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Jaemin isn’t one for admitting weakness. Is it dumb? Yeah, maybe, but it’s also one of his strongest alpha traits and one that refuses to die. He’s very similar to Renjun in that sense, their refusal to cry in front of others and their habit of pretending like everything is fine when it isn’t. Yukhei is a lot like them, too, but Mark and Jeno are far more open about those things, crying when they feel like it and unafraid to admit when they’re sick or hurt.

On the weekend after Jaemin’s midterms are over, Jaemin’s parents surprise him with his very own tiny studio apartment. It’s far closer to his university than his childhood home is, it’s cheap yet big enough for him and, most importantly, it’s his. And with his current job assisting one of the executives working with his dad – a job that, despite being his through connections, is still the most serious thing in Jaemin’s life right now – he is more than capable of affording the rent. However private his apartment is, or is meant to be, his friends take the silent and unintended invitation to invade his private space the first chance they get.

Jaemin doesn’t mind the company on regular days, but this week he’s itching to get everyone out of the apartment as soon as possible. They’re all inside, perched on his bed and his couch and the window seat his mother set up for him, draped over his cushions and eating his food. With his midterms over, Jaemin has an extended four days weekend that he’d hoped would be spent lazing around, eating chips and chugging coffee until he had to go into the office – if he even had to, since his boss mostly sent emails with the assignments that he could easily fulfil online. But instead, he’s stuck playing host to a bunch of rowdy teenagers with no concept of privacy.

The morning starts with Jeno inviting himself to swing by with his laptop and a fully loaded illegal movie from a sketchy website. It’s a Polish movie and it’s sad, terrible character death at the end that has Jaemin sniffling into his handkerchief, while Jeno is already fully crying halfway through the movie and not stopping until it’s over. Then it’s Renjun, accompanied by Chenle and Yukhei, with big grins on their faces and a smooch on Jaemin’s cheek courtesy of Chenle as a thank you for letting them annoy him and then Mark, Jisung and Donghyuck join the little party.

If Jaemin had half a mind to think about it, he would realize that it isn’t normal for him to be so short-tempered today, snapping at Renjun for dropping the cushions of the window seat on the floor when he flops down on it and feeling on the verge of kicking everyone out for being too loud for his liking. He certainly would have been able to smell himself over the scent of everyone else, but he is not in a good headspace and he does not smell the hormones that are wreaking havoc in his system. In his defence, neither does anyone else.

The only one who seems to notice his current state is Mark, but that’s mostly because Mark is attuned to everyone else’s emotions far better than he is to his own and he’s always the first to tell when anyone is feeling upset, part of his role as their honorary pack leader.

(When they first discussed the idea of being a pack, they’d immediately appointed Mark as their leader and Jaemin will never forget how Mark’s face flushed red and paled simultaneously and the way satisfaction flared from his scent glands to their noses. He’d agreed, of course, but only if they promised not to drive him too crazy. Of course said promise was forgotten right away and they don’t hesitate to suffocate him with their problems and squabbles, but Mark loves it and they know it.)

However, that doesn’t change the fact that Mark is a mess of limbs and voice cracks. He approaches Jaemin in the kitchen space with a worried pinch on his face and hands wrung together like he can’t decide if he wants to choke someone or knead bread. It’d be funnier if Jaemin couldn’t see from miles away that Mark is coming to him with the intention to have a serious talk.

“So, uh, Jaemin,” Mark stars and dear lord it’s so awkward already, Jaemin wants to die. “I noticed you’ve been acting weird lately. Like, today, mostly. Are you feeling alright?”

Jaemin cringes both internally and externally. His can of (shitty, terrible) beer is warm and almost empty and Jaemin downs what’s left for liquid courage to get him through the conversation intact. It doesn’t work but that’s only because Yukhei has the worst taste in alcohol out of all of them. “Not really,” he admits, because it’s Mark and Mark is safe, he’s not going to make fun of Jaemin or pity him and he’ll maybe even offer useful advice. “I’m itchy. And kinda mad? Not at anything specific, just pissed off at the world.”

“Well, you’re always half pissed off,” Mark attempts. He’s the only one laughing at his joke. Jaemin doesn’t smile but keeps his emotions at bay, aware that Mark is doing his best. “Sorry about that. Maybe it’s not really angry and you’re just tired? I know you worked extra hard for your exams so you’re probably in need for more rest. And the itchiness might come from not showering. You smell a little, Jaem.”

“You know, you’re probably right,” Jaemin cracks a smile.

Mark smiles back, clearly relieved Jaemin didn’t try to rip his head off, and he offers to get everyone out of the apartment for a little while so Jaemin can take a shower and clear his head. Jaemin accepts with a grateful sigh and a pat to Mark’s shoulder. The studio is cleared quickly and Jaemin is left to his own devices, so he heads for the bathroom without a look back.

Jaemin must admit he feels a lot better after he showers and he’s thinking about calling the guys to let them know they can come back when something catches his attention. There’s a pleasant smell coming from the kitchen, something sweet and alluring, and Jaemin doesn’t even realize he’s hypnotized until he’s standing at the threshold.

There’s confusion swirling around his head for a long moment until he blinks and the figure in front of him comes into focus, Jisung’s face clearing up. It doesn’t explain why he’s in the studio when they were supposed to be out and it certainly does nothing to explain why he smells so good, but at least it’s not a stranger that broke into his place nor is Jaemin losing his mind.

Jaemin’s mouth is dry all of a sudden and he can only croak out a, “Sunggie?” before his throat closes off. Jisung is talking to him, that much is obvious, but Jaemin can’t understand anything. It’s as if he’s inside a fish tank and Jisung is trying to communicate with him through a tiny wormhole in space. Jaemin has no idea where that metaphor came from but it makes sense in his head and that’s what matters.

The second Jisung begins moving towards him, panic seizes Jaemin completely. He doesn’t know why or how but he knows that he can’t let Jisung touch him or get anywhere near him or something bad might happen - something they’ll both regret. But Jaemin doesn’t move fast enough and all of a sudden Jisung is right there, not five inches away from Jaemin and he smells so good. Jaemin blinks and then he’s got Jisung backed against the counter, the alpha’s nose buried somewhere between Jisung’s neck and hair, searching for the scent gland he knows is there.

Jisung is completely petrified, his body stiff between Jaemin and the counter, his eyes darting from the cupboards to the fridge to the sink and back. Jaemin’s hands have him completely pinned to the spot and his body is solid rock against him, an unmoving force. Jisung is breathing heavily but Jaemin never detects any fear from him and maybe that’s why he never quite gets to force himself to move away, to back off. Apparently, as long as his prey is calm, Jaemin will have no problem getting all up on his business.

Faintly, Jaemin hears the door open and close again, but his nose, along with his brain and basic manners are all glued to the tiny spot where Jisung’s scent is the strongest, not getting enough of the sweetness no matter how many lungful breaths he takes. Jisung’s long fingers grab hold of Jaemin’s T-shirt but Jaemin can tell he’s torn between pushing him away or keeping him right where he is.

Then, Jisung is squeaking out, “Hyung,” and someone is dragging Jaemin away. Jaemin snarls, kicks and growls but whoever it is that’s got him in their grip is stronger than Jaemin and it’s useless for him to fight them.

The lack of omega scent clouding his brain allows Jaemin to zero in on what’s happening around him. He’s in his kitchen, as well as all of his friends. Mark is standing there, between Jisung and Jaemin, set in a protective stance to keep Jaemin away from the youngest boy. Jaemin’s boyfriends are cluttered at the threshold, Jeno keeping Chenle out of the kitchen, Renjun somewhere between Jisung and Jaemin as a second guard, Donghyuck next to him with a bewildered expression. That leaves Yukhei as the owner of the hands holding Jaemin back.

Donghyuck takes a step forward, his hands raised in a placating manner, and he starts to say, “Nana,” the intention to approach him clear on his face. Protests ring around the kitchen immediately, the loudest of them being Mark, but Donghyuck hushes them without looking back at them. “Nana. It’s me, it’s just me. It’s alright, Xuxi, you can let him go now. Right, Nana?”

The overuse of pet names distracts Jaemin from his current dilemma, his scent diminishing just the slightest. Yukhei hesitates before he steps back, but he trusts Donghyuck to know what he’s doing. He doesn’t go too far, though, just as a precaution. He knows Jaemin isn’t the type to jump omegas whenever they’re left alone but hormones are also a bitch and the entire studio reeks.

Donghyuck tries to take hold of Jaemin’s hands but the alpha shakes him off, stumbling backwards. His mind is clearing further with every second that passes and the reality finally hits him. He apologizes to Jisung shakily, unable to look him in the eyes. Jisung shakes his head, nods and then shakes it again, seemingly just as fazed as Jaemin is. Jaemin can’t take it anymore and he bolts out of the kitchen, ashamed of his actions and inability to control himself.

It’s in his bedroom that Jaemin notices how hard he is and then it clicks in his head. He’s in rut and both him and Jisung are lucky their friends got home as soon as they did. He doesn’t know what he would have done if he’d been left alone with the poor omega any longer. He doesn’t want to think about it, either.

Jeno forces his way inside without permission. Jaemin knows the separate bedroom is an addition his parents paid for in hopes of giving him some privacy, yet the walls aren’t thick – they’re just there to create a semblance of separation between the bedroom and the rest of the apartment. That’s why Jaemin keeps his voice low when he growls at Jeno to get out.

“They’re gone already,” Jeno ignores him. “It’s just you and me now.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Jaemin whispers. He needs Jeno to know that. “But I couldn’t help it, he just smelled so good and I couldn’t make myself move away and – Jeno, I’m sorry.”

“Were you aware of what you were doing?” Jeno asks carefully.

Jaemin shakes his head, teary-eyed. “No. Yes. I know I had my nose on his neck but… There’s something else, isn’t there?”

“Yes,” Jeno nods, and at least he seems sympathetic, even compassionate. “Jaem, you were rutting against him. When we got in both of you were halfway through getting your hands in each other’s pants. Mark wasn’t happy about it, by the way. But Jisung isn’t angry at you,” he adds softly. “He’s shaken up, yeah, but he asked me to tell you not to beat yourself up over this. He knows you couldn’t help it and he says he was just as affected as you were.”

Jaemin sighs in relief. He knows he can’t exactly make up for this but the knowledge that Jisung doesn’t hate him as he’d feared is enough to ease his racing heart. He could never live without Jisung.

“Are you alright?” Jeno asks. Jaemin has no idea how to answer to that so he makes a vague motion in the direction of his crotch and then covers his face with his hands, muffling a long-suffering groan. He needs Jeno to get out as soon as possible so he can just jerk off in misery. There’s no way he’ll be at peace but he needs to get through this rut. “I’ll help you.”

Jaemin thinks he heard wrong. His mind shuts down completely and he only comes back to himself when Jeno is within inches from his face and his hands are tugging at the waistband of Jaemin’s sweats. The worst part is that Jaemin can’t possibly bring himself to push the hands away, not when they’re warm against his skin and then – Jeno is kissing him, not on the lips but on his jaw and his neck, his fingers wrapping around Jaemin for the first time. It doesn’t take much for Jaemin to be done, between his rut and the amount of time he’s been hard ganging up against his pride, and it takes Jeno less than ten strokes to get Jaemin off. Jaemin would be more embarrassed if he weren’t so frustrated. It does nothing for him but take the edge off and he’s still hard when Jeno withdraws.

“Wait here,” Jeno tells him. “I’m just going to the kitchen for a second, alright?”

Between one orgasm and another, Jeno forces Jaemin to down bottles of water and feeds him crackers. He doesn’t always jerk him off, sometimes let Jaemin rut against him; one time – Jaemin is mortified when it happens – he’s able to cum just from Jeno kissing his neck. Now that embarrasses him. When night falls, Jaemin is sated enough to sleep for a few hours, waking up when his hunger doesn’t let him rest any longer. To his pleasant surprise, Jeno is still there, and he’s got food with him.

Jaemin murmurs to him, “I’m so lucky to have you,” and Jeno smiles sweetly, pecks his forehead and wipes the corner of his mouth when Jaemin gets a speck of food stuck there. “It kind of sucks that the first time you get your hands on me is because of a rut, though.”

“Why do you have to make everything sound so creepy?” Jeno groans. “You make me sound like a pervert when you put it like that.”

“Sorry,” Jaemin laughs, offering Jeno a kiss of his own straight to his cheek. The older boy blushes and Jaemin thinks it’s unbelievable that this is what flusters him; even after all he’s done this evening.

All in all, Jaemin can’t say this has been his worst rut ever.