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Your Scent Still Lingers

Chapter Text

 

In the past, alphas and omegas were described as heaven-blessed individuals for their great fertility and innate physical advantages. Their constitution was generally stronger than that of a beta, and the strength of their pheromones had grown to the point that it could influence the mind. Many great figures who carved their name in history were alphas or omegas. Yet despite all the advantages the two dynamics provided, the traits were notoriously difficult to pass down. Even with an alpha-omega coupling, the chances of the children presenting with the characteristic were rare. 

 

But in the 21st century, the genetic factors dictating alpha and omega characteristics became well studied to the point that this probability could be manipulated even higher. Within the Ye family, as was the growing trend among the wealthy, the most cutting-edge methods were used to guarantee the strongest presentation of the gene in their offspring. However, an unexpected mistake had occurred in the process. While they originally intended to have a single alpha child, they ended up receiving a pair of twins. Moreover, despite the pair being mono-zygotic twins, the elder of the two ended up manifesting omega traits.

 

Male omegas and female alphas were easily recognized early on from their twin set of genitalia, but they would still not present with a scent until their glands matured at the regular presentation age. They hadn't even needed genetic testing to identify Ye Xiu's odd secondary gender manifestation, they had known with only an ultrasound. 

 

The scientific community heralded the twins as a fascinating look into the epigenetic influences on alpha-beta-omega inheritance in the womb. Even before the twins could open their eyes, they had become famous figures in the scientific community. The Ye family was pleased at the attention and didn't mind the deviation to their plans. After all, it was “two for the price of one.” An omega would be valuable to their family in other ways.

 

Ye Xiu was a smart child. He had noticed how differently his family and the world treated him from his brother at an early age. His identity was both a blessing and a curse. He could get away with nearly anything by leveraging his status as an untoucable omega, an enviable ability in the eyes of his brother who was more frequently at the end of a belt for disobedience, but Ye Xiu knew such indulgence was only temporary. When he presented, he would inevitably be offered to whichever alpha could bring their family the most benefits.

 

Although there were laws for omega rights, it was common practice for families of higher status to get away with violations. If his family just “accidentally” gave him the wrong inhibitors while he “coincidentally” was set up to meet with an alpha of their choice, what could he really do? Once he was bitten during his heat, it would be over. Breaking a bond would not be easy, and he had no power or status of his own to chase after justice. He’s seen the scenario play out far too many times already.

 

His brother had a different fate – Ye Qiu would become the family’s alpha heir and inheritor despite being born younger. If Ye Qiu waited patiently until adulthood, he would ultimately have the freedom he wanted in the end. But for Ye Xiu, the longer he waited, the more he would be trapped. Due to the fame of their birth, his parents had dozens of interested families who wanted to "introduce" an alpha to Ye Xiu when the time came. 

 

So when his foolish brother spoke of plans to run away, he did not hesitate to steal Ye Qiu's packed bag.

 

That summer night, Ye Xiu took the first steps in forging his own fate.

 


 

 

This fate led him to a bustling internet café in Hangzhou. He hadn’t planned on going in, but he had overheard two customers lamenting their latest loss to a skilled expert and his competitive streak had kicked in. Omegas were less physically gifted than their alpha counterparts: they were more prone to building fat than muscle, but this didn’t matter in the battlefield of video games. His talents in this area were one of his few points of pride.

 

It wasn’t hard to spot this expert. He was a young boy, not much older than Ye Xiu, with a light coloration that made him stick out among the sea of black-haired individuals riling him on. The last two victims had brought his winning streak to the double digits.  

 

“Come, come, does anyone dare challenge me now? Let’s make it 11 wins, doesn’t that sound good?”

 

Up close, Ye Xiu could smell that this boy was an astonishingly young alpha with an uncontrolled zone of pheromones thick around him. This was something that could be considered a social faux pas if he were actually among others of his dynamic, but this was just a small internet café full of betas who probably didn’t even realize what they were smelling. Here, no one seemed to notice the subtle influence the boy was exerting. Alphas and omegas were rarer among the lower class who couldn't afford to have genetic manipulation of probabilities, and on the rare occasion that they did appear, most were quick to marry into higher stations. Recognizing such scents was not something an average beta had experience with, and it benefited the alphas in charge to keep them ignorant. Ye Xiu’s unique background made him the exception, because he was rigorously trained to recognize the alphas in his parent’s social circles and any tricks they may try to play to secure him prematurely.

 

Well, even if he noticed the pheromones, he didn’t particularly care either. With his training, he was no longer moved by even his father’s strong alpha scent. Whether the boy was alpha, beta, or omega, it would not matter in game.

 

“I’ll play," Ye Xiu declared as he sat down in the empty challenger computer with an air of confidence that did not lose out to that of any alpha. "You can be the start of my own winning streak.”

 


 

 

Su Muqiu had lost.

 

Twice, now. And this third match was not turning out any better.

 

“Su Muqiu, you’re not doing so well anymore, are you?” A spectator taunted. It was all in good fun, but he couldn’t completely crush the lingering irritation at the comment. When the “DEFEAT” screen greeted him yet again, a low growl slip out of his throat.

 

He paused.

 

Where had that even come from? It hadn’t gone unnoticed either – the other boy was staring at him. Muqiu flushed with embarrassment at his unexpected slip.

 

Luckily, Mucheng had chosen that moment to arrive with lunch, bringing with her an excellent diversion.

 

“Why don’t you eat with us? I won’t let you have an excuse for when you lose to me next round.”

 

“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” the boy replied, much to the laughter of everyone else. The boy’s tongue was as skilled as his gameplay, and he instantly became a popular figure in the group.

 

There were no lack of other challengers waiting to take a swing at the mysterious newcomer, but in the end, he shamelessly ended up following the two siblings to the lounge area where they set up their meal. 

 

Muqiu had half a mind to recall his offer, but decided against it. This was the most interesting opponent he’s met in a long while. Muqiu graciously split the modest lunchbox between the three of them, making sure to give the largest portion to his sister. Of course, this did not escape Mucheng’s notice.

 

“Brother, shouldn’t you take the bigger portion?”

 

He pat her head in dismissal. “I’m not really hungry today.”

 

“You didn’t eat much yesterday either!”

 

Then, Muqiu noticed the other boy was staring again. He felt a mixture of self-consciousness and irritation.

 

“What are you staring at?” He had to ask.

 

The boy leaned close, his voice kept to a hissed whisper. “Do you even realize that you’re in pre-rut?”

 

 


 

 

Oh, he really didn’t ,” Ye Xiu thought to himself as Su Muqiu choked out a startled “What?!” The boy had immediately lifted his shirt, frantically trying to smell the difference. “ No wonder his scent was so wild, this must be his first time .”

 

“I’m…I’m only 15!”

 

18 years was the average age of presentation, but it was just that – an average. In fact, early presentations were treated as an auspicious sign of future strength. However, Ye Xiu didn’t mention this tidbit. There was no need to inflate any egos.

 

“It’s not unheard of. Haven't your relatives gone to get you tested? They should have explained this to you if you had the gene.”

 

While genetic manipulation was still expensive, genetic testing was fairly common place these days. There were even talks of getting it mandated now that the reliability of such tests had been confirmed. 

 

“Er…I don’t know. We’re orphans.”

 

“Oh.”

 

 An uncomfortable silence followed, before Muqiu asked, “What…should I expect?”

 

“It’s mostly more of the same. Decreased appetite. Irritability.” He pressed his palm against the boy’s warm forehead. “Fever,” he added, “and…” Ye Xiu glanced at the younger sister who is listening raptly. “Discomfort,” he concluded vaguely, but the implication was not missed.

 

Muqiu blinked, not expecting such a simple list. ”That’s it?”

 

“What did you expect? It’s not like you’re going to transform into a werewolf or something. Just stay home for the week and you’ll be fine.”

 

A sigh. “I guess I won’t get my rematch today.”

 

“I didn’t have any more money left anyways,” Ye Xiu admitted, patting his empty pockets.

 

“Why don’t you guys go home and play?” Su Mucheng suddenly suggested. “You can help me take care of brother. Didn’t you say he’s sick?”

 

Ye Xiu laughed.

 

“You don’t even know my name and you’re inviting me to your home? Isn’t there something wrong here?”

 

“What’s your name?” Su Mucheng asked, face adorably serious. Ye Xiu hesitated at this, but the little girl was so eager for a response that he couldn’t refuse. In the back of his mind, an image of his own twin at that same excitable age came to mind.

 

“Ye Qiu.”

 

“I’m Su Mucheng. Now we aren’t strangers anymore, so it’s okay!”

 

Su Muqiu can’t decide if he wants to laugh or cry at his sister’s bold behavior. Ye Xiu shot Muqiu a helpless look – apparently, he was just as weak to his sister’s boldness. Su Mucheng was truly too strong.

 

“At home, the computers aren’t the same. We can’t play games the same way as here,” he explained to her gently. He then glanced over to the boy called Ye Qiu. The boy was walking around with an expensive branded backpack, but didn’t have change for more than an hour of play at the internet café? It was too suspicious. But his skill was real, and he had been a valuable source of information about Su Muqiu’s new…condition. Muqiu found himself wanting to trust the other boy.

 

“Hey, I still have some questions for you. If you don’t have anywhere else to go…” Muqiu gave a pointed look at the boy’s oversized backpack, but he was tactful enough not to ask him about the situation any further. “Why don’t you come with us?”

 


 

Ye Xiu, or “Ye Qiu” now,  knew following the siblings was a horrible idea, knew he was tempting fate by agreeing to stay near an alpha. But he was out of options anyways. He could not sleep on an overnight train anymore now that he had spent all his physical cash, and he didn’t dare use any of the cards his brother had foolishly stolen.   

 

Besides, Su Muqiu was a young alpha who didn’t know what kind of mess he had gotten into by presenting. No matter how talented he was, he was only a 15-year-old with no one to guard him from those with unkind interests about his presentation. If he didn’t learn how to control his scent, he would definitely be noticed and possibly kidnapped into a trafficking ring. He didn’t want to see such a fate befall onto the bright boy and his cute sister.

 

So he went along with them.

 


 

 

During the week of Su Muqiu’s rut, Ye Qiu managed to convince the foolish alpha to stay in bed while he temporarily took over Su Muqiu’s odd jobs with the help of Su Mucheng. The arrangement left Su Muqiu to his own devices for most of the day, which was a mixed blessing. He was grateful no one had to witness the pathetic amount of times he had to jerk off in a single day, but he was also hit with a deep and penetrating sense of loneliness. It was only when Su Mucheng and Ye Qiu returned that the tightness in his chest loosened.

 

They always brought food back, and Mucheng stayed glued to his arm, declaring that it was a part of his “treatment.”

 

“Your body is desperately searching for a mate, physical contact can help calm that instinct down.” The other boy explained.

 

Occasionally, Muqiu’s fever ran particularly high and all the strength in his body abandoned him to sprawling weakly over the couch, not even having the energy to lift his eyelids. During those periods, he would feel cool fingers running through his hair and over his burning scent glands like a tempering balm. Muqiu’s mind went back to the time the boy had pressed a palm to his forehead. It was the image of a slender wrist and long, flawless fingers that seemed more carved of porcelain than flesh. The fingers that had ruthlessly slain him across the keyboard were paradoxically the same gentle fingers that soothed the burn threatening to consume him.

 

Mate, mate, mate ’ his brain chanted, flashing through a series of debauched thoughts and wishful scenarios that left him both aroused and absolutely mortified.

 

This was just a stranger he met just days ago! How could he be thinking of such things?

 

It was a miracle that he could even look at Ye Qiu eye-to-eye after his rut. If the other boy had noticed anything during that awkward week, he thankfully did not comment. 8 days had passed since their meeting when the other boy took a sniff and declared that his hellish week of confinement had come to an end. Then, he threw a bottle of scent inhibitors at Su Muqiu.

 

“You reek . Your rut is over but you can’t go out like this. You’re bound to piss off some other alpha.”

 

“Why did you stay?” He wanted to ask. “Thanks,” he said instead.

 


 

 

The popular sibling duo soon become known as a trio.

 

No one was any wiser to Su Muqiu’s change in dynamic. If anyone inquired about his “illness” during that week, Ye Qiu proved incredibly talented at drawing their attention away with some incendiary comment or another. Privately, Muqiu joked that Ye Qiu’s aggro control was even more amazing in real life than in games.

 

The trio fell into a comfortable rhythm. While Mucheng was away at school, Su Muqiu had finally found a partner in crime for his various schemes. Making money as a minor was not easy, they had to scrap together odd jobs and gaming services. Power-leveling, in-game assassinations, PVP tutoring – Ye Qiu was equally adept in all these fields, allowing Muqiu to take more requests than he had previously. But their biggest money-maker turned out to be match betting.

 

Betting was not officially allowed in any of the internet cafes they visited, but many were willing to turn a blind eye to smaller sums. Once Muqiu was able to control his pheromones, he was also able to draw in more and more bets with just a subtle influence of scent. Most betas had no training in recognizing such an attack, especially when they assumed Su Muqiu was unpresented as a minor, and attributed everything to Su Muqiu’s natural charisma. Ye Qiu didn’t fully approve (he was always tense, eyes darting constantly toward the door on lookout), but he understood that living expenses were not cheap. They had to utilize every resource they could.

 

Still, no matter how proficient he got in controlling his new biology, it was never enough to move the training partner who had taught him. Ye Qiu would only give the air a light sniff, and then crush Su Muqiu with nonchalant criticism.

 

 “How is it possible for you to be so unaffected? Are you secretly an alpha too?”

 

“Pheromones aren’t invincible, and I’m naturally good at beating you. Haven’t you checked our record book recently?”

 

“Fuck, your arrogance really is unbeatable.”

 


 

 

The start of Glory marked a new chapter in their lives.

 

For the first time in months, they played a game wholly for their own enjoyment rather than to make money. Of course, they had no shortage of plans to profit from the new game eventually, but in this early stage? It was purely an exploratory adventure that they enjoyed with great indulgence.

 

In the first night of release, they played for 15 hours straight. While they didn’t have the experience of the beta testers who claimed the first clears of Green Forest within the first hours of the game, their technical skills and adaptability easily put One Autumn Leaf and Autumn Tree at the crest of the new player wave. With their luck, they even managed to obtain the first clear of a hidden boss.

 

Seeing their names carved into the history of this brilliant new game, the two shared a look of immense satisfaction.

 

“Not bad, not bad at all! This game has a lot of potential. If we gather fame now, this will make our plans easier for later.”

 

Su Muqiu’s thoughts had turned back to their finances. It was almost a habit now, from his years of struggle to make ends meet. His companion, on the other hand, turned back to the computer screen with a smile. Ye Qiu had much simpler thoughts.

 

“It’s fun, playing together.”

 

Muqiu laughed, moved by this surprisingly pure statement from his companion. “Let’s continue to have fun then~”

 


 

 

Su Muqiu was infinitely thankful that ruts for alphas only came once a year, unlike the more frequent cycle of omegas. His second rut went better than his first. Knowing what to expect, he had caught his symptoms early this time. What he didn’t expect was how problematic the change in their living situation would be for his rut.

 

They had grown much closer from their year of cohabitation. No longer strangers, Ye Qiu and Su Muqiu agreed to share a mattress while they gave the couch-bed to Mucheng. With his rut, this arrangement automatically became awkward.

 

“It’s fine, I don’t mind. It might even help your symptoms,” Ye Qiu had said, shamelessly rolling onto the bed first.

 

No! This is not fine at all! ’ Su Muqiu’s heart screamed. “It’ll be awkward,” was all he could say in protest.

 

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.” He said with a knowing smirk that made Muqiu’s face burn in embarrassment. Ye Qiu had a knack for catching Muqiu in the act. It was inevitable, between his teenage libido and the small space they shared. Muqiu was just disappointed he could never catch the other boy back.

 

“And besides, I trust you.”

 

With those last words, Ye Qiu had placed his head on the pillow and shut his eyes to close off any further argument. The other boy was a notoriously fast sleeper. Once he was determined to sleep, he would be out like the flip of a switch.

 

I trust you .

 

Su Muqiu wanted to cry at this statement, because he didn’t have nearly the same amount of confidence. His instincts wanted nothing more than to hold, possess, mark the other boy, and it was hard enough to clamp down those thoughts. Sharing a bed? This was like putting a plate of meat in front of a starving dog. It was too cruel!

 

But the temptation to be close to another was too great, and it was too troublesome to make different arrangements. He got into the bed.

 

 Then, an hour into his restless hyper awareness of his bed partner, Su Muqiu was reminded that Ye Qiu was a cuddler . And not just a normal cuddler, he practically transformed into a four-limbed octopus.

 

That night, Muqiu did not develop a fever from his rut. He also did not sleep.

 


 

 

“You look tired,” Ye Qiu observed the next morning. He had woken up completely covered in the alpha’s scent, but this was in line with his expectations. He had long been desensitized to this kind of alpha behavior. His father had often scent marked him prior to attending any event to stake his authority as the alpha of their family, so such behavior did not even register as anything other than familial to him.

 

Besides, Muqiu had a much nicer scent.

 

The boy in question only groaned in response to Ye Qiu’s voice, choosing to close his eyes and bury himself back between the sheets.

 


 

 

The second rut passed much quicker, with their shared sleeping arrangements tricking the alpha’s body into believing it had successfully found someone. In only 4 days, Muqiu’s rut symptoms had abated.

 

His feelings, on the other hand, only grew more rampant.

 

What were once vague desires had coalesced into something much more specific: honey-brown eyes that twinkled gold under the sunlight, meticulously maintained nails atop immaculate pale fingers, soft lips that now drove him crazy even without a word.

 

Su Muqiu realized that his feelings for his friend had extended across the boundaries of mere brotherhood and into a much more intimate category. But Ye Qiu seemed completely unmoved and oblivious to any of this. He was so very fucked.

Chapter Text

Su Mucheng considered herself something of an expert regarding the habits of her brother. So naturally, she was the first one to notice the shifting dynamics of their small household of three. She should be jealous about the way her brother’s eyes naturally wandered to Ye Qiu even when he’s supposed to be sending her off in the morning, but those longing looks that her brother always made was too pathetic for her to do anything but pity.

She can’t bring herself to resent Ye Qiu for this change either. She was the one who had invited him into their house after all, and she had never once regretted it. Ye Qiu was the one who always snuck candies to her with mischievous winks, the one who offered to carry her home on his back when she started to sway from drowsiness at the internet cafe even when her own brother called her too old for such things as piggyback rides. He was like the prince of her fairytales, kind to a fault to those he cared about and surrounded in a unique aura of confidence that made you believe he could accomplish anything. It was hard not to like him.

Ye Qiu had already stayed with them for over a year. He had become such a regular fixture in their lives that it was hard to imagine him leaving. But she had seen him squirrel away money and snacks in his bag when he thinks they aren’t looking, and she knows this pattern: her brother had done when they planned to leave the orphanage. She knew Ye Qiu always left a single last inch of distance between them, as if he never truly planned to stay.

But she wanted him to stay.

Too many people had left them already. Su Muqiu, normally so world-weary and guarded, had already carved Ye Qiu a place so deep into his heart that if he were to leave, Su Mucheng knew that this would be the final scar that bleeds her brother dry.

She can’t bear to see that happen. Now, with her brother trying to hide his feelings for the sake of normalcy in a household where normalcy was already lost ages ago, there was only one course of action left for her to take:

Matchmaking.

 

 

 

 

 

“Have you seen my clothes?” Ye Qiu asked, freshly out of the shower with only a single towel around his waist.

Logically, Muqiu knew what he should have expected to see when he looked up from his computer. But logic wasn’t enough to keep his brain from freezing at the sight of Ye Qiu’s rosy nipples pebbled prominently on his chest. Did all nipples look that pert? This wasn’t even the first time Muqiu had seen his crush naked, but this time he found himself completely unable to pull his eyes away from the slender line of Ye Qiu’s neck and the gentle slopes of his shoulder that were normally hidden away under his bulky jackets.

 “…no?” He managed to say with the last vestiges of his brain power.

“I’m going to take one of your shirts, then,” Ye Qiu declared, not even noticing the stare as he rummaged through the room for something to wear.

Then, Su Muqiu reached in a whole new level of unfairly-turned-on-by-his-best-friend because Ye Qiu was in his shirt, covered in his scent. Mine, mine, mine, his instincts chanted, and it took all he had not to reach out and try to mark further.

“…Muqiu, did Autumn Tree just die?”

 

 

 


 

“Your throat sounds dry.”

“Mm.”

“I’ll get us something to drink.”

The moment Muqiu put down his headset, he noticed a group of regulars giving him a knowing look. One of them made the sound of a whip crack while winking at him.

Su Muqiu had been very attentive to Ye Qiu lately. Attentive to the point that it was hard for people not to notice. And as per tradition, everyone did not miss a chance to give him shit about it.

 “Hey, Muqiu, want my name change coupon? You’ve been pining so hard, you should change your username to Pine Tree~”

“Su Muqiu, I never thought I’d live to see the day someone would make an honest man out of you!”

“Ye Qiu must beat you in bed even harder than he beats you in arena for you to be this whipped!”

“The only one I see getting beaten in arena is your sorry blademaster giving away win percentage like a store going out of business,” Su Muqiu snapped back. “I will PK all of you in the arena, right now, 1v1, fixed field, fight me face to face if you dare!”

This challenge stopped absolutely no one.

 “Don’t you have a drink to get?”

“We wouldn’t want to fight a man dying of thirst.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ye Qiu’s clothes kept disappearing.

They already knew the culprit long ago, but neither of them had the heart to punish Su Mucheng who insisted Ye Qiu’s clothes were definitely more comfortable than her own.

“Your clothes are just as comfortable too,” Ye Qiu shrugged, and continued the chain of clothes-stealing.

 

 

 

 

 

One morning, Su Muqiu woke up and found his leg handcuffed to Ye Qiu’s.

“At least it wasn’t our hands,” was all the helpful commentary Ye Qiu had to offer.

“Mucheng, where did you even find this,” Muqiu asked, feeling highly alarmed about every aspect of the situation he had found himself in.

“Oh, someone at the internet café gave it to me to prank you guys with!”

“Did they also give you the key?”

“…hmm…where did I put it…”

 

 

 

 

 

The problem with being handcuffed to your best friend you had a raging hard-on for was that the lack of privacy ensured the inevitability of said best friend noticing the aforementioned hard-on.

It had been a long day. They had been forced to hobble around in a three-legged fashion and grab onto each other constantly to synchronize their pace. The handcuffs were also not conducive to showering, leaving his scent to thicken throughout the day to the point that it drenched deeply into them both. Ye Qiu had taken this whole situation in good fun, occasionally leaning over to give his commentary about Mucheng’s exaggerated “search” for the keys. All in all, the proximity was absolutely killing him.

The true miracle was that he had held out until the end of the day after Mucheng had been put to bed.

“I bet she’ll ‘find’ them under her pillows,” Ye Qiu whispered, his breath blowing hot against Muqiu’s ear and going straight to his dick even if the words were not even remotely sexy. What the fuck, Muqiu wanted to ask his own body. It didn’t help that Ye Qiu’s arm was simultaneously wrapped around him in what could easily be mistaken as a possessive embrace with those beautiful fingers gripping into his shirt for balance.

He tried very discreetly to adjust his pants, but it did not escape Ye Qiu’s attention.

Muqiu froze at the weight of Ye Qiu’s stare.

An awkward moment passed between the two of them.

“Oh? So you’re into this kind of situation? No wonder Autumn Tree wears so many belts and chains!” Ye Qiu was the first to speak, defaulting to his usual trash talking.

Su Muqiu felt his face burn up in embarrassment. “Those were for the stats! The stats!”

“I see you’re not denying the first part, though.”

“I’m a healthy young man! With a healthy normal libido! Sometimes it just happens, okay?!”

“Is it normal?” Ye Qiu asked with honest curiosity.

“Yes! You’re the abnormal one!” Then, thinking over what he said, Muqiu quickly backtracked. “Not that that’s bad or anything-“

“Then why don’t you show me how it works for you?”

Su Muqiu’s brain screeched to a halt.

Did Ye Qiu just ask-??

???

“You want me…to show you…?”

“It’s perfectly normal, isn’t it? So there shouldn’t be anything embarrassing about showing me,” Ye Qiu reasoned as if he hadn’t just asked Su Muqiu to masturbate in front of him.

Muqiu couldn’t tell how much of this was genuine curiosity and how much of this was just Ye Qiu fucking trolling him into maximal embarrassment, but he would be lying if he said this wasn’t turning him on. At some point, he decided ‘fuck it,’ and turned on Ye Qiu, pushing the two of them onto their bed. He couldn’t quite straddle Ye Qiu with the handcuffs on his leg, but he cornered Ye Qiu’s shoulders with his hands and leaned over him more intimately than was appropriate for friends.

“Fine,” Muqiu said, “but this will be a hands-on lesson. Think you can handle that?” He challenged.

Finally, the first traces of a blush crept onto Ye Qiu’s face, but his competitive nature runs true and he doesn’t back down.

“How do you start?”

 

 

 

 

 

Ye Qiu’s hand had never been as filthy as it was now, covered in saliva and precum as it ran slick and cool in a smooth, guided motion across Su Muqiu’s eager cock. The foreign touch left a blazing trail pleasure in its wake and Muqiu subconsciously canted his hips to meet that touch again just a second faster on the downward stroke.

“Good, just grip a little tighter…you can go faster…it’s not going to break you know?”

Ye Qiu was his best partner in Glory, so it really shouldn’t surprise him that the bastard was also frustratingly efficient at reading him at this too. The short pointers were all Ye Qiu needed to turn the whole experience from mildly awkward but arousing to so frighteningly addictive that masturbating alone was going to be ruined for him. The tightness around his cock was quickly adjusted to a level that was just enough to set off all his nerves at full intensity while barely skirting the edge of painful, and the way Ye Qiu continued to stare at him, completely and wholly focused on studying his reactions as he would amid a heated arena battle-

Su Muqiu closed his eyes, the phantom image of that knowing, victorious smirk lingered in his mind as his body coiled tighter and tighter-

 

 

 

 

 

Muqiu was panting, breath ragged and irregular like all the air in the world was not enough to satisfy him. Ye Xiu had never seen him look so openly vulnerable and wanting, his eyes clenched shut and his head tilted up in silent supplication. The moment felt too private, like something that shouldn’t be shared merely between friends, but they were far too deep into this now to go back.

There was the briefest twitch rippling under his palm and that was all the warning he got before his hands were restrained to a standstill. Muqiu’s hips shuttered in one last jerking motion, releasing warm liquid that dripped all over Ye Xiu’s fingers and onto their sheets. Ye Xiu’s attention naturally went to the odd sensation on his hands, but it soon shifted to the noticeable swell on the base of Muqiu’s dick, bulging an angry bright red from the recent stimulation.

“It…normally doesn’t get that big,” Muqiu explained, noticing his stare.

Ye Xiu’s mind raced while his face remained blank. He had never seen a knot up close before, but he had learned enough about them in his education. Muqiu was right. Knots normally did not swell up so much, not without omega pheromones stimulating the alpha. What were the chances that Muqiu was in close contact with another possible omega?  

He didn’t think his time would come so soon.

“We should get cleaned up,” was all he said, ignoring the soreness in his wrist and the trepidation in his heart.

 

 

 

 

 

“Ye Qiu, about what happened…I-”

“Tomorrow, Muqiu, ’m sleepy.”

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, Su Mucheng graciously “found” the keys and unlocked the cuffs. Ye Qiu did not meet his eyes the entire morning.

They sorely need to talk about what happened last night, but a customer called to confirm that he’s still coming over to check their computer and suddenly they’re too busy scrambling to get ready for the day to talk at all. ‘Tonight,’ Muqiu promised himself as he heads out.

“Take care.”

He barely caught the words before he left, the words so soft and uncharacteristic of Ye Qiu that he wondered if he was just hearing things.

 

 

 

 

 

Ye Qiu does not return home that night.

When Mucheng asked, “Brother, where’s Ye Qiu?” Muqiu’s first thought was “Oh my god, did I scare him off with my dick.

Thankfully, his next thought was more rational – Ye Qiu knew much more about this alpha business than he ever did. He doubted a knot would be enough to scare the other away.

He found their shared room neatly arranged – a rare state, honestly. The sheets had been washed and folded. The usual corner where Ye Qiu kept his backpack was left empty and clean. And on top of their single shared desk, Ye Qiu had left a familiar account card as a paperweight.

Ye Qiu would never have forgotten his account card. If he had planned to permanently leave, it would have made no sense for him not to take such an easily portable card.

Muqiu knew he had left it there as a sign. A promise to return.

Or maybe, an apology for his departure?

“Damn it, Ye Qiu, couldn’t you have left a note like a normal person?”

 

 

 

 

 

Ye Xiu’s first heat felt very much like someone had metaphorically wrapped him up in a sweltering, hot ball of cotton, and that same someone had also seemingly decided to put several wads of cotton in his brain too for good measure. It was hard to think straight with the dull haze of arousal weighing down his every thought and the heat consuming his body was paradoxically both too much and not enough all at once.

The bedside clock read 10 in the morning, which meant it had been over a full 24 hours now since his symptoms had started. His body ached and hungered, in more ways than one, but he willfully continued to ignore it save for a single swallow of water. Ye Xiu noticed his normally steady hands had started to shake in protest to his decision to fast, but there was no other choice. He doesn’t have the luxury, nor the money, to wait out his whole heat period.

The specialized hotel room had already been difficult to procure as a minor – the price that he was paying as a bribe, on top of the usual rental fee, had been enough to wipe out his whole savings. But it was really his only choice, the only way he could feel safe in his heat: locked away and isolated from others through the room’s independent air circulation system.

He would see this heat through, alone.

The one comfort he allowed himself – a strategic one, he reasoned – was the single shirt he stole from Su Muqiu before he had left. It was still heavy with the alpha’s musky scent, satisfying his brain’s perpetual search for matematemate. Su Muqiu may not be his mate, but to Ye Xiu, he was already his home, and that was enough.

Of course, this didn’t stop his body from wanting it to be more.

His brain kept returning to the memory of Muqiu’s velvety cock between his fingertips and the satisfying way it glided perfectly in his grip, not at the least inferior to the joys of nailing a smooth arc with his mouse. When he touched his own dick, he couldn’t help but imagine Muqiu’s hands over his own, guiding him in gentle but firm motions once more.  

 “Ah...Good…god how are you so good-“

Su Muqiu had not been stingy in either praise or criticism, but now it was only that satisfying praise that rang in his memories. The knowledge that he had made Muqiu feel good, good to the point that Muqiu had looked absolutely ruined at the end of it, pushed forward his own spiraling loss of control toward his release.

Muqiu, Muqiu, Muqiu-“ his brain chanted, now having acutely pinpointed just what he wanted.

Ye Qiu groaned, hands wet and body still immensely unsatisfied.

Heats were far too long and far too troublesome.

 

 

 

 

 

Su Muqiu found Ye Qiu three days later stumbling into their apartment looking so dazed and unsteady on his feet that Muqiu nearly threw his laptop to rush to his side. His friend felt alarmingly light in his grip after he removed the backpack and led them both to sit on their coach.

“Ye Qiu, what the actual fuck?! You look like you haven’t eaten for days!”

“I haven’t,” Ye Qiu admitted. Then, making no effort to hide the obvious fact, he also added, “I had my heat.”

“Your heat?” parroted Muqiu as his brain tried to process. It dawned on him that he couldn’t even smell Ye Qiu’s normal scent with a preliminary sniff, indicating a scent blocker must have been used. “You’re an Omega? Wait, is that a thing omegas do? You don’t eat during heat?”

“No, but If I don’t, my heat ends faster,” He said in a matter-of-fact way. If an Omega’s body detected nutritional deficiency, it would naturally hasten the end to a heat period in such hostile conditions. It was one of the many tricks he had studied before he left home, a whispered cautionary tale among the elite to promote the very opposite outcome than what he had just induced.

“You starved yourself. For three days. On purpose.” Su Muqiu emphasized every word, trembling with barely restrained outrage. Who would just starve themselves for three days, just to end a heat? It was a miracle Ye Qiu even made it back without collapsing in his current state.

“I couldn’t afford a hotel for longer.”

“Ye Qiu!”  The older boy resisted the urge to physically shake some sense into his companion, just barely. “Do you not get the problem here? You can’t just do that to yourself!”

“I already did,” Ye Qiu said while looking away, stubbornly unrepentant.

An arm slammed in front of Ye Qiu’s line of vision, forcing the other boy’s attention back to Su Muqiu who was now leaning over him, looking angrier than Ye Qiu had ever seen him before. He had to fight his instinctive reflex to withdraw back in the face of the pheromones the alpha was leaking.

“And what would your plans be for next time? Do you plan to do this to yourself every heat?”

When he opened his mouth, the word “yes” unexpectedly died at his throat when he smelled how genuinely distressed Muqiu seemed to be over this idea. He hesitated, trying to find something else to say. In that moment of hesitation, he found himself unexpectedly pulled into a tight hug against that same warm, inviting body that had been in his thoughts during the entire heat.

“I don’t want to watch you hurt yourself like this, please,” Muqiu pleaded, his voice cracking on the last word from the sheer desperation that saturated his tone.   

“What other choice do I have?” Ye Qiu asked helplessly. An angry Su Muqiu he could handle, but this? This was a whole new game in which he found himself startlingly inexperienced. 

“You’ve taken care of me for my ruts, let me take care of you for your heats. I won’t mark you. I won’t even touch you if you don’t want me to. You’ve said before that you trust me. Please, trust me.”

The boy in his arms stiffened even tighter at his words, but Muqiu refused to be discouraged. He could only brave forward.

“Ye Qiu, I like you. I’ve liked you for months now, but I could never say it. So I’m saying it now: I like you. Ye Qiu, I really, really like you. Please stay with me, with us. Mucheng was crying, thinking this was her fault, you know? Can you handle that on your conscious? Are you so heartless? And I also...look, I don’t think I could handle it if you left like that again. Can't you take pity on my poor heart?“

Ye Qiu pressed his cheek against Su Muqiu’s shoulder with a sigh, and, all at once, the fight goes out of him. He melted fully into Muqiu’s embrace, reveling in the way he was enveloped by not only Muqiu’s arm but also his scent.

“Muqiu,” he breathed out, sounding as tired and weary as he looked. Ye Qiu closed his eyes and, in an even softer tone, said, “I trust you, I won’t leave again. Don't regret taking this responsibility, okay?”

The hold around him tightened in promise.

 

 

 

((Muqiu's scent was home and safety and mate and everything Ye Xiu didn’t dare to let himself have since he left his family. But when did he become such a coward, fearing what he was searching for this whole time? ))

 

 

 


“Oh, I guess I should have told you before…my name isn’t actually Ye Qiu. That's my twin brother's name.”

What?!

Chapter Text

 

Su Muqiu wanted a lot of things: he wanted to be able to send his little sister to college, to live in an actual house where the kitchen wasn’t crammed into the same living space as their bedroom, to indulgently eat beef for every meal!  It was what he’s been saying for years to motivate himself, the “Three-Step Plan” as Mucheng fondly called it. He constantly wanted, intensely, with all the greed of a boy who had grown up with nothing but hopes and dreams to drive him forward.

But now, things had changed.

When Ye Xiu had disappeared for those three days, he had been forced to re-evaluate the value of the things he already had.

He had a solid roof over his head and four walls that kept him sheltered throughout the season despite their air conditioner’s best attempts to go into retirement. He had a cute, obedient sister who was growing up remarkably happy and satisfied regardless of their atypical family structure and poor finances. He had Ye Xiu, the most wonderful partner he could never have imagined having in his old, limited dreams.

Su Muqiu doesn’t think he wants any less than before, but his wants were different now. They were simpler, easier.

A meal with his family. The sound of Mucheng’s carefree laughter. The peaceful, unguarded expression on Ye Xiu’s face as he falls asleep in Muqiu’s arms.

Muqiu got what he wanted every day now, and he was all the happier for it.

  


 

 

Just as Muqiu was feeling settled with the newfound developments in his life, inevitably, something was bound to shake it up again. This something came in the form of a snarling alpha tackling him down on his way back home. The sharp, acrid scent of the alpha’s pheromones was all the warning he got before his head was slammed against the ground, face-first.

“Why do you smell like him? What did you do to my brother?”

Struggling against his attacker’s hold and his spinning vision, Su Muqiu barely managed to turn his head far enough to catch sight of a face that was uncannily familiar but with uncharacteristically expressive anger. “…you’re…Ye Qiu?”

Then, both of them were suddenly doused with cold water. Ye Qiu, being on top, had taken the brunt of it.

“Stupid little brother, you think I’d let anyone do anything to me so easily?” Ye Xiu asked flatly, his face appearing completely unimpressed by the alpha-typical display in front of him. “Both of you hurry up and come inside before you attract any more attention.”

  


 

 

It was an odd sight, watching Ye Xiu dry off his twin brother. Side by side, it was obvious how different they were. Ye Qiu’s chest stretched broader, part of a bulkier build than Ye Xiu’s slender curves. Their physical differences were a testament to the impact of dynamics and their corresponding hormonal mediators. But it wasn’t only that. Ye Qiu’s shoulders were stiffer, his back a little straighter, and his limbs positioned outwards to unconsciously take up as much room as possible. In another alpha’s territory, he acted more guarded but was still imperious enough to mark out his own space.

Ye Xiu didn’t have to help his brother at all. He could have just thrown a towel and called any brotherly obligation fulfilled, but he knew a keyed-up alpha when he saw one. Ye Qiu’s instincts still recognized him as part of their pack, and he could only imagine how strong three years worth of pent up protective urges would feel. Ye Xiu let his scent loose as he worked, projecting peace, safety, contentment.

Ye Qiu exhaled, visibly relaxing under Ye Xiu’s ministrations. The alpha closed his eyes, focusing fully on receiving his brother’s unspoken message. He didn’t want to believe it, but the message was clear.

“You’re…really happy here.”

“Yes.”

  


 

 

Later, Muqiu finally thought to ask, “How did he find us anyways? Can someone’s nose actually be so freakish?”

“Oh, I invited him,” Ye Xiu answered.

“You gave me an address and didn’t explain anything,” Ye Qiu complained. Muqiu, remembering Ye Xiu’s note before his absence, suddenly felt a new comradery with the other alpha.

“Some things are best explained in person!”

“You haven’t explained anything.”

“Well, basically, I want to get married.”

What?!” The two alphas said in remarkable synchrony.

  


 

 

Ye Xiu presented his idea in his usual detached, logical manner. Since both he and Su Muqiu were now 18, registering themselves as mates would only require a single witness from Ye Xiu’s household. This would not only would this ruin his family’s hold on his independence, but also place the two of them under several protective laws for dynamic rights. The change in status would also give Ye Xiu a perfect opportunity to get a new ID card, just in time to register for the upcoming professional Glory league that Brother Tao had been nagging them about.

It was an efficient solution to many of their problems. Ye Xiu was quite proud of his solution. His audience, however, was not.

“You can’t just get married to someone so rashly!”.

“You can’t just propose to me like this!”

 


  

It took approximately another week, three bottles of alcohol, and Mucheng’s enthusiastic assistance before they go through with the plan. The ceremony was a small, informal affair between the four of them, and Su Muqiu absolutely denied crying during the signing. Mucheng’s pictures say otherwise.

  


 


Ye Xiu woke up to sloppy, wet strokes of tongue against his neck gland and the familiar warm haze of his incoming heat. His instincts are immensely pleased by this development, and he subconsciously presses backwards into the stiff hardness he felt against his ass. At the same time, he also tilted his head to give his alpha more room to work on his neck. Muqiu hummed appreciatively and gave a particularly hard suck that sends a shiver of need down his body.

The hand snaking its way down Ye Xiu’s pants was just as distracting. Ye Xiu would not have been able to remember a single thing about what he was supposed to be doing that day if the cell phone at their bed stand hadn’t start ringing.

“Wait, Muqiu, we’re supposed to sign our contracts today.”

“Brother Tao can wait.” The alpha dismissed, much more interested in scenting Ye Xiu’s newly revealed thighs after he had successfully pulled off those pesky pants.

"Mucheng?"

"At school already, I saw her off while you were asleep."

“Wu Xuefeng and the others should be arriving today as well- “

Su Muqiu gave a sharp warning nip. “Ye Xiu, are you trying to make me jealous, talking about other people so much during your heat?”

Ye Xiu smirked. He hadn’t intended to rile up his alpha, but now that he was already halfway there….

“Did you know I was going to have a match with Desert Dust today?”

The aggressive kiss that came next was predictable and all the more satisfying for it. He felt himself pushed closer and closer toward the precipice of a full heat. If his first heat could be described as an ungraceful nosedive after tripping off the edge, then he would call this one more of a slow, cushioned fall mediated by the comforting cocoon of Muqiu’s pheromones around him. It was a descent he had grown to enjoy over the several heats he and Muqiu had shared.

But this time, he was feeling more ambitious. He wanted more. He wanted to fully throw himself off that cliff all at once, confident that he would be safely caught.

“Muqiu," he called out hoarsely, "mark me.”

Muqiu's mind blanked. This wasn't the first time they've discussed this; Ye Xiu had already implied to him that he wouldn't mind being marked more permanently. But hearing it out loud and in bed was something else.

He felt Ye Xiu's hand gently wrap around the back of his head, pulling him back towards that ever tempting neck. The thickness of the pheromones there made the message clear - love, want, need

Well, if Ye Xiu wanted to offer himself up so blatantly, who was he to refuse?

Muqiu bit down, hard enough draw blood and pull a genuine yelp of pain from Ye Xiu. Normally, he would be concerned about hurting his partner so much, but a different instinct overtook him: finish the mark, make sure everyone knows he's mine. Everyone in the professional league would undoubtedly be drawn to Ye Xiu's peerless skills, but only he would be able to see Ye Xiu like this: expression so purely unguarded and body beautifully open to receive him.

He bit in even harder, making sure to dig into the wound with his specialized, hollow canine unique to alphas. The concoction of chemicals injected into an omega would not fully take effect for several days, but the act of biting itself was enough to fully trigger an overwhelming wave of desire in Ye Xiu that left the omega's back arching and his thighs wet with arousal.

While using his left hand to hold Ye Xiu steady for the bite, Muqiu's other hand began to wander downwards again toward the omega's folds. The area was so slick it was almost obscene. Two fingers confidently slipped in right up to the knuckle with a single practiced motion. 

"Shit, I still can't get used to how wet you get when you're in heat," Muqiu breathed in amazement between gentle licks to the damage he had inflicted on his mate's neck.

Before meeting Ye Xiu, he hadn't given any thought to how different a male omega's genitalia would be from his own. He had embarrassed both himself and Ye Xiu in their first time with his inexperience, not knowing what to do with the unfamiliar vulva in front of him and nearly calling the hospital when he had accidentally caused a minor bleed. But now, he navigated the channel with ease, stroking its walls in the way his partner liked best.

"Muqiu," Ye Xiu urged, turning his body around enough so that he could nuzzle against the scent glands on Muqiu's own neck. His instincts were demanding that he get closer to his alpha, to merge with him in the most physical way possible, but his alpha seemed frustratingly unhurried. The best he could do was bring himself to the closest source of his alpha's scent and give his own nibble of annoyance.

"Ah! So forward today," Muqiu said, picking up on Ye Xiu's hint. He pulled out his fingers and readjusted their position so that he now leaned over the smaller boy. Muqiu took a moment to fully savor the view of Ye Xiu's flushed face and blown pupils that looked up at him with hungry, anticipatory intent.

"Muqiu."

Their right hands intertwined and Muqiu leaned in for a long kiss, smothering the other tongue in languid strokes as he inserted his cock without further preamble. Ye Xiu reflexively sucked back on Muqiu's lips, his body clamping down on the intrusion. The girth of the cock felt impossibly larger than he last remembered, the stretch more pleasurable than painful in his heat-riddled senses. Each inch that passed sent a jolt of heat that seemed to run through every blood vessel in his body, building and building on each other to wreck his frame with an uncontrollable shudder. 

 Muqiu bottomed out quickly, their most intimate parts entangled in a perfect fit. He marveled at how much more overwhelming the furnace of Ye Xiu's passage felt without their usual condom, and wondered if the direct contact felt just as good for Ye Xiu. 

"You're mine," he said impulsively, his voice a mixture of awe and possessiveness. 

Ye Xiu smiled in agreement, knowing that Muqiu was just as hopelessly his.

"You'll take care of me, won't you, Muqiu?" 


 

In between the steady rocking of Muqiu's thrusts behind him and the tight grip of Muqiu's hand on his cock in front, Ye Xiu was trapped in constant stream of pleasure that viciously unraveled his normally collected mind. His lips became loose and let slip sounds he would never catch himself making otherwise, and Muqiu drank them all in like the delicacies that they were. 

It's the staccato whimpers Ye Xiu made after being thoroughly fucked through his orgasm that finally triggers Su Muqiu's release. As his cock twitched out stream after stream of cum trapped inside the tight channel by his bulging knot, his instincts buzz with satisfaction on how well he's seeded his mate despite the more rational part of his brain knowing that it was a futile effort. Ye Xiu had already started on birth control, neither of them truly wanting a kid when they had a whole professional career ahead of them.

That was an issue for the far future. For now, he enjoyed basking in the bone-deep sense of triumph of having Ye Xiu tied up on his knot, debauched to the point of incoherence. It's a sight he doesn't think he'll ever get tired of. 


 

 

The two never make it to the meeting that day, nor do they see the news of the traffic accident near their home. 

 


 

In the alliance, Su Muqiu and Ye Xiu make no effort to hide their relationship. Excellent Era is universally hated by the other team not only for their win streak, but also for the disgusting amount of dogfood they force fed to their fellow pros.

 When they win their first championship, Su Muqiu used his championship ring to propose right then and there on the highest stage of Glory.

This is how you do a proposal.”

“We’re already married.”

“Marry me again!”

“….okay.”

The audience goes wild.

(They are much less amused when this happens again at the second season’s championship. By the third time, it’s practically a meme. Ye Xiu’s most infamous taunt now involved chiding his opponents to do better, or else he’d run out of fingers for rings.)