Pounding on the hotel door. Chris groaned and covered his throbbing head with a pillow.
Another series of knocks. “Chris?”
“Chris? Are you in there?”
Chris squeezed his eyes shut, willing his best friend away.
His phone started ringing on the nightstand. He slapped at it until it silenced and stumbled out of bed.
“Victor…” he groaned as he opened the door, noticing that his scent was so strong he had to shower. “Whatever we had planned is gonna be a pass for me today. I’m too hungover.”
Victor blinked at him. “You didn’t drink last night Chris. We got back from the press conference late, remember?”
Chris rubbed at his eyes and tried to remember the night before. But Victor’s cologne was making his head throb worse.
“Did you bathe in your cologne today Victor? It’s particularly strong.”
Victor frowned and reached out.
Chris flinched back, but was too slow as Victor’s hand pressed against the side of his neck. He hissed as Victor pressed against a tender spot.
“Shit…” Victor said.
Chris batted Victor’s hand away. “What the hell?”
Victor put his hand son Chris’s shoulders and steered him back into the room.
“What the hell?” Chris repeated.
“This isn’t good,” Victor said as he made it clear he wanted Chris to sit. He pulled around the chair. “I need you to remember all the omegas you were around yesterday.”
“What are you on about?”
“Touch the side of your neck Chris. You have scent glands.”
Chris scowled. “Why would I have scent glands?”
Victor sighed. “Because apparently you’re an alpha.”
Chris reached for his neck, wondering what trick Victor was trying to pull. He hissed as soon as his fingers touched the tender and raised flesh. His eyes widened.
Victor had already fished out his phone and had it pressed to his ear. “Yuri?” he asked as it was apparently answered.
“No, Chris isn’t going with us. Plans have changed. I need you to go to the nearest drugstore for a few things. Let me know when you have a pen and paper ready.”
Chris stared at his best friend as he rattled off a list of things from energy bars to scent patches to his mate.
“What was that about?” Chris asked, pinching his brow against the throbbing behind his eyes.
“I went through this only a couple months ago, remember?” Victor said. “Those were the things that helped me through that first day.”
“So… this is real?” Chris asked.
Victor nodded. “Seems to be.”
Chris sniffed himself. “I reek. I’m going to shower.”
Victor chuckled. “You’re fine. It’s your new scent sensitivity. You’ll get used to it soon enough.”
Chris groaned again.
“But by all means,” Victor continued. “Shower, it’ll help with the soreness.”
Chris nodded and shuffled into the shower. When he reemerged he found that Yuri had arrived with a bag of essentials from the drugstore.
Victor handed over a small box.
“What’s this?” Chris asked.
“It’s a balm you put just under your nose. It’ll help with the scents until you get used to them.”
Chris immediately swiped a line under his nose and breathed a sigh of relief as the assault on his nose lessened.
“I’m going to go out with Phichit,” Yuri said, leaning to give Victor a kiss. “It’ll help ease the smells in here.”
Victor nodded. “We’ll call later when Chris is ready to go out.”
Then the sweet smell of omega was gone and Chris was able to breathe a bit easier.
Victor handed over an energy bar. “Eat, even though you probably don’t feel hungry.”
Chris choked down the energy bar as Victor dug in the bag and soon handed over a bottle of water and a small tube of cream.
“What’s this for?” Chris asked after downing about half the bottle.
“To soothe the inflammation around your scent glands.”
Chris applied the cream along his neck and wrists and felt the cooling sensation.
Victor reached over to the desk and grabbed a pen and pad of paper. “Now, we should make a list of all the omegas you were around yesterday. Because obviously there isn’t one here, so it had to be somebody from yesterday who set you off.”
Chris pinched the bridge of his nose again. “Do you have any idea how many omegas I saw yesterday between competitors, reporters and fans?”
“Do you have a better idea?” Victor asked. “You and I both know that being around the triggering omega will lessen the symptoms. So it’s best if we figure it out.”
Chris sighed. “Well the fans for the most part are out. I rarely ask names.”
Victor nodded. “That leaves reporters, competitors and staff.”
Chris laid back on the bed and draped his arm over his eyes. “Yuri, of course, but I doubt it was him. He’d have set me off before now if it was. Then there was that cute little Chinese bean… Guang Hong?”
“Phichit… I think there was a girl from France…”
Chris groaned again as his body ached from the changes coursing through him.
“Face it Victor… the arena was packed. It’s going to be almost impossible to figure out who it was. This is an exercise in futility.”
Victor sighed. There was the sound of the pen rolling on the table. “It was so much easier with Yuri. We kinda had an idea, and he was able to draw it out of me. But you… you probably only got a good whiff of the omega who triggered you.”
Chris curled on his side. “How long until I rut?”
He could practically hear the shrug in Victor’s response. “A few days? A week? Once your body settles down a bit. You should probably go ahead and let Josef know.”
Chris groaned again. “Fuck…”
“Look at the bright side,” Victor said. “It’s not like puberty. Yeah, your body’s changing, but you’ll adjust in a few days.”
“At least there’s that.”
“Want me to go so you can sleep?”
Chris nodded. “Yeah.”
The sound of Victor standing. “We’ll come get you for dinner. You’ll probably sleep through lunch in this condition. By then the worst of it should have settled down and you’ll likely be starving. I’ll let Josef know so that he doesn’t worry.”
Footsteps and the door closing. Chris pulled a pillow to him and curled into it.
Chris’s stomach rumbled as he awoke to his phone ringing.
“You hungry?” Victor asked.
“Starved,” Chris replied.
“We’ll be there in a few minutes. We also reserved a table toward the back of the hotel restaurant, where the scents should be minimal. Though the balm will help too.”
Chris pulled on some jeans and a comfortable sweater and was running a comb through his hair when there was a knock at the door.
He shuffled out of the bathroom and opened the door to Victor, Yuri and Phichit.
“How you feeling?” Victor asked, concern on his face.
Chris nodded. “Better than this morning.” He stood aside for the men to come in. “Let me put on some shoes and grab a jacket, then I’ll be ready to go.”
Yuri walked in, followed by Victor. Phichit brought up the rear.
The smell of sea and sun, and Chris was growling. He pinned Phichit to the wall.
The omega’s eyes were large with shock before he started laughing.
“Chris!” Victor cried.
Chris couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to a mated alpha when his omega was right in front of him.
Phichit smiled and rose on his toes. He wrapped his arms around Chris’s neck. “Nice to see you too.”
Chris’s growl deepened as he savored the smell of his omega. He dipped his head to sniff at Phichit’s neck.
Phichit laughed. “You smell good too.”
Chris pulled back enough to look into his laughing omega’s eyes.
Phichit smiled at him. “We can talk about this later, ok? For now though, I’m starving.”
Food… yes… he needed to make sure his omega ate.
Chris stood and released Phichit from the wall.
Phichit smiled and pulled him in for a kiss. “Thank you alpha.”
Chris growled at the word, wrapping his arm around his omega’s waist.
The sound of laughter. He turned to see Victor laughing, his mate Yuri chuckling beside him.
“Guess we found out who set you off,” Victor said.
Chris blinked as his senses came back to him. He looked at the omega in his arms.
“I… um… sorry…”
Phichit laughed. “Don’t be. I’m flattered.”
Phichit nodded. “My omega drew out your alpha. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Chris laughed. “Ok.”
“Now…” Phichit said, releasing Chris. “Let’s eat!”
Chris pulled a laughing Phichit back into his lap and buried his nose in his mate’s neck before they had to separate for training again.
“Better?” Phichit asked after several minutes.
Phichit shifted to kiss him. “I wish we had more time. Everything is still so new.”
“I’ll see you at the final in a few weeks though. We can come up with a plan then.”
“Yeah…” Phichit kissed him again, running his hands along Chris’s neck until he released a burst of his scent.
“Mmmmm….” Phichit moaned. “I love how my alpha smells.”
Chris grinned against Phichit’s lips. “Say it again.”
Phichit smiled. “My alpha.”