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the scent of another

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It was scary, his own situation. He, Xu Ming Hao, had yet to present. The age of presenting was around 15 – the later, the less likely to, for your entire life. Minghao lived with 12 other boys, all whom have presented, and it almost intimidates him for the fact. It's not anything bad, no, he knows that he will present one day and he'll be accepted for who he is. But going through trainee days, going through so many situations where presenting would have helped or stopped something from happening, it was hard. Xu Minghao was a pacifist. This made everyone sort of assume he was going to be a beta. He had nothing wrong with being called a beta. They were the light, generally positive people who are willing to help others with their problems, and can deal with an alpha or an omega equally. They're almost seen as the rulers of the roost, even though the alpha is considered the lead in a pack.

Seventeen was a pack. They were told to start getting along during trainee days, but they'd only allow a pack to be formed once all of the members had been chosen. It wasn't a surprise, but the thought of being mentally and emotionally connected to 12 other people can be straining. The pack bond isn't that bad, but you can sense when someone is in danger or if one of your pack mates is going into heat. You can use it to detect major mood swings or any negative emotions. The only problem with it is, Minghao can't use it. He's part of the group, he's part of the pack, but because he hasn't presented yet, he can't feel anyone else's emotions, he can't use it to tell who's happy or who's not, he can't use it for anything. They can sense him, but he can't sense them. It's rough. Minghao didn't like it. It meant that he had to ask if everyone was okay, made him check up on everyone even if they were okay, made him worry about small things that may not be adding up to anything at all. It played on his emotions, extremely.

Minghao knew the group was sort of diverse. Most were beta or omega – not a shock, considering there's only supposed to be one alpha in every group – but it was still a diverse group of people. Their leader, Seungcheol, or S. Coups, as he's called, is the pack alpha. He's the one who's in charge of the group, who tends to everyone, who has the strongest sense of leadership and can use the pack bond to his advantage, because his is the strongest. The other members were separated by groups. Except Minghao. The betas were Joshua, Dokyeom, Wonwoo, Mingyu, Hoshi and Dino. Or more appropriately, Joshua, Seokmin, Wonwoo, Mingyu, Soonyoung and Chan. The omegas – those were the ones the group doted over and cared for the most – were Woozi, Jun, Jeonghan, Vernon, and Seungkwan. {Or, Jihoon, Junhui, and Hansol} The only person who hadn't been sorted was him, Xu Minghao.

He didn't mind it much. He truly didn't. It just meant he wasn't treated as highly as an omega, or he wasn't immediately gone to like a beta. He wasn't in charge, like an alpha. He was just. . . Xu Minghao. He was almost just there. But they included him. He was part of the performance team, part of a bigger picture, and he was so, so happy he was doing what he was. He was with people he truly did adore and he thought so highly of them, he didn't like to think about what would happen if he never presented and they'd be disappointed in him. He dismissed the thought very quickly, for if his mood would drop, they'd question it.

They, being the team. They're all practicing on their own, as of right now. Not far apart from each other, but yet, not in the same room. The performance team was in the practice hall, working on their own set {on a break, Minghao was sitting on the floor with water while he watched Soonyoung and Chan review steps, Junhui was playing with the music not far from him.} The vocal team was in the studio, where it was quiet and not hard to focus on what they could write, and where Jihoon could produce the music that could go along with the lyrics {perhaps it's the other way around, Minghao didn't know. He's not in there a lot other than to sing maybe two or three lines.} The hip-hop team was in a room in the middle, just down the hall. Minghao had no idea what they were doing, but it probably consisted of writing lyrics and goofing off. {Even their alpha played around, sometimes it's hard to know who's in charge.}

Everyone smelled different. Minghao didn't know what he smelled like (because that apparently comes with being an alpha, beta or omega, why, he couldn't figure out. It was kind've stupid. He smelled sweet, because he has a specific, fruit scented conditioner he uses. But he digresses.) but he did, however, know what everyone else smelled like. The people in the room with him – Soonyoung was a vague faint mint. Chan was cocoa, like the chocolate you'd get at a cafe when it's late and you get hot chocolate. Junhui – {his favorite smell, but don't tell the others} – was a very light scent of roses and honeysuckle. He payed a lot of attention, Minghao. He knew he did. He adapted very quickly once he had gotten to practice. He used to be so much louder and more active (still active, he has to think to himself, just not verbally) back when he knew his language and could speak the language fluently. It sucked, honestly.

He came back to his senses once Soonyoung called the break over, and they went back to practicing. Steps, kicks, jumps, you name it, they did it. A kick left, sliding over to it as they rolled their shoulders back. Movements engraved into his mind all clicked back into place, as they all practice the moves that are so familiar and common to them now. They practiced most of the day, at least 12 hours. It's mentally and physically exhausting. Hence why they're currently separated, into the groups they're in now. It just so happened that because Minghao was part of the performance team, he was a constant dancer and was always in motion. He worked hard to earn his keep (he had to, he wasn't special, he hadn't presented, remember) and that always ended up with him almost in tears as he breathes hard, as sweat pours down his face.

Once they finished the routine, the three others were oddly quiet. It's always loud, always in motion, which makes Minghao confused. He can feel their eyes on him, so he glances up through the mirror to look at them, and their eyes immediately flickered down, making him very, very confused. The silence made him uncomfortable, and he was about to question it when another smell filtered through his nose. The smells radiating off of the three boys nearby had changed, and now not only was it /their/ scents, but suddenly, he could differentiate. Junhui smelled much sweeter. He smelled not only of flowers, but of omega. Soonyoung and Chan were lighter, but still inciting. Beta. His hands started to shake when he could FEEL something pulsing in his chest. He could feel 12 other people, he could feel their emotions, and he could FEEL that they were all very confused and coming to check on them.

 

It hit him then. He presented. During a break in practice, Minghao had presented. In front of the team he was in, not the full 13 member ensemble, Minghao had presented.

He was alpha.

Chapter Text

Minghao knows life goes wrong sometimes. He knows that maybe, just maybe, he may have never presented. He didn't mind that fact. He was loved, accepted. But now? Now - he didn't know what to think. He didn't know how to act. He didn't KNOW and that's what scared him the most, out of everything. Alphas were supposed to be strong. They were supposed to be powerful and commanding. He doubted he was any of that. There was a thought behind him saying that this was where he was supposed to be, but part of him was arguing. He was supposed to be beta.

They were looking at him. He could hear the footsteps running towards their room. He could feel the panic from them. He could feel the pure undiluted, raw emotion in the room. A combination. Pride. From his friends. For him. Nervousness. An automatic reaction to an alpha. Fear. The fear of something happening due to there being another alpha in a group that is only supposed to have one. Nothing like that has ever bothered him before, no, but this? It clearly bothered them.

The door slammed open. He jumped. Not away, however. Towards. In front of the other perfomance team members. He knew who was coming in, who was trying to see why the spike in emotion happened, but he still reacted. To the heightened emotions. He growled. A deep, low growl that caused EVERYONE who had come in to freeze. It was a mistake. He wasn't the pack alpha. All of him was screaming at him, telling him to do so many things, and his senses shut out. His eyes focused on Seungcheol, who, in his gentle manner, despite being the alpha had come out, stepped forward so Minghao's attention would be on him. An Alpha's gaze can be withering for some people. Clearly, Seventeen, his own members, his own team, were no exception to this.

"Minghao, you're scaring them. Enough with the growling." A commanding tone, from Seungcheol. Half of Minghao told him to comply. Half of him told him to fight the orders. He shook his head, stepping back, nonetheless. Closer to Soonyoung, Junhui, and Chan. They moved away. He wanted to snap at them - can't they see he's trying to protect them? To take the brunt of whatever is about to happen? To make sure that nobody else can get damaged in this? He didn't understand. His heart was beating at an extremely fast pace, and his eyes almost dropped. He kept eye contact. His voice, in his soft voice, he spoke.

 

"I've been alone for so long. For so long, I have felt alone. I have felt left out, put behind, and never payed attention to. For what? For the second I present, for it to be a mistake? For me to be alpha - as if I asked to be one. As if in my mind, I was telling myself to become an Alpha. When I'd only get attention when someone realized that, oh, poor little Minghao. The Chinese boy who can't deal with himself and doesn't speak Korean well, who can't find more complicated words to say - all for what? To be pushed down. To be pushed around. To be crushed and never allowed to speak my own mind. I'm sick of it, sick of myself, sick of this." By the time he was done, Minghao had started crying. His eyes fell. An acceptance of defeat, of being a lesser alpha. He didn't care. Clearly, something in the room had changed. He could feel overwhelming dread, he could feel the members, his family feeling the full brunt of what he could not share. Never before had he felt an insurmountable amount of FEELING. Of the thoughts of others, of people trying to reach out to him. There was one door. People were in the way. The alpha was in the way. He could make a run for it, but he highly doubted he would get away.

 

He ran anyway. A straight bolt to the door and out.

 

Chaos insued. He could hear Seungcheol running after him. He could hear the calling, he could feel the thoughts of loss. He could feel something cold coming from the performance team. His team, his mind told him. His. Not Seungcheol's. He didn't care who Seungcheol had, it just could not be his team, his members. The possessive thoughts almost slow him down. There was a reason he was on the Performance team, after all. He was fast, and he could move his body very, very well. He only stopped when he found a door he knew locked and he slammed it behind him, locking it. He slid down the door, a shiver rolling through his body. Alpha. A thought he could never process.

 

Alphas, strong. Alphas, able. Alphas, leading. Minghao, small. Minghao, unable to form proper sentences. Minghao, someone who never felt accepted. It didn't fit. Fate clearly had one hell of a way to tell someone to leave. 

 

Minghao knew breathing would be the appropriate response. He had to even himself out. So that he tried. He stood up, despite his shaky hands and knees that almost gave out under him. He took deep breaths, and slowly began walking his way around the room. Despite being so far, he could still feel them. He could still feel the team, who were now together. It was muddled. He was far away. Maybe his mind was muddled. Could they read his thoughts? Could they feel that he was trying to calm himself down? Could they feel the intense loneliness like he did? He wondered.

 

He opened the door to head back.