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It's the scent of oranges gone rotten which Seokjin first notices.

The lecture halls used for first year classes are huge. Seokjin makes a face, as he stops at the entrance. Yoongi, his roommate, a quiet small omega wolf of few words, nods at him.

He cracks a grin, his first one for the day.

"You should have taken this stupid elective when I did," says Yoongi. "Sucks to be you. I did not enjoy this class one bit."

Seokjin sticks his tongue out at Yoongi. "Yeah, yeah. I know. It's okay, maybe I'll find a smart first year and steal their notes."

Yoongi snorts, and Seokjin grins, handing his best friend a wrapped sandwich.

Honestly, Yoongi forgets to eat, and for the longest time now since their first year, Seokjin's been preparing lunch for both him and his best friend.

"Good luck getting through a three hour lecture," Yoongi says dryly. "He's a nice professor. He just really loves to ramble."

Seokjin groans. He already knows this from looking up reviews on Professor Kim. "I'll see you later," he says.

"Yeah, see ya," says Yoongi. "Thanks for the lunch, hyung," he says, holding up his sandwich. He does a mock salute, and ambles off down the hallway to his own class.

With a heavy sigh, Seokjin trudges into the lecture hall. It's not that he is the kind of student who would have put off taking a first-year course. Far from it.

Seokjin has always taken his prerequisites in the prescribed order.

But he hadn't read the requirements correctly on his university registrar's website, and last month, Seokjin had been stuck in a heated session with a guidance counsellor in the university, trying to find a way out of taking Introduction to Psychology.

Apparently, this ridiculous course was not so much of an elective as it was a mandatory requirement for Seokjin to graduate.

So here he is. Oh well.

He gets lingering glances from a couple of young first-year alphas as he ascends the steps, thinking about where he wants to sit.

The attention is flattering, that much Seokjin isn't going to deny. But he's not interested. They're all cute but none of their scents stand out.

He sways his hips a little, and pouts as he tries to find a place to hide in this huge hall. It's big enough that this isn't an issue.

This professor, a very young and brilliant alpha, Dr. Kim Namjoon, has mandated the use of i-Clickers for this course.

That's even worse than being called on. It means he can't just not attend classes, as and when he feels like it.

Seokjin knows how to study for classes like these, he doesn't really need to attend lectures. You just cram for the major tests, a week before really.

And Seokjin is used to smaller class sizes now, being that most of the higher level courses are seminar formats.

First year students, though. Seokjin gets it even if he hates it. The professor has to find a way to force them to show up to class.

He settles for a corner of the hall, an aisle seat, so he can easily bound for the washroom during the breaks in between.

Seokjin sets up, placing his iced Americano on the floor near his seat. Those young alphas are still stealing looks at him. He preens, sitting straighter.

Seokjin's never really been interested in younger alphas ever. They're cute, sure. Their scents can be cloyingly sweet as well, as is typical for their age. As they get older, their scents get less potent and easier to filter out. He's already prepared with painkillers to deal.

Professor Kim already uploaded a PowerPoint presentation for the first day.

It's huge, and Seokjin grumbled as he printed the whole damn file out in the library, on one of the computers there.

Yoongi merely cackled at his misfortune, and for the nth time, Seokjin curses his best friend's inclination to trash his notes once he's done a course. Otherwise, he could have just saved on printing money and used Yoongi's notes for the course.

He flips through the package now, and watches in amusement as the young professor gets steadily redder in the face, struggling to connect his laptop to the projector in the hall, trying to get the technology to work in time for the lecture.

He's a tall, gangly guy with glasses, and a very handsome face. Seokjin watches three omega boys seated in the very front row, eyes glued to their alpha professor. He laughs under his breath.

Poor guy. He won't have a minute of peace during his office hours, that is certain.

It's then that Seokjin freezes, and wrinkles his nose, trying not to make an obviously disgusted expression.

The smell of oranges fills the air. A rotten citrus smell.

An alpha.

Seokjin looks up. It's a slight, petite alpha with a bookbag over his shoulder. He clutches the straps of the bookbag in a white-knuckled grip.

He's standing smackdab in the middle of the entrance to the lecture hall, and his entire stance is radiating intense waves of hostility.

The lecture hall comes to a standstill.

Everyone looks up, their noses wrinkled up at the alpha's unnecessary aggression, markedly clear through his awful scent.

Even Professor Kim looks up from his frantic fiddling with cable wires, startled, with dilated pupils.

Another alpha appears by his side, a taller boy with floppy-brown bangs and a cheerful grin.

"Is this your Psych class, Jimin?" The other alpha chirps.

Jimin.

Jimin.

Seokjin breathes a little faster. He looks back to his introductory note packet, trying to affect an air of nonchalance.

But he's never smelled or seen an alpha so visibly in distress before.

Alphas smell sweet. Floral or fruity usually. Their scents are supposed to be soothing and comforting.

Seokjin has never smelled such a stormy alpha scent before.

Rotten oranges. The scent doesn't light up one bit even with the presence of the apparent alpha friend.

Jimin nods at his friend. Seokjin has to strain his lupine hearing to catch the faintly whispered "I think this is it, Taehyung" and he studies their body language as Taehyung ushers Jimin towards Professor Kim with a tilt of his head and affectionate hand gestures.

Uncapping his pen, Seokjin chews on the tip of it as he notices that Jimin's friend is making a very conscious effort not to touch him at all.

When Professor Kim holds his hand out for a shake, Jimin bares his teeth and growls.

Seokjin watches in interest as Taehyung takes the shaken professor's hand instead, and cheerily says, "Hello, sir. My best friend Jimin is in your class. He doesn't really like getting touched by anyone so I'm just going to walk him to class everyday to make sure he's okay."

A smile makes Professor Kim's curl up. "That's very kind of you to look after your friend," he says quietly. "I'll make sure Jimin is okay in my class."

Taehyung nods, and looks at Jimin. "Come on, buddy," he says lightly. "Let's get you a seat."

Everyone's heard that conversation, and Seokjin looks around sharply to see if anyone is snickering. Seems like this group of first years is a decent bunch however, because everyone very visibly turns to their friend groups or focuses on reading their note packets.

They're coming up his side of the hall. The rotten scent gets stronger and worse to smell. But for some reason, Seokjin notices that it doesn't bother him too much. He's not spiralling into a scent-induced headache.

Jimin is following behind his friend, his head bowed.

Seokjin takes his Americano to sip on it.

Suddenly, he can feel Jimin's eyes zero in on him, and Seokjin watches, surprised, as the younger alpha takes an obvious sniff of Seokjin's juniper scent, and his tense features relax a bit.

"Here, Taetae," says Jimin. He nods at the row Seokjin is seated at the end of.

Taehyung pauses, his eyes resting on Seokjin sitting at the end too.

"Are you sure?" He turns back to ask Jimin hesitantly.

Jimin nods.

Seokjin flashes them both a friendly smile. He gets out of his seat and steps out of the aisle so Jimin doesn't have to brush past him to get to a seat.

His heart is pounding faster in his chest.

"Hi," Seokjin says to both of them. "I'm Kim Seokjin, and I'm in my fourth year."

Taehyung flashes him an inscrutable look at first before his handsome features melt into a sunny smile.

"Hi," Taehyung says, with a bow. "Please take care of my friend, Jimin."

Jimin flushes scarlet. He bows politely to Seokjin, mumbling a "Hello, please take care of me" since he's their senior. He bows again as he enters the row and opts to sit two seats away from Seokjin.

Something warm and indefinable begins to bloom in Seokjin's chest.

"I will," Seokjin says out loud. "Call me hyung," he addresses to both of them.

But he looks at Jimin as he says it.

Jimin flushes some more. He bows again, and busies himself in pulling out his own notes and stationary.

"Text me," Taehyung says to Jimin. "If you need anything."

Jimin nods, an affectionate smile flashing on his face before it quickly disappears. "Okay," he says, his voice soft.

"I'll make sure no one else takes this row," Seokjin adds.

That seems to reassure Taehyung because he takes off soon after.

Jimin doesn't speak to him after Taehyung leaves.

The lecture begins, and Seokjin refocuses his attention to Professor Kim. Fifteen minutes pass by, and Seokjin stops making notes when he hears a frustrated sigh.

Looking to his side, he notices that Jimin hasn't been turning the pages of his packet. He's still stuck on page 1.

Seokjin sneaks a furtive glance at the professor. He looks back to Jimin, and nods at his notes.

"What's the matter?" He asks.

Jimin makes a face at his packet. "He's going too fast. I can't focus. My hand's hurting."

Seokjin thinks about that one.

"Do you have a laptop?" He asks.

Jimin nods. "I do," he says.

"Open the lecture on your laptop and type in notes," Seokjin suggests. "You might like that better."

Jimin pouts. "I wanted to use my new stationary," he says.

Seokjin resists the urge to coo at the alpha. Cute. Jimin is cute in his fitted jeans, and white dress shirt and smart bookbag. He clearly likes dressing up nicely for school.

"It's okay," Seokjin says, smiling at him. "I'm not fond of using a laptop myself. Maybe you can give some of it to your friend."

Jimin scoffs at that. "Taetae doesn't take notes. He says everything is in his brain. But he's not joking. He is really clever."

"I'll take notes, you just listen," Seokjin says. "You can take my notes to type up later on your laptop. I can just get my notes back from your next class."

Jimin's eyes widen. He smiles, shy and sweet. "Are you sure, hyung?"

Honestly? No. Seokjin's not even sure what the fuck he just said right now.

Giving his notes to a stranger he just met today and trusting them to return it during the next lecture? This is some serious character development for him.

But this little alpha, with his rotten citrus scent reeking of aggression and misery, looking at Seokjin with his pretty puppy eyes and cutely pursed full mouth ...

Seokjin opens his mouth and says, "Yes, that's okay. Just give them to me on Wednesday."

Jimin's smile gets wider. "If you write your email on the top, I can send you an electronic version of your notes too," he says, sounding excited that he can be helpful in return.

Seokjin would give anything to be able to reach out and ruffle Jimin's soft dark bangs.

But he can't do that so he just flashes Jimin a thumbs up and says, "Thank you."

They get back to focusing on the lecture. Seokjin takes notes, and does his best not to make any offensive expressions over Jimin's bad scent.

A couple of times, Seokjin notices Jimin take deep breaths as if to steady himself.

His eyes widen when he realizes what Jimin is doing.

It's his scent. Jimin is breathing his scent. Jimin likes his scent.

A primal part of Seokjin is pleased. He's been complimented on his juniper scent several times, gushed at by more than one alpha about how it's unique and strong but in a very good way.

The little alpha even sways a little to Seokjin's side, as if he can't get enough.

Taehyung stops by at the end of their class. Seokjin is busy scrawling out his student email. On an impulse, he adds his cell phone number with a smiley face as well.

He's being particularly reckless today. Living on edge.

This is okay, right? Right.

"Here you go," Seokjin says, handing out his note packet.

Jimin beams at him, and takes it. "Thank you, hyung," he says, and bows.

Taehyung, hanging off to the side, scrolling on his phone, suddenly looks up, eyes narrowed.

He opens his mouth to say something. He stops himself.

"Let's go," Taehyung says. He turns to give Seokjin a smile, but the look in his eyes is strangely assessing.

"Thanks for looking after Jimin," he says.

Seokjin waves his hands. "It's nothing," he replies.

Jimin looks a little flustered to be so obviously talked about. But he also likes it, Seokjin can clearly see that because he's smiling, and hasn't objected to it.

He likes to be cared for. Seokjin's throat feels tight just thinking about this. Knowing this.

His mind is a mess after he waves at them, and leaves the lecture hall.

He's almost reluctant to leave. And even though it was no picnic to sit next to that rotten citrus scent for a solid three hours, he already misses it.

Strange.

~

After the older omega leaves, Taehyung edges closer. He takes a huge testing whiff of Jimin's scent, as his best friend packs his bag.

Slinging his bag over a shoulder, Jimin looks confused and slightly irritated as Taehyung continues to inhale his scent.

"What," Jimin intones, deadpan. "Yes, I know it reeks. I can't do anything about it."

Taehyung chooses his next few words very carefully.

"That's the thing," says Taehyung. "It's different."

Jimin raises a brow at him. "Different how?"

Taehyung shrugs. He looks away.

"Sweeter," he says. "I don't know. Come on, let's go. Hurry up."

~

"Why would an alpha smell bad?"

Yoongi looks up from inhaling his ramen.

"What?"

Seokjin looks up from his textbook. He can't study in his room. Never has been able to.

He likes to sprawl out on the dining table, all his pens and highlighters and books and notebooks taking up. Yoongi is a messy ramen eater. Flecks of the soup hit the pages of his notebook and textbook.

Seokjin likes living on the edge.

"You heard me the first time," Seokjin retorts. He caps and uncaps his ballpoint pen, looking at it. "Why would an alpha smell bad?"

Yoongi gives him a confused look. "Are you a pup?" He asks, condescending. "Is this a joke?"

"Humour me," Seokjin says.

Yoongi lowers his chopsticks. "Probably because they're feeling aggressive towards another alpha or really sad," he says slowly. "Hyung, what's going on? An alpha pulled some shit on you today?"

Seokjin shakes his head. "No, don't worry, nothing like that," he replies. "But what if you sat next to an alpha for a three hour lecture and ... they kept smelling bad the whole time? Like their scent reeks of rotten fruit?"

Understanding dawns on Yoongi's face. "Oh," he says.

"What?"

Yoongi nods at Seokjin's Psychology textbook. "Check the table of contents," he says. "For the Scent chapter."

Seokjin does as he asks.

"Open it up to that chapter," Yoongi says. He abandons his ramen and comes to sit next to Seokjin, watching Seokjin rifle through the pages.

"You know, you could just tell me."

Yoongi grins. "I think it's better to read from the textbook itself."

Peering over Seokjin's shoulder, Yoongi sticks his hand in Seokjin's arm. He likes to do this a lot. Yoongi likes to pretend he's not cuddly but he's always up for cuddles and having his hand held.

"It's the section on trauma," Yoongi says.

Seokjin's heart sinks as he begins to read out loud. "When alphas exhibit Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD, the symptoms are very specific," he reads out. "Their scents will take on a sour or rotten edge. This change in scent can be permanent but may be reversed with time."

Yoongi, ever perceptive, says, "You knew that, didn't you?"

Seokjin tightens his hold on his ballpoint pen and nods. "I was hoping it wasn't true," he says slowly. His shoulders slump.

Yoongi gets up, and goes back to his ramen.

"He doesn't like being touched either," Seokjin says. "His scent didn't bother me though. Is that weird?"

Yoongi's eyes narrow at that. "Who is this alpha? Do I know him?"

"You probably won't know him, his name is Park Jimin," says Seokjin. "He's this tiny shrimp of a first year. He was so cute though. I let him borrow my notes because he was finding it hard to handwrite and focus in class."

Yoongi's brows raise even higher.

"You don't like first year alphas," Yoongi points out. He lifts his bowl of ramen to slurp up some of the soup.

Seokjin groans. He lets his forehead hit his textbook.

"You don't need to tell me," he says.

When he looks up, Yoongi is done with his bowl. The sides of his mouth are messy. If Seokjin wasn't around, Yoongi would literally try to survive on just ramen alone.

He's got a gleam in his eyes as he looks at Seokjin.

"Don't say anything," Seokjin says.

"You're going to do something stupid or reckless," Yoongi says. He grins.

"I'm not going to do shit."

Yoongi shakes his head, judgmental. "Hates younger alphas, my ass," he grumbles, under his breath. "This is exactly what you deserve."

Seokjin groans again.

He repeatedly hits his head on his textbook, and Yoongi.

Yoongi fucking laughs at him.

After all that Seokjin has done for him. Ungrateful asshole.

~

"You don't need to get up for me, hyung."

Seokjin sits back down. Jimin smiles brightly at him, and walks past him to get to his usual seat, two chairs away from Seokjin.

He's wearing faded jeans that cling to him. As he brushes past, Seokjin notes the curve of Jimin's ass.

It's not very big. But it curves very nicely. Today, Jimin is wearing a fitted black dress shirt as well. His hair has been styled back.

He looks very handsome. Seokjin swallows hard.

But the troubling part is Jimin's scent. It's as rotten as it was on Monday.

"How is school going for you, Jimin?" Seokjin asks, around a sip of his iced Americano.

Jimin shrugs. "It's okay," he says. "I like everything so far. I'd like to be a Math teacher."

"Oh wow," Seokjin says. "That's amazing. I'm a Chemistry major."

"That's so cool," Jimin murmurs, his eyes lighting up. "Why are you in this class, hyung?"

Seokjin sighs. "They said I need a Psych credit to graduate," he says, his voice listless. "I fought my counsellor hard on it but I lost. I think it makes no sense but, oh well."

Jimin looks like he's hanging onto Seokjin's every word. In one way, Seokjin likes it. He's always enjoyed alpha attention. In another way, Seokjin is also shy as hell. His ears and the back of his neck feel hot. Knowing how easily blushy he gets, Seokjin's sure he's red there.

"So why did you take this class, Jimin?" He asks, trying to deflect the attention and put it back on Jimin.

Jimin bites his lip. "It's an interesting course," he says.

He leaves it at that. Seokjin thinks back to the trauma section in their Psychology textbook.

He has a very good idea of just why Jimin has chosen to take this class.

Jimin digs around in his bag. He pulls out Seokjin's notes.

"Thank you, hyung. I also emailed you the notes."

He looks almost reluctant to hand Seokjin back his notes, embarrassed even.

When Seokjin puts them back in his bag, the smell of rotten oranges hits him like a bowling ball. He needs a minute to regroup, the scent is that strong.

He pretends to rummage around in his bag to the other side, keeping his head carefully angled away from Jimin's line of sight.

But his mind is racing. Jimin's scent is so strong over his note packet.

There's no way it could be that strong from Jimin just typing up his notes.

There's no way.

Unless-

Seokjin notes the way the papers look very slightly crushed.

His insides are roaring with this primal satisfaction all over again. This is ridiculous, Seokjin is not a pup going through maturation all over again.

But he's really damn pleased Jimin hugged his notes to sleep.

"Thanks for emailing me, Jimin," Seokjin says quietly, finally looking up.

There's a flash of quick movement as Jimin straightens up from obviously swaying in Seokjin's direction and twin spots of pink appear on the younger alpha's cheeks.

Jimin takes a deep breath. There's an almost reverent look on his face as he looks back at Seokjin.

Seokjin revels in the obvious admiration even if he's sure he's a blushing mess. He's gotten told he's beautiful from many alphas before, even some omegas. He knows he's pretty.

Many alphas have asked Seokjin permission to engage him in a formal courtship.

Every single time, Seokjin has said no.

Now looking at Jimin's cute face, something shifts within Seokjin.

"No problem, hyung," Jimin says, and then hastily busies himself with pulling out his laptop from his bookbag.

Seokjin sips on his Americano throughout the first hour of the class. He pays attention to Professor Kim explaining Freudian concepts.

But half of his brain, try as he might, is zeroed in on the presence of the younger alpha beside him, diligently typing up notes.

When they break after the first hour, Seokjin startles when he hears a familiar-sounding growl as he gets up to rush for the toilet.

He looks up to find Jimin with tense shoulders and his teeth bared, pupils dilated and his scent even more rotten.

A terrified omega girl is staring back at him, hands both held up in submission.

"I'm sorry," she squeaks. "Must have brushed your back. I'm so sorry!"

Seokjin gets why she's terrified. He's shitscared himself. Jimin looks positively feral, like he's ready to start a fight.

"Hey," Seokjin says, to the girl, his voice calm. "Go. It's fine. I know him. It's okay. Just go. I'll handle this."

She lets out a terrified whimper, and scampers off. Jimin growls again, and they're starting to attract more attention.

"Hey," Seokjin says, his voice firm. "Come on, Jimin. Sit down, hm?"

He takes two tentative steps closer.

Jimin takes a deep breath. Seokjin's heart lurches, because he looks almost dizzy as he collapses back in his seat, taking huge, gasping breaths of ... Seokjin is positive Jimin is trying to fill his lungs up with his juniper scent.

Is this what happens when anyone touches him? Even accidentally?

Seokjin thinks his heart is going to break. Blinking furiously, he cautiously closes the distance a little more, leaving only one chair between them.

"Is everything okay?"

Seokjin looks up only to find Professor Kim standing a cautious distance away, peering anxiously at Jimin over his black rimmed glasses.

"Yes, sir," Seokjin says, bowing his head. "Someone accidentally brushed past his back. It triggered him."

Professor Kim clutches his tablet to his chest, looking like he wants to fret and fuss over Jimin but knows he can't really get too close himself.

He pulls out a card from his pant pocket. Seokjin takes it.

It's a therapist's business card.

"Pass it to him," says Professor Kim. "It may help. It's worth the try."

This is weird. It's almost as if Seokjin is being treated as Jimin's partner in a sense.

Seokjin realizes he...likes it.

After their professor leaves them alone, Seokjin passes a heaving Jimin the card.

"Here," Seokjin says. "He passed you this card."

Jimin takes one look at the card, and scoffs. He tosses it onto the floor.

"Bullshit," Jimin says, his voice terse and deeper than usual. It's not his usual pleasant and sweet tone. "I'm not talking to anybody anymore."

Seokjin says nothing. His palms are clammy with cold sweat.

Jimin has buried his face in his palms. He sighs. "I should apologize to that girl."

He's still breathing deeply. Seokjin is mollified by that.

"Did I scare you, hyung?" Jimin asks quietly. His voice is muffled from behind his palms.

"How about this," Seokjin starts. "We both skip the rest of class and maybe get some tea together. Sounds good?"

Jimin is silent. "You didn't answer my question," he says.

Seokjin sighs.

He decides to opt for honesty.

"Yes, I was scared," Seokjin admits. "But I was also worried about you. You have to understand that."

Jimin takes another deep breath. "I'm sorry," he says, burying his face in his hands. "I really cannot take being touched at all."

"I figured out that much," Seokjin says, his voice a little dry.

He panics, that's probably insensitive. But instead, Jimin giggles and laughs. He throws his head back.

Seokjin watches him, both amused and endeared.

It's nice seeing Jimin laugh.

The mental wheels continue to turn for Seokjin.

~

"How to court an alpha," Yoongi reads out, perching his chin on Seokjin's shoulder. "What the fuck."

Seokjin turns red, smacking Yoongi's head. "Why do you show interest in my life when I don't want you to show interest?"

He turns his phone off but it's too late. Yoongi's poker face has melted into some hardcore cackling at his expense.

"I'm assuming you've only known him for a week," Yoongi gasps out, rolling on the floor. "Since school just started. This just makes it even funnier."

Seokjin tosses his phone onto the couch and sighs, extra-long and dramatic.

"You ever meet someone," Seokjin says. "And you just know."

"Know what, hyung?"

"Fuck. I don't know. That they're worth it?"

Yoongi sits up straight at that. He's such a mess. He's lying on the floor with a couch cushion. Seokjin is absolutely appalled but letting it slide in lieu of this bigger crisis he's having.

"I wouldn't know, I never found anyone worth it," Yoongi says steadily.

Seokjin sighs. "As expected," he says, in a droll way. "You were not helpful. Thanks for nothing. Absolutely nothing."

"I'm helpful," Yoongi says, cheeky. "I go through your ramen stash for you, hyung."

"Is it weird," Seokjin starts, ignoring that comment about his ramen stash. He'll have to go investigate the extent of Yoongi's damage later. "If an omega courts an alpha?"

Yoongi lets out a bark of laughter at that. "Do you really care if it's weird?"

Seokjin considers that.

"I care a little bit because it's not how things are usually done," he admits. "But I really want to do this."

Yoongi's eyes soften. "I would get to know him a little more first," he says.

Seokjin opens his mouth to speak, but Yoongi cuts him off.

"No, listen to me," he says, his facial expression going back to poker face. "What do you feel when you look at him?"

"He's been through something really bad," Seokjin says, sprawling out on the couch, pressing his cheek against the velvet cushion. "His scent is rotten. It's unbearable. People try to avoid sitting near us in class. And he really can't handle any touch. He freaks out bad."

Yoongi makes a series of considering sounds. "That's what he's like. So how does he make you feel?"

Seokjin's lips curl upwards into a smile. "I think I have a huge crush on him," he says, shy. "He's very cute and makes me feel very protective."

Yoongi grins at him, a huge gummy smile spreading on his face. "Get to know him some more," he says softly. "And then you should go ahead and court him."

"He likes being babied," Seokjin says, his ears turning red. "I realized ... I'm really into that."

"There's nothing wrong with that," Yoongi says. "Maybe this is why you didn't like all those serious older alphas you went on all those dates with."

Seokjin groans. "Are you going to let it go?"

Yoongi shakes his head. "A true friend remembers everything," he says sagely.

~

Two weeks into the semester, when Seokjin walks into the Psychology class he shares with Jimin, he needs to pause for a second.

For one, Jimin's scent is ... much easier to inhale.

The alpha in question is staring fixedly at his laptop, his focus intense.

He looks up however, with a sweet smile as Seokjin settles in his usual aisle seat.

"Hyung. What's up?"

Seokjin smiles back at him, as he pulls out his note packet and pencil pouch. "I'm tired," he says. "I have a four hour lab later on this evening that will really sap out my energy."

Jimin's eyes widen. "Four hours? No way."

Seokjin grins at him. "It's okay," he says. "I don't mind. I actually enjoy labs. I'm not a fan of people in general so I think I'm headed in the direction of research. Working on research in a lab down in the basement and not needing to talk to anybody is my dream."

Jimin nods, absorbing everything he says. "You don't seem like an introvert, hyung," he says.

Seokjin shrugs. "I know how to socialize, but it takes a lot of energy out of me, and drains me out," he replies. "Actually, I'm a very shy person. When I was young, I was so quiet."

Jimin is quiet for a few seconds. He looks away.

"I'm actually very extroverted," says Jimin. "I ... " He looks down at his laptop keyboard, a little anxious. "I'm the exact opposite. I love talking to people. I want to just get my own classroom."

Seokjin has been thinking about that. If Jimin wants to be a teacher, he has to constantly socialize with people all day and even risk getting touched accidentally by an enthusiastic pup. He's been wondering about Jimin's career aspirations a lot.

"Do you like the idea of working with pups?" Seokjin asks.

Jimin's face lights up so much Seokjin has to avert his gaze from just how pretty his face gets when he smiles.

"I really do," Jimin says. "I love pups. They're very healing. I think I was meant to work with them."

His face falls a bit however.

"I know there will be challenges I'll face because of some things I can't do," Jimin says, his voice getting smaller. "But I can feel that it's my calling. Pups are innocent. I feel very protective whenever I see them."

It's been two weeks, and this is the start of the third week. The more Seokjin gets to learn about this alpha, the more he honestly just likes Jimin.

This just fuels his crush even more.

"You can do it," Seokjin says, in what he hopes is a bracing tone. "I think you'll be an amazing teacher, Jimin."

Jimin's scent definitely doesn't have as rotten of an edge to it as opposed to their first meeting. Seokjin is finding it easier to take in these days.

Seokjin has to look away before he does something impulsively stupid like suggest that maybe Taehyung doesn't need to walk Jimin to his next class.

Seokjin can do that instead.

He's been thinking about suggesting that the whole of last week but knew it wasn't his place to do so. Plus, he's not sure how traditional of an alpha Jimin really is.

He might not appreciate that gesture.

Jimin mumbles a shyly happy "Thanks, hyung" and Seokjin fingers the scarf around his neck.

He makes his decision.

Seokjin has never really put himself so forward like this before. When he was a pup, he truly was a very quiet bookworm, hiding in all the fictional worlds created by the authors he loved. As he got older, he started to get braver, and he made .... one friend.

Yoongi is a goddamn mess but he counts. Seokjin let him in.

Seokjin never lets anyone in.

Maybe it's time to try again.

He's been wearing this scarf all week. He hasn't washed it yet so the scent on it would be really strong.

He doesn't have to overwhelm Jimin with a formal question of courtship. All he has to do is accidentally-on-purpose pretend to leave it here in the lecture hall.

If Jimin wants to return it, he can do so. It'll sting a little but Seokjin is a grown omega. He will move on.

However, if the scarf isn't returned, Seokjin can take that to be a favourable reaction to his informal initiation of courtship.

He's buzzing with happy, nervous energy throughout the entire lecture after. Jimin must pick up on Seokjin's jitters because at one point, from the periphery of his vision, Seokjin notices Jimin sway in his direction, and take a few greedy, needy, deep inhales.

Seokjin knows that when he's happy or excited, his juniper scent gets even stronger and nicer.

Even Yoongi, who's got a woodsy scent himself, tells Seokjin he's got the most attractive scent ever.

It's immensely gratifying to see the little alpha beside him swoon.

During the second break, Seokjin makes an exaggerated show of taking off his scarf after he gets back from using the toilet.

"Ugh, it's so hot in the hall," he says. He flings the scarf in the seat beside him.

Jimin's eyes are immediately drawn to the scarf.

"It is?" Jimin asks, confused.

Seokjin flashes him a cheeky smile. Jimin's right. It's not hot at all. In fact, it's a little chilly. The maintenance staff need to fix the issue.

"I feel overheated," Seokjin says, and stretches his arms out as he yawns.

Something clicks in Jimin's eyes. He bites his lip, and Seokjin wonders if he's looking at the skin he purposely exposed by stretching his arms which made his sweater ride up his torso.

"Right," Jimin says. He licks his lips. "It's a bit stuffy in the hall, sure."

They're two seats apart. Seokjin wonders what Jimin is thinking. His own heart is pounding in his chest.

Jimin's breathing is steady and deep. Seokjin hopes it's Jimin trying to get his fill of his scent before class is done for the day.

He hopes and wishes and wants.

When class is over, Seokjin mumbles a quick "See you, Jimin" as he grabs his bag and takes off, leaving the lecture hall immediately.

Usually, he waits around till Taehyung makes his way to their class to pick Jimin up.

He hopes Jimin has understood what he's doing.

Either way, the ball is in Jimin's court now.

~

"Whose scarf is that?" Taehyung asks, eyes narrowed. He knows though.

Something's going on. Jimin's almost swaying as he walks, a giddy smile on his face, as if he's drunk.

There's a huge pink cotton scarf securely bundled around his neck.

"It's Seokjin hyung's scarf," Jimin says, burying his face in the soft fabric.

"Did he give it to you?" Taehyung asks, burying his hands in the pockets of his hoodie.

They're basking in the sunshine, out in the gardens overlooking their campus.

Jimin's scent has gotten ... sweeter. Taehyung has been Jimin's best friend for years, and was around when Jimin's scent turned rotten as a pup. It's hard to watch your closest friend go from being a friendly and sweet and clingy pup to a fearful and defensive and cagey alpha.

They're lying on the grass now. Jimin's got his face buried in Seokjin's scarf, breathing it in like it's the only thing keeping him grounded.

"Kind of," Jimin says. Then shyer, "I think he likes me despite my scent, Taetae."

Taehyung knows Seokjin likes Jimin. Anytime he's met him, the older omega addresses them both but is almost always looking at Jimin with tenderness in his gaze.

He hums, under his breath. "I think so too," he says. "Do you also like him?"

Jimin sighs, turning to lie on his back. He keeps the scarf over his nose and mouth so when he talks, his voice is slightly muffled.

"I never thought I'd be interested in anyone when we started university," says Jimin. "And I never thought an omega would find me appealing. Especially an older omega."

Taehyung hums, making an attentive sound to show Jimin he's listening.

"But it's really flattering," Jimin admits. He smiles dreamily, staring up at the clear sky. "I like him."

"I have a good feeling about him too, buddy," Taehyung says. He smiles. "And it's good to see you happy."

Jimin has fallen asleep on the grass, his features peaceful and content beneath the scarf.

Taehyung's eyes widen.

Ever since Jimin has been struggling with trauma, he has never slept well. He's a light sleeper, and more often than not, Taehyung wakes up to find Jimin outside in their tiny kitchenette in their campus dorm room, looking absolutely exhausted as he snacks on something.

"I can't sleep," he'll complain. "I think I'm going crazy. I'm so tired, Tae."

Taehyung stares at him. Then slowly, he takes out his phone for a picture.

He grins.

~

Jimin is already there when Seokjin enters the lecture hall after having "accidentally" left his scarf there.

He's staring at his laptop screen intensely again, eyes unblinking.

Not wanting to disturb Jimin, Seokjin quietly settles down in his seat.

He doesn't need to wait for long though because Jimin looks up, and smiles at him. Cheeks colouring pink, Seokjin nods at him. Today, Jimin is wearing a white shirt that exposes his collarbones, and Seokjin swallows at the expanse of smooth skin, his eyes narrowing.

That's a lot of exposed skin. And if Seokjin's not mistaken, there's a first year omega boy ogling Jimin from a few rows below, turning to look at him.

If it wasn't for the way Jimin's scent isn't the most ... pleasant, Seokjin is sure that boy would be trying his luck by now.

Jealousy is an ugly emotion to feel. And Seokjin feels it keenly at the moment, but he powers through it, nodding at Jimin's laptop.

"Studying?" He asks.

Jimin nods. "I have a Linear Algebra midterm," he says. "I'm solving the review questions our professor gave us."

Seokjin is confused. "Isn't it better if you solve the questions using a pen and paper?"

Jimin grins at him, and for the first time, Seokjin notes that it's a confident grin. "I don't need paper and pen," he says. "I just need to figure out the strategy and that's it."

Seokjin blinks. "Yah," he says, feeling a little indignant. "Yah! What do you mean? You seriously don't keep actual physical notebooks for your Math courses?"

Jimin shakes his head, shooting him a mischievous look. "Not really," he says. "I love Math. I'm also very good at it."

Seokjin is absolutely displeased. "Ugh," he whines. "That's not fair. I keep actual notebooks and I needed to study so hard to get decent grades in my Math prerequisites. People like you are the worst. The worst."

Jimin has the audacity to flash Seokjin wounded puppy eyes.

Seokjin melts, and immediately backtracks. "Okay, fine. You're exempt."

Jimin smiles. His whole body is tilted invitingly in Seokjin's direction. And honestly, his attire makes no sense today. It's chilly in this lecture hall. Seokjin is wearing a coffee-coloured turtleneck.

"I'm exempt?" Jimin asks, looking up through his lashes, purposefully coy.

Seokjin's breathing hitches. "Yes," he says. "Why aren't you dressed more warmly today? It's cold."

Jimin smiles, and holds up a heavy jacket which lies on the seat next to him, away from Seokjin.

"I get stuffy when I walk around in it all day on campus," Jimin explains. "I need to take it off for now. I'll put it back on soon."

His eyes never leave Seokjin's, filled with intent. He licks his lips. Seokjin does his best not to let his gaze drop down and steal a look.

Jimin has a full mouth. Seokjin imagines the younger alpha in his lap for a split second, being able to suck on that bottom lip.

Would Jimin like that? Would Jimin like being manhandled by an older omega?

Seokjin snaps himself out of it. His scent gets stronger with arousal.

"That's such a bulky jacket," Seokjin says. "Do you get cold easily?"

Jimin nods. "I do," he says, eyes never leaving Seokjin's. He pouts. "I forgot my scarf," he says. "It keeps me warm."

There's a knowing look in Jimin's eyes. Seokjin gulps.

So he kept it.

"I need more winter things like gloves and beanies," Jimin says, his tone casual. "I forgot to bring a lot of that stuff from home because I was in a hurry while packing."

Seokjin takes a deep breath. "I see," he says.

Jimin slides Seokjin one last meaningful look before shifting his focus back to his laptop. "Mm."

Seokjin doesn't even focus that well this time during class. His urge to touch Jimin is strong the whole time, like a volcano ready to erupt.

He manages to calm down some when Jimin gets cold and starts shivering. He grabs his winter jacket to wear again and once it's zipped up, covering his exposed collarbones and the bare skin of his chest, Seokjin breathes a little easier.

Despite his scent, Jimin is still a young and attractive alpha. He gets furtively checked out in class, and Seokjin. Well, Seokjin can't stop Jimin if he decides he wants to court any of these omegas of his own age.

Seokjin doubles down on his resolve. He's an attractive omega himself, and he's got a progressive mindset about this. This might not be how courtship is usually done, but who cares?

Sometimes you have to throw social norms to the side and just seize the moment.

~

"I feel like I'm saying this a lot," Yoongi says. "But truly, hyung. What the fuck is going on?"

It's 7AM in the morning, and Yoongi's sleepily staring at Seokjin's bed, where he is with a whole bunch of scarfs, mitts and beanies all around him.

"I'm scenting all my courting gifts for Jimin," Seokjin explains, his ears turning red. "He likes my scent a lot so I want. Uhm. Yes. So. Yeah."

Yoongi stares at him blankly for a few seconds, toothbrush hanging limply from his mouth.

"Damn," Yoongi says, around a mouthful of toothpaste. He tilts his head to the side, looking thoughtful, as he trails back out to their shared toilet. "Courting an alpha, hm? Interesting."

Seokjin snorts. "You are the one who encouraged me," he says.

"Yes, but you've not known him that long so I thought you might get over this crush," Yoongi says, after he spits out paste. "Cool. That's very bold of you, hyung."

Seokjin sighs, forlorn. "I feel more like a fool," he complains.

"That's because you are one," Yoongi says. "You're a lovesick fool, hyung."

He has to lock the toilet door for his safety after Seokjin emits an indignant squawk.

~

They sit two seats apart. Today, Jimin has chosen to sit just a seat apart.

"Hi," Seokjin says. He can't stop smiling.

"Hi, hyung," Jimin says softly. He looks a little nervous, but he's trying. Seokjin is so fond of him.

"You doing okay?" Seokjin asks.

Jimin nods. "Yes," he says. He's looking adorable today in a fuzzy pastel blue sweater and tight black jeans. He's the cutest alpha Seokjin has ever seen in his whole life. The urge to pull Jimin in for a protective scenting session is very strong.

Jimin is smiling at him. But he's nervous, so his citrus scent has taken on a sour edge in addition to the rottenness. It's overwhelming, not in a good way but Seokjin is working hard to get past it.

Everything good only happens with hard work. Seokjin has to try his best.

Jimin is visibly trying his best. If he's trying, then Seokjin has to try just as much.

Jimin has his phone number. He still hasn't texted Seokjin yet. That's also okay. Seokjin is happy to go as slow as Jimin needs.

"You look nice today, hyung," Jimin says bravely. He takes a deep breath, and bites his lip.

Seokjin preens. He's the one exposing his collarbones today, wearing a loose plaid shirt and pink leggings. He knows he looks very pretty with his bangs in his eyes.

"Thanks, Jimin," Seokjin says, with a grin. "I'm trying to put more effort into my appearance these days."

Jimin giggles, and looks away shyly. Seokjin is blushing but also very pleased with himself.

He leaves behind a beanie that day.

This continues for the next three weeks. Seokjin leaves behind a pair of mitts or a beanie or fuzzy socks or a scarf. He also leaves a snack or candy bar in there.

It's terrifying. Seokjin has never courted an alpha before. Never done anything as impulsive as this.

Jimin's smiles get wider and wider. He starts to lean forward, keeping his elbow perched on top of the seat in between them. He starts to sometimes reach out to touch Seokjin but then pulls back, nervous. His scent turns sour and rotten everytime he tries something new.

But Seokjin can sense the way Jimin's scent has gotten sweeter in general. Sometimes, when he's making Jimin giggle, Jimin's orange scent wafts over from the movement and Seokjin is struck by how nice and sweet it might have been before whatever happened to him.

Whenever Seokjin thinks about whatever it is that Jimin went through, and he thinks about it a lot, he's consumed with a cold rage. Whatever the shit that happened that Jimin had to face, Jimin never deserved having to go through anything so traumatic that his scent changed.

They communicate mostly via student email. Jimin enjoys doing the error analysis calculations for Seokjin's labs, and so Seokjin has been recently sending him all his lab data. It's really unfair that someone actually enjoys Math like the way Jimin does but it's a great help.

"I want to make Math fun for pups," Jimin explains once during a break in their Psych lecture. He's smiling as he waves his hands enthusiastically.

Seokjin makes a dubious sound. "You can try," he says, very doubtful.

Jimin gives him an inscrutable look. "You know, you're struggling with these calculations because you never bothered to learn these Excel shortcuts," he says. "Why don't we meet at the library once so I can show you how to do them?"

Seokjin perks up at that. Jimin's scent has soured from anxiety even more and he softens at the sight of Jimin trying so hard to put himself forward.

"Sure," Seokjin says easily. "What time and when?"

Jimin takes a deep breath. "I'll text you," he says. "Is that okay?"

Seokjin nods. "Take it easy," he says. "You don't have to help hyung. You must be struggling with your own courses."

Jimin shakes his head. "N-no, I would like to do this," he says with a nervous stutter, and a smile. "Let's meet up!"

"You're doing really well, Jimin," Seokjin says quietly.

Jimin sighs, and rests his head on his arm resting on the top of the seat between them. It's the closest he's ever gotten to Seokjin.

Seokjin wants to pet Jimin's hair. To comfort with touch.

But that would send Jimin into a panic attack and would definitely not be comforting at all.

It seems like Jimin's also struggling with wanting touch from Seokjin versus freaking out over it.

They struggle. They work past it.

Jimin pulls away, giving him another sweet smile. He exhales, a shaky sigh, and straightens up, running hands through his hair. Seokjin has been noticing that's a nervous habit of Jimin's lately.

Class starts. Seokjin leaves another scarf behind that day.

When he's just outside the hall, he's stopped by Taehyung who stays him.

"Hyung," Taehyung says softly. "Hi! How are you? You leave class so fast nowadays I never have the chance to see you."

Seokjin scratches the back of his neck, and laughs, embarrassed.

"I'm fine, Taehyung," Seokjin says. He's itching to leave. He's very sure Taehyung knows what he's doing. Still, Seokjin is afraid of what anyone else will think of what's transpiring between Jimin and him. He doesn't want to know, especially from another alpha.

Which is another reason Seokjin has been hightailing it out of class just so he can avoid running into Taehyung.

He could be perceived as being so desperate because he's an older omega who hasn't found anyone yet that he's "stooped" so low as to court a younger alpha.

A smile grows on Taehyung's face.

"Jimin is really enjoying your courtship, hyung," Taehyung says. He stuffs his hands in the pockets of his pants. "I have never seen him so happy."

Warmth blooms in his chest. "That's good to hear," Seokjin says. "How long have you known him?"

Taehyung's eyes get clouded. "We go back since we were pups," he says. "It's not my place to tell you why his scent is like that now but I do know everything. That's why I'm glad I finally caught you. Please go slow, hyung. He's excited about you so he'll push himself a lot."

Seokjin nods. "He's trying really hard," he admits. "Just, Taehyung. If I could ask you one thing. Just one thing."

Taehyung looks wary, but nods. "Okay," he says.

"Is he ... is he still in a bad situation?"

Taehyung bites his lip and worries it with his teeth. "Not now," he says finally.

Relief hits Seokjin. "Thank you for trusting me with this," he says.

Taehyung surprises him with a hug. "No," he says. "Thank you."

He leaves Seokjin there and flies into the lecture hall, his overthinking brain spinning with far too many questions.

Eventually, he wills himself to calm down as he strolls off to prepare for his lab. He acknowledges that he's jealous Taehyung knows things.

He wants to know too. It might break him to know but Seokjin wants to also be let in.

"Think of it like this," Yoongi points out later when he's helping himself to fried tripe and ddeok that Seokjin prepared for them. "Maybe Jimin likes that you don't know his personal baggage."

Seokjin pouts at Yoongi. "I want to know though," he whines. "I want to be let in."

"You have to be patient," Yoongi says, matter of factly. "Right now, Jimin probably sees you as a fresh start. And that's true because his friend said so, that he's excited about you."

The reminder of Taehyung saying that to him makes Seokjin smile big like a fool again. Jimin is excited. Jimin is excited about /him./

"He did say that," Seokjin acknowledges.

Yoongi laughs. He shakes his head. "Never thought I would see you lose your brain over an alpha."

Seokjin flushes darkly, but doesn't deny it this time.

~

Jimin stares at his phone.

"What?" Taehyung asks. They're lying out on the grass again in campus grounds, taking a break in between their classes.

Just today, Jimin summoned his courage to text Seokjin and ask him out on a library date.

With a lot of encouragement from Taehyung, Jimin had finally pressed send.

"Hyung replied," Jimin says slowly. "He said no."

Taehyung opens his eyes at that. "What?" He asks again, his voice sharp. "Is it "no" as in, he can't make it at the time you suggested or ... just no?"

Jimin bites his lip. "He just said no," he replies, and his lips downturn.

That had been a hard text to type out.

Taehyung frowns. "He's courting you," he says calmly. "Ask him why. He wouldn't turn you down just like that."

Jimin takes a deep breath. He's already upset and angry. Why did he put himself out there like that? The sharp sting of rejection is too intense for him at the moment.

Just then, his phone beeps with another text notification from Seokjin.

Jimin fumbles to unlock his phone and read the message. When he's finished reading it, his cheeks heat up.

"Oh," Jimin says softly. He blushes some more as he reads it again. "He said he's in heat."

Taehyung cackles as he flops back onto the grass again, and closes his eyes.

"Well damn," Taehyung says. "That's quite the pleasing visual for you, huh?"

Jimin growls at him.

"Relax," Taehyung says breezily. "I have no interest in your omega."

Jimin can feel his cheeks get even hotter. "Stop saying that," he grumbles, despite the primal satisfaction roaring within him. "He's not mine. He's his own person."

"Yet," Taehyung says, sliding him a cheeky grin. "He's not yours yet."

Images come to Jimin's mind indeed, of Seokjin squirming in a bed, and Jimin's cursed brain rectifies it to his bed, Seokjin's pretty full mouth parted and panting his name. Jimin's name.

He wants Seokjin so much. Seokjin is the most beautiful omega Jimin has seen. Jimin has been sleeping with all of Seokjin's courting gifts in his bed. He passes out every single night with his face buried in Seokjin's pink scarf, the first one he left out for Jimin.

There's something undoubtedly sexy and socially taboo and illicit about the fact that it is Seokjin who is actively pursuing and courting Jimin. At first, Jimin hadn't known how to feel about it. But sometimes Seokjin looks at him like he's thinking about wrecking Jimin, and.

After shamefully jerking off while having one of Seokjin's gifts, a beanie pressed tightly over his face as he pictured Seokjin, looking angelic and divine, reeking of slick and mounting him instead, Jimin decided he was very much a fan of breaking social conventions.

He would let Seokjin fuck him. Well, he'd like to have that ideally happen. He's not sure his anxiety will let that happen anytime soon, but so far, Seokjin's been very chill and patient with their pace.

"How should I respond to him?" Jimin asks anxiously.

Taehyung shrugs. "What do you want to say?"

Jimin runs his hands agitatedly through his hair. "I was thinking," he says, and then breaks off with a groan. "No, that's so stupid."

"No, what are you thinking?"

"I wanted to ask him what his favourite snacks and drinks are so I can drop off a care package at his dorm residence," Jimin says in a rush. "He told me he has an omega roommate, I can just leave it with him."

Taehyung grins. "Oh? You're going to reciprocate his courtship gestures?"

Jimin buries his face in his hands. "I can try," he says.

Taehyung looks at him with softness. "I think he'll appreciate your effort, buddy," he says.

"Let's hope so," Jimin says.

~

The omega who opens the door is tiny, and has a woodsy scent. He stares at Jimin.

"Jimin?" he asks.

Jimin nods, and bows.

"I'm Yoongi," says the omega. "I'm Seokjin's best friend. Well, his only friend really. Seokjin hates people."

Yoongi's face splits into a big gummy smile when he notices Jimin's downcast expression. "Hyung talks about you far too much to hate you," he says. "He's just the hugest introvert I have ever known in my life."

Yoongi opens the door a little more.

The scent of juniper, strong, spicy and potent, wafts out and hits Jimin like a brick to the face.

He nearly reels from how strong Seokjin's scent is during his heat. It's truly the most attractive and comforting scent Jimin has ever smelled in his life.

Yoongi is smiling at him wickedly, like he knew exactly what he was doing when he opened the door some more.

"I'd invite you in, but not under these circumstances," Yoongi says. "Very nice to finally meet you. So that's for hyung?"

He inclines his chin at the care package basket Jimin hurriedly put together, of Seokjin's favourite snacks and drinks. He stuck in cleansing wipes and facial tissues along with a few items of his own clothing, a sweater that hangs on his frame but will fit Seokjin just right, a pair of Jimin's mitts and a scarf of his own.

Yoongi's eyebrows raise at the clothing items as he takes the basket from Jimin.

"Returning his courtship gestures, huh?"

Jimin blushes.

"I know my scent isn't the most pleasant," Jimin says. He straightens his shoulders. Taehyung has chided Jimin on apologizing for his scent too much. "But if he's courting me, then maybe he likes it."

Yoongi grins. "It's actually very sweet at the moment," he says.

Jimin lets out an embarrassed squeak.

"I guess you like his heat-scent," Yoongi says, his tone teasing. "I'll be sure to let him know. Now for his safety, I'm going to shut this door. See you later, Jimin."

He shuts the door in Jimin's face.

Before Jimin heads back to his own alpha dorm, he needs to adjust himself down in his pants and take a few deep breaths.

Popping a knot in public is so embarrassing.

~

It's a harder heat to bear this time. Seokjin spends most of it working a dildo up his ass, and his face buried in Jimin's sweater, breathing deeply.

When he regains some semblance of coherence, he fires off a text to Jimin thanking him for the care package.

The scent left on Jimin's sweater and other items of clothing is surprisingly not too edged with rottenness. Seokjin hazily wonders what that means as he keeps edging himself to orgasms. He tries not to read too much into it.

Jimin sends him a flirty text back.

"do you like the sweater?"

Seokjin blushes. He's got a wand vibrator teasing the head of his cock, and he groans, imagining Jimin seated atop him in his lap, the cute younger alpha pouting at him.

He likes the way Jimin's eyes curve when he smiles. He likes the way Jimin is smaller than him. He likes Jimin's scent even though it is not a pleasant scent. It's still comforting, and the thought of being wrapped up in Jimin's scent is still an appealing one.

It's harder this time around because usually, when Seokjin has his heat, his orgasm is very rooted around just chasing his pleasure. He thinks about getting off, and that's about it.

But now, there's a person he likes. A very cute and sexy little alpha who Seokjin desires.

He considers just how flirty his message back to Jimin should be.

"Yoongi," he yells out.

No response.

"Yoongi," he yells louder.

He hears the bed creak in Yoongi's room as his friend gets off of it and slowly ambles towards his room.

"Please don't call out my name while you're getting off," Yoongi drawls out from behind the closed door. "I'm not into you like that."

Seokjin makes a frustrated sound.

Yoongi laughs. "What do you want?" He asks. "You need lube or wipes, hyung?"

"No, I have those. Jimin texted me, asking if I liked his sweater."

Yoongi whistles. "Wow," he says. "So ... what? Isn't that great? He's flirting with you."

Seokjin whines. "That's the problem. How flirty should my reply back be? I don't want to overwhelm him."

Yoongi snorts. "He started it. Don't follow up with a nude or blatant sext obviously. But nothing wrong in giving him a little something to think about. Tease him back."

Seokjin stays silent, weighing his options, as he stares at the mess of cum all over his tummy. He's thankful for the expensive and thick heat blanket he invested in years ago. It's holding up and absorbs his slick really well, protecting his mattress.

"Jimin is a mature wolf," Yoongi continues, unfazed. "Just go for it, hyung."

"Okay, okay," Seokjin says, mortified. "You can forget I asked. Thanks."

Yoongi cackles. "I forget nothing," he says. "But good luck."

Seokjin bites his lip, chewing on it nervously as he types out the first thing that comes to mind.

"i do. i haven't let go of it all day. ;)"

He considers asking Yoongi for reassurance that this isn't a terrible response. But okay, Yoongi is right. This is fine.

He's about to put his phone down when it buzzes with a notification. He blushes a deep red, gasping when he reads Jimin's response.

It's just one word.

"good."

Seokjin doesn't know what to even say in response. He presses his cheek to his pillowcase, wondering how to reply.

Jimin responds again.

"take care. i'll send all the notes for the psych course to your student email. see you later. :)"

It's a definite hint that Jimin's limits lie here for now and he's not willing to sexually escalate the conversation anymore. That's fine. Seokjin knows how to read between the lines and he's getting good at reading Jimin by now.

"take care too, jiminnie. ♡"

Jimin doesn't respond any further. Seokjin grins. He hopes Jimin liked the cute nickname.

He also enjoyed Jimin's little show of possessiveness by asking about the sweater. He gets off furiously, thinking about that one word for the next three days of his heat.

good.

~

Seokjin's heat breaks after the third day. He's glad for it. This time, his heat had him feeling a little more despondent and lonely. Usually, Seokjin is not the type to get hung up on wanting companionship during heat. That's more so Yoongi actually.

He just edges himself with toys, even watches a show or two while mindlessly getting off over and over.

This time, it was different. He was grateful for Jimin's clothes, they eased him through the past three days. But he's shaken up a bit inside about how urgently he'd felt.

Is this what it is like to start falling for an alpha?

Does your whole life begin to revolve around them?

Is it okay to feel so much that you're even willing to break tradition for one of them?

So many questions and no answers. Seokjin sips on his iced Americano, grateful for it because he's exhausted from his heat. He forced himself to attend class today.

He's earlier than usual for Psychology, and cursing himself because he forgot his courting gift for Jimin today.

"Hyung."

Seokjin looks up, ready to greet Jimin, when all words of greeting die an early death before they leave his mouth.

Jimin grins at him.

He's wearing a purple sweater and faded blue jeans. On his head is a black beanie Seokjin gifted him, around his neck is the pink cotton scarf Seokjin first gifted him and his fingers are covered in a pair of mitts Seokjin also gifted him.

Seokjin opens and closes his mouth.

Jimin edges past him, and instead of leaving a seat in between them, chooses to sit in the seat right next to Seokjin.

His scent is sweet. It's fresh and citrusy and makes Seokjin think of sunny summer days with clear skies and flowers everywhere.

"Jiminnie," Seokjin says gently. His voice is soft and reverent. He doesn't bother hiding it.

All doubts have flown out of Seokjin's brain. His exhaustion has fucked off as well. Instead, his body is alight with a happy and confident energy.

Jimin smiles at him, radiant.

"I like that," Jimin says. "It's cute."

"Good to know," Seokjin says quietly. He's thrumming with energy. Jimin's sitting right next to him, his body warmth extremely discernable and what Seokjin wants to do is dance a happy jig around the lecture hall, classmates be damned.

Class starts. Seokjin barely pays attention to anything Professor Kim is saying about some recent findings from some developmental psychology experiments. He's smiling. He can't stop smiling.

He has to do something. Say something. He's so happy. Fuck.

On impulse, Seokjin turns over his note packet to the blank page at the back and uncaps his pen.

He folds the edge of it to hide what he's writing from Jimin who pouts a little at him. Seokjin just smiles some more and begins to snicker to himself.

"I know it's not traditional or proper for an omega to court an alpha," he writes out rapidly, just going with his feelings. "But you make me want to take care of you and keep courting you, Jimin. I like you and I don't even care what people think. Do I have your permission?"

He's too wound up. Seokjin places his packet on Jimin's desk, heart pounding in his chest.

The ball is in Jimin's court now. Seokjin has put it out in the open and Jimin will have to acknowledge this thing between them. No more hiding behind flirting and looks.

Jimin reads his message over and over. He covers his hand with his mouth, and closes his eyes. Without looking at Seokjin, he extends his hand out for the pen.

Seokjin, with his heart in his mouth, hands it over. His palms are sweating, he's that nervous.

Slowly, laboriously, Jimin begins to handwrite his response. Seokjin stares straight ahead, at Professor Kim talking about toddler pups and their superior language acquisition abilities.

He's hearing what their professor is saying but not a single thing registers.

Jimin is a slow writer by hand. It's okay. Seokjin waits.

Seokjin is willing to wait.

After five agonizing minutes, Jimin hands Seokjin back his note packet and pen with a small smile.

Seokjin reads Jimin's blocky print carefully.

"i like you and your scent very much. you have my permission. ps. please re-scent this scarf? i sleep with it everyday."

He looks up to see Jimin unwrapping the scarf from around his neck, and shyly handing it back to him.

Seokjin grins, ecstatic. He wraps the scarf around him, gets it all warm and heavy with his scent for Jimin.

He's a little too possessively happy Jimin sleeps with his scarf.

Jimin is also bursting with lots of happy energy.

He seems to have made up his mind too because he keeps his hand dangling loosely near Seokjin's side, and Seokjin gives him a careful, questioning look.

Jimin nods, and Seokjin holds his hand quickly. Taking a deep breath, Jimin visibly wills himself to relax and let his hand be held.

After he's relaxed enough, Jimin gives him a joyful smile, and squeezes Seokjin's hand in reassurance.

This is okay.

Seokjin squeezes his hand back, and the smile on Jimin's face only gets bigger. Handholding is intimate, and it feels like Jimin is telling him a lot with these small gestures. Like they're having a whole conversation with the skin of their palms and their intertangled fingers.

The skin of Jimin's palms is soft, and Seokjin can't stop revelling in this information. Jimin's hand is smaller too, and Seokjin's fingers envelop Jimin's rather easily.

Jimin is fully swaying in Seokjin's personal space, breathing in his scent heavily.

This is so nice. Holding Jimin's hand is so nice.

Seokjin isn't doubting this anymore.

So what if they're an unusual alpha/omega couple? Who cares if what's between them feels right and good?

They hold hands throughout class. Seokjin handwrites notes during the lecture, but his brain is barely registering anything today. Jimin doesn't even pretend to care. He turns on the audio recorder on his phone and records the lecture, settling for just holding Seokjin's hand.

Seokjin thinks it's the most intimate thing he's ever done with another wolf. Jimin makes little pleased sounds everytime Seokjin brushes his thumb tenderly over the back of Jimin's hand.

"Are you okay?" Seokjin whispers, nodding at their hands.

Jimin nods at him, very eagerly. The action is so cute Seokjin giggles at him.

Jimin edges even closer, so their arms are pressed fully together. He's smiling at Seokjin, and looks smitten.

It's such a sweet look on the younger alpha. Seokjin wants to keep him safe.

"Yes," Jimin says, after a few seconds of visibly needing to gather his thoughts together. Seokjin is in heaven. It gives him such a heady feeling to know that he affects Jimin this much. "This is nice, hyung."

Seokjin squeezes his hand tighter.

Jimin makes a small noise when Seokjin removes the scarf and hands it back to him at the end of class. It hits Seokjin that Jimin actually just whined at him.

Cute.

"What do you want, little alpha?" Seokjin asks, teasingly.

Jimin is blushed pink all over his face and he releases a nervous giggle.

"The scarf," he says, soft and sweet. "Can you put it on me yourself?"

Seokjin melts.

He nods, mouth dry.

Slowly, Seokjin wraps the scarf around Jimin's neck, making sure his neck is thoroughly covered up. Not ... that Seokjin has any ulterior motives there. Not ... that he's trying to cover up Jimin's exposed collarbones and neck that his sweater doesn't cover.

Jimin looks toasty and warm by the time seokjin is done. He looks a little glazed in the eyes and sways a bit, probably drunk on the fresh wave of Seokjin's strong juniper scent all around him.

Seokjin chuckles, and holds out his hand.

Jimin takes it, and looks even happier.

Seokjin's mind is already picturing Jimin in his rut, growly and vulnerable, but kept safe and secure in a little loving nest of Seokjin's clothes and blankets.

A pleased smirk grows on seokjin's face.

He's going to work hard to make that a reality.

~

Seokjin starts walking Jimin to all his classes after he asks Taehyung if it is okay to take over that role.

"Of course, it's fine, hyung," Taehyung says, surprised, on the phone. Jimin gave Seokjin his best friend's phone number. "You don't even have to ask."

Seokjin pauses, trying to choose his words well. "I don't want your friendship with Jimin to come second to what I have with him," he says quietly. "You're both very good friends. I don't want to come between that just because I'm courting him."

There's silence on the other end of the line for a few nervewracking seconds.

Taehyung sniffles, and laughs wetly. "Wow," he says. "I can only hope I'll get to date someone who's as nice you are."

Seokjin blushes even as he grins. "Well," he says. "Are you looking to date someone? My roommate is a single omega and he's a nice person. The only downside is that he'll try to live on ramen if you let him."

Taehyung makes a considering sound. "Ah, send me a picture maybe?"

"Hang on."

Seokjin browses through his gallery, trying to find flattering pictures of Yoongi. There's absolutely none. Everything is a candid of Yoongi yawning or making silly faces at the camera. He's never serious.

Seokjin sighs.

He selects a picture of Yoongi sitting in a shopping cart, hugging a huge bag of rice and making a V-sign at Seokjin's phone camera, and forwards that one to Taehyung.

Taehyung squeals when he sees the picture. "Oh," he says. "He's really cute."

"He's got a weird sense of humour, and he tends to find everything funny if it isn't. And he really likes getting his hand held."

"I like the sound of all of that. But don't obviously set us up," Taehyung says. "If it doesn't work out, that would be awkward because you and Jimin are dating. We can just all meet maybe."

Seokjin grins.

"I'll organize a potluck dinner," he says.

~

Seokjin is working on a lab report for an Analytical Chemistry course in the library, when the sweet scent of oranges hits his nostrils.

He smiles to himself, pretending not to notice and stays staring at the screen of his PC.

He feels a light tap on his shoulder, and then Seokjin looks up, surprised.

Jimin is dressed in an oversized sweater and leggings. He takes his bookbag off and places it on the carpeted floor. He always dresses very nicely for school even this is a sweats and hoodies school.

Jimin gives him a smile, and casts a furtive look around. Then he nods at Seokjin's lap, and gives him a questioning look.

Seokjin's eyes widen in surprised delight. He nods, yes, and pulls out from the desk, to give Jimin space to sit in his lap.

Jimin's scent gets a little rotten again with nervous anxiety, but it sweetens again when Seokjin offers his hand for Jimin to hold onto. Taking a deep breath, Jimin wills himself to relax.

"Are you okay?" Seokjin asks, trying to hide the elation in his voice.

Jimin nods. He takes Seokjin's other hand so that Seokjin's arms are securely wound around his waist.

Taking the hint, Seokjin's tightens his hold on Jimin.

"This is nice," Jimin says softly. Then more playfully, he adds, "Okay, keep working on your lab report."

Seokjin laughs, and presses his cheek against Jimin's back.

"It's like an oversized cat got onto my lap and won't let me do my work," he says, teasingly. "How do you expect me to concentrate, Jiminnie?"

Jimin giggles, pleased with himself.

He scrolls up to read the title of Seokjin's lab report. "Caffeine extraction from coffee and tea brands using HPLC," Jimin reads out loud. He looks over his shoulder to Seokjin. "What does HPLC stand for?"

Seokjin replies, "High performance liquid chromatography."

Jimin yawns. "Sorry," he says, not sounding sorry. He grins. "That's just so boring."

Seokjin jiggles Jimin in his hold. "Hey there," he says, pretending to sound outraged. "I don't say your Math theorems and derivations are boring as hell."

Jimin is soft, small and warm in his lap. He hunches so Seokjin can easily curve around him, and perch his chin on Jimin's shoulder.

"Taehyung told me," Jimin says drowsily, squeezing their intertangled fingers. "That you're trying to set him up with Yoongi-hyung."

Seokjin wants to bury his face in the crook of Jimin's neck, and scent him. Scent him so thoroughly that Jimin will smell taken to every single wolf on campus. Especially other omegas.

He holds himself back from doing that. He wants Jimin to ask for it.

"He said not to make it obvious," Seokjin says quietly. He can hear the way Jimin's breathing gets steadier and deeper, like he's just about ready to curl up in Seokjin's lap and just take a nap right here.

Seokjin wouldn't mind if that happens.

Jimin stifles a yawn, covering his mouth with the back of his hand. Seokjin smiles at the way Jimin's nose scrunches up. Cute. So cute.

"I know, he told me about the potluck idea," Jimin says. "I like that. I'm not very good at cooking but I can make kimchi bokkeumbap."

"Okay," Seokjin says, with a smile. He breathes Jimin's sweet scent in deep. "If it works out for them, good. If it doesn't, that's fine. I haven't told Yoongi it's an intentional set up. If I do that, he'll get extremely awkward."

Jimin giggles at that.

"Should I go?" Jimin asks. "Is this due soon?"

It's due tomorrow, and Seokjin should really finish it soon.

"No, I don't have to hand this in for another four days," Seokjin lies. "You can stay here with me."

He hits save on the word document and exits the app. Seokjin logs out of his student account and calls it a day.

Fuck the lab report. He's got a cute alpha boyfriend to cuddle.

"Come on," Seokjin says. "I know a place in the library where we can hang out."

Jimin whines when he has to get off Seokjin's lap, blinking sleepily at him. He's so cute, Seokjin's brain keeps screaming every five seconds.

They take the elevator to the basement floor where there's a huge window beside the shelves. Seokjin usually spends time napping here.

Jimin lights up when he sees another couple cuddled up on the floor nearby, and understands what Seokjin has in mind.

"I have two hours before my next class," Seokjin says. "I know you do as well."

"Okay," Jimin murmurs.

They get into a comfortable position on the floor, Seokjin using Jimin's bookbag as a pillow. Jimin curls up on his chest, and sighs, his eyes immediately falling shut.

"Hyung. Please play with my hair?" Jimin asks shyly.

Jimin's hair is soft to touch. Seokjin cards his fingers gently through the strands, and Jimin shudders, sensitive for a few seconds before he relaxes and sighs.

His breathing steadies.

"You smell so good," Jimin murmurs. "I want to bask in your scent all day."

"How does it make you feel?" Seokjin asks, curious.

"Safe," Jimin whispers. "It makes me feel safe and good. I like being with you, hyung. It's so nice to be taken care of. Thank you."

Seokjin feels tingly all over with happiness. "You're a baby," he says, smug.

Jimin's lips curve upwards into a smile. "Don't mind if you call me that," he says casually.

That makes Seokjin pause. "Baby?" He asks.

Jimin shivers, cuddling ever closer. "That's nice," he whispers. "That's really nice."

Seokjin runs a tentative hand over Jimin's back, keeping his touches above Jimin's waist. He's grinning widely like a fool.

"Okay," Seokjin says softly. "Get some sleep, baby."

By the time Jimin wakes up, Seokjin's scent is going to be all over him, and he will smell like an omega held him for two hours straight when he goes to his next class.

It's a win.

~

There's a very attractive alpha boy sitting on their couch.

Yoongi blinks, to make sure he's not imagining things. He blinks some more. The alpha doesn't disappear.

Oh shit. This tall, broad-shouldered, pretty alpha boy is Jimin's best friend!?

"Hi, you must be Seokjin-hyung's friend," says the alpha. He grins, and Yoongi's poor brain short-circuits in panic. Oh shit. He got even more attractive with that sunny smile.

"Hyung said he needs to change so he asked me to wait. I just made a salad, I hope that's okay!"

Yoongi came out in a ratty hoodie and sweats that both haven't been washed in two weeks. His only contribution to the potluck was two packets of potato chips.

He wouldn't have given a shit. It was just supposed to be Seokjin, Jimin and Jimin's alpha friend.

But now Jimin's friend has been upgraded to a very attractive younger alpha with a deep voice, curly hair, broad shoulders, cute smile and a salad.

Fuck, he made a salad.

Yoongi feels like the world's number one asshole.

Yoongi backtracks into his bedroom and shuts the door abruptly.

Okay, it's too late to do anything about upgrading his potluck contribution. But he can order takeout and ... find that one pair of nice pants he has.

Okay, he's got this. He's not a total disaster.

~

Taehyung stifles the urge to cackle when Yoongi gives him one look of panic and doubles back into his bedroom.

He smirks, leaning back on the couch, and spreads out his legs. He's wearing a short sleeved black shirt that shows off his arms and fitted beige slacks.

It's the first time that Taehyung has put himself out there as a dating prospect. He's shy, and talking to pretty omegas render him speechless most of the time.

But it's obvious that Yoongi thinks he's hot. It's very gratifying to know, and Taehyung likes his woodsy scent.

He came out here dressed to impress so he knows he looks good. Taehyung's just nervous about his scent though. He's been told his vanilla scent can get too cloyingly sweet, and while Jimin likes it, he's seen some wolves wrinkle their noses up at it.

Jimin's coming by later because he's packing up his rice.

Taehyung takes a deep breath. No time for shyness.

He's got a cute omega to try and charm.

~

Seokjin bursts out laughing at the sight of Yoongi who's glaring at him but dressed surprisingly nice, in his clubbing pair of very ripped jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.

Yoongi does not wear those jeans unless he's trying his luck with an alpha he's into.

"Where are the chips-?"

"I ordered fried chicken, remember," Yoongi cuts him off swiftly, giving him a pointed look. Taehyung is helping to set up the table with Jimin. "It should be here in a minute."

Seokjin can't help it. He begins howling with laughter. Jimin looks up, and gives him an amused yet querying look.

"Oh, it's nothing, baby," Seokjin says, but he's still chortling. "Do you think this is enough dipping sauce for the kimchi jjeon?"

Jimin sidles up to him, peering over his shoulder. It's mostly just an excuse for him to tuck his hand in Seokjin's arm, and they both know it.

"I think that's enough," Jimin says. "We made so much food. I thought we agreed it was okay if Yoongi-hyung just bought chi-?"

Seokjin holds a shushing finger up to Jimin's mouth. "Chicken," he says loudly. "Yeah, it's fine that Yoongi bought chicken and we still made our own dishes. That was our plan anyway, right?"

Understanding dawns in Jimin's eyes. "Ah yes," Jimin says, and he makes sure his voice carries.

"So nice of Yoongi-hyung to take one for the team and get chicken for us!"

Taehyung smiles, and looks up at Yoongi. "That's very nice of you," he says, with a bow. "Thank you so much."

Yoongi's cheeks pinken.

"It's nothing, Taehyung," says Yoongi, rather hastily. "Call me hyung. We'll be seeing each other a lot more now, I guess."

Taehyung grins. Seokjin watches in glee as Yoongi's brain officially leaves the building.

It's a fun dinner. The chicken arrives, and Yoongi beams as Taehyung thanks him once again, very exuberant and cute.

But most importantly to Seokjin, Jimin glows.

Suddenly, Jimin is talking. And he's talking a lot.

He smiles at everyone, and waves his hands a lot while rambling. His scent wafts out in dizzyingly sweet, happy waves, as he banters and rolls his eyes and cracks funny jokes.

Jimin is having a good time. A really good time.

And for that, Seokjin is really happy.

~

After the not-really-but-really double date, things move fast for Taehyung and Yoongi.

Very fast.

Jimin's cheeks burn crimson red, as he lies in bed, hearing the thuds of Taehyung's bedpost repeatedly hit the wall.

The walls aren't soundproof so Jimin can hear everything. Everything. From Taehyung's deep, raspy laughter to Yoongi's needy moans, and they haven't stopped going at it for an hour now.

Jimin takes a deep breath. His cock is hard in his pants, and he hasn't touched himself.

But more than just being desperately horny from hearing his best friend knot the omega he just recently met, Jimin is feeling depressed and insecure.

All Seokjin and he have ever done is hold hands and cuddle.

Sometimes, Jimin has been brave enough to sit in Seokjin's lap. When he does this, he purposely makes sure that there's easy access to the line of his neck. So far, Seokjin just holds him and perches his chin on Jimin's shoulder.

Jimin wants Seokjin to scent him a lot.

Yoongi lets out a long, drawn-out moan, and Jimin hears him curse, about how good Taehyung's knot is, how thick and fat it is.

Jimin presses the heel of his palm over his own stubbornly hard cock and the knot at his base. He bites his lip, grabbing his bottle of lube.

Something Jimin has been able to do which he's never shared with anyone out of fear of how it will seem is that he can suck himself off. He's got the flexibility for it, and he can actually bend down enough to take a good part of himself into his mouth.

He scoots further down the mattress. He pulls his shorts and boxers off. Slowly, Jimin contorts his body enough that he is folded up like a pretzel. His cock is just within reach for him.

If Seokjin was here, Jimin wouldn't have to worry about holding himself in this position.

He likes how Seokjin is broader and bigger than him. Seokjin has let repeated hints slip that he's not a very traditional omega.

Jimin thinks Seokjin might enjoy this sight. He bites his lip, thinking about this position exposes his ass fully and makes him very vulnerable.

He would let Seokjin finger him. He would let Seokjin rim him. He would let Seokjin mount him.

Jimin would beg for any of that from Seokjin.

Slowly, he bends his head forward to suckle on his own tip. He's breathing hard.

As he sucks himself off, Jimin comes to a terrifying realization: he'd like to spend his next rut, coming up in two months, with Seokjin.

It's terrifying because of how easily his heart wants it.

There's a long drawn-out wail from the other room. It's Yoongi, and he releases a series of desperate, mewling noises. Jimin relaxes and leans back, continuing to stroke himself off as he hears Taehyung's voice soothe and shush the older omega.

Jimin pictures himself in Yoongi's position and Seokjin in Taehyung's position instead. He pictures himself squirming on Seokjin's cock, the scent of Seokjin's slick heavy in the air. They can switch too. Jimin's cock leaks more precum at the thought of Seokjin taking his knot.

He orgasms hard, and releases his own cum all over his mouth and chest.

He's so dirty. He loves it.

Jimin gasps, as quietly as possible, smearing his cum all over his face and chest.

He stuffs some of his fingers into his mouth, sucking on them. If Seokjin was here, Jimin would look up at him coyly from his lashes, and ask him to watch as Jimin takes his own fingers.

After he cleans himself up, and the horny edge has disappeared, Jimin feels empty again.

He curls up in bed, in a fetal position, making himself as small as possible. Jimin closes his eyes, and lets himself cry. He hasn't had a good cry in ages. He needs to have one now.

He doesn't let himself hold any of Seokjin's courting gifts as he sobs.

He doesn't know how long he cries for. He cries as he relives traumatic memories, forcing himself to remember every single agonizing detail. He cries about all those times in school when other pups noticed how his scent got bad. He cries because Taehyung knows.

He cries because he doesn't trust any therapist with his problems. He cries harder because Seokjin doesn't know anything, and the idea of them getting closer if and only if Jimin trusts him with the gruesome details of his trauma is draining on his heart, mind and soul.

The door to his bedroom opens, careful and tentative.

"Is he okay?"

"I don't think so," Taehyung replies. He bites his lip.

Yoongi nods, and gives him a smile. "I'll go," he says simply. "Take care of your friend."

"Hyung," Taehyung says quietly.

Yoongi tiptoes up to give Taehyung a kiss on his cheek.

"Dinner can happen another time," he says. "Offer it to him instead. See ya."

Taehyung watches Yoongi toss the indoor slippers he offered Yoongi back into the drawer he and Jimin keep near the entrance of their little apartment. Yoongi toes his own shoes and gives him a grin with a little wave.

Taehyung smiles, and looks away, his cheeks flushed pink.

He quietly pads into Jimin's room, noting the way his best friend's scent has gotten even sweeter. He grins. Someone got aroused from hearing him fuck Yoongi.

He finds one of Seokjin's scarves and beanies lying on Jimin's bedside table.

Jimin's laboured breathing calms down some when Taehyung jams the beanie over his head and places the scarf on his pillow. Almost immediately, Jimin inhales, deep and steady and content.

"There you go," Taehyung says. "Much better, isn't it?"

He settles down next to Jimin, and sighs.

"Did hyung leave?"

"Yeah."

"Your date got cut short?"

"Yeah."

"Because of me?"

"... Yeah."

"I'm sorry."

Taehyung reaches out to squeeze his shoulder. "Don't be," he says, in what he hopes is a bracing tone. "You're important."

Jimin sighs. "I'm still sorry," he says.

Taehyung laughs. "It's okay," he says, letting himself sound giddy. "Things are going really well between us. Hyung let me knot him. I think he likes me."

"Wow, I couldn't tell," Jimin says, deadpan. "Not like he rushes to do anything for you."

Taehyung giggles and gets under the covers. Jimin sighs, and turns around so he can face Taehyung's side.

"I want to be able to do that with Seokjin-hyung too someday," Jimin says, with a wistful look. "I ... think about knotting him too."

"It'll happen," Taehyung says, matter-of-factly. "Whenever you're ready, it'll happen."

Jimin closes his eyes. "Do you think I have a chance with him?"

Taehyung's eyes darken. "Yes," he says immediately. "You do now."

Jimin gives him a look. "Are you sure?"

Taehyung's jaw is tense. He's grinding his teeth. "Yes," he says again eventually. "You're safe here. And you deserve to have this now. Let yourself have it."

"I'm scared," Jimin says honestly.

"Anyone who's been through the shit you have would be scared and with good reason," Taehyung says.

"I'm scared to tell him about it. All of it."

Taehyung closes his eyes. "It'll help if you tell him."

Jimin looks pained.

"You're more than all of this shit," Taehyung says. "He'd also be able to understand where you're coming from."

"Okay," Jimin says. "I'll tell him."

"Good," Taehyung replies. "Hyung brought food. Let's go eat."

"Alright."

It's going to be a long and draining conversation. But it'll have to happen. Because Jimin wants it to happen.

He's going to tell Seokjin everything.

~

Seokjin made sure Jimin was comfortable and warm before this conversation happened.

He bundled Jimin up on the couch in the living room, with a heavy throw blanket. There's a steaming mug of barley tea on the coffee table in case Jimin needs to sip on something.

In addition, Jimin's fingers are intertwined with his own. Taehyung sits opposite them for moral support, his shoulders tense and his entire posture stiff. He's not smiling his usual sunny smile.

Jimin had asked if it was okay that Taehyung was around for this. Seokjin agreed.

"Okay," Jimin says. His voice is small and shaky. His palm is clammy against Seokjin's own.

Taehyung gives him an encouraging nod.

Still, Jimin hangs his head. "I'm not sure I can do this," he says, frustrated.

"If it doesn't happen today, it can happen some other time," Seokjin says gently. "And it doesn't have to happen at all."

Jimin locks gazes with Taehyung, weighing his options. His best friend looks back, and shrugs slightly.

"Like hyung said," Taehyung says. "It's your call."

Jimin takes a deep breath. "You're right," he says. "It's my call. So I'm going to talk now. Please just," he looks at Seokjin now, with a pleading look. "Please just listen. Don't ask any questions. Please don't be disgusted," he adds, and looks away.

Seokjin swallows hard.

"I'll do my best to listen, baby."

Jimin gives him a nod, and a tremulous smile before he begins to talk.

Suddenly, it's like a dam has broken. Jimin talks. Jimin keeps talking. Jimin starts to cry, and Jimin continues to talk.

His scent, normally mild and sweet these days, turns rotten again. Taehyung and Seokjin's scents take on sour edges as well.

Taehyung turns white himself. At some point, after fifteen minutes, Jimin stops talking. He's sobbing hard.

Seokjin's fingers feel numb in Jimin's hold.

Taehyung takes a deep breath, and starts crying as he begins to talk as well. It's like a dam has broken within Taehyung too.

He talks, and Seokjin listens, sad and angry.

When Taehyung stops talking, he's just as much of a mess as Jimin is. Seokjin opens his arm out, and Taehyung sniffles as he lets Seokjin give him a one-armed hug too.

"You didn't know either," Seokjin tells Taehyung. "You didn't understand what was happening to Jimin."

"I should have known," Taehyung says brokenly. "He's my best friend. I should have been more perceptive."

Jimin breathes, a great, shuddering breath. He reaches out, to gently squeeze Taehyung's hand.

It's the first time Jimin has touched Taehyung in many years.

Taehyung's eyes bug out with shock. Jimin looks surprised at his own action, but he gives Taehyung's hand another squeeze.

"You were just a pup, Tae," Jimin murmurs. "You're not to blame."

Taehyung cries again, more tears spilling out. "So were you," he says sadly.

Seokjin sighs. "Your parents-?" He asks, and cuts off.

Jimin responds by nuzzling in closer to Seokjin. He buries his face in Seokjin's neck.

"They're nothing but supportive," says Jimin. He's hugging Seokjin's arm to his chest. "But they're just as broken about it."

Seokjin promised himself prior to this conversation that he wouldn't get angry. It's with great effort that he's reminding himself to stay calm now because he's never been so angry before in his whole life. Not like this.

He never considered himself capable of violence before.

He is capable of violence now. He knows that.

"That's why we picked this university," Taehyung says softly. "I wanted us to be together no matter what."

Jimin laughs. It's a sad laugh.

"Yeah," Jimin affirms. "We wanted a fresh start. And," he says, his breath hitching. "You've made me feel so good, hyung."

Seokjin buries his fingers in Jimin's soft hair. He sighs.

Taehyung stays for dinner. Seokjin fixes them stir-fried vegetables and rice quickly.

They're huddled together on the couch, Taehyung's head pillowed on Jimin's shoulder. Their arms are intertwined together, and Seokjin takes a deep breath, wondering why the hell he even felt jealous of Taehyung before for knowing Jimin's secrets.

He turns his focus back to his wok, white-knuckling the handle. There's so much anger and Seokjin can barely keep a straight head.

Taehyung leaves right after dinner. He gives them both a huge hug, and smiles at them.

"That felt good," he says.

Seokjin nods. He can't smile. He's incapable of smiling at the moment.

"Be safe," Jimin says. He nods at Taehyung too.

When the door shuts, Seokjin sighs. Jimin is wringing his hands nervously.

"Now you know," Jimin says. His voice is flat.

"I do," Seokjin says. "I'm angry," he confesses. "So angry."

Jimin nods. "Yeah," he says shortly.

There's something expectant in his gaze.

"What do you want?" Seokjin asks.

Jimin blushes. His cheeks don't look as splotchy now after all that crying. His eyes are still puffy, the whites of them red.

"Scent me, hyung," Jimin says. "Hold me in your bed and scent me. Please."

Seokjin's pulse jumps at the simple and sweet request. He holds out his hand and Jimin takes it.

Jimin is already drowsy and pliant the minute his head hits Seokjin's pillow. He drags his legs over the bedsheets repeatedly like he can't get enough.

He flutters his lashes at Seokjin and his hands have a tremble to them as he cards his fingers through Seokjin's hair.

Seokjin inhales deep the scent of Jimin's soap and oranges from the crook of his neck. He likes oranges now. He's been eating them a lot more lately.

"Is this really okay?" Seokjin asks. He's crouched on his elbows and knees, careful not to brush his full body up on Jimin's.

Jimin nods. He lets his palms rest on Seokjin's pillowcase, next to head, and looks up, beautifully submissive.

Seokjin intertwines their fingers.

"You're my alpha now," Seokjin says, and he smiles. "I'll keep you safe. I promise, baby."

Jimin sighs, content, and inclines his neck for Seokjin to scent him even more heavily.

"Good," Jimin whispers.

~

After Jimin falls into a peaceful dreamless sleep, and Seokjin's tucked him under the bed covers, Seokjin slips out of his apartment to take a long, restive walk.

His hands won't stop shaking. He ends up outside the mess hall with how far he's walked.

He unlocks his phone and turns on his data.

After a few minutes, Seokjin locks his phone again and slips it back into his pant pocket.

He kicks at the wall of the mess hall building, repeatedly. Then he begins hitting it too.

He screams out loud into the night, wailing and grieving.

"Fuck! Fuck."

He cries, and tears stream down his cheeks.

He screams some more.

After Seokjin's gotten it out of his system, he goes back to his residence and lets himself back in.

He slips under the covers where Jimin is still sleeping peacefully in his bed.

Seokjin takes Jimin's hand, and holds it, till he falls into an uneasy sleep himself.

~

It's hard not to hover after hearing Jimin's truth.

Seokjin now gets the way Taehyung feels. He wants to walk Jimin to all his classes. Drop him off, pick him up. Walk him back to his residence. Get him his groceries.

He has to constantly tell himself to chill the fuck out.

"I have a phone," Jimin says, amused. "I have you and Taehyungie. And now, I also have Yoongi-hyung. Relax."

Taehyung had been given permission by Jimin to appraise Yoongi as well. After that, Yoongi had been just as furious and protective as Seokjin.

He's sitting in Seokjin's lap at their little dining table, animatedly arguing with both him and Yoongi about being walked back home.

As their relationship progresses, Seokjin has discovered a stubborn bratty side to Jimin. He absolutely doesn't like being told what to do.

Yoongi sighs in resignation. "Let the kid be," he says. "And can you guys cut out on being so gross at the dinner table. This is where we eat."

Jimin grins. He's been feeding Seokjin his own food and flirting hard the whole time.

"I should go," Jimin says. He sounds way too casual as he gets up, and Seokjin blinks, not registering the quick peck of a kiss Jimin plants on his mouth.

"See you later, hyung," Jimin says, with a giggle.

"Wait a second-"

"Bye!"

Seokjin's brain has frozen.

"Did he just kiss me?"

"... Yeah? Why are you acting like that's your first kiss with him?"

Seokjin says nothing in response.

Yoongi's eyes widen. "No way. That was your first kiss with him!?"

Seokjin calmly moves his plate out of the way.

He repeatedly thunks his head on the surface of the dining table.

"Smooth," Yoongi says, amused. "Very smooth of him."

~

Jimin giggles when he picks up his phone. "Hi hyung," he says, very casually. "Nice evening, isn't it?"

He shivers in anticipation at the low growl he gets on the other end of the line.

"You kissed me," Seokjin says quietly. "And then you dipped."

Jimin bites his lip. "Maybe you should find me then," he says. "And when you do find me, maybe you should kiss me some more."

That makes Seokjin laugh. Jimin's cheeks heat up. "Park Jimin," Seokjin says slowly. "You want me to chase you? Didn't know you liked the old customs."

It's an old custom for an alpha to chase an omega after the first kiss, using the omega's scent trail.

Jimin is worried all of a sudden. He'd pulled that because he thought Seokjin wouldn't mind subverting that silly outdated custom. Maybe he's not pleased.

"Hyung, you don't have to follow through if you don't want to," Jimin says, embarrassed.

Seokjin laughs. "Oh, I'm coming," he says. "Get ready, baby."

Jimin glances around his hiding place, back to feeling thrilled again and not like a fool.

"Okay," he says, and grins.

~

The scent of oranges, sweet and fresh, linger lovingly in Seokjin's sensory memories. He gets downstairs, and follows Jimin's scent-trail.

He chuckles to himself, disbelieving of the fact that he's really indulging Jimin this much.

It's a lovely scent, and as Seokjin follows along, his nose twitching as he walks, he realizes he wouldn't mind waking up to this scent for the rest of his life.

Jimin in his arms, sniffling in his sleep. Jimin puttering around in their apartment, half-naked.

Jimin taking care of Seokjin during his heats. Seokjin taking care of Jimin during his ruts.

Seokjin giving Jimin pups. As many as Jimin wants.

His heart beats faster. He wants it all, Seokjin knows now. Because he's in love with Jimin.

The library is still open at this time of night. Seokjin smiles.

He can't say he's surprised.

He takes the stairs down to the basement floor, too impatient to wait for the elevator.

Jimin is waiting for him down there by the shelves, near the giant window where couples cuddle and make out, away from the librarian's prying eyes.

His eyes are twinkling. He's perched on the wooden edge of the window where students are repeatedly told not to sit.

His dark hair is a fluffy mess from the wind outside. Seokjin's sure his hair is a mess too. His lips look bitten red and chapped from the cold. He looks like he's freezing in the thin purple sweater and jeans he dashed outdoors in.

Seokjin needs to warm his alpha up.

"Alpha," Seokjin says, teasingly. "You look like you need an omega to warm you up."

Jimin's eyes flash, dark and heated, at the way he's addressed. "I do?"

Seokjin holds out his hand. After a few minutes of challenging consideration, Jimin places his hand in Seokjin's own.

"Fair warning," Seokjin says. He grins. "I'm going to kiss you."

"Do it," Jimin whispers. "Make me lose my mind. Please."

That's all the permission Seokjin needs. He pulls Jimin up to his feet and slots their mouths together.

Jimin gasps. He melts against Seokjin like butter. Seokjin holds Jimin up, breathes in his scent as he kisses Jimin senseless, hungry and needy for Jimin's mouth, open and wet under his own.

He takes Jimin's hands and twines them around his own neck.

"Hold on," says Seokjin.

Jimin holds onto Seokjin, burying all ten of his fingers in Seokjin's hair. He breathes in too, as if drunk on Seokjin's strong juniper scent.

They kiss, sweet and filthy and wet, while Seokjin rubs Jimin's back. Jimin whimpers and lets Seokjin control the pace of their kisses.

Jimin is kissing him back as if he's trying to tell Seokjin how much he loves him back too.

Seokjin listens. Seokjin is listening to all of Jimin's love confessions from the way he touches Seokjin's hair tenderly to the way Jimin lets Seokjin fuck his mouth with his tongue.

In turn, Jimin listens to Seokjin's love confessions through their kisses, just as attentively.

When they pull away, Jimin's pupils are dilated with both arousal and happiness.

"Come home with me, baby," Seokjin says. "Let's cuddle in my bed."

Jimin nods.

They hold hands, and walk back to Seokjin's dorm, smelling shamelessly like lust but they're both too happily wired to care.

~

Seokjin hums under his breath as he chops up a clove of just-peeled garlic. The anticipation of Jimin, a lovingly made dinner and maybe a makeout session after is huge.

Jimin even shyly offered to help with making dinner together.

Everything is ready to make the tteok guk except for the guk-ganjang that Jimin said he would bring over since he had a bottle of it in his dorm room.

Seokjin tosses in the diced onions and green onions into the large wok his Omma gifted him for university.

As the water starts to boil, the bell rings. Earlier than expected. Jimin said he would need to dash to his room for the guk-ganjang and then come over to Seokjin's dorm room.

Jimin is smiling brightly when Seokjin opens the door.

His heart melts at the sight of his boyfriend dressed up nicely in a soft pink sweater and denim jeans through which black fishnets show. Jimin looks hot but more than anything, he looks really sweet.

His nose instinctively twitches from an inhale of Seokjin's juniper scent.

Seokjin himself takes a whiff of Jimin's orange scent. It's sweet now, so sweet that Seokjin pulls Jimin in, closes the door, presses his alpha up against it and gives him a welcoming kiss.

Jimin places his palms on Seokjin's arms, and kisses him back.

Seokjin can't believe he gets to do this with Jimin. He's so lucky.

He squeals in surprise, when Jimin suddenly flips their positions so it's Seokjin pressed up against his own door.

Jimin's eyes are gleaming with amusement.

"Hi hyung," Jimin says.

Jimin's palms are on Seokjin's waist. He squeezes there, and Seokjin shivers.

The skin of his hips is sensitive.

"Hi handsome," Seokjin purrs. "You look very nice, baby."

Jimin's eyes flash with heat.

"I do?" He asks. Seokjin nods.

Jimin leans in to nose at Seokjin's neck. He scents Seokjin, and it takes everything in Seokjin to keep a tight rein on his arousal so he doesn't start leaking slick.

"You're beautiful," Jimin whispers.

Lately, Jimin has been making Seokjin swoon as well. He's stronger than Seokjin and sometimes he enjoys showing it off. Once he picked Seokjin up and playfully threw him over his shoulder like Seokjin was a sack of potatoes.

More often than not, however, Jimin is content to let Seokjin control the pace of things. Today though, Jimin is a very interesting mood. He wants to control things a little.

Seokjin licks his lips. He decides that he likes this mood.

"Hi, hyung," Jimin says again, with a cocky grin. He runs both his hands through his hair.

"Baby, did you get the guk-ganjang?" Seokjin asks softly.

Jimin's face falls. His scent smells rotten all over again, and it gives Seokjin emotional whiplash.

"Oh," Jimin says faintly. "Shit. I forgot."

Seokjin immediately releases a dose of calming pheromones. Jimin has started trembling. Gone is the playful persona. In its place is a terrified wolf.

"That's okay," Seokjin says, trying to sound as warm and reassuring as possible. "I can just use fish sauce."

Jimin's scent eases up a little on the rottenness. But now he looks hesitant and even afraid, immediately cowering away from Seokjin's personal space.

He takes a few deep breaths in an attempt to steady his breathing.

The worst part is Seokjin can't tell whether to act like nothing has happened or whether he should linger on it.

Jimin flashes nervous eyes at him. "I'm so forgetful," he says, with a forced laugh. "I can run back to my apartment and get the sauce."

Seokjin raises a hand to scratch at the back of his neck. But Jimin's scent spikes in rottenness again, lightning-fast, as he raises his hand and Seokjin immediately drops it.

Jimin exhales, collapsing on the floor. He lets out a small whine. The stench of urine fills the air.

Alarmed, Seokjin rushes to his kitchenette where he turns off the gas.

He rushes back to Jimin, who's got his head in his palms, and curled up in as small of a ball as possible, letting out frightened whimpers.

Jimin wet his pants in fear.

There's a dark wet spot on both the front and back of his jeans. Jimin's shaking. He's pulling at fistfuls of his hair in frustration, pulling so hard Seokjin's afraid he will pull out chunks of his hair from the rough pressure.

"Do you need me to call Taehyung?" Seokjin asks.

Jimin shakes his head violently. He holds up a hand as Seokjin comes closer.

"No, don't call Tae. And please don't come near me," he says, his voice blank and calm. "I made a wet spot on your carpet."

Seokjin's heart breaks. "It's okay," he says. "It'll dry. Not a big deal."

"It is a big deal," Jimin says, still covering his face with both his palms. "I was supposed to come over with the sauce, we were going to make tteok guk and eat it. Then I was planning to make out with you and talk about the possibility of you helping me through my rut which is coming up in two months."

Seokjin breathes in sharply. "Oh," he says, his horny brain overflowing with images of himself hanging off of Jimin's knot.

"We can still do all of that and talk about your rut as well."

Jimin rocks back and forth and makes sad sobbing sounds that pain Seokjin to his core.

Jimin lets out an unhappy laugh. "You must wonder what kind of an alpha I am," he whines. "Can't let people touch me, can't handle shit. Taehyung's knotted Yoongi multiple times already. "

Seokjin sits down where he is standing, cross-legged, mirroring Jimin's pose.

Oh. So that is what has been playing on Jimin's mind.

Seokjin grins. "I don't really care how fast those two are going," he says lightly. "That's their dynamic. I like us and what we have. Is this a weirdly competitive I-need-to-catch-up-to-my-alpha-bestie thing?"

Jimin peeks through his fingers.

"Maybe," he squeaks.

Seokjin shakes his head. "Stop doing it," he says. "I like our pace. It's not just you who needs to go slow too, you know."

He blushes. "I've....never had sex before too."

Jimin looks up at that, stunned, dropping his hands.

"You can't be serious," he croaks. "An omega as beautiful as you? Nobody?"

Seokjin rolls his eyes, trying to seem confident even as he blushes. "I've never even been remotely interested in sex before," he confesses.

Jimin looks absolutely gobsmacked and overwhelmed by this information.

"So then," he says, looking at Seokjin in wonder. "Er. Uhm. I would be your-?"

"My first alpha, yes," Seokjin says quietly.

Jimin seems to have forgotten his wet spot on the carpet. Now they're focusing on Seokjin and the fact that he's never experienced a knot. Seokjin is absolutely dying on the inside from mortification but if it means Jimin is comfortable, then. That's. Cool. Yes.

That's fine.

"Nobody's ever asked to court you?"

Seokjin scoffs at that. "Oh, plenty of alphas have asked," he says, the back of his neck burning red. "Begged to court me, even. I turned them all down."

"Why?" Jimin asks.

Seokjin's face feels like it's on fire. He's never been this embarrassed before. He needs to get to his fridge, pull an ice pack out from the freezer and hold it to his face.

"Well," Seokjin says, in a jokey tone. "Never met you earlier so what was I supposed to do?"

Jimin just gapes at him. He's staring at Seokjin with open wonder.

Seokjin shrugs. "I like you," he says, bluntly. "I don't want any other alpha. I want you, Jimin."

"Why?" Jimin asks quietly.

"You're the strongest alpha I've ever met," Seokjin says. "I have a strength kink."

That makes Jimin laugh. He tips his head back, exposing the tip of his nose and cheeks, red from embarrassment, anger and frustration.

Seokjin grins, resting his chin on his fist. He takes Jimin's distraction as an opportunity to hungrily ogle Jimin's fishnets-covered-skin.

"I can offer you my shower, and a change of clothes," Seokjin says. "Then why don't we both go out for a walk across campus to your room, get the sauce and come back here to finish the tteok guk?"

Jimin takes a deep breath. "Okay," he says. He flashes Seokjin a watery smile.

~

Jimin uses his shower, and then reappears just as Seokjin is washing his hands in the sink.

His scent is sweet, orange infused with juniper.

Seokjin smiles, as Jimin crowds him against the counter, and rests his head on Seokjin's chest, winding his arms around Seokjin's waist.

There's a different energy to Jimin at the moment. It's a smug confidence, and his hold is territorial.

Fuck.

Seokjin's pulse jumps, as Jimin lets out a content growl, and noses at his jaw.

"Pretty omega," Jimin murmurs. "Always taking such good care of me, hm?"

Exhaling shakily, Seokjin sags, feeling his legs start to get weak in the knees.

"Just uhm," Seokjin breathes out. His voice is higher in pitch. "Uhm. I like you so much. You're special, baby."

Jimin lets out another pleased growl, his grip possessive on Seokjin's waist.

"Just for me, hm?" Jimin purrs.

"Just-just for you," Seokjin affirms, the back of his neck fully red by now. Again. Damnit.

"Sweet baby," Jimin whispers. He noses at the long, vulnerable line of Seokjin's neck. He's scenting Seokjin heavily again.

Seokjin moans. That's enough to rouse Jimin out of his intense mood. His gaze remains intimidating.

He's staring at Seokjin like he wants to jump his bones. Pin Seokjin down and stuff him with his knot right over Seokjin's countertop.

Seokjin would gladly let Jimin do it.

"I'll make it good for you," Jimin says. He pulls away, after dropping a kiss on Seokjin's cheek. "Anything we do. I promise."

Seokjin tugs on Jimin's hands, intertwining their fingers, pulling Jimin back to him.

"I don't want you to pressurize yourself about making anything good," Seokjin says, his lips brushing Jimin's temple. "As much as I want us to just focus on making each other feel good. I just want to be with you. Do you understand?"

Jimin's eyes fill with softness.

When Seokjin lets go of Jimin's fingers, he immediately twines his arms around Seokjin's neck. It's his favorite thing to do, cling to Seokjin and give him sweet, pouty-faced looks.

Seokjin wouldn't have Jimin any other way.

"Okay," Jimin says, with a nod. He smiles up at Seokjin, lazy and happy. "Let's go get the sauce."

"Okay," Seokjin says.

He piggybacks Jimin to his dorm. Jimin is delighted, and plays with Seokjin's hair the whole time.

Seokjin cracks some bad jokes, and Jimin giggles at every single one of them.

He feels like he's on top of the world. Just him and his little alpha together.

It's the best.

~

Yoongi is long gone by the time Jimin comes over with his bag, flushed, both from nerves and anticipation.

It's Jimin's first time where he plans to stay the night. They've agreed that sex of some form will probably happen. There will be touching below the belt.

His rut is coming up in a month. Jimin has figured he's ready for some form of second base.

Seokjin's got everything ready to go. He's put on a thick undercover over his mattress in case he slicks too much. He's got lube and condoms in the drawer of his bedside table. Just in case.

And he's got food, simple kimchi bokkeumbap. Jimin scarfs it down within seconds.

Seokjin laughs at the endearing sight of Jimin's cheeks bulging with food.

"Easy, darling," he says, his voice filled with affection. Seokjin doesn't even pretend to hide how gone he is for Jimin anymore. "You could choke on your food. Chew slowly."

Jimin swallows his huge mouthful with great difficulty. He pouts at Seokjin, who reaches out to ruffle his hair fondly.

He's so cute. Seokjin can't stop touching him. Doesn't want to stop anyway.

Seokjin stacks the plates in the sink, and leaves them there. It can wait tomorrow, he thinks, even if he hates doing that.

Jimin's already seated cross-legged on Seokjin's bed, clasping and unclasping his hands nervously, as he watches Seokjin brush his teeth.

"Did you finish brushing your teeth, baby?" Seokjin calls out.

Jimin pouts and shakes his head. "I forgot," he says, embarrassed. "To pack my toothbrush."

Seokjin rummages around in the drawer below his wash basin. "That's fine. I got you a spare. Come on."

Jimin perks up, and gets to his feet, lightly bounding over.

"I was being dramatic in my head," he says, with a little giggle. "Oh, you dummy. You forgot your toothbrush. Now you can't kiss hyung the whole night. Serves you right."

Seokjin laughs hard at that.

"Dramatic baby," he coos. He wipes his mouth dry with his towel and places a kiss on Jimin's nape. "Come to bed when you're done. Hyung will wait for you."

Jimin gives him a cutely affirmative eung!/ as he squeezes out toothpaste onto his brush.

Seokjin has made a little nest of his and Jimin's clothes and added more pillows on his bed. He climbs into his nest, and sighs in content.

Jimin bites his lip as he closes the toilet door and surveys the scene. He's nervous. He's very nervous.

Seokjin sits up and crosses his legs. He pats the space in front of him with a small smile.

"Come here," he says. "Let hyung kiss you, baby."

Jimin nods. He pads over, timid and soft.

They've been kissing. They've been kissing a whole lot, and it's been very good. They always stop before it gets too heated though. Jimin needs to pull away before he starts getting too in his head.

Today, Seokjin hopes maybe they don't need to stop. They can see where it goes.

They kiss now, sitting cross-legged, holding hands in between. This is familiar to Jimin, and he likes this. He's soft and pliant, and enjoys Seokjin taking control of the kiss.

Slowly, Seokjin leans away and Jimin follows his mouth eagerly, like it's a guiding light.

"You good?"

Jimin nods. "I'm good," he says. He bites his lip. "I want. I want to sit in your lap, hyung."

"Okay," Seokjin says. He leans back on the pillow propped up against his bedpost.

Jimin straddles his lap, thighs clamping around Seokjin's waist. He's breathing faster, as he takes his sweater off.

Seokjin's struck speechless.

Jimin's got muscles. Very nice and strong-looking muscles.

"Wow," Seokjin says, feeling faint. He wants to touch. He's dying to touch. He wants to put his mouth everywhere Jimin will let him.

Jimin tries to smile, but he just looks anxious and sad.

"May I touch you?" Seokjin asks him gently.

"If you want to," Jimin replies.

"Can I also take off my own shirt?"

Jimin surveys him with greedy, worried eyes. "If you want to," he says again.

Seokjin crosses his arms as he puts on a little show as he slowly removes his own shirt.

Jimin gasps as he takes in Seokjin, also muscled all over.

"What do you want to do?" Seokjin asks him.

Jimin shrugs and hangs his head, looking confused and frustrated with himself.

"Talk to me, baby."

"I came here thinking maybe you could fuck me. Or I could finally fuck and knot you," Jimin says in a rush, twin spots of pink popping up on the apples of his cheeks.

"But..?" Seokjin prompts.

"Now I'm realizing that's too much for me even now," Jimin admits in a small whisper.

"You know what I want the most at the moment?" Seokjin says, his tone casual.

Jimin shrugs at him. "What?"

"I want a hug from you," Seokjin says warmly. "Come here, and give me a hug, baby."

Jimin's face lights up. Before Seokjin knows it, Jimin has his arms twined around Seokjin's neck, and their chests are pressed together.

It's the first time they've hugged bare-chested. The intimacy of their skin pressed together over a large surface area is very overwhelming.

Carefully, Seokjin begins to rub Jimin's back, slow and deliberate. Jimin presses even closer, a whine escaping his mouth.

"Feels good?" Seokjin asks.

"Yeah," Jimin purrs. "I just want to be closer to you. Somehow. Anyhow."

Seokjin's heart melts. "I want that too," he says.

He presses his lips to the jut of Jimin's shoulder.

He keeps his touches over Jimin's back, light, teasing and occasionally trailing to the small of it.

Jimin sighs in content, and whispers in Seokjin's ear. "Go lower," he says, closing his eyes.

"Are you absolutely sure?"

"Mm."

Seokjin is tentative as he slips his fingers below the waistband of Jimin's black leggings.

Jimin tenses, for a few seconds. He's not as relaxed as before. He's trembling all over.

"Take them out or keep them in?"

"Take them out," Jimin whispers. He sniffles.

Seokjin takes his hands out.

Jimin is upset. He can tell a sobbing fit might start so before that happens, Seokjin gets them both to lie side by side. Jimin's eyes shine with frustrated tears.

"I'm sorry," Jimin says. He closes his eyes.

"It's okay," Seokjin says. He runs his fingers through Jimin's hair.

"It's not okay," Jimin says. "Don't you want to have sex with me?"

"I do want to have sex with you," Seokjin says honestly. "But more importantly than that, I want to be with you. I just want to exist with you by my side."

Jimin takes Seokjin's hand and hugs it to his chest.

"I love you," Jimin says, vulnerable and afraid.

Seokjin smiles. "I know. I love you too."

"I'm sorry. I don't think I'm up for any sex tonight."

Seokjin shakes his head. "Don't care. Let's cuddle. Here, turn over."

He pulls up the bed covers and gets Jimin to turn so Seokjin can spoon him to his heart's content.

They have never cuddled while both topless. Seokjin smiles.

In his hurry to do everything, Jimin sometimes forgets he has still accomplished so much in the face of severe trauma.

He's cuddling with Seokjin in Seokjin's bed without a shirt on, and they're the only two people in this apartment at the moment.

That's already a lot of trust he's placed in Seokjin.

That's already amazing.

"You know right," Seokjin says. "We're going to do everything together. Every single thing. Doesn't matter how long it takes. We'll do it all."

Jimin is still hugging Seokjin's arm tightly. He sighs.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah," Seokjin affirms, smiling against Jimin's nape. "We'll do it all. There's plenty of time."

Jimin turns back, lips pursed into a sulky, sad, depressed pout. Seokjin drops a kiss on Jimin's mouth.

"Don't leave me," Jimin whispers. Jimin begs.

"Never leaving you," Seokjin says, with a scoff. "How ridiculous. You better not leave me, Park Jimin."

Jimin giggles, and intertwines their fingers together.

"Never," Jimin says back immediately. "Never."

They go to sleep like that, Seokjin curved around Jimin. The morning comes, and they kiss and sex still doesn't happen. Jimin is frustrated with himself, and Seokjin soothes him with kisses.

It doesn't matter anyway.

As long as they're with each other, it doesn't matter.

Seokjin kisses every single part of Jimin's face that morning, his eyes, nose, cheeks and lips. Jimin shivers beneath him, and holds Seokjin close.

They stay in bed, cuddled up and close to each other.

As long as they're with each other, it doesn't matter.

~