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Sweet Music Playing in the Dark

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After midnight, the sound booth took on an otherworldly quality from prolonged silence in a normally noisy place, emptiness in normally crowded halls. The bright student center filled with familiar students became dim and empty like a horror movie—doors with windows like eyes, hallways branching off and casting patches of darkness on the floor.

A group of freshmen drunk on the high of orientation week crashed through, hooting and screaming and the hallways went back to normal for a few jarring seconds.

Namjoon had gotten used to the after-midnight hallways during his first year on the student radio when he worked the shift between two and four in the morning. Yoongi still worked midnight to one a couple nights a week. At the end of summer, the campus was still empty, normal radio shifts reduced to Namjoon and Yoongi camped in the studio until the early hours of the morning, getting their radio voices working again.

Yoongi could have been a wraith himself, stalking from the booth to the vending machine every hour, muttering under his breath, a vampire with the way he spun his seat around and became a dark silhouette in a high seat against the screens behind him. Kendrick Lamar played over the stereo. His headset slid off one ear as he faced the low couch Namjoon sprawled on.

“Didn’t think you liked alphas,” he said with a smirk.

Namjoon rubbed his forehead and grumbled.

“Okay, sorry, sorry, I said I wouldn’t make fun of you. Just…a freshman?”

“He’s a sophomore now.”

Yoongi nodded, turning back around. The song came to an end and Yoongi hit the On Air button to drawl the name of the last song and the next song into his mic. Something by Post Malone came on, and Yoongi spun his seat back around. “So you’re into alphas. No big deal. What does it for you? The smell?”

“I’m not into alphas,” Namjoon said. “Alphas turn me off. I said Jungkook is hot. Like, physically attractive. That’s all I said. And it’s definitely not the smell. That’s something to get over.”

Yoongi shrugged. “Taehyung likes it.”

“Taehyung is an omega. He’s supposed to like it.”

Yoongi considered this, then pulled his phone out and started scrolling. Namjoon had missed this all summer, lazing around in the sound booth with Yoongi, staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows to the hallway and feeling half like a museum exhibit and half like he sat in the control room of the school, observing and observed, a slow spot just off the fast current of a school with under two-thousand students.

He waited for Yoongi to finish what he was doing and continue his judgment, which was already bad enough just hearing that Namjoon thought the group’s baby was hot. He could tell a bigger story, the full story of the week after finals when only Jungkook and Namjoon were left on campus, one last half-drunk night in Namjoon’s room with Jungkook’s campfire scent so close, heavy on his lap, on his tongue.

“Kook’s getting in tomorrow,” Yoongi said. “So will Seokjin. You already know you gotta clear the house for like five hours right after he gets here, right? It’s been two months since I’ve had a dick in my ass and I’m gonna be loud.”

“Fucking hell, Yoongi,” Namjoon said.

“You can always stay if you want. You’ve got sound-cancelling headphones, right? Can’t promise we’ll stay out of the common areas though. Jinnie keeps mentioning handcuffs and cat ears and I don’t know if he’s kidding or not. I’m planning on at least three rounds.”

“I’ll be here,” Namjoon choked. “Right here in the booth.”

“What do you like about him?”

“Huh?”

“Jungkook. I didn’t think he was your kind of thing.”

“What’s my thing?”

They’d known each other for three years, heading into a fourth. Yoongi had been the club captain the year before and had just handed the position to Namjoon. Aside from countless nights in the empty hallways, they’d spent so many afternoons and evenings together in the studio, met there in the mornings after getting coffee, had spent innumerable nights smoking weed and talking about life. They’d roomed together throughout all of college. Namjoon liked to think he didn’t have ‘a thing’, had been pretty confused about kissing Jungkook, but Yoongi had taught him more than one thing about himself over the years.

“Girls, for one,” Yoongi said.

“You know I’m bi.”

“I know you prefer girls. Remember that rap you wrote about boobs freshman year?”

“Oh my god, don’t bring that up.”

Yoongi tossed a pen at Namjoon for no reason at all. They regarded each other in comfortable silence. “I thought you liked crazy chicks,” he said. “Or really cute but needy girls. Dude—the tiny girl who led the Vagina Monologues last year. The one with the crazy big eyes and the giant butterfly tattoo.”

“She has a name,” Namjoon grumbled. “And can we not talk about her?” He’d met that girl right down the hall in the coffee lounge, saw her ass in her hot pants first, and then the glittering smile. So dreamy but so dramatic. The fling had been chaotic and intoxicating and fast. “She’s not really a type though.”

“She was needy and small and submissive. She called you ‘my big alpha’ and it drove you so crazy it was pathetic to watch. You love girls who want someone to take care of them. I’d be surprised you haven’t gone for Taehyung yet, but he’s pretty non-type and independent for an omega, so I get it.”

“Holy shit, Yoongi. I’m not an asshole.”

“There’s no telling what the heart desires. So why Jungkook?”

Namjoon shrugged. “He’s hot.”

“Yeah, you’ve said that.”

“You don’t see it? That was my first impression of him. ‘This kid is hotter than me.’ And then I smelled him and got an inferiority complex until I figured out he was a total dork.”

Yoongi turned back to his computer, shrugging. “Yeah, he’s cute. In a boyish way. With those big teeth and big eyes and big nose. And the abs. What a brat.”

Namjoon snorted. They went back to comfortable silence. Yoongi’s music changed from Post Malone to “Marijuana” by Chrome Sparks, the good kind of bullshit genre-hopping only allowed on school radio stations. Every DJ had a different style, and some had no style, and everyone got fan mail from the inmates at the prison down the road who were the only people that listened to them regularly.

“I don’t know, he’s hot, and he’s funny. He’s cute more than hot most of the time. I like that.”

“He never really struck me as an alpha.”

“He really doesn’t come off that way,” Namjoon said. “It’s throws me off every time I smell him because that’s not how I see him at all.”

Yoongi grunted. “You actually going to go for it?”

That ship had sailed the minute Jungkook climbed into his lap last year, the ten tequila-tasting minutes with Jungkook’s mouth on his before the alpha scent clogged Namjoon’s nostrils and he froze up. Jungkook had stopped and they’d watched a movie and gone to bed and hadn’t said a word to each other all summer. “Probably not,” he said.

“Why not?”

The scent was hard to ignore. “Not sure it’s worth it,” he said, without really knowing what he meant, except that he knew his friends would imagine him whimpering with a dick in his ass and that made something nasty turn in his throat.

“He acts a little young, you know?” Yoongi said.

Namjoon wrinkled his nose at the ceiling. “Around Seokjin and Jimin I guess. That little triumvirate of chaos. He’s clingy around you and Hoseok. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him interact with Taehyung one-on-one.” The way Jungkook acted around Namjoon had gone from professional to study partners to whatever they’d done last semester. He hadn’t seen him as young since at least Christmas break the year before.

Somewhere along the line he’d started staying up to tune into Jungkook’s shift so he could hear his voice. They sat in the library together several days a week and encouraged each other, got drinks for each other, bumped legs under the table and didn’t care.

But he smelled a way that made Namjoon want to roll belly up, and he hadn’t ever liked leaving things to trust, especially didn’t like it when someone demanded it of him, didn’t know if it made sense to trust any alpha to be satisfied with that, even Jungkook.

“Yeah, young,” Namjoon muttered. Yoongi started humming to the Shostakovich. Namjoon lay back on the couch and closed his eyes. The last summer night passed on.

 

.

 

Jimin had his legs thrown over Jungkook’s thick chest on the main lawn, pinning him to the grass. Taehyung, Seokjin, and Hoseok tossed a Frisbee back and forth across the field as all the new freshman glowered at the upper-classmen for taking their spot. Taehyung patiently wrangled the tosses back and forth to a sporadically decent Hoseok. Seokjin could not be trusted to get the Frisbee further than ten feet, and never in the right direction. Namjoon suspected he was being terrible at it on purpose. As Namjoon walked up, Hoseok yanked it off the ground and beat him with it.

The entire radio crew grew and shrank between twenty to thirty people, but the seven of them had hung on the longest and cared the most, had fallen into the mini clique formed around Seokjin and Yoongi over the years.

“Well hello, director Namjoon, our great and powerful leader,” Jimin said.

“Bow before me,” Namjoon said. Jimin jumped off Jungkook and kneeled with his forehead in the grass. Jungkook didn’t raise his head from his arms, but his lips quirked. Namjoon stopped about ten feet away, unsure.

“We are but humble radio servants,” Jimin said.

Jungkook hair rustled in the breeze, the familiar curve of his big nose accented in his profile against the grass. He’d taken his shoes off, and the hoodie Namjoon was used to seeing on him was absent in the summer sun, knees and calves thick and unfamiliar. “When did you two get in?” Namjoon asked.

“This morning,” Jimin said. “Where have you been?”

“Asleep, mostly. Yoongi and I stayed in the booth until four last night.”

Jimin poked Jungkook with his toe. “I think Jungkook’s asleep, but he got here about an hour ago and hasn’t started unpacking yet. I think he’s planning to live on our couch until he gets around to setting him room up next weekend.”

Jungkook grunted and rolled over. His t-shirt rode up his flat stomach and rippling abs, much to the interest of a small crowd of freshman girls travelling in a pack down the sidewalk. Jungkook absently pushed it a little higher and sighed deeply as a breeze rolled over them. Namjoon would have teased him for it if he hadn’t gotten an odd loss of breath, if he wasn’t half hoping that the show was for him. A shameful thought. A middle-school kind of anxious butterflies.

“We gettin’ shwasty tonight?” Jimin asked

“Yoongi’s in charge of that.”

“So yes.”

Jungkook’s head finally came up with one eye barely open and a blade of grass stuck to his cheek. “Please tell me there’ll be something besides whiskey this time.”

“No promises.”

Jungkook’s head flopped back down into the grass. Jimin gave his firm thigh a fond slap. “Did you tell Namjoon where you’re rooming this year?”

“Hm.”

“Brat hasn’t texted me all summer,” Namjoon said. It came out too soft.

“He didn’t text any of us all summer. Don’t feel special. He’s rooming in Sutherland.”

As far as Namjoon knew, Sutherland was the building with IT and the giant lecture hall. “In a classroom?”

“You didn’t know? The top two floors are dorms, and they used to be apartments for visitors, so they’re fucking fancy. He’s got the nicest room on campus, windows on two walls and twelve-foot ceilings and an elevator and carpet. And he’s got it as a single ‘cause he’s an alpha.” Jimin smacked Jungkook in the middle of his chest with a loud, hollow sound. Jungkook didn’t even flinch. “Fucking perks man. And it’s super close to our townhouses.”

Jungkook very slowly propped himself up on his elbows to give his glare a little more power. His hair had gotten longer, a stylish mess that hung in his eyes until he pulled a hand through it. He flopped back in the grass, still not looking at Namjoon.

Meanwhile, Jimin smirked slowly at him, then darted his eyes back and forth between Jungkook and Namjoon. He slowly mouthed “Yoongi told me.”

Whatever showed on Namjoon’s face made Jimin giggle. Namjoon tried to quickly wipe it away and only made it worse. Jimin gave him the most reassuring little grin and went back to using Jungkook as a footrest.

Hoseok, Seokjin, and Taehyung finally made their way over. Seokjin flopped down and threw handfuls of grass at Jungkook and Jimin.

“You look so weird in shorts,” Namjoon said to Hoseok. “Like, smaller.”

“I feel weird in shorts.”

“They’re fucking short too,” Taehyung said.

“They’re fashionable!”

“You look like your dad’s a lawyer.”

“I’m the dance captain. I can do whatever I want.” Hoseok did a little victory wiggle.

“Congrats again, man. Does that mean you won’t have time for radio?”

“No way,” Hoseok said with an emphatic head shake. “I’d honestly give up the dance captain position faster.”

“Hoseok, don’t say that.”

“I’m serious,” he said, and put a very sincere hand on Namjoon’s shoulder. “I love the dance crew. I love them. But…”

“Dramatic.”

“Well…” he made a cartoonish grimace, the one that meant he wanted to say something nasty, which was as close as he ever got to saying something nasty. “I love you guys even more,” he said with admirable diplomacy.

The chaos triumvirate had picked up the frisbee and headed into the field, Jungkook stretching so his shirt rode up. Jimin turned and tossed it as far as he could, and Jungkook took off on his long legs, bare feet pounding in the grass. He tracked its curve, primed under it like a cat about to pounce, and popped up abnormally high with his alpha muscles to snatch it out of the air. He spun in one smooth motion and shot it low across the field where it passed right through Seokjin’s hands and landed peacefully in the grass a couple hundred feet away.

Taehyung flopped across Namjoon’s legs like a cat demanding attention. This close, Namjoon could just smell the delicate, floral omega scent coming off him, intensified a little by sweat. An hour after they’d met two years ago, Taehyung had slid under Namjoon’s arm, picked up Namjoon’s hand, and put it on his head to ask for pats, making it immediately clear how comfortable he was with getting the affection he needed from practical strangers. He’d only gotten more direct, not demanding so much as intentional, knowing what he needed. He gripped Namjoon’s spare arm as he got head scratches, eyes fluttering shut as chemicals sparked happily in his brain.

Yoongi waddled up behind them in skinny jeans that flapped around his thin thighs, cuffed way too high. “Who let my boyfriend near a Frisbee,” he said. “You all should know better.” Away in the field, Jungkook sprinted with impressive alpha speed again, not looking where he was going as he chased the frisbee. It spiraled and sloped like a boomerang back towards the ground. He did an abrupt, skidding about-face and sprinted in the opposite direction, straight towards Seokjin who wasn’t watching..

“He’s doing great!” Hoseok said.

“He’ll knock his teeth out!”

“That’s a legitimate worry,” Namjoon said.

“Seokjin brought a whole lasagna from home,” Yoongi said. “We figured we’d avoid the crush of everyone trying to get to the two restaurants in town and just eat in. It’ll need to go in the oven soon.”

“Should we head over then?” Namjoon said. Out in the field, Jungkook barreled into Seokjin and sent them both tumbling into the grass.

“I’ll go round up the asshole squad,” Yoongi sighed, and stomped out into the field like a grandpa with his hands on his hips, a suspicious limp in his gait that hadn’t been there the previous night.

“I could hear them through the walls,” Hoseok said, suddenly grim.

 

.

 

Halfway back to their townhouse, Jungkook quietly split off from the group.

“Is he having dinner with us?” Yoongi asked Jimin.

“He said he needed to shower first.”

Namjoon caught sight of Taehyung giving one emphatic nod and quietly agreed. Most of the time Jungkook smelled like wood smoke mixed with something dirtier. When he got sweaty, he started to smell just slightly like literal shit with natural alpha musk. It probably smelled different to Taehyung, a little more captivating.

Jungkook arrived in less than half an hour with wet hair and new clothes to find half the group deep in a game of Settlers of Catan on the dining room table. Namjoon was winning, as usual.

If Namjoon hadn’t been watching the condensation from Jungkook’s hair collect on his temple, he wouldn’t have noticed the way Jungkook took a deep breath, and then another, the way he locked eyes with Taehyung across the table for the briefest moment.

Taehyung very calmly finished his turn, then stood up. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, guys,” he said. “Carry on without me.” He handed his cards to Jungkook, then stepped out the back to go to his own apartment next door.

As soon as he left, the delicate floral scent that had been filling the space became conspicuous in its sudden disappearance. Jungkook shook his hair out of his eyes and took Taehyung’s seat. A foot kicked Namjoon’s shin under the table and he looked at Jungkook in time to catch a shy little grin that made Namjoon’s heart trip over itself, uncertain.

When Taehyung returned fifteen minutes later, his hair was wet too. Namjoon took a deep, experimental breath through his nose as Taehyung passed, and smelled only the campfire scent that had filled the room.

After dinner, the seven jammed themselves into the living room, lining the plasticky standard-issue couch and armchair. Yoongi had the same black bucket chair from freshman year along one wall. Namjoon had brought some folding chair from home to keep in the corner.

“To a good year,” Yoongi said solemnly, and raised his wine glass. “Senior year.”

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Seokjin toasted. The three non-seniors grumbled in half-hearted disagreement. Jimin downed his whole glass like a shot and poured another. Taehyung was halfway through his and already looking a little rosy. Jungkook had a flask like always, since it took nothing short of hard liquor to get him even tipsy, alpha physiology burning it all away and packing it into his dense muscles to be lost in his bloodstream. A third giant serving of lasagna sat half-eaten on the ground next to him that Seokjin kept stealing bites from while Jungkook pretended not to see.

“To a good new set of students for the radio,” Namjoon said. “I wonder who we’ll get this year.”

“I wonder who we’ll lose,” Yoongi grumbled.

“To passing O-chem,” Jungkook said, raising his flask.

“Fucking STEM kid,” Jimin said.

“You’re a math major,” Jungkook whined and got his hair ruffled.

Within a half hour, Taehyung curled around Hoseok like a tenacious vine, both giggly and close as always. Yoongi and Seokjin sat on the floor and tried to explain their new favorite board game to Jimin like he wasn’t three glasses of wine and a gulp from Jungkook’s flask into incoherency.

Namjoon felt a little too close to senselessness, half a glass more than he’d wanted in him already. He surveyed the room with a warm happiness that promised good and exciting things for the year ahead.

Across the room, Jungkook gulped from his flask, neck working. He brought it slowly back down with a flinch and met Namjoon’s eyes. His lips split in a fond smile that flooded through Namjoon’s chest, an un-alpha-like charming sweetness about him like he’d never grown fully into his dominance, had kept his childhood vulnerability. Then he tipped his flask up again and became all strong arms and a sharp jaw and wide knees. For a moment, Namjoon forgot to breathe.

 

.

 

The activities fair didn’t happen until two weeks into the semester, which meant the radio club spent the first two weeks of school rushing to cover the shifts left open by the graduating seniors from the year before. Hani and Heechul, their two faculty advisors, only helped a little.

He woke early enough on to have breakfast with Seokjin, but missed Yoongi, who always slept in. They’d done the very brave thing of taking a double room as a couple, and Namjoon felt like the son still living at home. Such had it been for two years now.

Most of his classes would be upper level, circling in on the final sprint of his college career, but he’d saved some core curriculum classes to pad the semester with. He chose Intro to Anthropology because the he’d liked the professor in an ethics class from the year before. “You’re on the school radio, right?” asked a guy next to him at the beginning of the first class at 8:15 a.m. on Monday.

“I am! How’d you know?”

“I know you from around,” he said, shrugging. He was Asian, so Namjoon got it. He’d picked this guy out from the crowd their freshman year. Most of the school recognized Namjoon from his constant presence in the students center anyway. “I hooked up with someone after your broke up with her last year.”

Namjoon snorted into his notebook.

“Forgot her name but she had a butterfly tattoo.”

“Right.”

“She told me you had a—you know, never mind.” He whacked himself on the head and then held out a hand. “My name is Jackson and it’s super nice to meet you. Forget I said anything.”

“Jackson and Namjoon,” the professor said, “I’d love to eavesdrop on more of that very interesting conversation, but I’m afraid you’ll need to wait until after class to talk about your hookups.” She didn’t look up from her notes.

A ripple of shocked giggles went around the room. Namjoon was only tangentially familiar with this group of students, the class made of mostly young students starting their majors and a few older students getting a required class out of the way. It was probably the first class for a few of the freshmen, who seemed stunned that the professor wasn’t going to ignore their exchange or scold like a high school teacher would have.

Namjoon began to realize that he had committed to his upper limit. He had both his philosophy and music production majors to finish, the honors program to complete, and the radio to lead. “I’ll be okay,” he told Yoongi on Thursday, already suffering from sleeplessness and overuse of coffee.

Yoongi dug into his beef stroganoff and grunted. “Was I fine last year, Joon?”

“No.”

“Prepare yourself.”

He met Jungkook at the library that afternoon. They sat in silence under the bright lights in their favorite alcove upstairs, pens moving, text book pages flipping quietly, just grunts and nudges between them punctuated by occasional trips to the downstairs café and the slide of phones across the table with music recommendations. Jungkook’s music tended to make Namjoon sleepy, “Move On” by Garden City Movement that stopped him studying for a whole ten minutes as he watched the video and then nearly fell asleep with his head on the table, brooding about it. A cover of “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire that really did make him fall asleep and drool on his notes on Kant.

They didn’t talk about the kiss, but the shadow of it lingered, the memory of Jungkook’s thighs around Namjoon’s waist and his warm hands on either side of his neck, his sweet voice moaning breathlessly when Namjoon bit his bottom lip. Namjoon tried to shake it away. Ignoring it was safe. They could keep the comfortable neutrality they’d always had.

He thought he might have been imagining the way Jungkook’s gaze lingered more than it had last semester, that the songs he pushed across the table had more of a romantic theme than usual.

But Jungkook had always been a romantic. He seemed content to ignore their new history.

At ten on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday, Namjoon tuned the radio very quietly to the school station and listened to Jungkook’s gentle mix of indie trance and acoustic moaning, frequently the same music that he passed across the table in the library. He interspersed his music with basic commentary and, at nine and every half hour afterwards, a small chat. “I thought everyone was exaggerating how hard O-chem is,” Jungkook grumbled around one in the morning as Namjoon sleepily put on his pajamas. “Organic Chemistry for all you non-STEM people out there. We had our second class today and I’m already dying.”

Namjoon scoffed.

No listener would ever guess he was an alpha from just his voice, soft and high with such a lovely texture over the microphone. Namjoon suspected Jungkook watched too much ASMR to keep it completely out of his style.

“Yeah, classes are weird this year,” Jungkook said. “My professor for my computer science class is scared of me. I’m not kidding. He backs away from me when I try to hand him things. He’s Chinese and I’m not sure if it’s cultural difference or…?”

Anyone who knew Jungkook was an alpha would know what the problem was. Namjoon wasn’t sure he’d ever told listeners his Type on air.

The next morning as they sat around and ate breakfast, Seokjin said, “Yoongi heard you listening to Jungkook’s show last night.”

“He plays good music to sleep to,” Namjoon said. “He’s perfect for that shift, and he likes it.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Seokjin said. He wore one of Yoongi’s shirts but Namjoon’s boxers. They really needed to stop sharing laundry duties. Seokjin dispiritedly flipped a pancake. It flew right out of the pan and landed batter-side down on the stovetop with a wet splat. He stood there with the pan and stared at it.

“He said something worrying last night,” Namjoon said.

“Yeah?”

“He said his computer science professor is scared of him.”

Seokjin nodded slowly. “He told me that, actually. Says he won’t take his questions in class until he can’t be ignored anymore and backs away from him when he gets too close.”

Namjoon sighed. “That’s illegal, right? That’s discrimination.”

“Not sure it’s that easy,” Seokjin said. “There’s no evidence that he’s actually holding back Jungkook’s grades or harming his educational experience.”

“If he’s making him feel unwelcome…”

Seokjin carefully scooped the pancake off the stove with the spatula. “I don’t think that’s enough to actually get him in trouble. You know what’ll happen if he takes that in. Some people are scared of alphas, and for good reasons. Telling him not to be scared just isn’t fair or reasonable. There’s nothing he can do about that. I’m sure that guy has had alpha students before. They’re rare, but not that rare. If he’s consistently actually hostile to them, I’m sure something would have been done about it by now.”

He plopped the ugly, half destroyed pancake back in the frying pan and walked off in search of paper towels. Namjoon drank his coffee and felt dissatisfied.

 

.

 

That evening, Jungkook came into the studio for a rare visit. “You’re not on tonight, are you?” Namjoon asked.

Jungkook shook his head. “Are you busy? Should I go?”

“No, no! You’re always welcome, of course. I’m just surprised.”

Jungkook set his backpack down and threw himself over the couch. “I’m not ready to go back to my dorm yet.”

He stretched out, baggy white t-shirt tenting around him, and then curled into a cute little ball with his arm under his head and closed his eyes. Namjoon tore his stare away and went back to his work. The room slowly filled up with the subtle tang of campfire, a little stronger than normal.

“Had a hard day?” Namjoon said eventually.

“Uh huh. How’d you know?”

“Dude, you never come in here when it’s just me. I thought you’d be at the gym by now.”

“I’ve started going in the early morning before anyone’s there.”

Jungkook scowled at the ceiling, arms thrown over his head. He was way on the skinnier side of the typical alpha build. No matter how much he worked out, he couldn’t get much bigger. He didn’t care most of the time, scoffing when someone called him small and showing off his strength whenever he got the chance. He worked out obsessively though, and ate like a starving dog.

“You’re having trouble with one of your professors, I hear.”

That was a real pout with a scrunch between his eyebrows and everything. “I just came from that class.”

“You should report him.”

“Namjoon,” Jungkook said softly, sounding almost disappointed. “He hasn’t done anything worth reporting anyway. I just make him nervous. I can’t really blame him for that.”

“Is he an omega?”

“No, he’s a beta.”

The word “beta” stuck in Namjoon’s head for just a moment, taking a moment for the usual meaning to slide into place. No, he’s normal. Only you weren’t supposed to call it that. Namjoon had never thought of himself or anyone else as a beta. He was just part of the wide majority that wasn’t an alpha or an omega. Type made up only four percent of their entire class, 20 students out of five-hundred. It was already a statistical anomaly that they had anyone with Type within their friend group, let alone two. Namjoon had never been close with another one.

“You’ve never been scared of me, right?”

“You look like a rabbit, Jungkook. What on earth would I have to be scared of?”

“I’m serious.”

Namjoon turned his chair around again to look Jungkook in the eye. He leaned forward on his knees, staring up, pleading. His scent filled the room, soothing more than intimidating, like it wanted Namjoon to stay quiet and safe. “I’ve never been scared of you,” Namjoon said. “Not even intimidated. Well, almost intimidated, maybe. Never scared.”

“That’s good.”

They left the booth when Heechul came in an hour later. “Are we doing anything tonight?” Jungkook asked.

“We’re getting drunk at our place again. Have you set up your room yet? Jimin says you’ve been sleeping on their couch.”

“I’ll do it tomorrow,” Jungkook mumbled.

“How does Taehyung feel about you sleeping on their couch?” Namjoon asked without really thinking, maybe to add a bit of motivation for Jungkook to handle his stuff on time, forgetting for a moment that it had been a long time since he heard anyone in their group bring up the tension between the two. Jungkook looked up from his phone, big eyes bigger with surprise, almost wary.

“Taehyung…doesn’t…mind.”

“Really?”

Jungkook chewed on his bottom lip. He glanced around quickly, then dropped his voice. “He hasn’t said anything about it, but he never says anything. Has he said anything to you?”

“No, but don’t you think it bothers him?”

Jungkook leveled a scowl at the phone in his hands. His screen was cracked to all hell, despite the case, and he fidgeted it back and forth without answering.

“How about I come by tomorrow and help you set your room up,” Namjoon asked, which sounded annoyingly paternal as soon as it left his mouth.

But Jungkook nodded. “Yeah. You’re right. Thanks.”

 

.

 

Sutherland felt strange on a Saturday afternoon the way any academic building felt strange on weekends, the realm of professors and classes handed to the students for forty-eight hours to do with as they pleased. Namjoon Skepticism class from sophomore year had been held right down the hall.

Jungkook’s two-story dorm suite took up one corner of the building, closed off from the dorm halls of the top two floors. The suite had its own staircase inside like a proper apartment. Instead of a closed-in, one-couch room with laminate floors, the living room was a big space with a cozy eight-foot ceiling and a carpet, extra furniture, and windows onto the roof outside. A little kitchen sat neatly in a nook by the bathroom.

It stank of alpha, multiple strong scents nearly burning his nose.

“Is this whole suite for alphas?” Namjoon asked as soon as Jungkook opened his door.

“Uh-huh. We get discounts if we live in the alpha dorms.”

“Really? I wonder why.”

Jungkook shrugged. “Sexual assault cases are more unusual in areas where alphas are forced to stay away from omegas and hold each other accountable.”

“Oh.”

“It stinks, right?” Jungkook said. He sat on the arm of one of couches and frowned around at the space. “Literally. Everyone’s trying to scent the space. It’s embarrassing. It’s making all of us really tense.”

“I can smell you all over this place too.”

“I can’t just lose, you know?” he said.

Namjoon had no idea what that was like, having to assert dominance or face undetermined social consequences. He nodded anyway.

“Did you visit me at all last year?” Jungkook asked.

“In the freshman dorm? I did once when I was drunk, but I don’t remember it very well.”

“It was an alpha only floor. We didn’t have a choice. They put us all there. It was so much worse.”

Namjoon hissed in sympathy and patted Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook tensed a little and held very still until Namjoon awkwardly removed his hand only for Jungkook to look a little disappointed.

The last time they were alone in a dorm, just the two of them in private, they’d had a bottle of tequila, most of the furniture and decorations stripped from Namjoon’s walls, the spring night coming in the open window, Jungkook so close and heavy.

Namjoon fiddled with his phone and pretended to look around, feeling Jungkook’s eyes still on him.

Jungkook cleared his throat. “My room then,” he said.

Namjoon really had no memory of Jungkook’s room the year before, so he didn’t know if the mess on the floor of the new room was normal or not.

One giant duffle bag with clothes spilling out of the top sat propped in an open dresser drawer. Big laundry baskets filled with stuff lined the two beds that showed that his room was supposed to be a double. Jungkook had stacked all his textbooks, notebooks, office supplies, and papers on the desk with an unplugged desk lamp. A wet shower caddy sat on the desk nearest the door.

Though Jungkook’s scent was clearly discernible in the living room, it barely made it over the generic old-building scent of his room.

Somehow, even with the stereotype of alphas being slobs, even with Namjoon’s expectations that stemmed from Jungkook’s gym rat habits and constant leisurewear, the room was even more cluttered than Namjoon thought it would be.

“Damn, you live like this?”

“It’s so bad. I’m usually so organized.”

Namjoon snorted. When Jungkook looked a little offended, he quickly changed the topic. “What even am I supposed to help with?”

“Moral support? I don’t know. Just keep me company. Being around a bunch of other alphas makes me super antsy.”

The room filled up with a strange kind of awkwardness. Namjoon found himself trying to think of an excuse to leave.

“Let’s get this all out into the living room,” Jungkook decided. “I want to rearrange the furniture.” He lifted one luggage case effortlessly, each muscle straining beautifully in his forearms, and Namjoon forgot his nervousness.

Once Jungkook started moving, he became a machine. Namjoon hovered in corners and watched as Jungkook effortlessly shifted the two beds together against the outer corner of the room, low enough to be below the two windows, all his movements powerful and precise. The process of changing the level of the bed frame, which had taken Namjoon forty-five minutes on the day he moved in, even with Yoongi instructing from behind him, took Jungkook five minutes for both beds. He managed through brute force instead of the careful and scientific figuring that Namjoon and Yoongi had needed.

“I can tell you’ve been planning this,” Namjoon said from his seat on a desk. Jungkook grunted. He hadn’t said more than five words since they’d started, and those five words had been ‘get off the bed, please’ some ten minutes ago when Jungkook wanted to experiment with mattress orientation. Namjoon perched on a desk and tried to keep his long legs out of the way.

From there, the rest of the baskets, boxes, and luggage filed neatly into the available drawers and shelves. Jungkook had brought a king-sized mattress pad and sheets to turn the twin beds into a king, and had tapestries and posters for the walls. Namjoon sat in stunned silence as every item from every box went up with shocking rapidity. Everything had a place. Jungkook moved with such fluidity, not grace so much as ease.

Namjoon rarely had reason to think about Taehyung and Jungkook’s physical differences from the rest of them. The fact that Taehyung needed more physical affection and attention to keep the chemicals in his brain balanced was usually something Jimin took care of, something the rest of them had long gotten used to. Namjoon knew from health class that Jungkook’s muscles were a little denser and more efficient than his, that he needed more calories to function, that his dick size was probably above average and anger might make him manic within seconds, but he looked so normal, so small sometimes when he wasn’t swamped in sweatpants and hoodies, so much like everyone else.

“Put all these books on the bookshelf?” Jungkook finally said, voice lilting up into a question like an afterthought at the end; like it had started out as an order. Namjoon was too distracted to mind, having spent the last ten minutes staring at Jungkook’s very thin, very toned waist where it appeared when he stretched to pin the tapestry to the ceiling. He slid right off the desk and onto his knees to start sorting books.

Dresser drawers started opening and closing rapidly. By the time Namjoon finished sorting everything out, Jungkook was on his hands and knees under the bed, shoving the luggage to the back corner, back bent and thighs straining his sweatpants where Namjoon could see every strip of muscle. “I have so much storage this year,” he said. “I don’t even have to put my winter clothes under the bed. I have twice as many drawers.”

“I’m jealous. The apartments in the neighborhood are so small.”

Jungkook flopped down on the floor and looked around. Instead of a bare white box carpeted in ugly storage, they sat in a very neat, faultlessly organized little space. The enormous starry tapestry darkened the ceiling right over Jungkook’s bed and hung a little down the walls. He’d lined the room with string lights.

“Still need to put some posters on the wall,” Jungkook said.

“This is so nice.”

Jungkook’s face split into his bunny-toothed grin. His campfire scent had begun to fill the room steadily as he worked, and he lay down and rolled over the carpet, spreading it around. His shirt rode a little up his waist and he let it, the V-line of his hips and his delicately veiny lower belly open to the air.

That felt familiar. Jungkook lying on the carpet. Namjoon sitting against the desk and staring. Jungkook staring up at him from the floor with his round eyes like he was about to drop the tequila bottle and come crawling over.

“This is perfect,” Jungkook said, “If it weren’t for the way everyone else here smells, I’d never leave.”

“You should buy one of those aroma diffusers that neutralizes people’s scents,” Namjoon said. “And then keep your door open.”

“I should just have people over more often. I could fill this place up with other people’s scents.”

Namjoon took a deep breath. He couldn’t smell the other alpha scents anymore, no more spicy, heavy, or sour notes sneaking in, just soft smoke. “What’s it like, being able to smell everyone so well?”

“It sucks,” Jungkook said, wrinkling his nose. “Well, it’s not so bad actually. Sometimes it’s useful. It helps with memory, you know. Smell and memory are really connected.”

“What do I smell like?”

Jungkook rolled onto his side and took a deep sniff of the air. His waist dipped way down, delicate and a little feminine. His long legs splayed over the carpet, so open, so casual, so free of the authoritative posturing everyone associated with alphas. “People don’t usually smell like things with names,” Jungkook said. “You smell like the library.”

“Yeah?”

“I mean, you don’t,” Jungkook said, “but that’s where I smell you a lot so that’s what I associate you with. You also smell like the sound booth.” He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath in through his nose. His eyelashes pressed tight to his cheeks. “You smell like when it’s late at night and things are really quiet. Is that weird?”

“No,” Namjoon murmured. “You’re sure? I don’t smell like, I don’t know, coffee? Taehyung said I smell like coffee.”

“You don’t smell like coffee at all.”

Namjoon snorted and ducked his head. “Great.”

“He doesn’t drink coffee. He probably thinks coffee smells like vanilla and sugar.”

“Do I smell like vanilla and sugar?”

Jungkook rolled onto his back and giggled. Analyzing scent was the stuff of scandalous conversation at middle-school sleepovers, things high-schoolers talked about with their first girlfriends late at night. “Not really. It’s not that sweet. It’s milder, but also sharper. I guess, fresh? Maybe if you mixed vanilla with rain, but also sweat.”

“Gross?”

“People smell gross. I smell gross.”

“You smell like campfires.”

A little hush fell over the room. Jungkook looked up from the floor, chest so thick from this angle, tapering quickly to his hips. Namjoon didn’t even think not to stare. “Do I?”

“Yeah. It’s nice.”

Jungkook blinked his round eyes at the starry ceiling, the hint of smile making his lips get that adorable lopsided look that he had sometimes. “Mom always said I smelled like fall. I thought it was because I was born in September.”

“It’s nice. Until you get sweaty.”

His whole chest shook when he laughed. “That’s true for everyone though.”

They lapsed into a pleasant silence, something all his friends, loud as they were, had always been good at. The late-night sound booth had taught them all the value of quiet.

“You smell good too,” Jungkook murmured finally. “Even when you sweat.”

So Namjoon lay down on the rug next to Jungkook and rolled his scent around until he came to rest with his shoulder against Jungkook’s. Jungkook didn’t budge, letting him stay there and share the warmth, arms pressed together down to the elbow. It would have been so easy to hold hands.

 

.

 

“Student radio,” said a freshman girl with extremely long dyed-blond hair. She picked up one of their club fair flyers, and nodded thoughtfully, hair swaying. “So you all just DJ for the school radio?”

“Yup,” Jimin said, leaning forward on the table with his puffy-cheeked smile.

“Anything you want?”

“Yeah, anything! We’ve got a couple people who play classical music, some rock nerds, some EDM lovers, one guy that runs a kpop hour. Namjoon plays absolutely everything you’ve ever heard of.”

She tapped the flyer against the table. The rest of the students bustled around them, beelining for the Outdoors Club on one side and Habitat for Humanity on the other, leaving their station empty. “So how many girls you got in this club?”

Jimin gave a noncommittal whine. “Not enough, honestly.” She raised an eyebrow. “One of our two advisors is a woman. Several great women graduated last year and we lost them. It’s been fairly male-dominated. We would love more women though.”

“I’ll be back,” she said, and disappeared into the crowd with the flyer, long blond hair whipping behind her.

“What if our lack of women just scares more women away?” Jimin said.

“Don’t you have a class to go to?” Namjoon said.

Jimin groaned and picked up his backpack. “Talking to cute girls is better. I hope she comes back. Text me updates.”

“See you at dinner!” Namjoon yelled after him.

Jungkook showed up for his shift right as the girl came back to the table with two friends in tow. “You just DJ the radio, see?” she said. “The one they were playing orientation week with Heechul on it.”

“Which one’s the cute one?” whispered one of her friends, not quietly enough. Namjoon sat up a little taller.

“He’s not here anymore,” she whispered back.

“Not—Jinsoul, they’re both so cute.”

Jungkook was staring right at them with wide eyes. The girl looked back at them, realized one of the cute boys had heard, and ducked behind her friend with a squeak. Jungkook hid a pleased smirk by staring at his lap.

“You’re always free to bring friends into the booth with you on your shift,” Namjoon said. “I’ve made most of my friends here through this club.”

“What’s your dating policy?” Jinsoul asked boldly.

“We do not have one,” Jungkook said carefully.

“What was the guy’s name that was here before?”

“Jimin.”

“Cool.” Jinsoul picked up the pen and signed up. Her two friends followed.

They walked away into the crowd of curious underclassman and disinterested upperclassmen, a little trio that drew the eye, even in the colorful chaos of posters. After their skirts and long hair had disappeared, Namjoon scooped up the sheet and looked at the names. “Two of those were sophomores actually,” he said. “You ever seen them before?”

Jungkook shook his head.

“Jinsoul’s a Jung, like you. And Yves Ha is the other sophomore.”

Jungkook grunted. “May have seen them that one week I went to the Asian Cultural Club’s meeting.”

Namjoon was already texting the update to Jimin. “And the freshman was Jung-eun Kim.”

“They were so cute.”

Namjoon looked up a little fast. Jungkook gave him a cautious side-eye. “They were,” he said.

“I—yeah, definitely. Bangin. I just—” Namjoon took a minute to search for words. The truth was that he’d never heard Jungkook express attraction to anyone, and had, until last spring, assumed he was type-straight—only attracted to omegas the way alphas usually were. Even after the spring he hadn’t quite readjusted. “I don’t think there’s a delicate way to phrase this question,” Namjoon started, and then froze at the ‘I fucking dare you’ expression on Jungkook’s face. His scent flared like the wind had turned, probably expecting something normal people—betas—weren’t supposed to ask. The tone of it shot an instinctive bolt of fear through Namjoon. “Sorry! I won’t ask!” he said.

“No, please, do,” Jungkook chirped. He folded his arms over his chest and leaned way back in his seat. “Honestly. I trust you.”

Namjoon’s head blurred with Jungkook’s scent. “It’s just that I don’t know this even after knowing you for a year, so maybe I shouldn’t pry—” Jungkook’s knee started bouncing. “Hey, we’re in public. We should be paying attention. Let’s do this later.”

“No, it’s fine,” Jungkook shifted in closer so they could make it a more personal conversation. “I trust you. Tell me.”

“What are you attracted to?” he blurted, compelled to take the safe route and obey. Jungkook eyes flicked upwards in confusion. Namjoon floundered. “Like, what demographics.”

“Oh!” Jungkook sat back, challenge fading completely from his posture, maybe even a little disappointed. His scent stopped burning in Namjoon’s nose. “That’s not a weird question. Sorry, I thought you knew.” He glanced around at the crowds, at the habitat for humanity kids explaining their triptych. No one seemed interested in approaching their table. “You’re bi, right?”

“Uh-huh?”

“I’m bi and type-moderate. I like pretty much anyone but other alphas.”

“Ah.”

“Like, obviously I physically respond to omegas, but I prefer men a little. I think that tends to be more important. It’s hard to say.”

Namjoon wondered if it would be insensitive to ask why, or if that was a fair question to ask anyone about their preferences. Jungkook didn’t act like a typical alpha or seem at all interested in omegas usually, but that didn’t account for his biology.

“Sorry if that came out of nowhere. It’s probably not my business.”

Jungkook made a sharp, disbelieving snort, then turned red. Namjoon’s heart broke into a sprint, unwilling to let that line of conversation go further.

“What’s it like as a beta?”

The room had faded a little into the background, all focus directed at each other, regardless of the rush of students and voices around them. Sweat still prickled across Namjoon’s chest. “What’s what like?”

Jungkook fiddled with his phone case and hesitated. “Attraction without, like, Type getting in the way. Betas only have gender to worry about.”

“I wouldn’t say there aren’t preferences for Type.”

“Yeah, but they’re not…biologically enforced.”

“Most attraction might be biological to some degree,” Namjoon said. “Scientifically speaking. Whether Type is involved or not. We just don’t quite know.”

Jungkook bounced in his seat. “You know what I mean.”

“Jungkook, I have no idea how my experience is different than yours. I know they’re not the same. You’re bi, and I’m bi, so if you can imagine that as the only part of your experience you have to worry about, that’s probably as close as anyone would be able tell you.”

With the sunset tingeing the room orange through the big windows along the side of the room, and the hoodie pulled over Jungkook’s downturned head, it was hard to see his expression, but he looked almost bitter. Namjoon felt a little bitter himself, resentful of his still quick heartbeat and damp armpits, the fading remnants of compelled obedience. And Jungkook had asked just the other day if he’d ever scared Namjoon. He probably hadn’t realized he was doing it.

“Jungkook, don’t—oh, hello. Interested in the student radio?”

A gorgeous alpha stood in front of their table, her scent an obvious, heavy spice, almost sweet like cinnamon. She was short and slender for an alpha, but the foxlike face and powerful stance spoke on their own. “Yeah, hey, this sounds cool. What are the hours?”

“Whatever you want them to be, really. It’s a club more than a job. We take you on for a trial period, and then we negotiate hours. You’d probably be taking late night or morning shifts to start.”

She nodded agreeably, and her eyes shifted for a moment to Jungkook, who seemed oddly stiff. “Jungkook,” she said. “Missed you at dance practice. Do we live in the same suite?”

“Do we?”

“You’ve got a really distinctive smell. I think we do.”

“I’m not there very often.”

She regarded him curiously for a second. “Are you the club president?”

Jungkook shook his head and pointed to Namjoon. She refocused on him. “And I get to play any music I want to?”

“Yeah, anything.”

She picked up the pen and leaned down to sign the sheet, unintentionally giving Namjoon a view straight down the front of her shirt. “I see Hoseok and Jimin too. Fuck, is everyone in this club Korean?” she said, scanning the names of current members and the names already on the list. To be fair, there were several obviously non-Korean names in the club list, but the Romanized Hangul stuck out.

Namjoon tore his eyes away from her front. “Uhh our advisors who do a lot of recruiting are also part of the Asian Cultural Club and they’re Korean, so we ended up getting a lot of crossover.”

“Interesting,” she said, and wrote down “Chungha Kim, Junior,” and her email address. “I’ve been kind of thinking about this for the past two years, so what the hell. I’ll try it out.” She stood up and definitely caught Namjoon not looking at her face. She put her hands on her hips and gave him a long, smug look down her nose with one sharp eyebrow cocked.

“Meetings are Wednesday evenings,” he squeaked.

She nodded. “I can do that.” And disappeared into the crowd with a soft, “Bye bye.”

“She’s on dance team too,” Jungkook said. “Fuck, I didn’t know she was living with me.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

Jungkook leaned forward and watched her go, frowning. “We’re the only two alphas on the dance team. I bet you can’t tell, but she’s ridiculously dominant without even trying. She’s intimidating as fuck. She’s the head alpha of the suite and I’m not even sure she even knows it.”

The campfire scent was getting distractingly strong. “So, it’s a competition thing,” Namjoon said with a familiar tired acceptance that this was something he didn’t and wasn’t supposed to understand, an interpersonal ranking that he wasn’t eligible for. He felt himself bristling, biting back a hundred little unfair quips about alphas that he’d heard from his grandmother’s mouth.

Jungkook drummed on the edge of his seat and stared at the table with an intensity that was likely to scare prospective club members away. “Namjoon,” Jungkook murmured, pleading.

“Hm?”

“Nothing.”

Two freshmen boys turned up at their table shortly after, and tentatively wrote their names, but didn’t seem keen on uptake. They kept pointedly not looking at Jungkook, then ruining it by stealing glances and gawking. Jungkook stuttered his way through one sentence about adjustable schedules and then sank quietly into his seat. Probably students from a rural area without the resources to support Type who hadn’t seen many alphas before.

“She liked you,” Jungkook said a while later, after six more names had appeared on their list.

“Huh?”

“Chungha. She liked you.”

“Oh.”

“She’s hot, right?”

Namjoon nodded.

“Would you want to hook up with her?” Jungkook asked.

“Uh…” A year ago his answer would have been a confident ‘no.’ He liked his own independence a bit too much to be compatible with an alpha. They smelled. But his own biology didn’t rule out alphas and omegas, and he hadn’t counted on Jungkook ever coming around and shaking things up. He’d been wondering, for no reason in particular, of course, if his compatibility with alphas could be reconsidered. “I could be convinced,” he said.

Jungkook stayed silent for a few awkward seconds where Namjoon turned more and more red and couldn’t meet his eyes. “The hell does that mean?”

“Hey, fuckers,” Yoongi said, dropping his backpack by Namjoon’s chair and kicking the leg. “Ruined everything yet?”

Namjoon sighed with relief, shift over. “Hi, grumpy cat. Did you skip dinner again?”

“Shut up.”

“You’re gonna be a great spokesperson in this mood.”

Yoongi yanked a protein bar out the pocket of his backpack and took an aggressive bite.

“You’re not you when you’re hungry,” Jungkook said, and Yoongi gave his hair a fond ruffle.

Namjoon packed up and stood to give Yoongi a chair. When he finally turned to say goodbye to Jungkook, he was leveling a devastating pout at him. “We’ll talk later,” Namjoon said. Jungkook narrowed his eyes into something doubtful, but didn’t argue as Namjoon rushed back to his room to lie on the bed and feel strange.

 

.

 

Bright lights made drinking seem too much like routine, so Hoseok turned off everything but the string lights around their living room and started pouring shots. Taehyung and Jimin took over the carpet, down there by themselves enjoying how nice the texture was, which they would never give a damn about without the booze.

Seokjin and Yoongi sat together in the armchair, looking less cute and more uncomfortably jammed, both with a glass of red wine. Hoseok perched on the coffee table and kicked at the boys on the floor till they grabbed his leg and pulled him down.

Jungkook had a water bottle of vodka that he kept gagging over and he sat within easy reach of Namjoon’s feet so Namjoon had been poking his firm thigh with a toe at intervals for an hour now as the shots and wine made their way into his head. The room swam in flashes of little lights and shadows moving too fast.

Someone turned up the Bluetooth speaker until it was too loud. Hoseok’s cackle cut through the noise as Jimin tried to shove him into the carpet. Jungkook looked younger than ever. His smile crinkled his face up under his bangs. Namjoon stretched out both legs and put them on Jungkook’s lap, right on those thick thighs, just to see what would happen.

Jungkook looked at him. That seemed like the perfect result.

Namjoon woke from his drunken semi-doze up when Jimin sat on him. The room smelled just a little like campfires and flowers. Yoongi sat on Seokjin’s lap and didn’t look very happy about it. Jungkook had one hand on Namjoon’s knee, legs pulled close to his warm body.

They’d spent a hundred nights like this, some variation of the seven of them over the past three years. Him, Yoongi, Seokjin, Hoseok. Then Taehyung and Jimin. And last year the enchanting little alpha who played soft music on the radio late at night right as Namjoon fell asleep. Every semester had a different feel, but the last two, and now this one, had felt a little like the last nights of summer camp, where the end was coming day by day. They had something too precious to last.

“Weird how none of us are in the studio right now,” Namjoon said, and was surprised when everyone grunted in agreement like they could all hear him. They’d turned the speaker off. Jimin squirmed a little and knocked all the air out of Namjoon’s lungs.

“Wait, is someone missing their shift right now?” Yoongi said, sitting up.

“It’s Hani right now,” Namjoon said.

“Oh right.”

But somehow that led to a stumble across campus, reveling in the warm air like so many other rambling groups of students wandering the streetlight-lit paths under the trees and old academic buildings. Namjoon hung back, watching Jimin and Taehyung scamper off into the moonlit lawn with Hoseok behind them and YoonJin standing under the streetlight, just chatting. Beside him, Jungkook’s alpha presence rolled soothingly over him.

“Chungha keeps visiting me,” Jungkook said softly. “Like, she doesn’t come into my room but she stands at the door.”

“Yeah? You don’t like that?”

“It’d be kind of threatening, but she’s really friendly.” He pulled his cap off his hair and dragged a hand through it before fitting it back on again, and huffed. “She says you’re cute.”

“Cute?”

“You don’t like being cute?”

Namjoon remembered he hated being called cute. “I’m totally cute. I’m so cute. Really? Cute? I’ve never heard that before. I’m not cute.” Jungkook laughed at him in the dark. “Chungha said I’m cute?”

“She did! She said you looked so guilty when she caught you staring down her shirt.”

“Oh no,” Namjoon mumbled. Jungkook punched his shoulder and snickered his awful little fake laugh. Those bare arms were still taking some getting used to when Namjoon was so used to Jungkook making himself look bigger in hoodies and sweatpants.

“You like her?” Jungkook said.

“Dude, I don’t know her that well. She’s pretty. Why does it matter?”

Jungkook bumped into his shoulder. “You said you ‘could be convinced’ or whatever. Is she convincing you?”

“She might,” Namjoon said breezily.

Jungkook bumped their shoulders together again, hard enough to make Namjoon stumble this time.

“What was that for?”

Jungkook just laughed again and pulled his flask out.

“Jealous?” Namjoon asked.

“Huh?”

Namjoon leaned right back in, wrapping his arms around Jungkook’s narrow shoulders and trapping his arms around his chest. Bad idea. Bad idea. Bad idea. “You sound jealous,” he said.

Jungkook said “heurgh,” and wiggled a little. With how much muscle and strength Jungkook packed into his body, Namjoon often forgot that he was smaller. He still could have torn out of Namjoon’s grasp without a struggle, but he relaxed and leaned back.

“Are you?”

“No.”

“Uh huh.”

“She’s cool,” Jungkook said. “Still can’t see you hooking up with her.” His hands had latched onto Namjoon’s arms, holding him there, so Namjoon leaned his head down to bury his nose in Jungkook’s shoulder and breathed in the campfire scent.

Jungkook’s head landed on his shoulder, rolled over the bones there, and came to rest warmly against Namjoon’s skull in a little nuzzle, breath across Namjoon’s cheek.

Taehyung had gotten them all used to physical affection, always climbing onto someone’s lap. Namjoon had spent more conversations with his head on Yoongi’s shoulder than he could count, knew exactly when Hoseok needed to be captured and hugged for ten whole minutes. Jungkook had entered the group late and slowly. He hadn’t fallen into the same habit, tending to tolerate physical affection, but rarely reciprocate and never initiate, especially when Taehyung was around.

In the dark under the trees with the rest of the group away in the field, Jungkook grew heavy against Namjoon, pushing into the hug with a soft hum as if in relief. So Namjoon squeezed tighter and let him rest there for a while.

“I know you’re not into alphas,” he finally murmured with breath that smelled like fruit juice and alcohol.

“What’s Chungha then?” Namjoon asked. What are you?

Jungkook rubbed his cheek against Namjoon’s and elating affection rushed through him. For just a moment, he felt compelled to tip Jungkook’s chin towards him, to hold him close and kiss him until he melted like he’d done with his previous girls and boys.

Normal people. Betas.

Namjoon pulled back. Pretended not to see the glance Jungkook gave him. The way it looked almost calculating.

“If Chungha doesn’t work out, you know who’s waiting for you,” he breathed.

Before Namjoon could overcome the way his whole heart seized, Jungkook strode away, the night breeze in his hair, a creature shining in moonlight.

 

.

 

Chapter Text

The second week of the Namjoon’s junior year, Jimin and Hoseok dragged a freshman from the dance team to the student radio with a promise that he was fun and had excellent taste in music. Just before his scent hit Namjoon’s nose and kick-started a bunch of reservations, he saw big black eyes and lips just lopsided enough to turn a frown into a pout. He thought “He’s way too cute for an alpha. That’s not fair.”

“Jungkookie,” Jimin said, gripping Jungkook’s shoulder proudly. “He’s my freshman.”

Over Jungkook’s shoulder, Namjoon saw Taehyung crunch down on the studio couch like a turtle, a textbook covering his whole face. Jimin settled down on the floor by Yoongi’s legs and put his phone in front of his eyes and disconnected from the rest of the room.

“You missed the club meeting,” Yoongi said to the new freshman, “but I have some extra hours we can put you in. I’d love to hear what you can do.”

“Are you sure it’s okay if I’m in here?” Jungkook asked in a stunningly precious voice, not at all husky and dark like his scent.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?” Yoongi said. “As long as you’re with a club member, you’re fine.”

Jungkook glanced quickly over his shoulder at Taehyung, who hadn’t taken his nose out of his textbook. He sat uneasily in the chair Yoongi offered. “This is Namjoon, by the way,” Yoongi said. “He’s, like, second in command if you don’t count Hani and Heechul.”

“I don’t,” Jungkook said.

“Good call.”

Jungkook gave Namjoon a nod and a casual handshake, grip hot and strong, smile delicate and sincere, undeniably nervous.

“And that’s Taehyung,” Yoongi said. Taehyung finally lowered his textbook and gave Jungkook a chilling stare. Jungkook swallowed with a force that moved his whole head and looked to Yoongi for help, who had already gone back to the computer.

As Yoongi taught Jungkook how everything worked, the campfire scent filled the room until Namjoon’s head swam with memories of summer camp and cookouts and his Locke text may as well have been written in Latin. When Taehyung motioned him over to the couch, Namjoon went with his arms open, ready to let Taehyung bury his nose in his hair and get a few breaths that weren’t saturated with alpha.

“Help me outside,” Taehyung whispered, and Namjoon let him lean on him until they got out of sight of the room where Taehyung could sink to the floor and breathe. “That’s a small, poorly ventilated room,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I was that close to an alpha. He smelled so good.”

“Like campfires,” Namjoon said.

Taehyung had taken on a drunken flush, a pheromone high that drooped his eyelids and shone on his cheekbones. He blinked slowly until his eyes slid over Namjoon. “Yeah, campfires. You can smell that?”

“He still smells kind of gross.”

“Kind of awesome, you mean. Fuck.”

When Yoongi, Jimin, and freshman Jungkook left the studio, Taehyung still hadn’t managed to drag himself off the floor, but he glared blisteringly up at Jungkook with his chin cocked, even as he leaned into Namjoon’s side. Jungkook shrank into his hoodie and stammered quietly into silence with one little “sorry” that almost went unheard in the wide hallway. Yoongi gave them a ‘wtf’ look over his shoulder and Taehyung rolled his eyes. Jimin stalled, seemingly torn between his freshman and his best friend.

“He can’t exactly help it,” Namjoon said cautiously. “He looks like an anxious child.”

“I’m fucking dizzy, Namjoon. He definitely hasn’t showered all day. I feel physically weak. He could have left the room and he didn’t.”

“Maybe he didn’t realize—”

“Let me be mad, dammit.” Taehyung smashed the heels of his hands against his eyes and tightened up into a little ball.

Jimin stood in the hallway watching Yoongi and Jungkook retreat. “Fuck, Tae. I’m sorry. I didn’t think it’d be a problem. He’s super shy but he’s sweet and he’s always alone. I thought you’d like him. Should I keep him away from you?”

“No,” Taehyung groaned. “I’ll fucking risk giving him a chance. Tell him to shower more.”

Jimin cringed. “That’s…”

“Insensitive?” Taehyung snapped. He braced himself against the wall and stood, facing away from the two of them. Jimin’s urge to protect his friends seemed to be pulling at him physically, towards Taehyung and towards Jungkook as he disappeared out the last door at the end of the hallway.

“We can give him some boundaries,” Namjoon said.

“I promise he’s totally nice.”

“Oh, you promise.” Taehyung kicked his backpack against the wall. “I’m going outside. It stinks like fuck in here.”

After he left, Jimin carefully gathered Taehyung’s things and put them on his own back. “I’ll go figure this out,” Jimin said. “Give Jungkook a chance, would you? I’m not going to force him and Taehyung to get close, but people avoid alphas and Jungkook’s so lonely. I really want him to have people.”

The next time Namjoon ran into Jungkook, he was in the kitchen at a dance team party, throwing back shots with shaking hands, his scent low under the sharp citrus of punch and the overwhelming body odor of a college party.

“Woah there,” Namjoon said without thinking, forgetting to be careful with this new alpha without his scent overpowering the room. He tapped Jungkook’s wrist. “How many is that?”

“Five?” Jungkook said. “Sorry, am I taking too much?”

“No, there’s plenty, just…”

Jungkook threw back shot number five. Someone shouted in the other room and he flinched. “I’m way too sober,” Jungkook said, trying for a smile.

“First college party?” Namjoon guessed.

Jungkook nodded. The ripped jeans and tank top made a little more sense. Even though the theme had been to dress like a professor.

For all their definition, his tan shoulders were somehow too narrow, one sleeve slipping over the edge of his arm.

“Five shots should probably do it, right?” Namjoon said.

Jungkook had a real laugh for that, a quick cackle and a shake of his head. He leaned over and grabbed a solo cup, knocking the shot glass out of the way so he could pour apple Smirnoff straight into the cup. He took a confident sip and nearly gagged it out through his teeth. Namjoon reached out without thinking and rubbed his back.

He hadn’t known many alphas in his life. A couple surly guys in high school, one woman from his Dad’s office, all of whom would have knocked out the teeth of any stranger who touched them without warning. He almost snatched his hand away as soon as he remembered, but Jungkook closed his eyes and stood there looking completely defeated.

“Ever played beer pong?” Namjoon said, still rubbing cautiously. Jungkook shook his head.

“Let’s go do that.”

“Okay,” Jungkook said. “Thank you.”

After Jungkook had finally drunk enough vodka to be loose-limbed and smiley, to forget that everyone close enough to smell him turned to stare, he sank every shot. Jungkook didn’t gloat, didn’t get too loud or too wild and attract the attention of the room. Namjoon coasted through the tournament he usually lost.

“Fun,” Jungkook decided afterwards.

“You’re super fucking good at that.”

“I’m super fucking good at everything,” he said. Then got an ‘oh shit’ look in his eyes. “JK. Kidding. I mean, I am good at everything, but I-I did mean that as a joke.” He laughed at himself and put his face in his hands.

“We’re keeping him,” Namjoon said to Jimin and Hoseok later, who both sighed in relief.

“That’s what Yoongi said too. Taehyung and Jin still aren’t on board.”

“We aren’t gonna force them,” Hoseok said. “If he doesn’t win them over, he’s probably worth keeping at a distance anyway.”

It wasn’t long before Seokjin let Jungkook into their dorm, and Taehyung eventually said it was fine with him if Jungkook came on their holiday trips as long as they didn’t ride in the same car. They did work in the same rooms and ate around the same table without looking at each other. Jungkook came to Seokjin’s house and met his alpha father. Taehyung barely rolled his eyes when the alphas talked about wrestling for a full ten minutes while the rest of the group sat in silence.

“What if Jungkook and Taehyung dated?” Jimin said one late night when it was just him and Namjoon in the sound booth, both of them in their laziest clothes, homework pulled out of their backpacks but only half done and left alone. “I feel like that would be weird.”

Namjoon flicked a paperclip across the desk. The hallway lights had turned off automatically an hour ago and students passed sporadically in small groups. “I think so too.”

“Why though? That’d be totally cute, right? Not weird.”

“I think it would feel weird because Taehyung keeps him at such a distance.”

“I just can’t imagine Taehyung being, like, beneath anyone. In a relationship.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way.”

“It kind of does, by definition.”

Namjoon held up a finger and set up his next song on the radio, then spun his seat slowly around until the headphone cord caught him by the shoulder. “I mean, I think Tae would like to have someone taking care of him. That doesn’t mean he has to be, like, submissive if he doesn’t want to be. You take care of him. You take care of me too. Doesn’t mean we…I don’t know.”

“It’s not the same,” Jimin said.

“You’re right.”

“I don’t think Taehyung likes alphas very much outside of what his biology likes.”

“Not at all.”

“It would be weird if they dated.”

“It totally would,” Namjoon said, feeling very strongly about it. He flicked the paperclip across the desk again and watched it disappear over the edge. “But if any alpha were to match well with Taehyung, it’d be Jungkook.”

“I don’t think he thinks so.”

“I don’t think he really knows Jungkook at all. But it’s his call, of course.”

“Do you think…” Jimin started, and then thrashed around on the couch for a minute. A book thumped onto the floor. “Do you think if Jungkook ever, like, did anything? To Taehyung? Like anything bad. Do you think Taehyung would tell us? We dragged Jungkook in here without asking if it was okay with Taehyung or not.”

“Jungkook wouldn’t.”

“We all think that, of course. But it happens all the time.”

All the stories of all the best alphas, all the most well-intentioned, star-studded young alphas on all the newspaper covers and news sites accused of unspeakable things. All the comments. ‘It’s in their nature.’ ‘Why did anyone let her close to an omega?’ ‘They weren’t in their right minds.’ ‘All alphas should be on watch lists.’

“On the other hand,” Namjoon said slowly, “I don’t think it’s right to wall out every alpha because other alphas have done shitty things.”

“I don’t think Taehyung wants to wait for him to do a shitty thing and deserve getting walled out.”

“Jungkook wouldn’t ever do something that bad.”

“I know,” Jimin said. “I don’t think Taehyung does.”

 

.

 

When Yoongi had suggested that Namjoon book a whole classroom for the first club meeting as president instead of just holding it in the studio, Namjoon had called him stupid. He did it anyway because he usually came to regret not listening to Yoongi’s advice. When more than twenty students, mostly freshmen, showed up for the first club meeting, Yoongi very solemnly passed Namjoon a folded-up piece of paper just before he stood up to greet everyone. It said “I told you so.”

“Welcome to the student radio,” Namjoon said, crumpling the paper into a ball. Seokjin’s quietest windshield-wiper laugh squeaked across the room. “There’s quite a crowd here. This is going to take a load off the shifts. Wow.”

The club rarely met together in one room. There were the elusive Mark and Johnny who communicated only through texts and manned the booth first thing in the morning. There was Chad the EDM idiot. There were Heechul and Hani at the back showing each other memes on twitter. Jimin’s weird friend from dance team, Taemin was there with his feet on the desk. Taehyung had broken away from Hoseok to go sit with another inhumanly tall and beautiful man that Namjoon had seen with Taehyung everywhere but never met, who’s name also started with “Tae” but that was as far as Namjoon had gotten. Jungkook sat in the first row, slouched down low in his desk with his legs way out in the aisles. Right beside him sat Chungha with her hair up in a perfect bun and a tight shirt with a very low V.

The Asian Cultural Club must have already met, because a fair number of young Asians were clustered in the back around Heechul and Hani, including the girls he’d met at the table: Jinsoul, Jungeun, and Yves. Their reputation for collecting the school’s Asians better than the Asian Cultural Club proved way too true. Namjoon sometimes wondered if their overrepresentation of Asians in the club scared other people away, and then realized he didn’t care.

Namjoon stuttered through introductions, explained the club setup, and then passed around sign-ups for training with Heechul and Hani in the booth.

“After training, people who are still interested can start signing up for time slots. I’m warning you now that they will probably be inconveniently late or early and there won’t be many of them early on. This whole club is pretty seniority-based.”

“And there’s no dating policy, right?” yelled Jinsoul from the back.

“It’s a college club, Jinsoul, not your first job. Just stay away from Heechul and we’re good.”

Heechul cringed so hard he nearly fell out of his chair. Almost everyone signed up for a training session.

Afterwards, Chungha came to the front and sat on the desk and asked if it was okay if she came by while he was in the booth to check it out.

“Of course! Yeah. Definitely.”

Jungkook sat in the front row turned half around to watch them while Seokjin continued to talk about his plans for their upcoming camping weekend, unaware that his audience was distracted.

“This is cool,” Chungha said, looking around. “I really want to go into entertainment, so this’ll be good. Jungkook says he sometimes just talks about stuff.” She noticed Jungkook watching and gave him a grin. He gave her an exaggerated cocky head jerk and she laughed.

Namjoon said. “If you want to make yourself kind of a show and just chat, that’s perfectly welcome. You’ll get fans.”

She had to know how disarming her scent was this close, the heavy, sweet-spicy smell with that dirtier alpha undertone. When Namjoon was young, he used to breathe through his mouth whenever alphas came close, hating how it smelled, hating how it made him feel. He’d stopped doing that a long time ago, but had never enjoyed it. Yet he found himself breathing that scent in, trying to get more of it, not minding his compulsion to give her his attention.

Taehyung got up to leave with his beautiful friend, which predictably drew glances from most of the room. Jungkook quickly pulled his legs in to get out of the way. As Taehyung and his friend passed, Taehyung reached out and gave Jungkook a single, casual pat on the head, who flinched and pulled back, one hand going in surprise to his hair. Jimin did a double take.

They left the room with Jungkook and Jimin staring at their backs. Chungha took a deep breath as they passed and flicked a glance over her shoulder. It occurred to Namjoon that the other guy might be an omega too, scent masked by the two alphas and Taehyung’s familiar flowery perfume.

“Library time?” he said to Jungkook. Jimin zeroed in on that too, big eyes wide with the same amount of curiosity he’d just watched Taehyung with.

“Gotta stop by my room first,” Jungkook said.

The rest of the room headed out, everyone weirdly casual in the classroom without bookbags or a professor to pay attention to.

Chungha hopped off the desk and walked out with them, falling into step beside Jungkook with a little bounce, falsely cute. “So the guy in the room across from mine,” she started, and Jungkook groaned. “So this guy—” She turned to Namjoon just as she took a careless step into the cramped stairwell on her four inch heeled boots without so much as grabbing the railing or looking down. Namjoon tensed for her.

“I’ve been bitching about this guy to Kook for a fucking week now. On the first day he confronted me for leaving makeup on the bathroom sink like I’d stolen his TV. Anyway.” She turned back to Jungkook with the kind of grin that only came with spilling some quality tea. “He left a passive aggressive note on the mirror in my lipstick. Absolutely destroyed it. To write ‘clean your shit up.’”

Jungkook cringed. Namjoon squeaked in horror.

“Like he couldn’t just come confront me,” she said, and rolled her eyes.

“Really?” Namjoon said. “He destroyed your lipstick?”

“He regrets it.”

“Did you report him?”

Chungha gave Namjoon an endeared little smile. “I probably should, shouldn’t I? No, I walked into his room while he had an omega over, stared him down ‘til he panicked, and then took the other guy out for coffee.”

“Oh my god,” Jungkook laughed.

“He wishes he could do that,” Chungha said. “Unfortunately, he just tries too fuckin’ hard. Refuses to fucking shower because he’s gotta let his oppressive fucking smell do his dominating for him. Pitiful.”

“Can you tell him to stay out of my stuff in the fridge?” Jungkook said. “I really don’t want to deal with him.”

“I can do that.”

Namjoon waited for it, but no barbs followed. No ‘can’t confront him yourself?’ Nothing insinuating that Jungkook was just as pitiful. Nothing about hierarchy from someone who knew how to deftly manipulate it. Jungkook slid down the last six feet of banister with a little whoop.

“I don’t understand alphas,” Namjoon muttered.

“Really?” Chungha said, sounding delighted. She stepped forward and opened the door for all of them, though Jungkook took it from her on his way through. Namjoon had been trying very hard not to notice the booty shorts with little luck. The heeled ankle boots made it worse, lengthening her beautiful legs. She fit the alpha image even less than Jungkook did but carried it confidently.

“Alphas are so easy to understand though,” she said, walking backwards and downhill on rough concrete in her heels. “They just want control in every situation and that’s really all you need to know about them.”

Jungkook made an uncomfortable noise. She winked at him.

“Chungha,” Namjoon said, “I know that’s not true.”

Chungha spoke to Jungkook again. “He’s too nice, isn’t he.”

Jungkook nodded.

“What?”

“Oh, never mind,” she said. “It’s a good thing, don’t worry.” Some of the fiery energy left her, and she came back in line with them.

It occurred to Namjoon that an alpha was flirting with him. Far from the reaction of discomfort he’d always had to the way alphas flirted, his heart thumped with excitement, maybe at her attention. Maybe at the look Jungkook was giving them under his lashes.

Once Namjoon’s nose cleared from the oppressive alpha slurry of Jungkook’s common area, he could tell that Jungkook’s scent had soaked into his room. Chungha’s spicy scent lingered outside. Jungkook took a deep breath as he entered. “Wow, I can smell Hoseok all over this place,” Chungha said in the door.

“We came back here after dance practice and he rolled around on the floor all sweaty.” Jungkook took a deep breath. “I’m surprised it hasn’t faded yet. At least he smells awesome.”

She wrinkled her nose. “His scent is so strange though. Like fake orange perfume almost.”

“I can’t smell anything,” Namjoon said.

“Betas can’t really smell each other though,” Jungkook said. He walked around the room and plugged all the string lights in as Namjoon struggled against the thought that normal people didn’t have hypersensitive smell receptors. Normal people. Alpha scents stood out mostly because of how foreign they were, because they evolved to turn heads. Omega scents were far less strong, which Namjoon supposed meant that normal people—betas—were closer to omegas than alphas. That was an uncomfortable thought, somehow.

Chungha hovered in the door. Jungkook pulled his t-shirt off without warning and grabbed a sweater out of the closet. He turned and gave Namjoon a full view of abs and pecs and arms and shoulders and—

“Chungha, you can come in.”

“Can I?” she grumbled.

“I’m serious. Sorry about this.” The abs disappeared under a dark gray sweater. Namjoon’s brain flatlined.

Chungha took one determined step into the room, looking around like she was seeing it for the first time. The room was as carefully neat as it had been the day Jungkook set it up, every pen safely in the desk organizer, every poster pin-straight on the wall, not a wrinkle in the bedsheets. Jungkook’s backpack was carefully stowed beside his desk. He’d put curtains in the windows and warm, soft light filled the room from the string lights along the edges.

Chungha sat uneasily on the floor cube, putting herself below Jungkook.

“You’re welcome to come in here whenever, you know,” Jungkook said. He stared at the floor next to her right as he talked, cheeks turning pink. “I don’t mind having you in here.”

Chungha curled up a little, looking oddly shocked. “Thank you,” she said softly. He shrugged.

An enormous figure appeared in the door, a hulking barrel body with a scent like a whole locker room, only a hint of earthiness underneath. Namjoon throat closed reflexively, recognizing an alpha from stereotype, an obnoxious giant who treated the whole world like prey. Chungha stood up. Jungkook’s chest puffed out. “This looks like a party,” the man said. “Can I join?”

“Nope,” Jungkook said. “Stay out there please.”

“Ha! Rude.” He turned to Namjoon, who was breathing carefully through his mouth and trying to shake the feeling of smallness from his brain. “Is he like this all the time?” Without waiting for any kind of response, he gave Chungha a macho head-jerk. “I had to move some of your stuff in the bathroom upstairs but I put it right back.”

“‘Kay. Thanks, Michael,” she said.

“Charlie is having a quick alphas-only pre-game on Saturday evening and I’m here to spread the word,” the guy said, looking back and forth between Jungkook and Chungha, eyes flicking over Namjoon like he wasn’t there. “Ya’ll game?”

“All alphas?” Chungha grumbled.

“Yeah, I know,” Michael said. “Not as much fun but he says it’ll be quick and he’ll have the good stuff that normies can’t handle. I keep telling him to get some omegas, but no dice yet.”

Chungha chuckled uneasily. “I think I’ll pass.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Let him know if you change your minds,” he said, gave both of them a little salute and one more disinterested glance at Namjoon. “Is he the guy that dated that girl with the butterfly tattoo last year?” He asked Chungha as if Namjoon couldn’t hear.

“Uh-huh.”

Namjoon flushed. “She has a name,” he grumbled. Michael gave him an approving nod and left without another word while Namjoon wondered why he felt so satisfied with his own reputation.

Chungha checked out the door. “That’s our dorm-mate. He sucks.”

Just one of those alphas who preferred to pretend that normal people didn’t exist. Every alpha Namjoon had met in high school had been the same way, competitive with each other, flirty with omegas, and completely disinterested in the other 95% of the school, even the teachers. Namjoon sucked his teeth and stewed quietly as Jungkook packed up his backpack and Chungha poked cautiously around his room like she still couldn’t believe she was there.

“You alright there?” Jungkook asked as they walked to the library. “You got awful quiet.”

“Your dorm-mate was off-putting.”

“He’s kind of intense. Very dominant. Smells like shit.”

“That’s not what it was.”

Jungkook frowned, looking genuinely confused about what Namjoon could possibly have a problem with if it wasn’t the dominance that Namjoon couldn’t feel. Namjoon doubted anyone had ever walked into a room with Jungkook and acted like he wasn’t worth looking at. Except maybe Taehyung.

“Taehyung patted your head earlier,” Namjoon said, changing the subject.

“Yeah. He did.”

“What’s that about?”

“No clue. He’s so…”

Jungkook scowled into the deepening evening, half annoyed, half sad. “I don’t know what to do about that…” He seemed to fold into himself like a clam, small and frustrated, so defensive for an alpha, so uncertain. “I’ve been okay with him ignoring me. It sucks, but it’s better than how he was at the beginning.”

“I thought he’d never forgive us, honestly. He’s like a cat.”

Jungkook stopped suddenly. They were in another shaded patch, sheltered from the streetlight nearby by a huge conifer that threw stripes of yellow light over them. “Are we actually talking about this now?” Jungkook said. “No one’s ever said anything about this.”

“I—yeah. That’s surprising. That no one’s mentioned it.”

Jungkook chewed on his lip. “Jimin’s almost talked about it a couple times but he’s too loyal to Taehyung. You won’t tell anyone? Not even Yoongi?”

“No, I won’t—well, tell Yoongi what?”

“Nothing! Just not…” He ran both hands through his hair for a moment, scratching audibly across his scalp. “He…” Jungkook stopped again, lips pursed tightly. “It’s nothing. Never mind. He just makes me nervous. Last year I, um, felt guilty for being friends with the rest of you.”

Namjoon got a swift diving feeling in his stomach, the kind he associated with finding out friends were gossiping about him in high school, the drama response. He probably shouldn’t have stirred this up.

Jungkook held out his hands. “Namjoon, you have to understand, he’s an omega and a lot of omegas don’t feel comfortable around alphas unless it’s on their terms, and that’s fair. That’s totally fair. You can’t blame him for any of this. I don’t.”

Namjoon nodded so hard his glasses almost fell off.

“I don’t know what the statistics are on this exactly,” Jungkook said. “But I know it’s something like virtually all omegas, like one-hundred percent, have been seriously sexually harassed by an alpha by the time they turn fifteen, and that’s the least alarming statistic. The statistics for actual assault, and even younger than fifteen…The community is just so small and competitive. It doesn’t take a whole lot of alphas being shitty to make those statistics, but a lot of alphas are super shitty and the rest of us are competitive with that and also shitty. Taehyung’s honestly been generous with me, right?”

“I think so?”

“Was it Jimin that introduced me to everyone?” Jungkook said. He wouldn’t quite face Namjoon, standing five whole feet away on the sidewalk and stammering. Namjoon let him talk, hoping he’d figure out what he wanted to say. “Might have been Hoseok. I know Taehyung never had a say in it. For a few months he’d get so uncomfortable whenever I entered the room. None of you could smell it, but he smelled anxious and angry. For months. Whenever it was just me and him—and he’s such a good actor, Namjoon. You have no idea.”

Of course, Namjoon had known. He watched Taehyung throw silent fits for months, had watched him pull away from all of them for a while as Jimin tried to play peacemaker.

“He’s better now,” Jungkook said. “He’s gotten used to me. He’ll look at me when I come in and act like I exist when we’re all together. It’s fine. He, like, patted my head today which is so weirdly friendly.”

“I think that’s good.”

“It’s got to be good, right?” Jungkook said. “I just feel like I forced him to accept me. I knew for months that I made him uncomfortable. I didn’t give him space and respect his comfort. I didn’t leave.” His voice grew louder and higher. “I made him put up with me anyway because I was stubborn and I didn’t think I should have to give up my friends because he doesn’t like alphas, you know? I’m not that bad.”

Namjoon reflexively reached up and squeezed Jungkook’s shoulders. The thought of Jungkook quietly leaving the group made him feel just a little frantic. He was out on the edge already, the only person not living in their cluster in the neighborhood, the youngest, the baby, the one who seemed to keep himself on a leash, speaking carefully, moving carefully. “You’re not bad at all. You’re fine.”

Jungkook stared at him for a minute. “And I’ve been staying in his dorm. He doesn’t smell pissed anymore, but he still won’t talk to me, and he stayed in his room. I know that was bad. When you brought it up I just felt so…” He rubbed his hands over his face. “I just felt so…But that’s no worse than sticking around since last year even though I knew he didn’t like me. Was that wrong of me to do?” he asked finally. “Should I have left?”

Namjoon’s first instinct was to say no, that one person shouldn’t have the power to make another person give up all their friends, but Jungkook didn’t look like he wanted reassurance. His eyebrows scrunched down cautiously as Namjoon hesitated. “I don’t know,” Namjoon said finally. “If you weren’t Type, both of you, I’d say it wasn’t wrong, but I don’t know how this works.”

He gave a small nod, looking absolutely defeated. “Yeah. Sorry.”

“I’m glad you didn’t leave,” Namjoon said quickly. “Thank you for making him put up with it. If it makes you feel any better, the rest of us were kind of pressuring him to put up with it too.”

Jungkook gave him a tiny smile. “Yeah, he can handle it,” he grumbled. “He can just get Jimin to hug him and tell him he’s perfect whenever he wants.”

“I’ll give you a hug and tell you you’re perfect whenever you want,” Namjoon said with a nervous chuckle, knowing that he was challenging Jungkook’s alpha pride.

But Jungkook’s face screwed up. He seemed for a moment to close in again, but he held out his arms, looking like he’d snatch them back at any moment. Namjoon, heart pounding, gathered him up against his chest in the warm summer night. Jungkook squeezed his arms around Namjoon’s shoulders. “You’re perfect,” Namjoon said in Jungkook’s ear, voice shaking. Jungkook shivered, tucked his nose into Namjoon’s neck, and held on tighter. The warm breeze rustled in the trees.

“Thanks,” he whispered, and his voice cracked.

He didn’t let go, and Namjoon held on, fidgety and uneasy but nervous that he’d stop. Jungkook melted against his chest, softer and gentler with each passing second, letting himself be astonishingly vulnerable. Students passed along the main path in the distance, and Namjoon wasn’t sure they’d be able to see him and Jungkook clearly beneath the trees, wasn’t sure he should care, wasn’t sure he wanted privacy or if he’d love for the whole campus to see him with the prettiest alpha clinging to him, though he knew Jungkook would probably die of shame.

And that would need some thought. The desire. The regret that he’d pushed Jungkook away last semester. The feeling that every day they didn’t talk about the kiss was another day wasted. But Jungkook’s campfire scent burned in Namjoon’s nose, making him feel placid and weak. It didn’t bother him the way he was used to, but he felt himself seize up anyway, body betraying his awkwardness.

Jungkook slowly pulled away, face slack and tired. He swayed one half step towards the library and scowled. “Damn I need a break. I can’t fucking wait for our camping weekend, but Taehyung will be there and that makes me feel like I’ll be intruding, even though I’ve been looking forward to this since last year.”

The annual camping trip. Namjoon had been ignoring those messages in the group chat, but it would be Jungkook’s first year. It hadn’t occurred to Namjoon that Jungkook might be anxious. Showing and smelling emotions in public could make alphas the target of their peers. “You sure you want to go sit in the library?” Namjoon asked.

“Give me a minute.”

Namjoon breathed in Jungkook’s scent, smoky with a little sourness. “Taehyung says nice things about you sometimes these days, you know,” he said. “When he gripes about alphas he always makes sure we know he doesn’t include you.”

“Really?”

“I think he might kind of like you.”

Jungkook shook his head, but in a confused way, considering. “Okay,” he said finally. “I hope so. Let’s go. I gotta get that O-chem homework done.”

 

.

 

On a brisk Wednesday afternoon, Namjoon found himself in the basement of the arts building in front of the dance studio, waiting for Jungkook to finish so they could go to the library. The dingy hallway was a mess of gym bags and water bottles. Namjoon had gotten out of class a little early and Hoseok’s distinctive sharp voice still counted out beats to an Ariana Grande song inside.

“Jimin can you turn it off for a minute?” The music cut. “There’s a bunch of you leaning really hard on your ballet backgrounds. This is pop music. Your movement needs to be, like, jerkier. Can you—Chungha, where are you going?”

The door banged open and Namjoon nearly jumped out of his skin. “I smelled a rat,” she said, staring right at him.

“Oh hey, Joonie,” Hoseok said. “We’re nearly done here.”

“Cool cool. No rush. I’ll just sit down out here.”

“Come watch! You’re welcome in here.”

Namjoon slid anxiously past the grinning Chungha and sat down. Hoseok had obviously been dipping into the Asian Cultural Club to pick up new members. Familiar faces filled the room—Chungha in her sports bra and long ponytail, Jimin and Jungkook giving him a wave. Taehyung’s beautiful friend and Jimin’s friends Taemin and Jongin sweated in front of the mirror, as well as Yves and Jungeun. Avoiding his gaze were two girls who were friends with his ex. Namjoon vaguely recognized them as Momo and Jihyo.

Jungkook’s dirty scent drifted around the basement, mixing with Chungha’s. Namjoon imagined it got stifling down here with two whole alphas in the room. He couldn’t smell anything else besides general body odor, maybe the occasional gentle whiff of vanilla that made him wonder again if Taehyung’s friend was an omega.

Taehyung’s friend came over at the end, surprising Namjoon. “Hey,” he said softly. Just his gaze was enough to make Namjoon blush, his huge soft eyes and delicate jaw catching the basement light with a glow.

“Hi!”

“You’re, um, sitting on my bag.”

Namjoon scooted off like the bag was a fire ant nest and the guy giggled. He grabbed his water bottle and sat down on the floor right next to Namjoon. A rush of vanilla scent floated down with him, dirty with sweat but sweet, the disarming scent of omega that made Namjoon want to hold him close and make him feel precious. “Um. Taeyong. Nice to meet you.”

“Ah, you too.” They shook hands. “Sorry it’s taken this long,” Namjoon said.

“Same. Taehyung talks about you all the time.”

“Taeyong. You too, actually. I hear that name a lot.”

“He better,” Taeyong said, then made another embarrassed giggle and rubbed his hands tiredly over his face.

Across the room, Jimin poked Jungkook in the ribs while Hoseok packed up the stereo. Chungha skipped up in her socks and yoga gear and plopped on the floor on Namjoon’s other side. Sweat beaded over her forehead and chest and she grinned in hello, still panting too hard to say anything.

“You’re working hard up there,” Taeyong said politely.

“You too!” she gasped. “Lucky Namjoon gets to check us out before the show.”

“Maybe I’ll come over early every time.”

“Get to sit in the back and watch our butts in dance pants, huh?” she said and punched his knee with more force than she probably meant to.

Jungkook wandered closer. To Namjoon’s surprise, and also Jungkook’s, Taeyong stood and walked to meet him, arms squeezed nervously to his sides.

“Oh, that’s interesting,” Chungha muttered close to Namjoon’s ear. “I have never in my life seen them talk before.”

Taeyong seemed to be asking Jungkook about a dance move, all sharp elbows and long legs that moved with surprising grace. Jungkook copied him, the same move with power where Taeyong was light. Taeyong laughed and shook his head.

“Taeyong’s one of the best dancers here,” Chungha said. “I’ve been wondering if anyone was going to let Jungkook know he’s not matching the rest of the group.

“He’s not?”

“The rest of us are either tiny or ballet-focused. There’s nothing wrong with the way Jungkook moves but he stands out.”

Jungkook was laughing at something Taeyong said, following Taeyong’s shy instructions. Namjoon heard something like “...use those muscles for something else. You look good but the rest of us don’t suit your style. Do it like, um—” He did the move again. “Take the weight on your toes more than your heels. Knees closer in. Energy in your wrists and not your elbows if that makes sense.”

Jungkook got it in two tries, moving naturally from strength to elegance.

“Yeah, he’s good,” Chungha said as Namjoon sat next to her with a mess of emotions as he watched the way alpha and omega adjusted to each other, Taeyong deferential, Jungkook attentive. Chungha’s scent intensified as she watched. “He’s so pretty,” she whispered. Namjoon nodded, meaning the other man.

“Library now?” Jungkook asked when he finally made his way over.

“We’d better if we want to get a couple solid hours in before dinner.”

He nodded. “Taeyong, wanna walk with us?”

“Jimin’s walking me back. Thanks though.”

Chungha and Jungkook marched right out into the autumn afternoon without pulling sweaters on, smelly and hot all the way across campus.

“Do you usually walk with Taeyong?” Chungha asked, and even Namjoon could hear the jealousy.

Jungkook shook his head. “I’ve never walked with him. I know he doesn’t like to walk around campus alone though. I just think I should offer sometimes.”

“He doesn’t live in your building, does he?” Namjoon asked.

“There aren’t any omegas in our building.”

“None?”

“It’s not like they’re not allowed,” Chungha said, “but alpha housing was clearly labeled and omegas have their own housing. There aren’t very many of them outside of omega housing and they choose to go elsewhere.”

“Smart,” Jungkook said.

“I know,” Chungha grumbled. “I wouldn’t let some of the alphas in our dorm near any of the omegas I know. The shit I hear coming out of the two fucks across the hall from me.”

“Gross,” Namjoon said.

Chungha bumped their hips together, hers landing somewhere down his thigh. “Wouldn’t let them near you either, babe.” Then dissolved into giggles.

“Wow,” Jungkook said. “Beta-killer.”

Namjoon looked down at his feet and tried to figure out how to react.

“I hope no one’s in the shower at home,” Jungkook said. Chungha bounced off with a story about the two alphas across the hall intimidating each other to get the shower first while she slipped in got it ahead of them. Jungkook cackled and Namjoon rolled his eyes and that got them all the way back to the dorm. As Jungkook got ready for a quick shower, Namjoon watched Chungha’s butt as it went up the stairs, the little space between her thighs calling for him.

 

.

 

Namjoon had just queued up “Roundabout” by YES, an eight-minute prog rock journey for a longer period of essay focus when Jungkook put his textbook on the studio coffee table and leaned forward on his knees. “Chungha.”

“Yeah?”

“What are you gonna do when she asks you out?”

Namjoon glanced out the windows to the hallway of the student center like he expected her to walk past. “What? She’s not gonna ask me out.”

“Joon, you’re dumb.”

“I am not!”

“What are you going to do?”

“If she asks me out?” He’d thought about it. It might be interesting, trying out this whole alpha thing with someone he had less emotional stock in than Jungkook. Better with someone as hot as Chungha. “I mean, I’d hook up with her. I don’t know.”

A loud group of students passed by the huge window to the hallway. A couple glanced in. Namjoon distinctly remembered one of those guys nearly clocking him with a lacrosse stick in the cafeteria a few weeks before. Jungkook picked at the edge of his text book, frowning. His fluffy hair, so often under a hat or hood, was brushed off his forehead, leaving those intimidating eyebrows bare to do their worst. The giant round eyes put them at a disadvantage. “I know you’re not attracted to alphas,” Jungkook said.

A silence fell between them, neither looking at each other. “People—betas don’t separate by type. I could be attracted to literally anyone.”

“Even betas have preferences for power dynamics,” Jungkook said. “I didn’t think you liked the whole alpha thing.”

“But even that’s fluid. Like, omegas don’t always prefer submission. Alphas don’t always prefer dominating.”

Jungkook raised his eyebrows.

“What? They don’t.”

“Oh, Namjoon. I know.

No one else was in the office behind the studio. The two girls chatting by the vending machine couldn’t hear them through the window, no one he knew, no one who would care anyway. “God, are we talking about my sex life now?” Namjoon said quietly.

“Chungha is very much a typical alpha where sex is concerned.”

“Maybe I don’t know what my own preferences are. There are some things I’ve never tried.”

Jungkook was definitely scowling now, struggling for words. “That girl with the butterfly tattoo you dated last year hooks up almost exclusively with aggressive alphas, and also you. Everyone in the group treats you almost like a pack alpha. ‘Scuse me if I made any unreasonable assumptions about what kind of sex you like.”

“Is that why she ditched me?” Namjoon whined.

Jungkook shrugged, going back to his homework. “Well, fuck me for assuming anything. Guess I don’t know shit about your preferences. Maybe you don’t have them, but Chungha definitely does.”

Namjoon fidgeted in his seat, wishing Jungkook would bring up the kiss and put them both out of their misery. “Seems like she prefers me,” Namjoon said. “She’s hot,” he prodded. “I’d try it.”

Jungkook’s jaw clenched for a moment, throwing light on his high cheekbones and sharp jaw, his cheek in shadow. His fingers tapped against his textbook. “We’ll see how it works out,” he said quietly, “because she’s going to ask you out any day now.”

Namjoon’s itching frustration simmered in the back of his mind. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” Namjoon said, watching Jungkook closely. “Might be fun to try, but I’m not ready to date her.”

Jungkook nodded like he thought that was perfectly reasonable. “Okay. Have fun.” He went back to O-chem and Namjoon sat there feeling dissatisfied.

 

.

 

“Hey Namjoon,” Chungha said, moving one side of her headset off her ear. He paused by the studio door, about to head to class having just spent a half hour supervising her first session in the booth. “Did I do good?”

He’d barely taught her anything but how the controls worked. She already had a playlist, a voice, a style. “You’re picking this up way faster than anyone else this semester.”

She gave a little fist pump. “Love it. Hey, there’s a showing of Thor Ragnarok happening in the basement café next Saturday and I don’t want to go alone.” She pouted up at him. “Wanna come watch it?”

“I never don’t wanna watch Ragnarok, so sure. I’ll be there.”

He was halfway back to his dorm when he realized might have said yes to a date.

 

.

 

The sour mix of alpha scents in Jungkook’s dorm smelled faded early on a Friday morning. Jungkook’s scent stood out in Namjoon’s nose, familiar and warm, but more like sweat than normal. He knocked on Jungkook’s door.

No answer.

He groaned. Seokjin’s car idled in the bay down in the main road, waiting. They hadn’t been able to contact Jungkook all morning. He pounded on the door again. “Jungkook, get up! We were supposed to be out of here fifteen minutes ago!” He tried the door. To his surprise, it swung open. Inside, the bed was neatly made, the light on.

Something banged loudly behind him. Namjoon spun and saw Jungkook in the door to the bathroom, hair soaking wet, a towel fastened low around his hips, skin dewy and dripping. A frothy toothbrush hung out of his mouth. “Oh fuck, is it today?”

“We’ve been talking about this for two weeks!” Namjoon squeaked, backing up with a hand over his heart. Jungkook slammed the door closed. After ten mind-numbing seconds in which Namjoon clutched his chest and gasped, Jungkook barreled out of his bathroom with his shower caddy and his towel and nearly ran Namjoon over.

“I haven’t even packed,” he said. He slammed the door with Namjoon still inside, ran over to the dresser, and instantly dropped his towel.

Namjoon looked away too late, blinking as if he’d just accidentally stared into the sun. The vision stuck on the back of his eyelids—all those smooth lines, the curve of his bare ass, those thick thighs, an unbroken view of flawless skin, and his cock—surely he hadn’t seen it right. It couldn’t be that big, hanging between his legs like a firehose. He had to check again—needed to—

“Oh shit, sorry!”

“It’s good,” Namjoon croaked.

“Oh my god.” Jungkook sounded a bit strangled. The floor shook with some unsteady stomping like he’d missed the leg of his underwear, then some swishing noises, more stomping, the slide of a zipper. Namjoon slowly turned to see Jungkook’s face flaming red, jeans fastened, struggling to tug a shirt over his head. Namjoon could see now that he thought to look, that the swell behind Jungkook’s zipper leaned on the fucking ridiculous side. No wonder he preferred loose pants.

“I’ll be packed in ten minutes,” Jungkook said, still not looking Namjoon in the face.

“Sorry!”

“It’s fine! It’s fine! Not your fault!”

“I’ll go back downstairs?”

Jungkook shook his head. “Help me pack, please. Make sure I don’t forget anything.”

Namjoon stood there like a statue in the corner, barking occasional suggestions as Jungkook tore through his impeccably organized room, completing a chore that took Namjoon an hour and a half in only ten minutes because he knew exactly where everything was.

“We’re always late leaving for this,” Seokjin said when Jungkook piled into the car with five apologies right in a row. “One year, Taehyung had to go to an event he’d forgotten about and we left three hours late. This is nothing. Don’t worry.”

“But I forgot completely,” Jungkook whined.

Yoongi looked dressed for the beach in his wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. “No worries,” he said. “The others drove on ahead so they’ll have all the tents set up by the time we get there.”

Jimin, Taehyung, and Hoseok had not set up the tents when they got there. They had one half-collapsed to the side of the firepit, which they were trying to stoke higher, a package of hotdogs on the table.

The tradition had started with an excuse to find a good place to smoke weed for a whole weekend freshman year. Every fall since Seokjin, Yoongi, Hoseok, and Namjoon came up with this bad idea, they’d taken the weekend a month after school started to go on an early fall break in the mountains. They’d added a couple tents over the past two years. Jungkook hadn’t been able to join last year, too new to the group, too shy, too distant. He’d heard the stories, always involving alcohol, wandering in the woods and swimming in creeks that were too cold, campfires and half-assed cooking.

“Who gets the solo tent?” Jungkook asked, staring at the four packs on the ground.

“Whoever gets one set up first,” Yoongi responded. Jungkook, Jimin, Hoseok, and Namjoon all jumped for one.

Hoseok had figured the tents out the first year. He’d set up a couple every year since. When he won the tent competition within five minutes, Namjoon wasn’t even mad. Jungkook sat on his knees in the dirt, tent half up, looking almost insulted. He scowled down at the green nylon in his hands, and continued furiously. “Kook, you lost,” Namjoon said. “You can stop.”

He shook his head petulantly.

“He’s not gonna let it defeat him,” Yoongi said. “Alpha competitiveness, remember?”

Jungkook gave a rare growl at shocking odds with his endearing pout, a deep, gruff rumbling in his chest that froze the whole group where they stood. Fifteen feet away by the fire, Taehyung’s knees gave out.

“Hey!” Hoseok yelped. Namjoon, Seokjin, and Yoongi stayed cautiously still as Jimin rushed to help Taehyung up, who brushed him off and stumbled back towards the cars.

Jungkook abruptly dropped his tent and tore off into the trees behind their camping plot. As Hoseok started after him, Seokjin grabbed his arm and gave him a very stern head shake. “Never ever follow an angry alpha,” he whispered. His own father was an alpha. Hoseok listened.

The half-assembled tent flagged sadly in the light breeze through the trees. Off in the woods, Jungkook stood with his hands behind his neck, staring upwards towards the tree-tops. It only took a little while for Taehyung to return to cooking hot dogs cheerfully like nothing had happened. With an odd guilt, Namjoon quietly finished setting up his tent, then got to work on Jungkook’s. They were well into lunch before Jungkook returned. It was Taehyung who handed him his plate, and he sank gratefully onto one of the log benches.

“Thanks for setting up my tent,” he said softly to Namjoon after a few quiet moments.

“No problem,” he said. “Also, it’s our tent now. Yoongi and Seokjin are taking the one I set up.”

Jungkook stared up through his bangs, cheeks bunching up adorably as he chewed. “Wait what? We’re sharing?”

“Jimin and Tae are together and Hoseok got his own, which leaves us.”

Jungkook glanced back at the tent, eyebrows in his hair.

“Oh, don’t act so concerned,” Namjoon said. “I’ve already seen your dick.”

“You’ve WHAT?” Hoseok screeched, head snapping around 180 degrees on his shoulders.

Jungkook suddenly froze and cocked his head to the side, the weird, uneven bulges appearing in his cheeks.

“REPORT?” Hoseok screamed.

Jungkook glared at Namjoon.

“I won’t!” Namjoon yelled. Across the circle, Yoongi caught his eye. “No.”

“Can I just ask when?” Seokjin said innocently.

“This morning when I surprised him just getting out of the shower,” Namjoon said.

“Oh shit, I forgot my shower stuff!” Jungkook said suddenly with alarming fury, then took his hotdog and stormed off for the forest again.

“Bad morning for the baby,” Seokjin said, watching him go. “First time I’ve ever seen him get mad. He’s got good coping mechanisms usually.”

“He forgot his shower stuff?” Taehyung whined.

“He can use mine,” Namjoon said.

“No, but he uses special scent suppressor stuff,” Taehyung said. “Now he’s gonna smell like...” He took a deep breath, mouth slightly open. “Well, he’s gonna smell fucking incredible, but I’m not happy about that.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over the group, no one sure how to respond.

“Sorry,” Taehyung said.

“No no,” Jimin said, putting down his plate very suddenly like this was a topic he’d been harping on before. “You can talk about this when you want to.”

“Not if you’re all going to stare at me like that,” he said, and pulled out his phone.

Jimin snatched it out of his hand. “We’re not used to it. Get us used to it. We really want to be people you can be open with about this.”

“Yeah!” Yoongi yelped, then reached down and rubbed the ankle Jimin had just kicked. “Christ, I would have said yes without that.”

Taehyung gave Jimin a long-suffering look, but nodded. “It doesn’t quite work like that,” he said.

“Doesn’t work like what? You can’t talk to us?”

“Alphas and omegas have a lot of pressure not to tell betas anything,” Seokjin said through a big mouthful of hotdog. “But when Type people get close to non-type it’s usually helpful to be more open about it. It’s made my family pretty careful about communicating.”

“I want to go swimming,” Taehyung said.

Seokjin gestured at him. “He’s not comfortable sharing. Don’t pressure him.”

Jimin looked the kind of frustrated Namjoon always felt around Type, an almost offended helplessness.

As Namjoon grabbed his swim trunks out of the car, he heard Taehyung and Jimin arguing a little way away from camp.

“—just not the kind of information I share, Jimin.”

“You come to me whenever you’re upset or frustrated and get mad when I can’t help and I don’t know how! I respect that there are different rules, but aren’t betas supposed to fit in this somewhere too? Into the fucking, I don’t know, pack structure or whatever? How am I—how are all of us supposed to treat you and Jungkook well when you won’t tell us anything? And then you yell and hold it against us and we don’t know what we’ve done wrong. Doesn’t that strike you as unfair? When we hurt you, you snap at us even if we don’t know what we’ve done. And Jungkook doesn’t say anything when we hurt him because he thinks he deserves it.”

Namjoon closed the car door as quietly as possible and slunk away, suddenly anxious. How many times had he casually said the wrong thing? How many times had Jungkook taken it without a word?

Though Namjoon invited Jungkook into the tent to change into swim trunks, Jungkook waited until he’d finished to go in and change. He trailed behind on the way to the creek, unusually quiet. Jimin fell back to walk with him. Taehyung seemed his normal, placid self like Jimin hadn’t just blown up at him for keeping his privacy, but the two of them had always argued like siblings, making up easily afterwards.

For almost every day they’d ever spent in this campsite, empty in the fall season, quiet on a Friday when they should have been in class, they’d come down to this creek. Yoongi loved to sit on the bank with just his feet in the water. Jimin and Taehyung skipped stones as far as they could. Seokjin and Hoseok worked on stacking rocks in the mini dam under the swimming hole and slid through the rapids. Namjoon braved the current to the big rock in the middle and sat in the sun.

He was unprepared for the difference Jungkook brought to the ritual, how distracting he became the moment he stood up shivering after diving headlong into the freezing water, body outlined like carved marble by his wet shirt, nipples marking two points in the front as he brushed his hair back off his face. Namjoon’s throat went abruptly dry.

Across the creek, Yoongi and Seokjin looked at each other and raise their eyebrows. Taehyung gave him a long, appraising look and went back to hefting huge rocks into the river with Jimin. Jungkook obliviously bent and started poking along shallows, turning over rocks and trying to find the deep spots, a child exploring.

And the day turned around, Jungkook soaked in cold water and delighted by the rushing current, smelling of forest and creek. Sunlight curtained through the pines. The creek burbled over their cold ankles. Quiet solitude wrapped around each of them like a veil as mountain air swallowed up sound into the rush of water, the steady stillness of rocks.

Jimin and Jungkook started surreptitiously tossing pebbles into Seokjin’s shoes every time they passed.

One-by-one, each person quietly exhausted the magic of the creek until it was just Jungkook upstream, paddling around through the shallows. Then he was on the bank too, lying on his towel with his eyes fluttering shut. The late afternoon sun left the bank and the high trees trapped it like a net.

“Dinner?” Seokjin suggested. They got ten minutes of Seokjin shrieking about the pebbles in his shoes before they headed back.

After showers and dry clothes, another simple meal served by Yoongi and Seokjin, and stories and drinks around the fire, the wind began to rise. Clouds covered the sun even before it set and the forest became oppressively and gloriously lightless. Yoongi leaned forward and made a very compelling argument that one of the greatest luxuries of vacation is an early bedtime, having to speak loud and deep over the wind in the trees and the crackling fire. The other six exhausted college students rushed through toothbrushing and carting garbage to bear-safe receptacles across the campsite and sealing food inside cars.

But Namjoon laid awake long after Jungkook’s flashlight turned off, feeling the wind on the side of the tent and smelling campfire that blended with Jungkook’s scent in a way that made it hard to tell if his lack of scent-suppressing soap made a difference or not. “You awake?” he finally said, barely audible over the rushing air.

“I’m awake,” Jungkook said.

Namjoon rolled onto his side. “Today was messy,” he said to the darkness on the other side of the tent. No response. “After you left during lunch,” he continued cautiously, “Jimin said something to Taehyung. That you shouldn’t stop yourself from talking about, um, being Type. About what that means and when it causes problems. We don’t know what not to say sometimes.”

“I know,” Jungkook said.

“Just…it’s okay if it’s private, but please don’t feel like you shouldn’t let us know if we’ve been insensitive.”

“I don’t want to talk about it most of the time,” Jungkook said.

“Oh?”

“Mm.” Silence followed, and impenetrable darkness, the wild rustle of leaves like a hundred raccoons skittering through the campsite. “I don’t like thinking about it most of the time,” Jungkook said. “It only causes problems. But. If it’s making you guys uncomfortable.”

“It’s not that we’re morbidly curious,” Namjoon said. “I hope you know that. Hoseok’s outburst about your dick size or not—”

Jungkook chuckled.

“We mess up sometimes. Please tell us. Maybe we can be the thing that doesn’t cause problems when you bring it up.” He shuffled a little closer across the hard ground, anxious. “If you just don’t want to have to deal with it from us, that’s fair, but…”

“You want to be supportive. It’s not just that you’re curious,” Jungkook said.

“Yeah! We want to be a safe space for you.”

Jungkook hummed softly in a way that sounded both tired and amused.

“I won’t say we’re not curious too,” Namjoon said, “but that’s not what this is about.”

“I don’t mind if you’re curious,” Jungkook said suddenly, louder now.

“You don’t?”

“I like fun questions. Talking about what it does to my life just makes me frustrated, but if you want to know, like, weird, stupid stuff about it. It’s when people treat it like a taboo subject that I get bothered. I know Tae gets really angry when people ask him about biological stuff, but I don’t care.”

“Aren’t you not supposed to talk about it?”

“I’ve always been kind of shit at Type rules. I’m the only person with Type in my family in at least two generations. The rules don’t really stick with me.”

“Okay. How big is your dick?”

Jungkook barked a laugh, high and sharp. “Nine inches hard.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah. Now don’t tell anyone else. They have to ask me themselves. How big is yours?”

Namjoon smashed his face into the pillow for a moment. “Well, I really don’t want to answer that now.”

“I’m not gonna judge.”

“Like, five?”

“So average.”

“Ugh. Yeah. It might be four and a half.” He clung to the edge of his sleeping back, feeling suddenly too hot. A million horrible, inappropriate questions sat at the tip of his tongue, embarrassment battling the fact that he wouldn’t have the bravery to ask these questions another time. “Are you a virgin?”

“Nope.”

“Really? Who?”

“Two girls from high school. A guy in the music department last semester. All betas.”

Namjoon tried to imagine sweet, quiet Jungkook in bed with someone. The only thing that came to mind went along with the way he clung to Namjoon when they kissed last semester, the whines he made when Namjoon nibbled at his lip. He could only imagine the most chaste, vanilla love-making, something with a lot of handholding and sweet whispering, nothing he’d associate with alphas. “What’s rut like?”

“Oh man,” Jungkook said. “Like having the flu because you’re so feverish and tired, but you also feel compelled to jerk off the whole time.”

Even though Namjoon had never gotten excited about the idea of ruts, he had to laugh at the unsexy, disappointing picture that painted. “Wow that sucks.”

“It’s not great,” Jungkook said. “And it hurts. Well, it’s supposed to be really fun with someone else, but I’ve always done it alone, and then it feels like the world’s worst cold. It’s okay at home with Mom regularly tossing water bottles and bags of food through the cracked door.”

“If you need help next time, I can—” and then realized what that sounded like he was offering, “b-bring you food, and I don’t know, tissues, whatever you need.”

“Tissues?”

“I don’t know!”

Jungkook chuckled quietly. “I’ll definitely take you up on that,” Jungkook said after a charged silence. “I’ve run out of food on, like, the second day before and had to make some really awkward phone calls to the health center. They’re really shit at supporting Type.”

“Aw, really?”

“The nurse is great but she doesn’t have resources.”

“I’ll bring you chocolate and take-out food,” Namjoon said. “Spice it up. And make you tea.”

“Oh, tea,” Jungkook sighed. “I’d love that.”

Namjoon had a million other questions, like what kind of sex he preferred, and if he really didn’t enjoy being dominant, whether he thought his sex preference and everyday interaction preferences crossed over, how he felt around other alphas, but at that moment, Jungkook rolled over and slung an arm across Namjoon’s chest, his chin on Namjoon’s shoulder, feeling an inch away in the dark. “I’d love tea,” he murmured, then seemed to drop right off to sleep.

An owl hooted in the dark somewhere, low and soft under the wind. It could have been just another note on Jungkook’s breathing, so close to his ear. Maybe Jungkook wouldn’t wake if he snored, already buried in the white noise of the forest.

Namjoon braved a cheek against Jungkook’s hair, just brushing the top of his warm head on the pillow where he’d flopped over. The campfire smell turned into a smoother, darker alpha scent up close. He ran a hand over Jungkook’s arm where it crossed his chest, an arm that felt so much larger in the dark than he’d expected, skin so soft it made Namjoon’s heart race.

He drew his hand away, a strange uneasiness stealing over him. What was he doing, getting giddy over sweet Jungkook holding him in his sleep? When had a passive attraction turned into a crush? When had dating alphas become a real option? Even if Jungkook acted needy and content with being the baby, he still had so many instincts that Namjoon knew nothing about.

He'd find out with Chungha. If Chungha felt good, he could think about Jungkook.

Eventually the night pulled Namjoon under, and he woke only for a very short time before dawn. Jungkook had rolled back to his side of the tent, but one hand remained curled around Namjoon’s wrist.

 

.

 

Namjoon devoted his whole Saturday to alternating between long walks in the woods and finishing a novel by the fire. He interrupted the plan for one more trip down to the creek in the early afternoon, but the wind the night before had brought on an early autumn chill. They returned quickly for lukewarm showers under dodgy water pressure in the bathrooms filled with spiderwebs and the smell of old plumbing. Taehyung must have been right about Jungkook’s scent suppressing shower stuff, because his smoky scent travelled with him away from the campfire and filled their tent with a purer intensity than Namjoon was used to.

As Seokjin prepared for dinner, Namjoon pulled his face out of Murakami’s Norwegian Wood with a misplaced feeling of melancholy and saw Taehyung sitting on Hoseok, their folding chair’s canvas seams groaning. Both stared at the ground where Jimin had pulled Jungkook into his lap.

It must have happened a while ago in the usual way when someone dragged Jungkook into physical affection. He usually put up with it for a few happy seconds until his captor got distracted, then wandered off. Jimin had a hand buried in Jungkook’s hair as he lay there across Jimin’s legs, eyes closed, not moving.

“Pretty boy,” Jimin cooed. “Pretty alpha.”

Jungkook grunted softly. Namjoon put his book down and watched as their youngest happily played the part of the group baby the way Taehyung used to.

People often talked about how Types loved to establish “packs,” a somewhat archaic idea about how close bonds with a small group helped both alphas and omegas. Omegas felt protected. Alphas felt protective, self-assured and stabilized with the purpose of responsibility. That certainly applied to Taehyung. His steady need for closeness held the team together. The idea that Jungkook might want to protect them was a little ridiculous, young and quiet as he was. But in the middle of the group, at the center of their affection, he’d never looked so relaxed.

That night in the tent, Namjoon lay on his stomach and let Jungkook show him how good he was at giving hand massages.

“In high school I was in the weightlifting club. We did this a lot,” he said, and dug his thumbs into Namjoon’s palm.

“’s real good.”

“I know, right?” He gently squeezed every part of Namjoon’s fingers, wrist propped carefully against his warm chest. Alpha scent filled the tent, the campfire smell almost muted under the darker tone, but not so sour as to be unpleasant. It still smelled clean, worth breathing in a little and relaxing into.

“Hey Kook, Chungha invited me to see a movie in the basement with her on Sunday when we get back. I said sure. I’m wondering if it’s a date.”

Jungkook’s fingers kept pushing and prodding at Namjoon’s palm long enough for the sound of something moving in the bushes in the distance to distract him. A loud thwack snapped through the tent, followed by a sharp pain in Namjoon’s palm. “Ow! Why’d you flick me?”

“I told you.” Jungkook rolled under Namjoon’s outstretched arm, throwing it over his side to lie there like a casual hug. “So, you’re going on a date with Chungha. Excited?”

“Kind of nervous. Kind of excited. Does she seem like the type to fuck on the first date?”

“Uh huh.”

“Good. Why are you taking this so seriously? I’m just trying it out.”

No sound from Jungkook, no movement but a deep, slow swelling of his ribs, and then a long exhale. “Let me know how it goes,” he said finally.

“Can I get some supportiveness?”

“Get that pussy.”

“Yikes?”

In the dark, Jungkook’s hand wacked Namjoon’s face and fumbled down his neck until it thumped onto his shoulder and held on, and Namjoon couldn’t stop his gasp. “She’s awesome,” Jungkook said. “I hope I’m wrong and it works out for you.”

“That’s not—Nothing needs to ‘work out.’ It’s not gonna be that serious.”

Jungkook’s face had to be so close. When he sighed, Namjoon felt a slight puff of air across his nose. “She’s the kind of alpha…I don’t want to think of you like…She’s so dominant, but you are too, for a beta. I don’t know.”

“You don’t want to think of me like what?”

“Like an—” After a pause, he made an annoyed hissy gurgle in his throat and the hand disappeared from Namjoon’s shoulder. “Forget it. I guess it’s really not my place to be giving you friendly advice. Whatever.”

“It’s not coming off as friendly advice. You don’t want me to be her bitch? What was it?”

“For fuck’s sake. No.”

A single breath of wind fell over the campsite. Jungkook lay absolutely still in the dark, not saying what Namjoon knew he wanted to. The gentle glow of moonlight fell on their tent for a moment as clouds blew past overhead, and Namjoon could just make out the rise of Jungkook’s shoulder as he faced the other side of the tent. Seokjin and Yoongi’s familiar nighttime murmuring came from one tent over, voices clear and quiet in the empty night so Namjoon could hear Seokjin say “if you bothered to match your own socks, this wouldn’t happen.” He huffed, affection making it hard for him to stay tense.

“It’ll be a casual thing,” Namjoon said, cautiously quieter now, not wanting the others to hear. “If we’re not comfortable, we’ll stop. If we are comfortable, I’m still not that interested in, um. Maybe you’re right that I won’t enjoy this, but I want to see if I like it. I dunno. It might give me other options in the future.”

Jungkook rolled onto his back. “Ah” he breathed.

An important piece of conversation hung between them, something sitting right at the front of Namjoon’s skull, in Jungkook’s silence.

The bumpy ground dug into Namjoon’s back, the nylon ceiling close overhead, early fall leaves rustling outside until Jungkook’s soft snores began and a period of stillness filled the darkness. Namjoon faded into an uneasy sleep where he dreamed of Chungha and Jungkook wrapped around each other, lips on lips. He woke feeling strangely desperate.

 

.

 

.

Chapter Text

Namjoon arrived in the basement just an hour after they had dragged their equipment back into the townhouse, campfire smoke still on their clothes. He’d barely had time for a shower and already knew his hair was going to dry into a mess, but had forgotten his hat anyway, and had wasted even more time standing in front of the bathroom mirror, tucking and untucking his dark gray shirt. Weird nerves overtook him somewhere in the rush, and he arrived wondering if he should leave his glasses on, stuff them in his pocket, throw them in the trash, or take out his phone and call the whole thing off.

Jungkook had left him with a last half-assed “good luck” that made Namjoon want to throw something on the floor and mope.

He was ten minutes late, but they hadn’t started the film yet, letting students grab drinks and assemble into groups. Chungha looked up the minute he walked in the door, and her face split into a gorgeous smile. “Jungkook says you like tea in the evening,” she said, and held up a drink.

“I do, thank you.”

She leaned back to give him space to sit down, which made him feel awkwardly big. Her cropped sweater rode up over her tiny waist, mom jeans and ankle boots deceptively demure. Tiny rhinestones flashed under her eyes. Namjoon felt suddenly underdressed. “So camping, huh? Didn’t know you were so outdoorsy.”

“I mean, kind of. I love the outdoors but I can’t stay out there very long. I’ve been missing phone service.”

“No wonder you didn’t return my texts.”

“Ah, sorry.”

“No worries.” She patted his arm. She wore fake nails spiked like little nude-tone claws with a diamond in the center of each one. “Feel free to not text me anytime. I’m completely terrible at responding, so I get it.”

The movie finally began, and Namjoon waited for it, the first move, the hand on his leg, the head on his shoulder, if she’d get closer, if she’d whisper something in his ear. Scene after scene went by that he paid only half his attention to, Chungha’s presence taking up a massive space in the room as her scent cocooned him into feeling small and safe, attentive to her.

She slurped at her Frappuccino and giggled softly, having obviously already seen the movie several times. Every once in a while, she muttered a quick piece of commentary. “This is my favorite scene.” “Of course Valkyrie’s an alpha.” “No omegas in the entire movie, characters or actors. Step it up, Marvel.”

Round about the scene where the Hulk turned back into Bruce Banner, Chungha got up to use the bathroom and throw their empty drinks away. The room seemed to shrink, suddenly full of students with nothing better to do and nowhere better to do it. Then she brought her spicy scent back over and sat down, eyes fixed back on the screen, and the room was a comfortable, interesting place to be again.

As soon as the ending credits started, Chungha turned to the side and dragged her legs up on the couch where they nearly brushed his arm. “How many times have you seen that?”

“I think this was number four.”

“Me too. Favorite scene?”

“Anything with Jeff Goldblum.”

She smiled slowly. “I like when we meet Valkyrie and she drags Thor onto the plane. Wanna go back to my room?”

There it was. Namjoon let out a deep breath, the many hours of the day since waking up to a rock in his side and packing up camp to driving home and rushing through the movie coming to their climax. “Depends. Can I take a nap in your bed?”

“You can do a whole lotta things in my bed if you want,” she murmured, “but sure. If it’s a nap you want, we can nap.”

He gauged that, not sure if he could handle more intensity. “You sure?”

“I’m sure! Namjoon, I would be thrilled to nap with you.”

 

.

 

Chungha’s room was obviously supposed to be well decorated. A pile of throw pillows stuck out of a hamper by the closet. Cute but poorly utilized organizers cluttered her desk. One tapestry hung on a wall and another draped over a chair. Like Jungkook, she had pushed the beds of what was obviously supposed to be a double room together, but didn’t have king size bedding, so the sheets were mismatched and the one closest to the wall was lofted a foot and a half higher than the other. Pillows lined the gap between the two to give the lower bed a surface to lean on.

“Oh shit,” she said as she opened the door. “I forgot it was such a mess in here.”

Out on the landing, Namjoon could still smell the Jungkook’s wood smoke scent about the suite, but it disappeared as he entered Chungha’s room. She closed the door behind them and stood there. “Netflix and chill?” she said.

They ended up watching YouTube videos while sitting on the lower bed and leaning against the higher one like a couch. Her computer kept Namjoon’s thighs prickly and hot. Her chest rested against his shoulder, the spicy scent sinking him deeper and deeper into the blankets. She threw her leg over his. Up close, her big eyes sparkled, high cheekbones and big lips tantalizingly close, the enchanting little sound of her laugh making him feel so gratified, so proud to be there, the object of her attention. The way alphas drew people in.

Jungkook had said betas couldn’t feel her dominance, but he could tell already he’d have trouble disobeying her. That proud chin and calculating stare had him anxious to please, to hold the computer perfectly steady and match her humor. He tamped down his defensive reluctance to be admired by alphas and soaked it up.

“Have you ever been with an alpha before?” Chungha asked

“No.”

She rubbed a palm across the top of his chest, teeth between her lip, considering. Namjoon kept his mouth shut and waited. “You’re not dumb. You know I wanna bang, right?”

“I know,” he chuckled.

Chungha seemed uncertain for the first time. “Can I make you feel good?” she said.

“I don’t know. Can you?”

She blinked, then snorted and shoved him. “Okay, old man.” She sat up and tossed her computer onto the higher mattress. The cropped sweater followed. Namjoon had a lap full of mom jeans and Chungha’s tiny waist, a lacey, tiny bra over her chest. “You want this or not?” She asked. “Let me know now.”

“I do,” he choked.

She tossed off her bra. Namjoon had one quick view of small, round boobs before she pushed him to lay on the lower bed. Her hair fell in a curtain around his face and her lips pressed down against his.

Namjoon had never felt a kiss like hers. The ex from last year had kissed like a question, kissed like she thought he might not kiss her back. The tiny girl from freshman year had kissed like she had better things to do. His girlfriend in high school had kissed like it was a game to win.

Chungha kissed like she was a privilege. She smirked against his skin, rolled her body to make him feel her curves, feel how light and strong she was. His dick twitched in confusion as if asking him what happened to the usual routine, the soft kisses and chat and foreplay that got him to the point of a girl in his lap with her shirt off and her tongue in his mouth.

Before he could think to go further, could think to even move his hands from her sides, her chest was over his face, the sweet, spicy scent dense on the skin that had been under her clothes. “I know you like these,” she said, shimmying so her tits bounced. Namjoon’s cock throbbed in his jeans.

“Fuck yeah,” he gasped. They fit perfectly in his hands, round and soft, a small weight in his fingers, nipples that gave when he rubbed his thumb over them. Chungha groaned and wiggled. The front of her jeans scratched roughly against his stomach as she rocked down.

“God, I wish you could smell yourself,” she said. “How hard am I making you right now?”

Namjoon’s throat gave up an embarrassing whimper. Chungha pushed her fingers through his hair and tugged it back against the pillow. “So pretty,” she murmured.

That hit something in his brain, something that left his throat empty and his hips twitching, a mental mismatch. Chungha casually pinned one of his hands against the mattress, the one that had been on her chest and had begun to claw uncertainly at the neck of his t-shirt. He tugged at it gently, felt it tighten, let it stay, gripped the back of her thigh with his free-hand to keep himself anchored. It took effort not to kick his feet against the sheets and whine.

“No one’s called you pretty before, have they?” Chungha asked. Namjoon shook his head as much as he could with her hand in his hair.

“But you are!” she laughed. “Those dimples!” She let go of his hair and wrist, and he lay there as she’d left him, a little relieved and a little disappointed. “Oh yeah,” she said with a smirk, hand on the front of his jeans. “Does it hurt?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Ooh, Can I help?”

“Sure?”

She popped the fly and the zipper in a quick motion and reached quickly inside his pants. He jumped, overwhelmed. “So cute,” she giggled.

“Cute how?” he whined, embarrassingly breathless.

“Open your eyes,” she said. He’d been squeezing them shut, just lying on his back with his arms by his head, most of his clothes still on, panting and whimpering. He forced his eyes open and found Chungha’s beautiful smiling face staring up at him with a grin, her little hand wrapped tight around his cock where it stuck out of his jeans. His vision blurred, probably with sweat or tears, and his head thumped back onto the pillow. “You doing okay?” she asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“Can I sit on your cock?”

“Uh, duh.”

She threw her head back and really laughed out loud, then rolled off the bed and nearly fell over.

He sat up. “Oh shit, you okay?”

“I always forget how goddamn tall I lofted these beds,” she grumbled, wrestling with the button on her jeans with one hand and her dresser drawer with the other, not getting very far with either. “You can take your clothes off if you want, by the way.”

The jeans were beginning to get rather sweaty. Namjoon pulled them off with his underwear, but hadn’t gotten anywhere with his shirt yet when Chungha grabbed his dick again, condom already between her long fingers. “Don’t want to scare you off now,” she mumbled, focused on the condom and lube in her hand, “but have you ever done any butt stuff?”

“One girl I dated last year kept mentioning she liked it, but we never got the right lube for her so we never tried. I was kind of into the idea.”

Chungha glanced up sheepishly. “I see.”

“Oh, you meant on me.”

She gave him a guilty little smile, distracting with a handful of lube on his cock. Naked Chungha was definitely doing a number on his brain. She looked even smaller without her clothes, even more delicate, but a svelte musculature flexed under her skin. The little swell of her ass kept calling his eyes. “Well, if you haven’t even thought about it, I’m not going to push you. Forget I asked.”

She hoisted herself back up on the bed and pressed him back into the sheets. “Hang on, sweetheart,” she purred, and lined herself up.

“I could be con-convinced—ah!”

She sank down slowly, and for ten long, wonderful seconds, neither of them spoke as heat enveloped the length of Namjoon’s cock. “So, you have thought about it?” she said.

“With the way Yoongi waxes on about having a dick up his ass?” Namjoon said. “It’d be hard not to.”

“Oh my god, that’s amazing,” she said. “But he’s so reserved!”

Namjoon could barely breathe, could barely open his eyes wide enough to see Chungha’s cute tits jiggling as she moved in little circles to feel Namjoon’s length. “Seokjin’s the reserved one. Yoongi has no filter after a couple cups of coffee.”

“Girthy,” she said contemplatively. “Seokjin’s a real cutie. So’s Yoongi.”

“Do you just think everyone’s cute?” he said.

Chungha began to roll forward and back, perfect dancer body waves that rocked right through his center. “A lot of people, yeah,” she said.

Namjoon nodded since his brain struggled harder for every response, pleasure already building like a steady fire. Chungha’s fingers left a ticklish path on his chest as she pushed his t-shirt up, taking advantage of the tensing arc of his back to get it all the way under his armpits.

Namjoon wasn’t quite self-conscious of his body, not minding that people look, but not thinking there was really anything to see. Chungha’s thumb ran slowly along the underside of his pec, tracing the little line there and a curl of self-consciousness wormed its way into his head. “I’m not exactly Jungkook,” he said.

Chungha just groaned. Namjoon blinked up in surprise to see her looking almost stricken, mouth wide open and eyebrows pulled up as she worked faster and harder. The little points of her nails trailed up the center of his chest and under his chin. The responding pulse and ache from Namjoon’s dick left him squirming.

“Is this gonna be fast?” Chungha asked, eyes lighting up.

“Nuh-uh,” Namjoon grunted, trying to tamp it down.

She pinched on of his nipples and nearly got bucked completely off. “I do not mind fast,” she said, when he had settled restlessly back down. “Not at all.”

“Whu—”

At that moment, Chungha leaned down and lightly bit the nipple she’d just pinched. Namjoon seized both her shoulders. He rocked up into her, felt her bounce on his lap, and wondered why he hadn’t been doing that all along. On her next roll, he thrust to meet her. She made a surprised little noise.

“You wanna fuck me?” she growled lowly.

“Uh, yeah?”

She pushed up out of his grip, hands pinning his chest down, and propped herself up a little way above him. Namjoon paused, unsure. “Fuck me, baby,” she said, grinning.

Namjoon set the pace fast and rough, but could only go for so long before he had to tug her down and lick into her mouth. She followed with another gasp of surprise, then another hand buried in his hair, pulling his head back, making his rhythm stutter. Her mouth trailed down his neck and bit his shoulder. Her scent wafted cozy and dark through the room in a way that made his head spin, made his limbs weak. Slowly, he let her take control of the rhythm.

He did come quickly, pulsing into the condom as he watched her tease her own nipple, one of his hands trapped in hers and the other back on her thigh. He barely had time to come down before her knees landed on either side of his face and her wet pussy brushed his chin, her scent suddenly strong enough to make his eyes water. He moaned, gasping it in. “I’m nearly there,” she said. He wrapped an arm around her thigh and tugged her to his face.

Chungha was not the passive recipient he’d gotten from most other girls. She didn’t stay still and let him get the job done. She grinded against his lips. “Tongue out,” she coaxed, tapping his nose. He struggled to get enough breath, head fuzzy in the best way. The sensitivity from his orgasm gave him shivers with every drip of slick down his cheeks, every squeeze of her thighs against his jaw. The hand in his hair pushed his neck back at a harsh angle, but Chungha trembled and gasped, struggling to get there.

He wiggled two fingers up right by his chin and pushed them inside of her, all that heat and wetness dripping down his fingers. Chungha stilled, finally, and let him get to work with his tongue, flicking back and forth steadily right where she’d feel it the most. “Fuck!” she yelped. One of her hands slammed into the wall. Her gasping breaths cut off. All the muscles around his fingers pulsed painfully tight for a few shaky, shivery seconds. With a final, shaky grind, she pulled off.

She flopped onto mattress beside him, black hair graceful on her arms, sticking to her forehead. Her legs lay shamelessly open, pussy dark and wet. Namjoon blinked sleepily at her swollen nipples and the smooth lines of her waist. Any minute, he’d have to get out of bed and get something to clean them up, get some water. He smashed his head into the pillow and let his limbs feel painfully heavy.

“You’re good,” Chungha finally said, conspiratorially, like a secret. “I should fuck tops more often. You really know how to use that.” She gave the head of his dick a quick squeeze that sent a sharp tingle right up through the rest of his body. He jumped. “Got a lot of practice with butterfly tattoo girl?”

“Why does everyone call her that?”

“That’s what I’ve heard Hoseok and Jimin call her.” The bed dipped as she slid across him like a gymnast and sauntered naked through her room, digging for towels. “Water bottle,” she said and tossed one at him. He fumbled and nearly dropped it on his dick, which reminded him that he was missing pants but still had his shirt bunched up under his arms. He sat up slowly, taking stock of the residual light-headedness, how numb and damp he felt.

“You always top?” he asked.

Chungha gave him a weird look. “Yeah?”

“Never tried bottoming?”

“Dude, I’m an alpha,” she laughed.

“Right. I mean, I wouldn’t usually consider bottoming either, you know.”

She shook her head. “Don’t think there’s any way I’d enjoy that. Letting someone else take control gets me a little…” She squinted and stilled, staring off into space for a minute. Her scent intensified in the room. “On edge. Which isn’t sexy. But how about you? You ever try bottoming?”

“Like once, before this. With the ex. We both hated it.”

She looked impressed. “You made the switch well. I’ll try to keep things neutral for you.”

Namjoon shuffled around on the bed, trying to find a position where his lack of pants wasn’t awkwardly obvious under his shirt, the exposure worse like this than it would have been if he were fully naked. He pulled off his shirt just as Chungha threw his underwear back on his lap.

“Wet wipes,” she said proudly, and started yanking them out of their container. She jammed a handful between her legs and crinkled her nose. “Not the best solution, but I can just throw these in the trash.”

“These are great,” Namjoon said. “My ass is so sweaty.”

“Your ass is real cute,” she said. She bounced up and down a couple times, grinning ear to ear, then wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed. Her foxlike eyes bunched up cutely. The sparkles had slid little off center in her sweat. He carefully peeled one off, just a little, glittery plastic thing on the end of his finger. She gazed up with eyes full of her own personal sparkles.

“They were sliding out of place a bit.”

“Thank you.” Chungha’s voice came out so soft, a genuine gratefulness that caught Namjoon’s heart in a vice. He pulled the other one off, extra careful, knowing that poking her in the eye would be just like him. She was close enough to lean down and kiss again, lips so gentle, hair soft in his hands.

“Ready for that nap?” She murmured.

Namjoon pulled on her arms until she climbed into the bed with him, and then lay back. “Coming makes me so sleepy,” he said.

They lay there for a little while, Chungha sprawled across his chest, enjoying the feeling of skin on skin until Chungha got up to turn off everything but small string of lights over the window. Back in bed, she pulled him onto his side and threw an arm over his shoulder.

“I can’t stay all night,” Namjoon said. The little acrylic claws trailed lightly down his side and made him shiver. “I’ve got class tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll let you go in a minute,” she said. “Can I touch your butt first?”

“Yeah, but you’re going to be really disappointed.”

The little claws brushed tingling over his hip and down, sending a weird, new shivery feeling into his chest. “Oh wow, that’s flat.”

“Uh huh. So flat. I do squats. Nothing works.”

“Squats don’t build ass,” she said. “Try lunges.”

“You know, I don’t mind the flat ass.”

She giggled, giddy against his collarbone and still stroking against his skin. Her hair smelled intensely of her spicy scent, almost burning his nose and making him feel warm and weak. She threw a leg over his, pressed her squishy chest to him, and hugged him close by his shoulders, a too-big ragdoll.

Some prideful part of him resisted, wanted to insist on hugging her back just as tight, on wrapping himself just as protectively around her, to touch her and kiss her, taking as much as she did.

He went limp. He let her touch. The claws built up a quivering sensitivity on his skin, dick tiredly interested. A warmth came over him, heating his cheeks and ears, making his skin prickle, some deep desire itching towards satisfaction. Chungha pinched his nipple and he considered, for a second, asking her to take care of him again and knowing she would.

“My dick hurts,” he whined. “Next time.”

Chungha kissed the tip of his nose. “Whatever you want, baby. You beautiful, wonderful, sexy, smart man.”

On the way out, Namjoon caught Jungkook coming out of the kitchen with instant ramen. “How was it?” he said.

“Not bad,” Namjoon said. “7/10, kinda weird, would definitely do it again. Weren’t you going to hang out with the other guys?”

Jungkook huffed out a half-hearted chuckle and shrugged. “Good for you. I heard her a little.” Namjoon’s stomach dropped out. “Sounded like you were doing really well,” Jungkook said, really smirking at him this time. “I guess I’ll be asking her how it went later too.”

Namjoon walked home, a little excited, a little dissatisfied, thinking more of Jungkook than of Chungha.

 

.

 

Halfway through dinner prep with Hoseok in his kitchen, Namjoon caught a whiff of Taehyung’s floral scent, followed by something warm and sweet like vanilla. Taeyong entered the kitchen, presence unmistakably omega from the sleepiness in his large eyes to his gentle voice. His cheeks and neck glowed red with warmth, and Namjoon guessed he’d just been upstairs cuddling with Taehyung the way omegas did with others they were close with.

“Tae and I wanted to make dinner,” he said shyly. “When will you guys be done?”

“Did you have anything specific you wanted?” Hoseok said. “I’m making chicken and pesto pasta. I could just double the recipe and make enough for the four of us.”

“Could you? Thanks so much. I’d love that.” He retreated back upstairs.

Taehyung came downstairs a little later wearing his silk pajamas. He attached himself to Hoseok’s back as he fried the chicken and gave the back of both his ears a kiss. “Thanks for the food.”

“Eek! N-no problem!”

By the time the plates got to the dinner table, Taehyung and Taeyong were sitting there, mostly awake, ranting about an alpha named Michael who catcalled omegas and then followed them a little way, still shouting. Namjoon realized there was no way it wasn’t the same Michael he’d run into in Jungkook’s dorm a few weeks before, the one who pretended Namjoon didn’t exist until he figured out who Namjoon’s ex-girlfriend was.

“It’s such a small campus,” Taehyung said. “He does this to me at least once a week. If the school is doing anything about it, they’re taking a long ass time.”

Taeyong grumbled. “The school is doing something but they’ve got to go through all these loopholes protecting Type people from being targeted by sex policies that aren’t meant for them. And he’s the star football player. There’s also that. They’re dragging their feet 'til the season ends.”

“That won’t be for weeks,” Hoseok said.

“This happens every goddamn year,” Taehyung said. “Just because he’s never been accused of actually assaulting someone doesn’t mean this shit isn’t harmful. It gives other alphas the idea that there are no limits to how they can treat omegas.”

“He’s the alpha poster boy of campus,” Taeyong said. “If they take this as far as they reasonably need to take it, it’ll make the campus look like it’s unwelcoming for alphas, then funding for the Type programs go down, and Type admission rates go down, and donors get mad.”

“Tokenism,” Taehyung said. “He should not be representing alphas on this campus. He’s a shit example of one.”

“I don’t know. He’s a good example of most of them.”

The omegas focused on their food for a little while. Hoseok and Namjoon ate slowly and quietly.

“Not Jungkook,” Taehyung said eventually.

“Not Jungkook,” Taeyong agreed.

“What about Chungha?” Namjoon said.

They both looked up at him, expressions cautious. “What about her?” Taeyong said.

“Is she, like, good to omegas or not? Is she a shitty alpha?”

“She’s fine,” Taeyong said. “I don’t know her very well. She plays the field a bit, which has hurt some feelings in the past, but she’s perfectly respectful.”

“I went on a date with her the other night.”

A grin flashed across Taehyung’s face. “Oh? Did she give you the strap?”

Namjoon nearly spit his pasta out. He shook his head wildly and then started coughing.

“What’s wrong with getting strapped?” Taehyung asked innocently. “It’s not so bad.”

The back door opened just as Namjoon said, “That’s just a very direct and personal question.”

“What is?” Jungkook asked as he followed Jimin in through the back door.

“I just asked Namjoon if Chungha gave him the strap,” Taehyung said. Namjoon’s cheeks flamed.

“Not yet,” Jungkook said, grinning down at Namjoon hiding his face in a paper towel. “She really wants to though. Be sure to clean up the next time she wants you over.” Even as he talked, his eyes kept drifting sideways towards Taeyong. “Good to see you,” he said, much softer.

“You too.” They gave each other an awkward nod. Jungkook shuffled into a chair between Taeyong and Namjoon.

“You and Chungha been talking about how hot I am when I’m not there?” Namjoon said, meaning to fluster him.

Jungkook just nodded and Namjoon felt himself flushing.

Hoseok made a squashed laughing sound.

“What did we interrupt?” Jimin asked.

“We were talking about the shittiest asshole alpha on campus,” Taehyung said.

“Michael?” Jungkook asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“Fucker,” Jungkook grumbled. “He lives in my suite.”

The group hissed sympathetically and then fell silent. The omegas looked darkly angry, the others a little awkward.

“Is that the one Chungha’s always making fun of?” Namjoon asked.

“No, that’s the one across the hall. Michael lives in the room next to hers. None of us mess with him.”

“Why not?” Taehyung asked. “The only people on the planet he’ll listen to are other alphas. Why aren’t you guys giving him shit for what he does? He’s making the rest of you look bad.”

Jungkook shrugged, then realized that wouldn’t be good enough. “A lot of the other alphas respect him,” he said. “And the rest of us…I guess we’re scared.”

“Oh, you’re scared?” Taehyung snapped. “How do you think we feel when he—”

“No offense,” Jungkook said, “but I doubt he’s ever threatened to rip you apart with a broken bottle. And he’s big. And he’ll do it. And the university doesn’t like to take sides in alpha fights so he could probably get away with it.”

Taehyung glared at the table. Taeyong just looked sad. Namjoon felt an intense relief that he hadn’t been born an alpha or an omega.

“Have you thought about reporting him?” Hoseok said. “That’s, like, an arrest-able threat, I think.”

“Then the school will put even more rules and restrictions on us and the rest of the alphas will have it out for me,” Jungkook said. “I’m not saying a word.”

Taehyung tossed his fork onto his empty plate with a clatter. “Maybe you all need more rules and restrictions if one alpha can get away with sexually harassing every fucking omega on campus in broad daylight every day for weeks.”

Jungkook stared down at his lap and didn’t answer.

“The school’s disciplinary board should be the ones taking care of it anyway,” Jimin said into the silence. “That’s the problem. Not the restrictions, because basic stuff like ‘don’t fucking harass people’ should be enough. Too bad a bunch of the disciplinary board are sports coaches.”

Taeyong quietly started collecting plates and taking them into the kitchen to wash. Taehyung crossed his arms and stared pitilessly at Jungkook’s fidgeting. Jimin shuffled by the back door. As the sink began to run, Jungkook finally picked his head up. “Sorry,” he said softly to Taehyung, who sighed and headed into the kitchen to help Taeyong with the dishes. Jungkook looked momentarily hurt, then bitter. He stood and walked back out the back door with a little “See you later, guys,” and disappeared.

 

.

 

Chungha fetched Namjoon from the sound studio a day or two later, showing up in high-waisted shorts, combat boots, and a sequined crop top with a strangely conservative neckline. She lay on the couch and watched him finish up his shift, then led him on a long walk into town for dinner where she’d reserved a table at the only nice restaurant.

She didn’t have much to say about Michael. “He’s a dangerous twat and I hope he gets what’s coming to him,” she said breezily. “Won’t be coming from me though. I’m fucking tiny. Do you want a bite of my steak?”

Taeyong, she found far more interesting. “We’re both on dance team,” she said. “We’re in the same year, we’re both communications majors. I’ve had a ton of classes with him and I’ve done a group project with him. We’ve shared changing rooms, done dances and shows and stuff together. I do not know him at all. And not for lack of trying. I’ve tried to open up that friendship.”

“Shy?” Namjoon guessed. “Wary around alphas?”

She shrugged. “He definitely knows how gorgeous he is. I’m not sure if he knows about how many alphas on campus are desperate to get with him, but he’s so cautious that I think he might have an idea.”

“He’s that popular?”

Chungha had to put her silverware down to express with her hands. “You have no idea. He is the omega. The. Guy. He’s more beautiful than any magazine model I’ve ever seen. He’s so soft. He’s perfect. There are rumors that he can cook well, that he’s an angel in bed, that he can pole-dance, which I doubt because he’s fucking scrawny and he cannot do lifts for the life of him. Everyone wants him. And the way he smells! Holy shit. You would not believe. He’s every alpha’s perfect wet dream.”

“And you?” Namjoon said.

It would have been an easy place to go in for a tease about jealousy, but Chungha took the question seriously. “I’m only human,” she mused. “Like, I’d be thrilled to have a chance with him. At this point though, I kind of just want to protect him. I don’t think he’s interested in me, but the way alphas talk about him.” She shrugged. “Even if he never gave me the time of day, I pretend we’re friends so I can tell other alphas to back off. He seems like a great dude. He can’t help that he’s like that. You know, perfect.”

“Right,” Namjoon said.

“Part of me hopes no alpha ever gets him because no one’s good enough for him, but I don’t want to wish that he never finds someone.”

“Well, what if it’s a beta?”

She stopped eating for a minute to look guilty and laughed at herself. “Right. Could be a beta. I’m sure he’ll find someone. Sorry about that. Hurts my alpha ego to think someone like him would be satisfied with that, but that’s really not fair. That’s totally possible and he’d be perfectly happy.”

They both ate quietly for a little while, lost in thought, Namjoon feeling bothered. Would be satisfied with that. With someone like him.

“Taehyung’s kind of the same,” Chungha said through a mouthful of steak. “I guess I shouldn’t be telling you all this but I really don’t give a shit about what alphas think betas are supposed to know. Taehyung’s another prime alpha target in this school. Not as much as Taeyong, but he’s in a similar category. Being so close with all of you plus Jungkook keeps alphas off his tail pretty well. Helps Jungkook’s reputation too.”

It seemed suddenly odd that Jungkook had never brought any of it up before.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Jungkook doesn’t know,” Chungha said. “He’s not friends with most of us. He doesn’t hear the talk. They say he’s a lone wolf.”

“I think he has a pack,” Namjoon said.

She nodded, eyes twinkling. “I think you’re exactly right. He’s something special. He’s also clueless. I’m glad he has a pack because he doesn’t do the competition thing. I respect that, but not many people do. He’s stronger than they think. But he’s also a pretty low-tier alpha. If he didn’t come home smelling like you guys he’d probably have a really hard time.”

Back in Chungha’s dorm, they stripped down to their underwear and lay in bed, chatting about school with their clothes off, comfortable and quiet, enveloped in the scent of alpha. Chungha’s fingers walked all over his skin, nails natural but well-manicured, tracing patterns more softly against his arms, neck, back, thighs, ass.

She pulled and stroked at the little bit of squish there, squeezing until he felt cool air along the hot inner seam of his ass cheeks and down to his balls. He shuddered, gasped in her spicy scent. She bit his neck playfully and ran the hand over his thighs and back up where his muscles clenched reflexively. His dick filled slowly.

“You really like my ass that much?” he said.

“Butts are great,” she giggled. “Even the little ones. You’re okay with this?”

“Feels good,” he sighed, completely truthful, completely calm, enjoying every moment of lying passively while she teased and made him sensitive. When he was finally fully hard just from her hand trailing over his ass and thighs, she pushed a condom onto his cock.

He lay there, limp as a cooked noodle, and let her play. She seemed content to rub the head of his cock across her clit and roll his balls in her hand until he was a shaking, gasping mess, and only then guided him inside of her.

After a few minutes of steady friction on his cock, the bottle of lube clicked open and shut. “Can I finger you?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Can you?”

She tucked his dick between her legs to keep it there while she used both hands on the lube bottle. “That’s a yes, right?” she said.

“Yeah, please.”

She lifted his leg and moved him onto his side, then reached back with a wet finger and slowly circled, circled, pushed just a little. She hummed and shushed and let him relax. For a while, he felt tense and strange, cock interested but body not sure why until a little spot of sensitivity woke quickly under her finger and sent lovely aching pulses shivering down to his fingertips.

After hearing Yoongi and Seokjin describe in excruciating detail the feeling of butt stuff so many times, to feel it himself felt almost inevitable, something he should have tried years ago, yet also somehow someone else’s experience not intended for him.

She seemed to give up patience eventually, pulling out and rolling him onto his back to push his cock inside her.

“Slow,” she murmured, so he let her lead.

“You really want to try this bottoming thing, don’t you?” Chungha said. He couldn’t speak around her fingers in his mouth, but hoped she understood when he moaned. He hadn’t opened his eyes fully in what seemed like hours, hadn’t stopped gasping and shaking since her finger first went into him, felt like an orgasm any time in the next six hours would come too soon.

She worked him to release eventually, a wonderfully long and slow one, and pinned his head to the mattress with her hips again. She held as still as possible as he worked his tongue and lips over her and then washed him up and helped him dress. The talked about the new girls at the radio, the underclassmen with the crush on Jimin. They talked about music. They talked about how Namjoon wasn’t sure how he’d feel about this in the morning.

“I’ve been there,” she said. “I get it.”

Namjoon left Chungha still naked in her bed, dropping off to sleep as he pulled his shoes on. He stumbled through the dark, making it to the bottom of the stairs where Jungkook’s scent hung heavily around the door to his room. He paused there to lean on the wall, body aching with tiredness. He could just lie down on a couch in this living room. He could walk right back up to Chungha’s room and sleep there.

It was as if Jungkook’s scent was a net, keeping his tired brain captive, body still humming with submission.

The door opened. “I can smell you out here,” Jungkook said, standing there in a thin shirt and boxers. “Are you okay?”

“Fine. Tired. I’ve got to go back to my dorm. I have class tomorrow.”

“Let me walk you back.”

“It’s fine.”

“It’s not far.”

“I don’t need it.”

“I want to. Let me put on some pants.”

They stumbled down the stairs together to the main floor of the academic building and out into the cool autumn. Jungkook brushed his long hair out of his eyes and shoved his hands in his hoodie pocket, caught somewhere between cute and tough.

“So you tried bottoming?”

“Kind of. It was still pretty neutral. But I guess I tried…submitting a little.”

“It’s different,” Jungkook said.

“I guess.”

“Makes you feel a different way. Fills a different kind of desire. Makes you cum a different way.”

“You’ve tried it?”

“I prefer it.”

They walked a little in silence, Namjoon’s heart thudding under his shirt. “I’m not a great alpha,” Jungkook said, “but alphas don’t actually have a biological imperative to prefer being dominant during sex, you know. It’s more of a social thing. I happen to get more out of trusting people and giving up control than continuing to try to maintain it, you know? Like, I enjoy both, but one feels more special to me.”

“Oh,” Namjoon said softly. “That makes sense.”

“If you like it, you like it,” Jungkook muttered. “You don’t have to explain your preferences to yourself or anyone else if you don’t want to.”

“Thank you,” Namjoon said. The weird shift he’d been feeling since Chungha got his clothes off settled into place. The world returned to normal, every lamppost looking like every lamppost from every other night he’d walked home after sex. This was no different. If you like it, you like it.

“It feels weird the first time, right?” Jungkook said. “Like you have to reexamine pieces of yourself, even if you don’t.” They’d come nearly to the door.

“What was your first time?” Namjoon said.

Jungkook’s messy hair blew in his eyes, he walked with his chin up and his gaze far away. The moment felt sacred, an alpha opening up the way alphas weren’t supposed to, just for Namjoon, just for this moonlit night. “During my last year of high school there was this girl who really loved fighting during sex. Pulling hair and biting and wrestling. One day I just let her win. We both liked it, so that’s what we did for the rest of the year. The thrill of the fighting wore off and we stopped, but I know I like having someone else in charge now.”

Namjoon stood in his doorway, one hand on the doorknob, not turning it. Jungkook stood on the mat two feet away. The ghost of Chungha’s hands lay on Namjoon’s thighs, across his stomach, along his jaw, her lips on his chest. Jungkook stepped suddenly close. Namjoon always forgot Jungkook was shorter than him. Wood smoke with sharp undertones filled his nose. He tilted his head up, lips inches away, breath quick, eyes wide, exactly how he had been when he kissed Namjoon after finals week with Tequila on his breath.

“Don’t forget about me,” he breathed.

 

.

 

Fall took its time to fully set in. The first orange trees dropped all their leaves before most of the rest of them had even begun to brown. Summer lingered on through half of campus, winter besetting the rest. The first new recruits for campus radio began to drop the program as they did every year.

Hani shrugged. “This is around the time of year where many first-years realize their grades are much harder to maintain here than they were in high school, and also much more important. And the lack of sleep is starting to catch up with them, so they have to decide what to drop.”

“Flakes,” said Heechul. Taemin and Jimin sat at the headphones, having a quiet, giggly conversation and ignoring the meeting behind them. “Give us your State of the Radio Address, Namjoon. Let’s hear it.”

“Despite half the people who signed up either dropping or never showing up for training in the first place,” Namjoon said, “we have an abundance of volunteers. I have never had so few hours since I first started on radio. We may have to chase some off soon.”

Heechul nodded. “I’ll make a list. Taemin goes first.”

Taemin gave him a dirty look over his shoulder.

“They’ve all been very competent. We’ve had very few missed shifts and very few mistakes. The ratio of men to women is closer than it’s been since I started coming here. I think we have Jimin to thank for that.”

Jimin gave them all a pleased smirk, never breaking his chatter with Taemin.

“We get a few fan letters a week from the prison up to road. Some stand-out newcomers are Chungha, Yves, and Haseul. Moving up the ranks are Seokjin, Jungkook, and Mark, whose kpop hour on Tuesday mornings is surprisingly popular. Yoongi is slacking off, but I think we can give him a break after everything he went through last year. Hoseok and Jimin are currently on hiatus due to dance season picking up.”

“What about Jimin attracting a bunch of women?”

“All the underclassmen girls signed up because of him.”

Heechul sat forward. “No, they signed up because I recruited them at ACC.”

“Nope,” Hani muttered.

Heechul threw his stack of meeting notes on the floor and pouted.

“And what about the drama?” Hani said, scooting her chair closer. She had it turned around and was sitting in it backwards.

“Drama? None so far this year if you don’t count all the girls coming for Jimin.”

“None?” She raised her eyebrows. “What’s this I hear about Taehyung and Jungkook not getting along.”

“They’ve never been very close,” he said. “They had an argument. I think that’s over though.”

“What about Mark and Johnny’s rivalry?”

“Old news. Going strong. They might be fucking.”

She narrowed her eyes and inched the chair forward again, the feet making a horrible noise on the carpet. Her hair flapped with each jostle. “I find it interesting that Jungkook and Chungha were both honorable mentions for newbies and up-and-comers, since I hear you’re dating both of them?”

“Wait.”

“BOTH OF THEM, NAMJOON?”

“I’m not dating either of them.”

“Your nights out with her? Hm? Jungkook kissing you at the door to your apartment? All your library dates?”

Jimin and Taemin both spun around in their chairs. Heechul slapped his hands over his face. “I’m sleeping with Chungha,” Namjoon squeaked, “She’s not my girlfriend. And I didn’t kiss Jungkook at the door. We’re study buddies. Where on earth are you hearing these things?”

“Seokjin told me,” Hani said, calming immediately. “Don’t worry, he didn’t say any of that. I just knew I’d get the unabridged truth if I went in with wild accusations. So you’re sleeping with Chungha, huh? Didn’t think she was your kind of thing.”

“Why does everyone think I have a thing?” Namjoon said. “Yoongi said the same thing about Jungkook.”

“Why on earth would he be talking about Jungkook?” Taemin said.

“No, but really,” Heechul said, picking up his meeting notes and shuffling through them. “I made a list. Number one. The tiny girl down the hall your first year who wore flower crowns and Gucci. Number two. The girl who played the guitar by the fountain who got kicked off campus for her coke habit. Number three. That little guy, also a theater major, who always wore his hair in that perfect wave thing. Number four. The girl from town who worked in the crystal and talisman whatever shop. Number five. The most important one. The girl with the butterfly tattoo who ran the Vagina Monologues. The one that called you “big alpha” and made you a school-wide name last year. Are you picking up on my thread?”

“Manic Pixie Dream Girl types,” Hani nodded.

“No!” Namjoon said. “Free spirits! Artistic souls! Tons of baggage, but that’s another story. I’m not like that.”

“Point is,” Heechul said. “We can fit all of those into one category, and both Chungha and Jungkook are in a different one entirely.”

“Can we leave Jungkook out of this?” Namjoon said weakly. “We’ve already established that he’s my study buddy.”

Jimin said “Hm,” in a very doubtful tone.

“Jimin, you’re siding with them?”

“Okay, Chungha,” Hani said. “I guess she kind of fits in with the rest of them. She’s small and wild. I guess I get it.”

“No no,” Heechul said. “Very different. Those were all subs. She’s a dom.”

“You can’t make that a personality trait!” Namjoon said.

“That’s true,” Taemin said. “People always think I’m a sub and that’s getting real old. Stop stereotyping.”

“More to the point,” Jimin said. “All the previous people very much wanted attention and the relationship revolved around you giving them that attention. Chungha isn’t like that at all. I don’t think she cares a bit whether people give her attention or not. She’s in a different league. She’s not going to unload all her problems on you. I think it’s a good thing that you’re raising your standards.”

“Those past people were all fine for booty calls, which is what they were,” Namjoon said. “I didn’t legit date any of the except the one last year. I’m not going to argue that they uplifted me as a person or anything, but I don’t know why you’re comparing all of those with Chungha. And I’m not lifting my standards. I’m trying something different.”

“So you are dating her seriously,” Hani said.

“Wait. No.”

“Knew it,” Jimin said.

“Shame,” Taemin said. “I’d love it if she dicked me down.”

“You know, Taemin,” Heechul said, “Maybe people aren’t stereotyping when they think you’re a sub.”

Namjoon slapped his State of the Radio Address down on the coffee table. “The new schedule is in your emails. Jimin, you better have gotten the minutes. Meeting adjourned.”

 

.

 

On the eve of midterms week, Namjoon picked Chungha up from her room around noon and took her, still groggy and bare-faced, downtown for brunch. She turned heads on the main street with her spicy smell fanning out behind her, fitting right in with the orange trees and crunching leaves, the crispness of the air. Namjoon buried his nose in her hair as they stood in line at the coffee shop and breathed it in. She leaned back against him.

The crammed into a tiny table tucked into the back, holding their coffees and enjoying the atmosphere. “There’s a guy on dance team I really wanna fuck,” she said.

“Is it Taemin?”

She grinned. “It is! How’d you know?”

“I hear him talking to Jimin all the time. He wants you to fuck him.”

“How convenient,” she said into her coffee, perfectly pleased. She took a long sip. “I wasn’t thinking we were exclusive,” she said, “but I’m not going to do it without talking to you first.”

“Feel free,” he said. “I didn’t think we were exclusive either. I think that’ll be a fun match.”

She thanked him and sleepily drank her coffee until the barista called their order and she went to get their food. “If you ever want to become exclusive,” she started, and then stopped, thinking. “We’ll need to talk about it, I guess. It’s not something I’m used to.”

“Me either. That suits me,” he said. “If I decided that’s what I wanted, you’re not sure that you’d want it too, right?”

She nodded. “I do love what we have right now,” she said. “I’m not going to just give that up to fuck around, but I also love having options, and I’m not sure I’d give that up yet. Like, it’s only been, what, a month?”

“No need to decide on anything now,” he said.

Chungha nodded. “You’re a great dude, Namjoon. I’m honored to have you around. For now.”

On the way home, they found a place where someone had piled deep drifts of crunchy, browning leaves right by the curb, full of gumballs and snails, crackling and scraping in the best way. Chungha made them lay down in it and watched flocks of starlings drift like the arrows of a legion of archers, dancing and turning. She didn’t say a word.

Namjoon could see why Hani would align Chungha with all the other people he’d slept with, a little quirky and a little free-spirited. Jimin and Heechul were right too. Where previous partners would be on top of him now, demanding that he engage, wanting the moment to be about them, Chungha closed her eyes and lay for a long while, scratching her nose, humming, running her hands through the leaves. In a different league. Didn’t care at all if Namjoon gave her attention or not.

If he would ever consider being exclusive with her, Namjoon supposed, he’d want her to want him a bit more, a bit harder, a bit more dearly. The alpha scent that drew him in felt like a pleasant new touch. The way she took care of him without asking was something he could happily get used to. But the way she didn’t seem to care about his attention kept him thinking back to a certain set of desperate lips, Jungkook’s sleepy eyes soft on the doorstep as he stood so close, the perfect mix of wanting and inviting. Maybe Namjoon had always wanted attention just as much as the people that wanted it from him.

 

.

 

.

Chapter Text

On the last day before fall break, Namjoon came home from his painfully un-cancelled night class to find Taehyung tiredly loading their bags into the back of his car. “How was class?” he asked.

“Half-empty and full of angry students.”

Taehyung followed Namjoon back inside and wedged him against the wall with his shoulders, pressing insistently. “Okay,” Namjoon murmured. He wrapped his arms around Taehyung’s waist and squeezed him close. Taehyung breathed deep and slow against Namjoon’s hair, something unravelling in his core until his weight sagged into Namjoon’s lungs. “Wanna talk about it?” Namjoon huffed out.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Taehyung groaned. “Interesting lecture. Good discussion. The only people left were the people who actually care about the class.” He rested his cheek against Namjoon’s shoulder and held still as Namjoon rubbed his back. The clock by the kitchen showed 10:07, then 10:08. 10:09. Namjoon nuzzled with concern at Taehyung’s ear.

“We can go in a minute,” Taehyung promised. “I was a bit of a mess even before Jimin left this morning. I need this before I can drive anywhere.”

“You’ll see him in a few hours,” Namjoon said.

“We really should have ditched class and gone with the others.”

“Sorry I can’t drive.”

The soft brush of Taehyung’s lips lingered on the edge of Namjoon’s jaw. He finally shifted away and let Namjoon wander upstairs to throw the rest of the homework he needed into his backpack.

The three hours to Seokjin’s house in upstate New York drifted by in the rush of mountain highway and autumn moonlight. Taehyung’s car roasted comfortably and made Namjoon forget the chill of the night outside. Every so often Taehyung’s deep voice stirred him as he crooned along to something on his playlist. Anyone else would have turned their music all the way up the minute they got in the car, but Taehyung knew what they needed that time of night. Out of the seven of them, they enjoyed silence most.

The rest of the boys were barely up when they arrived, awake enough to take all the bags out of their arms when they pulled up at the edge of the long driveway, a house at the top of a hill. The neighborhood disappeared into wooded plots and darkness around them, but Namjoon had caught glances of the stately old homes as they wound up through the silent suburb. A huge old oak as big as the house itself spread from the lawn in the center of the round driveway, and the house towered warmly in the arms of old conifers.

“We put you and Jungkook together in the guest room,” Seokjin said. “Hoseok, Taehyung, and Jimin got the attic.”

“Aw, I like that attic,” Namjoon said.

“You can visit anytime,” Taehyung said. “Both of you. Come sleep with us if you want.”

Jungkook stammered his thanks. Seokjin’s younger brother stood right at his elbow, taller than Namjoon remembered, face a little sharper. “Hey Yeonjun,” Namjoon said. “How’s high school?”

Yeonjun’s face split into a grin. “I haven’t slept a full eight hours in days.”

Namjoon nodded solemnly. “It doesn’t get any better.”

“Speaking of,” Seokjin grumbled. “Let’s get to bed.”

Every minute of the past week had been a step in a marathon. The three-hour car ride through the quiet darkness still filled Namjoon’s ears like water. He stumbled behind Yoongi through the cavernous great room, up a wide wooden staircase, and down an ornately carpeted hall to the high-ceilinged guest room with canopied four-poster and en-suite bathroom that had become so familiar over the last three years.

“Goodnight you two,” Yoongi said on the way out. “Spare lube is under the sink.”

Jungkook grunted in protest, but was already climbing into bed, still in his hoodie in the drafty house. Namjoon could barely keep his eyes open as he brushed his teeth.

In the dark, just before Namjoon fell asleep, Jungkook rolled over behind him and an arm fell across Namjoon’s side, followed by Jungkook’s breath on the back of his head, just the gentlest contact between their bodies. Nothing new. Something Taehyung insisted on whenever he shared a bed with anyone, a position Namjoon had been in a hundred times, not dissimilar from how they’d snuggled during camping.

It was not enough to shake Namjoon awake. Pure calm and comfort flooding over him in a wave that crashed and pulled him under into sleep.

 

Unbearable coldness woke him, a deep chill stretching up his arms and legs and stinging his ears. He kicked around for the blankets and felt a mound piled over his feet, weight spilling off the bed. He could bear it. Sleep would come again and he’d forget about it.

It didn’t work. He lay and shivered until his brain had shaken itself awake enough for him to open his eyes. The dimmest gray of predawn lit the windows, cool in the frothy curtains. A wonderful, cozy campfire smell filled the whole room. All the blankets seemed to have been jammed down by the footboard, the dark blue of Jungkook’s hoodie draped over the edge.

Jungkook had crunched himself into a snail-like ball on the other side of the bed, legs of his pants rolled up and shirt shucked halfway up his stomach. Whatever heat had evidently made him throw the blankets off had left him. Namjoon heaved the blankets back on the bed, threw the sheet and mid-layer blanket on Jungkook, and took the rest of the pile for himself. Cozy as bread just entering a toaster, he dropped back to sleep.

 

Since Seokjin’s first fall break, the Kim house had seen him return with friends: a small, gruff man the first break, then a gangly loud one and a clumsy tall one for a brief couple of days in winter, then again in spring. On a weekend early sophomore year, the house had been the only soul around when Seokjin first tenderly kissed Yoongi on a weathered picnic blanket, and Yoongi had promptly rolled over and cried for no reason he could figure out.

Two new boys joined that fall break, one petite and delicately fierce, the other a tall, gorgeous omega. Throughout the year, they bounced from room to room, getting cozier and snugglier with each visit. It wasn’t only Yoongi and Seokjin cuddled up on the couch by the fire. Everyone curled into each other’s laps, warmth between them. When the alpha joined, he didn’t cling like the rest, but the warmth was there too, more and more welcome with each passing visit.

The house was the only one to see the alpha wake a little past dawn with a worried hand to his forehead as he threw off the blankets again. They caught a foot or so away, jammed tight under Namjoon’s body. Jungkook turned more carefully to Namjoon bundled under the entire pile of comforter, just his nose to his forehead sticking out. The dawn light caught on dust motes drifting through the silent room, and Jungkook blinked at them, refocused, and gazed at the sleeping tilt of Namjoon’s eyebrows that made him look focused, even as he slept.

Jungkook half-dreamed that the room was full of feathers drifting in a gold light, feathers covering Namjoon in a downy cloak, feathers lighting in his hair, filling his mouth, weighing down his eyelashes, keeping him breathless, drifting with a softness and warmth that would smother him. But he didn’t need to panic, not next to Namjoon, radiating serenity and safety like it was his angel feathers covering the room.

Jungkook reached slowly across the sheets, half believing he brushed feathers away as he went, and gently touched the round end of Namjoon’s button nose.

A little rush of embarrassment hit him, booping Namjoon’s nose as he slept like a weirdo. He rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. By the time he fell asleep, he faced Namjoon again, faces just a pillow apart.

 

.

 

The fall musical wrapped up the previous weekend, but some unspeakable drama had kept the whole theater department swamped with panic throughout all of midterms, keeping Seokjin up with classmates at the table downstairs until ass o’clock in the morning all week. Seokjin’s ritual upon leaving for any vacation was to mute an enormous assortment of group chats and hide his phone in his backpack where he couldn’t see it. He looked much more cheerful in the daylight, dark bags somewhat receded, his recent permanent scowl nowhere to be seen.

“We’re eating breakfast on the veranda,” Seokjin said. “Eggs benedict, which is the chef’s breakfast specialty.”

“Oh, I’m ‘the chef’ now,” grumbled Seokjin’s mother, her graying hair still a wild mess from bed as she wandered past in her pink robe.

“And afterwards, we shall tour the grounds on horseback,” Seokjin said, louder. “Maybe I’ll get out the china and silver for dinner.”

“I ain’t polishing it,” said Mrs. Kim as she disappeared into the kitchen.

Yoongi’s face smashed further and further down on his hand. Namjoon kicked him. “Hey, socialist. How’d you end up with this for a boyfriend?”

He grunted. Seokjin leveled a steely grin at him. “Let’s get the servants to set up the croquet set and bring us tea and cakes, hm? My dear father is away on a golfing trip, but this portrait of my grandfather is just fine as a stand-in.”

Mrs. Kim shouted from the kitchen, “Your father is at the office and my dad would turn in his grave if he heard you talking like that!”

Namjoon wouldn’t have felt like a bum in his pajamas since the Kims seemed to live in their pajamas, except that he’d woken to Jungkook getting out of the shower that morning, navy blue towel wrapped tightly around his hips, hair dripping, cheeks still rosy red from his run around the neighborhood. He’d gotten directly into a plain t-shirt and jeans like a clean-cut boyfriend brought home for the first time and combed his hair. The rest of them looked like slobs in comparison.

Everyone knew why he dressed himself up. The heavy, wooden scent of Seokjin’s old-fashioned father filled the whole house, dwarfing Jungkook’s smoky scent. On Jungkook’s first visit the previous year, Seokjin had brought Jungkook up early to introduce them one on one and make sure Jungkook had explicit permission to stay in the older alpha’s space, an outdated and very serious ritual that Jungkook had never had to do before. Neither Seokjin nor Jungkook had ever told them how it went, other than that Jungkook was permitted to stay, but he became a much more careful person in Seokjin’s house.

The omelets served on the back patio had mushrooms from the local forest sprinkled through them, bringing the taste of autumn right out of the air. “How’s it feel to have such a capitalist for a boyfriend?” Jimin asked, tapping his fork on Yoongi’s plate as Seokjin chatted about preparing to enter his dad’s company, which did something related to financial planning.

“It’s disgusting,” Yoongi grumbled.

Seokjin flicked a piece of mushroom into his face.

“No, it’s weirdly charming,” Yoongi said, wiping mushroom juice off his face. “And I mean weirdly. He such a nerd for finance and I don’t get it. He was so determined to become an actor when we met.”

“I’ll do both,” Seokjin said. “I’m sure I’ll find a way. I’ll just get my underlings to rack up the millions while I take my private acting tutor on the family yacht and buy my way into roles.”

“Please stop,” Yoongi whined. “I don’t care that much.”

As they whined quietly at each other across the corner of the table, Yeonjun popped out of the house to grab a car key from Seokjin. He stopped at Jungkook’s side again to lean against his chair and ask for a bite of his omelet. Jungkook offered his forkful, little lips curling into his shy smile. Seokjin squawked “Make your own breakfast!”

The swimming pool had a cover on it already. Seokjin’s game systems were at school. “Are we going to play cards all day or what?” Hoseok asked.

“Something like that,” Seokjin said, leaning across the table with a twinkle in his eye. “Let’s be lazy.”

Such luxuries hadn’t been a part of Namjoon’s life for what seemed like months. He read a book all morning, a fun one, not a class assignment, a decadently dumb high-fantasy setting with wizards and dragons. The writer was terrible but he kept interrupting Jimin’s reading on the couch opposite to tell him was ridiculous plot twists he kept finding. “I haven’t been this excited about a book in months,” he said.

“Uh huh,” Jimin said, the obvious cover of a bodice ripper over his face.

After sandwiches at the kitchen island, Namjoon took a nap in the attic with Taehyung curled under his arm, soft hair tickling his chin, both of them getting toasty warm and sweaty in the most pleasant way. When they came back downstairs for snacks and a movie, he caught Jungkook stumbling when they walked past him, gazing back with a hazy blink.

Throughout the entirety of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Jungkook stayed curled up in his chair, not really watching, not really responding, and his warm smell filled the air.

Namjoon fidgeted, wondering how he and Taehyung smelled, if any of them were uncomfortable, if he was allowed to feel as hot as he did, as desirable.

The credits rolled. Hoseok started belting quotes at top volume at Seokjin, who joined in. Yoongi muttered something into his collar that no one seemed to hear. Jimin had a lot to say about how hot Orlando Bloom was. Under the cover of noise, Taehyung leaned across the arm of the couch towards Jungkook, and Namjoon barely made out, “…hope this isn’t rude. You probably know. Your, um, you smell like, well Mr. Kim is getting home soon.”

Jungkook said something back, even softer, and Namjoon figured it would be rude to pretend he wasn’t listening, didn’t bother to fake it. Jungkook’s eyes flicked to his. “My rut’s coming up,” he said.

“Like, now?” Jimin said suddenly, sitting forward, and the attention of the room shifted and quieted.

“Nothing,” Taehyung said. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Jungkook said. “Not for another few weeks, but it’s a six-month cycle if nothing triggers it and I can start getting symptoms as much as a month ahead. It’s been a few days now.”

“Wussgoinon?” Yoongi grunted.

“My rut,” Jungkook said. “Coming soon.”

“To theaters near you,” Yoongi deadpanned. “So not while you’re here?”

Jungkook rolled his eyes just a little. “I would not have come here if there was any danger of it starting within the next two weeks. It’s fine.”

“What are your symptoms?” Jimin asked, which sounded like a perfectly medical question for something so intensely personal. Weight squashed into Namjoon’s side as Taehyung leaned in close, sucking a deep breath through his nose with anxiousness. “Sorry, was that—”

“Mood swings,” Jungkook said. “Really, it’s fine. I don’t mind. Sensitivity. I get sick easily. I need a lot more sleep but working out gets easier because my stamina and strength get better. I eat a ton. I get distracted really easily. I’m producing a lot more pheromones.” He shrugged. “I actually got my rut around this time during school last year. No one could tell I was getting close because everyone was gearing up towards finals and had all the same symptoms anyway.” He chuckled softly.

“Do you get the anger issues?” Yoongi asked, and Jungkook shook his head. Taehyung gripped Namjoon’s arm and then relaxed, then squeezed again. His knee jostled up and down.

“I don’t get the compulsion to jerk off either,” Jungkook said. “Not until rut actually hits. Which is lucky. That’s uncommon anyway but it can cause some real problems.”

“I get that,” Taehyung said suddenly. Everyone in the room stared at him. His cheeks colored brilliantly. “My sex drive starts going nuts a couple weeks before my heat.”

“That sucks,” Jungkook groaned. “During school too?”

“It’s so unpredictable,” Taehyung said, sitting up a little as he got braver. “It’s two to three times a year and it’s all over the place, especially this past year. It hasn’t hit in a while so I’m probably due.”

“What do you eat when you’re in heat?” Jungkook said. “I eat so much instant ramen.”

“Oreos!” Taehyung groaned.

“Seokjin’s ass,” Yoongi muttered.

Seokjin made a tiny, injured noise that set Taehyung off snickering. Jungkook squished up tighter in his chair, gazing around at the rest of them with big eyes and a tiny smile. “Do you always miss class when you’re in rut?” Jimin asked. “I know Taehyung can miss a whole week.”

Jungkook nodded. “And last year it showed up the week before finals.”

“Oh no, holy shit. What did you do?”

“My professors let me make it up. That’s why I stayed late after finals last semester.”

Last semester when Namjoon had found himself alone on campus to wrap up the school radio for a week and discovered that Jungkook was there too. He hadn’t thought much about not seeing Jungkook around at the time. Everyone had different finals study habits. He’d assumed Jungkook’s was to hole up in his room. Had he really never asked Jungkook why he was staying an extra week? Surely he’d said something about it. Most of that week had faded into the single memory of Jungkook in his lap and hot breath across his lips.

“How does that work out in a dorm full of alphas?” Hoseok asked Jungkook.

“Two alphas in my dorm have gone into rut already this semester. It just smells so bad. Neither of them had someone to help them through it, which just makes everyone tense.”

“Have you ever had someone help you through a rut?” Taehyung asked.

He shook his head.

“Wow,” Taehyung breathed. “That sounds like hell. Jimin helps me. Maybe you should ask him.”

Jimin squeaked a little, but Jungkook’s eyes flicked to Namjoon’s face for just a moment. The room became suddenly silent. Taehyung blinked at Jimin, who looked caught in the headlights, unwilling to agree and unwilling to hurt Jungkook’s feelings by refusing.

“I’ll be okay,” Jungkook said. “But if anyone wants to, like, bring snacks or drop in with Starbucks, I’d love that.”

“Dad’s on his way home,” Seokjin said suddenly, and the room let out a weird breath. Or maybe it was just Namjoon, morbidly fascinated by the questions he was often too anxious to ask himself. When Jungkook stood, his musky, smoky scent plumed through the room, something a little past sweaty and into something dirtier and more enthralling.

“Jeez,” Taehyung groaned, squirming into Namjoon’s side as Jungkook passed.

“I can’t control it,” Jungkook whined. He looked back at Taehyung snuggled against Namjoon with a last deep breath through his nose, and then hurried out of the room.

No one spoke for a minute, the whole room reeling from the force of the smell, Taehyung practically limp against Namjoon’s shoulder, and everyone else stewing in a rare moment of instinct where the alpha scent was strong enough to provoke docility.

“Fuck,” Taehyung finally breathed. “Do you think he knows?”

Jimin shook his head. “You know Jungkook. He wouldn’t have waited down here this long if he knew how he smelled.”

Taehyung rubbed his nose against Namjoon’s shoulder and then breathed in slowly. “You smell so calming,” he muttered into Namjoon’s t-shirt.

“Taehyung,” Jimin said. “I love you, but you can’t just offer me up to Jungkook’s rut. It’s very different.”

Taehyung gazed across the coffee table at him for a minute. “Yeah, I guess it is. Huh. Sorry about that.”

Silences in the group were rarely awkward, but each person sat with unaskable questions at the tip of their tongues, fidgeting around it, trying to get them out. The fuzz in Namjoon’s head faded as Jungkook’s smell slowly left the room. Taehyung’s flowery smell had begun to take over the room in its place as he squirmed restlessly on the couch next to Namjoon.

“Sometimes I think Jungkook’s so impossibly different from me,” Taehyung said to the distracted audience. “But then sometimes we talk and I feel like I’m talking to another omega. He’s so matter-of-fact about everything. But then sometimes I can tell he doesn’t get it at all.”

“He’s trying,” Jimin said.

“I know, I know. I think I need to get outside or the scent is never going to leave my nose and Seokjin’s dad is about to get home.”

“He’s not gonna jump you!” Seokjin squawked.

“I’ll feel awkward,” Taehyung said. “I know what I smell like.”

As Jimin took Taehyung on a walk around the neighborhood, Namjoon headed back up the creaky stairs. The shower drummed on the claw-foot tub in the bathroom he and Jungkook shared. Dirty campfire scent lingered around the room. Namjoon pulled himself onto the bed and closed his eyes, letting it sink into his nose. The last dregs of fall warmth seeped through the open window.

Seokjin’s cackle rang through the house, then Hoseok’s hooting. A door slammed. The breeze carried the scent of leaves and pine through the window. Though Namjoon had just taken a nap, he stretched his limbs out across the mattress as far as they could go—much farther than he could stretch in his dorm bed—and shuffled deeper into the pillow with a heavy sigh.

A few minutes later, the water in the bathroom shut off. The curtain rings clattered against each other as they slid along the metal rod. Jungkook would be drying off, towel removing the wet shine from his beautiful skin, his hair. What kind of special effort did it take to dry off a cock that big?

The door to the bathroom opened with a billow of warm, humid air. The bathroom fan turned off. Jungkook stepped quietly through the room like he thought Namjoon was sleeping. His bag unzipped slowly.

“I’m awake, dummy.”

“Fuck!” Jungkook hissed.

Namjoon cracked his eyes open to see Jungkook smiling as he unzipped his bag at normal speed. The towel was tucked tightly around his waist, leaving all that back bare. He dug some boxers out and struggled to pull them up under the towel. Namjoon closed his eyes again to let him keep his dignity.

“Do you have to do any, like, rituals?” Namjoon asked. “When you’re in a dominant alpha’s house?”

“Leaving my smelly underwear on his carpet probably isn’t the best start,” Jungkook grumbled. Namjoon heard him swipe fabric off the floor and jam it deep in his canvas backpack. “But um, being extra polite is usually enough. Lots of ‘yes sir’ and listening attentively and acting…submissive. Fuck. Namjoon, can you tell me if these jeans stink? I’ve gone nose-blind.”

Namjoon opened his eyes as Jungkook stretched a big handful of denim towards him, towel clutched to his chest with the other hand, hair dripping on his forehead. He took the denim and smelled it. “Smells like you?” he said.

“No. Smell. Um. The crotch area.”

Namjoon sat up and sorted through the fabric until he got to the cross of the seams between the legs and held it up to his nose.

A blast of that smell hit him again, the disarming, dirty, heady scent from downstairs that had knocked them all back in their seats, strong and clinging to the fabric. Alpha and omega scents were usually thankfully brief, dispersing as soon as their owners left the room and never lingering far from the source, but this scent seemed to be holding onto the cloth with a vengeance. Thoughts fuzzy, Namjoon lifted the jeans to his nose for another deep sniff.

“Smells fine?” Jungkook said.

Namjoon looked up to see him staring nervously at him, fidgeting with the towel in his hair. He shook his head solemnly.

“Oh? But you…Well, sorry about that.” He reached out to take it and Namjoon’s stubborn paws wouldn’t let go until Jungkook tugged. He huffed, disappointed. “What? Did you like it?” Jungkook squeaked. His face began to glow an awkward red that definitely wasn’t from the shower.

“It’s not…the most repugnant thing I’ve ever smelled.”

“You totally like it!”

“You know when you smell something really strong? And at first you’re like ‘whoa, the fuck is that?’ And then you’re like ‘hold on, what is that?’ and then you keep smelling it 'til it just smells interesting and you can’t quite figure out why you didn’t like it in the first place?”

Jungkook squinted at him with his little lips parted in confusion. He cocked his head to the side and shook it slightly. The towel hung over his shoulder. He offered Namjoon the jeans again.

“Um. No thanks.”

Jungkook gave him one last suspicious look and then sauntered back over to his bag to pull out a second pair of jeans. Namjoon watched them slide over his ass with interest, vaguely wondering where all the sudden thirst had come from.

“I can smell it when you get turned on,” Jungkook said.

“I’m not though?”

Jungkook tossed a shirt onto the bed and then climbed on right by Namjoon’s legs. He knelt there a minute, studying Namjoon. Namjoon lay like a sandbag against the headboard and studied him back. “I feel kind of brain-dead,” he said.

“That’s the pheromones,” Jungkook said quietly. “You’re getting a pheromone high. I’m sorry.”

“Put a shirt on,” Namjoon said.

Jungkook’s brow furrowed. He chewed on his lip. Namjoon watched closely, brain refusing to focus on anything else with Jungkook’s face right there. The campfire smell tickled his nose, the dirty scent of his jeans still sitting heavily in the back of Namjoon’s throat. Jungkook leaned over Namjoon’s legs to grab his shirt and Namjoon’s hand landed on his smooth, bare waist, not so much thicker than Chungha’s, but an entirely different kind of firm. Then Jungkook turned, disbelieving face right there, eyes wide. Namjoon stiffened his arm, keeping Jungkook a foot away.

Downstairs, the front door opened and the sounds of Mrs. Kim greeting her husband and the rest of his friends politely greeting the head alpha of the house rose up the stairs. Jungkook put his shirt on, and it brushed against Namjoon’s hand on his waist, so he removed it, and Jungkook slid away.

“Drink some water and get some fresh air,” Jungkook muttered. “Please don’t show up downstairs like that.”

Namjoon’s lips ached for something. He stumbled into the bathroom for water just as the door to the bedroom opened. In the mirror, he could see a flush like he’d been drinking painting his cheeks an embarrassing pink. His eyelids hung half-open. He gulped down a full glass of water and splashed himself.

When had he gotten half hard?

He remembered the punch-drunk looks Taehyung always got when Jungkook got too sweaty and too close, the way his knees gave and he stopped forming complete sentences. In a high school health class, there had been a quick lesson on pheromone highs. They were never strong enough to disable reason, didn’t count as a mind-altering drug, were nothing worse than what the mind does to itself in the presence of sex and so did not affect the conditions of consent.

Regular people got them too sometimes, in extreme circumstances when an alpha put out above-average amounts of pheromones and the person—beta—stayed receptive to it for too long.

Stayed receptive to it for too long. Only susceptible if willing. And betas handled them poorly, their brains untrained to recognize what had happened to them and rendering them irrational.

Namjoon sat down on the floor and buried his head in his hands. An ache had started up behind his eyes. He desperately wanted arms around him, someone at his back, at his neck. Something warm.

Taehyung found him. “Are you coming down to dinner?” he asked, hushed and cautious as he leaned around the doorframe. His brown hair fell into his long eyelashes, broad shoulders at odds with his lanky build and the way he curled nervously into the doorframe.

“Tae, what does a pheromone high feel like?”

Taehyung quickly entered the bathroom and crouched down next to him. He pressed his warm forehead and cool nose against the side of Namjoon’s neck for a second. “You’ve got it,” he said grimly. “Been stewing in it too long. Come eat. It helps to wash the smell out with other stuff.”

“How fast does it go away? What do I do about Jungkook?”

“Don’t sniff him too hard for the time being. It goes away pretty fast. Maybe you should, like, shower. You smell like both Jungkook and me and Seokjin’s dad might be weird about that.”

“Huh? His wife’s a beta.”

Taehyung wrung his together. “Oh, right. He’s just so traditional and the whole family is so traditionally Korean and I keep thinking he wouldn’t approve of betas and—but he supports Seokjin with Yoongi and his wife’s a beta. You’re right.”

“This has never happened to me before. Not even with Chungha.”

“Well yeah. He’s in pre-rut. The chemicals are different.” Taehyung stopped him halfway through their bedroom and wrapped his arms around Namjoon’s waist. He seldom seemed tall, always surprising Namjoon with their nearly equal heights when he stood without slouching or leaning. He grabbed Namjoon by the cheeks. “I don’t know what’s going on between you and Jungkook. I doubt he did this on purpose. Next time you start to feel yourself going fuzzy, either stop sniffing, or fucking kiss him.”

Namjoon wrapped his arms around Taehyung’s waist and nuzzled against his neck just so he wouldn’t have to show Taehyung his face when he whispered, “Liking alphas sucks.”

Taehyung kissed his ear. “It really does. But I wish I could make myself like Jungkook. I’m gonna have a bitch of a time finding an alpha that good.”

Namjoon finally looked him in the face. “Why can’t you like him?”

“We’ve had too much of a weird start,” Taehyung said. “And he’s too submissive. Weakest fucking alpha. I love him for it, but it’s not sexy.” He raised an eyebrow at Namjoon’s expression. “You can’t tell?”

“Dude, I have no nose for that stuff.”

Taehyung barked a laugh. “You’d like it. Feeling better yet?”

Namjoon felt a little lost, but in an entirely different way now. “Yeah, fine. Let’s go eat.”

 

.

 

Yeonjun had a friend over, another high schooler named Soobin who laughed at Seokjin’s dumbest jokes and then turned bright red and stared at his food. Namjoon sat at Soobin’s side and heard Soobin hissing in pain as Yeonjun kicked him when he let out a particularly obvious peal of giggles. Jungkook sat way on the other side, muffling his laughter.

It was the first time they’d ever had a full family dinner at the Kims with Jungkook there too, and he’d been put at Mr. Kim’s left hand, the spot where Seokjin usually sat. Seokjin had been shuffled across to the right side, one seat past his mom.

The visiting alpha at the left hand of the head of the house, a very outdated tradition that signified the head alpha’s trust and regard by putting a potential rival by his non-dominant hand and across from his mate, usually an omega that supposedly needed more protection than Seokjin’s stiffly uncomfortable mother did. It had apparently overtaken the tradition of putting family at his right and left. Jungkook ate with a very straight back as Mr. Kim spent almost the whole meal talking directly to him. His wife seemed to be so used to being talked over that she didn’t react when her husband cut through her comments with questions for Jungkook, just turning them to the side for Seokjin’s ears. Seokjin’s jokes seemed more forced than usual.

Taehyung had been put at the last seat on the left side. He barely ate at all.

 

That evening, they stayed up too late watching anime and shuffled up to bed in the dark, as quietly as possible to not wake the Kims. Jungkook crawled into bed first, all long legs and fluffy hair. Namjoon got delicately into bed on the other side as if Jungkook might not notice the mattress dip if he moved slowly.

Jungkook rolled half a turn, facing Namjoon on his pillow. With the light off, Namjoon could only barely see his shape. He took a slow breath and held it, seemingly right on the edge of a statement, or a question, and Namjoon waited to hear what he’d have to say about sniffing Jungkook’s dirty pants until it made him stupid earlier in the day.

“Chungha,” Jungkook started, “texted me that she fucked Taemin last night.”

“She texted me about it too,” Namjoon said weakly, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. “She told me she wanted to before break. I told her to go for it.”

“So the dating thing is…”

“Not exclusive. You knew that.”

Silence. Jungkook flopped onto his stomach and huffed into his pillow. Abruptly, he reached out and shoved Namjoon’s shoulder, jostling him on the mattress.

“What?”

“Sorry about today.”

Namjoon grunted and tried to say it was fine. A garbled mumble made it out of his mouth.

“I swear I didn’t notice. I wasn’t trying to smoke out any of you.”

“Your rut will be here in a few weeks?”

“Yeah. Hopefully at least a couple weeks before finals. The smell won’t be that bad all the time.”

“That’s good.”

“You sure you wouldn’t like it?”

“Jungkook,” Namjoon warned.

“What?” Jungkook sat up a little. “Namjoon, I know you used to hold your breath around me when I smelled. That’s so normal and I didn’t care, but I noticed when you stopped. And what am I supposed to do with what happened today? Namjoon you know—” he flopped back down and buried his face in his pillow.

The bed dipped deep as Namjoon rolled into Jungkook’s space and slid an arm over his back. “I don’t know what going on with me. I’m confused. I’m trying to figure it out.” Jungkook groaned into the pillow. His hair smelled just like him, but Namjoon breathed carefully. “I’m trying not to get you caught up in me figuring myself out,” Namjoon said. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re leaving me next semester,” Jungkook whined, too loud. “You’re graduating in seven months!”

“Jungkook,” he breathed again. The warm body in his arms rolled again, rough and strong, and an arm fastened around his waist. Jungkook nosed in under his chin and took a big, loud sniff of Namjoon’s neck, right under his ear where scent collected and intensified.

“You owe me,” he said, and took another deep, deep breath. Namjoon hung on, eyes wide open in the dark room. His ear tingled ticklishly, whole body tensing with sensitivity. “Maybe we should switch roommates,” Jungkook mumbled, right against his skin. “I’ll ask Tae to take my place down here or something.”

“Aww, but—”

“You suck as a bedmate,” Jungkook growled. “You’re so…ugh.” He rolled on top of Namjoon, pinning him to the sheets with uncharacteristic aggression, arms barring his shoulders down, head shoving his chin back, body heavy on his stomach, hips, thighs. Namjoon heard a whimper. Teeth fastened around the skin of his neck like a vice.

Something primal and alien snapped through Namjoon’s head, a dizzying set of instinctual commands. His alpha was at his neck. His Jungkook. He went absolutely limp, cocked his chin up, held his breath.

A rush of cold air hit him as Jungkook scrambled off. The bed bounced. The bathroom door slammed. The fan turned on. Namjoon lay still for a long while before he managed to move one hand to the spot on his neck where the phantom of Jungkook’s teeth still pressed against his skin.

He sat up slowly and shook his head. He wondered if he’d already fallen asleep and he was dreaming. His head felt waterlogged. Namjoon as he knew himself would never feel comfortable pinned down like that, but he didn’t mind, wanted to tell Jungkook to come back, wanted it to happen again.

From under the dull roar of the bathroom fan came what sounded like a strangled gasp. A minute later, a toilet flushing.

Jungkook emerged to Namjoon sitting there with the side-table lamp on, curled up and waiting, wide-awake. Jungkook didn’t stop on the way through the room, leaving a quick “I’m so sorry” in his wake before he rushed out the door. A few sluggish minutes later, the door cracked open and Taehyung stumbled sleepily in.

“He’s not coming back down?” Namjoon asked.

Taehyung shook his head and rolled heavily under the covers. His floral scent washed Jungkook’s lingering stench slowly from the room like rain on a fire. “He got you high again, didn’t he?”

“Uh huh.”

Taehyung turned off the lamp and coaxed Namjoon back under the covers. “He’s a good alpha,” Taehyung murmured. “Let’s go to sleep. We can talk in the morning.”

 

.

 

“It was my pheromones.” Jungkook crunched down into his seat, legs pulled up. He’d gone back to sweatpants and a hoodie with Mr. Kim out of the house. “The pre-rut is getting it out of control. Sorry.”

“It wasn’t—I didn’t—I was okay with it, I guess. Like, I trust you. I’m a beta, so it’s not entirely out of my control.”

Jungkook only scowled harder, arms across his chest. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m gonna keep rooming with Hoseok.”

“Whatever makes you comfortable. I just want you to know I’m not upset or anything.”

“Well good, but that doesn’t make it okay. I fucked up.”

“Don’t beat yourself up about—”

“It was only okay because you liked it,” Jungkook whined, turning to face him. He was trying to sound angry, trying to square his shoulders and glare, but he tucked his chin and his voice never left his usual gentle trill. “Stop shoving that you like it in my face when you won’t…”

He didn’t say it out loud, what they had danced around for weeks now, for months, since Jungkook climbed into Namjoon’s lap, fresh off his rut, and kissed him until Namjoon turned him away. And Namjoon kept stiff-arming and distancing and waffling as he got pheromone highs and fucked Chungha and bought Jungkook tea and let him cuddle.

Back in the sunlight with his head clear, Namjoon remembered the feeling of being held down and bitten and his stomach curdled. His throat tightened. Had Chungha ever done that to him? Yes. A hundred times. Every time he got in her bed she pinned him and bit him and owned him. Jungkook had pounds and pounds of muscle where she had toned arms, had a sandbag of a chest where she had a balsa-wood frame. He never felt truly trapped under her. He knew if she ever made him feel that way, he’d fight it. He hadn’t fought Jungkook.

Pheromone highs had been a defense mechanism once when humans lived like herds of animals, something to make the violence of an alpha’s passion feel good, to soften the trauma. The effect had faded over the centuries as alphas got more unusual, but the original purpose remained.

“You’re right,” Namjoon conceded. “That was weird.”

Jungkook’s shoulders dropped. He sighed. “Figure your shit out,” he said. “I’m so sick of this.”

Namjoon gave one terse nod. The whole next day and the day after, through Soobin getting in a pun contest with Seokjin and Taehyung owning them all at card games, through Seokjin’s dad giving them awkward philosophical speeches while his wife tried to serve them a nice family lunch and Hoseok learning Fortnite dances from Yeonjun, Jungkook kept an exasperating distance. Namjoon pretended he wasn’t disappointed, that he didn’t miss that filthy scent in his head, tried not to breathe too deeply when he got too close, pretended he didn’t see Jungkook watching him under heavy eyelashes with a predatory stare that made Namjoon’s heart trip over itself with something almost like fear.

 

.

 

“Relax, darling,” Chungha said. She leaned down and rested against Namjoon’s back. Her long hair tickled his left side as she lay there, curled around his ass, and he could feel the long, silicon form strapped to her where it pressed against his thigh.

Chungha’s double-leveled bed had never been intended as a couch. With his knees on the lower bed, Namjoon could comfortably lay his whole front on the top one, hips and chest cushioned and kept in place and in perfect position for Chungha to slide her wet fingers down his spine to his ass.

She pressed them to his rim again. “Sure you’re ready?” she said. Two pushed in and Namjoon gasped through the still-jarring sensation of something entering him. Chungha aimed for the spot she’d been milking for the past half hour, rubbing the now sensitive spot so gently, and Namjoon’s thighs shook. Precum globbed from the end of his cock and smeared on her soft sheets.

“K-keep doing…oh, Chungha this is…”

She hummed and sat up, still rubbing comforting circles at the base of his spine as she thrust slowly in and out. One thumb pressed carefully against his skin, opening him up. “You’re ready when you relax. Just like that. Yeah, that’s good. Stay just like that.”

The hard, cool dildo pressed in. “Don’t tense up now,” Chungha said. “You can do this.”

Her sheets smelled like warm spice, something that went in mulled wine or hot apple cider. He breathed deep, focusing on getting air into his lungs. As he wondered why the strong alpha scent here did absolutely nothing to his head the way Jungkook’s had, Chungha murmured encouragements and rubbed the outsides of his thighs until the dildo sank further inside without much pressure. “There you go,” she murmured. “How does it feel?”

“Weird?”

“Okay. Yeah,” she said agreeably, and made a couple tiny thrusts. He squeezed his eyes shut and pretended his body was melting like hot wax onto the bed, forcing himself to relax. “Joonie, if it doesn’t get better, please tell me to stop. This is supposed to be all for you so if you’re not getting anything out of it, there’s no point.”

“I’ve read that it gets better,” he said.

“It should,” she said. “I’ve done this a couple times, but you’re so tense. This is why I was surprised when you said you wanted to do this.”

“I’m curious by nature.”

She patted his ass congenially and thrust forward. He’d gotten looser as they talked. She glided forward what felt like half a foot but was probably half an inch. An intense wave of hot sensation followed. He seized up.

“Relax, baby.”

“D-do it again.”

“You need to relax first.”

“Felt kinda good. Do it again.”

With slow jostles and glacial strokes, she worked him up to a gentle pace that had heat simmering lowly inside him, prostate itching for sensation, dick hanging tentatively hard against the sheets. His body felt like roasting coals, sweat dripping down his chest, face burning, the sheets scratchy and feverish. He whined, needing more.

As if waiting for it, she picked up to the pace, jamming quicker and shorter into him. The burn and stretch returned, but so did the surprising feeling of radiating pleasure, the ache of fullness. “Ah. I get it,” he gasped.

She let loose a startling, full laugh, hips stuttering. “Eureka,” she said. “You’re such an academic.” Namjoon got all the warning of her arms bracing on the bed on either side of him before she started hammering forward and his mental processing slipped down the drain.

It occurred to him, after a long couple minutes of fighting to keep air in his lungs and his voice inside the walls, that he could be thankful for the bed set-up. His muscles felt like overworked rubber bands even on the mattress. Chungha’s scent had finally filled up whatever it was in his head that controlled reason and responses. Pleasure brimmed desperately inside him.

She’d begun to pull his hair. He let his head hang from it, feeling the gentle ache, feeling his dick rub in tiny jerks against the side of the mattress as slim hips slapped against his ass and an alpha’s cock pulsed into him. Pointless years of no anal sex lay wasted in the past, but this was a new beginning.

Eventually, Chungha’s hand found his cock, and it disappointed him by overheating immediately and ending the whole thing by bringing the most intense, most satisfying orgasm he’d ever experienced crashing through every muscle in his body.

Twenty minutes later, Chungha carefully wiped her own pussy fluids off his face. “So you liked that,” she said.

“Uh, yeah. I guess I did,” he said.

She gazed down at him, black hair wild around her big eyes and thin shoulders, half-hiding her perky little boobs from view. “You don’t sound thrilled about liking it. Why not? A whole world of pleasure has opened up to you.”

He nodded hard, trying to convey that it was a lot to take in.

“This’ll make things so much easier for you,” she said.

It wasn’t even worth denying. “That’s about Jungkook, isn’t it?”

“You reek of his pre-rut,” she said. “It’s a big turn-on.”

“Glad you think so.”

Chungha lay down next to him and pinched his nipple. “You love bottoming,” she said. “You love when someone else makes the decisions. During sex anyway. Why don’t you try it more?” She pulled a sarcastic face. “Too undignified?” And giggled like that was unreasonable.

He tried to steer away from that. “What does that have to do with Jungkook?”

Little teeth nibbled experimentally at his chest. “I don’t know,” she mumbled around it, “Because I don’t know what’s going on between you and him. But I know you like him and you don’t want to, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why you don’t want to.”

“He’s an alpha,” Namjoon said like it was obvious.

Chungha propped herself up on an elbow, eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

He stared up into Chungha’s eyes, this alpha who he’d had perfectly enjoyable sex with many times now and very much enjoyed half-dating. “I convinced myself when I was younger that I wasn’t attracted to alphas.”

“Do I not count?” she said, tone getting sharper. He realized they were teetering on the edge of a personal issue, how her size and gender threw her Type into question. Her scent grew heavy and dark with the sudden flare of aggression, and alarm bells in Namjoon’s biology clanged with a sharp spike of adrenaline and fear.

“You’re the second alpha I’ve liked now,” he said carefully, brain pressuring itself into honesty, “…Chungha, please don’t hurt me, but you’re not as physically imposing as Jungkook is. Please remember that I’m saying this as a beta and I don’t have that much of a sense of how dominant you are. I don’t worry as much about being vulnerable with you.”

Chungha’s jaw twitched. She studied him with a squint for a second, then visibly closed her eyes and relaxed. Namjoon lay very still, suddenly quite uncomfortable with how out his dick was. “I mean, I don’t like hearing that,” she said, “but I also can’t fault you for it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You’d like being submissive. With the right person, you’d love it. You’re no alpha. You’re a big, strong dude and no one’s questioning you so what’s the big deal?” Namjoon grit his teeth, remembering Michael. “I bet Jungkook would love being submissive for you and would you think any less of him for that?”

“Of course not. Would you?”

She huffed and cocked her head to the side like a “well….”

“What? Seriously?”

She shrugged. “We’re both alphas. I can’t shake what my brain says is weak, even if logically I respect him for it.”

“Then don’t you think less of me?”

“You’re a beta. It makes more sense.”

“Oh, it’s just that we’re not supposed to be on the same level to begin with,” Namjoon snapped. “Is that my natural state? I’m naturally under you and it makes sense that you’d control me?”

She sat up. “Why so fucking bitter? You don’t know how good you have it. Mr. ‘Normal.’” She poked his nose hard. “When did you start to confuse sexual dynamics with real-world power structures, huh? And you don’t get to turn this on me. What about you and miss butterfly tattoo, huh? Who I have hooked up with by the way, and damn does she have a complex about alphas. You liked that everyone knew she fucked with you, didn’t you?” Chungha watched whatever was happening on his face and scoffed. “You’re super attached to your dominance. You’d much rather been stereotyped like an alpha than an omega. That’s prejudiced as fuck, Namjoon.”

Namjoon lay silently under her, feeling suddenly hot with shame, anxious to defend himself and coming up empty. The atmosphere soured hard. He wanted his clothes back. He wanted to leave.

“Are you doing to deny it?” she said.

“I appreciate the psychoanalysis,” he grumbled, “but can you let me get my clothes please?”

Chungha’s aggression left her. She looked almost sheepish as she slid right off the bed and started rooting around on the floor. “Well, I do appreciate that you don’t deny it,” she grumbled, not looking at him. “That shit’s normal. Everyone thinks that way. It’s internalized. I’ve called so many people out on it and they usually try to argue. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”

Namjoon imagined Chungha telling Taehyung that he’d hate being compared to an omega and felt sick. When Chungha returned with his clothes, he’d pulled a pillow over his face and was too embarrassed to come out.

“I’m trying,” he said when she finally coaxed him out with tea and apologies. “I think I’m trying.”

They sat there on her messed-up, smelly bed, both sticky in their clothes, both avoiding the other’s gaze. “Didn’t intend to call you out,” she said finally. “I got defensive.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“Introspective king. I’m a total hypocrite for telling you you’re prejudiced for not wanting to look lower in the hierarchy than you are. Why do you think I like topping big, dominant men? I’m using you for my ego too. Sorry.”

He shrugged. “We’re on even footing, I guess.”

She huffed and punched his shoulder. “You want me to bone you again, I’ll definitely do it,” she said. “Keep in touch.”

Namjoon shuffled out feeling fairly certain she’d just downgraded their relationship from almost dating to strictly fuckbuddies. He paused at Jungkook’s door, craving company for the walk back, craving someone to tell him he was doing great, craving kisses.

From inside Jungkook’s room, he heard feet hit the floor where Jungkook must have just jumped out of bed. Like a coward, he turned and rushed out.

 

.

 

Jinsoul’s long blond hair swished into the frame of the hallway window and then quickly away. Namjoon peeled one side of the headset away from his ear and rolled cautiously towards the big window. Jinsoul stood just to the side, wrapped up in a quiet argument with Jungeun and Yves. They all wore some variation of crop tops and tight pants, no jackets in sight even though it was a bitter thirty-five degrees outside.

He pulled out his phone and texted Jinsoul. Looking for Jimin?

A moment later, the three girls traipsed past the window. The door to the studio opened and closed, followed by clomping steps in the linoleum hallway. The door banged open and the three girls stormed the room. “Where is he?” Yves asked. “The schedule said this is his shift.”

“We traded,” he said. “He’s coming in tomorrow so he can go to a theater party with Seokjin tonight.”

“The theater party,” Jungeun groaned. She sank down onto the sofa and became a blob of blond hair and leather pants. “We should have gone to the theater party.”

“It’s not over.”

“We’ve lost our in,” Yves said mournfully.

“Don’t you think you’d better wait 'til he’s sober?”

Jinsoul cocked her head like a confused puppy. “Wait for what?”

“Wait to—oh hang on. Hello, listeners. The time is ten o’ five p.m. That was ‘Stay’ by Zedd and Alessia Cara. Next up is ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire.” He disconnected. The girls, waiting patiently behind him, burst into noise.

“We’re not going to seduce him!” Jinsoul shrieked.

“We just wanted to hang out,” Jungeun shouted over her. “We hadn’t thought farther than that.”

Yves calmly studied her makeup in a hand mirror.

“I just want to be near him in a fun, public setting,” Jinsoul said while Jungeun blathered nervously in the background. “It’s not like we have any plans or anything.”

“You don’t have to lie,” Yves said. “He totally knows we have plans for him. We’re not going to stoop so low or get so desperate that we decide we need to pounce him when he’s drunk. Come on Namjoon.”

“Of course,” he said. “Sorry.”

“I suppose we could still go to the theater party,” Yves said. “Did you guys hear about Michael Browen?”

“The creepy alpha?”

“Public safety had to Taser him to get him to leave one of the freshman dorms two weekends ago. An omega slammed the door on him and he wouldn’t leave. Kept screaming and pounding on the door until the RA called public safety.”

Namjoon hand went reflexively to his phone, opening snapchat and scrolling for Taehyung’s story.

“He’s been around campus though,” Jungeun said.

“He’s in one of my classes,” Yves said. “He’s so fucking dumb. Have you noticed that he’s been the star of two football games since then? They just won another one today. The school is trying to completely shut this up, of course, but a couple people caught it on video.”

“Oh shit,” Jungeun said. “Where’s the video?”

“I didn’t watch it,” Yves said. “Someone posted it on Twitter. It got taken down.”

“Typical,” Jungeun grumbled.

“What are we going to do about Jimin?” Jinsoul said. “Namjoon, is he interested in us?”

“You know, I haven’t asked.”

“He hasn’t talked about us?”

Taemin loved to bring it up. So did Seokjin and Yoongi. Jimin usually sat there with a bashful look and a small smile and didn’t say a word. “He thinks you’re all good radio hosts,” Namjoon offered.

“I don’t want to bother him,” Jinsoul whined. “He’s always so fun to hang out with when we catch him here.”

“Maybe don’t go after him as a swarm?” Namjoon said. “Three might be a little overwhelming. You’re almost taller than him, you know.”

The girls sat in glum silence. “September” covered the space with an absurd amount of pep for the mood. “Let’s just go see that thing the Asian Cultural Club was setting up,” Jungeun said.

“Sounds good.” Yves stood. “During dance rehearsal, Chungha said she would bring soju.”

Not thirty minutes later, Taehyung, Jimin, and Taeyong wandered in, all in some variation of crop tops and tight pants, no jackets in sight even though it was a bitter thirty-five degrees outside.

“Did you hear about Michael Browen?” Namjoon said.

“Yes,” Taehyung said. “Can we talk about that later? I’m too drunk. I’ll just cry.”

“Okay. Sorry.”

“You’re good.”

“So, the girls were in here looking for me, huh?” Jimin said with a twinkling smile.

“Are you ever going to stop playing with them?” Namjoon said.

“I’m not leading them on or anything,” Jimin said. “They’re friendly and I’m friendly back.”

“You know what they want. You’re not turning them down. I don’t think they’re having much fun.”

Jimin leaned against the back of the couch with his arms over his head and his knees wide. Taehyung leaned lazily against his side. Taeyong lounged against the other. The man never looked happier than when he had multiple beautiful people cushioning him on all sides. “Do they want something from me?” he asked, totally oblivious.

Annoyance flared through Namjoon, a sudden lash out of the ball of tension curling inside his head. “Right, because satisfying your own vanity is so much more important than their feelings,” he growled.

Drunk Jimin didn’t know what to make of that. “What’s gotten into you tonight?” he said.

Namjoon flopped his face down on his arms. He wanted to be home, falling asleep to someone else’s music on the radio, preferably with someone else in bed with him, someone with warm arms and a sweet voice.

“You want us to take over your shift?” Jimin said. “Go sleep. You’re already missing all the parties tonight.”

“I can finish,” he said. “I only have two shifts this week and I miss it.”

His chair jerked backwards. He lifted his feet up and let it drift, taking his headphones off so he wouldn’t rip out of the chord. The chair turned and revealed Taehyung in heavy eye-makeup, skin glowing with perspiration, his floral scent permeating the air around him. He plopped himself into Namjoon’s lap and threw his long legs over the arm of the chair, all warmth and angles against Namjoon’s side, smooth in his hands. Taehyung flopped his head on Namjoon’s shoulder and the natural thing to do was the tightest, closest hug he’d felt in a while.

The traditional omega’s role in a pack wasn’t that of a caretaker or worker. That falls to the betas. The omega, Namjoon had read, mostly on contentious online forums, is supposed to be a peacemaker. They’re something beautiful and delicate that brings the pack together, something they love and protect like a child. Or a doll, according to some posters. Or a pet. That’s why they’re programmed to need attention.

Namjoon felt the stress leave him, all his quiet judgement and anxiety unimportant in the face of the warm, sweet-smelling person in his lap. Pack, he thought. His pride pushed back. Packs were for Type, people biologically trapped in an oppressive status quo. Pack, his heart said. Don’t throw the good out with the bad. What Taehyung can do has value. He is no less for it. Neither are you.

Like the opposite of an alpha high, reality seemed to come back into focus, the blur of stress and regret pulling back. Namjoon sat in a radio studio late at night with Taehyung in his lap, surrounded by people he trusted, people who made him feel worth something.

Taehyung watched him, one thumb running so slowly over Namjoon’s collarbone. “Thanks,” Namjoon said.

“You got it,” he replied with the small smile of someone who knew exactly what he was doing. With a dangerous lurch to the office chair, he surged in to give Namjoon a big, wet kiss on the cheek, and then piled off his lap.

“Asian Cultural Club party?” he said.

Jimin stood too fast and sat right back down on the narrow coffee table, which creaked sharply.

“See you later,” Taeyong said, and shuffled them out.

Another hour and fifteen minutes passed with song selections and notes of the time, slow but steady work on an essay about Carl Jung appearing on his computer screen until there were only ten minutes left on the shift.

The door swung open and Namjoon nearly fell out of his chair. He hadn’t glimpsed any movement in the hallway in nearly a half hour, hadn’t heard a single noise outside in the rest of the radio office. Jungkook stumbled in wearing a bomber jacket over a t-shirt and jeans, suspiciously damp with sweat. His scent blasted into the room, as smoky, filthy and gross as Namjoon had ever smelled it with none of the recent appeal. “Joon,” he said.

“Holy fuck, you freaked me out, dude. Did you sneak in here?”

“Joon,” Jungkook said again, and banged his shin into the coffee table as he wobbled across the room. “Fuck. Shit.” He sat right down on the ground and rubbed his leg. “Ow.”

“Bro, that sounded like it hurt.”

His hair covered his eyes as he looked slowly up, jaw lax.

“Are you drunk?”

“So drunk,” Jungkook breathed, and then tipped forward into Namjoon’s legs. The chair slid backwards and hit the desk, and Jungkook hung onto Namjoon’s legs, barely keeping himself up, grip painfully strong. “Haven’t been this drunk since. Drunk since. Freshman year. Homecoming. Drank a…” He pulled himself closer and rested his cheek on Namjoon’s knee. “whole pitcher of jungle juice.”

“Holy shit, how drunk are you?”

Jungkook nuzzled his cheek against Namjoon’s leg and hugged his calves with both arms, getting comfortable. His wavy hair clung to his eyes when he tried to look up, so Namjoon brushed it back for him. His fingers stayed trapped like fish in a net, buried in Jungkook’s soft hair at the top of his head, and Jungkook gazed up adoringly. Namjoon scratched at his scalp just to get him to close his eyes.

“ACC party got crazy,” Jungkook said. “Taehyung. Tae danced with me. And Taeyong danced with me a lot, but Taehyung was weirder.”

The same Taehyung that had been in Namjoon’s lap in his little black crop top, rubbing his face against his neck, had gone on to the ACC party to do what? To grind back against Jungkook? To wrap his arms around his shoulders? To back him into a wall and sway with him?

“He smelled like you,” Jungkook said.

With a radiating heat, Namjoon realized that Jungkook’s head was in his lap, face angled up between his legs where he probably smelled the way he did when he’d been sitting in one place for several hours, getting a little humid. “My shift’s nearly over,” he said. Jungkook nodded and rubbed his cheek over Namjoon’s denim pants again.

Namjoon leaned into the mic, careful not to shake Jungkook off. “That last song was ‘Bad Child’ by Bad Child, which is a late Saturday night song if I’ve ever heard one. Coming up is ‘Where is my Mind’ by the Pixies.”

“Good song for smoking weed,” Jungkook said as he turned the mic off and let the song take over the waves.

“Do you smoke weed?”

“A couple times.” Some sort of weight distribution gave out and he slid sideways onto the floor, still hanging onto Namjoon’s legs.

“Maybe you should go to bed.”

“Don’t want to go to bed. Wanna stay with you.”

“I’ll take you home.”

Namjoon saved his essay and closed his laptop, resigned to getting no more work done. An arm wrapped around his ankles, followed by a tug that inched his whole chair closer to Jungkook. He felt the weight of Jungkook’s head on his shoes. “What’s going on down there?” he asked. Sharp little teeth dug playfully into his ankle. He nearly kicked him off. Jungkook held on like a puppy with a little growl that turned into a giggle.

Taemin arrived to begin his shift to find Namjoon attempting to lift Jungkook off the floor.

“Need some help with your baby?” Taemin said.

“Two of Chungha’s boys,” Jungkook mumbled.

Namjoon barked an awkward laugh. “What does that make you then?” Taemin said, hugging him from behind and lifting him into Namjoon’s arms.

A breathy, pleased noise issued from Jungkook’s lips. He wrapped his arms around Namjoon and stayed there, swaying. Namjoon caught Taemin wrinkling his nose and leaning away before taking a deep breath.

“How fucking much did he have to put away for this?” Taemin said.

“I have never seen him like this before. We’re hitting the bathroom before we attempt to cross campus.”

Jungkook seemed to want a bathroom stall. Namjoon shoved him towards the urinals so he could keep an eye on him in case he fell over. In the sobering, harsh light of the bathroom, Jungkook braced one hand against the wall and let loose into the urinal, massive cock hanging out of his pants. Namjoon finished quietly beside him, trying to keep his eyes averted as much as he could without losing sight of his wobbly arms and drooping eyelids. Namjoon’s nose had begun to burn with the pungently dirty alpha scent.

Namjoon was halfway through washing his hands and Jungkook was still going, splashing weakly. “Holy shit, dude.”

“It was so much punch,” he groaned.

“How have you been keeping that in?”

“Alpha magic.” Still fumbling with his zipper, Jungkook stumbled into Namjoon’s chest and knocked him into the wall. Namjoon tried to discreetly make sure his fly was up properly by brushing with the back of his hand. Jungkook’s breath reeked of whiskey and sugar, body uncomfortably hot.

“Home now,” he said.

Jungkook’s hand slid roughly down his arm and tangled around Namjoon’s fingers. He started for the door.

Out in the cold, Namjoon had to tear his hand away to properly button his coat. The last tree on campus still clinging to its dried husks of leaves looked more barren and colder than it had three hours ago, wind yanking the stragglers off the branches. Jungkook’s jacket hung open. He spread his arms wider and welcomed the freezing air against his chest. Namjoon imagined the icy air washing his scent off of him, each invisible particle of frost cutting away some of the grime.

“So drunk,” he said again. “I don’t think‘ve ever been thss drunk.” He stepped off the sidewalk and almost fell in a bush.

Thankfully, Sutherland wasn’t too far from the campus center. As soon as they stepped into the heated hallway, Jungkook yanked his jacket off. Namjoon sacrificed his nose for safety and pushed Jungkook into the elevator. “Bedtime,” he said firmly once Jungkook had gotten his door unlocked. “You need to—Kook?” Jungkook headed back out the door with his shower caddy in hand. “Bro, I think you’re too drunk for that. Kook. You’ll fall and crack your head open.”

“I smell soooo baaad,” Jungkook whined, already stripping his shirt off. The filthy stench intensified in the enclosed space and Namjoon stepped out of the bathroom. “Okay. Okay, but leave the door unlocked. I’ll wait out here.”

Jungkook left both doors open and stepped behind the curtain still in his pants. The water started. Jungkook yelped.

Only midnight. Namjoon wasn’t messing with his sleep schedule too much yet, such as it was. He pulled up Reddit and started scrolling.

“I thought I smelled you.”

Namjoon turned around and saw Chungha at the foot of the stairs in a big t-shirt and pink slippers, face unusually makeup free, giving him a small frown.

“What are you doing home so early?”

“ACC party wound down like thirty minutes ago and I’m tired. What are you doing here?”

“Jungkook’s ridiculously drunk. He decided he needed to shower. I’m kind of worried about him.”

Chungha squinted at the open door to the bathroom and the steam now rolling out over the curtain. A loud, plastic bang from a shampoo bottle hitting the ground sounded from the shower.

“I got this,” Chungha said and shuffled in, leaving her shoes just outside the door. They blocked it from closing completely when she swung it inwards, and Namjoon glimpsed her shirt coming off through the crack.

“Chungha!” Jungkook cheered.

“Hey, dude! Fuck, that’s hot! Let me turn that down before your skin peels off. Are you trying to wash yourself with conditioner? Give me that.”

Namjoon shut the door and went back to the couch. Chungha’s muffled high voice and Jungkook’s muffled soft one came through with the rush of water, both laughing and chatting. Such a stupid thing, that the two people Namjoon was most hung up on could get along so well while he moped on the other side of the door.

Chungha poked her head around the door a few minutes later. “Joonie, can you fetch a couple towels? Kook forgot his.”

In Jungkook’s impeccably organized room, the towels were kept on a shelf in the closet, all rolled neatly and facing outwards. Chungha grabbed them from him without being careful with the door, flashing Namjoon a view of her own bare body and wet hair and Jungkook sitting in the sink behind her, leaning back against the mirror with his eyes closed.

“Um.”

“He’s a mess,” she said. “How the hell did he get this drunk?”

“I was on radio. He said he drank a gallon of jungle juice.”

Her eyes bugged. “From the ACC party? That was Heechul’s recipe!”

“Oh no,” Namjoon groaned.

“You better leave him some water and Aspirin,” she said, pulling Jungkook out of the sink. She threw the towel around his waist as he blinked blankly over her shoulder. “Come on baby.” He slid both arms around her neck and clung. In the bathroom doorway, Namjoon kicked awkwardly at the tile. Chungha shuffled sideways with Jungkook leaning on her until Namjoon kicked himself into gear and dragged Jungkook’s heavy form off her. The smoky, spicy scent of them clung to the air like the hot breeze off a taco truck, but Jungkook smelled like grapefruit soap and clean water.

“Brush your teeth,” Namjoon said, turning Jungkook to face the sink. He had to steady him as he brushed, hands shaking on Jungkook’s smooth, bare skin as he tipped over the sink to spit. He lurched towards the toilet with Namjoon guiding him.

“I think you can take it from here,” Chungha said. “Come see me once you’ve got him to bed.”

She closed the door and left Namjoon on his own to push Jungkook down onto the toilet and collect his things.

Jungkook seemed to be doing it on purpose, the towel fastened poorly around his waist, the hair in his eyes, all the little moments of foregone decency that couldn’t be attributed completely to alcohol. Jungkook dropped his towel the minute the door of his room closed with none of the modesty from the first time, dragging underwear from his dresser as Namjoon face seared with heat, heart pounding out of his chest.

“I’m gonna have to see you naked someday soon,” Jungkook slurred.

“Wuh?”

“You’ve seen me so many times and I’ve…” he paused to stick his whole hand down the front of his briefs to re-adjust. Namjoon clutched at his chest like a scandalized old woman. “I’m a mess,” Jungkook said softly, and collapsed face-first into bed.

“You’re so drunk,” Namjoon said.

“Wanted to be drunk.” He rolled over and kicked ineffectually at the single sheet on the bed, even in the poor heating of the building. Namjoon stepped forward to pull it up for him. Two arms latched with surprising lucidity around his waist and unnatural alpha strength pulled him off the floor. Jungkook’s sharp chin dug into his chest, smooth, bare skin everywhere Namjoon put his hands, the cool damp of his wet hair against Namjoon’s chin.

Breath puffed against Namjoon’s collar. Even against Namjoon’s full system overheat, Jungkook felt feverish. Namjoon pushed Jungkook’s forehead back to get his palm against it. Blissful closed eyes turned up towards him, red parted lips, a beautiful flush of red across the bronze of his cheeks. When those warm brown eyes opened, eyelashes popping apart from where they’d been tangled, Namjoon gasped, and only then realized he’d stopped breathing.

“When are you going to kiss me again?” Jungkook whispered. Namjoon swallowed through his cotton throat. The acknowledgement finally hung in the air between them. Namjoon’s hand drifted to Jungkook’s cheek and cradled him as he looked up with his head tipped back, face a little squashed in the pillow. He leaned down and kissed Jungkook’s forehead. The arms around Namjoon’s waist squeezed, closed eyes and upturned brows the picture of longing.

“Please stop making me wait.”

“I’m not going to kiss you when you’re drunk,” Namjoon said, words tripping out high and shaky.

Jungkook tugged him down, or tugged himself up, and planted one sloppy, hard, close-lipped kiss right to the corner of Namjoon’s mouth. “I’m letting you borrow that,” he muttered. The arms around Namjoon’s waist finally released, but Namjoon couldn’t drag himself away yet, stayed breathlessly close and wanting. “You gotta give it back when I’m sober. Kay? You gotta.” Jungkook jammed his face into the pillow and wouldn’t open his eyes. “Go fuck Chungha. You have my blessing.”

Chungha opened the door already holding her strap-on. “Dear god,” Chungha said with her eyes rolling back in her head. “You already stink. That boy has it in for you.”

Namjoon leaned against the doorframe, half horribly horny, half so tired. His lips buzzed, hard to close.

“You need someone to fix you up,” Chungha said, and pulled her shirt off. “Come on.”

The double-level bed cradled his red face, the way his whole body ached for the smell of smoke. Only when it began to fade did Namjoon realize his edge of an alpha high. “Can he just have his rut already and stop smelling like that?” he whined.

Chungha stopped thrusting to coo and scrape her nails through his hair. “Not fair of him to leave you like this,” she said, talking down to him with the alpha growl in her voice. “You smell so fucking good.” Namjoon shuddered, letting his stomach flip with pleasure, willing himself not to push back.

“Good boy.”

Her cock pushed deep into him, fullness and building pleasure radiating through him. He pressed his into the sheets to stop himself from saying Jungkook’s name.

As Namjoon lay on his back and recovered, Chungha rubbed wide circles from his shoulders to his butt. “I think you should stop sleeping with me,” she said. He turned to face her.

“Yeah?”

“I keep feeling like I’m being an asshole to Jungkook when you’re in here,” she said.

Namjoon kicked the bed in frustration. She laughed and kissed his nose. “Seriously. Don’t be a baby about it.”

“It’s not like we’re dating. It’s not like we’ve agreed on fucking anything about our relationship. He said I had his blessing to come up here.”

“You both wanna date. I’m just getting in the way.”

“You haven’t gotten in the way at all, actually,” Namjoon said, pulling his head out of the pillow. “You’re the world’s best wing-woman. If it weren’t for you I’d probably be keeping him at arm’s reach right now, getting more and more uncomfortable about how he might like me and how that might mean he sees me as submissive to him and I’d be overthinking the crap out of it. And he’d still be convinced that I don’t fuck with alphas and he’d probably be upset about it and it’d drive a wedge in our friendship that we’d never recover from. You’ve done him a huge favor.”

“Love being a relationship stepping stone,” she muttered.

“Sorry. Thought we’d established we were using each other.”

“Sure,” she said easily. “But you’re not giving him enough credit. He would have figured you out. You could help me get a date too, though.”

“Who?”

She rolled onto her back, little tits sinking with gravity to either side of her body and giving her an almost flat chest. He ran a hand up her waist towards one and she hummed. “I like fucking the big strong dudes,” she said, “but I’ll probably match much better with someone like Taehyung. Or Taeyong. Or even Taemin, that weirdo. So many Taes.”

“I owe you one.”

“Stop being a coward and fix things with Kookie, will you?”

He leaned over and gave her one last kiss, and then jumped off the bed to hunt for his clothes. “See you on the other side,” he said.

“When I next hear your voice I want to hear it coming from Jungkook’s room and I want you to be making some obscene fucking noises, you got it? Make me miss you.”

“I’m gonna be a bit more tactful than that,” Namjoon said. “Take my time. You know.”

“Jungkook does not have the patience for that.”

“Right. Goodnight.”

Jungkook’s snoring rattled through the door downstairs. He tried the knob and found it locked, so he rested his forehead against the door and breathed deep, the empty quiet of the nighttime dorm cradling him darkly. Jungkook’s scent hung innocuously around. Namjoon touched the edge of his mouth where Jungkook had kissed him and prayed Jungkook would remember in the morning.

Chapter Text

Does anyone remember when I was talking about that professor who got nervous around me at the beginning of the semester?

Namjoon stopped pretending to clean his room and sat on the floor in his pajamas.

I thought it had gotten better. He heard Jungkook heave a sigh through his nose. I tried to go to office hours last week because, like, I need them. I suck in that class. He panicked and kind of yelled at me to keep the door open. I wasn’t even trying to close it. I’m an alpha, by the way, if you hadn’t guessed. So that’s why. Didn’t learn anything from office hours. Way too awkward. He was super anxious. I was super anxious. It makes me worried about him, you know? Like why is he so freaked out? What happened to him that makes him so freaked out? A bit of a radio-unfriendly pause. I’ll get back to the music. Sorry guys. It’s just bugging me.

Namjoon pulled out his phone and flopped on the bed. He’d had two text exchanges earlier with Jungkook that day, one asking if he was feeling the hangover in the morning. He’d been fine. Stupid alpha metabolism. Namjoon had texted before dinner asking if Jungkook had wanted to eat, but he’d been rushing to a Sunday tutorial.

With Jungkook’s rut coming up, he’d been stuffing as much work ahead into all of his classes as possible, which was probably why he’d shown up at office hours with his freaked-out professor, smelling even stronger than normal.

Namjoon had forgotten about the professor. Jungkook hadn’t mentioned him in months. He closed his eyes and tried to really think from Jungkook’s point of view, how he just felt worried instead of indignant. To be something that scared people and think it was justified.

He tried to text Jungkook about hearing his show, then deleted it.

He caught up on his Snapchat, then scrolled down Reddit, then got on Instagram. Jimin’s Instagram story had the girls on it, all of them goofing off in the studio. Namjoon rolled his eyes and switched back to Jungkook’s texts. Lunch tomorrow?

gonna give me that kiss back

Namjoon phone leapt out of his hand. He rolled against the wall, kicking weakly. The song on the radio finished and Jungkook’s voice came calmly into Namjoon’s room, announcing the next song. Namjoon dared to pick his phone back up and hugged it to his pounding heart.

Before he could let rationality ruin everything for him, he sent: Can we make it a date?

Dots appeared at the bottom of the screen and Namjoon’s heart pounded for an agonizing minute until a line of happy emojis popped up on the screen. Namjoon got up and stomped across the hallway, barging into Yoongi and Seokjin’s room without knocking.

“What if we’d been fucking?” Seokjin said as he folded laundry on the floor. Yoongi grunted from his goblin hunch over the desk.

“I would have heard that,” Namjoon said. He shoved his phone in Seokjin’s face.

Seokjin studied the text conversation impassively for a moment, then grinned and got up to go show Yoongi.

“Fucking finally,” Yoongi said.

“Where should I take him out?”

“Call him up and talk to him about it.”

“I can’t. He’s in the booth right now. He’ll get in trouble.”

“You’re the damn club captain, asshole! You decide if he gets in trouble or not!”

Namjoon went out into the hallway, trying to close the door behind him. Seokjin yanked it open and sat there watching intently. The line rang twice before Jungkook picked up.

The first thing Namjoon heard was a delighted giggle. “I’m working,” Jungkook whined, voice soft and breathless.

“I know. I’ve been listening. Where do you wanna go?”

“Tonight?”

Seokjin scooted forward to hear better, flannel pants scraping loudly on the carpet. “No, I’ve got an early class. Tomorrow.”

Even Yoongi heard Jungkook shrill squeal at the end of the line. “Into town? I don’t know. Dinner?”

“Café in the afternoon,” Namjoon said, “then we’ll figure it out from there.”

“Walk by the river?” Jungkook said, “Oh my god, Namjoon.”

“Back to your room after classes,” Namjoon said, heart pounding in his chest. “You’ve got the bigger bed.”

“Fuck,” Jungkook groaned. He swallowed and inhaled unsteadily, noise so clear over the line. “Fuck, Namjoon. I’d come over right now if I could.”

Seokjin scooted backwards, reaching to close the door. He and Yoongi locked eyes and Yoongi wrinkled his nose in disgust, the hypocrite.

“Tomorrow,” Namjoon said.

“I have another half hour of this shift to go,” Jungkook whined. “What are you doing to me? Namjoon.” Another delighted laugh. “Hold on.” The clatter of the phone being set down followed. The radio in Namjoon’s room sputtered with Jungkook’s sweet voice again, changing songs. Namjoon lay down on the thin carpet of the stairway landing in a fit of restlessness and waited impatiently for Jungkook to pick up the phone again. The pale circular ceiling light glowed down at his wide eyes.

“I have so many date ideas,” Jungkook said when he picked up the phone. “I’ve been writing them down since, um, last semester. When we…yeah. I just.”

“You’ve been writing down date ideas?” Namjoon said. He could imagine Jungkook in the dark studio late at night, journaling about date ideas while Namjoon messed around with Chungha. His chest felt tight.

“Whenever I see something around campus or online. Like. Did you know there’s a trampoline park nearby? And there’s that little theme park south of here. The next town over has a vintage movie theater.”

“Oh my god, Jungkook. I had no idea.”

“I wasn’t sure you would actually go for it.” Some more energetic phone shuffling, then silence. A puff of air over the receiver. “Please don’t tell me I’m scaring you off.”

“No! No, I’m lying on the floor right now. Can’t think of anything to say.”

“What was your day like?”

Namjoon blathered what he could remember, from breakfast with Seokjin to studying alone in his room to his afternoon library run. “Nothing much, really. You?”

“Math tutorial. They usually don’t have them on Sundays but finals are coming up. I ate lunch with Chungha and Taemin. It was awkward because they’re flirting really hard.” He seemed to pull away from the phone from the breath pulling out of the audio. Namjoon thought he heard muffled giggling. “Not much else happened,” Jungkook said after a minute, voice coming back.

Namjoon rolled over onto his stomach and dug his toes into the rug. “Tell me about…that professor you were talking about earlier.”

“Oh jeez. Nah, not right now. We’ll get into it later. My mood’s too good right now. I can tell you about dance team drama.”

“Awesome. Do it.”

As Jungkook started an elaborate story about Taemin and his friend Jongin pranking Hoseok with rubber spiders, Namjoon slowly inched his way back into his room with flops and rolls. His attention couldn’t handle more than three feet of movement at a time and he ended up sitting against the dresser with his backpack in his lap as a desk. Jungkook had to stop his tangents every seven or so minutes to announce the last song and the next, and then got back to the prank war. Hoseok hadn’t said much about it, but he had been particularly vexed about the dancers recently.

“I’ll have to make Hoseok some hot chocolate next time I see him.”

“Hey, my shift’s nearly over. Weren’t you going to bed?”

Namjoon groaned. “8:15 class tomorrow.”

“Yeah, Hani just showed up to take my place. Can you, um.” He took the phone away from his ear. Namjoon heard muffled bits of a greeting with Hani, some frantic shuffling, and then heavy breathing as the click and creak of the studio door opening. “Before you go to bed. Can I stop by your place? Just for a minute. You can meet me out front.”

“You want your kiss back, don’t you?”

Another sound of muffled giggling like Jungkook was holding the phone far away from his mouth. “I could use it,” he said.

“Okay.”

“See you soon,” Jungkook said, and hung up.

Namjoon stood immediately and leaned against the door of his room, one hand on the doorknob, one looking at the clock. 1:00 am. It would take Jungkook five whole minutes to walk here if he was walking really fast. Namjoon stepped out onto the landing, heart pounding. Seokjin and Yoongi’s light had been turned off. The downstairs was absolutely dark, front door locked.

Namjoon sat on the couch alone with a single lamp on. His thoughts tumbled like clothes in a dryer, hot excitement and tired anxiety, a Juliet waiting at night for a somewhat illicit Romeo to arrive. He hadn’t been this messed up about a kiss since early in high school. He punched the couch cushions, feeling a little out of his body.

nearly there

Namjoon flung open the door to the November freeze and stepped out onto the filthy rubber doormat in only his socks. Jungkook hadn’t appeared around the edge of the apartments yet. He clutched his bare arms and felt for just a second like a complete idiot.

Jungkook appeared in the light from the apartment a few doors down, so completely and somehow startlingly familiar in his beanie and boots, the thin jacket hanging open over his t-shirt.

“Aren’t you cold?” Namjoon said.

“Aren’t you?” Jungkook said with a brilliant smile. He held out his arms just as Namjoon reached for his face, and they crashed together, chests and elbows and knees, Jungkook’s jaw in Namjoon’s cold fingers, Jungkook’s dry lips against Namjoon’s chapstick, the rush of hot breath out of Jungkook’s lungs as he wrapped both arms around Namjoon’s waist. Heat lashed around Namjoon’s heart and dropped a rock through his stomach. His lips could barely remember how to kiss through their trembling.

Jungkook’s scent snuck out of his coat and through the air, a delicious, dirty rush of pheromones and warmth that kept completely present who exactly Namjoon was finally kissing. It felt nothing at all like their first kiss, felt completely right, completely familiar and joyful. With Jungkook’s boots and Namjoon’s bare feet, they were almost the same height, and Namjoon got an arm around his back, the other hand on the back of his head. The soft, small lips against Namjoon’s opened and teeth fastened around his bottom lip for a moment before letting go.

“Class tomorrow,” Jungkook murmured, starting to pull away. With a whine, Namjoon squeezed tighter and pressed their mouths together again, let Jungkook’s heat roast against his front and his scent fizzle into his brain and leave him blissfully wanting.

Namjoon’s back hit the cold door. Hands squeezed his sides. A tiny moan left his lips and Jungkook seemed to pull it right into his own mouth.

“Made me wait so fucking long,” he whispered. A shiver tore through Namjoon’s body.

It didn’t stop though. Within another minute, he couldn’t kiss for his chattering teeth. The clinging became reflexive. Jungkook pulled away for good and wrapped Namjoon’s freezing fingers in his own warm hands.

“Go sleep,” he said. His big, dark eyes sparkled like stars in a pond, cheeks flushed, smile stuck on his red mouth. “Tomorrow.”

“You’re making me wait?”

“You have an 8 am! Seokjin will kill us!” He gave another high-pitched laugh and didn’t stop, peals of giggles at nothing hanging in the night as Jungkook stood there and bubbled with absolute happiness until Namjoon had to wrap him in another shivery hug. “You big butthead,” Jungkook finally said, and pressed a final kiss to Namjoon’s cheek. “Don’t catch hypothermia.” He finally backed away. “Pick me up at 11!” he said, and skipped away into the night.

In a daze, Namjoon returned to his bedroom and climbed into bed. He got up a minute later to brush his teeth and turn the lights off, but then lay there on his side, curled up with his fingers poking at his lips and something like a laugh, something like a sob balled up in the back of his throat.

 

.

 

At 9:45 am, Namjoon left his classroom and walked back home under a sky that threatened snow, passing Jungkook’s dorm at a distance. He walked faster. An hour and fifteen minutes was time for a shower if he hurried, time to do his hair and pick an outfit if he didn’t. He’d been imagining the date since he got up that morning, wondering if they’d hold hands as they walked, wondering who’d pay at the café.

Jimin met him on his way out the door, pajama pants shoved into his boots and eyes still exceptionally puffy. “Come with me right now,” he said.

Namjoon stopped in his tracks. “I can’t. I have a thing to get ready for.”

“It can’t be more important than this. I’ll explain on the way.”

“It’s a date with Jungkook.”

Jimin startled, then paused and pulled his hood off his head for a moment, staring at the ground and thinking intently. He took a deep breath. “Well, then I’m really very sorry about this. Taehyung just went into heat a month early and we need to go rescue him from the music building. I’d find literally anyone else but they’re all in class.”

A quick detour. He’d be back in time for a fast shower. He’d have to give up picking out an outfit. He turned and followed Jimin.

Taehyung had locked himself in a family style bathroom on the second floor of the humanities building. It took ten minutes for him to even open the door. The scent swamped into the hallway like a wall of water as the door creaked open revealing a Taehyung that looked like he’d been hit with a train. Sweat soaked his bangs. His rumpled clothes had wet spots in unlikely places. The toilet was damp like it had been just wiped down.

Jimin threw a giant coat over Taehyung and pushed him into Namjoon’s arms as he collected Taehyung’s backpack and discarded winter wear off the bathroom floor. Namjoon got one of Taehyung’s arms over his shoulders and rushed for the door. He’d need that shower now. No time for hair either.

“I’m so sorry,” Taehyung said between deep, heavy breaths. “Had no warning at all. It was like I sneezed and it dropped on me.”

“In the middle of class?” Jimin squeaked, rushing ahead to open the door.

“Uh-huh. Fucking booked it out of there. Made a scene. It’s so bad. Jimin, it’s worse than usual.”

Jimin got under the other arm to help them walk faster. The rush of students changing classes had died down, which meant it was already probably around 10:10. The nearest student walked a hundred feet ahead of them. Taehyung hissed in discomfort. He was probably perfectly capable of walking, but with the sudden rush of chemicals, he risked collapsing on the sidewalk. “Has this ever happened before?” Jimin asked.

“No, but I think I know what it is,” Taehyung said. “I’m lining up with Jungkook. I’ve been smelling him everywhere all week.”

“Oh no,” Namjoon said.

They paused for a moment at the road to wait for the cars to pass. Taehyung panted and hung between them, body working on overdrive with standing being last on the priority list. “Can I take off the coat?” he whined.

“That’s keeping your scent in,” Jimin said.

“It’s not though.”

They hauled him across the road.

“What are you going to need?” Jimin asked.

“Fuck, I haven’t prepped for this,” Taehyung groaned. “Um…” One of his knees gave out stepping back up on the sidewalk. Namjoon ducked under him and picked him up on his back.

“Bad idea, bad idea,” Taehyung hissed, but wrapped his legs around Namjoon’s waist.

Namjoon froze. “Should I drop you?”

“Depends. Do you mind if I cum while you carry me?”

Namjoon thought about it a minute.

“Hurry!” Jimin said.

“No.” Namjoon decided and started walking. Taehyung clutched his shoulders and trembled, panting, crotch right up against the back of Namjoon’s coat. They didn’t get all the way to the door before Taehyung seized up, an alarmingly high whimper tearing out of his throat. Jimin laughed out of sheer panic.

They couldn’t get Taehyung in the bathroom without a lecture, so Jimin pushed him in and started undressing him. “It’d be awesome if you, like, washed my sheets every other day,” Taehyung said over Jimin’s head as he fought with the tie on Taehyung’s pants. “And I’ll need tons of water and high-calorie food. Get, like, pizza and chips and rice. Make sure I eat. Herbal tea is good too.”

“And right now?”

“Shower is a good idea,” Taehyung said, patting Jimin on the head. “Good call. This is really overwhelming right now but if I can take the edge off it’ll just be a really bad, horny fever for a few days. Namjoon, can you grab the blue box out from under my bed?”

Namjoon stood in the bathroom feeling dizzy, staring at the absolutely surreal image of one of his best friends sitting naked on the toilet digging groggily through his blue box of sex toys while one of his other best friends tested the shower temperature while still wearing full winter gear. Namjoon looked at his watch. 10:25. No time for a shower now. He’d have to postpone.

“I’m home!” Hoseok yelled from the bottom floor. “Is everything okay?”

“We need an emergency grocery run!” Jimin yelled. “And someone needs to get in touch with the Type nurse and Taehyung’s professors and then we have some sheet-changing and food prep and heat-proofing of this bathroom to do. Do you know where Yoongi and Seokjin are?”

Hoseok pounded up the stairs. “They both have class 'til two-thirty or so. We’ve got dance team at four.”

“I’ve got class at two-thirty,” Namjoon said.

“Namjoon, don’t you have somewhere to be soon?” Jimin said. “Hoseok and I can handle everything. Um. Maybe.”

Taehyung tried to agree with an “uh-huh,” that sounded more like a groan of pain.

Namjoon leaned back against the bathroom wall, reeling as his wonderful morning drifted away like an unmoored rowboat. Taehyung yanked a plain purple dildo out of the bottom of the box and stepped into the shower with a grim look on his face. He yanked the curtain shut. The room stank of flowers like someone had emptied a bottle of bath and body works spray out on the floor.

“Don’t fall over,” Jimin said sternly through the curtain.

“I’m sitting down,” Taehyung said. “There are some old, gray sheets I keep for stuff like this. Can someone put them on my bed?”

“I’ll cancel it,” Namjoon said weakly.

Jimin spun around with a stricken look on his face. “You can’t do that.”

“I kind of have to.” He said. “If anyone is gonna understand, it’s him. Let me call him. I’ll get the sheets.”

 

“This evening?” Jungkook said, voice too high over the line.

“Taehyung’s heat hit out of nowhere and it’s bad. There will be enough people around this evening but we need to get a lot done in the next few hours for him. So yeah. I’ll take you out this evening but I’m not going to be able to make it there within fifteen minutes. It really wouldn’t be a good idea for you to smell me right now. And I need to go get the nurse so she can make him a note for his professors.”

“Oh my god,” Jungkook said softly. A soft, shaky exhale rattled over the line. “This is my fault.”

“I wouldn’t call it ‘fault,’” Namjoon said. “That’s not fair. You can’t control it any more than he can.”

Jungkook was silent for a minute. “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.”

“Can I help?”

That brought to mind too many fake porn scenarios of ‘helping,’ and Namjoon’s omega-scent-addled brain floundered for a beat too long.

“Like, with grocery shopping or something,” Jungkook said.

“Oh! Yeah. Hoseok’s doing that soon. He could come pick you up. You’ll know the right foods.”

“He said Oreos,” Jungkook said. “I’m gonna get him a ton of Oreos.”

 

The middle-aged, mom-looking nurse took one look at Taehyung lounging in his lukewarm bath and said. “Yup.”

They both went patiently through the official motions. She took his temperature, gave him a few interview questions describing his symptoms, and wrote a series of notes for every professor, all while sitting on the toilet next to him. At one point, Jimin showed up with tea and she stopped her note-writing to give him a big thumbs up. “I’ll email the professors too, but someone should deliver these by the end of today,” she said. “They can ignore emails. They can’t ignore notes. I’ve had some professors try to fight me on this, but it’s in Title IX.”

“What, really?” Jimin said.

“The old ones,” Taehyung groaned from the bath. “The assholes. Can everyone vacate, please? I gotta take care of something.”

 

Jungkook got back from grocery shopping while Namjoon cleaned out his own bathroom so all of Taehyung’s housemates could have room to use it while Taehyung took over theirs. By the time Namjoon ran down to see him in person, Jungkook had already driven left for his own dorm. He answered Namjoon’s pouty text with I could smell it from the sidewalk, and hadn’t answered any texts since.

Taehyung’s history professor met Namjoon in the hallway as he hurried from out of a lecture hall and accepted the note with a little hum of sympathy. “I’ll send him over all the lecture notes,” he said, and hurried off.

The theater professor stood in the stage wings and stared at it with her lips pursed, pulling all the frown lines into sharp relief, long gray hair tangled up in the remnants of a bun. “This is difficult,” she said, “His grade is made here in class. There’s really no way to make it up, especially with the show so close. Students fail the class automatically with three or more absences and he already has one.”

From camping earlier in the year, Namjoon remembered. He hadn’t missed a single day otherwise.

She shook her head and adjusted her cat-eye glasses. “I can’t make special allowances.”

“I don’t think you’re allowed to make your own rules on this,” Namjoon said.

She dropped the note to her hip and gave him a stern look, the kind of disbelieving, disrespected professor look that made Namjoon’s blood run cold. Her no-nonsense black ensemble and fixed glare gave him the idea she didn’t take disagreement from students lightly.

“The um. The policies for Type students are a university-wide, um, policy, like, the uh. They’re allowed to miss a week of classes in any one semester without academic repercussions. That’s included in the Title IX stuff for this school. The nurse will be sending you a reminder of all the specifics in an email, I think, but you can’t penalize him for this.”

“This is theater!” she snapped. “The real world won’t make allowances for him like this! My class doesn’t operate like a standard class.” A student walking past behind her rolled her eyes.

“Fortunately, this isn’t the real world and theater isn’t the only thing he’s doing.”

“He’s got a major role! This is the worst time in the whole semester he could have dropped out. Tech week is next week. Do you know how many shows I’ve done with period cramps?”

“That’s really different.” Namjoon could barely stop himself from backing up and apologizing when she turned her fury at him. “Like, I’m sure I don’t know much about either but I know they’re really different. I’m sure he’ll try to catch up. Please read the stuff the nurse sends you.”

He stepped away from her glower quickly and went in search of his script-writing professor, an even more stern-looking woman who was almost as tall as Namjoon and had a scowl like a bulldog. She said, “Oh dear,” and then, “Give him my best. We’ll catch up afterwards.”

The last professor, some old man from what looked like the anthropology department, got an odd, interested look on his face as he read the note, eyes tightening, jaw dropping a little. “Alright,” he said, putting it down. Namjoon left his office with his skin crawling.

 

.

 

The atmosphere of TaeHopeMin’s apartment when classes let out felt like those old movies where a woman is having a baby with the midwife and all the men are sitting downstairs chewing their nails and listening. “He’s moved to the bedroom,” Jimin said to Namjoon as he came downstairs. “Hoseok, do you have the tea?”

Hoseok solemnly handed over a cup of tea that Jimin rushed upstairs. Seokjin and Yoongi sat on the couch holding hands and murmuring to each other. The tangible lack of their two youngest rocked the atmosphere off kilter. “How was grocery shopping?” Namjoon asked.

Hoseok squinted like he was having a hard time remembering grocery shopping just a couple hours before. “It was mostly Jungkook,” he said. “Mostly microwave meals, snack food, and protein bars. Like five different types of Oreos. He says we should order him a pizza at some point.”

Namjoon wandered aimlessly into the kitchen to check out the haul.

“I had to bring it all in since Jungkook couldn’t come in the house. He said he could smell it from the front walkway. I got it all in one trip.”

“Wow, that’s a lot,” said Namjoon tonelessly. He pulled out his phone again. No texts.

“It was a little weird,” Hoseok said. “Apparently I stank too because he wouldn’t stand close to me and kept the car windows open.”

A lightbulb went on in Namjoon’s head and a little thrill raced down his body. He pulled out his phone again. Your rut hit, didn’t it

Seokjin ordered three pizzas. As Jimin carried one whole pizza upstairs for Taehyung, the rest dug into the others downstairs, Namjoon sacrificing the last of his hope for dinner with Jungkook with a big bite of cheese and tomato sauce. His taste buds were clogged with floral perfume.

“Jungkook’s rut hit,” Yoongi said suddenly, and held the group chat up for everyone to see a text from Jungkook on the screen. Namjoon pulled out his phone. rut hit see yuo in a fw days

Everyone held very still for a moment.

“Do you think we should go help him?” Hoseok said.

“He says he’ll see us in a few days,” Yoongi said. “He was better prepared.”

A notification popped up on Namjoon’s screen again, from Jungkook, only to him. srry about the date. that Italian plcce on th hill wouldve been nice

Are you okay?

From upstairs came a loud, heady moan and then the sound of a door shutting. Jimin came, stone-faced, down the stairs to find the whole room not meeting each other’s eyes. “He says we can head home for the time being. As long as someone is here to make sure he drinks water and doesn’t fall down the stairs, he’s good to go.”

“We’ve got dance anyway,” Hoseok said. “I guess Jungkook’s not going to be there.”

“What happened to Jungkook?” Jimin asked.

“His rut hit.”

Jimin took a deep sigh and gazed back up the stairs. “Taehyung’s probably going to think that’s hilarious. Are we going to go take care of him to? I feel like we’re underqualified for this. Why do we have two Type people in this group?”

“He said he’ll see us in a few days,” Yoongi repeated as Namjoon fidgeted, feeling like he should speak up, something hopeful and shamefully excited breaking through his disappointment.

Jimin shook his head with a harsh sigh. “Typical. He never asks for help.”

“He was more prepared,” Yoongi said. “He doesn’t need it.”

“Or he could just not want to bother us. Taehyung needs us here to keep him healthy. I know ruts and heats are different, but they’re not that different.”

“He doesn’t want our help,” Yoongi said.

Jimin scowled at his phone. “I’m gonna go over and see if he needs anything.”

“You’ve been helping all day,” Seokjin said. “Take a break. You have rehearsal. I’ll go.”

“Did neither of you pay attention to what Taehyung told us last year?” Yoongi snapped. He had an elbow over Seokjin’s shoulder, keeping him down on the couch. “That’s how it works. Omegas get exhausted and hyper-fixated on getting off during heats. Alphas are built for that. They’re by definition good at taking care of people when they’re in rut. That’s what rut is. It’s made to counterbalance heats. If he’s alone, that’ll be taking care of himself.”

“Oh,” Seokjin said.

“They also get more aggressive, demanding, and hormonal,” Yoongi grumbled.

Seokjin pushed Yoongi’s elbow away. “You think Jungkook is going to be so much more aggressive, demanding, and hormonal that I won’t be safe around him?”

Yoongi hesitated a second too long.

“That’s insulting!” Seokjin said. “Alphas don’t just lose their self-control. He’s not dangerous.”

“All of that misses the point that Jungkook has clearly signaled that he’d like to do this alone,” Namjoon said. “If we’re going to psychoanalyze and stereotype our way through reading this situation, we can read that he’ll be vulnerable right now and doesn’t want us to see that. If anyone is going to help him…it should probably be…” he chickened out. “Chungha?”

A muffled whine rang through the walls and everyone froze, looking up.

“We’re going to have to sleep through that,” Hoseok muttered.

“I share a wall with him,” said Namjoon.

“Rehearsal,” Hoseok said to Jimin, and pushed his way up the stairs. “Don’t be late. Seokjin, can you stay here with Taehyung?”

He nodded, looking a little sheepish. “How often do I bring cups of tea?”

“Every hour and a half,” Jimin said. “Decaffeinated only. He needs to sleep when he can and caffeine is a diuretic, which doesn’t help much with hydration.”

“Fuck,” Namjoon muttered. “This means I’m going to have to completely re-do the radio schedule for this week. At least I already took Jungkook off.”

“Let’s go get that done then,” Yoongi said, standing.

They sat in the living room one apartment over with the Excel schedule pulled up and music playing on the Bluetooth speaker, which covered up any distant sounds of moaning. Yoongi began to reorganize the schedule to make sure someone was always off and free to hang out with Taehyung while Namjoon sat next to him and tried to focus.

“Are we going overboard with this mothering thing?” Yoongi asked.

“Jimin said something about getting him through this with as much energy as possible with finals coming up. I guess the logic is the better we care for him the faster he’ll recover afterwards.”

Yoongi scrubbed a bony hand through his over-long black hair, flannel shirt unbuttoned around his wrists, strong and manly until he dropped his hand and his pretty, pouty face came back into view, the Yoongi that Namjoon saw laying in Seokjin’s lap some nights. “Fuck this. Maybe someone should be over helping Jungkook every once in a while.”

Namjoon shrugged. “Maybe.” He remembered Jungkook complaining that Taehyung got hugs and he never did. “It should be me, shouldn’t it?”

“Or it should be anyone but you.”

“Why?”

“You know why.”

“I said I would.”

“When?”

“Months ago. I said I’d bring him stuff and make him tea during his rut.”

Yoongi shrugged. “Your choice. If that’s what you want.”

Namjoon sat back on the couch. “Even if he did jump me—which he wouldn’t because alphas losing control that much is a convenient myth—I wouldn’t really mind.”

“Sure.”

“There’s more than one way to help with rut.”

“If that’s what he wants.”

“I think it is.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Yoongi said while plugging Taemin into a particularly brutal late Tuesday shift on the spreadsheet. “I hear alphas get real fucking rough. Just to be safe, I’m not gonna put you on any shifts this week that I can’t cover in a pinch. You’ve got finals coming up too, you know.”

“You’re the best, Yoongi.”

Yoongi pulled the laptop off the coffee table and into his lap, then slid back to sit pressed up against Namjoon, the casually physical habit Taehyung had gotten them all into. “Some first date,” he grumbled, and gave Namjoon an awkward but comforting leg pat, knowing like any best friend should how much the little ritual would have meant to Namjoon. “Are you should go over there?”

“Not ’til he asks.”

 

.

 

The evening passed without a word from Jungkook. Namjoon took a shift making tea and Easy Mac. Taehyung’s room still smelled like an exploded perfume bottle with an undertone of funky cheese. He looked recently showered with how sweaty his hair was. His flushed, bare chest poked out of the sheets and a suspicious buzzing sound came from somewhere in his bed. “Thanks,” Taehyung mumbled. “Bring me another Gatorade, please.”

When he came back up, Taehyung was sitting up with a nest of sheets wrapped demurely around his waist, stuffing his face with the Easy Mac. “I heard about Jungkook,” he said. “Guess we’re even.”

“What do I do on the off-chance that he asks me to come over?” Namjoon said. Taehyung’s eyebrows shot up. He chewed contemplatively.

“Fucking do it,” he decided. “And I’m not just saying that because I would fucking kill for an alpha in rut right now.”

“Uh.”

“If he goes out of his way to ask you,” Taehyung said, “he probably won’t be in the mood to handle rejection well. That’s only if you actually want to do it, of course. Do not feel obligated. That just hurts both of you.”

With Taehyung a grotesque, sexed-out mess, the reality felt a bit too near, that this was what matched a rut. Namjoon didn’t have any kind of stamina. There was only so much a pheromone high could help with. Namjoon squeezed his arms around himself, trying to parse figure out if his genuine desire to be with Jungkook was stronger than his logical reluctance. He couldn’t deny the way his heart picked up when he imagined it. Jungkook’s dick. Jungkook’s body. Jungkook’s sweet voice and tight hugs and soft hair. Jungkook taking care of him.

“It’s not really how I saw this relationship starting,” Namjoon said.

“I never saw this coming,” Taehyung snorted. “Fucking top-dom Namjoon dancing around baby alpha Jungkook for a whole fucking semester. Alpha darling Jungkook half a second from getting on his knees the whole semester in response. You two are ridiculous. Sorry. Was that mean? Is there any leftover pizza?”

“Nope.”

“Damn.”

Namjoon went back downstairs and ate the last piece of pizza. Feeling bad, he brought Taehyung a second helping of mac ‘n’ cheese. Halfway out the door he caught sight of a slimed-up cock-sleeve and had to go punch couch cushions until his nerves settled.

All night, he slept when Taehyung slept, woke when Taehyung woke, fretful and moaning on the other side of the wall. Sometimes he heard other soft noises in time with the moans. Sometimes the bed knocked gently against the wall. Namjoon lay awake and tried to force himself back to sleep while his body responded like a begging dog in sight of a treat.

Somewhere around three a.m. he rolled onto his stomach with sleep still clouding his mind and pulled down the hem of his pants to fuck languidly into his fist. Taehyung’s soft but desperate whines kept the itch in the center of Namjoon’s chest long after he’d cum, and then long after he’d woken fully and guiltily cleaned himself.

“It’s not that bad when it’s happening,” Taehyung said the next morning, enjoying the 24-hour lull in flannel pajamas on the living room couch with one of Seokjin’s most elaborate breakfasts on his lap. “It’s exhausting and it sucks but it feels fucking amazing for enough of the time that I’m enjoying it a little.”

Namjoon blinked his burning, sleep-deprived eyes and tried to focus on the reading for his afternoon class, an assignment he’d completely forgotten about.

On radio that afternoon, he kept himself awake by jumping up and down and spinning around in his chair, ignoring anyone who happened to look through the window. Jungkook’s name lit up his phone screen and he nearly slid right out of his chair.

I forgot to buy instant ramen T.T

Oh shit. Are you feeding yourself?

Kind of, but not with ramen. Can you bring me some?

Namjoon put down his phone and studied the text from three feet away as if that would uncover a secret message. He sighed and left it alone long enough to check on his playlist and switch songs. It was a remarkably peppy and energetic playlist today, anything to keep him focused. Some freshmen danced to his “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire outside in the hallway.

I’ll be over in a couple hours. I’m on radio right now.

I know. I’m listening.

During rut? Was his peppy music a good rut playlist? Namjoon put the phone as far down the table as he could reach, closed his eyes, and hummed thoughtfully to himself while not doing any real thinking. He got on his queue and switched the next song out.

“That was ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire. Next up is ‘Shake it Off’ by Taylor Swift. Dedicated to Jungkook, fellow DJ here at the radio and shameless lover of Top 40 pop.”

you wanna fcking go?

Namjoon hunched over his phone and snickered.

He bought three flavors and two brands of instant ramen, and then a frozen pizza that he hoped the ratty oven in the communal kitchen would be able to do something with. Then he bought a pack of Oreos, Sleepy Time tea, and a Godiva chocolate for good measure.

“Oh wow. He’s going for it,” Yoongi said as Namjoon left the house with all his grocery bags.

“I’m bringing him food,” Namjoon said. “Look, I’m not even bringing a backpack. Nothing else is planned.”

“Sounds like something a man with a plan would say.”

“Take this over, would you?” Seokjin said, and shoved an entire lasagna into his hands. “I was going to take that over this evening and just leave it in his fridge.”

Jungkook’s scent flooded the whole suite, completely familiar yet utterly different, a dirty wash of smokiness. Namjoon stopped partway through the room and blinked hard a few times, reeling from the scent like he’d just been punched in the jaw.

He heard a soft huff of amusement from the kitchen. A nearly six-foot alpha woman with a torso as thick as a tree and arms twice the size of Namjoon’s waited impatiently by the microwave, breathing shallowly through her open mouth She held the end of her own blond braid over her nose and gave Namjoon a careful once-over. As Namjoon cautiously approached Jungkook’s door, she grabbed her food out of the microwave and entered the room next to him with what was probably supposed to be a friendly smirk but seemed unnecessarily accusatory.

He knocked.

“Oh fuck,” he heard from inside. Some soft shuffling followed. Silence. More shuffling. Something being dropped. “Namjoon?” he heard behind the door, voice a gruff growl.

“I’ve got your food.”

“Shit.” Quiet. “I mean thanks. I just didn’t realize you’d be here this soon. One minute.” Uneven, heavy footfalls.

Namjoon gripped the lasagna container and squirmed. “I’ll leave it all in the kitchen. You don’t have to come out.”

“Ah,” he heard, and had to step closer to the door the make sure he caught everything. “Maybe…that’s…it’s fine. Just. Getting clothes on.”

Namjoon stepped back and took a deep breath through his mouth. His head had begun to sink like quicksand into it, heart pounding, dick twitching, a pervasive need rising up from his stomach. He shook his head and tried to ground himself.

Jungkook’s door opened and he appeared with another blast of scent. The little bit of nose-blindness that had already set in disappeared with a wave of fresh intensity. Namjoon’s mouth watered. Jungkook stepped out wearing a big t-shirt and sweats, also taking deep breaths through his mouth and leaning on the doorframe. His dark hair looked tangled and damp, arms slightly shiny with sweat. His hooded eyes and panting mouth sent something small and weak rolling into Namjoon’s head. He looked bigger, looked wilder. “If you leave you can’t make me tea,” Jungkook said, voice raspier than normal, puffy lips in a pout that looked like a mockery of his usual charm. He stepped out like it hurt him to walk, jaw clenching. Namjoon’s stomach lurched.

“I can totally leave you with this stuff and go,” Namjoon said.

“I haven’t talked to anyone in a whole day,” Jungkook whined, already headed for the kitchen. “Haven’t eaten much today either. Can you help make me some stuff. I’m…oh…” he got to the edge of the kitchen and hung onto the wall.

“Oh my god, dude. I brought a frozen pizza.”

“Too long. Ramen. Like, two ramens. I’ll. Cheese.”

Namjoon fired up the stove with water in the pot. His hands shook. Jungkook pulled three string cheeses out of the fridge, then hesitated and grabbed two more. He stood in the corner and devoured them as Namjoon tested how high he could get the stove heat to go.

“You haven’t been eating much?” Namjoon said.

“It’s been worse than normal,” Jungkook said. “Maybe because it hit while I was still smelling Taehyung. I’ve been focusing on staying hydrated. I finished like two boxes of protein bars though.”

The red cheeks and shaking hands had Namjoon worried. A sweat spot had already begun to form on the front of Jungkook’s shirt. A drop ran down his face and Namjoon forgot to breathe. “Hot in here,” Jungkook said, and walked into the living room. “I’ll be back.”

He disappeared into the bathroom and Namjoon fidgeted with the ramen packs and tried to stave off the pheromone high with quick head shakes and bouncing back and forth.

Jungkook reappeared looking marginally better, eyes further open and limbs less stiff, movement more natural. Namjoon figured the cheese sticks had done their job.

“I’ll start on tea,” Jungkook said softly. “Are you eating?”

“I guess I could. I’ll add more water.”

Jungkook grinned and his eyes crinkled up with pleasure. “Thanks for coming. Really. Is that lasagna?”

“Seokjin made it.”

“Fuck me. Why aren’t we eating lasagna right now?”

Jungkook fussed around in the tiny kitchen, sliding back and forth behind Namjoon to get two plates and heat things up in the microwave. He turned the sink on and stuck his face right under the faucet to drink.

“I thought you said you’d been hydrating yourself.”

“I have been. It’s fine. Oh, fuck I forgot about tea. How’s Taehyung?”

“He’s doing pretty well. The worst has passed. Thank god. I share a wall with him and couldn’t sleep last night.”

Jungkook’s eyes fluttered shut. His whole body tensed for just a second with a perceptible shake. “That sucks,” he gasped.

“You okay?”

“Fine!”

“Your lasagna is done.”

Jungkook stared at the beeping microwave for a couple seconds before he managed to move and open it. He devoured both squares of lasagna in record speed and then apologetically heated up another for Namjoon.

“Ramen’s done.”

He divvied it between the two of them, more in Jungkook’s bowl. Jungkook stumbled to the table in the living room and leaned on it. Something hard and rounded made a print on the ass of his sweatpants and Namjoon tore his eyes away, heart pounding.

During dinner Jungkook leaned forward in his chair, gasping around his ramen, blinking hard. He looked more and more like the Jungkook Namjoon had walked in on, only half there.

“Be right back,” he muttered, and waddled for the bathroom again.

When he returned, Namjoon was halfway through the dishes, taking each one with deliberate care. His cock throbbed uncomfortably in his jeans, fully hard and leaking into his underwear. “You forgot the tea again,” he said.

Jungkook laughed, suddenly clear-eyed and moving with ease. He got through the entire process of tea smoothly while Namjoon got warmer and warmer, hands shakier, focus slipping out from under him.

“Sorry about the date again,” Namjoon said. “I wish I hadn’t had to postpone it.”

Jungkook shrugged. “If you think about it, we go on dates all the time. Like to the library and stuff.”

“Those are nice! You’re right.” He scrubbed the pot with a trembling hand, hips itching to rub against the counter for any kind of friction at all. “You know it’s not the same though. I want the real thing.”

“I can smell when you get turned on,” Jungkook breathed. He leaned back against the wall, head tipped back, neck long and bare. His huge cock imprinted the front of his sweatpants and shirt in a fascinating curve. Namjoon swallowed back his watering mouth and looked back at the dishes, nearly done. And then he’d have to walk out of here with his dick hard and go home.

“Fuck, Jungkook,” he breathed. “I didn’t know it’d smell this good.”

He put the last plate in the drying rack and stepped out in the living room where the air was no easier to breathe.

“Good?” Jungkook laughed. “You’re breathing through your mouth.”

“I’m trying to avoid the pheromone high.”

“That didn’t work. You’re completely in it.”

Namjoon gave in and took a deep breath through his nose, let his head sink into that space where he became pliant and needy. He groaned.

Jungkook’s warm hands gripped his waist and pushed him backwards, his strength irresistible and promising. Namjoon gave in and let Jungkook push him gently against the wall, let him nose his way with wet breath up the side of Namjoon’s neck, feeling his heart kick up second by second as Jungkook finally, finally got his hands on him. One rubbed at the short hairs on the back of his neck in a way that made Namjoon wish he could purr. He moaned instead. Jungkook locked onto that. His weight pressed against Namjoon’s chest, hand gripping tighter. His damp shirt pressed to Namjoon’s, then his narrow hips with the hot, hard, and thick line of his cock dull against Namjoon’s jeans.

“Sorry,” Jungkook said, pushing himself away. Namjoon whined, pawing for him. “Do you want?”

“Uh huh. Kook. Baby.”

Jungkook knocked the air out of his lungs. Namjoon gasped through the sudden intensity, and Jungkook kept pressing him against the wall as if he wanted to break it. His teeth nipped at Namjoon’s jaw, hips against his thigh, everything sweltering and overwhelming. Where Namjoon usually would have pushed back and tried to give what he was getting, he felt compulsion to hold still and feel. His Jungkook, his baby alpha, pinning him there and eating him alive.

“Oh my god,” he heard himself saying. His knees gave and he slid lower until a strong grip fastened under his arms and hauled him towards Jungkook’s room.

They almost made it, but Jungkook aimed slightly to the right and body-slammed the wall. It was Namjoon that pulled him up by the waist and pinned him against the doorframe, brain reduced to a pulsing want the shape of Jungkook’s body.

The door next to them cracked open and Namjoon got one glance of the next-door alpha girl’s knowing face before Jungkook grabbed him by the belt and yanked him inside.

As Jungkook shoved Namjoon on the bed and tugged his shirt off, the toned arm and braid of the next-door alpha whipped around the doorframe to grab the door and shut it. Namjoon had hardly a moment to squeak in embarrassment before Jungkook was pulling Namjoon’s sweater.

“Joon,” he groaned, sounding high-pitched and much more like himself. “Oh fuck. Pants. Get. Pants.” He ripped the belt open, dropping to his knees to work better, putting his open mouth between Namjoon’s legs.

Denim scraped down Namjoon’s thighs, boxers emerging sticky from his pants. Mouth open, Jungkook nosed right to the front of his shorts, chest expanding as he breathed in Namjoon’s sweaty underwear scent.

Namjoon fell back, arms over his face so he wouldn’t have to watch Jungkook pull his dripping red cock out of his pants with that predatory look on his face. Wet, hot heat slid around the tip of his cock and down.

“Sorry, I’m—” Jungkook’s lips, tongue, the ridged top of his mouth slid down right to the base of his cock and tightened, fluttering, as he swallowed over and over. Namjoon’s spine bent on its own, tossing his head back against Jungkook’s blue flannel sheets.

“Gonna!”

The heat ripped off his cock and Jungkook’s shape climbed over him, naked. “I’m in the middle of a wave here. Timed this poorly. Forgot—” his lips landed on Namjoon’s, precum sticky on his tongue. Namjoon got his arms around Jungkook’s waist and forced him down, stunningly heavy weight crushing him from chest to thighs, the alpha cock feeling huge and thick as a water bottle caught between them. “Didn’t think you’d be over so soon,” Jungkook said when he could take his pretty lips away. He hauled Namjoon’s head back by the hair, baring his neck and the scent that collected behind his ears.

“I was mentally prepared for this happening,” Namjoon gasped, struggling to move his hips under Jungkook’s weight.

“Had a vibrator in and everything.”

Namjoon clawed down Jungkook’s back until he felt the hard base of the vibrator between Jungkook’s cheeks. He grabbed it pressed it up hard. Jungkook tossed his head back with a scream strangled behind his teeth. His hips kicked, dick sliding heavily against Namjoon’s with a shock of pleasure.

With only a few frantic rolls and a strangled grunt, something wet flooded over Namjoon’s shirt. Jungkook’s body trembled from the hands clutching Namjoon’s hair to the legs pinning his hips down. Namjoon lay stock still, eyes stretched open in shock.

Jungkook’s gaze drifted dazedly down to Namjoon. He barked an abrupt laugh. “Great first date,” he said. The mess he’d made on Namjoon’s shirt began to soak to his skin.

“Kook,” Namjoon whimpered, and found his brain could produce no more than that.

Jungkook sat up to take in the scene, eyes bugging as he looked around. Namjoon got a good look at him for the first time since his shirt came off, his tight little waist, little pecs, the nine-inch cock that hadn’t gotten at all softer. Even a minute after coming, Jungkook rocked back on his vibrator with a flutter of eyelashes. His thick thighs shone with sweat. Namjoon’s mouth watered.

“We have a few minutes,” Jungkook said, getting up. “Roll over.”

Namjoon gingerly pulled his shirt off and passed a breathless minute getting cozy against Jungkook’s smoke-smelling pillows, snuggling down on the softest sheets. The bed dipped and Jungkook pushed his knees apart. His balls unstuck from his leg. He pushed his face into the pillow and waited for Jungkook to tease only to feel the slide of cold lube down his butt.

“Pancake ass,” Jungkook murmured.

“The pancake ass will walk right out of here if you keep talking like that.”

Jungkook dipped down and gave him a big kiss right on his left butt cheek. “Sorry, darling.”

“Oh my god. You just kissed my ass.”

“I’ll do it again. Don’t test me.”

“Haven’t showered since this morning,” Namjoon said.

A finger pressed gently against his hole. “You want to go shower?”

“No.”

He pressed in. Even with fingers much larger than Chungha’s, it went in easily. Jungkook chuckled. “That’s what I—hey, hey. Don’t tense up. You’re doing so good.”

“What was the laugh for?”

“You’re so loo—relaxed. You’re like super ready for it.”

“I’ve been snorting your pheromones for a half hour,” Namjoon squawked.

Jungkook appeared suddenly in the side of his vision: a toned arm and a face half-hidden in a fluffy mop of hair, one deep brown eye and a bunny smile up close and personal. Namjoon’s heart fizzled with indescribable warmth. “You sure you want this?”

That thick cock lay along the side of Namjoon’s butt, all the way from his hip to dip of his back, and Namjoon could only imagine what that would mean once it went inside him, so much bigger than Chungha’s strap-on with so much more power behind it. “Now I’m nervous.”

“I’ll take care of you,” Jungkook murmured earnestly in that breathy, soft way that made Namjoon want to wrap him in a blanket. His cocked throbbed again.

“Please keep going.”

Just like that, a finger pushed insistently back in, an uncomfortable nothing of a feeling with enough promise to make Namjoon squirm. The finger left, then returned with more cold slick. “This is gonna take too long,” he heard Jungkook mutter.

“Huh?”

Two hands, one wet and sticky, grabbed Namjoon’s hips and lifted, setting him weightlessly on his spread knees with his ass in the air. “Like that. Stay like that.”

“Like—oh my god.” He tried to get up on his elbows. A hand pressed him down between the shoulders with a shocking amount of force. He felt a vertebrae pop. “Kook!”

“Sorry. Stay down there while I do this.”

“Do what?”

The hard edge of a plastic cap pressed against his butthole. His jolted. “Uh-uh. Stay there,” Jungkook breathed. The plastic pressed up against him again and cold lube gushed into him. “Stop tensing up! You’re squeezing it out!”

Namjoon smashed his face into the bed and wondered what an omega would be feeling right now, if they’d like being manhandled and used like this. The last of his dignity yelled at him to do something about it but his cock throbbed so hard his hips jerked. Shivers tore unrelentingly up and down his arms. Jungkook’s hands pet over his sides like he was admiring what he owned and Namjoon could only smolder in his skin.

“Joon, I don’t think I can wait,” he said in a voice so shaky and deep Namjoon almost didn’t recognize it.

“Go slow.”

Fingers pressed into his ass again, testing, and then Jungkook’s wrist was at his nose. “Breathe,” he said. Namjoon obediently filled his desperate lungs with dirty, smoky pheromones, sour with sweat and rich with something that made him weak and docile. His knees started to slip apart but Jungkook caged him in, wet cock sliding over his back.

“Cond-uh, c-con-mm,” he gasped.

“Wearing one. You ready?”

“Yuh.”

At first it felt a lot like Chungha’s strap-on. Maybe it would have been exactly the same without Jungkook’s deep scent covering them like a blanket. He felt the heat of it first, the smooth head pressed up against his ass, then a blunt force way too big to fit anywhere, then a feeling like that of swallowing something too big for this throat, an ache that radiated up his stomach and swelled into his body.

“Shh,” he heard. “Shh, baby. You’re okay.”

He let himself scream a little, letting his lungs and throat rattle high and breathy.

“Does it hurt?” Jungkook squeaked in his ear.

“No!” Namjoon squeezed the pillow with all the strength he could force out and struggled to breathe. Jungkook held absolutely still. “It actually doesn’t,” Namjoon gasped. The initial ache subsided slowly, feeling more and more like a weird pole lodged in his ass and less like being electrocuted. “It’s just a lot.”

“It ain’t even half in,” Jungkook said. “You sure about this?”

“Don’t stop now!”

“How the hell are you this tight?” Jungkook squeaked. “Please, can I move? Please, please. Namjoon, please.”

“Slow.”

Jungkook moved with stunning force and the radiating ache of pleasure returned. Namjoon’s hands tightened in the sheets. “Fuck, Joonie,” Jungkook hissed. His warm hand squeezed the back of Namjoon’s neck. He drew out and left a strange emptiness behind him. He thrust forward. Namjoon’s breath left his lungs. His dick strained under the weight of pleasure. A numb burning like the need to pee came alongside the sensitivity that Chungha had taught him was his prostate. No matter how hard it was to find, Jungkook’s massive cock was too big to miss it.

“God, that’s...” he gasped. “That’s gonna hurt tomorrow.”

Jungkook kissed the middle of his back and held tantalizingly still for a moment, then he began thrusting shallowly, driving friction all the way into Namjoon’s core, into what might have been his lower stomach. Namjoon breathed in campfire and let a feeling like mindlessness take over, head shut to anything but the feeling of Jungkook’s cock in him.

He came almost without noticing. The pleasure turned a corner from a simmer to a boil and then every stroke hurt. He couldn’t speak. The cock in him pulled mercifully out and Namjoon lay on his side, ears ringing. When he thought to check, cum trailed from the end of his cock onto the sheets. “Oh,” he said.

A hand pressed his knees together. One very slick, very large cock slid between his thighs, condom still turning the grotesquely dark red a strange pale tan. He closed his eyes and breathed, waiting to see what happened next.

“Joon?” He heard when the thrusting between his thighs stopped.

“Huh?”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m good.”

“You don’t—are you sure? Namjoon?” A hand cupped his cheek.

“I just get so sleepy,” he said.

Somewhere in the following haze, something cool and wet rubbed between his legs. A bottle pressed against his mouth and he drank until it was empty. He was jostled through different smells, fresher air, and then he was under a warm shower head, Jungkook leaning against him as he carefully washed his vibrator with a special cleanser, then leaning against him as he washed his hair.

“Okay,” he said. “Coming back now.” He opened his eyes. He’d expected Jungkook’s big, round pupils and wet hair, a worried expression, a cute smile. Jungkook looked haggard, hair stuck to his face, eyes shadowed. He breathed deep and heavy through his mouth.

“Dude,” Namjoon said.

“Wave’s not over.” Jungkook fumbled with the soap, trying to clean the stickiness from Namjoon’s stomach.

Affection pulled into Namjoon’s tired head. He rubbed his thumb over Jungkook’s cheek and watched him push into it with those long eyelashes fluttering. “What do you need?” he asked.

A bit of the normal Jungkook appeared as his eyebrows screwed up. He looked away, ashamed. “Can I jerk off real quick? You can get out first if you want.”

Namjoon sank to his knees without thinking and backed Jungkook against the cold shower wall. He’d only blown someone a couple times, the one male fuck-buddy he’d had who’d been a little too impatient for blow-jobs, so he watched Jungkook shyly as he sucked what he could, barely able to open his mouth wide enough. Frustrated, Namjoon pushed a hand between his legs, found where the vibrator had made him sloppy and open, and pushed in. “Oh,” Jungkook sighed and sagged against the wall. Namjoon licked up the side of Jungkook’s cock, fit it in his free hand, and massaged slowly as Jungkook leaned his head back against the wall and trembled. He scratched harmlessly at Namjoon’s hair.

“Baby,” Namjoon whispered against the side of Jungkook’s cock and heard a sob. As Namjoon leaned down to suck on of his balls into his mouth, Jungkook came down his back.

“How long do waves last?” Namjoon asked as they packed up the shower stuff, preparing to head back to Jungkook’s room. Jungkook was already beginning to wobble again.

“Up to five hours but I think this one will only be another thirty minutes. Do you think you’re up to it? You can always go.”

“I’m—”

“Namjoon,” Jungkook stopped them, both in only towels at the bathroom door, and put his hands on Namjoon’s cheeks. He stared earnestly into Namjoon’s face. “You can always leave. As soon as you want. Promise me if you ever want to go, you’ll go immediately.”

Namjoon nodded quickly. “I’ll go. Jungkook, I’m gonna need to leave in an hour to get ready for my night class. I wasn’t planning on staying the whole time.”

Jungkook looked hurt, then relieved, then embarrassed. “You think you can go again before then?”

“Well, we didn’t go very long the first time, so let’s try.”

Namjoon lay out on his side across the bed, one leg clutched to his chest as Jungkook pushed languidly into him. The pheromone high had run itself out as Namjoon tired, but the stretch faded to a dull ache that let him feel every easy push. The sun set slowly through the blinds, clouds casting the gleam in shadow until it came back a darker orange in Namjoon’s blurry vision.

As Jungkook shuffled to change position, Namjoon suddenly reached up and pulled him close. Jungkook’s sweet voice squeaked in his ear. His thick arms scrambled for balance. “Wanna snuggle,” Namjoon murmured. Jungkook rolled him onto his back and licked into his mouth with puppy-like enthusiasm. His hips slapped against Namjoon’s ass in long thrusts that made his legs shake.

“So pretty,” Jungkook breathed.

“Ugh.” He put his hands over his face. “Chungha said that too.”

Jungkook let out a shaky laugh. He hunkered over Namjoon, a sculpted, shining being of toned muscle and power that whimpered when Namjoon weaved their fingers together. “Smell so good,” he whispered with his head against Namjoon’s chest.

“Do I?”

“Smells so much like you. Your sweat. And before we showered, you smelled—” He interrupted himself with an involuntary twitch of his hips. “Tasty as fuck. Wanna.” He started thrusting again and Namjoon could only bend under the abundance of feeling, almost overstimulated already. Sharp little teeth tugged gently at one of his nipples. Warm hands clutched under his shoulders as if forcing him down with every thrust.

Again, orgasm came far too quickly, an irresistible building wave that crashed the minute Jungkook wrapped a hand around Namjoon’s cock. Jungkook followed him over and stayed there for a heavy minute, heaving breaths in and out with his head on Namjoon’s chest. They grunted and stumbled through cleaning up. Sleepiness pulled at Namjoon’s eyelids as Jungkook carefully wiped him down with wet wipes. He put Namjoon’s clothes on the bed next to him. “You have class,” he said.

“Oh yeah.”

“Lasagna first.”

“Huh?”

“Gotta keep your energy up.”

As Namjoon sat carefully in the living room, trying to ignore the growing ache in his ass, Jungkook heated up lasagna and hot water with his eyes in the middle distance. “Are you gonna be okay?” Namjoon said.

“Wave’s over. I’m gonna sleep.” A bite of lasagna fell off his fork before he got it to his mouth. He started scraping at it again. Namjoon pulled his hoodie tighter around his shoulders and realized it was Jungkook’s, the campfire scent on it gentle enough to be mostly ignored. He put his nose in it.

“Are you coming back?” Jungkook said.

Namjoon nodded for a moment and then really thought about it and tried to take it back. “I-”

“I’d love it if you did but I don’t want to wear you out. You should probably go home and get enough rest.”

Namjoon felt mostly disappointed, imagining sleeping next to Jungkook in his bed, wrapped around each other, waking up to kisses. “I do have homework to do.”

Jungkook nodded dejectedly. “I don’t know how long I’m going to sleep.”

“How about I see how I feel after class, and if I think I’ll be okay, I’ll head over here after I finish my reading,” Namjoon said, already knowing he’d be coming back, not so much for the sex, but because staying away seemed like a waste after missing out on him for so long. Even sitting in the same room, both stinking of the same sex, Namjoon felt as if he didn’t quite have what he wanted yet.

Jungkook’s softest smile bunched up his little cheeks, bunny teeth just showing. “Study hard,” he said, and Namjoon trudged out the door.

As the clear evening air hit Namjoon like a bucket of freezing water, Jinsoul walked past him. She didn’t stop or greet him, just gave him one bug-eyed, open-mouthed stare that told Namjoon everything he needed to know about the way he smelled. His whole head rang like an alarm bell of shame. He took the entire walk back with his hood up and his head down, wondering what every person he passed thought of him, feeling like he had a scarlet letter on his chest, a big Ω.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god,” Yoongi said as Namjoon walked back into the dorm.

“Is it that bad?”

“I was going to ask you to go make some tea for Taehyung but never mind.”

“I have my night class tonight.”

“Shower first.”

Namjoon stepped tiredly into his third shower of the day, a little worried about how stiffly his legs moved. His dick still stung with sensitivity. As he walked to class, he sent Jungkook, I think I’m gonna need to tap out and rest until tomorrow.

thought so. take some painkiller

Throughout the three-hour lecture, Namjoon’s attention drifted back to the scent of Jungkook’s hoodie, still around him like a constant hug. He tuned into the lecture long enough to ask some questions about the reading, and then sank into restlessness. It wasn’t until the last thirty minutes that he noticed the girl next to him holding her scarf over her nose and leaning away.

After class, Yoongi came into Namjoon’s room and climbed onto the bed. “The Essential Analects of Confucius,” he read off the spine of Namjoon’s book. “What class is that for?”

“Eastern Thought and Ethics. I’ve read this for a different class already so I’m just skimming. Do I stink?”

“Yeah.”

“I took a shower,” he whined.

“Believe me, you don’t smell as bad as Taehyung and you can’t possibly smell as bad as Jungkook does right now. You just smell like alpha. A little like rut, but mostly like alpha.”

“Really? A girl in my class was leaning away from me.”

“Some people do that around alphas.”

Namjoon dropped his book onto his knees and thought about how Jungkook said he noticed when Namjoon held his breath. He’d have to be awfully attuned to things like that to notice it, must have been watching people around him recoil for years. “Can you get me some painkiller?”

Yoongi returned with the bottle and climbed laboriously back onto the bed, grumbling about how high Namjoon had it lofted. “So how was it?”

“Um.” Namjoon braced for whatever teasing was coming, whatever Yoongi thought about his best friend getting the lights fucked out of him by the baby alpha.

“You’re under contract to tell me about it.”

“It was a lot.”

“Yeah?”

“Pretty hot. My ass hurts.”

“Is that all I get? I drag your ass through three and a half years of school and spill every detail about my sex life to you for a few sentence fragments about the hottest sex of your life?”

Namjoon finally chuckled. “His dick is huge, Yoongi. It’s ridiculous. I’m kind of new at this. He's not shy about using it either.”

Yoongi grimaced, but the edges of his mouth kept quirking up. “So did you enjoy it?”

“I’m trying to come to terms with how much I enjoyed it.”

“Ah.”

Namjoon flipped through the pages of his book, wondering what else there was to say. Yoongi sat unusually straight, staring at him and looking like he was trying not to grin. “I’m not built for this obviously, but damn.”

“You seem kind of worn out. Are you going back?”

“I have my morning class tomorrow, so I’ll probably go back after that.”

“How long do you think it’s going to last?”

“I haven’t asked.”

“Is he cute?”

“Huh?”

Yoongi was still biting down a smile. “I know you like ‘em desperate. Was he cute?”

Namjoon hadn’t really been paying attention to ‘cute’ through all his delirious pleasure, but he supposed shaky, needy, demanding Jungkook had been precious in his own way. “He’s always cute, but yeah. Less so than normal though. More intimidatingly and alarmingly sexy.”

Yoongi hummed, head cocked to the side like he couldn’t picture it. Namjoon brought the sleeve of Jungkook’s hoodie up to his nose and breathed in, getting another warm blast of campfire scent. Something in his chest ached for Jungkook, a need like a hand around his lungs. “I might go back over there tonight,” Namjoon said. “Make sure he’s staying hydrated. He was kind of in a bad way when I got over there.”

“Don’t let him wear you out, old man.”

“Ruts can’t be all sex, right? I’ve heard there’s also lots of snuggling.”

“You two are gonna be absolutely sickening as a couple.”

“Payback time, bitch.”

Yoongi left him to read with a proud pat on the knee. Namjoon struggled to focus, Jungkook’s now ubiquitous scent sneaking up on him and making his concentration fizzle. When he finished his reading, he got as far as sticking a desperate hand down his boxers before he grit his teeth and pulled himself up out of bed to pack an overnight bag and his books for classes the next morning.

“Have fun,” Seokjin said over his bedtime tea, lounging in silk pajamas on the couch.

Jungkook didn’t answer his texts, but opened his bedroom door before Namjoon could knock, shamelessly naked, and pulled him gently inside with hands around his waist and his soft lips all over Namjoon’s face. The lewd scent of his room was like a painkiller, driving the tiredness out of Namjoon’s limbs and the ache from his ass. When Jungkook pushed in, his body accepted it without complaint, an unfamiliar but powerful relief filling him like fresh air.

“You didn’t have to come back,” Jungkook whispered against his back.

“I missed you.”

Jungkook made a breathy, groaning noise and left a wet kiss on Namjoon’s shoulder blade.

Namjoon came into Jungkook’s hand within a few minutes and then lay quietly as Jungkook cleaned them up and fussed over the sheets. He drifted in and out of sleep under a pile of blankets until Jungkook arrived with plates of lasagna and water bottles. “Sit up here. You gotta eat.” He pulled Namjoon to lie against his chest and ate around his shoulders with his legs pressed warmly to Namjoon’s sides. His scent bloomed around Namjoon like a cloud, leaving him spacey and sleepy. “We have to get you to sleep,” Jungkook said, rushing through his food. “You have class tomorrow.”

“Maybe I should skip it.”

“I mean, maybe, but I know you hate missing class.”

“It’s what, two a.m. now? I’m not getting enough sleep no matter what now.”

“It’s only one.” He kissed the top of Namjoon’s head. “Go brush your teeth.”

Namjoon got up obediently and stumbled away to the bathroom as Jungkook fussed in the kitchen. He was back in bed and asleep before Jungkook joined him.

Dreams came fitfully, every one of them possessed by an insatiable lust, the vague, frantic search for a lost dildo or a race to a nameless prize that Taehyung and Taeyong were hiding from him, and his dick felt so hard it might fall off.

He woke to Jungkook panting and squirming against him.
“…just for a minute. Sorry. Joon, please.”

“Hm?”

“Can I just—Joon, god. Ugh. Just rub off against you or something? I’m fucking dying.”

“Wuh time is it? Shou’ I geddup?”

“’s 4:30 in the morning. Please, Namjoon. Please, it hurts.”

“Do wha’ever you need,” Namjoon said, spreading his legs. Immediately, he felt a wet mouth gulp his cock down, which must have been as hard as it felt in his dreams. A wanton moan left his mouth, head twisting on the pillow, sleepiness making him sensitive. “Fuck, baby, that’s good,” he breathed and grabbed handfuls of Jungkook’s hair, who gasped and pulled up, coughing. “Shit, sorry.”

“You’re good.”

Jungkook rolled him onto his side like he weighed nothing and he flopped there like a sandbag. A sharp click of a cap opening shook him to try to open his eyes, then Jungkook’s entire length slid into him like two puzzle pieces slotting naturally into place.

He started in at a desperate pace unequal to the hour, a race in the blanketing darkness that Namjoon received with a grateful body. A dull ache came alongside the flood of pleasure that Namjoon would be more concerned about in the morning, but Jungkook had a hand around his cock, his scent filthy and intoxicating on the air.

Sleep found him minutes after he finished, before Jungkook had finished rutting his way through the aftershocks against the curve of Namjoon’s ass.

He woke around sunrise to Jungkook biting his nipple. “Ow. Wuh?”

“You have class in an hour.”

“Whole hour?”

“We have shit to do before you leave.”

The pheromone high must have left him sometime in the night because morning hit him like a brick between the eyes. “Ohhhhh,” he groaned, and rolled face down into the pillow, trying to drown the world. Everything felt grainy, just the edge of painful and gross. Jungkook’s hands over his skin came with an edge of sensitivity he wasn’t ready to handle.

“You okay?” Jungkook asked, patting gently.

“Why is anyone alive?”

“Um. Can I sit on your dick?”

Namjoon dick sat up and begged. He rolled slowly back over and nodded.

Jungkook worked too quickly for ass o'clock in the morning. He speared himself on Namjoon’s cock and sat there, rocking urgently as Namjoon tried to blink the blur from his vision and truly appreciate having his dick in Jungkook for the first time.

Those beautiful abs arched into his touch, trembling. His pecs and nipples cast angular shadows on his shimmering skin as the dawn light drifted into the room, bedhead bouncing. Though he must have slept less than Namjoon, his complexion glowed.

“You with me?” Jungkook asked.

Namjoon could only nod. A thick thigh flexed under his palm. The perfect artist’s rendering of male anatomy shuddered and tensed above him. He wrapped a hand around Jungkook’s cock and got two long strokes down the entire length before Jungkook whimpered, hiccupped, and came onto Namjoon’s stomach.

He didn’t stop, just curled over with broken moans and shaking thighs. His jaw tensed and he rocked in faster, smaller waves. Namjoon’s dick throbbed dangerously. “Beautiful,” he breathed. He cupped Jungkook’s cheek. Jungkook pressed into it and Namjoon’s arm almost gave out.

He finger-fucked Jungkook in the shower too, soap still sliding off their bodies as he struggled to keep the lube working. Jungkook guided Namjoon’s hand over his own cock, Namjoon already spent and done for the morning.

Though the wave wasn’t nearly over, Jungkook captured his cock in the hem of his sweatpants and prepared breakfast for them both. He stopped behind Namjoon after setting his cereal and coffee down and pressed his nose against Namjoon’s scalp. “You smell so much like me,” he murmured. “Even with the soap.”

“I don’t mind. You smell good.”

“Are you sure? I mean, I like it.”

Namjoon shrugged. “It’ll get me some looks but I’ll deal. It might be kinda, uh, distracting.”

“Have some Oreos and chocolate too. You’re gonna need the energy.”

After coffee and chocolate, Namjoon arrived in class wired but unfocused. His frequent class partner, Jackson Wang, sat up straight in his seat. “Wow, dude. Oh my god.”

Namjoon sat down at his desk and realized just how much his ass hurt. “Yeah,” he muttered.

“You look fucking dead, bro,” Jackson whispered. “Jungkook?”

He nodded.

“Wow. Damn. Get it, bro. Didn’t see that coming.”

Keeping his eyes open felt like he was rubbing sand in them. Warmth burned against his skin. He fumbled through class discussion, staring at his notes on the reading without remembering what they meant.

Afterwards, the professor stopped him on the way out the door. “Are you okay? You seem really off.” She stepped within three feet of him and blinked. “Oh.”

“I’ll survive,” Namjoon said weakly, stepping back again.

“Right. Um.” She couldn’t look him in the eye. “Sorry. Just like to check in with my students when they’re acting strange. You know you can skip classes, right?”

“It’s not an excused absence.”

She snorted. “There’s the question of whether it’s allowed and then the question of whether or not you should. We had this talk about you going to class with a cold last semester. I think there’s such a thing as being too good of a student.”

“Right.” Jackson gave him an over-enthusiastic pat on the back on the way out and Namjoon’s staticky brain began to realize that he felt extremely uncomfortable. “Gonna go take a nap.”

“Take care of yourself,” she said.

 

 

The smell of eggs and bacon woke Namjoon from his nap. He cracked an eye open and saw Seokjin there with a plate of breakfast food and a glass of orange juice.

“Hrrng?”

“Your next class is in a half hour and you haven’t eaten lunch.”

Namjoon sat up slowly. For a few seconds, he could smell Jungkook’s dirty smoke scent, almost like Lapsang tea diluted in his room. Then his nose got used to it again and it faded. “Shit. I still smell like Jungkook.”

Seokjin nodded. He helped Namjoon arrange his pillows to sit up and put his food on his lap. “Do you have your homework done for class?”

“Yuh. I work two days ahead of my classes. Toast. Nice. I love breakfast in bed.”

“Sorry I don’t have an actual tray.” Seokjin flopped into Namjoon’s desk chair. “I was making a load of food for Taehyung and thought I’d double it up.”

“Aww. Thank you. How’s he doing?”

“Better than you at this point. It’s wearing off quickly since it started so intense.”

“Hm.”

Namjoon ate, feeling like his stomach had turned into a vacuum. Seokjin took out his phone and waited for him. A blank state of tiredness filled Namjoon’s head, clogging his responses. He lifted Jungkook’s hoodie sleeve to his nose again and let the smell fill him with warmth.

“Look, Namjoon. Don’t overdo it, okay?”

“Huh?”

Seokjin scowled at the ground. “You’re worrying me. Please remember to take care of yourself. You’re not built for this and you’re not getting time off class.”

“I’m here napping, aren’t I?”

“Yeah, that’s good. I get to feed you.”

“How’s radio holding up?”

“It caught fire yesterday.”

“What?!”

“Kidding. I’ve filled your water bottle with tea to take to class. It should be cool enough to drink now.”

“Thanks. Really, Seokjin. You’re doing too much.”

“This is not how I expected things to go with you two.”

Namjoon blinked at him, waiting for him to elaborate, but he seemed to already be past his comfortable sharing point. He’d always had trouble speaking sincerely, never shared his feelings with the group, preferred to let Yoongi speak for both of them. He gathered Namjoon’s dishes with his lips pursed and Namjoon could sense it, some more serious reservations, an amount of concern for Namjoon that went beyond how he was physically holding up.

Namjoon could hardly pay attention in class as his stomach tied itself in knots over Seokjin’s quiet disapproval. And how many hours now had Jungkook gone without help? Nearly nine now after that long nap. Had he eaten? Had he fucked himself through a wave with his vibrator?

Yoongi met Namjoon in the kitchen after class and handed him a grocery bag of Tupperware containers. “If you’re going back to Jungkook, take those to him and make sure you both eat.”

“I have a shift on radio.”

“I’m taking your shift. Got an essay to write anyway. I figured you’d be heading back over.”

Namjoon nodded, body already itching to go. “Yeah, gotta make sure he eats.”

“Among other things,” Yoongi muttered. “Stay hydrated.”

Jungkook’s next door neighbor blocked Namjoon’s path into their kitchen, frying burgers on the stove. “Sorry,” he muttered and tried to back out quick.

“Hey, one minute,” she said and tugged him back by the hoodie with one thick arm that pulled him like he weighed nothing. She opened the cabinet, hand still gripping his sleeve, and pulled a box down from the top shelf. Up close, her scent reminded him of sand in the sun, a little blistering and gritty but friendly and familiar. “This tea is good for rut. Make your boy drink it.”

“Oh shit. Thanks.”

She shrugged. “You can probably use it too. Use as much as you want. I’ll get more when I go home.”

He sniffed it and got a bitterly herbal scent, closer to mate than tea. “Thanks again. I’ll make sure he drinks some.”

“He’s been using chamomile and that just doesn’t cut it. I don’t know how much help he’s okay with during ruts so you’re probably a better person than me to get it to him, but he’s been having a really rough time.”

“Oh really? Gotta get in there.”

She gave him a pat on the back and a grin that made her look a little shark-like. “Brave man. You’re a good dude.” She went back to her burgers, putting the tea on top of the microwave next to Jungkook’s Oreos.

Jungkook didn’t respond to a knock but his door swung open. He lay barely covered in his thin sheets on the bed, these ones a faded navy with bleach stains that looked too old and misused to be anything but rags. His tan skin looked like satin in comparison, rising in gentle curves out of the bed. Namjoon dropped the forgotten food on the desk and kicked off his shoes to climb in next to him. Jungkook stirred just enough to throw an arm around Namjoon and tug him close, and then drifted back to sleep.

The contrast between Jungkook’s baking skin and the cool air outside the sheets had Namjoon shivering and jamming in closer. The urge to sleep evaporated as he lay there so close to the scent of rut pouring into his nose, his sudden desire to be good, his sudden need for skin on skin contact.

And deeper than that, Namjoon couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes. Jungkook’s long lashes and rounded nose were so close, the angelic curve of his lips, his soft hair, his smooth cheeks, the cut of his jaw. Breathless, Namjoon worked a hand up and brushed a thumb over Jungkook’s bottom lip, chapped with fever. He placed a soft kiss on the side of Jungkook’s mouth, his nose, his chin.

Jungkook let out the softest laugh. Those big brown eyes cracked open, eyebags puffy and dragging his lids closed. “Can’t just let me sleep?” he whispered.

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Jungkook leaned forward and kissed him again. “I’d rather kiss you than sleep.” But his eyes were closed again and his face slackened slowly. His breathing evened out. Namjoon’s throat closed to tamp down the involuntary cooing and giggles. He lay there and stared until the warmth of the bed dragged him under too.

He woke to the sound of Jungkook clattering silverware around. The sun had gone down outside. “Did Seokjin send this over?”

Namjoon turned slowly and saw Jungkook fussing with steaming food containers on the desk. “I found these when I woke up. Dinnertime!”

“Yoongi sent them actually. Can I? Oh shit, is that bulgogi?”

“Bulgogi bowls,” Jungkook said with a smile. “I think this is the Hello Fresh recipe he got last semester. I heated them both up. Here’s some chopsticks.”

“Thanks. This is the second time I’ve been fed in bed today.”

Jungkook beamed. A quiet buzzing could just be heard over the sound of the building’s heating and the clatter of chopsticks against the glass containers.

“Are you in a wave?”

“Uh-huh. It’s not too bad though. I took the edge off so we could eat.”

“Tea. You gotta drink the tea.”

“Right now?”

“Your neighbor gave me good tea for rut.”

“Jacky did?”

“Is that her name? Yeah. It’s on the microwave. She says we should both drink some.”

Jungkook nodded, looking surprised. “I wish I knew her better. She’s been really cool this whole week, like leaving water bottles outside the door and letting me have all the time in the bathroom that I want. We should definitely drink some later.”

Despite how empty Namjoon’s stomach felt, he ate slowly, attention on the way Jungkook squirmed in his desk chair, how he shoveled food into his mouth with complete focus for a few minutes and then stopped in the middle of a mouthful to sit very still with his eyes closed and his shoulders tense. Eventually he dropped everything and grabbed a handful of tissues. He yanked the band of his sweatpants down and fisted himself quickly until he came into the tissues, then shuddered with his forehead on the desk for a while before tucking himself back in and throwing the tissues away.

He smirked at Namjoon. “I can smell it—”

“When I get turned on. Yeah.”

“We’ll get there in a minute, honey.”

Jungkook made tea while Namjoon finished eating, then took his dishes and washed them. Namjoon stumbled around with his fuzzy brain and put up polite but unconvincing protest about how he should be helping more.

Back in bed, Namjoon tugged off his clothes, preparing for whatever rough, fast sex Jungkook needed before they crashed back to sleep. But Jungkook came up slowly, settling himself between Namjoon’s legs looking very naked and very small, his brightest smile on his face as he stared down. “It’s actually feeling really good now,” he said and bent to kiss Namjoon’s knee.

“The rut is?” Namjoon said. His dick looked pathetically small, soft on his belly with Jungkook’s monster of a cock in full view between his legs. The heavy alpha musk made it a little hard to focus.

“Yeah.” He lifted Namjoon’s leg and kissed his ankle.

“Wuh?”

Jungkook shuffled closer until Namjoon’s thigh pressed fully up against his chest. Jungkook turned his head and bit Namjoon’s calf, eyes closed, still smiling. “Pretty legs,” he said in his tiny voice, and hugged Namjoon’s thigh closer. The stretch burned just a little but Namjoon’s brain emptied of even more sense as his dick decided it really liked that. “I’ve been wanting to see these up close for years.”

“Uh?”

“They’re so long. You could be a model, Joon.”

“A-ah. So could you.”

“Yeah right. Lemme just.” Jungkook’s dick pressed heavily against Namjoon’s balls and tickled up his thigh. He ran his hands up and down, touch shivery and light. Namjoon’s dick plumped with astonishing speed as Jungkook kneaded happily as his thigh, cheek rubbing against his leg.

“You really like…my legs?”

Jungkook finally scooted backwards so he could press Namjoon’s thigh back and leave light kisses down the inside. He nipped every few inches, leaving little red marks behind on the skin that faded quickly but left a tingling pressure behind. Namjoon’s breath quickened. “They’re so nice,” Jungkook said. He sat up and rocked back against the bed, nose scrunched, his hands running up and down Namjoon’s thighs. He pressed them back and dug his thumbs into the muscle, making Namjoon hold them open and shake with his perfectly average cock completely exposed.

Jungkook leaned forward suddenly, face against Namjoon’s thigh where his hand wrapped around it, hair tickling Namjoon’s stomach. He tensed up, becoming small, one hand between his legs. His shaky gasps puffed against Namjoon’s skin until he held his breath and whimpered. When he sat up, cloudy white liquid covered his hand. Another rush of campfire scent tickled Namjoon’s nose.

“How can you keep producing so much of that stuff?” Namjoon said as Jungkook fumbled for tissues. He just shrugged, equally bewildered.

“Looking a bit needy there,” he said, nodding at Namjoon’s hard-on.

“Yeah, you think?”

“I got you,” Jungkook said, and nestled his face right down against Namjoon’s balls with his tongue out. “Smells so good.”

“Fuck. What?”

“Uh-huh.” A giddy heat briefly engulfed one of Namjoon’s balls. He had time to yelp before Jungkook pulled off. He licked a long path up Namjoon’s dick—or a short one, comparatively, and swallowed him down to the root. Namjoon yanked Jungkook’s fitted sheet off the corner of the bed and accidentally smacked himself in the chest. One of Jungkook’s hands wrapped around his hip and held him down.

“You’re gonna make me cum.”

Jungkook hummed with the tip of Namjoon’s cock against the back of his throat and Namjoon scrambled for a new handhold as his whole body tensed with it. “Okay, okay,” Jungkook murmured and pulled off.

“Nooooo,” Namjoon groaned as orgasm hovered there dangerously on the edge, waiting to explode.

“Patience, sweetheart.”

Namjoon’s stomach flopped again, dick throbbing like it was trying to cum without help. A condom packet ripped open and Namjoon blinked the sweat out of his eyes to watch Jungkook roll it all the way down and down his cock. His skin gleamed, dewy and flushed, lips glossy, dick standing straight against his stomach and deeply red. His hair stuck to his forehead. The dazed, haggard look to his previous waves had left his face though, and even with hooded eyes and panting lips, he looked comfortable and pleased.

“You pulled my sheets off the bed,” Jungkook said with a grin, noticing for the first time.

“Sorry.”

“It’s good. Can you hold onto the bed frame for me?”

“You really care about the sheets that much?”

Jungkook made a “tch” noise and cocked his head to the side, staring Namjoon down with his half-lidded eyes and that satisfied smirk on his face. With his breath trapped at the top of his throat, Namjoon slowly slid his hands over his head and found the metal bed frame poking up just over the top of the mattress. He gripped it and Jungkook rewarded him by pushing lube into Namjoon’s unresisting hole.

“Ugh, you’re so perfect,” Jungkook said, lazily massaging the lube deeper like he was doing no more than preparing a fleshlight. “So ready for me.” The callousness of it had Namjoon melting like overheated wax, wilted by the indignity of being toyed with. His noise of protest came out a desperate groan of need.

Jungkook’s hands burned hot as they pushed, lube-wet and powerful up Namjoon’s thighs, folding him back to line up and push in. Like always, the swelling pressure of Jungkook’s cock filling him felt more like his soul was being punched out from the inside. Namjoon couldn’t help but make stupid noises, vision blurred and lungs malfunctioning. His thighs burned, his back ached from arching.

Jungkook bottomed out with a gasp and collapsed over Namjoon’s chest where he got his teeth around the bottom of a pec and chewed lightly like he needed something to do with his mouth.

Namjoon let go of the bed frame to hold onto the back of Jungkook’s head. “Ah-ah, bed fr—oh.” Namjoon scratched his scalp with one hand and rubbed his back with the other. “Th-that’s fine, I gue—hnn.” His hips rocked frantically into Namjoon in quick pulses that made Namjoon tense and squirm, oversensitive. The sweaty skin of Jungkook’s stomach brushed over his neglected cock, breath hot over his nipple. Vibrator buzzing came muffled through the air. Namjoon clenched his thighs around Jungkook’s waist and he whimpered.

“Oh, I’m gonna cum.”

“Me first,” Jungkook grunted. As if on command, he froze and trembled, dick twitching. An orgasm waited impatiently right within reach for Namjoon, but Jungkook pulled out with a horrifying suctioning noise and panted above him with eyes screwed shut.

Namjoon groaned. “Stop edging me!”

“Sorry. I don’t mean to. Gotta get another condom.” He crawled over Namjoon’s body to grab it, dick trailing wetly across his hip and stomach. “Turn over,” he said, patting Namjoon’s hip.

“Good. Yeah. My hips hurt the other way.”

“Stretching is good for you.”

“Brat.”

Jungkook kissed Namjoon’s back and gave him a quick but tight hug around the waist before pushing him chest down into the sheets with his hips in his lap. He slid right back in and relief shivered its way through Namjoon’s every limb. He stopped struggling for a more dignified position and just savored it, rocking his hips to feel it. “There you go,” Jungkook breathed. His hand ran slowly up Namjoon’s back. “How’s it feel?”

“Guh-good.”

“So amazing. I’ve never taken anything this big,” Jungkook said.

“Fucking try it sometime.”

Jungkook finally started working with more thorough, relaxed strokes than Namjoon had felt from him yet, relentless and demanding but patient. Namjoon pressed his face into the campfire-smelling sheets to muffle his whimpering and smeared drool all across them. He could feel Jungkook’s hands on his ass, on his back, his sides, his hips, thumbs spreading him apart, digging into his thighs. Shy Jungkook—who shared soft love songs with him in the library and blushed when he talked about himself—fucking taking what he wanted from Namjoon’s body with both greed and reverence.

He made it five minutes before his cock gave up on waiting for touch and spit pathetically into the sheets with a shuddering, aching orgasm that went on almost painfully for far too long and left him shaking over Jungkook’s thighs.

When his ears weren’t ringing quite so badly and his body wasn’t locked up in aftershocks, he could feel Jungkook frozen up behind him, gasping with his lovely, soft voice, dick buried to the hilt in Namjoon’s clenching ass.

“Kook—Kook, oh my god, Kook, you gotta—fuck—hurts—”

Jungkook pulled out with an unbearably long slide that made Namjoon’s eyes water.

“Ugh, still need more,” Jungkook whined as he pulled off the condom.

“I’m done.”

“Yuh-huh.”

Namjoon lay on his back, staring at the starry tapestry on Jungkook’s ceiling. Jungkook’s head landed on his upper arm, head angled towards his armpit and eyebrows pinched. He fisted his cock with one hand and stretched the other behind himself.

“What does it feel like?” Namjoon asked.

“Like—there’s static electricity in my guts—and it needs—” He groaned and left his cock alone for a second to flick a finger across his nipple. “Like. There’s something inside me pressing on my. Stuff. And I gotta get it out. Like there’s an actual fire under my ass.”

“How’s it feel with me here?”

Jungkook nuzzled closer to Namjoon’s chest, mouth open as he breathed in. “So good,” he breathed. “So much better. Like everything I just said except it feels good.”

Namjoon wrapped his arm around Jungkook’s head and pulled him up awkwardly by the hair. Jungkook complied easily, mouth angled up where Namjoon could nibble his lower lip and tangle their tongues together.

With a growing shiver, Jungkook’s lazy work turned desperate. Namjoon leaned over him, watching those biceps and forearms straining as Jungkook worked himself, every muscle in his body stretched into sharp relief, eyes squeezed shut and neck barred, hair still wrapped around Namjoon’s fingers. Namjoon reached between Jungkook’s legs and grabbed the vibrator, found a button and pressed it. The buzzing kicked up a pitch. Jungkook clung to his arm, face pressed to his skin. Namjoon kissed the top of his head and rock the vibrator deeper.

The comedown of an alpha high made itself apparent with Namjoon’s clearing mind and aching body. Jungkook’s sticky hand came off his cock to brace against Namjoon’s stomach. He threw a leg over Namjoon’s hips. Namjoon felt protectiveness and control rising into him like the filling of a deflated balloon “Fuck, you’re gonna make me hard again,” Namjoon murmured.

“Eung! J—ah. Mm.”

“You okay?”

“Ahh!”

“Where’d all the alpha control go, baby?”

Both of Jungkook’s hands squeezed against Namjoon’s skin. He tipped his face back up to meet Namjoon’s eyes with what was supposed to be a glare, wrecked by the tears filling his eyes, his gaping lips. “Please,” he whispered.

Heart pounding with that old, familiar sense of power, Namjoon pushed him onto his back, spread his legs apart. Jungkook flopped there as Namjoon grabbed his cock and stroked, admiring. “Think your rut will be over soon?”

“Mm-hm. ‘s gonna get harder.”

“Harder than this?” Namjoon said, squeezing his stiff, angry red cock.

“Harder to cum.”

“Oh yikes.”

He shuffled down and fit as much of Jungkook’s cock into his mouth as he could, which wasn’t a lot, and satisfied himself with sucking on the head as he fisted the rest. The vibrator hummed in his hand. Jungkook struggled to clutch the sheets where they lay loose on the bed, then reached over his head and grabbed the bed frame.

“Good boy,” Namjoon said.

“Oh, fuck you, oh my god, please go faster. Take out the vibrator. Fuck me.”

“I’m not gonna be able to get hard for a bit. Sorry.”

“Ugh.”

Namjoon wrapped his lips around Jungkook’s cock again, watched the muscles in his stomach jump in response. “Touch yourself,” Namjoon said. Jungkook let go of the bed frame and ran his hands down his chest. One got stuck on a nipple, rolling it between his fingers. The other ran down to his abs and stayed there, trailing over them again and again.

“So unreal,” Namjoon said. “Look at you. You know you’re hot.”

Jungkook writhed, thighs squeezing in, back twisting. He panted, shook, came in a short white burst into Namjoon’s hand. Namjoon slunk up Jungkook’s shaking body, kissing each muscle and freckle until he mouthed over Jungkook’s open lips.

“V—oh, Nam—mm—vib—oh—fuck, Joon, vibe.” Namjoon reached down to pull it out, moving away from Jungkook’s face. “N-no!” Jungkook yanked him with alarming strength down onto his chest, still tense and trembling with oversensitivity. “D-don’t go.”

“Can’t reach your vibe.”

“Rnng! Hah!” He kicked the sheets angrily and let Namjoon go long enough to pull it out, then squeezed him back against his chest. They lay smashed together in a sweaty, smelly heap until Jungkook stopped trembling.

“Lemme clean you up, baby,” Namjoon murmured and kissed his nose. Jungkook slowly let him go without opening his eyes. Namjoon slid out of bed and went for the wet wipes.

This time, it was Namjoon who stripped the bed and retrieved water, Namjoon who got them into the shower and washed Jungkook’s hair. An ache shot through his ass every time he took a step, but Jungkook could barely keep his eyes open. His scent seemed stale, almost wet like a fire that had just been put out. The dirt and musk was still there, but older and dimmer.

“I can tell you’re coming out of it.”

“I’m almost disappointed,” Jungkook mumbled. “That’s a first.”

Namjoon tipped his chin up so he could rinse his hair and couldn’t stop himself from peppering his swollen lips with little kisses. Jungkook arms looped loosely around his waist and he leaned heavily into him with his surprising weight. “Careful. It’s slippery in here.”

“Uh-huh,” Jungkook said, poking a finger between Namjoon’s ass cheeks and sliding easily into him. Namjoon squeaked and jerked out of the way.

“Cute,” Jungkook said while his head rolled tiredly against Namjoon’s shoulder, half asleep and needy.

He barely got Jungkook to eat a handful of Oreos before they climbed back into bed. Jungkook tucked himself against Namjoon’s chest without comment and dropped off to sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. With a deep, contented breath of Jungkook’s scent, Namjoon did the same.

 

 

“I’m skipping classes today.”

Jungkook slowed where he was rocking on Namjoon’s chest, dick trailing precum between his pecs. “No! Why?”

“I, um, got called out by a professor for being unfit for class participation on yesterday.”

Jungkook froze, eyes wide. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Namjoon said. “We did what we could about it.” The pheromone high covered the early morning like a gentle blanket, turning 5 a.m. into a cozy adventure, both of them keeping each other quiet with fingers and hands over and in mouths, giggling and pressing pillows over each other’s faces. Jungkook slapped Namjoon’s thigh too loudly and sent them into sex-stopping fits of laughter. Already sated and riding it out, Namjoon had agreed to let Jungkook fuck his tits. He didn’t have enough there to be satisfying, but Jungkook had a vibrator in again, an egg buzzing where it was strapped to the head of his dick, pushing through a puddle of lube between his pecs. Namjoon cupped his hand over it to feel the thick slide. “Really, it’s okay,” he said. “You can’t control it.”

“It’s not fun through. I know you like your privacy.”

“It’s not--I mean yeah, I do. Don’t blame yourself. I wanted this.”

“I keep thinking. If rut hadn’t hit this week, we would have gone on dates by now.” Jungkook’s thrusts stuttered a little. He gazed blearily at the wall. “I’ve been thinking about taking you to that winter festival northwest of here. Or cooking in your kitchen.”

“Yeah?”

“Back in the fall a few weeks ago I kept trying to get up the nerve to ask you out to that corn maze. Remember the sign for that in the dining hall?”

Namjoon shook his head.

Jungkook shuffled on his knees. The base of his vibrator dug into Namjoon’s stomach. Wet thumbs soothed over his nipples. “When we got back to school, I was going to ask you to the farmers market.”

“Baby,” Namjoon whispered. Dewy skin rippled above him in soft curves, looking more puffy than cut, the light presence of muscle under skin. How hard he worked for the gentle sculpt of his arms and chest, the flatness of his stomach? Was it the same way Chungha fought for her wiry strength? Other alphas filled as much space as possible, choking scent extending their reach to whole rooms. Namjoon floated in it like a snail in a fishtank.

With a strained groan, Jungkook came over Namjoon’s chest. He felt it pool hotly on his collarbone and run down his neck. With tired tenderness, Jungkook wiped it up and covered his lips and jaw with kisses. “You hate missing class,” he said.

“I’ve made my decision.”

Jungkook curled around his side, crushing him in with long arms and strong thighs. The remaining tackiness of the lube made Jungkook’s arm stick to Namjoon’s chest like they had magnets under their skin.

“I’ll stay in bed with you all day,” Jungkook murmured.

Namjoon kissed his forehead and breathed in the campfire scent, going just a little floatier as he squeezed his perfect, beautiful Jungkook close.

 

 

"I swear I'm nearly done," Jungkook growled against Namjoon's back.

"We just started." The ache in his ass had reached the point where not even the pheromone high covered it up, a dull throb that turned sharp when Jungkook's enormous cock punched into him. Jungkook whimpered, thighs trembling with every thrust and hands scrabbling desperately on Namjoon's body. He let out a sound close to a sob and thrust unevenly. Namjoon didn't have the heart to ask for a thigh fuck, knew he couldn't offer to suck him off well. He wrapped his fingers around Jungkook's wrist to comfort him and gritted his teeth.

The bliss of rut sex seemed to have run its course, no more sweet nothings and laughter, no more dirty talk, no more slow, affectionate sex or heady power play. Jungkook moved frantically. Namjoon lay still.

"Right. Oversensitivity is a thing," Jungkook said, voice shaking hard. He kept half-heartedly thrusting in.

"You wanna rest a minute?"

A desperate whine.

"Take your time."

"You're not even hard," Jungkook whimpered.

"Don't worry about it. Deal with me when you're done."

Jungkook hovered, dick barely in, one arm tight and shaking around Namjoon's waist. "You sure?" he asked.

"I'm here to help you," Namjoon said, "You can spend the next few weeks making it up to me if you feel the need, but this is what we're doing now. Just do what you need to do."

Jungkook railed him into the mattress for another fifteen minutes until he came with his whole body rattling. He pulled out with a strangled whine and collapsed on the bed, still tense, still shivering. His teeth chattered. Namjoon took one look at the sweat dripping down his neck and reached for the water bottle.

"We should probably shower," he said.

Jungkook's eyes opened the tiniest bit to acknowledge that he'd heard and then shut tightly again.

"It's gotta be done by now, right?"

"Hn."

Namjoon got up and fetched the wet wipes.

A couple buildings over, Namjoon's Eastern Thought and Ethics class was meeting to discuss something Namjoon hadn't finished reading. The thought of all the piled-up homework he had to do, the final projects coming up, the hours lost in the studio, crashed into him suddenly as he stood in Jungkook's narrow kitchen out of the worst of his smell. He gripped the counter and breathed through gritted teeth.

Back in the bedroom, Jungkook had a fleshlight on his cock and a vibrator in his ass, panting harshly as he worked. Namjoon set the hot tea on the desk. "You're gonna hurt yourself."

"Last wave," Jungkook whispered.

"Where's the lube?"

"I can’t fuck you again."

"Not what I meant."

Namjoon got two lubed hands around Jungkook's cock and worked hard and fast until tears streamed down Jungkook’s face and his frantic kicks rocked the whole bed. He came with a sad, weak dribble and an exorcist-like contortion. He could barely stay awake long enough for the tea.

The room had begun to smell, not like campfire or alpha musk, but of plain old body odor and sex. Namjoon left Jungkook's corpse where it lay and limped stiffly about the room, beginning to clean. He could do nothing about the sheets, but the trash needed to be taken out, the boy wiped off again, the stray tissues and snacks tracked down. He lay in bed. He texted Yoongi. He took more painkiller. He went over their lunch supplies and got working.

Jungkook stumbled into the living room in the early afternoon smelling like a dishrag left in a gutter. He gave Namjoon a weak salute and headed right for the shower. Namjoon made sure the lunch was covered and followed him in.

"Painkiller," he said as he stepped into the shower. Jungkook opened his mouth obediently. He already had shampoo in his hands. Like a sloth, he worked his way through conditioner while Namjoon washed his hair and body. As he rinsed, Jungkook gave up on soap and leaned against the wall. "I'm gonna go wash the pile of sheets," Namjoon said. Jungkook nodded and sank slowly to the floor.

It was only after Namjoon stripped the bed and loaded two different washing machines that he realized they'd gone through the last pair of sheets, leaving the mattress bare. "Oh, Kook, you'd better be done," he groaned. The mattress pad shone a bright white in the light coming through the window. Namjoon blinked at it, wondering if his eyes had gotten too used to the cave. He went to the window and drew the blinds.

Snow filled his view. The road that curved through campus, the sidewalks, the little bare trees and benches, the iron railings, the empty flower beds all stood quietly under a veil of white, gathering fluffy clumps of snowflakes. Namjoon took a deep, slow breath and let it out, felt his lungs fill with calm.

He stuck his head in the bathroom. "Kook, it's snowing!"

"Huh? I'll be right out."

They ate lunch while bundled up in extra blankets on the living room couch, watching snow fall past the window and coat the roof. Jacky walked past them with a little grunt of greeting. She returned a few minutes later and grinned at their tea. Namjoon gave her a little toast. "Pretty," she said, nodding at the window.

"Am I done?" Jungkook asked weakly, looking up at her. She hesitated a moment, then leaned down for a closer sniff.

"Yeah, it's gone," she said.

"Thank fuck."

She made herself a cup of tea and sat down with them. "Shouldn't you be taking a nap?" she asked.

"I'm okay," he said.

"We've run out of sheets," Namjoon admitted, and saw Jungkook give him a little self-conscious pout.

"Seemed like a rough one," Jacky said.

"Wasn't anything much compared to the one you had earlier this year."

She cackled. "That's true. I didn't have any help though."

"When I walked in on you face down on the bathroom floor," Jungkook said.

"Low point of my life."

Namjoon sipped his tea, feeling weird about being included in a personal alpha to alpha conversation.

"So, beta," Jacky said with her shark-like grin. "How'd you like that alpha cock?"

A deep feeling of unease bloomed in Namjoon’s chest as if his dignity was shriveling into a husk as she stared at him, making him small. It was as if she could smell the sharp ache in his thighs. "...Intense."

Jungkook pouted again, knowing that was a neutral cop-out. Jacky grinned at them with her arms over her chest, bulging with muscle, looking at Jungkook with off-putting pride.

"The cock changes you," Jacky said with a sigh, but didn't laugh afterwards, and Namjoon got the feeling that was an honest statement. He tried to shake himself. This was a nice person trying to be friendly. "Speaking from experience?" he asked.

"Yyyup." She sat there a minute longer, staring off into the corner like she was thinking of good memories. “Well, you two pretty boys get some rest,” she said. Jungkook grumbled but gave her a respectful nod as she traipsed off to her room. An odd distance sat on the open couch between the two of them.

The snow fell outside with the best feeling of cozy winter. Namjoon’s projects and readings could wait for him to enjoy the year’s first snowfall. Jungkook scooted close enough to bump shoulders with Namjoon on the couch, head heavy on his shoulder.

It could have been a different scene. They could have been lying on a bed after a dinner downtown, bundled up and cozy on clean sheets, still getting comfortable, still taking their time. The snowfall could have been an exhilarating blessing, something to take a walk in instead of a distraction.

Jungkook had been imagining dates for so long. Namjoon had taken months to ease himself in only to get shoved in the deep end. He felt himself coming back into the air, shocked and shivering, water up his nose.

They watched the winter until Namjoon got the sheets out of the dryer and coaxed the exhausted Jungkook to bed.

 

 

Namjoon left for class the next morning without waking Jungkook, just a good-morning text in his inbox and hot tea in a thermos. The smell of rut had faded completely in the night, leaving the room almost bare of campfire scent, and Namjoon felt weirdly out of body, like he stood in a stranger’s room. Even asleep, Jungkook’s swollen face gave away how burnt out he was. Namjoon indulged in a few quick brushes of Jungkook’s face, a kiss in his hair, a couple down his back. Jungkook didn’t stir.

Jackson gave Namjoon a handshake when he walked into class. "What's that for?"

"You're walking funny,” he said with a smirk. “Your daddy get you good?”

"Christ, Jackson."

Jackson stopped snickering and leaned across the aisle as Namjoon sat gingerly in the unforgivingly hard desk chair. "Is it over yet?"

"Yeah, it is."

"Figured. You're looking way more conscious today. How was it?"

"Intense. Kind of overpowering." His head felt horribly clear, a hangover kind of awareness, a sobering intensity that made him think the whole class was staring at him. The professor especially, who raised her eyebrows when she walked in and saw him in his seat. He sat board-straight the whole class and focused until his head felt wrung out.

"You did really well for having not read the book," Jackson said after class.

"I read it last night! What are you talking about?"

Jackson held up his hands. "You didn't have your notes!"

"I was rushing!"

“Only you would bother to do your homework while getting dicked down by an alpha.” Classmates definitely heard that one. Jackson didn’t notice, just grinning with excitement. Namjoon kicked his desk. “Find an alpha yourself if you think it’s so great.”

“No!” Jackson yelped. He looked horrified for a minute, then giggled nervously. “I’m not—that’s not me. Like, I totally respect it, but it’s not me.”

Namjoon headed home feeling disgruntled. "You okay?" Seokjin said first thing, voice low and cautious.

"My ass hurts, but I'm good."

"Uh-huh.”

Namjoon pulled on his snow boots and spent the rest of his Friday at the library. He considered texting Jungkook, feeling a bit conspicuously alone at a table by the high windows, watching the snow drip slowly off the trees outside, leaning awkwardly sideways to take the pressure off the worst of his aches. His phone stayed face-down on the table, cycling through the lyric-less study playlist, the slow jams and Flashbulb and occasionally ballet movements.

Jungkook had shown him a couple of these.

They often went to the library without each other, right? Namjoon did sometimes. Jungkook needed to sleep. Namjoon needed to get ahead on his homework again. It wasn't weird that he wasn't texting. They didn’t used to spend every minute together and they didn’t have to now.

At dinnertime, Seokjin made him a chicken and rice bake and sat him down at the downstairs table to eat it instead of letting him retreat to his room. He called Taehyung in too. "I'm doing great," Taehyung said when Namjoon asked. "Don't worry about me. I've been catching up on work and I feel weirdly good."

"Me too," said Namjoon. "I'm feeling fine."

"You're walking like you've got a balloon between your knees."

Namjoon snorted into his food.

"Why isn't Jungkook here?" Taehyung said. "I bet he could use some food."

"He's, um...I figured he was sleeping," Seokjin said. "Namjoon, do you know where Jungkook is?"

Namjoon pulled his phone out and saw that he'd gotten a text thirty minutes ago that said, Do you want to get dinner and go to the library?

"He wants to get dinner with me," Namjoon said.

"Oh," Seokjin said, wringing his hands together. "Tell him to come over here."

Taehyung stared at his plate, the fork halfway out of his mouth. "Namjoon, have you seen him yet today?"

"Yeah, this morning. I slept at his place last night."

"Okay."

"Tae?"

"Hm?"

"Never mind."

Jungkook arrived with fresh snow in his hair and deep purple bags under his eyes, scuffing his feet across the floor. He looked so much like himself, so strangely familiar, so oddly normal compared to the last week, but his skin was pale and he leaned against the wall to take his shoes off. "Oh my god, Jungkook," Seokjin said.

"Thanks for the food," he said, lowering himself into his chair as carefully as Namjoon had. The weakest campfire scent tickled the edge of Namjoon's smell, just a breath of it, nearly as soft as Taehyung's usual scent. "Hi, Tae. Long time, no see. The nurse said I set you off. I'm really sorry."

"I kind of got you back, didn't I?" Taehyung said. "You're fine. This is what we get for being friends."

Jungkook raised an eyebrow that looked almost doubtful. He shoveled three bites worth of seasoned rice and chicken into his mouth in one spoonful and chewed laboriously.

"You've been to the nurse? How much weight did you lose?"

"Seven pounds."

"In three days? Oh my god, Jungkook," Seokjin said again, and rushed to the fridge.

As he ate, Jungkook shuffled his knee to the side to brush it against Namjoon's, leg to leg in the hot kitchen. He leaned sideways until their shoulders touched, lay his head against Namjoon's shoulder when he finished. It wasn’t that Namjoon wanted to push him away, but Seokjin and Taehyung were right there watching with their blank gazes.

And Namjoon fell out of step, like the man he'd spent three days in bed with must have been someone else. This was the person he knew, the soft, unsure, quietly affectionate person who smelled softly like campfire. This was the person he wanted. The man who held him down and called him pretty and split him apart was someone else.

He'd meant to come together carefully with this person, had meant to get to this point with a couple dates that had never happened, some sweet, late-night conversations he hadn't gotten out yet. Yet Jungkook lay on him like he had his claim already, like they'd already passed the point of negotiating familiarity. Namjoon wasn't sure they'd made those negotiations on equal terms.

Across the table, Taehyung watched them, a grim look on his face.

"You smell..." Jungkook started.

"What?"

Jungkook's sharp chin dug into his shoulder, looking up at Namjoon's face.

"What do I smell like?"

Jungkook shrugged. "You don't smell like me anymore."

Namjoon registered his own relief with guilt. "I'm sorry."

Jungkook let go, pulled away, then gathered his dishes and went to the sink. "I'm gonna go work in my room," he said. "I need to be able to sleep when I want to."

"Do you want me to--"

"You can stay here," Jungkook said. "Get a full night of rest for me, will you?"

"Yeah, okay," Namjoon said, trying not to feel relieved. "Want to meet up tomorrow?"

"At the library? I've got some studying to do."

"Y-yeah," Namjoon said. He'd meant a date. Seokjin handed Jungkook a tub of ice cream and guided him to the couch. Across the table, Taehyung frowned.

"Are your professors being good about letting you catch up?" Namjoon asked.

"Hm? Oh yeah, they're all being reasonable for once. This nurse is good. The last one didn't go out of her way to pester the professors about their responsibilities here, but this new one does." He frowned at the table. "She shouldn't have to, of course. That's not her job. It helps though. Have your professors been helpful?"

"Actually yes," Namjoon said. "They're all really lenient with me in general, not just this week."

"Your slacking is everyone else's normal work," Seokjin said from the living room. "Of course they're lenient."

"They shouldn’t be lenient with me if they’re not with Tae and Jungkook. They’ve earned it too."

"Damn right I have," Taehyung said, "putting up with Type-ists in all their fucking classes and being nice anyway."

The front door opened and closed.

"Was that Jungkook?" Namjoon asked. "Did he leave already?"

"Yeah, he's going to go do his homework," Seokjin said, coming back into the kitchen. "And you're going to stay here and do yours. I know how much you hate being behind and I'm baking cookies after this so you're not going anywhere."

Namjoon nodded, weirdness prickling his head but relieved to have an excuse to stay. He texted Jungkook a goodbye and a promise to meet up the next day. As he sat there, feeling his dinner roll in his stomach and his heart kick him in the ribs, Taehyung picked at his food across the table with his lip between his teeth. So much disapproval from all sides. Namjoon holed himself up in his room and got barely any work done.

 

 

"I've been picking up your shifts all week," Yoongi said. "It's a Saturday. I know you've got nothing going on. Please, for the love of god, let me go spend a few hours with Seokjin."

"I was gonna have dinner with Jungkook though."

"He's allowed in the studio!"

"Right. Yeah, I got it. I'll take the shift."

Yoongi let out a long sigh of relief and put a hand on Namjoon's shoulder. Students passed down the hall behind him, heading from the cafeteria to the computer lab. "My ass needs this. I haven't sat on a cock all week while you had all your fun."

A tall athlete-looking guy passing by them turned to stare. "Yoongi, I don't need to know this."

"I've been counting how many times in the past few days you've described to me how much your ass hurts. Do you want to see the tally?"

"I don't."

Yoongi gripped the front of Namjoon's jacket. "Jinnie might not be an alpha, but his dad's an alpha, and he passed down some of those good, good dick genes. You wanna know why I walk funny all the time?"

"Have I really made you this miserable?"

"Nah. I just like watching you squirm." Yoongi pulled away and dragged a pack of gum out of his pocket, popping it open like cigarettes. He shoved a piece in his mouth and jammed the crumpled wrapper in his pocket. "Have any plans for real dates yet?"

Namjoon struggled for a response, for something that made it sound like he had a plan.

"That's your tell," Yoongi said.

"Huh?"

Yoongi popped a bubble and gestured at Namjoon with the box of gum. "Your eyes get really big and buggy. What's up?"

Namjoon shrugged.

"No, seriously. What's wrong?"

"It's been a weird foot to get off on. Rut before any real dates.” Which stated nothing new. To say that he felt like he’d been dealing with two different people seemed a bit dramatic, maybe a bit Type-ist. The weird Jungkook who was an alpha and his Jungkook who wasn’t really. Except he was, and seemed to be perfectly adjusted to starting a relationship this way while Namjoon struggled to reconcile the intensity of rut with the innocence and care he felt compelled to start out on.

Yoongi shrugged. "Start over then."

"I think that ship has sailed.”

Yoongi patted him again, awkwardly sincere. "He’ll get it. You can do this. I'm gonna go get my ass broken back in."

 

 

For a while after Namjoon called off dinner and invited Jungkook to the studio, he got no response. As Namjoon hovered anxiously over his phone, Kendrick Lamar in his headphones, the girl with the butterfly tattoo passed by the window.

Sana.

Even with snow on the ground outside, her fishnet stockings bared the tattoo to the world, and Namjoon brain went right back to the way the world felt when they were together, how strong she made him feel, how every waking moment had a little bit of her in it, the feel of her body against his, her hands on his chest, her long neck under his mouth. She pushed and pulled and teased and his hands rarely left her body for three months until they shattered apart under the ways they used each other.

Sana looked in and saw him through the window, meeting his eyes for the first time in months. She stopped in her tracks and gave him a smirk with her eyebrow cocked, half delighted, half disdainful, the look she used to give him when he talked about the awkward sex he had in high school. He got a vivid memory of her drunkenly calling him her big alpha in the line at Starbucks and he hadn’t been nearly embarrassed enough. He tore his eyes away.

Jungkook showed up a little while after the shift started, smelling like a cheeseburger. Sana had left the hallway, but Namjoon checked for her anyway.

"I see you didn't go with a protein shake and a salad," Namjoon said.

"I'm craving nothing but high-calorie foods right now," Jungkook said. "It's driving me nuts. I can feel the grease clogging my arteries." Jungkook put his phone down and seemed to fizzle with anxiety for just a moment, arms stiff by his sides and back unusually straight before he stepped Namjoon's chair and took his cheeks boldly in his hands. Namjoon sat up straighter, skin buzzing. He ass felt like he had a railroad spike lodged in it. Jungkook’s lips parted around a breath in like he was preparing for something, a kiss maybe, but he stayed where he was, just studying Namjoon's expression. "I did too much, didn’t I?" he murmured softly.

Namjoon swallowed. "I want to...have the first date. Can we do that? Can we still take this from step one?"

Jungkook's hands left his cheeks. He stepped back, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Step one? I’m really sorry."

"S-sorr—"

"I hurt you, didn't I?"

"What?"

"You..." Jungkook tipped his head back towards the ceiling. "You don't want to be around me. I can tell. Every time I see you, you smell scared like Taehyung."

"Like Taehyung? I’m not scared."

“When I touched you just now. You cringed.”

Namjoon’s heart stopped in his chest.

"I knew you were having a rough time,” Jungkook said, voicing lowering and lowering towards a whisper. “I didn't stop. I never stop. I'm so selfish.” The studio seemed suddenly sick. Jungkook put his face in his hands and stood in the middle of the room, breath shallow, scent sour. “I wish I wasn’t an…”

Namjoon’s throat felt clogged, chest filled with acid. Jungkook associated him with Taehyung, thought he’d forced himself on Namjoon, took Namjoon’s discomfort as a reflection of trauma.

The door clicked open and Jimin stumbled into the room with Seokjin and Taehyung behind him. "Kook! Joon! Haven't seen you in years!" Jimin gave Namjoon a quick hug and them wrapped his arms around Jungkook. "When are you coming back to dance?"

Jungkook took his face out of his hands and Namjoon could see his red eyes, the distraught pinch of his eyebrows. Sickly alpha murk rolled out over the room, the scent of unhappiness as pungent as bleach thrown on a fire. The room slowly froze as each person realized what they'd just walked in on. Taehyung jerked forward as if compelled to comfort, but Jungkook picked up his backpack and trudged out past his friends, leaving them to watch silently as he opened the door to the stairs and disappeared.

After a long moment, Jimin asked "What happened?"

Namjoon’s head spun, the scent still aching in his sinuses like a dehydration headache.

"Namjoon can't hide how uncomfortable he is with Jungkook," Taehyung said softly.

"What?"

"You just went through rut with him," Taehyung said. "He’s grown seriously in tune with your scent. He can tell when you're feeling weird. You start putting out, like, fear scents, I guess. Anxious scents. Omegas can smell those on everyone but alphas need to know you really well. If I can smell it, so can he."

Namjoon pushed away from the table. He made it two feet before his headphones pulled him back and his thighs gave out. He sat heavily in his seat, feeling as if they were linked how Jungkook must feel, something like what Namjoon felt when the girl in class leaned away from him with a hand over her nose, something like how he felt when Sana smirked at him.

And hadn’t it been fear? Not fear of Jungkook, exactly. Fear of what he’d made of himself, fear of being a stand-in omega—a human more object than person. A fear sick with prejudice and judgement.

People hid things from each other for a reason. This was his own brain’s problem, not something Jungkook and Taehyung needed to read in him before it was fit to be shared.

"Namjoon, why are you uncomfortable?" Seokjin asked. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine! Really, I'm fine!” Weak, gross, too caught up in his pride. “We had so many date ideas and we skipped that and went right to super intense fucking, and it's weird, okay? I feel weird. He really didn't have to know that. I’m not scared of him. I’m not traumatized."

"Namjoon," Taehyung said softly. Seokjin wordlessly pointed at Namjoon's computer where the song was switching. He grabbed the mic and mumbled a transition. The moody intro to "Lose Yourself" began playing in the frozen room.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to act," Namjoon said to his silent friends. "I don't know what he expects me to be to him. I don't know what the whole last week meant to him and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it. I know what it means to other people and I want to crawl out of my own fucking skin!"

Seokjin let in a sharp gasp.

But Taehyung slid into Namjoon's arms, hands on his waist. He nosed against the side of his face and all the agitation flowed easily away with the soft perfume of Taehyung's scent. He leaned back in his seat and hung on.

"You don’t know enough,” Taehyung said.

It took a minute for Namjoon to process what he’d expected to be comfort. "What?"

"To date an alpha. You're relatively uninitiated." Taehyung pulled back finally and looked over Namjoon's head at Seokjin. "You either. You're getting way more defensive than you need to be. I can smell it on you too. You're very uncomfortable with this."

"It's an inherently unequal relationship," Seokjin said.

"Ah-ah. That's what alphas want you to think."

Seokjin huffed. "I've been watching the way my father treats my mother my whole life. I think I know--"

"Your father is one man, Jinnie, and he's the type to really keep this stuff close. That's a conversation for a different time. The problem right now is that we're too good at keeping betas out. This is a big flaw of our community. Jungkook and I are guilty too.”

"I don’t need a crash course on alphas, I need to apolog—"

"Shut up, please."

Namjoon looked up, surprised. There was a piece of his brain, an instinctual, selfish, prideful piece that wanted to laugh, to blow off being disrespected and insist on dominance. Like a bad beta but a good person, he shut his mouth.

Taehyung squinted at the ceiling, deep in thought. "You're not supposed to know about how Type works. We’re supposed to keep it really close to the vest."

"Do you have to do this with us in the room?" Seokjin said suddenly. “I really don’t need to hear it. It’s like hearing my dad’s dirty secrets.”

Taehyung gritted his teeth. "No, that's what I'm talking about. Walling betas out just causes problems."

"I'll leave then," he said. "I have grown up with this. I know what I'm comfortable with." He stood up and grabbed his jacket. Jimin stood behind him, mouthing 'sorry' at Taehyung.

"Actually, you know what? Jimin, please take this shift. We need to go talk."

"I don't want to talk,” Namjoon said. “I need to go tell Jungkook it’s not on him. I didn’t force him to do anything. He’s blaming himself."

"We've hurt Jungkook enough for today," Taehyung said. "Please listen to me. I just really want to get some facts straight with you so you can dive back into this with all the information. Otherwise you’ll just keep hurting him.” They bundled up in winter wear and shuffled out of the studio, Namjoon numbly anxious.

"It's this whole thing," Taehyung continued. "We have a saying. 'Omegas too private, alphas too proud.' It's supposed to sum up why betas aren't supposed to be one of us. That's why a lot of us prefer betas to consider themselves normal and Type strange. But it means that intentionally letting betas in has to be the work of individuals because it's not taught anywhere, and that's hard. I--" He bounced up and down suddenly frustrated. "I need to tell you this because Jungkook's not going to explain how this works. He doesn't think he deserves to make excuses. If you two are going to get anywhere you need to know what he’s dealing with. The sweetest alphas are also the most self-flatulating."

"Flagellating?"

"Is that it?'

"You said self-farting."

Taehyung whacked himself in the forehead. “Of course I did.”

"I have to text him."

"And say what?"

"That I'm sorry, I guess."

"Do you want to date him right now?” Taehyung said, looking a little suspicious. “Please be honest. You've been fighting your way out of your comfort zone all semester for this. Has it been worth it?"

Namjoon found himself shaking his head. "The sex was awesome, but—"

"And you were in it for the sex?"

"With Chungha, yeah."

"And with him?"

"He's Jungkook! He's..." Namjoon rubbed his hands through his hair, trying to think. "We kissed last semester. When it was only us here. We were drunk and he climbed into my lap and kissed me and I was sure for like, five minutes, that that was all I wanted for the rest of my life. And then his scent got to me and I froze up and remembered that I'm not attracted to alphas."

Taehyung pushed him outside into the snow. Sun had set minutes before and streetlights shone dimly under a still-bright sky. "You kissed that long ago, huh?" he said.

"What am I doing?" Namjoon said. "The whole campus knows he fucked me and I feel so small. I hate it. Sana fucking smirked at me earlier. Jackson keeps treating me like a sexual deviant. My professor shamed me for coming to class. The minute I get uncomfortable I just hurt his feelings."

Taehyung stopped on the slippery sidewalk and faced him. "Here’s what you don’t know. Last year when Jungkook started hanging out with us I tried to bully him out of the group.”

The snow-blanketed campus around them dampened their voices, leaving them in a limbo of black trees and white ground and the sickly glow of streetlights making Taehyung’s smooth cheeks sallow and his eyes shadowy.

“Openly and viciously,” he continued, voice hard, “right in front of everyone's noses. He knew what I was doing. We both knew no one else had the knowledge to recognize it because that’s the whole set-up. We abuse each other in public and betas don’t know. Alphas are usually the people that take advantage of that, but I do too.”

Namjoon swallowed, suddenly reminded of the time months ago that Jungkook had stopped him under a tree and told him how guilty he felt for staying friends with them, how he’d known Taehyung hated having him there and stayed anyway. “I mean, I knew you were cold-shouldering the hell out of him.”

Taehyung shook his head. "It was more than pettiness. There's such a thing as a hostile scent. I tried to smoke him out. I tried to make him feel like a threat. I told him that if he ever laid a finger on me I wouldn't rest until I got him thrown out of the school and all his new friends would help me. I—" He took a deep, shaky breath, staring at Namjoon's feet. "I knew when he was going into rut. I told him he had no right to ask for help. I made him leave. I didn't tell anyone. I made sure everyone thought that alphas didn't need help when they were in rut anyway. You know that's not true now, right? Ruts are just as dangerous for alphas as heats are for omegas. Alphas can usually push through a little better, but it's rough on them. I took advantage of everyone’s ignorance and made him go through it completely alone. And he let it happen because he thinks that he doesn’t deserve to burden people like that."

The evening darkened slowly around them, making Taehyung's face steadily harder to see. He stayed silent, waiting, watching Namjoon's frozen face, probably smelling the shock on his scent as he imagined Jungkook writhing and whining and sweating through his sheets for a week with no one there to so much as bring him a bottle of water. And he’d played it off like it was nothing. “Like the world’s worst cold,” he’d told Namjoon on the camping trip months ago.

"Why?" Namjoon finally asked.

"I was scared!” Taehyung cried. “I was so scared! Do you know how many stories I've heard that end with 'and then the omega got fucking raped because they made the mistake of trusting someone.' I wasn't going to let it come to that. He knows it too. He's never blamed me. It took me months to figure out he was actually a good person because I was so ready for him to hurt me. He’s pathetically kind by alpha standards. I was so mean!" He finally buried his face in his hands and groaned. "Poor Jungkook. The whole world tells him that all alphas do is hurt people."

They stood in the cold for a minute, Namjoon slowly shifting his plans in his head. Telling Jungkook that it was other people making him uncomfortable and not Jungkook himself like he’d planned to probably wouldn’t help much. He’d still blame himself for making Namjoon’s life harder. This was as much a problem of Jungkook’s discomfort with being an alpha as it was about Namjoon’s discomfort. He felt strangely calmer, more confident in how to move things forward, even as he felt more at a loss than ever.

Eventually, Namjoon motioned Taehyung forward with a gentle tap to his elbow. For a little while, they walked in silence. "Here's some other Type secrets," Taehyung said. "Alphas are hardly more dominant than betas by nature. Their pheromones compel submission and when they're in pre-rut or on their ruts it gets pretty hard to resist. They've developed that into a cultural code that plays up the smell and it probably has some amount of pull on their personalities, but it's not a scientific certainty. Most alphas fall into that position really easily but for some alphas it’s too hard to keep up.

“Jungkook is like that. He’s going to be his normal quiet, sweet self when he’s not on rut. He doesn’t have that chemical confidence in his head or the scent to back it up right now. He isn’t going to want to be that way. For the most part he’s going to act exactly like a beta. You won’t smell like him. People won’t instinctively see you differently. You can stop worrying about what this tiny campus will think of you since you’re leaving in six months and they don’t care as much as you seem to think even now.”

It was as if Taehyung had dipped Namjoon’s heart in cold water and brought it up clean, a quick shock and then sudden clarity. It made too much sense for Jungkook to be normal and sweet for him to be anything else.

“That’s not a Type secret though,” Taehyung was saying. “That’s science that alphas like to ignore. Here’s some more. Omegas aren't naturally submissive so much as naturally needy. Alphas are programmed more towards blind loyalty than violence, though those things get warped by our expectations for ourselves."

A lump formed in Namjoon's throat, a kind of desperate hope, a crushing guilt, horrible pity.

They'd come almost to their dorm. Taehyung stopped outside his door without making any move to enter, just frowning into the bitterly cold dusk. "I know why Jungkook didn't leave when I was bullying him. He really should have. I couldn't figure out why he didn’t for the longest time because I thought that any decent alpha would have taken the hint and left."

"Why?"

"He was too attached to you, Namjoon. Even back then, he wanted you."

.

Chapter Text

A month into Jungkook’s first semester in college, he took a break from Taehyung’s sour warning scent by hiding in the library, pretending the academic college experience was all he wanted, that friends didn’t matter. The only spot left in the library was a little reading nook surrounded by bookshelves where he could get out a textbook and put his headphones in and no one would call him out if he spent a half hour staring hopelessly at the floor.

As the afternoon wore towards evening and Jungkook’s textbook stopped focusing in front of his eyes, Jimin’s friend Namjoon appeared suddenly out of the shelves. It took Jungkook a second to completely recognize him with his hair floppy instead of done up stiffly like usual, looking like a professor in his soft sweater and corduroy pants. He caught sight of Jungkook and a pleased smile broke over his face.

Most people would have politely asked for Jungkook’s permission to join him. Even Hoseok and Jimin stepped carefully around him, asked if it was okay for them to sit next to him in the dance studio. Seokjin hadn’t approached him head-on yet. In the week Jungkook had known him, Yoongi hadn’t looked him in the eye.

Namjoon walked right up and dropped his books on the table. “This is a good spot,” he said. He pulled out his chair and sat down, continuing the unusual habit of completely ignoring alpha courtesy the way he had at the party a few nights ago when he’d rubbed Jungkook’s back and invited him to beer pong. Regardless of whatever Namjoon’s girlfriend called him, it made sense when Jimin called Namjoon the group’s fake alpha with a little laugh.

Reacting as he would to any other dominant alpha, Jungkook sat up straight and accidentally yanked his headphones out of his ears. “Do you study here all the time?” Namjoon continued, oblivious to Jungkook’s racing heart.

“I found it once when the rest of the library was packed,” Jungkook said. “No one comes back here.” He shuffled his stuff into a more compact area of the desk so Namjoon could spread out a little. “What are you working on?”

“I’m making a presentation on Plato,” Namjoon said. “You?”

“Intro to Bio. Is that like, the Allegory of the Cave?”

Namjoon chuckled. “Same guy. Different stuff.” He opened a book, clicked his pen, and got down to taking notes, no more need for conversation, no need to make things comfortable. He was really there to study, and he wanted to study with Jungkook. Just like that. Just like they were friends, even though they hadn’t said more than a few words to each other and Taehyung leaned on Namjoon almost like a boyfriend. His subtle beta scent slowly reached Jungkook’s nose, a normal scent that leaned on the clean masculine side, unfamiliar and ambiguous. He looked like he was breathing a little through his mouth, but he was there and he wasn’t covering his nose and keeping his distance.

Jungkook tried to go back to his work, but homework felt like a wasted opportunity with Namjoon right there, friendly and calm like this meant nothing. He could start up a conversation. He could get to know him a little better. Taehyung was nowhere around and Jungkook had a chance to make friends with this tall, interesting person without distractions.

But Namjoon worked steadily, ignoring Jungkook’s fussing, his focus intimidating. “I’m getting coffee,” Jungkook said eventually and headed downstairs. He stood by the counter debating with himself for five minutes before buying two mochas and heading back upstairs with the hope that the gesture was significant enough to be noticed. He put one in front of Namjoon without comment and slipped back into his seat.

“Thank you,” Namjoon said, eyes widening behind his glasses. He picked up the coffee and stared at it a moment, an unconscious sweet smile on his face that brought his dimples out. In a moment, Jungkook’s heart stopped.

A long hour later, Jungkook had gotten a little work done, feeling absolutely satisfied for the first time since he got to college. Namjoon broke the comfortable silence by pushing his phone across the table to show Jungkook a piece by a Japanese indie band that he planned on playing on the radio. “Can you listen to this and tell me if it’s too J-pop or not?” he said. “I don’t think it is but I don’t know what my listeners will think.”

Jungkook looked it up and listened. It wasn’t anything that he would have listened to on its own, but the tune was a little wistful and a little hopeful. Jungkook saved it. “It’s good,” Jungkook said. “Definitely play it. It reminds me of this other thing I heard a while ago.” He started searching. “I’m saving yours. You should hear this when I find it.”

He pushed a song by 88Rising across the table, something mellow and sweet that went along with the warmth of the library coffee. For a little while, it was Namjoon sitting and doing nothing while Jungkook diligently worked, eyebrows tense with focus and gaze far away. “Maybe I’ll play that one too,” Namjoon said finally.

“No, no,” Jungkook found himself saying, comfortable talking without moderating his own words for the first time in weeks. “That one’s mine. I’ll let you know when I play it so you can tune in and listen.”

“I’ve listened to everything you’ve done already,” Namjoon said. “You’ve got a great taste in music for the hours you work. It’s great to fall asleep to.”

In that moment, Jungkook realized he would put up with whatever Taehyung threw at him if it meant keeping this one man close.

 

.

 

Namjoon had a date prepared. He’d find Jungkook in his room and do his best to explain himself. If all went well, they’d head to the café for lunch just like they’d intended a week before. Then they’d head to the used book store nearby. He wasn’t sure if Jungkook was that into book shopping but after all the time they’d spent in the library, it felt appropriate.

Afterwards they’d check out every antique shop in town. That was something freshman usually explored with their friends as they got to know their new college town. Jungkook hadn’t made many friends with freshmen the year before and it was time he got to see them.

They’d return to campus in the late afternoon and have time to hang out at Namjoon’s place before having dinner with the rest of the group now that everyone was feeling better. Everything would be fine.

Namjoon had it all written down on a piece of notebook paper stuffed in his pocket. He also had a scripted apology and explanation that he kept changing in his head. I really want this to work. I’m in my own head. I had just seen Sana and I felt weird. The first time we kissed, I never wanted anything more in my whole life and then I second-guessed myself and I’m sorry. I want this to work. I want to date you properly. It sounded weird.

Yoongi had told Namjoon many times that he tended to put up blinders when he was thinking too hard, that a bomb could go off while he was mulling over an argument and he wouldn’t notice.

So Namjoon didn’t hear the shouting and banging in Jungkook’s dorm until he opened the door.

A pile of bodies thrashed at the bottom of the stairs. At least five officers in uniform hustled around, two in the pile, one on her radio, one lying on the floor and weakly struggling to move away, blood thick in his hair.

In the center of the pile, Jungkook and Jacky were wrapped tightly around a spitting, screaming, furious Michael Browen. As Namjoon stared, Michael wrestled an arm out of the submission hold and slammed his elbow into Jungkook’s face.

“Fucking pussies!” Michael screamed, and bashed his elbow back against Jungkook again, whose nose began to drip blood. Jungkook tucked himself in tighter and held on with a vicious, hair-raising growl. With a burst of strength, Jacky got the arm back under control. An officer dodged in with a pair of handcuffs, shouting Miranda Rights.

“Taze him!” Chungha screamed, just her head poking out of the bathroom. One of the officers dove into the pile. A sharp bzzt sounded and Michael yowled in pain. His struggle got a little more spastic. Chungha dodged out of the bathroom in her impeccable ponytail and heels and grabbed Jungkook under the arms, trying to haul him away.

“Let go, you stubborn idiot,” she squeaked, voice high over the screaming cops.

Namjoon didn’t feel his legs move, but in the next moment he had Jungkook by the waist, leaning all his weight into pulling Jungkook out of the pile. He and Chungha fell backwards, tumbling right through the door of Jungkook’s room. Namjoon landed right on his sore ass. In the relative calm, Chungha blinked at him in surprise. “Joonie,” she said with dangerous sweetness. “You got some ‘splainin to do.”

He shifted fitfully, trying to get Jungkook’s weight off his center where it was pressing the worst of his aches into the floor. “Uh, yeah, you too. What’s going on?”

Jungkook whined and rolled weakly against Namjoon’s chest. Something hot and wet soaked through Namjoon’s shirt. As Jungkook tipped his head back to look at them, they could see one eye swelling shut and blood running down his lower face.

“They fell down the stairs together,” Chungha said grimly. “Michael won’t go with the cops so the other alphas are getting involved.”

On cue, the two other alphas that lived upstairs with Chungha pounded down the stairs and dove right into the fight. Jacky cackled and shoved Michael’s face into the carpet.

“Jungkook jumped him first as he ran,” Chungha said proudly, and then hooked Jungkook by the collar as he tried to sit up and rejoin the fight. “No you don’t, big alpha. You’ve done enough damage.”

Jungkook lay there limply for a minute, then sat up suddenly, staring right at Namjoon with his one good eye. “Huh?” he said. “When did you get here?”

“I—”

As soon as they let their guard down, he wriggled away and jumped on the pile again. In the following scramble, Namjoon took a fist to the eye—probably Jacky’s—and a hard elbow to the ribs, Chungha got punched in the stomach, and Jungkook got Michael’s wrists close enough together to be cuffed before Chungha and Namjoon dragged him out again. Michael slowly realized his defeat and sagged into the floor. Jungkook lay across Namjoon’s legs, dabbing more and more blood away from his nose and glancing at Namjoon through his messy hair.

In the ambulance, Namjoon pulled his crumpled, blood-stained piece of notebook paper out of his pocket and handed it to Jungkook. “I had a date idea,” he said.

Jungkook unfolded it and read it with his un-swollen eye for a long, long time. He looked up as the paramedic finished checking Namjoon’s ribs and for a horrifying moment, Namjoon thought he was going to kiss him with nose-blood still staining his mouth.

He reached for Namjoon’s hand instead, pressed one sticky kiss to the back of his knuckles and nodded, lips drawn down like he was trying not to cry. They held hands until the hospital separated them.

 

.

 

Rumors about the alpha showdown spread quickly. Yoongi texted a million questions about Jungkook’s involvement before they’d even gotten treated at the ER.

When they returned, Taehyung explained that Michael had invaded the freshman omega suite Saturday night while Namjoon was on radio, had kissed at least one of them and held another captive for a while, though the omega was unharmed. He’d gone back to his own dorm in the early morning with no action from public safety. A large group of students stormed the public safety office when it opened. When it became clear that public safety had been cautioned by higher-ups in the school not to act, they called the police, which classified it as hostile and threatening alpha behavior and assault and drove out immediately to take care of it.

Jungkook finished the story. The officers showed up around 11 a.m. while Jungkook was wandering circles in his room having not eaten or done anything else since the night before when he’d thought that Namjoon was scared of him. He’d heard Michael’s raised voice upstairs and something about police. Figuring he knew how the confrontation would end, he ran up the stairs just in time to see Michael body-slam a police officer through Chungha’s bedroom door. As Michael ran for the stairs, Jungkook speared him. Jacky met them halfway down the stairs and blunted the worst of the fall so Jungkook came away with only a sprained wrist and a lot of bruising, alpha physiology protecting him from worse injury.

Michael had been expelled and banned from campus, the administration too embarrassed by a very public police showdown to step in, but that hadn’t stopped students from picketing outside the dining hall.

When Jungkook finished his part of the story, Namjoon watched with his own two eyes, one of them badly bruised, as Taehyung climbed into Jungkook’s lap and kissed his forehead. They spent the whole evening wrapped around each other and Namjoon was too busy choking back proud tears to be jealous.

 

.

 

“Sorry about Chungha,” Namjoon said. “Would never have messed around with her if I knew you wanted this so much.”

Jungkook took his eyes off the view of the river to give Namjoon his bunny-toothed grin. “It was so much easier than watching you with Sana last year,” Jungkook laughed. “Chungha showed me I had a chance. I was so worried I’d have to watch you hate it and write alphas off forever, but still so much better than watching you with Sana.” The winter river churned with a slurry of ice and a bitter wind turned Jungkook’s cheeks pink. Jungkook wore his jacket open anyway. He still had an eyepatch and a tan strip of Band-Aid over his nose, a brace around his wrist. Namjoon had to be careful not to hug too hard and hurt his bruises.

In the cold windy air, Jungkook’s post-rut scent didn’t reach nearly as far out as it normally did. Namjoon hadn’t smelled campfire since they’d left the café. He’d almost asked Jungkook to reconsider the walk by the river idea given the weather, but Jungkook seemed happy in the chill wind and Namjoon respected his love of long walks. They’d been strolling on the bluff for an hour, just talking.

“You look less like a panda now,” Jungkook said, touching the yellowing around Namjoon’s eye where Jacky had nailed him.

“Is Jacky even sorry?”

“She thinks it’s hilarious and totally what you get for jumping in. I think you won the whole dorm’s respect though.”

“That’s fair.”

Namjoon’s cold feet and chattering teeth eventually drove them back to town, both of them scuffing their boots down the salted sidewalks of the two-street downtown, past the antique stores built in old houses and the little churches tucked into block corners. Jungkook made them stop at a pizza place even though they’d just eaten lunch. “How much does it take to feed an alpha?” Namjoon asked.

“I’ve heard three to five thousand calories a day for an average alpha,” Jungkook said. “I’m on the small end. I don’t know how much I eat but it’s a lot. It’s more right now because I’m healing from both rut and getting smashed into the floor.”

“It was a little more dignified than that.”

“If Jacky hadn’t been there, he might have beaten my skull in,” Jungkook said cheerfully and took another big bite of pizza. “That was really stupid of me. You and Chungha were right to drag me out.”

“Anyone ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full?”

Jungkook gave him a big, cheesy kiss of the cheek and giggled as Namjoon wiped the grease away with his scarf.

“You dress like a professor,” Jungkook said. “Have I ever told you that? My first impression of you was that you must be the club faculty advisor.”

“Really?”

“Actually, my first impression of you was that you were an alpha,” Jungkook said. He started across Market Street to walk back towards campus. “That lasted about ten seconds until I smelled you, and then I was kind of suspicious of you. I thought you might be the kind of person that doesn’t respect alphas.”

“Sorry,” Namjoon said.

“You kind of are,” Jungkook said. “But sometimes alphas like it when betas don’t walk on eggshells around them.”

“So it wasn’t love at first sight?”

Jungkook chuckled. “Nah. Took me a week.”

“A week!”

Jungkook took his hand out of his pocket and shoved it into Namjoon’s. His hot coal of a paw jammed down against Namjoon’s gloved hand and heated him up. “When was it for you?”

“I’m afraid I can’t compete with that.”

“Tell me anyway.”

Namjoon kicked a rock into the road, bashful. “My first impression of you was that you were too cute to be an alpha and it wasn’t fair.” Jungkook squeezed his hand. “I don’t know when I decided I’d be okay with banging you. It was probably during the confusing post-Sana time when I was heading hard into rebound and attracted to literally anything.”

“Gee.”

A local bundled up in what looked like ten coats passed them on the sidewalk, brushing right by Jungkook’s shoulder without giving them a second glance. He probably couldn’t smell Jungkook’s musk in the cold air, leaving them cheerfully anonymous.

“We have some talking to do about your rut,” Namjoon said. Jungkook’s hand tightened around Namjoon’s. He slowed on the sidewalk, dragging behind with a look like fear in his eyes. “We can wait till later,” he promised. Jungkook nodded, looking both relieved and ashamed, and they walked on in silence.

“Did you hear about Jimin?” Jungkook asked when they’d gotten back to Namjoon’s dorm.

Namjoon stopped beating rock salt off his boots and grinned. “Him and Yves? Yeah I heard.”

Jungkook snickered his awful fake laugh and Namjoon had to take him carefully by the bruised cheeks and kiss him.

Jimin had finally invited Yves to his place to watch Netflix and fool around. Her answer had been “Nah.” She valued his friendship but didn’t trust his emotional availability. As it turned out, Jungeun and Jinsoul felt the same way.

The pouting Jimin had curled up on Namjoon’s couch with a glass of wine and grumbled “Well now I just want to date the crap out of all of them. Prove them wrong. Whatever.”

“Knew they were smart,” Jungkook said. “They’ve got him by the balls now. It’s going to be interesting to watch that play out.”

Yoongi and Seokjin were sitting in the middle of the living room, Yoongi kneeling over Seokjin’s lap, arms wrapped around each other. “Oh, hey guys,” Namjoon said. Jungkook made a small, disgusted noise.

“Did you have a nice date, dear?” Yoongi said with Seokjin’s lips still at his throat and hands down the back of his pants.

“Oh totally. It was great.” Namjoon struggled frantically to get out of his boots. Jungkook already had his off and was waiting anxiously halfway up the stairs. “Are we still eating dinner here tonight?”

“Uh-huh,” Seokjin said as he pushed deeper into Yoongi’s pants and tipped his head back to get capture Yoongi’s mouth. “It’s in the oven. You have about an hour.”

“Got it. Great.”

Yoongi broke down snickering, much to Seokjin’s disappointment. Namjoon tripped out of his second boot and rushed up the stairs.

In Namjoon’s room, Jungkook took off his winter socks, outer layer of pants, coat, sweater, scarf, and hat. Then he pulled off his shirt, carefully over the wrist brace to reveal his compact muscles, the old bruising across his back and arms, his strong shoulders and tiny waist.

“Are we...right now?”

“Uh-huh,” Jungkook said. He hooked his thumbs in the band of the workout leggings he’d been wearing under his jeans. His two back dimples caught the crystalline blue light coming off the snow outside. Namjoon started stripping. “Revenge sex,” Jungkook said. “They’ve been doing this for far too long without being challenged.”

“You’re still covered in bruises,” Namjoon said, but still yanked his shirt off so fast he forgot to take off his glasses. “Ow, my ears. They got my ears.” Jungkook carefully untangled his glasses and helped him finish pulling his shirt off. Namjoon emerged back into the world to see Jungkook standing completely naked in front of him except for his eyepatch. His cock hung half-chubbed between his legs in the cool air of the room.

“That thing gets bigger every time I see it.”

Jungkook made an annoyed hissing noise in the back of his throat and covered Namjoon’s mouth with a kiss. “Where’s your lube?”

“In the back of the closet. Let me grab it.”

Jungkook pulled himself onto Namjoon’s bed and wiggled on the sheets, getting comfortable. “Why’s it all the way back there?” he asked as Namjoon clawed through a rarely-touched storage shoebox.

“I don’t do stuff in my own room very often and I never use it for me,” he said. “How did you want to--”

He turned back to the bed to see Jungkook stretching like a cat with his back arched and his ass in the air, blinking slowly at Namjoon over the curve of his arm. The room began to fill with the familiar scent of campfire.

Namjoon’s alpha bent so willingly under him. He spread his knees to prop his ass up and rocked slowly as Namjoon pushed lube into his hole. He moaned breathlessly and reached for Namjoon’s hands just to wind their fingers together.

The stretch of Jungkook’s slender waist and the swell of his ass from behind was too much to rush, so Namjoon fingered him till he threatened to kick Namjoon’s chest bruises.

When Namjoon pushed in, their hips pressed perfectly together, every inch of skin within reach for Namjoon to worship. Jungkook alpha cock hung patiently between his legs, brushing against the sheets and dripping for attention. Thrust after thrust filled the room with little cries, the slap of skin, Namjoon’s murmuring.

“This is how you like it?” Namjoon said.

“Ah. Mm. Wish I didn’t have so many bruises. So you could-ah really g-go hard.”

“Louder,” Namjoon demanded.

Jungkook giggled and lifted his head out of the sheets. “You go faster, I get louder.”

Namjoon leaned over him and turned up the power till Jungkook’s cries rang against the walls, till campfire scent filled the room and his thighs shook with pleasure. He came in Namjoon’s hand with a high-pitched whine and Namjoon made the mistake of hugging him with both arms before he pulled out or shifted his balance. If Jungkook’s extra alpha strength hadn’t held them up, he would have knocked them both off the bed. As it was, his hard cock jammed as deep as it could go and Jungkook braced hard against the bed and yelled.

When they came downstairs for dinner, Yoongi and Seokjin looked like they’d been to war. Seokjin quietly directed them to the table without meeting their eyes. Jungkook only smirked, fingers tangling with Namjoon’s.

“You know I share a wall with you two, right?” Taehyung said when he arrived.

“Why yes I do,” Namjoon said. “Consider that payback for everything I heard during your heat.”

Taehyung scoffed and hip-checked Jungkook’s shoulder. “How’s your ass.”

“Kind of numb right now,” Jungkook said placidly.

The dancers came in last, Jimin taking the mocking condolences with good grace. “I’m definitely going for Yves,” he was saying. “Honestly. I like her. The other two are fun but I could date Yves, you know?”

Yoongi set a giant Dutch oven on the table with a pot roast inside. “This is one of mine,” he said gruffly, “so if I hear anyone thank Seokjin for the food, you don’t get dessert.”

“I bought all the groceries!”

“And here’s the wine,” Yoongi continued. “We’ve got mashed potatoes too. Jungkook, Taehyung, and Namjoon get first dibs.”

“I’m completely recovered,” Taehyung said.

“I’m not,” Jungkook said.

“Me either.”

“Your black eye is almost gone though,” Hoseok said, turning Namjoon’s chin to the side so he could give it a close inspection.

“Thank Christ. People keep staring at it in class.”

Jungkook threw his head back against Namjoon’s shoulder like a cat asking for pets.

“You like my black eye?” Namjoon said.

“’s badass.”

Namjoon scratched his hand over Jungkook’s scalp and watched the eye that wasn’t under a patch flutter shut. A blissful smile curled his lips.

“You two really are unbearable,” Yoongi grumbled.

“Hypocrite,” Jimin said. Taehyung leaned against his hand and smiled at them.

He’d been studying non-stop over the past week, hunched over in the studio and curled up in a seat at their dining room table with a cup of tea and a warm hat, trying to catch up on work. Tech week for theater was in full swing and his jerk of a professor had made things especially hard for him, so the upcoming finals week took all his free attention. It had been a while since Namjoon had seen him without his head in a book.

When Namjoon had suggested he register a complaint, Taehyung waved him off. “I expected her to be worse about it,” he’d said. “I can tell someone put some pressure on her to be reasonable. Honestly, it’s better than what I’d be getting in the real world and I don’t mind some practice dealing with shit like this where it doesn’t affect me too badly.”

Namjoon suspected he just didn’t want any more conflict that semester. Either way, he let it go. They’d handled enough for the time being.

 

.

 

Namjoon had the outline of a final essay pulled up on his computer and three heavily notated class texts on his lap as Yoongi slapped a notebook down on the table in the radio station. Jungkook lay across the entire couch behind him, snoring softly. Yoongi had jammed his butt in by Jungkook’s slim waist and was pretending he wasn’t there.

“Are you sure we have to do this?”

“Failing to throw an end of semester party for your club would be a sign of an incompetence,” Yoongi said. “The Friday before reading days start is probably the best time. What do you think?”

“That sounds like it could work,” Namjoon said. “Do I have to do all the inviting?”

“Mhm.”

“Crud.”

Jungkook stirred just enough to drop his hand and wrist brace into Yoongi’s lap like he wanted to pull him closer. Yoongi ignored him. “And there’s the question of Hani and Heechul,” he said.

“We can’t invite them. There’ll be tons of freshman and we can’t put them in that situation.”

“As if they haven’t been dropping in on Asian Cultural Club stuff all year.”

“They could get fired.”

“Or arrested. They’re clueless business grad students. We won’t tell them about it but they’ll show up anyway.”

“Got it.”

“Seokjin is handling the alcohol fund as treasurer. You handle the guest list. We figured we could use our apartment and Hoseok’s can take spillover. Chungha insists we have snacks. Seokjinnie insists we set up a Smash Bros tournament.”

At that moment, Jungkook heaved a lung-shuddering sigh and turned with robotic stiffness, fastening his arms around Yoongi’s middle and tugging him with freakish power into a snuggle, perhaps the first snuggle Namjoon had ever seen him initiate with someone in the group, half-asleep or not. Yoongi scrambled to keep his notebook, but seemed otherwise fine with being squished up against Jungkook’s chest. Namjoon hid his grin behind his hand.

“We’ve got like fifty dollars left in the budget for this semester, right?”

“I’m not sure we can use it for this,” Namjoon said.

“Since no one has time to seriously cook, Seokjin wants that for groceries. Alcohol is off book but I don’t think food for a club gathering is shady.”

“smells good,” Jungkook mumbled.

Yoongi tried to turn and look at him but was squished too tightly. “Do I?”

“Like you and Jinnie.”

“Yeah, we fucked, like, an hour ago.”

Jungkook just chuckled softly and kept hanging on.

“Send out the invites on Facebook by the time classes end today,” Yoongi continued. He threw his notebook back on the table and made himself comfortable against Jungkook’s front. “We’ll text people separately in the next few days. I’ve made a list for everyone in leadership.”

Namjoon felt a stab of jealousy, wishing he could curl up in Jungkook’s arms instead of fight with Facebook and write an essay. He’d been spending every night crammed into Jungkook’s bed, pressed up against his personal furnace until they both had to roll away in the middle of the night. The cozy few minutes before they dropped off to sleep were the best part of his day, Jungkook’s campfire scent in his nose or wafting from behind him, Jungkook against his chest or Jungkook against his back.

But Jungkook needed this too, the closeness and trust of the rest of the group like a real pack. It had been a long time coming. He opened up Facebook on his phone and trusted Yoongi to take care of their baby.

 

.

 

On the day of the party, Jungkook came over to help set up the sound system. His o-chem textbook lay open on Namjoon’s lap so Namjoon could read it to him as he worked. Seokjin and Yoongi had both left for class.

Namjoon paused at the end of a chapter and watched Jungkook fiddling with a spinning light ball that could sync to music. His eyepatch was gone, his wrist-brace downgraded to something they’d bought at CVS. Most of his bruises had faded much faster than Namjoon’s.

The moment seemed so strangely normal, a step back into their friendship from a month ago, sexless and charged but full of unknowns and generally platonic. It was almost a return to something more comfortable. “Hey we still haven’t talked.”

“About what?”

“Rut. How it happened last time. What it’s going to be like in the future.”

Jungkook looked up from the light ball, already pouting. “Yeah?”

“Because…it was rough. You know it was rough.”

Jungkook pulled his knees closer to his chest and looked back down at the light ball. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. You don’t need to apologize.” Namjoon tossed the textbook off his lap and crawled onto the floor with Jungkook. “I was happy to spend every minute of that rut with you. I left whenever I needed to. I offered, I enjoyed it, you have literally nothing to apologize for. I think the problem is—Jungkook, please.” He lay his head right down in Jungkook’s lap so Jungkook could look any lower than his eyes. Jungkook huffed and turned away, so Namjoon grabbed his chin and forced him to look down. “Can you stop feeling guilty? It’s making me feel bad. I need you to talk to me about this.”

“Now?”

“When’s a better time?” Namjoon said. “And I’ve been itching to talk to you about this. I need to know that next time, I don’t know. I guess that next time we’ll set some harder limits? On me, mostly, so I don’t let the pheromone high lull me into going harder than my body is ready for. It all felt fine in the moment, but like…afterwards. And maybe a stronger scent suppressor so I don’t have to deal with like, professors. Telling me I shouldn’t have come to class.”

“Oh my god,” Jungkook said, rubbing his hands over his face. “I can’t believe someone seriously said that to you.”

He shrugged. “I was a little out of it. She’s had to have a conversation with me before about coming to class sick. A cold is not necessarily an excused absence, but I disrupted class for everyone by being clearly too sick to function normally and I think she put those on the same level. It wasn’t about it being ‘inappropriate,’ I think. Still uncomfortable. I don’t really want my teachers thinking they know too much about my personal life. And I don’t want Jackson high-fiving me for having a hard time walking. That’s just awkward.”

Jungkook finally smirked. “Love that guy.”

“You know him?”

“I’ve seen him in the ACC a couple times when Hani convinced me to go,” Jungkook said. He ran his hands through Namjoon’s hair, tugging a little, probably messing it completely up but Namjoon could barely stop his eyes from closing. “He came over for a few minutes the other day. He has some omega friends and they wanted to come thank the alphas in our dorm about Michael but didn’t want to come alone, so he came with them.”

“Yeah, he’s cool. That’s beside the point though. I want you to know,” Namjoon squirmed and grabbed Jungkook’s hands so he couldn’t keep distracting him with fingernails over his scalp. “That when I felt uncomfortable after the rut. It wasn’t because I was uncomfortable around you. I have hang-ups. I think you know this but I have hang-ups about being seen as an omega, and that’s for me to fix. That’s something I have to deal with because it comes from my own prejudice and you shouldn’t have to bear any part of that burden while I change my perspective and—”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself about that,” Jungkook said, shaking Namjoon’s hands in his. He wouldn’t meet Namjoon’s eyes again, levelling an intense yet pouty scowl at the coffee table. “You can say it’s just prejudice but there are actual social penalties for being seen as an omega. It’s totally rational to be uncomfortable with the way people will treat you because of that. It’s stupid, but I really should have been more aware about how everyone around us would be treating you instead of making it about me.”

“Making it—Jungkook, you didn’t.”

“I got really in my head about it. I should have trusted you more.”

“But I’ve been, like, enjoying the benefits of being seen as alpha-like for years,” Namjoon said. He pulled Jungkook down closer so he could really see Jungkook’s eyes. The temptation to pull Jungkook’s shirt over his head and stare straight up his chest flickered into his head and shattered his concentration for a second. “Uh…”

“Been enjoying the benefits,” Jungkook prompted.

“Right. I’ve been enjoying the social benefits of, I don’t know, being like an alpha? For years. Which is also kind of unfair because even you don’t get all of those benefits but you do get all the bad stuff and problems that come with being an actual alpha and I can get the benefits without having to deal with any of that, so I really do need to stop clinging to that. Even if I wasn’t dating you I would need to stop clinging to that. So I’m going to be working on that and by the next rut you have, hopefully I’ll be more mentally prepared and I won’t ever make you feel like you’ve made things difficult for me.”

“And I won’t ever make you feel a way you’re uncomfortable with,” Jungkook said. “We’ll be more careful about sending you out into the world looking and smelling like you’ve been used up.”

Namjoon really did pull Jungkook’s shirt over his head, embarrassed despite himself. Jungkook chuckled above him and warm hands ran down the length of Namjoon’s chest, touch dulled by his wool sweater. His abs looked unusually squishy as he hunched over.

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” Jungkook said. “Do you want to stop by my house for a few days before you head home for Christmas?”

“What? Your house?”

“You can meet my siblings. And my parents.”

Namjoon resigned himself to knowing that Jungkook could smell his rush of nerves. “Isn’t that really soon?”

“They’ve been hearing me talk about you for over a year now.”

“Oh. Yeah, okay. Mom was going to drive all the way up here to get me, but that’ll be a shorter trip for her.”

“I can drive you the rest of the way.”

Namjoon twisted awkwardly and kissed Jungkook’s squishy abs. “That sounds great. Thank you.”

Yoongi and Seokjin came home to Jungkook still trying to figure out the lighting with Namjoon wrapped around his waist like an octopus, o-chem textbook forgotten on the couch.

 

.

 

Halfway through the party, Jungkook detached from Namjoon’s side. Namjoon turned, vision spinning with rum, and found Chungha slipping under his arm. She latched around his waist and tipped his solo cup to her mouth to drink. “That’s a nasty one!” she yelled.

“We ran out of tonic water so it’s gin and seltzer.”

She faked a gag and pulled a hip flask out from inside her shorts. “Your baby is getting an alpha off Taehyung right now,” she said. “Tae doesn’t know me as well so I thought I’d send Jungkook in.”

Namjoon searched his own dark living room for a second like he’d never seen the place. There was Jungkook across the room, sliding himself between Taehyung and an alpha Namjoon had seen in the campus center. Taehyung looped his arms around Jungkook’s neck and pulled him three steps over to the dancing corner of the living room where the light ball spun. They swayed there, leaning in to talk in each other’s ears with their arms wrapped around each other and for a moment, Namjoon wished he was as delicate and doll-like as Taehyung. The alpha glowered at Jungkook’s back. “What’s he doing here?” Namjoon said. “I don’t think he was invited.”

“He’s here with Taeyong, actually,” Chungha said. With the bass rattling the walls, she had to put her mouth right by his ear to make herself heard. Old, familiar shivers trembled weakly down his arms. “I think I’m gonna go find Yong and tell him what’s up.”

That drama ended with Chungha pinning Taeyong against the wall with her hands in his back pockets as the offending alpha grabbed his coat and stormed out into the freezing night, unaware that Taehyung had filled the coat’s pockets with ice cubes. Jungkook returned to Namjoon’s side smelling a little like flowers and a little like Taeyong’s vanilla. Jungkook took a deep breath of Namjoon’s neck where Chungha had been leaning her head and rubbed his own face aggressively over him.

“You okay?” Namjoon laughed. Jungkook grunted and pressed his back against Namjoon’s chest. He pulled Namjoon’s arms around himself and flooded the air with campfire scent. “Are you really being territorial right now? While you smell like two different omegas?”

“Shut up,” Jungkook whined. They locked themselves in Namjoon’s room long before the party ended. Jungkook whined and writhed, shirt unbuttoned and pants jammed under his ass, rolling upwards. The massive bulge in his boxers rubbed against Namjoon’s naked cock. Namjoon pinned Jungkook’s his wrists across his chest and knelt there over him, holding perfectly still and letting Jungkook’s alpha strength take his whole weight. Jungkook gasped and rolled, the enormous weight of his cock dragging on Namjoon’s damp skin until Namjoon had mercy on them both and wrapped his hand as far as he could around both their cocks at once. Jungkook shot cum all the way up his chest and then gulped Namjoon to the hilt.

They came back downstairs sweaty and smelling like each other again. The clueless Mark Lee who ran the radio’s kpop hour got one look at Jungkook’s bleary face and Namjoon’s satisfied smirk and dropped his drink.

Out on the dance floor, Yves had her fingers looped in Jimin’s leather collar and Namjoon figured it was the beginning of a new era.

 

.

 

The semester ended like the first stroke of midnight. Just six months left till graduation, a real landmark close to the end. Namjoon turned all his finals in ahead of time, satisfied with his work. Jungkook struggled until the final moments and needed a full half-day date to distract him from beating himself up about not studying harder.

Under another fine snow, Namjoon helped Seokjin carry Yoongi’s music equipment out to their car so they could head north. He spent one slow, empty afternoon alone in the dorm waiting for Jungkook to finish packing so they could head southwards for Jungkook’s home in Maryland. It was a blessing, a few hours to regroup by himself with endless coffee and a good book. When Jungkook arrived to pick him up, they had both settled into a calm that rivaled the snow. Namjoon almost regretted leaving the empty campus behind him.

“So my sister Heejin is seventeen and Taehyun is fifteen,” Jungkook said. “Heejin is going to college next year and Taehyun is still in high school. They’re both just as talented as I am if not more so. Heejin was my best friend growing up. Taehyun is the best little brother. I really hope they like you.”

“Now I’m nervous.”

Jungkook’s library playlist played over the car speakers. His campfire scent filled the whole car, a car Namjoon hadn’t even known he had since it sat in the farthest school parking lot all semester. It was a middle-aged car, neither charmingly old nor sleek and young, full of chips and worn spots, stuffing coming out of the seats, a funky smell that faded the longer Jungkook’s scent hung around.

“Don’t be nervous.”

“Are either of them Type?”

“Just me,” he said. “In the whole family it’s just me.”

“Do they know we’re dating?”

“Mom and Dad know. I don’t know if they told the kids. If they did, Heejin will grill you and Taehyun will be really weird about it, so I hope they didn’t.”

They’d been told. Namjoon had been in the house for all of thirty seconds before Heejin said, “So how’d you two meet?” in a tone that implied the beginning of an interview. She had the same intense yet adorably pouty expression that Jungkook did when she wanted something figured out. Taehyun pushed his book closer to her face and scrunched into the couch.

Despite everything, they all sat down to dinner together, Heejin still rattling questions off whenever she thought of one, anything from “what’s your major?” to “what’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.” Jungkook listened to all the answers with his own curiosity and only encouraged her to keep grilling him. Jungkook’s cheerful parents listened too. Taehyun ate quietly, occasionally staring across the table with eyes even bigger than Jungkook’s.

“And you’re the one who dragged him out of the fight, are you?” Mrs. Jeon said, interrupting a question from Heejin about his music taste.

The stress of the semester slid into the weird, otherworldly bubble that had been drawn around Namjoon by Jungkook’s presence outside of school. He had to take a moment to center himself. “Me and Chungha, yeah.”

“She’s another alpha that lives in your suite, right?” Mrs. Jeon said. “Well, thank you. I was really worried when he called me from the hospital. I’m glad you dragged him out before worse could happen.” She shook her head. “I was always so worried about you getting in fights. He stayed away from them pretty well after middle school but that was one thing I never handled well.”

“It wasn’t really much of a fight as it was cooperating with the police,” Jungkook said. “It really had to be done.”

“I was really proud of him,” Namjoon said, “but he’s also just gotten elbowed in the face, so I had to jump in there.”

“And then you got elbowed in the face.” Jungkook grinned at him, still thrilled about Namjoon’s decision to jump into the fight. The rest of his family didn’t look entirely convinced that it was a subject that could be joked about. Namjoon was just glad Jungkook been able to take the eyepatch off and looked mostly recovered.

“So did your rut hit this semester or not?” Mr. Jeon asked.

Taehyun stopped chewing. Mrs. Jeon elbowed her husband. “At the dinner table?” she hissed.

“What? It’s a question about his health.”

“His boyfriend is here!” She hissed.

“It’s done,” Jungkook said. “You don’t have to worry about it.” The room lapsed into silence as every beta in the room tried to act totally down with the alpha biology. Jungkook gave the room a quick sniff and then sighed, a little smile on his face.

And Namjoon could suddenly see why Jungkook was the way he was, surrounded all his life by well-meaning but clueless betas, all trying their best but not allowed to know everything they should. All of Jungkook’s personal insecurities suddenly made sense, but so did his sense of self, his independence from his Type, his comfort with not always being in charge.

“I helped out,” Namjoon admitted to the room. Taehyun’s eyes bugged further, but Heejin and their parents just raised their eyebrows. “So he recovered pretty fast.”

“Good!” Mrs. Jeon said with a little choking noise in her throat. “I’m glad. I always get worried when he has to do it alone.”

“He spent his very first rut at the hospital,” Mr. Jeon said. “We didn’t know what to do.”

“Dad,” Jungkook groaned.

“What? I thought we were sharing.”

“Over-sharing.”

“That really doesn’t surprise me though,” Namjoon said. “Taehyung spent his first heat at college in a clinic, you know. It’s not so different.”

Jungkook seemed surprisingly placated by that. Heejin looked like she had another slew of questions ready, but Jungkook cut her off with a head shake. She gave him a scheming side-eye and went back to her food.

Jungkook’s own bedroom was so thoroughly steeped in his scent that it had taken on notes with age like a fine wine in a barrel. Namjoon could almost smell the individual types of wood in Jungkook’s campfire, even though he knew that wasn’t how it worked. He took a deep, slow breath. “Taehyun left his books in here,” Jungkook said. “He must be coming in here to read.”

“I would too,” Namjoon said. “Smells so cozy in here.”

Jungkook’s cheeks actually turned pink at that. “Like campfires you said, right?”

“Wood smoke, yeah. It’s very cabin-y in here.”

It was clear that the family had tried to decorate his room like an alpha’s room, all dark natural woods and navy-blue furnishings, industrial accents like the iron bed frame and Edison bulb lighting. Jungkook had spoiled it with an assortment of anime posters and a few stuffed animals, tons of pastel-colored kids mangas yellowing on the bookshelf, everything perfectly clean.

Namjoon lay down on the bed and closed his eyes, remembering the first time they slept together on the camping trip months ago. Jungkook climbed on next to him and lay back with his phone open, flipping through the group texts without responding to anything.

“When you first kissed me that one time,” Namjoon said. “What were you thinking?”

“That you’d been staring at my lips for thirty minutes,” Jungkook said, “and that if I didn’t take the chance then I was never going to.”

“Did you regret it?”

“All summer. And then I saw your face again and I didn’t anymore.”

Namjoon rolled up against Jungkook’s side and turned his jaw to slide their mouths together. Jungkook dropped his phone on his chest and lay very still, Namjoon’s darling alpha so pliant and sweet for him. “How do you like my family?” he asked when Namjoon leaned away to really look at him and wonder how the hell he’d gotten here in Jungkook’s bed in Jungkook’s house with Jungkook’s face in his hands.

“I love them. They’re a lot like you.”

Jungkook’s smile appeared under his eyes first, and then pulled at his lips.

“How do they like me?”

“They have never warmed up to any of my friends that fast. Normally they’re extremely defensive.”

“Will they care if I suck you off right now?”

“Well they won’t know,” Jungkook laughed. “Gross, dude. They’ve always just let me go wild though. Back when I was figuring myself out, I told mom everything. Every person I had sex with, every thought I had about being an alpha. She accepted early that the only thing she could do for me was listen and then she put up with it. I think it was always weird for her though.”

“Good mom.”

He nodded. “She’s been the best alpha mom she could possibly be.”

“That’s probably why you’re so awesome.”

“And why I’m such a shitty alpha. She’s not a very good alpha mom.”

“I like it,” Namjoon said. “Taehyung likes it. Taeyong feels comfortable with you. You’ve got omegas coming by your dorm to say thank you for standing up to assholes. You can accept how you are and what you want. I think you’re doing really well.”

Jungkook rolled on top of him and snuggled against his chest, dense weight crushing Namjoon’s lungs comfortingly. He nipped playfully under Namjoon’s chin and Namjoon got a sudden wash of instinctual submission. He cocked his head back and let Jungkook explore. He didn’t mind when Jungkook pinned down his shoulders, didn’t mind when he shoved Namjoon’s shirt up and kissed a line down the center of his chest.

“You sure it’s not weird with your family home?” Namjoon said as Jungkook’s breath puffed hot against his lower belly.

“I’ve done worse in here,” Jungkook said, and popped Namjoon’s button. “Joon, I have so many Christmas date ideas for the next couple days. We’re gonna have to make a list and pick the ones we want.”

“What if I want to stay right here under you for the next three days?”

Jungkook chuckled softly, so soft and pretty and perfect, so comfortable and content with warmth and affection radiating out of him light a bauble of light, too precious and lovely and somehow Namjoon’s. “We can do that,” he said. “We can always do that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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