the seoul omega run takes place every april, when the flowers are in bloom. it’ll be chilly, but nothing a good, long run won’t take care of. offices and businesses close on that day, and those who aren’t participating in the run either stay home to catch the live stream on tv or they’ll be at the event venue, awaiting the alphas and omegas and keeping up to date on the paired couples on their mobiles.
a month before the race, the names of the participants are released to the public, one hundred omegas and fifty alphas. the Chosen omegas are all beautiful in their own ways, some fair, others dark; some lean, others thick. discussion boards and forums burst with activity during the month - “have you seen omega xx , is she seriously wearing her hair like that?”, “omega 00 looks like he’s already slept with a beta” - and polls and betting pools open. alphas aren’t spared the scrutiny - “alpha 00 probably can’t catch an omega ‘cus of his fat and slow legs”, “alpha xx looks greedy, like the type to want two omegas”.
for a few months surrounding the seoul omega run, the alphas and omegas are treated as mini-celebrities. those with enrapturing visuals will obviously garner more interest than the rest. in the two weeks leading up to the seoul omega run, a photo of alpha nam woohyun at a starbucks is posted on pann with a title “saw this alpha at hongdae, photos don’t do him justice”. in the picture, he’s wearing a sky-blue sweater, a pair of white jeans and white sneakers. his chestnut brown hair is soft and wavy and a stray curl falls in front of his forehead, brushing his eyelashes. he’s leaning against the cashier’s counter and laughing at something the cashier is saying, his eyes crinkling up into crescents. the original poster makes a comment about how nam woohyun’s laughter sounds very genuine and warm, and he had smiled at her when he caught her sneakily taking a photo of him.
the second most upvoted comment asks about the other guy in the photo. “isn’t that alpha kim sunggyu behind the counter? he’s also in this year’s run!” and the replies light up with compliments about alpha kim sunggyu.
“i frequent that starbucks so i have been served by him before. once, a customer was being difficult but his smile didn’t falter once!!”
“he’s so good looking, i want to be served by him too! i may need to switch from my regular coffee place to starbucks…”
“wish i was chosen for this year’s omega run…”
posts about the pair crowd the top posts on pann for at least a week. nam woohyun is voted ‘most likely to be the first to catch his mate’ in a poll, and kim sunggyu is voted ‘most likely to be proposed by more than one omega’.
in the week leading up to the run, posts despairing sunggyu’s unavailability fill the site. supposedly, the omegas who asked him to chase them during the run were all rejected by him, and there were at least three of them. rumours say that sunggyu told them he’s already accepted someone else’s proposal. netizens trawl through sunggyu’s instagram and twitter in search of his omega, but turn up with nothing. the most interesting thing they manage to find is that he lives with alpha woohyun. the photos on his instagram taken around an apartment show the same table, window ledge and sofa as the ones in woohyun’s photos. (both their instagram accounts regularly feature their mutual friends, who are all as handsome as the pair, and they gather their own small popularity in their own right.)
and then three days before the omega run, just as the netizens are beginning to give up on the search for sunggyu’s supposed proposed omega, nam woohyun himself makes a comment on one of the investigative posts.
“all of you, stop searching! kim sunggyu belongs to me, and only me!”
his comment gains a barrage of replies, some confused, some laughing and praising his good sense of humour, but woohyun doesn’t return to pann or respond to any of the questions. the next couple of days, discussion boards featuring suggestive photos of sunggyu and woohyun fill up the hot section. the photos have either been dug from their individual instagram accounts or their friends’ accounts, and show them with their arms around each other, or one of them looking at the other while the other wasn’t paying attention, or them just sitting next to each other with their thighs touching.
“an alpha-alpha pair?”
“are they still participating in the omega run?”
“when i said i like seeing two good looking guys together, i didn’t mean i want them to be mated…”
still, their relationship hasn’t been confirmed or denied, and they haven’t withdrawn from the omega run. comments defending each alpha continue to be rife on the discussion boards up till the day of the run.
the live stream flickers to life. the wide-view camera pans around the parade square of the park. the commentator greets and welcomes the viewers, introduces himself as lee sungyeol, and reads the description of the seoul omega run - held every year, during spring, omegas are given an hour’s head start, alphas rely on their noses and track down their most desired scent, omegas have to make it difficult for the alpha to find them, and there are cameras watching their every move, so alphas better not try anything illegal.
small food trucks pepper the parade square, and spectators spread themselves on the trimmed grass on picnic mats. omegas are stretching their bodies or popping in their earphones. the horn is blown, the timer activated, and the omegas are off. seoul is their playground, and they’re free to hide or run anywhere. some immediately head for high-rise buildings, others prefer to run away as far as possible. technically, they can go anywhere in seoul but omegas want to be caught, they just don’t want to make it too easy for their alphas. rarely do any of them think of taking a train out of seoul to a spot too far from the event venue, where the alphas will start from too.
forty-five minutes into the omega run and the fifty alphas gather at the parade square. straight away, the live stream comments ask if anyone can spot alphas nam woohyun and kim sunggyu. emcee sungyeol reads these comments.
“‘where are nam woohyun and kim sunggyu?’ ah, i’m friends with these two. yes, they’ll be participating in the run today.”
his passing remark sparks a ton of replies.
“‘how do you know them?’ ‘are they really mates?’ ‘can you tell them they’re ugly for me?’” sungyeol might have made that last comment up. “we’re high school friends, i don’t know who their mates are or if they even have mates, and i have already told them they’re ugly before, so i got your back.”
omegas and alphas aren’t allowed to have mobile devices during their run because they have to stay off the live streams, so sungyeol only starts properly commentating on the run when both groups are finally in. he praises omega kim yoochan on his tactic of hiding in the perfume section in the department store, and he winces when alpha lee hyunmin misses the location of his desired omega by just three meters.
the viewers’ comments continue to be dotted by those asking for the whereabouts of alphas nam woohyun and kim sunggyu.
finally, the cameras locate sunggyu.
“oh, there’s everybody’s favourite chubby senior citizen,” sungyeol chirps when he sees sunggyu’s image on screen.
sunggyu is wearing a white sweater with an unzipped puffy navy-blue jacket over it and a pair of black sweatpants. his light-brown hair peeks from underneath a matching blue beanie and when he sweeps the hair out of his eyes in annoyance, the comments go crazy about how good looking he is.
“how can you call him chubby?!”
“he’s not an old man!”
“he doesn’t look like he has trouble running at all!”
sunggyu seems to be running in earnest, but hasn’t shown signs of chasing a particular scent. he hasn’t gotten close to any omega, either. the screen switches to another camera when a newly-formed pair is announced. after the third hour, the camera finally locates nam woohyun, who is in a separate location from sunggyu. they’re not even in each other’s radii, and some of the comments begin to sigh in relief, while others bemoan the death of the potential of a unique alpha-alpha pair.
unlike sunggyu, woohyun seems to have a destination in mind. he runs up stairs to the fifth floor and finally bursts through the door to find himself at a lobby. he’s pacing the lobby and finally comes to a stop in front of a vending machine. the viewers complain about how his run is uninteresting, and the camera switches.
“does anyone know who nam woohyun is running towards?”
“who’s the lucky omega who caught woohyun’s interest?”
“isn’t kim sunggyu on the other end of the street, though?”
over the next hour, at least fifteen couples are formed. in the hour third from the last, another eighteen are formed. omegas are getting tired out and alphas are getting desperate, so by the second hour from the last, nearly forty pairs have arrived safely back at the venue. the setting sun paints the sky orange-purple, and flocks of birds ripple the clouds as they return to their nests. there is still no sign of woohyun and sunggyu near the park. sungyeol announces the forty-eighth couple and congratulates them. leftover omegas, skin glowing from their long workout, begin to trickle back to the event venue.
“seems like alphas nam woohyun and kim sunggyu are lost. authorities are currently trying to locate them, since the run is over,” sungyeol explains. “hey, wasn’t woohyun voted ‘most likely to find his mate first’?” he blatantly laughs.
the cameras switch around in search of the missing alphas. the viewers express their worry and scold sungyeol for being indifferent about his friends’ safety. sungyeol is in the middle of sniping back at the comments when the camera finally catches movement in a starbucks that was closed for the omega run. the camera switches once, twice and finally manages to find a clear angle.
alpha kim sunggyu and alpha nam woohyun are occupying a booth at the back of the starbucks. they’re sharing the same loveseat. sunggyu is in the inner seat and has his back leaned against the wall behind him, so he is facing woohyun and his feet are up on woohyun’s lap. they seem to be chatting, and sunggyu laughs at something woohyun says.
emcee sungyeol makes a comment about it being a typical old man move to be taking a coffee break during a race.
sunggyu’s hand resting on the table is curled softly around a can of coffee. woohyun shifts. he carefully sidles towards sunggyu, whose smile widens into a shy grin. as the distance between himself and sunggyu lessens, the comments in the live stream increase. woohyun slips a hand behind sunggyu’s neck and leans in.
and the camera cuts off, signalling the end of the race.