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The Cloud Effect

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Like a flame in a cave, about to extinguish, Donghyuck’s instinct vibrates.

“This is hard to explain,” Jeno says. His eyes inspect Donghyuck’s blank expression across the table, hands interlaced and elbows on the surface to prevent the evident trembling of his own body.  At Donghyuck’s silence, at his unresponsiveness, Jeno sighs. “I’ll begin again.”

Donghyuck doesn’t need him to: he has understood the proposal, such a wild, unconceivable idea that he’s speechless. The most rational part of his mind can’t wrap around that foreign concept. His alpha instinct, on the contrary, burns inside him until his thoughts are hooked on only one boy, on how he’d look under him on a bed, on his smile, on how he lingers around Jeno with adoration in his eyes. On how that’s not enough, after all, because love doesn’t magically fulfill all the needs an omega has.

“Renjun and I-” Jeno starts again. He bites on his lower lip, pink turning white, and he’s incapable of maintaining eye contact. “His heats are worsening. We’ve tried everything. We even went to a sex counselor, he’s taken heat suppressants, but it’s still too painful for him. I-”

Donghyuck feels ashamed, too. Jeno and Renjun have been dating for three years, since their first year of university, and Donghyuck vividly remembers how smitten Jeno was when Jaemin first introduced Renjun to him during a party. Renjun was part of Jaemin’s study group, formed by an association that created groups exclusively made up of omegas – to avoid that alphas and betas joined study groups just to flirt with them, Renjun had explained to Donghyuck on that first meeting. Donghyuck had scoffed at that, had doubted that Renjun received all that attention, but years around him have proven him wrong.

“This is a really big decision,” Donghyuck tells him. Jeno keeps his head low, and Donghyuck takes advantage of that moment to read his semblance without fueling his discomfort. The tension in Jeno’s jaw reveals more than he could ever say, but the look in his eyes is what destroys Donghyuck. “I don’t want to even consider it if you’re not completely sure.”

Donghyuck doesn’t believe at love at first sight, but for Renjun and Jeno was exactly that. Meant for each other, an unquestionable pair, the true constant among their friends. Donghyuck would have never supposed that there were bumps on the road for them, and less that Jeno would resort to him in such heartbreaking conditions.

“Listen to me, Donghyuck,” Jeno continues. He swallows the knot in his throat, the stress so visible on his face that Donghyuck wonders when the last time he slept was. It makes sense that he hasn't been sleeping well if he has been thinking about letting Donghyuck do this, but Jeno needs to care for himself as well. “I wouldn’t ask for this if Renjun wasn't suffering so much, if he could take it. But it's been three years and at this point both of us know that I can’t help him. He's afraid of telling me, you know?” Jeno rapidly blinks, glances at the ceiling of the empty cafe, a place where his words fall even heavier. His latte, Donghyuck realizes, is untouched. “He's afraid of reminding me that my beta status won't ever be enough for his body. And god, this is on me, because I knew this would happen and still I courted him like a fool.”

Donghyuck thinks about consoling him, but it's evident that it'll be useless. Jeno doesn't want to be convinced otherwise. Yes, he was foolish, but so was Renjun. They allowed themselves to fall in love with each other despite their status, and Donghyuck might not know much about love, but he knows that Jeno shouldn't have renounced to happiness just because of his gender.

“So you want me to…?”

“I want you to help him with his heats,” Jeno repeats, dry, concise. It's tough for Donghyuck to hear it, so he can't imagine how hard it's for Jeno to say it out loud. “Right before and during his heat is when he has it the hardest. We're not sure of how much a knot will help, but we're sure that it will help.”

Donghyuck stalls the inevitable. Jeno wants him to fuck Renjun. There's no way to decorate it: it's simple and yet hurtful. Renjun belongs to Jeno, not to Donghyuck – it's not just a mere act of possessiveness, but a silent deal between two people that love each other and only each other. The offer sounds almost like a sin to Donghyuck, as if he's interfering in a sacred, beautiful thing that he won't ever have for himself.

Donghyuck catches his breath, crosses his arms on his lap to hide how his body is reacting, the goosebumps that rise at the thought of touching Jeno's omega. “Did you tell him about this?”

But Jeno is too concerned to notice any of those details, so he focuses on the question instead.

“No,” he confesses, eyes flickering up to Donghyuck’s face. “I wanted to check with you, not to give him hope and then...”

Donghyuck feels horrible. Of course his alpha instinct wants to accept the offer without hesitation, even if he has never imagined sleeping with Renjun before. He's so pretty, it's just natural for Donghyuck to want him, and Jeno is allowing him to betray the silent line of respect towards him and his boyfriend. It’s awfully tempting.

“I have to think about it first,” Donghyuck manages to breathe out at last. Donghyuck met up with Jeno supposing that they'd just hang out, that it’d be another normal day for them, so he isn’t ready to receive all this sudden information, and even less to decide their future in a moment. “I’m sorry, Jeno, it’s just-”

Jeno's semblance contorts into disappointment, but he hurries to wave his hand as to tell him not to apologize.

“It’s fine,” he assures Donghyuck. Hiding his true feelings is another story. “It’s not a decision that should be taken in a split second.”

Donghyuck nods, and then silence takes over their conversation. It's strange, but Jeno is much more nervous and embarrassed than Donghyuck. Donghyuck reckons that it's a form of confessing that he can't satisfy his mate properly, and Donghyuck's ego would be tremendously damaged if he had to go through that too.

Raising his gaze to meet Jeno's eyes, Donghyuck insists, “Why didn’t you discuss this with him first?”

Hesitation strikes across his expression, yet they've gone too far for Jeno to lie to Donghyuck now. It's pointless, and if he wants Donghyuck to bite into the proposal with his whole trust, he can't lie.

“Because he’ll reject the idea just so that I don’t feel less of a mate,” he admits. Jeno's words are harsh, but he can't explain it any differently. Donghyuck is sure that Jeno already feels like a failure as a mate, and that Renjun must want to protect his boyfriend's feelings, but that won't do them any good in the long run. “Seeing him suffer, knowing I can let someone else help him if I just- If I get over my own stupid jealousy, makes me feel like I don't deserve him. My instinct tells me not to let go, but I have to let go for the sake of his well-being.”

Donghyuck studies him, curious, and says, “Your jealousy isn't stupid, Jeno.”

It's not jealousy, however, because Renjun would never look at Donghyuck, would have never paid him any attention even if Jeno hadn't been in the picture. For the first two years, Renjun didn't even like him – Donghyuck was just a jerk to him, someone who couldn't take anything or anyone seriously and who dragged Jeno into bad ideas.

Jeno agrees with a dry, “He's having a hard time not to hurt me, so I should pay it back.”

It's cruel, Donghyuck is conscious. Their nature can be so cruel to them sometimes, starting just by the fact that Renjun needs a knot despite having found his soulmate and loving his boyfriend; and ending with how Donghyuck's instinct screams at him to bury himself between Renjun's legs and forget about Jeno.

“I’ll think about it,” Donghyuck decides then. He reaches out for Jeno's hands over the table, and Jeno turns his palms around to hold him too. If his touch calms Jeno down or not, Donghyuck can’t tell; he can just tell that Jeno took a crazy amount of suppressants before coming to the cafe, for Donghyuck is incapable of detecting his scent at all. “You’re my best friend, Jeno, but for that same reason it’s difficult to accept this deal. Renjun is-”

“Donghyuck,” Jeno cuts him off with a shake of his head. “Don’t think of him as my boyfriend. You won’t even be able to touch him if you do.”

Taken aback by his explicitness, Donghyuck whispers, “But he is your boyfriend.”

Jeno closes his eyes for a second, as though he needs to summon his courage to continue. He squeezes Donghyuck's hands, warm in his grip, and his eyes open and cut through his soul.

“He's the love of my life,” Jeno corrects him. “And that's why I'm asking for your help.”

 

 

 

 

The proposal is a virus that spreads within Donghyuck at an alarming rate.

Jeno gives him space, but Donghyuck needs more than that. They’ve just begun their senior year, so he tries to distract himself with his classes just to find out, much to his dismay, that he can’t stop thinking about Renjun. It’s a innate reaction to the idea of fucking an omega, that’s what Donghyuck tells himself. Even though he has slept with countless omegas, and it’s not out of the norm for him or his sexual life, his instinct is stronger than habit or reason – it’s insatiable, and he wants more and more, again and again, as if he hasn’t tried the taste of an omega yet.

And over all, Donghyuck feels dirty. Renjun is his best friend’s boyfriend, the person he’s probably going to spend his whole life with. For Donghyuck, Renjun has always been untouchable, both of them tiptoeing on opposite sides of a strange abysm. They were the main attractors of Jeno’s time and attention, and it was an incessant push and pull game. Donghyuck has never been decent competition, however, because no one could compete with Renjun.

However, Renjun is incredibly pretty, and though Donghyuck has never afforded seeing him in that light, his thoughts unleash at the opportunity that Jeno offers him. When Donghyuck first met Renjun, he was still a cute kid, more of a boy than man. Yet even back then, he was already the sort of pretty that one couldn’t take their eyes off, the sort of pretty that Donghyuck admired with reticence, knowing that it’d never belong to him. Not because Jeno would hog him, but because omegas like Renjun always had better options, people that would give the whole world for them.

Renjun isn’t a boy anymore, that much is clear. He’s still smaller than Donghyuck, with bright eyes and a smile that can get him anything he wants – Donghyuck has even gotten free rides from strangers just because Renjun asked them to, and once a taxi driver drove them home for a whole hour because Renjun pouted at him, claiming that they didn’t have more money.

Yet it’s just not his pretty face what he carries in his favor. Donghyuck isn’t blind to his scent, to his sharp tongue, or to the way his pants fit around his hips; he’s not blind to how deep Jeno’s fingers sink in Renjun’s shirt when he holds him by the waist.

Donghyuck hates what his alpha instinct demands from him, but since the moment Jeno opened his mouth at the cafe, Donghyuck’s reason wasn’t in the equation anymore.

“You’ve always resented Renjun,” Jaemin unhelpfully reminds him days later, when Donghyuck manages to surpass his own embarrassment and tells him what’s troubling him. “He stole your friend away from you. You spent your freshman year crying about it every time you got drunk, I’d pay to go back in time and not befriend you just to not suffer your whining.”

Donghyuck rolls over on the couch to glare at his flatmate, for Jaemin’s words are far from soothing. Jaemin returns a devilish smile from the other side of the couch, a book resting on his bent knees and his glasses on the tip of his nose.

Jaemin might not be the best adviser in the world, but Donghyuck doesn’t regret renting a flat with him. There were speculations at first nonetheless, because Jaemin is an omega and even their friends thought it was suspicious that they went to live together just one year after meeting each other. The suspicions made sense in their heads, since Renjun and Jeno lived together along with Mark and Yuta, two couples – or they used to be, because Yuta broke up with Mark three months ago and moved out.

“He stole the best of our years,” Donghyuck protests. Because yes, he has always been childish over their relationship, but it’s not true envy. Renjun understands that Donghyuck doesn’t hate him, that it’s the cycle of life: a boyfriend and a best friend can never be too close. “Our perfect time to party every day of the week and definitely not settle down for the rest of our lives.”

“You sound so dramatic,” Jaemin notes, lips contorting to suppress a smile. “Do you want to know what I think about this?”

“Would I have asked you if I didn’t?”

Jaemin sighs in exasperation, disapproving of the retort.

“Don’t play smart with me, Hyuck.” He closes the book with a snap, and instead of setting it aside on the table, he bends over and hits Donghyuck on the knees. Donghyuck hisses and immediately brings his knees to his chest, but Jaemin smiles at him like nothing happened. “How many omegas have you helped because they were in their heat?”

Donghyuck isn’t ashamed to admit that he has to think about it, but after a whole minute the judgmental look on Jaemin’s face intimidates him a bit.

“Around ten?” Donghyuck tries at last, careful, as though he’s afraid of being caught in a lie.

Jaemin must not remember the exact number either, because he moves on. “How many of them already had a mate?”

Frustrated, Donghyuck lets out a groan and throws his head back over the armrest. Jaemin’s intentions are transparent now, and Donghyuck knows that he has all the possibilities to lose against his wit.

“That’s a shitty question,” he laments. Because it is. It’s never pleasant to help a mated omega as a last resort, without being able to check if their mate agrees or not, if they’ll try to break his nose afterwards even if Donghyuck didn’t mean any harm.

Jaemin doesn’t take pity on him. He slaps his calf and insists, “Answer.”

Donghyuck whispers, “Two.” The reaction is immediate: Jaemin gasps a little, perhaps because he supposed that Donghyuck wouldn’t have dared, or perhaps because that’s the perfect argument he needs to use. “But it was a one time thing! I slept with Seongwoo because his mate was out of the country, and with Jaehyun-”

“You’re using excuses,” Jaemin interrupts him. When Donghyuck opens his mouth to protest, Jaemin sets his index finger over his lips, shushing him. “And you have an excuse to sleep with Renjun too. There’s no difference.”

There is a difference. Donghyuck doesn’t have any relationship with Jaehyun and Sicheng’s mates, and their hook-ups weren’t planned. In fact, he can’t even remember the name of Seongwoo’s mate, or what Donghyuck did with him – he was on the edge of his rut too, so his memories are fuzzy.

“How can you say that?” Donghyuck reproaches. “He’s been dating Jeno for three years!”

For a moment, Donghyuck believes that Jaemin is about to drop the topic. That he’ll say you’re right, Donghyuck, you shouldn’t accept the deal because it’ll put your friendship in danger. It’s the most logical advice, and Jaemin has always prioritized logic over feelings.

“Well.” Jaemin crosses his arms over his stomach, unconcerned, and smirks at Donghyuck. “You really want to fuck him, though.”

Donghyuck feels his face burn. Even though Jaemin is on the opposite side of the couch, out of the blue Donghyuck has the strange sensation that Jaemin is too close, that he’s asphyxiating, not enough space to breathe. Their living room contracts around him, smaller every time Donghyuck blinks.

Donghyuck stutters a weak, “That’s a baseless accusation.”

This time, Jaemin’s laughter shoots through the living room, loud and piercing.

“I have plenty of proof,” he claims, lifting his eyebrows at Donghyuck in incredulity. “Last year your eyes were glued to his ass like- All the time. I don’t know what was going on with you. Even Jeno noticed, dude.” With a pause, he tilts his head to the side, eyes losing focus, and mutters to himself, “Huh. I wonder if that’s why he chose you over one of the hyungs.”

Dumbstruck, Donghyuck limits himself to stare at Jaemin in horror. His friend isn’t lying; god, Donghyuck knows who he has checked out before, but he presumes that no one ever catches on unless Donghyuck wants them to. The revelation that he’s not as discreet as he thinks, that Jeno has trapped him admiring someone that belongs to him, destabilizes the last of Donghyuck’s self-confidence.

“So what if I do?” Donghyuck avoids Jaemin’s eyes, the knowing smile directed at him that puts him to shame. “This isn’t about me.”

For the first time today, Jaemin’s amusement shifts to something entirely different. Curiosity, understanding, Donghyuck can’t tell. He slides over the couch, cradles the book in his hands and slams it on the table at last so that there isn’t anything separating them, and hooks his arms around Donghyuck’s calves.

When Jaemin rests his chin on Donghyuck’s knees, Donghyuck winces at him, aware that Jaemin is going to be sensible with him. But with that proximity Donghyuck can’t pretend that he’s not affected. Jaemin doesn’t look at him, he sees through him.

“Listen, I’m an omega too, and you know how bad it gets even with an alpha around,” Jaemin tells him, voice softer than before. Donghyuck does: they’ve been living together for two years, so Donghyuck has had his good share of Jaemin’s heats. Sunwoo has been helping Jaemin since they met in first year, and yet Jaemin still has a hard time – calls for Donghyuck if he smells his scent at home, too, even if Sunwoo is deep inside him. “I can’t imagine the terror Renjun must be going through. Don’t be such a jerk, Donghyuck.”

All in all, both of them are right. Donghyuck’s fears aren’t unjustified, and this issue isn’t indeed about him. Jaemin’s explanations point to another truth: Jeno needs him, for no beta would ask an alpha to fuck his mate for no reason, and Donghyuck can’t just ignore the request. He has to make a decision, and it has to be fast. Both a negative and a positive decision take some bravery, and Donghyuck is too old to consider cowering.

“Renjun could still say no,” he muses at last, looking for agreement in Jaemin’s expression.

Jaemin nods. “I’m sure you can take a rejection.” Pressing his cheek against Donghyuck’s right knee, he adds, “Just be respectful to Jeno, and try to pretend that you’re not dying to fuck him, Donghyuck, because you’re really bad at it.”

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck can’t stop looking at Renjun.

He catches sight of him only ten minutes after entering Chenle’s party, and like a panicked teen, Donghyuck hides in the bathroom for half an hour. Even though it was obvious that he’d have to face Renjun sooner or later, Donghyuck had allowed himself a couple of days to think about how to accept Jeno’s deal. Renjun isn’t supposed to be there, in the big, wild party that Chenle prepared to celebrate the beginning of the university year.

That’s Donghyuck’s habitat, his safe space. Renjun isn’t the sort of boy that is fond of parties, at least not frat parties, but Jeno is with him and Donghyuck supposes that Jeno persuaded him. Mark is nowhere to be seen, because he probably refused to accompany them – Donghyuck has tried to go out with him too, but Mark is still mourning his dead relationship, and that’s how Donghyuck finds himself without a lifesaver.

When Donghyuck leaves the bathroom, reminding himself that he’s a whole twenty-two year old that can’t run away from his own friends, Renjun meets eyes with him. The music is loud, and people are dancing, moving and blocking the view, but Renjun stares at him long enough to be an invitation. He’s perched on Jeno, hugging his boyfriend’s arm and his cheek leaning on his shoulder, and he breaks into a sweet smile upon recognizing Donghyuck.

Donghyuck blanks out for a second. It’s nonsensical that he’s intimidated by this idea. Renjun ignores the little secret Donghyuck and Jeno share, and despite his nervousness, Donghyuck should find funny that Renjun is the unknowing one for once. That Renjun is in the shadows, like he was when they were freshmen and Jeno sneaked out with Donghyuck without telling him.

“Look at you,” Renjun greets him with a scream, making himself be heard over the music. He signals at Donghyuck to walk faster, even though Donghyuck is already striding to them. “Where’s Jaemin?”

Renjun, Donghyuck notices, is very underdressed for a party. He’s drowned in a big purple sweater that reaches his thighs, skinny sport pants underneath, and he’d be mistaken for a lost freshman if he wasn’t next to Jeno. The bitterest part is that, not even looking like he came straight from the gym, does he stop attracting attention around him; in fact, there’s a boy behind Jeno looking at them, staring with a frown on his face as though he’s trying to convince himself that they’re not dating.

“Dishonoring my house with Sunwoo,” Donghyuck laments, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Jeno rolls his eyes at him, for they know that Donghyuck would be here anyhow, house empty or not.

“Poor you,” Renjun mockingly coos at him, and when Donghyuck narrows his eyes at him, he just laughs. “You can stay over at ours, if you want to. Mark will appreciate the company.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Donghyuck took the suggestion, and even though the only available place used to be the couch, sometimes the couch was better than smelling Jaemin’s heat. Donghyuck isn’t immune to him just because they’re friends.

“I’ll pass, but thank you,” Donghyuck turns down. “Senior year hasn’t knocked me down yet.”

Renjun scrunches his nose at him, amused, yet Jeno doesn’t laugh at his joke. Donghyuck glances at his friend, aware that it’s a sign, and as soon as he locks eyes with Jeno, he does a discreet turn of his head to indicate that they should talk elsewhere. Donghyuck responds with a subtle nod of his head, so subtle that Renjun doesn’t even catch it.

“Babe,” Jeno calls him, sweet. Renjun blinks at him, oddly surprised at the petname, and Jeno whispers, “Can you get me another drink?”

Renjun is too smart to overlook that Jeno is trying to get rid of him. He sends Donghyuck a concerned look, and Donghyuck responds with a tight, tense smile, aware of why Renjun is checking on him first: he’s assuming that Donghyuck is in trouble, that it’s personal, and that’s the reason Jeno is asking for privacy. He couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Sure,” he agrees, and with a pat on Jeno’s arm, he turns around.

Donghyuck watches him mingle with people, tries not to stare at Renjun for too long, but it’s inevitable. His thoughts deviate right away, and only when Jeno steps forward, serious, does Donghyuck come back to reality.

Jeno’s impatience is palpable. He looks at Donghyuck with hopeful eyes, playing with his own hands, and asks, “Did you think about it?”

Donghyuck hasn’t done anything else in the past few days.

“We can try,” Donghyuck answers, tone wavering, but Jeno is close enough to hear him. As soon as the words leave his mouth, Donghyuck feels a big weight fall off his shoulders. “I don’t know if it’ll work out, to be honest, because I’ve never done this before-”

“You haven’t?” Jeno questions him with a hint of shock.

But when Donghyuck inspects his expression, he finds relief and happiness in Jeno’s face. It’s a strange sensation, considering what Donghyuck is jumping into, that Jeno is so content with the deal. It makes Donghyuck wonder just how horrible it is for Renjun, if Jeno is so desperate to get help.

Donghyuck coughs, embarrassed. “I mean, arranging sex, not helping during a heat.”

Jeno understands, gives him a nod, yet the smile on his face doesn’t disappear. “This isn’t a soul bonding deal, okay?” he reminds him. “You can take it back whenever you want.”

Donghyuck sucks his lower lip in, containing the first answer that comes to mind. Jeno looks so happy, so relaxed for the first time in months that Donghyuck would be incapable of taking that away from him – he hasn’t realized how tense Jeno was until now, when his shoulders slump and he squeezes Donghyuk’s arm in gratitude.

“I know,” Donghyuck breathes out. But he’s not going to pull out, not unless it’s because Renjun wants to. Unsure, he looks into Jeno’s sparkling eyes and asks, “So now?”

Jeno whips his head to stare at Renjun across the house. He has engaged with Jisung in what seems to be a very deep conversation, since the boy is scowling as he incessantly speaks, and Renjun is laughing at him without shame.

“I’ll ask him tonight, later when we’re at home,” Jeno concludes, gaze lingering on his boyfriend for too long. “He’s having too much fun now to ruin it with our problems.”

There’s no disagreement. Donghyuck prefers to keep this night intact for Renjun, even if his laughter and his happiness are hiding the mess his relationship is in. He deserves to enjoy that for a while, before discovering that they’ve been talking about his sexual life behind his back without permission.

“Hey,” Donghyuck says then, and under Jeno’s curious eyes, he decides that Jeno is too good for this world. Too good for Renjun, even. “I just want to say- you can take it back, too.”

Jeno doesn’t miss a beat. “I won’t,” he replies, very sure of himself. “But take care of him.”

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck is in his Artificial Intelligence class when he receives a clearly confused text from Renjun. It says: you’re okay with this????

No explanations, no key words that could hint at the proposal, almost like a taboo. Their little dirty secret. Donghyuck stares at the screen for a few minutes, not sure of what the correct answer is, if there is any. After all, Renjun is asking if he’s fine with the idea of fucking him through his heat. Donghyuck could detour around the topic, try to be polite and decent, but the reality is cruder: either Donghyuck wants him or doesn’t, no matter if it’s for personal reasons or for a favor.

And he does.

Focus ruined, Donghyuck resigns and decides to reply, yeah. im in class rn, you wanna talk in person?

It’s not a discussion to have through texts, but Donghyuck asks in case Renjun doesn’t even want to even talk about it. There’s a tiny chance that Renjun is confirming that Donghyuck schemed this with Jeno just to scold both of them equally, and thus Donghyuck fears that he’s about to get rejected through text.

However, five seconds later a new message arrives, and his heart almost leaps out of his heart: come home, im free for the next two hours.

Donghyuck breathes in. He has three lessons ahead, but that’s the last of his worries right now – he’ll worry about them later, when he’s failing his exams. When the lesson ends, he collects his laptop and his notes in a hurry and shoves them into his bag, and then runs out of the classroom without saying goodbye to his classmates. Two hours isn’t a lot of time, since Renjun doesn’t live on campus, but his house is close enough for Donghyuck to arrive in half an hour.

Donghyuck keeps his instinct from unlacing further, otherwise it’ll take the best of him – his prudency, his sensibility, his ability not to hurt a friend. He knows that every single step of this arrangement will be a struggle, and that he has to control himself to not worsen it.

Renjun’s scent is the first sign of him that Donghyuck perceives, but that doesn’t prepare him to see Renjun when he opens the door for him. It’s the effect of an omega, forever impossible to get used to. Even if it’s not early, Renjun is still in his pajamas, loose stripped pants and a buttoned shirt; Donghyuck can’t help but think he looks cute, sort of helpless, but perhaps it’s because Donghyuck now knows more about his personal life than he should.

“Hey,” Donghyuck greets him, forcing a smile onto his face. He peeks over Renjun’s shoulder, concerned, for he hasn’t thought about what going to Renjun’s home implies. “Are you alone?”

Renjun shakes his head, rubs his eyes with the back of his hand. “Mark is in his room,” he says, warns Donghyuck. “Jeno left to meet up his thesis tutor.”

That’s all Donghyuck needs to hear. Renjun ushers him inside, so calm that it unsettles Donghyuck. His stomach is twisting out of nervousness, but Renjun just pulls at his hand and leads him through the house, clearly in the direction of his room. Donghyuck holds his hand harder than he intends, finding comfort in the touch of an omega, and appreciates that Renjun doesn’t point it out.

Donghyuck is aware that they can’t have this discussion in the middle of the living room; however, stepping into Renjun and Jeno’s bedroom isn’t a bright idea either. It’s charged with Jeno’s scent everywhere, mingled with the ghost of Renjun’s perfume – a shade of his scent that Donghyuck hasn’t smelt before, pheromones that belong to the most private part of his life. It’s so intimate, so sticky and lewd that it entices Donghyuck’s most primal instinct.

When Donghyuck spins to sit on the bed, he closes his eyes for a moment and soothes, clawing at his reason. Renjun doesn’t seem to notice his state. It makes sense. After dating a beta for three years, he must be used to not having such a strong effect on his partner. But Donghyuck is an alpha, and he doesn’t play with that advantage: Renjun’s scent is so strong in his nose that he’s going to dream about it tonight. For the next whole week, probably.

Renjun doesn’t sit with him. He climbs on the bed, crosses his legs and sets one of the cushions on his lap. Donghyuck supposes that he needs to grab onto something to release his tension, but he can just think about how small Renjun looks cuddled up in himself on such a big bed.

At first, neither of them speaks a word, and a delicate frown blooms between Renjun’s eyebrows. He doesn’t stop staring at Donghyuck, however, and Donghyuck has to muster all his courage just to mutter, “Are you angry?”

He’d have the right to be. Donghyuck isn’t entitled to know about his sexual needs, for it gives him a humiliating power that Renjun didn’t give him.

“No,” Renjun replies with a sigh. He runs a hand through his hair, his eyes flickering to the bed for a moment. “But I wish Jeno had asked me first, and then you second.”

Donghyuck would have preferred it that way as well. To begin with, it would have saved him a lot of overthinking.

“Fair enough.” Donghyuck shrugs, a nonchalant gesture to conceal that he actually cares too much about this. He has the urge to reach out for Renjun’s hand, but he regrets it midway, and his hand rests between them on the mattress. He receives a strange look from Renjun for it. “I’m going to tell you the same I told Jeno yesterday, you don’t have to.”

Tilting his head to the side, Renjun reminds him, “I should be the one saying that, Donghyuck.” They stare at each other for the first time since Donghyuck arrived, and then out of the blue Renjun crumbles, face on the bed, breaking the tension around them with a childish whine. He claims, “God, this is embarrassing.”

Too surprised to process Renjun’s sudden reaction, Donghyuck lets out a nervous laugh. It’s beyond embarrassing, but just because this is Renjun and Donghyuck, Donghyuck and Renjun, and they’re not meant to share their deepest problems with each other.

Donghyuck eyes him, careful. “So you-”

“I’m in, yes,” Renjun confirms, though his words come out muffled and indistinct against the mattress. When he rises again, there’s a delicate blush on his cheeks, though Donghyuck can’t tell if it’s from the heat or from his own shame. Clearing his throat, eyes wandering not to glance at Donghyuck, Renjun adds, “We have to set a few rules, though.”

Rules. Donghyuck chews on that thought. It’s already shocking enough that Renjun is accepting the deal, that he’s this embarrassed, and Donghyuck wraps his mind around the concept of rules not to look like an idiot. He’s an alpha, he’s the one who is bound to set rules, and yet there Renjun is, setting roles for them. There’s always a first to swap roles.

“Sure.” Donghyuck breathes in. He smells Renjun’s mortification, a feeling so strong that Donghyuck can even taste it on his tongue. “Did you think about them?”

It’s evident that Renjun isn’t using his head anymore, because he spews a sincere, “I spent the whole night thinking about them.”

Donghyuck needs a moment to compose his feelings, his impulses. Renjun needs reassurance, moreover after admitting to that, so Donghyuck decides to humiliate himself a bit.

“Don’t feel ashamed.” Donghyuck shifts on the edge of the bed, restless. “If it helps, I haven’t stopped thinking about it either.”

That confession catches Renjun off guard. There’s no need for Donghyuck to expand on what he means, and so Renjun opens and closes his mouth several times, not knowing how to answer. Donghyuck has been thinking about sleeping with him, the same Donghyuck who spent years teasing him yet building a barrier between them two, voluntary or not.

Renjun lowers his head, ignores his confession, and exhales, “First, we’re not making love, is that clear?”

Donghyuck can’t repress the small laugh that reverberates in his chest, “That’s pretty clear, Renjun.”

However, Renjun finds peace in stating it out loud, so Donghyuck just gestures him to continue. Renjun must have no idea what he’s getting into if he thinks that Donghyuck makes love when he fucks someone.

“If you sleep with other people, you have to use protection.” Renjun straightens on the bed, eyes widening at his own statement, at the possible Donghyuck could have. Donghyuck gets it: he’s requesting Donghyuck to change his personal life for him. It could feel intruding, even, but that rule isn’t unreasonable. “So let’s say, turns out there’s an exception and you don’t use protection, you have to tell me, I’m not putting myself and Jeno at risk. I prefer spending the heat alone.”

Donghyuck lets the silence swallow them. Not because he disagrees with Renjun, because he thinks his demands are irrational, but because he admires Renjun’s bravery to set such a rule. Donghyuck doesn’t sleep around that often and definitely not without protection, anyhow, but he knows that he has the fame.

Overwhelmed, Donghyuck stutters, “So we’re not going to use protection?”

“I-” Renjun’s voice dies down, dissolved into pure shame. “You have to knot me, and it’s not the same if-”

It won’t have the same effect if they use protection, Donghyuck knows that, but he hasn’t realized how intimate it will be until Renjun lays it in front of him.

“It’s okay,” Donghyuck cuts in, for Renjun seems to be having a hard time to explain it. “I always use protection.”

Renjun’s eyes roam over his expression, as to discover if he’s telling the truth. Even though he’s not too convinced, and Donghyuck is too nervous to insist, Renjun lets it go.

And then he dampens his lips, and with a shaky breath, he adds the last rule, “No kissing.”

Donghyuck is certain he has heard wrong. “No kissing?” he repeats, confused. “Renjun-”

Before Donghyuck can finish his protest, Renjun scowls at him and grunts, “Why not?”

His defensiveness leaves Donghyuck unarmed, and the only weapon he possesses is honesty. They have to kiss. It’s almost natural for Donghyuck in bed, even out of bed, and he understands why Renjun thinks that it’s too personal, but fucking him during his heat is much more physical than a mere kiss.

“There’s no way I can get into the mood if I can’t even kiss you,” Donghyuck tells him, so clearly that Renjun backs away, shocked. It’s sort of hilarious to Donghyuck, he can’t deny that. Renjun is so anxious that even a few explicit words can embarrass him, and Donghyuck won’t pass that chance. “What am I supposed to do, get hard with my imagination?”

Renjun sinks his fingers in the cushion, slightly gaping at his choice of words. There’s a shift in the atmosphere, a new pheromone that Donghyuck recognizes. It’s humid, sweet, and it whips through him like venom.

It’s arousal.

Renjun’s eyelashes flutter when he looks down, knuckles white on the cushion.

“Let me think,” he whispers, and though he pretends that Donghyuck can’t smell him, both know what’s happening. Renjun takes his time, for it must not be easy to think in such condition, but at last he says, “You can’t kiss me when you’re coming. Or when I’m coming. And definitely not when you’re knotting me.”

Donghyuck doesn’t realize he’s been holding his breath until Renjun speaks. Renjun’s idea isn’t so unreasonable. Though Donghyuck would love to lick into his mouth while he’s coming, he understands what makes Renjun so afraid of it.  

“No kissing during moments of vulnerability,” Donghyuck translates for him.

A spark of astonishment crosses Renjun’s eyes as his gaze locks with Donghyuck’s. He’s not expecting Donghyuck to read the situation so well, to intuit his feelings so fast, perhaps because Donghyuck isn’t supposed to understand his omega nature to the last detail. But Donghyuck does. They’re not so different; he feels vulnerable too when he’s inside someone, but it’s the other person’s vulnerability what provokes him to be strong.

Renjun sends him a demure smile, if out of gratitude or of politeness, it’s impossible to tell. And then he’s climbing down the bed, his thigh brushing against Donghyuck, as though the conversation is over.

Donghyuck stops him. He could use his words, but he has a more entertaining option, an option that will return the power to him. He doesn't vacillate to set a hand on Renjun's thigh, just for fun, just to see how he reacts, and revels in how Renjun freezes at the contact.

“I have rules, too,” Donhyuck tells him, sweet, a devilish smirk to compensate his tone. Renjun's eyes travel from Donghyuck's hand on his leg to his face, and his befuddlement just makes him look like a lost lamb among wolves. Except it’s just one big wolf, and that big wolf is enough to eat him whole. “Remember it’s me who’s doing you a favor.”

Donghyuck isn't going to let him forget.

Renjun croaks out, “I'm not liking that smile of yours, Donghyuck.”

Truth to be told, Donghyuck didn't prepare any rules, but there are conditions he wasn't going to overlook in any case. It's for the better, for both of them, since Donghyuck’s intention isn’t protecting himself only. He wants to protect Renjun and Jeno too, because he's aware of what's going to happen once he starts sleeping with Renjun. Instinct is stronger than reason, always.

Donghyuck wipes his smirk away and says, “The first time should be outside your heat.”

The glare Renjun sends him is anything but surprising. Donghyuck has predicted that, however, and it's the evidence that Renjun doesn't know better, that Donghyuck can't trust him with his own decisions.

“That’s-”

“Renjun,” Donghyuck cuts him off. Hearing Renjun's excuses won't change his mind. “You don't know if you'll be comfortable with me, so you need to have a clear mind the first time. If you’re in your heat you won’t have any capacity to decide.”

Judging the silence that follows, Renjun hasn't even given that any importance. It's natural that he hasn't, because he's been in a serious relationship for so long that Jeno's limits are an unconscious extension of Renjun's acquired habits. Being with Donghyuck will be a learning process, and while Donghyuck is used to learning, Renjun isn’t.

“Listen, Renjun,” Donghyuck continues, aware that Renjun has no retort for him, but still holds many doubts. “I’ve slept with a lot of people, a lot of omegas, actually. And I know that it’s better to stop than to have awkward sex that you might regret, and I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret.”

Renjun mulls over that for a few seconds, but he must believe Donghyuck, must trust him, because he sounds much more sure when he says, “Okay. We can try outside my heat first.”

Donghyuck flashes him a smile.

“During your heat, I want you to stay at my flat,” Donghyuck continues. The rules are the perfect excuse to bring this issue up, because it's one of the problems that has been eating Donghyuck up from the inside. “This isn’t negotiable. I’m not going to run to your house every time you need me, and I don’t like the idea of sleeping with you if Jeno is around.”

Renjun pales a bit, either at the mention of his boyfriend or at the mere idea of sharing his heat with Donghyuck in a place that isn't safe for him. He'd be more comfortable at home, of course, but their house is impregnated with Jeno's scent everywhere. If Donghyuck fucks Renjun here, his scent is going to take over Jeno's, and that's an invasion of intimacy that he can't afford nor can he allow.

“You don't want to upset Jeno,” Renjun points out, looking straight into his eyes. For the first time since Donghyuck has arrived, Renjun's gaze results intimidating, strong, and Donghyuck returns it with equal force. “I’m fine with that, then.”

Relief invades Donghyuck. This is important for him. Only by sitting on this bed, he's certain that he wouldn't be able to touch Renjun here. It feels terribly wrong.

When Donghyuck is about to get up, Renjun holds him back by his wrist. It's a soft touch, but his pheromones are so intense that Donghyuck's mind is hazy for a split second. He finds Renjun staring at him with a desperate glint in his eyes, but he doesn't process what that implies in time.

“Can I ask for something else?” Renjun whispers, catious. “The first time we sleep together, can we be completely alone? I mean, I know Jaemin could be at home and-”

Renjun doesn't finish his request, but Donghyuck is on the same wavelength. He doesn't want anyone to hear how he fucks his best friend's boyfriend either. God, not even his alpha instinct to show off is capable of erasing the bad feeling of letting someone know that he's going to enjoy this, that he's going to enjoy it so much that it should be reproachable. Renjun and he aren't together, but they deserve privacy and security too. Renjun deserves to be alleviated without worrying about the morality of it all.

Donghyuck softly cups Renjun's chin with one hand. It's almost automatic: Renjun is showing him weakness, and Donghyuck has the urge to protect him, to do anything and everything to make him feel safe.

“We’ll be alone,” Donghyuck whispers back, serious. He might joke around all the time, but he doesn't want Renjunt to doubt his word, and so not a single shade of a smile paints his face. “I promise.”

In the silence of the room, with Renjun's dark, innocent eyes on him, that's the only promise Donghyuck can keep for sure.

 

 

 

 

After that, Donghyuck’s life remains the same.

Even though he didn’t think that it’d be immediate, it’s almost anticlimactic that Renjun barely speaks to him. They act as though they haven’t just sealed a deal that is going to change their relationships, their whole lives. Donghyuck hangs out with Jeno like nothing happened; they eat together, they play games, and one night Donghyuck manages to get him drunk during a party and drops him off at his apartment, amused at the face Renjun pulls when he sees the state his boyfriend is in. Renjun doesn’t chide them, but his evident annoyance is enough to fuel Donghyuck’s ego for days.

Donghyuck tries not worry about it. He has classes to take care of, his thesis – and he got Taeyong assigned as a tutor, which is a nightmare itself because he’s hot and Donghyuck is weak, and he might have Taeyong two years ago when he was still a TA – and his volleyball practices.

It’s in fact after one of his Tuesday volleyball practices that Donghyuck has an epiphany. Jaemin is in the locker room, sitting under the lockers, but no one bats an eyelash at the intrusion, and neither does Donghyuck. Sunwoo is in the volleyball team as well, which is the reason Jaemin met him at all, for Donghyuck introduced them to each other. Donghyuck assumes that he’s there for Sunwoo as usual, but when he crosses paths with Jaemin, Jaemin stretches his leg out to block him.

Donghyuck is too used to Jaemin to be affected by the evil smirk he throws at him. “You came for me?” he asks, a bit surprised.

“Isn’t your alpha pleased, having an omega wait in the locker room just for you?” Jaemin teases him, completely ignoring the question. His voice is too loud, and half of the team laughs at the joke, as if they’re not mostly alphas themselves and Jaemin isn’t humiliating them too. Maybe because of that, they understand Jaemin’s humor. Donghyuck can even hear Sunwoo cackle all across the room. “We have to talk.”

Donghyuck studies his friend’s face, curious. Jaemin could have waited for him to arrive home, so it must be urgent. That, or Jaemin was extremely bored.

Throwing his towel over his shoulders, Donghyuck reaches for his locker. “Did anything happen?”

The answer petrifies Donghyuck from head to toe, his fingers hovering over the lock.

“Renjun happened.”

Before Donghyuck can panic, Sunwoo slips next to Jaemin, passing an arm around his waist despite Jaemin protesting that he’s too sweaty, and plants a sonorous, gross kiss on his lips. Donghyuck groans at them, looks away, not fast enough to miss how Sunwoo flips him off.

“What is this about?” Sunwoo pries, standing again.

His curiosity is explainable, since he’s used to being the one Jaemin looks for. Donghyuck suspects that there might a bit of alpha pride in his question, but it’s that sort of gesture that is so subtle that an omega would never notice, so Donghyuck decides not to give Jaemin more power.

“Nosy,” Donghyuck accuses him.

“He’s going to help a friend’s boyfriend during his heat,” Jaemin shamelessly supplies, as if it’s not Donghyuck’s private story. “It’s new.”

“Oh.” Sunwoo lifts his eyebrows at Donghyuck, impressed. “Good luck with that.”

Donghyuck pauses to understand Sunwoo’s nonchalant reaction, but no matter how much he spins it in his head, he can’t. He takes his volleyball t-shirt off to gain some time, and then he turns to Sunwoo, who is in the middle of stripping down as well, and breathes out.

“You don’t think it’s a big deal?”

Sunwoo shrugs. “We help them all the time, don’t we?” he reminds him. Jaemin slaps his thigh to punish him for insinuating that he’s just helping Jaemin, that he doesn’t get anything back, but Sunwoo’s smile merely widens at the whining. “It has the meaning you want to give it, only.”

Whether because he’s offended or because he notices Donghyuck’s discomfort, Jaemin pushes Sunwoo away from them and orders, “Go shower before I stab you in the eye with my keys.”

Donghyuck snickers at Jaemin patting his pocket, tingling with his keys, but he sighs in relief once Sunwoo walks away to the showers.  Jaemin doesn’t give him much time to breathe, however, because he spins his head to look at him with a judging glint in his eyes.

“That might be the problem,” Jaemin recognizes. “Renjun can’t be just a hook-up, right? Because you know him. Because you can’t afford hurting him.”

From the moment Donghyuck considered the deal, he was aware that he couldn’t treat Renjun like one of his one night stands. He can’t even treat him like a fling, because Renjun doesn’t like him. He’s trusting Donghyuck with a very important part of his relationship, and he deserves better than being Donghyuck’s new playtoy.

Feeling insulted, Donghyuck retorts, “I won’t hurt him. I don’t hurt people just for sleeping with them.”

“Not on purpose.” Jaemin scans him from head to toe. Donghyuck cowers at the inspection, because he still has a big purple hickey on his hips from the last time he slept with a guy from his Algorithms class. “But you tend to get all smug about this sort of stuff, you know? And this is a topic too sensitive for them, so please be considerate.”

“I’m offended,” Donghyuck fights back.

He pulls up his pants a bit to hide the hickey, though he should be pulling them off instead, and then thinks about the reason Jaemin is here. Renjun and Jaemin are close, close in a way the rest of them can’t be to them – because both of them are omegas, and just like they can’t understand some alpha and beta problems, they only have each other to share certain details. “If Renjun has told you I’ve already done something wrong and he doesn’t dare tell me directly, just share it.”

A flash of fear invades him when Jaemin, instead of assuring him that he hasn’t done anything wrong, takes a deep breath. He looks around the locker room to check that none of Donghyuck’s teammates can hear them, and his attentions drifts to Donghyuck again in resignation.

“He’s scared,” Jaemin reveals at last. Scared, Donghyuck thinks, why? “His heat starts in three weeks.”

“In three weeks?” Donghyuck sputters. He swears that the world tilts under his feet. “Why didn’t he-?”

“He doesn’t know how to ask for it,” Jaemin continues, not letting Donghyuck express his confusion. It’s not that Renjun doesn’t want Donghyuck to help him, or that he’s repenting for accepting the deal in the first place, but he’s never had to ask for sex. “You’ll have to spend the week before his heat with him too, so that means you only have two weeks to meet up before that. But you’re always so busy, Donghyuck, he doesn’t want to bother you.”

Donghyuck deadpans at that.

“And he’s embarrassed.”

“And he’s embarrassed,” Jaemin confirms.

Donghyuck is torn between whining and laughing, because Renjun is ridiculous, but Donghyuck can’t help finding it endearing. The chase is always a fun game, but god, Renjun has never had to chase after anyone, thus he can’t even take the first step.

On the contrary, Donghyuck has had his fair share of chasing. He doesn’t mind having to do that for Renjun, if that’s what he needs from him. The outcome is the same: he’s going to get into his pants.

“Thank you for telling me,” he says, patting Jaemin on the head.

Jaemin squints at him, an air of suspicion around him. “What are you going to do?”

“Fuck him, obviously.” Donghyuck pulls the clean towels out of his locker, smiling at how dirty those words sound on his mouth – how talking about Renjun makes them even more vulgar.  Jaemin pressures him with a glower, but Donghyuck just says, “A wizard never tells his tricks.”

“You’re disgusting.”

Donghyuck disagrees. He’s a gentleman. But Renjun has had enough of a gentleman for three years.

 

 

 

 

That night, as Donghyuck presses send on his phone, he prepares himself for the tsunami that is about to hit him. It’s a simple, innocent movie night on saturday? but Renjun reads his text and doesn’t answer for the next two hours.

Rather than troubling him, the lack of response amuses Donghyuck. He knows matter of fact that Renjun is free on Saturday, so he doesn’t have any excuse to reject him except fear. And though Donghyuck doesn’t thrive off on power, it’s quite thrilling to imagine the turmoil Renjun must be going through. A direct invitation feels too real, and it does for Donghyuck as well, but the necessity of accepting it should win over Renjun’s pride, his reticence and his shame.

That’s why at midnight, when his phone illuminates with a new message from Renjun, Donghyuck doesn’t even have to check it to know the answer.

And then, day by day, Donghyuck is incapable of thinking about anyone else but Renjun.

Despite refusing to acknowledge that he’s nervous, he prepares more than he’d ever prepare for someone he’s going to sleep with. He has to bribe Jaemin with free food so that he promises to be absent all night, crams up all his assignments not to worry about them while he’s with Renjun, and most important, he chooses a movie for him. It’s easy to pick, because Donghyuck knows so many details about his preferences that he surprises himself: Renjun loves dumb parody movies, but he hates romantic comedies; he claims to despise horror but watches it with wide, fascinated eyes, and he sobs like a baby at the smallest hint of tragedy in a sad movie.

On Saturday, however, Donghyuck doesn’t have more room to deny the truth. Jaemin laughs at his nervousness the whole day, stays with him until the bell rings and, when Donghyuck glances at the door as though there’s a ghost behind, Jaemin takes the lead.

Donghyuck is tremendously glad Jaemin saves him from that, because his heart races as he peeks at Renjun standing under the door frame. He looks even smaller tonight, his dark hair over his forehead and a loose blue shirt that swallows him whole, but his smile is sincere upon recognizing Jaemin.

“I was about to leave!” Jaemin announces, taking Renjun by his hand and pulling him inside.

Renjun stops laughing when Donghyuck greets him, yet the sweet look in his eyes survives. Donghyuck observes him, admires how pretty he looks tonight and wonders if he prepared for this somehow, like him. He stares for too long, but he doesn’t realize until Renjun dedicates him a questioning stare.

“Have fun,” Jaemin tells Donghyuck before leaving, leaning into his ear to whisper. Donghyuck fears that Renjun can hear it, but judging how he looks away from them, uncomfortable at their proximity, he can’t. “Don’t be a jerk, fuck him good, don’t mention Jeno, etcetera, etcetera.”

Donghyuck nearly pushes Jaemin out of the house, not caring how that looks in Renjun’s perspective.

When he shuts the door close, Renjun is examining him with an unreadable expression. Donghyuck doesn’t bother to put up an excuse for his behavior, but he approaches him and kneels in front of him. Renjun still has his shoes on, and Donghyuck smiles at how confused Renjun seems to be at the fact that Donghyuck is untying his shoes for him.

“So,” Donghyuck says, looking up as he pries the first shoe loose. “Did you have dinner?”

The blush in Renjun’s face tells him that he has never had an alpha take his shoes off for him as if he’s a prince, and Donghyuck makes an effort not to burst into laughter.

“I did.”

Donghyuck hums. “Good, because I’m a shit cook.”

“Jaemin says so too,” Renjun teases him, but he lets out a small noise of surprise at the second shoe falling off, and his voice softens while he watches Donghyuck put his house shoes for him.

With a feigned frown, Donghyuck jokes, “That boy talks too much, won’t let me even lie to impress.”

“It’s too late to impress me,” Renjun retorts. Much to Donghyuck’s surprise, he hooks his fingers in Donghyuck’s hair, as to caress him, and Donghyuck stares up at him just to find a fond smile on Renjun’s smile. “I’ve seen you do too many stupid things.”

Donghyuck doesn’t doubt that. Renjun might have even more stories about Donghyuck than Donghyuck himself, if he takes into account all the nights he got so drunk that he couldn’t remember a single thing the next day.

For once, Donghyuck appreciates pheromones. Renjun’s expression and posture don’t reveal his feelings, but his pheromones do. It’s an exchange that bares Donghyuck’s sensations as well, his agitation, the pressure of making Renjun feel comfortable. Renjun is more anxious than him. All in all, it’s a relief to know that Renjun isn’t the most mature half in this, that in fact he’s the least experienced between the two.

Minutes later, Renjun sits on the other side of the couch, eyes already fixed on the movie, and Donghyuck can’t repress his laughter. Renjun sends him a confused look before understanding that Donghyuck wants him closer, and he sheepishly crawls over the couch towards him. It’s helpless that he avoids Donghyuck’s eyes as he hugs him on his lap, but Donghyuck is amused at the small gasp he lets out when Donghyuck lays him on his side and spoons him from behind.

Renjun is so small that he fits perfectly fits against Donghyuck, and Donghyuck throws his arm around his hips, presses against him without shame. Renjun relaxes in his embrace in a matter of seconds, since Donghyuck’s pheromones soothe his anxiety, but a shaky breath escapes his lips. Donghyuck doesn’t draw attention to it, because Renjun is already uneasy, and it’s on his hands to fix it.

“It’s better this way, see?” Donghyuck whispers. It’s better if they touch each other. There’s nothing like having an alpha cuddling him, and Donghyuck is aware of that. Renjun attempts to glance back at him, but Donghyuck noses up his nape, and that makes Renjun stop. Donghyuck doesn’t want Renjun to look into his eyes, not right now, so he adds, “Just watch the movie. If it happens, then it happened, yeah?”

Renjun gives him a little nod, shrinking further into his embrace.

Disobeying his own advice, Donghyuck doesn’t follow the movie. He stares at Renjun instead, torn between curiosity and fondness. Renjun looks tremendously innocent tonight, yet Donghyuck knows that he’s not; he’s too innocent for this in a way, because he doesn’t understand how Donghyuck’s life works. Renjun doesn’t hook up, doesn’t understand the mechanism of what they’re doing. Perhaps he believes that they’re indeed going to watch the movie, that Donghyuck won’t make a move on him unless Renjun asks for it.

Distracted, Donghyuck draws circles in Renjun’s hips with his fingertips. Renjun watches the movie with big, attentive eyes, laughing every time a bad joke comes up and gasping when the jokes are so ill-natured that they’re borderline immoral. Donghyuck watches Renjun’s profile, his delicate jaw and the child-like smiles his lips expand into. His eyes roam over his neck, his collarbones, and then travel back to his face as though there’s a magnet pulling him.

He’s so pretty, Donghyuck thinks. An unfairly amount of pretty. And when Donghyuck moves closer to his neck, drawn by his scent, he catches sight of the mark under his jaw. The spell breaks. It feels like a kick in his stomach, and for a second the most visceral part of Donghyuck twists in frustration.

There’s a clear mating mark on Renjun’s neck, and that shouldn’t be surprising, because he has a mate. But it’s recent, too recent, red and purple and tender, perhaps from yesterday. Jeno has left it on purpose, to mark Renjun, to send Donghyuck a message.

It might have not been a conscious act, because Jeno’s instinct could have driven him to do that and realize, only later, why he did it. But it makes Donghyuck so fucking mad that his best friend would do this to Renjun to mark territory, that his alpha twirls at the thought of not being able to have Renjun like he belongs to him for a few hours. The mark clearly says he’s mine, and Donghyuck hates to be reminded of it.

Frustration builds in his stomach until Donghyuck loses control of his own pheromones, and Renjun distinguishes the shift in the air, turns his head to him, confused. It’s then that Donghyuck catches his own thick scent in the living room. His senses are too clouded to restrain his reaction, and despite Renjun’s wariness, his stare stays on the mark, burning every nerve of his body.

Renjun brings a hand to his neck, slightly surprised, “Are you looking at my-?

“Yeah,” Donghyuck groans, almost growls. He takes a deep breath, remembering that he shouldn’t be so inconsiderate to Renjun, but the harm is already done.

This isn’t Renjun’s fault. He’s not responsible of his mate’s possessiveness, and he’s not at fault for needing to sleep with an alpha during his heat, yet the stare they exchange tells Donghyuck that Renjun feels, indeed, accountable for it.

There’s an emotion akin to pity in Renjun’s eyes as he mutters, “I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.”

Before Donghyuck can explain that the reason is very different, Renjun is twirling over the couch to face him. They’re too close, and Renjun’s shirt rides up at the movement; Donghyuck feels it over his ribs, the warmth, the pheromones on Renjun’s skin trespassing Donghyuck’s clothes.

“Don’t worry,” Donghyuck manages to utter. With Renjun looking straight into his eyes, he’s not capable of expressing how that mark affects him. It’s not ethical. Donghyuck lowers his stare towards his own abdomen and jokes, “In fact I have a very recent mark too, down there.”

It takes Renjun a second to comprehend what he’s talking about.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun whines, making a disgusted face, but then he laughs.

Donghyuck laughs with him, threads his fingers on the back of Renjun’s head. When Donghyuck strokes his hair, Renjun’s laugh dissipates to give space to a sweet, calm smile, and then silence devours their conversation. The movie sounds far away, perhaps because all of Donghyuck’s attention is on Renjun, on how beautiful he looks with that irremediable grin on his lips and the sweet slant of his eyes in happiness.

“I don’t care, I mean it,” Donghyuck lies. His heart stops as Renjun bites into his lower lip, as to repress another laugh. And that must be what makes him lose the last cell of decency in his body, because his mouth decides to be sincere for him, and he whispers a breathy, “But I want to lick it so fucking bad.”

His own wish catches him off guard, and he finds that same shock in Renjun’s expression. It’s more than that: Donghyuck wants to overlay his own taste over Jeno’s. He wants to make that mark bigger, send a message back, though he doesn’t know what sort of message yet.

“You want to lick my mark?” Renjun repeats, voice tinted with both fascination and confusion.

It’s not a rejection, Donghyuck realizes. Overwhelmed by his own excitement, Donghyuck slides his hand from Renjun’s hair to his jaw. Judging the spark in Renjun’s eyes, he’s not aware of how he rubs his own face against Donghyuck’s palm, looking for his affection.

Donghyuck melts, growls and burns within, all at the same time.

“Can I?” he hears himself ask.

Renjun doesn’t respond with words. It’s a subtle movement:  Renjun lifts his chin a few inches, bares his throat for him, pliant, willing. Donghyuck stops breathing, the room spinning around him, and the next thing he knows is that Renjun is gasping under the touch of his lips. Donghyuck kisses around the mark, small pecks to make sure that it’s not too much for Renjun at first. Renjun’s pheromones tickle his lips, calling for him to lick, but Donghyuck needs time for that: even though Renjun smells like himself, he also has a trace of Jeno on him.

Donghyuck passes an arm around his waist, brings Renjun close until he’s feeling all of him against him. He needs it that way, to know what Renjun is feeling, to read through him. His other hand remains on Renjun’s neck, his thumb pressing up on his jaw so that he doesn’t close access.

And then, Donghyuck licks over the mark.

He feels it through Renjun first: he shivers under him, and the sensation hits Donghyuck too. The taste of Renjun on his tongue sends an electric feel all over his body, but once Donghyuck has tasted him, he can’t stop. By the time Renjun lets out a weak noise, Donghyuck is already throwing a leg over him and changing positions, setting Renjun on his back and pulling at his hair so that Renjun keeps his head back.

Donghyuck isn’t sure of what he’s doing; he kisses Renjun all over his mark, but also on other spots of his neck. He kisses, sucks, licks and leaves a couple of faint hickeys, battling against the urge of actually sinking his teeth and leaving a print of him. Renjun encircles his head with his hands, but he doesn’t have any strength to either push Donghyuck down or away. He merely caresses Donghyuck’s hair, trembling underneath him, and does his best to repress the sounds that threaten to leave his mouth.

Afraid that it’ll be too much for Renjun to handle, Donghyuck progresses into soft pecks on his jaw. Renjun sighs at that, eyes fluttering close, and Donghyuck has a few seconds to gain all the oxygen he lost.

He wants to kiss Renjun. His lips are parted for it, and it’s the first time Donghyuck realizes how delicate they look, how perfectly they’ll fit in his mouth. Donghyuck hovers over him, brushes Renjun’s cheek with his thumb, and Renjun opens his eyes to stare at him. There’s a shift in the shade of his pupils, eyes darker than before, innocence gone and temptation growing.

They don’t say anything. Donghyuck teases him, leans down to kiss him and stops right before touching his lips. Renjun breathes against his mouth, and Donghyuck pulls away with the ghost of a smile, just enough to frustrate Renjun.

And that, indeed, breaks Renjun’s barriers.

“Kiss me,” he demands, fingers sinking in the back of Donghyuck’s head.

Serious, Donghyuck muses, “Thought you didn’t want to.”

Kissing Renjun is like the sea touching the shore. First Donghyuck brushes against his lips, a small wave, a small taste that dissolves as fast as it came. There’s only foam and a trace left behind. But the next wave is unstoppable, high and strong, and they meet each other in an open mouthed kiss, Renjun licking into his mouth and melting inside him. Donghyuck feels his whole body burst, Renjun’s warmth heating every inch of his skin, and yet it’s not enough, it’s never enough.

Renjun doesn’t tremble under him anymore. He kisses Donghyuck like he’s always wanted him, and Donghyuck consumes him with only one thought in mind: he wants Renjun so, so much too, that he’ll give anything to have him.

Fighting against his impatience, he takes his time to strip Renjun. He unbuttons Renjun’s shirt, slips it down Renjun’s dainty shoulders, and kisses down his collarbones. Renjun doesn’t wait for him: by the time Donghyuck has undone all buttons, Renjun’s hands are exploring underneath Donghyuck’s shirt too, tugging at it so that Donghyuck gets rid of it.

Donghyuck obeys, sits up for a moment to strip off, and smirks down at Renjun when his eyes immediately go to the hickey on his hips.

“I warned you,” Donghyuck reminds him.

Renjun seems to understand him, but much to Donghyuck’s surprise, instead of protesting, he sits up too. His lips look for Donghyuck’s mouth, but one of his hands shoots up to press on the hickey, and the other hooks on the waistband of Donghyuck’s pants. Donghyuck gasps, tongue entwined with Renjun’s, and helps with his sweats. In a matter of seconds both of them are naked down to their underwear, and Donghyuck can only think about how good it’ll feel to be skin on skin with Renjun. For Renjun, too.

“Should I lick that too?” Renjun asks, fingers still pressing over the hickey.

The question prickles at Donghyuck’s instinct. It proves Renjun knows what Donghyuck was trying to do by sucking on his mating mark; and now he’s playing with him, asking if he should try to own Donghyuck as well.

Aware that Renjun doesn’t expect Donghyuck to let him mark his territory, because Renjun is just a little, needy omega, and he shouldn’t have power over an alpha. Donghyuck threads his fingers in Renjun’s hair and propels him down, looking into his eyes. Donghyuck, on his knees, observes how Renjun slides down his torso, how Renjun stares up at him, hands tracing the path to his underwear.

And when Renjun reaches his hipbone, he opens his mouth and laps his tongue over the red hickey on Donghyuck’s skin. It’s not his tongue what sends a shiver down his spine, but Renjun’s eyes examining his expression, expectant and knowing, waiting for a reaction.

For the first time tonight, Donghyuck has to close his eyes, a pant caught in his throat.

He feels Renjun’s touch over his crotch, just slightly, and doesn’t hesitate to wrap his arms around him. Renjun lets him manhandle him, but there’s not much he can do anyway when Donghyuck places his hands on his ass at last and, dazed, realizes how wet Renjun’s underwear is.

It takes all the strength in the world not to rip his underwear apart, but Donghyuck remembers that he shouldn’t scare Renjun, that this is new for him. He guides Renjun’s head over his shoulder, and then brings his underwear down, lifting first one leg and then the other.

Then, Renjun is completely naked for him.

Donghyuck doesn’t bother to admire him. He frees his own dick from his underwear, and nearly laughs when Renjun’s eyes are drawn to it, like he can’t help it. Donghyuck doesn’t mind, doesn’t care if Renjun wants to suck him off, because he doesn’t have the patience for it now. He grabs Renjun’s waist – and god, he can encircle his whole waist only with his hands – and maneuvers him onto his lap.

Renjun seems to panic a bit, to assume that Donghyuck is going to fuck him without preparations, but Donghyuck merely brings him closer until their noses are touching, until Renjun is comfortable on his lap.

“Come here,” Donghyuck teases him, despite the proximity. “You’re always too far away.”

He tilts his head, plants a peck on Renjun’s mouth, and smiles as he caresses over his ass. Renjun has a small ass, Donghyuck isn’t surprised at that because all of Renjun is small; but it’s a nice ass, round and firm, and it fits in his hands. Donghyuck knows that he’s going to get obsessed over it in no time.

Renjun tenses up, yet he holds onto Donghyuck’s shoulders when Donghyuck strokes between his cheeks. Donghyuck can’t smell anything but that: Renjun’s arousal, how wet he’s gotten just with a few kisses, how much he needs an alpha. It leaves him no room for him to think.

“You’re so wet,” Donghyuck grunts, and Renjun makes an unrecognizable noise.

Pushing one finger in is so easy that Donghyuck doesn’t even have to check if Renjun is fine. That minimal touch drives Renjun forward, however, because he crumbles down on Donghyuck’s shoulder and moans a weak, “Shut up.”

He doesn’t have to prepare Renjun. He’s already open and slick enough for his dick, but Donghyuck wants to drag this little torture out a bit longer.

“That embarrasses you?” Donghyuck whispers into his ear, a mocking tone that he can’t conceal. Donghyuck could tease him endlessly and never get tired of him, and Renjun would have to hear it every time: that he’s wet for him, only for him, and that he can lie, but his body won’t. “Don’t be. I love it.”

Donghyuck holds him in place, Renjun straddling him on his knees, and fingers him until Renjun’s breathing becomes erratic. It’s evident that he’s holding back, yet Donghyuck lets him be; a few fingers might not break him, but Renjun hasn’t tasted an alpha in so long that he’s going to fall apart anyhow.

When Renjun’s legs start shaking, Donghyuck decides that it’s enough. He passes his hand over Renjun’s ass and then, with his slick, Donghyuck fists his own dick and lubes himself. Donghyuck isn’t sure if it’s because of Renjun’s wetness or because he’s so riled up that his own hand drives him mad, but he hasn’t let out such a honest, uncontrollable groan in months.

And then Renjun is looking at him with his pupils blown, leering at the way Donghyuck jerks himself off, and Donghyuck decides that he doesn’t care about the immorality of all this. He can’t even believe that he considered rejecting this. He grabs Renjun, lines up his dick with his ass, and licks into his mouth to give him a distraction. Renjun responds almost desperately, aware of the size of Donghyuck’s dick, aware that he’s going to need that kiss.

“Slow?” Donghyuck asks him, the head of his dick pressed up against Renjun’s entrance.

Donghyuck is expecting a yes, a nod, or any other sign to treat Renjun carefully. He doesn’t know Renjun’s limits, he can just assume, and he’s not going to play with fire the first time.

But then Renjun bites his lower lip, pulls at it until Donghyuck has his mouth completely open for him, and grunts, “Fuck me however you want.”

Donghyuck surrenders to his instinct.

Fucking into Renjun makes him forget who he is, where he is, who he is with. Renjun’s heat swallows him so well, so tight around his dick that Donghyuck can just regret not having fucked him earlier. That’s his first thought, and also the last one.

Renjun gives him full power, but that’s only in the beginning. The feeling of Donghyuck’s dick inside him robs him from words, from consciousness even, and he can’t stay still for Donghyuck. He drowns his forehead in the crook of Donghyuck’s neck and moans there, half overwhelmed, half ashamed. It’s lovely, Donghyuck realizes, to destroy such a pure thing thrust by thrust. It’s lovely to prove that Renjun can give into him, like everyone else, that Donghyuck could make him beg for it if he intended to do so.

But once Renjun adjusts around his length, his moans become little pants, and he manages to raise his head again. Donghyuck doesn’t hesitate to bring him into a kiss, and for a second, both of them smile into the kiss. It’s a shared smile that brings much more pleasure than being inside Renjun: it means Renjun likes this, that he trusts him, that he won’t regret it, and it adds fire to Donghyuck’s confidence.

When Renjun starts meeting his thrusts, Donghyuck has to grip his hips to control him. Renjun takes his whole length, crashes on him until he’s sitting on his knot, and Donghyuck isn’t used to omegas going so down on him. It’s almost painful, but a sort of painful that is delicious. It becomes harder, all of it: their kisses, their hands, the tension in Donghyuck’s lower abdomen. He fucks Renjun however how he wants to, rough, as desperate as Renjun himself, forgetting about everything else.

And Renjun forgets too. Donghyuck knows because his moans become shakier, because he holds onto Donghyuck like he’s the only rock keeping him conscious, and because when Renjun is about to come, his lips are still melted into Donghyuck’s mouth.

Donghyuck fists his hair and pulls Renjun away, and Renjun throws his head back, following the direction of his strength. He admires Renjun now, how pretty he is when he’s all submission and no sarcasm, when he’s enjoying, offering himself for him. Renjun glances at him, mouth parted, and waits for Donghyuck as though he has forgotten why Donghyuck had to do that, as though they have no rules.

“Look at me,” Donghyuck says. Renjun does, a sinful glint in his eyes. And just like that, Donghyuck bites out, “Come for me.”

It’s beyond satisfying to discover that Renjun wanted that order, and Donghyuck’s instinct purrs as Renjun comes untouched, his dick throbbing inside him. Donghyuck’s knot grows against Renjun’s entrance, and Renjun tries to engulf it, and despite how off guard, sensitive and willing that catches Donghyuck, he doesn’t let Renjun go lower.

Renjun collapses on him, and Donghyuck has to grab his ass harder to keep the pace, chasing his own orgasm. It’s even better with Renjun clenching around him, tender, his orgasm ripping through him in waves. Donghyuck is shameless enough to bite Renjun’s neck, just enough to make him groan, just enough to feel Renjun’s pleasure through his pheromones. Renjun’s scent whips down Donghyuck’s spine, and the last thing he remembers before coming is mouthing you’re so good, so, so good against Renjun’s mark.

And then, Donghyuck can’t feel anything, just his blood beating in his ears. He loses all his strength, incredibly wet and warm inside Renjun, and when he returns to reality, the first thing he feels Renjun press a kiss on his cheek before sliding off him. It feels like such an innocent gesture, a sweet kiss that tells him that it’s over, that thanks him, and Donghyuck closes his eyes in defeat.

 

 

 

 

It’s a strange night.

Renjun has to sleep over, for it’d be too emotionally straining to go back home after sleeping with his boyfriend’s best friend. Donghyuck doesn’t mind. He’s let dozens of guys stay the night – sometimes for the worst, because once a guy stole money from his drawer – and though Renjun is not just any guy, it’s not awkward to share a bed with him.

However, they don’t touch. After taking a shower, Renjun curls up on his side on the opposite edge of the bed. He forgot to bring his own clothes, so Donghyuck lends him a pajama and laughs at how ridiculously big they look on him – their heights aren’t that different, but their frames are, and it shows in how Renjun gets lost in his clothes. Donghyuck leaves him to clean himself up as well, and when he comes back, Renjun is already fast asleep.

Donghyuck has the urge to roll over the bed and cuddle him, because he looks so small in his bed, hugging the pillow, a lonely mess of a boy that is used to clinging onto his boyfriend at night. But Donghyuck represses that impulse, and certain that Renjun is comfortable, or too exhausted to care, he drifts off to sleep.

It’s Renjun’s groan what stirs him up.

Donghyuck has no idea what time it is, but on a Sunday that’s the last of his problems. His main problem is Renjun, standing in front of the mirror, pulling at his top and scrunching his nose at what he finds there. The light of the morning paints him different, Donghyuck thinks, but he’s not sure how.

“What are you doing?” Donghyuck moans, barely able to open his eyes. “For god’s sake, come back to bed.”

Renjun glances at him, surprised, maybe because he didn’t expect Donghyuck to wake up. His messy hair amuses Donghyuck, and he sends Renjun a stupid smirk, ruffling his own hair to point it out. All of he’s seen of Renjun before is his carefully crafted image, always looking perfect and clean, but overnight Donghyuck has discovered other sides of him that he never imagined.

Ignoring the mocking, Renjun glowers and says, “You scented me all over.” He runs a hand down his Adam’s apple, there where Donghyuck’s smell must be the strongest. “I reek of you.”

Donghyuck might not be the smartest when it comes to Renjun, yet he can tell that Renjun is bothered, so he decides not to jump into joking right away.

“Reek is a harsh word,” he scolds Renjun, as though he’s going to buy that it could hurt Donghyuck’s feelings. “You didn’t set any rule about scenting.”

At that defense, Renjun spins around to pin him with a serious glare. Donghyuck dares to smile, for he’s right: Renjun didn’t think that scenting would be an issue, and Donghyuck wasn’t a fool that would pass on the opportunity of pleasing his own instinct.

“I have to forbid you everything or you’ll just take the chance and do it, won’t you?” Renjun catches on, bringing his hands to his hips.

Donghyuck cheekily smirks at him, and Renjun falters at that exhibition of confidence. Taking advantage of that moment of weakness, Donghyuck offers, “If you don’t want me to scent you, just tell me.”

Renjun’s hesitation is the most pleasing scene Donghyuck has ever witnessed. Renjun blinks down at him, confused, as though he can’t believe Donghyuck is letting him renounce to that. Donghyuck knows that being scented feels good, that he made Renjun feel good last night for many reasons, and that one of them was unarguably the scenting.

And he knows that Renjun can’t resist the temptation.

“Just- just don’t scent me so much, okay?” he stutters, avoiding his eyes.

Donghyuck doesn’t let go of the cord so easily. He sits up on the bed, covers falling and revealing his bare chest, and smiles when Renjun’s first response is to check him out.

“What’s so much?” Donghyuck whispers, feigning confusion. Renjun is smarter than that, but he’s too flustered for getting caught red-handed looking at him, so he just stares at Donghyuck without understanding. “On a scale from smelling like baby powder to people thinking I knocked you up.”

Turning pale, Renjun gasps a threatening, “Donghyuck.”

Donghyuck raises his hands in defense. “Fine, I’ll try,” he promises, but his laughter doesn’t convince Renjun. He pats the spot next to him and, softer, he calls Renjun. “Now come back.”

Whether it’s because an alpha is ordering him or because he’s dying for an invitation, Renjun climbs on the bed with him. Unlike last night, he doesn’t set an enormous distance between them. He lies next to Donghyuck, close enough for Donghyuck to grab him if he wants to, and Donghyuck doesn’t hesitate to lie back again and do exactly that.

He hauls Renjun towards him with one arm, all of a sudden a bit intimidated by how comfortable Renjun seems to be with this.

“Can I ask you something?” Donghyuck asks then, and Renjun gives him a conceding nod. “Had you ever slept with an alpha before me?

Donghyuck already knows the answer. During a first time, omegas usually beg to be knotted. And even though Renjun lowered in an attempt to take his knot in the last moment, it wasn’t the spotlight for him. Donghyuck swears that his question isn’t a matter of pride, of his alpha refusing to acknowledge that perhaps Renjun didn’t want to be knotted so badly, but that Renjun isn’t as inexperienced with alphas as Donghyuck figured him out to be.

Renjun studies him in interest, quiet, as to discover why Donghyuck is intrigued. “Yeah,” he confesses. Donghyuck’s lack of reaction seems to satisfy him, because he arches his eyebrows and adds, “But I haven’t slept with an alpha in years.”

In years, Donghyuck muses to himself.

“How many?”

Renjun’s lips smugly tug up. “Almost two.”

The dates don’t fit, and Donghyuck chokes on his saliva when he tries to answer. Two years ago Renjun was already dating Jeno, so unless they’ve already done this – use an alpha to please Renjun so that they can go on with their relationship – there’s no explanation.

“Excuse me?” Donghyuck croaks out.

It’s evident that Renjun finds his shock very entertaining. He lifts his hand and tucks Donghyuck’s hair behind his ear, a tender gesture that Donghyuck can barely process in this situation.

“Jeno and I took a break back then, remember?” Renjun mutters, so low that it sounds like a secret. Donghyuck remembers. For Jeno, it was messy, he didn’t want it and he regretted their fight with his whole heart. He supposes that Renjun was having fun meanwhile. “It was one of Jaemin’s alpha friends, Hangyul.”

It’s childish, but Donghyuck doesn’t like that. He’s met Hangyul before, for he hangs out with Jaemin often and he’s in the basketball team, so they cross paths in the sports complex almost every day. Hangyul is a good person. Still, he’s an alpha, and Donghyuck knows their mentality too well not to be irked at the fact that he put his hands on Renjun.

“Hangyul,” Donghyuck sighs, hiding his annoyance. “I guess it suits you.”

Renjun laughs, eyes glinting under the light of the morning. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Gentle, polite, caring,” Donghyuck answers without a doubt. It’s only after speaking that he notices that he’s describing Jeno too, but it’s too late to take it back. “A bit dumb.”

Even though Renjun’s amusement fades away, it’s progressive. His expression doesn’t turn harsh, but analytic, and as he runs his hand from Donghyuck’s hair to his nape, it becomes roguish.

“You know little about what I look for in men, Donghyuck,” Renjun shoots, daring, challenging to contradict him.

Donghyuck ponders about it for a moment, but with Renjun’s attention on him, his reason is in pieces. He wonders if Jeno is rough in bed, too, if Renjun doesn’t like gentle and caring.

“Right,” Donghyuck breathes out. Renjun’s touch on his skin vibrates, and Donghyuck knows for a fact that if he pushed Renjun on his back now, Renjun would open his legs for him without a protest. But his power relies on that certainty, and so he doesn’t need to prove it. “What would I know?”

 

 

 

 

Like Jaemin reminds him on a daily basis, Donghyuck has never had a talent for subtlety.

Taeyong stares at him across the table, a frown on his face. It’s not a good look on him, because Taeyong might have the features of an angel, but his character is beyond intimidating. It should mean something, Donghyuck is sure, that today not even Taeyong’s glare can make him focus.

Donghyuck understands his frustration, however. It was Donghyuck who scheduled this meeting, who needed help with his research, and he has already made Taeyong waste two hours. Taeyong is too nice to kick him out of his office, so he proposes moving out to the halls so that Donghyuck can breathe some air, and that’s when Taeyong loses his patience.

“What’s going on with you?” he pointedly asks, tapping his pen on Donghyuck’s notes. Most classes are over, and the silence within the faculty grows by the moment, just a few students making noise from the cafeteria and two students revising in the hall. “If you don’t have a good understanding of the topic yet, you should read on it before coming to see me.”

Donghyuck doesn’t intend to blow this meeting, but he admits to himself that his head is elsewhere. It’s in the image of Renjun crossing under the doorframe on his way out days ago, on Donghyuck lying alone at night, praying that Jeno’s protective instinct can adapt to the intrusion, on Jaemin cooking for him because he could smell his anxiety all over the house, on the lack of contact from his other friends.

(“Don’t worry about it,” Jaemin had told him hours ago, once Donghyuck revealed that he hadn’t seen Jeno in days, that he hadn’t messaged him either. Jaemin had scoffed at him, slinging his bag over his shoulders as he pushed his finished breakfast towards Donghyuck. “He’s not ghosting you, I promise. He’s just sunk in his internship, but he’ll be at the party tonight. You can kiss and annoy the fuck out of him later.”)

But Donghyuck flickers his eyes up to Taeyong and realizes that no matter how much he tries, he’s going to suffer through this whole ordeal. It’s funny that having fucked his current tutor in the past is a tiny, insignificant problem compared to the worries that sleeping with Renjun brings him.

“I’m fine,” he sighs, conscious that his lie will fall to deaf ears. “Sorry, I’ve just not been sleeping well and I-”

Donghyuck doesn’t manage to finish that excuse, because when he bends forward on the table, he catches sight of a familiar figure standing in the end of the hall. And so does Taeyong.

Renjun is leaning against the wall, a folder pressed against his chest and his small bag too low on his back. Donghyuck’s heart skips a beat, it’s unavoidable, and once he has set his eyes on Renjun, he understands why the strategy of working in the hall, with cleaner air, wasn’t working: Donghyuck’s senses have become more sensitive to Renjun’s scent, and that’s what is distracting him so much.

All Renjun needs to disarm him is a smile across a bad illuminated hall, and it scares Donghyuck.

“He’s waiting for you,” Taeyong remarks. He tilts his head down, looking for Donghyuck’s attention, as though he can read his thoughts. “Has been for a while.”

Taeyong’s subtle permission drives Donghyuck to signal Renjun to approach them. They don’t have many options, to be honest, because he doesn’t want to make Renjun wait for no reason, but also because he can’t concentrate if he’s there. He prefers to avoid the upcoming scolding from Taeyong.

It’s hard to be mad as Renjun flashes an enchanting smile at them, and Donghyuck witnesses Taeyong soften on his bench, looking at Renjun with an adoration that should be reserved only for puppies and children. Donghyuck would be lying if he said he can’t relate.

“Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt,” Renjun sheepishly apologizes to Taeyong, bow included. He rummages through his bag in a rush, and to Donghyuck’s surprise, he pulls out his keys – Donghyuck recognizes the heart key ring that Jeno brought him from Bolivia. “Jaemin told me you forgot your keys, and I was on the way so-”

Of course it was Jaemin’s antics, sending Renjun to him just to confirm that they wouldn’t be awkward with each other. Judging how Renjun doesn’t seem to be embarrassed even in front of Taeyong, Donghyuck shouldn’t be so worked up.

“Thank you,” Donghyuck says, feeling strangely coy when he takes the keys from Renjun’s grasp. Renjun accepts the gratitude with a nod and, voice tinted with hope, Donghyuck hears himself ask, “See you later at the party?”

If Renjun notices the inflexion in his tone, he doesn’t mention it. “Sure!” he exclaims. He zips his bag, struggles with the folder in his other hand, and gives Taeyong an adorable wave before turning around. “Bye, Taeyong.”

“Nice to see you, Renjun,” Taeyong shoots back.

And there’s absolute silence while Renjun walks away, neither Taeyong nor Donghyuck bothering to pretend that they’re not waiting for privacy. Donghyuck has a bad hunch, a very justified bad hunch, because as soon as Renjun is out of sight, Taeyong faces him with an incredulous glint in his gaze.

Donghyuck can’t stand the pressure.

“What?”

Taeyong doesn’t cower at his irritation. On the contrary, it fuels his suspicions. “What was that?” he pries.

It’s an accusation. Donghyuck furrows his eyebrows, defensive, either because his desperation was too obvious or because Taeyong is assuming the worst.

“That’s Jeno’s boyfriend,” Donghyuck states, straightening up and looking at his notes like he’s interested in continuing with the meeting.

“I know.” Taeyong bites on his inner cheek, pensive, as to measure Donghyuck’s patience. Donghyuck wishes he knew how to stop this conversation altogether, since he’s not ready to discuss what’s happening, and he doubts he will ever be. “But your scent is all over Jeno’s boyfriend.”

It’s not Donghyuck’s imagination, then. The faint trace of himself in Renjun wasn’t his mind playing tricks on him, attempting to please his alpha. It’s real.

“We’re friends too,” Donghyuck lies. He swallows the knot that is growing in his throat. Renjun shouldn’t smell like him anymore, not after a whole week and spending so much time with Jeno. Donghyuck scented him enough for it to last for a couple of days, but Renjun must not know how to get rid of it. “I guess it just happened.”

It’s awful that, deep inside, Donghyuck is satisfied with this. With Renjun carrying his scent around, with people noticing, even though it’ll raise questions Donghyuck doesn’t want nor can answer.

“Donghyuck,” Taeyong calls him. The shift is almost imperceptible under Taeyong’s reprimanding, but it’s still there: comprehension. When Donghyuck dares to meet Taeyong’s eyes, Taeyong consoles him, “Don’t do anything dumb. I know senior year gets into your heads very easily.”

Donghyuck should laugh at that. It’d be difficult to do anything dumber than fucking Renjun, and it’s too late to fix that. Donghyuck knows there’s going to be a next time, again, dozens of times, and that he’s not going to run away from it even if it’s a mistake.

To ease off the atmosphere, Donghyuck sends him a challenging look and protests, “Don’t treat me like a kid. I’m getting too old for that.”

But Donghyuck knows that, even if he’s old enough not to receive a reprimand, he’ll always be young enough to fall.

 

 

 

 

Beach parties are a mortal trap for his health, but Donghyuck never learns.

Even though he should go home first and then to the party, by the time his meeting with Taeyong ends he’s too tired to commute all the way home. He decides to show up at the party with his bag, praying that he won’t get so drunk that he’ll lost it in the middle of the night. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Donghyuck isn’t surprised to find out that after a couple of hours, people have already grouped with their friends, sitting in circles and drinking among them rather than talking to strangers. Donghyuck loves that, but not tonight: Jaemin is in a circle with Sunwoo, Chenle, Jisung and needless to say, Jeno and Renjun.

A mere glance pushes Donghyuck to reconsider joining them. Renjun is on Jeno’s lap, his head thrown back on his chest, and Jeno’s arms are secured around his belly. Donghyuck knows so many people in this party, he could just spend his night with someone else and avoid the discomfort that watching Jeno and Renjun will grant him. Yet he’s spent most of the week whining about how he fears Jeno will be awkward with him, and Jaemin is for sure going to kill him if he loses the chance of being with his best friend.

“You’ve changed,” Chenle throws at him when Donghyuck sits with them. Regardless of his protest, he pours a drink for Donghyuck, already tipsy enough to spill half of it on the sand. “Coming late to a party because you’re with your tutor.”

Donghyuck accepts the cup, limiting himself to a smile. Chenle reminds Donghyuck of himself in many aspects, except he’s an omega, but that makes quite an extravagant omega out of him.

“I don’t think spending the evening with Taeyong is that much of a torture,” Jisung smartly supplies, wiggling his eyebrows at Donghyuck.

“You’re so basic,” Jaemin protests, laughing.

“So am I,” Donghyuck agrees, and fakes a moan as Jaemin pushes him over the sand.

Being late was a great decision, however. All of them have had enough time to reach different levels of drunkenness, and once Donghyuck decides to mover over the circle and approach Jeno, Jeno dedicates him a dim-witted smile. He’s out of it, so Donghyuck is in.

Renjun crawls off his lap, leaves with Chenle because Chenle insists he’s seen his crush at the other side of the beach and he needs company to maintain his confidence. That’s Donghyuck’s cue to hog Jeno, though, so he shamelessly rests his head on his thigh, face up.

Jeno blinks down at him, as though he can’t recognize his face, and then breaks into a sweet smile. As he pats Donghyuck’s head like he’s a dog, Donghyuck realizes that he should get that drunk too or he’ll have to be responsible for him later on.

“My lovely dumbass,” Jeno purrs, completely enchanted with the situation.

Donghyuck cackles. “Tequila isn’t good for you, Jeno.”

That’s crystal clear, for Jeno is hovering over him in the blink of an eye, in an impressive demonstration of his flexibility, pressing their foreheads together.

“That’s what Renjun has said about you for years,” he whispers. Donghyuck is aware of that; he’s never been a good influence on Jeno, if the amount of failed exams during their second year is proof of it. Jeno giggles, “And look at us now.”

It’s impossible to tell if he’s referring to their friendship or to the fact that Renjun is now taking advantage of Donghyuck, but his chest shrinks at his words anyhow.

“That’s a fallacy,” Donghyuck manages to croak out. Joking is his only card. “I’m the best thing that can ever happen to anyone.”

Fond, Jeno detaches enough to look into his eyes, and hums, “I know.”

Not able to hold his gaze for long, Donghyuck has an idea. He twirls around, stands up with a jump and holds out his hand for a disconcerted Jeno. But Jeno and he have always been on the same wavelength, and there's no reason for Jeno not to follow him.

Jeno's palm is warm against him, and so is his smile, and Donghyuck realizes that this is a party and, despite Jeno's problems, which are his problems now too, he doesn't have to act like this isn't his best friend.

“What are we doing?” Jeno asks him, bursting into laughter as Donghyuck leads him away from their friends.

Donghyuck sends Jaemin a last glance. The desperation that reflects on Jaemin's eyes is hilarious, like a plea for Donghyuck not to abandon him with Sunwoo and Jisung. Donghyuck knows the reason why: he's noticed how Jisung stares at Jaemin, too, how he's been rotating around him for a whole year. Watching Jaemin sandwiched between two alphas humors Donghyuck to no end, and he hopes his intoxicated self doesn't go back to aid him in the entire night.

“Dance,” Donghyuck answers Jeno.

Dance is an overstatement. They stop by the group that brought loudspeakers, and they welcome them as though they've been friends for their whole lives. Donghyuck takes Jeno's sneakers off, since it's already hard enough for him to walk, let alone dance with shoes on, and then pulls him back up from the sand. Both of them whirl and laugh, dance too close to each other, and Donghyuck falls deep in the sand a few times. He can't even hear the music, doesn't know what they're dancing to, but it's been a while since he had so much fun. Standing up every time is a challenge, for Jeno is too drunk to help him and they often end up entangled with each other, hair full of sand and people's feet moving dangerously close around their heads. But they stand again and again, and the last thing he remembers is pushing his head into the crook of Jeno's neck and laughing so hard that his ribs hurt.

And when Donghyuck opens his eyes and finds himself by the shore, lying back as if someone had dropped him from the sky, he has no idea how he got there. He tries to sit up, but the world slants beneath him, the beach, the buildings and the sky at the same time, and he only has time to check that Jeno is curled up around his leg before falling back.

“Oh my god,” Donghyuck hears someone say, though he doesn't know if it has passed one hour or one minute. “I was going crazy looking for you two. Jaemin!”

“There they are,” Jaemin shouts in relief. “Fuck, they're a mess. I'll take Jeno, he's bigger.”

“Are you insinuating I'm not strong enough to carry him?”

“That's exactly what I'm insinuating.”

Donghyuck feels his laughter simmer in his mouth, recognizing Renjun's indignant tone. The weight on his leg disappears one second later, and Donghyuck opens one eye in time to catch sight of Jaemin carrying a half-unconscious Jeno on his back.

Donghyuck makes an effort to lie on his side and look at Renjun who, on his knees, is in the process of evaluating how to drag him up. It's easy to tell that he's not very sober himself, and Donghyuck notices that the blush on his cheeks from the alcohol is the same exact of blush he gets during sex. Not to share that thought, Donghyuck bites his tongue until it burns.

“Come on, let's go home,” Renjun mutters, tucking his hands under Donghyuck's armpits.

That's the issue: Donghyuck doesn't want to. He wants to stay here, either with Jeno or Renjun, he doesn't mind. Just not the two of them at once.

“No,” he protests, and to shake Renjun off him, he wriggles his shoulders. “I'm fine.”

Renjun releases him with a sigh. It's better not to argue with Donghyuck when he's drunk, that's a lesson that Donghyuck has taught him extensively over the years, so Renjun opts for dropping on the sand too. Donghyuck wonders if Renjun would wait for him all night, even if he becomes stubborn on purpose, or if he’d eventually leave him alone on the beach.

When Donghyuck reaches out to touch him, he's not sure on what he holds onto – maybe his leg or his arm – but Renjun responds by caressing his cheek, and Donghyuck couldn't feel more content. It’s all the affection he needs, because Renjun has barely looked at him tonight, and the gap between avoidance and having Renjun naked under him is killing him.

“You know what's not fine but is really, really funny?” Donghyuck breathes out, dumbly smiling to himself.

He doesn't give Renjun the chance to reply, but judging the expectation Renjun is observing him with, he didn't intend to do so either way.

“That you pity me because I have to fuck you,” Donghyuck sputters, no filter to stop him. There’s no room for regret, since he's aware of what he's saying; it's just that he'd have never dared to share it while sober. He has thought about it for days, the stares Renjun has always sent him, the patronization. Renjun with his perfect life, his perfect boyfriend, his perfect grades, always in juxtaposition with Donghyuck's messy life, his solitude, and the need of working three times harder than everyone else to get the same result. “Sex without love, what a terrible thing.”

Renjun's fingers on his cheek stiffen. Donghyuck squints at him, trying to see his expression, but the only conclusion he gets is that Renjun isn't smiling and that his attention is, indeed, on Donghyuck.

Renjun whispers, “I've never said such thing, Donghyuck.”

“I can see it in your eyes, liar,” Donghyuck retorts. He attempts to point at Renjun's face with his index finger, but somehow it gets intertwined with Renjun's arm and he realizes touching his skin is much nicer. Renjun lets out a soft laugh, a laugh that dies as soon as Donghyuck speaks again. “Having to fuck a pretty omega that hasn’t gotten knotted in years. What a terrible thing. It must be a punishment of the universe.”

Alcohol is a curse, Donghyuck grunts to himself. He's surprised that Renjun hasn't slapped him across the face for talking about him this way, but he might be too drunk as well to be offended. Donghyuck should look out for the next days, though.

“You’re ridiculous,” Renjun teases him. But then he's closer, enough for Donghyuck to inhale his pheromones, and Donghyuck knows that he'd be ridiculous for Renjun a thousand times. Renjun's thumb presses over his cheek, and at last Donghyuck manages to make out Renjun's eyes, the faint pity in them. “You talk about love like it’s meaningless.”

Maybe it is, Donghyuck wants to tell him. Maybe it's not worth it, it doesn't make sense, and it's just a social construction.

But what leaves Donghyuck's mouth is a secret, a secret that many suspect but that Donghyuck has never shared. He doesn't know what drives him to disclose it. Perhaps he's weak for cute boys, and Renjun looks incredibly beautiful with the sea behind him; or it could be that Renjun is full of love, and Donghyuck hates him for that, wants to destroy a piece of the hope he lays on everyone, on Donghyuck too.

“I’ve never loved anyone.”

Yet Renjun gazes at him in slight surprise, and Donghyuck's heart beats faster, harder, like it's asphyxiating.

“I don’t believe you,” Renjun utters. And the pity is gone, replaced by an emotion akin to fascination, and to Donghyuck’s interest, indignation. “You just tell yourself that.”

Donghyuck doesn’t contradict him. He still holds onto the belief that he has never been in love, the sort of love that can consume him for better and for worse. It’s always guys coming and going, Donghyuck kicking them out, having fun with them. None of them have made Donghyuck happy, but Donghyuck is already happy, so he guesses it’s not a good strategy to measure it.

He closes his eyes and sees Jeno and Renjun engraved in his eyelids, caring for each other unconditionally, forsaking their pride and instinct, giving into requests that won’t make them happy but that will content the other half. He thinks about Jeno shoving Renjun into his arms, into an alpha’s arms, not fearing that Renjun will leave him.

Love must be that. Wanting to make the other person happy.

Donghyuck caresses down Renjun’s arm until he’s stroking his hand, both of their hands on Donghyuck’s cheek. Renjun doesn’t pull away, but deep within Donghyuck wishes he would, wishes he’d make this much easier than it’s going to be.

Staring into the haze of Renjun’s stare, Donghyuck draws a lazy, very intoxicated smile, and asks, “When are you moving in with me?”

This whole situation is absurd, but lying drunk on a beach with Renjun, not chasing after their friends, ignites a fire within him.

“Moving in with you,” Renjun repeats after him, giggling. “That’s not what I’m doing, Hyuck.”

Donghyuck disagrees.

“You get what I mean.”

Renjun evaluates him with an intelligence that shouldn’t be allowed in someone that has drunk half a bottle of whiskey by himself. He turns his hand around, intertwines fingers with him and their hands drop in the sand.

“I don’t think I’ll spend the whole week before my heat with you,” Renjun confesses. That’s not what they’ve agreed the first time, but Donghyuck would never pressure him. As time goes on, Renjun might be comfortable enough to invade his house for longer, and now is clearly not the time. “Only the two days before, they’re the worst.”

That gives Donghyuck around five or six days of having Renjun around, depends on how much his heat lasts. Long enough to turn him crazy. Donghyuck is ready to embrace madness.

Pretending not to be pleased at the sudden change, Donghyuck clicks his tongue. “At your service, Huang.”

Renjun either doesn’t believe his acting or doesn’t care, given that he just smiles wider at the use of his last name, entertained by Donghyuck’s behavior.

“You’re so cute when you’re not busy being a jerk,” he observes.

There are many complaints that cross Donghyuck’s mind. For starters, that he’s been too good of a boy lately to be called names. Secondly, that he’s not cute. It’s almost an insult too, but somehow in Renjun’s mouth sounds sweet, and Donghyuck doesn’t have the guts to repress Renjun’s thoughts.

Donghyuck scrunches up his nose at him, overly aware of how Renjun’s small hand squeezes his, and claims, “Sad that being a jerk is my main task in life.”

“Your only task in life now is making it home alive,” Renjun retorts.

Instead of playing along, Renjun pushes all his weight back in an attempt to stand up and tow Donghyuck with him. Donghyuck looks up at him, invaded by a fit of laughter, because there’s no way Renjun can lift him if he doesn’t collaborate. And indeed, it only takes a small drag from Donghyuck to make Renjun collapse on top of him like a house of cards.

Donghyuck takes advantage of the moment to hug him, but it’s a mistake: Renjun smells so much of him, still smells of sex and alpha and lust, that Donghyuck thinks he’s hallucinating.

“We have to leave,” Renjun whines.

“Make me.”

Renjun throws his head back to be able to stare at his face. The grin that grows there, at Donghyuck’s challenge, knots all of Donghyuck’s nerves. Renjun taps his nose with his index finger and teases, “Don’t be so full of yourself. I can make you do anything for me.”

Donghyuck doesn’t doubt it.

 

 

 

 

“You missed me?” Mark says, imitating Donghyuck’s tone in surprise. “Who are you and what did you do to Donghyuck?”

To be fair, Donghyuck hasn’t met up with Mark in weeks, and even though it was because Mark didn’t want to, Donghyuck should have been a better friend and tugged him out of the house by his ear.

It turns out to be pretty evident as Donghyuck watches Mark’s face, pale and tired, like a teen that hasn’t seen any light except the one from their computer’s screen in years. Donghyuck had supposed that Mark needed time to cry on his own, but when he sits across him in the restaurant, Donghyuck realizes he was wrong. Mark is thinner and sadder, and Donghyuck would bet his whole life that the moron hasn’t cried a single tear yet.

“Don’t be so cold,” Donghyuck jokingly scolds him. He pats his hands over the table, reaching around the hole of the upcoming barbecue, and asks, “How are you feeling?”

There’s a chance no one has prompted this conversation with Mark yet. Everyone knows that he’s devastated, so it’s either a matter of not wanting to stick the finger into a wound, or just assuming that Mark doesn’t need to share his feelings just because they’re transparent.

Donghyuck suspects otherwise. Mark needs to talk.

“Like shit, to be honest,” he admits, no trace of shame. He’s past the line of being embarrassed of his own pain, and Donghyuck knows how that feels.

Not letting go of his hands, Donghyuck assures him, “It’ll get better, you know that.”

Yuta might not come back, though, that’s what Donghyuck keeps shut in his mouth.

“I know.” Mark’s gaze wanders all over the place, but he seems to be very composed for this conversation. “I think I’m having a harder time because it makes sense that we broke up. He had to leave the city to work, I knew that, but I wasn’t ready.”

Donghyuck understands that. None of them cope with their problems in healthy way, they ignore them until they catch up with them and they get crushed under their weight. Donghyuck is an expert at that, so he comprehends why Mark preferred to be happy with Yuta for a while without worrying, and then face the consequences later.

“Long distance relationships suck, dude. You’re dodging a bullet,” Donghyuck consoles him. He reclines on his chair, detaching from Mark; his friend looks at ease after spilling his thoughts, and Donghyuck can’t help but be proud of that. “You know what I think-”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mark interrupts him, rolling his eyes. “That’s if it’s meant to be, then it will be sooner or later.”

Mark has always remarked that it was an excessively romantic statement for someone like Donghyuck, but Donghyuck is firm in believing so. It’s not just about love, however.

“God, sometimes you listen to me, huh?”

Both laugh at that, and then the silence settles between them as the waitress turns on the barbecue for them. Donghyuck has never been a big fan of this, but for once he wanted to cook for Mark, to show support and care without words.

As soon as the waitress leaves, Mark observes him cook the meat and sends him a judging glance, “So?”

“So?” Donghyuck responds, distracted.

“You don’t have anything to tell me?”

Donghyuck looks up, caught off guard at the question. Mark’s eyebrows have disappeared under his bangs, and Donghyuck swears that even if he can’t read Mark’s thoughts, he can sense the shade of disapproval painted on his semblance.

The math to figure out what he’s talking about isn’t that difficult.

Resigned, Donghyuck sighs. “They told you, didn’t they?”

“It’d be hard to hide it if Renjun was to disappear every time his heat is near,” Mark retorts with a shrug. He’s not wrong. They’d be able to explain it once, twice even, but by the third time Mark would question why Renjun isn’t spending his heat with his mate. Mark racks his gaze over his expression and shoots, “Are you sure of what you’re doing?”

It’s the first time someone takes this issue with the seriousness Donghyuck was giving it in the beginning, and though it pushes Donghyuck out of the comfort zone he’s settled into, he appreciates a sign that he wasn’t being paranoid.

“If I’m completely honest,” Donghyuck starts, unafraid of confessing it to Mark, “No.”

That seems to encourage Mark’s skepticism, his stare fixed on Donghyuck without interrupting him.

Donghyuck clears his throat, and to alleviate the atmosphere, he jokes, “But I couldn’t decline the offer, not if it’s Renjun.”

Mark groans. “You’re a pervert.” But as always, he ends up bursting into laughter, for Donghyuck shouldn’t be so indecent about his best friend’s boyfriend, and yet he is, and that’s so rude that Mark can’t resist laughing. However, he softens as he adds, “Renjun loves you, you’re aware of that, right?”

Rolling his eyes, Donghyuck protests, “I think love is a bit of an overstatement.”

Renjun must have developed some attachment to him, just like Donghyuck feels fondness towards him. But Donghyuck believes that people get hooked even in their enemies, so that’s not a reliable proof of anything.

“It’s been many years,” Mark insists. By the time Mark is drawing a patronizing smile, Donghyuck is resigned to listen to whatever fantasy he’s going to come up with. “He’s not the kind of friend that has joined a thousand parties with you and has enabled your awful antics, but he’s the friend that has taken care of you the most.”

Donghyuck’s brain doesn’t process those words at first. They’re like a knife stuck on his back, and Donghyuck feels his blood drain away from his face, dripping through his wound.

“I don’t like where this is going.” He glances at the counter, hoping that the waitress returns with more food and cuts this conversation in half, but it’s useless. “We’re friends? Yes. But he’s not the first person I’d resort to if-”

Mark clicks his tongue, shakes his head, not disposed to hear his excuses. “You don’t have any idea of who your real friends are,” he guarantees. It’s almost an insult, and yet Donghyuck doesn’t have the heart to deny it; though Mark might be crossing a line, he’s still right. “Because you think you don’t need anyone, but you do.”

Running a hand through his hair, Donghyuck scoffs. He came here to console Mark, and instead Mark is poking at his wounds without shame.

It’s true, anyhow. Renjun has crashed a lot of good moments for Donghyuck, or at least moments he considered happy, but all of them were for his own good. Renjun is the one who has been there when Donghyuck needed to talk, even if Donghyuck didn’t want to open up to him. Renjun is the one who has meddled between Jeno and him every time they argued, the one who has controlled their egos so that they didn’t hurt each other.

Donghyuck is aware of that, but it stings in many levels apart from emotionally. He has never appreciated Renjun. On the contrary, he has stretched the distance between, laughed at his attempts to keep him safe, ignored the need of maturing along everyone else. Perhaps Donghyuck is afraid of that, of accepting that Renjun has influenced more in his life than he’d have ever let him.

 

 

 

 

It’s that same night, when Donghyuck stands in front of the door of his own flat, that he’s certain he has gone crazy.

His instinct might be playing tricks on him, so he sniffs his own clothes first, then his wrists, and makes a pathetic attempt at smelling his own hair. But Renjun’s scent isn’t there, impregnated on him: it’s in the air. Donghyuck stares at the door with reticence, like it’s its fault that he’s having a crisis, that he’s finally spiraled into absolute madness all due to his alpha nature.

But then he puts the key in the lock, and he hears a very familiar laughter spring from inside. His whole body reacts to that in ways Donghyuck should be ashamed of. To swat the torrent of thoughts that crashes on him, he takes a deep breath and pushes the door open.

Jaemin and Renjun turn their heads towards him right away, and oh, how Donghyuck hates the sensation of happiness that explodes in his chest. They’re on the couch, Jaemin already in his pajamas, and Renjun with his knees pressed against his chest, an adorable smile on his face.

“Hey,” Donghyuck greets them, though his attention focuses on Renjun only. All his strength abandons him, and so do words, politeness as Renjun’s lips stretch into a wider grin. “Are you here for me?”

Jaemin lets out an indignant noise. “The lack of tact,” he remarks, displeased. But Renjun, next to him, dissolves into laughter at Donghyuck’s straightforwardness. “The lack of decency.”

Even though it should be the perfect moment for Donghyuck to be ashamed, Renjun shoves Jaemin aside so that he shuts up, and Donghyuck doesn’t have time to read the situation. He knows how it came off: he’s showing interest in fucking Renjun and nothing else, a one track mind. Jaemin would call him basic and primitive if Renjun wasn’t stopping him, but Donghyuck swears that he didn’t intend to give such an impression.

He’s just too tired to control what leaves his mouth.

“I’m sorry I came sooner than we’ve discussed,” Renjun apologizes, clear hope in his eyes not to be kicked out. He waves Jaemin to leave, as if it’s his own house, but luckily Jaemin comprehends that it’s a conversation too private for him, and he sends Renjun a flying kiss before jumping out of the couch. “But I’m already having symptoms and-”

“It’s fine,” Donghyuck cuts him off, alarmed at the fact that Renjun thinks he has to apologize for this. They agreed on this, and Renjun is far from a nuisance when he’s on top of him. He strides to Renjun under the vigilance of his attentive eyes, and sets a hand over his forehead despite Renjun’s taken aback reaction. “You’re kind of hotter, indeed. I mean- hot as in temperature.”

With Donghyuck’s palm on his forehead, Renjun looks up at him and the corners of his mouth curl up in mischief.

Donghyuck doesn’t remember when the last time he blushed was, so he sputters a nervous, “Don’t look at me like that.”

“You really didn’t have to explain that,” Renjun remarks, so composed that it breaks Donghyuck’s façade. He pulls away, not just because Renjun burns, but because he burns in ways that aren’t healthy for his sanity. Renjun laughs and says, “Guys get weird once you’ve let them fuck you, don’t they?”

For a second, Donghyuck can’t believe his ears. Renjun might not be talking about this moment in particular, but also about the night in the beach. Donghyuck isn’t sure of how much Renjun remembers, but he hopes he has forgotten, at least, the way Donghyuck clung onto him in the sand.

“Don’t be mean to me,” Donghyuck whimpers, closing his eyes just not to witness the mockery in Renjun’s face.

The next thing he feels is Renjun patting the side of his thigh, and as Donghyuck dares to peek at him, he discovers that Renjun is back to his sweetness.

“I brought food for you and Jaemin, for the hospitality,” he says. Donghyuck doesn’t realize until he mentions it, for his senses are too hooked in Renjun’s scent, but he completely missed the smell of food all over the apartment. “I’ll take a shower while you eat, yeah?”

Donghyuck nods, for he’s not able to do anything else. Renjun looks calm, too calm to be so close to his heat, but Donghyuck is no one to judge. Renjun told him he’d wait a couple more days, and anticipation was already crawling on Donghyuck like a creeper. He’s secretly glad Renjun didn’t take the risk of waiting longer.

It’s even difficult for him to eat, even though it’s been half a day since he met up with Mark, but the mere thought of Renjun in his bedroom, in his bathroom taking a shower, kills his appetite. He has the bad luck of forcefully stuffing his mouth right when Jaemin walks into the kitchen for his nightly glass of milk, but he supposes that at this point there’s barely any pride left to save.

“Calm down, tiger,” Jaemin jokes, bending over his stomach to laugh.

Donghyuck scowls at him. “Shut the fuck up.”

Jaemin strolls around the kitchen, looking for a clean glass, and spins around to face Donghyuck as he pours himself the milk.

“You’re so rude,” he complains, no trace of annoyance. He’s judging Donghyuck, however, that’s evident. Donghyuck can’t blame him, because even his own nervousness is so transparent for himself that is plainly pathetic. “I’m an omega too, I’m offended that I never got these reactions from you.”

Jaemin is just messing with him, but Donghyuck can only think about how Renjun, for some reason, affects him to this extent. Donghyuck isn’t weak to all omegas, and Jaemin is the living proof of that.

“I seriously don’t know what to answer,” Donghyuck says after swallowing his food, trying not to choke. “Except shut up.”

His flatmate would never allow him that privilege. He puts the milk back into the fridge, and as he walks backwards out of the kitchen, he smirks at Donghyuck. “Please, don’t be too loud. I got an exam tomorrow.”

Donghyuck presses his lips into a line, bothered, but he can hear Jaemin laugh all the way to his bedroom. Uneasiness growing, Donghyuck takes a couple of bites more and decides that there’s no point in eating if it falls wrong in his stomach.

Renjun is still in the shower, so Donghyuck changes into comfortable clothes and plays on his phone until Renjun is ready. He has no idea what to expect from tonight, from Renjun, and that’s what unsettles him the most. Renjun is going to spend a lot of time in his apartment, with him, and Donghyuck isn’t used to having sex with people and letting them stay for so long.

To his relief, Renjun comes out of the bathroom completely dressed, though his hair is slightly wet and he looks maddeningly small. With a towel in his hand, Renjun finishes drying his hair and then hops on the bed with Donghyuck.

It’s scary how Donghyuck’s worries fade away, how Renjun meets his embrace as though it’s a familiar routine for them. And Donghyuck doesn’t feel dirty, because there’s nothing dirty about having Renjun lying with him. It’s natural, a medicine, and Donghyuck forgets his own nervousness as Renjun rests his head on his chest and throws an arm over his body.

Donghyuck caresses Renjun’s hair, smooth through his fingers, and whispers, “Do you want me to kiss you?”

Perhaps because of the shooting of Donghyuck’s caressing, Renjun takes a long time to answer, a time that seems endless to Donghyuck.

“Just being around you alleviates it,” Renjun rejects him at last.

Renjun is comfortable just by being in contact with him. Sometimes Donghyuck forgets about the power of his own pheromones and now, because he’s drowned in Renjun’s pheromones, he realizes that Renjun must feel as complete as he does.

“That’s great.” And Donghyuck discovers that he’s sincere, that he doesn’t need to undress Renjun to enjoy his company. He’s quite breathless as he continues, “What do you want to do? Should we talk?”

“What do you want to talk about?”

Donghyuck traces the path from Renjun’s hair to his cheek, and then to his jaw, admiring how warm his skin feels under his fingertips, how pretty and relaxed Renjun looks against him. Renjun’s analyzing eyes become softer with every inch of skin that gets marked by Donghyuck’s imprint, and Donghyuck wonders why he was never allowed to have someone like him.

And then Donghyuck surprises himself saying, “Tell me about your day.”

That’s what Renjun does, in a small, sweet voice, and Donghyuck soaks in his words like he wishes to suffocate in them. Renjun falls asleep in the middle of his own story, and only when his eyelids flutter close and his hand grabs onto Donghyuck’s shirt, Donghyuck finds his own peace reflected on Renjun’s face.

 

 

 

 

It's not morning when Donghyuck rises from bed, heart beating so fast that he can't breathe.

He wakes up in a hell of pheromones, alone, the air so clogged that Donghyuck doesn't know if it's his own pheromones, Renjun's or even Jaemin's. The bed is painfully empty: there where Renjun was, there are only wrinkled sheets and a faint trace of him. Donghyuck is surprised he hasn't noticed Renjun's absence earlier. The difference is enormous, especially because Renjun's dainty frame was pressed against him, his warmth rocking him, and Donghyuck hasn't slept that well in so long that he can't remember the last time.

In an attempt to stretch out of his haziness, Donghyuck gets up, caressing over the sheets to feel Renjun's trace once more. It's not hard to find him, because as Donghyuck steps out of his bedroom, Renjun's scent becomes more intense, and Donghyuck's will becomes weaker.

Renjun is in the kitchen, slightly curved over the counter, a glass of water in his hands. In his hold, the glass trembles, and Donghyuck observes him from the door for a moment, taking in why Renjun abandoned the bed instead of asking for help.

He isn't in heat yet, otherwise Donghyuck would have turned crazy, but his pheromones are so captivating that he won't last much longer before breaking into heat. Even Donghyuck's skin dampens, pheromones ready to respond to Renjun's needs, and he suddenly thinks that Renjun is too far away, that he should be next to him, that he should be taking care of him.

Donghyuck approaches him, unannounced. His scent is enough for Renjun to detect him. Aware of what his touch will grant him, Donghyuck enfolds Renjun from behind, the fire of Renjun's body igniting his senses as well. Renjun doesn't say a word: he leans back into Donghyuck with a sigh, trembles all over despite Donghyuck's cooling effect.

“You’re warmer,” Donghyuck whispers. It's still night, and it feels wrong to raise his voice both because of Jaemin and because he doesn't want to scare Renjun, not in such a sensitive state. “God, your scent was making me crazy all the way here.”

It shatters Donghyuck even further now, with Renjun so close to him that Donghyuck's senses are enclosed around Renjun only, the rest of the world dimming. If Jaemin walked into them right now, Donghyuck wouldn't be able to hear him; he’d detect a fellow alpha as a danger, however.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun calls him, almost like he intends to check he’s real. That Donghyuck isn’t a fever dream. The back of his head fits over Donghyuck's collarbones, and Donghyuck observes how he closes his eyes, pleased at the contact. “I'm sorry I woke you up.”

He’s sincerely sorry, but Donghyuck wishes Renjun would have bothered him as soon as he suffered the first symptoms.

“You can't even hold the glass, Renjun,” Donghyuck continues, obviating the apology.

Soon Renjun will not remember this, will not remember that they were in the kitchen, that Donghyuck got up to fetch him as if he was a kid that had run away from his bed. Donghyuck places his hand over Renjun's hand, helps him to hold it to his mouth, and Renjun opens his mouth in anticipation. It's fascinating for Donghyuck, too. He's never treated anyone like this; he's never hold a glass to an omega's mouth to alleviate their thirst, because no one has ever needed Donghyuck to look after them. It's gratifying, however, to know that he can make Renjun feel better outside bed too.

When both of them settle the glass on the counter, Donghyuck's hands travel down to Renjun's waist. “Come here,” he says, turning Renjun around for him.

Renjun is pliable, obeys in silence, and lets Donghyuck handle him. He ignores the power he holds, because as Donghyuck looks into his eyes, he gets lost into them. Donghyuck has seen Renjun in many situations, but he has never had the chance to see him so vulnerable.

Vulnerability isn't a bad thing, Donghyuck marvels. It's beautiful on Renjun, the trustful glint in his eyes, the will to depend on Donghyuck, the certainty that he's in good company. It fills Donghyuck from head to toe, from inside out, until a new emotion implodes within him.

Despite Donghyuck’s roughness, his movements feel careful. He lifts Renjun on the counter, soaking in the soft gasp that he lets out, and steps between Renjun's thighs.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun calls him again, breathless.

It's not a conscious decision, but it's shared. Renjun is already entangled around him when Donghyuck meets his lips, the sweet taste of Renjun's pheromones on his tongue. The counter feels so cold compared to Renjun that Donghyuck whines, whines into his mouth and fades, thinking that this shouldn't be allowed. That he shouldn't be allowed to wish Renjun so much.

Yet Renjun holds onto him like it’s only Donghyuck who can keep him afloat, and Donghyuck doesn't dare to doubt. The path to his bedroom is a mess, because Renjun can't walk and Donghyuck has to carry him, but also because every time Renjun kisses him Donghyuck loses his balance, his whole sense of stability, and they hit the wall a dozen times before reaching the bedroom.

Donghyuck needs to breathe, so when he lets go of Renjun inside the bedroom, he pushes him to walk alone to the bed. Renjun doesn't want to part ways, not even to prepare, but so close to his heat he's incapable of disobeying Donghyuck's wishes.

Almost breaking into laughter, Donghyuck grunts, “You can't even walk straight.”

It's true. Instead of climbing on the bed, Renjun collapses on the mattress with a moan. It amazes Donghyuck that he could go to the kitchen alone, but after a few touches and some kisses, Donghyuck has managed to kill the remainders of his strength.

“You're so mean,” Renjun protests, voice muffled.

Donghyuck intends to be anything but mean tonight. He's so weak for Renjun that it's starting to scare him, so he drowns that fear by holding Renjun by the hips and settling him on his back instead. Donghyuck loves what Renjun offers him. He looks adorable in his pajamas, his hair messily scattered over the sheets. It feels strangely familiar, strangely easy to pull Renjun's pants and slide them down over his smooth thighs.

“I want to see you,” Donghyuck muses, most to himself than to Renjun.

Renjun's eyes, half closed, stare at him like he doesn't need permission. “See me,” Renjun answers, only, and then he intertwines his fingers with Donghyuck's and guides his hand to his body.

Donghyuck is led to touch Renjun's crotch, but he swats Renjun's hold away. It's almost funny how, regardless of the subtle scolding, Renjun's erection grows at the mere pressure of Donghyuck's hand over his underwear. It's almost funny how Renjun lets out what seems to be a shy purr, how he blindly brings his own legs farther apart, giving himself over.

It's a lovely sight, and as Donghyuck watches Renjun from head to toe, he decides that he wants Renjun to keep the top of the pajamas on. It’s a stupid pajama shirt with small bears, and somehow it suits Renjun. It's been a while since Donghyuck fucked someone so cute, and tainting Renjun that way feels even lewder.

“Not this,” Donghyuck tells him, stopping Renjun when he grabs at his own t-shirt. “I don't need you to take this off to fuck you.”

There's not surprise on Renjun's face, but there's coyness. He casts a hesitant glance down at his own pajamas, like wondering why that turns Donghyuck on, and Donghyuck takes advantage of that distraction to crook his fingers in Renjun's underwear and get rid of it.

Renjun is already hard, and though Donghyuck feels his own dick harden in his pants, he plans more than just stripping and fucking Renjun until he comes. He'll have enough of that when Renjun is too immersed in his heat to be toyed with, when sex becomes simple and raw, just a necessity.

Swiping his hand over Renjun's ass, Donghyuck plants a kiss on his lips. Renjun blinks at him, already twisting a bit on the bed in case Donghyuck is going to finger him, but Donghyuck doesn't.

“You look so cute,” he mutters, marveled, peppering a few more pecks around Renjun's mouth.

Confused, Renjun asks, “Cute?”

Cute is an understatement. He's so delightful to Donghyuck that it's sinful. All of Renjun is a sin, anyhow, for someone like Donghyuck. He's wet, and his slick drips between Donghyuck's fingers as though they’ve been riling each other up for hours. Donghyuck considers making fun of him for it, but he loves that Renjun is always so responsive; it clears any doubts Donghyuck could have about this, about them.

“The cutest.” Spreading the slick all over his ass and thighs, Donghyuck hums against his mouth, “Cute boys deserve good things, don’t you know?”

The shift in Renjun’s eyes sends a shiver down his spine. Donghyuck’s words break him at once, and then he’s moaning into his mouth, much needier and gone than the first time, and definitely much more impatient than any boy Donghyuck has had on his bed.

As Donghyuck parts from the kiss, Renjun sends him a disoriented look and pleads, “Don’t go.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Donghyuck reassures him.

But he’s still completely clothed, and he wants to feel skin on skin, too. He strips as fast as he can, never taking his eyes off Renjun spread out on the bed, and grins down at him when he finishes. Renjun immediately tries to tug him closer, for whatever Donghyuck wants to give him. There’s no fun in just stretching Renjun and fucking him, though, which is what Renjun wants from him, and Donghyuck thinks for a moment how to keep Renjun still.

He presses another kiss on his lips, but then travels down Renjun’s neck, so slowly that Renjun can’t even distinguish Donghyuck’s intentions. Renjun’s already burning, so kissing him is much more satisfying than before. Donghyuck’s lips stick to his skin looking for more, like it’s a drug – and it is, somehow, because omegas’ pheromones are addicting for any alpha, and so are they for Donghyuck. Donghyuck’s scent has almost disappeared from Renjun, and as Donghyuck moves down, he scents every inch of him that smells like Jeno. Renjun told him not to scent him so much, but he’s going to belong to Donghyuck for days, and their scents will inevitably mingle anyway.

Renjun bears with the sensations until Donghyuck pulls away and, setting a hand over Renjun’s pajamas, pins him down on the bed so that he doesn’t move. It doesn’t take a genius to know that Donghyuck isn’t going to please him right away, and Renjun moans a complaint.

Donghyuck doesn’t mind. He grabs Renjun’s legs, pushes them up, and then takes a hold of Renjun’s hips.

Flustered, Renjun gasps, “What are you doing?”

He knows what Donghyuck is doing. Donghyuck plants a kiss on the back of his thighs, and just like he moved on Renjun’s neck, he trails the path to Renjun’s ass as carefully as he can. It’s useless: Renjun tenses up at the touch, chest inflating with heavy breaths, and Donghyuck has to draw circles on his hips to calm him down.

But it takes one glance at him to know that Renjun is ashamed, but not uncomfortable. Donghyuck can smell it in his pheromones; the thrill, the excitement, the fear of letting Donghyuck cross this line. It’s more intimate than just fucking, because it means that Donghyuck wants to please him getting nothing in return, and Donghyuck realizes that’s exactly what is driving him.

Donghyuck sinks his face between Renjun’s legs, repressing a laugh as Renjun grumbles before he can even touch him. He’s dying to taste Renjun, but he makes sure to fist his dick first, to jerk him off a few times so that Renjun focuses his attention elsewhere. It’s then when Donghyuck, without previous warning, laps his tongue flat on Renjun’s ass.

The first touch alone is overwhelming for Renjun; he makes a keen noise that Donghyuck has never heard from him, a noise that cuts through Donghyuck until he’s in pieces. On his mouth, Renjun’s slick tastes amazing, and Donghyuck knows that it’s almost a trap, that an omega is supposed to taste this sweet for him to want him, but Donghyuck accepts that trap with all its consequences.

“Stay still,” Donghyuck warns Renjun, noticing how his legs shake.

Renjun tries to obey him, but when Donghyuck begins to lick him, he dissolves into a hopeless mess. Donghyuck doesn’t stop, not even if Renjun’s noises are a mixture of pleasure and complaints, as though he’s not sure if he can take how good it feels. Renjun’s body tells Donghyuck everything he needs to know, anyhow: he arches his back, opens up for Donghyuck, and rides his tongue even though it’s impossible in that position.

Wondering if he can make Renjun come if he goes for long enough, Donghyuck rubs his tongue harder in him, but it’s the biting what destroys Renjun at last. It’s the small bites all over his inner thighs, the mark of Donghyuck’s teeth, the calming kisses before Donghyuck dips his tongue inside him again. It’s also Donghyuck’s arms around his legs, because Renjun’s hands cling on his forearms with a blind, desperate trust, and the deeper his fingers sink, the more Donghyuck wants to please him.

Only when Renjun’s moans die out, when his whines become mute, Donghyuck knows that he has to let go. And as he rises from between his legs, he finds that Renjun is indeed overwhelmed, his eyes closed and his mouth open, unable to utter any other sound. He looks adorable, clearly on edge, and even if Donghyuck would love to make Renjun come with his tongue inside him, he detaches to prevent that.

When Donghyuck hovers over him, Renjun’s eyelids are already opening to look for him. It makes Donghyuck feel so wanted that he wishes he could have Renjun every night on his bed, just a tiny piece of him looking for Donghyuck.

Renjun doesn’t protest because he stopped, instead he hums and grabs onto the back of Donghyuck’s head, and Donghyuck gives him the sweet kiss he’s asking for. His dick twitches more at the kiss than at eating Renjun out, but Donghyuck pushes that thought away and caresses Renjun’s hair out of his face, strand by strand.

Looking into Renjun’s eyes without fear, Donghyuck whispers, “Does no one do this for you, baby?”

The question is different, but Donghyuck promised Jaemin that regardless of how riled up he was, he’d never mention Jeno to Renjun in bed. Curiosity still wins over carefulness, and overall his pride wanting to know if he can give Renjun what his boyfriend can’t.

Renjun responds with a small nod of his head. Donghyuck kisses him once, and again, and again, until Renjun seems to forget what they’re talking about and groans into his mouth, tasting his own slick.

“I’ll do this for you every time you want, yeah?” Donghyuck muses, and Renjun smiles into the next kiss, his dimples deepening under Donghyuck’s thumbs. Donghyuck thinks he’s going to lose his mind. “Do you want to go on?”

It’s evident that he wants to, especially because his gaze lowers down to look at Donghyuck’s dick. Donghyuck feels a bit proud of himself when blatant admiration strikes across Renjun’s face; even if he has already seen Donghyuck naked, Donghyuck knows that it’ll take him some time to get used to his size. He hopes it’s a really long time though, because it strokes his ego like nothing else.

This time, Renjun replies with words, but his voice is almost inaudible, and Donghyuck moves closer to him to hear him.

“What?” he insists, thumbing across Renjun’s cheek with tenderness.

Renjun avoids his eyes, and it’s that shyness what makes Donghyuck suspect that he didn’t speak out loud just out of embarrassment, but because he’s overwhelmed. It makes sense, however, because what leaves his mouth freezes Donghyuck in one millisecond.

“Mount me,” Renjun murmurs, flushing pink as he does.

Donghyuck can’t believe his own ears, so he stares and stares at Renjun, waiting for him to add something. He doesn’t. That’s all there is to it, and the more Donghyuck fixes on him, the shier Renjun becomes.

Gathering all his strength, Donghyuck manages to repeat, “You want me to mount you?”

He could fuck Renjun in many ways, but mounting him implies that Renjun wants to submit to him. It’s part of mating sometimes, of breeding. Renjun wants Donghyuck to put him on four and hook onto him like they’re two dogs, and god, Donghyuck isn’t going to reject that opportunity, but he needs to make sure that Renjun knows what he’s talking about. Mounting Renjun means Donghyuck has to put himself first, and the more he chases his own pleasure, the more he uses Renjun for his advantage, the closer Renjun will be to coming.

To Donghyuck’s surprise, Donghyuck repeating his words doesn’t push Renjun further into his shame. It ignites him, eyes glinting with want, and he clings on Donghyuck with a demanding, yet pliable air around him.

Please,” he says, very low, like the mere idea of Donghyuck mounting him reduces all his strength to ashes.

That flicks off the switch inside Donghyuck.

He flips Renjun around, ignoring how Renjun still can laugh at him for reacting so fast, but both Renjun’s laughter and Donghyuck’s reason subdue once he has Renjun face down on the mattress.

Donghyuck was right. Renjun looks even better like this, the hem of his pajamas over his cute ass, and Donghyuck almost laments having to lift his hips up. Renjun complies, ass up and face between his arms, lying on his forearms. Donghyuck can tell that he feels exposed, it’s normal for an omega to appreciate the exposition to an alpha, as long as Donghyuck doesn’t degrade him.

It’s in his nature, Donghyuck realizes, to give himself to him without doubts. Donghyuck can’t even imagine how his heat will be if Renjun is so willing outside it too, but with that in mind, he takes a deep breath and strokes himself to full hardness.

When Donghyuck thrusts into Renjun, he needs to take a moment to calm down. Renjun is much more relaxed tonight, and he stretches around Donghyuck’s dick without trouble, but he’s much warmer. The sensation makes Donghyuck black out, and he doesn’t remember the last time he felt so good inside someone, not even with an omega. Renjun's tightness clenches so well around his dick that he doesn't bother to pull at Renjun's hair to hear his moans for some satisfaction. Even with his groans muffled on the bed, Renjun sounds like he's melting under him, and Donghyuck has to remember to go slow not to hurt him.

Every thrust sends Donghyuck closer to mounting him, but he knows that if he does, he won’t last, so he tugs a fist of Renjun's pajamas and uses them to anchor Renjun against him, to set the rhythm. Renjun can't follow him: every thrust makes him shiver and collapse against the bed; but Donghyuck thinks it's sweet how he still tries to fuck himself on his dick, as though Donghyuck isn't fucking him rough enough, or fast enough, or simply he can't take enough of it.

Donghyuck can't tell what pulverizes his patience at last. Maybe it's the sound of his hips slapping against Renjun’s ass, maybe it's the way the buttons of his pajamas are being undone by how hard Donghyuck is pulling him back, or maybe it's just Renjun, Renjun on all fours for him, Renjun moaning because of him, Renjun keeping the top of his pajamas on just because Donghyuck wanted to.

Before Donghyuck can be conscious of his own actions, he's arching his back over Renjun, the palms of his hands at both sides of Renjun. The next thrust is in full mounting, in a different angle, and Renjun gasps so loud that Donghyuck fears having caught him off guard. It's better this way, however, because Renjun finds the strength to prop himself up and press his back against Donghyuck's chest, a gesture of submission that Donghyuck appreciates from the deepest part of his alpha.

“Donghyuck,” he whispers, voice trembling, throwing his head back until he can rub his face on Donghyuck's cheek. “Come inside me.”

Donghyuck loses the rhythm for a few seconds, swamped by the permission. He plants a kiss under Renjun's ear, to compliment him, to tell him that he loves that small gift to his alpha – because unlike Renjun, Donghyuck can't use his words anymore, just his force to ram into Renjun.

Renjun wants indeed to breed him, and Donghyuck doesn't know what to do with that, just knows that he's dying to do it too. Renjun's frame so small under him that Donghyuck feels that he's going to wreck him with every time he slams into him. But mounting Renjun makes Donghyuck's dick brush against the most sensitive spots inside Renjun, and if Renjun breaks, he'll break happily.

It's been years since Donghyuck has fucked someone with so much honesty, not controlling his own instinct, just enjoying the little bit of dominance that he allows himself in bed. And with Renjun, his instinct growls inside him, and when Renjun spills all over the sheets with a delighted moan, Donghyuck forgets all his decency. He fucks Renjun until his whole body is tense with the effort, until he feels an orgasm rip through him and Renjun cries out at the overstimulation.

But coming inside Renjun feels like a piece of paradise, and Donghyuck passes an arm under Renjun's abdomen to keep him up until his dick softens inside him, until he's filled Renjun as well as he asked for.

Renjun becomes limp in his arms, and despite how undone Donghyuck feels, he helps Renjun lie down on the bed without hurting himself. Renjun has his eyes closed, but Donghyuck watches him and can't resist the temptation of pressing kisses all over his face. Renjun allows him to turn him around on the bed, and most important, lets Donghyuck leave sweet pecks on his cheeks, on the tip of his nose, on the corners of his mouth.

Donghyuck kisses him until Renjun draws a smile, coming back to reality, until he realizes that Donghyuck has affection to give after sex too.

It gives Donghyuck time to recover as well, and as he pets Renjun's hair, he says the first words after a long silence, “You fine?”

Renjun barely opens his eyes, but he answers a hoarse, “Wonderful.”

It's stupid, especially because Renjun can't see him, but Donghyuck bursts into a satisfied grin.

“Give me a second,” Donghyuck tells him, reminding that he hasn't cleaned Renjun up yet. “And I'll let you sleep.”

But as soon as Donghyuck stops touching Renjun, Renjun seems to find energy elsewhere, because he grips onto his arm and drags him back, closer, looking for warmth.

“No,” he whispers, opening his eyes to stare at Donghyuck with a sincerity that would destroy any man. Then his gaze softens, and so do his hands, and he pleads, “Stay for a while.”

Donghyuck would stay forever, if Renjun just asked.

 

 

 

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Donghyuck says. “I won’t attend classes.”

It’s been a whole hour since they woke up when Renjun almost commands him to get up and go to class. There are many reasons why Donghyuck refuses. The proximity of his heat is just an excuse, and Renjun is aware of it. Donghyuck wants to spend the day with him because he appreciates the warmth of their bare bodies linked to each other, the comfort which Renjun clings on him with, the tiny kisses Renjun grants him, deep and slow and entirely out of line.

It’s just his omega’s effect, Donghyuck is sure of it, not how cute Renjun looks in the morning with his eyes half open and the dumb smile that paints his face every time Donghyuck touches where he shouldn’t.

“I’m not in heat yet, okay?” Renjun reminds him. Donghyuck knows, because otherwise they wouldn’t be talking, but Renjun is close enough to need his touch all the time. When Donghyuck withdraws, Renjun comes closer, trying to entangle their legs together and rub his head in Donghyuck’s chest. “You can’t just ignore your responsibilities to stay in bed with me and do nothing.”

Amused, Donghyuck arches his eyebrows at him, “Says who?”

Perhaps because Renjun is expecting him to reason, he vacillates at the question. “Says me,” he concludes, furrowing his eyebrows as Donghyuck breaks into a smile.

Anyhow, Donghyuck’s smile doesn’t make Renjun falter, and Donghyuck groans in frustration. He sneaks an arm around Renjun’s waist, noses up his neck as if that will convince him, and for a moment he’s sure that he’s going to win, because Renjun responds by leaving a kiss on his collarbones.

Renjun smells delicious. Donghyuck would despise walking out of the bedroom, let alone the house for the whole day.

“You’re not in a position to order me around, trust me,” Donghyuck assures him. Because he knows he can convince Renjun if he wants to; he only has to push a few buttons and Renjun will surrender to his instinct, but Donghyuck wishes to get around this without resorting to dirty tricks.

With a sigh, Renjun throws his head back to look into his eyes. “Listen,” he says, serious, though his mouth tugs up under the pleading look Donghyuck sends him. “I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true. You can’t even imagine how much better the pre-heat is already feeling because of you, but I promise I’ll text you if I need you.”

Renjun had explained to him that so close to his heat, he usually is writhing in pain, swallowing suppressants that can’t keep the suffering under control. Today, however, Renjun is lying on Donghyuck’s bed in complete calm. He’s lazy, even, because Donghyuck’s pheromones mitigate his own hormones, and because last night’s sex probably soothed his needs until his heat strikes.

Donghyuck knows that he has lost this battle, since he doesn’t have a real excuse other than I want to stay with you. It’s too dangerous.

“Don’t text me when you need me.” Donghyuck ignores the disapproval on Renjun’s face and taps under his chin to let him know that he’s not just dismissing his opinion. “Text me if you feel the most minimal sign so that I can arrive in time.”

Renjun studies him for a second, not hiding his surprise. Donghyuck reckons it’s weird for him too, because Donghyuck has never worried about him this much, if not at all.

“Fine,” he accepts in the end.  And then, without previous warning, he presses a kiss on Donghyuck’s lips.

Despite all the times they’ve kissed this morning, Donghyuck is a bit staggered, but he doesn’t hesitate to lick between Renjun’s lips, to tilt his head for access. He’s getting used to it, too used, and the taste of Renjun’s mouth is terribly familiar. It’s when his hands roam down Renjun’s back and onto his butt that Renjun decides that Donghyuck is going too far.

“Now hurry up,” Renjun tells him with a knowing laugh, pressing on his chest to push him away.

Going to campus is, without exaggerating, a nightmare. Donghyuck takes a long, cold shower beforehand, kisses Renjun goodbye, and forces Jaemin to promise that he’ll call him if Renjun has any problem. Donghyuck doesn’t trust Renjun that much, because he’s stubborn and if he begins to fall into his heat, he’ll probably pretend he’s fine until Donghyuck comes home.

Donghyuck sits through his classes thinking about Renjun, and though he tries to take notes at first, he gives up by the second lesson. The state he’s in is beyond embarrassing. It’s not characteristic of an adult alpha – perhaps of a teen alpha – to be this riled up and obsessed with an omega in heat, and less of Donghyuck. He can’t tell why it’s different with Renjun. Perhaps it’s the abstinence, or that he knows Renjun outside the bedroom, so he really wishes to take care of him as he should.

But there are limits, so when one of his classmates side eyes him with a smirk and asks, having fun at home? Donghyuck is certain that he can’t be around other people today. It also reminds him that he might not be able to help Renjun if Donghyuck’s rut ever coincides with his heat, unless Renjun wants to return the favor, but he knows that in this situation his ruts are going to worsen too.

While he walks to his third lesson, Donghyuck pulls out his phone for the fifteenth time in ten minutes, except that this time he has several messages from Jaemin. No matter how much Donghyuck has imagined this could happen, he’s not prepared to read what’s waiting for him.

RUN home dude, the first message reads, followed by a dozen of exclamations. Donghyuck is already cursing Renjun for kicking him out this morning, but then he moves onto the next message and the whole world freezes around him. Your brother is here, it says. Jaemin doesn’t need to add any explanation.

Donghyuck forgets to breathe. Doyoung is visiting. With Renjun on the brink of his heat, alone in Donghyuck’s bedroom. His head is going to roll off.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck has enough time to suffer all the phases before he gets home. First it’s fear; he’s inevitably scared, calls Jaemin just to have a conversation in whispers because Jaemin encloses himself in his bathroom. Yes, Doyoung is there, unannounced and very confused, but Jaemin suspects his confusion is going to shift to anger for Donghyuck. Then it’s panic that takes over him, and as he walks up the stairs of his apartment, it’s anger.

And Donghyuck has reasons to be scared, not only for himself but also because he fears this will take a toll on Renjun. It’s already hard enough for him, so if Doyoung shames them that could be the last straw to cut the deal.

Donghyuck should have known this was a bad idea for more reasons than just the obvious ones. His family is conservative, and so is Doyoung. Donghyuck has always been the black sheep, moreover because as an alpha, their parents set higher expectation for him. His brother has never been blind to Donghyuck’s antics, and that meant that they had gotten into a hundred fights since Donghyuck was a teen. All of Doyoung’s control is for his own good, Donghyuck knows that, because he’s worried about Donghyuck fighting with their parents, but he can’t stand it either way. He never stopped fucking whoever he wanted to just because his brother’s views on relationships didn’t fit in his scheme, so it had never been a real problem for Donghyuck.

It is now that Renjun is involved.

It’s a bad premonition that Doyoung hasn’t even bothered to sit down, and even worse that his beta pheromones have managed to muffle Donghyuck’s pheromones in the living room. That just maddens Donghyuck further, because this is his house, because his brother has no right to spread his scent just because he’s mad at Donghyuck.

“What are you doing here?” Donghyuck sputters, dropping his bag by the door. Doyoung has his arms crossed over his chest, and as Donghyuck strides to him, he just inflates his chest, not flinching. “You can’t just show up-”

“Donghyuck, don’t you dare,” Doyoung cuts in, eyes leveling him up and down. Donghyuck might be mad, but so is Doyoung, and as his younger brother he doesn’t have the right to disrespect him for no reason. “I think you have some talking to do.”

Donghyuck looks around the living room, reluctant of making a fight explode with his friends in the house. Jaemin is in his bedroom for sure, since Donghyuck caught sight of him escaping when he crossed the door. And though he can’t smell Renjun, since Doyoung’s scent is overlaying every other perfume, Donghyuck is aware that Renjun will be able to hear every single word. The walls are thin, and his upcoming heat boosts his senses, hearing included.

However, Donghyuck prefers a fight to a justification, so he challenges Doyoung with a, “We haven’t seen each other in months and the first thing you’re going to do is to lecture me?”

That’s what Doyoung is about to do. There’s no way that is the reason he’s here, but it’s not the first time he visits and finds yet another mess surrounding Donghyuck’s life. Donghyuck knows that his reprimanding surges from love, yet he doesn’t appreciate it.

Instead of deflating, Doyoung glowers at him and waves his hand towards the hall, where all the doors to the bedrooms are closed.

“You’re dating someone and you didn’t tell me?”

Donghyuck breathes in. It’s natural that his brother would suppose so, or at least, that he’d hope so. Donghyuck hiding a boyfriend is a much healthier theory than the truth, less disappointing.

“I’m not-”

“You’re not dating him?” Doyoung asks. That’s all he needed to confirm his suspicions, and when Donghyuck stares up at him with a pleading glance, he admits that he’s fallen for that trap. Doyoung isn’t stupid. The likeliness of Donghyuck dating someone is so low that Doyoung would have to be convinced of it instead. “You have an omega in heat in your bedroom, you better be dating him.”

Not backing out, Donghyuck retorts, “Well, I’m not.” And then he takes in Doyoung’s reaction, the disappointed sigh, the discontent. “Now what?”

In retrospective, Donghyuck can enjoy this. He’s always loved irritating Doyoung, whether it was through playing dumb games when they were kids or through fucking some stranger into the mattress. It doesn’t matter: they’re never going to reach harmony, unless Donghyuck settles down with an omega and mates and makes his parents happy.

Doyoung evaluates him, as though he could crack his head open, and spits, “Introduce him to me.”

The request is so absurd that Donhyuck scoffs, regardless of Doyoung’s severe expression.

“You already know him,” Donghyuck says, well aware that his brother isn’t expecting that. There isn’t any escape from this, so Donghyuck’s strongest weapon is to shock him with the pure truth. “It’s Renjun.”

Doyoung’s mouth falls open.

Unlike his parents, Doyoung knows every one of his friends in person, and Renjun isn’t an exception. They’re in silent contact, too, because Donghyuck uploads a ton of pictures with them and it wouldn’t take a genius to suppose that Jeno and Renjun are still together.

Donghyuck admits that it’s satisfying to throw Doyoung off, even if the outcome harms Donghyuck after all.

“Renjun?” he repeats, lowering his voice. He glances at the hall again, alarmed, and Donghyuck wonders what’s running through his head in that moment; if his little brother is betraying his best friend, if Renjun is cheating on his boyfriend,  too many ifs to reach a conclusion. “You’re sleeping with Renjun now?”

“I made a deal with Jeno.” Donghyuck shrugs, and as the horror expands on Doyoung’s face, he has the guts to smile at him. He knows that his brother is wishing he’d have never asked in the first place. “This is none of your business, really. It’s their private life, and whatever role I have in it isn’t for you to judge.”

Doyoung opens and closes his mouth several times, speechless. It’d be comical if Donghyuck wasn’t conscious that he could get this same reaction from almost everyone who he’d share this secret with. That’s why it’s a secret. People won’t understand why Donghyuck accepted, but they won’t understand either why Jeno and Renjun insist in being together if one of them can’t be satisfied.

“You’ve gone crazy,” is what Doyoung concludes, but he doesn’t sound so scandalized nor so disappointed, just too shocked to react properly.

Donghyuck can’t contradict him on that. What he’s doing is crazy, but if sliding between Renjun’s legs is crazy, then he loves embracing his own insanity.

Torn between resignation and just tiredness, Donghyuck grunts, “Why did you even come?”

That question subdues Doyoung’s anger right away. His shoulders slump, and he seems to remember what the purpose of the visit was; whatever it was, Donghyuck can intuit it wasn’t good. Perhaps just slightly better than scolding Donghyuck for fucking his best friend’s mate.

Doyoung ruffles his own hair, stressed, and then he stares at Donghyuck with a new shade of pity and answers, “You’re not a slow replier, Hyuck.” Donghyuck has to bite his own tongue not to retort, for his instinct screams at him not to let his older brother, a beta, worry about him. It stings his pride a little, but that doesn’t stop Doyoung from continuing. “I knew you weren’t feeling okay, or so I thought. It turns out you simply managed to get yourself into another mess.”

It blows Donghyuck with full force, and he’s left helpless in the middle of the living room, aware that his friends are listening to this conversation. Doyoung isn’t wrong, however. When Donghyuck doesn’t feel like talking to people, even if it’s through messaging, it’s a red flag of his emotional state. They’ve grown up together, and Doyoung would never miss it.

But Donghyuck isn’t prepared for this. His own feelings are under many layers of protection, and even with Doyoung pointing it out, he can’t decide what’s troubling him. He’s constantly tense, and perhaps that’s why he doesn’t have time to drown in his other problems to fix them.

Donghyuck lowers his head, casting his gaze to the floor. He wouldn’t mind to sit down with his brother and get psychoanalyzed, because it has helped more than once, just not now.

“I’ll call you when I’m free, fine?” he surrenders, trying to repress the knot growing in his stomach. “It’s not the right moment.”

It’s not necessary to add, for god’s sake, I have an omega in my bedroom. Doyoung understands what he’s talking about, which doesn’t imply that he approves of it, and nods at the rejection.

Donghyuck doesn’t move from his spot when Doyoung steps forward and embraces him in a hug. It’s strange, because Doyoung is hugging him for more than consoling him. It’s to read him, to inhale his pheromones and confirm that his younger brother is indeed close to a breakdown. Yet it works on Donghyuck, and he fuses into the hug like he doesn’t have anyone else in the world, like that will make the uneasiness within go away. Maybe it’s true, however. Maybe he just has Doyoung.

 

 

 

 

Renjun is the first one to step out the bedroom. All in all, Donghyuck isn’t ready to face anyone after that conversation, but he spots Renjun peeking out the room with a frightened look on his face, his hands clasping on the door frame, and he forgets about the fight with Doyoung.

They don’t speak about it. Donghyuck checks Renjun’s temperature, insists on returning to bed with him until Renjun is annoyed at him, and in the end he surrenders to Renjun. It’s evident that Renjun isn’t in heat yet, even if Donghyuck wants to sink his nose in his neck and spend the rest of the day like that, and it’s all thanks to last night. That’s why Donghyuck doesn’t scrunch up his nose at Renjun’s proposal: that they should take a walk, breathe some fresh air, eat out together.

Renjun claims that he’s going to waste too many days at home because of his heat, that it’s the only reason why he wants to go out, but Donghyuck knows that Renjun’s aim is to distract him. And he’s not afraid to admit that Renjun’s plan does soothe his nerves, or maybe it’s just Renjun. They eat in a small restaurant in the outskirts of the city, where no one will bother them, lie on the grass of a park full of children and dogs for the rest of the afternoon, and only when dusk falls upon them, they resign themselves to going back home.

Renjun holds onto him the whole day, however, soaking in his pheromones. It pleases Donghyuck in more ways than physically, but it’s surprising that even when Donghyuck is in a bad mood, Renjun can use his scent to keep his heat under control anyway.

It’s only when they’re back in the city, strolling all the way from the train station to Donghyuck’s apartment, that Renjun brings up the topic. To Donghyuck’s surprise, it doesn’t irritate him. He doesn’t mind talking to Renjun about it, and less when it includes him to some extent, because the way Renjun glances at him isn’t patronizing, or prudent, or blue.

Renjun merely holds tighter on his arm, lifts his chin to look up at him, impregnating Donghyuck’s shoulder with his scent, and whispers, “That was an argument.”

And yet it’s meaningless now, as Donghyuck clutches Renjun’s waist and leads him through the empty streets. He supposes that for an only child like Renjun, family arguments aren’t that common. Having an older brother changes the perspective, the importance of such arguments.

Donghyuck glances down at Renjun, their faces so close that he needs to remind himself that they’re in the middle of a public street.

“I’m sorry you had to hear that,” he laments, and it’s sincere. He wishes Renjun hadn’t been there to witness how his brother treats him, or to know that Donghyuck isn’t feeling that well, for that matter.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun calls him. For the first time today, he sounds troubled, and he stops on his tracks. They naturally detach, but then Renjun holds his hand, tows him back so that Donghyuck halts too. Renjun shakes his head. “I don’t care. I’m serious, I don’t care about your brother’s opinion on this.”

Donghyuck doesn’t quite believe him. He gazes down at their intertwined hands and wonders why Renjun wouldn’t care, aware that most of the world would agree with Donghyuck’s brother, would oppose to what they’re doing. But it’s hard to hurl that at Renjun, since Donghyuck would be hurting him on purpose, so he bites onto his lower lip and keeps his silence.

Renjun is sensitive, though, and can sense Donghyuck’s hesitation.

“You know the amount of shit I’ve had to hear because I’m dating a beta instead of an alpha?” he asks, softly rubbing over Donghyuck’s knuckles with his thumb. “It wasn’t just shit about Jeno, but also about me not being enough of an omega to get an alpha. About being a disgrace, a waste.”

That’s personal. Too personal. Donghyuck’s heart skips a beat, or a thousand of them, because Donghyuck can’t feel anything but his own rage, the frustration, the instinct of protecting Renjun. Looking into Renjun’s eyes is what softens him, his naturalness to share this little embarrassing secret that no omega would ever speak about out loud, in fear that it’s true.

Donghyuck acts without thinking. He drags Renjun closer, almost making him trip over himself, and then slides his hands up his back until they’re entangled in Renjun’s hair. Renjun molds against him without a protest, whether because he’s gotten used to Donghyuck or because he wants him too, and places all his attention on Donghyuck.

“That’s ridiculous,” Donghyuck tells him. His gaze roams over Renjun’s lips for a split second, but then Donghyuck frowns, overwhelmed by the fact that someone has dared to tell Renjun such horrible lies. “You could have anyone in the world.”

Donghyuck’s fingers tremble down his nape. Renjun could have anyone, even Donghyuck, but if Renjun understands the implications of his words, he doesn’t show it.

Instead he lifts his index finger and settles between’s Donghyuck’s eyebrows, making his frown disappear right away. “That’s sweet,” he mutters, an ephemeral smile flashed at Donghyuck. Then he avoids Donghyuck’s intense gaze and adds, “I never told Jeno, though. He has enough problems on his own.”

If it’s on purpose or not, Donghyuck isn’t sure, but the mention of Jeno sucks him back to reality. This is for Jeno. And Donghyuck might have the impulse of protecting Renjun, but Renjun is always going to protect Jeno first, even if he cares about Donghyuck. Jeno is his mate, his boyfriend, the love of his life.

After a pause that becomes too long for Renjun not to suspect, Donghyuck utters, “You should have told me.”

“Oh, yeah?” Renjun’s eyes crinkle at him, amusement invading his expression. He plants his hands on Donghyuck’s chest, but he doesn’t force Donghyuck away; instead, it feels like Renjun intends to close the distance. “What were you going to do about it?”

This isn’t a joke for Donghyuck, however. Renjun must have become immune to the criticism, and that still doesn’t console Donghyuck. Both of them know what Donghyuck would have done if anyone had the nerve to talk down to Renjun in his presence. Even during first year, when they bickered most of the time, Donghyuck wouldn’t have allowed it. Renjun shouldn’t have hidden it, and though he understands why he’d keep it a secret from Jeno, he could have told Donghyuck.

“Renjun,” Donghyuck sighs. He controls his own thoughts, the explicitness of how he would have reacted, because Renjun will make fun of his strong stupid alpha instinct otherwise. “If I had ever heard anyone say any of that to you, I’d have definitely gotten into trouble.”

Donghyuck swears that Renjun is satisfied, but that emotion fades away as fast as it was born, and Donghyuck can’t grasp it.

“And that’s exactly why I couldn’t tell you,” Renjun assures, as if Donghyuck’s answer was predictable from the beginning. There’s a subtle whine in his tone when he speaks again, “Playing hero doesn’t fit you, really.”

Donghyuck could put up a fight, prove that playing hero fits him as it'd fit any other basic alpha, but he doesn't want to ruin Renjun's entertained expression with his pride issues.

Donghyuck tilts his head, a grin taking over, and prompts, “And what does?”

Renjun hums, pretends to think the answer up. His gaze cuts through Donghyuck's one second later, but it's far from strong, aggressive, or scary. The air around them fills with a honeyed scent, and that's what reflects on Renjun's eyes.

“Not being so tough,” Renjun replies, stroking up Donghyuck's chest and over his collarbones. Donghyuck takes a deep breath as Renjun focuses on his mouth and finishes, “Letting me kiss you.”

It's automatic for Donghyuck too to glance down at Renjun's lips. He's wanted to kiss him for the whole day, but it wasn't appropriate then, and it isn't appropriate now either. That doesn't seem to matter anymore for any of them, and if Renjun doesn't care, then less does Donghyuck.

Breathless, Donghyuck hears himself ask, “When have I opposed to that?”

It's scarily easy to drown himself in Renjun's mouth. His lips are warm, soft, and it feels so different from kissing him in bed that Donghyuck feels a new kind of addiction creeping on his skin. It's not passionate or desperate, even if Donghyuck's excitement gets the best of him at first. But Renjun cups his jaw and leads him, draws little circles on his jaw to calm him down, and he kisses Donghyuck with care, as though Donghyuck is a fragile thing that needs to be loved.

Maybe he does, after the stress of the last few weeks and Doyoung's visit. And maybe Renjun knows that, and that's the reason he submits to him and gives him what Donghyuck isn't even asking for. Donghyuck isn't scared of dissolving into Renjun's mouth, his pheromones showing what he always masks. Renjun has already seen through him, because no one would kiss Donghyuck with so much patience, so comfortable. No one would care about him, but Renjun proves him wrong tonight, entangled on his lips in a public street, as if this is their story.

 

 

 

 

They fuck that night at home, as soon as the door of Jaemin's bedroom shuts close.

They don't have an excuse, for Renjun's heat hasn't hit yet and he's feeling well. Nonetheless, Donghyuck doesn't need one. It's too simple for them to go from light touches to sliding their hands underneath their clothes, and all of sudden Donghyuck is kissing all of Renjun, and Renjun is begging Donghyuck to fuck him. The clock runs against them, and because Renjun won't be able to reason in a matter of hours, Donghyuck decides to let him be in control.

Donghyuck lies on his back and watches Renjun ride him, watches him set the pace and fuck himself as he likes. Renjun moves slowly, but with a precision that undoes Donghyuck with every snap of his hips. He has to fist the sheets not to thrust up into Renjun, promises that he'll bear any rhythm Renjun wants for the both of them. It's worth it, because Renjun knows his own body well enough to build up the orgasm he wants, and Donghyuck loves the sight. Donghyuck is used to being in control, to pinning omegas down and fucking them until they can't take it anymore; having Renjun on him is life changing, a spectacle unleashing before him.

When Renjun comes, he does it with Donghyuck's name on his lips and his gaze locked with Donghyuck's. And Donghyuck comes next, such a warm, slow, orgasm that slices through him in waves, a never-ending orgasm that makes Donghyuck want to live in this moment forever.

 

 

 

 

The heat, Donghyuck learns, doesn't slam into Renjun out of the blue.

It's embarrassing to admit that Donghyuck's knowledge on heats doesn't expand beyond how to alleviate them, but it's the first time he's going to spend a heat with an omega from beginning to end. He could have learned from Jaemin if he hadn't been attached to the hip with Sunwoo even before Donghyuck had started living with him. He was used to seeing Jaemin slip into his room when he was perfectly sober, and step out only when his heat was over.

With Renjun, Donghyuck lives through the progress. It's very gradual, yet awing to notice the small changes in Renjun. His temperature is the most obvious one, since it has been rising for days, and it takes Donghyuck a while to grasp onto the rest of the details.

Renjun becomes clingier. He touches Donghyuck at the smallest chance, logic gone and replaced by a demanding need to feel Donghyuck up. The first time catches Donghyuck unprepared, for he's packing his bag, kneeling on the floor, when Renjun latches onto him from behind and lets out a noise of protest. Donghyuck thinks Renjun is joking around, but then he turns around and Renjun nearly crashes into him, not disposed to let go. He doesn't want sex, however. He forbids Donghyuck to leave for classes and forces him to cuddle with him for around two hours until he falls asleep on him like a baby, so deep into his dreams that he doesn't wake up when Donghyuck gets out of bed.

It's hard to get over the shock of that experience, but it helps Donghyuck to understand what Renjun needs from him. For rough sex, Renjun can use any other day of the year, and heat sex isn't merely knotting him to gratify his most basic primal side.

Donghyuck knows that omegas have to be treasured, pampered, and that they're at their weakest point during their heats. Renjun is looking for that in him, in an alpha, because unlike Jeno and Donghyuck believed, it's not just about a knot. Their nature links them in many ways, all of them part of a puzzle that is supposed to complete each other, and Renjun can't fight against that. He wants Donghyuck's affection, attention and desire, and Donghyuck can't help but want all that back too.

Donghyuck decides to toss his lessons away for a while, even if Renjun’s heat hasn’t begun, and Jaemin pulls at his ear for it. He couldn’t care less, however. Even just by talking, Donghyuck has fun with Renjun, and the whinier he gets, the more entertaining it becomes to tease him. Donghyuck knows that it’s Renjun’s hormones that disarms him from his sarcasm, that allows Donghyuck to make fun of him and get a kiss instead of a punch, but he enjoys every bit of it.

Sooner rather than later, the teasing makes the house of cards crumble. Accustomed to Renjun’s perfume, Donghyuck misses the growth in his pheromones, and one afternoon in which Renjun goes to the kitchen to get a snack, Donghyuck follows after him just to mess with him.

He would usually not be this ridiculous outside his bedroom, but since Jaemin is busy with his afternoon classes and they’re alone in the apartment, Donghyuck has little to no shame. While Renjun tip toes to reach for the cupboard, Donghyuck passes by him and slaps his butt, palm completely open, a sound that resonates all over the kitchen.

It’s not the first time Donghyuck smacks his butt, but it’s the first time that Renjun responds him with an absolute silence. It takes Donghyuck a few seconds to realize Renjun isn’t scolding him, chasing after him to take revenge, and then his contentment dies down.

Gripping the counter, Donghyuck turns on his heels to apologize, afraid that Renjun might not be in the mood for his jokes. But then his gaze falls on Renjun, his senses are invaded by his pheromones, and he’s speechless. The blush in Renjun’s face speaks for itself. He’s not even looking in Donghyuck’s direction, petrified on his spot, but he has stroked down his abdomen and onto his own crotch.

Donghyuck can’t breathe. Renjun’s reaction doesn’t make sense unless he has lost control over his own body, unless Donghyuck smacking him has pushed him to the edge and he can’t help but touching himself.

“Renjun?” Donghyuck calls him, carefully approaching from the side. “Are you okay?”

When Donghyuck sets a hand on his back, it hits him. Renjun’s pheromones have changed, and the difference is so stark that Donghyuck blanks out for a few seconds, surrenders to the open invitation Renjun’s body is sending him.

“Hyuck,” Renjun muses, but he doesn’t lift his gaze, either too embarrassed or to dumbstruck by his own reaction.

Donghyuck has the urge to smack his ass again, but he holds it back. Instead he settles behind Renjun, revels in the weak noise Renjun releases as he adjust against his back, his ass, and in how he stops breathing when Donghyuck hugs him. It’s not just a hug; Donghyuck moves his hand over Renjun’s, both on his crotch, and presses down on his dick.

Even through Renjun’s fingers, Donghyuck can feel that he’s half hard. It’s just so, so easy to rile him up in this condition that Donghyuck pities him. Because even if Renjun thinks Donghyuck is doing him a favor, this is a fantasy for him: to do whatever he wants with Renjun, and to have Renjun plead for it. He’s wired to fantasize about this.

“Should I carry you back to bed?” Donghyuck softly asks, craning his neck to look at Renjun’s profile.

It’s evident that Renjun is in heat, at last, because he doesn’t answer the question right away. His attention is on Donghyuck’s hand on his crotch, on rubbing himself against it, just so imperceptibly that Donghyuck can tell that Renjun is ashamed of it.

“I-” Renjun begins. His eyes flutter close, the flush of his cheeks intensifying, “don’t-”

Donghyuck understands him. Renjun can’t think about anything but being fucked, and he doesn’t want to wait, not even if the path to the bedroom will take a few seconds.

“You don’t care?” Donghyuck finishes for him. It’s involuntary: his voice becomes a growl, on the brink of madness, at the realization of how desperate Renjun is. And god, Donghyuck is utterly desperate too now that his pheromones are on full display, but he makes an effort to tease him and whispers, “I can’t fuck you here, baby.”

Renjun protests with a moan, and unable to fight him with words, he grinds back on Donghyuck’s dick without previous warning. Perhaps he’s expecting Donghyuck to stop him, but the moment he feels Renjun’s ass pressing against him, Donghyuck hardens his grip on him, keeps him in place. Even after Renjun has relaxed, Donghyuck strains against him, makes sure that he feels his dick through his pants, so that he learns that he can’t tease and run, tease and demand without giving.

“I said, not here,” Donghyuck repeats, firmer, until he can smell Renjun’s submission through his nose. The scent is charged with impatience and lust, and Renjun finally complies with the order, with a wonderful trace of humiliation.

Donghyuck can’t reason with his dick against Renjun’s ass, but he has enough time to comprehend why Renjun doesn’t want to go to the bedroom.

Realization whips through him, and he sounds completely wild when he says, “You want Jaemin to find you like this?” Renjun tenses up in his embrace, and before Donghyuck can stop him, he’s rubbing harder on his own palm, and then on Donghyuck’s crotch, like he can’t decide how or where to begin. Donghyuck lets him, even loosens his grip on him so that Renjun can feel him up. “To let him know how good I can make you feel, how much I want you?”

Donghyuck catches his breath. He doesn’t know what’s getting him hard, if the friction, if Renjun’s pheromones, or just the idea of subjugating an omega.

But then Renjun speaks, in a small, coy voice, and all of Donghyuck’s questions are erased.

“I want him to know you’re mine,” he admits.

Donghyuck’s ego is a beast that breathes fire, and he has to repress the impulse of grabbing Renjun’s pajamas and rip them apart by force just to fuck him there.

He knows that it’s Renjun’s omega talking, but it doesn’t matter. Renjun can’t resist the need of wanting to hog Donghyuck, to bare his teeth for his alpha or, more accurately, to go on his knees to get his alpha.

It makes so much sense. Donghyuck has two omegas at home, and while he hasn’t touched Jaemin in his whole life, Renjun ignores that. It’s in his blood to compete, to prove that Donghyuck should mark him and not the other omega around them.

Donghyuck’s body boils.

“What a jealous baby,” he manages to reply, though he doesn’t know where he’s getting the composure from. He curls Renjun’s hair around his index finger, bends over him to leave a kiss on Renjun’s jaw. Renjun tastes like paradise, and Donghyuck isn’t afraid of licking his neck a bit; Renjun is so warm on his tongue that Donghyuck unconsciously moans. “You think you’re a prettier omega than him, that you can please me better than Jaemin does?”

The implications of Donghyuck’s words shatter Renjun. It’s intoxicating to witness how his confidence breaks, how he believes that Donghyuck would choose another omega over him, that he might not be the prettiest, that Donghyuck might not take care of him after all.

Donghyuck maneuvers Renjun around, willing to see how he’s processing the teasing, and he’s welcomed by something he’d have never imagined. Renjun looks up at him with the beginning of tears, eyes wet, fists his shirt and pushes his hips forward to meet Donghyuck’s crotch again, to convince him that he should fuck him. It makes Donghyuck soften in many senses, and he has to drown a moan on the back of his throat when he feels Renjun’s hardness brush against his dick.

“Please, I need you,” Renjun whines, rapidly blinking. He’s broken, so broken that Donghyuck has to hold him tighter so that he doesn’t fall over him. His knees have weakened, perhaps just at the sensation of looking into an alpha’s eyes while he’s in heat, and Donghyuck bathes enjoys that moment of power. He’s not even trying, yet Renjun is crumbling down in front of him. “Please, please-”

When Donghyuck strokes a hand over his jaw, Renjun’s begging fades away, and he closes his eyes and tilts his head to rub on Donghyuck’s palm. Before Donghyuck can kiss him, Renjun has already opened his mouth, so red and wet that it looks like Donghyuck has kissed him a hundred times today, and so Donghyuck takes a moment to observe him.

A moan building in Renjun’s throat, Donghyuck shushes him with a soft, “I know, baby.”

He perches his thumb on Renjun’s lower lip, and Renjun parts his lips wider for him, willing to taste Donghyuck's pheromones on his mouth. Donghyuck marvels in how pliant he looks, in how well he obeys, either with words or without them.

And so, as Donghyuck bends down to trap his upper lip, thumb still holding onto the lower lip, Renjun makes a satisfied, cute noise.

Nothing compares to kissing an omega in heat, but even with that in mind, kissing Renjun feels different. It makes Donghyuck feel like the world is spinning around them, moving so fast that he's afraid of detaching from the floor and flying across the room. Renjun tastes like warm cinnamon, and his kisses melt into Donghyuck's mouth like cotton candy, leaving a strange trace of burnt sweetness. Donghyuck wonders, for a moment, how he must taste for Renjun, but all his questions disappear when Renjun slips his tongue into his mouth and a tender moan vibrates between them.

Without thinking twice, Donghyuck lifts Renjun in his embrace. Renjun doesn't hesitate to respond by clinging on his neck, arms fastened behind Donghyuck's nape with so much force that one would think he's not as weak as his heat seems to make him. The walk to Donghyuck's bedroom is oddly calm; it feels like they've done this a million times, like Donghyuck is meant to carry Renjun in his arms across his home as though they were together. Donghyuck feels like he doesn't want to ever let go, but it's just the calm before the storm, and sooner or later he will have to let go.

The storm arrives as soon as Donghyuck drops Renjun on his bed. Donghyuck doesn't know what's happening; Renjun's hands are everywhere, caressing under his clothes, grabbing at his dick without any tenderness. It's hard to reason with Renjun touching him with so much impatience, and Donghyuck tries to breathe little not to get drunk in Renjun's scent and makes does the hard job.

“Fast,” Renjun complains when Donghyuck begins to undress him, piece by piece. His top is difficult to deal with, for Renjun just wants to touch and kiss and not wait a single second to get undressed. “Please, don't tease me.”

Donghyuck breathes out, "It's fine." But it's not. He wants to tease Renjun, now more than ever, because he's at his weakest point. He promised that he'd be good to him, however, and Renjun looks at him with a pair of pleading eyes that could make anyone kneel for him. Connecting his lips to Renjun's jaw, Donghyuck mutters, “I wouldn't do that to you. You trust me?”

Renjun doesn't say anything, too busy with putting his hands on Donghyuck. He raises his hips to let Donghyuck pull his pants off, and Donghyuck grabs at his underwear too, removing everything all at once.

Today, Donghyuck has no option but to give himself a second to admire Renjun. Perhaps it's the pheromones, the heat, but Donghyuck can't take his eyes off him. There's an air of obscenity in every inch of his skin, an obscenity that can only be eclipsed by how beautiful he is. Renjun stares up at him with what resembles both embarrassment and excitement, and as Donghyuck scans him from head to toe, Renjun opens his legs for him.

It's a view to have Renjun on his back, chest inflating with little pants, hard and wet, spreading his thighs apart for him. Donghyuck wishes he could have all of him, slowly, that he could kiss and suck until Renjun's whole body was bruised with Donghyuck's marks.

Before Donghyuck can be aware of his own actions, he's unzipping his pants. Clothes are shed off even faster as Renjun sneaks a hand down his body, completely ignoring his hard dick and lubing his ass and thighs with his own slick.

“Donghyuck,” he whines, throwing his head back on the bed.

That's the invitation Donghyuck needs to break down. Renjun looks so provoking lubed up, a promise of how warm and damp he'll be for Donghyuck, and Donghyuck is guilty of just wanting to stick his dick in him like a simple alpha. When Donghyuck hovers over him, he realizes he's trembling too. It's not a good look on an alpha, but the effect Renjun has on him is so overpowering that Donghyuck doesn't have any room to feel less of an alpha.

Donghyuck sets his grip on Renjun's hip, keeping him still, and jerks himself a few times with his other hand. He's rarely this hard, but it's a good sign because he'll be able to knot Renjun without trouble, perhaps even too soon. His knot only grows when he's very aroused, and though Renjun definitely riles him up enough for it, he was afraid he’d be too nervous to knot him the first time during his heat.

But it all becomes clear with his dick rubbing against Renjun's entrance, only the head of his dick, because the mere sensation of lubing up with Renjun's slick pulls a stuttering noise from Donghyuck. He has to use all his force on Renjun, however, since he begins to move desperately when he feels Donghyuck's touch, when he catches Donghyuck giving signs of weakness. It’s a surprise to find out that Renjun is this sort of omega: submissive, but only if the alpha forces him to be, always looking for a fissure to fight for power, to get what he wants. Despite that, he can't make any noise that isn't a groan, thus he can't rush Donghyuck either.

Donghyuck presses his cock all over his inner thighs, up and down, thrusts forward just to line up with Renjun's entrance, but not enough to thrust in. He does it a few times to test his own endurance, to make sure that he won't go crazy at the pleasure of being inside Renjun, but he turns Renjun crazy instead. Renjun writhes at the teasing, blinks to push away the tears that are stacking in his eyes, and grips onto the hand that Donghyuck has set on his hip, as to ask for mercy.

Donghyuck wishes he could make him cry out of frustration, but his instinct is stronger than that. It’s just another brush over Renjun’s entrance and Donghyuck can’t help but push in, watching how Renjun engulfs the head of his dick. The noise that Renjun lets out shatters the last of Donghyuck’s constraint, and the next thing he knows is that his hips are snapping forward, his hands on Renjun’s waist to fix him on the bed.

It’s much more overwhelming than Donghyuck expected, for the both of them. Renjun gasps, scratches down Donghyuck’s forearms without realizing, and Donghyuck can barely feel the mark of his nails. He just feels the heat within Renjun, so tight and damp around him, the way their pheromones shift and mold against each other, and wants to thrust deeper. His eyes flicker up to Renjun’s face, and he revels in Renjun’s small and big reactions, in how lovely he looks while he tries to take all of Donghyuck without protesting.

“You're so pretty,” Donghyuck praises him, half of his dick inside him. Renjun can’t respond, his mouth falling open at how Donghyuck’s length is stretching him, but his gaze shyly locks with Donghyuck’s. He’s beyond breathless as he bathes in Renjun’s docility. “You're going to look so pretty around my knot.”

Renjun’s whine is muffled by Donghyuck pushing inside him. This time, Donghyuck can thrust in until their hips connect, but he falls over Renjun with a groan. That’s Renjun’s cue to hold onto him and not let go, so when Donghyuck lifts his head to look at him, Renjun brings him into a kiss. It’s messy, but Donghyuck is to blame as well, because he gets lost in Renjun’s touch as much as Renjun does, not remembering that it’s on him to guide Renjun through his heat.

“Please, move,” Renjun pleads between kisses, sounding so subdued and grateful that Donghyuck’s insides twist. “It feels so good.”

It feels good because he’s an alpha, that’s what Renjun can’t tell him. Donghyuck cups Renjun’s face with one hand, stares at him while he pulls his hips back, and then bottoms out at once. It hits Renjun so hard that he closes his eyes and moans, and Donghyuck doesn’t even have the heart to tell him how dirty he looks like that. It feels better than when Jeno fucks him, so much better, Donghyuck knows that.

Renjun falls apart under him with every thrust, and though Donghyuck tries to be soft on him, it’s not enough to please Renjun. In his heat, Renjun wants it rougher, and he wraps his legs around Donghyuck to harden his movements, to push him deeper as Donghyuck slams into him. He keeps Donghyuck there sometimes, his groans dragging, and moves his hips to rub on Donghyuck’s knot. Perhaps he thinks Donghyuck can’t notice, but the mere contact of his knot with Renjun’s skin sends him closer to chaos, and he has to tighten up his whole body not to fuck into Renjun senselessly.

He kisses along Renjun’s jaw, a tender gesture that doesn’t match his thrusts, but Renjun is too overpowered to notice the small details. Donghyuck knows that his body does though, that even if Renjun can’t pinpoint it, his kisses relax him and alleviate the pain. Donghyuck kisses everywhere he can: on his nose, on his lips, on his earlobe. He takes Renjun’s hand and kisses the inner part of his wrist, looking into his eyes, whispers sweet nothings that make Renjun close his eyes with a feverish abashment.

Donghyuck isn’t sure of when his knot starts to swell, but as soon as it does, he presses against Renjun’s ass with a level of desperation that he’s never experienced. Renjun is slick, but the knot doesn’t slip into him, not even if Donghyuck tries to force his way into him.

For a moment, Donghyuck thinks it’s too late to knot him, and Renjun must read his mind, because he mutters, “It hurts.”

Of course it does. The pain won’t fade away until Donghyuck fills him up, and if he comes inside Renjun without knotting him, in a matter of minutes Renjun will be whining for another fuck again. But Renjun is so tight around him that, even after stretching him, Donghyuck doubts his knot will fit.

Slowing his pace, Donghyuck pecks the tip of Renjun’s nose and whispers, “You’re not ready.”

And perhaps he isn’t, but if they wait any longer Donghyuck’s knot will become too big to knot him. Renjun is a mess of neediness and moaning, but he has enough reason left in him to understand what Donghyuck is warning him of.

That’s why he protests, “Please.” He levels up his chin, an unconscious move to bare his throat for Donghyuck, to tempt him. But Donghyuck looks away from that temptation, and Renjun begs, “Please, don’t do this to me.”

Donghyuck hesitates. He just has a few seconds to decide or it’ll be too late, yet he doesn’t want to hurt Renjun by stuffing his knot into him.

“You want my knot?” Donghyuck asks, and to his shock, Renjun pulls at his hair and mouths yes, yes, against his lips. Donghyuck has the impulse to bite all over his lips, to knot him while they kiss, to break one of the most important rules. And with a honest groan, he responds, “Fuck, I want to knot you so damn bad.”

Donghyuck immediately feels Renjun get wetter around his dick. “I-” Renjun begins, pushing his hips up. His movement makes him slip on Donghyuck’s cock all the way to his knot, and Donghyuck snaps downwards, pushing both of them against the mattress again. “Shit, I’ve thought about this for so long.”

Donghyuck keeps their bodies connected, rubs against Renjun’s ass until his knot is completely covered in his slick as well. Renjun unconsciously relaxes for him, despite the pants that fall off his mouth, despite how nervous and impatient he looks.

“About me knotting you?” Donghyuck asks him, and Renjun nods, too sharp to be a lie. Donghyuck manages to slip the beginning of his knot inside Renjun, but the pressure is asphyxiating, and Renjun gasps in pain at the sensation. Donghyuck breathes in,  caresses over Renjun’s cheekbone, and distracts him with a, “Baby, for how long?”

It’s strange how Renjun becomes quiet, how he stares at Donghyuck like he’s seeing him for the first time, like he’s aware of what they’re doing, who he’s with. His eyes penetrate Donghyuck, but rather than cowering, Donghyuck fights that emotion by tensing his thighs and fucking into Renjun again, until his knot is halfway in and Renjun breaks beneath him.

He doesn’t understand where Renjun takes the strength from, but swallows Donghyuck’s knot and confesses, “Since I first met you.”

It could be a lie, but it’s not. Donghyuck thrusts forward, almost by instinct, driven utterly mad by the confession, and his knot pushes past Renjun’s entrance.

Donghyuck feels his own body crumble from pleasure. He doesn’t know if it’s Renjun’s words what does the trick: he’s been thinking about Donghyuck’s knot since first year, during three damn years of dating Jeno. It’s in his nature, because Donghyuck is the alpha who is closest to him, and during a heat Renjun must have resorted to thoughts of him whether he liked it or not.

“My god,” Donghyuck groans. He places his hands on both sides of Renjun, trying to lift himself up not to crush Renjun, but his knot is so constrained inside Renjun that he can’t move. “Oh my god, Renjun.”

It’s their secret, and when Renjun brushes against his lips, Donghyuck allows him to kiss for a few seconds. But it scares Donghyuck. Renjun has always wanted Donghyuck to fuck him, and that strokes Donghyuck’s alpha ego so much that he swears he’s not going to pass another chance to knot him ever again. Not if this is how tight Renjun is, not if Renjun looks at him like he belongs to him, like he doesn’t need anyone else. 

It’s impossible to feel remorse with his knot growing inside Renjun, and Donghyuck thrusts a few times before his knot swells up so much that he can’t move.

Aware of what’s going to happen, he puts enough distance between their faces so that Renjun doesn’t have the impulse of kissing him; he fists Renjun’s dick with one hand, massages up and down right as his knot fixes Renjun in his place. The effect is immediate: Renjun comes, stuffed with knot, his gaze hooked on Donghyuck’s lips. It’s such a beautiful thing to see: an omega coming just because of his knot, spilling white all over himself, every muscle trembling and tensing with an orgasm.

For Donghyuck, coming is both a nightmare and a heaven. Knotting implies that he’s going to be coming inside Renjun for a while, in waves, but the first orgasm mercilessly cuts through him right then. He bites down on Renjun’s neck, mind blank, attempting to drown his moans there. Renjun shudders under him, lazily caresses over Donghyuck’s back as though he’s using him as an anchor to reality, and makes a content noise.

Donghyuck doesn’t come down from his high right away, and his orgasms last longer than ever. It makes him feel so vulnerable that he can just be grateful that they set rules beforehand, because while Renjun relaxes around his knot, satisfied, Donghyuck is still coming, once and once again, filling him up. He loses strength every time, feels so awfully dirty for tainting such a beautiful thing, and Renjun hums in his neck and reminds him what a good alpha he is.

Time blurs, and Donghyuck doesn’t know when he sits up, leaning back on the headboard. Renjun stays on his lap, hooked by his knot, and rests his head on Donghyuck’s collarbones. Donghyuck can’t speak at first, but he pets Renjun up and down, massages his back and his butt until Renjun’s breathing stabilizes.

“Hey,” Donghyuck calls him, stroking his hair.

Renjun’s feline eyes glance at him, a subtle smile on his lips, and Donghyuck doesn’t need to ask to know that Renjun feels safe in his arms.

“You’re so big,” Renjun mutters, indolently shifting on his knot.

Donghyuck chuckles at that, because Renjun might not be wrong, but it’s funny that’s the first comment he has after being knotted. There’s tender indulgence in his tone, and Donghyuck wonders why Renjun would speak to him like Donghyuck is his, like he’s Donghyuck’s too.

“And you’re so small,” Donghyuck teases back. He lifts his hips to prove his point, and Renjun lets out a soft hiss; he immediately draws circles on Renjun’s cheeks to soothe him. “It’ll take a while.”

That’s an understatement, but Donghyuck doesn’t want to alarm Renjun. His knot hasn’t shrunk at all yet, maybe because he’s still too excited, too intoxicated in his scent and pheromones, and Donghyuck hopes to enjoy this moment for as long as his body lets him.

“I don’t mind,” Renjun assures him. He throws his arms around Donghyuck’s neck, nuzzles closer as though they’re not close enough, and utters a coy, “Thank you.”

A different kind of comfort invades Donghyuck, so silence is his best choice. Silence, and immersing in the false pretense that he can stay like this forever, with Renjun’s tiny frame in his embrace and the strange feeling of being loved.

 

 

 

 

The rest of the heat passes in a haze.

It’s three days of bed, of fucking Renjun nonstop, of caressing him, of whispering sweet compliments and praising him. There are just a few moments of lucidity, not only for Renjun, but also for Donghyuck. He feeds Renjun, carries him to the shower and helps him clean up, sometimes in silence because they’re exhausted, but sometimes in unstoppable laughter and a lot of kisses. Renjun always pulls Donghyuck into the shower with him, claims that Donghyuck stinks too, an excuse to rub his back and mock him every time Donghyuck gets shampoo into his eyes.

Donghyuck tries not to give it too many thoughts, but as they lie down with each other, naked and their bodies entangled, he doesn’t want to imagine how empty he’ll feel when Renjun has to leave. He knows that spending a heat with an omega can be quite intimate, but beyond the nature of the process, there’s an addicting factor for Donghyuck. Every thrust inside Renjun is another link to him, another reason he wants to make Renjun happy, and overall to prove that he can indeed make Renjun happy. Every thrust builds Renjun’s trust in him too, erases the little shame that he’s still holding onto.

Renjun is sweet, but once he’s confident that Donghyuck is too into him to get mad at him, he begins to tease. He makes fun of Donghyuck’s willingness in bed, asks if he’s the best omega he’s ever fucked, says do you want me that much, alpha? and then cackles at Donghyuck’s attempts to subdue him. It works sometimes, however, and Renjun ends up on all fours moaning for him.

But then it’s all over, and the fantasy cracks and collapses.

Renjun’s heat pheromones are gone, and Donghyuck wakes up in the morning and observes the boy draped over him who, bathed in his scent, is already far away from Donghyuck’s alpha. Still, Donghyuck holds him close, pulls the covers up to protect Renjun from the cold now that his temperate has lowered. He doesn’t admit it to himself, but he’s a little bit scared. Scared of the moment Renjun stirs up from his sleep and looks at him like he used to, the connection of the heat dissipating.

That’s what drives him to abandon Renjun in bed: an urge of self-protection. It’s pretty early, but Jaemin is having breakfast in the living room and he grins at Donghyuck for the first time in days. They’ve had barely any time to talk during Renjun’s heat, and Jaemin was so concerned that he cooked for them all the time, even banged on their door to make sure that they came out to eat. It’s true that Donghyuck would have passed out otherwise, not accustomed to spend a whole heat with an omega. So as Jaemin smiles at him, he does it with a sincere tranquility, because he knows that if Donghyuck has left the room alone, Renjun’s heat must be over.

“How are you feeling?” Jaemin asks him, patting the spot next to him on the couch.

Donghyuck doesn’t hesitate to sit with him, and Jaemin immediately lifts a toast to his mouth so that Donghyuck takes a bite. It reminds him that he didn’t have dinner last night, and that Renjun must be starving as well.

Donghyuck chews on the toast, content, and under Jaemin’s concerned stare, replies, “Exhausted.”

Exhaustion has hit him at once, because the heat pheromones prevented him from feeling the true exertion of his body, adrenaline always on the highest point. Now that he has climbed down from that high, the level of tiredness is terrifying.

“You forgot to take care of yourself.” Jaemin clicks his tongue in disapproval, but he doesn’t judge Donghyuck further, because he knows that Donghyuck was too busy pleasing Renjun to care about himself. He gives Donghyuck an amicable slap on his thigh and announces, “Wait, I have something for you.”

Before Donghyuck can question him, Jaemin is jumping out of the couch and striding to his room. Donghyuck doesn’t bother to worry and decides to steal more toast from Jaemin until he returns with a bottle in his hands.

Curious, Donghyuck eyes the bottle. “What is it?”

Shoving the bottle in his hands, Jaemin orders him, “Wash Renjun with this.” But then he catches the confusion on Donghyuck’s face, and decides he deserves an explanation. “It’s the best thing to get rid of a scent, I use it when I visit my parents and I can’t show up reeking of Sunwoo.”

That’s the blow that drags Donghyuck back into reality.

Renjun smells of him, and he can’t go back home to his boyfriend in that state. Even if they don’t mean to, even if they’re conscious there’s no real issue, it’s a territorial matter. Jeno and Donghyuck will fight because of it. An alpha’s scent is much stronger than a beta’s scent, so Jeno will be pissed if he’s not able to remove it from Renjun within hours.

Donghyuck glances down at the bottle in his hands. He’ll probably have to pay Jaemin for it, and despite the way his guts twist at the thought of erasing his mark from Renjun, it’s the right choice. It’s about protecting Renjun, after all.

 

 

 

 

“Are you sure of this?”

Renjun’s reticence isn’t good for Donghyuck’s sanity. Renjun is confused when he first explains what he wants to do, but as Donghyuck speaks, his confusion becomes sorrow. Donghyuck hates that Renjun feels a duty towards him, a duty that he shouldn’t have since he isn’t Donghyuck’s omega; he can’t put that into words, however, because Renjun might not be aware of what he’s doing.

They stand in front of each other in the bathroom, the scent remover in Donghyuck’s hold, and it’s impossible for Donghyuck to hide that this makes him miserable for stupid alpha reasons. That’s what prompts Renjun’s question, or so Donghyuck wishes to assume. The other explanation – that Renjun would prefer to carry his scent with him – makes no sense, and Donghyuck doesn’t allow his ego to feed on it.

“Come on,” Donghyuck says, forcing a smile. “I stink. You don’t want to go out smelling so badly.”

The joke doesn’t convince Renjun, but Donghyuck avoids his eyes and steps forward to help him undress. After so many days touching each other’s naked bodies, both are at ease with non-sexual intimacy; so even without his heat, Renjun isn’t ashamed of stripping off and getting into the shower with him. Donghyuck isn’t either, because he’s confident in his body and there are no secrets for Renjun anymore, but his hesitation must be evident in other aspects.

They sit inside the bathtub together, Renjun between Donghyuck’s legs and his back pressed against his chest. They stay in silence while Donghyuck regulates the temperature, but Renjun caresses over Donghyuck’s thighs and plays with the water until Donghyuck scoffs at him.

Composing himself, Donghyuck breathes in. He pours water over Renjun’s head, observing how he throws his head back, and decides to treasure these last moments with him without his own worries. Renjun looks so relaxed that Donghyuck wonders if this is usual for him, to be cleaned up by another person. He keeps his eyes closed as Donghyuck washes his hair, with soft and small movements of his fingertips, and sighs in content from time to time. Donghyuck doesn’t need anything else; his alpha buzzes at the mere fact that Renjun trusts him this much, that he enjoys being babied, unperturbed.

“I’m so tired,” Renjun whispers once Donghyuck has finished washing his hair. They move onto cleaning the rest of his body, Donghyuck’s hands roaming over Renjun to lather him up, and Renjun falls back against his chest with a tiny sound. “I could fall asleep here.”

Donghyuck would love that, if it was just for the excuse that would give them to be together for longer.

“I bet,” Donghyuck agrees with a chuckle. Renjun doesn’t answer, but Donghyuck turns his head and presses a kiss on Renjun’s wet hair, so nonchalant and quick that anyone would think he regrets it. The next words come out before Donghyuck can process what he’s saying, “I don’t want you to go.”

Renjun laughs at his honesty. “I’m sure you have a line of omegas that are waiting to sleep with you.”

It’s not an exaggeration. Donghyuck could have a bunch of contenders within two days if he tried, but that’s far from the point. He’s not trying to replace Renjun, like he seems to suppose. That gives the impression that Donghyuck only wants him around to have easy sex.

“I don’t care about that,” Donghyuck retorts, and it confirms his own suspicions: he doesn’t. He ignores what the magical factor in Renjun is, but sleeping with other omegas is much colder, impersonal, a routine. Perhaps it’s because Donghyuck knows Renjun on a different level.

Renjun doesn’t tense up at that unusual confession, however. He fits the back of his head in the crook of Donghyuck’s neck to look up at him, and in complete seriousness, he whispers, “Was it that satisfying?”

After a few days with Renjun, Donghyuck has learned to distinguish when he’s just playing with him. The solemnity in his expression is a mask, and it breaks as Donghyuck groans in protest.

“Don’t tease me.” Donghyuck rubs down Renjun’s arms. It’s frightening to feel with his own touch how the soap wipes his scent off, how Donghyuck can smell it in the water that travels down Renjun’s body. It bares Renjun, somehow. It’s unnatural. Donghyuck sighs, “You know I lack self-control.”

A grin blooms on Renjun’s face, because yes, he has enough proof of Donghyuck’s weaknesses. He adjusts against Donghyuck again, so calm that Donghyuck believes it’s a silent confession that he wants to stay with him, too, even after his heat is done. It’s not possible, and it’d hurt all of them.

Renjun doesn’t speak for a while. He closes his eyes and rests on him while Donghyuck cleans his whole body, his arms, his abdomen, his legs, his neck, his cheeks, all the places where Donghyuck has peppered so many kisses that the scent has stuck like a hungry animal with its fangs. Donghyuck has to repress his instinct telling him to mark Renjun again, but it’s such a nonsensical thought that he manages to clear it away. And despite how emotionally draining the process is, Donghyuck still appreciates to have Renjun in his embrace, naked and vulnerable.

When they’re almost done, Renjun cradles Donghyuck’s head with his arm, encircling him from his chin to the crown of his head, almost like he wants to console him for renouncing to his scenting. Donghyuck lets him enjoy the moment too, lets Renjun press their cheeks together and feel the last of Donghyuck for months. It’ll be a long while until they can touch each other again, and Donghyuck memorizes the tingling sensation of Renjun’s fingers caressing from his hair to his face, to get a hold of it when he feels lonely.

“You’ve been such a good alpha,” Renjun mutters, admires. Donghyuck catches how his skin is invaded by goosebumps, but he can’t blame Renjun: from inside out, Donghyuck feels the same, all his body vibrating at the compliment. Renjun lovingly rubs over Donghyuck’s face, once and again, and says the words that shatter Donghyuck at last. “My good alpha.”

Donghyuck’s breath catches in his throat. He stares at Renjun, but he doesn’t need to: his pheromones reveal that he’s serious, that he’s not teasing him. Donghyuck is a good alpha, and that’s all he has ever wanted even though he didn’t know that until Renjun praised him. Renjun unconsciously strokes under his earlobe, right where he has bit him a hundred times during his heat, and Donghyuck fuses into his touch in desperation. Renjun is clean of his scent, but Renjun’s mark on him will remain under his earlobe, another little secret that Donghyuck has to cherish.

He’s not a simple good alpha. He’s Renjun’s alpha.

Chapter Text

Donghyuck looks up at Jaemin, hovering over him in bed, and claims, “This is a bit gross, I have to admit it.”

Apart from gross, it’s also a terrible idea. But after a whole week of avoiding Jeno, of avoiding Renjun in consequence just because Renjun’s scent is all over him and Donghyuck fears seeing Jeno’s reaction, it’s time to take matters into his own hands.

That’s how he winds up on a Saturday night in bed with Jaemin, lying on his back as Jaemin ceremoniously unbuttons his shirt. Donghyuck has been in this same situation with dozens of omegas, but not with his flatmate. It’s strange in many aspects: the familiar clothes that Jaemin is wearing, which Donghyuck hopes don’t start giving him a boner from now on because of the mental association to this moment; Sunwoo’s notable scent on Jaemin from head to toe, about to mingle with Donghyuck’s scent even if he holds it back; the calmness Jaemin undresses him with, like this isn’t new for him – like he’s comfortable with stripping Donghyuck.

At his comment, Jaemin’s fingers stop on the last button and a glare takes over his expression, “Never in my life has an alpha called me gross.”

Donghyuck would bet his life on it. Omegas like Jaemin only hear sweet talking and empty promises from alphas. Jaemin isn’t gross: he’s pretty and polite and enchanting, but the fact that Jaemin is his friend, sitting on him and about to scent him, is pretty revolting.

“There’s a first for everything,” Donghyuck retorts, a shit-eating grin on his face.

Jaemin rolls his eyes at him, and as a punishment for his lack of manners, he lowers down onto Donghyuck’s neck. That shuts Donghyuck up in a split second, fulminates all his will to tease Jaemin. It’s unfair that Jaemin can control him this way just by being an omega, but fighting against the natural wish of being scented is useless. It doesn’t matter that Donghyuck isn’t attracted to Jaemin: he loves his scent, and he loves being owned.

“Stop talking,” Jaemin still orders him, even though it’s evident that Donghyuck can’t speak anymore. Jaemin rubs his mouth under his jaw, moving down until he finds his carotid, and keeps moving around that zone until Renjun’s scent has been overlaid. “I can’t scent you if you’re being an asshole, my body just refuses to.”

Donghyuck makes an effort to relax. The process will take them a while, and he doesn’t want to make it more difficult than it already is. Jaemin doesn’t seem that bothered as he runs his hands up and down his torso, pretends that he doesn’t notice Donghyuck’s breathing speed up every time he plants a kiss on his neck.

It riles Donghyuck up to an awful extent: his body is wired to think that this is the step before sex, so he can’t help it. He has to remind himself a hundred times that this is Jaemin, that he’s doing him a big, unethical favor, and that he can’t just put his hands on Jaemin’s ass and grind against him.

“God, Sunwoo is going to get angry,” Jaemin comments after licking Donghyuck’s neck up. It makes Donghyuck shiver, but he’s not sure if it’s because of Jaemin’s taste or because he has two different omegas scents on him and his body is going haywire. “Prepare an apology.”

Donghyuck laughs a little, both out of nervousness and amusement. “Not only for Sunwoo,” he remarks.

Jaemin stalls, hands frozen and teeth bared against Donghyuck’s neck. It’d scare any other person, but Donghyuck doesn’t even falter.

“Don’t you dare, Lee Donghyuck,” Jaemin grunts.

Donghyuck is aware of the silent rule: they don’t talk about this topic. It’s a rule Donghyuck breaks often, when he gets mad at Jaemin or when they’re in a good mood and Donghyuck wants to pull pigtails, but anyhow it’s a sensitive matter for Jaemin. They don’t mention it, until they do.

It just happens that Donghyuck is in a vulnerable position, though, naked and at the mercy of an omega, so his mind pushes him to continue to gain territory.

He mischievously whispers, “I can’t wait to see Jisung’s face when he realizes he has to compete against another alpha.”

Resigned, Jaemin stops, shifts on Donghyuck’s lap to be able to glower at him. “This isn’t a damn competition,” Jaemin grumbles. It’s not a competition for Jisung and Sunwoo, he means, because Sunwoo already has him tied to him in ways Jisung can’t even dream of. Then, Jaemin frowns down at him and warns, “Don’t get hard.”

It’s easier said than done, but Donghyuck is innocent of this, since he’s not getting hard on purpose. Perhaps if Jaemin didn’t move so much, if he didn’t go for his weakest spots – which makes sense, since Renjun found them too and that’s where his scent became the strongest – Donghyuck could restrain his own lust better. It’s almost an automatic response.

“I’m trying,” he assures Jaemin, but the daze that slips into his head when Jaemin goes on with the licking overpowers him. Donghyuck closes his eyes, imagines different scenarios that have nothing to do with sex and omegas and his friend scenting him. The distractions don’t work: his body is dumber, simpler than that, and Donghyuck hears himself ask, “Would you let me fuck you?”

Jaemin scoffs, head bumping his jaw from beneath. “No.”

“I don’t believe you,” Donghyuck says, so fast that his words muffle Jaemin’s negative.

Much to his luck, Jaemin doesn’t reproach his foolishness. He understands what’s going through Donghyuck’s head, and after Donghyuck telling him he was gross, he surely can enjoy  the reversal of intentions. It was so quick that it’s a bit humiliating for Donghyuck too.

Jaemin kisses over his collarbones, still with a smile on his lips, and says, “Disgusting. When did your ego get this big?”

Donghyuck doesn’t reply. He’s always had a big ego, but not big enough to tease Jaemin about having sex with him. And for once, Donghyuck is perfectly aware of who inflated his ego, when, and how.

Noticing his silence, his lack of bickering, Jaemin casually asks, “What is it?”

Donghyuck needs to share the truth. It’s a secret, yes, even though he never promised Renjun that it would be. Silence is just the most prudent choice, but the weight of that secret is bringing Donghyuck down and its claws are slowly dragging him into madness. He’s certain that Jaemin won’t betray him, and perhaps Jaemin already knows; Renjun might have shared it with him.

In a mutter, Donghyuck confesses, “Renjun told me that he had wanted me to knot him since we first met.”

There must be an unusual seriousness in his tone, because Jaemin doesn’t suspect that it’s a joke for a single moment. He halts, lips still latched on Donghyuck’s skin, and rises again with a carefulness that wasn’t there before.

When Jaemin looks into his eyes, Donghyuck feels judged. Not because Jaemin seems to resent that statement, but because he seems to understand Donghyuck.

“I see,” he sighs. He places his hands on Donghyuck’s abdomen to prop himself up, suddenly very sober considering what he was doing one second ago. “It’s in his nature, Donghyuck, don’t take it too seriously.”

It should be a feasible argument, and Donghyuck could grip it for consolation, to clear his thoughts away. But he knows better.

“That’s not true,” Donghyuck says back, a bit irritated at himself and his friend. Jaemin is just trying to help him, yet his stubbornness and pride won’t let Jaemin go too far with his lies. “You don’t want me at all unless you’re in your heat, so why would Renjun want me?”

A cascade of excuses crosses Donghyuck’s mind, but none of them are fitting. And considering how Jaemin cups his face with an amount of aggressiveness improper of him, his patience gone and his panic on, he doesn’t think any excuse will convince Donghyuck either. Those secrets shared during a heat are sincere, drawn out by the false sensation of security and the desperation. Renjun didn’t make that up to please Donghyuck.

“Look at me,” Jaemin commands him, noticing how Donghyuck is incapable of focusing on him. Donghyuck obeys, for he has no other option after trusting Jaemin with this. Jaemin sounds a bit scared when he says, “Donghyuck, that’s a dangerous path you’re taking.”

It’s Donghyuck’s alpha who is paving that path. The part of him that screams Renjun wants me, and at the same time whispers take him, because he wants you. Renjun doesn’t belong to him, however; Donghyuck is the living proof that letting someone fuck him doesn’t imply love, doesn’t imply more than sex itself.

Jaemin might be right. It’s in Renjun’s nature to want him in a physical way. In Donghyuck’s perspective, Renjun has always been an innocent, romantic boy that was only interested in serious relationships, but he’s learned that’s far from truth. Renjun wouldn’t have slept with Hangyul otherwise. It’s just that he loves Jeno and they want to be together, no matter if Renjun’s instinct tells him to get wet and hard for a guy like Donghyuck. Renjun isn’t innocent, but he’s still in love.

“Sorry,” Donghyuck muses at last. Jaemin seems to relax at his surrender, and he gives him a few comforting pats on the chest to reward him. Donghyuck eyes him, feels Jaemin’s weight shift on him, and the question slips out of his mouth, “Can I touch you?”

Jaemin chuckles, understanding that Donghyuck isn’t talking about normal, friendly touching. Understanding that Donghyuck won’t feel any shame for using him to alleviate his Renjun withdrawals.

He leaves a kiss on Donghyuck’s cheek, smiling wider as Donghyuck fists the sheets on both sides of his body, and reminds him, “We’re not fucking. You can’t touch me.”

 

 

 

 

Jaemin’s scenting does wonders, but it’s a ticking bomb.

At first Donghyuck is content, because his classmates don’t point out that he reeks anymore, he can have normal conversation with his professors without having them discreetly sniff the air around them, and most important, he can concentrate when he’s alone. Washing his sheets until Renjun’s trace is erased is a harder task, however, because he doesn’t want to. It’s Jaemin who forces him to change the sheets again and again, and as time passes, Donghyuck’s insomnia hits him again.

He dreams about Renjun all the time, wakes up in the middle of the night, sweating, alarmed, as though Renjun was next to him and needed his help. Most of his dreams aren’t sexual, but that’s the worst of them. They’re uncomplicated dreams about holding Renjun’s hand over the bed, his pinky interlaced with Donghyuck’s thumb; about feeding Renjun with his own spoon; about being the target of his smiles, about teasing Renjun until he’s calling him stupid. And Donghyuck stirs from his dreams like they’re nightmares, his heart racing and a distasteful sensation in his chest.

Swallowing his suppressants seems to work, so he overdoses a few times by accident, and Jaemin decides to take them away from him. Suppressants aren’t candy, Jaemin tells him, and he’s right, because they might repress his dreams, but they don’t repress his conscious thoughts anyway.

And then, like Donghyuck has expected, the solution of carrying Jaemin’s scent on him collapses. The breakdown comes in the form of a volleyball ball thrown at the back of his head during practice. It’s not a mistake, because the ball hits him with so much force that Donghyuck passes out for a few seconds, and when he blinks his eyes open, he’s on the floor of the volleyball court.

All his teammates are surrounding him, but his sight zeroes in Sunwoo, who is covering his mouth in horror and, over all, in regret. All the pieces fit in Donghyuck’s mind: he doesn’t know for how long Sunwoo has been bearing the need to confront him because of Jaemin’s scent, but he has clearly reached his limit.

They talked about it, however. Jaemin swore that he had explained the situation to Sunwoo.

“Dude,” Donghyuck groans, incredulous. Yangyang, their captain, is helping him to sit up with a concerned look in his eyes, grabbing his face to check his pupils. However, Donghyuck is too fixed on Sunwoo, “Are you serious?”

“I’m sorry!” Sunwoo exclaims, making a few of their teammates turn to him in surprise. An apology coming from an alpha is an oddity, but an apology from alpha to alpha is almost a myth. Anyone else would have told Donghyuck to man up and stop writhing on the floor like a worm. “I didn’t do it on purpose.” He tilts his head, confused by his own statement, and clarifies, “Not as in, consciously on purpose.”

Donghyuck gets the gist of it. Sunwoo’s alpha might have caught a sniff of Jaemin in the middle of the practice, and before Sunwoo could stop himself, the ball was on him and his arms were redirecting it towards Donghyuck with ill intentions. No one in their team would make such a pathetic shot, it would hit the net at least.

One hour later, when he's sitting on a hospital bed, he just glares at a guilty looking Sunwoo and curses, “Damn alphas.”

Donghyuck wasn't disposed to go to the hospital, for it was an exaggeration, but Yangyang insisted that as the captain, it was his duty to make sure the loss of consciousness wasn't anything more dangerous than it seemed to be. Donghyuck couldn't reason against that, and so they had paid a visit to the hospital. After a very embarrassing examination the doctor had insinuated Sunwoo and he had fought, which wasn't technically untrue, but they had assured her that it wasn't the case.

And now Sunwoo sits with him on the hospital bed, waiting for the results and the confirmation that they can go home, with the nerve of using pheromones that are meant to mark territory around him. Donghyuck understands that Sunwoo can't control his pheromones, that it's an intrinsic response, but he wants to smack him for his behavior.

“You could have chosen another omega for this shit, not Jaemin,” Sunwoo defends himself for the fifth time, having the decency to pat Donghyuck's thigh as an apology. “Don’t look at me like that, it was a reflex.”

Donghyuck is about to reply that he has the sudden reflex of choking him with a pillow, but then Jaemin and Jeno appear by the door, and Donghyuck only has one second to insult whoever gave them the heads up when he catches sight of Renjun behind them.

Considering he has a concussion, this is too much to deal with right now. Sunwoo sends him a pitiful glance, enough for Donghyuck to guess that he called Jaemin, and that naturally Jaemin called Renjun. It's shameful at best, pathetic at worst. He hasn't met up with either Renjun or Jeno in weeks, since all of them are pretty busy, and the first time they're seeing him is in his volleyball uniform, looking like he has been run over a car.

It takes Jaemin one glance to inspect Donghyuck's state, and one second to stride to Sunwoo with a fury proper of a mythical creature.

“What did you do to him?” he nearly screams, slapping Sunwoo on the arm. Sunwoo shrinks in himself, like a kicked puppy, and Donghyuck empathizes with him when Jaemin starts slapping him with every word, “Stupid alphas. Stupid possessiveness. Stupid-”

If anything, it's funny to witness an omega reprimanding an alpha. Donghyuck isn't stupid; he knows that in serious relationships, mates fight like equals, but he has never reached that level of emotional intimacy with any omega for them to treat Donghyuck without respect.

Dismissing the chaos taking place in the room, Jeno settles a hand on Donghyuck's knee and comments, “You look a bit dumber now.”

“Thank you, Jeno, I love you too,” Donghyuck groans, but he can't conceal the idiotic smile that paints his face. He can count on Jeno not to console him after losing consciousness, even if he's worried about him. “You guys are so dramatic, you shouldn't have come.”

Renjun locks eyes with him, and for a second Donghyuck believes that Renjun can understand his feelings without words, that just by looking at him, all their shared secrets are in danger. Renjun doesn't catch the hints, however, because he's unaware of his power to take Donghyuck's breath away, to make him kneel. Even with his cap hiding his hair and half of his face, Donghyuck drinks from his features like a thirsty animal – because that's what he is, a sad, hopeless animal.

“Got to make sure that we're with you in your last moments,” Renjun chirps. Instead of staying behind Jeno, he jumps next to him on the bed and lifts his hand to touch the back of Donghyuck's head. Donghyuck has no idea how he can intuit where his wound is, but Renjun's fingers caress right over the bump that has swollen in his nape, and Donghyuck hisses out loud. “It was a hard blow, huh?”

It's odd to detect a sincere, profound worry in Renjun's eyes, and Donghyuck feels beyond uncomfortable. It reminds him of Renjun taking care of him when he had exhausted himself, except this time Jeno is present and Donghyuck fears, from the pit of his stomach, that Jeno will read through Donghyuck's feelings.

He wonders if Renjun has always treated him this way, if it was just a matter of Donghyuck not paying attention.

“Yeah,” Donghyuck answers at last, after a silence that goes for too long to be normal. But Donghyuck recovers in time, recovers so well that he starts smelling Renjun's scent again, as though his concussion hadn't been blocking his alpha sense just seconds ago, and has to come up with another topic to distract himself. “We have a match this weekend, but they forbade me to play until we’re sure the hit didn’t affect me that much.”

Donghyuck holds his breath in, eyes nervously shifting between Jeno and Renjun. Perhaps he's paranoid, because Jeno just smiles at him in sympathy, aware of how important volleyball is for Donghyuck, not noticing his weird behavior. Donghyuck's guts twist like a dying snake, guilt and possessiveness interlacing in a battle.

However, the spark in Renjun's eyes transforms into something Donghyuck can't recognize, and he draws his hand back, breaking physical contact with him. It's so evident that he's caught Donghyuck's change that Donghyuck feels exposed, even if he's just vulnerable to one person in this room.

“Do you know what that means?” Renjun asks him, faking a smile that anyone but Donghyuck would buy. Jeno would be able to tell that it's just a façade too, but he's too busy observing Donghyuck to give his boyfriend enough attention. “That you can come drink with us because you don't have to worry about your match.”

It's both amazing and terrifying that Renjun is inviting him to drink for once. Donghyuck must give the impression that he really needs to get drunk, because otherwise Renjun would never lead him to the wrong path. Or maybe it's just an excuse, a strategy to divert Donghyuck's attention from the way Renjun is baited to look at his thighs again and again, the way Donghyuck's volleyball shorts don't cover him properly.

Donghyuck is used to being ogled at, especially during matches, since some students attend only to watch pretty boys play. Yet coming from Renjun, this is a novelty. It's lewd, immoral, and regardless of Jeno's presence, his alpha sing-songs at the display of interest.

Donghyuck can't turn off such an invitation, so he ignores the warning look Jaemin shoots him, and grins at an expectant Renjun.

“I think I might grow a liking for getting injured, then,” he concludes, and as easy as breathing, Renjun mirrors his smile.

It's the first time Donghyuck sees his own happiness reflected on someone else's face.

 

 

 

 

There’s no use in lying to himself: Donghyuck is terrified.

It’s just a night out with his friends, one of a thousand, but anxiety swallows him as soon as he’s free from his assignments. He sits at home on Friday, not answering any texts from his friends and thinking up excuses to bail out from the plan.

This isn’t new for Donghyuck: he has slept with omegas and faced their – usually alpha – boyfriends afterwards, even a few girlfriends that were completely unaware of which way their boyfriends swung. But it was fun, thrilling, a boost to his ego.

With Jeno in the puzzle, Donghyuck feels like vomiting. He doesn’t understand why he’s so nervous, because it was just sex, because Jeno can’t possibly intuit if Donghyuck crossed dangerous lines or behaved like a mere cold piece of meat to satisfy Renjun. They can pretend that their kisses weren’t overly sweet, that Renjun didn’t caress him with an affection that was just a utopia for Donghyuck before that, that they didn’t do much more than just fucking.

His consolation is that he won’t have to be alone with them, since Jaemin, Jisung and Mark will accompany them, and at the last moment one of Renjun’s best friends, Yukhei, decides to join too. He just has to keep his distance from Renjun not to give himself away, and since Sunwoo will be resting for the match, Donghyuck can stick to Jaemin until they’re sick of each other.

They meet up at their favorite bar, a place that at this point of their lives they should avoid considering how much they’ve embarrassed themselves there. It’s a simple bar near campus that plays old popular songs and has a snooker room that Donghyuck adores. When he arrives with Jaemin, everyone else is already drinking, and Donghyuck takes a moment to deliberately stare at Renjun from afar.

Jeno and Renjun have always been the ray of stability among them, and as Donghyuck observes them, he can understand why. No matter how many times Donghyuck has slept with Renjun, both of them look as happy as they were after their first date. The only difference is that Jeno looks much more mature and Renjun's features have sharpened to be less childish, but still delicate. Their happiness remains untouched; the way they stare at each other, with that glint in their eyes that only a few lucky ones get to experiment, a glint that no one has ever looked at Donghyuck with.

The false sensation that Donghyuck isn't interceding in a sacred relationship dims out; that strange belief that he has a right to have Renjun. He doesn't. Donghyuck is a million light years from being able to compare to Jeno. He has nothing to offer to Renjun apart from sex, perhaps because that's all he can offer to everyone, not just to Renjun.

But Donghyuck doesn't regret the way he built himself. His tendency to close up and not allow people to dig his heart out is what saves him now, what saves him from turning around and deciding that he can't do this, that he can't share Renjun – even if Renjun is being shared with him instead. It's what makes him smile at his friends as they approach them instead of hiding behind Jaemin's evidently fake act of eagerness.

“Hello, baby,” Jeno greets him with a cheeky smile, raising his glass to wave at him. Then he points at Jaemin and adds, “Hello, babier baby.”

Donghyuck laughs at that, though deep inside he's too worried about not sitting next to Jeno and Renjun, so he discreetly pushes Jaemin towards them. On the other side of the table, Yukhei and Mark grin up at them, and Mark pats his thigh when Donghyuck slips on the bench with them. Jaemin sits besides Jeno, cutely rubs his head on his shoulder as a greeting.

“Excuse me, I'm the babier baby here,” Donghyuck protests, but Jeno just rolls his eyes at him.

Renjun strokes Jeno's back, as to console him for having to hear Donghyuck's whining, and Donghyuck exchanges a significant smile with him.

Then, Renjun signals to Yukhei and asks Donghyuck, “This is Yukhei, do you remember him?”

He wonders why Renjun wouldn't ask Jaemin, too, but he supposes that Yukhei is too much of a striking alpha for an omega to not remember him. Even though none of them are overly familiar with Yukhei, the first encounter left a good impression on them. Donghyuck had mistrusted him before that, because Yukhei had appeared in Renjun's life only last year, and usually alphas don't stick around mated omegas unless they have friends in common, as discriminatory as that is. But Yukhei did, and Donghyuck had needed some convincing not to resent him.

Yukhei was tall, funny and athletic, and Donghyuck's instinct, up to this day, still registers him as competition.

“Of course.” Donghyuck leans over the table to glance at Yukhei, and when Yukhei sends him an adorable smile, Donghyuck winks at him. “I never forget an alpha.”

Yukhei seems to find that comment very funny, a high-pitched laugh piercing across the table, but Mark pinches Donghyuck’s leg under the table and Jaemin, in front of Donghyuck, kicks him.

“How primitive of you,” Renjun complains, though he curiously eyes Yukhei’s reaction.

There are many primitive traits in him, Donghyuck wants to tell him. The need of tugging Renjun out of Jeno's grasp and fuck him right there, for starters, despite how little sense that makes. And Renjun isn't free from his own slavery, because otherwise his boyfriend would have never had to resort to Donghyuck to ease his sexual needs. He would have never fucked Donghyuck outside his heat, that night he opened his legs just because Donghyuck was sad and his omega instinct must have influenced him to comfort him, to make him feel better in the only possible way he could offer.

That's why Donghyuck limits himself to arch his eyebrows at Renjun, and though Renjun doesn't seem to get the message, he understands the defiance in his eyes and looks away. It's a small win for Donghyuck, because Renjun's obedience happens so naturally that he doesn't have time to process that for once, it's Donghyuck who controls Renjun.

For Donghyuck, it's a relief to find out that his thoughts stay put as the night passes, as drinks roll one after another and his tongue loosens. He has much to say, yet nothing comes out. Perhaps because he's surrounded by friends, because deep within he doesn't want to hurt them, or upset them, or ruin the beautiful bond they've created. It's all so vulnerable, Donghyuck knows that.

“I haven’t gone to one of your matches in ages,” Jeno points out hours later, when the music of the bar has deteriorated and people are too drunk to dance.

Besides Yukhei, Mark and Jaemin, there aren't many people withstanding, but Donghyuck finds the combination very funny. None of them can dance very well, but Yukhei is especially hilarious given his size. Despite how entertaining their drunk spectacle is, Jeno's words draw Donghyuck's attention back to their table, where Donghyuck has unfortunately ended with the only two people he didn't want to be with tonight.

Jeno glances at Renjun, who is distractedly spinning his glass in his hands, and elbows him for some attention. “We should do it sometime, what do you think?”

“Sure,” Renjun accepts without missing a beat. The smirk he sends Donghyuck’s way would offend any alpha, but Donghyuck is used to dealing with his antics. “I’d love to see how you get your ass kicked.”

Donghyuck drinks from Renjun's inebriated expression before deciding that it's not worth it to fight back. Not with Jeno between them. Whatever Renjun's aim is by pulling Donghyuck's pigtails, it's too dangerous. It wasn't as risky before, when they were nothing but questionable friends, but it is now that any sort of teasing feels like flirting. The sensation of discomfort in Donghyuck’s guts is never a good sign.

“Rude. I’m the king of the court, I don’t get my ass kicked,” Donghyuck sticks his tongue out at him, and Renjun pulls a disgusted face. With a satisfied smile, Donghyuck goes back to Jeno and returns the interest, “How’s your internship going?”

If Jeno's reaction isn't enough of an answer, the glower in Renjun's face is.

“My boss is an alpha,” he says, expression darkening. “A fucking egocentric scumbag that is making my life a living hell.”

That doesn't come off as a surprise. Alphas are the worst rank to have as a superior, and Donghyuck is conscious of that, even if it describes his own nature too. When you're made to order around, and on top of that, you reach a position which requires and allows you to order around, it can be overbearing for everyone else.

But for that same reason, because Donghyuck understands alpha behavior better than Jeno, he can lend a hand.

He taps his fingers on the table, pensive, and mutters, “How old?”

“In his thirties.”

Still young enough to be lured by a pretty omega, Donghyuck realizes. His eyes fix on Renjun, who looks confused at Donghyuck's question, but doesn't comprehend his intentions until he speaks again.

“Maybe you should take Renjun there,” Donghyuck advises, nonchalant, as if it's the most ordinary solution to a terrible boss.

Both Jeno and Renjun need a few seconds to follow his logic. Donghyuck supposes that the difficulty lies on how they’re so in love that they would never consider using each other for an unethical purpose. Jeno looks sort of horrified, but on the contrary, Renjun’s semblance contorts into amusement as he processes what Donghyuck is hinting.

 “You want Jeno to use me as bait?” he repeats, placing his drink on the table with a loud thud.

“He’s your boyfriend, you should want to help him!” Donghyuck retorts. He scans Renjun’s reaction to make sure that he’s not about to snap, that Donghyuck isn’t coming off as an objectifying prick. The reality is that, even if Renjun hasn’t manipulated an alpha in a long time, he used to do it all the time when they were younger. He supposes that out of respect for Jeno, Renjun stopped showing off his skills. “If his boss thinks that you two are friends and Jeno is the nexus to get to you, he’ll start treating Jeno like a little flower.”

Donghyuck is certain of that. Renjun would only have to show up one day after Jeno’s shift is over, let himself be seen, no need to exchange words with Jeno’s boss. A mere smile, a mere glance would be enough to spark his interest.

Curious, Renjun whips his head to Jeno and asks, “Do you agree?”

Jeno’s hesitation is so transparent that Donghyuck feels a little bad for him.

“I mean,” he begins, swallowing. He dedicates Donghyuck a resigned look, as though only he can guess what’s going on in his head. And Donghyuck does. “I don’t think it’s a crazy theory.”

But using Renjun so blatantly leaves him with a clear sensation of guilt. Perhaps it reminds him that Renjun is meant to be with an alpha, that it would be way easier. Jeno can’t express that out loud, however. Both Donghyuck and Renjun would scold him for it, wouldn’t allow him to doubt himself just because he’s a beta, regardless if he’s right or not.

Renjun pets Jeno’s hair, a tender smile blooming as he calms his boyfriend. “I can do that,” he assures him. “Alphas are so easy to seduce.”

Donghyuck lifts his eyebrows at the clear attack, ignoring Jeno’s giggle, and fires at Renjun a harsh, “Fuck you.”

Instead of fighting, Renjun leers at him, aware that Donghyuck will eat anything from his hands whenever Renjun wants to. Donghyuck makes a mental note of remembering this for the next time he can put his hands on Renjun, because he’s not easy, he’s just weak for Renjun. And Renjun, beneath his unaffected front and his perfect relationship, is just as weak for him.

 

 

 

 

Fuck you is exactly what Renjun texts him the next morning.

Donghyuck has fought with Renjun so many times that a text like that isn’t shocking anymore, but the lack of context is. Regardless of his excessive amount of pride, Donghyuck can recognize his faults, but now, sitting on the bleachers of the volleyball court, he can’t recall a mistake that could have angered Renjun in a matter of hours.

Jaemin, next to him, tears his attention away from the match and peeks at his phone before Donghyuck can hide it. Donghyuck ignores his attempt, though Jaemin shamelessly squints at him after catching Renjun’s name on the screen. For the first time since their deal started, Donghyuck wonders if Jaemin and Renjun have talked about the experience of spending his heat with Donghyuck. If Renjun has complained. If Jaemin knows that Donghyuck is too vulnerable to this, too, that Renjun might not be the only one with a dilemma.

Unable to focus on the match, Donghyuck answers Renjun with a series of question marks. That’s better than pretending that he can read Renjun’s feelings through a phone – Donghyuck has learned that the hard way, trying to play the role of a perfect, sensible alpha with other omegas.

Given that Renjun doesn’t seem to be online anymore, Donghyuck takes a deep breath and decides to pay his teammates some attention. They’re losing the game, and it’s frustrating for many reasons, but especially because Donghyuck can’t do anything to collaborate. And yet, the match, Jaemin’s disappointed expression because this is the first match he attends in a long while, and the evident distress within the team are the last of Donghyuck’s worries when his phone vibrates in his pocket again.

This time, Jaemin openly glares at him as he fishes his phone out, conscious of who is messaging him. Donghyuck is too stubborn, and though he can’t stand the thought of ignoring Renjun, he has to admit he almost chokes on his own saliva when he reads the reply.

I’m outside the court, Renjun has sent him.

Before Donghyuck’s imagination can spike with a dozen reasons why Renjun would be here, he’s already standing up. It’s a reflex, but he jumps up so fast that he startles Jaemin and a few other guys around them.

“Where are you going?” Jaemin asks him, softly tugging on his sleeve, and blatant suspicion in his tone.

“To the bathroom,” Donghyuck lies. He cares little if Jaemin believes him or not, for his mind is already far away from here, from the match and his friend. With a flying kiss, Donghyuck teases him, “Don’t miss me.”

It’s difficult to not act like he’s in a rush, though the excuse of going to the bathroom would back him up in that case. Donghyuck’s heart beats so hard that it resonates in his eardrums, blocking any other noise; the cheers, the voices, the screams of effort from his teammates become mute to him. And then the fresh air hits him, and outside the court, right by the door, he recognizes Renjun.

Donghyuck would be a fool if he refused to admit that Renjun is angry at him.

There are just a few instances in which Donghyuck has seen him so worked up; when Jeno drank until he was on the edge of an ethylic coma, or for that matter, when Donghyuck broke up his arm because he had to jump off a balcony not to get caught in the wrong room, with the wrong person. The scowl painting his beautiful features kills any urge Donghyuck has of smiling at him, of feeling happy because it’s the first time they’re alone since his heat.

And it’d be unfair to Renjun to use his alpha pheromones to soothe him, so Donghyuck decides to grab his hand and lead him to the locker room. Renjun almost shakes his grip off at first, until he realizes that Donghyuck intends to make this conversation, no matter what is about, private, and he seems to agree with that.

The locker room is plagued by bags everywhere, both from Donghyuck’s team and from the opposite team. It’s embarrassing on a personal level, because Donghyuck is just as much of a disaster as his teammates, but leaving a good impression on Renjun is the last of his worries. God, Renjun already knows him better than anyone else, except for Jaemin and Jeno. Donghyuck can’t pretend to be a decent person.

Donghyuck turns Renjun around and makes him sit on the bench, right below his locker. Renjun doesn’t look like he wants to sit down; he looks like he wants to choke Donghyuck, like he wants to cry, like he wants to scream at him all at the same time. And when Donghyuck kneels in front of him, he places his hands over Renjun’s trembling thighs and feels his anger through his pheromones. It scares him, though it shouldn’t. He shouldn’t care so much about Renjun’s feelings towards him.

“What’s wrong?” Donghyuck asks him, looking up. He caresses his thighs, as to comfort a Renjun that doesn’t seem to harbor any mercy for him. “Why are you angry at me?”

Renjun doesn’t bother to contradict him. His pheromones speak for him. Before Donghyuck, he gives the impression of crumbling down, for his anger can’t be as potent with an alpha around. It must be frustrating for him, but Donghyuck can’t help him control that part of his nature, that innate tendency to balance his emotions in front of an alpha.

So Donghyuck gives him the only thing he has: time. After a long silence, Renjun shoots, “What sort of game are you playing?”

But then his voice dies down, his eyes swell with the beginning of tears, and Donghyuck can’t feel anything but panic. He has never made Renjun cry, but even if he had tried, Renjun has always been as rough as Donghyuck himself. God, he’d never hurt Renjun on purpose, but he doubts Renjun is easy to hurt.

“Hey,” Donghyuck shushes him. It’s inutile to hide his concern, a concern that grows at Renjun’s attempts to repress his own breakdown.  Renjun presses the palm of his hand against his face, embarrassed of his own reaction, but Donghyuck needs him to speak up, so he cups Renjun’s face and whispers, “Breathe.”

Renjun follows his order, little puffs of air escaping past his lips. It’s tricky that Donghyuck’s touch manages to stabilize him, but Donghyuck can tell that Renjun prefers that tiny manipulation to bursting into tears. It would humiliate him, and Donghyuck doesn’t want to make him feel that way. Donghyuck waits and waits, until Renjun can indeed breathe again without Donghyuck’s pheromones on him.

Once Renjun recovers, his gaze doesn’t fall with so much weight on Donghyuck, like his madness has started to evaporate. Like they’re face to face, as equals, and there’s no need to fight, because Donghyuck will listen to him.

“What was that last night?” Renjun says then, his question weakened by the empty locker around them, an air full of other alphas’ pheromones asphyxiating them.

Donghyuck’s response isn’t immediate. He looks into Renjun’s eyes, ponders if there’s a right answer or Renjun prefers the truth. Not even Donghyuck knows the truth. He objectified Renjun last night, and though Renjun has the right to objectify himself if he wants to, Donghyuck shouldn’t have crossed that line. Renjun was too drunk to realize the implications of Donghyuck’s proposal, of what that said about their relationship.

And Donghyuck is aware of why he did it: because he was powerless, because he couldn’t do anything to break Jeno and Renjun apart; because shaming Renjun was the only way to convince himself that he didn’t mean anything to him.

That’s such a big mirage, Donghyuck realizes. He would never be on his knees for a person he didn’t love, and Donghyuck can’t decipher how he loves Renjun, but the evidence is there, in his sore knees against the locker room’s floor.

“I wasn’t playing any games, okay?” Donghyuck replies at last. But that’s not enough, since Renjun’s gaze hardens, not accepting the statement without an explanation. Donghyuck understands him: Donghyuck isn’t risking anything but a good fuck, at least in Renjun’s perspective. Renjun thinks this is a game for him, and Donghyuck can’t let him continue on the wrong, so he inhales all the courage possible and confesses, “It’s fucking hard to be with you when Jeno is around, you know? I’m trying. I’m trying very hard.”

Those thoughts have been sheltered within his head all this time, and speaking them out loud turns them into the ruthless reality. Donghyuck breaks the eye contact, unable to bear with the shade of surprise across Renjun's face. The atmosphere takes a new route once the truth is out in the open, but Donghyuck isn't sure if he's more comfortable with Renjun's pity or with his anger.

Donghyuck lets his hands rest on Renjun's legs again, and since he doesn't want to drink from Renjun's emotions, he drags his stare down. The silence is long, but not endless. When the world moves again, when Donghyuck's heart beats again, it's because Renjun cradles his head on his lap. It's such a gentle invitation that Donghyuck doesn't have time to think if it's a good idea or not; he lays his head on Renjun's lap, face sunk between his legs, and revels in the feeling of Renjun's caresses.

“Jeno is your best friend,” Renjun mutters, as if that should solve all of Donghyuck's troubles.

Renjun can't imagine that, precisely because Donghyuck loves Jeno, facing him is a torture. Donghyuck doesn't want to let go, doesn't even want to consider those words Jeno told him when they made the deal – that he could regret sleeping with Renjun and break the deal if it was necessary.

“That’s why,” Donghyuck says. Only that. He rubs his face on Renjun's pants, because Renjun smells so nice that Donghyuck hopes to bring a little piece of him home. With Renjun's fingers entangled in his hair, he relaxes enough to whisper, “I’m sorry my idea bothered you last night.”

It's an idea that could still work. And in fact, Renjun hasn't said that Jeno and he have discarded it. It's just the mere fact that Donghyuck forced an objectifying image on Renjun that belittled him, and he's at fault for that. Donghyuck doesn't want Renjun to seduce an alpha in his thirties, not if Donghyuck can't take Renjun home later and mark him up from head to toe. Yet that's not in his hands either, so Donghyuck's opinion doesn't matter.

At Renjun's silence, Donghyuck hums, “Do you accept my apology?”

If Renjun didn't, he would have walked out the door minutes ago. He'd have displayed his bad feelings towards Donghyuck and then run away, no chance for Donghyuck to ask for redemption.

But Renjun, despite being an omega, is too prideful to grant him a placid yes. When it comes to pride, Donghyuck knows that omegas can be even more obstinate than alphas and betas, and he doesn’t push Renjun to answer. Renjun is too nice sometimes, too nice for his own good, just like Jeno.

“You’re an idiot,” is what Renjun tells him instead.

That's enough for Donghyuck to know that he's forgiven.

The relief that invades every inch of his body is overwhelming, and Donghyuck slumps on Renjun's legs without any strength, all the tension that he was accumulating gone.

“I am,” Donghyuck admits. The grin that expands on his lips is unstoppable, even though he tries to repress it against Renjun's thigh, even though he doesn't want Renjun to think that he's not taking their problems seriously. “I'm a massive idiot.”

Renjun must agree with his exaggeration, because he laughs at him. It's a small, pretty laugh that clears any regret or doubt Donghyuck could have had about this. Until then, he has almost forgotten of why this deal was worth it for him too. It isn't just about sex, about pleasure, but also about how oddly comforting is to make Renjun happy.

Donghyuck pushes that realization to the back of his mind, but he remains in the same position, hugging Renjun's legs and letting Renjun embrace him back. They have the whole locker room for them, but that won't last for long, so Donghyuck makes an effort to enjoy the only moment he's going to have with Renjun in the next weeks.

It's also his chance to try to build another bridge between them, to come up with excuses, to take a decision. Donghyuck isn't the type to crawl on his limbs for an omega, but he isn't also the type of alpha who apologizes for jealousy, and this is proof that he's not who he used to be anymore.

By the time he tilts his head in the right angle to stare up at Renjun, the decision is already fastened in his head. There's no going back, and less as Renjun gazes down at him without a single spark of judgment. No one looks at Donghyuck with eyes that are free of prejudice; and weeks ago, Renjun didn't do it either.

Donghyuck hasn't changed alone. Renjun has changed with him.

“I wanted to talk to you,” Donghyuck reveals, so softly that Renjun blinks at him like he could have hallucinated it.

This is dangerous, but Donghyuck hasn't felt braver in his whole life.

Renjun asks, “About what?”

It's just a couple of words, with no possibility of being taken back, and Donghyuck chews on his hesitation until it's in pieces.

“My rut,” he replies, face burning. He flickers his gaze down, not ready to see the rejection reflected on Renjun's face, and then adds, “Do you think you could help me?”

Renjun’s lips part in mute surprise. Donghyuck simply has to wait for a few seconds to witness how Renjun’s cheeks flush red out of embarrassment. It’s understandable, because no alpha has ever requested that from him. Donghyuck doesn’t need to ask to know that Renjun has never been with an alpha in a rut, otherwise he wouldn’t find Donghyuck’s petition so out of place, nor would he be so coy after sleeping with Donghyuck.

“Donghyuck,” he breathes out, shoulders slumping. “You don’t need my help. You could get any other omega or beta to help you with it.”

They wouldn’t be Renjun, however. That’s Donghyuck’s main problem: his body craves for Renjun only, and he has thought about hooking up with other omegas just to convince himself that this whim is just that, a whim, but it turns out that Donghyuck really doesn’t feel like doing it. Renjun has the right to spend his heat with Donghyuck, and that’s a favor that could easily be returned.

“There’s a tiny problem here we didn’t discuss, though,” Donghyuck retorts. He was ready for a rejection, for Renjun to sneak out of the issue with his feigned innocence and his dignity untouched, and Donghyuck isn’t going to let that happen. Serious, he looks into Renjun’s eyes and says, “You want me to use protection with other people, which is totally fine, but not during my rut. I need it raw, just like you need it raw during your heat.”

At least, that’s not a lie. It’s an impediment that didn’t cross Donghyuck’s mind when he accepted the deal. The idea of fucking Renjun had blinded his capacity to see beyond that, to remember that he has his own needs too. He has spent a lot of ruts alone, ruts that were only satiated with blowjobs because the omega he was with didn’t want to have sex without protection; but also ruts with omegas that trusted him enough and let him do whatever he wanted.

Donghyuck is conscious of what alleviates his rut the best, and if he isn’t sleeping with anyone else, there isn’t any reason why he wouldn’t resort to Renjun for this.

However, the hesitation in Renjun’s semblance grows bigger by the moment. Donghyuck feeds on that hesitation, because it is what gives him a tiny ray of hope, and then lets go of Renjun. By instinct, Renjun reaches out for him, his hand closing around nothing before he processes what he’s doing; it’s so satisfying for Donghyuck that he doesn’t respond the call right away. He allows Renjun to sink in that dependent move of his, and only when realization hits Renjun, does Donghyuck sit next to him.

Despite how shameful his display of reliance has been, Renjun hurries up to hold his hand as soon as Donghyuck offers it. He’s not here to make Renjun suffer, anyhow, just to play with his limits so that Renjun doesn’t deceive himself.

“Look,” Donghyuck says. And Renjun does, obeys and looks at him with a lost spark in his eyes. With one hand on his jaw and the other intertwined with Renjun’s fingers, Donghyuck smirks at him, thumbs across Renjun’s lower lip, fascinated, and says, “Maybe even your mouth will be enough.”

That destroys any self-control that Renjun has been holding onto. He shuts his eyes, but his pheromones are already clogging Donghyuck’s nose, and they’re louder than words, louder than Renjun’s shame.

“Donghyuck,” he repeats, even lower, even shier. When Renjun meets his eyes, Donghyuck’s whole world shakes under his feet. But Donghyuck just smiles at him, calm, and Renjun can’t deal with that. “My god, are you serious?”

Donghyuck is serious. He’s serious about spending his rut with Renjun, about sacrificing the rest of his sexual life for him, ignoring the implications of all that. He’s serious about wanting to kiss him now, but also last night, and every night since Renjun’s heat ended.

He isn’t going to give up. “Will you ask Jeno?” Donghyuck continues, because that’s all they need. His rut might scare Renjun, but it’s obvious that he won’t decline. The obstacle is Jeno, who never offered such a deal, who might not want his mate to leave home so often just to be in Donghyuck’s bed. “Do you promise me?”

Renjun bites his lower lip, but he doesn’t tear his gaze away. The desire is there, latent, in every inch of his skin, but a promise from an omega to an alpha is unbreakable, and Renjun might not have the guts to confront his mate later. Donghyuck isn’t asking him to spend his rut with him, just to try. To prove him that he cares about Donghyuck too.

“I promise,” Renjun answers, two words that put Donghyuck’s world together again, piece by piece.

Donghyuck wonders what does the trick, if it’s his own pheromones, if it’s the sincerity he looks at Renjun with. If it’s just that Renjun likes this game, that he’s just as addicted to Donghyuck as Donghyuck is to him; if their nature is stronger than love, than a friendship, than kindness.

And yet Donghyuck can’t think about that when Renjun leans forward and kisses him, their lips meeting in a dance that is starting to be pure habit. It’s one of the rare times Renjun initiates the kiss. He clings onto Donghyuck without caring if he’ll carry his scent around later; and if Renjun doesn’t care, even less does Donghyuck. He lifts Renjun up on his lap to have him closer, and their kisses become more desperate, messier, more honest. There are too many layers of clothes between them, but Donghyuck can’t think beyond having Renjun in his arms, can’t think about anything but his mouth and how much he needs this, a simple kiss, a simple touch. How he needs it from Renjun, and only Renjun can satiate that itch inside him.

It’s equally scary for the both of them, and when Donghyuck dares to unbutton Renjun’s jeans, he doesn’t remember that he’s in a public locker room. Renjun does, however; he grabs Donghyuck’s hand, gasping into his mouth, and draws away from the kiss.

“Stop,” he says, his grip still on Donghyuck’s hand like he fears that Donghyuck could convince him if he insists.

Donghyuck doesn’t pressure Renjun, he would never. He merely throws his arms around his frame and waits for Renjun to calm down. There’s so much adrenaline in Donghyuck’s body that he can’t breathe either, but staring at the mess of swollen lips and messy hair Renjun has become, is a relief in many aspects. It means that Donghyuck isn’t alone in this, that he isn’t the hopeless fool that has invested too much into a shared lie.

“You taste so good,” Donghyuck whispers.

Renjun’s eyelashes flutter as he looks down, shaking his head. He knows that he tastes good for Donghyuck, just like Donghyuck tastes good for any omega, but it’s strange that Donghyuck needs to voice it out loud. Donghyuck presses a chaste kiss on his lips, and Renjun closes his eyes, resigned either at Donghyuck’s affection or at his own wishes.

But Donghyuck doesn’t know any limits, and once Renjun has given permission for a peck, he tries for more.

With the ghost of a smile, Renjun flicks his forehead and scolds him, “Don’t be a dog.”

Donghyuck groans, running a hand over his forehead to muffle the pain. The warning works, anyhow, because all of a sudden Donghyuck isn’t thinking about eating Renjun’s mouth until he shatters all his decency.

“Don’t be a tease,” he childishly fights back.

Instead of faltering, Renjun lifts his chin and says, “It’s not my fault you’re so weak that you can’t even stand a kiss.” And he has a point, but Donghyuck squints at him, because Renjun isn’t stronger than him. He would have slipped off his lap minutes ago if he was, and he would be able to realize that he’s sinking his nails in Donghyuck’s shoulder blades out of nervousness. Yet he’s not, and Donghyuck keeps his silence, feeding off the pain in his skin, wishing Renjun will leave a mark. “Anyone would say you’re a little impatient teenager, Donghyuck.”

Renjun is trying to put him in place, to set the string of power he wants to have over Donghyuck. Under other circumstances, Donghyuck wouldn’t mind, but he’s not going to touch Renjun again unless Jeno gives them permission, and he needs that power too.

That’s why Donghyuck replies, “I don’t fuck like one, though.”

Renjun scoffs at him, not because he disagrees, but because Donghyuck’s change of topic is ridiculous.

He rests his head on Donghyuck’s shoulder, still laughing, and reminds him, “What a show-off you are.”

“But not a liar,” Donghyuck retorts. Not a liar, even if he tries with his whole soul to drill thoughts into his head that can overlay his feelings, even if he refuses to acknowledge that he could stay in this locker room with Renjun forever, in this hug, and he wouldn’t need anything else to be happy. “And do you know? This arrogant, selfish alpha doesn’t do anything but think about you all the time.”

The space around them freezes and shatters, like a cascade that becomes ice too suddenly, too suddenly to mold into its new form. Donghyuck’s words don’t disappear, don’t dissolve into the air; they remain between them, pure fire that can turn anything and anyone into ashes. It’s a fire that laps at Donghyuck from the inside, shaming him for giving into his wishes and tossing reason away.

But it’s true, Donghyuck realizes. He hasn’t done anything but think about Renjun all the time. Perhaps Renjun doesn’t wish to know that, doesn’t want all of Donghyuck’s complications, but that’s not his problem.

Renjun doesn’t move for a while, and though Donghyuck can’t sense fear in his pheromones, it’s clear he has crossed a line. Donghyuck suspects that the lack of a reaction is a way to not alarm Donghyuck, Renjun’s way to protect him.

When Renjun draws away, his expression is undecipherable. He stares into Donghyuck’s eyes without fear, as though he comprehends, as though he doesn’t want to abandon him either.

“I should go,” Renjun muses, stroking around Donghyuck’s neck. He doesn’t want to, however. Donghyuck doesn’t either, his hold unconsciously tightening around Renjun’s waist. It doesn’t matter, because he has to let him fly. “I’ll call you later.”

 

 

 

 

Renjun doesn’t call him, but Donghyuck doesn’t wait for it anyhow.

His own confession weighs on his shoulders like a gravestone. Even if Donghyuck refuses to see it as a mistake, it is a clear step in the wrong direction. It tortures him every night in bed, when thoughts of Renjun become more urgent, more authentic, and he has no remedy but to stuff himself with suppressants.

Not even the suppressants can conceal his state to Jaemin, who ignores the signs for days until Donghyuck’s stress becomes too worrying to disregard it. Donghyuck can’t explain the details of what he did, but Jaemin doesn’t need those details to know that it’s about Renjun.

It’s always about Renjun lately.

As an omega, Jaemin takes care of him without prying. There’s no reason for Jaemin to expect an outburst from Donghyuck, but if he has advice for him, he’s aware that he’s not in the position to influence his relationship with Renjun. A bad move can make the whole house of cards crash against the floor, and Jaemin can’t take responsibility for that. If the house of cards falls, it has to be because Donghyuck is blowing it down.

As days pass, Donghyuck and Renjun see each other more often. There’s always a good excuse, whether it’s a group outing, drinking at the bar until half of their friends are passed out and they can talk to each other in private, or just studying together at the library. That’s enough for Donghyuck: to have Renjun next to him in silence, no need to speak, to get used to someone that will never be his.

While Donghyuck feels safe in his bubble of false reality, it’s a delusion. He doesn’t foresee the danger, because when Renjun is around, that’s all Donghyuck can see, all he can focus on. It’s impossible for him to perceive the judging glances thrown at him, the reproach, the concern, the panic. He doesn’t notice how sometimes Jaemin slips between them, how he distracts Donghyuck with a silly story or bullies him until Donghyuck isn’t paying attention to Renjun anymore. He doesn’t notice how Mark interrupts conversations, how sometimes he sneaks an arm around Jeno and leads him somewhere else – outside the bar, the club, or the kitchen when they’re at home.

Donghyuck is blind, but his friends can see.

And whatever his friends are seeing, it scares them. That’s pretty evident when one afternoon, as Donghyuck has lunch alone in the cafeteria, using one hand to eat and the other to go through his notes, Mark appears out of nowhere and slams his fists down on the table. Donghyuck startles, but so do half of the students in the cafeteria, suddenly alert at whatever happens between them.

Donghyuck can’t blame them. He has witnessed his fair amount of fights, mainly from alphas, so it’s logical for people to assume that an alpha would respond with violence at an offense coming from a beta.

Donghyuck has no idea what provoked Mark enough to lose his composure in public, but considering Mark is the type of guy that didn’t cry over a break-up, it must be serious. That’s what drives Donghyuck to stay silent, to look at his friend with caution, not daring to madden him further.

“You have a big problem,” Mark tells him, knuckles going white over the wood of the table.

Donghyuck can’t help but be skeptic. “Only one?” he asks. All of his problems are big, on top of that, but he doubts Mark knows even half of them. “Specify, because I have many problems.”

There’s a strange buzzing in his head that doesn’t let Donghyuck deceive himself. Donghyuck has many problems, but one of them is raw and bleeding. Mark lives the side of the coin that Donghyuck can’t even peek at. He hears the arguments. He smells Renjun and Jeno’s pheromones at home. He knows when something is going wrong, but Donghyuck refuses to accept reality, to accept that this is as fragile as they feared.

“You’re being weird as fuck, Donghyuck,” Mark accuses him.

Donghyuck closes his notes, resigned, and signals Mark to sit down. Mark can’t ignore his invitation, and it’s a relief for Donghyuck to not have to deal with a beta disrespecting his rank in the middle of a public space.

“Weird in what sense?”

Mark has run out of sensitiveness, because he shoots, “You act like Renjun is your omega.” And before Donghyuck can open his mouth, Mark snarls, bares his teeth at him to shut him up, and continues, “You pour his drinks, cut his food, escort him, keep a barrier of pheromones every time an alpha comes around. You monitor him, mimic his reactions, his smiles, his damn pouts. You protect him.”

Donghyuck pales, all his blood draining away from his face, his heart halting altogether. Mark would never point a finger at him if he wasn’t guilty, and though Donghyuck is aware that he has been rotating around Renjun, he can’t recognize most of those behaviors. It’s not appropriate, not even when Renjun and he are alone, so Donghyuck can’t imagine how improper they must be for their friends.

Yet Donghyuck’s instinct roars within, because this is a beta intimidating him. Intimidating him over his hold on an omega. His first reflex is to disregard his words and defy him.

“So what?” Donghyuck spits at him.

That’s not the response Mark is expecting. His face falls, both in surprise and disappointment.

“Donghyuck,” he repeats with a sigh. He lowers his voice, even though the initial attention they had on them has disappeared. “You have to sleep with someone else. You’re starting to develop an obsession for him.”

For Donghyuck, that feels like a kick in his stomach. It’s not good news that he’s immediately repulsed at the idea, that he scrunches his nose at Mark in disgust, as though his friend has become insane. This isn’t Donghyuck, and yet it still is. Just because his drive to chase after omegas and betas has dimmed out, that doesn’t imply that he’s obsessed with Renjun.

Donghyuck is very certain that he has been obsessed with an omega before, and this isn’t the same case.

“This is ridiculous,” Donghyuck grunts at him. “You talked with Jaemin, didn’t you? He told you I haven’t been bringing anyone home.”

They know how offensive that is for an alpha, to have two of his friends talking behind his back because they’re worried about him. Donghyuck is an adult, is responsible of his own decisions, and doesn’t need an omega and a beta running after him so that he doesn’t set foot into a trap. And Mark might be so concerned that he has dared to confront him in such a dangerous manner, but the inflection in Donghyuck’s voice, this time, is too much even for him.

Mark presses his lips into a tense line, not disposed to reveal that yes, Jaemin was the one who snitched on Donghyuck. No one else would know about his sexual life.

Donghyuck can taste the bitterness of his own scent on his tongue. “You two can’t just force me to sleep with people, do you hear yourselves?”

It’s not just that Donghyuck is being blamed for what happens between Jeno and Renjun. If his alpha wants to have Renjun for himself, that’s none of Mark and Jaemin’s business. It’s not even Renjun’s business, because Donghyuck can want and want, and that doesn’t guarantee that he will have it.

The blush in Mark’s cheeks proves that he’s conscious that he’s playing with fire. Donghyuck’s scent is the cue he should recognize to close his mouth, and some students that are close enough to smell him are starting to throw them wary, scared looks.

“Donghyuck-” Mark tries, stuttering.

Donghyuck fixes his stare on the table, seeing red, out of control. If he looks into Mark’s eyes, his alpha will force him to submit, and Donghyuck has made enough people submit out of anger to repudiate the regret he’ll feel later.

“Get out of my face, Mark,” he whispers. His voice trembles, betrays him. “I’m this close to making a scene.”

Mark is stubborn, but not dumb. He leaves as fast as he can, no goodbyes, no apologies. Even an apology could make Donghyuck reach his limit, so he’s smarter than he looks. Donghyuck counts to three. He counts to three around fifty times, until he has calmed down enough to realize that flipping the table over isn’t a good idea. It’s impossible for him to completely dilute his anger, because it will last for hours, and that’s why he decides to skip his next lessons and go home.

To his dismay, his home isn’t empty. And it wouldn’t be an issue if it was because Jaemin decided to stay home today, but the last straw for Donghyuck is to detect alpha pheromones in the ambient. Rage hurls from the inside, and when he slams the door open, he already knows that Jaemin isn’t with Sunwoo. He knows that Jaemin brought another alpha because he thought Donghyuck wouldn’t arrive home until his classes were over.

It’s a tantrum, but Donghyuck can’t get a hold of himself. Not being able to have Renjun frustrates him, cuts his nerves one by one until his mind and his body aren’t connected anymore; but so does the fact that Jaemin and Mark conspired behind his back, and that Jaemin is sitting with Jisung on the couch, both smiling and cozy while Donghyuck lives in a turmoil provoked by one of them.

The silence that expands upon his presence is gratifying. The only satisfaction that Donghyuck will manage to experience today.

“What the fuck is he doing here?” Donghyuck sputters, pointing at Jisung like he doesn’t exist.

 Jaemin’s eyes widen at the volume of his voice, for Donghyuck has rarely ever screamed at him, and shifts his gaze between Donghyuck and Jisung in confusion. Donghyuck can’t even pity Jaemin for this, and since Jaemin loves meddling in his love life, Donghyuck takes the liberty of doing the same.

He glares at Jisung and mocks him, “You know he’s been fucking Sunwoo for years? You’re wasting your time.”

Jaemin gasps, “Donghyuck!”

It’s too late. Jisung looks back at him as though he can’t recognize Donghyuck, but there’s something deeper in his eyes that Donghyuck can’t quite understand. Something he has never felt. Donghyuck doesn’t want to hurt Jisung, but both Jaemin and Jisung are tied in a game of lies, just like Donghyuck himself, and it’s not fair he’s the only one being judged for it. If Donghyuck burns, he’s going to drag everyone into the fire.

“It doesn’t matter,” Donghyuck continues, scanning over Jaemin’s indignant semblance. “I didn’t want to talk to you anyhow.”

To be precise, he didn’t even want to run into Jaemin.

“Don’t speak to him that way,” Jisung warns him.

The noise that Jaemin makes, like an appalled animal, pierces through Donghyuck. Jisung is defying him, and Jaemin knows that one, Donghyuck doesn’t have any impediment towards getting into a fight with a friend; and two, that he can take Jisung down without even blinking. But it’s Jaemin’s moan, full of fear, what stops Donghyuck. That, and the background thought that this will reach Renjun’s ears, and that Renjun adores Jisung so, so much.

“Don’t you fucking dare, Jisung,” Donghyuck growls. He throws his bag into the floor, but he forces himself to walk away from the couch, to remember that his best option is isolation. “You’re in my home.”

In his territory. Donghyuck doesn’t have time to catch Jisung’s reaction, for he’s storming into his room, but Jaemin’s voice, tinted with panic, reaches him regardless.

“Please, don’t,” Jaemin pleads. Don’t follow Donghyuck. Don’t fight. Don’t argue. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into him.”

“Don’t apologize,” Jisung answers, sweet, calmer than before. “You shouldn’t be here now.”

Donghyuck closes the door of his room with a thud, and then leans forward on it, tears prickling at his eyes. He has to breathe a few times to swallow his tears, because it’s stupid that he’s this upset over this whole ordeal, over how evident his feelings for Renjun are. He doesn’t know if those are feelings, and it’s so, so unfair that his friends want to take away the chance of discovering it by himself.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck is hallucinating.

“Open your mouth,” Renjun whispers, hovering over him in the dimly illuminated bedroom.

Donghyuck doesn’t open his mouth, but he lifts his hands to touch Renjun’s face, to make sure that he’s real. Renjun blinks down at him, surprised at the gesture, but ends up smiling against his palm when he realizes what Donghyuck is doing.

“Renjun?” Donghyuck asks him, confused. The last thing he remembers is crying himself to sleep in bed, once he had heard the main door closing and he was certain that he was alone. Renjun isn’t here, with him. It’s impossible. Donghyuck sighs, “I’m dreaming.”

Instead of laughing at that supposition, Renjun merely shows him the yellow pill he’s holding between his index finger and his thumb. He presses it over Donghyuck’s lips, not repeating the order, almost like he knows that Donghyuck will open his mouth just to taste his skin. Donghyuck doesn’t mistrust Renjun, anyhow, because the yellow pill is one of his regular suppressants.

“You’re not dreaming,” Renjun assures him, giggling a little when Donghyuck uses his tongue to taste him. He doesn’t retreat, but his laugh embarrasses Donghyuck enough to stop. It’s not a dream, so he should keep his pride by not trying to lick Renjun’s hands. “Jaemin called me.”

Donghyuck doesn’t understand the chain of reasoning that has led Jaemin to that, but he doesn’t protest. If Jaemin thinks that Donghyuck is losing his mind over Renjun, he shouldn’t push Renjun into his arms. It’s also true that Donghyuck isn’t disposed to talk to anyone else right now, however, that only Renjun has the permission to invade his bed and intimacy without altering his state.

But if Renjun is here, pressing a pill into his mouth, is because he’s been told about Donghyuck’s outburst. Because he’s been told that it’s somehow his fault, too.

“I’m sorry,” Donghyuck breathes out. It’s the second time he has to apologize to Renjun in a short time, and it tears him apart. He’s burying himself underground as an alpha, once and again, by acting like a kid. “I was so mean to everyone.”

Renjun shifts his weight, sits on Donghyuck’s waist. It’s far from sexual, and Renjun barely weighs anything, so the contact pleases Donghyuck. Renjun reaches forward to pet his hair, placid, as though Donghyuck shouldn’t be embarrassed for his actions. It’s a consolation that Renjun doesn’t look at him like he’s a monster – he’s so used to living with Jeno that he must ignore how ugly an alpha’s breakdown can get, and Donghyuck fears his judgment, to be treated like a wild animal.

“You weren’t mean to me,” Renjun points out.

He was mean to Mark, to Jisung and Jaemin – everyone he ran into. Donghyuck closes his eyes, bathing both in regret and in the feeling of Renjun’s touch on his hair. It’s so soothing, so peaceful when Renjun is with him, it’s no wonder why Donghyuck is so possessive, so selfish.

“Because you weren’t here.”

“You texted me, actually,” Renjun contradicts him. Donghyuck opens his eyes so fast that Renjun discreetly snickers at him, but any mockery is soon replaced with sweetness. Donghyuck doesn’t remember texting Renjun, and going by Renjun’s carefulness, maybe he would be better off without knowing. “Said don’t fight with Jeno, I’m not worth it.”

Donghyuck is petrified, but his heartbeats are out of control. He observes Renjun, feeling smaller by the second under his attention, under his gentleness; he’s not supposed to be the emotional half, and even less the weak half. They’re not halves of each other. Renjun shouldn’t be comforting him, because Renjun is the one risking his relationship in this, and Donghyuck’s obligation is to ease the process, not make it harder.

As though he can read his thoughts, the meaning of his silence, Renjun continues, “Donghyuck, do you think we never fight?” But it’s not a question. Donghyuck has always painted them as the perfect couple, and though everyone has small bumps in their relationships, Donghyuck had never imagined they could fight. “Of course it’s hard to cede me during your rut too, but that doesn’t mean Jeno is right.”

This is what the whole ordeal is about. A mere, stupid rut that has sent everyone into panic. It proves that all of them are lying when they say that helping Renjun with his heats is only sex, otherwise Renjun could return the favor without drama.

Donghyuck mulls over Renjun's words. Jeno might have refused the proposal even after the fight, in which case Donghyuck wouldn't know how to continue. He'd have to suffer through his rut alone or sleep with someone else with protection, but the latter wouldn't bring him the relief he needs. That, or break the deal and go back to his antics.

“I didn’t know it would cause a fight,” Donghyuck laments. Renjun's fingers in his hair encourage him to speak without the need to say it out loud. “Or maybe I did, but deep inside I didn’t care, you know?”

That should terrify Renjun. Donghyuck has always cared about Jeno's happiness, more than about Renjun, and now the monster surges from inside and steps on Donghyuck too, on the love he feels for Jeno.

Donghyuck doesn't understand what's wrong with him, but there is definitely something wrong. Not just because he feels those emotions eating him up, but because he's not afraid to tell Renjun. He’s just afraid of Renjun leaving afterwards.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun says, bends forward until Donghyuck can just stare into his eyes, until Renjun is the center of his vision, his mind and his life. “Don’t listen to them.” To Jaemin, to Mark, to Jeno. “In this room, it’s only you and me. They’re not here, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Donghyuck is sure of that. If any of his friends were in his shoes for a couple of minutes, they would either stop sleeping with Renjun or cause a disaster. Donghyuck stays in his middle ground, with a lot of effort, and that’s what is turning him crazy. His brain orders to let go, his alpha says to destroy.

“It’s only you and me,” Donghyuck repeats after Renjun, sensing that is what he wants to hear. It sounds different on his tongue, rougher, because he lacks the sensibility or the grace Renjun has. “If you can’t spend my rut with me, I’ll figure it out by myself.”

Renjun gives him a little shake of his head, rejecting the idea. His hands travel over Donghyuck’s chest, and out of the blue he can breathe so much better, the pressure in his chest disappearing. He’s not sure if it’s Renjun or the suppressant, but the ability both have to tranquilize him is terribly addicting.

“Maybe your intentions weren’t clean, but your request made complete sense,” Renjun assures him. That, or they’re in a circle in which they validate each other’s crazy ideas. “Jeno will understand that you are better than making another alpha fuck me.”

Donghyuck tenses at the insinuation, and his response is so evident that Renjun shushes him, lulls him with sweet words until Donghyuck spirals out of his jealousy.

It’s absurd that Jeno has considered looking for another alpha just not to let Donghyuck have Renjun during his rut. For Donghyuck, thinking that Renjun could lay with a different alpha is like swallowing a rose with thorns. It feels like Jeno is punishing him, telling him that he has the power to take Renjun away from him whenever he wants to.

But that’s not true. Donghyuck is certain of that as Renjun stares down at him with the promise of not abandoning him, of fighting for what they’ve built even if neither of them knows the nature of it.

“It’s almost night, and I have to go back home,” Renjun announces, to Donghyuck’s dismay. The whine that leaves Donghyuck’s mouth amuses Renjun, but he still dismounts Donghyuck and rolls on his side. Donghyuck thinks he has won the argument, because Renjun lies next to him, his temple against Donghyuck’s shoulder, but then Renjun says, “I’ll wait for you to fall asleep again.”

And even if Donghyuck fights not to fall asleep, to prolong this moment with Renjun, Renjun’s presence is powerful enough to relax him. It’s so easy to sleep with Renjun on his chest, with his pheromones and his scent caressing him, that Donghyuck won’t ever rest again without him.

 

 

 

 

It’s futile.

In the morning, Renjun is gone, and Donghyuck jumps into the hole of his own anger again. It’s not on purpose. He battles against his negative thoughts, but as soon as he catches a sniff of Jaemin in the house, all his attempts vanish into thin air.

Besides, facing Jaemin worsens his humor. They usually have breakfast together, and though Donghyuck doesn’t want to share space with him, he’s not disposed to stay enclosed in his room waiting for Jaemin to leave for classes. This is his home too, and Donghyuck might have been too harsh yesterday, but he spoke only the truth.

It doesn’t take a genius to notice that Jaemin is angry at him too. He sits by the kitchen table, eyes following Donghyuck around the place as he prepares his own breakfast. It’s usually Jaemin who prepares it for him, since he’s up earlier, but Donghyuck supposes that it’s good that he’s dodging getting poisoned today.

The difference between Jaemin and Donghyuck is that, since Jaemin is an omega, he can’t stand the disapproval of an alpha for too long. He can’t stand the pressure, the silence, the unspoken fight. His nature screams at him to mediate, to cultivate peace regardless of his own anger. So Donghyuck just waits, not only because Jaemin will crumble down first, but because he doesn’t wish to direct a single word to his friend.

And indeed, when Donghyuck sits in front of him and doesn’t even glance up at Jaemin, Jaemin surrenders.

“Don’t you have anything to say?” Jaemin asks him, an obvious tremble in his voice.  Donghyuck doesn’t dedicate him any attention, not even a second of his time, and Jaemin huffs. “Donghyuck, don’t be a prideful prick.”

Donghyuck doesn’t respond. He can’t believe that Jaemin has the nerve to insult him when, after all, he propelled the whole argument. Donghyuck doesn’t have to use his alpha against Jaemin: he lifts his gaze and looks into Jaemin’s eyes, not hiding his emotions, not bothering to pretend that he has forgiven Jaemin, and that’s enough to make Jaemin falter. Donghyuck isn’t the sort of person that knows how to keep his silence; he’s the type that speaks too much, that fucks up by over sharing, that acts and only afterwards thinks.

That’s how Jaemin knows that this isn’t a normal fight. That he can’t trick Donghyuck into forgiving him just by guilt tripping.

“I’m sorry, alright?” Jaemin mutters, lowering his head, giving into the pressure of Donghyuck’s stare. “Is that what you wanted?”

Donghyuck evaluates Jaemin, reticent. It’s hard to differentiate if Jaemin is truly apologetic or if he’s presenting as weak just so that Donghyuck has the urge to protect him. Jaemin is good, but not stupid. He knows how to exploit an alpha’s nature, it’s ingrained in his genetics.

“I want a proper apology,” Donghyuck replies, not buying the act. “You’re no one to manipulate and control my feelings.” Jaemin snaps his head up again, the trace of guilt dissipating at Donghyuck’s accusation. Donghyuck gives him a bitter smirk, aware that yes, Jaemin was just pulling his omega tricks on him. “And less to involve a beta because you don’t have the balls to tell me yourself.”

All considered, Jaemin takes the blow better than Donghyuck has expected. He’s had time to prepare for this, unlike Donghyuck, who spent the last hours sleeping and high on alpha suppressants. After living with Donghyuck for so long, Jaemin can predict his weak spots.

“I’m no one, huh?” he retorts, and now at least he sounds hurt for real. It’s just not feigned offense. He slaps the surface of the table, forgetting his breakfast, and his hand becomes a fist. “So now we’re talking about feelings.”

Donghyuck glowers at him across the table.

“We can talk about your feelings too, if you want to,” Donghyuck bites out.

Jaemin looks like he’s been slapped in the face, yet Donghyuck doesn’t regret his words. His friend might judge him for what he’s doing, but they differ in something very vital: Donghyuck is honest with Renjun. Jaemin isn’t honest either with Sunwoo or Jisung, so he can’t give him any lessons on morals.

“Our situations are very different,” Jaemin sputters, taken aback.

“Not that different, I think.” Donghyuck bites the inside of his cheek, repressing the most aggressive answers he has for Jaemin. He’d feel horrible pointing out that if Jaemin loved Sunwoo, then he wouldn’t plead for Donghyuck during his heat. Donghyuck isn’t an expert at heats, but he knows that much. He has slept with omegas that were in love with other alphas, with omegas that were in love with him, and with omegas that weren’t in love at all. “There’s always someone hurting in the equation.”

Jeno and Renjun were already hurting, Donghyuck wants to add. But Jaemin doesn’t need to know that. Donghyuck can hardly serve as a patch for a relationship that is already wounded, but he’s trying.

Jaemin sighs, “I don’t understand why you have to make this about me.” And at Donghyuck’s skepticism, he continues, “Yes, I spoke to Mark about it. He’s living with them, and I’m living with you, and we’re worried about you all. You’d think this whole ordeal twice if you knew the things Mark has heard them say.”

Donghyuck feels his mouth go dry. Torn between hope and horror, he stares at Jaemin like he wishes he could erase those words from his head. Donghyuck doesn’t question the veracity of his words. He’s sure that Jeno and Renjun have talked about him, but the mere idea of Renjun explaining how his heat with Donghyuck was like, a very different version of what Donghyuck lived with him, drills through his chest like a burning blade. Because Renjun doesn’t love him. Because Jeno is his priority, while Donghyuck is a toy.

Jaemin gulps down, but he doesn’t retract his words. “And don’t be mistaken, Donghyuck, those things don’t flatter you.”

Skewering his heart would hurt less. However, the pain is so big that Donghyuck’s alpha, instead of growling, cowers in a corner.

“What are you talking about?” Donghyuck muses, even though he doesn’t wish to know.

If Renjun was relieved at going back home, going back to Jeno’s arms, Donghyuck prefers living in ignorance. If Renjun pities him now, because he can recognize the glint in Donghyuck’s eyes, a glint that Donghyuck never had for him, he doesn’t want to know.

It’s all so absurd. Donghyuck doesn’t feel like Renjun is laughing at him when they’re together, doesn’t feel like Renjun underestimates him. But if Renjun has taught him something in the past months, it’s that a façade can hide many secrets that will never see the light.

“I’m not going to tell you,” Jaemin rejects him. He’s doing Donghyuck a favor, and both of them know that. If Donghyuck had proof that Renjun laughed at him, or that he told his boyfriend that he’s a whipped fool, the deal isn’t the only thing that would end. “Just bear in mind that they’ve been a couple for three years. They know what they’re doing, and they wouldn’t have gotten into this mess if they weren’t sure their relationship could resist it.”

Donghyuck used to think the same, however, and that’s why he’s unable to fight Jaemin. He can’t remember at which point of this mess his mind convinced him otherwise; perhaps losing himself between Renjun’s legs has made him lose the grip on reality too. Reality is a boomerang, though, and it’s always been crystal clear that boys like Renjun don’t fall for boys like Donghyuck.

Renjun is a beautiful lie, and Donghyuck wants to keep it.

 

 

 

 

It takes Renjun two whole weeks to confront him about his behavior.

The change in Donghyuck is abrupt, indiscreet, easy to detect, but Renjun remains mute until he can’t stand it anymore. Donghyuck doesn’t bother to hide it, for the effort tires him out more than the emotional baggage of showing his real life. Two weeks is a long time, but maybe Renjun is too innocent to suppose that Donghyuck’s humor has to do with him, or he’s smart enough to be certain of it.

Donghyuck doesn’t stop hanging out with him, however. Being with Renjun is addicting, even if Donghyuck feels worse when they part ways. The library is their safe place, because both Jeno and Jaemin like studying at home – and Donghyuck does, too, but he accompanies Renjun anyhow just to have him for a few hours.

But despite wanting him closer, Donghyuck distances himself. It’s out of self-protection, but also for his pride and to prove that he can be friends with Renjun, that he doesn’t have to cling onto him for affection that doesn’t belong to him.

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you,” Renjun tells him one afternoon, just minutes after they sit in a booth to study. “Are you sick?”

Donghyuck has had a bad hunch since they set foot in the library, so the question doesn’t catch him by surprise. On the contrary, Renjun’s wariness does. He hasn’t paid his notes any attention, and though his phone keeps lighting up with messages, he doesn’t glance at it at all.

Donghyuck can ignore a thousand omegas, but not Renjun. Not if Renjun stares at him with puppy eyes, approaching him like there’s a wall between them – a wall that Donghyuck has built with his own hands. Donghyuck promised himself that he’d be stronger than this, and thus he makes an effort not to surrender to Renjun’s antics. He blinks down at his notes, full of numbers and equations that he doesn’t remember writing, and wishes he could say what really crosses his mind.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he responds at last, not even turning around to acknowledge Renjun.

“You’re getting cold,” Renjun retorts. And just like that, the game is over. Renjun knows that he isn’t sick, that it’s not just physical discomfort, but he was giving Donghyuck a chance to excuse himself. His hand comes up to rest on his shoulder, and Donghyuck shivers under his gesture. “Donghyuck.”

Distant, not cold. And yet Donghyuck has never been excessively warm to Renjun, not before their deal, so Renjun shouldn’t have the right to protest, to reproach that he’s different. Renjun won’t admit that, though, because Donghyuck would have never spent the last weeks in the library with him if nothing had changed between them.

Donghyuck can’t bite back his impulses, so he pins Renjun with a glare and grunts, “You mean colder than I am in bed.”

Instead of dissuading him, Dongyuck’s rebuttal seems to switch Renjun’s courage on. He drags his chair across the floor, spins on it to face Donghyuck’s side, and perches his chin on Donghyuck’s shoulder. Renjun’s scent hits Donghyuck all at once, so damp, so clogging that he can’t remember why he isn’t in Renjun’s arms, far away from this library and the ice cold of winter.

“So it is because of me,” he concludes, his breath caressing Donghyuck’s ear. Donghyuck resists the temptation to move and grab him, because it’s been exactly one month since Renjun touched him, one month since he savored Renjun’s pheromones through his mouth. Renjun is playing with him, aware that Donghyuck won’t put up with the teasing for long. A mocking tone swallowing his tenderness, Renjun whispers, “What do you need to be cured? A kiss?”

Donghyuck feels goosebumps crawling all over his back. Renjun knows, knows the consequence of his words so well that Donghyuck lets out a low grunt as a warning.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

But Renjun doesn’t withdraw: he slips one hand over his nape, and the other over Donghyuck’s legs, stroking dangerously close to his crotch. His grip fixes there, like a claw fastening around Donghyuck and hauling him into a hellish heaven.

“You’re so cute when you’re mad,” Renjun observes, merciless. He presses his chest against Donghyuck’s arm, and traces the path of Donghyuck’s jaw line with his nose, a subtle gesture that pulverizes Donghyuck’s confidence in one blow. Renjun feels so soft on his skin that Donghyuck can only think about biting all of him, inch by inch, and make Renjun cry for it. “Is it because you need affection? Because you can’t touch anyone else?”

“I can touch whoever I want,” Donghyuck shoots back.

He can, but he won’t, and that’s where Renjun’s power lies. Donghyuck could lure anyone into his bed and not for a single moment would he stop thinking about Renjun, imagining Renjun, remembering Renjun. He’s under his skin, in his head, ripping him from the inside.

So Renjun utters a faint laugh, both out of incredulity and adoration, and sinks his fingers in Donghyuck’s back like he intends to retain him forever.

“Such a grumpy alpha,” he says, but his strength dwindles with each word until he doesn’t give the impression of taking this like a game.

Donghyuck caresses his hand over his leg, forgetting that he should endure the temptation. But it’s pointless to try, because then Renjun blows at his tiny, fragile crystal world, and the sphere shatters with a rattling sound.

“I can’t wait for your rut,” Renjun whispers, and it’s over.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck drops the suppressants as soon as he detects the first sign of his rut.

It’s an egoistic choice, because quitting suppressants will accelerate his rut; and second, it’s risky, because the intensity of his ruts is unbearable even with meds. Donghyuck is sick of his suppressants, however, so he decides that they’re not worth the pain. He’s one hundred percent sure that this rut is going to hit him like a train, whether it’s because of his new founded celibacy or just because he had a taste of an omega in heat months ago.

The signs are easy to recognize. Donghyuck wakes up every morning with his hands down his pants and Renjun in his mind, too riled up to feel any guilt. He has plenty of memories to use and an amazing imagination to discover what he wants to do to Renjun next. Being on the edge of his rut, his alpha is brutally honest, to the point it overwhelms Donghyuck too. He comes scarily easy when he pictures Renjun, Renjun touching him, Renjun opening his mouth for him, tongue out to take whatever Donghyuck has for him; Renjun subjugated under his hands, begging Donghyuck to be rough with him, to hurt him. Donghyuck dreams of breeding him, once and again, nonstop, of painting Renjun’s thighs white with his cum.

Donghyuck doesn’t care that Jaemin can hear him, that Sunwoo, when he’s around, can catch him too. He can’t help but be vocal and after all, releasing all his instinct is the only way he can continue with his normal life afterwards. The relief of coming to the thought of Renjun makes it easier for Donghyuck not to get distracted in class, to be able to talk to other omegas without getting hard, or to have meetings with Taeyong without ogling at him.

And maybe Renjun was right, maybe he turned him into an uncontrollable teen alpha that can’t keep his dick in his pants, but at this point Donghyuck doesn’t care anymore.

“You’re a bit red in the face,” Yukhei giggles, poking at Donghyuck’s cheek.

Like in a dream, Donghyuck blinks awake. The bar flares around him, so dark and bright at the same time that Donghyuck wonders for a few seconds if this is real, if he’s not in his bedroom, asphyxiating under the covers.

Donghyuck can’t compute his surroundings at first. He doesn’t remember arriving at the bar, he doesn’t even remembering discussing with anyone that he’d go out tonight. Moreover, Donghyuck remembers daylight, and then a whole blackout until now, when he focuses on Yukhei’s flushed face before him. If Donghyuck is drunk, then Yukhei is pissed, the blush in his face stark against his skin.

Touching his own face, Donghyuck understands why he’s red. It’s not the alcohol, the unknown drink in front of him what has provoked him this state: it’s his rut.

He stares at Yukhei, not returning his dumb smile, and awes at how much Yukhei reeks of Renjun. Donghyuck doesn’t have the impulse of competing against Yukhei; the rut twists his desires, and he breathes Renjun’s scent in an alpha and thinks about how it would feel to fuck Yukhei. Or to let Yukhei fuck him. Renjun’s scent is prominent enough in him for Donghyuck to pretend that he’s not with Yukhei.

It’s a delirious idea, and yet Donghyuck has to grip the table to keep himself in place, not to jump on Yukhei and bite his mouth to erase that stupid grin from his face.

“Why am I here?” Donghyuck asks, confused. “I-”

He doesn’t manage to finish his explanation, and Yukhei never has the chance to answer him. Donghyuck whips his head to the side, eyes flashing through the bar. As if there is a string tying him to Renjun, Donghyuck’s gaze falls on him, no need to look for him first. He’s in the snooker room, playing with other guys. Next to him, Jaemin is laughing, but Donghyuck can’t care for other omegas right now, not with Renjun in the picture.

Before he processes the situation, he has stood up, and Yukhei is looking up at him with a frown. “Dude, you okay?” he worries, because despite the alcohol, he must sense the shift in his pheromones.

“Perfect,” Donghyuck lies, grunts. He’s not sure where he’s receiving the strength to leave his seat, because if he doesn’t remember the last hours, it means his rut has been crawling on him for the whole day. He should be nothing but a hopeless mess fucking into anything, into anyone. “I need a second.”

Much to his luck, Yukhei doesn’t stop him. It’s evident that Donghyuck isn’t fine, but interfering in an alpha’s path when he’s in rut is a bad idea even for another alpha.

Donghyuck isn’t conscious of his own movements. He stumbles all the way to Renjun, bumping against people, ignoring the few insults other alphas throw at him, and all his tension crumbles down when he touches Renjun.

Void of shame, Donghyuck embraces him from behind, pressing his crotch against his ass and hooking his head over Renjun’s shoulder. The faint gasp of surprise that Renjun lets out is music to his ears, awakens the best and the worst of Donghyuck. He fastens his arms tighter around Renjun, and decides that he’s not going to lose Renjun tonight.

“I want to fuck you,” he grumbles, so low and deep that Donghyuck feels his own words resonate in his chest. They vibrate through Renjun too, and he responds with a sweet, involuntary purr. “Want you so bad.”

“Donghyuck,” Renjun warns him, gripping on Donghyuck’s forearms to prevent him from holding him tighter. Donghyuck’s arms are too tense to notice the request, and so Renjun reminds him, “Jeno is here.”

Donghyuck might have known that, but his memories of tonight are so fuzzy that the reminder doesn’t affect him. Whether Jeno is in the bar or not, Donghyuck needs Renjun, needs him now, all for him.

But it’s Jaemin who kicks him out of his fantasy. Jaemin, who Donghyuck forgot about completely, who he can’t recognize even when he glances at him; Jaemin, who makes him furious and frustrated for sabotaging his deal with Renjun, for judging him right now too.

“God,” Jaemin laments, stepping closer to them. He doesn’t dare to touch Renjun, to help him escape from Donghyuck’s embrace, because Donghyuck snarls at him without hesitation. It’s not his most aggressive warning, but it’s better to push Jaemin away than let him know what will happen if he reaches out for Donghyuck’s omega. Horrified, Jaemin begs, “Donghyuck, don’t.”

It’s a lost cause, but Jaemin must not have realized that yet. Renjun has.

He looks at Jaemin, much more composed than his two friends, and assures, “It’s fine.” Donghyuck isn’t a bother to him, he’s just much of a responsibility as Renjun was for Donghyuck during his heat. He can’t just abandon him because his rut crashed on him in a bar. “I can take care of it. Go look for Jeno and carry him home.”

Donghyuck burns at the mention of Jeno, and for once, it’s not mere jealousy. It’s the need to compete what drives him to apply more strength, ignoring the noise of surprise that escapes Renjun’s lips. Too rough, Donghyuck notes, but his alpha wants to teach him a lesson.

Observing Jaemin walk away, as though he was a menace, Donghyuck grunts, “So what if Jeno is here? He already knows-”

“No,” Renjun cuts in, firm. Donghyuck likes that, that Renjun is capable of opposing resistance even if he has to bend down for him sooner or later; it’s like a little game for Donghyuck, like allowing a puppy to bite, aware that the puppy doesn’t have teeth sharp enough to harm him.  “Jeno knows, but I don't want him to see it. It'll hurt him.”

Donghyuck can’t decide if he prefers to have Jeno around or not. Wanting to hurt Jeno isn’t a logical wish, just his alpha being possessive, proving a point. But even in a rut, Donghyuck would never disobey Renjun, for he’s wired to please and protect him, just like Renjun is conditioned to please and look for protection.

“Then don't let him see it,” Donghyuck answers.

Renjun twirls his head to look back at him, a shade of desire in his semblance. Donghyuck can’t read his expression, the feelings underneath his façade, but he’s certain that Renjun has waited for tonight too.

 

 

 

 

It matters little to nothing that the bathroom stall is cold, that it's small, that it's a public space. When Donghyuck takes the first taste of Renjun on his tongue, he's sure that they would have never made it home in time. Donghyuck forgets that Renjun is smaller than him, that he's much thinner, and smashes him against the wall without any carefulness. It speaks volumes that despite the crash, Renjun doesn't protest, just fists Donghyuck's shirt and tugs him forward for a kiss.

The bathroom of their regular bar isn't Donghyuck's dream place to start his rut, but the boy in his arms is. Donghyuck has fucked other guys in this place anyway, though most of it was shared handjobs and nasty, drunk kisses.

With Renjun it's plain nasty and frantic, Donghyuck licking into his mouth with an eagerness that will gain him a good amount of mockery later on; but with Renjun, Donghyuck doesn't feel empty. It's not just carnal, automatic: Donghyuck wants to consume Renjun emotionally too, feel that Renjun is his, that he's Renjun's, to burn with him.

It's a vicious circle. Renjun's kisses are different tonight, his lips brushing against every inch of his face with misleading promises, and Donghyuck feels so, so loved. Like he doesn't have to hide, like Renjun grants him unconditional acceptance.

“Down, baby,” Renjun breathes out, running his hands over Donghyuck's chest. “You're too excited.”

Donghyuck is breathless, but Renjun isn't better than him. Even if he orders Donghyuck to calm down, his demanding hands explore Donghyuck's body and send a contradictory message. He gropes his back, his shoulders, his abdomen, erasing Donghyuck’s sanity with every touch.

Donghyuck laughs a guttural laugh, not able to explain why Renjun is wrong, so fucking wrong. “It's not excitement,” he grunts.

And Renjun is about to find that out.

Both of them are scarily sober, but Donghyuck's rut destabilizes him enough for Renjun to be the responsible one. That's why he sets the pace, why he sets the limits and why, as Donghyuck's hands grab at his pants and undo his zipper, Renjun stops him. It's true that it hasn't been even two minutes since Donghyuck pushed Renjun into the stall, but the negation frustrates him. He wants to fuck Renjun quickly and then go home, and fuck him again, and make him say the things Donghyuck wants to hear. Things that are too dangerous for other people to hear here, for a bathroom stall.

“Be patient,” Renjun shushes him, laughing when Donghyuck immediately frowns at him. He caresses Donghyuck's hair to compensate, muttering a faint cute, and Donghyuck throws himself for a kiss that catches Renjun off guard. Renjun doesn’t dodge him: he smiles wider into the kiss, until it's more amusement than kiss, and then says, “I'm not wet yet.”

Donghyuck whines, though he doesn't know if it's because Renjun is laughing at how he acts during his rut or just at the fact that Renjun isn't ready. All in all, Renjun didn't have time to process that they're going to fuck, so Donghyuck understands it, but it still irks him. Renjun was always ready during his heat, a bad habit that Donghyuck shouldn’t have gotten used to so fast.

He stares down at Renjun, at the spark in his eyes and his rosy cheeks, at the way Renjun stares back at him: like the rest of the world doesn't exist. And it doesn't exist, Donghyuck wishes he could tell him, but then he remembers Jaemin's words as if they were a burning metal marking his skin, and his confidence vanishes. If he could just take Renjun in his hands and unchain him from the world, and then run so fast that no one would follow them, he wouldn't hesitate for a second.

“You don't want me?” Donghyuck challenges him, bumping Renjun's nose with his.

Renjun makes an indignant noise, grabs Donghyuck by the ass to shut him up. “Don't be a jerk,” he spits, feigning offense.

Donghyuck thinks it's quite cute that Renjun is trying to play with him. It's evident that he's never been with an alpha in a rut, and though Donghyuck trusts Renjun's intuition to take care of an alpha, Renjun ignores that the beginning is the least safe part. And on top of that, he ignores that Donghyuck is still mad at him, that he's insecure over the whole ordeal, that he's become possessive – like he was bound to, because an alpha can never share an omega.

“You know what is wet?” Donghyuck retorts, unable to repress the smirk that blooms on his face. Renjun doesn't reply, and so Donghyuck hooks his thumb in Renjun's lower lip, and then rubs his saliva all over Renjun's lips. It's satisfying to feel how Renjun's breath hitches, the surprise in his innocent eyes, comprehending his intentions at last. Donghyuck finishes with a whispered, “Your mouth.”

Renjun's whole body fails him, and Donghyuck presses him against the wall so that he doesn’t fall. Donghyuck watches Renjun go through a whole range of emotions. First it's clear fear, self-doubt, because Renjun doesn't believe he can get Donghyuck off just with his mouth. They talked about it during Renjun's heat, but Donghyuck disagrees. Renjun is just intimidated, because getting on his knees and pleasing him leaves him in a position of vulnerability that he doesn't know how to control with Donghyuck. When Donghyuck fucks him, both are vulnerable, so it isn't the same.

And yet, underneath his hesitation, Donghyuck recognizes the thirst of proving that he can do it. It's natural for Renjun to want it, though; just like his heat pheromones turned Donghyuck crazy, his rut pheromones will shatter the last of Renjun's dignity. If Donghyuck took his shirt off, Renjun would probably lick him all over just to savor his pheromones. So Donghyuck gives him a few seconds so that Renjun can fetch his own reason, not go down on him by impulse and then regret it.

And then, in a small, coy voice, Renjun says, “You want me to suck you off?”

Donghyuck scoffs, runs his hands around Renjun's neck and intertwines his fingers in the back of his head. Renjun seems to appreciate the sudden fondness, but Donghyuck doesn't want him to mistake it as surrender.

“Oh, no,” Donghyuck muses. Renjun blinks, confused, but his hands are already on Donghyuck's lower stomach, ready to follow any order. “Not that.” Donghyuck continues. He leans forward, kisses the tip of Renjun's nose, then the corner of his lips, his pouty lips, and a last peck before saying, “I want to fuck your mouth.”

Even through the sea of his own pheromones, Donghyuck smells raw lust in Renjun's scent. But he's frozen, looking at Donghyuck with wide, lost eyes, and Donghyuck doesn't hesitate to travel down his neck to feel his erratic breathing. He feels Renjun's heart as well, speeding against Donghyuck's own chest, such a warm reward for pushing his limits.

Renjun hasn't let go of his ass, however, and Donghyuck responds by pulling at his hair. Renjun stops touching him, understanding the subtle punishment, but Donghyuck doesn't let go. He stares into Renjun's pupils for so long that Renjun has to tear his gaze away, and only then, when Renjun has granted him the power, Donghyuck moves.

He pushes Renjun down by the hair, his knees hitting the cold floor, his hands looking for support on Donghyuck's thighs. He's adorable like that, attention still on Donghyuck's face and in need of guidance.

Donghyuck has many words on the tip of his tongue, but he keeps them for later and focuses on unzipping his jeans. He's so hard that the mere brush of the fabric makes him hiss, because he needs the relief of warmness, Renjun's hands around his dick, his lips, his mouth-

“Tell me, Renjun,” Donghyuck says, giving his own dick a few jerks. He takes Renjun's hand afterwards, leads him around his cock, the both of them touching. Renjun’s hands are small, but they can encircle his whole length, and Donghyuck has to swallow his own impatience not to fuck into his hold. “You'll go back home and say to your dear boyfriend again that you didn't enjoy it?”

Against all odds, Renjun doesn't draw away. He blushes all over, caught red-handed, his hands around the base of Donghyuck's dick and the truth on the table. It should embarrass him, and Donghyuck revels in it with the joy of knowing that Renjun can't manipulate him so easily.

“Donghyuck,” he says, a bit surprised. “How do you-?”

But Renjun doesn't need the answer to that. Donghyuck knows that he has humiliated him behind his back in favor of Jeno's ego, and Donghyuck can't stand that Renjun has the guts to face him after that. He was good to Renjun, he took care of him, and god, he did things to him that Jeno couldn't even dream of. Renjun betrayed him, and that's the reason he throws a pleading look at him now, the reason he fastens his elegant fingers tighter around his dick, as to convince Donghyuck to forgive him.

And Donghyuck isn't so strong. The moment Renjun uses his tongue, his will to argue won't exist anymore; Renjun's inexperience with ruts grants Donghyuck the advantage of knowledge and a bit more of time.

“Prove me wrong,” Donghyuck says, but he can barely talk anymore. He sees Renjun's red lips, senses his hot breath over the tip of his dick, and his mind spirals down a path of lust and little pride. Voice hoarse, he still manages to add, “Prove that I shouldn't just cut it off with you forever.”

Donghyuck could never cut the strings with Renjun. He's a drug, the motivation that Donghyuck needs not to fuck other people, but judging the desperate noise that rips through Renjun's throat, he has no idea. For him, Donghyuck is an alpha that could choose to spread another omega's legs apart without even looking back at Renjun.

But he can't, and when Renjun engulfs his dick all at once, Donghyuck bends in two at the sensation. He has to scratch at the door behind him to hold onto reality, for he feels nothing but Renjun's mouth, his tongue, his hands at the base of his dick, indiscreetly playing with his knot.

Donghyuck tries to relax, takes a few deep breaths, and caresses Renjun's hair to avoid shoving him forward. It’s overpowering since the beginning, because his rut screams at him to breed, no matter if his dick is in Renjun's mouth or in his ass, and Donghyuck ends up giving into it.

It's progressive, but not less scary. The moment Renjun pushes his tongue through the slit of his dick, Donghyuck can't help but fist a bunch of his hair. When Renjun sucks on the head and his thumb rubs right underneath, right on the spot that makes Donghyuck blank out, he forgets any trace of gentleness. He'd swear that Renjun is expecting his reaction, because his throat relaxes around his dick, and Donghyuck thrusts forward without fear, thrusts until he's completely buried in Renjun's mouth.

It's only then that Renjun gags, tensing around his dick, and the pressure sends a wave of pleasure through Donghyuck's spine. Donghyuck pulls away with a groan, and Renjun pants, coughs with cute faint sounds; but even in that state, he lowers even more to mouth at Donghyuck's knot, and Donghyuck has the urge of laughing at him.

Donghyuck isn't an idiot: it's an attempt to distract Donghyuck from chasing his own release. It works like a charm. There's nothing like watching a pretty omega lick over his knot, and Donghyuck allows Renjun a piece of false freedom, admiring his teary eyes and the adoration that he dedicates to Donghyuck as he plants kitty licks all over his knot.

In that exchange, Donghyuck grants him a devilish grin and grunts, “Open your mouth.” And Renjun knows what that means, because he moans a please. Donghyuck taps under his chin, unsparing, and whispers, “Come on.”

Renjun obeys at last and parts his lips for him, pliant, proving that he wants Donghyuck. He doesn't have to work for it anyhow, because Donghyuck takes his head between his hands and pushes his dick into his mouth, all the way in until he hits the limit. Renjun gags again, but this time Donghyuck moves his hips back not to hurt him, and Renjun moans around his dick.

Donghyuck trembles, secures his hold on Renjun’s head and sets a pace. This is what he’s always wanted: to fuck Renjun’s mouth and see how pretty and small he looks, staring up at him with that flustered expression on his face. To thrust between Renjun’s lips, aware that it’s a one way treat, that Renjun will not get any pleasure from it because serving Donghyuck is enough pleasure for him.

With a moan scratching his throat, Donghyuck throws one leg over Renjun’s shoulder and cages him against the wall. “Fuck,” he curses, amused at how Renjun pats his thighs in panic, not knowing what he’s doing. “Relax, baby. Press your head on the wall and stay put.”

Renjun doesn’t hesitate to trust him, and as he obeys, he also throws his head back, enough to curve around Donghyuck’s dick. That sends Donghyuck over the edge, and before Renjun can accommodate in the new position, Donghyuck starts fucking into him with short, fast thrusts. Having Renjun trapped between his legs and against the wall allows Donghyuck to make it rougher, to use Renjun and enjoy the little cries that vibrate around his length. And Donghyuck doesn’t need to glance down at Renjun to know that he’s crying out of effort; but he still does, and Renjun strokes behind his thigh, appreciating the attention, appreciating that Donghyuck wants to look at the pretty show he’s putting for him. Because he’s indeed so, so pretty, and his little mouth is reserved for Donghyuck tonight, and tomorrow, to satisfy him.

That’s how Donghyuck comes, pressing Renjun’s head against the wall and shooting down his throat. And Renjun takes all of it, swallows down like he’s trying to redeem himself, looking for approval in Donghyuck’s face.

Donghyuck immediately falls apart, but he manages to withdraw and push his back against the other wall, far away from Renjun. His vision is white and black, the sensation of the orgasm still biting every nerve of his body and numbness taking over afterwards.

He can’t look at Renjun now, he doesn’t want to. As he scrapes down from the high of the moment, all the anger he has accumulated during weeks washes over him. And then there is only the truth, Renjun getting up alone in front of him, and the sensation of emptiness hitting him.

By the time Donghyuck manages to zip his pants, Renjun is already stepping closer. It takes Donghyuck a second to intuit that he wants a kiss, and he’s about to give in, but he turns his face to the side right in time to reject the kiss. Renjun’s hands on his shoulders are petrified, and Donghyuck refuses to look at him, because he isn’t sure if he can endure the urge of appeasing him.

Renjun hasn’t forgotten Donghyuck’s reproach, that much is clear by his silence. It’s hard for Donghyuck to forget it too, so they’re equals now. He doesn’t intend to take revenge, to hurt Renjun just because Renjun hurt him first, it’s just that Donghyuck truly doesn’t want to pretend that he doesn’t love him, and overall, he doesn’t want Renjun to pretend that he loves him.

“Please,” Renjun whispers, but he doesn’t dare to force Donghyuck’s attention on him. Perhaps he’s afraid of what he might find in his eyes. “You know I want it, but Jeno-”

“I have my pride too,” Donghyuck interrupts him, not in the mood to hear excuses. And oh, Donghyuck’s pride is as big as a titan. The mere name of his friend maddens him. It’s such a vile and low weapon to justify Renjun’s behavior that Donghyuck counts it as foul play. “If you're going to tell him lies, then don't spend my rut with me. Go home now.”

Even in his rut, Donghyuck feels his own words like a cold shower over the both of them. It’s a direct order, and Renjun shouldn’t ignore it; not because he’s an omega, but because the rejection pertains something as intimate as a rut. It’s a line he’s not allowed to cross, and less with his rank.

It gives Donghyuck the bravery to gaze at Renjun at last, to gaze at a Renjun whose expression is overtaken by despair, by horror.

Despite that, and the shaking of his voice, Renjun still defies him. “I won't.”

Donghyuck gives him a sarcastic smile. “I didn’t ask,” he reminds him. “Just leave.”

It’s in part the rut talking, because otherwise Donghyuck would be able to control his most emotional side, to reason that Renjun doesn’t owe him honor.

Judging the desperation Renjun grabs his face with, he can’t tell that it’s an irrational explosion, that deep inside Donghyuck doesn’t feel that way, but that Donghyuck wants to fight him just to get his confidence back. Renjun believes that Donghyuck doesn’t want him for real.

“You want it all,” Renjun sputters at him, so close that Donghyuck can only see his eyes. It’s admirable that Renjun can be so firm while he’s still breaking down, but Donghyuck tenses his jaw, holding his words back to listen to whatever Renjun has in store for him. “And I'm giving you all, so you don't have the right to push me away.”

Donghyuck wonders what is all; if Renjun isn’t manipulating him again, making him trust in feelings that don’t exist between them.

“I don't have the right?” Donghyuck grunts, his jaw imprisoned between Renjun’s hands. He fears as much as Renjun does, but since Renjun has broken the bubble they were living in, Donghyuck decides to be sincere. “I'm just your little toy, aren't I? You're the one who made of this more than it is, and then you have the guts to console your sad boyfriend by dragging me through the mud?”

Contrary to what Donghyuck imagined, witnessing how Renjun shatters in front of him is devastating. It breaks Donghyuck too, a knot in his throat, but he can’t bring himself to hug Renjun and assure him that they will fix this somehow. The simple fact that Donghyuck is mad at Renjun treating his boyfriend like he must, speaks more about them than all his kisses, all the touches, all the times Renjun made him smile. And the fact that Renjun is latching onto him instead of breaking the deal should scare him – but Donghyuck has been scared for a long time, and Renjun validating the mess in his head is his only escape.

“Donghyuck, please,” Renjun mutters, but there’s no strength in his tone anymore. He grips onto Donghyuck’s top, sinks his face on his chest, like he can’t beg anymore. Donghyuck allows him to touch, to feel his uncontrollable breathing, bares the little of him that is still hidden. “You need me, and I need you.”

And Donghyuck knows, for a fact, that he’s not talking about sex.

 

 

 

 

“Feeling better?”

Better is an understatement.

Donghyuck can barely lift his head from the pillow, but it isn't necessary. Renjun made sure to tuck him in before leaving the bedroom, perhaps supposing that Donghyuck would get cold. It's the opposite, because despite knotting Renjun twice throughout the night, his rut still keeps burning him from head to toe.

He manages to throw the covers off him right in time to watch Renjun stroll across his room, barefoot and wearing one of his sweaters. Renjun takes it off, ignoring the way Donghyuck's eyes roam over his legs – he probably only stole the sweater in case he crossed paths with Jaemin in the hall. Donghyuck doesn't mind, neither the theft nor the fact that Renjun prefers to be naked inside the room, so he lazily hums at Renjun's question.

Renjun laughs at that, nose crinkling up, and insists, “Not feeling like a beast that hasn’t eaten in months?”

A beast that can't control his body, his mind or his words; a beast that wanted to hurt, to argue, to put his pride before his feelings.

Donghyuck is too tired to be teased without mercy, so he makes grabby hands at Renjun and, much to his relief, Renjun jumps in bed with him with a laugh.

“That’s a very good comparison to my celibacy,” Donghyuck praises him. It doesn't matter that Renjun was trying to make fun of him, not as he throws one leg over him and fastens over his torso, unafraid of showing affection. Donghyuck moans, comfortable, and says, “So accurate that it's not funny.”

Renjun laughs again, however, and Donghyuck can't help but dumbly smile at him.

“The rut gets you so lazy,” Renjun observes, caressing Donghyuck's feet with his own feet, stroking his thighs with his own thighs. “It's not fun if I have to do all the work.”

Amused, Donghyuck retorts, “I think it's pretty fun, though.”

But Renjun's accusation is justified. The rut maintains his energy up high only when he's starting to get hard, but he loses strength as the pleasure grows, and when he's finished, he's just a waste of bones and oxygen. Renjun had to clean him up both times, apart from cleaning himself too, but Donghyuck knows that he doesn't mind. It's almost like payback in a way, and yet it's also comforting for Renjun to take care of an alpha for once.

They fall into a cozy silence, the two of them simply running their hands over each other, finding peace in each other's bodies. It's strange that they don't need anything else now, that they can speak through touches, through gazes and significant little smiles. Donghyuck loves this, even if he doesn't deserve it, and Renjun never seems to remember that this isn't his place.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun calls him after a while, right when Donghyuck is starting to drift to sleep. It's morning, but they haven't slept in the whole night, and Donghyuck is sure they won't have a normal sleep schedule anyhow. “We have a little problem.”

Donghyuck opens his eyes, not alarmed thanks to how Renjun is drawing circles over his tummy. “What?”

Renjun bites his lips first, vacillating, but the importance of the problem must be bigger than his own embarrassment, because he sighs in resignation.

“Jaemin told me he's about to go into heat,” he confesses. His gaze studies Donghyuck's reaction, but the moment he drops the bomb, Donghyuck is petrified. “He estimated in a few hours, so Sunwoo is on his way here.”

Donghyuck has to retain the growl that threatens to escape. It's almost a reflex to be angry at Jaemin. Donghyuck should have calculated this, should have prevented this, but the truth is that for some reason his rut came earlier than he expected, and thus it caught him off guard. Jaemin and Donghyuck have a rule, however: if Donghyuck's rut and his heat coincide, they can't share space. Given how their bodies are wired, it's usually Donghyuck who has to rent a hotel, go to a friend's house or invade the place of the omega he’s going to sleep with.

But this time Donghyuck's rut hit first, and therefore it's Jaemin's responsibility to respect his privacy. Jaemin isn't an imprudent person: he would never break the rule by accident. That's how Donghyuck knows that Jaemin is doing this on purpose.

“Fuck,” Donghyuck curses, trying to calm down. He doesn't want to scare Renjun, and it's not his fault either that Jaemin is sabotaging them in what he deems an act of protection towards Jeno and Renjun. Even towards Donghyuck. “This is really bad.”

Both curious and concerned, Renjun pries, “Do Jaemin's pheromones affect you so much?”

Donghyuck can't help but laugh at the misunderstanding, but he doesn't want to make Renjun feel like he lusts for another omega besides him – not after he discovered that Renjun felt insecure over Jaemin.

So he hurries to clarify, “It's not that.” Donghyuck plays with Renjun's hair, awed at how relaxed Renjun is under the effect of his rut pheromones. “It's Sunwoo. Fuck, I'm in a damn rut, I don't want another alpha around.”

At last, Renjun understands what troubles Donghyuck. Of course it amuses him, because Renjun has no shame and loves that sort of attention, so he dares to smile upon his suffering.

“Sunwoo isn't going to touch me,” Renjun assures him, creeping upwards to press a kiss on Donghyuck's jaw.

Donghyuck doesn't miss the mocking edge in his voice. “I know that,” he says, but Renjun's mouth on his skin is too distracting, and though he wants to prove that he's not just a stupid jealous alpha, it's pretty hard to remember any words right now. He sighs both in resignation and pleasure, and whispers, “But my instinct doesn't. If he does as little as glance at you, we're going to fight.”

Renjun raises his eyebrows at him, detaches from his jaw just to judge Donghyuck properly.

“You mean you're going to jump him,” he corrects.

Donghyuck lets out a grumble in agreement.

“I'm fine now, see?” Donghyuck presses a kiss on Renjun's forehead and then, to illustrate him, shapes his scent to send a message of calmness. Of peace. Renjun dedicates him a sweet smile, makes a cheering noise of fake admiration to tease him. Donghyuck rolls his eyes, not believing that Renjun can't take him seriously in a moment like this. “But if I'm burning, or I can't speak, or my eyes are out of focus, don't leave me alone. And don't let me see Jaemin and Sunwoo, not even if you're by my side. Especially if you're by my side.”

For a second, a shade of wonder crosses Renjun's expression, almost as though he's curious of what would happen.

“I won't,” he promises, however. Donghyuck is about to force him to repeat it, too suspicious to believe him, but then Renjun props himself up and before Donghyuck can say a word, Renjun is straddling him. The smirk that sprouts on his face leaves Donghyuck unarmed, and so do his words, “Until then, can I blow you again?”

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck is lucky enough not to see Sunwoo enter the apartment, but nothing can save him from hearing his moans. From hearing Jaemin's moans, too.

That afternoon, when Donghyuck leaves his room for the first time since he arrived, Renjun in tow, both of them have a fit of laughter. It's not immediate, because they manage to settle in the kitchen and start making dinner, Renjun leading a clumsy Donghyuck around. Renjun can cook better than him, which isn't difficult considering Donghyuck is a disaster, but he's pretty patient with Donghyuck’s skills.

And then, right as Donghyuck is ungraciously throwing pork onto the pan, a moan cuts through the flat, so loud and lewd that Donghyuck chokes on his saliva. Taken aback, he glances at Renjun, just to find out that Renjun is staring back at him with his mouth open and blatant shock on his face.

It's just one look, and then both of them are bending over with laughter.

The moaning doesn't stop, however, and though being the victim of Jaemin and Sunwoo's sexual life isn't foreign to Donghyuck, before he could just put his earphones on and ignore them. He can't do that now, in his rut, with Renjun lingering around him.

Jaemin should have left them the fuck alone.

“This is the worst day of my life,” Donghyuck whines, tilting his head against Renjun's, looking for comfort.

Renjun pats his butt, eyes crinkled up in amusement.

“How do you think you sound, babe?” he teases him regardless, because there's nothing decent about being in a heat or in a rut, and Donghyuck isn't that different from Jaemin right now.

Donghyuck bites his lower lip not to laugh, and feigning seriousness, he faces Renjun and assures, “A lot sexier.” Renjun arches his eyebrows at him, not buying his joke, and Donghyuck pinches his cheek and coos, “You sound just like that, though. Louder, in fact.”

After spending so much time with Renjun, Donghyuck has learned how to make his patience collapse. He has learned the path to Renjun's immaturity, and the best shortcut is to go for the jugular: to shame him for his neediness. It doesn't work when he's needy, but it does if he's feeling a bit respectable that day.

So when Renjun spins on his heels and grabs him by the collar with a challenging expression, Donghyuck just grins at him in triumph.

“Oh, you think that begging like a puppy is sexier?” Renjun spits at him, faking a pout. He tiptoes, coming closer and closer, and whispers against his lips. “Please, please, let me knot you. I need it so bad.”

The impersonation is pretty bad; the words, accurate. Donghyuck can barely remember them, because his rut makes him forgetful, but he's sure that he must have pleaded an embarrassing amount of times with Renjun underneath him.

To drown his own shame, Donghyuck closes his eyes, but Renjun's lips press against his in mischief, and they share an unavoidable smile.

“As if I hadn't given you permission before,” Renjun continues, relentless. He's not wrong, because Donghyuck's alpha likes to revel in the fact that he's able to knot an omega, and he keeps asking for permission he already has. “You just like begging, don't you?”

That’s borderline cruel, and before Renjun can get away with it, Donghyuck encircles him like he would cage an animal. Renjun squirms in his hold, but Donghyuck opens his eyes and they smile, too comfortable to even be mean to each other.

“You're so fucking rude,” Donghyuck sputters. Renjun's grin expands, and Donghyuck slants forward to nibble on the tip of his nose. Renjun looks too cute for him, too cute to resist taking a second bite on his cheek, even if Renjun taps his face so that Donghyuck stops biting him. Enjoying Renjun's resignation, Donghyuck jokes, “I will eat you alive.”

“I bet,” Renjun says, turning so serious all of a sudden. And yet, under his façade, there's a strange tone of amusement. “Because your meat is burning.”

The scream that Donghyuck lets out isn't very reputable, and Renjun bursts into laughter while he removes the pan from the heat. His dinner is indeed ruined, no matter how much Donghyuck cries about it, and he has a feeling that Renjun let him fool around just to laugh at his disaster later.

Renjun helps him to clean up the mess, tells him to look and not touch anything, that he'll take care of dinner for the both of them – and Donghyuck has to comply, because he's starving and because Renjun looks extremely attractive showing off his cooking skills. Donghyuck sits down, decides that he has to reward Renjun with a kiss every time he does something right – which, under Donghyuck’s criteria, happens all the time – until Renjun gets fed up with him and swats him off so that he can cook in peace.

Perhaps it’s the mere action of ogling Renjun that raises Donghyuck’s temperature, and when Renjun finally serves the food, Donghyuck is feeling a little bit intoxicated. Renjun seems to notice right away, but they haven't eaten in the whole day and Renjun hurries up to feed him before Donghyuck slumps into his rut again.

It’s all about first times with Renjun. Donghyuck has never been fed by another person, less from their own hands, but today Renjun sits with him and strokes Donghyuck’s head, lifting the food to his mouth. Donghyuck knows that he wouldn’t be able to eat alone anymore, because his hands are trembling and he’s having trouble blinking at a normal pace, and despite how useless that should make him feel, he finds reassurance in Renjun’s gestures. Renjun doesn’t look at him like he’s weak, just with attentive eyes and all the tenderness in the world.

They’re almost done when Donghyuck loses his hunger and his interest in anything that isn’t Renjun’s mouth. Renjun doesn’t notice right away, but when he’s about to feed Donghyuck another spoon, Donghyuck pushes the spoon away from his face. He can’t even tell if it’s rude, because his gaze is stuck on Renjun, on his eyelashes and his lips and the falsely naïve glint of his eyes, a glint that never extinguishes.

“Pretty,” Donghyuck tells him, because that’s all he can process, all he can think about. How pretty the omega in front of him is, how easy to manhandle, how fast Donghyuck could pull him onto his lap.

Renjun’s lips stretch into a roguish smile, and Donghyuck is blinded.

“Me? Pretty?” Renjun repeats, pointing at his own chest, as though he couldn’t believe Donghyuck’s words. He drops the spoon on the bowl, squints at Donghyuck, and before Donghyuck can grasp at him, he’s moving away from him and the table. “Do I know you?”

Donghyuck can’t help but groan. At his frustration, Renjun grows smugger, steps back until the distance between them is unbearable for Donghyuck. It’s a torture, not exaggerating, because he needs Renjun’s pheromones, his scent, just him around to keep his sanity. And the moment he can’t put his hands on Renjun, his rut prickles on his skin like sharp needles.

“Don’t be a kid,” Donghyuck breathes out, uneasy at Renjun’s determination.

He knows what sort of game Renjun is trying to play, but it’s unfair, for Donghyuck would have never treated him this way during his heat. He was considerate, careful, obedient. On the contrary, Renjun seems to find an endless joy in his chances at humiliating Donghyuck.

“I’m not being a kid, you are,” Renjun retorts, laughing. He leans over the counter from the opposite side of the table, aware that Donghyuck can’t jump over it and shut him up. “Such an immature alpha.”

The roaring within Donghyuck is deafening. He stands up, but his legs wobble, his rut subjugating him, and he naturally zeroes on Renjun. It’s hard to hang onto the last of his consciousness, to not attack Renjun as if they were two animals.

But that’s exactly what Renjun is looking for, and Donghyuck doubts he’s sane enough to dodge this trap.

“Where are you going?” Donghyuck grunts, accuses him.

“I’m escaping from you,” Renjun whispers in response, much graver than before.

Donghyuck wonders, for a moment, if his rut pheromones are what prompt Renjun’s playfulness, what push Renjun to toy with him. Even though his nature must propel Renjun to take care of him, Renjun must know that Donghyuck needs to gain the power himself, that it can’t be handed to him on a silver platter.

Tapping his fingertips on the counter, he gives Donghyuck an once-over and defies him, “What? You can’t even catch an omega?”

That’s the last words they exchange. Then Donghyuck is pouncing on him so fast that he can’t see his surroundings, that he can only see Renjun. But Renjun is ready to counteract his reaction, just as fast as Donghyuck, and he runs around the table, laughing so hard that it’s impossible for him to breathe properly. Donghyuck doesn’t understand what’s so funny about it. He’s never played chase with an omega before, not so quite literally, and he’s sure that Renjun can’t predict what he’s getting himself into.

The only certainty in Donghyuck’s mind is that he has to catch Renjun, for his pride, for power, and that he has to bite him so hard that Renjun must end up crying. But Renjun is surprisingly athletic, and after mocking Donghyuck’s abilities around the kitchen, he speeds to the living room. Donghyuck has the advantage of being a volleyball player, but Renjun tires him out in a matter of minutes. He races all over the living room, bumping into decoration and accidentally pushing Jaemin and Donghyuck’s belongings to the floor. Neither of them care about that right now, and Donghyuck swears he isn’t going to care later either.

After an eternity, Donghyuck manages to corner Renjun against a shelf, but somehow Renjun’s expression warns him that he hasn’t won. Donghyuck can’t understand why, so he arrogantly stretches in front of him, smirking at him, and Renjun has the nerve to smirk back at him.

Donghyuck doesn’t even have the chance to brush against his shirt: Renjun sneaks out by jumping on the couch, and then he’s sprinting into the hall with a string of laughs that are louder than before. This time, Donghyuck interprets his moves right, and it terrifies him.

Renjun isn’t just escaping from him, not anymore. He’s sprinting to Donghyuck’s bedroom, and judging how much he’s enjoying messing around with Donghyuck, he’s definitely going to lock him out of the room with his rut in full force.

Aware that this is his last opportunity, Donghyuck chases after him with the last of his energy. Renjun is waiting for him in the middle of the hall, arms extended to touch both walls and a smile on his face. He’s breathless too, and Donghyuck can’t resist the temptation of gazing at the veins in his neck, of thinking of how good it will feel to sink his teeth in them.

“Don’t move,” Donghyuck orders him, panting.

It’s the perfect moment for Renjun to surrender and obey. Donghyuck is on edge, and if Renjun ignores him again, both know what’s going to happen.

Renjun could obey, yet he doesn’t. He shoots Donghyuck a last challenging glance and spins on his heels, just like Donghyuck has predicted, to go in the direction of Donghyuck’s room. But this time Donghyuck is facing him, and the precious seconds Renjun wastes in his turn are enough for Donghyuck to close the distance between them.

Renjun still reaches for the doorknob and opens the room, and Donghyuck has to throw himself on the floor to grasp Renjun’s ankle; but then they’re on the floor, and Donghyuck is dragging a moaning Renjun over the floor, towards him.

Donghyuck smacks his ass as a punishment, but Renjun dares to smile at him, pleased at the spanking.

“Got me,” he breathes out.

The first thing Donghyuck notices is that Renjun is warm, in tune with his own temperature. Donghyuck manhandles him around, ignoring Renjun’s silly giggles, and pulls him  up in his arms. Renjun encircles his neck, though Donghyuck can hold him without any effort, to secure that Donghyuck isn’t going to drop him. His smile vanishes as he looks down at Donghyuck, not out of insecurity, but the opposite.

“Got you,” Donghyuck fires back at him. With Renjun in his arms, he’s not nervous, he’s not out of control. It makes sense again why Donghyuck fought for this, why they can play like two kids when they’re with each other. “You’re so impertinent.”

Renjun tilts his head, curious. “Impertinent? Maybe you should teach me some manners.”

Like always, it’s easy to fall apart against Renjun’s body. Donghyuck brings the two of them into the room, and he doesn’t remember who kisses who first, but when it comes to Renjun and him, there’s never a beginning and an ending.

Donghyuck can’t stop running his hands over Renjun, but Renjun isn’t better than him, just as desperate under the effect of his scent. They kiss against the door, against the wardrobe; Donghyuck trips over himself a dozen times, almost sending both to the floor, and their clothes shed off so naturally that they’re naked by the time they hit the bed.

Today, Donghyuck is sober enough to awe at Renjun’s body, a body that he has grown to know so well. He has explored every inch of him, and now they dance in unison, his hands caressing over Renjun’s favorite spots by instinct. His tiny waist, the warmth of his hips, the soft skin in his thighs, always so sensitive when Donghyuck bites on it. Renjun opens his legs for him and Donghyuck slides between them, kisses all over his abdomen, over his hipbone, licks Renjun’s skin until Renjun is covered in his pheromones, in his perfume. Renjun is familiar with Donghyuck’s body too, for Donghyuck finds himself shattering under his touches, under his kisses; Renjun kisses him so well, marks Donghyuck from his neck to his jaw, again and again, so that no one else ventures to believe Donghyuck isn’t his.

Donghyuck doesn’t need permission anymore to conceal Jeno’s mark with his own scent, because Renjun is already baring his throat before Donghyuck can ask. His alpha revels in how immoral it feels to dethrone Renjun’s mate, doesn’t remember that Donghyuck will have to wash his scent away from Renjun later anyhow. It’s not important either: the mere fact that Renjun is giving himself over is enough for Donghyuck.

When Donghyuck thrusts between Renjun’s legs, he feels complete at last. It’s different this time, a first time for the both of them, Donghyuck pinning Renjun’s hands over his head and interlacing their fingers together. Despite his rut, Donghyuck’s movements are slow, sweet, because he wants to feel every part of Renjun intimately enough to memorize him. He knows how it will be when Renjun isn’t here, and he wants to remember until the last detail of him. So he clashes against him, looking into Renjun’s eyes as they rock together, drinking from his moans, lips always connected either to his mouth or to his skin. Renjun peppers kisses all over his face when Donghyuck becomes breathless, grabs at his ass to encourage him, whispers words that Donghyuck can’t even comprehend.

The rut kills all his willpower to tease Renjun. He doesn’t have time for that, just to relish in Renjun’s tightness around his dick, in his damp skin, in how Renjun spreads his legs farther apart and lets Donghyuck use him without shame.

“You feel so good,” is all Donghyuck can tell him, once and again, until Renjun is smiling in their kisses. “Fuck, babe, so good.”

Because Renjun feels like heaven, and it’s not dirty, it’s not lewd. Renjun feels good in ways Donghyuck hasn’t experienced before, and given how Renjun pants with every thrust, how he looks for safety in Donghyuck’s eyes – a mixture of trust, of subjugation and devotion – Renjun enjoys this new part of him too.

And then Renjun is intertwining his fingers in Donghyuck's hair, perhaps because he notices his knot swelling with every snap of his hips, or maybe because the adoration he treats Donghyuck with is honest. Donghyuck allows him to, rubs his head over his palms, his face, his neck, but he never slips out of Renjun.

Renjun pecks his upper lip, parting his lips to feel how Donghyuck gasps into his mouth, fascinated at Donghyuck’s loss of control.

“You’re such a cute puppy,” Renjun whispers, void of mischief, just plain sincerity.

The way Donghyuck slams into him, rougher than any other movement before, is beyond desperate. If Renjun knew the effect that was going to have on Donghyuck, Donghyuck doesn’t really care. He wants to be cute for Renjun, a cute puppy that he takes care of. He wants to be seen as more than a strong, obtuse alpha. Cute works, but cute for Renjun sounds like a dream.

Donghyuck can't hide that he likes it, because his body reveals it for him. He fucks deeper into Renjun, hips colliding against his, and Renjun pants out of surprise. Renjun doesn't hold him back, however, and the shock at Donghyuck's reaction dissipates one second later.

Renjun smiles into the kiss, and when he pulls back, hair disheveled and malice in his face, he clearly repeats, “Such a cute little puppy.”

It's on purpose, and Donghyuck couldn’t love it more. He moans out loud, in unison with the swelling of his knot and the small cry that Renjun emits. Knotting isn't always so easy, but Renjun lifts his ass and Donghyuck pushes inside him with a noise of satisfaction, and both of them are mute for a few seconds, too overwhelmed to move.

“Oh my god,” Renjun mutters, shutting his eyes. He tenses up, sinks his fingers in Donghyuck's shoulder blades, trembling all over. His thin thighs press around Donghyuck’s body, and Donghyuck realizes how small, how fragile Renjun is despite taking his knot so well. “Hyuck, holy shit.”

Knotting an omega is very different from fucking an omega with a knot, and it’s clear Renjun hasn't ever thought about the second option. He does now, because Donghyuck's knot isn't swollen enough to fix him inside Renjun yet, and as soon as Donghyuck moves, pleasure shoots through them.

Donghyuck has never done this before either, and his imagination falls poor compared to reality. Renjun tightens around him, and if Donghyuck is already weak because of his rut, the pressure in his knot makes him shiver all over and collapse on Renjun. Renjun doesn't mind, throws his head back with an infinite groan on his tongue, too overpowered to complain about Donghyuck's weight on him. They arch together, move together, and Donghyuck feels Renjun shatters against him. Donghyuck feels so, so proud of him, he can’t believe that Renjun can take his knot like this.

The tension eats at Renjun so fast that Donghyuck can't control it. A few thrusts into Renjun turn him into a complete mess, a mess of panting and Donghyuck, Donghyuck, Donghyuck, and by the time Donghyuck’s hips are stuttering against him, Renjun is coming all over his own stomach.

It's so sudden that it fascinates Donghyuck, and his instinct pushes him to fuck harder into Renjun: now he knows how a knot can affect him, and his alpha wants more and more, wants to see Renjun come that quickly again. It's impossible though, because watching Renjun come under him riles him up and his knot swells before he can get Renjun hard again. It’s the redness of his lips, how beautiful he looks with the exhaustion of a good fuck on him what drives Donghyuck to lose his mind. And this time, Donghyuck comes with Renjun laughing in the crook of his neck, amused at how much Donghyuck likes this, how a bit of tenderness transforms Donghyuck into another person.

Donghyuck is far from embarrassed, and as they roll on their sides a few seconds later, still connected, the first thing Renjun does is to press a kiss on his lips. That's how they communicate. Delightful kisses, shy touches, eyes that only want to look at each other. Donghyuck doesn't remember that they can't kiss, not with his knot inside Renjun, but Renjun doesn't either.

Renjun lays his head on the inner side of Donghyuck's arm, a gesture that looks strangely intimate considering they're entangled in all the possible ways they could be. Donghyuck doesn't repress the need to caress his cheek, so he reaches for him, his heart speeding at the smile that blooms in Renjun's face.

The silence between them is precious, beautiful, but Renjun's words fill Donghyuck's existence in one blow.

“I don't regret anything, Donghyuck,” he says, so softly yet so loudly in the emptiness of Donghyuck’s life. He doesn't avoid Donghyuck's eyes, he doesn't fear his own mistakes. “When I go home, I still think about you.”

Donghyuck feels himself break into pieces, feels an inexplicable impulse of crying, but he presses harder into Renjun, trying to decipher if this is real, if Renjun is real. He doesn't know if he wants to cry out of sadness or out of happiness, or maybe both. Or maybe it's just relief, the confirmation that he's not alone in this, that he's not crazy, irrationally selfish, that Renjun is here because he wants to, not because he has to.

“As long as you think of me,” Donghyuck whispers, breathing deep. The pause is enough for Renjun to hook his pinky in Donghyuck's thumb, a simple touch that insufflates bravery in Donghyuck, and then he finishes, “I'll always be here.”

 

 

 

 

Renjun isn’t capable of being strict with him, and even though Donghyuck can read the effort in his eyes, Donghyuck’s insistence defeats him.

“I’m serious,” Renjun repeats for the fourth time. He’s lying on his side, calmly breathing as Donghyuck roams his hands all over him. Even if they’re naked, touching Renjun’s skin isn’t sexual, just a way of pleasing his instinct; it soothes Donghyuck to the point of lulling him to sleep, and thus it’s Renjun’s only strategy to make him rest. “It’s not a good idea.”

It’s almost nighttime, but Donghyuck is sure that he missed a whole day in bed, and yet his intent of going out doesn’t sit well with Renjun. Donghyuck can understand his concern: during his heat, Renjun could barely walk by himself. Donghyuck’s rut is different, however, similar to a rollercoaster. He can function after a good knotting, until he reaches the next peak and his autonomy free falls, no seatbelts and hands in the air.

“Please, I’m going crazy,” Donghyuck complains. It’s not a trick to persuade Renjun: the only reason he’s sane is because of Renjun, otherwise he needs fresh air, a place where he doesn’t have to hear Sunwoo and Jaemin fuck every twenty minutes. “I can’t stop smelling Sunwoo and I’m dying to fight him.”

Renjun clears his throat, amused. “So the solution is to go out to a restaurant, where there will be more alphas, and you’ll go even crazier?”

“But this is my territory.” Donghyuck feels the heat creep on his face at his own words. Territory is a word wired to his instinct, not a word one tells an omega in bed. It’s embarrassing, shows the slave he is to his own nature. Renjun doesn’t judge him, aware that Donghyuck is talking about his home, and Donghyuck insists, “I’m feeling fine, if I get worse we’ll come back really, really fast.”

Before Donghyuck can register his own tone as alluringly cute, Renjun is already laughing at him. Donghyuck never pouts for anyone, but he does now, as Renjun pinches his cheek and scrunches his nose at him like he’s the most adorable thing in the world. Donghyuck groans in protest, draws his face away, but Renjun has already won.

“I never suspected you could be this convincing,” Renjun cedes at last. He pats Donghyuck’s waist, forgiving, and Donghyuck takes advantage of the distraction to steal a peck from him. Renjun immediately shoves him away, gaze full of mischief. “Get ready.”

Donghyuck slips out of the bed without missing a beat, not bothering to hide that he’s ogling Renjun when he does the same. Renjun just rolls his eyes and puts on some underwear, too used to how insatiable Donghyuck is to shame him.

“Persuasion is my hidden talent,” he cheekily shoots.

Or Renjun is too weak for him, Donghyuck bites back, because if Renjun kept saying no, Donghyuck would have complied sooner or later.

“You’re so high maintenance,” Renjun complains. He’s about to slip into his own clothes, but then Donghyuck whistles at him and throws one of his sweaters at him, and it takes Renjun a moment to understand that Donghyuck wants him go out wrapped in his scent. Renjun could refuse it, since it’s a possessive gesture, but accepting is a safer option given Donghyuck’s rut. “Yuta never had any territorial problems with us.”

“He was living with two betas and one omega.” Donghyuck scans Renjun, pleased at how he looks with his sweater on, and adds, “I’m sure he was in paradise.”

Renjun sends him an offended look. “Am I not enough paradise for you?”

It’s a knee-jerk reaction to tease Renjun, and that’s why Donghyuck pretends to hesitate, taps his own mouth until Renjun dedicates him a sharp glare.

Donghyuck waits to be completely dressed before answering, and fetching the keys from his bedside table, he faces Renjun again and says, “I have to think about it.”

All the way to the door consists in running away from Renjun.

 

 

 

 

The plan of spending all their time at a restaurant is soon discarded, but Renjun forces him to eat for his own good, and then keeps an eye on him in case Donghyuck loses his self-control. Donghyuck has too much energy in his body, and it shows in how much he touches Renjun under the table, in how their legs end up intertwined as they eat. Renjun indulges him, but when the waitress asks them if they want something to drink, Renjun turns the offer down despite Donghyuck’s protests.

“Am I a kid?” Donghyuck moans when they’re alone again, slightly irritated. “I can’t drink now because an omega says so?”

Renjun could chide him for pointing out the difference in their ranks, for reminding Renjun, once he’s annoyed, that he has less power than him. Donghyuck would never dare to mention it under other circumstances, but his rut betrays all his immoral thoughts. To his delight, Renjun is patient, knows that it’s the rut that provokes this bluntness.

“An omega that is letting you knot him,” Renjun replies, leaning back on the seat. He rubs Donghyuck’s arm, and perhaps because he can sense Donghyuck’s humor shifting, he excuses, “You know how much alcohol will affect you because of your rut.”

Donghyuck knows, but he doesn’t repudiate the thought of it. He’s in safe hands, he trusts Renjun, and no one is going to take advantage of him while Renjun is around. And most important, no matter how drunk Donghyuck is, he won’t have eyes for anyone else but Renjun. There’s no real danger in drinking with him.

Clicking his tongue, Donghyuck insists, “Share with me, then. Take half of my drunkenness and keep it for yourself.”

The promise of drinking half of what Donghyuck would usually chug breaks the first barrier Renjun has put up. Donghyuck recognizes the seed of the doubt, holds onto it like it’s his only chance. It is.

“Come on,” he whispers. He tilts his head, presses a warm kiss under Renjun’s ear, a kiss that makes goosebumps grow all over Renjun’s neck. “Home is five minutes away.”

Renjun sighs, either at the kiss or at his words, and accepts, “Just a couple of drinks.”

From there on, it’s downhill. They stay in the restaurant for the first drink, but one drink is enough to bend Renjun’s will into drinking more. Two hours later, as they step out of the place with red cheeks and their hands tightly intertwined, Donghyuck realizes that he doesn’t want to go home. He swears that it’s not the alcohol, but the fact that he has never gone out with Renjun alone, the fact that they don’t have a life together outside campus or his bedroom.

Renjun clings onto him, asking where they’re going now. Donghyuck isn’t sure either. The street is full of young people, some as drunk as they are, some way worse, and it’s cold even for Donghyuck, whose body is burning. When Renjun looks up at him, he points at the buildings over them, and Donghyuck follows the direction just to find out what is making Renjun smile. Like Renjun, it’s the first time tonight Donghyuck realizes that Christmas decorations are already garnishing the main streets. His subconscious makes him hold tighter onto Renjun, as though he could evaporate, as though Donghyuck could suddenly be alone in the middle of this street with Christmas lights, alone among the groups of happy friends and couples passing by.

Donghyuck feels his own sanity slip out of his mind, drop by drop, but he stays silent. It’s hard to let Renjun go, and very easy to have him in his arms. It’s hard to forget, and very easy to make memories.

It’s hard not to laugh at Renjun’s silly jokes, at his rosy cheeks, and very easy to talk him into going to a club with the promise of being together. And that’s all Donghyuck remembers when he blinks awake in the daze of his rut, stuck to Renjun’s body and the music embracing them. There’s no time to regret his choices tonight, because he looks at Renjun and the placid smile on his lips, and he feels awake again, so alive that his whole body vibrates in excitement.

Donghyuck can’t distinguish the song they’re dancing to, and there are so many people in the club that Donghyuck has to make sure they don’t bump into them. But it’s a privilege to have Renjun dance for him, rub on him with that playful glint in his eyes, laugh in his neck when he gets too embarrassed, laugh when Donghyuck’s hands grope him without shame. There’s nothing embarrassing about it, not for Donghyuck. He swings with Renjun as the songs play one after another, though Donghyuck can’t pay attention to them, doesn’t care about them either. The heat of Renjun’s body inebriates him, but the feeling is mutual, because Renjun is drunk beyond alcohol too. Donghyuck’s pheromones stun him, and Renjun could have tried to fight against them, yet he embraces them and revels in them, as intoxicated as Donghyuck.

Donghyuck blinks again, and Renjun is being torn away from his hands, someone shoving Donghyuck up against the wall. Donghyuck doesn’t need to analyze the situation to act; he pushes whoever has touched him with so much strength that they fall onto the floor, and one second later, upon scanning who attacked him, he notices that the stranger is vaguely familiar. An omega, too, but Donghyuck can’t pinpoint where he saw him before.

Invaded by panic, he spins to look for Renjun, and as he spots Hangyul next to him, bending down to talk to him, everything makes sense. It’s an irony of the universe, Donghyuck thinks, that it’s Hangyul who is lending Renjun a hand, who is protecting him from Donghyuck.

“Renjun,” Hangyul says, screaming over the noise of the music. “Are you okay? Are you drunk?”

Donghyuck can’t reason, not in his rut. All he sees is Hangyul touching Renjun, an alpha touching his omega. He smells Renjun’s confusion in the mixture of scents in the club, because ten seconds ago Renjun was in Donghyuck’s arms and now he isn’t, and another alpha is talking to him instead. Donghyuck strides to them in the blink of an eye, relieved at how Renjun’s eyes look for him, how helpless he seems to be under Hangyul’s worry.

“What the fuck?” Donghyuck roars, and in one blow, he fastens his fingers around Hangyul’s arm, jerks him away from Renjun, and slides between them. “Don’t touch him.”

Donghyuck knows the impression they’re giving. In his rut, with an omega that has a boyfriend, both of them drunk. It looks like he’s luring Renjun to him just to satiate himself, whether Renjun agreed or not.

Yet instead of feeling grateful for their worry, Donghyuck is consumed by his fury. Renjun is his, only his, and no one has the right to separate them this way.

“Donghyuck, look at me,” Renjun begs behind him. He scratches Donghyuck’s back in despair, attempting to make him turn, but Donghyuck can’t give his back to an alpha that is defying him. “Focus on me!”

That would drag Donghyuck out of his instinct for a second, an instinct that is spreading through him like a virus. He considers obeying Renjun, but Hangyul isn’t looking at him, and Donghyuck can’t stand that an alpha’s gaze is on Renjun. It’s even worse because it’s Hangyul, who has already spread Renjun’s legs and kissed him and used him all he wanted to.

“Did you give him permission?” Hangyul insists, glancing at Renjun over Donghyuck’s shoulder.

Disregarding Donghyuck’s presence is his first mistake. Donghyuck is lucky that he’s afraid of scaring Renjun, because he unconsciously opts for pushing Hangyul instead of punching him in the face. Hangyul trips back, and much to Donghyuck’s despair, his friend catches him right in time so that he doesn’t fall. That attack is all they need to lunge for each other, and though this isn’t Donghyuck’s first fight, Hangyul is much taller and stronger than him.

Donghyuck doesn’t know what’s happening until Hangyul pins him against the wall, until people are screaming around them and running away not to get hit. He doesn’t register anything but Renjun crying out, trying to pull them apart, and Donghyuck kicks and kicks, but Hangyul doesn’t release him.

“He has a mate,” Hangyul hisses, hand around Donghyuck’s neck, asphyxiating him without mercy. Donghyuck knows why. He’d have done the same if he had witnessed the scene from the other side, for Renjun and for anyone. “Get yourself another omega, this one isn’t yours.”

That’s obvious. Renjun, with his mating mark on his neck, dancing with another alpha in rut, would make any sane person snap. But Hangyul is wrong: Renjun is his, he’s his now, he’s his until the moment he steps out of his house and they have to thread their little pretending game again.

“Let him go!” Renjun screams, and against all odds, he doesn’t hesitate to grab Hangyul by his hair. Needless to say, Donghyuck has never seen Renjun assault anyone, but Renjun doesn’t even blink at his own violence. Hangyul is too shocked to shake Renjun off him too, so he loosens his hold on Donghyuck and looks at Renjun with wide eyes. “Hangyul, I’m with him!”

Renjun unclenches his hands around Hangyul’s hair right as Donghyuck is free, but somehow Renjun isn’t overwhelmed by his own actions and has the brain capacity to stick to Donghyuck. He doesn’t check on him, doesn’t try to calm him down, because his aim is to protect Donghyuck from Hangyul. And that’s what he does, arms extended to both sides and an alpha behind his back, trapped against the wall.

Incredulous, Hangyul gapes at Renjun. “He’s in a rut, you shouldn’t be with him.”

Donghyuck has the urge of laughing, not only because they can’t explain their situation to someone that isn’t their friend, but because Hangyul’s friend is looking at him with clear curiosity in his eyes, as though he thinks that Renjun defending an alpha that isn’t his mate is fascinating, as though he supposes Donghyuck must be very special for Renjun to intervene between two alphas.

“I know what I’m doing,” Renjun spits at him. Hangyul doesn’t back away, however, because he doesn’t seem to trust Renjun’s state, or trust Donghyuck in general. Renjun’s voice softens, “Please, you’ve hurt him.”

And Donghyuck wants to hurt Hangyul back, not for the pain inflicted, just for touching Renjun. It’s irrational, the rut swinging in his head, yet he can’t repress his instinct. The only reason he stays put and quiet is because Renjun is in front of him, and if he moves, he can’t be sure that he won’t harm Renjun in the process.

The plea works with Hangyul, because he steps back, hands up in surrender. A visceral plea from Renjun, for Donghyuck’s pain hurts him too, and Donghyuck encircles him from behind at last, fusing in a back hug that erases all the tension from the moment.

It's Renjun who guides him on their way out, for Donghyuck is too sensitive not to lash out at the innocent bystanders, and the cold of the night brings some sense back into him. Donghyuck squats in the street, and Renjun kneels next to him, rubs his back as he recovers his breath.

This is shameful, a display of weakness that Renjun should never witness, but Donghyuck has made a great effort not to continue the fight and all the adrenaline is still simmering in his body. There are so many thoughts in his head, so many wishes – to fight, to bite, to mate, to cry – that he feels an explosion coming up. Yet Renjun caresses his nape with his face, whispering sweet nothings, calling him an alpha nonstop, and Donghyuck salvages the remainders of his logic.

"Can you breathe now?" Renjun mutters after a while, ever so sweetly that Donghyuck wonders if it's his imagination. Donghyuck responds with a subtle nod, and then Renjun is holding his hand and reminding him, "Home is five minutes away, Hyuck."

Donghyuck's strength resides in the hope of undressing Renjun. He squeezes his hand, closes his eyes as Renjun walks him home, because nothing else matters apart from him. Apart from Renjun confronting an alpha for him, Renjun protecting him, Renjun kissing him in a club in front of everyone.

And when they cross the door, Donghyuck is soaked in those emotions. Renjun must be too, because they move in sync, the click of the door awakening all their honesty. Tonight, there are no smiles, no teasing to toe the line between truth and mockery, because the truth hovers over them like a black cloud that contaminates every second. Every second that should belong to them, but that doesn’t.

Pressing Renjun against the mattress is sweet, having him lie on his chest and his bend his knees under his stomach for Donghyuck. They fit each other like two perfect pieces, Donghyuck thrusting into Renjun until he’s buried inside him. Donghyuck admires how his hands look on Renjun's back, so big around his hips as he desperately slams into him; he admires how Renjun arches to meet him half-way, wretched moans filling the room every time Donghyuck bottoms out. He sinks his fingers in Renjun's skin just to see the imprint of them on Renjun, groans as red stripes extend all over Renjun's back. Even though it's evident that it hurts, Renjun never complains, moans louder, crumbling down under the force of Donghyuck's body.

But this isn't enough for Donghyuck tonight. He strokes Renjun and wants more, grips his small ass so hard that Renjun whines, and yet he can't come, not without kissing Renjun, not without looking into his eyes.

Renjun isn't surprised when Donghyuck manhandles him around on the mattress, but to Donghyuck's delight, he sits up and climbs onto his lap, not waiting for him to bend over. They meet in a kiss that makes Donghyuck's whole body shiver. Renjun's mouth is warm, full of fire, and Donghyuck burns from the first contact to the last. It's one taste, and then Donghyuck can't stop, and neither can Renjun.

Renjun lowers on his dick with a gasp, lips folded between Donghyuck's, and Donghyuck swallows every noise, every breath of his mouth. Renjun feels tighter in this position, and Donghyuck hugs him, fucking into him at the same pace Renjun tries to fuck himself.

It's too much for Donghyuck, an experience beyond his rut, and he can't explain it. Renjun's trust in him grows with every slam of his body, and Donghyuck can't bring himself to fear this. He wants this Renjun, the version that sacrifices his body and soul for him, because Donghyuck has sacrificed all of him as well. It’s terrifying that Donghyuck wants this forever, that he hasn’t ever felt better than with Renjun on him, that he doesn’t want to look into the future, just to be able to cling onto this moment.

He doesn’t have to, however. Renjun holds him and kisses him a dozen times, his hips accompanying every kiss, and Donghyuck feels how he crashes down, even if he’s not the one in heat, even if Renjun should be stronger than him. Donghyuck would never stop him. Renjun becomes more desperate with every thrust, he clenches around Donghyuck’s dick, closer to his edge, no need of being knotted. Donghyuck doesn’t need it tonight either. He needs something different.

“Don't let me go,” Renjun cries out then, moaning into Donghyuck’s mouth. It takes Donghyuck a moment to understand what he means, because his arms are fastened around Renjun and Donghyuck isn’t teasing him, isn’t playing with him. But Donghyuck doesn’t have time to reassure him, since Renjun starts chanting, “I want you, I want you, I-”

A strange warmness sits in the pit of Donghyuck’s stomach. It’s not just his knot swelling, not this time, not the tension in his abdomen as Renjun tightens around him, wet and warm, and sends him to heaven. It’s the certainty of Renjun wanting him even if he doesn’t need it, wanting him even if he’s supposed to be doing him a favor.

Renjun is about to come, and Donghyuck knows what he’s begging for. Selfishness invades Donghyuck, a net threading inside his head, because he’s dying to do it too. Renjun holds too much power over him. Neither of them deserve it, they don’t deserve each other, and Donghyuck needs proof that this is the right path.

That’s the reason he withdraws from the next kiss, almost laughs at the noise of distress that Renjun makes. And then, staring into Renjun’s eyes, he demands, “Say you're mine.”

It should be war, a whole series of battles in Renjun’s head, but it isn’t. Renjun is gone, just as gone as Donghyuck is, and there isn’t any hesitation in his semblance.

“I'm yours,” he says, and then he melts against Donghyuck’s mouth, not a single trace of shame. It’s not obedience, it’s not compliance, because then he repeats, “Donghyuck, I'm yours. Please, I’m yours, take me-”

Donghyuck can’t help it. Rules mean nothing to him as he cups Renjun’s face between his hands, surrendering to his secret request, as he thrusts upwards harder to tear Renjun apart. Renjun is a mess in a matter of seconds, pliant, giving into the kiss; he shudders, tenses up, and when the orgasm breaks him down, he stays latched on Donghyuck’s mouth, tongue and lips and messy biting, and a lot of words that never become reality. Donghyuck keeps him there, tasting the changes in Renjun’s mouth, his pheromones, and he understands at last why this was forbidden from the beginning.

The little moans from Renjun’s mouth travel within him, and before he can stop himself, he’s pushing Renjun on his back with one thought in mind. To mark him, to let everyone know that Renjun is indeed his, because he is, no matter that he shouldn’t be.

Donghyuck has never seen anything more beautiful than Renjun on his bed after coming, hair spread all over the mattress and cheekbones pink, a darkened glint in his eyes as he stares at Donghyuck. Donghyuck trembles all over as he dangles over Renjun, so scared and excited at the same time that he can’t take the next step by himself.

It’s Renjun who brings him closer, who aligns with his length and pushes Donghyuck inside him. Donghyuck groans as he enters Renjun again, but his eyes distractedly linger on Renjun’s neck, on the blank spot right underneath his mating mark.

“Do it,” Renjun whispers, and then he swings his head to the side, baring his neck for Donghyuck.

The skin on his neck looks so perfect, crafted to be bitten, and Donghyuck crumbles into his own madness. He grazes Renjun’s skin with his teeth, searching for the right spot for him, the spot his alpha wishes for the most. Renjun entangles in his hair, keeps Donghyuck’s head down so that he doesn’t regret what he’s doing, calls his name so softly, so sweetly, that Donghyuck feels like he’s fallen into a well, deep and dark and captivated by gravity.

He sinks his teeth in Renjun’s neck, so close to Jeno’s mark that for a moment, he fears he will taste Jeno. He doesn’t, and blood rushes through him as he goes further, his teeth breaching the first barrier of Renjun’s skin. Renjun moans under him, moves his hips to feel Donghyuck’s hard dick inside him, and Donghyuck finds himself biting down on him so hard that it hurts him too.

Renjun bleeds, but Donghyuck laps his tongue over the wound, and then he bites again and again, until he’s coming between Renjun’s legs. It drowns Donghyuck in pleasure, his whole beating at the rhythm of Renjun’s blood, at the rhythm of his breathing and the warmth inside him. Donghyuck is shot in the chest, and the intoxicating feeling of owning Renjun owns Donghyuck as well.

 

 

 

 

Afterwards, silence is all Donghyuck hears.

Mating with Renjun mark drives his rut to its end, and ironically, the right to touch Renjun dies with it. Like the first time, Donghyuck bathes Renjun to remove his scent; they sit together in the bathtub again, but Donghyuck’s memories are much happier than the present.

Donghyuck keeps his lips sealed as Renjun cries on him, an endless series of sobs that not even Donghyuck’s kisses can mitigate. There’s no consolation Donghyuck can offer him apart from taking care of him, and that’s what he does. He thumbs across his cheeks every time a tear falls, tries not to touch the burning mark in an attempt to not remind Renjun of its existence, though it’s impossible to forget.

Donghyuck has to bite back his tears, his panic. Fragility seemed to be an easy concept until now, until he has broken someone in pieces – until he has broken himself in pieces too. Reality lingers between them like a curse: no matter how much Donghyuck washes his scent off Renjun, the mating mark will remain. It will stay there, for everyone to see, for Jeno to see, and only the next cycle of Renjun’s heat will make it vanish.

After the bath, Renjun stands in front of the mirror of the bathroom, his eyes full of tears, Donghyuck behind him. He strokes over his two mating marks, watches himself in the mirror, as though he can’t believe his body has been tainted this way. Donghyuck is afraid of asking, of apologizing even. Do you regret it? he wants to ask. But he doesn’t, because a glance at Renjun’s expression is enough to know the answer. He looks tired and scared, the opposite of how mating should have made him feel.

“I can’t go back like this,” he muses, voice trembling. His gaze is lost somewhere on the mirror, and he speaks like Donghyuck isn’t there, like it’s just him in his own terribly new world. “What am I supposed to tell him?”

The mark won’t need any explanations, however. It will be the first thing Jeno will notice, and then he will look into Renjun’s eyes and there will be no doubts that they mated, that his boyfriend mated with another man. The truth is painted all over Renjun’s face, perhaps because he has never been good at lying, and this is a truth so big and powerful that it eats Renjun alive.

Donghyuck can barely stand, but neither can Renjun, and one of them has to stay sane for this. Renjun doesn’t react when Donghyuck hugs him with a towel from behind, covering his body, and presses against him. He’s cold for the first time in days, whether it’s because Donghyuck can’t warm him up with his pheromones or because he has lost too much energy, and Donghyuck gives him the little relief he’s allowed to.

“Tell him it was my fault,” Donghyuck whispers.

It’s permission to blame him for this, but they are bitter words that pierce through Donghyuck’s tongue like knives. Renjun gazes at him through the mirror, the first sign of horror plastered on his face, and his chest inflates with air.

“That’s awful,” Renjun refuses, turning pale. Awful, and still a lie. Renjun bared his neck for him, encouraged him to do it. But this lie is the only way to protect Renjun’s relationship, thus Donghyuck doesn’t budge. “You want me to say you forced me? He’ll never speak to you again.”

Renjun is wrong about that. Their friendship will vanish, but Jeno will insult him, will try to hurt him in vengeance. Whether Renjun wants to accept it or not, that’s the factor that doesn’t allow him to put Donghyuck in danger. Donghyuck would never do something as terrible as forcing a mating mark, but if he did, he would lose all his friends along with Jeno.

They’ve fucked up so badly, and Donghyuck can’t find a different solution, an excuse to defend Renjun.

“If you tell him the truth, it will be over too,” Donghyuck insists.

Renjun knows that.

He brushes the back of his hand over his face in an unsuccessful attempt to sweep his tears, but Renjun can’t stop crying, his tears falling without control. Donghyuck holds him closer, because he doesn’t have any more words that could help, that could fix the unfixable.

Since his rut ended, Donghyuck has feared that Renjun would begin to repudiate him as a defensive mechanism; on the contrary, he blends back into the hug with a sigh of relief, closing his eyes.

“We were breaking too many rules,” he laments, stroking Donghyuck’s arms around him. Now that he’s not observing the mating mark on the mirror, he regains the courage to speak, except it comes out like a mess of stuttering and nervousness, “I’m so sorry, this is on me, I had to control you this time and I just couldn’t-”

Donghyuck has lied a thousand times and once more, for Renjun’s sake, won’t change their lives. Renjun should have set the limits, shouldn’t have spiraled down with him, but he’s already aware of that, otherwise the guilt wouldn’t be devouring him.

“Renjun,” Donghyuck soothes him. “It’s okay. It’s not your fault.”

Deep inside, that reaffirmation coming from him is all Renjun needs.

Donghyuck sinks his nose in his hair and Renjun’s new, cleared scent engulfs him. The storm passes in silence, with Renjun finding refugee in his body, in his lies. It’s an odd sight: Renjun and Donghyuck himself in the mirror, wrapped in each other, under the constant reminder that Donghyuck won’t let him go through this alone. It’s a mistake made by two, after all, and there’s no point in denying that Donghyuck would have wanted to mark him too if he hadn’t been in a rut.

But the mating mark stands out so much on Renjun’s skin that Donghyuck can’t stop staring at it. It’s purple and red, too recent to have a defined shape, and it’s satisfyingly stark in comparison to Jeno’s mating mark. It’s pink versus purple, stability versus chaos, real love versus Donghyuck and his inability to love.

Donghyuck’s mouth move on its own, and he confesses, “It looks so pretty on you.”

And Renjun must agree with him, because he doesn’t ask what he’s talking about, if he’s gone crazy; he merely glances at him with wide, innocent eyes, as though those words are more dangerous than anything they’ve done together, more than the mark itself.

The compliment terrifies Renjun at first, but under that layer of indecision, a smile makes its way to his face. It’s a smile flooded with tears and sadness, and yet it remains a smile, a smile for and because of Donghyuck.

Renjun shyly muses, “It does.”

It’s hard to retain all the other praises, but sometimes Donghyuck’s thoughts are too overwhelming to be shared. Renjun looks pretty with Donghyuck’s mating mark. He looks pretty in his arms, being his. He looks pretty even when he’s in Jeno’s arms, when he stares at him with all the love in the world. Yet he also looks pretty under Donghyuck, pleading and laughing and fusing into one with him.

Donghyuck is lost in this game. Sensing Renjun’s helplessness frustrates him, but sooner or later Renjun will have to leave him, and there isn’t any escape from this.

“Stay until Jaemin’s heat is over,” Donghyuck proposes him, expecting a rejection. “It won’t be so fresh by then, and you’ll be in a better place.”

A mating mark has too much of an emotional impact for Renjun to climb over all the struggles at once. A couple of days will cool him down, as long as Donghyuck can’t keep his mouth and his hands to himself, and given that Renjun doesn’t answer right away, he must know that.

It’s not a selfless offer, not entirely. It’s in Donghyuck’s instinct to wish to have his marked omega around, to be in awe of what he has done, to admire it. So when Renjun accepts with a nod, Donghyuck’s alpha rejoices at the chance to have him for longer; but Donghyuck, the real Donghyuck that has fallen for Renjun, refuses to believe that he can be so happy in such a dark place.

 

 

 

 

“We’re not watching Coco,” Donghyuck refuses, not faltering at the pout that blooms on Renjun’s face. “It will make you cry. It will make me cry.”

It’s a mystery why Renjun wants to watch such a sad movie with him, but at this point they’ve been bickering over movie choices for three days and Renjun doesn’t have any more strength to fight him. There wasn’t much they could do apart from that. They cooked, sometimes ordered food because Renjun didn’t want to go out with the mark in his neck – a sign that he had mated with two different alphas, a sign that would gain him judging looks and discrimination. They ate, watched movies, and cuddled each other to sleep on repeat, giggled when either Sunwoo or Jaemin sounded like there was an earthquake in the apartment.

Three days of Renjun, of not touching Renjun sexually, and Donghyuck realizes that he still wants him. It amazes Donghyuck that he can still joke around, that Renjun does his usual nose scrunch at him instead of breaking down when they kiss. It’s so easy to be normal around each other, to ignore what’s ahead of them.

Crawling over the couch to sit with him, Renjun groans, “So another bad romcom that has me vomiting for days?”

“Exactly.”

Renjun doesn’t protest further as he accommodates himself in Donghyuck’s lap, which is suspicious behavior coming for him. Donghyuck throws the blanket over them, adjusts around Renjun’s body, leans his chin on Renjun’s shoulder and rubs their heads together. Again, Renjun barely responds, and it takes Donghyuck a second to register that Renjun isn’t thinking about this moment, about them.

“What?” Donghyuck mutters into his ear, uneasy.

Renjun sighs, as though he didn’t expect Donghyuck to notice. “Sunwoo and Jaemin are very quiet.”

It’s been hours since Donghyuck heard the last moan, and the peace that is settling in the apartment hints to the return to normality. It’s not a relief for neither of them, because if Jaemin’s heat is over, then this is over for them too. The return to normality is the return to reality, so they can’t live in this bubble of fantasy for longer.

“They are,” Donghyuck confirms. He avoids to mention the problems that will bring, because Renjun is perfectly aware, perfectly worried. “They’re probably sleeping for the first time in days.”

Observing Renjun’s profile, Donghyuck can see him bite on his lower lip, hesitant. Donghyuck doesn’t want to pressure him to share his thoughts, so he reaches for the control and plays the movie, and then hugs Renjun against him harder, craving the warmth of his body.

It’s only one minute later that Renjun whips his head to look back at him, concern in his eyes and an innocence that Donghyuck has missed.

He muses, “Can you-?”

Donghyuck understands right away. Renjun has developed the fear of checking his own marks, always looking away from the mirror, his fingers hovering over them without daring to touch. But he needs to know, as he runs out of time, how Donghyuck’s mark looks on him. If he can lie to other people and say it’s from Jeno, if it can pass as a wound, even.

“Of course,” Donghyuck says. He caresses Renjun’s hair to the side, and Renjun follows the direction of his hand, opens up for him without fear. Unlike Renjun, Donghyuck doesn’t get tired of admiring the mark, the print of his teeth and mouth on Renjun’s skin. He shivers, carefully lingers over it not to hurt Renjun, and concludes, “It looks better. Still quite red in the middle, but the purple is gone and there are no scabs.”

It’s healing fast, against all odds. It doesn’t mean that it will disappear sooner, but that it will acquire a soft texture, a clearer pink on Renjun’s skin.

The description seems to calm Renjun down, because he breathes deep and says, “Okay. I can do this.”

It unsettles Donghyuck that Renjun has to face Jeno on his own. Mating was such a stupid choice, but they weren’t thinking about Jeno, they weren’t even thinking that this – Donghyuck and his rut – isn’t part of Renjun’s real life. It’s inexcusable, and Donghyuck wishes they had an excuse to justify it, but they don’t.

“Don’t think about it now,” Donghyuck prompts him. He shapes his scent to encircle Renjun, to make him feel secure. It’s false security, because as soon as Renjun leaves these four walls, he will be alone to fence. It doesn’t matter, for Donghyuck prefers to protect him now than never protect him. “Renjun, if you want, I can do it for you. I’m serious.”

Perhaps it would paint them as guiltier, yet that’s the flaming truth.

“Jeno is my mate,” Renjun reminds him in a mutter. “It’s me who has fucked up.”

Jeno is his mate, and Renjun letting Donghyuck mark him is a bigger treason than anything Donghyuck could do. Mates have a deeper connection than a simple couple, and on top of that, Renjun and Jeno have been together for years.

“Ren-”

“Don’t say it,” Renjun interrupts him. Donghyuck doesn’t have to speak for Renjun to intuit that he’s about to tangle him in a lie just for the sake of his culpability. Donghyuck would do it all the necessary times until Renjun was happy, but Renjun is more mature than him, more honest to himself. “Don’t try to say it wasn’t important, because it was for us, and it will be for Jeno regardless if it was important for us or not.”

Donghyuck needs a moment to control his emotions, for Renjun will smell the changes in his scent otherwise. Those ugly, hurtful words mean the whole world to him. It was important for Renjun, as vital as it was for Donghyuck, and even if that can destroy them, Donghyuck clings onto that hope until his hands bleed and his heart shudders.

“Sorry,” Donghyuck manages to utter. “I wish this could be easier.”

Under the blanket, Renjun squeezes his hand. He strokes Donghyuck’s cheek with his own, as if to feel him one last time, and agrees, “Me too.”

 

 

 

 

Renjun leaves that same afternoon, and just a couple of hours later, Sunwoo comes out of Jaemin’s room with wet hair and terrible dark circles. Once upon a time, Donghyuck would have teased him, but today a mere glance exchanged between them shows that Donghyuck doesn’t have the heart to even smile.

His little secret is Sunwoo’s secret now too, because he has seen, smelt and talked to Renjun from time to time during the week. Donghyuck doesn’t care if Sunwoo judges him for it, because he must have never imagined that the boy he was helping was Jeno’s mate. Crossing paths with Sunwoo troubles Donghyuck for other reasons: he’s the perfect representation of Jeno, unaware of what Jaemin is hiding from him. He wonders if Sunwoo suspects it, at least, that Jaemin doesn’t belong to him that way.

“I don’t know what happened between you two,” Sunwoo tells him as he grabs his jacket by the door. Perhaps because he can sense Donghyuck is in ruins, he doesn’t dare to look into his eyes. Somehow Donghyuck is sure that Jaemin didn’t call his name during his heat, but that he vented to Sunwoo when he wasn’t so lost in his head. “But he needs you.”

And Donghyuck has needed Jaemin for a while, except he found his friend conspiring against his wishes instead. It doesn’t help that Jaemin stayed over during his heat, disregarding Donghyuck’s rut, because Donghyuck doesn’t know what to think about their friendship anymore. Jaemin has always had him, and it has been his choice not to rely on Donghyuck at times.

Just like Donghyuck has refused to rely on him in the last months.

When the door closes behind Sunwoo, Donghyuck turns on his heels to face Jaemin’s bedroom. As he expects, the moment Sunwoo is gone, Jaemin peeks through the crack of his half opened door.

Donghyuk doesn’t greet him, afraid that Jaemin will slide back into his room out of embarrassment. Jaemin has always felt shame after his heats, and this time is no exception, especially with the situation that surrounds them. But he leaves his room very slowly, reticence in his big eyes as he stares at Donghyuck across the hall. Donghyuck can’t do anything but stare back, to wait for Jaemin to close the distance and talk to him.

That’s not what Jaemin does. His steps are full of hesitation at first, but the last stretch vanishes in the blink of an eye, and Jaemin crashes into his arms, sobbing.

Donghyuck is petrified for a few seconds, not understanding why Jaemin is hugging him, why he’s crying like a baby. But then his arms naturally respond by encircling Jaemin, and the mere touch of Donghyuck’s hands on his back provoke more crying.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Jaemin moans. “I just didn’t want you to get hurt.”

The knot that explodes in his stomach makes Donghyuck black out, a knot he didn’t know was there. It’s tension, distress, sadness, and this is what Jaemin has been shielding him from. Jaemin, who knows him like the palm of his own hand, who saw the first signs of dependence in Donghyuck and got scared. Neither of them are perfect, both are embroiled in their own disasters, but Jaemin has never been bad to him.

“It’s a bit late for that,” Donghyuck mutters back, because even though Jaemin shouldn’t be responsible for it, Donghyuck doesn’t have anyone else to share this with.

Jaemin withdraws enough to look into his eyes, a shade of surprise and fondness in his face. Donghyuck’s words could be interpreted in many ways, but Jaemin sees through him, understands that this is a confession.

“My baby,” Jaemin whispers, cupping his face. Donghyuck shuts his eyes close, unable to maintain eye contact, but his pheromones can’t hide how broken he feels inside, as if there was a hand clawing at him to escape. Jaemin repeats, “I’m so sorry. I convinced you to get into this mess.”

Donghyuck shakes his head, “I did it because I wanted to.” Because he reasoned with his instinct, not with his head. Because he wanted to have a taste of Renjun. Because he thought Renjun would be like any other omega, and he wasn’t, and then Donghyuck found himself drowning in the pit of the game. “Don’t blame yourself.”

Jaemin opens his mouth, but he ends up opting for silence. It’s better, because when Jaemin slumps in the hug again, he knows that he’s not really alone. Once Jeno, Mark and Renjun turn their backs on him, Jaemin will still be here for him. Jaemin isn’t afraid of taking sides, and even if Donghyuck makes a thousand mistakes, Jaemin is always on his side.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck has many expectations, but he never expects to end up bleeding in the middle of his faculty.

He’s conscious that he deserves this, that when Jeno crosses the empty hall of his faculty, he’s not here for a friendly talk about if Donghyuck is in love with his boyfriend or not. But Jeno has always been discreet, with a good grasp of his emotions, and Donghyuck supposes that they’re only going to have a heated argument.

The reality is very different: Donghyuck sees nothing but Jeno’s fist as his friend punches him in the face. Jeno is scarily strong, and under the flame of his own anger, one punch is enough to tumble Donghyuck down. He hears people gasp, even some screaming, but he doesn’t receive any more hits. And then he crawls over the floor, trying to get up, just to discover that his hands are full of blood and so is his face, the liquid dripping down his chin and onto his clothes.

He doesn’t know who helps him to reach the bathroom, except that it’s an alpha, because all he can register is pain, pain and blood, and an asphyxiating pressure in his chest. He knows he cries over the sink, that he swallows both his tears and the blood, the alpha rubbing his back until his face is clean. Stopping the nosebleed is harder, but they manage to – and to Donghyuck’s relief, that means that his nose isn’t broken.

It’s quite humiliating to recognize the alpha that is with him: Kun, a doctorate student that collaborates with Taeyong pretty often. He’s going to tell Taeyong about this, and Taeyong is going to scold Donghyuck as if he was five years old, as if his best friend punching him in the face isn’t enough.

The consolation is that Kun doesn’t look at him with pity. He sits with him on the cold floor of the faculty bathroom, more worried about his nose than about his feelings.

Only when Donghyuck stops crying, Kun lifts his eyebrows and says, “You fucked his mate, didn’t you?” Donghyuck looks at him in shock, because there are many reasons why Jeno could have attacked him, and it would be very low of Kun to assume that. He explains, “You and he carry the same omega scent.”

Needless to say, Donghyuck didn’t erase Renjun’s scent from himself. He didn’t have time nor the will, and the alternative was using Jaemin again, which was risky given that they’re reconciling. He had never thought about how that looked to other people.

“It’s more complicated than that,” Donghyuck retorts, not in the mood to clarify that it’s indeed worse than that.

Kun tilts his head, slightly interested, but he knows better than prying.

“He’s waiting outside with my friend,” he reveals. Donghyuck feels his heart halt, because he’s not ready to look into Jeno’s eyes, and less after this. “Do you think you can be left alone?”

Donghyuck isn’t sure that he can confront Jeno, but overall, he can’t be sure that Jeno won’t jump him. However, he nods, because hiding behind Kun just paints him as a coward, and he has to pay for his own mistakes. Renjun has already done his part.

Jeno is indeed outside, talking in whispers with Kun’s friend – an omega, Donghyuck notices. He’s sitting on a bench, head between his thighs as the other boy pats his hair; Donghyuck can’t tell if he’s crying, but he’s certain that Jeno must have cried too much in the past days to have anything left for him.

The whole situation makes Donghyuck feel like a kid. Jeno refuses to glance at him, refuses to acknowledge his presence even if he’s here for Donghyuck. When Kun tells them that they must behave or they will get disciplinary actions, Jeno mutters something under his breath that sounds very similar to Donghyuck being an animal that can’t behave.

It’s ironic, but Donghyuck can’t blame him for it. He stands in front of Jeno, his heart dropping lower and lower into his stomach as he takes in all the consequences – he’s about to lose Jeno, if he hasn’t already lost him. There’s no way Donghyuck could gaze into Jeno’s eyes and lie, tell him that he doesn’t have feelings for Renjun.

The worst part is that Jeno doesn’t speak. He crosses his arms over his chest and looks up at him, a blank expression that scares Donghyuck, because if Jeno doesn’t care about him anymore, it’s over for them.

That’s why Donghyuck decides to begin, because Jeno doesn’t have the obligation to ease the process for him.

“I lost my mind, okay?” Donghyuck whispers, words grazing his throat like nails. Keeping his gaze on the floor, he continues, “I know what I did, I know that I shouldn’t have done it.”

Donghyuck doesn’t move, but he catches Jeno’s attention at last. His scent warns Donghyuck not to dare defy him, that not even the simple, naïve act of glancing at Jeno will be welcomed. After what he has done, Donghyuck’s duty is to be ashamed, to give Jeno an amount of power that he would never have in normal circumstances.

“I don’t even have words for you, Donghyuck,” is what leaves Jeno’s mouth. Blood pulses in Donghyuck’s ears, adrenaline shooting through his body, until Jeno’s voice becomes a muffled sound in his head. “Renjun and I had a fucking big argument about why he had to help you with your rut. And I gave in, you know? I didn’t want to, but because Renjun felt like he owed you this favor, I let him.” Jeno pauses, and then scoffs, “Look at me, I sound like an asshole when I talk about Renjun now.”

Like he owns him, like Renjun has to obey his rules. As a beta, Jeno can control him, but he’s not the sort of person that uses his rank to influence others. Jeno is too kind, too innocent, and Donghyuck has spoiled that for him. The evident possessiveness of his words is just the natural response to what Donghyuck has left in Renjun’s body.

Still, with the truth before him, Donghyuck feels possessive over Renjun too. A tiny voice in his head insists that Renjun belongs to him as much as he belongs to Jeno, and that is nurtured by the mating mark.

“And you took advantage of that,” Jeno accuses him. Donghyuck whips his head up, horrified at the insinuation. He would have never taken advantage of Renjun, though he gave Renjun permission to use that as an excuse. But if that was the case, Jeno wouldn’t have only punched him, he wouldn’t be sitting on a bench, so Donghyuck knows that Jeno is referring to a different type of coercion. “Fuck, I don’t care you were in your rut. Renjun isn’t used to sleeping with an alpha, and less in a rut, he doesn’t know how to control his own body under rut pheromones. You knew that, but you didn’t protect him.”

This time, Donghyuck wants to retort. Renjun might be inexperienced with alphas, but with Donghyuck, he felt nothing but safe. Donghyuck is an expert at reading people, at reading omegas, and on top of that, at reading Renjun. They don’t need words anymore, and Donghyuck did his best to protect him.

Yet he can’t reveal all that to Jeno. It’s self-defeating. It will put Renjun in danger.

“I was selfish,” Donghyuck admits. He had wanted to mark Renjun for a while, there’s no doubt about it. At his confession, Jeno glowers, shaking his head, and Donghyuck urgently protests, “What do you want me to say? I have nothing to say, no right to fight.”

Jeno stands up, and for a second, Donghyuck has to battle the need of backing away. It takes an incredible amount of self-control not to defend himself as Jeno approaches him, as he comes so close that their chests touch, that Jeno hovers over him in all his height, intimidating him. Donghyuck’s alpha instinct hurls, screams, because the right reaction is to push this beta away and impose over him, but Donghyuck knows that will result in a fight.

“I’m glad you know that,” Jeno hisses, far from happy with Donghyuck’s submission. And then Donghyuck sends him a quick look, just to find pure fury in Jeno’s eyes, to find that his old friend isn’t there at all. “Don’t touch Renjun again.”

The world collapses around Donghyuck in the blink of an eye. He can’t breathe, he can’t think, and it hurts so much that he doesn’t remember where he is, who he is; the idea of not being able to see Renjun drills through him until Donghyuck only feels the hole in his chest, so empty and so full at the same time.

Jeno doesn’t wait for him, doesn’t stay to see the evident suffering in his face. He steps back, jaw clenched, and turns around to leave. Donghyuck reaches for him, unaware of how bad of an idea that is, how Jeno’s body tenses from head to toe at his touch.

“Jeno-” Donghyuck starts.

“Jeno what?” he snaps, shaking Donghyuck off him without any care. Any other sane person would put distance between them, but Donghyuck isn’t sane, not after Jeno has retired the permission to touch his mate. However, Jeno is far from calm right now, and so Donghyuck stares at someone that is as disposed to fight as he is. “Are you going to convince me of letting you fuck my mate again? Are you really so desperate for him?”

It’s supposed to be a blow to his ego. Donghyuck, who doesn’t beg, who doesn’t get hooked on people, just moves on time after time. Jeno’s words are harsh because he can see through Donghyuck, can sense that all this carefulness has an aim. Donghyuck didn’t hit him back, even though it’s in his nature to do so. Donghyuck is enduring all the insults and the reproaching without a protest, he’s not even coming up with excuses to justify his behavior. There’s only one reason for that: he’s afraid Renjun will be taken away from him forever.

“This isn’t about me,” Donghyuck grunts, losing confidence. He withdraws his hand, for it’s obvious that physical contact is a trigger for Jeno, but his mind is only on Renjun, spiraling around him and his smile and his legs, around how happy Donghyuck is with him. “He can’t go back to suffering through his heats.”

Incredulity plasters all over Jeno’s face, but the fierce urge of confronting Donghyuck remains alive.

You made this about you,” he growls. But for the first time, there’s a hint of a smile on his lips. Donghyuck knows why. Because punching Donghyuck is liberating, but forbidding him to see Renjun is what kills him, a pain as big as the one Jeno must have feel upon seeing the mating mark. “I’ll figure it out. This is none of your business.”

It’s payback. Jeno spins around, not looking back at him, and Donghyuck knows that he has lost. Jeno will get Renjun another alpha, an alpha that isn’t in love with him; and it rips Donghyuck in two.

“Please,” Donghyuck says one last time, but he can’t rewind in time, he can’t make this right, and so his plea dies in the silence of the hall.

 

Chapter Text

After hours of crying, it’s hard to remember why he’s crying.

“He’s going to dehydrate,” Donghyuck hears Jisung say, his usual timid tone whispering words through the room.

At first, Donghyuck doesn’t want to go back home. Renjun’s scent is there, impregnated in every corner of his room and, given the last few days, also in the living room and the kitchen. But staying outside is a terrible idea, since he’s not in a good state of mind and he’s afraid of doing something he will regret. He’s aware he needs support, someone to hold onto, and only at home can he find that.

Jaemin isn’t alone, but Donghyuck is too blinded to care about that. The moment he crosses the door, both Jaemin and Jisung’s eyes are on him, equally worried expressions on their faces. At first, Donghyuck doesn’t understand their reactions – he doesn’t remember he’s been punched in the nose, and though Jaemin starts screaming about his nose, his fussing disappears when Donghyuck crumbles against him, crying so shamelessly that both Jaemin and Jisung fall silent.

Jaemin is smart. He doesn’t accompany Donghyuck to his room, but to Jaemin’s room, intuiting that Renjun’s scent will worsen his state. Within Donghyuck, it’s a battle between drenching in the remainders of Renjun and avoiding the pain that will cause him. Donghyuck has spent many nights in Jaemin’s bedroom, yet none of them included wetting his pillow with tears, and surely they didn’t include Jisung bringing food and water as if he was sick.

“I’m sure he’d love to dehydrate and die,” Jaemin replies, stroking Donghyuck’s hair.

Donghyuck feels the bed dip under Jisung’s weight, and then he’s being lifted to take a sip of water. Through his tears, he recognizes a blurry Jisung pressing the glass on his lips. It’s inevitable that he’s going to feel guilty for this. Jaemin is his friend and an omega, so he doesn’t have any problem with taking care of an alpha, but Jisung has no obligation, neither because of his nature nor for his relation to Donghyuck.

Jisung is helping because he wants to. Perhaps because he understands Donghyuck better than anyone else.

“I was awful to you,” Donghyuck croaks out after swallowing a bit of water. It burns in his throat, but it’s cold enough to wake him from the dizziness. “But you’re here for me.”

Jisung leaves the glass on the bedside table, eyeing Donghyuck to measure if he’s still thirsty, and then shrugs.

“I’m an alpha. I get awful too, sometimes.”

It’s automatic: Donghyuck lets out a scoff. Jisung is light years away from even coming close to Donghyuck’s behavior, from allowing his instinct to take over his humanity as often as it happens to Donghyuck. He’s an angel in comparison, if his presence here doesn’t already prove it, and god, Donghyuck comprehends Jaemin’s refusal to let him go.

Donghyuck plops down on the bed again, no strength to sit up for too long. He feels Jaemin brush his tears with a tissue and, despite the oddity of the situation, they lie together in bed. Jisung rolls over to the other side, occupying the empty space next to Donghyuck, but he doesn’t dare to cuddle him. He just holds onto his arm to comfort him, and even though Donghyuck will never admit it out loud, being flanked by Jisung and Jaemin calms him for a while. He doesn’t know if it’s the mere warmth of two bodies enveloping him – or if it’s the physical acceptance, the realization that he’s not alone even if he doesn’t have Renjun – but he breathes in and for the first time that night, tears don’t roll down his face.

Jaemin drapes over him, adjusts his head on his chest and throws an arm across Donghyuck’s abdomen to intertwine his fingers with Jisung. Donghyuck nearly laughs at them, but he doesn’t like the accuracy with which he’s reflected in them.

“Jeno will forgive you, but he needs time,” Jaemin whispers after a few minutes, right when Donghyuck starts to believe he’s asleep.

“He won’t,” Donghyuck contradicts him. It’s not an act of rebellion, but the certainty he saw in Jeno’s eyes. Donghyuck went too far, so far that they can’t step back over the limiting line. “He knows about my feelings.”

And that’s what terrifies Donghyuck the most: to be exposed in a way that Jeno can destroy him if he wishes so. It was different before that, because Donghyuck had given that power to Renjun, and Renjun had shared his own secret with him. They had found safety in each other’s mistakes.

Jaemin blinks at him, throwing his head back to stare at his face.

“Donghyuck, I can assure you no one knows about your feelings.” Donghyuck lets out a noise of skepticism, and Jaemin corrects himself, “Besides Renjun and me. And well, now Jisung.”

To Donghyuck’s surprise, Jisung nods next to him, as if to confirm that he never suspected anything. Donghyuck isn’t convinced, however, because he feels like a window display, like everyone is watching him.

“And Mark?” Donghyuck mutters.

The sigh Jaemin releases is very familiar. Donghyuck is stubborn and so is Jaemin, so the signs of an upcoming speech are evident.

“Look,” Jaemin says, throwing Jisung a look that Donghyuck doesn’t miss. He doesn’t understand that exchange, but it all makes sense as Jaemin continues, “Omegas know when an alpha is in love. But betas- they have no idea how to read alphas.”

Sensing how the pressure in his chest returns, Donghyuck breathes in to control his emotions. If Jaemin is right, then Donghyuck has been obvious to Renjun for longer than he thought, even for longer than to Donghyuck himself.

“Jeno thinks that you want Renjun because it’s ingrained in your stupid alpha instinct to mark and own. Maybe he suspects you have deeper feelings than those, but he can’t be sure,” Jaemin explains. That’s an important, big supposition, especially because Donghyuck has doubted for a long time if his feelings were just an extension of his instinct. Not real feelings. He has learned through blows. “And his stupid beta instinct makes him fight you, but once he sees there’s no danger-”

“They’re not going to break up,” Donghyuck interrupts him, aware of where Jaemin’s speech is going. Donghyuck isn’t a complete fool, but to hear from his friend that his hopes are childish and incredible, is soul crushing. There’s bitterness in his tone, even though he tries to hide it, even though it shows his true ugly thoughts. “That’s what you’re telling me? Jeno will forgive me when his relationship is safe because he won’t see me as a threat anymore.”

The pause that follows turns a wheel inside Donghyuck’s head. He isn’t used to being that honest with other people, because all this time he has bottled up his thoughts about Renjun, about wanting him, about his options to be with him. And of course he couldn’t erase Jeno from the picture.

Wary, Jaemin asks, “Do you want them to break up, Donghyuck?”

Donghyuck swallows. Jaemin already knows the answer; even Jisung, who observes Donghyuck with both awe and fear, as though he has never seen an alpha cry before, doesn’t need Donghyuck to reply.

“Yes,” Donghyuck confesses. “And no.”

Not until the truth is out does Donghyuck feel the weight vanish off his shoulder. A weight that he wasn’t aware of. Neither Jaemin nor Jisung look at him like he’s a monster, and all of sudden Donghyuck stops feeling like one.

He threads his fingers in Jaemin’s hair, bathing both in the soothing side of his pheromones and in the pity that he emits.

“Do you think Renjun loves me?” Donghyuck dares to whisper, so low that he realizes he’s hoping he won’t be heard. The lack of response, the tension in the air humors Donghyuck, but he wants to cry and laugh at the same time, because his desperation is evident, but so is how uncomfortable the question makes Jaemin and Jisung. “What, suddenly you can’t read omegas?”

Jaemin doesn’t find his joke funny. He rubs his hair against his palm, as to say sorry beforehand.

“I can’t speak for him,” he concludes, a statement that could hold no meaning, yet it does.

Because if Renjun wasn’t in love with him, Jaemin would tell him. Jaemin’s overprotection is a gesture to save Donghyuck’s relationships with his friends, not to save him from heartbreak. What Jaemin ignores is that both disasters come hand in hand.

No brake to stop him, Donghyuck adds, “You’re afraid of what I might do if you tell me.”

After all there’s no reason to fear, for he’s tied by his neck, but Donghyuck lets them fear. The three of them have something in common. Donghyuck doesn’t trust himself either.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck invades Jaemin’s bedroom for two whole weeks, but by the third, Jaemin locks him out by surprise one night and Donghyuck has no option but to sleep in his own bed.

Renjun's scent has faded away from the couch, which would be the most effortless solution for him, but Donghyuck doesn't want to disappoint Jaemin. There's a reason why Jaemin didn't wash the sheets for him like last time, or why he didn't force Donghyuck to do it on his own at least: because if Donghyuck can't endure Renjun's scent without collapsing, he'll never be able to meet him again.

Donghyuck appreciates the gesture, though Jaemin has too much hope in him. Talking to Renjun doesn't depend on Donghyuck. He's texted Renjun a few times, and even if most of them he was drunk, Renjun has ignored all of them.

Despite the radio silence, Donghyuck is sure that Renjun isn't ignoring him because he wants to. It would be disrespectful towards his mate to answer Donghyuck while Jeno refuses to contact them; Jeno has cut contact with Jaemin too, and that unveils the gravity of the situation. But deep inside Donghyuck knows those are signs of the fragility of his relationship with Jeno. Renjun doesn't want to risk anything by indulging Donghyuck, and Donghyuck has to respect it regardless of his disagreement.

Donghyuck can't adapt to his new life. A life without Jeno, without stumbling with him through the streets at night, without sending him dumb messages about his problems, without Jeno having one of those embarrassing outbursts that he never has in front of anyone else. Sometimes Donghyuck is on the volleyball court and, before he can process his movements, he's staring at the bleachers, looking for Jeno – remembering that Jeno promised he would attend one of his matches, remembering that he probably will never do it now.

That's not the worst. The worst is slipping in his bed that first night, after two weeks of freedom, and being wrapped by Renjun's scent. Donghyuck isn't free, his freedom is in Renjun's hands. He's a slave for himself, first and foremost, and then for Renjun. For his kisses, for his touches, for the peculiar way Renjun curls the strands of his hair around his index finger. For how pretty he looks when he smiles, an uneven smile that sparks until Donghyuck is blind; for those laughs that become scoffs, for the side looks that Renjun sends him when Donghyuck is being ridiculous. For how his hands feel in Donghyuck's hold amidst a cold night. For Renjun's instinct to know every tiny detail of his body and mind, for loving him back for real, for who Donghyuck is, for the first time.

When Donghyuck holds onto his pillow and realizes that he doesn't regret any of his feelings for Renjun, he knows there's no going back. Renjun will stay there, a tiny thorn in his heart, as time passes.

And Donghyuck would never uproot the thorn, because that pain is a reminder of why he wants to be alive, and healing would kill him.

 

 

 

 

Among all the ways to fall, jumping off is Donghyuck's favorite.

Life turns and turns, but it turns so fast that Donghyuck is expelled back to the returning point. It feels like a déjà vu to sit in front of Yukhei, while Sunwoo, Jaemin, Jisung and Chenle scream at each other their foolish, drunk arguments, and think once more oh, Yukhei smells like Renjun.

They're at the same bar, but it's different. Donghyuck isn't in a rut. He's just sad, desperate and broken. He knows that Renjun spent his last heat with Jeno, that Jeno wouldn't have dared to find another alpha so soon; and though he has despised the images playing in his head during the last few weeks, images of Jeno touching Renjun, he prefers Jeno to another man. What frustrates Donghyuck is that he can't be there to help Renjun, to pet his hair while he comes off from his high, to press a dozen pecks on his lips when he smiles. That was never his role to begin with, and he shouldn't have taken it away from Jeno.

“You didn't drink enough,” Sunwoo chirps, nearly knocking off one of the bottles as he pours Donghyuck another drink.

He's right, but Donghyuck's mind is elsewhere. It's not on having fun. Donghyuck pities Sunwoo more than he could ever pity himself. Unlike him, Sunwoo is too drunk to realize how Jaemin leans on Jisung's shoulder, how Jisung keeps laughing at every little thing Jaemin says, no matter how unfunny it is; how they hold hands under the table sometimes, unaware of what they're doing on instinct.

Noticing the change in the atmosphere, Donghyuck grasps his drink and swallows half of it in one go, embraced by the cheers of his friends. He settles the glass on the table with a smirk and cheekily announces, “I don't want to drink too much tonight.”

That provokes laughter around the table, and Donghyuck takes advantage of that distraction to observe Yukhei across him. He's laughing too, a hand on Chenle's thigh, like he doesn't have any notion of how an alpha must treat an omega. Donghyuck supposes that is what liberates Yukhei: he doesn't worry about social rules. If he wants to be friends with Renjun, though Renjun is already mated, he will. If he wants to touch Chenle because they're friends and he doesn't make distinctions based on Chenle's rank, he will.

Donghyuck wonders how far Yukhei's acceptance goes. He's an alpha. He's forbidden for Donghyuck, and Donghyuck is forbidden for him. Among all the possible combinations of ranks, two alphas is the most frowned upon. It's an explosive mix, sometimes dangerous given the lack of balance, and Donghyuck has never considered the possibility. He does now, for immoral reasons and his tendency to take bad decisions.

The scent on Yukhei's skin erodes his sanity bit by bit. As soon as Donghyuck catches it, he tries to ignore it, because he deserves to spend a calm night without fucking up his life more than it already is. But the undeniable proof hits him every time Yukhei moves his head and a breeze carries Renjun to Donghyuck, so subtle yet so clear.

Donghyuck doesn't give a fuck that Yukhei still smells like himself, of alpha pheromones and power. The remainders of Renjun's scent on him are so sweet that Donghyuck feels intoxicated. If he closed his eyes, he could believe Renjun was here. Donghyuck hasn't seen Renjun in so long that the minimal trace of his smell is a whole new world for him, and it asphyxiates his mind, his heart, and to his disgrace, his dick.

Donghyuck waits. He observes Yukhei, looks away when Yukhei glances back at him. He ignores Jaemin’s questioning looks, as though he’s receiving the slight change in his pheromones too, but Donghyuck isn’t trying to hide it. His pheromones might affect other ranks around him, but they can also affect alphas, for better or for worse.

Whether his pheromones improve the effect of his antics or not, it’s easy to lure Yukhei into accompanying him. Perhaps because both of them are tipsy, perhaps because Yukhei would never suspect Donghyuck’s intentions, or because he actually does. When they get up to ask for a new round of drinks, Donghyuck grabs Yukhei by the arm, pretending that he’s going to whisper something into his ear, and tears him away from the group. It’s thrilling to see how no one notices, how even Yukhei smiles at him without knowing what’s going on, unaware but pliant enough to follow Donghyuck.

The cold air of the night revives Donghyuck’s consciousness, and against all odds, that anchors his decision. When Donghyuck pushes Yukhei against the stone of the building, when he curls up his hands to fist his jacket, he knows that it’s too late to back out.

Yukhei doesn’t understand him, since he grins down at him and asks, “What are we doing here?”

Donghyuck doesn’t have any repairs in explaining his intentions to him. He’s not disposed to waste his time, because every second that passes by is an opportunity for Renjun’s scent to erode, and the faster Donghyuck jumps on Yukhei, the more he will enjoy it.

Pressing his body against Yukhei, sinking in the bits of Renjun in him, Donghyuck sputters, “Have you ever fucked an alpha?”

Yukhei’s smile falls. And then, as a reflex, he shivers all over. Donghyuck can’t miss it, not when they’re pressed together so intimately. Yukhei’s expression betrays him. Donghyuck knows he has pushed a sensible button in Yukhei.

“What?” Yukhei mutters, half shocked, half scared. He looks around to make sure that no one is listening to Donghyuck’s indecency. No one cares, Donghyuck knows that, and less in a zone of bars, full of drunk people that won’t remember anything tomorrow. They could kiss and probably no one would catch onto the fact that they’re two alphas. Yet Yukhei sends him a warning, “Donghyuck.”

The urge of laughing that invades Donghyuck can only be explained if he’s gone crazy. He’s here, in the middle of the street, making advances towards another alpha while their friends are just a few steps away inside the bar – and he’s having fun for the first time in weeks. Donghyuck knows the logic of it: intimidating an alpha, even if it’s sexually, gives him power. A sort of power that he can only obtain from omegas like Renjun, even if no one will ever compare to Renjun, even if Yukhei isn’t Renjun and will never be, alpha or not.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Donghyuck replies. It’s the perfect moment for Yukhei to shove him away, but instead his eyes are drawn to Donghyuck’s lips as he smiles and says, “Are you curious?”

He is. In fact, Donghyuck wonders if he hasn’t already gone through this before. Any other alpha would have felt offended, and Donghyuck can’t tell if Yukhei is holding up because he likes alphas, because he likes Donghyuck, or because he’s too nice to prompt a fight out of pride.

Yukhei’s hands come to rest at Donghyuck’s hips, but he sighs, “Donghyuck, you’re way too drunk.”

If that’s the only barrier for him, Donghyuck can kick it down.

He clings to Yukhei’s waist, gathering all the seriousness he’s capable of. He doesn’t want Yukhei to assume that he’s playing around, that if he was sober, he wouldn’t propose this. If Yukhei thinks that, he’s wrong. It’s not the alcohol that is making him fall apart, but Renjun’s scent. He will never be sober as long as Renjun is around him in one way or another.

“Come home with me. We’ll sober up,” Donghyuck muses, staring into Yukhei’s eyes. The way Donghyuck loses himself in the moment is beyond dangerous, but he enjoys Yukhei’s tension, the dilemma that is stinging him. Yukhei breathes out, agitated, and Donghyuck grunts, “Fuck me.”

 

 

 

 

One hour later, face down on the mattress and ass up, Donghyuck feels very proud of himself.

Yukhei isn’t rough with him, but he’s incredibly impatient. While they kiss, Yukhei keeps muttering I’ve never touched an alpha, I’ve never done this, with a tone that hints that he couldn’t, but that he wanted. It’s the first time for Donghyuck too, even if he imagines he isn’t with an alpha, even if he refuses to count this as something relevant.

It’s the first time in many senses. Donghyuck has never opened his legs for anyone, but Yukhei isn’t disposed to do it for him, and Donghyuck is too desperate to fight for a stupid metaphorical position of power. He’s dying to lap his tongue over Yukhei’s skin until he finds where the traces of Renjun are hidden. So he obeys, lets Yukhei finger him open as he groans and complains, because Donghyuck is too nervous and it hurts, the feeling of being stretched is incredibly unfamiliar to him.

Yukhei doesn’t oppose to Donghyuck choosing to be on all fours for him. He doesn’t need to know why; not facing Yukhei while he thrusts into him allows Donghyuck to think that he’s with someone else. Yukhei’s hands are much bigger than Renjun’s, but that doesn’t matter once all Donghyuck can feel is Yukhei’s dick stretching him.

“God,” Yukhei grunts, a guttural noise hurling on his tongue. “You’re so tight.”

Yukhei isn’t going to fuck anyone tighter than Donghyuck in his life, that’s for sure. Donghyuck holds onto the sheets so hard that he sinks his own nails on his palms. It’s impossible to speak because, despite how well Yukhei has fingered him, Donghyuck feels like he’s being ripped apart. Yukhei is big, and he’s especially big for another alpha who hasn’t been fucked before.

But Donghyuck enjoys the pain, the proof that he can still feel something physical. It has been a while since someone touched him, and when he closes his eyes and drowns a moan against his mattress, Donghyuck thinks of Renjun. Of Renjun holding his hips and slamming into him just like Yukhei is doing, of Renjun having him subdued and undone on the bed, ass up only for him.

To keep his fantasy intact, Donghyuck doesn’t want Yukhei to speak, which is difficult given his mouth. A few rolls of his hips teach Donghyuck how to shut him up, how to leave him speechless. Yukhei tries to fist his hair and lift him so that he can hear Donghyuck’s moans, but Donghyuck collapses back onto the mattress, aware that this will shame him. Again and again, Donghyuck bites on the sheets and muffles Renjun’s name against them. Yukhei must suppose that it’s gibberish, because he fucks harder into him every time, and Donghyuck tightens around him, too overwhelmed to stop himself.

When Yukhei hoists him to turn him around, Donghyuck doesn’t care anymore. He closes his eyes, indulges Yukhei, intuiting the reason Yukhei is doing this: because he wants to see his face, to revel in the fact that he’s indeed fucking another alpha. He fastens his legs around Yukhei’s waist, bringing him deeper, almost laughing at the gasp that leaves Yukhei’s mouth.

Yukhei slides over him, licking under Donghyuck’s jaw. Renjun’s scent seems to be close to Yukhei’s face, in his hair and in his neck, because it hits Donghyuck so hard that he blanks out for a second. His dick twitches, trapped between their stomachs, and Yukhei nibbles on his neck, warm breath tickling Donghyuck’s skin.

“Not on the lips,” Donghyuck warns him, before it’s too late.

Kissing Yukhei would break the magic, because Donghyuck is too used to Renjun’s taste on his tongue to mistake it for anyone else. Yukhei immediately moves away from his mouth, unbothered by the order, and snaps his hips forward to bottom out.

“You’re so hot,” Yukhei groans, hiding in his neck, and Donghyuck moans with him. He loves this, the belief that Yukhei could destroy him, so big all over and inside him; Donghyuck wants it, because he’s already broken within, and wants his body to break too. “You’re a fucking dream.”

Donghyuck feels Yukhei’s knot swell against his ass, but Yukhei would never go that far. Donghyuck can barely take his dick, so Yukhei just rubs against him; the desperate, sincere groans that he lets out are what rile Donghyuck up – because even under an alpha, he can reduce anyone to a mess.

With Yukhei dissolving into his own pleasure, Donghyuck searches for what he’s looking for. He noses all over Yukhei’s face, but it’s not enough, because Yukhei’s pheromones are masking Renjun’s trace. He caresses over his neck, his chest and then, as though a ray of light has found him, he decides to take Yukhei’s hand.

He almost comes when he lifts Yukhei’s hand and presses his palm onto his mouth: Renjun is there, an imprint so strong that Donghyuck bites Yukhei’s hand without shame. But Yukhei doesn’t let go, just moves faster, watches him with his bottom lip trapped under his teeth, fascinated by Donghyuck’s reaction.

Donghyuck’s eyes flicker to Yukhei’s face, but he doesn’t see him anymore, doesn’t register reality. “Come inside me,” Donghyuck gasps.

And Yukhei comes on command, but so does Donghyuck, biting harder into his hand until his mouth is spoiled with the taste of Renjun, until his mind believes that it’s Renjun who is fucking him, who is coming between his legs. Donghyuck wishes he could make Renjun feel this good too, wishes he would have let Renjun do this to him when he had the chance.

Donghyuck doesn’t care that he’s leaving a mark on Yukhei’s hand, because he needs this so, so much that it might save him from his insanity. He trembles from head to toe, and as Yukhei pulls out, he can’t help but gasp at the sensation of emptiness.

As soon as he inhales, Donghyuck toes on the edge of a breakdown. The adrenaline is gone, the morbid fascination of fucking an alpha is fulfilled, and as Donghyuck blinks his eyes open again, he wants to scream. His whole body hurts, but so do his guts, his heart, and the damned pressure in his chest returns like a wave that brings a thousand tiny, sharp rocks.

Yukhei is still panting, rolling on his side when he whispers, “You okay?”

It would be impossible for him not to notice the shift in Donghyuck’s pheromones. Donghyuck can detect it too, how sour his scent has turned, how he’s clogging the atmosphere with his anxiety.

He doesn’t bother to lie, and mutters, “No.”

Yukhei’s stare fixes on him, and Donghyuck has to swallow down so as to not burst into tears. He still tastes Renjun in his mouth, but he’s not here. He doesn’t have Renjun curling around him with a satisfied smile on his lips and sweet kisses to grant him. There’s only Yukhei, who doesn’t love him, who could have been any other guy from Donghyuck’s past. But Donghyuck’s link to his past is shattered, and Donghyuck doesn’t understand sex without love anymore, doesn’t understand what he’s going to do without Renjun in his life.

 

 

 

 

To Donghyuck’s advantage, Yukhei is a heavy sleeper.

Donghyuck still has enough strength to shower, but Yukhei falls asleep right after cleaning his cum from Donghyuck’s legs. Donghyuck prefers it this way, however, because he fears getting personal with Yukhei. If they weren’t friends, Donghyuck would kick him out, but Yukhei has never given him a bad look, he’s not completely sober, and having sex with an alpha is very embarrassing for the both of them – even if Yukhei was on the good end of their decision.

When Donghyuck walks into the bedroom again, it’s a relief that Yukhei is sleeping like a baby. Donghyuck coils onto his side of the bed, torn between missing the cuddles and despising them. He might miss them, but it won’t work if he tries to replace the hole with Yukhei’s touch. He has learned that much tonight.

Donghyuck spends an awful night, despite being his best night in weeks. Perhaps it’s the exhaustion, the new experience his body has endured, or perhaps it’s just Renjun’s subtle scent lulling him to sleep.

“What the fuck,” is Jaemin’s greeting next morning, as soon as he spots Donghyuck dragging his feet into the kitchen. But Jaemin, unlike Donghyuck, displays a grin that occupies half of his face, as though he hasn’t seen anyone funnier in his entire existence. “Donghyuck, what the fuck.”

Donghyuck could have never hidden this from Jaemin, so he isn’t surprised at how fast Jaemin assumes what happened. As far as Donghyuck knows, Jaemin might have even heard them. That would explain why he’s so amused at Donghyuck’s terrible choices. He can’t put up with this, with Jaemin’s mocking smile, with the way he jumps on his own seat like an excited kid.

Donghyuck collapses on the table, hides his face between his forearms and childishly complains, “I don’t know either.”

Jaemin laughs at him, shameless, nibbling on his toast as if Donghyuck was the TV show he watches during his breakfast.

“How is your ass feeling?” he adds, a hint of curiosity painting his tone.

Donghyuck points his index finger at him, but the moment he reads Jaemin’s expression, he’s aware that no threat will make Jaemin cower.

“Fuck you,” Donghyuck opts for instead, clear and direct. “I didn’t say-”

“You didn’t have to,” Jaemin cuts him off. Whether he inferred that from the noises or from his own knowledge on Donghyuck and Yukhei, Donghyuck doesn’t want to know. It’s a very immature behavior, because there’s nothing shameful in opening his legs for someone else, but it would have been more feasible if he had started with a beta. Jaemin shakes his head, “You’re such an idiot. Chenle wouldn’t stop blabbering about how you left with Yukhei. I’m sure at this point half of the campus must know.”

Last night Donghyuck wasn’t in the right state of mind to consider appearances. He smelled Renjun and lost his mind, and Donghyuck won’t allow himself to lament over that. If the chance arose again, he can’t assure himself that he wouldn’t fall for the same trick, wouldn’t avoid the same trap his own instinct set for him.

“Great,” he groans. He looks at the ceiling, but Jaemin just laughs harder at him, enjoying his embarrassment. “You know what? I can’t even bring myself to care.”

At that, Jaemin nods, approving of his mindset. Donghyuck sits next to him despite all the teasing, and Jaemin feeds with his own toast, pats his hair a few times even though he can’t hide the roguish smile tickling his lips.

It doesn’t mean Jaemin is disposed to drop the topic, because he elbows Donghyuck and whispers, “So?”

Donghyuck pretends that he doesn’t understand his question.

“So?”

“Come on, don’t be so hard to crack,” Jaemin retorts with a whine. It’s natural that he’s curious. In the two years they’ve been living together Donghyuck has never put his hands on an alpha. Jaemin can’t be sure that Donghyuck didn’t share his bed with an alpha before that, but he knows Donghyuck so well that he doesn’t need a confirmation. “Did you like it?”

Donghyuck bites his own tongue, repressing the first words that rest on his mouth. Yukhei was amazing, but he’s not Renjun. It’s terrifying to find out at last that this isn’t a simple matter of Donghyuck being stubborn; that he gave it a chance, and that chance proved that Donghyuck isn’t addicted to Renjun. An addiction can be overcome. Donghyuck is molded to Renjun, and now he doesn’t fit with anyone else.

“It was…” Donghyuck starts. He doesn’t know how to explain it. He glances at Jaemin, and Jaemin stares back with a semblance that tells him that he gets it, that he’s sure Donghyuck enjoyed it. It’s just that for Donghyuck, fucking into an omega feels better. Or being with an omega in general, not necessarily being on top. Donghyuck clears his throat, pushing those thoughts away. “Yeah. But I’m not sleeping with anyone who has such a massive dick ever again in my life.”

That catches Jaemin off guard, and he chokes on his own toast, laughing so hard that Donghyuck is certain Yukhei must be awake now. Donghyuck can’t help but laugh along, because it’s funny, really, that those words came out of Lee Donghyuck’s mouth.

Jaemin spins on his seat, plants a sonorous kiss on Donghyuck’s temple, and honestly says, “I love you.”

Donghyuck knows he does, but it feels good to hear it for once. It’s not a confession prompted by how much Donghyuck is making him laugh. It’s prompted by Jaemin believing that last night is a step forward for Donghyuck. Jaemin is happy, happy for having the old Donghyuck back, even if that implies that Donghyuck will sleep around again. He guesses that having sex is a sign that he’s getting better, as long as Jaemin ignores why he chose Yukhei.

Donghyuck can’t break that illusion of happiness, because Jaemin has supported him, has accepted that Jeno stopped talking to him just to stay on Donghyuck’s side. Jaemin has sacrificed part of his life for him, and he deserves to believe that his efforts have led to an improvement. It doesn’t matter that it’s a lie. Donghyuck will never see an improvement, and he has no option but to convince his friends otherwise.

Faking a smile for Jaemin, Donghyuck mutters, “I love you too.”

 

 

 

 

It has to be a hallucination.

Donghyuck can’t focus on the match, but he can’t turn around to check that his eyes didn’t deceive him either. He bends down, in position to defend, and tries to convince himself that Renjun isn’t there.

Part of him has been expecting this: to imagine Renjun, to make him a product of his delirium. Donghyuck hasn’t stopped his own toxic behavior to cope with his feelings, and it makes sense that his brain is giving up on him. Perhaps his head is just protecting him by creating Renjun, Donghyuck isn’t sure.

But Donghyuck is scared. When he turns around to pick up the ball, his gaze is directed to the bleachers for a millisecond, and he has a bad hunch before he can even spot Renjun. Donghyuck never glances at the audience during a match, they don’t exist to him. It’s his instinct that smells Renjun, that feels the pair of eyes fixed on him, and that leads him to search for his lost boy.

There, next to Renjun, is Jeno.

It’s not just about Donghyuck’s inability to focus on the game anymore: he can’t breathe, because he breathes in Renjun, stronger in his nose even if he’s so far away that it shouldn’t be possible. He can’t breathe because he’s not ready to see Jeno again, and less if Renjun is with him. He can’t breathe, maybe because he doesn’t want to, because he doesn’t deserve to be toyed with according to people’s wishes. People shouldn’t be allowed to disappear from his life without warning and reappear without permission.

It has to be a hallucination.

Donghyuck glances at his teammates, yet it’s not necessary for him to ask for a replacement. Yangyang’s attention is already on him, whether he’s noticed Donghyuck’s clumsiness or just his mood, and he’s waving at the coach to substitute him.

He doesn’t have to wait for long, but by the time he hits the bench, he wants to vomit. Sunwoo is waiting for him, lifts his hand at Yangyang to prevent him from approaching Donghyuck. It’s amazing that Sunwoo can read Donghyuck’s wishes, that he has probably spotted Renjun and Jeno too and wants to protect Donghyuck’s pride.

“Shit,” Sunwoo muses. He moves Donghyuck’s bangs out of the way to inspect his expression, concerned. “You’re pale. I’ll take you to the locker room.”

“I can’t-”

“Go,” Yangyang tells them from the other side of the bench. “We’re covered.”

Sunwoo doesn’t need Donghyuck’s confirmation; he grabs his arm and pulls him up, and before Donghyuck can protest, they’re already in the locker room. Donghyuck would have loved to keep his pride intact, to pretend that this doesn’t affect him, but the trembling that takes over his body in the locker room is uncontrollable. He sits down, sinks his head between his knees, and starts to hyperventilate.

It’s not the first time Donghyuck suffers from an anxiety attack, but it’s the first time he has company. Much to his luck, Sunwoo doesn’t ask, doesn’t judge him. He stays with him, counts out loud to stabilize his breathing and rubs his back when Donghyuck tenses up. It doesn’t matter how much time they spend there, because time stretches and shortens and stretches again in Donghyuck’s world. He can hear the noises coming from the court, so clear that they pierce through his ears and into his head, but no one comes to fetch them and force them to play.

“You should go home,” Sunwoo tells him once Donghyuck manages to lift his head, to breathe without feeling like he’s going to die.

Running away might not be a terrible idea, yet Donghyuck has dreamed about having Renjun with him every night since his rut ended, and a voice within tells him that he can’t spoil this chance. Jeno wouldn’t come to a game, wouldn’t bring Renjun along if he didn’t intend to move forward with Donghyuck.

Donghyuck mutters, “They’re here for a reason.”

“Well, dude, fuck them,” Sunwoo retorts. He has a point. They can’t show up and expect Donghyuck to be available, or expect him to be open to reconciliation. It’s evident that Donghyuck is having a hard time, and both Jeno and Renjun know him well enough to detect it from miles away. “Put yourself first for once.”

Donghyuck’s problem is that he’s always going to put Renjun first.

Yet he nods and persuades Sunwoo to return to the game with the promise that he will indeed go home. If Sunwoo doesn’t buy his lie, at least he respects his decision. Once Donghyuck is alone, he changes clothes and packs all his stuff in his bag, reminding himself that no matter how wrong this turns out, he has nothing, no one to lose anymore.

Still, his expectations don’t lie on finding Jeno alone outside. Donghyuck stares at him from the locker room’s door, scanning the whole area to find Renjun, but Renjun hasn’t accompanied Jeno. He must have stayed at the match, letting the upper ranks discuss a matter that involves the three of them. Donghyuck’s heart shrinks, and so does his will.

The only reason Donghyuck doesn’t withdraw and hide in the locker room is the hopeful shadow on Jeno’s face. He’s biting his lips out of nervousness, his arms crossed over his stomach in self-protection, as if it was Donghyuck who hurt him last time and not the other way around. Donghyuck hurt him in a different way, that’s evident.

Donghyuck is better than this, better than his fears. He can’t bring himself to greet Jeno, but he passes by him and points with his head at the park that is right by the volleyball court. Jeno follows him, keeping their distance, and Donghyuck appreciates the consideration because Renjun’s scent is all over Jeno, to the point that Jeno smells more like Renjun than himself.

It’s the crude reality that always hovered over Donghyuck, and he can’t hate Jeno for it. Still, it’s messed up that as soon as they find an empty, private spot in the park, Donghyuck turns around and thinks of fucking Jeno too. He wonders how far he could go just with Renjun’s scent, how insane he has turned for that thought to even cross his mind. Donghyuck has never been attracted to Jeno, and he isn’t now; but that’s not a problem anymore. The only requisite is for him to have Renjun’s scent and Donghyuck’s body will respond. Jaemin would be ashamed of him if he knew the truth.

Staring into Jeno’s eyes is harder than Donghyuck thought it would be. It awakens his guilt, his anger, and his pity all at the same time. It brings the pain back like a tornado, after all the efforts Donghyuck has made to forgive him for provoking the chain that destroyed him, and to forgive himself for his wrongdoings too.

“What’s going on?” Donghyuck asks him, not in the mood to pretend that this is normal, that he’s not surprised by the unannounced visit.

Jeno shifts his weight from one leg to another, hesitant, clearly taken aback by Donghyuck’s reaction. Donghyuck supposes that he imagined that he’d be relieved to talk to his best friend again, that Donghyuck would be grateful.

“I promised you we would come watch one of your games,” Jeno mutters, so low that he gives the impression of being embarrassed of his own words.

Donghyuck can’t believe what he’s hearing. He shakes his head, and with a bitter smile, warns Jeno, “Don’t fool around.”

The game of tiptoeing around each other requires an emotional stability that Donghyuck doesn’t have. He doesn’t care if Jeno regrets punching him; he did it, and it’s done. Donghyuck made love to Renjun, and it’s done. They can’t go back in time.

Jeno understands Donghyuck’s negative, and his attempts at soothing the approach crumble down. He swallows hard, like there’s a bump in his throat, and looks at the ground, full of leaves that creak under their feet.

And then, in a whisper, he materializes Donghyuck’s biggest fear, “I thought you were in love with Renjun.”

It makes sense that Jeno cut contact with him because of it. This wheel that turns without stopping had to be propelled by a horrible reason, a reason that made Jeno panic and lose his own morals. Being in love with Renjun sounds as terrifying to Jeno as it does to Donghyuck, they agree on that.

If Jeno is back because he has changed his mind, because he concluded that he misinterpreted Donghyuck’s intentions, then he’s going to be very disappointed. Donghyuck clenches his jaw, stares at Jeno without saying a word. Donghyuck has lied to him enough, and saying that he doesn’t feel anything for Renjun is a betrayal to Renjun himself, so Donghyuck stays silent. If Jeno considers that a confirmation, it’s his problem.

His silence unsettles Jeno, whose gaze roams all over Donghyuck’s expression for an answer, a signal.

There’s nothing like waiting for someone to show their true intentions, but Donghyuck is still shocked when Jeno sputters, “His last heat was the worst we’ve ever gone through-”

Donghyuck’s guts twists in fury. This is why Jeno is stomping on his own pride: because he needs Donghyuck. Not because he misses him, because he appreciates their friendship.

Before Jeno can finish, Donghyuck snaps a cold, sharp, “No.”

Jeno freezes, shrinking in himself at Donghyuck’s tone, but Donghyuck is too mad to care about intimidating Jeno with his rank. Besides, it’s a great offense to Donghyuck, and Jeno must have known that since the beginning.

But once Donghyuck speaks, bile rises in his throat and words roll off his tongue like a cascade, “Are you for real? Are you just talking to me because you’re afraid Renjun will leave you if he doesn’t get a proper fuck?”

Jeno’s bottom lip laps over his upper lip, and he looks so, so lost that Donghyuck can empathize with him for a second. His suffering might not be comparable to Donghyuck’s, but Donghyuck still knows the pain of losing someone. Jeno is crawling on his knees for help again, and that could have inflated any other alpha’s ego but Donghyuck feels like a toy. It doesn’t erase the fact that Jeno must feel like a toy too, just a useless one.

“I know you slept with Yukhei.”

Jeno lowers his head, his confession dying in a mutter. Donghyuck isn’t surprised, because at this point all his friends know, and so do all of Yukhei’s friends. God, Renjun must know too, and that’s what scares Donghyuck the most.

The fact that Jeno considers that important, however, is unforeseen.

“I’m sorry for doubting you. All this… the way you looked at Renjun, and then the mating mark- I thought you were in love with him.”

Donghyuck’s heat beats once, twice, and then halts. He locks eyes with Jeno, who looks like he’s about to cry, biting his lips with so much force that he could make himself bleed, and understands what this conversation is about.

Jeno is apologizing. Apologizing for believing that Donghyuck loved Renjun, apologizing because he thinks that if Donghyuck slept with another guy – an alpha, on top of that – it’s because he isn’t hooked on Renjun. He’s so, so wrong that Donghyuck has the urge to correct him.

The way you looked at Renjun. Donghyuck knows how he looks at Renjun: like he’s his entire world. He would never be able to look at him in a different way, he hasn’t been for a while.

Jeno breathes out, “And I freaked out, okay?”

Even now, Donghyuck can’t tell him the truth. It would break his only chance to see Renjun again.

Venom in his mouth, Donghyuck reminds him, “Didn’t you look for another alpha?”

It’s evident that’s a question that puts Jeno to shame, judging how he avoids Donghyuck’s eyes.

“Renjun doesn’t want to,” he replies. Which means that Jeno proposed the idea to him, and he rejected it. “Says it was hard enough to start with you, doesn’t want to imagine trying with someone he’s not close to.”

Donghyuck inhales, repressing the maddening urge to laugh. He’s sure Renjun could sleep with another alpha, because he’s not the saint Jeno believes him to be. Between the two of them, Donghyuck realizes, at least Renjun has learned to lie. This is his particular way of pressuring Jeno to open the path for Donghyuck again.

Still, Donghyuck hesitates. Accepting the deal for a second time implies swimming in the turmoil of feelings that he developed along the way. Renjun won’t ever break up with Jeno if he has all he needs, if he plays with Donghyuck but loves with Jeno. It’s the two sides of the coin, and Renjun would have the coin on its edge.

That’s why Donghyuck says, “I don’t know.”

Jeno looks at him with his big, confused eyes, as though he can’t process that Donghyuck is turning the offer down.

“It would be at our house from now on,” he insists, following the speech he must have prepared for Donghyuck. “You would leave every time afterwards.”

Donghyuck can’t contain the scoff that pushes past his lips. Maybe Jeno thinks he’s doing him a favor by setting them apart, that Renjun staying over is a nuisance for Donghyuck. It’s Donghyuck’s favorite part, however, to wake up entangled in Renjun, to kiss him goodnight, to bathe him afterwards.

Shaking his head, Donghyuck retorts, “My only vital rule has always been that Renjun would come to my house.”

“I’m not stupid, Hyuck.” This time, Jeno sounds much more serious, less weak. He glowers at Donghyuck, which seems to be an unconscious gesture, as he points out, “I don’t think fucking my mate is that big of a suffering to you.”

He’s right for once today, except he ignores that this isn’t about sex. It isn’t about Donghyuck having an omega in heat to fuck and enjoy.

Donghyuck doesn’t falter, tests Jeno’s limits with a, “I want to talk to Renjun first.”

Displeasure strikes across Jeno’s expression, and that’s the sign Donghyuck was waiting for. Jeno is here for himself, but overall he’s here because Renjun sent him.

“You say that as if he needed permission,” Jeno grumbles.

“Well, he stopped talking to me after you punched me.”

“I didn’t tell him to do that.”

Donghyuck doesn’t doubt that. As a beta, Jeno can be possessive, but he would never be such an idiot. The fastest way to make an omega rebel is to try to control his life against his wishes, and even though Donghyuck is sure that Jeno and Renjun have argued about him, Jeno would never impose a prohibition on Renjun. Yet it’s a tricky, subtle rule anyhow: no one would be friendly with someone their mate fought. It’s common sense.

“I think it’s pretty implicit when you punch someone, Jeno,” Donghyuck bites out, not prone to give in.

Jeno presses his lips into a line, frustration crawling on his semblance. It’s hard to swallow one’s words to offer Donghyuck a chance that not even Jeno wants to give him, but Donghyuck received more pain apart from the one in his nose, and he’s not disposed to forgive so easily. Jeno hasn’t forgiven him either, he just doesn’t have any other option.

“Listen,” Jeno sighs, deflating. He rubs the heel of his palm against his forehead, as to compose himself, to gather his thoughts. “Come home next week, let’s see if it works. If it doesn’t-” Jeno lets out a groan, closes his eyes and accepts, “Renjun can go home with you.”

 

 

 

 

All over again, it’s Donghyuck against the world.

“I’m going to kill them,” Jaemin assures him, very serious, yet very composed in contrast to his threat.

Donghyuck would find his overprotection adorable if, in this case, he didn’t wish to contradict Jaemin’s opinion too. As soon as Jaemin sees him, he detects that Donghyuck is in turmoil. Even though he comes to the volleyball court to pick up Sunwoo, he leaves with Donghyuck. Sunwoo doesn’t mind, just encourages them and nods at Jaemin as to show that he’s not mad at him. At this point Donghyuck doubts Jaemin cares about their relationship, but unlike Donghyuck, there isn’t a high to fall from.

As they walk home arm in arm, Donghyuck describes his conversation with Jeno to the last detail, and Jaemin is silent, attentive, until Donghyuck finishes. It’s a nice feeling to know that Jaemin is listening to him, that Donghyuck is allowed to have an opinion after all the suffering he went through; that his thoughts still matter, and Jaemin won’t brush them away just to protect him.

“Jaemin,” Donghyuck sighs. “Don’t dramatize, okay?”

The glare that Jaemin sends him could intimidate anyone in the world. Donghyuck guesses that it’s pure irony that Donghyuck is telling him not to be dramatic after Donghyuck himself has living through the worst weeks of his life.

“You know what? I don’t want to,” Jaemin sputters, lifting his chin in arrogance. It’s a small challenge towards Donghyuck, but Donghyuck just caresses over Jaemin’s forearm, respecting his decision. He still needs someone that kicks his ass if he’s being an idiot, and this might be one of those instances. “I’m sick of them. Everything revolves around them, which is fine, really, but not if they keep dragging you into their mess.”

They could have asked a different alpha this time. Yukhei, for example, since Renjun is friends with him and sex wouldn’t feel so impersonal, so cold. Though Jeno might be aiming for that, for someone who serves as a consolation tool and doesn’t have any capacity to treat Renjun with love; that would explain why he thought Donghyuck was a good option.

“You want to go back to Renjun, I get that,” Jaemin continues, reading his thoughts. Donghyuck has never explicitly said that, but it’s obvious in his tone and in the spark of hope that he can’t conceal in his face. He can’t help it; under all the pain and the immortality, Donghyuck would still sell his soul and integrity for five minutes with Renjun. “But you left a mating mark on him, god, he let you mark him, and still he returned to his first mate, Donghyuck. He already made his choice.”

Donghyuck isn’t ready to hear that. It cuts him, beats him from within, and he has to close his eyes to compose himself. Renjun already made his choice, and he chose Jeno. Donghyuck never stood a chance against him, because he’s nothing to Renjun, even if sometimes he has the opposite impression. Renjun is in his bed, but not in his life, and if he accepts the deal again he’ll have to deal with that.

“You don’t understand him,” Donghyuck retorts. The reflex of defending Renjun is almost subconscious, because Donghyuck knows what he has seen in his eyes. He knows what Renjun has told him, and he refuses to believe Renjun would hurt him on purpose. You and me. “Do you think it’s that easy to break up with your boyfriend of three years?”

“Donghyuck, that’s the thing about people in serious relationships.” Jaemin shakes his head, but there’s hesitation in his tone when he adds, “They rarely ever leave their mates.”

Donghyuck isn’t delusional. Now that he has experienced a mating mark, that has lived in his own skin, he understands how intimate it is and he doesn’t underestimate Renjun’s relationship with Jeno. The mating mark became the center of everything for Donghyuck, his pretty little creation, and if it was that important for him, he can’t imagine how important it must be to leave a mating mark every other month on a mate. Donghyuck might lie to himself a thousand times, and yet he won’t be able to erase that Jeno and Renjun love each other, that they have a connection Donghyuck doesn’t even dare to dream about.

That’s why he picks his words very carefully, “I’m not doing this for them.”

“I know,” Jaemin soothes him. If he suspects otherwise, he doesn’t mention it, because there’s a fine line between Donghyuck hurting himself for his own needs, and because Renjun’s needs have become his needs too. “But just because you’re doing this for yourself, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.”

Donghyuck pauses, observes Jaemin’s profile to decipher what’s going on in his head. His insistence doesn’t settle well with Donghyuck.

“You’ve been speaking with Renjun, haven’t you?” he mutters, a question that doesn’t need an answer.

It’s natural that Jaemin hid it from him. Donghyuck forgets that his most direct, healthy link to Renjun is Jaemin, not Mark, Jeno or Yukhei.

“A few times, but-” Jaemin clears his throat, a bit embarrassed for having been caught. “Since I stood by you, Jeno didn’t like that Renjun still wanted to be friends with me.”

“I see.”

Jaemin deflates, not pleased by Donghyuck’s acceptance. It’s not proper of him to pass the chance to put up a fight, and when Jaemin racks his eyes over Donghyuck’s faces, Donghyuck feels that his intentions are too transparent.

“You’re going to do whatever the fuck you want, aren’t you?” Jaemin points out, rolling his eyes.

Donghyuck doesn’t answer. Jaemin knows him better than anyone else.

 

 

 

 

Finding Mark in his faculty is like finding a needle in a haystack, but after a dozen of messages that Mark either ignores or doesn’t even read, this is Donghyuck’s last desperate attempt.

Donghyuck needs to talk to him, because Mark was the only person who, since the beginning, warned him against the offer. Even though it’s been proved that Mark was right, Donghyuck doesn’t regret his initial decision. He regrets other decisions, regrets not creating a shell around himself and stopping Renjun from overstepping lines that Donghyuck had clearly traced for everyone else.

It’s illogical that Donghyuck needs another confirmation that he’s making a mistake, but he does. If he goes back to Renjun’s arms, he won’t do it convincing himself that there’s no danger, and Mark has eyes where he doesn’t.

After wasting half an hour in the faculty, Donghyuck finds Mark in the library instead. He spots a bundle of messy black hair in the depths of the Physiology section, where Mark is occupying only with his notes the space three students would need. Donghyuck is aware that he’s interrupting an intense study session, but it will do Mark some good to get a break.

Donghyuck inelegantly plops down next to him, and Mark startles out of his concentration, spinning to glance at him. Donghyuck wonders if Mark is expecting someone, because the glint of interest in his eyes extinguishes upon recognizing his friend.

“Donghyuck,” he greets him, a bit dazed. His glasses slip down his nose, and he has to push them up again, almost like he can’t see Donghyuck well. “What are you doing here?”

Donghyuck can’t jump straight to the point. Or he can, but Mark’s behavior is odd, and he’s afraid he will refuse to have this conversation in the middle of the library if Donghyuck rushes him.

Instead of explaining the truth, Donghyuck remarks, “You haven’t called me in a long time.”

Mark always replies to his messages, and even if Donghyuck hasn’t been in the mood to go out lately, Mark hasn’t made any attempt to meet up with him either. Donghyuck isn’t offended, but it’s important to let Mark know that he’s not a fool, that he has noticed that they’re growing apart because Mark doesn’t approve of what he has done.

At his accusation, Mark places his pen on the table and sighs, resigned.

“You know why,” he replies, not ashamed of the truth. Because Jeno would have been mad at him, because they had to take sides, and Mark couldn’t take Donghyuck’s side after he ignored Mark’s opinion and then hurt not only himself, but also Jeno. “Imagine if I arrived home reeking of you. Plus,” he signals to the several leaps of notes on the table, “Hell.”

Donghyuck studies Mark's expression for a second. It's obvious that he hasn't forgotten about Yuta, since they talked about it before Donghyuck mated with Renjun, but he's much happier than before. It feels like a joke of the universe that tables have turned for them, that if someone needs consolation today, it's Donghyuck.

“I need advice,” Donghyuck confirms.

Mark lifts his eyebrows at him, skeptical.

“It’s not advice what you want from me, don’t think I’m dumb.” He crosses his arms over the table, slumps and rests his head on his forearms, looking at Donghyuck as though they’re discussing where to eat dinner tonight. “You want reassurance.”

It doesn't take a genius to notice that Mark is too tired to carry Donghyuck's emotional baggage too. Donghyuck doesn't intend to do so, however, and it's kind of relieving that Mark isn't playing to be careful with him.

“Damn.”

“What do you want me to tell you, Donghyuck?” Mark asks him. Perhaps there are indeed words that Donghyuck would appreciate to hear now, and Mark has no filter for this. “If Renjun and Jeno keep fighting because of you?”

Donghyuck parts his lips to deny it, but he can't bring himself to speak. Even if his intentions aren't so explicitly heartless, Mark is just using different, harsher words to explain his curiosity. Of course Donghyuck is here to pry in their lives, because he needs that information before becoming part of them, because he's not tangling himself in a lost cause just to get punched in the face.

At his silence, Mark closes his eyes and presses his cheek against his arm, lazy. “They don’t, and shit, that’s the worst of it. They stopped fighting, but the silence is much worse.”

Mark reveals it with so much nonchalance that Donghyuck feels a shiver run down his spine. But Donghyuck understands him, because he always prefers a fight to the demolishing silence of being done with the other person. For Jaemin and Donghyuck, it's usually the warning sign to give each other space and time.

Donghyuck wets his own lips, feeling his mouth terribly dry, and stutters, “I just- I just want to know if Renjun is doing fine.”

Because despite the offer being on the table for Donghyuck, he has no idea what Renjun must be thinking right now. If he's destrying his own relationship because he has no remedy, or because he really trusts that Donghyuck is the solution to their couple problems.

“Renjun,” Mark repeats after him, like he’s tasting the name.

The smile that invades his expression makes Donghyuck's guts churn: it's a scarily sad smile, a mixture of fondness and sorrow. It's the exact same way Jaemin smiles at Donghyuck, and Donghyuck doesn't want anyone to feel those emotions towards Renjun. He wants Renjun to be happy, even if it's without him, even if it implies stepping on Donghyuck's backbone.

As if it was a secret, Mark whispers, “Every single day, when Jeno leaves for his early classes, Renjun uses that time to cry in his room.”

Those words bind around Donghyuck's throat and asphyxiate him. He opens his mouth, because he wants to tell Mark to shut up, because that's Renjun's intimacy, but he's speechless.

Renjun waits to be alone to cry so that his mate doesn't realize that he's suffering too. Donghyuck has no idea if Renjun cries for Jeno, for Donghyuck or for himself. It doesn't matter. Deep inside, Donghyuck can't deny that he's guilty of those tears, whether it's because he destroyed a part of Renjun – because he stole a part of him, a part that belonged to Jeno – or because he can't help him like Jeno wanted to. Like Renjun wanted too, in the beginning, before he dipped to the bottom of the sea with Donghyuck.

“He probably thinks I can’t hear him,” Mark continues, gaze drifting to the ceiling. “That, or he doesn’t care.”

“Is it because they fought?” Donghyuck asks, grasping onto the last hope he's retaining.

If Renjun is crying because of a fight, it can be fixed. Their situation, the fact that Renjun needs someone else, is hopeless.

“No.” Mark inspects his reaction, and when Donghyuck lowers his head in shame, he continues, “They kiss, they laugh, they fuck, and then Jeno leaves and Renjun- he just cries.”

“Stop,” Donghyuck mutters. A tiny, thin pain grows in his temple, right behind his eyes, like a sharp needle in his head. “Please, don't say it again.”

It was a bad idea to nose around, but Donghyuck didn't expect Renjun to feel as bad as him. Jaemin warned him that, even if Donghyuck lives in his own world, that it’s not the only world that exists. Donghyuck overestimated his struggles because he's the one suffering them, but he didn't stop to think about the extent of Renjun's pain. The dilemma affects both Jeno and Donghyuck, but it's a side effect, something that they can't control.

But Renjun can control it, and all that pressure is on his shoulders. The pressure of not making his relationship shatter into pieces, of not hurting Jeno and not hurting Donghyuck either. And under all that, the need to find what he needs, to not forget that his feelings matter as well.

“Jeno has cried, too,” Mark says. He pats Donghyuck's leg, aware that his friend can't put up with the image of Renjun crying because of him, because of his mistakes. As evil as it is, it's easier to hear about Jeno crying, because it makes sense, because he's the one who was sacrificing his pride and honor. “But he cries with Renjun. The rest of the time, when Renjun is gone, I have the feeling that he’s given up.”

If Jeno hadn't given up, he would have never resorted to begging for Donghyuck's help a second time. Donghyuck supposes that if you break something, you're free to smash it against the floor as many times as you want, because it's already broken.

“Mark,” Donghyuck breathes out.

This time that's enough to shut Mark up. It's also enough for Donghyuck to learn that Renjun's private life should remain private, unless Renjun wants to share it with him.

“Such a happy home, our home,” Mark laments. He sits up, glances at Donghyuck like he can guess what he's thinking, and then reminds him, “Everyone always thinks it’s brighter on the other side.”

Yet it isn't, but if Renjun believes that the lights are brighter on Donghyuck's side, Donghyuck can build that fantasy for him.

 

 

 

 

The arrangement is too artificial.

That's Donghyuck's first thought when he stands before Renjun and Jeno's apartment, not daring to ring the bell. He still has time to turn on his heels and leave, but Jeno has prepared this whole emotional paraphernalia for him, and Donghyuck knows that leaving would be his last decision on this. He wouldn't be allowed to take his words back.

Donghyuck is aware that this deal, since the beginning, should have been artificial. They should have stuck to the plan, to specific dates, to parting ways once they were done. Standing in front of their door, feeling like an outsider, is universal karma.

Jeno isn't at home, that's what they agreed on. Donghyuck doubts Jeno would want to hear them having sex anyhow, but Donghyuck's reflex is to fear that he could be there, to despise the thought of not having his own moment of peace with Renjun. Jeno is gone because his scent is enough of a force to keep Donghyuck in line, hence the insistence in not letting Renjun go to Donghyuck's flat.

There are other problems that plague Donghyuck's head. He'd die to spend two seconds with Renjun, but he has a hunch that he's not ready to see him again. During his volleyball match he had a breakdown just because Renjun was there. Jeno had been a factor too, but he couldn't be compared to the dread Renjun had made Donghyuck feel. It's a matter of being apart, Donghyuck is sure of that, because when he has Renjun in his arms, all the pieces of the puzzle seamlessly fit.

It would be easier to take the last step if Renjun was in his heat. Donghyuck would be sucked in by his pheromones, wouldn't worry about feelings, the future and the pain he's going to experience later.

However, it's not Donghyuck who breaks the barrier. Before he can make a decision, the door opens for him, and he stares at the bell in confusion, wondering if he pressed it unconsciously.

“Get in,” Mark tells him, indignation painted all over his face. “You're going to make the hall stink for days.”

Donghyuck doesn't have time to feel embarrassed. He must have spent an indecent amount of time in the hall for Mark to smell him from inside, and he's not emitting a positive smell either. Mark grabs him by his hand and pulls him in without giving him the chance to protest – because he can tell that Donghyuck is about to defend his stupid stance in the middle of the hall.

“Please, give me five seconds to get to my room,” Mark warns him, a displeased smile taking over.

Donghyuck can barely understand what he's talking about, but then Mark moves away, revealing the view of the interior, and Donghyuck stops breathing altogether.

He's right: he's not ready for this.

Renjun is just a few steps away, looking at him with a gaze full of uncertainty. Donghyuck's eyes must be failing him, because Renjun looks smaller than ever, hiding his hands in the sleeves of his jumper. Or perhaps it's that the apartment is too big from Donghyuck's perspective, so big that Donghyuck feels like a tiny spot of dirt on the floor, and thus the distance between them is painfully noticeable.

Observing Renjun, Donghyuck counts to five for the sake of Mark's sanity. Renjun is petrified, but not scared. It's disturbing that Donghyuck thinks he looks the prettiest right now, with the obvious wariness that he should feel under an alpha's attention. Disturbing, because Donghyuck feeds off his energy without shame, because he needs this not to fall on his knees before him.

Donghyuck sees only Renjun, in the enormous living room and with too many clothes on him, and as soon as he hears the click of the door, he loses control.

He's not the only one. Renjun sends him a shy, careful smile across the living room, and the next thing Donghyuck knows is that Renjun is running to him, jumping into his arms, and drowning in Donghyuck's mouth with all his force.

The world dissolves around Donghyuck as he lifts Renjun, as he presses their mouths together in an endless kiss, and only Renjun remains. Touching him is consuming, as exhausting as the first time, and just as exciting. Donghyuck's hands burn before he can make contact with Renjun's skin, but so does his tongue, melting against that familiar taste Donghyuck has craved for so much. Donghyuck can't process what he's doing. Renjun's proximity is enough, feeling his smooth hair, his heavy breathing, his heartbeat racing when Donghyuck presses against him.

They don't make it to the room, but Donghyuck doesn't care; they end up falling on the couch, and Renjun pushes him on his back, throwing a leg over him and sitting on his abdomen without giving him a chance to speak.

It's the first moment to breathe they have, and Donghyuck smiles up at Renjun, such a wide, honest smile that Donghyuck's face hurts. Renjun grins down at him, just as giddy, and cups Donghyuck's face between his hands.

As he leans down to peck Donghyuck’s mouth, he whispers, “Missed you.”

It's not fair, Donghyuck thinks, how dirty Renjun plays this game. Two words and Donghyuck is gone, sneaking a hand around Renjun's head and bringing him for a wet kiss, more tongue than lips, more indecency than respect. Renjun responds like he's molded to Donghyuck, his pheromones clearing up the ambient for him, as though he intends to create a safe space where Donghyuck can perceive only him. It's in his nature to become the center of attention of his alpha, too, and Donghyuck purrs at that realization.

Donghyuck needs him so bad that it frightens him. Renjun's kisses feel too real, make Donghyuck believe that this is his omega, but he promised himself that he would fight his own madness. He doesn't know how to now that Renjun is on him and he can appreciate his sparkling eyes from up close; they swallow him whole, and Donghyuck is happy here, with no reason and no independency, a tiny puppet in Renjun's hands.

“We have-” Donghyuck groans, voice drowned out as Renjun kisses him again, “to talk.” Renjun bites on his tongue, and Donghyuck nearly forgets what he’s trying to say. “First.”

It’s normal that they want to sleep with each other right away, but Donghyuck can’t stand the implicit issue that hovers over them. Yes, he can ignore it for a couple of hours, but then it will be over and he will have to go home, and it will be too late to change his mind. It’s been too many weeks, months, and Donghyuck needs a confirmation that Renjun is conscious of their situation.

With a lot of effort, Donghyuck doesn’t respond the next kiss, and Renjun detaches with a sigh.

“You sure about that?” he says, rubbing his thumbs over Donghyuck’s cheekbones. He sounds troubled, but also annoyed, a clear sign that he’s avoiding the talk. Donghyuck understands that he’s been living in a war zone, but Renjun is much more than a mere friend by now, and he can’t put up with the idea of Renjun hiding his suffering from him too. As if hiding it from Jeno isn’t enough. “We can talk later, you know that.”

Donghyuck would surrender just to not admit the vulnerability that expands around Renjun, but he can’t.

“Renjun, I-” he starts. He didn’t prepare anything, and even if he had prepared a speech, he wouldn’t have been able to remember it with Renjun on top of him. Donghyuck caresses Renjun’s thighs, both to calm himself and to reassure Renjun, and whispers, “Fuck, it’s the first time I’ve seen you in months, and I want to fuck you, but if this was about fucking, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Renjun’s hands withdraw from his face, a frightened glint in his gaze. It’s a reflex for Donghyuck to hold him by the hips, because he can tell that Renjun is about to break contact out of fear. A mere touch prevents Renjun from going further, however, and he looks down at Donghyuck like he can’t see him.

“This is about fucking,” he retorts, words that are hurled at Donghyuck with an evident intention. To kick Donghyuck’s hopes, to hurt him, because Renjun is afraid of hearing the truth come of Donghyuck’s mouth. “Get that inside your head, alright?”

Renjun, Donghyuck realizes, is braver than he should be. He’s disposed to hurt Donghyuck just to protect him and Jeno. He’s disposed to jump off the cliff too, if that’s necessary, a sacrifice that can save them all.

But Donghyuck doesn’t believe his tricks. It’s the first time Renjun has dared to trace a line between them, and the simple attempt makes that line blur right away. Donghyuck observes Renjun’s eyes, the tears that he tries to hold back by blinking, as though he will burst into tears if Donghyuck tells him that he loves him.

“Don’t lie to me,” Donghyuck spits at him, not caring that Renjun immediately tenses up under his hands. He has the urge to laugh, too, because if this is how badly Renjun is lying to Jeno, he doesn’t know how Jeno allowed Donghyuck back. Donghyuck pulls at Renjun’s sweater and orders, “Let me see the mark.”

It shouldn’t matter, because Donghyuck is going to undress Renjun sooner or later, but the order is what pushes Renjun to be defensive. Showing him the mark, only that, is undressing Renjun emotionally.

Donghyuck isn’t sure his mark is still there, but he has a hunch. Renjun’s reaction, the way his lips curl in anger, in hatred for the alpha that is demanding what doesn’t belong to him, tells Donghyuck that he’s right.

And Renjun, voice a low grunt, says, “Fuck you.”

Donghyuck loves that, a Renjun that resists his orders. This is how he must resist to Jeno too, when Jeno tries to wrap his control around him, how he must have fought to see Donghyuck again. Overall, Donghyuck loves the realization in his face, because Renjun has to take sides whether he likes it or not, and until now Donghyuck has made him believe that he didn’t have to. That merciful lie is over.

Donghyuck sits up, but Renjun doesn’t move away, perhaps because his instinct craves for closeness. They breathe through each other’s mouths, Donghyuck pressing their foreheads together. Donghyuck faces his only weakness: Renjun. Renjun’s pheromones make him crazy, and that realization should put him to shame since Renjun is scared, too scared to manipulate him. Donghyuck is just too sensitive to him, to all of Renjun, and there’s no point in denying it anymore.

“Now, fucking me is what you’re trying to do,” Donghyuck reminds him. Renjun looks into his eyes in defiance, not faltering; but his legs, fastened around Donghyuck’s hips, tremble without control. “Bare your neck for me, Renjun.”

Renjun looks up at the ceiling, and then, very slowly, lifts his chin to give Donghyuck what he wants.

A gasp dies in Donghyuck’s throat. Renjun’s marks have changed, but not like Donghyuck has expected them to. Donghyuck’s mating mark should have disappeared, but the trace is still there, a faint, tiny, pink spot in Renjun’s neck.

There’s only one reason why a mating mark could have prevailed during a new heat, and it’s all on the omega’s will.

Yet, that’s not the shocking news, not what has Donghyuck at the brink of a meltdown. He encircles the side of Renjun’s neck, his fingers careful to avoid touching his marks directly, because he doesn’t have permission for that and because what’s happening on Renjun’s neck is too sacred for Donghyuck to taint it with his touch.

This explains Renjun’s behavior, his lies and his fear. The desperation in his eyes, the strength with which he holds Donghyuck, as though Donghyuck will abandon him if he doesn’t try hard enough. It explains why Renjun cries every day alone, and why Jeno cries with him instead.

Renjun swallows, and when Donghyuck looks up at his face, he realizes Renjun is crying. He elude Donghyuck’s eyes, embarrassed, like he has done something wrong. But Donghyuck knows that this decision wasn’t conscious, that it’s his omega who decides and not Renjun himself. Like Jaemin said, Renjun had already made his choice, and it’s not his fault that his omega refuses to comply.

“Don’t you have anything to say?” Renjun mutters, holding onto Donghyuck’s shoulders like he’s going to collapse otherwise.

Not believing what he’s seeing, Donghyuck stares at Renjun’s neck again. Against his will, he feels a shiver of excitement run through his body, because this is everything he has wished for and feared at the same time.

 Jeno’s mark is fading away.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck feels nothing but Renjun.

Renjun bedroom is congested by Jeno’s scent, the bed, the walls, and even the door Donghyuck pins Renjun against. Today, Donghyuck doesn’t care. His alpha cares, but the need of touching Renjun is stronger than his mind, than his instinct, and most importantly, than his sense of self-protection.

Donghyuck turns Renjun around and shoves him against the door, tears his clothes apart with clumsy, but firm moves. Renjun doesn’t laugh, but he doesn’t feel intimidated by Donghyuck’s roughness either. He’s just as impatient, groans when Donghyuck’s hands caress him, when he finds himself naked against the door, his back facing Donghyuck, and Donghyuck slaps his ass without shame.

Donghyuck kisses his back, mouths up his spine to scent him, and bites his neck from behind. Renjun brings his arms around Donghyuck’s head, tilts his head so that Donghyuck can kiss him on the side of his neck without mating marks. And Donghyuck loves that, because Renjun isn’t afraid of Donghyuck biting him, of Donghyuck tainting him with his possessiveness. He wants Donghyuck to leave his scent on him, heavily breathing every time Donghyuck dares to nibble on his skin, small red spots expanding all over him.

When Donghyuck holds Renjun by his hips and slowly thrusts inside him, the moan Renjun lets out makes Donghyuck’s whole world tremble. They shudder against the door, the slam of Donghyuck’s body keeping them in place, and Donghyuck feels like this is too much for him. It’s too much for Renjun as well, because he shatters in his hold with just one thrust, and Donghyuck has to tighten his grip, one arm around his hips and the other around his chest.

The time they spent apart hasn’t done them any good. It magnifies every sensation; Renjun’s moans feel like an earthquake, his touches, like a slap in the face, and when he turns his head to slip his tongue into Donghyuck’s mouth, Donghyuck feels that overwhelming pressure in his chest again.

Donghyuck tries to drown it in Renjun’s body, building a pace, biting Renjun’s shoulders to hide his own panting. Renjun’s tightness distracts him from his own pain, but he feels like he can’t have Renjun close enough, he wants to fuse against every inch of his body and asphyxiate Renjun in his arms.

And Renjun lets him be rough, whines if Donghyuck loosens his grip, so desperate to please Donghyuck, to feel Donghyuck, like he knows they’ll never be able to forget each other.

That certainty is what tortures Donghyuck, what pushes him to break the false sensation of pleasure. But it still feels so good when Renjun tenses up, how he freezes when Donghyuck grunts, “Does he fuck you like this?”

It’s a line of fire, a line that if they dare to cross will burn them from head to toe. But Donghyuck is already in flames, and his mark is still on Renjun’s neck. Renjun refuses to leave Jeno. He refuses to accept that he wants Donghyuck, clings onto the remainders of his relationship even today, as Donghyuck fucks into him with a brutality that can only stem from trust and love.

Renjun throws his head back, rubs his cheek against Donghyuck’s, a lament breaking through his throat. Donghyuck understands him. Renjun doesn’t want to hear that, but he still wants Donghyuck.

“I hate you so much,” Renjun whispers, closing his eyes. He makes a choked noise at how Donghyuck clashes against his ass, the sound of skin slapping resonating in the room. “Shut your mouth.”

Donghyuck can’t. He’s surrounded by Jeno’s scent, the intimacy of their room reminding him that Donghyuck has no place in their relationship. They talk, they laugh, they fuck, and Donghyuck stomps on all that, wants to destroy it until it’s in pieces and the boy in his arms has nowhere to escape to.

“You’re not mine,” Donghyuck grunts, and Renjun shivers, rests his forehead against the door. “But I’m yours.”

And perhaps Renjun loves that: to make Donghyuck belong to him, to open his legs for Donghyuck and then remind him that he has a mate, that he’s unattainable no matter how well Donghyuck fucks him.

“You’re right,” Renjun hisses. Donghyuck bites his nape, panting through his thrusts, through how tighter Renjun is becoming at his words. “I’m not yours.”

The fury that rips Donghyuck apart isn’t natural. It isn’t instinct. He shoves Renjun against the door so hard that Renjun lets out a small cry of pain, but he doesn’t stop Donghyuck. It isn’t enough, and Donghyuck can’t understand why, why this isn’t enough anymore. Fucking Renjun has worked until now, has served as delusion enough to satisfy his alpha.

But no matter how hard Donghyuck slams into Renjun, he’s unable to come, he’s unable to feel that tickling sensation in his abdomen. It’s just tension, the pressure around his dick increasing without ever reaching a peak. Unlike him, Renjun comes once, twice and then Donghyuck is crying into him, grabbing him so hard that Renjun will have bruises tomorrow, but he can’t reach his orgasm. His knot doesn’t swell, even though Donghyuck grinds against Renjun’s ass, even though Renjun’s legs are soaked with his slick and it should be easy to convince his body that he’s perfect to knot.

Renjun endures his thrusts, but it’s evident that he won’t be able to take him for so long. He’s shuddering, too over stimulated to feel pleasure, and against his own wishes, he grabs Donghyuck’s arms and guides them up his torso.

Donghyuck doesn’t guess his intentions until, with a tender gesture, Renjun wraps Donghyuck’s hands around his neck. It’s a reflex, an embarrassing, harsh reflex: the moment Donghyuck’s hands mold around Renjun’s neck, he strangles Renjun against him, pushes him back as Renjun gasps. Donghyuck can see his profile, the clear intentions on his face, and one second later he loosens his grip, lets Renjun breathe.

It’s terrifying that Renjun knows what Donghyuck needs better than Donghyuck himself, and that’s the reason Donghyuck hesitates now, because he’s not sure if Renjun is doing this for him, to redeem all the pain he has inflicted on Donghyuck, or because Renjun loves being subjugated to him.

“Renjun-” Donghyuck whispers, hesitant.

A dark shade in his eyes, Renjun looks at him and fastens his hands around Donghyuck’s hands, preventing him from letting go. Donghyuck admires how pretty Renjun looks like this, so vulnerable under the strength of his hands, begging for it. The wish to press around Renjun’s neck until all the oxygen leaves his lungs is stronger than anything, and he knows that Renjun provoked it, but Donghyuck is too scared to be that rough on him.

“Don’t you want to?” Renjun muses, a teasing hint in his tone. He caresses the side of Donghyuck’s head, moves his ass back to clench around his dick, smiling when Donghyuck’s breathing hitches. “Aren’t you mad at me?”

This is how Renjun asks for forgiveness.

The skin of Donghyuck’s palms itches, and when Donghyuck dares to apply some pressure, the itching disappears. He feels all of Renjun’s life under his touch; the blood of his veins, pulsing under Donghyuck’s, the soft patches of his mating marks, the air that passes through his neck.

It’s not necessary for Donghyuck to respond. He’s mad at Renjun for abandoning him, for allowing Jeno to separate them after they mated. Renjun was as guilty as Donghyuck. He’s mad because Renjun doesn’t intend to fight for them, and therefore it’s Donghyuck alone in a fight against the universe, against a damned idyllic relationship that he can’t nor wants to break.

Renjun leaves a sweet kiss on his lips, so sweet that it feels out of place, and then his gaze travels up to lock with Donghyuck’s.

“Make me feel like you feel,” he pleads, and that’s definitive.

Donghyuck can only be awed at how accurate that is. Asphyxiated is the right word to describe how he feels, and if Renjun wants to experience it for a while, Donghyuck isn’t going to deny it to him.

When he closes his hands around Renjun’s neck, all Donghyuck sees, perceives and thinks becomes bright red, so alive, so intense that Donghyuck feels vertigo. His fingertips look for Renjun’s veins, play with the pulsing thud of his life, and then Donghyuck presses and a bomb explodes in his abdomen.

Renjun stops breathing so that Donghyuck can breathe. It happens in the blink of an eye, because as he bottoms out again, it feels as good as the first time. Donghyuck can’t let go, can just feel the pleasure that takes over him once and again, and the growing pleasure of Renjun extinguishing in his hold. It’s all so warm, like putting out a candle with his hand, and Donghyuck ignites with Renjun’s light for a moment.

When Donghyuck comes, it’s so overwhelming that he pulls out before he can breed Renjun. Renjun gasps for air, but Donghyuck unclenches his hands and Renjun slumps back against him, no strength to stand by himself.

Donghyuck feels the world spin around them, but he makes a last attempt at carrying Renjun to the bed. He’s a dead weight, eyes half closed and his small hands trying to grab at Donghyuck, but Donghyuck is too exhausted to take care of him. They collapse on the bed, on a bed that stinks of Jeno, and Renjun brings his knees to his chest and curls up against Donghyuck.

And then, because Donghyuck extinguished the flame of the candle with his hand, it all becomes dark. He stays still, and for a second, Donghyuck trusts that this has done him some good. That he can be calm and happy with Renjun next to him, that his alpha responded and the mating mark on Renjun’s neck will stay there forever.

Donghyuck doesn’t see the disaster loitering over him. After a moment of nothingness, of black and red and colors that entangle in his sight, Donghyuck can’t breathe. He parts his lips, but no oxygen comes into his mouth, as if there was a plastic bag covering his mouth and nose.

It feels like he’s going to die, and though he doesn’t want to scare Renjun, Donghyuck desperately gropes for him, not knowing if he’s touching the bed, if he’s touching Renjun or even if he’s touching himself. If he’s actually alone at home, hallucinating that Renjun was his again.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun mutters, a trace of confusion in his voice. But Donghyuck can’t answer, just gapes for air, his lungs shrinking until he only feels the pain electrifying him all over. “Donghyuck?”

Renjun touches his face, and when he speaks again, Donghyuck recognizes the absolute terror that tints his voice.

“Please, you’re scaring me,” he begs, as if Donghyuck is doing it on purpose. He wants to breathe again, even if it’s just for Renjun, but all his attempts are useless. “Oh my god, Donghyuck, please.”

When Renjun detaches from him, Donghyuck manages to cry out. The ambient is full of Renjun’s pheromones, of his panic, but Donghyuck absorbs it through his skin instead of his nose, and it leaves him drenched in double distress.

“Mark!” Renjun screams, and Donghyuck hears him running out of the room, his steps over the carpet, until the pressure of the blood in his ears deafens him.

The next thing he perceives is a new set of hands cupping his face, beta pheromones that balance out Jeno’s scent, and Donghyuck feels a tiny part of his strength slip back into him.

“Hey.” Mark’s voice sounds too far away, but Donghyuck focuses on it, and then Mark is pressed over him, checking the pulse in his neck and pushing him on his side. Donghyuck realizes right away that it’s easier to breathe this way, that lying on his back was worsening his state. “Breathe with me.”

Through the deep black before his eyes, Donghyuck distinguishes Mark’s features. He breathes with him, but the first hit of oxygen into his lungs is painful, and then he feels Renjun’s fingers intertwined in his hand, squeezing him so hard that Donghyuck remembers why he has to make a last effort. Not to scare Renjun.

“I still have alpha suppressants from Yuta, they’re in the last drawer of the bedside table,” Mark says, talking to Renjun.

A suppressant from other alpha might not work, especially since Donghyuck has been abusing his own, but he didn’t bring his own stash. As far as Donghyuck remembers, Yuta had a strong dose. He’s surprised Mark still keeps them, though, for he should have thrown them away by now.

Renjun doesn’t want to leave his side, and that’s pretty evident when he complains, “A suppressant takes too much time.”

“Renjun!” Mark exclaims, losing his patience. “Fucking go!”

Donghyuck has the strange urge to laugh when Renjun obeys the command right away. He’s never heard Mark bark an order with this security, but he supposes that dating an alpha for so many years has built Mark to give orders as well.

Blinking at Mark’s face next to him, Donghyuck gathers the strength to warn him, “Don’t scream at him.” Because no one should scream at Renjun, and if Mark intends to do it, he better avoid it in Donghyuck’s presence. “He’s scared.”

A significant smile expands on Mark’s face, aware that Donghyuck’s instinct won’t allow Mark to skip over their ranks, and that he shouldn’t ignore Donghyuck’s warning.

Mark huffs, “God, you’re such an idiot. You still have the nerve to go all alpha on me because of Renjun.”

It makes no sense to contradict him, and anyhow Donghyuck doesn’t have time to think up a retort, since Renjun runs back into the bedroom like an arrow. Donghyuck realizes that he’s wearing his jumper, probably the first piece of cloth that he picked up from the floor, and the most irrational side of Donghyuck appreciates that he covered himself in Mark’s presence. His friends have pulled up the covers on Donghyuck too, just up to his waist, though he isn’t very worried about Mark seeing him naked.

As soon as Renjun realizes he’s conscious, he throws the suppressants on the bed and climbs on him with a jump. Despite his excessive reaction, the hug Renjun suffocates him in is pure comfort, and Donghyuck immediately wraps his arms around him with a contented sigh.

Renjun sinks his head in his neck, and even though Donghyuck means to bring him peace, Renjun still sobs against him.

“Donghyuck,” he sniffs, fingers clutching Donghyuck’s hair as if he’s going to evaporate.

“Don’t cry, I’m fine,” Donghyuck whispers. He pats Renjun's butt, unbothered by Mark's presence as long as Renjun feels better. His priority is always to take care of Renjun first, just like Renjun's priority right now is to make sure that Donghyuck doesn't feel alone, that he has Renjun, mirage or not. “It was nothing.”

“It wasn't nothing, don't you dare,” Renjun grunts at him. It takes him a few seconds to stop sobbing, but being in Donghyuck's embraces soothes him, and Donghyuck doesn't need anything else but Renjun's well being to feel safe too. “Did that happen to you before?”

Donghyuck should be ready to lie to Renjun, but he's so tired of his own lies. He can deceive anyone, but the boy sniffing like a baby in his arms deserves something better than his deceitful self. Donghyuck has bared himself in soul and body for Renjun, and he's not disposed to step back, because he's the only person in the world that can listen to Donghyuck's real feelings.

“Just once, the day you and Jeno showed up during my game,” Donghyuck confesses.

It's not necessary to explain why. Renjun lifts his head, eyes red and cheeks wet with tears, an unbelieving shade of incredulity in his expression. Donghyuck reckons that Renjun can't imagine how bad Donghyuck feels, that it's shocking that he's having anxiety attacks over Renjun and Jeno.

Before Renjun can make a big deal out of it, Mark rests his hand on Donghyuck's waist, and when Donghyuck glances at him, he realizes that Mark has become pale at the exchange of affection he's witnessing.

“You should sleep in my room,” he says, so confused that he ends up frowning down at Donghyuck. “You have to rest for a couple of hours while the suppressant takes effect.”

Donghyuck blinks at him, holds Renjun closer. Mark isn't trying to make him feel better: he just knows that he can't stay in Jeno's room, naked and drugged, because Jeno will return soon.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck has heard Renjun scream before, but he has never heard Jeno raise his voice at anyone, no matter the circumstances.

But that evening, in Mark's bed, it's Jeno's voice trespassing the walls that wakes Donghyuck up. He startles and sits up with a gasp, perhaps because his subconscious knows that he's not at home, that he might not be safe. Mark is lying beside him, awake, and softly pushes him down on his back without a single word.

Donghyuck doesn't have the chance to ask what's happening. Mark arches his eyebrows at him, sets a finger on his lips to ask for silence, and Donghyuck understands the reason a second later.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Renjun screams. There's a dull sound, a noise that Donghyuck can't pinpoint, and then Renjun continues, “He had an anxiety attack because of your scent, we can’t meet here!”

Donghyuck freezes, warily glancing at Mark again. Mark looks unimpressed, but for Donghyuck this is sacred, a conversation that he shouldn't ever listen to. It's a sin that he has the privilege of hearing Renjun defend him in front of Jeno: his stomach revolts, because despite fighting, Donghyuck loves Jeno. He can't imagine what a hard blow must be to have your mate shout at you, and on top of that, to rebel just to please another alpha.

“Renjun-”

“Don’t touch me,” Renjun snaps, but his voice breaks in between. Softer, he adds, “You wouldn’t say all this if you had seen him go through it.”

Jeno scoffs, “Why don’t you just move in with him and leave me?”

The silence that follows is thunderous.

Donghyuck has to stop them. It's insane, Jeno is insane if he's repudiating Renjun for this. God, it was his idea. Donghyuck wouldn't have come back if Jeno hadn't granted him permission, but he's stubborn about not letting Renjun leave home. As if he can control Renjun's feelings as long as he's under their roof, as if Donghyuck's alpha will be repressed in a different ambient.

“Jeno, do you hear yourself?” Renjun says, but his rage is gone, and there's a raw emotion in him, an emotion that Donghyuck hasn't heard before.

Jeno retorts, “That’s funny. Do you hear yourself?”

It's strange how different their relationship is at home. Jeno would have never dared to speak in that tone to Renjun with their friends in the picture; they seem perfect, lovely, but only because they have decided that their problems stay within four walls.

Mark shakes his head, breaking Donghyuck's focus from their fight, and says, “Their arguments are back.” Their arguments are back, because Donghyuck is back. Mark tugs up the covers, as though he can block the noise with the thin layer of his sheets, and complains, “I can't wait for them to graduate and leave.”

If this has been a daily occurrence after Donghyuck helped Renjun with his heat, he doesn't understand how Mark is enduring it. He had his own break-up to get over, but Renjun and Jeno are too busy with their own issues to lend him a hand.

Everyone thinks it's brighter on the other side, Donghyuck remembers. Mark was right. He wasn't talking only about the three of them, but about himself.

Donghyuck reaches out to hold Mark's hand over the bed and whispers, “Is it always this bad?”

And Mark sends him a skeptical look, which softens as Donghyuck squeezes his hand harder. “This isn't even that bad,” Mark confirms.

Donghyuck just wants the screaming to stop.

 

 

 

 

“They're very tough suppressants,” Doyoung coldly states, seizing him with a level look. “I can't just ask Johnny to prescribe you such strong suppressants if he doesn't see you first.”

Donghyuck stares at his brother, the only person that can aid him right now, and sees all the mistakes reflected on his face. Perhaps it's just Donghyuck's guilt making him paranoid, but he can't shake off the feeling of being exposed in front of Doyoung. One mere glance from his older brother reminds him that, since the very beginning, this idea was completely illogical.

Besides, Doyoung doesn't seem to be content with Donghyuck's attitude towards him. When Donghyuck asked him to meet for lunch, he was aware that he would give the wrong impression. Doyoung has been expecting a call for months, for Donghyuck to be sincere and bare his feelings, his thoughts.

On the contrary, Donghyuck sits in front of him and shamelessly asks for the strongest suppressants in the market. It's not the first time he has resorted to Johnny to grasp a few meds that no other doctor would provide him, but he needs to convince Doyoung first.

Johnny has grown up with them, more with Doyoung than with Donghyuck, Doyoung shared classes with him all throughout high school, and Doyoung might have never admitted it to Donghyuck, but he knows that they've seen each other pretty often after college. However, Doyoung is too prideful to tell his younger brother that he hasn't managed to make Johnny settle down with him yet.

Donghyuck insists, “You can explain the situation to him.”

Those suppressants are his salvation. He understands Doyoung's reticence, however, because they're not a regular dosage for all alphas. They're only allowed for alphas that have such a wild instinct that it affects their social abilities and shapes their daily life. Doyoung is right: the protocol forces Donghyuck to get evaluated first, but he doesn't have the time or the mental stability to endure the tests.

“I'm not going to tell Johnny that you're having anxiety attacks because you're fucking a mated omega and your alpha is going nuts,” Doyoung refuses, not disposed to falter at Donghyuck's insistence. Both are equally stubborn, and Doyoung knows better than giving into his requests without fighting; Donghyuck might be the alpha between them, but Doyoung is still older than him. “Are you out of your mind?”

That would be a mild way to put it. Donghyuck can't even control his pheromones now, in a normal, quiet atmosphere, with barely any omegas around and a figure of protection before him. The simple thought of chaining his pheromones irks his alpha, even though Donghyuck is conscious of how bad he must smell, how pathetic and dangerous he must look to others.

“What do you want from me?” Donghyuck whispers. He rests his chin on the palm of his hand, closes his eyes just to erase the image of his brother pitying him. “You're denying me something I need just because I'm not following your perfect life guideline?”

Doyoung doesn't answer, doesn't have any intention to indulge him. It's not just because Donghyuck is being impertinent, but because he doesn't have the decency to look into his eyes while asking for a big favor. It's technically illegal, and yet Johnny would still take any risks for him if Doyoung wanted him to.

So in an attempt to prove that he's not a coward, Donghyuck stares at Doyoung. He's had such a horrible last few months that being honest with his brother shouldn't be an impossible task. Doyoung's semblance isn't harsh now, concern replacing all the hard angles he's been showing Donghyuck.

“Donghyuck, why can't you just let Renjun go?” he asks, vacillating.

It's the logic solution to his problems: to ignore that Jeno and Renjun asked for help and, for once, look out for himself. He's not obligated to save their relationship, and less now that they've reached a point in which Donghyuck is just trying to destroy it instead.

Donghyuck bites his lower lip, seriously considers to tell Doyoung the truth. To confess that he mated with Renjun, and that Renjun is still carrying his mating mark to keep Donghyuck locked to him.

But Doyoung is too smart, and he doesn't need any details, doesn't need any more motives. He reads Donghyuck's reaction and breathes out a clear, merciless, “Are you in love with him?”

Donghyuck needs a moment to take in the question. No one in their sane mind, at least from his circle of his friends, would have the guts to throw such a question at him.

Doyoung does. It's the big elephant in the room, but for Doyoung it's a new discovery, and the pain that it has caused is foreign to him. In fact, Donghyuck can see the amazement in Doyoung's eyes, because Donghyuck has never been in love, has never had any trouble to let an omega go – he used to force them to leave first. It's not a rare occasion, it's an impossible occasion.

It's odd that when Donghyuck takes the decision to share his little secret with his brother, he's certain that it's the first and the last time he's going to say these words. He doesn't fear being called a fool, because he's a fool, and if someone is capable of understanding commitment, that's Doyoung.

A bitter smile paints Donghyuck's face, breaking the desperation that petrifies him.

“I'm in love with him,” he whispers back to Doyoung, and like a charm, the pressure in his chest withers away.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck smells Renjun before he can see him.

The first thought that invades Donghyuck's head is that Renjun shouldn't be here, that he shouldn't know where Donghyuck is. Donghyuck left his faculty for lunch on purpose, to avoid Taeyong and a couple of classmates that are so worried about him that they won't stop pestering him. Donghyuck appreciates the concern, but there's a limit to how much information he can share without embarrassing himself. Without dishonoring Renjun, too. And despite his classmates' tendency to suppose that a good talk can lift the weight off his shoulders, Donghyuck's life can't be mended with words.

However, Donghyuck doesn't need to know how Renjun found him – Jaemin probably told him – because Renjun's state shocks him to the core.

They haven't seen each other in four long, agonizing days, and now Donghyuck understands why Renjun barely responded any of his messages. He has dark circles, and he looks so gaunt that Donghyuck doubts he has eaten or slept in days. It's so bad that Donghyuck's instinct awakens at the first glance, a disturbing vibration settling in his stomach. He has to protect Renjun, especially because all this is his fault, because he refuses to accept that Renjun will never be his.

The deal is still on and perhaps that's what is killing him. But if Renjun falls down, Donghyuck is going to fall with him.

Renjun sits in front of him, rapidly blinking, his gaze fixed on the table. Donghyuck chose an isolated table in the back of the main hall, and though it was an unconscious choice, he's grateful now that Renjun shivers before him. He doesn't want anyone to see Renjun like this, not only because he's responsible for it, but because Renjun will be mortified later.

“You wanted to talk,” Renjun tells him, swallowing a lump in his throat. “So let's talk.”

They should have discussed it long ago, on that first night Renjun fell into his arms because he wanted to, not because he needed it. It had been Donghyuck who had needed him on an emotional level, and both of them had been aware of the dangerous line they were crossing. A talk would have ruined their moment, but it would have saved them.

This isn't ideal, however. Donghyuck doesn't want to argue with Renjun when he's at his lowest: it's unfair both for Renjun and for him. Donghyuck doesn't want a weak omega that can't refute his opinion, he wants the Renjun he's always known.

He disregards Renjun's request, and then sighs, “Renjun, you're skipping classes?”

Surprise strikes across Renjun’s expression, but it’s ephemeral, like thunder, and Donghyuck gives him a few seconds to understand why Donghyuck disapproves of this.

However, Donghyuck receives a blow when Renjun tells him, “I wouldn't be able to see you otherwise.” He locks their gazes, his chin trembling. “Jeno would ask where I'm going, and then I’d feel too bad to do it.”

This ordeal isn't right, Donghyuck is aware of that. Jeno ignores that his mate is chasing after Donghyuck through campus because he needs to clear his thoughts, if that's what Renjun is trying to do, and as far as Donghyuck knows, Jeno still doesn't want them to meet up beyond their bedrooms.

But Renjun made the emotional effort of disobeying a beta, and the last reaction Donghyuck should show is reticence. Renjun has no one else right now, no one but Donghyuck.

Donghyuck deeply inhales, and with a nod, he prompts, “You first?”

It falls on Donghyuck like a cascade. Renjun has been silent for so long and Donghyuck has respected his silence for so long that their words have accumulated on a pile. Renjun is broken, a mess of mistakes and pleasure, and there’s no guide for him to follow.

He parts his lips, and when he stares at Donghyuck, his eyes drown in tears, as though he has been holding back the need to cry for days.

“I feel like a horrible person,” he cries out.

His hands become two small fists over the table. Donghyuck doesn’t waste any time to get up and walk around the table; he can’t stand the sight of Renjun crying on his own while he stares at Donghyuck across a cold, limiting table. Donghyuck slides next to him, passes an arm around Renjun’s waist to bring him closer, using his pheromones to keep Renjun under control. His tears don’t have any solution, but if Renjun needs a bit of stability to have this conversation, Donghyuck will make the effort to shape his pheromones.

Renjun breathes out, a sob tearing his words apart, and continues, “Jeno is giving everything for us, for me, and this is what I’m doing.” Loving Donghyuck, resorting to him on levels that they didn’t agree to. “During my heat- I tried to let him mate with me but my omega refused. I kept trying to bare my neck but my omega-” Renjun swallows, “just didn’t want to.”

Jeno has sacrificed his pride, a physical connection, and because of Donghyuck’s mistakes, also a friendship.

Donghyuck observes Renjun, ponders whether he’s here for consolation and nothing else. He’d have never imagined that Renjun would talk to him about his relationship issues, since Donghyuck provoked this situation, but he’s certain that Renjun doesn’t expect other people to understand him. For their friends, the solution is obvious, easy: to renounce to each other. Renjun should stay with his boyfriend, look for another alpha that could help them, and Donghyuck should go on with his life.

But Renjun has become his whole life, and so Donghyuck can’t go on without him.

Wary, Donghyuck caresses Renjun’s cheek. Renjun lowers his head, but he unconsciously strokes against his palm, a secret exchange of affection that they’re not allowed to experience.

“Renjun, look at me,” Donghyuck tells him. It’s not an order, because Donghyuck’s ability to use his power has been shattered to pieces; there’s just a strange, uncomfortable sensation of emptiness, of agony. That’s it, until Renjun racks his gaze up and looks into Donghyuck’s eyes, unashamed of his own tears. He can trust Donghyuck, because Donghyuck would never judge him. They’ve lived this together, and Donghyuck can’t stand that Renjun is martyring only himself. “I adore you, and it doesn’t matter if you’re mine or not, I’ll still adore you.”

Donghyuck has never been so sincere with Renjun, but it’s worth it. There’s a shade of hope, of peace in Renjun’s semblance as Donghyuck thumbs over his cheek.

“Jeno adores you too,” Donghyuck reminds him. It might irk Donghyuck, but it’s true, and Renjun deserves to know that despite their arguments Jeno hasn’t stopped feeling the same way for him. Donghyuck still remembers how Jeno stared at Renjun during their first year, and that gaze has remained immovable. “You’re not a horrible person for loving.”

Renjun closes his eyes, and to Donghyuck’s surprise, Renjun lifts his hands and cups his face too, a caress that is meant to feel more of Donghyuck, more of his feelings. Donghyuck doesn’t have anything to hide anymore, and he doesn’t need his pheromones to show his emotions. He’s ready to show them himself.

“I’m hurting you too,” Renjun mutters. Donghyuck has never been looked at with so much tenderness; Renjun might hurt him, but he would never want to. His voice dies down as he asks, “Do you really think it’s love? Don’t you think that if I truly loved Jeno, I would have never looked at you?”

Renjun is so vulnerable that he would believe any lie Donghyuck told him. Renjun is asking him, relying on him to untangle his personal thoughts – a matter that seems to have obsessed him, to make him wonder if that ability to fall for another man that isn’t his mate is a symptom of falling out of love. Donghyuck could deceive him, assure him that his feelings for Jeno aren’t natural or real, and Renjun would trust his words.

It would be so easy to keep Renjun for himself at last, but Donghyuck isn’t as selfish as his inner alpha. Unlike Donghyuck, his inner alpha doesn’t love Renjun. Donghyuck wants Renjun to love without ties, and though he wishes they could be happy together, he’s aware of the many ways Renjun could be happy without him.

Making an effort to contradict his instinct, Donghyuck croaks out, “I know you love Jeno.” That’s the only certainty he’s always had. Jeno and Renjun, Renjun and Jeno, an unattainable chimera. “And I don’t know if you can love two people at the same time, Renjun, I’m not the best person to answer that.”

Donghyuck hasn’t loved before, and he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him yet. Every time he looks at Renjun, his chest explodes with a strange, overwhelming sensation of happiness; with fireworks and tingling and pride. Renjun could ask him a thousand times and Donghyuck would never find the answer to his question. For him, loving one person is hard enough.

But his honesty soothes Renjun, a sad smile extendingon his face. Donghyuck brushes the last of his tears away, and Renjun breathes in, a bit calmer than before. He runs his hands from Donghyuck’s face to his chest, so softly that one would think he’s afraid of harming Donghyuck.

“You wouldn’t know, would you?” he mutters, but his smile expands further, like it’s a little joke between them.

Donghyuck can’t help but scoff, because after all he’s still capable of pulling a smile out of Renjun. It’s not difficult for him for some reason, perhaps because Renjun wishes to smile for him. That’s what matters the most to him. He can’t break Renjun and Jeno’s relationship, but as long as Renjun is happy around him, he isn’t going to loosen his hold on him.

“Go to class, your finals are soon too, right?” Donghyuck whispers, bending down to look into Renjun’s eyes. He brushes Renjun’s hair out of his face, his palm itching at the contact, and Renjun lets out a contented sigh. The touch of an alpha can do wonders, but he still looks exhausted, so Donghyuck insists, “Sleep a lot tonight, you need it.”

With their finals around the corner, they won’t be getting enough rest. They can forget about their issues for a couple of weeks, since after four years, graduating should be their priority. Donghyuck knows that once their exams are over, the dilemma will crash on them, but there’s nothing he can do to avoid that.

Renjun gives him a small nod, comprehending his intentions.

He strokes over Donghyuck’s wrist, as to thank him for the affection, and assures, “I’ll visit you when the storm passes.”

He’s not talking about his finals. Donghyuck reads it in his pheromones, in the longing that fills his scent. The storm is Jeno, Jeno and the chain that he’s trying to set around Renjun’s body; a chain that Renjun, as it seems, doesn’t dare to break either.

“Don’t make promises, Renjun,” Donghyuck warns him, because Renjun has the will, but not the resources to make it happen. Upon observing his little, dazed face, Donghyuck has the strange thought that any of these moments together could be the last one. They will graduate soon, move out, and there won’t be anything interlacing their lives anymore. “They never work.”

Renjun looks for recognition in Donghyuck’s face, and before Donghyuck can apologize for the pessimism, Renjun is pressing a tender, sweet peck on his lips. He doesn’t part his lips, doesn’t explore Donghyuck’s mouth beyond his innocence, but there’s no need to.

He already knows all of Donghyuck.

 

 

 

 

Jaemin observes him from the bed, a frown on his face, and mutters, “I have a bad feeling about all this.”

Donghyuck does, too.

This plan was inevitable, however, because sooner or later they were bound to make an effort to return to normalcy. It was Sunwoo who came up with the idea, and perhaps that’s the reason all of them accepted. Sunwoo is as neutral as someone can be in this mess, but if the idea had come from Donghyuck, for example, Jeno would have turned it down.

Still, Donghyuck thinks it’s too soon for the whole group to reunite. He’s afraid that their problems will splash their innocent friends, like Chenle or Yukhei, and that he won’t be able to stop it. Jeno is still mad at him, Donghyuck isn’t that naïve. And Donghyuck is just as angry, just as frustrated, because he wants Renjun to be sincere with him, not to keep secrets from him just to protect Jeno.

Donghyuck finishes zipping his pants, looks at himself in the mirror, and then reaches out for the packet of pills on his study table. He hasn’t had the guts to start the treatment, and that’s why Jaemin and he are enclosed up in his bedroom – Donghyuck doesn’t know how his body is going to react, and he only trusts Jaemin to supervise him.

“Are you sure you want to try the new suppressants tonight?” Jaemin insists, lying back on Donghyuck’s bed.

It’s his only option. He can’t show up at a friendly dinner with Jeno and Renjun with his instinct in full force. Even though Donghyuck doesn’t intend to confront Jeno, his alpha has endured too many humiliations: a prohibition to see his mate, a punch in the face, a tight control of when he can have sex with Renjun, and his beta and omega friends influencing his life without permission. His alpha has to be suppressed or Donghyuck will break a dozen friendships tonight.

“I can’t take my old suppressants, they won’t have any effect,” Donghyuck replies at last.

He pulls out the tablet, and then the blue round pill that is so tiny that could pass as a mole on his skin. Instead of taking it right away, he lies next to Jaemin and shows him the pill since he has never seen such a strong drug in his whole life either.

Besides, Donghyuck wants to be close to Jaemin when the suppressant takes effect: Johnny has sent him a thousand messages about how he had to be accompanied on his first attempt, and that it would be ideal if it was an omega.

There’s no one that Donghyuck trusts more than Jaemin, so the choice was obvious.

“This shit is so strong. I can’t believe Johnny prescribed them without evaluating you,” Jaemin points out. He holds the pill between his index finger and his thumb, squinting, and then lifts his eyebrows at Donghyuck. “Your brother must be a pro at giving head.”

Donghyuck whines, “Don’t be fucking gross.”

Jaemin is doing this on purpose to distract him from the moment, so he laughs at Donghyuck’s complaint, at how horrified he looks at the mention of his brother doing Johnny favors.

“Siblings fuck too, Donghyuck,” he shamelessly retorts.

When Jaemin holds his chin, Donghyuck parts his lips for him. He tastes Jaemin first, an explosion of omega pheromones that makes Donghyuck dizzy, but then Jaemin is pressing the pill on Donghyuck’s tongue and he remembers what they’re doing. The pill melts within a second, a sweet taste extending all over Donghyuck’s mouth. The suppressant is so instantaneous that Donghyuck feels an immediate sensation of calmness growing in his chest.

Jaemin observes him, curious, “Good?”

Much better than in the last seven months, that’s for sure.

“Good,” Donghyuck confirms.

It’s a relief for Jaemin, who has been trying to pretend that he wasn’t scared of this moment. He pets Donghyuck’s hair, giggling a bit when Donghyuck actually rolls over the bed and latches on him; with the suppressant kicking his instinct away, it’s a delight to touch Jaemin like a friend.

“You should have seen your own face,” Jaemin jokes. He accepts Donghyuck into his arms nonetheless and says, “Like a scolded, obedient dog.”

Donghyuck snorts at that, because he indeed feels like an obedient dog. Even if he can’t depend on these suppressants for the rest of his life, he needs them for tonight and for his finals, otherwise he’ll be stuck here for another year.

Jaemin doesn’t say anything else, just strokes Donghyuck, the both of them forgetting that they will have to leave in a few minutes. Jisung is supposed to pick them up, so they can wait for the bell to ring – Donghyuck is the best driver among the three of them, but he can’t drive under these suppressants, and Jaemin refuses to renounce to drinking tonight. He’d claimed that he won’t be able to deal with the tension in the atmosphere, that as an omega it would be unviable.

Donghyuck immerses himself in this moment of peace, holds onto Jaemin until his breathing stabilizes. If it wasn’t because of Renjun, he would prefer to stay at home and cuddle Jaemin to sleep.

“What are we going to do?” Donghyuck asks in a whisper after a couple of minutes. With his instinct off, there are new issues in his head, things that he hasn’t been considering because he was too anguished to remember. But now, entangled with Jaemin, he realizes that this cycle of their lives is about to end. “Are we going to live together when we graduate?”

They’ve gotten used to being with each other, as unconventional as it is for them to share a home without dating. Jaemin’s silence is proof that he hasn’t thought about it either, but Donghyuck knows that Jaemin is probably ready to move onto the next step in his life. Donghyuck isn’t.

“That’s a no?” Donghyuck continues, but he isn’t angry, just a bit amused at how troubled Jaemin seems to be. “Are Sunwoo and you-”

Jaemin shakes his head, interrupting him, “It’s not that.”

Donghyuck suspects what’s going inside Jaemin’s head, so it’s not surprising that he’s wary of sharing it with Donghyuck. He’s familiar with how this feels, so he just whispers, “Okay, no pressure.”

 

 

 

 

The suppressants don’t repress his feelings.

Once he doesn’t have his alpha instinct to invade every one of his thoughts, what Donghyuck perceives with his five senses just confuses him. Renjun and Jeno arrive last at the restaurant, and from the first moment Donghyuck sets his eyes on Renjun, he detects that his mood is far from calm. His main issue, however, is that Donghyuck can’t tell if Renjun has been this way for a while, or if he’s becoming aware of it now just because of the suppressants.

The atmosphere isn’t as uptight as Donghyuck expects. Maybe it’s because Yukhei, Chenle and Sunwoo make an effort to keep their conversations going, pretending that they can’t notice how Jeno avoids talking to Donghyuck, and how Renjun follows his example.

Donghyuck isn’t blind. He doesn’t miss the once-over Renjun dedicates to Yukhei upon his arrival, gaze lingering for so long that Donghyuck feels self-conscious of all the things he’s done with Yukhei. He regrets choosing the spot besides Yukhei, who would never catch the hint that Donghyuck doesn’t want to be too friendly with him if Renjun is present.

Donghyuck doesn’t miss Jeno’s contentment either. And even though he feels bad for thinking that it’s unsettling, he can’t find an explanation that could justify why Jeno is happy tonight. He keeps his arm around Renjun while they eat, feeds him, hums at him when Renjun nods in gratitude. He acts as if they aren’t having awful arguments at home, his eyes crinkling up at Renjun in happiness, as if Donghyuck isn’t in front of them.

Sleeping with Renjun doesn’t give Donghyuck the right to be angry at them for loving each other; but he remembers Jaemin’s words, that bad hunch he had at the beginning of the night, and Renjun’s indifference stands out against Jeno’s behavior. He’s pliant with his boyfriend, but he doesn’t look like he wants to be here tonight. The moment he locks eyes with Donghyuck across the table, he becomes cold and distant, lifts his chin and looks away.

“Hey,” Jaemin discreetly whispers to him in the middle of the dinner. Yukhei is laughing at the way Chenle and Sunwoo are bickering, and Jaemin takes advantage of that moment to show his concern. “You look like you need some fresh air.”

Donghyuck wonders if even with his instinct pulverized, his pheromones are still displaying his feelings like a shop window. He blinks at Jaemin first, and then at Renjun, whose eyes are fixed on Jeno as he cleans a stain from his chin.

Donghyuck feels like vomiting. It’s not his instinct, not his greediness: these are his real feelings. This is the actual pain that was hiding under the thick layers of his alpha.

“Yeah,” Donghyuck breathes out, and Jaemin rubs his back, smiling at him. “Come with me?”

“Go alone, I don’t want you to depend on my scent.”

He’s right, but Donghyuck feels like a kid that needs his mother to accompany him and hold his hand. After taking a quick look at his friends, he announces that he’s going outside for a smoke, and Yukhei stares at him in shock, says that he didn’t know Donghyuck smoked.

“Only during finals,” Donghyuck explains with a tight smile.

It’s not a complete lie, because he hasn’t resorted to smoking this year, but his friends know that he did it in the past years. So it’s an easy, believable excuse, and he doesn’t raise suspicions.

Jaemin is right: when Donghyuck steps out, his mental state improves within an instant. He walks away from the restaurant, just far enough to still catch sight of Renjun and Jeno feeding each other, and only then he realizes that he doesn’t even have cigarettes to pretend.

Donghyuck doesn’t know what to do. If he’s condemned to a life of witnessing how Renjun loves Jeno, he won’t be able to stand it. His friendship with Jeno has always been precious, and his absence has left a hole in his soul, but even if Donghyuck fell out of love with Renjun, he can’t picture Jeno forgiving him. He’s not sure if fighting to stick the pieces of his circle of friends together is a good idea. Donghyuck might be the broken piece that doesn’t allow them to be complete. Maybe they would be better off without him.

Donghyuck rests against the cold façade of the restaurant, closing his eyes, but a few seconds later Renjun’s scent slips into his senses and Donghyuck startles.

Renjun doesn’t bother to keep his distance: he sets a hand around Donghyuck’s wrist, looks up at him in complete seriousness, and says, “You forgot your jacket.”

But Donghyuck hasn’t felt the cold until now, as Renjun softly pushes the jacket into his embrace. Donghyuck swallows the knot in his throat and puts on his jacket, all under Renjun’s scrutinizing eyes. It should be touching that Renjun was worried he would get sick, but Donghyuck isn’t that naïve.

“You’re not smoking,” Renjun points out.

Liar, he’s saying.

Ill intentions or not, Donghyuck doesn’t appreciate his observation. Renjun doesn’t have any need to make clear that he knows Donghyuck is just running away; god, Donghyuck has the right to run away.

Donghyuck can’t tell where his bitterness surges from, but he can’t help it.

He glances at Renjun and spits, “Did Jeno give you permission to come out?”

It’s almost satisfying that his insinuation maddens Renjun. Donghyuck isn’t wrong: he’s certain that Jeno is controlling him, and Renjun is letting himself be controlled just because he’s scared of losing him. The fact that Jeno couldn’t bite Renjun during his last heat, whether it was decided by Renjun or Jeno, must be knocking them over.

Renjun has the shade of a glare in his eyes when he warns, “Don’t talk about him that way, Donghyuck.”

Donghyuck doesn’t give Renjun the pleasure of showing regret. He should be allowed to feel rancor, even if Renjun doesn’t want to hear about his mate’s flaws. What Donghyuck refuses to do is fall into this trap: it would be perfect for Jeno if they fought, because he wouldn’t have to carry the blame of separating them nor would look like a possessive, desperate boyfriend.

Donghyuck shoves his hands into his pockets, unbothered at Renjun’s attitude towards him tonight.

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” Donghyuck shoots. It doesn’t matter that Renjun followed him outside, because he’s still cold, defensive, and Donghyuck doesn’t have the capacity to deal with this change. “We were fine the other day, but if you’re set to act like I’m piece of shit, I don’t want to talk to you.”

Instead of wavering, Renjun scowls at him, as though Donghyuck’s words are unfounded. As though Donghyuck should be apologizing to him.

And Donghyuck doesn’t understand it. He has made a lot of mistakes, but he’s never wronged Renjun and there’s no reason for Renjun to turn his back on him in the span of a few days.

Or so he thinks until Renjun grunts, “You fucked Yukhei.”

Donghyuck’s breath hitches as he glances at Renjun.

There’s jealousy in his voice, in his eyes, in his face. And his pheromones are so intense that they burn Donghyuck whole; Renjun has been holding them back, but now they cascade into the air all at once, and it’s impossible to misinterpret the amount of pheromones coming from Renjun.

Straightening up, Donghyuck mutters, “Why are you bringing this up now?” But as soon as he asks, he finds the answer in Renjun’s face. His heart plummets, a strange trembling taking over his body, and he finishes, “You didn’t know.”

“Of course I didn’t know!” Renjun explodes, confused, pained, his body language full of mistrust.

Donghyuck staggers, too overwhelmed to react properly. Jeno’s decisions make sense now; it wasn’t a matter of Jeno refusing to believe that Renjun had feelings for Donghyuck, but a matter of dropping the bomb in the right moment. Donghyuck sleeping with one of Renjun’s best friends is a marvelously cruel bomb. Jeno could have revealed it to Renjun before proposing the deal to Donghyuck again, and then Renjun would have been as hurt as he is now. He would have rejected the idea.

But Jeno decided to wait, to let Renjun think that Donghyuck was an angel that was sacrificing everything for him. The fall is rougher, brutal, and Donghyuck sees that in front of him.

Donghyuck can’t blame Renjun. Their deal was over when he slept with Yukhei, but it’s the aftermath that destroys Renjun’s trust in him. Donghyuck shouldn’t have supposed that Renjun would know, and so here Renjun is, thinking that Donghyuck lied to him just to spread his legs open once more.

“Jeno didn’t tell you,” Donghyuck says, more to himself than to Renjun.

Upon realizing that Donghyuck isn’t denying it, Renjun’s bottom lip trembles. He bites down on it to stop it, lowers his head not to let Donghyuck see how much this affects him.

“He told me today,” Renjun confirms, so low that Donghyuck barely hears him. “Said that if I wanted to leave with you after the dinner, I should make sure you used protection with Yukhei.”

Donghyuck wishes he could be mad, but the suppressants don’t allow the fury to take over. His will to protect Renjun, to hit Jeno, to scream at how unfair this is, is subdued by the drugs.

Renjun intended to go with him tonight. He must have asked for permission, but Jeno was smarter than him. Renjun wouldn’t want to go home with a Donghyuck that doesn’t love him; and really, Donghyuck wouldn’t want Renjun to be in his bed if he didn’t love him either, heat involved or not.

But Donghyuck loves Renjun so, so much that the pain has become physical; that his chest hurts and his heart sinks for real, that he can’t utter any words to save Renjun from this.

The world spins around him. “Renjun-”

Renjun steps back, agitated, like he doesn’t expect Donghyuck to approach him.

“You slept with one of my friends,” he retorts, and Donghyuck reaches for him, but Renjun draws away again, disappointed. “Do you realize-”

It isn’t fair, that’s all Donghyuck can focus on. He’d never lie to Renjun about this, and he deserves a chance to explain himself. Yet Renjun has already taken the decision of repudiating him, of believing that Donghyuck never changed, never loved him, while Renjun spent the last few months fighting his mate just to see Donghyuck again.

Frustration seeps into Donghyuck, because he doesn’t know how to fix this, how to convince Renjun that Yukhei doesn’t mean anything to him; because Donghyuck is tied to Renjun, but Renjun isn’t tied to him.

“You have a boyfriend,” Donghyuck bites out instead. “How are you going to demand fidelity when you can’t reciprocate?”

It’s too late to slap a hand over his mouth. Renjun gazes at him in complete shock, but at least the trace of disappointment dissipates – and Donghyuck regrets it with his whole heart, because Renjun doesn’t deserve to be reminded of that. Renjun is sticking to him despite how that destabilizes his relationship, and Donghyuck shouldn’t pay him back with bitterness.

Before Renjun can answer, Donghyuck mutters, “Fuck, I’m sorry.”

Renjun crosses his arms over his abdomen, blinks down at the ground as to shake something off his mind. Donghyuck stops breathing, waits for his reaction, but Renjun never explodes.

“No, you’re right,” Renjun muses, nodding. Somehow, his lack of anger worsens the situation. Donghyuck would prefer him to shout at him, just like he shouts at Jeno, not to give up on him at the first bump on the road. “You can fuck whoever you want.”

That’s the last thing Donghyuck wants to hear from Renjun’s mouth. And he knows Renjun enough to guess that Renjun wishes he hadn’t said that; but it’s the right thing to tell someone that you can’t commit to.

“I don’t want to fuck anyone else, Renjun.” This time, as Donghyuck touches Renjun, he stays in the same place. Donghyuck holds him by his waist, his fingers sinking in Renjun’s coat. “I’m not playing with you.”

Renjun must distinguish the seriousness in his voice, because he makes the effort of gazing into his eyes. It breaks Donghyuck to recognize a spark of hope, to realize that even if Renjun tries to get away, he doesn’t want to let go either.

“Then why?” he whispers. He takes a deep breath to compose himself, but Donghyuck still feels the shaking of his body beneath his coat. “You could have gone for anyone in the world but it had to be Yukhei, it just feels like you’re trying to send me a messa-”

Donghyuck can’t hold back. This is his big secret. He hasn’t told anyone because it’s just so humiliating and exposing at the same time that Donghyuck feels like it could destroy him.

He hears himself spit, “Yukhei smelled like you.”

Renjun freezes, gapes at him. The time between his words and Renjun’s answer is an eternity for Donghyuck, an eternity in which he wonders if Renjun will doubt him, if he will think that Donghyuck is just desperate.

Donghyuck is beyond desperate.

“What?” Renjun mutters, voice hoarse.

“I don’t really-” Donghyuck begins. “I don’t even swing for alphas.”

He would have never touched Yukhei if Renjun’s scent hadn’t been impregnated on him. Donghyuck hasn’t fully processed what happened that night, because he pushes the memories away every time they come back, and so he finds himself ranting, “But shit, your scent was on him, you must have hung out with him and I missed you so much-”

Renjun isn’t interested in his excuses, in this declaration of insanity that involves the both of them. Donghyuck’s back hits the bricks, and before he can understand why Renjun is shoving him, Renjun’s lips are on his.

Donghyuck loves to suffocate in Renjun’s mouth. It’s fire again, like it should be for them, and Donghyuck doesn’t hesitate to pull Renjun closer, until he’s moaning into his mouth, until he can’t breathe either. Renjun parts his lips, licks into his mouth, and Donghyuck licks back, tongue against tongue a dozen times. He doesn’t care about the consequences; if Jeno steps out of the restaurant and finds them, Donghyuck won’t release Renjun. Renjun is his, not just because he has a mating mark in his neck, but because Renjun kisses him without fear for the first time in months, like he belongs to Donghyuck. Like he has always had.

The kiss is endless, and yet he can’t have enough. When they part ways, Renjun brings his hand to Donghyuck’s cheek; he keeps his eyes closed, however, and Donghyuck admires him in silence. Renjun looks so pretty tonight, his lips red from kissing and a tiny shade of pink painting the angles of his face from the cold. And Donghyuck just wants to warm him up, to hold him in his arms and make sure that Renjun doesn’t walk back into that restaurant, where only pain and reproaching waits for him.

“Don’t say that again,” Renjun mutters then, slanting back without balance. Donghyuck marvels at how much the kiss has thrown him off, to the point Renjun relies on his strength to not fall back. He looks at Donghyuck at last, his fingers caressing down his cheek, and repeats, “I don’t want you to say something like that ever again.”

“Why?” Donghyuck pants. It’s the truth, and he will shout it out loud a thousand times if it convinces Renjun to kiss him. But Donghyuck knows what scares Renjun, and so he asks, “Are you afraid I’m losing my mind over you?”

It’s too late to worry about it. Renjun’s eyes are wet with tears when he answers, “Yes.”

Because it’s a game for three, and like in all games, someone has to lose.

 

 

 

 

Against all odds, Renjun stays with him.

Jeno gave him permission, even if he assumed that Renjun himself wouldn’t want to leave with Donghyuck, and his small strategy backfires. They wait until the end of the night, as everyone is saying goodbye, to tell Jeno. Donghyuck watches Renjun lean to whisper into his ear, roam a hand over his chest to soothe him, and then the realization hits Jeno. His eyes immediately look for Donghyuck, but he’s pale, helpless, because he can’t start an argument in a restaurant with all their friends present.

It’s not gratifying to see Jeno like that. Donghyuck doesn’t want vengeance, it’s his instinct that does. On the contrary, Donghyuck wishes he could assure Jeno that Renjun will be back home next morning, that he doesn’t have anything to worry about.

Jisung drives them back to Donghyuck and Jaemin’s house, glancing at Renjun and Donghyuck through the rearview mirror from time to time. Donghyuck supposes that it must be strange to see Renjun resting on him in complete peace, eyes closed as Donghyuck caresses his hair. Most of the ride is filled with Jaemin and Jisung’s small chatter, and afterwards Donghyuck thanks Jisung and asks him if he wants to stay over. He refuses, either because it’s not appropriate or because he catches the panicked look Jaemin sends Donghyuck.

Renjun holds Donghyuck’s hand all the way to the door, doesn’t even release him as Jaemin plants two sonorous goodnight kisses on their faces. There isn’t any tension between them, not even from Renjun, and Donghyuck thinks that he could get used to this. To the routine of watching Renjun leave his shoes by the door, change into the pajamas he forgot last time he was at Donghyuck’s house and roll into his bed with a smile.

Donghyuck can get used to the silence, too, because he and Renjun don’t need to talk. Donghyuck slumps on the bed with him, draping himself over Renjun’s abdomen, the rest of his body between Renjun’s legs. He rests his head under his sternum, adjusting around Renjun’s frame, and lets out a contented hum when he finds the right angle.

As though they’ve agreed to bathe in the calmness of the room, Renjun also stays silent, running his fingers through Donghyuck’s hair. Being back in Donghyuck’s room, just cuddling each other in their pajamas, is a sign that their relationship isn’t based on instinct anymore. Donghyuck doesn’t need to strip Renjun to enjoy his company; the mere fact that he’s allowed to sleep in his embrace is enough, is more than he could have ever dreamed of.

Only as Donghyuck feels himself drift to sleep, he makes a last effort to look up at Renjun. He’s slanted his head to the side, and his eyes are half closed, but he still draws a shy smile under Donghyuck’s attention.

“You’re so pretty,” Donghyuck muses, dragging his words, fighting the sleepiness that takes over.

Renjun’s eyes become two half moons, and Donghyuck swears he hasn’t seen Renjun so happy in his entire life, not even when he’s Jeno.

“I’m pretty?” Renjun laughs. He placidly hums afterwards, accepting the compliment, as if Donghyuck has never praised him before. “You’re really in the mood tonight.”

It’s not a mood, and they’re aware of that. Donghyuck whispers, “I’m always in the mood for you.”

 

 

 

 

The scream that cuts through the apartment is the last straw for Donghyuck’s nervousness.

He’s slinging his bag over his shoulders, hurriedly slipping into his shoes as he mentally revises the last eighty hundred pages of notes he has studied. Jaemin, however, isn’t worried about how many lessons Donghyuck has memorized, and he runs across the hall with a small plastic bag full of food and a bottle of water.

“Not so fast!” he protests, pulling Donghyuck back by his arm. “You can’t go to your last exam without having lunch.”

That’s the last concern in Donghyuck’s mind after two hellish weeks of studying, but he supposes that Jaemin is different, that he’s wired to always have an eye on him.

“I’m fine,” Donghyuck grumbles. Still, he accepts the food and shoves it into his bag with a noise of contentment. “Stop acting like my dad.”

Even though he seems very satisfied with his own success, Jaemin retorts, “Thank you, Jaemin, you take care of me so well. Is it that hard?”

Donghyuck chuckles, and to ease Jaemin’s rancor, he sets a hand behind his neck and brings him closer for a kiss on the cheek. Jaemin gives him a pat on the head in return, as if to warn him that he shouldn’t get so physical when he’s angry.

“What would I do without you?” Donghyuck teases him as a goodbye, pulling at the doorknob.

It’s just a joke, but Donghyuck means it. He wouldn’t have survived this year without Jaemin, and if he was already an important person in his life, now he’s become one of the few pillars Donghyuck has.

“Don’t accept your classmates’ invitations!” Jaemin screams at him from the door, peeking out to catch how Donghyuck skids down the stairs. “Remember it’s Chenle’s party tonight.”

Donghyuck couldn’t forget. Just like Chenle throws a party at the beginning of the school year, it’s mandatory to throw another when finals are over. Except this time, it will be Donghyuck’s last party as a student – and also Jaemin, Renjun and Jeno’s. He knows that he won’t ever see some faces again in his life, for better and for worse. Donghyuck isn’t especially excited, and though Chenle will never catch him admitting that, he can’t miss his only opportunity to get wasted after exams.

Besides, after two weeks without Renjun, he feels like he’s rotting within.

Donghyuck sits through his last exam with his mind is elsewhere, but luckily for him he’s prepared so much for this exam that he can afford some distractions. Four hours later, he’s one of the first students to leave the classroom, which is either a good sign or a disastrous sign, but once he’s out, it’s done. He waits for some of his classmates and promises that he will join them in another occasion, just not tonight. There are protests and accusations thrown at him, but Donghyuck is conscious that they’re not serious.

When Donghyuck steps back into his apartment, Jaemin has already left. It’s almost ten, and Jaemin probably agreed to meet up with Sunwoo or Jisung, so he’s not surprised he’s gone. He still had the nice thought to make dinner for Donghyuck, though Donghyuck suspects it’s a way to avoid he ends up vomiting tonight.

Donghyuck is in the middle of devouring his dinner when he gets a text from Jisung; it’s a simple pick you up? and Donghyuck realizes that Jaemin must have left with Sunwoo instead. He types just that, a warning that Jaemin isn’t at home, but Jisung insists that he will still make the effort for Donghyuck.

That kindness isn’t baseless, and Donghyuck should catch on, but he doesn’t see it coming until he’s slipping on the passenger seat of Jisung’s car.

“Hey,” Jisung greets him, all teeth and nervousness. Donghyuck dedicates him a skeptical look, not sure if he’s comfortable letting someone so jittery drive him. “How was your exam?”

Donghyuck scoffs. “As if I could know.”

Jisung nods in understatement, and before Donghyuck can say anything else, he turns on the engine and drops the bomb, “I’m going to ask Jaemin out tonight.”

“You are-” Donghyuck chokes on his own saliva, whipping his head so fast that he hears his neck crack. “What?”

Instead of feeling intimidated by Donghyuck’s reaction, Jisung smoothly drives them out of the apartment complex, not even glancing at Donghyuck.

“Why are you so shocked?” he mutters, so nonchalantly that Donghyuck feels that he’s with a stranger, not with the timid, overly excited Jisung he knows. “I thought you knew.”

Everyone knows about Jisung’s crush on Jaemin, that’s for sure, and Donghyuck is no exception. He can’t tell what changed between first year and second year for Jisung, however, because when Chenle first introduced them to each other Jisung couldn’t even look Jaemin in the eye. Donghyuck was amused at the fact that there was an alpha so shy that he wasn’t able to face omegas, considering the gap in power, but Jisung isn’t that kid anymore. Nothing like having your crush be with another man to mature, Donghyuck reckons.

“Yeah, but I didn’t think you would have the balls to do it,” Donghyuck admits.

Jisung hesitates for a second, almost like he isn’t comfortable revealing this, before he reminds him, “You’re graduating. We won’t see each other so often, and I don’t just want to fall out without even trying.”

Jisung’s words sting, and Donghyuck has to swallow a lump in his throat. Unlike him, Jisung should be more hopeful, should naively believe that he won’t have any problem keeping in contact with Jaemin.

Donghyuck is a little bit proud of him for all this, and he glances at Jisung once more, a decision settling in his head.

“Want advice?” Donghyuck shoots. Jisung shrugs at that, and Donghyuck interprets it as a yes, but not as a promise that he will follow his advice. Donghyuck licks his lips and whispers, “If he mentions Sunwoo, don’t give up. It’s a test.”

A test is a mild word to describe it. Donghyuck has sensed Jaemin’s denial, that tendency to negate his feelings just because it’s safer, because he won’t hurt anyone if his life doesn’t change at all.

Jisung lets out a small laugh, supposes that Donghyuck is playing around.

“I can’t just disregard a rejection, can I?”

Jaemin would never reject Jisung, at least not directly. He will find stupid excuses, excuses that convince Jisung that they can’t be together, but he won’t insinuate that he doesn’t love Jisung. This is how Jaemin has had Jisung wrapped around his finger for two years. Not letting Jisung in, and not letting him go.

“Look,” Donghyuck sighs. He shifts on the seat, agitated, because he shouldn’t share Jaemin’s secrets without permission. But  Jaemin has contradicted his wishes a lot of times just because he deemed that it was the best for Donghyuck, and for once Donghyuck can do the same to him. “Sunwoo loves Jaemin with his whole heart, but not like that, okay? He’s not going to be the man he spends the rest of his life with. He won’t move in with him, get married and have kids. Do you get what I’m talking about?”

Jisung takes the next turn with more aggressiveness, huffing through his nose. He gets perfectly what Donghyuck means, because he’s an alpha too, because he’s aware of what happens when an alpha finds their perfect half – no matter if it’s an omega, a beta or another alpha. There’s no coming back.

“A test,” Jisung repeats, lower, intrigued.

“Because you’re an inexperienced alpha and Jaemin thinks you don’t know how hard commitment is,” Donghyuck adds. He doesn’t need Jaemin to tell him what his doubts are about; he can read through him like he’s an open book. “Plus, he’s lived with me for three years, his view on alphas is polluted.”

Out of the corner of his eyes, Donghyuck spots an ephemeral smile on Jisung’s face.

But then he turns serious, and with a deep breath, he concludes, “Commitment isn’t hard.”

Donghyuck used to think that it was. He couldn’t imagine a life in which he had to stick to the same pair of legs for decades, with no option of having fun with other people. He was sure that if he ever mated with someone forever, it would be an open relationship, and that he would be perfectly happy with it.

Now he can’t even picture such an idea. And he knows exactly why and when his opinion changed.

“It isn’t,” Donghyuck agrees. He looks out of the window, suddenly aware of how important this conversation is for him too, how similar Jisung and he are. When he speaks again, he’s not talking to Jisung anymore, just to himself, “Not when you find the right one.”

 

 

 

 

The party is a mess, which is alarming considering it’s not even past midnight.

Chenle might have gone overboard with the amount of guests this time, and Donghyuck swears he has never seen the girl that opens the door for them. They have to swim through a multitude, looking for any familiar faces, but they split when Donghyuck announces he’s going to get a drink first and search for his friends second. It’s better for him to be away from Jisung anyway, because if he’s going to be as blunt as he was in the car, he doesn’t want to be around when he finds Jaemin.

Going to the kitchen is a genius idea, since Chenle is there, clinging onto an alpha that can’t stop laughing at whatever Chenle is telling him. Donghyuck wonders if that was the boy he wanted to introduce to Renjun during the beach party, or if Chenle has just moved onto the next pretty boy he found.

“Look at you!” Chenle exclaims upon recognizing him, with so much enthusiasm that Donghyuck doesn’t need to look at him twice to know he’s tipsy. He turns to the boy and whisper shouts, “This is the Donghyuck.”

Whatever Chenle has told him about Donghyuck makes the boy gasp and stare at Donghyuck with sincere interest.

Donghyuck ignores the staring, just pats Chenle’s back and whines, “Please, I want to get drunk fast.”

It’s not hard to talk Chenle into making him a mixture of alcohol that could probably kill a horse, and Donghyuck walks out the kitchen with a gigantic smile and the certainty that he wouldn’t mind if the drink killed him.

After finishing his drink and dancing with a couple of people that he doesn’t know, Donghyuck manages to make a space for himself on the couch. There’s a group of friends animatedly chatting, but Donghyuck just sits between them, closes his eyes and hopes that Jisung is kissing Jaemin in some obscure corner of Chenle’s house.

He’s not drunk enough to fall asleep, but he doesn’t notice when the guys squishing him leave, or when another person falls next to him. It isn’t until he feels a strange pressure on his shoulder and a familiar scent clogging his nostrils that he startles. And he startles in pure panic, believing that his suppressants are indeed so strong that they can induce hallucinations, because that’s the only explanation possible for this.

But when he blinks at the person next to him, Donghyuck realizes that it’s indeed Jeno, that his senses aren’t deceiving him.

Donghyuck is petrified for a while, like he can’t believe his eyes, until he realizes that if Jeno isn’t conscious of his acts, it’s unfair that Donghyuck lets him embarrass himself this way.

He softly pokes him in the arm, with a smooth, careful, “Jeno?”

Jeno would never mistake Donghyuck’s voice, and thus he sits up in a split second, detaching from his shoulder as though Donghyuck will burn him. Jeno glances at him, eyes red and wide, and clears his throat.

“Fuck,” he says. “I didn’t realize it was you.”

Jeno isn’t drunk; perhaps slightly tipsy, but that doesn’t explain the red stripes in his eyes, his swollen lips or the blush in his cheeks. Donghyuck catches his breath as he observes Jeno, trying not to disturb him, and realizes that Jeno has been crying. And he must have cried for a long while, otherwise he wouldn’t look so tired or so pulverized.

Donghyuck is too polite to point it out. One year ago he would have pestered Jeno so that he could console him for whatever reason, but Donghyuck doesn’t need any explanations. It’s clear why he has been crying.

However, Jeno doesn’t leave his side. He stays on the couch, watching the party progress before his eyes, and doesn’t make any effort to prompt a conversation with Donghyuck. Donghyuck wonders where Renjun is, but he’s afraid of asking; it even feels rude. It’s the first time in months he’s alone with Jeno, as alone as he can be at this party, and they’re not linked by Renjun. Renjun is the only cord keeping their lives connected, even if they can pretend otherwise right now.

Donghyuck guesses that it’s now or never. He remembers Jisung’s words about graduation, and he imagines the three of them in the future – sleeping with Renjun without seeing Jeno seems unlikely, but if they’re in this situation, Donghyuck can’t come up with any excuse that will allow him to meet up with Jeno again. It’s so easy to lose a friend, he realizes, no matter how complicated their whole ordeal is.

It was too easy.

“You’re always going to be mad at me,” Donghyuck says, but it’s not a reproach, not his way to start a fight. It’s a statement, because if he was in Jeno’s shoes, he would never forgive a friend for all this, and especially after all the forbidden frontiers he has crossed with Renjun.

If Jeno is surprised at his bravery, he doesn’t show it. He rubs his own face, stressed, and mutters, “I won’t.” He keeps his gaze to the front, avoiding looking at Donghyuck. “I don’t even know who I’m mad at anymore.”

He has the right to be mad at everyone. Even at Jaemin. That’s why Donghyuck can’t grasp the idea of Jeno forgetting how much they hurt him. It must be that he’s too tired to contradict Donghyuck tonight.

Donghyuck grips onto the courage that alcohol gives him and says, “I know you don’t believe me, but I’m sorry.” Because he’s sorry for hurting Jeno, and that’s not a lie. He doesn’t regret falling for Renjun, he would never, or for pulling the strings in his favor, but he doesn’t love Jeno any less for it. In fact, he can’t even get angry at how Jeno tried to manipulate Renjun against him last time; it was almost licit. “God, the other night we didn’t even fuck, Jeno. We just-”

“Slept, cuddled,” Jeno cuts him off. He waves his hand to dismiss his revelation, a sigh escaping from his mouth. “Renjun tells me everything.”

Donghyuck feels a fist twisting his insides. “Everything?”

Perhaps Jeno knows about Renjun’s random, secret visits. Perhaps Renjun just tells him afterwards out of guilt, aware that Jeno won’t be able to stop him either way.

“I think so,” Jeno confirms. For the first time, he dares to gaze at Donghyuck, but it’s not friendly or soothing. He’s serious, exhausted, as though this conversation is useless effort for him. “I guess not the sex details.”

But that’s the issue: the sex details don’t matter compared to the emotional details.

Even Donghyuck, as an alpha, would go crazy over Renjun being affectionate with another person. Imagining that he could sleep with someone else kills him, but it’s the small gestures that would destroy him: the kisses, the smiles, and the tenderness with which Renjun caresses him; or his stupid comments when they watch movies, how he eats food – stuffing it into his mouth until it doesn’t fit – and his habit of putting his hands in Donghyuck’s coat when it’s cold.

“I knew he was falling in love with you,” Jeno whispers then, before Donghyuck can come up with another apology. This time he chokes up and has to take a second to calm down, his eyes roaming over the multitude as if he fears Renjun will catch him talking to Donghyuck. “God, I know Renjun like the back of my hand, and of course I remember how he looked at me when we were falling in love with each other. It was impossible not to notice.”

Speechless, Donghyuck tries to wrap his head around Jeno’s words. He’s had the certainty of his own feelings for a long while, but Renjun has never confessed his own feelings to him. Donghyuck hoped to be loved with the same intensity he loved Renjun, and it was just that: hope. Renjun loved him in his own way regardless, but being in love and loving are two different things.

Donghyuck doesn’t deserve Renjun being in love with him. That much he knows.

Jeno sends him a sorrowful look. “But I trusted you wouldn’t love him back.”

It was unexpected for the three for them. Donghyuck didn’t think himself capable of loving someone, at least not like he loves Renjun – he understood love in other forms, because he still loved Jaemin, Mark and Jeno. Part of him supposed that love had to be like in the movies, or to be precise, like Jeno and Renjun: since the start, fate setting them up together. Donghyuck didn’t believe that you could fall in love with someone you had known for years.

And he was wrong.

“Shit, Donghyuck, we met four years ago and you haven’t even had a mere crush on anyone,” Jeno continues, throwing his head back against the couch. He inhales, looks away from Donghyuck and remarks, “It had to be my boyfriend.”

It’s ironic for Donghyuck too. No one else around him has suffered from such an emotional block, and now that Donghyuck glances at Jeno, now that his body and mind just long and crave for Renjun, Donghyuck thinks that maybe it was never an emotional block. Maybe the moment he set his eyes on Renjun, despite knowing that he wouldn’t belong to him, his alpha already decided for him.

“If I had known beforehand, I-” Donghyuck begins.

“Don’t say it,” Jeno warns him. There’s no point in lamenting over what is already broken.  And Donghyuck isn’t sure that, if he had been aware of how he would feel after a few months, he would have drawn away from the deal. Having Renjun in his arms still feels worth the pain. “We can’t change the past.”

Donghyuck is grateful for that, even though deep inside, they both hoped it would be possible.

By the time Donghyuck has the courage to look at Jeno, Jeno has closed his eyes and is slanting over the armrest. Donghyuck can’t blame him for sleeping in the middle of a party. It’s not the first time, and if Donghyuck followed his example, it wouldn’t be the first time for him either. In fact, he could lie towards the other side of this couch and fall asleep in a matter of seconds.

“I’m going to get another drink,” Donghyuck announces, but his idea falls onto deaf ears, since Jeno doesn’t even move.

Donghyuck reads it as a sign of the universe, so he props himself up and decides to clear his mind for a while. He makes another drink, crossing paths with only unknown faces, and gaits to the garden with the hope of finding some peace there. He’s wrong, as usual, because there are at least three couples making out in different spots of the garden. He’s far from ashamed, so he sits down on the steps and drinks while looking at the blurry, half covered stars.

He isn’t sure of how much time he wastes there, so when Jisung sits next to him with wide eyes, Donghyuck can barely drag himself out of the daze. “Oh, dude, you’re here,” he exclaims, excessively happy to be sober.

Donghyuck dedicates him a skeptic look. “Did you do it?”

“No,” Jisung admits, shoulders deflating. It was evident, because if he had been rejected, he would have showed up sobbing; and with the opposite outcome, he would have never looked for Donghyuck. He would be too busy sucking face with Jaemin. “Sunwoo is with him. I tried to find Chenle to distract him but-”

“I’m not going to distract Sunwoo for you,” Donghyuck cuts him off, aware of what Jisung is going to propose. For starters, because Jaemin will kill him if he participates in this. “Just tell Jaemin you want to talk to him in private, he won’t say no.”

Jisung hesitates, blinking at Donghyuck in confusion. Like he hasn’t considered the possibility of just pulling Jaemin apart and having the talk.

“You know what? I’m going to bring him here,” he decides, pushing at Donghyuck’s arm. “So go, disappear.”

Donghyuck could laugh at him, but Jisung sounds too serious to be made fun of, and he doesn’t want to ruin Jisung’s chances just to disobey what another alpha says. He pats Jisung’s head, discreetly using him as support as he walks up the little stairs of the garden. Jisung trails after him, but they part ways inside the house.

Despite what he has told Jisung, Donghyuck begins to look for Sunwoo. He doesn’t want his friend to have the courage to bring Jaemin to the garden just to be interrupted by the only person that will make things awkward. Finding Sunwoo, however, is a whole odyssey. Donghyuck mistakes at least half a dozen people for him, and after a stupid, instinctive hunch, he runs to the second floor.

It’s forbidden, but Donghyuck has invaded the bedrooms a hundred times, and he knows that Chenle’s closest friends also take the same liberties. Sunwoo might have gotten tired of the party and deemed a good idea to go sleep, regardless if Chenle would scold him the next day or not.

Donghyuck opens a pair of bedrooms just to find out that they’re empty, even peeks into Chenle’s room, looking around first to check that Chenle won’t catch him red-handed. As weird as it seems, there’s no one on the second floor.

That’s it, until he reaches the only guest room of the house. Donghyuck doesn’t hear any noise, doesn’t smell any scent, so he opens without second thought, expecting another empty room.

There are moments that aren’t meant for Donghyuck to see, and this is, indubitably, one of them. His whole world stiffens around him, and he looks at his two friends on the bed, his heart stuck in the most painful, eternal heartbeat.

Jeno has shoved his hand down Renjun’s pants, and Renjun is lying on his back as Jeno balances on his side. The little pants Renjun lets out make Donghyuck shiver all over, because he has provoked them before, but tonight he’s not the one having Renjun at his mercy.

And overall, it’s Renjun’s gaze what shatters Donghyuck in pieces. The way he’s looking into Jeno’s eyes, so pliant, so trusting, like he can’t see anyone or anything beyond his mate. Jeno presses sweet, short kisses on Renjun’s parted lips, swallows his moans with a tenderness that couldn’t be given to anyone else. Renjun looks so beautiful, so riled up as Jeno’s hand moves between his legs, and Donghyuck feels like a spot on the wall. That’s what he has always been, because he can’t compare to Jeno, he can’t compete against them.

Before Donghyuck can run away, Jeno sinks his face underneath Renjun’s jaw with a muffled cry, but his words don’t subside under the sound of Renjun’s moans.

“Don’t leave,” Jeno pleads, but he can’t continue, can’t tell Renjun what is breaking him. And Donghyuck realizes in horror that, even while he tries to satisfy Renjun, Jeno is unable to hold back his tears. “Please, don’t.”

Donghyuck steps back as if he had been slapped in the face. But he moves too fast, too abruptly, and the option of vanishing without being notices is gone. Renjun’s gaze is drawn to Donghyuck like a lightning bolt, and Donghyuck feels pure fear. He can’t recognize the emotion that paints Renjun’s face, but it makes him feel like everything else here: like he doesn’t belong.

“Sorry,” Donghyuck mutters, but it’s too late to apologize, and though he tries to be subtle, he nearly slams the door close on his way out.

The door isn’t a barrier for what he has witnessed.

In fact, as soon as he turns around, Donghyuck feels dizzy, all his emotions flooding him. He walks away from the bedroom, fearing that he could hear them, but the images replay in his head without stop. He doesn’t make it to the end of the hall, and anyhow he can’t go back to the party like this; he pats his own pockets, hopes that he got at least a simple suppressant, but he didn’t come prepared for something like this. His pockets are empty, and so are his options.

It doesn’t matter. There’s a loud noise coming from the room, and the next thing Donghyuck registers is that Renjun is walking out, shutting the door behind him. Donghyuck’s instinct pushes him to draw back, even though the distance between Renjun and him is immense – but Renjun is angry, his pheromones full of rage, and Donghyuck doesn’t understand what’s happening.

Donghyuck can’t breathe. Renjun strides down the corridor with his arms crossed over his stomach, as though he’s cold, as though he has to protect himself from Donghyuck. The voice that grows from Donghyuck’s insides screams at that gesture of distrust, because Donghyuck would never hurt Renjun, not more than he has already hurt him.

“Did you do it on purpose?” Renjun throws at him, halting right in front of him.

Donghyuck strains out a, “What?”

“Did you interrupt on purpose?”

It’s unbelievable that Renjun could assume that from him, but Donghyuck realizes they’ve gone too far with this game. Jeno has manipulated Renjun before, and so he’s tempted to suspect Donghyuck too. Donghyuck, as an alpha, has higher chances of trying to control Renjun.

But it’s an offense to him, and even to his alpha.

“Of course not,” Donghyuck mutters, not knowing what to say. He can’t put up any defense at such a ridiculous accusation. Besides, it’s odd that Renjun left Jeno behind just to confront him, and even odder that Donghyuck thought that they would never try to have sex at a party. Sometimes he forgets they are the couple, and not the other way around. Donghyuck swallows, confused, and starts, “You two still-”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Renjun snaps, not allowing him to finish the question.

Donghyuck is suddenly aware of how stupid his words were, but he can’t take them back. Renjun seems to be out of control, arms trembling and a gaze that can’t stop swinging between Donghyuck’s face and the floor.

But this time he stares straight into Donghyuck’s eyes to spit, “Did you think that because I'm sleeping with you, my sexual life with my mate was over?”

Donghyuck is too shocked to use his pheromones on Renjun. Renjun isn’t this mean, this isn’t him, and yet Donghyuck can’t stop him.

“I never said that,” Donghyuck reminds him, raising his hands in defense.

Renjun doesn’t seem disposed to slow down. He glances at his hands and scoffs, and when he shakes his head, Donghyuck notices something: Renjun has been crying too. It wasn’t only Jeno.

“You don't have to. You seem to be a bit confused with what's going on,” Renjun sputters. His face contorts with anger, his jaw completely clenched with tension. Donghyuck would have never foretold what Renjun tells him now, no filter and no compassion for him. “I love sleeping with Jeno. He fucks me good. God, he fucks me better than you. That's not the problem, the problem is that no matter how well he fucks me during my heat, it's not enough without a knot.”

Donghyuck swears the floor shakes, and he’s not Donghyuck anymore, can’t recognize himself, or his hands or his feet. His sight is blurred by tears, and he just observes Renjun’s figure in front of him, obscuring by the second.

“See why I pitied you?” Renjun whispers. His voice is a perfect description of how Donghyuck feels, and when Donghyuck dries his tears with the heel of his hand, he can see that Renjun is in pain too. It doesn’t make sense that he’s not holding back, not if hurting Donghyuck is hurting him too. “You're hot, Donghyuck, but I would have never let you fuck me under other circumstances.”

That’s the final blow, and Renjun deflates, eyes widening at his own cruelty. Donghyuck couldn’t care less if it’s the spur of the moment, because Renjun must have hidden all those thoughts for a long time. Everything explodes sooner or later, and Renjun is the proof of it.

“Go on,” Donghyuck challenges him. “Anything else, Renjun?”

They’re equally affected, and though Donghyuck can’t see well through his tears, he can hear the sob builds Renjun’s mouth.

“No.”

Renjun looks so small, so broken, not even conscious of his own state. This is what Donghyuck and Jeno have done to him. They can’t keep pulling a doll by its arms until it tears in the middle, but they never considered Renjun could be as fragile as them. He saw all the ugly sides of the deal, Donghyuck’s pain, Jeno’s pain, and couldn’t afford dealing with his own pain meanwhile. Renjun isn’t a toy to fight for, and they’ve forgotten that.

Donghyuck understands why Renjun is being so harsh on him. He’s trying to put the pieces of his relationship back together, as if Donghyuck hadn’t stepped on them until they became dust, and the denial reflected in his face is beyond illustrating.

Renjun looks at Donghyuck like he hates him for loving him.

“So now I'll talk,” Donghyuck says, stepping forward. Renjun stares at him, disoriented, and doesn’t flinch when Donghyuck drills his index finger in his chest. “You're so fucking scared of what's happening to you.”

Donghyuck is scared now too, because he’s not sure Renjun will survive this. Renjun might panic and run back into Jeno’s arms without a second thought, but if he does, Donghyuck won’t allow him to pretend that this, they never happened.

Renjun croaks out, “Nothing is happening to me.”

It’s the biggest lie Renjun could tell him, and Donghyuck can’t resist the urge to laugh. It’s a bitter laugh that startles Renjun, because so many things have happened to Renjun in the last few months, and Donghyuck has followed him like a fool. It isn’t fair that Renjun denies it.

“I'm the best thing that has ever happened to you,” Donghyuck retorts. It’s not a matter of ego. Donghyuck is certain because Renjun is the best thing that has ever happened to him too, and it has to be reciprocated. He has doubted so all this time, but now it’s clear. “How many times have we fucked outside your heat?”

Rather than a question, it’s a jab, and Renjun pales within an instant.

“I don't know,” he mutters, a shade of embarrassment tainting his features. “It doesn't matter, and Jeno knows about every single time-”

That’s what Jeno affirmed as well, and Donghyuck isn’t anyone to doubt their unwavering trust. He bets Renjun has been honest with Jeno, but there’s a clear exception. He might know about the locker room, about the bathroom that night Donghyuck was in rut, even about that simple kiss in Donghyuck’s faculty weeks ago.

Then there’s the exception.

“The day my brother visited me too?” Donghyuck asks him, a slight sarcastic tone to show that Renjun can’t lie to him.

Renjun’s lips part in shock, and then he falls mute.

It’s impossible for Donghyuck to shake off the sensation that he’s humiliating Renjun, that they’re humiliating each other. They have too much power after sharing the most intimate part of their lives, and it’s a power that can easily turn against them.

Donghyuck grunts, “You're ridiculous.”

“So are you.”

He’s not wrong. Donghyuck is ridiculous for falling for his best friend’s boyfriend, for a mated omega, for believing that he has the right to be with him. He’s ridiculous for feeling that Renjun would love him forever, because no one is going to love Donghyuck forever.

Donghyuck closes the distance between them, but he doesn’t have the heart to touch Renjun like he usually does. No caresses, no brushing his tears away. It feels like this boy in front of him could destroy him, and an irrational part of Donghyuck’s mind believes that if he lifts his hand and cups Renjun’s small face, Renjun will just vanish into thin air.

“I'm not the one who has a boyfriend, Renjun,” Donghyuck hisses. He has made a lot of mistakes, but Renjun’s mistakes are graver than his. Donghyuck has forgiven him for every one of them, and he’s sure that Jeno has too, but Renjun isn’t at ease with his own mistakes. “I'm not the one sleeping with someone else under the pretense that I need it, staying over time, cuddling him to sleep, making breakfast for him in the morning, and kissing and watching movies together when there's no sex involved.”

Renjun closes his eyes, his eyelashes pushing the last of his tears down. Donghyuck doesn’t pressure him, but his unsettlement grows with every second that passes by. And he’s frozen, terrified, appalled; even though he’s angry at Renjun, there are truths that should never be used as a weapon. One word, and the universe Donghyuck has built with Renjun collapses, all the secrets they’ve piled up between them and the rest of the world.

When Renjun withdraws, Donghyuck knows that this is over. He ignores what this is, however, if it’s just their conversation, or the whole deal, or the real link that unites them.

 “Wait,” Donghyuck whispers. Yet Renjun doesn’t wait: he spins around, his eyes desperately looking for the stairs, and Donghyuck has to grab him by his arm to stop him. “Renjun, wait, I didn't want to-”

Even though his movements are void of strength, Renjun sets a hand over his chest to avoid Donghyuck hauling him closer. Donghyuck feels the print of his hand like a burning mark, and still, in the worst moment of his life, he finds relief in Renjun’s touch.

“You’re right. It’s my fault,” Renjun tells him. He presses his lips together in a line, stares at Donghyuck like he doesn’t know him anymore. That’s not what Donghyuck wants to hear, for Renjun isn’t responsible for Jeno and Donghyuck. “Don’t feel bad about it.”

Despite his emotions, Renjun manages to block Donghyuck’s advances with his pheromones alone. It’s foul play, because Donghyuck has no remedy but to release him at the lack of consent. His alpha could impose, but that’s not who Donghyuck is, and he will never force Renjun to listen to him if he doesn’t want to.

Renjun caresses down his chest, his bottom lip trembling, and looks into Donghyuck’s eyes one last time. When he walks down the stairs without a word, Donghyuck is conscious that Renjun has changed, that he’s keeping a secret from him, and that Donghyuck isn’t entitled to him, no matter how much he loves Renjun. And most importantly, no matter how much Renjun loves him back.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck isn’t sure if it’s the omega scent or the rapid beating of his heart that awakes him.

He instinctively holds onto Jaemin’s hand, the only anchor as he opens his eyes, so disoriented and scared that he doesn’t remember that he’s safe, in his own room, that there’s nothing to fear. Jaemin doesn’t say anything, just sits on the edge of the bed, and when Donghyuck manages to take a look at him, he can’t understand the concern on Jaemin’s face.

At first, he assumes that it’s his mind playing tricks on him. The fight from last night is still tormenting him – and he doubts it will ever stop tormenting him – and he relies on Jaemin’s pheromones to calm himself down.

The thing is that Jaemin doesn’t know what happened last night, and Donghyuck has done his best to hide it from him, so Jaemin shouldn’t have noticed his state. He didn’t want to ruin Jaemin’s night, not his night with Jisung. They had laughed all the way to the apartment, Donghyuck tailing behind them with his hands in his pockets, trying to be invisible. Perhaps they had kissed at the door, but it was none of Donghyuck’s business. He had heard them say goodbye a few minutes later, and then Donghyuck had fallen asleep, too tired to shed any more tears.

“What time is it?” Donghyuck grunts, still half asleep.

Jaemin tilts forward, strokes Donghyuck’s hair out of his face to look at him better. Donghyuck doesn’t miss out how he slants his hand to check his temperature, or how Jaemin doesn’t smile at him. He usually would. And especially this morning, Jaemin should be happy after Jisung confessed.

But he’s not, and Donghyuck’s instinct claws at him with its ugly nails.

“It’s past noon. I wanted to let you rest but-” Jaemin whispers, so low that it seems he doesn’t want to scare Donghyuck. Despite his attempt at concealing his feelings, Jaemin gives him a devastatingly sad look and mutters, “Donghyuck, Renjun is outside.”

Even if it’s past noon, there’s no reason for Renjun to visit them. His heat isn’t near, and Donghyuck doesn’t think that Renjun will spend another heat with him anyhow. An apology might be a valid possibility, but Donghyuck is sure that he has to apologize first, since Renjun already admitted his fault.

“Outside?” Donghyuck asks, slowly sitting up. He feels dizzy from yesterday, because he drank too much, and even more after the fight. “Tell him to come in.”

Donghyuck shouldn’t be explaining the evident. Renjun is outside because he chose it, that much is clear, and the more awake Donghyuck is, the more it terrifies him.

The confirmation is Jaemin shaking his head, avoiding his eyes. Before Donghyuck can shoot any question, Jaemin pulls out something from one of his pockets, a flicker of hesitation crossing his expression, and Donghyuck recognizes in horror that it’s his suppressants.

Jaemin lifts the small pill to Donghyuck’s eyes. From that angle, Donghyuck distinguishes that Jaemin is trembling.

“Take this first,” he orders, but his voice is weak, his words a plea and his fear too latent for Donghyuck to obey.

Donghyuck swats Jaemin’s hand away, and his suppressant falls on the floor. Jaemin doesn’t have time to grab him, because Donghyuck bolts out of the bed and runs into the hall, not minding that he’s in his pajamas, that he can’t even run straight. To his surprise, Jaemin doesn’t chase him, though he calls him one last time, and then Donghyuck sprints out of the house, all the way down to the parking lot of the apartment complex.

The scene that waits for him outside is a possibility that he has never imagined, a scene he wouldn’t have considered. For a few seconds, he thinks that he’s embroiled in a twisted nightmare. It can’t be real. Perhaps he’s been hallucinating all these past few months, and he’s reaching the ending of his hallucination at last.

Renjun would never do this to him. And even if he was capable of hurting Donghyuck this way, he would never dare do the same to Jeno.

Donghyuck’s eyes frenetically analyze his surroundings. Renjun covered with a thick coat, the black, expensive taxi behind him, the apology in his eyes – an apology that will never be enough, because Donghyuck can’t forgive him for this – and the unmistakable suitcase that can be seen through the backseat window.

There must be more suitcases in the trunk, but one is enough for Donghyuck drown into reality.

Renjun doesn’t say a word as Donghyuck stumbles forward, so fast and so desperate that anyone else would have gotten scared. But Renjun stays in his spot, and not even when Donghyuck’s hands cup his face does he back away. He closes his eyes, as though he can’t stand what he finds in Donghyuck’s face, as though he can understand him so well that it kills him.

“No,” Donghyuck whispers, because he can’t raise his voice, his throat closing around itself. “You’ve gone crazy.”

Perhaps Renjun has gone crazy, but it’s Donghyuck’s fault too. Donghyuck’s insanity is contagious, a virus, and he’s tainted every person around him with it. It’s so strange to touch Renjun’s face and feel that his skin is cold for once, that not even Donghyuck’s presence can control his temperature.

It’s strange to look at his neck and discover that, at last, Renjun doesn’t have any mating mark. Not Jeno’s. Not Donghyuck’s. He has taken a decision, and his omega has agreed with him.

“Donghyuck,” Renjun begins, breathless. He lifts his hands to cover Donghyuck’s hands, but it’s not a mere gesture of affection. It’s a way to placate Donghyuck, to have some control over the panic that has taken over him. “Listen to me.”

Listening is a terrible idea. Renjun will be able to say goodbye. Maybe if Donghyuck doesn’t let him have his farewell, he won’t leave.

“I don’t want excuses,” Donghyuck cries out. Even though he’s touching Renjun, he has the sensation that Renjun will evaporate at any second, that he’ll be gone and Donghyuck will believe this was a hallucination. But he will still be alone. “I’ll sacrifice my friendship with Jeno for you. Don’t you think this hurts me? He’s my friend. But I’m so sure about us, so sure that it’s worth it, so sure that I love you and won’t ever stop loving you, that I’ll take the risk.”

Renjun isn’t expecting all that. His semblance contorts into slight surprise, his eyes roaming over Donghyuck in complete confusion. What Donghyuck promises him is accepting his loss, promises to put Renjun first over everyone else. Donghyuck has thought about it too many times, but offering it is different: it’s the fantasy of running away versus the reality of renouncing to half of their lives just to be with each other.

Since Renjun cares about him, he would never allow Donghyuck to ruin his life for him.

“I love you too, Donghyuck,” he mutters, and before Donghyuck can breathe, he adds, “But I’m not sure it’s worth it.”

Unlike last night, Renjun doesn't mean to hurt him.

It's just the truth. It might not be worth it to break his friendship with Jeno, with Mark, with Yuta; the list goes on and on. It might not be worth it since their friends would have to take clear sides, and they don't deserve to pay for Renjun and Donghyuck's mistakes.

It still hurts like a rock falling in the pit of his stomach. Donghyuck is ready to lose it all as long as he has Renjun, perhaps because when it comes to love, Donghyuck is much more innocent than him. Renjun is his first love, and it's a love that intends to burn all down along, so painful and gratifying that no human could resist becoming addicted.

“Look at me, babe,” Renjun tells him. Only then Donghyuck realizes he's staring at Renjun's lips, not at his eyes, because it's what his instinct is pushing him to focus on. On his pretty lips, on how a simple kiss could convince Renjun; not on the pain in Renjun's eyes. “Donghyuck, please.”

Donghyuck does, but almost like a reflex, he sobs, “Don’t go.”

Every single detail that Donghyuck didn't understand makes sense now. Jeno wasn't mad at him last night: he was too sad to feel any other emotion. When Donghyuck seeped into their private moment, Jeno was pleading with Renjun not to leave him either.

Jeno already knew. Donghyuck had no idea this was what he would face the next morning, and like a good friend – the good friend neither of them was anymore – Jeno hadn't warned him so that he didn't suffer for longer than necessary.

Donghyuck wonders if Renjun has shown up at the last moment because he was afraid Donghyuck would convince him to stay. To stay with him. Because that's all Donghyuck needs: a couple of days to make Renjun see that he can make him happy, despite what they've lived this year.

“I know you think this is the worst that could happen,” Renjun muses, sweetly, threading his fingers in Donghyuck's hair. Every touch tears him apart, and Renjun's hands aren't consoling him anymore, just inflicting more wounds, cutting him open. “But I’m doing this because I want you to be happy.”

It's ironic that Donghyuck hasn't felt more miserable in his entire life.

“I’m only happy with you.”

It cuts Renjun open too. His chin wobbles, he squints his eyes like he can't contain his tears, but the tenderness in his gaze doesn't waver. It just grows bigger, until Donghyuck is certain that he will never be looked at this way ever again, because no one is going to know him like Renjun does.

“That’s not true. I’m hurting you,” Renjun contradicts.

Donghyuck wants to tell him that's how it's supposed to feel: like a rollercoaster. Donghyuck doesn't want to be with him just to be happy, because he wants to stay by Renjun's side even when he's unhappy, even when Renjun hurts him. They're not perfect, and Donghyuck doesn't care about that anymore.

“I don’t know how to put a stop to this either. I love you so much,” Renjun repeats. He doesn't endure his own words, just slumps against Donghyuck, and Donghyuck hugs him, lets Renjun cry into his neck. There, where his words will be only for Donghyuck, he says, “I hope one day you’ll forgive me for loving you.”

Donghyuck would forgive Renjun for loving him in fifty different lives, but he's not sure he can forgive him for abandoning him.

Renjun draws back, and before Donghyuck can talk to him, he leans in for a kiss. It's a naive kiss, a silly soft pressure on Donghyuck's lips that means more than any other kiss Renjun has gifted him, and it's the last memory he can hold onto.

Then Renjun stares into his eyes, brushes his thumb over Donghyuck's cheek to dry a few tears that he didn't even know were there.

“Take care of Jeno,” Renjun tells him, a saddened smile taking over. Donghyuck is torn between laughing and crying, but he tries to memorize Renjun's face before him, because if this is the last time for them, Donghyuck needs to remember him for the rest of his life. “He’ll take care of you too.”

And Renjun doesn't ask him to promise it, because Donghyuck would do anything for him, and Renjun knows that he'll take care of Jeno even if the whole world is against him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It takes Donghyuck four years to fall in love with Renjun, and four years to forget him.

In the first year, his life is pure chaos and pure pain. Jaemin stays with him for a while, but when Donghyuck finds a job on the other side of the city, he has to move out by himself. Jisung is still in university, so Jaemin decides to keep their old apartment, since it's closer to campus. After a few months, it's just natural for Jisung to move in with him.

In the first year, Jeno refuses to talk to him. Donghyuck never stops trying, but the physical distance between them allows Jeno to ignore his attempts. Jeno isn't heartless, however. Sometimes Donghyuck gets notifications at random hours of the night because Jeno accidentally likes one of their old pictures, or texts him by accident when he's drunk, but he always makes sure to hide his traces afterwards, deleting the messages before Donghyuck can read them.

In that first year, there isn't a single day that Donghyuck doesn't think about Renjun. About what he's doing, about who he's hanging out with, if he's as miserable as Jeno and Donghyuck are. Jaemin is still in contact with him, but for Donghyuck's health, they agree not to speak about him. Besides, Jaemin forces him to swear that he's not going to stalk Renjun online, and Donghyuck doesn't want to disappoint Jaemin more than he already has.

The second year is quite different. A different sort of chaos kicks his life over and Donghyuck accepts it with open arms, aware that this is an inherent stage for letting himself heal. It's a weird, laughable flashback. He reunites with Yukhei, fucks him and lets himself be fucked almost a dozen times before Yukhei decides that he's not what Donghyuck needs. And then, all of a sudden, Jeno changes his mind about him.

Donghyuck doesn't know what prompts him to reply. There are thousands of unanswered messages that Donghyuck has sent over the last two years, but ultimately it's a stupid goodnight message that breaks Jeno's barrier.

Donghyuck is more nervous that he’d like to admit, but he has a promise to fulfill, and so does Jeno. But for some friends, time never passes, and reconnecting with Jeno is easier than he thought. It implies a lot of effort on Jaemin’s part too, but it comes as a second thought for him, because his omega naturally eases the rancor between them. Jeno brings back many memories that Donghyuck has repressed, and their reconciliation is difficult for both of them.

In the third year, Renjun starts dating a guy that comes, for Donghyuck, out of nowhere. Donghyuck sees one picture and can’t help the temptation, but decides that it shouldn’t do any harm after so long, and so he pries. He pries more than it’s healthy, and then decides that it was a mistake. Renjun isn’t part of his life anymore, and he’s allowed to date whoever he wants; it’s strange, because Donghyuck feels some sort of frustration build up inside him, but it’s just his alpha refusing to accept the truth. Donghyuck has no right to be jealous, to be possessive of someone that voluntarily left him and he clings onto that thought until he convinces himself.

The fact that Donghyuck can’t move on is his own fault. But sometimes he thinks that there’s nothing to move on from; that he loved once, just once, and he doesn’t know how to love again. He’s at the starting line, and he doesn’t have any need to win this race.

In the fourth year, Jaemin stands in a wedding suit in front of him, a blinding smile on his face, and Donghyuck knows that he’s fucked.

“I don’t want you to make a scene,” Jaemin warns him, and though his smile should lessen the threat, Donghyuck knows better.

It’s the first day they’re spending at the little castle the wedding will take place at. Donghyuck has thought, since the very start, that Jaemin's whim to get married in an old castle was a terrible idea. It's not the sort of castle that one sees in pictures. It's way smaller, pretty adapted to their century, but still retaining the architecture from hundred of years ago. No one lives inside, however, because the family that owns it has relegated it to a venue for this sort of events: weddings, meetings, parties.

Donghyuck thinks the castle is beautiful, but there's a reason he dislikes it: it scares the fuck out of him. It's old, full of paintings that will torment him in his nightmares, and its halls are endless and complex. Donghyuck never finds the right path to his bedroom on the first try - though he has only tried around five times while they brought the small suitcases. They're only going to spend three days at the castle, the first two for the preparations, and the third one for the wedding.

Donghyuck could have opted for escaping this mess and only attending the wedding, but Jaemin would have cut his throat open. Maybe Jisung too.

Now, as Jeno and Donghyuck watch Jaemin put on his wedding suit for the first time, Donghyuck can't help but roll his eyes at him and his threats. He had to accompany him through a hundred stores to find just another regular, extremely expensive wedding suit for men, and so Donghyuck is unimpressed. Jeno, however, looks at Jaemin with stars in his eyes.

“Why am I the only one being watched?” Donghyuck protests, sulking. He throws a significant look at Jeno, who is being treated like an innocent, harmless friend that can't make any mistakes. “I won’t make a scene.”

Jaemin points his finger at him, nonchalant, and accuses, “You say that now.” He spins around to look at himself on the mirror, fixes the last button of his black jacket with a frown. “But once you see Renjun- he’s changed a lot.”

Donghyuck has changed too.

When Jaemin showed him the list of guests that would spend the whole three days in the castle, Donghyuck nearly had a heart attack. It made sense that Jaemin wanted to have his closest friends around, and Donghyuck knew that even if they hadn't crossed paths, Renjun had played a big part in the preparations. Renjun had his right to be there as well, even if his two exes, an ex-boyfriend and an ex-something would be part of the party.

Donghyuck promised Jaemin that he would behave.

"Why is Jeno free of suspicion?" Donghyuck insists, annoyed.

Unlike him, Jeno isn't even offended at Donghyuck's words. When he tears his gaze away from Jaemin and glances at Donghyuck, his semblance turns into pure boredom.

"I saw Renjun the other day, actually," he confesses, as though he doesn't have the power to make Donghyuck's heart halt, as though he had met up with a random person in the street. Jeno's lips expand into a mischievous, knowing smile upon Donghyuck's reaction. "When I went with Jaemin to change the dessert on the menu."

Donghyuck gapes at them.

Jaemin had assured him that it wasn't necessary for Donghyuck to accompany him, and now Donghyuck is discovering the reason. Even if Donghyuck will have to confront Renjun at some point, Jaemin is trying to delay that moment.

Donghyuck appreciates the concern, but delaying it won't make it any less painful. Painful might not be the right word. Donghyuck doesn't know what he will feel, but he certainly won't make a ruckus.

Swallowing the growing knot in his throat, Donghyuck croaks out, "And?"

Jeno's eyes sparkle with what Donghyuck recognizes as evil. Donghyuck isn't that innocent: the way Jaemin and Jeno are looking at him is proof that he's going to be endlessly teased as soon as he shows minimal interest in Renjun. It isn't fair. Jeno has a boyfriend, and Donghyuck shouldn't remind him that Renjun was part of his life too, but god, it's so unfair that all attention is on Donghyuck only.

He's like an animal in a zoo about to be fed.

"What?" Jeno teases him. "What do you want me to tell you? If he smells good? If he's hot? If his ass is still-?"

"That's enough," Donghyuck grunts at him, before Jeno can go too far. Both Jaemin and Jeno burst into laughter, and Donghyuck stands up from his small sofa, too indignant to stay put. "I'm sure you want to live to see Jaemin get married, so stop playing with fire."

Jeno shrugs. "I mean, yes, but it's not one of my priorities."

"Hey!" Jaemin protests, shocked. He glares at Jeno, but one second later he's waving Donghyuck off and saying, "Go look for Sunwoo. I'm sure this isn't the right fit for the suit and I'm going crazy."

Donghyuck bolts out of the room before he has to witness another of Jaemin's imaginary meltdowns over his clothes. He can hear Jeno assure him that his suit is fine, that he looks splendid and pretty, but Donghyuck knows by now that Jaemin won't believe anyone.

Even though Donghyuck is ready to lose himself in the castle until he remembers where Sunwoo's room is, he's lucky that he crosses paths with Sunwoo himself. He takes two turns and there Sunwoo is, tying his shoes in the middle of a hall with creepy paintings of old men with walking sticks and portraits of ugly people.

“Dude,” Donghyuck breathes out, relieved. Sunwoo flickers his eyes up in surprise, but then he recognizes Donghyuck and his shoulders deflate, aware of what’s coming. “Go save Jaemin from himself, he’s panicking again.”

Sunwoo huffs out a whine. “God, I can’t wait for him to get married,” he says. He takes the hand that Donghyuck offers him and stands up. He takes a deep breath to prepare himself, and concludes, “This wedding is going to kill me.”

 It might kill Donghyuck too.

 

 

 

 

Donghyuck is going to make a scene.

This is an unforgivable betrayal, because when Jaemin told him that Renjun had changed a lot, he didn’t specify how. Jeno didn’t either. Donghyuck would have appreciated a hint that could allow him to brace himself for this, though to be honest, he doubts that seeing Renjun again was something he could ever be ready for.

This is the first problem: Renjun’s hair is silver, and he looks so, so pretty in it. He doesn’t even look human. Instead of maturing, Renjun’s features have stayed stuck in time, and his hair gives him a strange air of innocence.

Donghyuck watches him from afar for a few seconds; maybe for a few minutes, he’s not sure. It’s almost afternoon, and when Donghyuck walks down to talk to the guard they’ve hired to protect the castle while they’re inside, he finds Renjun at the reception instead. The guard is checking his name on the list, but Donghyuck can’t ignore the tiny glances he’s stealing at Renjun, like he can’t take his eyes off him.

It’s both a relief and unsettling that Renjun will always this effect on people, especially on alphas.

This is the second problem: Renjun has a baby in his arms.

“It’s Huang Renjun,” Renjun tells the guard with a smile, calmly rocking the baby in his arms. “I think we are the last ones to arrive, my friends are still parking outside.”

Donghyuck doesn’t dare to interrupt. If Jaemin saw him, he would say that Donghyuck is just too afraid to barge into Renjun’s life without permission, too afraid to get hurt again. But Jaemin is in his room whining about how he’s so nervous that he can’t rest, and Donghyuck is allowed to pretend that Renjun’s presence doesn’t intimidate him.

“That’s right,” the guard says, flashing his most enchanting smile at Renjun.

Renjun merely nods at him, so cold at the guard’s attempts that Donghyuck has to repress a laugh. His amusement doesn’t last, because the next thing Renjun does is spin on his heels to look directly at him, no shock or surprise in his face, like he was aware that Donghyuck has been spying on them.

“Donghyuck, aren’t you going to help me with the suitcases?” he asks, nonchalant.

Donghyuck can’t feel reticence, can’t blame Renjun for skipping over politeness. Four years without him and the first words Renjun has for him is a reproach for not being a gentleman. Donghyuck loves that. Renjun isn’t awkward with him, and under the seriousness his eyes display, there’s a secret layer of fondness that only Donghyuck would be able to distinguish.

“Sure,” Donghyuck replies. He hurries to jump over the last few steps, greets the guard with a movement of his head, and then bends down to grab the suitcases. There are three of them, and though Donghyuck is sure that only the biggest one belongs to Renjun, he decides to take as many as he can. When he’s squatting, he takes the liberty of smiling up at Renjun and retorts an ill-mannered, “Hi to you too.”

The smile that expands on Renjun’s lips is beyond mischievous. It’s full of satisfaction, of power, and he has to bite his lower lip not to laugh at Donghyuck’s attack.

“Hi,” he simply says, and then signals to the stairs, playfully rushing Donghyuck.

Donghyuck might be a disaster at orientating himself in the castle, but since the moment he set foot in this place, he’s known where Renjun would stay. He’s certain that he knows the path to Renjun’s room better than to his own, so he doesn’t have to ask Jaemin where he should lead Renjun to.

Even though the suitcases are pretty heavy, Donghyuck is focused on taking in Renjun’s presence in all its forms. The faster he gets used to Renjun, the easier this wedding will be for him. He doesn’t want to ruin Jaemin and Jisung’s day by moping around, and less by offending Renjun by mistake.

But Renjun has changed, indeed, in many ways. Donghyuck catches his scent while they walk upstairs, and though Renjun controls his pheromones without trouble, Donghyuck chases after them like a dog. Renjun’s scent is sweet, but four years ago it was an intoxicating, overwhelming sweetness. Perhaps it’s just today, and Renjun’s scent hasn’t developed, yet for Donghyuck it has become a lot less sweet. It’s the sort of scent that, despite its alluring perfume, leaves Donghyuck unsatisfied.

That’s the biggest trap: a scent that makes Donghyuck crave for more, that is never enough, is nothing but dangerous.

Donghyuck breathes in, and placing his hand on the doorknob, looks for an excuse not to part ways with Renjun so soon. There’s none, at least none that leaves his pride untouched.

“This is your room,” Donghyuck announces, dragging the suitcases inside. Renjun follows him inside, not bothered at how Dongyuck walks in without asking first, but Donghyuck drops the suitcases and makes sure to return to the door like a scolded child. “You can switch around if you want, there are a lot of empty rooms.”

Renjun looks around the room in interest. The canopy bed is much more elegant than Donghyuck’s bed, silver curtains that match Renjun’s hair and a couple of expensive rocking chairs that Donghyuck will never be able to buy. Donghyuck can tell that Jaemin chose one of the best rooms for Renjun, after Jisung and himself, clear favoritism towards him.

Donghyuck doesn’t mind that much. Not while he has the chance to observe Renjun from head to toe, only to realize that even if Renjun looks just as young as he used to, his posture shows a maturity and a confidence that wasn’t there before. These four years have shaped Renjun as much as they shaped Donghyuck, for better or for worse.

Before Donghyuck can say goodbye and withdraw, because he feels that he’s paying Renjun too much attention, Renjun clicks his tongue and warns, “Stop looking at the baby, Donghyuck.”

Renjun doesn’t even turn around to check if he’s right. To Donghyuck’s dismay, he is. It’s inevitable for him, because Renjun can’t just show up with a baby and not expect curiosity, questions, even the disturbing sensation in Donghyuck’s guts. Jaemin never told him anything about Renjun having a baby, but Donghyuck knows, due to his prying, that Renjun got a boyfriend last year. He thinks having a baby would be too abrupt, yet he has no right to judge.

Turning on his heels, Renjun smirks at him. “She’s not mine. She’s Dejun’s daughter.”

It’s impossible for Donghyuck to hide the relief that invades him. The good part is that it makes Renjun laugh out loud, no matter how rude is to make fun of Donghyuck’s obvious stress. But once the truth is out, Donghyuck can breathe again, and laughter bubbles up in his throat too.

Of course, Dejun, one of Jaemin’s closest friends from his omega-exclusive study group, had a baby this year. Donghyuck always forgets.

“Fuck,” Donghyuck curses, planting his hands on the doorframe for support. The tension in his legs has disappeared, and he tilts forward, still laughing. “I was having a heart attack.”

That confession seems to humor Renjun, who fastens his arms tighter around the baby and lifts her for Donghyuck to look at her better.

“She’s cute, right?” he asks, and Donghyuck realizes right then that this baby might be Dejun’s daughter, but Renjun is completely whipped for her.

Unlike him, Donghyuck thinks that Renjun is much cuter. He wishes he could lend his eyes to Renjun for a few minutes so that he could feel how Donghyuck sees him, how his whole world is painted in shades of Renjun the moment he returned to his life.

Sincerely, Donghyuck admits, “She’s very cute now that I know she isn’t your daughter.”

Surprise crosses Renjun’s expression, but once he understands the veiled meaning of Donghyuck’s words, he bursts into laughter. The baby laughs with him, and Donghyuck swears that his legs wobble a bit.

“My god,” Renjun mutters, shaking his head. He’s not embarrassed or afraid of staring Donghyuck into his eyes and ask, “Are you going to go this hard on me the whole time we’re here?”

It’s gratifying to hear that Renjun isn’t reticent at his advances. He doesn’t mind that Donghyuck is too honest for his own good, and Donghyuck is discovering that Renjun has become a lot better at managing the compliments thrown at him.

“If you don’t mind,” Donghyuck replies, not disposed to back away just because of a question.

Renjun sends him a questioning, curious look, and then smiles to himself. The way his lips curve make Donghyuck crazy, because Renjun still has such a cute, tempting mouth, but Donghyuck isn’t allowed to take what isn’t his.

Pretending to think about it, Renjun concludes, “I guess I don’t.” But his lips stretch wider and wider, and soon he’s dedicating Donghyuck a grin that would disarm any man in the world. “After all I never had the pleasure of having a flirting phase with the Lee Donghyuck.”

If Donghyuck plays rough, Renjun plays rougher.

At Donghyuck’s shocked silence, he closes the distance between them, and it takes Donghyuck a few embarrassing seconds to understand Renjun’s intentions. He’s giving Donghyuck the chance to hold the baby. Donghyuck hesitates, feeling a lot younger than Renjun – he has never hold such a tiny baby, and it’s mind-blowing that Dejun, only one year older than him, already has a daughter.

Donghyuck extends his arms, carries the baby with so much carefulness that he feels like she’s going to slip out of his hands. She doesn’t, and Renjun gives him a reassuring smile when Donghyuck brings the baby to his own embrace.

“She’s so small,” Donghyuck mutters, marveled. The baby responds by looking at him with wide, sparkling eyes, and then she feels Donghyuck’s face with clumsy hands. “Hi, baby.”

Renjun scrunches his nose at them, reaches out to pat her butt. He brushes against Donghyuck’s arm by accident, however, and Donghyuck can’t help but lose the trail of the conversation, of his own life, and forget the reason why he’s not pushing Renjun on the bed right now.

But Renjun’s voice brings him back to reality, with a slight tone of annoyance, “She’s an omega, of course she naturally likes you.”

“How dare you,” Donghyuck retorts, feigning offense. Renjun isn’t lying, though: the baby must spend a lot of time with Dejun, because she seems to be in total awe at an alpha’s presence, like she has never seen one. “I’m great with all ranks.”

Renjun doesn’t contradict him. His eyes roam over Donghyuck’s face in interest, as though Donghyuck has turned into a complete mystery for him. If Renjun wants to decipher him, it’s his own decision.

“You’ve changed a lot, Donghyuck,” he points out, erasing the smile from his face bit by bit.

This time, it’s Donghyuck’s turn to smile.

 

 

 

 

There is something magical about Jisung and Jaemin getting married, because when they invade the living room that night to have dinner, all of them together, Donghyuck feels like he’s back in college. Their lives are quite different, but it’s easy to pretend that some things never happened.

Sunwoo, Jaemin and Chenle are constantly bickering over Jaemin’s worries, trying to convince him that most of his problems are only in his head. Donghyuck doesn’t even bother, because a mad man never believes he’s insane. Yukhei, Mark and Jeno are completely enamored with Dejun’s baby, which liberates Dejun from his responsibilities for a while much to his delight. Jisung sticks to Donghyuck, firstly because the wedding overwhelms him. He’s afraid of ridiculous things like tripping over himself when he walks to the altar or of saying no instead of yes out of nervousness; and secondly, because he notices that Donghyuck needs an excuse not to stare at Renjun twenty hours a day.

His friends spend an embarrassing amount of time playing around the long, useless table in the living room, and end up pulling all the chairs on one side of table. Otherwise, the space between every one of them is so big that it’s hard to have conversations.

“I should be offended that even tonight, it’s me who has to cook,” Renjun protests when Jaemin starts reciting all the ingredients that they bought yesterday. He casually omits the fact that last night they resorted to ordering food because they were too tired, but Donghyuck understands that now that Renjun is here, Jaemin wants to have a proper meal. “What am I? Your maid?”

“Exactly,” Jaemin replies without shame. “You’re in a damn castle that I paid for. Everyone is my maid until I get married.”

Donghyuck, still dragging one of the chairs to Jaemin’s side, lifts his hand for Renjun and claims, “I can vouch for that.”

Jaemin grumbles, “Shut up, Hyuck, you never do shit.”

Even though Donghyuck is about to defend himself, he shuts his mouth when Renjun chirps, “Really?” He raises his eyebrows at Donghyuck, almost like he has just caught a kid breaking a toy. “Come with me then, you’re going to do something for once.”

Donghyuck vacillates, because he’s not sure if Renjun is provoking this situation on purpose or he’s just unaware of what it implies. He doesn’t have time to come up with an excuse anyhow, since Jisung sets a hand on his back and pushes him towards Renjun. It would be ridiculous if he was immature enough to have a fit over this, so Donghyuck conforms to the idea.

Being alone with Renjun is pure venom to his health, but Donghyuck can’t deny that he likes it. He observes Renjun as he takes half of the ingredients out of the fridge, grumbling that it’s not just about cooking, but cooking for so many people.

“This might come as a surprise,” Donghyuck laughs, leaning over the counter to observe what Renjun is doing. “But I haven’t learned to cook.”

Renjun laughs too, such a pretty laugh that Donghyuck has to physically draw away from him. He grips the wooden edge of the kitchen table, nervously taps his fingers and watches Renjun from behind, wondering why life has to bring them together again. Donghyuck doesn’t believe in destiny, but he still believes that when an alpha settles for a mate, it’s over.

“I had figured,” Renjun admits. He faces Donghyuck, leans back on the counter as if to imitate Donghyuck’s behavior, and reveals, “I just wanted to have you around.”

Renjun’s honesty leaves Donghyuck speechless. No one has had this effect on him in a long, long time, thus he doesn’t have a clever comeback to balance out Renjun’s insinuation.

He feels like a teen, desperately tugging at his own pheromones so that they don’t spiral out of control, because he fears Renjun will think he’s still the same. Driven by instinct, unreasonable, and with his brain in a part of his body that isn’t his head.

“Straight to the point,” Donghyuck breathes out at last.

It’s shameful that no more words come out of his mouth, that for once, it’s Renjun who has all the power. Donghyuck can curse omegas, but among all omegas, Renjun is his kryptonite.

“I can be more direct if you want,” Renjun shoots at him. With all the calmness in the world, he studies Donghyuck’s face first, and then his neck, analyzing every inch until he’s satisfied. “You don’t have any marks. Are you not dating anyone?”

Donghyuck knew that in a wedding, sooner or later, personal questions were bound to happen. He didn’t expect that Renjun would ask in the kitchen, the night before the wedding, with the risk of making everything shatter to pieces before them. Just like him, Renjun knows how fragile this moment is; how the laughter coming from the living room, resonating in the walls like distant laments, can turn into silence with just a few words, a few mistakes.

But Renjun has chosen this moment, and it means that he isn’t afraid. That he doesn’t intend to break Donghyuck, and that he trusts that Donghyuck won’t break him.

“Why does that matter to you?” Donghyuck says, avoiding an answer. He straightens up, steps forward so slowly that it seems like he’s not advancing. “Weren’t you with this guy? I don’t remember his name.”

That’s because Donghyuck never learned his name. Jaemin never told him, even after Donghyuck confessed that he had checked on Renjun at last, and Donghyuck swore to himself not to let curiosity win over.

“Junhui?” Renjun asks, slightly surprised. The way he says his name is suspicious, and when Donghyuck’s gaze falls on his lips, he realizes that Renjun must have not pronounced that name in a long time. It’s better that way, because Renjun doesn’t have any problem toying with the truth. He licks his lips, and then whispers, “Do you think I’m still dating Junhui, Donghyuck?”

Donghyuck closes the distance in the blink of an eye. It’s smooth, and Donghyuck leaves one inch between them, trying not to be too harsh on Renjun. Still, even when Donghyuck comes so close, Renjun’s scent lures him in with the promise that this won’t be enough, that they’re destined to be pressed against each other, to touch, to breathe each other without the impediment of distance between them.

Renjun doesn’t flinch at his posture, his expression remains immovable as Donghyuck places his hands on both sides of the counter, but his breathing hitches. It’s the only hint of nervousness that Renjun grants him, and it’s enough to jump off the cliff with him.

It’s been so long since Donghyuck has seen Renjun from up close that he doesn’t see the hit coming. He focuses on his lips and it’s game over, and when he makes the effort to look Renjun into his eyes, a knowing glint waits for him there. He’s still so pretty, he’s always going to be so pretty as long as it’s Donghyuck who observes him.

“Spend the night with me,” Donghyuck offers, his voice just a whisper.

Renjun doesn’t waver. He lifts his chin, prideful, and his breath hovers over Donghyuck’s lips like poison.

“Impatient,” he accuses.

Donghyuck will always be impatient for Renjun. If Renjun wants to mock him for it, Donghyuck doesn’t care.

“I don’t mean it that way,” Donghyuck replies, even if Renjun won’t believe him. In fact, Donghyuck wants Renjun in all the possible ways, and pleasure isn’t an exception. “I just want to be with you, and talk, and catch up.”

It’s not a lie, but even after so many years, Renjun only needs a simple glance to read through him. The smirk that blooms on his face betrays him, and overall, betrays Donghyuck’s intentions as well.

“And spread my legs afterwards,” Renjun adds, sweet, no wish to reject Donghyuck. He leans closer, and Donghyuck tenses up like a kid about to receive his first kiss, but Renjun doesn’t touch his lips. He tilts his head to the side, as to show him how well they would fit against each other, how easy it would be to take the last, definitive step. “You know I like leaving the talk for later.”

Donghyuck represses a laugh, because he feels so, so mad in Renjun’s presence that he can’t even take this mild teasing. “Whatever you want,” is all he can respond, because both know that it’s true. Renjun has the strings in this game, and Donghyuck can’t do any progress if Renjun doesn’t let him.

An eternity passes until Renjun reacts. He gazes at Donghyuck and then, without previous warning, he sneaks a hand up his abdomen and onto his chest. There’s no way to mistake the aim as Renjun presses his palm on the left side of Donghyuck’s chest.

Not even for a single moment has Donghyuck’s heart stopped beating like crazy, but now, under Renjun’s touch, his heart reveals all that Donghyuck can’t. It should be embarrassing that his body gives him away, but Donghyuck feels safe with Renjun, and he doesn’t think that there’s anything shameful in Renjun knowing how weak Donghyuck is for him.

“Tomorrow night,” Renjun tells him. He caresses over his chest, strength dwindling, and adds, “When no one is paying attention.”

Tomorrow night, once Jisung and Jaemin are already married, once everyone has had dinner even. Everyone will be celebrating the wedding, too happy and inebriated to notice their absence.

Donghyuck understands why: Renjun and he never had their own story. Like Renjun told him, he’s never had the chance of having something as simple and silly as a flirting phase. For once, Renjun wants their moments, from beginning to end, to belong to them.

“When no one is paying attention,” Donghyuck repeats, accepting. Renjun softly pushes him away, breaking their intimacy, but Donghyuck can detect a trace of playfulness in his eyes. Pull and push is a game that Renjun excels at, and Donghyuck loves playing. “Just you and me.”

Renjun whispers back at him, “Just you and me.”