperate enough to try the ice and come knock on our door, and very soon.”

Toshiya stared at the alpha for a moment before he smirked and shook his head a bit. “Wow, you are good. I can count to five, that’s it.”

Atsushi chuckled. “Well, that’s what I get for all those years in the military.” He glanced at the shore, and then reached for the binoculars. “Yup. They’re on the move,” he stated. Leaning over the side of the tower, he waved to Shuse and Jun-ji, making a few hand signals that made the two sergeants move out onto the docks. Shuse climbed up a ladder they added to the inside of the palisade, and Jun-ji opened one of the smaller hatches, leaning the gun on the ledge and pointing it out on the ice. They weren’t going to waste one of their precious bullets if they didn’t really have to, but their visitors had no way of knowing that.

As they watched the group approach, Toshiya climbed down from the tower to move down to the docks where he could talk to the newcomers. Tatsurou, Tomo and Kei stood at the ready, a group of alphas also joining them to be ready for anything. Kuina stood at the ready to run to the house and fetch the others if needed. They had decided against having everyone there to greet such a small group, but still outnumbered the visitors three to one.

When the group was almost by the docks, it was clear that Atsushi had been right. There were two alphas. The leader was tall and good-looking, though the arrogant smirk on his face ruined the impression a bit. He looked strong and better fed than the rest. The other alpha seemed weak and frail, his face thin and a little hollow. The three omegas were also very thin and pale, and one of them leaned on the others, looking very ill. The four huddled together behind the leader, who walked a few meters ahead of them without trying to help the hurting omega.

“Halt! Stop right there!” Shuse yelled when they were about 30 meters out. The group obeyed, the limping omega tumbling to the ground the second he didn’t have to walk further. One of the group leaned down and tried to help him up, but he just shook his head and stayed seated on the snow. The leader didn’t even glance back to the rest, he was focused on the palisade, eyeing the gun pointed at them and Shuse’s head sticking up over the palisade.

“We seek entry,” the alpha stated loudly. It sounded more like a demand than a request, and Toshiya instinctively disliked the man instantly.

“Not so fast,” Shuse said. “Introduce yourselves.”

The alpha smirked, but nodded. “I am Gackt. That there is Minase,” he pointed at the other alpha. He looked up to Shuse, clearly thinking himself finished with the introductions.

“There are five of you,” the sergeant growled.

Gackt seemed surprised for a second, but shrugged. “The omegas are Kouki, Yomi and Aryu. He’s my mate,” he added in passing, apparently not finding the information that important. The wounded omega lifted his head tiredly when he heard his name, revealing that he was the unimportant mate. The head soon dropped again though, and he leaned on the shoulder of one of his omega friends.

“So are you going to let us in?” Gackt asked, raising an eyebrow.

Toshiya had had enough, the arrogance annoying him. He waved at Die and Ryo to take down one of the hatches so he could see the visitors and talk to them eye to eye. They were far enough away that he calculated the risk to be small, even if they ran they wouldn’t make it in time until the hatch was back in place. Tatsurou walked out onto the dock as well to stand next to Toshiya, wanting to see what shape the group was in. Kei made to follow his teacher, but Yukihiro reached out his arm and stopped him before he could. The omega turned to him, surprised and a little annoyed, but when he saw nothing but concern in Yukihiro’s eyes, he relented and stayed back. He wasn’t used to having to think of anyone other than himself, and it was especially weird to realize that wherever he went, someone else, however tiny and hidden inside, was going with him.

Out on the docks, the hatch was coming down to reveal Toshiya, with Atsushi and Tatsurou one step behind on either side. They stood quiet for a moment, watching each other, before the alpha who called himself Gackt spoke.

“And who are you? Are you the gatekeeper?” He sniggered at his own remark, finding himself funny.

Toshiya’s eyes narrowed. He did not like this alpha one bit, he decided. The others looked like they could use some help, though, and he let his eyes linger for a moment on the omega Gackt had called Aryu, his mate. He looked like he couldn’t take another step.

“My name is Toshiya,” he said icily. “This is Atsushi and Tatsurou. And we do not let just anyone in.”

The alpha looked offended to be called ‘just anyone’, but kept silent about it and chose another topic. “We were told this was a place with food.”

“Yes, that is true. We have food, and we give it to those we trust and who can agree to follow our rules of behavior. We don’t know enough about you yet to know if you belong in that category.”

The alpha’s eyes were ice cold as he stared Toshiya down. “I assure you, I will be worth it.”

Toshiya grunted in disgust. “I notice that you seem to forget about your friends a lot,” he said. “That is not something we value here.” He was about to continue when he felt Tatsurou poke his back insistently, and he turned his head slightly towards the nurse before he nodded.

“We will need a moment to discuss,” he said, and before Gackt could reply he took a step back and let Die and Yukke put the hatch back. He quickly turned to the other two, Atsushi looking just as skeptical and disgusted as he was. Tatsurou, however, had a look of worry on his face.

“What is it, Tatsu?” Toshiya asked, frowning.

“The omega… He’s not gonna make it for much longer. If we send them away, I don’t think any of the others will survive for more than a week or two, at most.”

Toshiya growled deep in his throat. “Damn it! I do not want that man on my island!”

“I agree,” Atsushi said. “He’s bad news. I’m sure of it.”

“So am I,” Tatsurou said. “But can you live with yourselves if you send the other four to their deaths?”

Toshiya’s jaw clenched, and he made a grimace as he thought it over.

“We could allow the others in and keep him out,” he said, but the nurse shook his head.

“The one in worst condition is his mate. If we take him in, he will just leave again if his mate’s on the outside.”

“Sometimes I hate that damn bond thing,” Toshiya muttered, but quickly took it back. “No I don’t. But… You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, we know,” Tatsurou said. “But it is the way it is. And that omega needs help now. And I for one help people for a living.”

Toshiya sighed, a deep body sigh, and looked quickly to Atsushi. “You three keep an eye on him at all times. Stay close to him.”

The major nodded shortly, waving at Shuse and Jun-ji who quickly took up new positions where they would have the alpha covered. When that was done, Toshiya nodded to Die and Yukke who took the hatch down again and set it aside.

Gackt stood in the same position he had before, staring at them. But what struck the islanders was the lack of hope in the others’ eyes as they looked up. Aryu didn’t even move his head, the smaller of his friends holding him around his shoulders and watching the alphas through the hatch with empty eyes.

“Fine. You can come in, because your companions need our help,” Toshiya said shortly, making the four behind Gackt lift their heads in surprise. Even Aryu made a weak attempt to look up. Their tall leader just nodded and took a few steps forward, but stopped in shock as Toshiya continued. “Which is why they will be let in first, and you will be allowed in only when they are all inside.”

Gackt’s jaw dropped, and he opened his mouth as if to say something, before he apparently thought better of it. He turned to the others and waved angrily at them.

“Come on then,” he muttered. “Hurry up.”

The other two omegas helped their friend get up from the ground, and the other alpha walked with them, slowly and laboriously helping them up through the hatch. When all three omegas were lifted inside, he glanced at Gackt as if to let him go first, but Toshiya quickly stopped the notion. He needed to let this alpha know that he would not be allowed to decide anything here.

“You first,” he said, nodding to the thin alpha that Gackt had called Minase. After a moment’s hesitation, the alpha obeyed and climbed inside with the help of Yukke. Only after he was safely inside, Toshiya turned to the arrogant leader.

“Now it’s your turn,” he said, stressing ‘now’ just a tad, adding insult to injury for the alpha who grinded his teeth as he walked up and heaved himself inside without accepting the helping hand Yukke offered.

Behind the palisade, Aryu was already being hoisted up in Tatsurou’s arms. The alpha started carrying him up towards the big house, Kei and Tomo herding the other two omegas with them. Minase stood on the docks just inside the hatch and watched nervously after them, and as Atsushi and his sergeants closed in around the two newcomers, he eyed them warily but not aggressively. Gackt, on the other hand, immediately made to follow the omegas, walking like he already owned the place.

“We’ll make sure he realizes differently soon enough,” Toshiya thought, Atsushi and he exchanging a long look.

The islanders gathered around, enclosing the two new alphas in a group to keep them controlled, as they walked up towards the big house.

Chapter Text

The newcomers looked around as they walked through the village, big eyes taking in the people and the buildings. Gackt was the only one to walk straight on, and Toshiya felt his instincts scream at him. It was wrong to let this man in, he would be bad news for them, he felt it in his bones. But the nurse was right, the others needed help, and so he bit back what he wanted to say and just led them up the stairs and into the dining room.

“Where are you taking my omegas?” Gackt demanded when he noticed that Tatsurou carried Aryu down the hall and away from him.

“They will receive medical attention,” Toshiya said shortly, standing in the way when the tall alpha tried to follow.

Gackt glared at him. “If you think I’ll let another alpha have his way with my omegas…”

“I assure you, Tatsurou will do no such thing,” Toshiya interrupted. “But if it makes you feel any better, we can have our two assistant nurses, both omegas, do the examination.”

Gackt snorted, making a face at omegas being nurses, but waved his ok. “As long as I can see that guy here all the time,” he said.

Toshiya nodded and sent Kuina in with instructions. Tatsurou soon came back out of the sickroom and stood in the doorway to the dining room, his arms crossed as he glared at the alpha. Atsushi leaned over to whisper something in Toshiya’s ear, and at a nod from their leader he stepped up and took command.

“Good. Now, Tatsurou can have a look at you,” he nodded at Minase, “while we have a little chat.” The last part was directed to Gackt, who sneered but sat down at the chair Jun-ji set out for him, Toshiya and Atsushi remaining standing.

“Now, how did you hear of this place?” Atsushi asked.

Gackt slung one leg over the other, nonchalant, as he pretended to think about it. “I don’t know. Someone said?”

Toshiya clenched his jaws. This was going to be a long day.

. . . . .

Tatsurou guided Minase into the hallway so that he was still in line of sight of the arrogant alpha. He turned Minase so that he had his back to the dining room before he started.

“Any pains? Wounds? Anything else important to note?” he asked, looking over the alpha. He was thin, almost emaciated, and he looked dead tired. At the nurse’s question he shook his head.

“Just a sore left hand, some bruises over the ribs and lack of food,” he said quietly, flicking his eyes towards the door to the sickroom nervously. Tatsurou noticed, and made sure to keep his voice down when he continued.

“They will be well cared for, I promise. Is one of them your boyfriend?”

Minase looked at him for a second before he shook his head slightly. “Kouki is my cousin. The other two his childhood friends. I’ve tried to keep them safe…” He hesitated, his eyes flicking back to the door, before settling on Tatsurou again. “What is this place? Really?”

The nurse smiled as he motioned for Minase to take his shirt off. “It’s a community where we care for each other and take care of each other, alpha and omega alike. We believe in free will for all, and that we all have the same rights. We offer food, shelter and friendship in exchange for work, for those who deserve it.”

The alpha fixed him with eyes that seemed too black, lying deep in their sockets. “And what do you have to do to deserve it, apart from work?” he asked quietly.

Tatsurou grabbed his arm and bent it at the joint. “Does this hurt?” At Minase’s no, he continued. “You have to treat omegas as people, for one, and be able to take no for an answer. Which is why he would not be allowed inside if it hadn’t been for his mate.” His eyes flicked to Gackt, who at the moment tried to stare down Atsushi, the major just smirking at him with one raised eyebrow. When he looked back at Minase, he thought he saw a small flicker of hope in the darkness that was the alpha’s eyes.

“Is he hurting them?” he asked quietly, making sure to look down and feel through Minase’s hand as he spoke so Gackt wouldn’t be able to read his lips in case he looked this way.

The alpha shuddered and hissed a bit as Tatsurou touched his sore wrist. The sound made Gackt look at them, and Tatsurou made a show of putting the bandage on, Minase grimacing. After letting his gaze linger for a moment, Gackt refocused on Atsushi who was asking a question. Tatsurou glanced at the tall alpha, who was trying hard to stand up to Atsushi and losing the battle sorely.

“He’s not watching,” he mumbled. The thin alpha in front of him hesitated for a second, but then he answered the question with a rueful look on his face.

“I’ve managed to keep him mostly away from Kouki, only a punch now and then. But Yomi and Aryu… He does what he wants to them, and I’m powerless to stop him. I tried the first few times and he beat me senseless and then just continued with what he was doing. I wanted us all to leave, and we planned to, but then he bit Aryu. Yomi and Kouki refused to leave Aryu behind, alone with him.”

Tatsurou clenched his jaw, disgusted by what he heard. He finished the examination and nodded to Minase to put his shirt back on. The alpha pulled the shirt over his head, struggling a little with the sleeves. When he was done he glanced back at Gackt and turned his back towards him to fix Tatsurou with pleading eyes.

“Can you help us? Please?”

Tatsurou watched him for a moment, and then he nodded shortly. “We’ll do what we can,” he said.

. . . . .

When Tatsurou left and closed the door behind him, Kei motioned the omegas to sit on the bed. Tomo was helping Aryu lean against a few pillows, and Yomi was nervously eyeing him to make sure he wasn’t hurting his friend. Kouki pointed the islanders to start with his friends, stating that he was just hungry while they were hurt. To speed it up the nurses chose one person each, and Kei started on Aryu while Tomo examined Yomi.

They were both bruised and emaciated, but what shocked Kei the most was the fact that Aryu was pregnant. The baby bump wasn’t big, but on the skeletal-like body it looked huge and strange. Tatsurou would have to have a look at him, Kei thought, but he doubted that the thin, frail body could sustain the child. It was obvious that this was the reason the omega had been in so much pain. He flinched when Kei carefully touched the belly, grimacing. The nurse bit his lip, but decided to wait to tell him the bad news until later.

While they worked, Kouki studied the islanders carefully, noting their weight and bruise-free skin. When Kei reached for a box of bandages on a shelf to dress a wound on Aryu’s upper arm, he interestedly eyed his belly, the roundness small but evident.

“You’re pregnant,” he said quietly. Kei glanced at him and pulled his sweater down a tad before he nodded.

“I am,” he said.

Kouki watched him, tilting his head a bit and sniffing. “But not mated,” he stated. Kei blushed, but shook his head.

“No, we live together, but we’re not mated. We’re not… It’s complicated,” he sighed.

The three newcomers all looked at him, and for some reason Kei felt like he had to elaborate a bit, considering what he’d seen of the alpha they had been with.

“I had my heat with a friend to save suppressants. The contraceptives didn’t work,” he explained and gestured for Aryu to take his pants off, Kouki helping him.

“Friend?” Kouki was confused and skeptical.

Tomo looked over and decided to pitch in. “It’s true. We all did since we were running out of pills, while our nurse looked for a natural suppressant. Well, Uta and Kuina chose not to, but Kui helped test the new suppressants instead.”

Chose not to?”

Tomo paused, watching Kouki. “Yes, chose. We get to choose here. We are never forced to sex, or to anything we don’t want to do. If an alpha tries to hurt one of us, he’s thrown off the island.”

The three omegas flat out stared at him. “You’re lying,” Kouki said, but the islanders could hear uncertainty creep into his voice.

“We’re not,” Kei said. “For example, I was given the choice to keep my baby or have an abortion, and I chose to keep it. Yukihiro – that’s the father – told me he’d support me either way but that it was my choice.”

Aryu suddenly stirred at the words, and he sat up straighter. His eyes were desperate as he spoke, his voice trembling.

“Abortion? You can do abortions? Please… Help me. Get rid of it.”

Kei and Tomo both stopped mid-motion, staring at the omega.

“What… What did you say?” Tomo stammered.

“It’s his. I don’t want it. Please. You have to help me,” Aryu begged, and beside him, Yomi nodded.

. . . . .

Tatsurou was about to continue his examination when the door to the sickroom opened and a very pale looking Kei came out. Through the door, he could glimpse Tomo helping Kouki take off his shirt, before it closed again. The omega came up to the nurse, eyeing the other new alpha warily. Tatsurou eyed Kei quickly, and then turned Minase to the dining room. “Take a seat at the table there,” he pointed, and the alpha nodded and carefully moved over to sit down at a table near the door. Once he was gone, Tatsurou turned to his apprentice.

“What’s going on?” he asked, noting Kei’s poorly masked tears.

“They… They want abortions. Both of them.”

Tatsurou stared at him. “What? Both who?”

“Aryu and Yomi. Aryu is about four months pregnant and scared out of his wits. He begged me to ‘get rid of it’. Yomi’s pregnant as well, though not so far along, and he wants it gone as well. They’re both really scared, and all three are so incredibly weak. They’re starving, Tatsurou, and I think Aryu will lose the baby either way.”

Kei looked desperate, his tears rolling freely now. Tatsurou’s jaws clenched and he had to fight not to stomp into the dining room that very second, beating the alpha to a pulp. He had rarely been so angry, not since he examined Hikaru and Uta when they got to the island. Toshiya glanced back at him, and noticing the nurse’s face, he motioned to Atsushi to wait and keep an eye on Gackt, while he came back to the hallway. As Kei quietly repeated what he had told Tatsurou, their leader’s face darkened. Tatsurou filled him in on what Minase had said, and for every word, Toshiya looked more and more as if he was about to commit murder. With an effort, he restrained himself.

“Get them food. Tatsu, tell Kei what and how much they should eat so they won’t overeat and get sick. We need to discuss how to handle this within the group, without him here. We will need to lock him up somewhere in the meantime.” He glanced into the dining room where Gackt sat, interestedly watching Ruki go about his duties to fix the tables for dinner. A bunch of people stood watching him, but the alpha seemed not to care in the slightest.

“Better get this started,” Toshiya muttered and turned to walk into the dining room, meaning to set the plan in motion. What he hadn’t planned for was what happened next.

Ruki’s duties took him to the table next to Gackt, and the alpha appreciatively studied the pretty omega’s round face and plush lips, eyeing his body openly and licking his lips. Kyo growled somewhere deep in his throat where he stood by the wall, taking a small step forward as he watched the alpha closely. Ruki felt the eyes on him but tried to ignore it for a long while, growing increasingly irritated. When Hikaru came in to hand Ruki some cutlery, Gackt leaned forward and eyed the young omega lecherously.

“Oh my, look at you, gorgeous,” he said and reached out to cop a feel of Hikaru’s ass. The omega yelped and dropped all the cutlery on the floor, jumping away fast as lightning. The action made Ruki snap, and he immediately dragged Hikaru behind him and stepped up to the alpha, angry as a bear.

“What the fuck are you doing, asshole? Leave him alone, you disgusting pig!”

It only took seconds for the alpha to get on his feet, raise his hand and slap Ruki across the cheek, the sound echoing through the stunned silence of the room. It took even less time for Gackt to hit the floor, an enraged Kyo tackling him and punching him repeatedly in the face before anyone could react, least of all Gackt. Then, Shuse and Jun-ji snapped out of it and stepped up to pull Kyo off of the alpha. Kyo was perhaps short, but he was strong, and when he was angry not much could stop him. In the end it took Die and Satochi as well to eventually drag the furious alpha away. As he was pulled backwards in his arms and torso, sputtering swearwords, Kyo directed a kick towards the alpha and managed to hit him on a kneecap before he was out of range. It wasn’t until he laid eyes on a trembling Ruki that Kyo changed his focus and went up to his omega quickly, examining his cheek before pulling him tightly into his arms. It was the first time the rest of them had seen Ruki act so small and vulnerable, as he shivered and sniveled into Kyo’s shoulder, and it was a bit shocking to them all. Kyo held him close, rubbing his back, as his eyes threw daggers at Gackt.

The alpha was still on the floor, struggling to get up. No one stepped in to help, and when he was finally standing, his nose broken and limping on his left leg, he was just as furious as Kyo. As Toshiya stepped up towards him, stopping a few steps away, feet a bit apart and his arm crossed over his chest, their arrogant guest lashed out immediately.

“What the fuck?! Aren’t you gonna do something about that crazy fucker? He broke my fucking nose!”

The words made Kyo growl again, but with Ruki in his arms, he let it be in favor of comforting his lover.

“It’s not the looking, disgusting as it was,” Toshiya said, his face a mask of steel. “It was the touching and the hitting.”

“Oh come on, he insulted me! He’s just an omega. Everyone disciplines their property.”

That was the final straw for Toshiya. “He is not property! None of them are. And you deserved what you got and worse for what you have done to the omegas you brought with you. You are filth, pure and simple, and we do not tolerate the likes of you here.”

He nodded at Atsushi who quickly stepped up together with his sergeants to grab Gackt and tie his arms together behind his back, the alpha fighting back but having no chance against the trained army men.

“Lock him up in the closet without windows and get back here,” Toshiya demanded quickly, the former militaries doing as he said without hesitation. Gackt protested loudly, swearing at them, as he was taken away. Toshiya turned and looked at Minase, still sitting at the table and trying to look invisible.

“You,” Toshiya said sharply. “You told Tatsurou you tried to stop him. Prove to us you’re not like him.”

Minase watched him helplessly. “How?” he asked. “I’ll do anything. But ask the omegas, they will tell you how I treat them as opposed to Gackt.”

Toshiya studied him closely and then nodded to Tatsurou, who stepped out of the room to go talk to the omegas. By the time the militaries were back, so was the nurse, nodding.

“They say he’s a good guy,” he announced, nodding to Minase who slumped in relief.

“I’m glad,” Toshiya said. “Then perhaps you can help us decide what to do by telling us what kind of man Gackt really is?”

Minase nodded and started to tell them what they had suspected all along. Gackt was a typical asshole. He thought himself entitled to everything he wanted, regardless of other people’s wishes. He was not only arrogant, but sometimes violent, and he forced himself on Aryu and Yomi whenever he wanted. As they had suspected, the mating between him and Aryu hadn’t been voluntary. The more Minase spoke, the angrier the alphas got. When he finished, Kyo turned to Toshiya, snarling.

“You get him out of here or I will kill him, I swear to god,” the alpha hissed, Ruki still lodged in his embrace.

“I agree, and want the same, but I wish it were that easy,” Toshiya said. “He’s got a mate. We can’t throw him out without Aryu following. And he knows about us now, we can’t just let him go.”

“Well, we can’t fucking keep him around either,” Kyo barked, the alphas murmuring their consent.

“So, what, you suggest we have some sort of prison here?” Kai asked, watching Kyo.

“If that’s what it takes,” Kyo muttered, but Toshiya shook his head.

“And have to feed him and take care of him but only get trouble in return? No thanks.”

“What then? Any other bright ideas? Short of killing him, I can’t think of anything, and we haven’t stooped that low yet,” Kaoru said tiredly.

The room fell very silent. This was a hard nut to crack. After discussing it for a while longer, they decided they needed dinner so they could think properly. The omegas had been given food, but Minase still hadn’t eaten, and when he was presented with a plate, he burst into tears, crying his way through dinner.

Chapter Text

Yo-Ka had missed all the drama since he was in the kitchen preparing dinner. When the door opened and Kai led a trembling, teary-eyed Hikaru into the room, he quickly threw down the potato he had been peeling and ran over, pulling his boyfriend into his arms.

“God, what happened? What’s wrong, baby?”

Hikaru seemed unable to say anything and just plastered himself on Yo-Ka, starting to sob when he was finally in his lover's safe arms again. Kai looked apologetic when he quickly explained what had happened.

“I’m sorry,” he said, ”we should have told you guys not to come into the dining room while he was there, but I honestly was so caught up in everything that I didn’t think about it until it was too late.”

Yo-Ka was fuming mad. “Where is he now? I want to punch him in the face for hurting my baby.” He kissed Hikaru’s forehead and gently caressed the young man, the gentle touching a stark contrast to his angry countenance.

Kai shook his head. “He’s being tied up and locked away, and we will not risk anyone else with him. If it’s any consolation, Kyo beat him black and blue.”

“Not much,” Yoka growled, but when Hikaru clutched him tighter and whimpered he turned to him, caressing his cheek and pulling his silky locks behind his ear. “What is it baby? Are you hurt?”

Hikaru shook his head, and finally managed to mumble a few words between the sobs. “Don’t go near him. He’s like the alphas I was with, he’ll hurt you. I don’t want you to go!”

Yo-Ka pulled the omega tighter, pressing his lips on his forehead again. “Ok, baby, I won’t. I’m right here with you.”

Kai watched the shivering Hikaru with compassion. “Why don’t you two go to your room and rest? I’ll come up with food for you later.”

Yo-Ka looked up, surprised. “But… dinner…”

“It’s ok, I’ll make it work. Go. Take care of him.” Kai smiled softly, his dimpled smile making the omega feel a little teary-eyed himself.

“Thank you,” he said quietly, and then turned and led Hikaru gently to the back stairs and up to their room.

Once inside, the door locked, Hikaru seemed to feel a little safer. Yo-Ka sat him down on the bed and got him some water, before he joined him and put his arm around the omega, gently nudging his head onto his shoulder. After a while, the younger omega seemed calmer, his breathing slowing down and his hands steadier.

“It was so scary,” he mumbled finally.

“I know, sweetie, I’m sorry. I should have been there.”

“It was like I was back with those assholes, and I can still feel those hands on me even though he barely had time to touch me at all. I kept expecting him to hit me, or grab me by the arms and force me to…” He stopped, squeezing his eyes together. Yo-Ka gave him a quick kiss on the hair and made soothing noises, though he had tears in his eyes. Hikaru closed his eyes and snuggled into Yo-Ka’s neck, breathing deeply for comfort.

“He stood up for me,” he whispered after a while.

“Who?”

“Ruki. He pulled me behind him and chewed the alpha’s ear off.”

“I’m glad, even though he got slapped for it. I’m thankful he tried,” Yo-Ka said, nuzzling his boyfriend’s hair.

“I didn’t think he liked me,” Hikaru said quietly.

“Who, Ruki? Why wouldn’t he like you?”

“I just… It doesn’t feel like it. He’s always so angry, like whatever I do is wrong.”

Yo-Ka sighed. “Honey, he’s like that to everyone, he just wants to have things his way. He likes you, I promise. We all do.”

Hikaru turned his head slightly to look up at his older boyfriend. “Do you really think so?” he whispered.

“Of course, baby. Why do you worry about this all of a sudden?”

Hikaru shrugged slightly. “I don’t know. I’m just scared, I guess.”

Yo-Ka sighed and closed his eyes for a second, before he grabbed Hikaru’s shoulder and turned him so he could look him squarely in the eye.

“Honey, they all like you and care about you. Ruki did what he did to protect you, why would he if he didn’t like you? And I, for one, love you so much that it feels like my heart will burst every time I think of you. Stop being so insecure, ok?”

Hikaru gave him a weak smile and nodded. “Ok,” he whispered, and when Yo-Ka leaned in, he gave himself wholeheartedly to the kiss.

. . . . .

Minase listened to the discussions after dinner with increasing worry. He had been nervous at first, to put his trust in these guys, but nothing could be worse than Gackt. And he had gotten a good feeling from Tatsurou, so he took the chance to open up, putting his and the omegas’ lives in their hands. He didn’t regret that in the slightest, Gackt was locked up and the three omegas safe for now.

But the more he listened, the more he realized that these guys were actually the old-fashioned, honest-to-god good guys. They would not kill the alpha in cold blood, and now they had a hard time to decide what they would do instead to solve the problem. Minase couldn’t see any solution that would keep him and his friends safe that did not involve killing the arrogant asshole, and he worried they would let him stay on the island or send him away, and let Aryu leave after him.

After a while, when they decided to take a break for tonight and go on tomorrow, he excused himself and was shown to the sickroom again by one of the nurse’s assistants. When the door opened and he saw his friends, his heart caught in his throat for a second, until he realized they were not dead but sleeping. Yomi and Aryu were locked in an embrace in their sleep, lying on the bed, while Kouki slept on a mattress laid out on the floor for the night. They looked so thin and fragile, and the empty plates on the bedside table were licked clean of every scrap of food. He felt like he wanted to cry when he saw them sleeping in a warm bed, a mix of happiness and sadness coming over him.

They could not go back out there. They just couldn’t.

. . . . .

After saying his piece on what he thought was a proper penalty for the alpha (killing would be preferable), Kyo left to go to his cabin to see if Ruki needed him. When he got inside, he found his lover on the bed, holding a wet cloth against his cheek.

“Here, babe, let me,” he said and carefully took the cloth from his lover, inspecting his face carefully before he started dabbing the cheek with cold water. Ruki’s cheek was red and a bit swollen, and he had accidentally bit his lip. Kyo’s face turned even more grim as he saw the damage.

“God, I wanted to kill him for touching you,” he muttered, the omega glancing at him.

Ruki shivered at the memory. “I didn’t even have time to react. He just… wham.”

“He’s a jerk. Just too used to getting his way, taking what he wants. You did right to protect Hikaru. I’m proud of you,” Kyo said, gently caressing the unhurt cheek. Ruki smiled weakly at the words.

“Thanks for standing up for me,” he whispered, looking unusually subdued. Kyo tilted his head and watched him intently.

“Of course I did. He had no right to hit you, or even look at you.”

Ruki looked down into his lap, his lower lip trembling slightly.

“I’m scared,” he whispered.

“I’ll protect you, babe, I swear. He won’t get near you again.” Kyo grabbed his lover’s hand, squeezing it a bit.

Ruki shook his head. “No, I mean… I’m scared that someday, someone will take me away from you, or you from me. Someone like him.”

Kyo sighed. “That won’t happen, babe. I won’t let anyone take you away from me, ever. You’re mine.”

“Promise? Forever?” Ruki whispered, still looking down.

There was something about the way he said it that made Kyo stop and think for a second before he answered. Was he implying…?

“Yes, babe, forever. If you want to make it official, you just have to say the word.”

Ruki stiffened, and looked up quickly. “Do you mean…?” he started, before he lost his nerve and shut his mouth. Kyo smiled at his lover, leaning over to kiss him gently and with lots of love. The two were nearly the same height, but he was still very much the dominant one in their relationship, and he needed Ruki to feel completely unthreatened and safe before he said this.

“I mean that if you want to be my mate, I am ready and willing. And if you don’t, then we won’t, simple as that. Just know I will always take care of you no matter what.”

Ruki looked at him quietly for a long moment, carefully studying the alpha’s face. Then he dropped the cloth beside the bed and crawled into his lover's lap, kissing him softly.

An hour later, when Kyo’ scent invaded his mind and his neck throbbed with pain and pleasure, he found himself submitting completely for the first time ever.

. . . . .

That night, Kei had a hard time relaxing, and he tossed and turned in bed until Yukihiro finally got up and came over, sitting himself down on the side of the bed.

“Are you ok?” he asked, gently patting the omega’s shoulder.

Kei sighed deeply. “No,” he answered, looking at the alpha with tears in his eyes. “I can’t stop thinking of Aryu and Yomi.”

Yukihiro made a grimace. “I know. It’s awful. I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“It’s just so horrible. I mean, our kid wasn’t planned, but I’ll love him all the same. I can’t imagine what it would be like to hate the baby’s father so much that I wanted it gone at any cost.”

Yukihiro looked away, mumbling his words. “I would hate for you to feel you wanted it gone because it’s mine.”

Kei hesitated. Had he made the alpha feel insecure about this? He sat up slowly. “Of course not,” he said with conviction. “I chose to keep it because of you. I trust you and I think you’ll be an amazing dad.“

Yukihiro’s shoulders released some of their tension. “Do you mean that?” he whispered, and at Kei’s nod he reached out and embraced the omega for a moment. Kei felt his heart pound harder, and it was confusing enough for him to pull away after a few moments. Yukihiro awkwardly let his arms fall back into his lap, and he sighed. “Go to sleep,” he said quietly. “They are here now, and we will help them. We’ll deal with it tomorrow.”

Kei nodded and lay back down, Yukihiro tucking him in. Before he went back to his bed, he leaned down to place a chaste kiss on Kei’s hair. “Sleep,” he whispered and got up, making his way back to his bed and crawling under the sheets, his back to the omega.

However, Kei didn’t sleep for a long time.

. . . . .

They were awoken one after another in the early morning hours, Kai going around pounding on their doors to wake them up.

“What the hell is going on?” Hazuki asked as he opened the door, his long hair standing a bit on end.

“Come one, everyone is needed at the big house.”

“What?” Hazuki yawned widely. “Why?”

“Minase has killed Gackt.”

Chapter Text

They all gathered in the dining room, most of them yawning and looking very tired. It was less than an hour left until their usual wakeup call, but it was enough for everyone to feel robbed of their sleep. They filed into the room, looking rather glum, until Kyo and Ruki came in to take their seats. At first no one noticed, not until Tsuzuku sat down next to them. The omega looked just as tired as the rest until he suddenly sniffed the air and turned to stare at his friend.

“Ruki! You’re mated!” he exclaimed loudly, making everyone pause and turn to look. Ruki smiled widely and straightened his back, looking a bit like a peacock spreading its feathers. Where Shinya had blushed and tried to hide, Ruki sat proud and enjoyed everyone’s eyes on him. He beamed at his new mate, and Kyo chuckled and shook his head.

“If I had known you’d take it like this, I would have asked ages ago,” he said quietly in Ruki’s ear, getting an incredulous look and a pout back.

“You mean we could have mated sooner?” Ruki hissed, suddenly annoyed. “Kyo! I wanted to be mated six months ago!”

Kyo smirked. “Well, you should have said.”

Ruki pouted for another moment, but then he ignored his mate in favor of accepting congratulations from his friends. Kyo just grinned and leaned in to kiss the omega’s neck before he turned to Toshiya.

“So, what’s up? The leech is dead?”

Toshiya frowned. “Kyo, some respect for the dead if you please.”

“Why? He sure as hell didn’t show any,” Kyo muttered under his breath.

Toshiya waved a little irritably at him, and hit the table with a cup to get everyone to be quiet. He looked exhausted, and the reason was soon apparent as he started to speak.

“Four o’clock tonight, Minase knocked on my door to tell me he had killed Gackt.” He banged the cup in the table again to stop the murmur that started up in the room. “Please, let me finish. So, Minase woke me up, his hands still bloody, and we went to wake up Atsushi who checked and confirmed what Minase said. Gackt has been stabbed to death with a kitchen knife. There doesn’t seem to have been much of a struggle, since Gackt’s hands were still bound. He probably thought Minase was there to save him, so he was caught by surprise. Atsushi is questioning Minase right now and will be with us shortly. I know this is an early morning for you all, but I felt we needed to deal with this immediately. Aryu, Yomi and Kouki is still sleeping, and I would like to keep it that way for a while longer, at least until we’ve questioned Minase. What we need to discuss now is what to do with Minase and his friends.”

The islanders were in various stages of shock and disbelief, and it took a while for anyone to say anything at all.

“So what, we think the omegas were in on it?” Ichirou finally asked, hesitantly.

Tatsurou quickly broke in. “I highly doubt it, unless they’ve talked about it earlier. I went to check on them before I went to bed, and they were completely lost to this world.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure we don’t have to guess the reason. They all wanted him gone, after all, he was an asshole who deserved it.” Kyo was not very sorry to see the alpha go, and he was not going to pretend like he was.

“Maybe so, but it was still murder,” Toshiya said, glowering at Kyo. Several voices called out to give their opinions, and Toshiya hushed them. “One at a time,” he said just as Atsushi came in. He looked around, sharp and focused, not looking the least bit tired. He took Toshiya’s nod as his cue.

“He says he did it to protect the omegas. According to him, as long as Gackt was here, there was a chance he’d get loose and hurt them. Also, Aryu would never be free with Gackt still alive. He says he will accept any punishment we decide to give, but begs of us that we spare the omegas and let them stay here. He claims they know nothing of his plans, and that he only decided last night after they had gone to sleep.”

“And do you believe him?” Toshiya asked.

Atsushi pursed his lips for a second, thinking about it, before he answered. “I do. He’s clearly desperate enough, and I can tell he cares deeply for the omegas. I think he saw no way out.”

When he finished, the room fell quiet for a moment, everyone mulling it over.

“I say we let him go and let him stay here, and thank him for ridding us of the vermin.” Kyo broke the silence, and was met with just as many approving voices as shocked and appalled ones.

“He murdered someone and you just want to let him go?” Kai said, frowning.

“Yeah, well, we all have to make difficult decisions sometimes,” the younger Hiro said, clearly siding with Kyo.

“And how do you know he won’t kill one of us?” someone said, and from there a heated discussion went on, back and forth for a long while, until Ryo suddenly broke in, loudly.

“Oh, just shut up for fuck’s sake. I’m tired of these double standards.” Everyone fell silent and stared at the alpha. “Come on, lots of us have killed to protect the ones we love. What do you call what we did on the beach when we were attacked? How many did we kill? If I could have, I would have killed a few more for Tetsuya’s sake, and Reo’s.”

“But we were attacked,” Kaoru argued. “We didn’t choose to kill them in cold blood, it was self defense. No one here has murdered someone.”

“I have.” Shinya’s words brought the conversation to a screeching halt, as they all turned to stare at the timid omega.

“You… what?” Toshiya said, gaping.

“I killed an alpha on the road. I told you,” Shinya mumbled, crumbling under everyone’s stares.

“But that was self defense,” Satochi said, Toshiya’s eyes snapping to the alpha, his eyes narrowing. “You did it to save me.”

“I wasn’t in danger, you were. I chose to kill him,” Shinya persisted, but by now Toshiya had realized what it was about and relaxed a little.

“Honey, it still counts as saving someone you love,” he said. “You didn’t kill him because you wanted to.”

“But I did.” Koichi blushed, but still looked defiant, his chin raised and his unbrushed pink hair standing like a halo around his head. Hazuki reached out his hand, grabbing his mate’s arm, but Koichi ignored him. “I met Mia’s murderer on the road, and I killed him in revenge. And you might think no one deserves to die, but you haven’t been out there. Some people do deserve it.” Toshiya blinked and a few of the others gasped in surprise, trying to imagine the small and fragile-looking omega killing someone. Hazuki sighed.

“Well, technically I killed him, and his friend I might add, since I’m the one who bashed their brains in with a bat when Kou missed. So if he’s to be thrown out for murder, so am I.”

“And me,” Tsuzuku said. “I was with them in spirit.” He looked angry, and Koichi couldn’t help smiling at him despite the tense moment.

“I don’t think you can commit murder by mental proxy, love,” Reo muttered, Tsuzuku shushing him.

“The point here,” Ryo said, raising his voice to be heard over the murmur, “is that several of us have committed murder for different reasons. If it makes you feel any better to call it self defense, fine, but don’t try to skirt the issue or sugarcoat it. We have killed, and to make us out to be any better than Minase, who killed the one who he saw as the biggest threat to his friends, would be just plain hypocrisy. Besides, to send him back out there is the same thing as murder as well. If he had been here for a while, would we still be having this conversation? Or is it because he’s new to us?”

Everyone paused to digest the words, thinking it over. Suddenly they eyed each other with different eyes, seeing each other and their actions in a new light. But where to draw the line? That was the real question.

. . . . .

Aryu woke up at the sound of the door creaking, and he turned his head drowsily to see who it was. When he saw it was Tomo and Kei carrying trays of food, he almost fell out of the bed as he scrambled to get up, his eyes fixed on the plates. Yomi murmured something, just as tired, but woke up quickly when the smell of breakfast wafted though the air. Kouki needed some gentle prodding to wake up, but when he finally did, he watched the food just as eagerly as his friends. They were so focused on the food that they didn’t notice Atsushi standing in the doorway, studying them.

Tomo handed out the plates, and Yomi and Kouki dug in eagerly. Aryu, however, suddenly stopped and blinked. The plate in his hand was completely forgotten as he raised his other hand and rubbed his chest with a stunned look on his face.

Tomo watched him closely. “How are you feeling?” he asked, tilting his head. Yomi and Kouki stopped eating, watching their friend nervously.

“He’s not there,” Aryu whispered, blinking. “He… He’s gone. I’m… free of him.” And then he burst into tears, Yomi quickly putting down his plate to hold his friend. Aryu leaned into his shoulder and cried, smiling through the tears. Kouki stared between his friend and the islanders, confused.

“What is he talking about? What’s going on?”

Kei looked at him for a moment. “Gackt is dead,” he said, Atsushi closely watching their reaction at the news.

Pure shock was written all over their faces, as Kouki and Yomi stared at Kei. “What?! He’s gone? Did you guys kill him? Please tell me he suffered,” Kouki rambled, Kei feeling pretty uncomfortable by the question.

“We didn’t kill him,” Tomo said. “Minase did.” The shocked silence that followed was further testament to what they had guessed already; the omegas knew nothing of what the alpha had planned. Behind them, they heard Atsushi back out and close the door, satisfied with their reactions.

“But… why?” Yomi whispered, seemingly unable to grasp what had happened.

“To protect us of course, the stupid bastard,” Kouki said, biting his lip. “Is… Is he ok? What are you going to do to him?”

“I don’t know,” Tomo sighed. “They’re debating it now. Eat your breakfast, you will need your strength. Tatsurou, our nurse – remember the guy who carried you up yesterday? Well, he’s gonna have a look at you later.”

Kouki, who had nearly finished his plate in the half minute it took Aryu to realize the bond was gone, got to his feet a little unsteadily. “Take me there,” he begged. “Let me talk to them, try to plead his case.”

Tomo and Kei exchanged glances, and then Kei nodded. “I’ll go talk to Toshiya and see what he says.”

“Me too!” Aryu exclaimed, Yomi nodding as well.

Kei smiled weakly. “Ok, I’ll ask. Now eat, and try to take it slow or you’ll feel sick.”

The newcomers sat back down, going back to their food as Kei went off to talk to Toshiya.

. . . . .

Cazqui sat listening to the argument, Daichi sitting next to him. His friend looked down, and Cazqui eyed him a little worriedly. When Kei came in to talk to Toshiya, he took the opportunity in the pause that arose to lean into hos friend.

“Hey, are you ok? Is something wrong?” he asked quietly, and Daichi’s eyes flickered to him before he sniffed a little.

“Aoi and I broke up,” he whispered back. Cazqui’s jaw dropped and he stared at the pretty omega.

“What?! But you seemed so perfect for each other, and so happy together,” he said, glancing over at Aoi who looked rather tightlipped where he sat across the room.

“Yeah, we were. But living together didn’t work at all. It was great for the first few days, but… I don’t know, we get on each other’s nerves. We fight over the stupidest things, and last night, we kind of hit a wall. So we decided to call it quits while we could still stay friends,” he explained quietly, trying to look like it was all good.

“Oh. I’m so sorry,” Cazqui whispered, squeezing his friend’s hand gently.

“Yeah, well, shit happens. I’m glad we tried though. But we just don’t work together, and we both realized that. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, though,” he added, discreetly wiping a tear from his eye.

“Of course not. So, what will you do now? Move back in here?”

“Yeah, I guess. Soon as this is done, I suppose. Get my old room back.” Daichi blinked, trying to smile bravely but only succeeding in making a grimace. Cazqui gripped his friend’s hand tightly and didn’t let go for the rest of the meeting.

. . . . .

Kei came back to inform the nervous omegas that a decision had already been reached, and that they would not be required to speak to the group on Minase’s behalf. It caused the three to protest wildly, scared that it meant that Minase was convicted. They were also worried about what it meant for them, and whether they would be allowed to stay or not. Kei couldn’t answer their questions, and it was three very frustrated and frightened omegas that were shown into the dining room to hear the decision.

Minase was already there, standing next to Atsushi. He was not tied up, since the major didn’t expect him to run or be violent. If he tried, it would be futile anyway, considering he was malnourished and weak and Atsushi was ready for anything. If Gackt hadn’t been tied up and unsuspecting of the attack, Minase would never have gotten away with what he did.

Their four guests were trembling as Toshiya got up to stand in front of the accused, making sure everyone was quiet before he started.

“We have heard your reasons for killing Gackt and before I say anything else, I want to make sure you know that we strongly condemn what you did.”

Minase nodded, hanging his head, preparing for the worst. His three friends were hardly breathing as they waited for the words that would mean the difference between the alpha’s life and death. Minase raised his head and looked at Toshiya, swallowing hard.

“May I just say one thing?” he asked, his voice shaky. Toshiya thought it over quickly, before he nodded.

“I just want to beg of you to please let my friends stay here. They will not make it out there, and though I know what I did was wrong, I did it to protect them. Please, take care of them and protect them for me.”

You could here a needle drop in the silence that followed. Finally, Toshiya sighed.

“You can take care of them yourself. You are allowed to stay, all of you. However…” he raised his hand to silence the relieved gasps from their guests. “However, you will be placed under probation for six months, during which time you will not be allowed to be alone, ever. One of us will always be with you to guard you, and you will be his shadow and do whatever he tells you. Is that clear?”

Minase nodded, shakily, and unsuccessfully tried to stifle a sob.

“Until we have decided who will be your probation officer, you will stay with Shuse and Jun-ji. Any and all wrongdoings will have you cast out. You do as they say, when they say, and you don’t leave their sight even to go take a piss.”

Minase bowed his head, blinking away tears. “I understand,” he said weakly. I will do as you say. Thank you.”

Toshiya bowed his head as well, gesturing for Shuse and Jun-ji to step in. They introduced themselves to the alpha, who meekly let himself be led away to a table for lunch. At another table, his three friends gathered in a big hug, laughing and crying all at once.

They were all allowed to stay, and Gackt was dead. This was more than they had ever hoped for.

Chapter Text

Cazqui was a bit shaken after the day so far, not only because of the uproar around their newcomers, but mainly because of Daichi and Aoi. He had been so happy when Daichi had finally gotten Aoi to see him, and they had seemed to be so great together. But now that he thought about it, since they moved in together, his friend had been a bit more quiet and subdued. He had noticed, sort of, but didn’t really think much about it with everything else going on. And now that he knew the reason, he felt bad for his friend but also started to worry about his own relationship again. He and Satochi were doing well, or so he thought at least. But they didn’t live together yet, and what if the same thing happened to them once they did? What if he would drive the alpha crazy with his little quirks, like the fact that he liked everything to be in perfect order in his room or that he sometimes woke up at night and paced for a while before he could go back to sleep?

Tiny things could be annoying, he thought as he stood by his dresser folding and putting away shirts neatly. What if the alpha got annoyed by things he couldn’t help doing? It had taken so long for him to finally have Satochi in his life, and now he was terrified to lose him again. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t even hear the knock on the door, and he jumped in surprise when strong arms wrapped around him from behind.

“Hey,” Satochi’s deep voice breathed in his ear, and Cazqui felt himself melting into a puddle from just the hug.

“Hi,” he whispered, leaning back into the alpha’s chest. He suddenly realized the drawer was open, his shirts lying there in perfect order. He hastily shut the drawer, his nerves acting up again, and he felt Satochi shift behind him.

“Are you ok? You’ve seemed tense all day,” the alpha murmured, scenting his neck.

“Yeah. I’m fine,” Cazqui replied, but he couldn’t hide the trembling of his voice. Satochi sighed, and pulled him tighter, kissing his neck quickly.

“No you’re not. What’s going on? Is it all this business with Minase?”

Cazqui hesitated, but eventually caved and raised his eyes to look at Satochi in the mirror that hung above his dresser. “Yeah, partly. But there’s also Daichi and Aoi breaking up, and Kyo and Ruki getting mated, and I… I guess I just got worried.”

Satochi watched him in the mirror, frowning a little. “Worried about what? Us?”

Cazqui nodded slightly, a pink tinge on his cheeks as he looked down again, unable to meet his lover’s gaze any longer. “They were fine until they moved in together, and then things fell apart, and I kind of got worried that would happen to us.” The longer he spoke, the quieter he got, until the last few words were almost whispered. He waited anxiously for Satochi’s reaction while the alpha thought about what he had said.

“Cazqui, look at me.” Satochi gently grabbed his chin and guided it upwards until Cazqui once again faced him in the mirror. The omega chewed his lip, nervously looking up. “I can’t promise you everything will be fine and one day we’ll be like Ruki and Kyo. Wait, no, scratch that, I never want us to be like Ruki and Kyo.” He smirked slightly before he continued. “But mated, anyway. I can’t promise we’ll ever get mated. But I won’t give up trying for it because it didn’t work out for two of our friends. Ok? I’m just as sad as you that they broke up, but that doesn’t mean we will. Their relationship is completely different from ours, and only time will tell what happens when we get to move in together.”

Cazqui was teary-eyed by now, smiling at Satochi. “I love you,” he whispered. “I’m just scared of losing you.”

“I know, baby,” the alpha smiled, tightening his hold on the omega. “But you haven’t yet, ok? Just relax and we’ll work it out together. I love you too.”

Cazqui never got tired of hearing those words from Satochi’s lips, and he couldn’t stop the blistering smile that emerged. The alpha leaned down to nuzzle his neck again. “God, you’re beautiful when you smile,” he mumbled into the omega’s hair before he teasingly licked his ear. Cazqui couldn’t stop the involuntary mewl the action prompted, and he blushed when Satochi grinned at him in the mirror.

“This is nice,” the alpha said, intense eyes fixing Cazqui’s in the mirror. His fingers slowly moved across his abdomen to suddenly dip beneath the hemline of the omega’s pants. He smirked at Cazqui’s breathless moan, and licked his lips as he watched his lover’s reactions in the mirror. His fingers gently rubbed over the small bulge forming in his boyfriend’s pants, and he let his hips grind into Cazqui’s ass, letting him feel the much larger bulge that was forming there. He started rolling his hips slowly against the omega’s ass, Cazqui gasping and bucking back to feel more of that alluring cock against him.

“Mmm, eager… I love that about you, always so ready and willing for me to fuck you,” Satochi whispered huskily, leaning down to let his teeth nip lightly at Cazqui’s neck. The moan that answered his action was all the proof he needed that the pale omega was perfectly ok with the plan.

“Fuck me, please. I need you in me,” Cazqui pleaded, losing himself in the sensations of the hand rubbing his cock, the larger cock grinding against his ass and the teeth nipping on his neck. Satochi let out a deep growl in response as he shifted a bit to pull his own pants down before he got to work on the omega’s. Cazqui nearly cried out when he felt the alpha’s cock rub against his skin, sliding up and down his crack easily with the aid of his own lubrication.

“Always so wet for me, precious,” Satochi whispered, letting his fingers dip down and quickly explore the hole and smirking at Cazqui’s answering whimper. He took a step back and pulled the omega’s hips with him so that he could lean forward onto the dresser, getting better leverage. “Look at me,” he said huskily, and their eyes fixed on each other in the mirror as Satochi let his big cock slowly glide into the omega, filling him for what felt like forever. Watching themselves in the mirror turned them both on to no end, and as Satochi started rolling his hips, grinding into the omega, they kept their eyes locked, drinking in each other’s reactions to every thrust.

Satochi took his time, working slowly but steadily towards their release, caressing Cazqui everywhere he could reach, his hands sliding in under his shirt to pinch his nipples as he thrust into the willing body. The dresser started rocking against the wall as they got more fervid, and Cazqui had to bite his lip to stifle his moans so that he wouldn’t disturb Kuina too much next door. There was no way he could be completely quiet though, as he was quickly nearing his release, and he hoped to god his friend was still downstairs.

“Look at you, so incredibly gorgeous when we fuck,” Satochi breathed, and Cazqui turned his eyes to his own reflection. Mouth slightly open, panting heavily, eyelids half closed and a slight sheen of sweat all over his body. And those strong hands on him, one on his hip and the other caressing his nipple. It looked so lewd and sexy that he couldn’t hold back a moan. Satochi’s answering grunt made him shift his gaze and look at the alpha, his head thrown back and his eyes closed for a moment as he savored the moment. When he felt himself quickly coming up to the edge, he opened his eyes again, and they looked into each other’s eyes as they came, Cazqui’s cum shooting all over his dresser and slowly dripping down towards the floor. His arms and legs were weak, and he nearly tumbled into the dresser until Satochi caught him, a bit awkwardly walking them over to the bed since his knot was firmly locked in place inside his lover. When he finally managed to get them comfortably spooning on the bed, he pulled the omega into a possessive embrace.

“That was amazing, baby. We should fuck in front of the mirror more often.”

Cazqui couldn’t help his chuckle at the alpha’s statement. “I’m game,” he replied, enjoying his lover’s warmth against his back.

“We should totally have a big one in our cabin when we move in together,” Satochi mumbled sleepily, closing his eyes at the same time as the omega’s popped wide open.

. . . . .

Kei was also feeling a bit off. He had assisted when Tatsurou had done a more thorough examination of the omegas, and it had been clear that the nurse was worried about Aryu. Yomi was only two moths gone, and the nurse could promise him an abortion straight off the bat. Yomi was very short and thin, and his somewhat rounded face made him look even younger than he was. He declared immediately that he didn’t want to carry the child of a man he hated, and so an appointment for him had been set to the following day, the omega thanking the nurse profusely with tears in his eyes.

Aryu, though, was far enough along that the process would be more complicated. He was also in no state to carry a child, and the pain in his abdomen was not a good sign. Tatsurou had told them in whispered words afterwards that he didn’t think both omega and child would survive if he carried it to term, maybe neither. Could be, he said, that the child was not developing right since Aryu had been starving, but it was still a more difficult process all around. To the omega’s disappointment, Tatsurou didn’t want to commit to performing the abortion until he had read up on what to do and how, but promised to look into it immediately.

The whole thing made Kei uneasy, his hand going back to rub his own belly unconsciously time and time again. When Yukihiro came home, he found a disheartened omega sitting at his bed with a cup of flower tea in his hands. He didn’t have to ask if something was wrong, it was too obvious from the omega’s facial expression, so he just took off his boots and hung his jacket by the door before he came over and sat next to him on the bed. Kei looked up at him with large eyes filled with sadness, and the alpha put his arm around his shoulder, pressing a calming kiss to the side of his head. Kei leaned his head on Yukihiro’s shoulder, letting himself be calmed by the alpha’s scent and presence.

They sat still for a while, before Kei spoke. “I can’t help thinking about my baby whenever I see them so desperately wanting to get rid of theirs,” he mumbled, knowing Yukihiro would understand him without further explanation. He was right, as the alpha made a humming noise and carefully put his hand on Kei’s stomach as if to protect the life forming inside. The omega sighed tiredly, and put his own hand on top of Yukihiro’s. They stayed in the same position for a long while, until Kei felt calmer and more at ease, the alpha’s musky scent and warm body against his making him feel safe and cared for.

For now, though, he chose to ignore that little flutter in his chest.

. . . . .

Yomi’s abortion went well, though Kei backed out just before they started and asked if it was ok if Tomo assisted alone. Tatsurou smiled, understanding where the hesitation came from, and told him it was fine.

Afterwards, Yomi slept deeply for a few hours, and woke up to his friends waiting anxiously next to him. Shuse brought Minase to see him quickly, and the two hugged briefly and exchanged a few words before the alpha was taken away again. Tatsurou also got his fair share of hugs and thank yous, and when Kaoru came by to pick him up for lunch he found the alpha with two omegas hugging him tightly.

“Should I be jealous?” he said, pretending to be annoyed but quickly giving it up when Tatsurou let go of Kouki and Yomi, and instead pulled his lover into a hug and an accompanying deep kiss. When they parted, they found three omegas staring at them. Tatsurou smirked.

“So guys, have you met my lover Kaoru yet?” he said and raised their entwined hands with their identical rings and kissed his boyfriend’s hand. Kaoru smiled at him, letting his fingers ruffle the long straight hair before he bowed to the omegas in introduction. They stammered their names, bowing politely, but they still couldn’t stop eyeing the two.

“Is everything ok?” Tatsurou asked, Kouki quickly nodding.

“Of course! We just… I’ve never seen two alphas together before.”

Kaoru raised one eyebrow and threw Kouki a glance that made the omega cringe, but then the alpha grinned. “Well, we have an omega couple here as well, Yo-Ka and Hikaru.”

“You do?!” Aryu seemed stunned, and Tatsurou had to laugh at him.

“Yeah, we do. Come on, it’s time for lunch, I’ll introduce you. Yomi, you had better stay in bed and rest for a while longer to be sure. I’ll send someone in with food for you.”

Grumbling but obeying, Yomi lay back down and the others walked into the dining room for lunch. The nurse parked the newcomers at a table with Yo-Ka and Hikaru, before he walked off with Kaoru to sit with Toshiya.

“How did it go?” was Toshiya’s first question as they sat down, everyone listening interestedly.

“Fine, it was easy. Yomi’s resting, but he’s doing great. He’s really happy to have it gone.”

“And Aryu?”

“I need to double-check some things, but honestly? I think we need to get it out either way or he will die. He might be too weak for the operation, but I think it has to be done.”

Toshiya nodded and watched the nurse thoughtfully. He’s come a long way, confidence-wise, he thought and smiled at the nurse before he went back to his lunch. He remembered how nervous Tatsurou had been earlier when he’d had to do something more complicated, but with time and practice he had grown into his role beautifully. It made Toshiya feel better to know his islanders were in good hands.

As they ate their lunch, the sun shining in through the windows, a sudden rumble and crash made everyone run to the windows and look outside. Yukke laughed after a second and smiled.

“It was the snow off the roof. It getting warmer, so it’s melting and sliding off. Spring is here soon!”

Happy grins spread all around, as they slowly went back to their plates. Winter was soon over, and they could hope for better times ahead.

Chapter Text

Shinya woke up feeling slightly sick. Again. He was getting tired of this damn morning sickness. Tatsurou had told him it would pass, but when it did varied from omega to omega. He muttered a bit to himself, feeling rather grumpy about it. Masa was already happily long out of his morning sickness period, and Kei was a few weeks ahead of him and was more worried about how his belly stretched out his shirts so he would have to borrow bigger ones. Behind his back, Toshiya stirred, snuggling up to him and kissing his neck.

“Morning, baby,” he mumbled and yawned.

“Mmmmff,” Shinya muttered, feeling his stomach stirring.

“Still feeling sick?” Toshiya asked, carefully caressing the pouting belly.

Shinya sighed, which was answer enough, and Toshiya pressed his lips to his cheek in a silent apology for making him be in this situation.

“Love you though,” Toshiya whispered in the omega’s ear, his breath tickling the small hairs on his neck. Shinya squirmed and made a little huff at the sensation, and Toshiya quickly caught on, tickling his side as he nuzzled the slender neck violently. His mate burst out laughing, squirming to get away, and they tussled playfully for a moment before Shinya found himself on his back beneath Toshiya, looking into his eyes breathlessly.

“God you’re so beautiful,” Toshiya breathed. “I can’t believe you’re mine, and that we’re starting a family together. It’s like all my dreams coming true at once.”

Shinya blushed at the words, but couldn’t help smiling happily. “Mine too,” he whispered and pulled his mate down into a deep kiss that made him forget all about his queasiness.

. . . . .

Kei surreptitiously eyed Aryu’s belly while Tatsurou examined him again. He was smaller all around than Kei, but they should be around the same week. Exactly how far gone the omega was, was hard to tell since Aryu found out when he was out there with no real concept of time. But Kei was coming up on the halfway mark soon, and it was obvious his baby had gotten better nourishment than Aryu’s since his belly was much bigger. It was painful to watch, and he flinched when the omega groaned as Tatsurou prodded him gently.

“Ok, I think we will have to do this,” the nurse said, some regret in his voice.

“Go ahead, the faster the better,” Aryu mumbled, and Tatsurou fixed him with a sharp stare.

“You do know that this will be dangerous for you? Any operation After is risky, and you are weak, making it double the jeopardy.”

Kouki, sitting next to his friend, wrapped his arms protectively around the omega at the words. Aryu just nodded, frowning.

“But you said going full term would be dangerous for me as well. So out of two dangers, I choose this.”

Tatsurou watched him closely for a few moments, before he bowed his head in acknowledgement. “Ok, then we’ll get started. I would have liked for you to get stronger before we did this, but the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be. Kouki, I’m afraid I will need you to leave so we’ll have room to work. Take care of Yomi in the meantime.”

Kouki nodded and hugged his friend tightly, Yomi coming up and doing the same a second later. “We’ll be with you in spirit,” he whispered in Aryu’s ear before they got up and left the room, throwing anxious glances over their shoulders.

Tomo started preparing Aryu, setting up a precious IV and washing his belly meticulously. Tatsurou pulled Kei a little aside, the omega looking very nervous.

“I know you’d rather sit this one out, Kei, and if I could, I would let you. But I’m sorry, I need you both here for this if we’re gonna be sure to make it. It’s gonna be a tough one, and I understand it’s extra hard for you. I’m sorry I have to ask this of you.”

Kei sniffed a little, his breathing a bit unsteady, but he nodded. He put on a brave smile and nodded at the nurse. “Well, we’re supposed to help people, right? I’ll do my best.”

Tatsurou patted his shoulder, smiling back apologetically. “If there was any other way…”

“I know. Let’s just do this.”

The nurse nodded, and since Tomo was done prepping Aryu, they got started.

. . . . .

Uta was just coming back from the chicken coop, his basket filled with a few eggs, when Minase, Shuse and Jun-ji came round the other corner of the house. They were carrying something between them that they put on the sled, and Uta suddenly realized what it was. The wrapped-up body of Gackt was lying there, right in front of him, and he gasped in shock and took an involuntary step back. His heel found a patch of ice and he felt himself start to slide the moment before he lost his balance. He prepared himself for impact, flailing with the arm that wasn’t holding the basket, but the impact never came. Instead, he felt a strong grip catching him, supporting him until he stood upright again. He turned, wide-eyed, to see Atsushi holding him. He stiffened, his breathing speeding up as he stared at the alpha.

Atsushi immediately let go as soon as Uta was standing straight again, smiling reassuringly and taking a step back. “Watch it, wouldn’t want to lose the eggs or hurt yourself.”

Uta struggled to get his breathing under control and get his brain to function, but before he could, the alpha had walked off towards the others, and together, they started pulling the sled towards the forest. Once Uta had regained some of his composure, the four alphas had already disappeared beyond the tree line. He looked after them for a long while with a thoughtful look on his face, before he turned and walked inside, clutching the basket of eggs to his chest.

. . . . .

It was a long procedure, and Kei was a nervous wreck once they were done. As Tatsurou finished up the final stiches, he had to fight not to drop everything and run out of the room or throw up somewhere. The nurse had thoughtfully covered the bowl where the dead fetus was, but Kei had still seen it when he pulled it out, and it had been terrifying to think that his baby was about the same size by now. The second Tatsurou said it was ok for him to leave, he rushed out of the room and barely paused to put his shoes on before he ran outside to his cabin. He nearly made it there before he had to stop and throw up in the snow just around the corner from the door. He fell to his hands and knees, retching until he had lost all of his breakfast. He shivered, trying to find the strength to get up from the snowy ground, when another wave of nausea came over him and he started retching again.

Suddenly, strong arms wrapped around him from behind, one hand on his forehead keeping his head up and the hair out of the way, and the other around his chest, holding him up and supporting him. Once the retching stopped, the strong arms guided him up to stand, and he was turned to face Yukihiro’s worried eyes. The alpha didn’t say anything, just looked him over and brushed his hair to the side, and then he gently guided him inside their home, holding him up as he trembled. Once inside, he led the omega to a chair and sat him down before he started taking his shoes and jacket off, lifting his feet and pulling off the jacket gently as if Kei was a little child. Then he fetched a glass of water and a wash bowl, holding it out.

“Here, you can rinse your mouth if you want and take a few sips of water,” he said softly. Kei nodded gratefully and took a mouthful of the water, sloshing the water around his mouth before he spat it out into the bowl. He slowly took a few sips of water, letting it cool his raw throat on its way down, before he put the glass down on the table. He was still shivering, and Yukihiro helped him get up and walk over to his bed, where he lay him down underneath the blankets, tucking him in. The alpha hesitated for a second, but when Kei lost it and started crying heartbreakingly, he lay down beside him on top of the blankets and wrapped his arms around the omega, making soothing noises.

“It was so tiny, just like mine,” Kei cried, bawling his eyes out into the alpha’s chest. “And Tatsurou said it was already dead, so that was why Aryu was in pain. He would have had a miscarriage anyway soon. And all I could think about was our baby, and I felt so awful for thinking about me instead of him, but I just couldn’t… It’s so tiny…” His voice broke and he buried his face against the chest, crying desperately for a long time. Yukihiro held him close until he was so exhausted from crying that he fell asleep, the alpha’s jaws clenched and a tear escaping his eye.

. . . . .

Daichi looked around the cottage to make sure he had everything, before he turned to Aoi who stood by the door, looking uncomfortable and sad.

“Well, goodbye then, I guess,” he said, Aoi nodding.

“We’ll see each other all the time, though,” the alpha offered, looking a bit uncertain.

“Yeah, we will. But it’s not us anymore though.”

“No, it isn’t.” Aoi looked down. “I’m sorry it ended like this.”

“Yeah, me too,” Daichi said, his throat feeling strange. “But I’m glad we tried. We had a good run there for a while.”

Aoi smiled at that, his grin a bit lopsided. “Yeah, we did. And I still like you, I hope you know that.”

“Me too,” Daichi whispered, before they gave each other a somewhat awkward hug what with the box he had under his arm. And then he turned and walked out the door, the door closing behind him as one part of his life ended and a new one started. He sighed to himself as he walked up the stairs to move back into his old room. As he sat down on the bed, the box beside him, he couldn’t help shed a tear at what was lost.

. . . . .

Aryu slept through a whole day, Tatsurou watching over him diligently. Kei was relieved from duty, Yukihiro by his side to take care of him. Tomo took care of whatever needed to be done, and Tatsurou had the fetus discreetly taken away and buried under a small cairn in the woods, next to his father’s. Unlike Gackt, the baby got a small cross placed at the head of the grave, supported with rocks until spring was far enough gone so they could place it in the ground.

In the afternoon the day after, everyone was relieved to hear that Aryu had woken up, and though he was weak and tired, Tatsurou had high hopes of his recovery. The mood was still a bit subdued, though, and for a few days everyone spoke a little softer than usual, before everything slowly went back to normal.

About a week after the abortion, Jun-ji and Shuse did their usual tour of the docks and the watchtower. They climbed up the ladder to look out over the lake, checking to see if the ice was still stretching all the way across. It was, but darker patches here and there indicated that it was now too thin to walk on. It was a good sign, defense-wise, and the alphas inspected it approvingly.

“So,” Jun-ji said casually, raising the binoculars to his eyes. “Any plans for tonight?”

“Not really. Figured I’d just get some rest.”

“Oh.” Jun-ji looked inexplicably disappointed, and Shuse glanced at him from the corner of his eye, an amused smirk on his face.

“You want me out of the cottage so you can have some one on one time with Kazuki, don’t you.”

“What?! No!”

Pause.

“Well, ok, yes. But it’s just so hard to find any time alone in this place, and we just want some time to… well, you know. Have fun.”

Shuse chuckled. “U-hu. So I take it things are going well between the two of you then?”

Jun-ji answering sunny grin was all the answer he needed, really, but Jun-ji didn’t miss the opportunity anyway. “It’s going great! He’s so sweet and funny, and have you seen…”

“…the way his eyes curve when he smiles, like an adorable kitten? No I haven’t, nor the other hundred times you mentioned it.”

Jun-ji laughed, a little embarrassedly. “I guess I do talk a lot about that, huh?”

Shuse chuckled at his friend. “You do. But that’s ok. I like seeing you happy. It’s what happens when you’re in love.”

“Yeah, I guess it does. Sorry if I’m being annoying. It’s just, he’s… not the topic of conversation anymore. Right, so, how about you? Anyone you like?” Jun-ji rambled.

Shuse looked a little uncomfortable and down all of a sudden, which caught Jun-ji’s attention. “There is someone, isn’t there?”

“Well, I guess. Sort of. But this is not the right time.”

Jun-ji frowned. He didn’t like seeing his old friend down like this. “What do you mean, not the right time? Oh shit, he’s not taken, is he?”

Shuse squirmed a bit, looking the other way and pretending to examine the shoreline thoroughly.

“Shuse,” Jun-ji warned, determined to get the truth out of his friend. The alpha sighed deeply, his whole posture slumping.

“Well, no. Not… really.”

Jun-ji frowned at him, until it suddenly struck him. “Oh… Don’t tell me… Daichi, is it?”

He didn’t need an answer, he had long ago learned to read his friend’s face, and the truth was written all over it. “But that’s good, isn’t it?” Jun-ji tried. “He’s single now, just go for it.”

Shuse shook his head shortly. “Come on, they just broke up like ten days ago. Besides, I’m way too old for him anyway.”

“You mean like I am for Kazuki, or Reo for Tsuzuku?” Jun-ji said, a bit sharper than he had intended. Shuse blinked, casting him a glance. “Come on, “Jun-ji continued. “That stuff might have mattered Before, but in case you missed it, the end of the world came and went. And I say, considering how many of us there are left, if you are lucky enough to find love, grab it and hold on because you may never get another chance.”

Shuse huffed a bit at that, but he couldn’t deny his friend had a point. “Yeah. Maybe. I’ll give him a bit more time though, they just broke up and he seems kind of down.”

“All the better, time for you to swoop in and cheer him up!” Jun-ji grinned, and Shuse couldn’t help chuckling a bit.

“Yeah, yeah, fine, I’ll think about it.”

“Good!" He paused. "Do you think Atsushi will ever meet anyone?"

"Not likely, considering who he's holding a torch for."

"What do you mean? Who?"

Shuse raised one eyebrow and eyed Jun-ji meaningfully. As the wheels turned, achingly slow, his friend eventually got it.

"Oh, shit. I mean... Shit. He sure knows how to pick 'em, doesn't he?"

"You could say that," Shuse smirked, looking back out over the lake, Jun-ji looking thoughtful next to him. Then, he snapped out of his musings and turned back to his friend.

"So, are you gonna piss off tonight so I can fuck Kazuki or what?”

Shuse full on laughed at that. “Fine. I’ll be at the big house until midnight, but I expect you to be done by then, because I’ll be back for my beauty sleep midnight sharp.”

Jun-ji made a face, pretending annoyance. “Always so stingy. Fine, we’ll make do.”

“Watch it, or I’ll tell Kazuki you only want him for his body, and you are vulgar about it as well.”

“Me?! Oh, please. You should have heard the words he used when he asked me.”

Chapter Text

“Think about it. It has a nice ring to it.” Yukihiro stretched his arm out and pretended to write the name in the air with his finger. “Kaori. It’s pretty.”

Kei pulled the blanket further around his shoulders, his forehead creased as he tried the name out in his head. “It sounds too much like Kaoru. And not that I don’t like him, but I don’t want to name my child after him.”

“Mmm. I guess.” Yukihiro took a sip of his flower tea and looked out over the village. The two sat on the stairs of their cottage, enjoying the first of the spring sun. The air was still cold and most of the ground was still covered in snow, but here and there patches of grass shone through and gave them hope of warmer days. With blankets and tea, it was enough to feel cozy and warm, and they sat in the sun and soaked up the warm rays. Kei felt a bit like a caterpillar, all snuggled up in his blanket, and he grinned at the thought. Maybe he would become a butterfly? More like a hippo, he thought and sniggered to himself. Yukihiro eyed him curiously.

“What?”

“Oh, nothing. I just realized I’m gonna look like a hippo all summer.”

Yukihiro snorted. “Yeah, because you could look like a hippo even if you tried.”

“What!? I could! And I will, I’ll prove it to you. I’ll swim around in the lake, belly up, and make weird noises.”

“Weird noises? Do hippos make weird noises? What kind?” Yukihiro chuckled.

Kei grinned and made some sort of guttural noise mixed with a tooting sound, making Yukihiro burst out in laughter. He’s handsome when he laughs. The thought made him halt and look away, that weird fluttering in his chest back again. The alpha didn’t notice the hesitation, taking another sip of his tea and pulling his hand through his long hair, his fingers snagging a bit.

“That’ll be one cute hippo then. I’ll cheer you on from the beach,” he chuckled.

Kei blushed, thankful that his face was turned away for a moment. When the alpha changed the subject, he eagerly threw himself into the new topic.

“I need a haircut. It’s getting really frizzy and unruly now. I’d better ask Yuki for some help,” Yukihiro said, examining the tips of his shoulder-length hair.

“Do you want it long or short?” Kei asked, tilting his head and peering at the alpha quizzically, taking in his rather square features. “I think you would look good in a short spiky look.”

This time it was the alpha’s turn to blush slightly. “You do? I might try that then.”

“You should.” Kei smiled. “Not that the long hair is bad of course, it looks good too.”

Yukihiro’s blush deepened and he quickly changed the focus back to Kei again, raising his hand to let the omega’s long hair glide through his fingers. “You look great with long hair though. Yours is so silky. I’m envious. I hope our kid gets your hair.”

“Only if he gets your eyes,” Kei said. “And the muscles. I’m like a stick figure, it doesn’t matter how much I work at it.”

The alpha snorted. “I do have a slight advantage, you know, being alpha and all.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. But look at Natsu, he’s got great muscles, while I have noodles!”

“I like noodles.” Yukihiro seemed to realize too late that the sentence could be interpreted two ways, and afraid that the omega would take offence, he stammered an explanation. “I kinda miss noodles. Potatoes are nice, but…”

Kei hadn’t missed the implications though, and swallowed quickly. He knew what was happening here, and it wasn't like he was opposed to it, but was it really a good idea? Flirting with someone he was going to have a baby with… What if things got fucked up somehow and they had some sort of falling out? They had to stay friends for the baby's sake if nothing else, and he didn't want things to go wrong between them. But then again, the thought of the alpha's arms around him... He shook his head slightly to get rid of all the unwanted thoughts and uncertainties, and went back to the first subject. Baby names. That was safe.

“Anyway, I want a name that’s not like anyone else’s here. Like… Jin.”

Yukihiro bit his lip and glanced at Kei but accepted the topic change without comment. “Jin? It’s nice. Short and to the point. How about Suzu?”

“A crane? Are you kidding me?”

Yukihiro chuckled. “I was thinking more of the meaning long-lived, but if you’re into birds…”

Kei reached out his tongue to the alpha before he took a long sip of his tea, only to find out it was chilled by the cold air already. Spring wasn’t quite here yet.

. . . . .

Daichi tossed and turned in bed that night. It was weird being back in his room, and he sometimes turned and almost expected Aoi’s warm body to be there, next to him. The alpha always slept like a baby, while Daichi was more restless, and he had quickly gotten used to watching him sleep. Now that he wasn’t there anymore it was empty. It wasn’t the only thing to feel empty, he thought. He didn’t miss the fighting, but he did miss having someone to hold him at night, to kiss him awake, to whisper sweet words in his ear whenever he was feeling down. He missed Aoi’s scent, and his bloody annoying snoring, and his damn hundred strokes with the hair brush, and yeah, ok, he missed his cock. Like, a lot. They had had amazing sex, so much so that he found himself still thinking of Aoi whenever he jerked off at night. Crap. Why did everything have to get so jumbled up?

After hours of tossing and turning, sleeping fitfully for a half hour here or there, his stomach started grumbling around four in the morning. He sighed and got out of bed, reaching for a pair of socks so he wouldn’t have to walk on the cold floor with bare feet. He padded quietly down the stairs, putting his hair up in a sloppy bun on the way, and made his way to the kitchen. Hopefully there were some carrots in there, he wasn’t about to go out into the snow to get one from the cellar.

As he opened the kitchen door, he found a lit candle on the counter. Next to it was… Oh crap.

“Hi,” Aoi said, a little awkward. “You hungry too, huh?”

Daichi forced himself to smile and walk in, his knees suddenly feeling like jelly. “Yeah. You know me. King of nighttime snacks.”

“Yeah. I do.” They couldn’t help remembering the last time they had both been here at night, alone, and it made Daichi want to cry. Why did they have to fuck it up? It had been so good at first. He looked down, sniffing a little, trying to fight the tears that threatened to rise. He had been pretty calm when they parted ways, so why did he have to fall apart now?

“I… I’m sorry. I should go,” he said, his voice coming out a bit choked, and he wished his hair hadn’t been put up so he could have hid behind his bangs. He turned and walked towards the door, blinking to keep the tears at bay at least until he was out of the room.

“I miss you.”

Aoi’s voice was quiet and subdued, but there was no mistaking what he had said. Daichi stopped mid step, holding his breath.

“I can’t sleep when you’re not there. I’m in here because I’m tired of lying awake in my bed, thinking of you.” Aoi spoke a bit louder and quicker now, as if he needed to get this out in the open fast, before he could stop himself. “I’m sorry about all the stupid fighting. If I could take it back, I would. I miss you.”

In the silence that followed, Daichi’s short, stuttering breaths felt loud enough to be deafening. And then he twisted around and stared at Aoi, revealing the tears streaming down his face. For a heartbeat, they stood still, their eyes meeting. And then Daichi ran, crossing a kitchen floor that suddenly seemed like a vast ocean, until he could finally throw himself in Aoi’s arms.

“I miss you too. God, I miss you. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Aoi buried his face in the long neck, pulling the omega close. “Take me back?” he whispered, clutching the slender body to his as if he never wanted to let go again.

Daichi nodded, unable to speak anymore, just breathing in the scent he had missed so much in the last two weeks. They stayed in the kitchen all through the night and early morning, talking about all the times where they had gone wrong and what they should have done, and how not to end up in the same situation. When Kai came in to start on the breakfast, he found the two cuddled up in each other’s arms, Daichi’s head leaning on Aoi’s shoulder as the alpha caressed his cheek lovingly.

. . . . .

“Come on,” Jun-ji said, waving Minase into the dining room while Shuse stopped to take his shoes off in the hallway, leaving a puddle where the snow slowly melted. He was just about to walk in after his friends when Jun-ji suddenly stopped. He quickly turned and blocked Shuse’s way.

“Uhm… Maybe not… right now,” he said, looking a bit uncomfortable. Shuse frowned and looked over his shoulder into the dining room, his eyes falling on Daichi. The omega sat in Aoi’s lap, the two feeding each other breakfast, their eyes not leaving each other’s for a second. It was warm, and loving, and it was the deathblow to his hopes and dreams. Shuse swallowed and closed his eyes for a moment, drawing a deep breath.

“Yeah. Right. I’m not really hungry anyway. I’ll be at the cabin.” He turned and pulled his shoes back on, Jun-ji watching his back without knowing what to say.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly, Shuse just waving his hand quickly in acknowledgment before he disappeared out the door. Jun-ji sighed. This was not what he had hoped for when he realized whom the alpha had fallen for, and he hated to see his old friend hurt like this.

“Good morning,” Kazuki’s voice floated down from the stairs. He was padding down the stairs for breakfast, his hair a bit ruffled and that sweet smile on his face. For a second Jun-ji’s breath was taken away, like it was every time he saw the omega smile, and then he smiled back at his boyfriend.

“Good morning, angel. Sleep well?”

“I did. I dreamt of you.” The omega took the final steps down into the hallway and snuggled up to his lover happily before he frowned and examined the alpha’s face. “But what about you? You look troubled.”

Jun-ji made a grimace and sighed again. “I can’t tell you, I’m sorry. I’m just kinda sad for someone who’s feeling down. I’m fine though, I promise. Come one, let’s go get breakfast.”

Chapter Text

Aryu wasn’t feeling too well, the penicillin Tatsurou had given him after the operation not too kind to his stomach, but the relief to be rid of the pain and the last trace of Gackt was enough for him to ignore any lingering aches and pains. Slowly, he was starting to feel stronger again. Yomi and Kouki were happier than he’d seen them for ages, they hadn’t smiled like that since Before, and it felt really good just to be able to stay in one place, have food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in. He didn’t think he’d ever need anything more than just that.

They sat in the dining room, another fantastic plate of food set down in front of him, and with every bite he savored the taste before he swallowed. Next to him, Kouki had almost finished his plate, looking just as content as he was. Yomi sat on the other side of the table, deep in conversation with Ruka, looking just a tad pink around the ears. He noticed Tomo was watching the two, looking a bit upset, and he hoped it wasn’t something that would mean trouble for his friend.

“I am getting so tired of this damn dried fish,” Nao sighed next to them. “I can’t wait for the ice to melt all the way so we can go fishing and hunting properly again.”

“I shink it’sh delicious,” Kouki said, his mouth full of food.

Nao smiled warmly at him. “Of course, I understand it is for you who’ve had next to nothing, and I’m really thankful for the food, don’t get me wrong. But we’re lucky enough to be used to better.”

The concept of ‘better food’ was apparently lost on Kouki, who went to get another plate. Tomo stopped glaring at Ruka and Yomi and instead turned to Aryu.

“How are you feeling? Does the wound hurt at all?”

“A bit, but it’s ok. It doesn’t hurt as much as it did before the procedure, so progress I guess!” Aryu smiled, Tomo smiling back before he took another bite. Aryu felt so light and happy that all this still felt like a dream to him. He was still ordered to sleep in the sickroom so he wouldn’t have to walk up the stairs until he was healed. Yomi and Kouki shared Daichi’s old room on the top floor and he was told he could either squeeze in with them or share with Tomo or Kazuki, who both had spare beds since their roommates had moved in with their boyfriends. He wanted to wait to decide until he had seen the rooms, but he liked both Tomo and Kazuki, so he figured it would work out either way.

On the other side of the room, he saw Minase sit with Shuse and Jun-ji, the latter focused on his boyfriend who sat next to him. Minase looked happy, though, and Aryu was glad he had received the kind of sentence he had. The alpha took his sentence seriously and was on his best behavior, doing everything the others told him to. He sometimes asked if he could visit his friends, but if the sergeants said no, he didn’t push. When they did get to spend some time together, though, he seemed as happy as he could be with his limited freedom. Shuse and Jun-ji treated him fairly, and as far as Aryu could determine from what he’d seen, everyone seemed to be nice here. He felt blessed to have reached this place. When they heard about it on the road it had sounded like a fairytale, but here he was, and it was all real.

He looked up at Yomi again, his friend completely immersed in his conversation with Ruka, his eyes shining. This place would work out. He was sure of it.

. . . . .

“Why is uncle Shuse sad?” Shou asked Uruha later when he was put to bed that night.

“It’s a grown-up thing,” the omega answered, kissing his son goodnight.

“But I want him to be happy! He plays with me when he’s happy.”

“I know, sweetheart. Give him time and he’ll be happy again in a while, I promise. Now, it’s time to sleep.”

“Do I have to?” Shou pouted.

“Yes, you do. Come on, be a good boy. Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite!”

“Eeuuww, bugs!” Shou giggled, like every night they had their little exchange. Soon enough, he was asleep, and Uruha went over to sit with Kai by the fire. Kai looked at his mate questioningly.

“Shuse is sad? Why?”

“What, you haven’t noticed?” Uruha looked shocked, and Kai blushed a little.

“No, I haven’t… Sorry, but I’ve been so busy trying to figure out new things to try with the same old dried fish and potatoes,” he said, a bit ashamed. His mate reached out to rub his back a little, soothingly.

“It’s ok, I know you’ve been busy. Shuse’s been interested in Daichi forever, and I guess he got his hopes up when Daichi and Aoi broke up. But he never told Daichi of course, he’s such a gentleman, and then Dai and Aoi got back together. So now he’s sad.”

“Shuse… and Daichi?” Kai looked puzzled. “Oh, wow. I had no idea. Poor guy.”

“Yeah, well, don’t worry. Me and Cazqui have a plan.”

“You do?” Kai looked half scandalized, half amused. “What is it then?”

“Tomo.”

“Tomo what? Isn’t he with Ruka?”

Uruha turned his eyes up, sighing deeply. “Honey, Ruka is interested in Yomi, who fell head over heals in love with Ruka the second he got here. Tomo’s feeling a bit left out, even though he and Ruka never really became a couple apart from during heats. And Shuse and Tomo would be great together. They just don’t know it yet. Hence – plan!”

Kai felt his head spinning a little after all this information that he had no clue about before. “How do you know all this?” he asked, nonplussed.

“I used my eyes. Honestly, honey, you know I love you, but sometimes I wonder how you would get by alone. You’re so oblivious to this stuff.” Uruha smiled at his mate to take the edge off the scolding.

“Well, I got it well enough to get you, anyway,” Kai muttered, a bit offended by Uruha’s answering chuckle. “What?!”

“Oh sweetheart,” Uruha smiled, “us two? It was a plan.”

“Oh come on, how could you plan us when we had never met?”

“Not my plan, stupid. Your brother’s. Remember how we met?”

“Of course I do. You helped me in the kitchen at my brother’s party when the caterers cancelled last minute.”

Uruha giggled. “Baby, the caterers didn’t cancel. Your brother cancelled the booking, but only after he had gotten you to agree to stand in the kitchen. And then he ordered me in there with you, the sneaky bastard.”

“Wait… Did you know about it beforehand?” Kai didn’t know what to think of this, staring at his mate.

“No, I realized he was trying to set me up with someone when he forced me into the kitchen to help. He knew full well I’m no good in the kitchen, so it was kind of obvious. I was a bit annoyed, I must admit, and tried to refuse.”

“You did?” Kai looked stunned, he had had no idea about all this. “But you came in anyway. What did he say?”

“He said I would thank him later, and if I didn’t, he’d make it up to me. And he said that you did need the help either way, so would I pretty please? So I grunted a bit and agreed, and then I went into the kitchen. And there you were, showing off that gorgeous dimpled smile I love so much, and well, you know the rest. I did thank him later, by the way.” Uruha grinned at his mate, leaning his head on his shoulder.

“Do you mind, now that you know what plans can lead to?” he said, blinking up at his mate with large doe eyes, lashes fluttering. Kai chuckled, knowing exactly what his mate was doing.

“Just don’t hurt anyone in the process, honey,” he smirked and received an answering grin.

“Of course not. This will be great. Just leave it to us and we’ll fix everything!”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Kai mumbled under his breath, but when his mate frowned at him, he pretended ignorance and poked the embers instead. Uruha pursed his lips at him, but left the subject be. He and Cazqui would fix this.

. . . . .

“I’m still feeling ok,” Subaru said, quietly. He and Die had gone to bed for the night, Subaru lying on Die’s arm, absentmindedly letting his fingers play with the alpha’s hair. Die opened his eyes, puzzled at the comment.

“I know. I’m really glad you’re feeling ok, sweetie.”

Subaru smiled a bit sadly, sighing.

“Honey, if you’re happy, why are you sighing?” Die asked, reaching up to caress his lover’s hair.

“Nothing.”

“It’s not nothing. Tell me.”

Subaru fidgeted a bit, unwilling to say what was on his mind, but giving in finally.

“You know how we talked about mating?”

Die blinked. “Yeah? And we said we’d wait a bit and give us both time to think it through thoroughly.”

“Mmm. We said we’d talk about it again… sometime around now.”

Die thought about it, counting the weeks and months in his head. “You’re right, we did. So you wanna talk about it now?”

Subaru looked very nervous when he nodded. Die frowned a bit, reaching out to kiss his boyfriend.

“Honey, the way you look, I’m gonna have to believe you decided against,” he said, his chest clenching a bit at the thought. He had been pretty sure even when they first talked about it, and time had only strengthened his feelings. He had just wanted to give his boyfriend time to be sure of his decision. But the way Subaru bit his lip and squirmed, Die was getting nervous.

“What? No! No, I… I just… Would you still like me if I got ill again? If you had to take care of me one more time?” Subaru suddenly spit out, his whole body tense. Die looked at him in surprise.

“Of course I would! Sweetie, I love you, no matter how you feel. I prefer you to be happy, but that’s for your sake, not mine. I want you either way.”

Subaru shivered a little, but his relieved smile made Die’s nerves settle a bit. He decided to continue on with his declaration, seeing as he had all about said everything but the actual words.

“I would be honored to be your mate, and I’d love you and treasure you for the rest of my life. I love you more than anything, Subaru baby, and I want to be your mate. But only if you are 100 percent sure you want me too.”

Subaru couldn’t help a nervous giggle from escaping his lips, and he slapped his hand over his mouth to stifle it, Die smiling a little at the cute gesture. When the omega was sure the impulse was gone, he removed his hand and looked at the alpha under his thick lashes.

“I want to be yours,” he whispered, afraid to start his nervous giggling again and ruin the moment. But he pressed on, needing to get this said. “I love you, and I want to be your mate. I just wanted to be sure you would still want me if… If… But I’m 100 percent sure. 1000 percent.”

Die smiled at him and leaned over to kiss Subaru again. This time, there was no hesitation on either side.

. . . . .

Kyo gently pulled his knot out and untied Ruki’s arms from the bedposts before he stretched out next to the sated and dazed omega in bed. He tiredly glanced over at his mate, a happy grin on his face.

“See, I told you, not all mates have boring sex,” he grinned, Ruki giggling a bit.

“I only said that so you would have to tie me up and spank me, you know.”

“I know.” Kyo smirked and turned over on his side so he could lean in to kiss his lover, letting his fingers run lightly over the welts on Ruki’s ass, causing the omega to shiver. “Up for a round two? I could bring out some more toys if you like,” he breathed into the omega’s ear, before he bit down around the pretty neck, biting just hard enough for Ruki to arch up and whine in need.

“You’re my pretty little devil, aren’t you?” he whispered, Ruki mewling in answer, beyond speech already.

. . . . .

Uta watched everyone congratulate Die and Subaru, and he saw the loving looks between the new mates, how they kept touching each other in some small way all the time. They were so in love, and the omega felt a small pang of jealousy at the thought. Of course he wanted them to be happy, that wasn’t it. It was just that everyone was pairing off and getting mated, and he was starting to feel very lonely. Even Kuina, who had stayed single when everyone was pairing off and going away on friend heats or whatever, had started eyeing that new alpha Minase when he thought no one noticed.

Uta sighed to himself. He didn’t know how to deal with this mix of loneliness and fear of relationships he had. How could he ever let any alpha near him again, after what had happened? Even though everyone here had been nice to him, and even though his intellect told him they wouldn’t hurt him, his instincts told him something else. He flinched every time an alpha got near, and he woke up at night sometimes, drenched in sweat after dreaming about alphas hurting him, his roommate Ryoga having to comfort him so he could go back to sleep.

It made him want to cry sometimes when he saw all the happy couples everywhere, and he quickly said his congratulations and then fled to the library, which was usually empty at this time of day. He curled up in the sofa in the corner with a random large book to hide behind if anyone came in, and then he let the tears fall. He was so tired of feeling lonely, and yet he had no idea of how to get over his fears and let someone in. If there would be anyone left by the time he was ready to try. If he ever was ready to try. The hurt clawed at his insides, and he raised his hand to try to keep the sobs in.

Heavy steps on the stairs outside made him freeze and look at the door. Please don’t come in here, please don’t come… Shit. The handle was pushed down, and Uta quickly raised the book and hid his face to whoever it was. Steps on the floorboards made them creak, and he kept still, trying to keep his tears in and not make a sound. If he played a statue, maybe be wouldn’t be noticed. The steps were still for a moment before they went to the bookshelves, and he heard books being moved, the nameless someone looking for something in particular.

He nearly panicked when the steps came his way. Please god no, just go away, don’t make me talk, please…

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I need to check something in the encyclopedia. Could I borrow it for just a second? I promise I’ll be quick.” It was Atsushi’s voice, and Uta wanted to crawl under a rock where the alpha wouldn’t see him. But he couldn’t deny that he had the encyclopedia, and to refuse would just be rude. For a few heartbeats he just breathed deeply and gathered the courage, and then suddenly, he thrust the book at the alpha, looking down at the same time in the hope Atsushi wouldn’t see his tears. No such luck.

“Hey, are you alright?” The alpha suddenly sounded concerned, and he crouched down in front of the omega to look at him. He didn’t come closer or try to touch, to Uta’s relief, but this was enough. He just nodded quickly, trying to look away and show that the conversation was unwanted. But Atsushi didn’t give up.

“Did anyone hurt you? Tell me who and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said, looking a bit upset now, and the omega shook his head vigorously. He couldn’t let anyone else get in trouble just because the alpha got the wrong idea.

“It’s nothing,” he whispered, still refusing to look at Atsushi, who hesitated.

“I’ve never seen anyone cry heartbreakingly over nothing. But I’m not going to force you to say anything if you don’t want to. Just… I know you don’t trust me, and that’s fine. But if anyone ever hurts you, you have to let me know, ok? Tell Cazqui and he can tell me if you don’t want to come yourself. Whatever it is, I’ll help you, I promise.”

Uta glanced at him then, his hand coming up to dry his tears off his own cheek as he watched the alpha behind his bangs.

“Everyone’s nice to me. I’m fine,” he said again, quietly, and Atsushi scanned his face intently before he nodded.

“Ok, if you say so. But come to me if there is anything I can do anyway, ok? No matter what. Do you want me to fetch someone for you? I could go find Cazqui if you want.”

Uta smiled a bit then, a tiny smile that hardly showed, but still a smile. The alpha felt his heart jump in his chest at the sight. I’m gonna make him laugh at least once in my life if it’s the last thing I do, he thought, smiling back.

“Thanks. But I would just rather be alone. If that’s ok.” It was the longest speech he had uttered to an alpha since Before, and Uta felt almost shocked at himself. Atsushi nodded and backed off, and the omega watched him as he borrowed the book and looked up whatever it was he needed to know. He was handsome, strong looking but still with wise, gentle eyes. His hair had grey streaks, and Uta let his eyes follow the lines in his face as he read. He had never taken the time to study his features before, and he noticed so many things he hadn’t seen before. The curve of the lip, the strong jawline, the perfectly formed eyes. The alpha was quickly done and handed the book back, Uta accepting it carefully, a little breathless by now.

“Thank you for letting me borrow the book,” Atsushi said, smiling at him again. “And remember, if you ever need anything, let me know.” And then he turned and left the library, leaving a stunned omega behind.

. . . . .

Slowly, things settled into the way they had been before Gackt, but with the addition of their four new friends. Aryu was finally allowed upstairs, and after inspecting the available rooms, he decided it would be too cramped to bunk with his friends. Kazuki was really cute and friendly and had the best room, and so the newcomer asked if he would be allowed to share, Kazuki smiling brightly at him when he invited him in.

Once again, the planning for spring and summer took off, plans made for building another heat cabin as well as extra cabins. They also laid out plans for the fields and everything else they would be able to do as soon as the snow was all gone and the ground no longer frozen, Shinya’s greenhouses ending up high on the list to the omega’s delight.

Spring was coming on in leaps and bounds now, and soon the only snow left was in the piles they had made here and there when they kept the paths clear of snow. Spring flowers started popping up, and birds were singing like crazy, the world slowly waking up from its slumber.

On a sunny Sunday in April, three important things happened, and one very important thing didn’t.

First, the ice on the lake cracked open with a loud bang, announcing the end of winter and the coming of spring and warmer, better times. They had made it through a cold and snowy winter, and come out on the other side, stronger in some ways than when they went in.

Second, Kei woke up and felt cold. He shivered for a few moments, thinking it through thoroughly, weighing pros and cons against each other. And then he finally got up and padded naked across the room to crawl in under Yukihiro’s blankets, his heart pounding in his chest at the bold act. The alpha opened one eye and mumbled something, more asleep than awake, but he reached out and pulled the omega into his arms before he promptly fell asleep again. The next time they woke up, he looked a lot more nervous about the fact that a naked omega was snuggled up against him. But he lovingly caressed the round belly, smiling warmly at Kei, letting his fingers brush against the omega’s chest and hips. And then he slowly, hesitantly, leaned down for a soft and sensual kiss, plush omega lips finally ready to meet his.

Third, at the big house, Uta came down for breakfast early and looked around the still almost empty dining room. He paused for a moment, looking towards his usual, now empty, table. He looked around the room, only seeing Hikaru and Yo-Ka there to put out plates and pots, apart from a lone figure at a corner table. He debated for a long while with himself. When the decision was finally made, his inner demon being fought down, he went to get his plate and walk over to the corner table. When he got there, he almost backed out, but finally, he sat down opposite Atsushi, looking slightly on edge. The alpha glanced at him, but said nothing. As they both started on their breakfast in silence, the tension in Uta’s shoulders slowly dissipated.

And finally, in yet another cabin, Hazuki was woken up by an exited omega straddling him, shaking him violently.

“What?” he muttered, opening one eye to peer at his mate.

“I’m not horny!” Koichi exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear.

“You sound way too happy about that fact,” Hazuki grunted, still desperately fighting against sleep.

“Idiot, wake up and listen! Zu, come on. I’m. Not. Horny.” Koichi leaned in and stressed the words, and the alpha slowly put one and one together in his sleep dazed mind.

“You’re not… You should have had your heat today.” It didn’t really sink in until he heard himself say the words out loud. “Your heat isn’t coming.”

Koichi sat back up, blinking away tears of joy. “My heat isn’t coming,” he whispered, and a millisecond later he was pulled into a tight hug. He leaned his head on Hazuki’s chest, listening to the alpha’s steady heartbeat. This alpha was his safe haven in every storm, and he could hardly believe how lucky he was to have met him. Koichi’s hand came down to gently press against his belly. It was finally happening. They had created a new life together, and he was so happy it was almost hard to breathe.

“I love you,” he whispered, feeling a tear leave his eye and drip down onto Hazuki’s chest.

“I love you to the stars and beyond,” the alpha whispered back, pressing his lips to the omega’s hair as they lay there, storing away the feeling of this moment in their hearts forever.

Chapter Text

Hazuki

Hazuki (Lynch.), Alpha

Age: 33

Occupation Before: Worked in a record store

Primary occupation on the island: Fields

Love life: Mated to Koichi

Lives: Shares a cottage with Koichi

Story: Hazuki belonged to the same gang of friends that Toshiya, Die and Asanao did. He was happily mated to Yusuke and was hoping to start a family with him when disaster struck. During the disaster, Yusuke suffered severe burns, and the two stayed behind when their friends left for the island. Yusuke died from his burns after a week, and Hazuki mourned him alone for two years until he decided it was time to move on and go see his friends. On the way, he met Koichi and quickly fell in love. The two are now mated and expect their first child in November, four and a half years after the disaster.

 

Koichi

Koichi (MEJIBRAY), Omega

Age: 25

Occupation Before: Worked in a grocery store, trying to save up to go to university.

Primary occupation on the island: Construction, engineering apprentice under Kaoru’s watchful eye

Love life: Mated to Hazuki

Lives: Shares a cottage with Hazuki

Story: Koichi comes from a rather poor family, and his parents could not afford to send him to university. Therefore he started working directly after school, trying to save up enough money to study. He was friends with Mia, and after the disaster, the two hooked up with Mia’s friends Tsuzuku and Meto to try to make it together. However, after losing his friends under different circumstances, he spent a year alone, trying to get by. Hazuki found him and saved him from an attacker, and the two quickly got attached to each other. The two are now mated and expect their first child in November, four and a half years after the disaster.

 

Toshiya

Toshiya (Dir en grey), Alpha

Age: 39

Occupation Before: Worked as a project manager at his family’s company, which manufactured technical gear

Primary occupation on the island: Leader, ”mayor”. Helps out where it’s needed and keeps things working smoothly.

Love life: Mated to Shinya

Lives: Shares a cottage with Shinya

Story: Toshiya was rather well off, his job as a project manager paying well. His family owned the company he was working for and Toshiya also held stocks in the company. They also had their own vacation island, which had been a family home for generations before modern times. His parents died in he disaster, and he has no siblings. No other relatives have shown up at the island, making Toshiya believe he is the only one in his family still alive. Toshiya has always been popular, making friends wherever he goes, and is trusted by his friends. When disaster struck, it was therefore natural for many of his friends to seek his aid. He led a gang of friends and friends’ friends up to the island as a safe hideout while they waited for the world to turn sane again. They met people on the way and brought them along, and since then, the population on the island has grown quickly. Shinya is one of the newcomers. Toshiya found him weak and freezing to death, and brought him with him to the island where he helped nurse him to health. He soon fell in love, and spent a long time yearning for Shinya until the two became a couple for real. The two are now mated and expect their first child in September, four and a half years after the disaster.

Shinya

Shinya (Dir en grey), Omega

Age: 38

Occupation Before: Worked a boring desk job, while he dreamed of being a gardener

Primary occupation on the island: Kitchen garden

Love life: Mated to Toshiya

Lives: Shares a cottage with Toshiya

Story: Shinya has always been painfully shy, and though he had some friends, he was usually the quiet type who kept mostly to himself. His best friend was Satsuki (Rentrer en soi) despite the two being very different. Satsuki always dragged him out to parties where he met the others of the group of friends occasionally. He belonged to the same circles as Yuki, Hiro and Satochi, and during the event left his hometown with his friends. He had a short but happy relationship with Satochi, until the alpha left him to find their friends and never came back. After a few horrific years alone, where he was subjected to rape and abuse from random alphas, Toshiya found him dying, and he was saved and brought to the island. Getting over his past proved to be difficult and took time, but now, he is finally happy and mated to Toshiya, with whom he’s expecting a child in September.

 

Tsuzuku

Tsuzuku (MEJIBRAY), Omega

Age: 27

Occupation Before: A bit of a restless slacker, working here and there until he got bored

Primary occupation on the island: Taking care of the kids

Love life: Mated to Reo. Have a son named Tatsuya, about to be 1 year old.

Lives: Shares a cottage with Reo

Story: Tsuzuku have always been a free spirit, never wanting to be tied down or having someone else decide over him. He worked odd jobs and got by, but was never really happy with what he had but unable to figure out what was lacking. When disaster struck he banded together with Mia, Meto and Mia’s friend Koichi. Mia and Meto were lost on the roads, and when Tsuzuku’s heat struck, his instincts forced him to leave Koichi behind and look for an alpha. Reo, many years his elder, met him soon after he had left Koichi, and was drawn in by his strong scent. The alpha managed to keep himself from biting Tsuzuku right away, but instantly felt a connection to the omega and wanted to take care of him. When the heat was fading, he offered Tsuzuku his protection through a mating, something the omega accepted. The two slowly developed stronger feelings for each other, as they made their way through the country. To his surprise, Tsuzuku found himself liking the alpha’s dominance. When they met Koichi and Hazuki on the road, they learned of the island, but Reo instead chose to try for another place they had heard about. Once they got there, however, the place was burnt down. Shortly after, Tsuzuku realized he was pregnant, and the two made their way to the island in hopes of finding a safe haven. The birth of Tatsuya was difficult and tumultuous, with Reo unconscious due to a gun shot wound and Tsuzuku in despair. However, they both pulled through, and the couple is happier than ever together.

 

Reo

Reo (Lynch.), Alpha

Age: 48

Occupation Before: Working for a railway company, doing mainly physical work

Primary occupation on the island: Carpenter and general ‘fixer’

Love life: Mated to Tsuzuku

Lives: Shares a cottage with Tsuzuku

Story: Reo worked his whole life doing heavy physical work, and his body had started suffering from years of hard labor. He was travelling constantly to wherever the job took him, and therefore had found it hard to maintain a steady relationship, something that made him feel rather sad and grumpy. He had just started thinking about finding a new job when disaster struck, and he wandered around like everybody else until he one day felt the irresistible scent of an omega in heat coming towards him. When he saw Tsuzuku, he instantly felt a need to claim him, and since the omega was in full-blown heat the two quickly holed up in a building nearby. It was difficult, but he managed to not bite down and mate the omega by force. However, he couldn’t keep himself from making the offer once Tsuzuku’s heat faded. Still feeling like he would lose his newfound mate in some way, Reo was rather possessive, but eventually the two developed stronger feelings for each other, and Reo’s possessive side slowly faded as he felt safer in their relationship. When they met Koichi and Hazuki, they learned of the island, but Reo instead chose to try for another place they had heard about. Once they got there, however, the place was burnt down. Shortly after, Tsuzuku realized he was pregnant, and the two made their way to the island in hopes of finding a safe haven. When his mate was at the end of his pregnancy, Reo was shot by rival alphas, and only survived thanks to Tatsurou. The birth of Tatsuya was difficult and tumultuous, with Reo unconscious due to a gun shot wound and Tsuzuku in despair. However, they both pulled through, and the couple is happier than ever together.

 

Kyo

Kyo (Dir en grey), Alpha

Age: 40

Occupation Before: Worked as a roadie for different bands

Primary occupation on the island: Hunter

Love life: Mated to Ruki

Lives: Shares a cottage with Ruki

Story: Kyo had a few lovers spread out over the country that he met when he was there on tour, but never met the one who made him want to settle down. After the disaster, he joined his distant friend Die and his friends and went with them to the island. On the way, he met Ruki, whose spiky and tough exterior and insecure core made him fall in love quickly. Luckily, Ruki seemed to feel the same attraction, and the two finally became a couple for real the day they came to the island. The two have a very active love life, but neither of them is interested in having children. Kyo dotes on Ruki, getting him whatever he asks for, but also controls him with a firm hand when it is needed. The two have recently mated.

 

Ruki

Ruki (The Gazette), Omega

Age: 34

Occupation Before: Worked at a beauty parlor, sculpting nails

Primary occupation on the island: Work in the kitchen, serving, interior design, “stylist”

Love life: Mated to Kyo

Lives: Shares a cottage with Kyo

Story: Ruki became an orphan at an early age and moved from foster home to foster home, never staying long at one place. This made him adopt a tough attitude, while at the same time longing for love and a place to call home. His attitude made many alphas dislike him since they were looking for someone meek, and it was not until he met Kyo that he found someone who liked his feistiness. Ruki cares a lot about his looks, and worked as a nail sculptor while trying to get into the business as a stylist. During the disaster, he had to flee his hometown, which was consumed by fires, and spent six weeks trying to survive on his own until Kyo saved him from an attacking alpha. He fell for Kyo immediately, and was incredibly thankful that Kyo liked him and his attitude as well. His childhood has made him dislike children and he doesn’t want any of his own. In Kyo, he has found the love and the home he always wanted.

 

Kaoru

Kaoru (Dir en grey), Alpha

Age: 42

Occupation Before: Engineer

Primary occupation on the island: Engineer

Love life: In a very committed and serious relationship with Tatsurou

Lives: Shares a cottage with Tatsurou

Story: Kaoru always worked diligently, trying to better himself. He liked his work as an engineer, and was good at it. He always kept his sexual preferences – alphas only – quiet at work after having been forced to switch jobs after an incident at a previous workplace, where the boss harassed him for his preferences. However, he never tried to hide it from his friends. He was single at the time of the disaster, and didn’t hesitate to leave when his friends Kai and Toshiya asked him to join them. When Tatsurou came to the island, he immediately caught Kaoru’s eye, but the alpha was afraid to confess his feelings. It took a stormy night and a naked Tatsurou in his cabin to get the truth out. (See part 4 of In the Ruins.) Since that night, the two have been a couple, and they are very committed to each other. Kaoru’s advice is also highly valued by Toshiya, since he is smart and levelheaded.

 

Tatsurou

Tatsurou (MUCC), Alpha

Age: 36

Occupation Before: Nurse

Primary occupation on the island: Nurse

Love life: In a very committed and serious relationship with Kaoru

Lives: Shares a cottage with Kaoru

Story: Tatsurou just moved to a new town to start a new job shortly before the disaster. He is very committed to his job, and loves helping people. He has no real family, and was single at the time, as his omega boyfriend dumped him when he heard about the move. Tatsurou is into both alphas and omegas, and when he loves someone, he does it wholeheartedly. It took a while for him to realize Kaoru’s feelings, though the attraction was there since the beginning. Once he did fall in love he did it deeply, and cannot imagine himself with anyone but Kaoru. Tatsurou has been forced to take on the role as doctor, since he’s the only medically trained person on the island, and at first the position scared him deeply. With time, however, his confidence has grown and even though he is very aware of that there are many things he still doesn’t know, he does his best to study and do what he can. Without him, the community would have fewer members by now, and he is appreciated and loved by his friends for his personality as well as his skill.

 

Die

Die (Dir en grey), Alpha

Age: 42

Occupation Before: Amusement park employee

Primary occupation on the island: Hunter

Love life: Mated to Subaru

Lives: Shares a cottage with Subaru

Story: Die is the happy, funny guy who always took life less than seriously. He loved working at an amusement park since he got to make kids happy, plus he loves working with his body and being on his feet as opposed to a desk job. He was always the type to have shorter relationships and never get very attached, until he found himself falling deep for Subaru. The two loved to tease each other and laughed together constantly, but it wasn’t until they long since had reached the island that they found themselves in love. He supports Subaru and loves him deeply, and though he is still a happy, funny guy, life After has made him more solemn and calm than Before.

 

Subaru

Subaru (Royz), Omega

Age: 24

Occupation Before: Just graduated from university, where he studied art

Primary occupation on the island: Recovering from his depression and is still helping here and there, not having one specific task as of yet.

Love life: Mated to Die

Lives: Shares a cottage with Die

Story: Subaru is a sensitive soul, who loves art and painting. He’s always done his best to stay away from trouble and sad things, and never watched the news so he wouldn’t have to take in the bad things that happened in the world. He always did his best to stay positive and happy, but when things went bad, he couldn't deny what was happening anymore and found himself fighting a depression. He is recovering, and has mated Die, who has been his constant support. Subaru is also a born matchmaker and a lover of gossip, always the first to know what goes on in the love life of the islanders. Subaru came to the island in the first group, joining his friend Kuina to go to Toshiya’s when the world started burning.

 

Yukke

Yukke (MUCC), Alpha

Age: 36

Occupation Before: Construction

Primary occupation on the island: Construction

Love life: Boyfriend Natsu

Lives: Shares a cottage with Natsu

Story: Yukke has always had a low self-esteem when it comes to his looks, making him shy when it comes to approaching his love interests. Being a construction worker from an early age didn’t really help his confidence, as the other workers were pretty loud-mouthed and verbal about their conquests. Yukke chose not to study after high school, and has always been better at the practical part of things. As a childhood friend of Hazuki, Die and Toshiya, he came up to the island in the first wave, and soon started having feelings for Natsu. His usual low self-esteem made him hold off on courting the omega, not knowing Natsu thought the same thing on his end. It took them two years and a stern talking-to by Cazqui to finally become a couple, but now they are happily living together.

 

Natsu

Natsu (Nocturnal Bloodlust), Omega

Age: 26

Occupation Before: Bartender and drummer

Primary occupation on the island: Fishing

Love life: Boyfriend Yukke

Lives: Shares a cottage with Yukke

Story: Natsu dropped out of high school and tried to make it as a drummer in a band, but the career never took off and he started working as a bartender to make a living as the band struggled on. He had his fair share of hook-ups, but never settled for anyone in particular. The night of the disaster, the band had a rare gig, but the crowd soon flipped out and the atmosphere turned violent. Before they knew it, fights had broken out everywhere, and the concert hall was set on fire. Natsu made it out together with the rest of the band, all still in their concert garb. Since everyone was worried about their loved ones, they parted and went to their respective homes. They never saw each other again. When Natsu came home, he found his apartment building in flames, and when a bunch of rowdy alphas caught sight of him in his pretty makeup and sexy outfit, he ran for his life. He hid in a department store, changing into more decent clothing and getting rid of the makeup, before he made it out of town and wandered around. When he one day bumped into Toshiya and his gang halfway to the island, he was first scared and tried to run, but hesitated when omega voices called for him to stop and hear them out. He ended up joining the group and came to the island with the rest. He pined for Yukke from the day he saw him, but the pair didn’t become an item until two years later.

 

Masa

Masa (Nocturnal Bloodlust), Omega

Age: 28

Occupation Before: Worked in a clothing store

Primary occupation on the island: Taking care of the children

Love life: Mated to Miya

Lives: Shares a cottage with Miya and their son Tora

Story: Masa and Miya have been together for a long time, since Masa was 16. It was more or less love at first sight, and the two were glued to the hip immediately. Masa’s parents were against the relationship at first because of the 9-year age difference, and thought Miya was a scumbag who preyed on children. Therefore, the two snuck around for the first two years of their relationship, hiding from Masa’s parents, unable to stay away from each other. It came to a screeching halt one day when Masa’s dad walked in on the two having sex, and forbade them from seeing each other again. Masa responded by moving out of his parent’s house and into Miya’s apartment, and after some arguing and a lengthy discussion between Miya and Masa’s dad, they finally accepted their son’s relationship on the condition the two did not mate or have children for at least four years. The two got mated two years later, when Masa was 20 and Miya 29, causing an uproar in the family. They blamed Miya and refused to believe Masa was the one who asked to be mated, and to try to heal the rift, the pair promised to hold off on kids for a few years. However, things didn’t get better with the family until Masa got pregnant at 24. The argument with his family made Masa nervous when he found out he was pregnant, but as it turned out, it turned things around. When disaster struck, Masa was at least on speaking terms with his parents, but never saw them again After. His pregnancy was difficult in a world gone up in flames, but Miya stood by him and Tora was finally born with the aid of Tatsurou a few days before they reached the island (story laid out in part three of In the Ruins). Complications from the birth made Masa very ill, but he thankfully recovered and is currently expecting their second child.

 

Miya

Miya (MUCC), Alpha

Age: 37

Occupation Before: Sales person at the same company as Toshiya, but a different branch

Primary occupation on the island: Hunter

Love life: Mated to Masa

Lives: Shares a cottage with Masa and their son Tora

Story: See Masa

 

Satochi

Satochi (MUCC), Alpha

Age: 36

Occupation Before: Gym teacher

Primary occupation on the island: Construction

Love life: Boyfriend Cazqui

Lives: Shares a cottage with Asanao

Story: Satochi was part of the same loose group of friends surrounding Satsuki as Shinya, Hiro and Yuki. He worked as a gym teacher for high school kids, but was rather bored with the job. He had his eyes set on Shinya since a few years before the disaster, but the two rarely saw each other, and Shinya’s shyness made it difficult to make a move. However, when disaster struck, fate threw Shinya into his arms, and the two became a couple (see story in part two of In the Ruins). After only a few months, they parted, as Satochi went to find their friends. Events on the way made him come too late to find Shinya again. Thinking he had lost his lover, he searched with little hope until he saw Shinya again over two years later, on the island. By then, Shinya was together with Toshiya, and chose to stay with him. Satochi was heartbroken for a long time, but eventually moved on and started dating Cazqui instead. The two are now a happy couple and are planning to move in together when there is a cottage available.

Cazqui

Cazqui (Nocturnal Bloodlust), Omega

Age: 27

Occupation Before: Sold furniture at a high end designer store

Primary occupation on the island: Collecting wood and taking care of the chickens

Love life: Boyfriend Satochi

Lives: A smaller sized single room at the big house

Story: Cazqui was a friend of Uruha’s. The two met when Uruha (a journalist) was doing a story about design furniture, and they hit it off immediately. The omega lived close to Uruha and Kai, and when the night of fires came, it was natural to seek his friends out. Luckily, he found them alive and well, and just about to leave for Toshiya’s house. Cazqui was invited to join and came to the island with the first group. He fell in love with Satochi quickly, and pined for him for a long time, having his heart broken repeatedly as Satochi dreamed of Shinya. Eventually, the two became a couple, and though they are happy, Cazqui still feels insecure about the relationship.

 

Kai

Kai (The Gazette), Alpha

Age: 35

Occupation Before: Worked in a delicatessen

Primary occupation on the island: Cook

Love life: Mated to Uruha

Lives: Shares a cottage with Uruha and their sons Shou and Hiroto

Story: Kai studied to be a cook but couldn’t find a job as one after college, and so started working in a delicatessen while pursuing his cooking at home instead. Since he enjoyed his job, he stayed in the store and did occasional catering on the side, which is how he met his mate. Kai’s brother, tired of seeing him single and with the perfect friend to match him, set Kai and Uruha up and watched with enjoyment how the two found each other and eventually started dating. After four years together, the pair mated, and two years later, Shou was born. At the time of the disaster, Shou was only 6 months old, and afraid they wouldn’t be able to protect the boy on their own, the pair chose strength in numbers and joined Toshiya’s group to the island. There, they had their second son, Hiroto, who is two years younger than his brother.

 

Uruha

Uruha (The Gazette), Omega

Age: 34

Occupation Before: Writer for a magazine

Primary occupation on the island: Taking care of the kids

Love life: Mated to Kai

Lives: Shares a cottage with Kai and their sons Shou and Hiroto

Story: See Kai

 

Aoi

Aoi (The Gazette), Alpha

Age: 37

Occupation Before: Studio technician for a local TV station

Primary occupation on the island: Construction

Love life: Boyfriend Daichi

Lives: Shares a cottage with Daichi

Story: Aoi just sort of ended up working with TV, more by accident than by choice. He found the job ok, mainly because of all the celebrities he got to meet. Aoi had a fiery relationship with a local news anchor that ended badly just before the world broke. Having nothing tying him to his hometown anymore, he gladly joined his friends to go to the island. There, he eventually started dating the equally fiery Daichi, and although the two butt heads sometimes and have broken up once only to get back together again two weeks later, they are both very much in love and work to make their relationship more stable.

 

Daichi

Daichi (Nocturnal Bloodlust), Omega

Age: 25

Occupation Before: Unemployed

Primary occupation on the island: Sewing, mending things, keeping the common areas in the big house cleaned and in order

Love life: Boyfriend Aoi

Lives: Shares a cottage with Aoi

Story: Daichi was very unhappy with his life Before, as he lived alone in a small rat hole of an apartment and didn’t have a job. He grew up in a dysfunctional family, with a father who was drunk most of the time, and did his best to get out of there as soon as he was old enough. After high school, he moved out on his own and got by on odd jobs, but had a hard time finding something steady. When disaster struck, his town was hit by disease and he got out as soon as he could, leaving a mostly dead town behind. He wandered around and had a few close calls with alphas before he met Kazuki and joined him. After about a year, the two ran into Hiro, Die and Yukke, and after some initial fear and some persuasion by omegas from the island, they joined the others. For Daichi, life on the island feels like a step up from his life Before. His fiery relationship with Aoi is the icing on the cake for him, and he is very much in love with his alpha.

 

Hiro

Hiro (Nocturnal Bloodlust), Alpha

Age: 29

Occupation Before: Worked at the assembly line in a car factory

Primary occupation on the island: Construction

Love life: Mated to Hiyuu

Lives: Shares a cottage with Hiyuu

Story: Hiro and Hiyuu met at a party when Hiro was 20 and Hiyuu 18. They hit it off and their one night stand turned into something more, as they ended up on another date, and then another. Soon, the two were getting serious, and three years later, the two got mated. Both their respective parents sighed deeply, as they thought the two were too young to mate, but the couple was happy together. Since Hiyuu had a disease as a child that made him sterile, the couple can’t have kids, and though Hiro wouldn’t have minded a family, his love for Hiyuu is more important to him than having children. After the world burned, they spent a while wandering the area, trying to get by, until they one day ran into Die and Yukke who were hunting in the woods. After a somewhat nervous beginning, where Hiro was afraid the alphas were after his mate, the four started talking, and eventually the couple was invited to join the others at the island.

 

Hiyuu

Hiyuu (Lycaon), Omega

Age: 27

Occupation Before: Cashier at a super market

Primary occupation on the island: Kitchen

Love life: Mated to Hiro (Nocturnal Bloodlust)

Lives: Shares a cottage with Hiro

Story: See Hiro

 

Kuina

Kuina (Royz), Omega

Age: 25

Occupation Before: Worked in a tattoo parlor, doing piercings

Primary occupation on the island: Fields

Love life: Single, but has his eye on Minase

Lives: A smaller sized single room at the big house

Story: Kuina is Toshiya’s distant cousin and the black sheep of the family according to the elders. The reason is that he chose not to study and instead took up piercing at a tattoo parlor, having quite a few facial piercings himself. He always got along well with Toshiya though, and had his friend Subaru over for a visit when the world suddenly went to hell. He brought Subaru with him to Toshiya’s house since it was the biggest and safest house he knew of, and the two joined the group going to the island. Kuina is one of few omegas still single.

 

Kazuki

Kazuki (ex Royz), Omega

Age: 28

Occupation Before: Worked at a karaoke bar

Primary occupation on the island: Fields

Love life: Boyfriend Jun-ji

Lives: Shares a room at the big house with Aryu

Story: Kazuki met Daichi on the road a few weeks After, and joined him for a while on the road. They wandered for about a year, before they came across a group of alphas foraging in a town. As it turned out, it was Hiro, Die and Yukke from the island, and they offered the pair to join them. The two were very skeptical, so to persuade them, the alphas asked them to wait while they went back to bring some omegas that could tell them about the island, hoping they would trust the word of other omegas. Subaru and Cazqui came and the four omegas got to chat on their own for a while, without the alphas. After the chat, Kazuki and Daichi accepted the offer.

Chapter Text

Atsushi

Atsushi (Buck-Tick), Alpha

Age: 50

Occupation Before: Major in the military

Primary occupation on the island: Guard and military training

Love life: Single, in love with Uta from afar

Lives: Shares a cottage with Reika

Story: Atsushi has lived most of his life as a military man. He joined the army early and worked his way up in the grades, but was too good at his job to be kicked upwards further than major. His superiors wanted him close to the men, because of his leader abilities and strong presence. For a while, he lived together with an omega that was also in the military, but the two never talked about mating, and eventually the relationship ended badly. Atsushi stayed single after that, finding it easier, though a bit lonely. When the world fell, he was stationed with Shuse and Jun-ji on the east coast, and he three had just gotten orders to relocate to another base the day before. They spent the night driving there, and when they got to the base the morning after, the world had changed. The base was only manned to a fifth of its capacity, and they had received no news and no orders. A day after, people started getting sick, and soon enough those who weren’t dead had deserted. Eventually, the major and his two sergeants left as well, and took to the roads. When they were approached by Reika and Yukihiro, they were very skeptical at first. They had learned the hard way that trust was hard bought in this new world, and what the islanders offered sounded too good to be true. However, they liked the pair, and since they had no other viable option, they gave the two the benefit of the doubt and came with them to the island. There, Atsushi and his friends have made a life for themselves among the islanders. The major soon realized that his heart beat a little extra hard whenever Uta came into the room, and as inconvenient as his heart’s choice is, he has decided to try to infinitely slowly win the omega over.

Uta

Uta (Sukekiyo), Omega

Age: 34

Occupation Before: Graphic designer

Primary occupation on the island: Collecting wood and taking care of the chickens

Love life: Single

Lives: Shares a room at the big house with Ryoga

Story: Uta was a city kid, who spent most of his life indoors in front of the computer or with a sketchpad in his hands. He has been interested in art and drawing his entire life, and rarely went out to clubs or bars. He met his boyfriend Saki at work, and the two dated for two years until the disaster happened. Saki was away on business the night everything happened, and so Uta found himself on his own in a confusing new world. He soon met and ganged up with a group of omegas that taught him the basics of living outdoors, before they were separated when a group of alphas attacked them one morning. Everyone in the group fled in different directions, and Uta never found the others again. He walked around on his own for a long time, before he finally got caught by two alphas who forced him to come with them. He was sorely abused, first by the two alphas and later by others as they joined a bigger group who intended to attack the island. In the larger group, Hikaru was one of the three other omegas, who all did their best to support each other through the madness. When Hikaru escaped, the punishment for the rest of them was severe, and as the alphas prepared to attack and tied the omegas up on the beach, Uta believed his last moment was here. He saw his two omega friends succumb from heat and dehydration, and very nearly died himself before he was rescued by the islanders (see part 9 of In the Ruins). Uta has severe trust issues and emotional scars from what he has been through, but at the same time, he longs for love, and the conflicted emotions are tearing at him.

Jun-ji

Jun-ji (Bullzeichen 88), Alpha

Age: 42

Occupation Before: Sergeant in the military

Primary occupation on the island: Defense and military training

Love life: Boyfriend Kazuki

Lives: Shares a cottage with Shuse, and temporarily Minase

Story: Jun-ji has spent most of his life in the military, joining right after school. He was promoted to sergeant early on, and never aspired to get a higher rank. He liked his place among the men, and had occasional flings with omegas from other divisions, but never settled down. He was with Shuse and Atsushi the night everything happened, and eventually ended up on the island (see Atsushi). Here, he has found his place and is very much in love with his young boyfriend, Kazuki.

Shuse

Shuse (Trick), Alpha

Age: 47

Occupation Before: Sergeant in the military

Primary occupation on the island: Defense and military training

Love life: Single, has a crush on Daichi

Lives: Shares a cottage with Jun-ji, and temporarily Minase

Story: Shuse joined the army in his late thirties, when his long relationship with his omega boyfriend Arata finally fell apart. Despite being together for 12 years, the two never mated and had a rather rocky relationship until they finally broke up. Shuse was devastated and joined the army to get away from his life, and quickly found it suited him well. He was promoted to sergeant two years before the world fell. He finally found himself on the island (see Atsushi), where he soon developed a crush for Daichi. Unfortunately, Daichi is dating Aoi, and so Shuse remains single for the time being. However, a few omegas have teamed up to try to pair Shuse and Tomo together.

Yuuki

Yuuki (Lycaon), Omega

Age: 26

Occupation Before: Unemployed

Primary occupation on the island: Taking care of the children

Love life: Mated to Ichirou

Lives: Shares a cottage with Ichirou and their son Saga

Story: Yuuki and Ichirou met in school and have been a couple since their mid teens. Yuuki was never the bright one in school, and struggled to find a steady job with his poor grades. Ichirou, however, soon got a job at a newspaper and supported the two financially. They mated at Christmas the year before the world fell, and have a son, Saga, together. The couple came to the island about a year After. They met the younger Hiro, Yukke and Die on one of their supply trips. Hiro and Ichirou are the same age and from the same town, and recognized each other from school even though they didn’t move in the same circles. After Hiro’s recommendation, the two quickly became a part of the island community.

Ichirou

Ichirou (Lycaon), Alpha

Age: 29

Occupation Before: Desk job at a newspaper

Primary occupation on the island: Fishing

Love life: Mated to Yuuki

Lives: Shares a cottage with Yuuki and their son Saga

Story: See Yuuki.

Yuki

Yuki (Rayflower), Omega

Age: 39

Occupation Before: Hairdresser, but quit to style bands for photo shoots and performances

Primary occupation on the island: Hairdresser and cleaning the house

Love life: Mated to Hiro (La’Cryma Christi)

Lives: Shares a cottage with Hiro

Story: Yuki has always been a happy person with a sunny smile, but a rather sensitive soul. He liked his job as a hairdresser, but was intrigued when the offer came to style bands for photo shoots and live shows. It was at a photo shoot he met Hiro, a guitarist, for the first time, and when he discovered they were both friends with Satsuki he did his best to get to know the alpha better. The spark was there, but it didn’t ignite until the night everything went up in flames and Yuki went to Hiro’s house to try to find the alpha (see part two of In the Ruins). However, the events of those first few days pushed Yuki over the edge to a mental breakdown, and it took a while for him to recover. Hiro was by his side all through what happened, and the two became very close. Hiro was afraid to make Yuki move in his weak emotional state, since they didn’t know what they would encounter on the roads, and so they stayed put at the farm. Yuki was slowly recovering when Satochi came to find them, in a bloody and half dead state. They nursed him back to moderate health, and they all planned to go to the bunker where Shinya was waiting, when an attack by unknown alphas changed their plans. Hiro was severely burned on one leg, and Yuki was thrown back into shock. Eventually, they were healed enough to go find Shinya, but found the bunker empty and in shambles. They walked the roads as everyone else for a long while after, together with Ryo, Nao and Satochi. Somewhere along the way the two decided they wanted to mate, and one night when they were lucky to find a house with several bedrooms, the two got mated. In another of the bedrooms, Ryo and Nao did the same thing, and Satochi found himself facing two newly mated couples the next morning. After a while, rumors about a place up north, an island where there was food and civilization reached them from people they met on the road. They decided to check it out, and ended up on the island (see part 8 of In the Ruins).

Hiro

Hiro (La’Cryma Christi), Alpha

Age: 42

Occupation Before: Guitarist in a band

Primary occupation on the island: Work in the fields

Love life: Mated to Yuki

Lives: Shares a cottage with Yuki

Story: See Yuki.

Reika

Reika (D=OUT), Alpha

Age: 34

Occupation Before: Financial adviser

Primary occupation on the island: In charge of “the books,” i.e. food inventory etc. Also helps out with manual labor where he’s needed.

Love life: Single

Lives: Shares a cottage with Atsushi

Story: Reika studied chemistry at a university in his hometown, far to the north. However, he switched to economics after his father got ill and wanted his son to prepare to take over the firm. Though he really wasn’t that interested, Reika gave in to his father’s wishes and took over the firm until his father passed away about a year before the world burned. His mother went to live with his grandmother in another city, and Reika found himself alone with a job he didn’t care for. A few months before everything happened, he started preparing to sell the company, but never had time to before everything happened. Reika and Aki were friends, and the night everything went down they were out for a drink together with some friends, where they were introduced to Tomo and Ryoga. The four lost the rest of the party in the chaos, but stuck together and wandered the roads together until they bumped into Kai and Asanao in a store in a town close to the island. After the usual screening process, the four were invited to the island.

Tomo

Tomo (BORN), Omega

Age: 38

Occupation Before: Receptionist at a veterinary clinic

Primary occupation on the island: Nurse’s assistant

Love life: Single. Had a fling with Ruka for a while that never really took off.

Lives: Used to share a room at the big house with Kei until he moved in with Yukke. Without roommate for the time being.

Story: Tomo and Ryoga were colleagues at a veterinary clinic, where they worked at the reception. Tomo has a weak spot for animals and is especially fond of cats. He has no medical training, but has always been interested in medicine and had his thoughts on studying to be a vet but never got around to it, until he one day felt he was too old to study. He came to the island with Aki, Reika and Ryoga (see Reika).

Ryoga

Ryoga (BORN), Omega

Age: 33

Occupation Before: Worked at the same vet’s reception as Tomo.

Primary occupation on the island: Kitchen

Love life: Boyfriend Aki

Lives: Shares a room at the big house with Uta

Story: Tomo and Ryoga were colleagues at a veterinary clinic, where they worked at the reception. Ryoga wasn’t very interested in the job, but worked more to pay the bills. That being said, he loves animals and had a dog that passed away about a year before the worldfall. He came to the island with Aki, Reika and Tomo (se Reika). Ryoga’s crush on Aki didn’t develop until after they got to the island, but he was convinced that since nothing happened while they were on the road together, Aki wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until he dared ask Aki for a friend heat that it was revealed that Aki liked him back, but didn’t want to push the omega into anything. The two are now a happy couple and plan to move in together once new cottages are built.

Aki

Aki (SID), Alpha

Age: 35

Occupation Before: Professional soccer player

Primary occupation on the island: Fields

Love life: Boyfriend Ryoga

Lives: Shares a cottage with Ruka

Story: Aki was a long time friend of Reika’s. The two met at University, where Aki had a soccer scholarship. He went on to play soccer professionally, though not in the highest leagues. The night everything went down Aki and Reika were out for a drink together with some friends, where they were introduced to Tomo and Ryoga. The four lost the rest of the party in the chaos that followed when people started to turn violent. They stuck together and wandered the roads together until they bumped into Kai and Asanao in a store in a town close to the island. After the usual screening process, the four were invited to the island. Aki liked Ryoga ever since they met, but was scared to come on too strong and seem like the alpha assholes they met on the road. Therefore, he never made a move until Ryoga came to ask him to be his alpha for a friend heat. The two soon became an item, and Aki makes sure to treat his boyfriend like a prince.

Kei

Kei (DIAURA), Omega

Age: 25

Occupation Before: Worked at Toshiya’s company as a trainee

Primary occupation on the island: Nurse’s assistant

Love life: Single, though very close to being boyfriends with Yukihiro, whose child he is expecting

Lives: Shares a cottage with Yukihiro

Story: Kei came to the island with the original group of friends. He is a distant relative to Toshiya, and was ordered into the company by his family. Since he didn’t really have a plan of his own, he agreed and took up a position at the company, where he got a trainee position as Toshiya’s assistant. The two got along well, and when everything happened, it felt natural for Kei to seek Toshiya’s help. He brought his friend Yo-Ka with him, as the two had spent the evening together singing karaoke. To save suppressants, Kei had his heat with Yukihiro, but unexpectedly found himself pregnant as the contraceptives failed. With support from Yukihiro, he chose to keep the baby, and the two live together in a cottage but are not a couple. However, the two have developed obvious feelings for each other, and with some heavy flirting going on, the two are on the very verge of becoming a couple. His baby is due in late August.

Yukihiro

Yukihiro (L’Arc-en-Ciel), Alpha

Age: 47

Occupation Before: Worked for the IT department at Toshiya’s company

Primary occupation on the island: Hunter

Love life: Single, but in love with and almost-boyfriends with Kei

Lives: Shares a cottage with Kei

Story: Yukihiro has always been the quiet, stoic type. He is an honest man and when he does speak, he means what he says. The alpha came to the island with the original group of friends. He knew Toshiya well and lived nearby, and was at Toshiya’s house that night for a drink. Yukihiro has always liked Kei since he first met him as Toshiya’s assistant, but their large age difference kept him from doing anything to explore the attraction. When Kei came to ask if he would be his date for a friend heat, he was surprised but happy, and the closeness of the heat brought forth the feelings he had stowed away years ago. When Kei turned out to be pregnant, he was determined to support the omega no matter what his choice was, but he was very happy when Kei chose to keep the baby. Their time living together has only strengthened his feelings for the omega, and although he is happy that they are slowly becoming closer, he has been afraid to show his feelings too much in case it would scare the omega away. The two are now very close to becoming boyfriends, balancing on the line of ‘wow, we just kissed, what does that make us?’.

Yo-Ka

Yo-Ka (DIAURA), Omega

Age: 26

Occupation Before: Worked at a coffee shop

Primary occupation on the island: Kitchen

Love life: Boyfriend Hikaru

Lives: Shares a room in the big house with Hikaru

Story: Yo-Ka went to school with Kei, and the two kept in touch after graduation. He has always been headstrong and knows what he wants. He had a relationship with an alpha at the time of the worldfall, but wasn’t very happy in the relationship. Something felt off, but he just couldn’t understand what. On the night everything happened, he was out with Kei singing karaoke. When things started to become weird and scary, he chose to go with Kei to Toshiya’s rather than go search for his own boyfriend, and therefore he came to the island with the original group. When he met and started taking care of Hikaru, who was emotionally scarred after abuse by alphas, something finally clicked inside. He fell in love and was happy to discover Hikaru loved him back. With the omega, he has found his calm.

Hikaru

Hikaru (D=OUT), Omega

Age: 18 (age adjusted for the sake of this fic - A LOT! How is this guy over 30?)

Occupation Before: High school student

Primary occupation on the island: Kitchen

Love life: Boyfriend Yo-Ka

Lives: Shares a room in the big house with Yo-Ka

Story: Hikaru was only 14, going on 15, when the world fell. His parents died by illness in the first 48 hours, and most of the town died from the same cause, leaving Hikaru alone to fend for himself. He was an innocent youngster who was an easy prey for alphas on the prowl. During the time between the worldfall and his appearance at the island, he was caught and abused by three different alphas. The first two luckily didn’t bite him, and he managed to escape from them after a while, only to be caught again a few months later. The last group of alphas became his doom, and he was matebitten against his will. He was severely abused and only managed to escape when his mate was killed in a fight, on the way to attack the island (see part 2 and 9 of In the Ruins). He was found and brought to the island, where he has found happiness again with Yo-Ka. However, he is very emotionally scarred and distrustful of alphas.

Asanao

Asanao (Lynch.), Alpha

Age: 42

Occupation Before: Truck driver

Primary occupation on the island: Construction

Love life: Was mated to Akinori until the omega died from cancer

Lives: Shares a cottage with Satochi

Story: Asanao is the rough looking alpha with the heart of gold. He is kind, trustworthy and considerate, but also gives off a very imposing vibe for people who don’t know him well. He met the love of his life, Akinori, when a friend introduced the two. It was instant love and the two got mated and spent eight happy years together until the world fell. Asanao and Akinori were part of the same group of friends surrounding Toshiya that went to the island immediately after. However, Akinori soon showed signs of not feeling well. Tatsurou could only guess at cancer, but couldn’t do anything to help the omega, who died about six months after they got to the island. Asanao has never gotten over his mate’s death, and miss him every day. He is much more quiet and keeps to himself since Akinori died, but he is still very much a valued part of the community and well liked by all.

Ryo

Ryo (9GOATS BLACK OUT), Alpha

Age: 37

Occupation Before: Manga editor

Primary occupation on the island: Fields

Love life: Mated to Nao

Lives: Shares a cottage with Nao

Story: Ryo is the older Hiro’s cousin. When the world burned, he brought his two omega friends Nao and Gorou to a relative’s farm where he met Hiro, Yuki, Satochi and Shinya. The three stayed with Hiro and Yuki at the farm, but when it was attacked, Gorou was killed and Ryo’s arm was hurt. While the wounded waited to heal, Nao and Ryo got closer and eventually became a couple. The two joined Satochi, Yuki and Hiro when they went to the bunker to find Shinya, thinking it to be a safe haven, only to find it in ruins. After that, they wandered the roads. Somewhere along the way, they decided to mate, and one night when they were lucky to find a house with several bedrooms, the two got mated. In another of the bedrooms, Yuki and Hiro did the same thing, and Satochi found himself facing two newly mated couples the next morning. After a while, rumors about a place up north, an island where there was food and civilization reached them from people they met on the road. They decided to check it out, and ended up on the island (see part 8 of In the Ruins).

Nao

Nao (Alice Nine), Omega

Age: 33

Occupation Before: Worked at a nudel shop

Occupation on the island: Kitchen

Love life: Mated to Ryo

Lives: Shares a cottage with Ryo

Story: See Ryo.

Ruka

Ruka (Nightmare), Alpha

Age: 37

Occupation Before: Office worker

Primary occupation on the island: Construction

Love life: Single, interested in Yomi

Lives: Shares a cottage with Aki

Story: Ruka is the regular Joe, the guy who have always done what is expected of him - no more, no less. He had a nice job without being fancy, he did well at everything but never exceptionally well. He led a good life but was, to be honest, maybe a little bit bored. When the world fell, Ruka, his boyfriend and his best friend hit the roads together, getting by together for over a year. One day, however, his boyfriend and his best friend admitted that they had fallen for each other. Naturally, Ruka didn’t really feel the need to stick around once he had been dumped, and the group split. He wandered on his own for a year, mending his heartache, before he was woken one morning by Asanao who almost fell on him where he had fallen asleep behind the counter of a store. The somewhat brusque first meeting soon turned into an invite, and Ruka came to the island.

Minase

Minase (D=OUT), Alpha

Age: 35

Occupation Before: Math teacher for children ages 10-13

Primary occupation on the island: Not specified yet

Love life: Single

Lives: Shares a cottage with Shuse and Jun-ji temporarily during his sentence

Story: Minase and Kouki are cousins, and have always been close since they were the same age and lived in the same neighborhood. Being friends with Kouki meant also being friends with Aryu and Yomi, as the three were a tight group. Minase was always softspoken, and not your typical assertive alpha. He was tall and skinny, and liked books and studying. He liked his job and was happy to share his love of teaching with Kouki. The four friends were out for dinner at a nearby ramen place when a fight broke out between the chef and a customer. As the group exited the restaurant, they realized that the madness had spread everywhere. They fled their burning city, and ended up together on the roads for a long while, until Gackt came into their lives. The arrogant alpha more or less strolled into their camp and took over, Minase not being strong or assertive enough to stop him. Gackt proved to be better at finding them food and shelter, but the advantages were outweighed by the horrible disadvantages – beatings and sexual abuse. Gackt also saved most of the food for himself and starved the others. The four tried several times to escape Gackt but never made it, and when the alpha bit Aryu by force, they felt forced to stay with their omega friend. If the group hadn’t heard rumors about the island and made their way there, they would not have survived the winter.

Yomi

Yomi (Nightmare), Omega

Age: 35

Occupation Before: Office worker

Primary occupation on the island: Not specified yet

Love life: Single, but head over heals in love with Ruka

Lives: Shares a room in the big house with Kouki

Story: Yomi and Kouki met when Yomi stole Kouki’s car and tried to run off with it. Kouki tackled him and punched him in the face so he started crying. The two had to be separated by their kindergarten teacher - they were three years old at the time. The animosity soon wore off and the two friends were together through thick and thin – sometimes to their parents’ dismay. They’ve stayed best friends for life, with the addition of Aryu and Minase. See Minase for story.

Kouki

Kouki (D=OUT), Omega

Age: 35

Occupation Before: Teacher for kids ages 7-9

Primary occupation on the island: Not specified yet

Love life: Single

Lives: Shares a room in the big house with Yomi

Story: Kouki is a happy-go-lucky guy who everybody loves. He was very popular among his students and coworkers, and had many friends, but none closer than Yomi, Aryu and Minase. See Minase for story.

Aryu

Aryu (Morrigan), Omega

Age: 30

Occupation Before: Owned a store that sold men’s clothing

Primary occupation on the island: Not specified yet

Love life: Single

Lives: Shares a room in the big house with Kazuki

Story: Aryu was always the little kid who wouldn’t leave Yomi and Kouki alone, and eventually he was adopted by the two friends as their honorary little brother and brought with them on all their adventures. See Minase for story.