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Jeongguk would not generally consider himself a person who regularly finds himself involved in situations wherein he unironically fears for his life.

But this situation? This situation just might be one of them.

“Are you, uh, rich?”

The answer to his question is so glaringly obvious that asking it all feels rude, in hindsight. His words flatten on the oriental rugs, between the leather and the chaise lounges that smell like money and loaded bank accounts, and the heavy curtains with the five-layer shit going on. This place is a fucking mansion, and isn’t afraid to flaunt it at every turn. There might have been an actual stained glass window in the foyer complete with a floral frieze around the ceiling.

“I’m comfortable.” The guy’s name is Jimin, as Jeongguk would take it. Park Jimin. Between the old cherrywood cut of the walls, and the rustic motif of the entire house, he’s oddly misplaced wearing his biker jacket.

“You live here alone?”

“Nah.” Jimin laughs. “I have two housemates. Namjoon’s the loaded one. Yoongi packs some heat himself. Not sure if they’re home yet—oh, you’re in luck, they are. I wonder how they’re back so early today.”

It’s mid-afternoon, so Jeongguk has the sense to be surprised, too. Though he supposes that anyone that can afford a getup like this doesn’t have to work around the clock to make their paycheck come through. Jimin’s phone click-click-clicks as he shoots them a text, and Jeongguk continues ogling the house around them, not quite registering that he’s looking at his third chandelier in the span of ten minutes, or the actual home theater they’re standing in the entrance of. The floor itself is the couch. The wall is the screen.

Jeongguk, a just-toeing-broke college student, feels a headache coming on, as most college students do when they’re around a lot of riches they can’t have.

“Okay, they’ll pop by to say hi.”

“I thought you said they were home.”

“They are. Not sure where, though. So, Overwatch, right? You said you were good?”

“I—yeah, I’m good,” Jeongguk says, dropping his questions to rise to the challenge. “Why, you don’t think I am?”

“Listen, my housemates aren’t what you call amazing gamers. I’m just trying to get a feel for what I’m up against here.”

“I play ranked.” Jeongguk pulls his laptop out of his beat-up backpack. “I was a master-ranked Widowmaker last season.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows, giving a low whistle. “Damn. You didn’t tell me about that part.” He holds his hand out so Jeongguk will give him his laptop and get it connected to the TV screen.

“I try not to brag.”

“Hmm,” says Jimin, eyeing Jeongguk until he squirms on the cushions. “Oh, here they are.”

“Jimin, I hear we have guests?”

The door slides open and a man with ash brown hair slicked out of his face peeks in, looking like he’d just gotten back from work in a somewhat uncomfortably pressed pinstripe suit. There’s a smaller figure behind him, looking equally as intimidating but nowhere near as starched, the collar of his black dress shirt relaxed around his neck.

“Hey, hyung. Yeah, meet Jeongguk!”

Jeongguk sits up, raising his hand to give an awkward wave, when it hits him: the intoxicating scent of alpha, alpha, alpha. Three of them, including Jimin sitting next to him, as if the smell of their skin awakens only when they’re together.

It all punches him so very hard, square in the nose.

He’s walked right into the pit of an alpha’s den.

 

Rewind, rewind. This is not where the story begins.

There are some things to understand here. Like how Jimin, Yoongi, and Namjoon, three alphas, manage to all live under one roof. Or Jeongguk’s very good question about their wealth (yes, they are wealthy, where that money comes from is Another Story). And, of course, this seemingly stupid decision to invite two other alphas to come sniffing at the tail of the first and only omega that’s ever stepped foot in this mansion.

Yoongi does not actually react when Jimin breaks the news at the dining table at breakfast, staring catatonically at his konjuk as if he’s fallen asleep with his eyes open. Frankly, Jimin wouldn’t put it past him.

“Wait, wait, let me get this straight,” Namjoon says, a hint of a disbelieving chuckle stuck in his throat. “Are you telling me your life has been a literal parody of a coffee shop story, and that you’ve been chatting up the college kid that comes and studies at the Caffè Bene you work in until it wasn’t weird to invite him over?”

“Hyung! You don’t even know. He smells. So fucking good? The nicest smelling omega I’ve ever met, I swear he has to be it. Once he walked in to study after a workout, and I think I jizzed on the spot.”

“Christ,” Namjoon mutters. “Real question is why you’re telling me. I’m flattered and touched, but at the end of the day, you don’t need my permission, nor is it any of our business who you end up mating.”

“It is too our business.” Yoongi rises out of his waking coma to interject. “It means we have to start clearing out rooms for nests.”

“Well,” Jimin says, electing to ignore Yoongi, “you bring up a good point, hyung. It’s why I’ve been dawdling so much about bringing him around. He hasn’t exactly been rejecting my company, either.”

“No? I suppose that’s a good sign.”

“Leaning in, wearing low collared shirts, stretching his neck out. The whole deal. He was definitely presenting.”

“So what is this good point Namjoon brought up,” Yoongi says. His spoon clinks against his bowl as he finally musters the energy to sit up and start eating. “Because I failed to see it.”

“The good point is, I’m not bringing this up at the breakfast table just for shits and giggles. Do you not realize that there is the possibility that he might not just be my omega alone?”

The noises of breakfasttime cease abruptly. Namjoon looks up from the news widget on his phone. Yoongi actually deigns to meet Jimin’s gaze, eyes all the way open for the first time since rising from bed nearly an hour ago.

“Think about it, right? Have you ever heard of alpha dens with three alphas and no omega? You know other dens are always the other way around, an alpha plus a couple of omegas. Not to mention you and Yoongi-hyung have been together for years and years now.”

“You mean to say,” Namjoon asks, with raised eyebrows, “that he is an omega to the three of us?”

“I’m just saying I wouldn’t be surprised if he were.”

Namjoon turns to look at Yoongi, sitting across from him at the long dining table, with Jimin’s gaze ping-ponging back and forth between them where he sits at the end. “Is that possible?”

“Like he said, it’s not impossible.”

“So you’ve heard of this happening before?”

“Not between three alphas. Two, sure. From what I understand, two of the girls from the Red Butterfly gang have an arrangement like that with their omega. Solar and Moonbyul. Their omega is some civilian by the name of Jung Wheein or whatever.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of them.”

“So it’s definitely not unheard of.” Yoongi folds his napkin in half, then into thirds, then, compulsively, into quarters. “Just uncommon, maybe.”

“And you’re saying you want to bring him over so we can—what? Take a whiff of him?”

“I mean, we’re not going to know what the verdict is unless I do, are we?”

“You’re going to scare the shit out of him.”

“What? No! He loves gaming, I’ll invite him over for some Overwatch. You guys can just say hi.”

“Like a couple of well-to-do parents offering condoms.”

“God, you don’t have to say it like that, hyung,” Jimin mutters. “What do you think?”

Yoongi does not immediately say, “It’s a horrible idea,” which means it’s probably a great idea. Even Namjoon, though silent, seems like he’s going to say yes, and Jimin can’t help the triumphant look that crosses his face.

“You need to be transparent with him, Jimin.” Namjoon laces his fingers together and rests his chin on the bridge they make. “If he’s anything like Jung Wheein, he’s not going to react well to being led into a mansion of an alpha den.”

“Great! So it’s a yes?”

“It’s a, ‘I mean, I guess,’” Yoongi says.

“Awesome, I’m excited too.”

“Don’t be ostentatious, okay,” Namjoon says. “Just invite him over for video games. Dinner, I guess, if he wants to stay.”

 

So, uh, the Maserati might fall under the heading of ostentatious but Jimin really didn’t think to take that into consideration until Jeongguk was following him out to his car after his shift ended that day. He watches nervously as Jeongguk’s eyes get big, then bigger, and he regards Jimin with a kind of terrified admiration.

“This is us?”

“Uhm. Yeah, this is me,” Jimin says. The car chirps as it unlocks, the headlights flashing as they blink sleep away from their eyes.

“You drive a real Maserati.”

“Hard to pirate cars, yeah.”

“A Maserati.”

“A GranTurismo.”

“You have,” Jeongguk sinks into the passenger seat, rummaging for his words. “A sweet ride.”

“Not bad, right?” The controls and stereo light up with a dim blue glow as Jimin starts the car, hearing Namjoon’s sigh of what did I tell you about being ostentatious in the back of his mind, garnished with Yoongi’s legendary eyeroll. “Settle in, we have a bit of a drive.”

“You live far from here?”

“It’s a little out of the way,” Jimin says. Jeongguk seems like he’s on the verge of asking another question, but stays quiet, and runs his hands appreciatively over every nook and cranny of the car that his hands can reach—the leather seat, the glove compartment, the door handle, even the lid of the airbag on the dashboard. “You ever been to the far side of the city before?”

“I don’t have a reason to. University’s in the next city over, my apartment’s a couple of blocks away.” Jeongguk figures out how to roll the window down and brings it low enough so that he can stick his face out slightly, hair whipping around his head. The wind is strong enough to blow Jeongguk’s scent back into Jimin’s face in pummeling gusts, and he white-knuckles his steering wheel in an attempt not to breathe too hard or reach out and put his hand on Jeongguk’s thigh. Yikes. It’s not good alpha etiquette to touch any omega before they’ve agreed to be touched at all.

“You’re in for a treat, I’d say.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. You hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Yeah, I thought so,” Jimin says, cutting off a Lexus to get onto a highway ramp and chuckling when he gets a furious horn at his back windshield. “Hope you like tteokgalbi.”

 

“You’re worried.”

“I am not worried.”

“Your pen’s been silent for going on fifteen minutes now. You’re worried.”

“You noticed, huh?”

Even without looking, Yoongi can tell Namjoon is shaking his head. “Your surprise is not reassuring. Of course I noticed. In all the years we’ve been together, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading you, hyung.” Yoongi’s desk creaks where Namjoon leans against it. “So. Spit it out. What’re you thinking about?”

“Do you really think it was a good idea to let the kid go through with his whole idea to bring that omega home?”

Namjoon raises his eyebrows. “Why would it be a bad one?”

“I don’t know what to expect.”

“Do either of us, really? What’s the worst that could happen? He decides he doesn’t like us and doesn’t return. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Ouch. Don’t remind me.”

“Sorry.” Namjoon laughs under his breath. “Hey, he was hot. I’ll give you that.”

“That’s hardly the worst that could happen, and you know it.”

“What?”

Yoongi grimaces.

“Oh, come on, hyung. That’s not going to happen. And even if it does, why are you worried? Jimin and I are here.”

“You stand in front of me when we go see him.”

“You really need to give yourself more credit, hyung.”

Yoongi wets the seam of his lips with his tongue, then heaves a sigh. “Whatever. You’re right, as you are about most things. I don’t know. What if the kid’s actually right? What if that omega is ours, all of ours? How would that even work? What’s going to happen to the three of us? What—”

His words trail off into the muted, omnipresent silence that hangs over the house’s miniature library at all hours, punctuated just barely in the evening by the sleepy hoots of great grey owls. Namjoon’s knees hit the hardwood with soft thuds when he kneels down in front of where Yoongi’s seated, and reaches up to cup his face in his hands.

“Hey, shh. It’s fine. It’ll be fine. The three of us have lived together for all this time now, and if Jimin really does bring home the one, it won’t make you worry like you are now. Okay?”

Yoongi looks into Namjoon’s face for several moments, then turns his gaze away. “How can you know,” he says, more quietly than before.

“I don’t know how I know,” Namjon says, nudging Yoongi’s jaw with his fingers until he meets his gaze again. “You asked me the same question about how I could know bringing Jimin into this pack was the right decision, but in the end, wouldn’t you say it was?”

“Instinct.”

“Exactly.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“I can tell you’re worried, because you’re asking me and not arguing,” Namjoon chortles, and Yoongi rolls his eyes as Namjoon’s hand slips down to take both of Yoongi’s where they’re pillowed in his lap. “I’m not sure about this omega. But I am sure that if he’s it, then you don’t have to worry what he’ll mean for the three of us, or what will become of us. Or whether he’ll be all of ours. It’ll be easy.”

Namjoon’s phone dings in his pocket, then, and he gets back to his feet to read the text.

“Oh, they’re here. Let’s go.”

“Wait—now? They’re here?”

“Yeah. Come on, let’s not keep him waiting.”

“You’re really going to meet them in that suit,” Yoongi says. “Jesus. I look underdressed next to you.”

“You look fine, Yoongi. They’re down in the home theater.”

The setting sun casts long, golden slats through the house where the curtains have not yet been drawn, and Yoongi admits that his nerves jitter with anticipation as they take the stairs down to the first floor. Just as they make the landing, he hears the muted sounds of conversation behind closed doors.

“Relax,” Namjoon says, and slides the theater door open. “Jimin, I hear we have guests?”

“Hey, hyung!” he says, looking behind him as a figure stands up slower. “Yeah, meet Jeongguk!”

“Jeongguk,” Namjoon says. “Awesome to see you.”

Christ, Yoongi doesn’t know where Namjoon gets his control. Maybe for sale on Ali Express, he’ll have to check. It’s reflected in every aspect of his life, really, from how he talks to how he holds himself during ruts, but his breathing stays soft and even as he gives Jeongguk a standard little handshake that makes this feel a lot more like a business deal than meeting a new omega.

Jeongguk’s scent absolutely clobbers Yoongi in the face. It almost hurts to breathe around him, and Namjoon, as controlled as he is, still feels tenser beside Yoongi than he had been seconds before. “Yoongi,” he says, extending his hand and feeling as though the touch of Jeongguk’s palm to his is enough to electrocute the blood in his hands. “It’s great to meet you.”

“Are you guys,” Jeongguk looks from Jimin, to Yoongi, to Namjoon, “all—all together?”

It sounds as though he was about to say all alphas, catching himself just as the syllable was about to roll off his tongue. Namjoon clears his throat.

“Somewhat. Did Jimin not tell you?”

Jimin has the shame to look rebuked.

“Not really.”

“We’re an alpha triad. We share this den—well, if you can call it one, we know it’s big. So yeah, we’re together.”

Jeongguk’s eyes are big and dark, as if the combined scent of three alphas is making him lightheaded, too. They linger on Namjoon’s face for several heartbeats too long, drinking him in deep and slow, before he seems to shake himself out of the trance. “You have a lovely place.”

“It’s a lot, right,” Jimin says. “That’s what I said when I first got here.”

Yoongi fidgets. Jimin cottons on quickly, and says, “Anyway, get the fuck out. I’m trying to smash him to smithereens in Overwatch, so we’ll see you at dinner—you down to stay, Jeongguk?”

“Wait, I really can’t intrude—”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, you’re not intruding. I told you to be ready for tteokgalbi,” says Jimin.

The door slides shut as Namjoon and Yoongi step out, and they’re silent the entire way to the dining room, where Yoongi falls into his usual seat at the table. To his surprise, Namjoon follows suit.

“Well.”

“I have a boner,” Yoongi confesses candidly.

“No, honestly,” Namjoon drags his hands down his face, once, twice, and presses his fingers into his eyes. “I do too.”

“Holy shit,” Yoongi says, and can’t help the laugh that bubbles out of his throat. Namjoon, too, laughs despite himself, cheeks dimpling as he rocks forward and presses his head into the tabletop. “Holy shit, he’s it. He’s the one. Jimin was actually right.”

“Did you see his face?” Namjoon groans as he straightens. “God fucking dammit. He had no idea what he was getting himself into, I knew Jimin would forget to give him the rundown about us.”

“Yeah, he definitely looked like he was going to bolt for good minute back there. It helps that he’s,” Yoongi winces at the memory, “big.” Bigger than both him and Jimin, lacking only in the height and breadth department in relativity to Namjoon.

“He’s gigantic. I thought Jimin might have fucked up and brought home another alpha, but that smell. God, he’s an omega alright.”

“What now?”

“Dinner, I guess. I asked the cooks to stop by this afternoon and make tteokgalbi.”

“No, like. I get that, but what do we do now that, well.”

“Oh.” Namjoon frowns. “Standard protocol is courtship, then wait and ask the omega to accept you as their alpha.”

“And there are three of us.”

“It doesn’t have to be much different. I’d say it’s the same.”

“Will you do the asking?” Namjoon is the de facto leader of their small, cozy triad. It would only seem right.

“If that’s alright with the two of you.”

“I trust you,” Yoongi says.

“I know you do.”

“Anyway. That tteokgalbi, I want to fucking eat.”

 

Namjoon won’t admit it to his face, but Jimin’s probably the best out of the three of them at the courtship thing.

The last time Namjoon went out on a date with someone with Yoongi was never, and Yoongi isn’t your usual Saturday night date, so he has to redesign his entire approach to the romantic dinner thing. Yoongi’s idea of a romantic dinner is naengmyeon in the home theater watching Inception.

“Oh my God, it’s not that hard.” Jimin comes home nearing midnight halfway through the next week, shouldering his gym bag over his sweaty shoulder and smelling so strongly of Jeongguk that Namjoon has to close his eyes and do impromptu breathing exercises. “Just take him out to do things you like doing. Don’t be boring. Take him for a joyride in your car, ask him what he likes to do, celebrate when it’s physical shit like working out, and then make out with him in the back seat in a parking lot until the windows steam up.”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows. “Is that. What you did?”

“Yeah. Makeout session was pretty good, thanks to me.”

“He let you kiss him?”

“Well, I’ve known him for a while now, so. It wasn’t that hard. We got back to the car after hitting the showers at the gym, but the smell of him was to die for, so I just leaned over the console.” Just about here, Namjoon suspects that were Jimin to have the adequate length for it, he would’ve hairflipped. “Your move,” he concludes, waltzing up the staircase to deep clean.

Yoongi turns back to look at Namjoon.

“God, he’s good,” is all Namjoon can say.

“Well, we have to make our moves at one point or another.”

“I know.” Namjoon groans, like a sad cat mid-bath.

“Wait,” Yoongi says, realization dawning on his face.

“No,” Namjoon says, immediately on the defensive.

“Are you nervous? Oh my God, you’re nervous.” Yoongi cackles. “You’re nervous!”

“As if you’re not? Have you figured out a way to tell him exactly where our money came from, or where our lines of work lie at night?”

“God, no, but you said it yourself,” Yoongi says. “He’s it. It’ll come easy. It’s not like we have any real crimes to confess to, you know. Stop painting yourself as the criminal.”

“He’s so cute,” Namjoon says, pained. “I do not want to fuck this up.”

“What did we even do when we met?”

“Fuck if I know,” Namjoon says, sitting back from his work and resting his head on the back of his chair. “You got a light?”

“Mm. Yeah, down to my last two.”

Neither of them light up much, if at all, and only in the sitting room with the skylights when it so crosses their mind to. Yoongi doesn’t tease as he sticks the cigarette between Namjoon’s lips, movements methodical and soothing as he lights up with his Zippo. The gold monogram flashes beneath the glare of the lamplight.

“Thank you.” Namjoon draws his eyebrows together as he takes a long, burning drag into his lungs. The end of the cigarette glows, then darkens, a dying phoenix. He reaches up to pinch it between his fingers, then blows a long column of smoke over himself.

“That stressed, huh.” Yoongi stores the lighter away inside his desk drawer. “Try dinner. That’s easy. Not to mention Jeongguk looks like he could clear out an entire all-you-can-eat in under thirty minutes.”

“It’s not that impressive.” Yoongi gives him eyebrows, and Namjoon sighs as he taps the ashes into his glass ashtray, immaculate for ages now. “Fine, you’re right, you’re right. It doesn’t need to be.”

“Just be honest. We’re not trying to get him to like us. Biology takes care of that part. We’re trying to get him to trust us. Only love bridges that gap.”

 

It’s not like Yoongi to give Namjoon spiels about The Power of Love, so he gets his shit together—he is, after all, the head of this triad—and asks Jeongguk out to dinner by the end of the week, after Jimin squeezes in another double-whammy date.

“Are you gonna go pick him up in your Rolls Royce?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s worse than a Maserati,” Jimin drawls, lying on his stomach on the chaise lounge and watching Namjoon adjust his tie in the mirror.

“If he’s seen this house, he’s seen it all.”

“I guess I can’t argue with that.” Jimin frowns. “Hyung, come here.”

“What? Why?”

“Just come here.”

Namjoon does, coming to a stop in front of Jimin on the lounge, and bends when Jimin beckons him in. He scrutinizes him.

“Hm.”

He yelps when Jimin reaches forward and rakes his fingers through Namjoon’s hair, still stiff from being coiffed all afternoon. It stings across Namjoon’s scalp when he drags the strands out of their hairsprayed formation, and he only relinquishes his hold after Namjoon feels like he’s been run through a sifter.

“There. Now you don’t look like you’re on your way to embezzle a hundred million won from a top CEO.”

“I’ve never done that.”

“No, but I’m sure you’re capable of it, hyung.” Jimin winks cheekily. “You want an insider tip? Yoongi said he’s above that shit, so I’ll offer it to you.”

Namjoon snorts. “Sure, what is it?”

“He likes duck meat. Loves duck meat.” He concludes this with a pat on Namjoon’s much-taller shoulder. “Good luck.”

“Damn, really?”

“Yeah. Woo him with that duck meat to your meat.”

“I’m gonna total your car, Park Jimin.”

“Do it,” Jimin says, waving a lazy hand as he leaves, presumably to go bother Yoongi. He doesn’t even look back as he snags his half-full glass of malt whiskey off the sitting table. “It’ll give me a reason to get the Levante, anyway.”

 

Jeongguk is late, which is fine, because that gives Namjoon enough time to read the menu and act like he’s been here before.

In the booth by the window, he catches a glimpse of his reflection in the glass, and proceeds to loosen the knot of his tie, too. Jimin’s work on his hair looks better than he could have imagined, and he’s in the middle of considering whether he should take off his Rolex when someone slides into the seat across from him.

“Did you wait long?”

Jeongguk is as college as they come, wearing a dark red hoodie and a beanie over his hair, pulling a backpack that’s coming apart at the zipper seams off his shoulders. He whisks his hat off, shoving it into the bottle pocket of his bag, and smiles.

“No, I just got here.”

“You’re a lifesaver, you know,” Jeongguk says, running his fingers roughly through his fringe to get the tangles out of his hat hair, probably self-conscious next to how well dressed Namjoon is. Fuck, he should have taken the Rolex off. He can’t regret it for too long with Jeongguk effectively fanning his scent across the table. “I’ve been trying to get by on not spending money to eat out, but our fridge broke down in our apartment.” He groans. “I just love coming home to rotting food and nothing to eat.”

“What have you been doing?”

“Going to freshman events for free food,” Jeongguk laments. “There’s nothing like being asked what your major is and what dorm you live in fifty times to get your hands on a measly bowl of ramen.”

“And you are…?”

“A junior.” He picks up his menu. “I know this is the first time I’ve really talked to you, hyung, but you don’t have to be so formal.”

Namjoon unlaces his fingers where they’ve come to be folded over the table.

“Sorry. Habitual.”

“Jiminie told me you’re not much of a playboy,” Jeongguk says, and Namjoon rolls his eyes at this. Of course he did. “When’s the last time you went on a date?”

“To be honest with you, it was pretty recent. But I’ve been around Jimin for a while, and Yoongi for even longer.”

“How long?”

“Yoongi? Maybe seven years now. Probably closer to eight. Jimin, four.” Namjoon eyes the waitress approaching their table, and jerks his chin at Jeongguk’s menu. “Order your food.”

“Oh, right, right.”

Jeongguk spends a lingering moment looking at the order of a whole duck before he flips the page, and Namjoon lets him read the dishes before he says, “If you want the whole duck, I’ll get it for you, you know.”

“No, that’s so much money. My mom didn’t raise me to order expensive food when someone else is treating.”

“And my mom raised me to treat—to treat an omega to whatever he wants. Checkmate.”

Namjoon laughs when Jeongguk squints at him, trying to decide who wins this one. Mostly he’s glad Jeongguk doesn’t seem to notice how Namjoon nearly said “my” instead of “an.” Phew.

So they get a whole duck, and some doenjang jjigae for good measure. Jeongguk eats like a starved child, and Namjoon is thankful for the steaming soup under his nose to mask the flare of his scent when he ducks his head to shovel tofu into his mouth.

“You weren’t kidding about that broken fridge.”

“I couldn’t make that shit up,” Jeongguk says, tilting his head back and chewing, with eyes closed like he’s tasting a little corner of heaven. “Thank you for taking me to dinner today.”

“Hey, the best part’s not even out yet. Thank me later.”

“So, can I ask you something?”

“Absolutely. Ask me everything.” Namjoon scratches the back of his neck. “We’re here to let you figure out who we are, to be honest.”

“Who are you three, exactly?”

“We’re all alphas. An alpha triad.”

“And you all live together.”

“It’s unconventional, I know. But we work well together, better than we do apart. I’d say, before we met each other, we were all lonelier than we knew.”

“And how are you all so rich?”

“Well,” Namjoon props his elbows on the table and leans in slightly, until Jeongguk does too. “We do some work with some very wealthy people.”

“Like chairmen, something like that? Are you chaebols?”

“No, not exactly.”

“So what is it?”

“Yoongi and I,” Namjoon chews on his lower lip, looks into Jeongguk’s face. For a horrible moment he thinks Jeongguk might turn tail and run in the next ten seconds, but then Jimin’s smiling face and Yoongi’s slouching eyeroll cross his mind and he takes a breath. “Happened to be in the right place at the right time years ago, and helped out someone without realizing who she was.”

“You helped out a chairman’s daughter?”

“Think a little more interesting.”

Jeongguk’s eyebrows disappear into his bangs. “The president’s daughter?”

“No,” Namjoon says. “Uhm, think a little less legal.”

Understanding unfurls across Jeongguk’s face. “You accidentally helped a crime boss?”

“Shh,” Namjoon says, peering at the tables beside them, though the restaurant is noisy enough for their conversation to go unnoticed. “Kind of.”

“What did you do?”

The air feels hot and sticky, and Namjoon swallows around the pulse in his throat. “You’re not gonna run?”

“Well, it’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Jimin kind of gave me the primer,” Jeongguk picks up his spoon, swills it in his soup. “And I don’t get the vibe from either of you that you’re bad people.”

“Back then, Yoongi and I shared a motorcycle, and we made money doing deliveries. It was a pretty miserable life, but we lived it. And we did it together, just the two of us. He’d crushed his shoulder on one weekend, it was a pretty bad accident, and I decided to take on his shift—the night one—to make ends meet, and, well, I found myself in the middle of what I guess must have been a crime scene. Girl jumps on the back of my bike after I make my last delivery for my shift and screams at me to go, just go. I was so tired, I didn’t even think about what was happening. So I did.”

“And she was the daughter of a boss?”

“So it would seem.” Namjoon pins his napkin under the point of his chopstick, twirling it until it makes a soft indent in the paper.

“Are...are you guys in the mobs?”

“Not really. I mean, Jimin works in a cafe.”

“I don’t think that cafe paycheck got him that Maserati.”

“No,” Namjoon says. “We help them out from time to time. Technically speaking, it’s not illegal, but, well.” A shrug. “That paycheck is handsome, I have to say.”

“What happened to that bike?”

“What, the one that I was riding at the time? Up in the attic of the garage somewhere, under a tarp.”

“How can you be embarrassed about that, then?”

“What do you mean?”

“You say it with so much shame. ‘I helped the daughter of a crime boss.’ It’s not as if you committed a crime, or even knew what was happening. All you saw was someone who needed your help, and you gave it, even when it wasn’t convenient for you.”

The cushion of the booth whistles when Namjoon sits back and the air whistles out of it. He’s it. It’ll come easy, comes Yoongi’s voice. Unable to find his words, Namjoon can only laugh, though it’s more like a sigh of relief than anything.

“What?”

“Nothing, you’re just,” Amazing? Different? It, whatever that means? Anything he could think of sounds contrived. Namjoon shakes his head when he sees their waitress elbow her way out of the kitchen with a whole duck plated. “Never mind.”

The conversation doesn’t get so heavy again, and like Yoongi had predicted and Jimin had promised, it is easy.

Conversation with Jeongguk is surprisingly easy for how far apart their current paths in life are. He likes to sing, but doesn’t think he’s good at it (Namjoon doubts this). He can stay up late into the night drawing. He hates spending a lot of time on something if he can’t be perfect at it on his first try. He’s a handful of contradictions; sudden yet measured, excited yet unbothered, and watching him talk has a certain mesmerizing quality like watching a sparkler burn down its wick during the summer months.

“But what about you?”

“What about me?”

Jeongguk snags some duck skin off Namjoon’s plate and crunches it between his teeth. “Lame. You know that’s the best part. I mean, what about you? What do you like?”

“Music.” No-brainer there. “That’s where Yoongi and I work now. We spent our days on that bike dreaming about making it, so when that windfall came along, we decided to go after those dreams.”

“You need to show it to me sometime.”

“Whenever you want, just come over,” Namjoon says. Jeongguk’s smile is shy. “No, really. Just say when. One of us is bound to be free.”

They’re one of the last people in the restaurant when they leave, and Jeongguk goes through the predicted meltdown when he sees what kind of car Namjoon drives.

The trunk pops open. “You can put your backpack in here.”

“Sure is an upgrade from a motorbike, huh,” Jeongguk says weakly, setting his bag down so gently that you’d think it was carrying live cargo. “You close it, I might fuck it up if I touch your car.”

“Fucking shit up by touching it is my job,” Namjoon says, reaching around him and tapping the trunk lid so it falls shut. He makes to pull away when, in that moment, it becomes obvious that Jeongguk is standing awfully close.

He is standing awfully close, and he’s not moving away, wedged between Namjoon’s body and the car, staring up slightly into his face.

“Uh.” His scent makes Namjoon’s blood warm, and he tries not to scratch his nails across his car’s paint job. “It’s cold.”

The words We should get in the car get lost somewhere in the air between them, inexplicably charged, as Jeongguk leans in even closer. “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

Namjoon would be a fool to tell himself that he was the only one that had been intoxicated all evening, and now, out in the near-empty parking lot, Jeongguk seems to finally be unafraid to acknowledge it. The body of the car is cold as Namjoon plants his other hand on the back of his trunk, trapping Jeongguk’s body with his.

“What do you want me to do?”

Jeongguk doesn’t answer this time, so close their noses are practically brushing, but he does look down at Namjoon’s mouth before he meets his gaze again. Namjoon steels himself, not moving until Jeongguk does it again, then lets his eyelids flutter shut.

It’s not the backseat of the car, so there are no windows to steam up. Still, Namjoon is sure that they would if they were curled up back there like Jimin had so sordidly described. Streaks of heat dash down Namjoon’s spine as Jeongguk whimpers and presses closer, wrapping his arms around his neck in an attempt to close the distance between their bodies. His lips are warm, and not all that clumsy, like he’s done this enough with other alphas to be practiced. A wave of possessiveness tears at the insides of Namjoon’s chest at this thought, and he backs Jeongguk into the trunk more roughly than he means to. The force of it knocks their lips apart.

“Sorry,” Namjoon says, after a beat of silence, and Jeongguk shivers with giggles.

“I liked it.” Jeongguk drags his fingers through the back of Namjoon’s hair. “You should do it again sometime.”

Fuck. Jeongguk’s lips are red and kiss-swollen when Namjoon pulls back, and he wears that tiny smile on his mouth the entire drive back to the station he asks to be dropped off at.

Their omega is going to be the absolute death of him.

 

Waking up in the middle of the night is inconvenient at best, and disorienting most other times, especially when Jeongguk doesn’t know what woke him. He could probably sleep through a tornado and be found in the rubble still knocked out and snoring.

But well before sunrise, he jerks out of sleep, like someone had looped a hook around his body and tugged hard. The air feels too thick to breathe. His blankets weigh down on his chest. It takes a few seconds, but as his senses come back to him, so does the acute awareness of the desire scorching holes through his skin, slamming against the inside of his ribcage like a sledgehammer.

Fuck, what the fuck. It’s far too early for his heat to be here, and yet it is, wreaking havoc on his body. Moving feels like a monumental chore, but he forces himself to sit up and whimpers at the pressure of his own weight against his tailbone. It’s not enough, not nearly.

Heat alone fucking sucks. This much Jeongguk knows. He’s single-handedly army crawled through all of them for years now, except for one particular episode during a moment of weakness. The experience was not amazing, and frankly, kind of uncomfortable; the alpha had started acting like they were mated when that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Still, he’s not unfamiliar with curling up in a nest big enough for only himself with nothing but the comfort of pillows and his own hand.

He’s smart about his nest now. Blankets, sheets, blankets, clothes that smell nice, more blankets, and a towel, just to catch all the slick that puddles in the divots of his nest and coats the insides of his thighs. Jeongguk trips over his own feet and ankles pulling it together.

Nests are lonely by default if they play home to only one person during heats, but before now, it’s never hurt. Not quite like this. The ache swells in Jeongguk’s bones even as he pushes his pants down to his ankles and takes himself in the curl of his palm, breath hissing through his teeth as he strokes off.

The first orgasm is the easiest. He lies spread-eagled, wishing he was tired, one hand resting against the sticky mess on his belly. There’s a sweet smell somewhere near his face, and when he turns his nose the scent grows strong enough to make his cock ache between his legs.

It’s the hoodie he’d been wearing from last night, and the surprise is enough for Jeongguk to pulled out of heat haze to prop himself up on a shaky elbow. The fabric is soft and giving under his fingers. When he brings it to his nose, warmth pools deep in his belly when the scent hits him—Namjoon’s scent, he realizes, breath rushing from his lungs when his back hits the nest again.

“Fuck,” he whimpers, reaching down for his cock again. “Fuck.”

The orgasms blur together. Jeongguk pushes his face into his clothing, chasing the scent of Namjoon in the knit of the fabric, wishing that there was something to fill him just to calm the rattling emptiness in his chest. Farther along into the night, he thinks about Jimin and Namjoon and comes to fast that he catches himself off guard.

Any permutation of them is enough to make him come with only a couple of strokes. Namjoon and Yoongi. Yoongi and Jimin. Namjoon, Yoongi, and Jimin. He tries not to think too hard about what the could mean, just yet, and Jeongguk falls into a restless, dreamless sleep just as the first birds start to sing outside.

 

Heat goes on for longer than usual this time, just to taunt him.

Jeongguk wakes up on the sixth day flat on his back, starving and tired, and nearly cries with relief when the burn under his skin is silent. For someone whose heat will fizzle itself out by the fourth night, Jeongguk has never known a full week defined by desire so thick it was painful. Jaehyun had knocked on his door once, asking if he should call an alpha, any alpha, “how about the one upstairs, he’s kind of hot and what if you die.”

“You look horrible.”

“I need food,” Jeongguk says, sounding like a middle-aged smoker. All the groaning he’d wrestled back into his stomach has rendered his throat sandpapery and raw. “Fridge still fucked?”

“Unfortunately.”

“I want to die.”

“I know,” Jaehyun says soothingly, a beta who doesn’t truly understand, but has seen enough of the carnage to know. “I have an apple, if that’ll keep you going. You want me to grab something for you to eat?”

Jeongguk bites into the offered apple and nearly says yes—because, yes, the answer is yes, he does want food. But although the painful burn of heat is gone, an uncomfortable niggling feeling sits at the base of his skull, petulantly saying no, no, I want Yoongi to feed me. I want Namjoon or Jimin to go buy something for me.

“I’ll just call someone,” Jeongguk says.

“Are you sure?” Jaehyun hovers. “You look like a washed-up demon.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but you were in there for six days with no alpha. Mingyu came asking if you were okay.”

“Christ. What did you tell him?”

“That you’ve done this a bunch of times and you’d be fine, and not to worry. Then I started to worry by the fifth morning.”

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Jeongguk lies. “I’ve got uh, a friend. Owes me dinner, anyway. I’ll just ask if we can go to KBBQ or something and eat everything I’m allowed to order in two hours.”

“The servers are gonna smell that heatscent on you.”

“I’ll manage,” Jeongguk grimaces, head hurting from this conversation alone.

Jaehyun stops hovering long enough for him to send a text to Jimin. He doesn’t get his hopes high; mid-afternoon, Jimin is probably still in the middle of his shift at the cafe. Not much luck with Namjoon, either. The text goes unread for ten minutes.

Yoongi, surprisingly, answers.

hey yeah. what’s up? we haven't heard from you in a while. you haven’t replied to jimin in days

hyung im so sorry. are you busy? i don’t want to bother you. do you have time to go eat right now

right now?? A long pause as Yoongi types. Then the typing bubble disappears, as if the realization has dawned on the other end, and no i’m not busy. jeongguk are you okay?

uhm, just really tired. because uh i’ll tell you later. i want to eat...

fuck give me your address, i’ll come get you right now

A wave of lightheadedness washes over his temples when he stands up to go find his shoes, and Jeongguk grits his teeth until the feeling passes. Just a little while longer, he tells himself. If Yoongi’s car is anything as extra as Namjoon’s or Jimin’s, then he should be screeching into the apartment complex soon enough.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I don’t know why it wasn’t more obvious by the third day, I can’t believe we’re this fucking stupid,” Yoongi (tries not to) yell at his phone, perched in its holder on his dashboard. “He went through heat! No fucking wonder he seemed to drop off the face of the fucking planet, and it makes total sense—he was around all three of us multiple days in a row, then went out with Namjoon for a whole evening. Of course his body would trigger heat.”

“Shit,” Jimin curses, voice filtering through the sound system as Yoongi makes an extremely illegal turn and earns a chorus of horns. “Shit, I still have three hours before I can clock out.”

“Oh my god, as if that’s important right now?” Yoongi actually does yell this time. He glances over his shoulder and swerves across some four lanes of the highway to the fast lane. “I got a text from him openly asking if I had time to take him out to eat. Can you even imagine how fucked up he must be? Last I recall, he tried to turn down dinner we already had cooked for him and tried to tell Namjoon duck was too expensive.”

“Fuck me,” Jimin says. “Fine, let me tell my supervisor I have an emergency at home. It’s not much of a lie. Should I call Namjoon hyung?”

Yoongi worries his lower lip between his teeth, weaving around two cars going too slow. “No, don’t freak him out yet. You know he’ll blame himself for it. If I can get Jeongguk out for food and back without incident, we can tell him later.”

“Got it. Let me know where you guys are gonna go eat as soon as you know.”

The maps app takes Yoongi into the heart of a college town, and he shifts uncomfortably in his seat as everyone ogles him passing by. Sure, he has a matte black paint job that makes his otherwise modest Audi look fancy as fuck, but it’s still not a fucking Maserati. He’s not sure how Jimin just shamelessly drives through these parts in his.

hey i’m outside. come out and we can go eat

It takes a few minutes, the time during which Yoongi occupies himself by scratching his thumbnail across the grooved stitching of his steering wheel. Then, Jeongguk appears at the entrance of his building, taking the dusty steps down to the sidewalk two at a time, hop-skip. He looks alright enough.

“Hey,” says Yoongi, killing the engine and stepping out of the car. Jeongguk looks up, and then the magnitude of how hard his heat must have been on him crashes down upon Yoongi’s shoulders. Jeongguk’s complexion is a pasty grey, and his lips are dry and cracked. He smiles as he approaches the sight makes Yoongi’s heart twist in his chest. Are his knees bonier where they show in the holes of his ripped jeans? Maybe. He can’t tell. “Hey, Jeongguk, are you okay?”

“Yeah, just tired,” Jeongguk says. “Can we get KBBQ? I’ll explain in a second.”

“Are you sure you even have the energy to go out to eat? We can get takeout.”

“Yeah, I’m sure, I’m great. Look,” and Jeongguk does an impromptu dance with a lot of complex footwork that makes Yoongi feel tired just watching. He ends on a pose with his arms thrown wide, ta-da! “I’m A-plus. Let’s go.”

“Okay, if you—fuck, Jeongguk, hey—!”

Yoongi just barely catches him when Jeongguk’s lighthearted expression slides off his face like wet soap and his eyes flutter shut. His body slumps under his own weight. He falls forward, pinning Yoongi against the door of his car, and Yoongi struggles to hold his deadweight up and not topple himself.

“Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, shaking him gently. No response. “Fuck, Jeongguk-ah, come on.”

Getting an unconscious sack of muscle into the car and buckled in is not a feat Yoongi would attempt if you paid him, but for Jeongguk, for this omega, he does it. He’s not sure how. Not dropping Jeongguk as he wrestles the passenger side door open is the hardest bit of it, and he accidentally smacks the back of Jeongguk’s head trying to get him into the seat. At the end of it a light sheen of sweat covers the back of his neck.

“Jimin, we’re heading home.”

“Wait, what? Hold on, I just managed to weasel my way out of my shift, I’m clocking out. What happened?”

“He fainted,” Yoongi says grimly, snagging a blanket out of the backseat and covering Jeongguk with it before he starts the car. Jimin makes a noise of concern through the speakers. “He looks like shit. I need you to help carry him out of the car.”

“Okay. I’ll see you back at the house.”

 

Jimin is already there by the time Yoongi pulls into their driveway, glad for the quaint silence of their secluded neighborhood. The rosebushes rustle in the evening breeze, and the sun is blowtorch orange against navy sky.

“How is he?”

“Didn’t wake up,” Yoongi says, climbing out as Jimin opens Jeongguk’s door. “But there’s some color in his face now, he was looking real bad when I saw him.”

“Okay, let’s get you outta there,” Jimin says, reaching over and unbuckling Jeongguk’s seatbelt. He makes a noise of complaint, squirming when Jimin forces his arms under the crooks of his knees. “Hey, shh, it’s just me.”

“Yoongi hyung?”

“Yeah, I’m right here.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, stop, it’s okay,” Yoongi says, and Jimin moves aside so he can push the hair out of Jeongguk’s face. His bangs are damp with sweat. “We’ll eat when you feel better.”

Jimin makes a strained noise when he lifts Jeongguk out of the seat, though it helps that Jeongguk wraps his arms around his neck and clings on. Yoongi shuts the car door behind them, then unlocks the front door so Jimin can step inside uninterrupted.

“Get into my bed, the one I share with Namjoon,” says Yoongi as he undoes the laces of Jeongguk’s shoes. “It’s probably a mess in there right now, but—”

“Is that a good idea, right after heat?”

“Uh,” Yoongi hesitates. “I don’t imagine yours is much of a better option.”

They stare at each other.

“Fair enough,” Jimin says. “This is my workout for the day, then.”

If Jimin trips, Yoongi is absolute toast where he trails behind them, steadying him with a hand against the small of Jimin’s back. It’s a bit of a journey, but they make it without any bumps in the road. Jeongguk blinks his eyes open again blearily when he lands in the mass of blankets on Yoongi’s bed, bouncing slightly on the mattress.

“Smells good,” he mumbles, pulling the sheets up to his nose and breathing in deep.

“Sleep. There’ll be food when you wake up.”

“And us,” Jimin says. “The best part.”

Yoongi steps on his foot.

“Best part,” Jeongguk repeats, not quite hearing his own words before the features of his face smooth out again. They stand over him, watching him sleep for a few moments before going back out into the hallway. The door shuts soundlessly behind them.

“I’m not calling him.”

“I did all the calling today, you call him.”

“Oh my god, you’re his life partner, he’s not going to get mad at you of all people. This is the obvious course of action.”

Yoongi snorts as they take the stairs down. It’s probably too late in the day to call the cooks to come, and the both of them aren’t terrible in the kitchen, so it’s probably not a horrible idea to go see what they can rustle up. “Let’s not pretend like he’s not the absolute softest on you.”

“That’s not going to remain the same much longer, now that we have an omega.”

“Just fucking call him! Holy shit.”

“Call me? About what?”

Yoongi stiffens as the front door closes. Namjoon is toeing off his shoes in the foyer and unbuttoning his coat, curiosity dancing along his eyebrows. Jimin runs right into him from behind.

“Fuck, uh, hyung,” Jimin stammers. “You’re back.”

“You don’t sound all that happy about it,” Namjoon says, a laugh in his voice. “What’s wrong?”

“Uh,” Yoongi says, thinking how to tread lightly.

“No, seriously.” Now, Namjoon is no longer smiling. “What’s wrong?”

Chapter Text

It’s been years since Yoongi has made haemul jeongol, though the nice thing about cooking is that it’s like riding a bike.

Having Jimin next to him is oddly comforting, silent save for the sounds of his spoon, tink-tink, against the glass dish as he mixes the seasoning. He can’t recall ever cooking together with him. They’ve never needed to until now.

“I thought that went well,” he says, and Yoongi grunts.

“How long has he been in the shower?”

“Some thirty minutes now,” Jimin says, worry apparent in his voice. “I think he might be trying to drown himself.”

“He’s going to drive the water bill up.”

“Isn’t it kind of cruel to be worrying about money at this point?”

Yoongi’s not actually worried about the money. Luck would have it that he hasn’t worried about expenses in years, and after spending most of his younger days in decrepit poverty, he enjoys this luxury. No, he’s just putting words in his mouth for the sake of saying them, because silence is terrible company, fanning the double-edged worry for Jeongguk’s health and for Namjoon’s—well, knack for shouldering responsibility for things that aren’t his fault. He cracks open the shell of a blue crab with unnecessary force, tearing the gills out and tossing them into the compost.

“If he wants to blame himself, we need to take some of it, too.”

“Huh?”

“We’re a triad. We are all equally responsible for how happy our omega is. If he’s sick, it’s not because of just Namjoon. If he’s sad, it’s not because of just you, or me.”

“You know that Namjoon hyung will agree but blame himself anyway.”

“Better say what we think to his face than let him stew in his brain noise.”

Jimin sighs, Napa cabbage crunching under his knife as he slices. “Yeah. You’re right. I feel upset with myself, too.”

“Makes three of us. The important part is we figure out how to change based on how we feel. That’s what counts.”

“It’s been the three of us for so long.” Jimin tosses the vegetables into a strainer and reaches for raw chicken. They’d decided one stew wouldn’t be enough, and that braised chicken was a good way to go. “Not that that’s an excuse.”

“No, it’s not.”

“The answer is probably no, but,” and Yoongi startles when the voice comes from behind them, “can I help with anything?”

“Hyung,” says Jimin. Namjoon is standing in the doorway to the kitchen, wearing a shapeless sweater and pajama pants, hair still dark with water. “No, no, of course you can. We need you to get the pots off the top shelf.”

“Ah, yes. Yes, I can do that,” Namjoon says. He moves jerkily, brushing past them, opening and closing cabinets as he mumbles about which ones they need for seafood stew and chicken. He grabs a shallow metal pot off a haphazard stack, the lid sliding off and skidding across the granite countertop with the noise of a cymbal crash.

“Sorry,” he says, pushing the pot across the counter with a single fingertip. “Here.”

“Namjoon-ah, don’t worry about Jeongguk,” Yoongi says, nose burning with the scent of the remorse coming off Namjoon’s skin. “He’s a lot stronger than your run-of-the-mill omega, he’ll be fine. Bad heats happen to everyone.”

“I should’ve known,” he says, shuffling across the kitchen to unhook a wok from the hanging rack over the kitchen island. “We’re supposed to take care of him, I should have known, I should have done something more. I should have underst—”

“Hey!”

Namjoon jumps when Yoongi grabs him, hands vise-like around his upper arms. “Do you hear yourself right now?”

“Hyung—”

“You said it yourself. We’re supposed to take care of him. We. If you want to be angry at someone, it should be all of us, not just yourself. Jimin should have called him. I should have checked on him. Our lives have never been led alone, and that’s not going to change because of Jeongguk. We all could have done better, but what’s the use of thinking what we could have done? Let’s just do better from here on out. Stop blaming yourself for things that aren’t your fault.”

Namjoon stares into Yoongi’s face, stunned, and over his shoulder Yoongi can see Jimin looking at him with part surprise, part respect in his eyes. He’s still holding a handful of raw chicken aloft over the sink.

“Sorry,” Yoongi says, and lets him go.

“No, no.” Namjoon rubs at his arm. “I needed that.”

“Oh, good.” A rueful smile tugs at the corners of Yoongi’s mouth. “There’s more where that came from. Help me peel the shrimp.”

The silence now is comfortable. Here and there Jimin will break it to tell Namjoon no, that’s not how you hold the knife, hyung, or to ask Yoongi to hand him something as he stirs the pot of stew until the broth thickens.

“Jimin, why’d you peel a bunch of potatoes?”

“Oh, shit, forgot those,” Jimin says, glancing over his shoulder from the stove. “He likes glazed sweet potato.”

“Hey, we used to eat that,” Namjoon says, nudging Yoongi with an elbow. “Before our big break. Even I remember how to make that.”

“You can do the honors, I ate that for weeks after my accident. I don’t want to look at it again.”

Namjoon busies himself with chopping the potato into bite-sized pieces as Yoongi hovers over the pots of stew. Jimin lifts the wooden spoon with a lick of broth on it every couple of minutes, asking if he needs to add anything else, then adjusts the seasoning before repeating the process in the other pot.

It’s a weird, familial kind of scene, one that they’ve never found themselves in. Jimin’s just gotten the stew on the table when Namjoon makes a noise of alarm and Yoongi braces himself for a shattering noise that never comes.

“What, what’s wrong?”

“Fuck.” Namjoon looks up, wok in one hand. “I’m pretty sure this is not supposed to happen.”

“What? Did it burn?”

“No, it just—look—”

Namjoon steps away from the gas range, holds the wok out, and then turns it upside-down. Jimin yelps, lunging, and Yoongi says something along the lines of “hey, what the fuck!” until they realize that the potatoes are superglued to the bottom of the pan.

“Wow.” Jimin straightens. “Yeah, uh. No, that’s not—what the fuck did you do?”

“I think the sugar cooled and then crystallized before I got it out of the pot,” Namjoon says, giving it a good hard shake. None of the potatoes budge. “And now they’re just trapped in a prison of warm, gooey sugar.”

“Like flies in amber.”

“Gross, Jimin.”

“Hey, it’s actually not that bad,” says Jimin, plucking one off the top of the pile. It comes trailing away with goassamer-thin strings of sugar clinging to his chunk of potato. “Not burnt, at least. Here, Yoongi hyung, try some.”

It really isn’t terrible. Sure, it’s wearing an armored suit of caramelized sugar, but it tastes good.

“What are you guys doing?”

“Oh—Jeongguk,” Jimin says, turning. “You’re up. How are you feeling?”

Jeongguk’s bedhead is impressive, an angry black hurricane atop his head. He rubs his eyes in the glare of the kitchen lights, yawning. The grey, sallow quality of his skin has cleared, but his cheeks still look more hollowed than Yoongi remembers. “Okay, I think,” he rasps, throat thick with sleep. “What time is it?”

“Almost nine,” says Jimin.

“Here, we made you food. You were too exhausted to even go out to eat.” Jeongguk blinks dumbly as Yoongi steps forward, holding out his chunk of potato. “Namjoon hasn’t picked up a pan in years, but he was dead-set on making glazed sweet potato for you. Try it.”

Jeongguk’s gaze is deep enough to lose himself in. Namjoon had said, some years ago while they were curled up in bed, that there are no such thing as true black eyes, just brown eyes so dark they look like star-studded night sky. Yoongi doesn’t know how Namjoon sat through a whole dinner of this, but then Jeongguk blinks again, parts his lips, and delicately eats right out of Yoongi’s fingers.

Blood rushes to Yoongi’s cheeks.

“So, uh,” Jimin says loudly, “is it good?”

His voice breaks the trancelike bubble that had formed around them, and Jeongguk chews before looking for more. “It’s so good—is that a whole pan?”

“Well, I messed it up, but—” Namjoon fumbles, reaching for a dish, but Jeongguk simply wedges himself between the counter and Namjoon’s body and begins to pick it out of the pan like a human vacuum.

But nothing. Jeongguk cleans the pan in under ten minutes, then literally cheers out loud when Jimin brings his attention to the stew on the table. He already has an entire chicken quarter in his mouth when he realizes they’re just watching him eat, extracts a clean bone from between his teeth, and sits up.

“Wait, you guys haven’t eaten, have you?”

“Jimin and I had naengmyeon that the cooks made this morning,” Yoongi says.

“And I had dinner with some people from work before getting home. Don’t worry about it.”

“But it feels weird to eat alone.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, eat. You fainted outside your apartment after a heat, and you’re worrying about us?” Jimin says, disbelief making him scoff.

Jeongguk’s chewing slows as he puts his chopsticks down, and even as he does his stomach rumbles in his belly. “I want you guys to eat.”

“We only made enough for you, Jeonggukie.”

“We can share.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Yoongi says, echoing Jimin.

“No, it’s okay, you know what? We have that leftover hotteok in the fridge. I wanted something sweet today, anyway.” Namjoon stands up, plucking at Jimin’s sleeve. “Help me, or else that’s going to end up stuck to the pan, too.”

“Wait, we have hotteok? No one told me! I hate this fucking family,” Jimin gripes, joining Namjoon and dancing away when Namjoon aims a swat at him.

Yoongi turns back from them, Jimin hanging off Namjoon’s arm as he pushes frozen dumplings around, searching for the hotteok. “Eat,” he prompts, as Jeongguk watches them with a ghost of a laugh on his face. “You really worried him, you know.”

“Namjoon hyung?” Jeongguk picks his chopsticks back up.

“He has the tendency to blame himself for anything less-than-savory that happens to us. To you too, now. Eat up. It makes us happy.”

Jeongguk crams more chicken into his mouth as the oil begins to pop at the island again, the sound of Jimin’s and Namjoon’s bickering woven around the noises of cooking. “I’m sorry.”

“None of that. I don’t need two self-deprecating people in this house.”

“There are four self-deprecating people in this house, hyung, and you know it.”

Yoongi looks up from the spot on the table he has his eyes trained on—omega or not, it’s impolite to watch people eat—and looks at Jeongguk. “Excuse me?”

“Jimin hyung doesn’t show it, but he said something once that made me really sad,” Jeongguk says, sparing Jimin a glance where he’s whacking Namjoon’s wrist with a wooden spoon. Classic. “I don’t think he even heard himself. He was complimenting you guys, actually, said that I’d like you guys way more than I’d like him.” A sigh. “And Namjoon hyung, I’m sure you know better than me what he’s like.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi says, unsure of what to say. He would never have guessed that Jeongguk sees them so clearly, and he shifts in his seat. “I know things about him that he’ll never say out loud.”

“And you, hyung, why are you afraid of me?”

Yoongi sputters. “I am not—”

“I can see it in your face,” Jeongguk says. He stares into Yoongi’s face again, so earnestly that Yoongi wants to look away, but he doesn’t want to confirm exactly what Jeongguk is saying. “Like you’re already apologizing for something that hasn’t happened.”

“I,” Yoongi says, under his breath. “I don’t know if I’m good enough for you.”

“But—”

“I’ve been around Namjoon so long. I know what he’s thinking just by the way he breathes. For years, that’s been enough. All he asks of me is just me. Jimin, too. But, you, you came into our lives, and all I knew was that I wanted to give you the world, and didn’t know where I could find it.”

“You dropped everything to take me out to eat, and you think that’s not giving me the world?” Jeongguk laughs, and the sober tension between them twangs, then loosens. “Christ, hyung. You need to talk to more college students.”

“Is that your idea of romance?”

“My idea of romance,” says Jeongguk, holding his chopsticks together in prayer hands and looking up at the chandelier above them, “is being surprised with a bouquet of fried chicken. My greatest fantasy is avocado toast, understanding all my homework, and living in a place with a working fridge with someone I really like who will touch my butt at the end of the day and call me cute.”

“Jesus,” Yoongi says. “How does three someones sound?”

Jeongguk pretends to take time to consider this, screwing up his face in thought. “Not bad,” he says, and laughs at Yoongi’s eyeroll. The crow’s feet around his eyes—Yoongi takes mental note that, when the day comes that he can, he’ll kiss them. “That doesn’t sound bad at all.”

 

Jimin has an ankle propped on a bent knee in bed, late into the night, when he hears a knock at his door. He looks past the glowing screen of his phone.

“Yeah?”

No answer. “Hyung?” he prompts, sitting up and putting his phone down. Sometimes Namjoon will wake up with too much noise in his head to settle back to bed, and Jimin is a light enough sleeper to not mind some midnight heart-to-hearts.

“It’s me,” comes a muffled voice, definitely not belonging to Namjoon. Jimin stands up, crossing the room, and opens the door to see Jeongguk outside. He scratches the back of his head. “Can I sleep in here?”

“Sure?” Jimin opens the door wider. “Is their bed not comfortable or something?”

“No, it’s great,” Jeongguk says, as Jimin shuts the door behind him with a click. “I love it.”

“Then what brought you here?”

“It felt weird that you were here all alone,” Jeongguk says. His arms are crossed tightly over his chest and he’s hunched over, like he’s cold. “So, I. Here I am.”

“Aw, I don’t get lonely, if that’s what you were worried about.” Jimin reaches out to untangle Jeongguk’s arms from each other. His hand is warm when Jimin laces their fingers together and leads him towards his bed, and he looks at Jimin beseechingly. “Here, climb in.”

Namjoon and Yoongi have a king-sized bed, so curling up with Jeongguk on a little full-sized is a bit of a squeeze. They arrange, then rearrange their limbs, until every limb is accounted for and comfortable.

Jeongguk shifts his head where it rests on Jimin’s shoulder, shoving his his nose deeper into the folds of fabric. His skin is warm through the pair of silk pajamas that Namjoon had lent him, royal blue with white stripes. It’s heady, having the scent of Namjoon entwined with Jeonguk’s burritoed in his bed.

“Now, what’s on your mind?”

“Nothing’s on my mind,” Jeongguk says, lifting his head to meet Jimin’s gaze for a moment.

“You don’t strike me as someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and stays awake.”

Jeongguk doesn’t bite back, and Jimin knows he’s won this one. Still, he didn’t mean to put Jeongguk on the hotseat. He pillows his hands behind his head. “It’s okay, I’m just fucking with you.”

“I asked Yoongi hyung how you met them.”

“So you did have something on your mind,” Jimin says triumphantly. “And what did he say?”

“To ask you myself.”

“Classic Yoongi. I love his prickly ass.”

Jeongguk eyes him.

“Well.” Jimin gets his head comfortable. “I’m sure that, by now, Namjoon hyung has told you all about how they got their money.”

“Yeah.”

“We met doing work for the mobs. Unlike those two, I wasn’t living in abject poverty before. My family didn’t have much, but it was still more than what those two lived on. My mother was a florist. You know what a florist has that a mobster wants?”

“Enlighten me.”

“Hmm. You know where opium comes from?”

Jeongguk doesn’t immediately answer. Then, “Shit. You grew poppies.”

“We ordered them, to be exact,” Jimin says delicately. “No one will question a florist who orders dirt, feed, and flower seeds in bulk. Not that I understood what was happening for years. After my parents grew old and ill and retired to our hometown, my brother and I continued that work, putting in orders for poppy seeds and handing them off to some guy who would show up on a big black bike every other week. We couldn’t stop, because the mob already had an accord with us that we couldn’t break. Even if we did, it would be too easy to track us if we moved with so much money from the mobs.”

“So what did you do?”

“I thought I’d be forced to shoulder the responsibility that my parents had incurred upon us for a lifetime,” Jimin says. “Trust me, mob work was not something I pictured myself doing, nor was it something I wanted to continue doing. It took months for me to reconcile my parents’ decision to ever enter such a risky contract with a ticking bomb for a business partner. But then I ran into Namjoon, when I was coming back from placing an order. It took a bit of knowing each other until he told me who he was. No one can blame him. He had to be sure. He told me that the Black Dragon mob was indebted to him, and if I was with him, then they couldn’t touch me, no matter the decision I made.”

“And you decided to bounce,” Jeongguk finishes, words muted as he processes it all.

“The second I could. Both of us did, actually, my brother and I,” Jimin says.

“Why you?”

“Why did Namjoon zero in on me, you mean?”

“Yeah.”

“Because my milkshake brings all the motherfucking boys to the yard, Jeonggukie.”

Jimin laughs, then yelps when Jeongguk pinches his side. “I hate you.”

“Strong words for someone who came knocking at my door at bootycall AM looking for a cuddle buddy.”

“I’m going back to their room.”

“Hey, I’ll stop, I’ll stop!” Jimin says, hugging Jeongguk tight as he harrumphs and makes to get up. “Why me, you ask. I’m not sure. Namjoon has a sixth sense, the one we call instinct, that I’ve learned not to question. It’s one that makes you believe in him and what he thinks, and makes you believe that somehow, everything is ok. When he asked me to be part of this pack, the answer was yes. For him, my answer has always been yes.”

“I,” Jeongguk struggles for words, “didn’t imagine.”

“I would put you down for ‘overactive imagination’ if you had, so I’m glad you didn’t.”

“Do you ever find yourself hating what you once did?”

“Like Namjoon hyung does? Sure. Plenty of times. Still, sometimes. But I’ve learned that most people who find themselves in objectionable situations never ended up there because they had a choice. I didn’t. Namjoon and Yoongi hyung didn’t. At least I know I chose right when I finally was given another way out.”

“And now you work at a cafe,” Jeongguk says.

“In my defense, I am very good at latte art.” Jimin tilts his head so he can catch a glimpse of Jeongguk’s expression. “Not going to scream and run after what I told you?”

“What is with you three? You’re not monsters.” He pauses. “The cars you all drive, maybe. Definitely.”

“Damn. So getting you a Porsche to match the collection is off the table, then?”

“I’m going back to their room for real now.”

“Aw, no, I was kidding!” Jimin laughs as Jeongguk struggles to get up anyway, laughing harder when he actually manages it, even with Jimin continuing to cling on. He stumbles, and they land in a heap back on the mattress. “Now, where was I? Oh, right.”

Jeongguk’s breathing is winded from their tussle, hair spread out in a messy fan over the blankets as Jimin props himself up over his face. His body cages Jeongguk’s in, lazy, unruffled.

“Hyung?”

“I have a surprise. Close your eyes.”

“I don’t like surprises.”

“What if I said it was a kiss?”

Jeongguk gazes up at him for a heartbeat longer, then lets his eyes fall shut.

Only for a moment does Jimin allow himself to be distracted by the quiver of Jeongguk’s eyelashes. The watery light of the moon turns them silver and wispy.

Then he leans in.

 

Jimin has worked long and hard on this being honest with himself thing, so he’s going to be really honest and admit that living in a melting pot of charged alpha-omega pheromones is driving him up the damn wall.

Hell hath no fury like Jeongguk woken by alarm. He has the temper of a wounded tiger, punching Jimin half out of the bed when he reaches out and slams a hand down on his phone. It falls quiet, and he leaves his arm outstretched with his palm spread over the screen for a moment until his elbow goes slack. His arm dangles over the edge of the bed.

“Hey, get up. You have class.”

“I want to sleep.”

“You can sleep when you’re dead.”

“That’s fine. Guess I’ll die.”

“Jeonggukie,” Jimin says, nudging him in the thigh with his knee. “Class is important.”

No answer. Jimin shifts his own leg, pressing close, until he can slot it in between Jeongguk’s thighs. This gets him a reaction he likes a lot more, and a smile spreads across Jimin’s face when Jeongguk’s body jolts and a moan bubbles up from his throat. “There you are.”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says, weakly, squirming as Jimin presses his thigh harder into Jeongguk’s crotch.

“Get up. Or I can just leave you hanging.”

“No, please.”

“Are you awake?”

“I’m awake, I’m awake,” Jeongguk says, voice hoarse as he struggles to sit up. Jimin keeps him down with one palm flat on his chest, climbing over him until he’s sitting between Jeongguk’s spread legs.

“Now, don’t be too loud. Yoongi hates it when you wake him up before his alarm.”

“Hyung—?”

His voice cuts off in another moan, strained in an attempt to be quiet, when Jimin pulls the hem of his pants down around his knees and works his cock out of his underwear. It’s already half-hard, flushed and heavy in Jimin’s hands, a bead of pre-come pearling at the tip. The scent of slick wreathes around him and Jimin has to choke back his own moan.

“I got you,” says Jimin, sucking Jeongguk into his mouth. He’s done this a bunch of times, with Yoongi and Namjoon both, but Jeongguk tastes different—sweeter, headier, dizzyingly toxic. It’s almost like a physical pull. He licks up the length of Jeongguk’s shaft, tongues at the head, and pulls away to survey his work.

“Don’t stop,” Jeongguk says. The column of his neck shines with the dull sheen of sweat, filmy in the weak morning light. “Please—please, I want.”

“What do you want, hm?”

“You, I want you.”

“I’m right here,” Jimin teases, going so far as to prop his chin in his free hand as he jerks Jeongguk off lazily. The circle of his hand is loose and careless, just enough friction to give Jeongguk a headache but not nearly enough to get him off. He whimpers. There’s a darkening wet spot on the bedsheets beneath him.

“I want your knot,” Jeongguk says, scrabbling at Jimin’s shoulders to pull him closer. But Jimin raises his eyebrows, hand stilling. Jeongguk looks down at him.

“Why did you stop?”

“I can’t give that to you yet, babe,” Jimin says, smoothing a palm up the length of Jeongguk’s thigh. Probably not the best time to bring up the fact that Jimin has to wait until Namjoon’s Ask. “Not yet, but soon, maybe.”

“Then don’t stop,” says Jeongguk, and tugs at Jimin’s hand.

And who is Jimin to deny a pretty, begging omega. He kisses the head of Jeongguk’s cock, using the precome that has pooled against the back of his hand as lube to jerk Jeongguk a little harder, a little faster. His thighs start to tighten around Jimin’s head and pins them down with his elbows, because there’s nothing that romantic about a crushed skull mid-blowjob.

“Are you gonna come, baby?”

“I’m gonna, please, suck me—”

So Jimin puts his back into it, and in one, two, Jeongguk whimpers high in his throat, muffling the noises into the palms of his hands, and comes hard. His back arches off the bed and his muscles lock up before he relaxes. Jimin hums as he licks him clean, swallows him down, and props himself up in the V of Jeongguk’s legs. They’re trembling.

“Awake?”

Jeongguk just groans, hips bucking as Jimin tucks him back into his pants.

“Good. You have class.”

It isn’t later, when Yoongi leans in at breakfast, that Jimin realizes he’s not the only one. For someone who has the reaction time of an old Roomba, Yoongi looks impressively alert. His eyes go hard and glassy.

“Jesus fucking Christ.”

“Smells good, doesn’t it.”

This morning sees just the two of them. Namjoon had offered to take Jeongguk back to campus, and he likely won’t be back until the afternoon. “I wish Namjoon would just fucking Ask him already, I literally had a wet dream last night.”

Jimin crows with laughter. “What? Shut up.”

“Hasn’t happened since I was a teenager. Woke Namjoon up and everything. D’you hear us?”

“No, I was too busy trying not to fuck our omega.”

“I can’t argue with that.”

“Lucky you. I popped a knot and all, then had to see him off. Took ages to get it down in the shower,” Jimin says, pulling the towel from his shoulder and rubbing it over the crown of his wet hair.

“I could’ve helped.”

Jimin looks up over his bowl of juk, and in the silence, Yoongi pauses with his spoon halfway to his mouth. A grain of swollen rice drips from the curve of the glass back into his bowl.

They stare at each other.

“Fuck, I didn’t imagine we’d have to do this again—”

“Yeah, not when an omega’s literally in front of us, but—”

Jimin laughs when Yoongi grabs his hand, tripping up the stairs two at a time. They’re probably going to both pop knots again. Whatever. Namjoon can take his sweet ass time. Jimin’s got an appointment with Yoongi, his tongue, and a trip to Hong Kong to catch.

 

In his freshman year, Jeongguk had made a deal with himself to be more involved, whatever that was supposed to mean. The associated student body didn’t seem right for him—too many meetings about things he didn’t understand or, frankly, care about. Neither did the theater—acting was fine, just, too intense for him. He’d tried a semester of intramural soccer, which was great until he sprained his knee—got too competitive, and the alphas on his team were just too creepy.

Then he’d run into the fine arts organization, and things finally clicked. Little did he expect to still be here, part of the staff, now, trying to pull together the last-minute details of the club retreat to the beach house over the weekend. His nerves feel fried. The only fried thing he likes to think about is chicken.

“You should ask Yoongi-hyung about this stuff,” Jimin suggests, watching as Jeongguk stares at their Excel sheet. His eyes hurt, even with the anti-glare glasses. “He’s a whiz at budgeting.”

“I’ve done this before, it’s like this every time,” Jeongguk says, rubbing his eyes from under his glasses. “I figure it out in the end. It’s like fucking a cactus getting there, though.”

“Hmm,” Jimin says, blowing a smoke ring towards the ceiling before he gets up off the lounge and lets himself out of the sitting room. Jeongguk looks up and around, unexpectedly alone, and back at his budgeting sheet.

we can be more generous on the food, i think he texts Mingyu, who reads it immediately.

ahhh, are you sure?

you should tell changkyun that the lodging is really not as bad as we predicted this time…

“I hear my budgeting services are needed?”

Jeongguk looks up over the glow of his laptop. “Hyung, I said it was okay.”

“Mm, you’ve been at this for hours. What’s it for?”

“A budget spreadsheet. I don’t know, this is as good as I can get it.”

Yoongi leans over Jeongguk’s shoulder, propping himself against the edge of the table on Jeongguk’s left and jiggling the mouse with his other hand. He frowns at the screen.

“You don’t have enough money allotted for food if there are going to be over twenty people.”

“I know,” Jeongguk bemoans, dragging his hands down his cheeks. “Our president doesn’t want to move any money from anywhere else. I keep telling him we’re going to starve.”

“Less on supplies, too,” Yoongi says, leaning closer and typing around Jeongguk’s body. Jeongguk stiffens when the warmth of Yoongi’s chest meets his back. “There. What’s this budget for, anyway? Maybe my advice will make more sense if I get the full picture.

“Oh, it’s—” Jeongguk turns to look up into Yoongi’s face. “It’s for—uhm, it’s…”

Yoongi is a lot closer than he realized, gazing intently upon him. Jeongguk’s mouth is dry, and his train of thought derails over the edge of a cliff. “It’s.”

He holds still when Yoongi reaches forward and gently pulls Jeongguk’s glasses off his nose, so gently that it grates against how brusque his voice and personality is. The expression in his eyes is unreadable, dark and intense. When Jeongguk takes a shaky breath into his lungs, the scent of Yoongi’s skin burns the lining of his throat.

“Hmm?”

“I.”

Jeongguk gasps, just a little, when Yoongi finally leans in and kisses him. It tastes familiar, even though this is the first time with him, like coffee, home, and unspoken comfort. Yoongi’s hand is warm and secure where it holds the nape of Jeongguk’s neck. The room is quiet save for the sounds of their mouths.

He kisses a little differently. Jimin is a wild child, and every time Jeongguk is finished with him his lips are always red and swollen. Namjoon is quiet, passionate, sucking Jeongguk’s tongue into his mouth. Yoongi—well, Yoongi kisses his top lip, then his bottom lip. Then his whole mouth, then the corner, then kisses him deep until Jeongguk feels dizzy. When he pulls away, Yoongi tugs his lower lip between his teeth, letting it go reluctantly.

“I, uhm. Fuck.”

A tiny smile flits across Yoongi’s mouth. “What were you saying?”

Jeongguk scrunches his nose, aiming for a glower but falling on the pout end of the spectrum. “You can’t do that, then expect me to remember what I was talking about.”

“Thank you,” Yoongi murmurs, giving Jeongguk one last kiss. It’s nothing more than a press of lips to lips. “I asked you what this was all for.”

“Oh, right.” Jeongguk nearly sways in his seat, punch drunk. He squints at the screen. His glasses are still dangling from Yoongi’s fingers. “Uhm, a retreat. For my organization! We’re going to a beach house, the weather’s great for it. Last year we went to the mountains when it was snowing.”

“Is that your president?” Yoongi nods at the chat alert on the screen.

“Who, Mingyu? No, he’s just in staff with me. We’ve been trying to figure this thing out all evening.”

“Jimin told me you knew a Mingyu. Best friend?”

“Yeah.”

“You should invite him over sometime. Is he another omega?”

“He’s, uh. He’s an alpha.”

Yoongi blinks. He looks from the screen to Jeongguk’s face.

“Is he?”

“Yes?” The end of the word goes up in a question.

Jeongguk feels like he’s said something wrong.

“I see,” says Yoongi. “Right, well, let’s get this done.”

Yoongi does not ask after Mingyu again, and aside from those tense several words, nothing else would give away what he’s thinking. Nothing, except for the way he pulls up a chair to sit beside Jeongguk instead of leaning over him, and does not press close for a kiss at the end of the night.

 

Jimin being Jimin, however, is vocal about his displeasure. Jeongguk isn’t sure if he’s thankful for it or embarrassed by it.

“Jeonggukie,” he whines, sashaying down the cafe floor and setting Jeongguk’s latte in front of him. “What do you mean you’re going on a retreat with an alpha who likes to sniff your butt?”

“Excuse me?” Jeongguk shouts in disbelief, face surpassing crimson and turning the color of an aubergine. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Yoongi hyung told us.” Jimin makes a gross exaggeration of a sad puppy dog face. “Are you really going to go?”

“He’s my best friend, why shouldn’t I? All the senior members and staff are going. We do this every semester.”

“Because what if he—what if he, I don’t know.”

“What if he what?”

Jimin gestures vaguely. “He’s an alpha.”

“And?”

“And, yeah.” Jimin gestures again, more expansively this time.

“What’s your point? You guys want me to stay away from every single alpha I know?”

“No!”

“Then why are you so up in arms about it?”

“I…”

“I’m not your omega yet, Jimin hyung, I hope you guys know that,” says Jeongguk, words cut and clear. “I know that you’re courting me. I know that you guys like me, and—I like you guys too. I do. I know. But you can’t tell me I can’t be around another alpha because you have some claim on me, or what I do.”

“I know,” Jimin says, shrinking into his seat.

“Do Yoongi and Namjoon share this sentiment?”

“Yeah.”

Jeongguk sits back. “No wonder Yoongi hyung got all weird and distant with me last night.”

“We just. We’re worried, is all.”

“Trust me. If you really care about me, please trust me.”

 

Because what could possibly happen?

The beach house is picturesque, full of golden sunlight when they arrive in a caravan of four cars in the early evening. It sits in a quaint neighborhood on the rocks by the sea, and the sound of the surf crashing against the shore is immediate tonic for all the grievances of university. Jeongguk climbs out of the backseat, legs sore from sitting in a cramped car all afternoon, and throws his arms out wide.

“God, yes.”

“I’m going to run through the surf as soon as I put my shit down, anyone who’s down is invited!” shouts Lisa, and a smattering of “me!”s rings through their gathering. She and Jennie take off towards the house, flip flops slapping against the pavement, then against the sandy path leading up to the front door.

“I don’t know how they have the energy for that after a four hour drive,” Mingyu says, falling into step beside Jeongguk. “Wasn’t Jennie driving, too?”

“Yeah. I’m just glad I made it out of her car in one piece.”

Mingyu laughs. “Why, is she that bad?”

“Nah, not exactly. A yellow jacket flew in through Lisa’s passenger side window about halfway through the ride, when we were on the freeway. We were all screaming at the tops of our lungs. I was so sure we were going to die.”

“Holy shit. What’d you guys do?”

“We pulled over and shooed it out with a window shade,” Jeongguk says, shaking his head. Nothing quite like being on the side of a highway with cars going over a hundred kilometers per hour, screaming about a wasp in the front seat.”

“Sounds like you had quite the ordeal.”

“I am so tired.”

First evening passes by quickly, mostly because everyone unpacks, orders in, and by the time dinner wraps up, some of the members have started falling asleep on the couches with the pizza boxes still open on the floor. Jeongguk is one of them, shaken awake to everyone shifting around sleepily and hunting down their suitcases.

“Huh?”

“Everyone’s getting ready for bed. There are enough beds for half of us, everyone else is getting relegated to the couch or the air mattresses,” says Mingyu. “Rock paper scissors tournament.”

“Oh,” Jeongguk says, tongue thick with sleep. He sits up, holding his hand out as everyone gathers to figure out their fate for the night. In the end, Jeongguk ends up back on the couch, and he sulks for a moment before throwing himself back down into the cushions.

“My kingdom now.”

“Dibs on the lounge!” someone says, shuffling past. It takes all the energy in the world, but Jeongguk forces himself to get up, shower, and climb into his pajamas. The couch is new, and smells nice, but is nevertheless lumpy when he finally settles down into it.

He closes his eyes. The windows are ajar to let the breeze in, and the briny smell of the ocean filters through the dust screen. Dreamily, Jeongguk longs for the scent of the alphas back home, and goes out like a light.

 

Morning is hard.

There are three bathrooms between some twenty people. By the time Jeongguk gets a sink, the water is lukewarm at best and the floor is covered with long, thin strands of hair. He slouches out of the bathroom just as Changkyun looks up from his phone, giving Jeongguk a groggy, wordless salute as he goes in next.

The rest of the day is taken up by hiking. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and wind tunnels, and Jeongguk spends a day feeling uncomfortably greasy with how much sunscreen he’d slathered on. Mingyu laughs and rubs a streak of sunscreen out along the side of Jeongguk’s jaw halfway through the afternoon.

“And no one told me I was just walking around with that on my chin,” Jeongguk says, running his fingers over his face. “You all just let me look like a damn fool.”

“No, no, you looked cute,” Mingyu says, slinging an arm around Jeongguk’s shoulders and making him stumble on the gravelly hiking path.

It’s been awhile since Jeongguk’s had the chance to watch a sunset by the sea. They’d split up into two groups to hike today, and their party perches itself in a curving niche at the top of a rock formation to watch the sun go down, waving a sleepy goodbye to the day. The wind whistles through the wind tunnels down below, and Jeongguk squints against the gusts that blow his hair into his face.

“I got sunburned,” Mingyu says, later, when night has fallen in earnest. A bonfire is going on the shore, started by another group of beachgoers. Lisa and Jennie are engaging in their Usual Ridiculousness. Changkyun and a few others are handing out sparklers and trying to write words for pictures. Jeongguk laughs to himself when he realizes they’re probably trying to spell out curse words. He shakes his head when Mingyu offers his bottle of aloe gel.

“I got the last laugh for smelling like a walking bottle of Banana Boat,” Jeongguk says. “The rest of you are going to molt like reptiles.”

“Don’t laugh,” Mingyu protests, capping the bottle and hissing as he spreads the last dollop out on his shoulder. The skin there is lobster-red.

“Too late. That’s what you get for laughing at my sunscreen nose.”

“You have to admit that was funny.”

“I’m not admitting anything.”

They sit together in comfortable silence. Every couple of minutes Mingyu blows on the cooling aloe, propping his elbows on his knees to let it dry undisturbed.

“Hey, Jeongguk. I have a question.”

“Yeah, what.”

“Are you going to get mad?”

Jeongguk snorts. “You sound like my—” He balks when he almost says alpha. Namely, Jimin, who’s shared this exact exchange with him before over eating Jeongguk's leftover naengmyeon by accident.

“Your...what?”

“My, uh. Friend.”

“Well, the question was, I was wondering if you would be willing to accompany me.” Mingyu scratches at the back of his head sheepishly. “For my rut.”

Down by the surf, Lisa screeches with laughter. Changkyun shouts, in a guise of anger, but he starts laughing, too. Then, the babble of too many people trying to talk over each other at once rises over the sound of the surf. Jeongguk straightens where they sit on the steps of the beach house’s back deck, overlooking the cliffs.

“Your rut?”

“Yeah, it’s coming up. Probably about two days after we get back from retreat. I wasn’t even going to come, because I was worried it might arrive early, but, uhm. I wanted to ask you.”

“Oh.” Jeongguk swallows.

Is he?

We’re worried, is all.

Instinct. Fuck, how could Jeongguk forget? Namjoon and his instinct, which almost can rival true psychic ability. He shifts, looks at Mingyu. His face is expectant, vulnerable, half of it thrown into sharp relief by the harsh glow of the moon.

Rut. Mingyu is his best friend. Jeongguk knows full well how much it fucking sucks to go through that sort of thing alone.

“Okay,” he says.

“Really?” A thousand-gigawatt smile spreads over Mingyu’s face.

“Yeah, really,” says Jeongguk. He drags the hesitation in his chest through the sand and pins under the surface of the water until, finally, it lies still.

 

Namjoon looks so happy to see him by the end of the weekend that the hesitation, this time paired with a cold guilt, comes back in full force when he picks Jeongguk up from his university campus.

“You got tan,” he says when Jeongguk climbs into the passenger seat beside him. The scent of him envelops Jeongguk immediately, so comforting that tears almost spring to his eyes.

“I know, I know.”

“You look good,” Namjoon says.

“Really?”

“Of course.” He leans over the console slightly, and surely he catches the whiff of some five or so alphas on Jeongguk’s clothes. Only for a moment does he pause, though, and Jeongguk closes the distance between them to kiss Namjoon hard. The rattling anxiety seems to settle when he does.

“I missed you,” says Jeongguk.

“I did too. We all did.” Namjoon puts a hand on the shoulder of Jeongguk’s seat and backs out of his parking spot. “Yoongi just cooped himself up in his studio for hours on end. I haven’t seen him do that in months.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What on earth for? Stop it.”

“Jimin said you guys would be worried.”

“As long as you’re happy,” Namjoon says, turning onto the freeway. He merges politely, unlike Yoongi or Jimin.

Jeongguk swallows. God, he’s not happy. Every time he thinks about going over to Mingyu’s apartment to curl up in his bed with him, his stomach churns. Not in the fluttery way, either, like when Namjoon cradles his face in his hands.

He dozes for the drive back to the house, where the lights are still on in the sitting room windows. A silhouette of Yoongi is visible through the sheer silk curtains, and it moves out of the window at the sound of the front door unlocking.

“Jeonggukie!”

Jimin barrels through the foyer and quite literally launches himself at Jeongguk, who nearly eats marble tile. He takes Jeongguk’s face in both hands and kisses his square on the mouth. “Holy shit, finally,” he says. “You’ve been gone for fifteen years.”

“Ignore him, he’s drunk.”

Yoongi appears more quietly, slinking in like a shadow. He doesn’t hesitate to gather Jeongguk into his arms.

“You had fun, right?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Tell us about it?” Namjoon asks, pushing Jeongguk’s suitcase towards the foot of the staircase, then takes his hand.

So Jeongguk does. Truthfully, it really was a fun retreat. Between Lisa’s antics, and there were a lot of them, and the general fuckery of the guys on staff during the hike, Jeongguk remembers laughing a lot. After they’d fixed the budget, the food situation had looked a lot better, with a barbecue for the second evening they’d stayed.

But there’s an elephant in the room that they do not know of, and one that Jeongguk cannot ignore.

“And, uhm,” he says. “You guys know Mingyu, right?”

The air tightens instantly.

“Yes,” Namjoon says.

“He’s an alpha.” Jeongguk picks at a loose thread in the sleeve of his hoodie. “And he asked me—he asked me to accompany him for his rut.”

“Wait, he what?”

“He said his rut is coming up soon, and asked if I’d be his omega to accompany him through it.”

Yoongi crosses his legs.

“And what did you say?”

Jeongguk shifts again, more nervously this time, knowing he’s about to get chastised. I told you so. We all told you so. “I said I’d help.”

Namjoon’s expression is severe. Yoongi’s not looking at him, eyes trained on a whorl in the wooden coffee table, and Jimin picks at a fold of skin at his knuckle.

“Do you want to?” Namjoon asks, more softly than Jeongguk anticipated.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Jeongguk says, uncertain of who he’s trying to convince.

“I know, Jeonggukie. But do you want to be there for his rut?”

Honestly? No. Not really. He can’t imagine that it’ll be a shitty experience, either. This is Mingyu, after all, someone Jeongguk has known since his first year of university. They’re the dynamic duo in their club, if you can call the title Worse and Worst dynamic. They used to go bowling past midnight in their first semester of college drunk. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Jeongguk has fun with Mingyu, but when it comes down to rut, some tiny part of him shuts down and goes cold.

“I don’t know,” he says.

“Jeongguk-ah—”

“Jeongguk,” says Yoongi, finally speaking up for the first time this evening. “You do not set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”

“Hyung?”

The feet of Yoongi’s armchair scrape the floor as he stands, crossing the room and fitting a palm to Jeongguk’s cheek. He leans in, and Jeongguk feels his eyes flutter when a kiss is pressed to his forehead.

“Good night, baby.”

Yoongi lets himself out of the sitting room, the door swinging shut behind him, and Namjoon opens the circle of his arms. Jeongguk vacates his own seat and collapses facefirst into him, in the chaise lounge with Jimin. The soothing sensation of fingers glides through his hair.

“I said something wrong.” His words are muffled into Namjoon’s chest.

“You didn’t,” Jimin says.

“I’m not convinced.”

“He just wants you to be happy,” Namjoon says, holding Jeongguk securely to his body. “I told you, Jeonggukie. We just want you to be happy.”

“But I am happy,” Jeongguk whispers, so quietly that it’s nothing but a heart murmur.

 

So Jeongguk thinks, and thinks, and thinks. It lurks in the back of his mind as he slaves through his homework. He spaces out in the shower. He crawls into Jimin’s bed that night, knowing sleep will elude him for hours as the night deepens. He thinks some more.

The clock ticks. The house breathes.

Then, just as dawn begins to wipe the night from the sky, he gets up, and makes a call.

 

Waiting for bad news is a funny feeling. All day, Yoongi is restless and impatient. The hours snail by at work. Then, when the last hour arrives, and he’s thinking about how he should have been more productive, Yoongi suddenly does not want to go home. The house will be empty, except not, because Namjoon and Jimin will be there. But Jeongguk won’t be, and even as his coworkers pat him on the shoulder and bid him a “see you tomorrow,” Yoongi considers working overtime just to give his mind something to do.

But the other two will worry.

“Hey hyung,” Jimin says when Yoongi unlocks the front door. He’s stretched out like a cat over the chaise lounge, head laid back on the arm rest. One of his arms dangles over the edge toward the floor, a thin column of smoke rising from his cigarette.

“Hey, you.”

“Okay day at work?”

“Mmpf,” Yoongi grunts.

“Same,” Jimin says, lifting the cigarette to his lips, taking a drag. “A cup of iced coffee exploded all over me today. On top of that, I accidentally gave two people wrong orders afterwards.”

“Tough. Sorry to hear.”

“You want to warm up some of the kimchi ppang and watch Lights Out?”

Yoongi doesn’t care for horror movies, but he says, “Sure.”

Jimin smashes the cigarette out in the ashtray—it’s been full a lot more recently, a forest of cigarette butts in the glass dish—and stands up, taking one last sip of daisy-golden whiskey. The microwave hums to life in the kitchen as he rummages about for food. Yoongi settles down on the cushions in their theater as he goes through their list of movies.

“Do you want a Coke?” he asks, sticking his head in and waving a can of it. Share a Coke with your Mate! singsongs the label, and Yoongi almost wants to laugh at the irony of it.

“Yeah, okay.”

They settle in with a mountain of kimchi ppang on a platter between them. Air hisses out of the mouth of Yoongi’s Coke can when he breaks the seal, and he balances it on a cushion to his side as the opening credits for the movie roll.

“Is Namjoon hyung going to be late today?”

“Not sure,” Yoongi says. “He didn’t give me any texts.”

“Hm.”

The opening scene is eerie, hair-raising, and the entire time Yoongi expects Jimin to leap into his lap in fear, but Jimin remains where he sits, absently making his way through his third kimchi bun. Now that Yoongi thinks about it, a horror movie? That’s so far out of Jimin’s usual parameters. He must be just as restless and distracted as Yoongi has felt all day. This is the same guy who got scared watching Jurassic World not because of the dinosaurs but because he realized the lead child was the same one from Insidious. Twenty minutes in, a knock comes at the door and it slides open.

“Movie night, is it?” Namjoon never has a rumpled tie or a hair out of place even at the end of a long workday, but today, exhaustion lines the shadows in his face.

“We’re trying to scare our asses off, yeah.” Yoongi scoots over to make room. Namjoon sinks down into the cushions with a hard exhale, loosening his tie and leaning into his side. “Kimchi ppang?” Jimin passes the platter.

“Thanks. Cold evening.”

“Yeah.”

Cuddled together inside the home theater eating warmed-up food is not so different from the evenings they’ve always led. They were happy, too; some nights, when Namjoon got off work early, he’d bring home citron and grapefruit soju, then try to drink Yoongi under the table as Jimin tipsily sang into a spatula at the top of his lungs after one shot. Other nights, especially ones close to any of their ruts, they’d curl up in a nest and get in as many kisses as they could manage.

Jimin unwinds enough to startle at the appropriate moments. Yoongi, too, finds himself so engrossed that when the quiet ding of the front doorbell filters through the house, he spooks, reaching for Namjoon.

“Is someone at the door?”

Namjoon rises, stepping into the hallway. Jimin sits up and pauses the movie as Namjoon punches the button to speak on the doorbell intercom.

“Hello, who’s there?”

No answer. Yoongi glances at Jimin.

“Hello?”

“Hyung, it’s me.”

“Jeonggukie?” Namjoon asks, voice piquing with surprise.

“Yeah.”

“What—are you outside?”

“Yeah. Can I come in?”

“Yeah, of—of course, wait, hang on—”

“Jeongguk is here?” Jimin says, helping Yoongi up from the cushions. “Like, he’s here, here? I thought he was going to be with, well.”

“I don’t know,” Namjoon says. The both of them trip and stumble over their own feet hurrying along in Namjoon’s wake, and the stained glass lamp flickers on when it senses their movement in the foyer. The door rumbles in its frame as they unlock it.

Wind rushes in. Jeongguk looks up at their little brigade, crowded up in the narrow opening, and despite being the most heavyset of the four of them he suddenly looks so small where he stands on the doormat.

“I…”

“You’re here,” Jimin says.

“I backed out last minute,” Jeongguk says, the words tumbling out. Desperation hinges on the backs of each syllable. “I backed out. I called him and I said I couldn’t—that I didn’t want to do it. I feel so bad. I feel horrible, actually, but relieved at the same time. And I—” He looks away towards the rosebushes by the cobbled path, collecting himself. Even so, voice falters on the last word. “I want to stay with you. I want to be with you guys.”

“Jeongguk, it’s—”

Yoongi pries the door away from Namjoon’s grasp, opening it wide until it touches the opposite wall, and holds his hand out. Jeongguk looks at it tearfully and a sob wracks his chest and he steps over the steel threshold into their arms.

Hugs have never been Yoongi’s forte. Three-way hugs are out of the damn question. Yet despite that all, Jeongguk fits between the three of them like he was made for them, filling in the cracks that they didn’t think were there until he appeared in their lives.

“Then,” says Yoongi, where his mouth is pressed against Jeongguk’s temple, “it would be nothing short of a privilege to be by your side.”

 

(“Mingyu?”

“Jeongguk, yeah—what’s going on? It’s barely morning.”

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry this is last minute. I can’t accompany you for your rut. I know I said I would, but I have to be honest with you and tell you that I can’t. I thought I could when I agreed, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a better idea for me to tell you now rather than later.”

“Oh.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“No, it’s—well, thank you for telling me.”

“I really fucked up, I know.”

“If you don’t mind, can I ask why?”

“Why?”

“Yeah.”

Pause.

“I think, uhm. I think I’ve found them. The alphas that are going to be my mates.”)

 

If Jeongguk remembers anything about what his family taught him when he presented as an omega, it is that he does not make the first move.

“Whoever your alpha is,” explained his mother, “is obligated to ask you formally to be theirs. Even then, if you do not like them, if you do not think they are the one for you, you must not say yes. Not until you know.”

At sixteen years old, these words meant nothing. Not much about the future means anything at that age, especially an idea as abstract as an alpha being “it,” or understanding what it meant to be a mated omega. Now it looks Jeongguk in the face, staring insolently, little more than a waiting game.

“Three alphas, huh,” says his brother, leaning back in his chair and stretching his arms over his head. “I didn’t imagine my baby bro hitting the goddamn alpha lottery.”

“And you think I did?”

Jeonghyun rubs his hand over his cruelly short military buzzcut. “What are they like? Are they good to you?”

“The best.”

“High compliment from you, for sure.”

"Mmpf."

“That rut schedule.” Jeonghyun shakes his head, face pixelly on Jeongguk’s laptop screen. “Godspeed, baby bro.”

“Ugh.” Jeongguk hadn’t even thought of that. “I’m sure they’re going to figure something out about that. I don’t know. They really are great to me, you don’t need to worry.”

“On the bright side, heat will be a fucking party for you. Three alphas to take care of you? Man, I’d say that’s a fair trade-off, even with the hellish rut schedule.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says, trying not to sound too dreamy. “Finally.”

“Well, if one of them ever gets his shit together and asks, let me know how it goes. Alpha den dynamics are fascinating.”

“I’m not telling you about my sex life, hyung.”

“You’re gonna have sex so good you’ll want to hand out flyers on the street corner to strangers that say ‘yo check out my motherfucking sex glow though’ so don’t get too cocky.”

“You have got to stop listening to AOMG.”

“Whatever, Jeonggukie. I’ll catch you later.”

Jeongguk closes out of the Facetime window, to, speak of the devil. There are messages on his desktop LINE app waiting to be read, some from Mingyu, some from Jaehyun, and then one he really wants to see, under the name alphas ^^.

hey jeonggukie
are you free sometime today or tomorrow for dinner?

The messages are from Namjoon. Underneath, Jimin, who can’t let one conversation go by without piping up.

hyuuuuung what about dinner with meee
you promised me we’d go get kkongchi jorim
ㅋㅋ
>:3 just kidding you guys have fun

Jeongguk’s stomach growls. From what he’s heard, Asks can take up the entire night. He tilts his head back and fights a mental war with himself, the same kind as the one where he tries to convince himself that he can finish a forty-minute episode of a TV show in twenty minutes. Likewise, he’s not going to finish his painting midterm in two hours.

tomorrow! i have a project to hand in by the morning but then i’m freeeeee for the weekend!

awesome! come by? or i can come get you.

come get me!!!

yeah hyung who makes an omega come to the alpha lmao please

shut it, jiminie

Jitters run through his nerves, but Jeongguk cradles the scorching underside of his laptop on the backs of his thighs, and laughs.

 

The third floor of the house is made up of Namjoon’s and Yoongi’s studios, the miniature library, and more guest rooms than any of them will ever need. Before Jeongguk, Yoongi had imagined that one day they’d be rooms to each of their omegas. It seems, now, that most of them are going to remain obsolete guest rooms.

“When was the last time any of us ever stepped foot in here?” Jimin sneezes ferociously, the sound of it reverberating against the high ceiling. He pushes the vacuum into the hallway and relieves Yoongi of the load of blankets in his arms. “Besides, isn’t Jeongguk supposed to build the nest? Aren’t we encroaching on something if we do it?”

“Omegas build nests for their heats, for Asks the alpha is the one who builds it. Part of the courting ritual and all.” Yoongi pads across the blankets Jimin has already laid down in bare feet, kneading the fabric between his toes. “We could afford to put more blankets down.”

“More?” Jimin straightens. “Really?”

“Hell, we should just put the mattress pad under the blankets. We’re on hardwood.”

The house is quiet. Namjoon had driven out a quarter of an hour ago to get Jeongguk from his apartment for the Ask, with Jimin waving him off with a saucy smile and Yoongi simply giving him a quiet good luck. Lucky for them, the biggest guest room on the third floor has a collapsible bed frame. Two people, one with an inclination for building furniture, make easy work of it.

“Yeah, this is better,” Jimin agrees, sitting down and testing out the softness. “Okay, now we just build up the blankets around the sides.”

“The smell is giving even me a headache. It’s going to knock Jeongguk out.”

“It’s going to get him wetter than water is what it’s going to do,” Jimin says. He fluffs a pillow and throws it at the head of the nest, getting up to reach into the top shelf of the closet and pull more pillows out of their bags. “Duck! Ooooops. Sorry hyung.”

“Fuckin’ hate you,” Yoongi mutters, combing his bangs out of his eyes after Jimin had oh-so-accidentally pummeled him in the face with a throw pillow, and gets nothing but a snicker in response. They’ve drained the closets of blankets and pillow before they stand back and admire their handiwork.

Then, “clothes.”

“Huh?” asks Jimin.

“Our clothes. He loves the smell of them.” Yoongi nudges Jimin in the arm. “Go get our laundry baskets or whatever we have lying around in our chairs.”

“Oh, shit, good idea.”

So Jimin comes back with a multifarious assortment of clothes from each of their rooms: two pinstripe suits, ties (Yoongi tries not to let his mind Go There just yet), fleece sweaters, pajamas, crinkled dress shirts, and at least one pair of boxers.

“Nice,” Yoongi says, hooking his thumb through the hem of them, holding it up to eye level. “Are these mine?”

“I would assume so. All black. Can’t be sure, I found them in your and Namjoon’s bed, so.”

“Fair enough,” Yoongi says, tossing it over his shoulder into the nest. They line the edges of it liberally, until the scent begins to burn the insides of Yoongi’s nose as they lie back in it and bask in the fruits of their labor.

“We did good,” Jimin says.

“Mhmm.”

“Should we get out of the nest? Namjoon’s doing the Ask, so, well.” Jimin turns onto his side and pillows his cheek on his folded palms. “Maybe they’ll want it for themselves.”

“We’re a triad. We should wait and ask what Jeongguk wants.”

“God, please let Namjoon just hurry up and knot him, I’m going insane turning him down every time he asks me fuck him.”

Yoongi grunts. “I’ll just be glad to stop popping knots every time I go to sleep.”

“Awww,” Jimin says, mock hurt. “I was starting to enjoy our morning frisks after breakfast.”

“Don’t get used to it, Park Jimin.”

Jimin hums. “I hope he chooses us.”

Yoongi opens his eyes to stare at the ceiling after they’d fallen shut. “Yeah,” he says.

“Do you think he will?”

For most of his life, Yoongi has not allowed himself the luxury to hope. He turns his face to meet Jimin’s gaze. Just this once, he does.

“Yeah, I really hope so.”

 

Namjoon takes him to the same duck restaurant as the first time they had sat down together. This time, Jeongguk doesn’t take his sweet time looking at other dishes, and asks for a whole duck right from the get go. Namjoon laughs, unable to help the shake of his head, when Jeongguk wiggles in excitement for it after the waitress takes their menus.

Some things are different about this dinner, though. For starters, Jeongguk is on edge from the second he sits down. He’s at least seventy-three percent sure that Namjoon is nervous, too, if the way he immediately knocks over his glass of water says anything.

“Sorry, are you sure I didn’t get any on you?”

“Hyung, it’s really okay. It’s just water.”

Namjoon picks at the piece of duck on his plate, even though he’d said he was starving earlier in the car. Jeongguk wants to reach across the table and take his hands and say, it’s okay. It’s okay. The answer is already yes. I think the answer has been yes since the day I met you all.

“Uhm, Jeonggukie.”

“Yes.”

“You know why I asked you out here today, don’t you?”

Jeongguk props his chin in his hand, resting his chopsticks on his plate. “I think so.”

“There’s something I have to ask you. A question I’m asking for the three of us.” Namjoon mirrors him, setting his chopsticks down on his plate and arranging them so that they’re just barely touching. “You don’t have to say yes. Answer honestly.”

The table creaks when Jeongguk leans forward on his elbows.

“Ask.”

“From the second Jimin told us to come meet you, I had a feeling you were ‘it.’ Yoongi and Jimin and I, we’ve spent our lives laughing at and wondering about this idea of ‘it,’ listening to alphas and omegas talk about their mates. All of them somehow, they just knew. Jimin, maybe, is the kind of alpha who believes in fairytales. He was always waiting for the omega that was it, and that led him to you. That led us to you, and, well—we can’t really picture life without you in it anymore. You’re it. You’ve been it since I’ve met you, and I think Yoongi and Jimin more than agree."

Namjoon pauses to chew on his lip, and Jeongguk thinks his heart is going to burst through his ribs.

“Will—will you be our omega? We’ll take care of you, always, as your mates.”

“Yes,” Jeongguk says, and this time, there’s no hesitation to drown. “I will. I want to be.”

Every muscle in Namjoon’s body goes slack with relief, and he drops his face into his hands. “Oh, God,” he says, laughing in the way that people do when things turn out a lot better than they’d anticipated. “Oh, my God. I can’t believe it. We were so scared.”

“What? That I’d say no?”

“There is always a possibility you could,” Namjoon says, peeking through his fingers. “And in the case that you did, we would say nothing more. Probably go home, finish Lights Out, be miserable in bed together. You know, triad stuff before we knew you.”

“You don’t need to be miserable anymore, you have me.”

Namjoon sighs. “I wish I saw the world the way you did.” Jeongguk flushes, unable to help the smile that comes over his face. “But I need to tell you some things, since we are a triad. It makes this arrangement a little more unconventional than most.”

“Yeah?”

“During heats, you can choose to sleep with any of us. Or all of us, if it suits your fancy.”

“Oh.” Jeongguk’s turn to hide his face in his hands. “Thank you.”

“And I’m sure you realize that it means there are going to be three ruts, from three alphas,” says Namjoon.

“Oh. Yeah, I do.”

“Yoongi’s and mine almost never sync up. We spent years together without needing to worry about it, until we met Jimin—and those two always ended up with synchronized ruts. In the end we had to go on rut pills to regulate them. Then, when we realized that you might be our omega, we all went on higher dosages. Even still, because they’re not suppressants, that means we’ll still get them. We’ll just be timed a lot better so you won’t, well. Die.”

“You didn’t—”

“We do,” Namjoon says, with so much calm conviction that Jeongguk trails off. “We do have to. Jimin used to get rut every two months, Yoongi every three or four. Mine has never been on schedule without rut pills, so I can’t say. Imagine how much school you’d miss, and how tired you’d always be. No, we’re not letting that happen.”

“Are you guys sure about this?”

“Certain. I have us all timed, you know, so you only need to get us all through about four a year. The usual number of times an alpha will rut, to my knowledge. It doesn’t hurt us to just pop some pills, Jeonggukie. It’ll hurt you a lot more if we don’t.”

“But it seems inherently wrong for alphas to stay on pills once they find their omegas, somehow.”

“Perhaps in dyads, yes. But, to be mated, I think—well, you do what you can so that the person you love hurts the least.” Namjoon’s eyes are unbearably soft. “And if it’s something as simple as taking a little white pill with dinner every day, then that’s what we’ll do.”

 

Mated. Jeongguk shivers.

The ride home is so quiet that he can practically hear his own blood thundering through his temples. Anticipation makes Jeongguk’s legs soft, too, knees jelly when he climbs out of the car after Namjoon pulls into the garage. He holds his hand out. There’s something so intimate about that gesture, the act of holding hands on the way to bed, that Jeongguk can only stare at his open palm for a moment.

“I don’t bite,” Namjoon says, amusement in his voice. “Well, not yet. And only if you want me to.”

Jeongguk blushes up to his hairline, sliding his hand into Namjoon’s, and toes his shoes off. There’s no usual catcall from Jimin or the shadowy presence of Yoongi to greet them.

“I think they’re upstairs. They made your nest this afternoon.”

They take the stairs all the way up to the third floor, one which Jeongguk has not frequented more than once or twice since he’s met them. The soft murmur of voices in the room at the end of the hall is comforting. It’s a bit like coming home.

“Coming in,” Namjoon says, knocking once and turning the knob. Jimin sits up when the door swings open, Yoongi following more slowly. “Wow, you guys really outdid yourselves.”

“Do you like it?” Jimin asks, looking to Jeongguk, who feels even weaker in the knees surrounded by the scents of three alphas. He nods. Namjoon, Yoongi, Jimin, Yoongi, Namjoon. More Jimin. More Yoongi. He stumbles, heat pooling in his belly and a warm, warm desire clouding the edges of his brain.

“Do you want us to leave?”

“No,” Jeongguk says, sinking into the center of the nest. He tightens his fingers in the fabric. The scent dizzies him with arousal. “Just, stay in here. By the edges. Don’t go?”

Jeongguk had spent the better part of this day nervous about what the Ask entailed, and what would come afterward. Logically, he knew, and he’d spent whole hours hoping he’d get this all right. He wanted to do this right.

But a surprising part all of this is the instinct, the same kind that Namjoon holds so dear and the same kind that Yoongi and Jimin so wholeheartedly trust. Somehow, the nerves that have been singing all day finally quiet when Namjoon leans in, holding Jeongguk’s body steady, and kisses him. The anxiety dies down. The apprehension, too, flatlines, even as Jeongguk feels himself being lowered into the generous mountain of pillows at the head of the nest. They’re all covered with clothing. It’s a lovely touch.

Namjoon gives Jeongguk one more fleeting kiss on the tip of his nose before he leans back and pulls the tie loose from around his throat. Jeongguk props his body up on his elbows and spreads his thighs apart a little wider so Namjoon can settle in between them comfortably. “Thanks, baby,” he says, tossing the tie aside and pulling his blazer off. Jeongguk reaches for the blazer, whimpering when it’s just out of reach.

“Shh,” says Namjoon, unfastening the last of the buttons on his dress shirt. He tugs the hems out from the waist of his pants. “Here you go.”

The soft, quiet presence of Yoongi and Jimin is comforting as Namjoon works Jeongguk’s clothes off his body. He is gentle, methodical, as if he knows how nerve-wracking this must be. Jeongguk thinks about how easily Namjoon had talked about carrying Yoongi and Jimin through both their ruts, and shoves his face deeper into the wrinkled cotton of his shirt.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m good,” Jeongguk replies hazily. He shivers as Namjoon tugs his pants down, down, past his knees and over his ankles.

“Good.” A kiss on his forehead. “Will you let me undress the rest of you?”

Jeongguk sits up. He can already feel the slick starting to pool, thick and wet, in his underwear. Embarrassment, however thin and small, nudges at the edges of his consciousness, but he shoves it aside. Namjoon’s hands are big and warm when they smooth the edges of his shirt up over his back. He raises his arms over his head helpfully, and Namjoon pulls it off.

“Uhm,” Jeongguk mumbles when Namjoon hooks his thumbs in the elastic of his briefs. “I, uhm. I get a lot of slick.”

“Okay.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry? Why?” Namjoon asks, bewildered.

“It’s a lot. I don’t know.”

“It’s cute, are you kidding,” Namjoon says, pressing the words into Jeongguk’s mouth. “Don’t worry about it.”

Jeongguk whines in protest when Namjoon leans away, and he chuckles before coming back. “Needy,” he says, kissing Jeongguk some more. He grunts when Jeongguk wraps his arms around his shoulders. “I have to get my pants off, Jeonggukie.”

“Hurry up.”

“Needy and demanding, huh,” Namjoon says, and makes quick work of his slacks. There’s a darkening patch at the front of his boxers, too, and Jeongguk smiles in satisfaction through his quick staccato breathing. “Shh.”

Jeongguk cries out when Namjoon props Jeongguk’s legs up on his thighs and rubs a finger over his hole. Back, forth, then he presses in. Immediately, it’s not enough, and Jeongguk grinds down on it until Namjoon adds a second.

“So wet,” Namjoon murmurs, thrusting a little, enjoying the soft pants that Jeongguk gives him. His cock is hard and heavy against the inside of Jeongguk’s thigh, and the brush of it makes Jeongguk’s own leak against his belly. “Do you think you’re ready?”

“Yes,” Jeongguk says. “Please, it’s not enough.”

“Do you want me to knot you?”

“Please,” begs Jeongguk weakly. “I want it.”

Namjoon lines himself up with Jeongguk’s entrance, and it takes everything in Jeongguk not to reach forward and pull Namjoon in closer by the hips. His chest heaves with breath as Namjoon sinks into him, slowing when he reaches the hilt, and he leans over Jeongguk’s face.

“Okay?”

“Okay, move, please, please.”

God, if heatsex is anything like this, Jeongguk is pretty sure he’s going to die and go to heaven prematurely in the next year. Namjoon sets a steady pace, slow but deep, pushing his hands under Jeongguk’s shoulders and hooking them over to keep him from sliding in the nest. He moans into the curve of Jeongguk’s neck when he hitches his knees over Namjoon’s hips. The angle pushes him deeper.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk chokes. “Faster, please.”

So Namjoon goes faster. He’s quiet, mostly, listening to Jeongguk’s broken moans and soft requests where Jeongguk presses them into the side of his face. Touch me. Harder. Hold me, tighter. He opens his eyes, lashes fluttering, when he hears the noises of kissing, and sees Jimin breaking away from Yoongi to give him a little wink.

The orgasms crests, rising in Jeongguk’s abdomen before he wants it to end.

“I’m close,” he manages.

“Yeah?”

Namjoon picks up his pace, and Jeongguk keens as he feels Namjoon’s teeth close hard around the muscle between the junction of his neck and shoulder. Jeongguk comes, hard, painting his skin white and messy. Namjoon doesn’t release him, thrusting several times more as Jeongguk shivers and moans his name helplessly.

“Nam—ah, Namjoon—”

Then Namjoon comes, too. He holds himself very still, Jeongguk tight and secure against his chest, as the knot swells against him. It hurts a little, but not enough for it to be uncomfortable. Jeongguk buries his face in Namjoon’s shoulder and whimpers.

“Does it hurt?”

Jeongguk shakes his head.

“You were so amazing,” Namjoon breathes, sitting up with one arm wrapped tight around Jeongguk’s waist. The shift jostles the knot inside him, and Jeongguk cries out. “Sorry, sorry baby. Missionary knots are a little complicated.”

“You bit him hard.” Yoongi’s voice is so close by, and Jeongguk wants to reach toward it. No need—in the next moment, he feels a blanket being draped over his bare back. He quivers when Yoongi presses a kiss to the bruising mark, sore in the best way. “That’s a hell of a mating bite, Namjoon-ah.”

“How are you doing, Jeonggukie,” Jimin asks, smoothing his hair away from his face. “Good?”

“So good,” Jeongguk mumbles, barely able to keep his eyes open. “Next time, I want you guys to do it with us.”

 

Thus commences The Great Race To Seduce Jeongguk First, because Yoongi and Jimin apparently can’t function without making everything a competition.

It’s a race because neither of them reign victorious for, well, weeks. Jimin is a force to be reckoned with, and more than once nearly beats Yoongi to the punch. In the end, Jeongguk calls the shots, and his shots usually mean game over when Namjoon walks in.

Like tonight, for example. Jesus fucking Christ, only Jimin would have the shame to tease Jeongguk in the sitting room of all places, while Yoongi is there too. In the evening, with all the lights on. Then again, this is the same guy who Namjoon admitted was good and that’s more power than any tiny alpha should have at once.

Yoongi is working—well, pretending to work. He’s read the same line of text on his laptop over and over for the last ten minutes, trying not to hear the two of them canoodling on the chaise lounge. Even when he looks up, Jimin is smiling lazily, turning his face away when Jeongguk tries to kiss him.

“Jiminie.”

“Hmm?”

“Please.” Jeongguk noses at the column of Jimin’s neck, and in that moment, Jimin looks over Jeongguk’s shoulder and gives Yoongi a look so smug it could probably be made into bottled confidence.

Fuck you, Yoongi mouths, over his computer. Jimin just smiles wider and smothers his cigarette in the ashtray.

“You’re gonna have to use your words, baby,” Jimin says.

Yoongi reaches up and tugs at the knot of his tie. Fuck this guy, for real (just kidding, Yoongi’s done his fair share of that in weeks past waiting for Namjoon to Ask Jeongguk). He watches in disbelief as Jimin runs his hand down the length of Jeongguk’s stomach, then slides it lower, cupping him between his legs.

“Ah, hyung—”

“What was that?”

“I want you.”

This time Yoongi flips Jimin double birds. Namjoon also conveniently chooses this very moment to get home, unlocking the front door to Yoongi’s two middle fingers, a Cheshire Cat Jimin, and Jeongguk already starting to wet through the seat of his pants.

“For fuck’s sake,” he says.

“Hey, hyung.”

“You guys need to stop playing with your food. Jeonggukie, were they teasing you?”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says, pulling his face out of Jimin’s neck, sitting up. “It hurts.”

“I know,” Namjoon says, holding his hand out. “Come here, baby.”

Jeongguk scrambles out of Jimin’s lap. Namjoon wraps his arm around his waist and gives Jimin The Eyes before he turns and takes him up the stairs.

“Haha,” says Yoongi, in the ensuing silence.

“Shut the fuck up.”

“You tease him too much. He was practically crying.”

“Mmm,” Jimin hums, picking his glass of whiskey back up and holding it to his lips. His eyes are still half mast, like he’s basking in the memory of Jeongguk’s weight in his lap. “Love it when he does.”

It takes two more weeks—two long, infuriating weeks. Neither of them win Jeongguk into his bed by sleight of hand or skill, though, tragically enough. One could argue that, from a technical purview, neither of them actually win at all.

Rut does.

Chapter Text

“What’s that?”

“Dinner party invite.”

Yoongi tosses his keys onto his desk. The jangling clatter of metal on wood is loud and caustic. The light of the green banker’s lamp illuminates the frown on Namjoon’s face when Yoongi switches it on.

“You don’t look pleased. Where’s Jimin?”

“Picking Jeongguk up from advanced painting.”

“We should seriously look into getting him a car.”

“Jimin said he balked at the suggestion of it, so no.”

“Probably because Jimin offered to get him another Maserati,” Yoongi collapses into the dark leather armchair by the window. It’s open, the curtain dancing in the soft breeze, and the distant roar of nighttime traffic soothes the knots in his soul. “Original question. Why do you look so troubled? It’s from Black Dragon, right? They love us.”

“I know,” says Namjoon. Yoongi reaches into the the inner pocket of his suitjacket and flicks open his case of Gold Flakes lights. “Can I have one?”

“Last one. Told you I only had two left,” Yoongi mumbles around the cigarette, opening the top drawer of his desk for the Zippo. “Jeongguk asked me to stop. He doesn’t like the smell.”

Namjoon sighs, put out, and Yoongi can’t help but chuckle. “Come on, spit it out. You’re asking for lights, you’re anxious.”

A sigh. Namjoon leans back in his chair and props his feet up on the corner of his desk. The laces of his shoes are undone, aglets clicking on the surface. “They invited Jeongguk.”

“What?” Yoongi takes the cigarette out from between his lips. “How do they even know about him?”

“Don’t know.”

“Let me see that?”

Yoongi slides the letter from Namjoon’s hands. Smoke rises in a thin, curling column from the end of his light, a tiny chimney, singeing the edge of the cardstock as he reads. To the household of alpha triad Kim Namjoon, Min Yoongi, and Park Jimin, and their omega Jeon Jeongguk, Black Dragon cordially invites you to the Year End Associates Banquet that on November 27th, 2017.

“Damn.”

“I know.” Namjoon plucks the cigarette from Yoongi’s fingers and takes a drag. “Not sure who they heard it from. It hasn’t even been two weeks. We’ve been driving him around a lot, I suppose.”

“It doesn’t present any real concern, does it?” Yoongi asks. The end of the cigarette glows angry and magma-red as Namjoon takes another drag. He lets the smoke hover around his face, a raincloud.

“Theoretically not.”

“But realistically?”

“It’s a little weird that they have such a close eye on us, don’t you think,” Namjoon says. “I haven’t mentioned it when I met any of them these past few days, and I find it hard to believe that either you or Jimin are that excited to bring him up in a work setting. Not to mention that Jimin hasn’t seen hide nor hair of Black Dragon in years outside these banquets.”

“Maybe a little. But if they’ve invited him by name, it would probably not be a good idea to leave him behind alone. Safer to bring him with us where we can see him.” Yoongi takes the cigarette, getting two more puffs out of it before he crushes it in the ashtray. “I doubt it’ll be a problem, Namjoon-ah, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. You know Black Dragon’s boss owes you big time. Owes you his daughter’s life. He’s not going to try any shady shit if he holds the importance of family so dear.”

“It’s not the boss I’m worried about. They’re still a mob, hyung.”

“The Associate’s banquet is just going to be a bunch of people like us. Fringe involvements at most. Nothing’s going to happen, and Jeongguk holds his own,” says Yoongi. He presses his thumbs into the base of Namjoon’s neck by his shoulder blades, massaging the bunched-up muscles. “Hey. Relax. You want dinner?”

“Yeah, I haven’t eaten.” Namjoon pulls a bottle of unassuming pills from the middle drawer and flicks Yoongi a dose before he grabs his jacket and stands up. “Let’s go.”

But it’s not a worry that Yoongi can fault Namjoon for having. Sure, Black Dragon is theoretically indebted to them on more than one level, but they’re not stupid. They know what kind of leverage they have as a mob that operates mostly out of the run-down oldtowns, a part of the city that Yoongi no longer visits. Without Namjoon’s body next to him, thoughts crawl under the blankets with him instead, toes cold and unwelcome against Yoongi’s shins.

And then there’s an associate to Black Dragon, from Red Butterfly, that Yoongi is not keen on meeting. The anxiety beats in his throat for what seems like hours until Yoongi throws the covers off himself and rises from bed.

Yoongi crosses the long, silent hallway on quiet cat feet. The skylight lets in weak blue moonlight that turns every shadow into a ghost and every piece of furniture into a monster. He makes sure to avoid the creaky plank right outside Jimin’s door, hopscotching over the slats of wood, and lays a hand over the knob to Jeongguk’s nest room. It clicks when he turns it.

“Namjoon?”

His whisper is barely audible, but the glint of Namjoon’s eye cracking open is unmistakable even in the heap of blankets. The air is thick and intoxicating with the smell of come, and Namjon raises his head from a mass of pillows where he’s spooned up against Jeongguk’s back. “Yoongi,” he says, voice hoarse, scratchy the way it is on the edge of slumber. “You woke up?”

“Couldn’t sleep.”

Namjoon beckons him into the nest, hugging Jeongguk around the middle and shimmying the both of them back so that there’s room for him to hunker down, though this nest is built to fit four comfortably. Jeongguk makes a soft, unthinking noise that closes fists around the edges of Yoongi’s heart and he stretches out face to face with Jeongguk carefully enough that he doesn’t wake. “Shh,” Namjoon hums, kissing the nape of Jeongguk’s neck when he does anyway, struggling against his body. “Just Yoongi.”

“Yoongi hyung?”

“Yeah, it’s me.” Jeongguk’s scent rushes up Yoongi’s nose when he lifts the comforter up over himself and meets Jeongguk’s body, warm and sensitive still from his orgasm. “Go back to sleep.”

So Jeongguk does—but not without first pulling Yoongi close, closer, until his face is buried in Yoongi’s chest. He lies, tense in Jeongguk’s arms, then lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

“Clingy,” Namjoon murmurs, his face coming into view as Yoongi’s eyes adjust to the darkness. Jeongguk shoves his face ever so insistently into the curve of Yoongi’s neck and Namjoon props himself up on an elbow, resting his temple on his fist. “Real warm, too. He’s gonna make you start sweating.”

“Winter space heater.”

“Where’s Jimin?”

“I think he’s asleep.”

“Brain noise?”

“Mm,” Yoongi says, nothing more than a rumble in his chest. Brain noise is the best and pretty much only way that the both of them refer to the feeling of not having a concrete line of worry, conveniently acute and pocket-sized. It’s more like a muted cacophony of thoughts bouncing off the insides of their skulls, cranial pinball in the deepest parts of the night. “Better when I’m next to you, the both of you.”

“I was thinking.” There’s a soft noise as Namjoon runs the flat of his hand up the curve of Jeongguk’s spine. “We need to get him something to wear to that banquet.”

“Can’t let them think we’re not putting their money to good use, huh?”

“I knew you’d understand.”

“That’s if he’ll let us buy him anything.”

“We can start out small. Armani.”

“Small,” Yoongi scoffs. “Armani, small.”

“He’ll look good in it,” Namjoon says, but then Jeongguk whines and wriggles as if to say shut up, I’m sleeping, so Yoongi decides he won’t argue this point any further (he’s sure Namjoon’s right, anyway, and that Jeongguk will look absolutely killer in Armani).

The brain noise settles enough for Yoongi to drift off to sleep. Near dawn, he rises out of sleep to the movements of someone else in the nest; as it were, it seems that Jimin had joined their cuddle puddle in the middle of the night after they’d fallen asleep. Despite being tangled up in each other, Yoongi doesn’t feel the immediate urge to extricate himself from the mess of limbs—Jeongguk is cradled on Namjoon’s chest, facing Yoongi, with Jimin cuddled into Namjoon’s right and Yoongi tucked into his left. He has a leg slung over Namjoon’s thigh, though everything knee-down is asleep where it’s pinned under Jeongguk’s leg. It’s warm.

It’s home.

 

Alpha-to-alpha protip: it’s not a good idea to ask your omega to try on anything that makes them look too good in public. Save yourself.

Or it’s an amazing idea. It really depends on several factors, like

1) how horny you happen to be that day
2) whether you’ve knotted said omega yet
3) how public “in public” is.

For Jimin all of his answers kind of suck, and by that he means really suck.

1) very much
2) because no, he hasn’t knotted Jeongguk yet, god fucking dammit
3) dressing rooms are Great but does he really want to be That Alpha and go down That Route (his dick is giving him a hard yes and his brain is giving him a hard no and his dick has his heart hostage, so)

“I don’t know,” is Jeongguk’s immediate reaction when they see the storefront two evenings later, screeching to a halt when he sees the clean-cut mannequins in the Armani storefront. “We can get suits at like, Target.”

“Oh my God, no omega of ours is going to wear a fucking suit from Target. You think Namjoon’s hallmark pinstripe blazer is from Target?”

“One of them is,” Namjoon says, mildly, and Jimin makes a sputtering noise of disbelief.

“It was all I could afford back in the day,” Yoongi says, nostalgia taking over his face. “It was too short for you, but you wore it anyway.”

“But seeing as Armani is perfectly within our budget now, no omega of ours is going to wear a suit from Target. You’re going to the Associates Banquet, not high school prom.” Jimin pushes Jeongguk towards the entrance, even as he physically digs his heels into the tile floor. “Let us spoil you!”

“I just—I don’t see myself needing this that often,” Jeongguk says weakly as he gets his measurements taken. “Even when I graduate. Will I be needing this a whole lot?”

“Every guy needs a black-tie ready tuxedo, I don’t know how you made it this far without one,” Jimin says, crossing his legs with Jeongguk’s backpack on his lap. “Do you have a tie? A cummerbund? Cuff links?”

“A cummer what—”

“It’s a waistband,” Namjoon explains.

“I have a tie,” Jeongguk says defensively, crossing his arms.

“You’re going to need more. Not all of them are supposed to be worn out in public,” Yoongi says.

“What? Why?” Jeongguk asks, as the beta taking his measurements goes so red in the face he resembles a maraschino cherry. It takes the world and a half for Jimin to not laugh and ask if he’s uncomfortable.

But, jokes on him, really—jokes on all of them. Jeongguk takes almost fifteen minutes struggling into all the bits and pieces of a suit he’s never tried on before. Yoongi crosses and uncrosses his legs restlessly. Jimin props his chin in his hand.

“What’s on your mind?” Jimin says, feeling the tension in Namjoon’s body beside him. The lounge is just long enough to fit all three of them, and Namjoon holds his body tight and reserved in the way he does when he’s trying to corral all his thoughts neatly inside him.

“He’s worried about bringing him to the banquet.”

Jimin raises his eyebrows. “Should we be?”

“No,” Namjoon says. “That’s the frustrating part of it. I know there’s nothing to worry about. I’m not worried that anyone’s going to try anything funny, exactly. It’s just, he’s not exactly an unremarkable person.”

“He’s not unremarkable,” Jimin repeats.

“He’s eye-catching.”

“Oh.” Realization dawns on him. “Yeah, we’ve always lay real low around Black Dragon, haven’t we? And everyone already knows, but we’re bringing a real head-turner to this banquet.”

“There are three of us,” Yoongi says. “Three of us that they really wouldn’t want to cross if they know what’s good for them. Namjoon has his hands in too many legal deals for them to pull any plugs on him or piss him off by touching our omega.”

“Hey, can you guys help?”

“Sure, with what,” Yoongi says, getting up from the couch.

“I’ve never done one of these in my life,” Jeongguk says. He steps out from behind the white suede curtain of the dressing room, curiously empty for a Thursday evening, holding up a strip of uneven black satin. “Bowtie.”

“Oh, I still do these for Namjoon. Give it here.”

Good Lord. Jimin has no clue how Yoongi so calmly approaches Jeongguk and takes the bowtie from him without breaking a sweat. His hands don’t even shake. If they’re going to have to spend upwards of five hours around Jeongguk in this tuxedo, Jimin is going to have to rub one or twenty out before he can even think about being ready.

“Still haven’t knotted him?” Namjoon says, mostly under his breath so only Jimin can hear. The scent of his pheromones must have ballooned around them. “I told you guys to stop playing with your food.”

“It’s fun?”

“You really don’t seem to be having a whole lot of fun right now.”

“Shut up, hyung, I’m concentrating on not getting the front of my pants wet. It’s fun to push Yoongi hyung’s limits, though.”

“You best hope nothing happens at that banquet. That’s a limit you don’t want to be flirting with.”

 

The evening of the banquet is damp and stormy. Rainwater clings to the black, sloping hoods of their umbrellas as they wait outside for the car that’s scheduled to pull up into their driveway for the banquet.

“Are you cold?” Yoongi’s fingers are white where they’re wrapped around the curved handle of the umbrella he and Jimin are sharing, and even as Jeongguk shivers, he shakes his head. He and Jeongguk had been sharing a single umbrella a while ago, but Jeongguk is too tall and kept holding it just high enough for the rain to hit Yoongi’s face.

“I’m fine,” he says. Namjoon’s big woolen jacket is draped over his shoulders, and Namjoon seems to be unbothered as he squints at the brightness of his phone, umbrella resting against his shoulder when he replies to someone with both hands.

The limo pulls up just as thunder starts to roll in the distance. A soft flash of lightning flickers in the mountains and turns the clouds a haunted purple, and the rain comes down on the windows of the car in dark bullets.

“Associates Banquet?” the chauffeur asks.

“Yes.”

“Thank you, and please feel free to help yourself to the bar,” he says, rolling up the partition. It meets the ceiling of the car with a muted click, and save for a few turns, the darkness of the evening and the sheeting rain makes it hard to know how fast they’re going. One side of Jimin’s face is illuminated a ghostly blue by the bar lights, and he leans over to examine the selection.

“Jaegermeister, Jim Beam. Ugh, couldn’t have put in better vodka if you’re going to send the nice limos out? Oooh, nice, Irish whiskey. Imported. Okay, faults forgiven, you guys want some?”

“I’ll have some,” Yoongi says. “Thanks.”

“I want some,” says Jeongguk, sitting up. The unbroken line of seats is only comfortable to fit three of them, and Jeongguk is nestled in between Yoongi and Namjoon both. There seems to be something of particular concern this evening—Namjoon can’t stop frowning at his phone, one arm extended over the backs of the seats behind Jeongguk’s shoulder, legs crossed. The bar light glints oil-slick black off his shoes.

“Alcohol is going to make your scent amplify,” Jimin says, eyebrows raised as he works at the cork of the whiskey bottle. The liquid glugs as it shifts on his lap.

“It’s fine.” Namjoon finally looks up now, turning his body in towards Jeongguk and tossing his phone onto the console behind the partition. To fuck with whatever it is. “We’re going to be around him, it should be fine.”

“You want some, Namjoon hyung?”

“Yeah, sure. Not a lot for me.”

“Whatever you guys don’t finish, I’ll have,” Yoongi says. “Jeongguk, just drink from my glass, Jimin can just pour me extra.”

“My tank,” says Namjoon.

“Tank?”

“Yoongi has an unparalleled talent for drinking the rest of us under the table,” Jimin says. “It’s kind of how he asserts his dominance in light of the fact he’s the approximate size of a garden gnome.”

“Watch your smart-ass mouth or I won’t clean your ass off the floor later tonight, Park Jimin.”

“You love me,” Jimin says, handing over a glass of ice and pouring the whiskey over them. “Careful.”

“What should I expect?”

Jeongguk wonders this aloud, not quite directing the question at any one of them, but Jimin pauses with his glass to his lips and looks to Yoongi, who makes a grunting noise and turns in Namjoon’s general direction.

“Oh, I forgot that this is going to be your first time around these people. Sorry, we’ve been doing this for a while.”

“It’s okay! It’s just—is there anything I should say, shouldn’t say, that sort of thing. How should I act? Can I look anyone in the eye?”

“Yeah, looking them in the eye is fine,” Jimin says, laughter bubbling around the brims of his throat. “Actually, it’s probably a good idea to look them in the eye. Don’t give them the impression you’re afraid of them.”

“You don’t have to worry about saying anything out of line, I think.” The ice in Namjoon’s glass clinks when they go over a bump in the road. He swills the glass and tips it back to his mouth. Condensation trickles through his fingers. “Seeing as you don’t really know any incriminating information.”

“So be polite, look pretty, make small talk.” Yoongi brings his glass to Jeongguk’s lips when he reaches out for his wrist, taking a thoughtful sip. He has his other hand at the back of Jeongguk’s neck and run his fingertips through the soft, cropped hair. “Sounds easy, still nervous.”

“The alcohol is good for that. Social lube, you know.” Yoongi says.

Jeongguk turns to look at him, laughter already rising to his face, but in the warm darkness of the limo, he’s a lot closer than Yoongi realizes. The sweetness of the malt whiskey rides on the backs of his breaths. They come a little fast, breathless, almost, and Yoongi realizes the smell is only so intoxicating because Jeongguk’s skin already pulses with scent. It reverberates off of him with each heartbeat.

“Mm,” Jeongguk murmurs. Yoongi’s fingers trail down the length of Jeongguk’s nape when he leans in. The cobbles of Jeongguk’s spine ripple beneath his skin.

“Jeongguk—”

“You smell good,” Jeongguk says, nosing at the shell of Yoongi’s ear before he brings his mouth back and presses it clumsily against Yoongi’s.

“And you are terrible at holding your alcohol,” Yoongi says. He takes care to set his glass down at the bar, putting his hands on Jeongguk’s shoulders so he doesn’t slump, and turns back to hold his face. “You alright?”

Yoongi can’t blame him—for the second their chauffeur put up that partition, plunging them into soft-lit darkness, tension had charged the air between the four of them. He would be a liar and a cheat if he said he didn’t immediately want to put his hands all over Jeongguk’s body, but that wasn’t his shot to call. It wasn’t even Namjoon’s, as much as he reigned over this triad.

And, clearly, Jeongguk really wants to call the shots on his knees tonight.

Despite being the slightest and lightest between the three alphas—Namjoon’s gangly but tall, Jimin’s stocky but thick—Yoongi holds his own when it comes to alcohol. Lucky for him, only it doesn’t seem to make a difference how much or little whiskey he’s had. The second Jeongguk slides out of his seat, Yoongi’s head spins with a kind of drunkenness that alcohol can’t quite replicate.

“What are you doing down there?” Yoongi asks, tongue feeling thick and clumsy between his teeth. Namjoon chuckles, hearing the inaudible stutter in his voice. “The floor’s cramped.”

“I’m,” Jeongguk puts his hands against the over Yoongi’s thighs. They burn with warmth. “Relaxing.”

“It would seem like that should work the other way around, Jeonggukie,” Jimin says, leaning forward. His hands come to rest on Jeongguk’s shoulders, one still holding his omnipresent whiskey glass. Jeongguk’s eyelids flutter when Jimin’s breath fans over the narrow strip of skin between his jaw and the tops of his starched tuxedo collar. Heat pools, hot and syrupy, in Yoongi’s belly.

“No, I want to do this.” Jeongguk runs his palms up until he reaches the buckle of Yoongi’s belt. “I like it.”

Maybe Yoongi should feel repentance for messing up Jeongguk’s hair when he rakes his fingers through the stiff coif. He had gelled it out of his face tonight and it’s fancier than they’ve ever seen him, and frankly, if Yoongi remembers anything from college, the fanciest they’re ever going to see him. Jeongguk had an easier time climbing into his twenty-five or so tuxedo pieces tonight than he had last time, but Yoongi would be a liar, a cheat, and also Boo Boo The Fool if he said he wasn’t tempted to take it all off and back Jeongguk up against the bathroom counter.

“Then enjoy, little omega,” says Yoongi. The sound of his slacks being unzipped makes him shiver, and it becomes a choking breath when Jeongguk presses his palm into the heat between Yoongi’s legs.

“Don’t hurt yourself, baby,” Namjoon says as Jeongguk works Yoongi out of the confines of his underwear. “You’ve got a long evening ahead.”

“I know,” Jeongguk hums, looking like a cat that got the cream. The little shit. He knows exactly what he’s doing, holding Yoongi’s cock to his lips and smiling against the beading slick there, but not going any farther or even opening his mouth. Yoongi grits his teeth.

“Don’t tease me.”

“But what if I like it?”

“I might come on your face. If it drips, that’s not gonna come out of your suit.”

“What if I want it like that?”

“Damn,” Jimin says. His voice is hoarse, and he looks up over the crown of Jeongguk’s head. The words are muffled where his nose buried in Jeongguk’s hair, like he’s getting high off the scent of it. “Fatal, hyung.”

“Whenever it is I get you into your nest,” Yoongi says, “I’m not letting you come for this.”

This, apparently, is reason enough for Jeongguk part his lips and take Yoongi into his mouth. Slowly, still, just to make a show of it. He doesn’t take his eyes off Yoongi’s face, body rocking with the movement of the car, and sinks as far down as he can before he pulls back.

Jeongguk is good at giving blowjobs. He’s no pornstar—it’s not exactly artful. He still chokes a bit (which does Amazing things to Yoongi’s ego, to be honest), but he’s good enough for a sting of possessiveness to run down Yoongi’s spine. As a rule, none of them believe in that Virgin Omega bullshit that some alphas like to tout. It’s disgusting and unrealistic. But now, when Jeongguk is pink-cheeked with swollen lips between Yoongi’s legs, he can’t help but imagine Jeongguk doing this for some other alpha, and he can’t help but hate it.

Yoongi puts his hand to the back of Jeongguk’s head, softly enough that he’s not forcing Jeongguk down on his cock, but solid enough for the weight of his bones to make Jeongguk moan weakly. The noise chases away any sour feelings in his chest, and his hips buck slightly beneath Jeongguk’s grip.

“Are you going to come?” Jeongguk asks, pulling away with a pop. The head of Yoongi’s cock brushes his chin when he does, streaking precome across his jaw, and Yoongi almost does come at the sight of it. Christ. It’s like he’s fifteen and just discovered the wonders of the Pornhub tagging system all over again. Jeongguk closes his fist loosely at the base of his cock, and his smile widens at the gentle swell under his fingers. “You’re going to come?”

“Are you going to let me?” Yoongi all but growls. It’s been a while since he’s been teased or edged like this—sex with Jimin was chasing an orgasm. Sex with Namjoon was like home, slow and easy. Sex with Jeongguk, or at least getting naughty behind a limo partition with Jeongguk, is electric, full of high notes. He finds he likes this song.

Jeongguk puts his back into it. Well, his mouth, really, sucking Yoongi down until he meets the back of Jeongguk’s throat. Then Jeongguk swallows around him, taking Yoongi by complete surprise, and he comes hard enough for the fringes of his mind to haze out.

“Mm,” Jeongguk says, humming in that self-satisfied way again. “Good. Tastes good.”

“You are impossible,” Yoongi says, as Jeongguk gives a few licks to the underside of Yoongi’s cock. He shudders from the overstimulation and cants his hips away, tugging Jeongguk up off the floor and into his lap. His knot aches, but the afterglow of his orgasm staves off the dull pain. Namjoon reaches out and thumbs away a smear of come on Jeongguk’s lower lip.

“Enjoyed yourself, I take it?” he says, kissing away the glossy shine of Yoongi’s come around his mouth.

“Mhmm,” Jeongguk says, shivering himself a little with pleasure. “Loosened up for the evening.”

“I call dibs on the ride home,” Jimin says. Jeongguk laughs, twisting in Yoongi’s lap when Jimin lays a hand to his neck and leans in for kisses.

Namjoon puts Jeongguk back together—adjusts his lapels, wipes the last of the come off his lips, tries to style Jeongguk’s hair back into some semblance of composure again. A tuft of his bangs has come undone, hanging over his forehead soft and loose. They decide to leave it like that; it’s stylishly careless.

The lights of the estate are visible through the tinted windows as the limo pulls up to the porte-cochère. They’re one in a long line of cars, and it sounds like, in this part of town, the rain has stopped. Yoongi sits up, still a jelly-legged, and peers out the window behind Jimin’s shoulder. The front doors are open and he can already catch glimpses of shimmering gowns and smart-cut tuxedos as they pass by.

“Welcome.” Yoongi fights down a laugh when Jeongguk stares at the butler’s coattails, like he’s never seen unironic coattails in his life, and Namjoon hands him their invitation. The evening air is chilly-damp and settles over their clothes. They sandwich Jeongguk between them and take the steps up inside.

“Chin up. Look confident.”

Black Dragons’ Associates Banquets are always works of splendor. The holidays are close enough now for the ballroom to be decorated with tinsel and red baubles, gold ribbon hanging in a scalloped circle around the chandelier. It’s been years since Yoongi and Namjoon have known the mildewed walls of their cramped studio flat, and years since they’d celebrated Christmas quietly in front of an old TV and a blanket for warmth, but luxury as grandiloquent as this is something he’ll never quite get used to.

“Kim Namjoon? Kim Namjoon! Well, I’ll be.” A portly man with a shrewd disposition whom Yoongi vaguely remembers disliking sweeps up to them before they can get out of the foyer. “If it isn’t the whole family. Min Yoongi, Park Jimin.” He holds his hand out to them both. “And your newest addition, I understand?”

“Our mate,” Namjoon says. Yoongi tightens his grip on Jeongguk’s waist, as if to pull him closer to his side. “Jeongguk, Kang Minsoo.”

“Jeongguk.” Minsoo shakes his hand. Jeongguk’s fingers go white as he crushes them in his, like he’s trying to assert his dominance over this omega who’s a head taller. “How very lovely to meet you. You know, I told your alphas that they’d have to settle down one day, and all they did for years was laugh at me and say maybe next time I’d see them. Finally, this time is next time.”

“I’m lucky to have them as my alphas. One of the luckiest people I know.”

“You hold onto them, my boy,” Minsoo raises his champagne glass and gives Jeongguk a nudge in the ribs. It’s little more than a touch of his elbow, but Jeongguk flinches hard enough for Yoongi to actually pull him tighter to his body, and Namjoon makes an instinctive step forward as if to shield him.

“Aw, hey now, I was just playing with him. Don’t get your ties up in knots.” Minsoo downs the rest of his drink. “Who knows if we’ll be seeing more of you, Jeongguk?”

Minsoo ambles away, inserting himself into another conversation where he looks far more welcome, and the four of them are left blinking at the foyer steps.

“Who was that?” Jeongguk asks.

“Kang Minsoo. Police officer. I work with him sometimes, when I have to. Emphasis on the have to,” Namjoon says. “You okay?”

“I’m fine, just startled. Police officer? He’s a cop that works with a mob? Isn’t that contradictory?”

“Jeonggukie.” Yoongi shakes his head. “Not all cops are good.”

“Oh,” says Jeongguk. A muted realization comes over his face, like he’s starting to truly understand how deep organized crime goes. Everyone knows what it must be like, as far as movies and media can tell them.

“Don’t worry. People are just here to have a drink and a laugh tonight. You’re okay.”

It’s not all fun and games, but it’s as good as it gets. If it had just been the three of them as it has been in all the past years, they probably wouldn’t even have noticed any of it—the lingering gazes, the subtle lean-ins, the standing too close. Jeongguk’s holding a champagne flute, and even weak alcohol makes the scent on his body grow strong and sweet. None of them can fault anyone for turning their heads and trying to see who had passed them by.

Then, just as Yoongi feels his nerves finally begin to settle, he hears, “Min Yoongi?”

The sound of this voice raises all the hairs on his neck. Jeongguk feels him stiffen, looking to him with alarm, but Jimin is the one who picks up where Yoongi cannot.

“Yijung, long time no see.” He offers his hand, and Yijung shakes it, carefully. Perched on Yijung’s nose are black wire-rimmed spectacles. His eyes dart from Jimin, to Yoongi, to Namjoon, before finally coming to rest on Jeongguk’s face. Yoongi can tell he smells it, the scent of omega.

“Have you been well?” Namjoon asks.

“Quite.” Yijung nods, then extends a more tentative hand out towards Jeongguk. “Nice to meet you. Are you—?”

“Our mate,” Yoongi finishes. Yijung’s eyebrows go up his forehead.

“To your whole triad?”

“Yes. Jeongguk, Yijung was our first guy in Black Dragon back when we met the boss’s daughter. You could say we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.”

“Thank you,” Jeongguk says. Yijung’s pupils dilate when Jeongguk takes his hand in both of his to shake. It’s a strange moment of omega-on-omega tension.

But then Yijung directs his attention back to Yoongi. “Can we talk?”

“I really don’t know if—”

“Jeongguk is with me and hyung,” Jimin says. “Talk. We’ll just be getting some more of those desserts. I want more rum-infused chocolate.”

Namjoon gives Yoongi’s hand a commiserative squeeze, one that could go unnoticed to the untrained eye, but the leaning into Yoongi’s ear he makes a show of. “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen. I’ll just be on the other side of the ballroom. Your mate is here. It’s going to be okay.”

Then his comforting warmth and Jeongguk’s scent fades, and Yoongi turns to face Yijung.

“Let’s walk,” Yijung says. His thumb worries at the slim neck of his champagne glass.

They do, mostly in silence.

“He’s tall,” is all Yijung says as they make it past a throng of long-gowned women. Yoongi makes a noncommittal noise of acknowledgement.

“He’s a pretty big omega.”

“I didn’t imagine you’d mate someone of that ilk, to be honest.”

Yoongi turns to look at Yijung now, who’s stopped walking, and comes around to face him. His hand itches for another glass of wine, something stronger than champagne to take the edge off. A cigarette, even, would suffice.

“What did you imagine, then?”

A black-aproned butler passes by with a tray laden with wine. Yoongi snags one from him, taking a generous gulp that burns his ears on the way down. Yijung’s expression is unreadable, and he doesn’t like it.

“I’m not sure.” Yijung scratches at the back of his neck. “Are you doing alright?”

“I’m fine.” I was doing better before I had to face you, but I’m swell. It’s a bad time to be drunk, probably, definitely, for sure. Even if Yoongi is good at keeping his tongue under wraps, unlike Jimin, the floodgates open in his brain and memories he’d rather keep in the dregs of his mind trickle down into the forefront of his thoughts. “You? Any alphas?”

“I think so,” says Yijung. “Listen, Yoongi-hyung—er, Yoongi-ssi, I’m sorry for what happened. I’m sorry for the things I’ve said in the past. I really regret them. I don’t know if you’ve held onto them like I have, or if they still bother you. I’m sorry if they don’t, and I’m bringing something up that you’d rather forget about. But I want you to know I am sorry.”

Yoongi takes his time answering. He swills his wine and watches the tannins seep down the curve of the glass.

“Thank you.”

There’s more Yoongi wants to say. Still, there comes a point in time where holding onto anger no longer seems to do anything more for you than to bear down upon your shoulders, and the words that Yoongi had once only let Namjoon hear sound stupid. You made me fear myself. I thought I was only capable of hurting people. I’m afraid to put my hands on my own omega and I can see it hurts him, guess why that is? Once it had mattered so much to say all of this. Now it only seems silly.

The world had tilted when Jeongguk came into Yoongi’s life. Different things are important now.

“Were you angry for a long time?”

“No. And even if I were, it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Yijung swallows. “Be gentle with him.”

“I’ll be sure of it.”

Lightheadedness swims in Yoongi’s temples when Yijung walks away. Part of it is him taking the first deep breath since this conversation began, and part of it must be the wine. It’s odd. He usually can’t feel it unless he drinks hard liquor, or downs a whole bottle of wine alone.

“Hyung?”

“Jeongguk.” Yoongi shuts his eyes, Jeongguk’s scent grounding him before Yoongi actually sees him.

“You don’t look well. Are you okay?” Namjoon takes Yoongi’s glass from him. “You look pale. Paler than usual, anyway.”

“I’m fine.” Yoongi waves an airy hand. “Just a little shaken up.”

“Who was that?” asks Jeongguk. He tries to find Yijung in the crowd, looking to Namjoon with questions in his eyes.

“I’ll tell you soon, babe. Not here.”

“Are you still up for staying till the end of the night?” Jimin asks. Yoongi waves harder, as if trying to ward off his concern.

“I’m fine, Jimin. Don’t look so worried, Jeonggukie, I’m fine.”

But as the hour wears on, as Namjoon and Jeongguk and Jimin fall into the ebb and flow of banquet socialization, Yoongi only feels more and more ill. An uncomfortable heat burns at the back of his neck and in his cheeks, not quite fever, but warm enough to make him shiver with chills. He holds himself together well enough that they don’t fuss over him again, and Yoongi makes it back to the limo without so much as a misstep.

“You’re a little warm,” Namjoon says, when Yoongi leans up against him. Across from them both, Jeongguk has his legs draped over Jimin’s thighs, giggling drunkenly with his arms hooked around Jimin’s neck. “Are you feeling alright?”

“I’m fine,” whispers Yoongi. “I am spectacular.”

 

Here is what Namjoon wakes up to: an empty bed, cold, like it’s been vacated for a while, crying, and a rut scent so thick his brain is waterlogged.

“Yoongi,” he manages, one eye barely open, digging in the cold sheets beside him for a body that isn’t there. “Yoongi?”

The sound of crying is faint, but it’s there. It sounds like it’s coming from the end of the hall, where the nest is—after the ask, they’ve been using it on and off, waiting for heat or rut to come. As a general rule Jeongguk crawls into their beds otherwise.

“Yoongi?”

The floor is frigid where Namjoon’s toes meet the hardwood. He hugs himself against the cold, pajamas sticking to his back slightly, and opens the door.

“Yoongi-hyung?”

The crying is definitely coming from the nest, and out here in the hall, the rut scent is overwhelming. Even as groggy as he is, Namjoon’s blood stirs warm in his veins. He shakes it off and crosses the hall to the nest.

“Hyung,” Jimin says. Relief washes over his face when Namjoon cracks the door open. “Hyung, oh God, hey—Yoongi went into rut.”

“Okay, but,” Namjoon opens the door wider, struggling to push it open against the sprawling expanse of blankets and pillows on the floor. His heart plummets when he sees Jeongguk’s tear-streaked face. Jimin is cradling him, holding him half-upright against his chest. The nest reeks sour, of misery and confusion, settling over Namjoon’s clothes like cigarette smoke. “What—what’s going on? Jeonggukie, baby, what—?”

“He won’t let me see him,” Jeongguk sobs, so brokenhearted that Namjoon feels like his ribs are being pried open. “He doesn’t want to touch me.”

“Who? Yoongi?” Namjoon frowns, sleep clearing from his brain in bits and pieces. Yoongi, in rut. Yoongi, who doesn’t want to let Jeongguk see him. Yoongi, who ran into Yijung just hours before, after saying God knows what to him.

Fuck.

“Why?” Jeongguk asks. He gathers himself up to ask this, sewing himself up at the seams hurriedly. “Why doesn’t he like me?”

“That’s not the problem, Jeongguk. He—” Namjoon holds his face in his hands. “He likes you. He likes you so much, he’s afraid he’ll hurt you. He’s a lot stronger than he might look.”

“Why would he think that way?” The hiccups are here, now, and tears still pool at the rims of Jeongguk’s eyes, but they’ve lost that flooding, uncontrollable quality.

“There was an omega before you,” Jimin says softly. “Not a mate. Just a moment of weakness, like yours. He was a friend from the mob. Yoongi worked pretty close with him—despite being in a line of work they didn’t know how to feel about, they both loved music. And, a little like Mingyu, he asked if Yoongi would help. He said yes.”

“Oh,” Jeongguk says.

“It went—not well.” Namjoon crosses his legs, mirroring Jimin; Jeongguk is sitting in the cradle of his thighs. “As a lot of non-mated heats and ruts can go. Yoongi’s pretty rough during sex. It’s just his thing. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s rough unless he’s sleepy.”

Jimin chortles here despite himself. “Yeah, I’ve had a limp or two because of him.”

“And that omega was roughed up more than he liked or wanted.” Namjoon rests his elbows on the sides of his knees, bone digging into skin. “They probably could have communicated it better. We were young. He used some really hurtful words and strung them together in a way that made Yoongi feel like he’d done something awful. And since then he’s been afraid of his mate saying the same kind of things to him, so instead he solves it by locking himself up.”

Jeongguk sniffles wetly. “That’s stupid,” he says.

“I know. But it was traumatic for him, I think.” Well, Namjoon knows. He remembers Yoongi repeating the ordeal to him without emotion, as if he were reading it from a medical biology textbook. He said he doesn’t know how any omega would ever want me for a mate. Maybe he’s right, Namjoon. Maybe I’m not meant for one. Maybe it’s always just going to be you.

It was the most heartbreaking variation of I love you Yoongi had ever said to him.

Jimin grimaces. His thumbs are red and raw where they rub against Jeongguk’s back. He must have been wiping away Jeongguk’s tears with his fingers when he ran out of convenient blanket corners to use. “Can you go talk to him, hyung? I don’t think he’ll let anyone else in except you right now.”

“I’ll try.” Namjoon clambers to his feet, limbs clumsy in the way that they are when you’re woken up in a panic in the middle of the night. He trips over a stray duvet hem on his way out, hating how much he has to leave a tearful omega behind.

The guest room door is shut tight and locked. Even outside in the hallway, the scent of rut seeps under the space between the ground and the door, and Namjoon has to brace himself on the doorjamb to knock.

“Yoongi?”

“Don’t.”

“It’s just me.”

“Namjoon?”

“Yeah. Just me. I’m alone. Can I come in?”

“You promise?”

“I promise. Don’t worry.”

Shuffling noises. Then the lock clicks softly, and the door creaks open a smidgen. It’s only enough for a slice of the hallway light to illuminate Yoongi’s lunar face. It’s ashen.

“Can I?” Namjoon pushes on the door slightly, the wood straining against Yoongi’s body. He steps back wordlessly, so Namjoon steps in quick before any more of the smell can waft into the hallway. “Yoongi. What’s going on?”

The helplessness of Yoongi’s arms when he raises them breaks Namjoon’s heart, and he steps forward until he can crush Yoongi’s frame into his chest. He’s damp, chilly with sweat, and his hands are sticky.

“We have an omega now. Why are you suffering alone? He’s crying in the nest because he thinks you don’t want him.”

“That’s exactly the opposite of the problem.” Yoongi is limp in Namjoon’s arms, shivering with the exhaustion of chain orgasms.

“You know he can’t know about what happened.”

“Even if he knew, does that change the possibility that it could happen again?”

Namjoon isn’t looking at Yoongi’s face. It’s tucked into the junction where his neck meets his shoulder, but he knows if he were, there’d be fear he hasn’t seen for a long time in Yoongi’s eyes. The same fear that made Yoongi sit in their study, afraid to go downstairs to meet this omega, afraid to walk into the home theater first.

“You’re trembling,” he says. Namjoon can feel the dull ache of rut in his own body just looking at Yoongi, and he has no idea how much it’s amplified by the presence of their omega in the next room over. “Let me?”

“Yes, please,” Yoongi says, and this time his voice is a whimper.

He’s already naked from the waist down, pajamas clinging to his back. The line of Yoongi’s throat is slick with sweat when his tips his head back, moan broken at the touch of Namjoon’s hand to his cock. It’s red, sticky with come, Namjoon can almost feel the pulse of the last knot under the curl of his fingers.

“Ah—ah—”

They’re quieter now, but Namjoon can hear Jeongguk sobbing again. The sound is muffled, like he’s doing it into Jimin’s chest, and he thanks any god that might be listening (though he sincerely hopes not, considering the current lowdown of things, sorry @ gods) that they exist in a triad. He would fucking hate to think that he would have a leave Jeongguk alone in that nest if they didn’t have Jimin.

Yoongi is breathless by the time he comes, cock swelling with his knot. His moan when Namjoon cups it is so weak it’s heartrending. He can tell it hurts.

“Please let him in,” Namjoon whispers into Yoongi’s temple. “He thinks he’s failed you. He’s doubting himself. You know how bad rut pheromones can mess up your omega’s mood. He’ll be happier with you.”

“I’ll hurt him.” Even as he says it, Namjoon can hear Jeongguk hiccup with sobs.

“Don’t forget he’s it, hyung. He’s it. Tell him what to expect. You won’t hurt him.”

Yoongi fixes his gaze on him through the haze of rut. He’s weak enough to waver.

“Trust my instinct.”

The bed creaks as Yoongi sits up, bracing himself against Namjoon’s chest. “Help me?”

“How about you stay here. I’ll bring him.” Namjoon loosens his hold around Yoongi’s body. Best for Jeongguk to come here, where the rut scent is dense and comforting, than to bring Yoongi to a tear-soaked nest and undo what little progress Namjoon’s made.

“Don’t leave.”

“I’ll be right back.”

“No, I mean, stay in here. You and Jimin both. Just for—just for one knot.”

“Oh,” Namjoon says. “Are you sure?”

“Please.”

“If it makes you comfortable, then of course.” The crown of Yoongi’s hair burns when Namjoon puts a kiss there. “I’ll be right back.”

 

Yoongi can smell Jeongguk before he sees him.

Namjoon had not been exaggerating about Jeongguk crying. His face looks blotchy in the low lamplight, eyes raw and red, and beneath the pulsing scent of his body is the tang of saline. It makes Yoongi’s heart plummet.

“Hyung,” Jeongguk says, reaching out when Namjoon closes the door behind them. “Are you—”

“I’m sorry, baby, come here,” Yoongi says.

“Do you not want me?”

“That’s not it at all.” The bed squeaks when Jeongguk falls onto it, his added weight making Yoongi bounce on the mattress. Namjoon slides in, at the foot of the bed, and Jimin takes to criss-crossing his legs at the edge. He runs his hand up and down the length of Jeongguk’s spine. It’s unusual that he doesn’t have some witty comment, no matter the situation (Yoongi has said in the past that Jimin would probably have a witty comment in the face of certain death, which Jimin took as a compliment). Only genuine worry could beget this kind of silence from him. “I was afraid of hurting you.”

“This hurts more,” Jeongguk says. He clambers into Yoongi’s lap, straddling his thighs, and already Yoongi can feel the warm slick starting at the base of Jeongguk’s spine. “It hurts.”

“I’m sorry, baby.”

In a way, Yoongi is glad he’s not the first one to touch their mate like this. Part of it, he’s sure, is made easier by the rut. Jeongguk moves with certainty in his limbs. He doesn’t hesitate or blush when Yoongi brings his shirt up over his head, whining, even, when Yoongi takes a second too long to get his pants off.

“Bossy,” Yoongi says, circling his arm around Jeongguk’s waist and twisting so that Jeongguk’s back meets the sheets. His head has been throbbing all night, especially in his temples, but Yoongi feels himself go dangerously lightheaded when Jeongguk pants beneath the cage of his legs. A breathless smile comes over his face. Jeongguk has his arms raised near his face, hands loose and relaxed.

“You can be rougher than that, alpha,” he says.

“No,” Yoongi tosses his pants aside when he works them off his ankles. “I won’t.”

“Even if I want it?”

“Not for today, baby.”

“Kiss me?”

“That I can do,” Yoongi says, and leans in. Jeongguk moans brokenly, lips still tasting of salt, wrapping his arms around Yoongi’s neck.

It’s not as comfortable as the nest, that’s for sure, but Yoongi hardly registers how creaky the bed is when Jeongguk spreads his legs and he picks up scent of his slick. It pools thick and it makes the skin of Jeongguk’s inner thighs wet and messy. Yoongi fits his mouth to the taut tendon at the curve between Jeongguk’s thigh and cock and hums.

“I want your knot,” Jeongguk whimpers.

“I know, baby.” Yoongi runs his middle and index fingers down and across Jeongguk’s entrance, barely dipping in and already sticky down to his palms. “We’re getting there.”

Not quickly enough, it seems, for Jeongguk. There’s surprisingly little resistance when Yoongi sinks his fingers in down to his knuckle, and Jeongguk does not hold himself back from fucking himself slowly on them. He sobs when Yoongi withdraws them, trying to chase his hand with his hips.

“Don’t tease him,” Namjoon says, hand warm at the back of Yoongi’s neck.

So Yoongi moves to give it to him in earnest. Jeongguk is slippery when he props him up on his thighs, opening him up, and he grips onto Yoongi’s waist hard enough to make him wheeze when he leans in. The head of Yoongi’s cock nudges at his entrance and it’s almost too much for Yoongi to hold his orgasm, but he manages to get inside.

“Ah,” Jeongguk moans, with so much relief in his voice that Yoongi thinks he’ll come on the spot. “Ah, yes, yes—”

He scratches lines down Yoongi’s back, nails leaving behind stinging red cobwebs that Yoongi knows will stand out like spines against his skin. “Harder,” he says, pressing his heels into the dimples of Yoongi’s waist. “Please.”

“It’ll be easier for you to rest if you let me take you from behind, baby.” Yoongi gives Jeongguk’s desperate, panting lips a kiss. “Get on your knees.”

Jimin is there to steady him when Jeongguk straightens, rising to his knees and swaying. His thighs are quivering, and he laughs weakly when he falls against him.

“Careful, you,” Jimin says, kissing him soft. “Don’t want you toppling off the bed.”

Jeongguk drops his face into the pillows. Fuck, having him present like this is making Yoongi’s head swim again. Rut leaves him hazy but never quite as muddled as this, feeling like his hands aren’t his own when they reach out and bracket the sloping crests of Jeongguk’s hips.

“Okay?”

“Yes, please, hyung—”

Jeongguk cries out when Yoongi pushes back in, moving harder now than he had when they’d been tangled together face-to-face. He bites down on his fist, choking to the rhythm of Yoongi’s thrusts. “Yes,” he moans. Slick runs in rivulets down the backs of his thighs. Yoongi moans back in response. “More.”

Yoongi folds his body over Jeongguk’s—and Jeongguk is a whole lot of leg, not as much torso, and despite being much shorter Yoongi can almost reach Jeongguk’s ear with his mouth. “Are you going to come, baby?”

“I, ah—” Jeongguk struggles to push himself up onto his hands, looking over his shoulder. His expression is so debauched that Yoongi reaches out and pulls Jeongguk’s back flush to his chest. “I want to come with you.”

The lightheaded sensation seeps back into Yoongi’s brain, and the base of his cock is starting to ache again as he feels his own orgasm building. “Then let’s come,” he says, pushing in hard and deep, waiting for the telltale sign of Jeongguk’s body locking up before he lets himself go. And lock up Jeongguk does—he tightens so hard around him that Yoongi can barely move, knot beginning to swell. He tries to be careful lowering Jeongguk back onto the mattress, but even just a slight shift in their positions jostles the knot inside him, and Jeongguk whimpers.

“I’m sorry,” Yoongi presses a kiss into Jeongguk’s shoulder, damp with sweat.

“No,” Jeongguk protests. His hips buck a little from the overstimulation, and when Yoongi reaches around him, he feels Jeongguk come a little more. “I love it.”

“You really delivered, hyung,” Jimin says, grin back on his face now that Jeongguk’s eyelashes are starting to flutter with exhaustion. “It looks like you win.”

“Eat it, Park Jimin,” Yoongi murmurs into the back of Jeongguk’s neck. He shivers when he feels Namjoon’s body to his bare back.

“Are you okay? Want us to stay, still?”

“Mmm. Thank you. I’m okay, I think.”

“You didn’t hurt him. See?”

“I know,” Yoongi says. He can barely keep his eyes open, despite the blood still pounding through his chest, as if Jeongguk had wrested all the restless energy from him that had been coursing through him for hours. “You guys can go.”

“Let me know if you’re hungry. We didn’t prepare enough for this rut.”

“I will,” Yoongi says. Just before he hears the door shut he registers Namjoon saying something to Jimin, and the image of two silhouettes holding hands in the doorway, and then sleep overtakes him.

 

The culprit, so it seems, is that Yoongi has an adverse reaction to mixing rut pills and wine.

The rut takes five days to burn off—standard enough for ruts, only, as Namjoon had mentioned, neither of them had nearly carb-loaded enough to get through it unassisted. The fifth morning sees Yoongi sitting up in the nest with Jeongguk’s face in his lap, feeding him Oreos by the sleeve.

“If you pass out again, I’m really not forgiving myself,” Yoongi said when Jeongguk insisted he eat too. “My body knows how to scrape by on virtually nothing, and last time I checked, you fainted at the front of your apartment and didn’t wake up until the sun had gone down. I’m not risking it.”

“I’m fine,” Jeongguk mumbles, blinking slow. Shards of sunlight dance across the nest. They’d moved in back in here after the second night, but the curtains aren’t drawn. Some of it spills over Jeongguk’s face and lights his eyebrows and lashes golden.

Yoong holds another Oreo to his lips. “I’m sorry,” he says after a pensive silence.

“What? Why?”

“I decided how you felt,” he says, eating an Oreo for himself. “And I didn’t allow you to tell me what you wanted before I convinced myself I knew what was best for you. I’m sorry. I can tell you where that habit comes from, but it doesn’t really matter. I might not have hurt your body but I hurt your heart.”

“Hyung—”

“I wanted to say this a lot earlier, but I decided that waiting was probably better. We had rut to get through. I didn’t want to upset you any more than I already had.”

“It’s okay,” Jeongguk says. “Rut makes alphas unreasonable. It makes their omegas incorrigible.”

“That’s uncomfortably self-aware of you.” Yoongi separates his Oreo and begins scraping the cream away from the chocolate with his finger.

“It’s okay,” Jeongguk says. “I can’t say I’m surprised. It would be just like you—any of the three of you.”

“Did Namjoon tell you why?”

“Because of Yijung, right?”

Yoongi stiffens, but Jeongguk shakes his head. “He never used his name. Just enough for me to put it together, especially after that banquet and how bad you looked after that conversation with him. At first I thought he might have been someone you guys had a bad run-in with, but then I thought that Namjoon would never let you out of his sight if it were.”

“You’re not upset?”

“Well I’m glad you never mated him, because you’re mine,” Jeongguk mutters, and affection swells strong in Yoongi’s chest. “I don’t want you to touch anyone else like this.”

“I won’t,” Yoongi promises.

Jeongguk opens his mouth for another cookie, hungry and begging like a swallow hatchling. Yoongi, in a moment of unthinking impulsiveness, sticks his cream-covered fingertip in between Jeongguk’s lips, and before he can withdraw it and make some brusque comment about how rut is still fogging his brain, Jeongguk closes his lips around it and flutters his eyes closed.

“Mm,” he hums, swilling his tongue around Yoongi’s finger.

“Babe—”

But Jeongguk just tips his jaw up to take more of Yoongi’s finger into his mouth, wet down to the knuckle.

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” he says softly, extracting his finger. Jeongguk’s mouth makes a pop when it comes free.

“Then knot me, alpha, if you know so much.”

And it wouldn’t do for Yoongi to deny his mate that, now, would it?

 

They all love Jeongguk a little differently.

Three alphas means three personalities. As the months pass, slowly, gently, Jeongguk comes to understand all their different shades and nuances that at once work so well together and stand on opposite ends of each other.

Namjoon is quiet, reassuring, someone Jeongguk finds himself turning into putty for. He finds himself stopping to think about the world differently after nights of Namjoon asking him funny questions into the back of his neck. First they’d been funny, perhaps, but the more Jeongguk thought about them the more Namjon was right. Yoongi had said that Namjoon’s presence curiously can make everything seem okay, no matter the circumstances, and not only was he right—it translates into the bedroom, too. He teases out of Jeongguk things he didn’t know he liked: an unexpected penchant to be pinned down, for instance, or tied up, especially by the wrists or ankles.

That’s a tie that’s not supposed to be worn out in public.

Yoongi is quiet, too, and yet it’s different from the way Namjoon is quiet. Yoongi is quiet in spite of something. The permanent storm inside him, maybe, one that is always dark with thunderclouds on the horizon. A storm that quiets when he looks at Jeongguk. Something in his eyes always looks like a shaken snowglobe until his gaze meets Jeongguk’s face, and suddenly, the faux snowflakes settle, the glitter stops dancing, and Jeongguk can see some form of a vibrant soul inside him. Pulsing, pulsing. Something like careful love.

Sometimes Jeongguk wishes Yoongi would be a little rougher with him, just to know this is all real, but they can work through it together.

And Jimin. Well, Jimin is a crackling cherry bomb about whom Yoongi says “I hope he doesn’t break the floor.”

Namjoon looks up from his teacup, the glass clinking as he sets it down in its saucer just as a thud that seems to shake the entire story above resounds through the house.

“Hmm,” is all Namjoon says.

“Yeah.”

“If Jeongguk likes it that way, I guess,” Namjoon says with a shrug. “The two of us handle him like a china doll.”

“Please, with the way you gave him rope burn—tie burn, whatever—around his wrists for two days? You do not handle him like a china doll.”

“Sure, okay. You handle him like a china doll, I handle him like a glass Pyrex measuring cup on clearance for two-ninety-nine at Sears.”

“Meaning?”

“Carefully but clumsily, because of who I am as a person.”

“And Jimin, Jimin handles him like Tupperware.”

“Some people like to be thrown around and eaten out, hyung. Eaten out of?”

“Shoved in the dishwasher unceremoniously.”

“Weird kink. No judgment.”

Yoongi snorts. Above them, Jeongguk keens so loud and high that Namjoon looks up from the sheet music he’s attempting to parse, and Yoongi slants him a pointed look.

“Hey, it’s his first rut with an omega. Let him be obnoxious.”

“Obnoxious is his middle name, Namjoon-ah.”

No fucking kidding. Just last week, during pre-rut, Namjoon had walked into the garage and immediately gotten accosted by the smell of sex hanging in the air from the night before. When he asked Jimin about it, he’d received a blank stare and “Oh, come on, hyung. Don’t tell me you haven’t tried having sex with him in your car. Or on your car, for that matter.”

“Can you just take it to the carwash, my God, how am I going to focus on the road when it’s all up in my car, too? And tip them well for cleaning out your goddamn loveboat.”

“He likes it,” Jimin had singsonged.

But Jeongguk does like it, though. China doll, clearance Pyrex glass, and Tupperware alike. Jimin smiles a lot when they’re in bed, especially when Jeongguk moans and whimpers. He laughs when Jeongguk curses and challenges him. It’s a welcome contrast to the softly dominating touch Namjoon uses with him and Yoongi’s gentle, reverent one.

“You look fucked out, baby,” Jimin says later, the two of them standing in the shower face to face. Jeongguk, anyway, stands there as Jimin rakes the hair back from his forehead, tipping his head back before he reaches for the body wash. “Are you just going to stand there and stare at me? Want me to soap you down?”

“Are we not going to do anything?”

Jeongguk has never seen someone holding a half-used, gooey Herbal Essences bottle look at him so salaciously. “Damn. Horny little omega, aren’t you?”

“You’re the one in—”

“I really just came in here to wash my asscrack. And yours, of course,” Jimin adds. “But if you want.”

“Can we try?”

“Mm. Shower sex is a lot more slippery than you’re thinking, probably. I need lube.”

“What, why?”

“We have to get out of here somehow when I knot you baby, and you’re not going to like it much if I’m yanking against you inside without lube. I can’t pull out but it’ll hurt less.”

Lube is not much of a staple in mated households, but Jimin does manage to find some in the cabinet under the sink. The shower door rumbles when he slides it shut, steam frosting the glass foggy.

“Jesus, is it my rut or your heat?”

“Don’t get cocky, you were the one moaning my name last—ah!” The corner of Jimin’s mouth quirks up in a smile when he fits his fingers to Jeongguk’s ass, pushing two fingers up against his entrance. It’s still wet with slick and come, even after standing in the shower.

“Mhmm,” Jimin hums, withdrawing his hand and giving Jeongguk’s butt a little slap. It’s more sound than force, wet and mischievous. “What was that?”

Jeongguk dissolves into wordless moaning when Jimin presses his hardening cock against Jeongguk’s tailbone. It’s nearing the end of the fourth day, sure, but rut is still rut, and Jeongguk pressing himself into marble wall with his ass out is still something off the top of Jimin’s Christmas/birthday/half-birthday/Valentine’s Day wishlist, so Jimin wastes no time in nudging the head of his cock up against his entrance.

“Ah—yes—”

“What do we say?”

“Fuck you, Jimin-hyung.”

“In a second, baby. What do we say?”

“Please,” Jeongguk grinds out, gasping and shaking when Jimin pushes in. He lets out his breath slow, cheek resting against the marble. His hands struggle for some purchase on the wet tile. “Yes, ah—move, please. Please!”

Jimin’s not going to deny an omega begging so nicely for him, and frankly, the sear of heat still burns through his blood. He grips Jeongguk’s hips hard enough to bruise, pulling him back against him until Jeongguk grows weak in the knees and his whimpers taper off into shuddering pants.

“Gonna come,” he says. Jimin leans in and puts his mouth to Jeongguk’s shoulder.

“Good timing,” he says, the knot starting to rise in the pit of abdomen. “Come with me?”

Jeongguk’s knees buckle when he does, so it’s good that he’s supported by the wall of the shower. He makes a helpless noise, exhaustion and bliss rolled up together. Jimin holds himself deep inside and comes with him.

They stand, tangled together, for several breathless moments before Jimin tugs at Jeongguk’s shoulders gently.

“No,” Jeongguk mumbles.

“You have come all over your thighs, let’s get it off.”

“How are we going to get back to the nest?” Jeongguk asks after they hose his legs down. He looks over his shoulder, where Jimin is backhugging him around the waist to support him, and Jimin gives him a thousand-gigawatt grin.

“You know that song, Side to Side by Ariana Gr—”

“No,” Jeongguk says, raising his voice over Jimin’s.

“Been there all night—”

“Stop—”

“Been there all day—”

“I’m not going to let you knot in me after this.”

“And I got you walking side to side,” Jimin finishes in a flourish.

“I’m going to bite your dick off,” Jeongguk mutters.

“Aw,” Jimin says, helping Jeongguk snap the detachable shower head back into place. “That’s not what you said when you had it in your mouth just an hour ago.”

 

Before the new semester rolls around, Jeongguk makes the big leap to move into the triad estate.

“Please don’t leave me,” Jaehyun begs. He follows Jeongguk from room to room as he gathers his things. The funny thing about living in any space for longer than a day or two is that your possessions gain the ability to migrate to every nook and cranny around you, and you can’t even remember how. It’s inconvenient, but as Namjoon would probably look at it, a curious proclivity in which we as people can make any place in the world a place to call home. “I think my new roommate is really weird.”

“You haven’t even given him a chance, dude.”

“One of his suitemates messaged me earlier today.” Jaehyun looks resigned. “With ‘hope you like off-note belting of Twice songs at two AM.’”

“Oh boy.”

“Right,” Jaehyun says. “At least all the shouting you do at two AM is how your team’s Genji needs to shut the fuck up about needing healing.”

“It’s not like I’m moving out of the country or even out of the city. We’ll literally see each other in art history.”

“Right when we got the refrigerator to work again, too,” Jaehyun mopes, resolute in his gloom. He helps Jeongguk carry a box of his art supplies downstairs and out to Yoongi’s car. Jeongguk has grown accustomed to seeing a matte black Audi parked outside his apartment waiting for him, but Jaehyun had reacted to it like he was witnessing a unicorn in the flesh. Big mood, really. “Although I guess if I were in your position, I wouldn’t want to stick around in a moldy college apartment, either.”

“Aren’t you glad to be around another beta?” Jeongguk asks as they climb the stairs back up to their apartment, feet echoing like thunderclaps in the stairwell. “I can’t imagine it was exactly exciting for you every time heat week rolled—hey, Mingyu.”

Mingyu turns where he’d been standing at their front door, face lighting up like he’d knocked several times to no answer already. “Jeonggukie! Hey, Jaehyun. I thought you guys weren’t in.”

“Jeongguk’s leaving me, Mingyu,” Jaehyun says. “He’s leaving me forever.”

“Wait, what?” Mingyu faces Jeongguk, Jaehyun clinging to him dramatically. Jeongguk rolls his eyes. “What’s going on?”

“I’m just moving into my alphas’ home,” Jeongguk says. “I mentioned it to you a while ago.”

“Oh yeah! You did. Yeah, I remembered today was moving day for you. I wanted to stop by and ask if you needed a hand or anything.”

Ever since Jeongguk had turned Mingyu’s request down cold, they’ve been—well, not weird. Cordial, maybe, with a grain of awkwardness between the two of them, like neither of them are really sure if they’re putting their feet in the right place. Mingyu being Mingyu, with his pathological tendency for optimism, backed off a little afterwards without asking too many questions. Jeongguk is fortunate for someone like him.

“I think I’m good, honestly. Just help me carry the last box of canvases downstairs?”

“Yes!”

“Tell you what,” says Jeongguk, as he brings up the rear on the way down. He’d struggled to see over his armful of wide oil canvases, but Mingyu has no problem seeing where he’s going. Tree people. “You want to come over?”

“What—seriously?” At this, Mingyu almost does eat linoleum staircase. He makes sure to plant his feet on the landing before looking Jeongguk in the face properly. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I haven’t really had the chance to hang out with you recently. I miss our ambiguously gay antics.”

“Is that even a good idea? I’m—well, I’m an alpha, and one that asked for your company, too, I can’t imagine your mate—er, mates would be all that delighted about seeing me under their roof, so—”

“Hey. What are you talking about? You’ve been my best friend, first and foremost. That’s a title that comes before alpha, that comes before anything else. And I want my best friend to meet the only other people in my life that mean as much to me as he does.”

Mingyu’s lip quavers.

“Okay, no need for that—”

“I love you!” Mingyu says, attempting to throw his arms around Jeongguk and not drop all his art supplies at once (he fails). “I won’t do anything weird! I’ll be on my best behavior!”

“Thank you,” Jeongguk says, face squashed against Mingyu’s collarbone. “Now please let me go, you’re never going to meet them if you asphyxiate me.”

 

Mingyu ogles the estate when he climbs out of the backseat of the Audi, in much the same way Jeongguk tried not to the first time he had set foot here.

“This is,” Mingyu struggles for words. “Very much.”

“It’s up there, right?” Jeongguk asks. Yoongi had been silent for most of the drive here, speaking only to ask Jeongguk if he was cold and wanted the heater on any higher. He smells a twinge irritated, the scent metallic and just the slightest bit harsh against Jeongguk’s nose, and he’s torn between feeling bad and feeling smug enough to grease a baking pan with.

“I’ve only seen this in movies.” Mingyu lifts the trunk door up. “Here, let me hel—”

“I’m fine, thank you,” Yoongi says curtly, brushing past Mingyu’s shoulder with a box of oil paint sets and prismacolor pencils. He stumbles back, then turns to Jeongguk, who laughs in embarrassment.

“Sorry.”

“It comes with the territory, it’s okay. I told you they weren’t going to like me coming.”

“No, they’ll warm up to you. It’ll be fine. Please?”

Mingyu casts Jeongguk a dubious look.

Warm up to him is pretty generous. Jimin tumbles into the foyer like he always does when Jeongguk gets back to the house, ready to plant a kiss or a hundred on his face, but he comes to a stop when Mingyu steps over the threshold with him. Instead of his usual shower of kisses he snakes his arm around Jeongguk’s waist, pulls him into his chest by the ass, and kisses him right on the mouth.

“Hyung—”

“Happy to see you home again, baby,” Jimin says, giving his buttcheek a gratuitous squeeze before he relinquishes Jeongguk from his hold. And, because Jimin is Jimin, he offers Mingyu the same hand to shake. Jeongguk attempts to refrain from wincing. “I’m afraid we haven’t met before. Park Jimin.”

“Kim Mingyu.” He’s some two heads taller than Jimin at least and somehow appears smaller than him as he takes his hand. Jimin crushes his fingers in his grip with a smile. “I’m, er—”

“Ah, the best friend. From the fine arts club?”

“You told them about me?” Mingyu asks, eyes wide.

“Obviously?” Jeongguk says.

“We were going to ask what the scent was, of course,” Jimin says, shutting the door behind Mingyu and seeming to relish all too much in how he deflates. “Come in.”

Before Mingyu can answer, Namjoon steps into the foyer, still in his pinstripe suit. Black today. He’s the most cordial of the three, genuinely surprised by Mingyu’s presence at the door, and immediately extends his hand.

“I thought I heard a guest. Kim Namjoon, I’m one of the alphas of this triad.”

Mingyu relaxes more around him, the first nice face since he’s arrived. Not nice, exactly. Polite at best. Namjoon seems to know it, too, asking if he’s eaten, if he’d like to stay for dinner, if he needs help finding the restroom.

A dawning realization comes over Jimin’s face when Mingyu shuffles past, though Jeongguk can’t fathom why. Yoongi catches it too, giving Jimin a dirty look, as if accusing him of fraternizing with the enemy for not looking like he’d just gotten ammonia-soaked cotton balls jammed up his nose.

“You smell that?”

“No,” Yoongi says.

“Smell what?” Namjoon loosens his tie and sets a whiskey glass on the marble countertop. Ice falls, clink-clink, against each other into the bottom.

“There’s someone else’s scent on him.” Jimin takes in a deep breath, passing it against the roof of his nose. “There! It’s kind of soft and creamy.”

“I don’t smell anyth—wait, yeah.” Yoongi squints. “It’s faint, but it’s definitely there.”

“What?” asks Jeongguk.

“It’s an omega scent,” Jimin says. “It has to be. It almost reminds me of you the first time you walked into the cafe, only less intoxicating. Mingyu!” he calls when the toilet flushes and Mingyu appears back in the doorway of the kitchen. “Would you like a drink?”

If Mingyu had been embarrassed and borderline uncomfortable before, he looks alarmed now. “I—I’m okay, thanks.”

“No, I insist!” Jimin says, bustling around. “Gin? Tonic? Do you like rum? We have a lot of malt whiskey if you want some.”

Mingyu slides Jeongguk an expression that is nothing short of Dude, you have really fucking weird mates.

He ends up having a coke and rum.

It’s a nice evening. Mingyu doesn’t ask after why Jimin had gone from bawdy to hospitable, or Namjoon from polite to nice, or Yoongi from rude to slightly less rude, but he enjoys himself. Jeongguk is happy for it.

He has a lot of things to be happy for.

 

“What do you want to eat?”

The question filters through gentle, rainy silence. It’s been quiet for long enough in the sitting room that sound is foreign in it, and Jeongguk looks up from his essay. Namjoon’s face is sharp, at attention, like a bloodhound that’s picked up a trail.

“Huh?”

“What do you want to eat?”

“We just had dinner an hour ago, hyung,” Jimin says, looking over his ream of papers. He’s been auditing a legal agreement all night for Namjoon, one that the Black Dragon had asked him to modify the verbiage for until the loopholes were just big enough for them to slip through. It’s boring work. Jimin has his hand pillowed behind his head, stretched out over the lounge. “Or are you stress-hungry again?”

“Yeah, I’m okay,” says Jeongguk. Namjoon frowns. “Really! I’m not at all hungry, hyung.”

“But—you guys don’t smell it? Jeonggukie, you don’t even feel it?”

“I don’t know how I should feel,” says Jeongguk.

“Me, but like, always,” says Jimin, pointing at Jeongguk with the corner of his paper. Yoongi rolls his eyes towards the ceiling.

“Jimin, I don’t know how you could smell that omega on Mingyu and not this,” Namjoon says. “Pre-heat.”

The reactions to this revelation range from raised eyebrows (Yoongi), to a dawning “oh,” drawn out (Jeongguk), to sitting up so fast vertigo makes him eat couch cushion (Jimin). Namjoon doesn’t budge, watching them with his chin propped in his hand, until Jeongguk speaks up again.

“That probably explains why I’ve been feeling unbearably warm all day, despite the rain,” Jeongguk says. “But it’s never happened like this before, so I thought I was just coming down with something?”

“How does it usually happen?”

“Nausea. Not wanting to eat anything. Then wanting to eat the entire damn fridge. Craving food at three AM. I wake up sleeping on my stomach a lot in the mornings pre-heat, too.”

“The food craving part is familiar,” Namjoon nods. “That’s why I asked.”

Jeongguk thinks. “Well, I guess I could really go for some Double Stuf Oreos right now.”

Right now. It’s almost like someone had shouted “HOLY SHIT, ARTICUNO” in the early glory days of Pokemon Go. Jimin’s papers go flying when he scrambles out of the chaise lounge and darts around the sitting room shouting, mostly to himself, where his jacket is; Yoongi has literally never moved this fast in his life ever, and likely will never move this fast again; and Namjoon actually fucking hurdles, leg-up, over his cherrywood desk. The fact he doesn’t faceplant into the floor is an achievement that deserves a ceremonial plaque and perhaps a police-led motorcade.

“Wait, holy shit—”

“We’ll be right back, babe,” Jimin shouts over his shoulder, tripping over his undone shoelaces in the scramble down the staircase into the garage. “You just sit tight!”

Then the door slams, and Jeongguk blinks.

“What,” he says aloud to the room at large.

 

Alpha culture is frightening the small-town cashier who’s just minding her own business on a late night in a convenience store by tearing in and ripping three packs of Double Stuf Oreos off the shelf, and then panting and sweating in line to check out. Jimin can’t say he’s ever been cut off by a matte black Audi when he’s already going a hundred and fifty kilometers an hour, but only Yoongi would (only to then be cut off by a silver Rolls Royce, so eat it, Yoongi).

“We’re back!” Jimin shouts, running when they pull into the garage like he’d shut off the lights downstairs and was trying to beat The Demon back upstairs. “Jeonggukie!”

“Jimin?”

“Double Stuf, like you wanted!” Namjoon says. He trips over the mess of shoes by the garage door and goes sprawling, which is bizarre, considering he launched himself over an entire desk without a hair out of place. Then Yoongi trips over his wrist, sending him sprawling, and Jimin dances victoriously towards a wide-eyed Jeongguk before he feels a hand close around his ankle, and the world comes rushing up in his face.

“Hey!”

Jeongguk has gotten out of his seat by now, coming towards the tangled mess of their bodies on the hardwood. “What are you guys doing?”

“Double Stuf,” Jimin repeats thickly. He sits up and tilts his head back. “Goddammit hyung, you made my nose bleed.”

“It’s not a competition,” Jeongguk says, crouching down and gathering the three packs to hold against his chest. He pulls them up off the floor, and they all look a little dazed and a whole lot sheepish. “You guys drove way over the speed limit, didn’t you?”

“No,” lies Yoongi.

They get their act together, though. Mostly. Towards the end of the week, Namjoon gets home to Yoongi and Jimin helping Jeongguk rearrange the big nest in the room on the third floor with a grocery bag full of rolling pomegranates stashed in the corner. That same night, he poses the same question, feeling Jeongguk stir awake where his body is pillowed on top of Namjoon’s chest.

“What do you want to eat?”

And this time, Jeongguk doesn’t hesitate.

“Mint chocolate chip ice cream.”

As pre-heat deepens, and full heat draws near, Jeongguk grows hazier and more pliant. Quieter, almost, like his body is retaining as much energy as it can get, winding up for a hard fast pitch. Only one of them rises out of the nest—Jimin, who’s a light enough sleeper that he snapped out of his doze when he heard Namjoon whisper. It does not do to leave an omega alone in the nest with heat so near, and he gives Jeongguk’s bare shoulder a kiss before tucking the blankets tight around him again. Yoongi wraps his arm round Jeongguk’s waist, and Jeongguk shivers with pleasure.

“Bundle up. You’ll freeze your toes off in the snow.”

In the time Jimin is gone, Jeongguk dozes. His body doesn’t relax enough to be honest sleep, and Namjoon can sense it—he’s restless without all three of them, reaching an arm into the empty, albeit warm, space that Jimin had left behind. He whimpers.

“Shh, baby. He’ll be right back.”

Jeongguk drifts in and out of sleep, fitfully, until the door cracks open again and a draft of chill breathes over the nest. Jimin’s voice is hoarse with disuse. “Jeonggukie, do you want it now?”

“Mm?”

“I’m back. Did you want to eat it now?”

“Yeah, I want it.”

And this is how they end up turning the ceiling lights on dim, in the darkest hour of the night, watching Jeongguk eat out of a gallon-tub of ice scream with his spoon. Yoongi stays curled up, but with his body wrapped around Jeongguk, and Namjoon drapes the blanket more securely around Jeongguk’s shoulders so he can’t feel the cold.

“I would think you’d ask for something like hot chocolate in winter if you wanted something sweet,” Jimin says, stripping back down. He kicks his clothes into the seams of the nest and hunkers down into the blankets. Gooseflesh rises along his forearms. “I’m cold just watching you.”

“I have you guys,” Jeongguk says, licking his spoon clean. His tongue drags pink and wet over the metal. Namjoon has to sit on his hands. “How could I be cold?”

 

How could he, indeed.

Jeongguk has been lucky enough that, for most of his life, his heat has come in his sleep. He’s had friends less fortunate than him—friends whose heats pounce on them in the middle of lectures, making every alpha in the lecture hall turn and stare, or halfway through the workday in a desk chair. Or worse, on the drive home, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Waking up in heat this time is different from every other time in his life, and even through the fog a lucid thought breaks through: this is how it’ll be from now until forever, and that thought nearly makes tears rise to his eyes.

He had believed that the ache of his last heat was the worst he’d known. Waking up now, to a heat like this—the last one had been a trial run, a fat-free alternative, a deep pressure massage in comparison.

“Baby,” is what he registers first. He rises out of a dream that’s more sound than image, and groans. His tongue feels like dry carpet between his teeth and cool hands are on his body, turning him gently to lie flat on his back. Jeongguk has his legs open before he has his eyes open. Fingers run down the sides of his thigh and come to a rest on his knee.

“Please,” he says. Or thinks he says, anyway. Some kind of noise comes out of his mouth and please was its intent.

“I know, baby.” Namjoon. It’s Namjoon. Jeongguk blinks sleep away from his eyes, and a weak, watery light has begun to filter through the blinds, so it must be dawn. “We’re here. Did you want anyone in particular?”

“I want…” The rest of the sentence trails off. Jeongguk’s chest heaves; his throat and nose actually burn. He can see the rise and fall of his ribcage, staccato-fast, in the dim morning. Namjoon’s silhouette is the clearest, kneeled between his legs. Then there’s Yoongi, the one who’d stroked a cool line down Jeongguk’s leg.

“You’re gonna have to use your words, baby,” says Jimin. There’s none of the tease in his voice now, burned off with nothing but fondness left behind. His voice rumbles against the back of Jeongguk’s head and he realizes he’s been propped up against Jimin’s chest. “Who d’you want first?”

“Namjoon?” It’s a question, only because he means to say “Namjoon, but only out of convenience since he’s already there.”

“Okay.” Namjoon’s hands are unbearably soft when he lifts Jeongguk’s hips into his lap. Slick has already begun to pool beneath Jeongguk in the nest, warm where it streaks a glistening line along the muscle of Namjoon’s thigh. “You have me.”

It’s too much and not enough all at once. Jeongguk is surprised by it, by how much more he wants, but also how immediately overwhelmed by their touch he is. He’s never been through a heat with this many hands on his body—hands he likes, hands he wants. It’s always been his own, familiar but unwelcome. Jimin wraps his arms around Jeongguk’s chest, holding him secure, hands spread warm over his body. Yoongi reaches forward to cup his cock. And Namjoon, Namjoon runs his index and middle finger, held together, down the skin above his entrance, and exhales hard when they sink in with little resistance.

“Yes, oh—oh, faster, please. Please, more.”

“Soon, baby, soon.” Namjoon pumps his fingers in him faster, still just as gentle, pressing the pad of his thumb to the base of Jeongguk’s cock. It weeps pre-come all over his abdomen, running in a shiny, jagged rivulet down his waist and into the sheets. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I’m wet enough,” Jeongguk says, so breathless he punctuates his pleading with hiccups. “Please.”

Namjoon curses under his breath, and when he shifts, his cock presses up against the inside of Jeongguk’s thigh. It’s only there for a moment but the heat and thickness of it makes Jeongguk bodily jerk, crying out.

“Careful,” Yoongi says.

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says, as if it’s anything to apologize for. Jeongguk wants that feeling inside, dragging against him. He leans down and forward to press a kiss to lips. They’re warm and still a little sticky from the ice cream. When he pulls away, a thread of saliva clings between their lips before breaking. “Good, baby?”

“Hurry up.”

“All in due time.”

Jeongguk tips his head back, digging the crown of his head into Jimin’s chest, when Namjoon pushes his cock in. He’s so wet it makes a lewd, filthy noise. “Yes,” Jeongguk pants. “Oh, yes.”

There is so much to focus on: Yoongi pumping his cock, Jimin running rough palms over his nipples, and the thrust of Namjoon’s cock inside him. It begins to dull the searing heat that roils beneath his skin, the ache swelling and shrinking in ebbs.

“Faster,” Jeongguk whimpers. “I want to feel—”

Yoongi times a kiss for right now. The words are muffled into his mouth, and Jeongguk just barely gets a taste of Yoongi’s tongue when Namjoon’s thrusts knock their lips apart. “Harder,” he murmurs, touching Namjoon’s shoulder with his free hand. “You want his knot, don’t you baby?”

“I want it, ah.”

All Jeongguk can hear is the hollow rush of breath in his head and the wet slap of skin. Slick has run down the curve of his butt, and Namjoon is smeared up to his bellybutton with it. The sunrise casts slanting shafts of light over their nest through the blinds and Namjoon’s skin, and Yoongi’s hand, glisten as though encrusted with jewels.

“Going to come?” Namjoon asks as Jeongguk’s moans give way to shuddering gasps, and he begins to shake all over. “Come, baby, I’ll give you my knot if you come.”

Jeongguk scrabbles at Jimin’s wrists around him and comes so hard his body goes rigid for full seconds before it goes limp. His come coats Yoongi’s hand. He cries, softly, as Namjoon thrusts a few more times, moaning deep, and leans in. At first Jeongguk thinks he’s about to kiss him, but Namjoon fits his mouth to the place where he had put the mating bite, and finally comes.

His knot thickens, secure inside Jeongguk, holding Namjoon in place. Jeongguk loves it so much he shifts himself on it just to feel it a bit more, shuddering when the head of Namjoon’s cock nudges something that makes his body jump with pleasure. “Ah—”

“Better?” asks Namjoon, stroking sweaty bangs off of Jeongguk’s forehead.

“Knot, I want—”

“I just gave it to you, babe.”

“More.” Jeongguk knows his heat makes him irrational, but the ache under his skin has already started to blister again. “I want yours. Yoongi hyung, Jimin hyung. I want your knots.”

“As soon as we can.” Jimin kisses the top of Jeongguk’s head. “For now, get some rest. We’ll see you in an hour.”

 

Sleeping with fever seems to dilate time. Every time Jeongguk does it, when flu season rolls around, he can toss and turn what feels like the entire night and wake up to check his phone and see that only two hours have passed.

Jimin hadn’t been kidding about an hour. At some point during the middle of it he feels his body being shifted, Namjoon pulling out when his knot goes down, but he’d slept on. Now Jeongguk’s eyes flutter open, distinctly restless and uncomfortable, to see that the light has just barely shifted across the room. Dust motes dance in and out of a long, quivering shaft of morning sunlight to a tune he can’t hear.

“Awake?” Jimin runs his hand up the grooved slope of Jeongguk’s spine. “Ah, there he is. How are you feeling, baby?”

“I want,” is the first thing out of Jeongguk’s mouth.

“Mm, I know.”

Yoongi’s face swims into view when Jeongguk rolls over onto his back. Namjoon is curled up in a tangle of wrinkled sheets, arm locked around Jeongguk’s waist, but he wakes and props himself up on his elbow when Jeongguk moves. “Who this time?”

“You,” Jeongguk says. A pulsing ache has settled at the base of his spine again, entrance warm with slick. The skin of his thighs is dry without being sticky, and in the corner of the nest is a neatly folded pile of bath towels. Jeongguk’s heart shakes a little at the realization that they must have wiped him down after he had knocked out. The touch was gentle enough for him to have slept through it, he’s sure.

“Me?”

“Yes, please.”

He makes Yoongi take him from behind. He wants to press his hips into the nest, but Yoongi has a better idea—he orders Namjoon onto his back and Jimin curled up beside him, so Jeongguk can lay his body on top of Namjoon’s and rut into his leg.

“That’s better, isn’t it,” Yoongi croons, stroking the curve of Jeongguk’s butt as he pulls it up slightly.

“Why didn’t you let him lie on me,” Jimin sniffs.

“You wanna get crushed that bad?” Namjoon says, giving him eyebrows. Yoongi snorts.

“I guess not,” Jimin says dryly, chastised. But Jeongguk refuses to have a single neglected alpha in this nest, even if it’s his heat. He shivers and moans when Yoongi runs his thumb over his slick-messy entrance, then leans forward to kiss Jimin on the mouth.

“You still smell like Namjoon,” Yoongi murmurs. Jeongguk chokes against Jimin’s lips when he fits his cock between Jeongguk’s buttcheeks without pushing in just yet. “I hope you don’t mind if I mess that up, baby.”

“Please,” Jeongguk begs. Jimin’s head is pillowed on the inside of his forearm, elbow bent near his temple, and he smiles reassuringly as Jeongguk’s breaths fan over his face. “Mess me up.”

Yoongi moves softer than either Namjoon or Jimin do, but the restraint he exercises seems to make each and every one of his movements more intense. He’s quieter. It makes the heat burn in Jeongguk’s blood. Namjoon runs his fingers through Jeongguk’s hair as he slides against his body, whispering, “you’re so good, baby, so good,” even as Jeongguk’s cock drips pre-come in a dotted pattern over his thighs. And Jeongguk can only moan, tongue trapped in Jimin’s mouth, released with a wet noise before Jimin opts to simply lick over his mouth, chuckling when Jeongguk sucks his lower lip between his mouth to taste.

“Harder, hyung, please—”

“I don’t want to hurt—”

“I want you to mark me up or I don’t want you to knot me,” Jeongguk says. Big words for an omega in an alpha sandwich, especially one who’d been begging for all three knots at once, but he gets what he wants—Yoongi’s face steels and his hands go vise-like around Jeongguk’s waist. He slams Jeongguk back on his cock just barely hard enough to bruise.

This time, Jeongguk’s orgasm takes him by surprise. He attributes it to the discovery of how strong Yoongi actually is, a strength he clearly holds back. His come splashes over the plane of Namjoon’s abdomen, and his chest rumbles with a hum of satisfaction.

“Thank you, babe,” he says, kissing at the shell of Jeongguk’s ear.

Yoongi knots him in suit—quietly, thrusting his hips deep before shuddering to a stop and holding himself in place. Knots from behind make it easier to lower the omega back into the nest with minimal movement, and Jeongguk cries out when Namjoon shimmies out from beneath him so he can be rolled onto his side.

“We’re right here, Jeonggukie,” Jimin says. “Namjoon-hyung, hand me that towel. No, we used that one already, the white one.”

“I’m not done,” Jeongguk says. Yoongi kisses the nape of his neck.

“I know you aren’t, silly,” Jimin says. The material of the towel is almost velvety to the touch, and Jeongguk shudders with aftershocks and overstimulation when Jimin wipes him up around his cock, oh-so-accidentally rubbing his bare hand over the head. “Neither am I.”

Yoongi’s knot takes less time to go down, though Jeongguk takes that time to be fed a metric fuckton of pomegranate as Yoongi dozes behind him. Jimin sits by his face, legs crossed with a stainless steel mixing bowl between his legs, holding spoonfuls of it to his mouth and waiting for him to open up.

“I’m not that hungry.”

“Your heat hormones shut down the part of your brain that tells you you’re hungry, I know you don’t want to eat. But you need to keep your strength up,” Jimin says, no-nonsense.

And Jimin has no qualms about marking Jeongguk up or holding him tight at all. The second Yoongi’s cock slips out, Jeongguk is already reaching out for him.

“Oh, is it go time?” he asks, setting aside the bowl of pomegranate on the singular nightstand by the nest. “My turn!”

Jimin also decides to go from the back—but he pulls Jeongguk upright, hand beneath his chin, until Jeongguk’s head is tilted back over Jimin’s shoulder. Yoongi settles down in front of Jeongguk, and Namjoon presses up against Jimin’s back, hands around his waist.

“You can put your hands on my shoulders,” Yoongi says as he takes Jeongguk’s cock into both his hands and gives it a few quick jerks. “And Jimin, I swear to god. Stop playing with your food.”

“Sounding like Namjoon hyung,” Jimin says, releasing Jeongguk’s jaw to hold his cock still and guide it to Jeongguk’s hole. “Mm, you already have slick running down the backs of your legs, babe. Eager, are we?”

“Just get it on with or I’ll ask Namjoon to do it,” Jeongguk bites out, turning to look over his shoulder, and Jimin raises his eyebrows with a lazy smile on his face.

“I don’t think so,” he says, and thrusts in hard.

Jimin handles Jeongguk the roughest out of the three of them. Like Tupperware, as Yoongi calls it, though he doesn’t have any time to draw that analogy right now—he takes Jeongguk’s cock into his mouth and starts sucking in time with Jimin’s hips, pistoning in and out of him. Jeongguk can hardly take more than a few minutes of it, if he’s honest, but he forces himself to hold his orgasm down. He doesn’t want this to end just yet.

Jeongguk tips his head back on his own now, neck a long column with a sheen of sweat, and Yoongi gets back up on his knees to suck hickeys into it. He nearly doesn’t feel it, too lost in the drag of Jimin’s cock inside of him, then moans brokenly when he registers Yoongi’s teeth bruising red and purple along his throat, in a necklace over his collarbones.

“Gonna come, baby?”

Honest answer? Yeah, fuck, yes. But Jeongguk says, “Make me, alpha,” which Jimin obviously accepts as a challenge, snarling into the line of Jeongguk’s shoulder before he angles his hips slightly and hits something that has Jeongguk crying out brokenly, and comes all over Yoongi’s chest. Yoongi lets it happen, skin decorated with a thin film of come by the time he’s finished. He makes Jeongguk watch as he runs his fingers through it, then sticks them into his mouth to lick away.

“Oh, hyung—”

“That’s what I like to see,” Jimin says, following him in climax. His knot is the fastest to swell, too, almost a little painful. It’s a welcome feeling, though. It does nothing short of smothering the burn in the back of Jeongguk’s throat, hopefully for a few good, solid hours. “Mm, just from the way Yoongi looks, I take it you liked it, too?”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk says. Exhaustion makes it too difficult to snipe back with something witty, and his knees go weak as slumps against Yoongi. “Yes, I love it.”

“What do you want now, babe?”

“Sleep,” Jeongguk says. “I think I wanna sleep.”

“Okay. Sleep. We’ll be here when you wake up.”

 

Jeongguk does not wake up again until noon. Well, Namjoon can’t be sure, but it’s his best guess—Yoongi had gotten up to close the blinds and draw the blackout curtains shut tight, so the only light in the room is a weak glow around the window.

“Baby?”

Jimin stirs awake immediately where he’s wrapped around Namjoon’s left arm, blinking sleep from his eyes.

“He’s awake?”

“I thought I felt his breathing shallow up,” Namjoon says. He runs his hands over Jeongguk’s back—he’s lying spread out on his chest again. This arrangement seems to be his favorite. “False alarm, maybe.”

Yoongi, too, shifts his head where it rests on the pillow by Namjoon’s head. He doesn’t offer anything, just watching Jeongguk’s face in slumber. No one moves for a long, mindless stretch of time. Namjoon lets his eyes fall shut again. The house breathes. The muted sounds of the day dance across the glass of the window above their heads.

Then, “I love you.”

Namjoon opens his eyes, blinks, and looks down at Jeongguk’s head. He thinks he might have dreamed it until Jeongguk repeats himself, quieter this time.

“I love all of you.”

Jeongguk lifts his head to see if any of them have heard, to meet Namjoon’s frozen gaze. The smile that comes over his mouth is sleepy, sincere, and yes, Namjoon too is so heartbreakingly in love. He cranes his neck up to kiss Jeongguk once, pulls back to let Yoongi kiss him too, and laughs when Jimin squeezes in and misses, then turns Jeongguk’s face with a finger to his chin and gets one in properly.

“We love you too, baby,” says Namjoon, when Jimin presses an extra kiss to Jeongguk’s nose, then his eyelid, enjoying the giggles that bubble from Jeongguk’s throat when he does. “From the very first day, it’s always been you. You were it.”

“What’s it, exactly?” Jeongguk mumbles, resting his chin on his folded hands, perched upon Namjoon’s sternum.

And for the first time, they have an answer.

“The center of our universe.”

 

(This heat only takes four days to burn off, something over which pre-mated Jeongguk would have thrown a party to put quinceañeras to shame, but something mated Jeongguk laments.

“You’ll have more heats, you know,” Jimin says, sponging all the come off Jeongguk’s body the morning he wakes up to cool, calm lucidity again. “It’s not like this was a one-time deal. A four-night stand.”

“It was the best heat of my life,” Jeongguk says gloomily.

“Jesus. Count on a lot of best heats of your life, babe.”

“Yeah?”

“If the three of us have any say in it? Fuck yeah.”)

 

Late Friday afternoon, Namjoon gets home early.

Jeongguk has class that starts at the asscrack of dawn on Fridays. Thankfully enough, it also ends before noon, and he comes back to the estate to nap until the sun is low in the sky, at which time their little family will pack into someone’s car and head to dinner. Namjoon is pondering, absently, about which restaurant they should go to tonight as he pulls up into the driveway, garage door peeling back slowly, when he sees that there’s an unfamiliar black Honda Civic parked where he usually does in their six-car garage.

So Namjoon slides in beside it, climbing out with mounting confusion. He’s never seen this car before. He doesn’t know anyone with this car, either, and even if he did, no fucking way in hell would Jimin or Yoongi let them into their garage.

He doesn’t get answers until he opens the door into the sitting room to,

“Dude, he is going to be so fucking mad at you.”

“I doubt that.” Jimin has his arms crossed, in his usual place on the chaise lounge.

“You know how he feels about this sort of thing!” Yoongi groans with exasperation. “God. Why do you want to piss off our omega so bad, exactly?”

“It’s not pissing him off, hyung. It’s called doting on him.”

“You guys want to explain what the fuck that little Honda is doing in our garage?”

“Oh, Jimin,” Yoongi says. “Namjoon doesn’t know? Do tell him.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little roomy down there, hyung?” Jimin looks unruffled. “And it would just be easier for both you and Jeongguk if he could drive himself around.”

Namjoon turns, looks back behind him, then rounds back on Jimin.

“You bought him a Honda Civic.”

“I did!” Jimin says.

“I mean, I guess that’s a good choice,” Namjoon nods, and Yoongi sputters. I thought you would back me up here, so much for seven years of love. “It’s modest and it’ll run forever, probably.”

“He got him a car,” Yoongi says, like he’s not sure Namjoon has grasped the gravity of this.

“Haven’t we been meaning to? Just not a Porsche, like we’d originally wanted?” Namjoon pauses. “You didn’t get him a Honda with plans of trading it in for a Porsche, did you?”

“Ooh, sharp, hyung. Guess that’s a plan scarpered.”

Yoongi only groans again.

“I’m more scared to ask if you custom ordered a license plate, to be honest.”

“Hyung, you’re on a roll! You wanna know what it says?”

“No,” Namjoon replies.

“NYJ♥,” Jimin says.

“I want to die right now immediately,” Yoongi says flatly and without an ounce of humor in his voice.

“What, why?”

Jeongguk shuffles into the sitting room wearing a mismatched set of pajamas—a pair of Jimin’s loose sweatpants and Namjoon’s silk button-up, navy blue with white trim. It hangs off his shoulder, baring his skin, and he yawns.

“Evening, babe. You’re up.”

“Why does Yoongi hyung want to die? Did YG debut another group of idol rappers who can’t rap?”

“Good guess, love, but no,” Yoongi chuckles. “Jimin, why don’t you do the honors, since you bought it.”

“Bought what?” Sleep clears from Jeongguk’s expression as he looks to Jimin with interest. “You bought me something?”

“Yeah, come look.”

So this is how the four of them end up climbing the stairs down into the garage together, Jeongguk’s fingers tangled in Jimin’s. It’s a funny picture of domesticity that not one of them had pictured for himself, one that is blurred and dreamy around the edges with all the banality and joys and arguments that come with being in love.

And this, this is what it must be.

“Wait,” says Jeongguk, blinking at the bottom of the stairs. “I don’t get it. The car?”

“Yes, dummy. It’s yours. I know you said ‘fuck no’ to a Porsche, so it’s a Honda. Like it?”

Jeongguk stares. And stares. And stares some more. He stares until the silence grows awkward and concerning. Jimin leans in.

“Jeonggukie?”

“So,” Jeongguk says, turning around with a smile of pure, unadulterated mischief on his face. “Who wants to fuck me in that first?”