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Pride

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

The first wave of it always catches Zayn off guard. No matter how obsessively he watches his calendar, no matter cautiously he prepares, he always seems to lose his breath when his heat slams through him.

He’s in his room, neck prickling sweetly as a shock of pleasure rolls through him. The second wave comes soon after, a little needier and forcing a tense puff of air to escape from his clench teeth. And then everything goes to hell.

It’s terrifying how quickly the pleasure inside of him can turn to pain. He curls up on the bed, hands scratching over his bare skin so that he could give his pain a focus point. But it’s futile – the pain remains as an insistent, growing ache that settles in his bones, his blood stream, his fucking muscle fibre and tissue. He ruts against his mattress, feeling the drag of his cock on cotton sheets, bringing brief pleasure before the pain takes over again. He grinds a little harder, breath caught in his throat and moans muffled by a pillow, hips snapping pathetically while he chased some sort of relief.

An orgasm hit him a moment later, raw and wet and only fulfilling for a handful of seconds. It would be his first of dozens that day, he knew.

 

“I’m still not sure this is a good idea,” Niall said with a frown.

Zayn looked at him from over the large box in his arms, opening his mouth to reply, but Harry beat him to it.

“He’ll be better off with us next door, Ni,” Harry told him, picking up his own box. “Besides, I can’t go without him for too long. Not after living together. I get separation anxiety.”

“I already know that,” his boyfriend said fondly with a soft smile, before he was looking back at Zayn and frowning a little in concern. “But it’s just, like. My dorm’s full of, you know. And I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable if you go into heat or one of the lads has a rut or something, you know?”

“Uncomfortable,” Zayn echoed. He tried to keep the flat tone out of his voice at the topic. He probably fails. “You mean, you don’t want someone forcing themselves on me.”

“It’s a reasonable point,” Louis said when he walked in, quickly kissing Harry and Niall on the cheek before unplugging one of Harry’s (many) eccentric lamps. Louis’ eyes were indifferent when he looked up again, shrugging. “But we’ve gone over this a bunch of times, and have all agreed this is best.”

“I haven’t,” Niall pointed out.

Louis hip-checked him on his way back out the door. “Three against one, babe.”

Niall was still grumbling fondly as he went to take his box downstairs, Harry following him and no doubt consoling him with whispers about what they were going to do now that they were living together. Zayn was just barely wrapping his head around their situation, and had come to the point where he was simply numb to the facts: Niall, Harry and Louis were all dating and very much in love, one alpha with two omegas, respectively, and now they were all moving in together.

Zayn looked around the mostly bare apartment, where his and Harry’s stuff used to fill the spaces that now consumed the room. They may have only lived here together for a little over two years, but he knew it was going to be hard to say goodbye to. An end of an era, Louis had proclaimed with a clink of pints a few weeks ago, the decision between the four of them solidified by Niall buying them a round. And Zayn was happy for the three of them, he was, and was definitely thankful that he didn’t have to walk in on another threesome on his couch (he hopes), but he still felt a lump in his throat as he looked at the squashed candy wrappers on the floor where his couch used to be.

“Damn, you’re slow,” Niall said with a kind laugh, returning to the room. Zayn wasn’t sure whether he’d been here for a freakishly long time lost in thought or if Niall was just exerting his alpha speed to impress his boyfriends, but regardless Zayn blushed a little in embarrassment.

“Reminiscing,” he said, shrugging.

“Think of it this way,” Niall began, clapping a hand on Zayn’s shoulder with a soft warmth. “You can come over any time you want – but knock, probably, because the three of us are going to be a bit excited for a while, and Harry’s heat starts next week – but you also get your space and don’t have to deal with us when you’re trying to do your coursework.”

Zayn chuckled at that, images of the boys literally lying on top of his textbooks because they were bored and couldn’t have sex with Zayn in the room. It had happened too often.

Niall grabbed another box and the two of them made their way back out into the hall and down the stairs, talking as they went.

“Wait,” Zayn said suddenly, turning to Niall with a growing smirk. “What’re you going to do if their heats sink up?”

Niall shuddered at the thought, but Zayn didn’t miss the red creeping into his cheeks. “If it hasn’t happened already, I doubt it will now.”

“I don’t know,” Zayn said with a bit of a sing, enjoying how Niall’s blue eyes flickered as his mind worked. “Harry and I were friends for years, but we started sinking up within months of living together.”

“Trust me, I’ve heard the stories,” Niall said with a grin. Harry had long since told Niall and Louis of the arrangement he and Zayn had before they met, where their heats would sink and they’d made the most out of each other’s company to get themselves through it. Niall had completely understood – found it hot, much to Harry’s amusement and Zayn’s horror – and insisted that he didn’t care. Niall was a kind alpha, and seemed to understand that omegas really can’t control themselves too well when they’re in heat.

Which is why Niall’s rightfully nervous about Zayn living by himself. Even if Zayn was going to be next door to the three of them, right at the end of the hall so that there was no dorm on his other side, Niall’s dorm building was literally filled with alphas. It was a sort of unspoken rule on campus: building A was for alphas, and buildings B through to E were for betas and omegas. Niall had offered to move to their building instead, but when word got out a few of their neighbouring omegas quietly asked them to not bring Niall to their building. It had bristled Zayn, and had definitely angered the usually-mellow Harry, because Niall was gentle and faithful and has never touched someone without consent, even that time his rut came early.

(Harry had organised for Niall and Zayn to meet privately so that Zayn could be convinced the boy did in fact love Harry and wasn’t using him. They ended up alone in Niall’s apartment, eating take-away and joking about some of Harry’s weirder habits, when suddenly Niall had gone rigid and a glazed, dark look eclipsed his face.

“Go,” Niall said lowly. There was a whine in his voice, begging.

Zayn had understood immediately, and had scrambled to pick up all his belongings.

“I’ll bring your stuff around tomorrow, just get out of here,” Niall had groaned out through clenched teeth, pulling at his hair and falling more solidly onto his couch. Zayn had run out of there, shoes in one hand and dialling Harry’s number in the other. It had been a bit terrifying, watching Niall go from gentle to shaking with the effort of controlling himself. Zayn had seen the way Niall had clenched his fists to his side, his body recognising the omega on his couch and desperate to knot. But the outcome could have been worse, much worse, and Niall had come over to apologise two days later with a slab of beer even though he’d done nothing wrong.)

But Zayn had understood why the other omegas were scared. Without knowing Niall, they saw what all omegas saw: a confident, loud alpha, strutting around with two omegas by his side and grinning with the type of arrogance only alphas had.

Of course, Zayn did know the Irishman, and knew that Niall was only loud when he was cracking jokes or otherwise found something amusing, that he was just walking freely rather than strutting, and that the arrogance he seemed to radiate was just a projection of how Zayn saw the other alphas around him. Zayn had met dozens of alphas in his lifetime, and very few were as considerate as Niall. They were almost all entitled, aggressive, and deeply confused by the fact that Zayn would rather writhe in pain for twenty-four hours than be knotted by them.

“You all right in there?” Louis asked, flicking Zayn in the neck. Zayn flinched away from him, but there was a smile on his face.

“Just thinking,” Zayn told him, the same smirk from earlier returning. “What’s going to happen when yours and Harry’s ruts sink up?”

Louis clasped Zayn’s face in his hands, eyes serious. “A very fun night, Malik.”

“I’ll make sure to buy earplugs.”

 

When Zayn had decided to move from his and Harry’s apartment to the room next to Niall’s dormitory, he never really considered the fact that he’d be reducing his space. The room was pretty typical: a bed, a desk, a dresser, and a kitchenette that had about a square foot of bench space, a stove top and an oven. There was one other door, leading to a tiny bathroom that was essentially a large shower with a toilet just out of the way of the spray. Zayn frowns at the sight, making a mental note to buy a mirror so that he can at least do his hair in the morning.

“Not too bad,” Harry said when he looked around, dumping a box on the floor. He smiled at Zayn like he knew the boy was unsettled by the lack of space but was pretending he didn’t. “It’s nice and… cosy. Warm.”

“You should be a real estate agent,” Zayn murmured, making Harry laugh.

Louis snorted. “He talks too slow. Could you imagine the auctions?”

“Enough chatting,” Niall said, carrying in a box of Zayn’s books. He looked like he was keeping his face carefully void of the strain his arms were obviously feeling. It seemed to be working, judging by the twin glazed looks in his boyfriends’ eyes. He dropped the box, clearing his throat. “Let’s get this done ASAP so I can shag my new roommates.”

“How romantic,” Louis drawled, smacking a kiss to Niall’s neck and practically skipping out the room. The rest of them followed.

When they got back down to the moving truck they were renting, a tall boy with broad shoulders was pulling one of Zayn’s boxes from the pile.

“Excuse me,” Zayn said, immediately on edge. He could tell instantly that the boy was an alpha, from the way he held himself and how undisturbed he looked when he turned to face Zayn. Zayn narrowed his eyes instantly, stepping in front of Harry out of instinct. “That’s my stuff.”

The boy looked to Niall questioningly. And, yeah, of course he’d seek out the opinion of the other alpha of the sidewalk, even if it was an omega addressing him.

“This is Liam,” Niall introduced, grinning like this wasn’t a weird occurrence. “He lives across the hall and offered to help carry stuff. Forgot to mention it.”

“Nice to meet you,” Liam said, smiling at each of the omegas in front of him. His eyes were kind, but Zayn didn’t miss the way his eyes darkened a little when he saw Zayn, obviously unclaimed in comparison to the boys by his side.

Zayn tried to relax, but something about Liam was making goosebumps appear across his skin. He made sure to walk with Liam always in front of him, never turning his back on the boy as he moved boxes of his things from the truck to his or Niall’s room. Liam didn’t seem particularly bothered – of course he didn’t – and even tried to engage Zayn in conversation.

“So,” Liam began, dropping back a step so he and Zayn were scaling the stairs together. Zayn’s eyes narrowed a little, shoulders tensing. “What’re you studying?”

“English,” Zayn muttered. He didn’t return the question.

“That’s cool,” Liam said, a seemingly genuine smile on his face. “I was rubbish at English in school, but I always found it interesting, you know?”

Changing the question so he’s talking about himself, Zayn notes. Typical. “That’s nice,” he said, a flat defiance in the way he holds his chin.

“Are you in your second year like Niall?” Liam asked. Zayn fought against rolling his eyes, and nodded. He was used to this: the shallow small talk before the alpha inevitably asks him out, smirking like he knows what Zayn’s answer would be, but then lips curling in the other direction when they’re turned down. Liam didn’t seem to notice his hostility. “Same, but I switched courses last semester so I guess I’m technically starting over again. I don’t know.”

Zayn was saved from having to think up something to reply with by Niall sprinting past, a shock of blonde hair and loud giggles flashing past before he was ducking into his dorm. Louis followed a moment later, armed with a cologne spray of Harry’s that Zayn knew first hand smelt like shite and lingered everywhere for days.

Zayn ducked into his own dorm and dumped his box on the bed. Liam went to do the same bed Zayn shook his head and pointed to the door. “That’s Harry’s.”

“Oh,” Liam said, looking a little sheepish when Zayn pointed at the name scrawled across the top. “Whoops.”

Zayn rolled his eyes and ducked past him, making his way down stairs again. He grabbed a lighter box, the one that’s probably filled with all his different pillows, feeling a little guilty when he saw the next box was filled with more books but figuring Niall would enjoy the chance to show off to his boyfriends again. Halfway up the first flight of stairs he passed Liam again, the boy looking a little frazzled when their eyes locked.

“Zayn,” he said quietly, pausing. “Are you feeling okay?”

Zayn narrowed his eyes, wondering what the fuck kind of pick up line this was going to lead to. “Am I-“

But then it hit him: the first wave, rolling through him like a tsunami, hairs on the back of his neck standing up as a soft whimper escaped his lips. He closed his eyes, holding back tears as the second wave crashed through him, followed quickly by the third. It was a week early. It was a fucking week early, and he was acutely aware that he was standing in an alpha dormitory building, two floors below his room.

“Fuck,” he muttered, pants dampening from slick while his erection grew at an alarming rate. He dropped the box, blindly reaching out for the railing. A warm hand touched his back, making him snarl loudly. “Get your fucking hands off me,” he hissed, eyes flying open and finding Liam there, tense and dark-eyed.

“You need to get to your room,” Liam said, voice low. His jaw looked tense and strained, losing the roundness Zayn had unconsciously noted earlier. His entire body was curled in Zayn’s direction, hunched over with his arm on the railing near Zayn’s waist. Zayn cowered away from him, even as his brained screamed at him to lay down and let the boy fuck him right there in the stairwell.

“I know that,” Zayn gritted out. He shoved Liam away from him with every bit of exercised control he had, leaving his box behind and sprinting up the stairs. He stumbled as pain spiked up his back, the simmering ache contorting into a feeling like knives puncturing each pore of his skin. It slowed him down, allowed time for his scent to spread.

Alphas began to stumble out of their rooms, eyes dark with interest. Zayn pushed on, ignoring the low, predatory growls and lewd comments that followed him. He hit the third floor with a sprint, hands on the wall to keep himself upright as he tried to get to the end of the hall as quickly as possible. It was a mistake, though, pressing his scent into the walls. Alphas were opening their doors on both sides, some bolder than others.

“Hey, where you going?” one asked, arms wrapping around Zayn’s waist when he slowed to take deep breaths as another roll of pain exploded throughout him. The moment the alpha had contact with him Zayn was melting, groaning softly as he ground back into the alpha’s hardening crotch. Zayn was aching with arousal, keening softly as the alpha’s hands travelled over his stomach and under his shirt, petting softly at the hair under his navel. He pulled him into the room, teeth biting gently at Zayn’s neck as Zayn begged to be fucked. The door was almost closed when someone was slamming it open.

Niall looked livid, forcefully grabbing Zayn and yanking him out of the room. Zayn protested briefly at being removed from the alpha before his chest was slammed into Niall’s body. He started pawing at his skin, rutting against his leg desperately while he sucked at the pale boy’s neck.

“Zayn,” Niall muttered, voice cracking. “Zayn, stop, please.”

Zayn jumped up and wrapped his legs around the boy, nails scratching at the skin of his back exposed by a loose singlet. “Niall,” he whined, now grinding his hips into Niall’s stomach. “Please, Niall, need you to fuck me. Need you to – ah, fuck – need you to knot me good.”

Niall groaned brokenly, body completely tense and rigid. He pulled at Zayn’s hair to get him off his neck, making Zayn moan loudly at the force of the movement. “Open his door,” the Irishman snapped at someone Zayn couldn’t see, too concentrated on the feeling building in his stomach as he rolled his hips more insistently. “Get him – fuck, Zayn, stop – get him off me, I can’t- it’s- Louis, please.”

Zayn was suddenly ripped from Niall’s arms. Zayn snarled and thrashed at the omega that held both his arms and was trying to pull him away. Another pair of thin arms joined a moment later, shoving him into an open doorway. He groaned out for Niall, seeing the boy kneeling over and shaking for only a moment before his door was slamming closed, leaving him alone in the room. He tried to pull the door open, clawing at it when someone forcibly held it closed, before the need in his body outweighed anything else and he was stripping down, already blurring a hand over his cock and orgasming before he even hit the bed.

He pulled a dildo out of a small box waiting for him, wondering if Harry put it there for him. He heard a commotion outside of his door as he sank down onto the plastic, leaning forward and crying out as he fucked himself into the bed with the strong scent of surrounding alphas clogging up his senses.

 

Sometime early morning he awoke, body aching with exhaustion but thankfully nothing else. He must have cum more than a dozen times, drifting to sleeping for a handful of minutes before he was awake again, using toys or his fingers or just the sensation of the bare mattress under him to get himself off. He was filthy, covered in dried sweat and cum and slick, face tight from frustrated tears that had dried his pores hours ago. He padded across the room and showered quickly, dreading how he’d have to clean his mattress and properly make his bed before he could sleep again.

He heard murmuring next door, and suddenly it was all crashing down on him: rotting against Niall, begging to be fucked by the boy who was dating his best friend. His face flushed in embarrassment, heart pumping a little quicker as he realised that Harry would have seen, Louis would have, everyone in the fucking dorm would have seen as he threw himself at both Niall and that nameless alpha. Fuck, he needs to apologise to Niall, and to his boyfriends that were probably seething with anger.

He dressed quickly, pulling on loose clothing because his skin was still unbearably sensitive. When he pulled the door open, he was surprised to find Liam fall into his room.

The boy had clearly been sleeping against the door, clothes and hair ruffled and eyes blinking up at him blearily. Zayn blinked down at him in confusion, watching as the alpha scrambled to his feet, eyes wide and faintly sweating.

“S-sorry,” Liam stammered, backing a few feet out of the room. “I-“

“Fuck off,” Zayn snarled, pushing past him and heading for Niall’s dorm. He knew why Liam had been sleeping there: he’d obviously been driven mad by Zayn’s scent, trying to break through his door before his body gave up and curled outside where he could still smell him. Maybe he got himself off in the hallway. Something sour churned in Zayn’s stomach at the thought.

He knocked on Niall’s door just as he heard Liam close his. Louis was the one who answered, looking exhausted but not like he’d been sleeping. “Hey,” he said, smiling even as his eyes squinted at the light behind Zayn’s head. “Feeling better?”

“I’m so sorry,” Zayn said pleadingly. “I couldn’t control myself. I-“

“It’s okay,” Louis told him, pulling him into a gentle hug. “We’ve all been there, mate.”

“Is that Zayn?” someone called from further into the room, accent thick with exhaustion. Niall stumbled into view a moment later, running a hand tiredly through his hair. Zayn’s eyes were fixed at the litter of hickies on his neck, ones he no doubt put there the night before.

“Shit,” Zayn said, eyes flickering from the bites to the bags under Niall’s eyes. “Fuck, man, you’ve got to believe me, I couldn’t-“

“It’s fine,” Niall dismissed with a wave. He stepped forward as if to hug Zayn, pausing when he thought better of it. “Still sensitive?”

“A bit,” Zayn admitted, face flushing in embarrassment.

Harry appeared a moment later, only clad in a towel as he stepped out of their bathroom. “Last night was interesting,” he said in that slow way of his, stretching almost obscenely. There were love bites across his torso, purpling freshly.

Zayn’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked back at the other boys, seeing how sated Louis looked, leaning into Niall’s side as the blonde boy poked a little at a bruise forming on the omega’s neck. Zayn’s eyes brightened in surprise. “You guys had sex last night.”

“What did you expect?” Harry answered, indifferent to the open door as he dropped the towel and pulled on a pair of bright orange briefs. “You got him all worked up, so we made the most of it. ‘s economical.”

Zayn didn’t know how to feel about this, his friends getting off after he’d dry humped one of them in the hallway. “Weird.”

“So don’t feel too bad,” Niall said, smiling tiredly. “Because I had a pretty good night, in the end. And for the record, you’re a menace when you’re horny.”

Zayn grumbled something out, not even he was sure what. Louis pulled him into the room and the two of them collapsed on the couch together while Niall flopped down on the bed and Harry put on the kettle. Louis’ fingers were uncharacteristically gentle in Zayn’s hair. Zayn figured he was being nice to try and ease the mortification of the situation, but Zayn also knew how docile both Louis and Harry became when in the presence of their alpha. Although none of them have officially mated yet, and despite their being one more person in the mix than usual, they were practically already a married couple: alpha Niall taking care of his boys, and his boys being the perfect omega house husbands.

Harry bought their drinks over, tea for himself and Louis and coffee for Zayn and Niall. Niall kissed him on the cheek, all but pulling the lanky boy into his lap. Harry giggled, holding his mug carefully so none of the steaming liquid sloshed out.

“You should have seen it, though,” Louis said, grinning faintly. It took Zayn a moment to remember what they were talking about. “Like, after me and Haz finally got you into your room, that other alpha-“

“Mark,” Niall interjected.

“-right, Mark,” Louis repeated with a nod. “He came storming out of his room to try and get to you, right, and Niall was, like, on the ground because he was basically incapacitated, but was then trying to get me and Haz into our dorm out of the way, because Liam stepped in to help keep Mark back, and it was a mess. You caused a riot, Malik. It was fantastic.”

Zayn sunk a little more into the couch, sipping his coffee so he didn’t have to speak.

“If I ever get my hands on that bloke, though…” Harry trailed off, shaking his head.

“On Mark?” Niall asked. Harry nodded gravelly, linking their ankles. Niall frowned, incredulous. “You guys don’t blame him, right?”

“He pulled me into his room,” Zayn said quietly, but his voice was firm. “He would have known I couldn’t control myself. So yeah, I blame him for trying shit.”

“You don’t understand,” Niall said, sitting up a bit straighter and shaking his head. “The smell of an omega in heat is just… there’s nothing to compare it with. It’s like, this immediate urge to fuck ‘em, and it’s impossible to drag yourself away.”

“I’ve been around you while you’ve started your rut, and I didn’t try anything,” Zayn reminds him.

“It’s different,” Niall told him, eyes a little clearer than before. “It’s worse than a rut, in my opinion. Like, a rut’s just a build-up of tension, right? But when an omega goes into heat, it’s like, biological, or summat. Seeing someone going into heat, perfect time to knot them and have a few pups. Mark would have been overcome with the need to impregnate you, Zayn.”

Zayn shrugged. “You could keep your head.”

“I love my boys, you know that,” Niall said, a possessive hand on Harry’s knee. He was shaking his head a little, frowning softly. “But letting Louis pull you off me was the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time.”

Zayn looked at the other two boys, trying to gauge their reactions. Louis didn’t look particularly put out, and Harry didn’t react more than just press a gentle kiss to Niall’s temple.

“Still,” Zayn said after a moment, eyes flicking back to meet Niall’s. “It was a bit unnerving remembering it, and then finding Liam sleeping outside my room.”

“Payno?” Niall asked in surprise. “Must have been keeping the other alphas away while I was, erm, busy here.”

Zayn frowned at this. “I thought he was trying to get in.”

“Nah,” Niall dismissed, and that was that. Zayn left as soon as he’d finished his coffee, knowing that the three of them probably needed some sleep. Harry, unabashed, had made a few quiet comments about the night they’d had, and Zayn gathered that it’d been a long night.

He stumbled back into the hall, pausing briefly outside Liam’s door as he wondered if the boy had, in fact, been making sure no one tried to break in and take advantage of him. Shrugging, Zayn shuffled into his own dorm, busying himself by fixing up his bed.

 

Aside from the obvious, there were a few other downsides to living in building A.

Firstly, there was almost always people crowding the hallways, taking up too much room while they exchanged banter and talked loudly. And of course – of fucking course – if Zayn had to ask them to move, they’d turn to him with amused eyes and predatory smirks, asking if he’d like to stay and chat. News had spread quickly that there was an omega in the building that was unclaimed by any of the alphas, living by himself and begging to be knotted by any alpha who touched him during his heat. Niall had made a point of telling his friends in the building to back off, that Zayn wasn’t interested, and a few had agreed easily. Others became more intrigued, wondering what Zayn was doing living in the building if he wasn’t trying to attract a nice, dominant alpha. It was revolting, to say the least.

This also led to the second problem: Zayn was provoked into snapping at alphas that he wasn’t interested, would rather spoon his eyes out than be knotted, on practically a daily basis. This resulted in some of the more aggressive guys trying harder, pulling Zayn to their chests and stroking his face with calloused fingers, or grabbing his books from him and refusing to give them back until Zayn gave in and let them walk him to class. (And then, of course, when the alpha pointed out how absolutely chivalrous he’d been and asks him out, Zayn would snap a sharp ‘no’ and have to run into his classroom before the alpha could grab his arm.)

And, finally, Liam was always hanging out with them. Like, always. He was apparently Niall’s best friend, and thus accompanied them everywhere, from coffee shops to bars to lunch in the communal kitchen. And he was always trying to engage in conversation with Zayn, too, asking whatever question came to his mind and persisting even though Zayn’s answers were non-committal.

Niall seemed to be catching on.

“Can you just try to get along with him,” the Irishman asked him quietly while Liam attempted to keep up with one of Harry’s long-winded stories. “Please?”

Zayn didn’t know how to explain to Niall how uncomfortable it made him to have an alpha constantly there without offending him, so he just nodded and pretended to be interested when Liam told him about himself: he used to study physio therapy but switched courses to business because he underestimated the workload of his original course; his parents were still together, and he had two older sisters (both betas), one of which recently engaged; he used to live in Wolverhampton before he moved south for university; and, the thing offended Zayn beyond all else, he preferred DC over Marvel.

“You do not,” Zayn protested, eyebrows furrowing. “There is no way you think that DC even holds a candle to Marvel.”

Liam shrugged, eyes bright. “I love Batman, so.”

“Batman is Iron Man but with a shittier backstory and sounds like a cat’s skull rattling in a vacuum cleaner,” Zayn told him passionately. “Don’t even get me started on ‘Batman vs Superman’, Christ.”

Hey,” Liam squawked, but he was smiling. “Marvel’s literally doing the same thing with Iron Man and Captain America.”

“That’s…” Zayn trailed off, throat dry as he tried to come up with something. “That’s different.”

“Sure,” Liam said with a grin. He wasn’t gloating like Zayn expended him to, instead sliding off the couch to ask Harry if he needed any help in the kitchen. They were in Niall’s dorm, Harry smacking Liam’s hands away from the spatula when he tried to stir the taco meat, Louis snoring loudly from their humongous bed, and Niall having left to make a quick beer run. It had been a couple weeks since they had moved in, but still-unpacked boxes were littered all over the floor. It didn’t look unlike his own room, actually.

Liam sat down again, passing Zayn a beer that he took hesitantly.

“Are you going to see the new Captain America movie when it comes out, then?” Liam asked, smiling easily. Zayn observed his posture: how his shoulders were straight and confident, but how he refused to sink into the couch or put his feet up, like he was scared to overstep his boundaries. He looked cautiously uptight, aware of the space he took up, which made Zayn relax slightly.

“Counting down the days,” Zayn admitted. “I’m also counting the days until they stop showing the shitty Batman previews at the cinemas.”

Liam put a hand to his chest, pretending to be wounded, and then they were bickering about it again. Eventually Louis was throwing a lopsided pillow at them, threatening to rip out odd parts of their body if they didn’t shut up. He softened when Niall walked in, though, curling softly into the bed when Niall kissed him lightly at his hairline. Louis had finished a particularly bad heat yesterday, and the room would have reeked of his scent if it weren’t for Harry’s particularly pungent candles.

“How’re you feeling?” Niall murmured, crouching so his face was level with Louis’ on the pillow.

Louis was only able to look his boyfriend in the eye for a few seconds before he was ducking his head, blushing faintly. “Good,” he said quietly, peeking up at Niall after a moment with a tranquil stare.

Zayn frowned. He’d met Louis a little while before he’d met Niall, and was amazed by how loud and defiant and spontaneous one person could be. But when Louis was with Niall, he was soft and dainty. Docile. It was disturbing to watch.

Niall kissed him again, a little peck on the nose that made his boyfriend giggle, before he was toddling off to Harry and wrapping his arms around the boy’s waist.

“Weird,” Liam muttered. Zayn caught his eye and held it, questioning. Liam shrugged. “Just how they act around each other. All domestic, you know?”

It wasn’t quite the word Zayn was thinking, but he didn’t expect Liam to say it, anyway. The boy was an alpha, after all, and seeing omegas submit for their keeper wouldn’t be particularly off putting to Liam in the way it was to Zayn.

 

Zayn was in his room, textbooks spread out across his bed while he marked important sections with a highlighter. His glasses were falling down his nose a bit, but he was so caught up in a particularly interesting passage that he didn’t notice until someone knocked on the door and he jumped in surprise, glasses falling down his face.

He quickly slid them back on. “Yeah?” he called.

“It’s Liam,” the now familiar voice said. Zayn thought about telling the boy to come in, too comfortable to move, but thought better of it. He wasn’t going to give the alpha the wrong impression by inviting him in.

He slid out of bed, feet bare on the usually cold floor, and pulled open the door after taking a deep breath. “What’s up?” he asked.

Liam stood there in relatively nice clothes, hair styled and looking ready to go somewhere. “Oh,” he said, a bit confused. “You’re not ready?”

“What?” Zayn asked a bit dumbly, eyes pausing on where Liam’s shirt pulled tightly over his chest.

“The club,” Liam answered, reaching up an arm to scratch the back of his neck in an apparent nervous habit. “Harry said you’d agreed to come.”

Zayn groaned, thudding his head gently on the door he still held in his hands. “I didn’t agree, actually.”

Harry had asked him a few days ago, but Zayn had resolutely said no. While alphas were a minority against betas, easily outnumbered population-wise, they all seemed to flock to clubs, parties, the like. Some sort of authority complex to it, Zayn thinks. Besides, Zayn knew that Liam would be invited, too, and didn’t want to be left with the boy if he got drunk after the other three inevitably leave to dance or fuck around in a bathroom.

Liam seemed to take personal offense to this answer. He didn’t get angry, though – he looked tired. “Is it… is it because I’m coming?”

Zayn watched the boy for a moment, taking in the vulnerable look in his chocolate eyes, the droop in his shoulders and the seemingly unconscious pout to his lips. He looked quite disappointed, actually. “No,” Zayn found himself lying. “It’s because I, um, have a lot of work to do.”

Which wasn’t exactly a lie. He pulled the door a little wider and gestured to the books on his bed to cement his point. Liam looked from the books to Zayn’s face, eyebrows furrowed slightly as though he didn’t believe him but didn’t feel it was his place to comment. “The lads want to celebrate having finally unpacked their stuff,” Liam told him, as if Zayn didn’t already know. “Only took them three weeks, too.”

“And with so many hands to help,” Zayn mused. He looked down at himself, at the sweatpants and thick jumper and reading glasses sliding to the bridge of his nose again, and met Liam’s eyes with a shrug. “I’m not exactly dressed to go out, so.”

He went to close the door, but Liam was suddenly making an urgent noise. He held his hand through the door, holding a piece of paper. “I was told to give this to you if you said no.”

Zayn took the piece of paper after a moment, glaring at Liam’s hand until it retracted from his room. He closed the door while unfolding the note, finding Harry’s messy scrawl. ‘I’ll tell your mum about the orange peels, Malik.’

“Fine,” he called at the closed door. “Tell them I’ll be out in twenty.”

 

 

Liam

 

Liam was struggling not to stare, just-

Zayn really fucked with his head, right? Like, the boy was snippy with him and gave half-arsed answers, and in the next breath was debating the merits of different super heroes. He was tense when Liam was relaxed, but appeared endlessly comfortable when Liam was feeling visibly cumbersome. Most notably to the current situation, though, Zayn was still grumbling about being dragged to the club, yet he’d dressed up for a fucking runway.

And maybe it was a bit of bias on Liam’s part; he’d always found the boy attractive, beautiful, and the way he looked when his heat first started was painfully gorgeous. But tonight was something else: tight black, ripped jeans, a loose red singlet that showed off the wiry muscles of his arms and the tattoos that littered his skin, boots that fell heavily with every step, and, what had Liam so entranced, a plethora of jewellery that included a sparkling nose ring.

Niall nudged him with the jab of a finger to his hip, move thankfully hidden by the table. They were in a booth at the club, the omegas talking amongst themselves while Niall stared fondly at his boys and Liam stared awkwardly at Zayn. Zayn himself was staring out the booth at the crowd of people dancing, only focussing on the conversation for a few seconds if Louis pinched him before getting distracted again. Lights flickered over him, casting his face in blue and green and red.

“Seriously,” Niall said in Liam’s ear, a little huff to it. “If you keep looking at him like that he’ll run away screaming, mate.”

Liam tore his eyes from Zayn and focussed on his best friend. “Huh?”

“I already told you this,” Niall said, rolling his eyes but he was faintly grinning. “He doesn’t date, and definitely not alphas. And I don’t think he’d be the type to have a quick shag, either.”

“I wasn’t-“ Liam began, but stopped with a huff. “I wasn’t going to ask him, or anything.”

“As long as you know,” Niall told him, and then he was back to staring fondly at his boyfriends as they made out and giggled into each other’s necks.

Zayn wrinkled his nose when he saw them. “I’m going to get a drink.”

“I’ll come with you,” Liam said as he stood up, desperate to get away from the trio intent on fucking in the club.

Zayn’s eyes immediately narrowed. “I can handle myself, thanks.”

Liam groaned inwardly. “That’s not what I meant-“

But Zayn was gone between one blink and the next, floating into the crowd of dancing bodies where Liam could just see the bar over. Liam slid back into his seat, not particularly surprised to find that Louis was now in Niall’s lap, still making out with Harry while their alpha alternated kisses on their necks.

Liam repressed a shudder, quickly turning away from them before something nasty contorted his expression. He hated seeing them like that. He knows it’s not Niall’s fault, that the boy genuinely cared for his omegas and didn’t think anything was wrong, but Liam couldn’t help but watch as Louis traded his snarky edge for serene giggling, and Harry swapped his charisma and independence for something muted. They seemed happy, at least, but Liam couldn’t help but feel like he would find something missing in that sort of relationship.

His boredom must have been apparent, because it wasn’t long until a pretty girl with long brown hair was approaching him, head tilted to the dancefloor and hand trailing up his arm enquiringly. Forward, but not demanding. A beta, then.

Liam agrees easily, even if only to escape Niall and his boyfriends. The girl wrapped dainty fingers around his wrist, a suggestive sway of her hips as she led him to the dancefloor. She didn’t turn around again, instead curling Liam’s arm until his hand was flat on her stomach. She drew him in that way, pressing back against his chest and swaying with the beat of the music, the slow drawl of bass egging them on while Liam hooked his chin over her shoulder.

He caught sight of Zayn a while later, making his way back through the crowd with a half-finished drink in his hand. He was only a couple metres from him when he’s being stopped, a slightly older alpha dragging him back against his chest. Liam can’t hear what Zayn’s saying over the music, but his face is defiant and lethal when Liam is able to glimpse it between the limbs that bounce around to the music. He thinks he sees Zayn try and pull away. He definitely sees Zayn throw his drink in the man’s face when he doesn’t let go.

Liam is pushy forward through the crowd before he realises what he’s doing. He grabs the alpha’s hand before it collides with Zayn, a warning in his eye. The alpha looks back with ferocity for a moment, but almost instantly settles into something dull and thoughtless. Liam figures that he’s intoxicated on more than alcohol, then.

When he looks at Zayn, the omega merely rolls his eyes before wondering off again. Liam doesn’t follow.

“That was so hot,” the girl he’d been dancing with whispered in his ear, teeth nibbling on his lobe again. Liam turns fully so he can put his hands on her hips, digging his fingers into the soft fabric of her dress when she bit gently at his exposed collarbone. “Wanna go somewhere private?”

Liam will never get to know what his brain decided on saying because suddenly there was another girl there, tugging urgently on the sleave of the other’s dress. They were talking with heads bent, the noise of their hurried conversation being drowned out by the loud music.

The first girl turned to him, looking apologetic. Liam already knew where this was going.

He made his way to the bar soon afterwards, placing an order for drinks and telling the bartender their booth number instead of attempting to carry all the drinks himself. He made his way back through the crowd, ignoring the interested looks from some people he passed as he powered on and slid back into the booth. Only Zayn was there, the others having obviously gone off dancing or to the loo.

“Where’s your girl gone?” Zayn asked, blinking over at him nonchalantly. “Finished already?”

Liam isn’t sure of what to make of his tone. “She had to leave.”

Zayn nodded noncommittally, eyes fanning around the club.

“Are you okay?” Liam asks, eyes focussed on the tense set of Zayn’s jaw and the glare that shadows his face.

Zayn shrugged. “Why do you ask?”

“Because you got manhandled a bit back there,” Liam said, frowning. “Did that not bother you at all?”

“’s a bit of a regular occurrence,” Zayn told him, eyes finally meeting. “For my kind, anyway.”

Liam didn’t know what it was like to be an omega, obviously, but he’d heard enough horror stories to realise it wasn’t the greatest biology to be gifted with. “Is that why you don’t date?” he asked curiously.

Zayn tensed up immediately, movements cautious as he regarded Liam. “None of your business,” the boy said with a vacant tone, as if to appease Liam while still clearly telling him to puck off. “How about you find some nice, docile omega.”

Liam frowned at this. “I’m not like that, I hope you know.”

“Of course you aren’t,” Zayn agreed. It sounded condescending. Liam didn’t get a chance to reply before a waitress was there, placing down the drinks he ordered between the two of them. Liam reached for the plain coke he’d ordered, sipping quickly for something to do while Zayn grabbed a drink at random. He watched Liam with a frown. “Not drinking?”

Liam shook his head, thankful for the change in subject. “Don’t drink,” he said. “I don’t like being drunk somewhere I’m not comfortable. You?”

Zayn stirred the lemonade idly. “Want to be conscious so I can make sure the lads get home safe.”

Zayn said this without any sort of recognition for himself, as though him forfeiting a good night wasn’t considerate at all. “That’s really nice of you,” Liam said earnestly.

Zayn barely glanced at him. “Omegas have to stick together.”

Liam felt as the briefly civil moment slid away from them. He felt like banging his head on the table. “What’s your problem?” Liam asked him, meaning to sound annoyed but instead ending up somewhere near resigned. “How can you honestly hate me so much when we’ve barely spoken before?”

“You’re an alpha,” Zayn said simply. He barrelled on before Liam can speak. “And don’t give me the whole ‘not all alphas’ spiel, because everyone has a breaking point. Even Niall. Even you.”

Liam considers this. “I suppose,” he said, slowly. Zayn watched him carefully. “And there are a lot of assholes, which I’m sorry about. What was Niall’s breaking point?”

Zayn took a moment to answer, pausing for so long that Liam thought he might have to repeat the question. “His rut,” Zayn said. “My heat.”

“Has he…” Liam trailed off, the implication on his tongue but not making sense in his head, not with Niall.

“No,” Zayn said quickly, quietly, barely audible over the music. “A bit longer then maybe, but the point remains.”

“What point?” Liam asks. He’s not trying to bait him, he’s just genuinely confused.

Zayn gives him a look like he understands. “Even alphas as great as Niall can’t keep their hands off without external help,” the boy said, finger itching just above his nose ring. “So I don’t like being around alphas, because it’s not like their rut schedule is printed on their forehead.”

“Mine comes on the 20th of each month,” Liam says. He’s not sure why. “It almost never varies.”

“Soon, then,” Zayn considers. He leans back in his seat, hands clasped around the drink. “Aren’t you worried you won’t be set of early by being around me and the other lads?”

Liam shook his head. “It only shifts if I were to mate, I think.”

“Weird,” Zayn said. He looks a lot more relaxed now. “Mine’s been changing a bit lately. Probably because I don’t live with Harry now.”

Liam didn’t know what to say to this, so he didn’t say anything. He looked around the club, noticing a few interested looks but not replying to any. When he looked back at Zayn, the dark haired boy was looking at him with interest. “What?” Liam asked, a little self-conscious.

“I’m bored,” Zayn said in lieu of an answer. “Dance with me?”

Liam didn’t get to answer before Zayn was wondering off to the dance floor. Liam trailed after him, wondering if Zayn always failed to let people answer him. Liam found that he didn’t particularly care either way.

It wasn’t like dancing with the beta girl. Liam was careful to keep his hands to himself, giving the boy space to move. A few people looked over at Zayn, bodies curling towards him in intrigue, but one look at Liam’s face and they backed off without question. Liam didn’t mean to be hostile or dictate who Zayn got to dance with, but occasions where Zayn actually seemed to enjoy his presence were rare, and Liam wasn’t going to pass up the bonding opportunity for some groping beta.

(Niall may have pulled Liam aside that first morning at the rental truck, hands on Liam’s shoulders and begging Liam to get along with Zayn, because he was absolutely gone for Harry – and Louis – and would rather not have to deal with a fall out if their friends didn’t get along. Liam had agreed easily, having no problems with accepting the dark haired boy as a new friend. And then Zayn made it clear that he wasn’t particularly up to it.)

Zayn dancing was a sight to behold, though, especially with him being sober. His hips moved suggestively with the music, a hand running through his soft looking hair as he ground his hips on nothing but air, knees bent in a way that transformed the dance into something grittier. He didn’t particularly care that he was gaining a bit more attention now, instead closing his eyes for long moments and losing himself in the music before opening them again and looking over at Liam with gentler eyes than he’d seen from the boy.

“You can dance properly if you like,” Zayn said, nodding to where Liam’s hands were rigid by his sides. At Liam’s confused look, Zayn grabbed his wrists and flattened Liam’s palms on his slim waist, moving a little closer. He leaned up to whisper in his ear. “I’m less likely to be bothered if you’re here,” he said.

Liam thinks he should be annoyed for being used, but finds that he’s too caught up in the feel of Zayn’s thin hips beneath his fingers.

 

Things became easier after that. Over the days that followed, Niall abused Zayn’s newfound friendliness by inviting he and Liam over all the time. While Zayn almost always started off initially tense and hesitant in Liam’s presence (and even sometimes Niall’s, he observed), soon enough Zayn would be able to talk freely with Liam, although always held back information when things became too personal, topics such as family and relationships and being an omega all instantly vetoed.

Liam had become so used to Zayn being at Niall’s that when he entered the familiar dorm for a movie night and found Zayn missing, something didn’t seem right. “Where’s Zayn?” he’d asked, trying to sound casual even though something inside of him was dropping. The new promotion for Deadpool had come out that morning, and he’d been eager to discuss it properly with someone.

“At work,” Harry supplied, already eating popcorn on the couch. Louis was next to him, lazily scrolling through his phone while Niall massaged his calf.

Liam frowned, suddenly realising that he was going to be surrounded by the loved up trio all night. “He has a job?” Liam asked, settling into an adjacent couch as far away from them as possible without seeming room.

“Yeah,” Louis said distractedly, back arching against Harry when Niall palmed a particularly tender spot on his legs. He looked up and saw Liam’s confusion. “I got a cramp during practice.”

“He plays football,” Niall said a little dreamily, looking over his shoulder at Liam.

“I know,” Liam said. “You tell me this every time he’s had a practice.”

“He’s quite fit in uniform,” Harry said. Louis turned to beam at him, earning a sweet kiss from the younger boy.

Liam wanted to hit them with something, a little.

“What movie are we watching first, Haz?” Niall asked his boyfriend.

“Love Actually,” the boy replied eagerly. Liam wanted to hit himself now.

While the movie was entertaining enough to hold his focus most of the time, he kept getting distracted by two things. The first being the trio’s constant cuddling, exchange of kisses and giggles into necks when one of them whispered something vaguely inappropriate. The second was a phone ringing, going off every few minutes and seemingly not bothering any of the other boys.

“Someone going to get that?” Liam asked them a little pointedly. He didn’t mean to be rude, but after a long day of classes and having to sit across from three of his best friends dry humping for more than an hour, he was a little cranky.

The three boys listened for a moment before figuring out it was Harry’s phone, and then were disentangling to allow the gangly boy to stumble over to the kitchen bench where his phone was going nuts. Niall paused the movie for him, wrapping his arms around Louis while Liam scowled inwardly.

“Hello?” Harry drawled slowly, sounding not unlike the Adele song. His posture suddenly stiffened. “What? Who- okay, I’ll be there. Yeah my boyf- yes, okay, I get it.”

He hung up the phone, appearing angry before he turned around and Liam could see the boy looked absolutely terrified instead. “Zayn’s gone into heat early again,” Harry said, swallowing thickly. “At work.”

Niall and Louis both reacted quite a bit to this. Louis gasped in horror, hands coming up to his face and eyes wide as he watched Niall swear and pull on his boots angrily. Liam didn’t get what was happening, and didn’t know how to ask while Niall continued to curse angry and run around madly to try and find his keys. Louis found them wedged into the couch and through them at Niall quickly, jumping to his feet and hugging Harry tightly to stop the boy from shaking.

“Need you to come, Payno,” Niall said, throwing Liam’s jacket at him.

Liam looked up at him in confusion. On a Friday night, he very much doubts a lot of people would be loitering around a convenience store or bookshop or wherever the hell Zayn worked, much less enough alphas to need backup. In fact, Liam would probably get in the way. “Why do you need me?”

“He’s locked in the bathroom,” Niall told him, hopping on the spot while he waited for Liam to come. Suddenly realisation dawned on him. “You don’t know?”

Something dark curled inside him, heart rate spiking at the terror still etched on the omegas’ faces. “Know what?”

“He works at a bar, Liam,” Niall said gravely. “He works at Carmen’s.”

Liam’s heart stopped. “Fuck.”

Things were in hyper speed, then, with Niall quickly kissing his boys goodbye before he and Liam were sprinting out the door and down the flights of stairs, rounding into a car park and slamming doors closed seconds before Niall was starting the engine and speeding off. There was no way he was abiding by the speed limit. Liam wouldn’t either.

Carmen’s Bar is a notorious hotspot for alphas, mainly because majority of the staff are omegas (mainly because hardly anywhere hires the breed anymore, considering how often implications with alphas arise). More so, it was a notorious hotspot for drunk alphas, the type who were already aggressive towards omegas without the added stimulant of one going into heat.

“He thought he’d be fine, you know,” Niall was muttering to him, knuckles white on the wheel. “He’s a bartender, so he figured none of the drunks would get close to him without a member of security escorting them out.”

Liam nodded along, eyes on the road. They were driving much too fast, but Liam couldn’t help but noticed as the minutes ticked by. From what they’d gathered from Harry, Zayn had locked himself in a bathroom when his heat first hit, and now he was stuck in there while security tried to pry the drunk alphas away. The big problem? The security were almost all alphas, too, according to the member of staff that had talked to Harry on the phone.

Niall finally peeled into the bar’s car park, not bothering to park properly before he was out of the car and running at the entrance.

“Maybe we should have bought more backup,” Liam said when they opened the doors. There were a few people near the entrance, some betas and scared omegas huddled in small clusters. But the majority of the crowd were at the back, leering at a closed door while the security plastered themselves against it, sweating profusely at the effort of not ripping the door off its hinges.

Liam could understand why. The scent hit him immediately, sweet and dirty and calling out to him.

A member of the staff approached them soon after they walked in. She was a beta, but still cowered from the men only meters from her. “You’re Niall and Liam, yes?” she said quickly. They both nodded. “Security are going to try and hold the others back while you go in and get him, okay?”

Again, they nodded. They pushed forward, ignoring snarls of protest as they pushed men out of their way. The security seemed to get some sort of signal from the hostess who had greeted them, and stepped out of their way of the door. It became quickly apparent that they were holding the door closed to keep something in.

The door slammed open, and there Zayn was: panting and sweating and whimpering before he was launching himself at Liam, already rutting against him before his legs were fully around his waist. “Fuck me here,” he whined against Liam’s skin, lips hot on his neck. “Fucking fill me up, Liam, want you to knot me while everyone watches.”

Liam groaned at the words, knees weak as the scent of Zayn clogged his senses. Zayn was damp in his arms, from sweat or slick or a combination, and his jeans were a bit sticky at the front. “Did you get yourself off in there?” Liam couldn’t help but ask, gasping as Zayn palmed at his back and sunk his teeth into his collarbone.

“Mmhmm,” Zayn moaned, grinding desperately into Liam’s stomach. “Please fuck me, Liam. I’ll be so good for you.”

Liam stumbled a little. He was trying to keep his brain focussed on how the security were holding people back, how Niall was pushing a particularly insistent guy away, but Zayn’s scent was all he could think about. He wanted to drop to the ground right there, turn Zayn over and pull down his pants, slide into him and knot him there, mark him up while all the other alphas watched, claim Zayn as his. In was primal, ripping a low growl from his chest.

Niall tugged at his arm. “Come on,” he croaked out, pants looking as tight as Liam’s felt.

Liam nodded distractedly, trying not to get lost in how Zayn was mouthing at his jaw and building up a rhythm with his hips. He tried to get outside as quick as possible, snarling at anyone who came too close to him and Zayn. They finally got out the door, threats following them out into the night as Niall sprinted for his car with a bit of struggle. Liam couldn’t move, not while Zayn was gasping by his ear, a chant of “Liam, Liam, Liam” on his tongue before he was releasing the tension in him, creaming his pants and dampening Liam’s shirt. Liam would have fucked him right there if Niall hadn’t have pulled up with the car, shouting at Liam to get a hold of himself.

Liam slid into the backseat, Zayn straddling him and pawing at him. “Windows,” Liam gasped out, hands shaking as Zayn tried to undo his pants. He really needed some fucking air. “Windows, Niall.”

Niall was cursing nonstop, driving recklessly fast. The windows came down in sporadic jerks, as though Niall was shifting too much to keep his finger on the button for more than a few seconds.

Zayn was pulling at Liam’s hair, biting his chin in frustration, latching his lips anywhere he could while Liam held him firmly in his lap and didn’t let the smaller boy unzip his jeans, even if every fibre in Liam’s body was screaming at him to slip his cock out and take Zayn there in the back of the car.

“Please,” Zayn was begging, rolling his hips over Liam’s erection and shuddering wildly. “Need you, Li. Need you to knot me, fill me up with your pups, baby. I’ll be so fucking good, I promise.”

He cut off with an aroused sob, grinding more desperately. Liam felt the car start and stop jerkily, heard Niall’s groans and whimpers on top of Zayn’s constant mewling as he rode Liam’s cock, regardless of the clothes in the way.

“Stop, Zayn,” Liam pleaded, back arching as tension quickly became to build in him. He pressed his fingers firmly into Zayn’s hips to try and still him, but instead a moan was ripped from Zayn’s throat at the pressure, back arching and orgasming again, completely untouched.

Liam completely lost focus for a while, caught up in how Zayn’s lips rounded when he came, how his back arched and chest pressed against Liam’s, the smell of his scent and fresh cum combining and driving Liam crazy. Liam dug his fingers into Zayn’s skin harder, revelling in how Zayn fell against him, boneless, getting off at just the touch.

“Liam,” he could hear someone calling his name distantly, but it wasn’t important. Nothing was as important as the round of Zayn’s ass, clenching when Liam palmed it, Zayn begging for Liam to fuck him. But the voice was getting more insistent, a hand pulling at his shirt that wasn’t Zayn’s.

“What?” he snarled, eyes not leaving Zayn’s as the boys pupils dilated to take over his entire iris. Zayn was whimpering again, palming his crotch despite how sensitive he must be.

“You’ve got to stop,” Niall told him, voice breaking as he palmed himself. “Liam, you need to stop.”

Liam turned to face him then, zoning back in to focus. His eyes cleared, ears beginning to ring as sounds beyond Zayn’s pleas began to fill his mind again.

He slid out of the car, Zayn still clinging to him desperately, soft little mewls over Liam’s skin. It was a struggle to get Zayn upstairs, losing focus every few steps and pressing Zayn into a wall, grinding into him and biting his full bottom lip before Niall was hauling him back into reality. The moment they got to Zayn’s dorm Niall bolted to his own, stumbling into his boyfriends’ waiting arms. A few heads were poking out of their doors, so Liam was quick to dig Zayn’s key out of his back pocket (making the boy whimper encouragingly) and unlock the room, pushing the both of them inside.

He tried to extract Zayn from him, knowing that his focus would only last so long now that they were alone. “Zayn, off,” he panted out, frustrated as Zayn stuck to him like he had suction cups on his arm.

He was forced to stumble to the bed and lean over it, Zayn only finally letting go when Liam’s pressed him into the mattress with a hand on his chest. Zayn whimpered at the contact, grabbing Liam’s hand and sucking two fingers into his mouth, tongue running over the pads of the digits.

“Oh God,” Liam moaned, eyes closing at the way his body was demanding he take Zayn as his. “Fuck, Jesus.”

Liam pulled his hand away, quickly slinking back to leave. But Zayn displayed incredible strength, grabbing Liam by the arms and hauling him onto the bed. Zayn was crawling on top of him before Liam’s gasp of surprise even left his body, rolling his hips obscenely over Liam’s aching cock.

“Gonna fill me up?” Zayn asked through a moan, scratching up Liam shirt as he all but bounced on Liam’s confined erection, moaning loudly in the quiet room. It was all Liam could do, pressing his fingers into the clothed meat of Zayn’s thighs. Zayn was gasping again, so close to coming. “Fill me with your seed, hold me down and make me take it-“

Zayn’s words cut off when Liam flipped them, pressing Zayn into the bed face-down. Zayn’s moan was muffled into the pillow, chanting Liam’s name again as he pressed his erection into Zayn’s ass, grinding for relief.

He heard a bed banging against the wall, bringing his attention back to the present. He scrambled quickly off of Zayn, but the boy grabbed his arm again before he could get far. “Please,” he begged, body carefully pliant. “Liam, please.”

“I c-can’t,” Liam stammered out, trying to peel Zayn’s fingers from him before his resolve broke.

Zayn held on tighter. “Please,” he sobbed, voice cracking. Tears were pooling in his eyes and flowing over, making his wide eyes glassy and irresistible.

Liam finally pried himself away, something vital in him ripping as he raced for the door before Zayn – or his own body – could convince him to do otherwise. One last glance at Zayn showed the boy sobbing on his mattress, grinding helplessly while he tugged at his own hair. Liam closed the door.

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

For the second time since moving in, Zayn opened the door to find Liam curled up like a welcome mat. Memories flooded into his head like a slaughter, fresh and embarrassing. Zayn closed his door again and puttered around until he heard Liam wake up and migrate to his room. Then he was throwing the door open and knocking on the dorm next door, storming past Harry’s sleep-ruffled figure when he answered and instead launching himself at Niall, wrapping his arms around him carefully. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you so much, Niall.”

He felt like crying again. Last night had the potential to be a worst case scenario, a dozen men blocking his only exit and whispering excitedly about who would go first, who would get to knot him. It made Zayn feel beyond queasy, thinking about how he’d tried to throw himself at the clan of awaiting hands, how he’d been so desperate for contact that he would have let the lot of them fuck him right there on the musty bar floor.

“It’s okay,” Niall said, running a hand up Zayn’s back to try and soothe his trembling. He was passed off to Louis, laying down with the other omega and calming once Harry curled up with them, too. He’s not sure how long he slept for, but Louis and Harry were still with him when he awoke, although they were both cradling mugs and murmuring quietly.

 

“I don’t think this was a great idea,” Louis was saying, voice low. “This is the second time it’s happened, Haz, and it hasn’t gone well.”

“It’s because his heat keeps coming early,” Harry insists. “Once it’s regular again he’ll be able to predict it and stay in.”

Louis is quiet for a moment. Then: “I don’t want him to get hurt.”

“He won’t be,” Harry said firmly. “Niall and Liam have been there to help both times.”

“They can’t always be, Harry.”

 

It had occurred to Zayn, at some point in between his classes and readings and coffee with Harry the next day, that things would be easier with an alpha. He wouldn't be harassed as much, for one. And his heats would be a bit more regular, not as affected by the raging hormones in the building if there was one constant with him. He could actually get quick relief during heat, too, if he'd have someone to knot him when he needed it.

But Zayn's not one to forfeit his own beliefs just because it'd be easier.

 

It's only when Niall mentions it that he thinks to thank Liam.

"The control he must have had to use..." Niall trails off, shaking his head in bewilderment. "And with you physically holding him there, too, like."

"Yeah," Zayn said quietly, looking down at his feet. His cheeks still felt hot with embarrassment every time he thought about it. Zayn looked around Niall's room, finding the other two omegas where they've been for the last hour: sitting on their bed, earplugs in, snorting as they watch something on Louis’ laptop. Liam wasn't anywhere to be found, which was a weird occurrence nowadays. "Where is he?" he asked Niall, who was sorting through laundry. Niall lifted his snapback and scratched at his scalp, a look of concentration on his face.

"Not sure," he said after a moment, shrugging. "Never replied to me text, assumed he was in class. That was a couple hours ago, though."

"You could just knock on his door," Zayn reminded him.

"I could," the Irishman agreed. He continued with the laundry.

Zayn watched him for a moment, but quickly became bored. When he'd gotten a text to come over he'd been expecting something a bit more engaging to be happening over here. He supposes that Niall just wanted to keep him close, considering the bad luck Zayn's had as of late. Zayn stood up, not particularly wanting to sit and do nothing.

"I'll go see if he's home," he said.

Niall's head shot up immediately. "Nah, I'll do it."

"Niall, I can handle a ten metre walk," Zayn told him firmly. Niall looked like he wanted to fight him on it, but suddenly Louis was slinking over and moaning about how hungry he was. With Niall distracted, Zayn quickly slipped out into the hallway.

It was relatively loud in the corridor, with the middle of the day seemed to be Prime Boasting Time, where clusters of alphas would flex their muscles or whatever they do when they're left alone for more than five minutes. Zayn quickly padded over to Liam's door before one of the boys lingering in the hallway noticed him. He listened for a moment, but it was hard to hear over the music pouring out on an open doorway a few rooms down. He knocked quickly, not particularly wanting to linger. There was no verbal response, but he could hear something inside. "Liam?"

"Zayn?" he heard. His voice sounded tight.

"Yeah," Zayn answered, brows furrowed. "You alright?"

A pause. "What do you want?" Liam asked. It sounded like he was forcing the words out.

Zayn frowned. "Came to see what you're up to," he said. He winced awkwardly to himself. "And to say, um, thank you, for-"

"It's fine," the other boy said quickly.

Zayn looked at the door, incredulous. "No, it's not-"

"Go away," Liam snapped at him, substantially louder than before.

Zayn blanched in shock. "What?"

"Fuck off," the alpha all but shouted. Zayn stumbled backwards – something was seriously wrong. Zayn heard a gasp, followed by a groan. Then, after a moment: "Please, Zayn, get out of here."

Zayn's eyes went wide. It hit him, suddenly, what day of the month it was. He backed away from the door quickly, Liam's comment about the twentieth bouncing around in his head. Niall's room didn't seem to be far enough away. He knew that Liam would be able to smell him, that it'd be unnecessary torture for the boy while he was rutting. He quickly ran into his own room to grab his phone and a few books, figuring that the library across campus would give him some distance.

(He knew it was just biology and pheromones and whatnot, but the thought of Liam grinding into his mattress while his knot throbbed was doing things to Zayn. The way the boy probably looked, tan skin flushing pink in exhaustion, cock red and angry while he beat himself off, eyes closed and lips parted while he desperately searched for release - the image had Zayn blushing furiously as he made his way to the library. Zayn may not be terribly interested in Liam, but he wasn't blind, either. The alpha was extremely attractive, picture perfect for what he was. Precisely why Zayn couldn't go there. He pushed the thought out of his head, trying to focus on Stasiland even as his body begged him to go back.)

 

Work wasn't exactly the most exciting thing ever. It was quite lonely, actually, with Zayn by himself behind the bar. It was also quite degrading having no less than four members of security stationed at the bar after his “little accident” (the manager’s words, not his). He was scowling as he cleaned a few glasses, the only saving grace being that tonight would be quite slow. It was only Wednesday, after all, so the only customers were the uni students that were particularly struggling with their course work, or perhaps had no classes the next day. There wasn’t even a dozen customers in the room. Zayn scowled again at the security.

Out of the few groups in the bar, the biggest one consisted of five guys from his dorm building, one of which being the one who tried to fuck Zayn while he was in heat. It took Zayn’s head a moment to find the name, but he shouldn’t have bothered because a moment later the alphas were erupting into a jagged rendition of “Happy Birthday Mark!”

A moment later the doors were pushing open and a fifth boy was sliding into their booth, a familiar brown quiff peeking out from under a backwards cap. Zany looked away before Liam could look up and see him, busying himself with re-organising a few bottles of alcohol that had been moved around the previous night.

“Malik,” one of the security men called.

“Yeah?” Zayn grunted, trying to figure out where the tequila was supposed to go.

“Customer.”

Zayn looked up and found Liam there, looking sheepish as he rubbed at the back of his neck. Zayn straightened up, heat in his cheeks as he remembered what had happened last time they’d seen each other face-to-face. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but Liam’s cheeks looked a little pink, too.

“Hey,” Liam said, smiling minutely.

Zayn couldn’t hold his eye for more than a few seconds, feeling the familiar pheromones acting up at having an alpha so close. In a place like this, where he’d been surrounded for hours, it was all too concentrated. “Hey,” he echoed.

“So I, um,” Liam began, redistributing his weight in an apparently nervous habit. “I wanted to apologise.”

Zany looked at him curiously. “What for?”

“For, y’know,” Liam mumbled awkwardly. “The last time we saw each other, like.”

“Which time?” Zayn mused. He grabbed an empty glass to clean, watching in amusement as Liam’s blush deepened. It was interesting to see an alpha like this: bashful, embarrassed, and unable to look an omega in the eye.

It’s quite cool, actually, Zayn thinks.

“Er, both?” Liam guessed. He sat down heavily on the bar stool in front of Zayn, sighing a little before looking up at the omega with wide eyes. “But, like, especially for telling you to eff off. That was quite rude of me.”

Zany cocked his head a little. “So you didn’t want me to leave?”

“Yes,” Liam said. He shook his head. “Wait, no. You needed to go because I couldn’t control myself at that point. Not that, like, it’s your fault. Or that I wouldn’t like…”

“Wouldn’t…” Zayn prompted.

“I’m sure you’d be, um, lovely, to be with, like,” Liam stammered. His fingers tapped erratically on the benchtop while he seemed to be trying to sink into his jacket. “But, like. You aren’t- I’m- we don’t-“

He stopped. Huffed.

“You’re playing me,” the alpha said, looking up at Zayn accusingly, but there was no heat. Zayn smiled down at him, placing the now-glistening glass onto the clean rack and picking up another to dry.

“I might be,” Zayn told him. “It’s interesting.”

Liam looked up at him in confusion. “Interesting?”

Zayn didn’t get to answer before another alpha was stumbling up to Liam, leaning against him so heavily that Liam had to plant a leg firmly on the ground to stay upright. The new man was the epitome of arrogance, from his disregard for the prior conversation to the way he leered at Zayn. Zayn thinks it’s mostly only because of their last encounter, but has a gut feeling this is the way Mark is with all omegas.

“Hello again,” he greeted Zayn. Zayn didn’t answer, just walked away and busied himself with cutting limes on the other side of the bar.

One of the security crew leant against the bar and nodded down at the two alphas. “You not going to serve them?”

“What they want doesn’t come in a bottle.”

He tried not to listen in on their conversation, and was mostly successful. They seemed to just be talking about sports and some sort of dorm party that was coming up (Zayn gathered that it’d be in just over two weeks, and made a mental note to find some way to get out of the building that night). It was only a matter of time, though, before Mark was trying to get Zayn’s attention again.

“Hope you’ll be there,” the alpha said, doing something with his eyebrow that Zayn would like to do to his windpipe right about now. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a pretty thing like you around.”

“And unclaimed as well? Gee golly!” Zayn exclaimed with fake excitement and a sarcastic little fist pump.

Mark narrowed his eyes at him. “Did your parents never tell you how to speak to an alpha, babe? Because you’re walking a thin line here.”

“You tried to take advantage of me,” Zayn said, all but throwing his tea towel onto the bench. “You literally tried to knot me when I couldn’t say no.”

“You were begging for it,” Mark told him. Like Zayn didn’t already know. The memory had his skin crawling.

“Hey,” Liam said, putting a hand on Mark’s shoulder. “How about you grab a drink and leave Zayn alone, yeah?”

Mark looked back at the other alpha, eyebrows raised in assessment. “Has someone claimed the bitch, or summat?”

“I’m not a bitch,” Zayn growled. Liam nodded in agreement, looking almost as annoyed but substantially more placating.

Mark looked between the two of them, expression unreadable before the confusion in his eyes cleared and a slow smile slunk onto his face. “Oh.”

“What?” Zayn snapped.

Mark shook his head in apparent disbelief. He rose to his feet and clapped Liam on the back, grinning as he finally wondered off.

“What just happened?” Zayn asked, watching the retreating alpha as he returned to his friends, telling them something that made them cheer. He looked over and saw Liam was watching them too, face a little pale. “Liam?”

“He, um,” Liam began. He cleared his throat, turning to face Zayn properly. “He thinks I’ve claimed you, Zayn.”

Zayn narrowed his eyes. “You haven’t.”

“I know that,” Liam said quickly. “Mark doesn’t, apparently.”

It was strange how fast news travelled. By the time Zayn was exiting his room for class the next morning, it seemed like the entire dormitory had been told that omega had been claimed, no matter how false the rumour was. The alphas scattered in the corridor, scattered around and talking loudly like usual, only paused long enough to nod at Zayn in acknowledgement before they were barrelling on with whatever it was they felt inclined to talk about at eight in the morning. When Zayn stumbled back up the stairwell two hours later he was only met with one sly comment, a simple: “Didn’t think Payno had it in him.”

It was all a bit unnerving.

“Do you have something to tell me?” Harry asked, yanking Zayn into his dorm without even a ‘hello’.

Zayn rolled his eyes. “Rumour gone wrong, Haz. Nothing more.”

It’s the same thing he had texted Louis twenty minutes ago when the omega had texted him a string of question marks. Zayn gets the feeling it’s something he’ll be repeating for a while.

“Damn,” Harry said. He looked disappointed.

“You know that I’m not going to let some asshole alpha mate me,” Zayn reminded him, flopping onto Harry’s gigantic shared bed.

Harry laid down next to him, frowning. “Liam’s not an asshole.”

Zayn shrugged. “He’s an alpha.”

Zany shifted so he was a bit more comfortable, rearranged his leather jacket so it wasn’t digging into his waist. Harry watched silently, gaze a little unfocused where it was locked on Zayn’s shoulder. Zayn let the other omega work through his thoughts, content to just lay there after having to get up so early this morning.

In fact, Zayn feels like napping. The last month has been a whirlwind of chaos, and the thought of dripping into unconsciousness for a while was beyond appealing. Maybe if he sleeps long enough all the problems in his life would disappear (namely: every alpha in this entire dorm). (Except maybe Niall.)

(And maybe Liam.)

Harry’s eyes suddenly refocused, wide and green when he looked up at Zayn. “You know, dating Liam wouldn’t be the worst thing.”

“Sick of Niall already?” Zayn teased, shuffling a little closer.

“I meant for you, donut,” Harry said, shoving his gently. The younger boy cuddled up to his side, faces inches apart in the same routine they’d had since almost the day they met. Harry’s voice was softer when he spoke, a little musing lilt to it. “Like, maybe it’s something to consider.”

“I’m not going to date him, Haz,” Zany said, rolling his eyes. This was not the first time Harry had tried to set him up – the omega knows just as well as he does that heat can be one hell of a painful experience most of the time.

“I never said dating per say,” Harry told him. He raised his eyebrows suggestively. “All I’m saying is that you and Liam could be useful to each other.”

Zayn mulled this over for a total of eight seconds before he burst out laughing. “Useful?” he repeated, eyes bright. “Is that your way of saying Liam and I should shag?”

Harry shrugged, unabashed. “It would be a good arrangement for everyone,” he said. “You get through heat, he has someone for ruts, neither of you would get harassed as much.”

“Liam gets harassed?” Zayn asked. He didn’t try to hide the dry disbelief in his voice, stretching lazily.

Harry nodded vigorously. “You should see it, man. He hasn’t dated an omega, like, ever, I think. Only a beta a few years ago, according to Niall. And so all his friends literally push him into omegas and absolutely rib him.”

“Oh no, poor alpha boy,” Zayn deadpanned.

Harry snorted at Zayn, but didn’t comment.

Zayn sort of really wanted a smoke, but was too comfortable and too aware of his new year’s resolution (which he’d already broken more than a few times, but still). Harry probably wouldn’t let him smoke in here anyway. So he wrapped an arm around Harry and pulled him closer, the two of them cuddling up in a way that was almost too familiar at this point. Zayn wondered if this was normal behaviour. He found he didn’t care.

“You should talk to Liam about it,” Harry mumbled after a while.

“I’m not going to ask Liam to be my fuckbuddy, Harry.”

“I’ll get Niall to ask him then.”

“Don’t you fucking dare.”

 

Harry fucking dared. Literally hours later Niall was waltzing in, bypassing Zayn to give his boyfriend a quick song before he was backtracking and grabbing Zayn’s hand and pulling him into the kitchen.

“Coffee?” Niall asked, opening the fridge and pulling out a carton of chocolate milk. Zany shook his head, unable to see any other type of milk in the fridge. “So,” Niall began as he poured a cup, looking over the top of his glasses at Zany with a considering look. “I hear you’d like to shag my best friend.”

Zayn groaned. “Your boyfriend’s a filthy liar.”

“They both are,” Niall agreed. He didn’t sound upset about it, though, instead grinning over at where Harry was highlighting an entire page in one of his textbooks.

Niall left the carton on the bench, but grabbed his glass and gestured for Zayn to follow him out into the hallway.

“I dunno how much you know about alphas in heat,” Niall told him, keeping his voice low as they spied an open doorway a little ways down the corridor. He looked unusually serious. It was almost comical, how mature he looked despite holding a huge glass of chocolate milk. “But, like, having you across the hall from Liam is absolute torture for him.”

Zayn leant against the wall, arms crossed. “Not my fault.”

“It’s not anyone’s fault,” Niall said. “But if your heat feels like shit, and his rut feels like shit, and both would feel better if you guys, y’know, then why not just go for it?”

“Ugh, maybe because I have no romantic interest in him?” Zayn proposed.

Niall made a noise like Zayn was being thick. “Romantic interest doesn’t need to have a part in it, Zayn. Just humour me for a second, okay?”

Zayn made a gesture as if to say go ahead.

“What if you guys were to come to some sort of arrangement?” Niall said. “Just a strictly, er, business-only deal, where you’d help each other out. You’re not close enough that it’d be weird, but you’re not strangers, either, so you know he won’t take advantage of you.”

“This is a really weird conversation,” Zayn told him. “I hope you know that.”

Niall just shrugged, taking a sip of his drink.

“How would that conversation even go down?” Zayn mused with a laugh. “Just like ‘Hey, Liam, next time I’m in heat would you mind fucking me for a couple days’, like?”

“What?” someone that wasn’t Niall asked.

Zayn’s blood froze as he spun around, finding Liam only a few paces behind him.

“Sorry, I just- sorry,” Liam stammered. “I didn’t mean to overhear. I just, like, heard my name.”

“I think Harry needs me,” Niall announced, sauntering past Zayn and into his room. He paused only to smirk proudly at Zany. Zayn gaped at him, gaze drifting from one alpha to the other. Liam still stood there, looking a bit stunned.

“Uh,” Zayn said. Stopped. “How much of that did you hear?”

“The bit about, um…” Liam trailed off, swallowing a little thickly as he blushed. “About your heat.”

So not enough to know Zayn was joking, then.

Liam rubbed his neck awkwardly. “Could you, um, clarify-“

“Yeah, of course,” Zayn said immediately. “Basically Harry and Niall had this idea that, like, when I’m in heat or- or when you’re in your rut that we should…”

“And you want that?” Liam asked.

“No,” Zayn answered quickly. He winced. “I mean, I don’t know. Heats suck, right, but it’d be a bit awkward, right?”

Liam shrugged. His cheeks were still pink, but he seemed to have regained most of his usual confidence. “Ruts suck, too.”

Zayn’s brain sort of fried at that. Liam wasn’t… disagreeing. He wasn’t turning the idea down. In fact, he seemed to be forcing a nonchalant look onto his face, as though he wants Zayn to think it’s a normal idea.

Zayn couldn’t help but look the alpha over: wide shoulders, thick thighs, bulging biceps and long fingers; a soft smile, emotive eyes, pink lips. He was a wet dream, really – but a dream’s just an illusion. There’s no way that Liam was perfect, there’s no way that Liam didn’t exercise any of the birth rights he had.

But then again, like Niall said: romance doesn’t have to have a part in it.

“Heats are painful most of the time,” Zayn found himself saying. He refused to break eye contact, refused to let his nerves show. “Apparently they’re good with a knot.”

Liam met his gaze evenly. “Ruts are, uh, frustrating when you’re alone. A lot of tension with nowhere to go.”

“So Harry’s idea has some logic behind it,” Zayn said after a moment. He watched Liam with calculated eyes, wondering if they were agreeing to something here or just playing chicken. Zayn felt like his heart was in his throat, pumping blood furiously while his brain whirled. Liam wasn’t backing down.

“Suppose it does,” Liam agreed.

Zayn looked for any signs of discomfort. Found none. “So.”

“So,” Liam echoed. The two watched each other, both clearly unsure of what to say. Liam mirrored Zayn’s stance from earlier and leant against the opposite wall, smiling faintly. “You’re going to have to say it,” the alpha said softly. “I know how you are with alphas being forward, so I can’t say it. You have to.”

The look on Liam’s face was just so earnest that Zayn decided to say fuck it.

He crossed his arms over his chest, chin high and standing tall. “Liam Payne,” he started. “Next time I’m in heat, would you like to fuck me?”

Liam chuckled a little at his forwardness. “Sure,” he said. He held out his hand.

They shook on it.

 

“You promised they’d keep the noise down,” Zayn hissed into his phone, glaring at his door as yet another person knocked with a drunken, lewd comment. “This is literally the loudest party to ever occur, ever.”

“There’s not much I can do,” Niall admitted. His words were a little slurred, but Zayn doubts it has any more to do with alcohol than it does with the faint giggling he can hear in the background.

“I can’t study with them this loud,” Zayn told him.

“Library?”

“Closed,” the omega said with a groan. There was another knock on the door, another ‘How about you come play with us?’ shouted through to him. Zayn glared at the door. “I’m guessing I can’t come over to yours?”

“Er, no,” Niall said. There was another giggle in the background, distinctly Harry. “Besides, it’d be just as loud here.”

“But they’d leave me alone,” Zayn muttered. It was low enough that he knew the alpha didn’t hear, but he thinks Niall might know anyway. “I’ll leave you guys to it, then.”

“Thanks mate,” Niall said quickly, making an exaggerated kissing noise before he hung up.

Zayn was left with the sound of repetitive music and too-loud shouts from drunken alphas. Faint laughter from the clusters of omegas that had been invited to the building also met Zayn’s ears, sounding docile and careless. Zayn wondered if they had come for themselves or because some alphas asked. He wondered why the second choice was even an option.

His short conversation with Niall had done nothing to fix any of the problems he’d had over the last couple of hours. Alphas continued to knock on his door randomly, some shouting for him to open up and others just knocking and laughing loudly before moving on. The music being played was incessant, too, a constant pounding that made it impossible for Zayn to read the words in front of him.

He sighed and decided that he might as well have his own little party. In the bottom draw of his desk he found an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels, a light dust covering the label from months of sitting useless after someone or other bought him it for his birthday. He slunk back onto his bed, falling heavily and groaning in frustration when there was another knock on his door.

He was just uncapping the bottle when his phone started ringing again. Zayn frowned in confusion when the caller ID read ‘Irish Whiskey’.

“Niall?” he asked when he picked up.

“Hey,” Niall said, sounding breathless. “Sorry to call again, but – Lou, c’mon, give me a minute – but, uh, Liam’s outside your door.”

Zayn squinted at the wall separating them. “So?”

“He’s been knocking for a little bit but you haven’t answered,” Niall told him.

“I don’t want to party,” Zayn said, rolling his eyes.

“He’s not inviting you too.”

Niall was becoming increasingly distracted, so Zayn put him out of his misery and hung up. He groaned and slipped back out of bed, casting his books aside and padding over to the door. He opened it cautiously, not entirely convinced it would be just Liam outside his door.

It was just Liam, though, looking just as wary as Zayn felt, albeit with an edge of sheepishness.

“Hey,” he said, looking the sort of tired that sleep doesn’t fix. “Sorry to bother you.”

“No problems,” Zayn dismissed. He tightened his hold on his door when he saw a couple alphas down the hall looking over in interest. His eyes swam back to Liam, slightly more impatient as he could feel too many eyes on him. “What’s up?”

“So, uh, people keep trying to open my door,” Liam told him, rearranging the backwards cap on his head in what Zayn now recognised as a nervous tick. “Can I hide out here for a while?”

“People keep bothering me, too, so you won’t get much solace here,” Zayn informed him. Liam’s expression dropped a little, looking nervously down the hall as some alphas began to catcall. Zany glared down at them with a snarled lip. “Got any alcohol?”

Liam looked at him curiously. “A few bottles of stuff, yeah.”

Zayn grinned. “Meet back in five.”

 

Zayn was man enough to admit that he was drunk an hour later. By the look of the flush on Liam’s cheeks, Zayn would say that the alpha was well wasted, too. Or maybe he was just embarrassed.

“Are you serious?” Zayn gasped out past his laughter, all but falling off his bed while he gaped at Liam. “You’ve never been with anyone?”

“That’s not what I – said,” Liam told him, hiccupping a little. “Just not during heat or rut.”

“Then what’s the point?” Zayn all but snorted. He slid properly to the floor, back against the bed and half-empty bottle of something in a loose fist. Liam mirrored him, back against Zayn's desk on the opposite side of the room. He didn’t seem to care about the random books and clothing littered everywhere. In fact, he seemed comfortable sitting amongst the disarray of hoodies and sweaters, even going as far to use one of Zayn’s oversized Converse jumpers as a makeshift blanket.

Liam only shrugged in response, a faint grin on his lips to show he wasn’t bothered by Zayn’s amusement. “What about you, then?” the alpha asked after a swig of whatever amber liquid was in his bottle.

Zayn took his own swig. “Hmm?”

“Have you ever been with someone?” Liam clarified.

Zayn appraised the alpha before him: drunk, curious, and admittedly a little endearing as he hiccupped again. Still and alpha, though, asking about Zayn’s sexual history. But then again, Zayn was doing the same thing.

“Not in the traditional sense,” Zayn said, finally.

Liam cocked his head to the side in thought. “What do you mean?”

“I was dating a beta for a while,” Zayn told him, not embarrassed. “That ended for obvious reasons. And then when me or Harry went into heat we’d, uh – help each other, I guess.”

“So you’ve never been knotted?” Liam asked. Zayn shook his head. “Ever?”

“Why the interest?” Zayn asked. He wasn’t defensive, per say – but the line of questioning seemed to be leading somewhere, slowly. Zayn didn’t like having to wait. Liam shrugged and hiccupped, blushing a little but otherwise not looking particularly abashed. Alcohol made him upfront, Zayn noted.

“Just wanted to know,” Liam explained. “For when we, er…”

Zayn hummed in understanding, taking another heavy swig of his drink.

“How’s that going to go down, anyway?” Liam asked him.

Zayn raised an eyebrow in question.

“Like when you go into heat, or me into rut,” Liam clarified, hiccupping again. He looked vaguely surprised with himself before continuing on. “What happens? How do we alert each over? Where will it go down?”

Zayn snorted out a laugh. “You’re overthinking it, Liam,” the omega told him, holding out his own bottle when it became apparent that the alpha’s was empty. “If it happens, one of us will just call the other, or something.”

Liam considered this, then slowly nodded. “We should have a code word.”

“We don’t need a code word,” Zayn said dubiously.

“I think we should have one,” Liam insisted, a bit of a sparkle in his eye. “Like überdort, or something.”

“What the fuck does überdort mean?” Zayn laughed, taking the bottle back when Liam offered it.

“It’s German for ‘over there’,” Liam told him.

Zayn made a face in confusion. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“I just like saying überdort,” Liam shrugged, hiccupping again. “And briefmarkenzacken. But überdort is easier to pronounce.”

“What the fuck are you on about, Liam?” Zayn asked.

Again, the alpha shrugged. Then: “How far do you want to take it?”

Zayn was too drunk to keep up with this shit. “What?”

“When we do the do. The überdort,” Liam explained, making a vague gesture with his hand. He was staring at Zayn intently, looking like an excited child with his curious eyes and lack of filter. “Like, do you want to be knotted? I’m assuming we’re not mating, though.”

“Not mating,” Zany agreed firmly. “Knotting’s fine. Just whatever we want when it happens.”

Zayn’s vision was beginning to swim, but he didn’t miss how Liam fidgeted a little and rearranged his legs like the thought of it alone was turning him on. (It was definitely turning Zayn on a little, too. The thought of being knotted during heat, getting to experience that relief that hordes of other omegas had told him about, feeling that sense of finally that Harry and Louis had tried to articulate into words. And the thought of it with Liam, specifically, who was willing to go through with this without any promise of mating or claiming afterwards. The thought of Liam during the actual act of knotting, where he was able to lose control and give into that dormant instinct that Zayn had glimpsed at barely a week ago. It was all a little overwhelming.)

“When do you think the party will die down?” Zayn asked when the silence became too heavy. He really needed to distract himself before he does something stupid, like admit that he was sort of looking forward to his next heat now.

Liam contemplated the question for a moment. “Probably not for hours,” he said, a slight slur to his words. “Do you want me to leave?”

Zayn considered this. Did he want Liam to leave? “No,” he said. He’s not sure if he’s lying or not. “But there’s not much to do here other than drink and talk shut.”

“That’s okay with me,” Liam assured him, a dopey grin on his lips. Zayn held up his bottle in salute, thanking God that he had no classes the next morning.

 

 

Liam

 

The sight of Zayn on his knees had Liam melting, taking in the smooth expanse of skin before him; the omega completely naked and crawling up the bed in preparation while Liam looked on from the foot of the mattress. The smell of the boy’s heat was suffocating in a delicious way, making him feel drunk with the need to knot the omega, make him his, claim him so thoroughly that everyone would know. Zayn was whining on the mattress, looking back at Liam with dark eyes and parted lips.

A thin sheen of sweat coated the omega’s skin, making him glow under the soft lighting of Liam’s bedside lamp. He was keening softly, words muffled into his own arm as he bit down into flesh while his hormones overwhelmed him.

“Liam,” he croaked out, raw and broken. “Need you so bad.”

Liam was quick to cover the omega with his own body, tracing open-mouth kisses on the boy’s neck and back while he held his waist protectively. “I’ve got you,” the alpha told him, relishing in the soft mewls that just his voice could elicit from the boy beneath him. “I’m here.”

Zayn’s ass ground up into Liam’s crotch, drawing a loud groan from both boys. Liam wrapped an arm around Zayn’s stomach and held them closer together, grinding into Zayn’s unclad ass and feeling the slick dampen his own boxers.

“Fuck me babe,” Zayn whined, breaths coming out in small gasps. “Want to feel you – want to feel your knot.”

Liam groaned, using his hips to grind Zayn into the bed. The omega was gagging for it, the noises that were escaping him needy and desperate.

There was no time to waste. Liam slipped his knot out of his boxers, enthralled at that sight of how it looked against Zayn’s golden skin. Zayn made a sound like a whimper when Liam pressed the head of his cock to the omega’s rim, shivering in delight at the wet heat. Someone was banging on the door but it wasn’t important, not nearly as important as the tight heat of Zayn, as the way his ass devoured Liam’s cock, how his back arched and his hands clawed at the bed as he bottomed out. “Feel good, baby?” Liam asked him, ducking down to bite gently at the boy’s shoulder. “Want me to fill you up?”

Zayn couldn’t do anything else but mewl, eyes screwed shut in pain or pleasure or both.

Liam pressed impossibly further into him, completely crowding the omega between himself and the bed. “Gonna fuck you so good,” Liam promised him, swivelling his hips in small figure-eights. “Fill you with my pups, babe.”

“Liam,” Zayn gaped out again as the alpha started snapping his hips. “Liam, Liam, Liam-“

“Liam!” Niall shouted, smacking on the door. “Get the fuck up.”

Liam opened his eyes and the dream dissipated. He was achingly hard, with a pounding headache from last night. It was the first time he’d drunk so much in years, maybe – he usually hates the feeling of not having control, but he hated the feeling more of being alone in his room while the lads came past and catcalling him every five minutes.

He really hates the feeling, now, of being beyond hard while his best friend continued to smack his door.

“I’m up, I’m up,” Liam groaned back at him, flipping onto his back with a hiss. His erection was tenting his sweats obscenely. As if this situation couldn’t be more embarrassing.

“Finally,” Niall said, no longer smacking the door. “You promised to do groceries with me, remember? And I need to get them done before Harry goes into heat tonight.”

Liam so didn’t need to hear about heats right now. “Give me twenty minutes.”

“Ten minutes,” Niall told him firmly, his Irish accent more prominent than usual. “I don’t want to be out when it happens, you know?”

“Okay,” Liam said, trying not to cup himself. His dick was throbbing, not wilting even slightly despite his embarrassment. “Just, um, I’ll come get you when I’m ready.”

Niall must have already left, because Liam received no reply. The alpha wasn’t all that disappointed, though; he listened out for only a handful of seconds before he was pulling his cock out of his sweatpants, hissing at the first contact. Images of what Zayn might look like naked danced behind his eyes, paired with a loop of Zayn moaning his name and beginning to be held down and fucked into. He pictured Zayn spread out across his bed, legs spread wide and ass raised because he wants Liam that much. His fingers would be curled around the top of the mattress, perhaps, or maybe he’d be fisting his hair, desperate for some sort of edge. Liam would replace one of his hands and tug the silky strands himself, feel the boy keen from the contact.

He’d latch his lips on Zayn’s neck and suck bruises into his skin so that everyone who looked would know that Zayn was his, that the gorgeous omega let Liam see him in this light. He’d curl an arm around Zayn’s front and wrap a firm hand around his cock, tugging quickly to try and help Zayn through his heat. He’d slip in, then, hand blurring over Zayn’s prick to get him off as he’d bottom out.

And then he’d fuck into the omega, hips slamming him into the mattress as his knot grew and grew until he knew it was time, that he needed to push in further, that he-

Liam’s orgasm hit him like a wave, leaving him breathless and gasping. He spilt over his hand as he pumped himself through it, legs quaking from the effort, tense for a few aching seconds before his body fell into a sinkhole of bliss.

“Fuck,” he muttered, stars still dancing behind his eyes.

It was a few minutes before he was willing to move again, even just to wet a rag to clean himself up with. He tried to fight off the guilt and disgust he felt for himself as he got changed. He wondered what the fuck was wrong with him, thinking of Zayn like that. He had no right to, not when Zayn had made it clear that he was uncomfortable with how sexualised omegas were. It was the worst feeling in the world realising that Zayn would hate him if he knew.

“What took you so long?” Niall asked when Liam finally emerged from his room. There was a knowing smirk on his face that said he already knew.

“Let’s just do this already.”

 

“Which of your boys drinks almond milk?” Liam asked incredulously, spying three cartons of the product in the cart. It definitely wasn’t Niall – he couldn’t care less about whether something was organic or homogenised or whatever. He just liked milk.

“Is that even a question?” Niall snorted, shaking his head fondly. “Harry’s been into this shit for as long as I’ve known him.”

“You’re coming up to your anniversary, right?” Liam asked. “In a couple months?”

“A whole year,” Niall nodded, grinning with a slight blush as he assessed the rows of cereal in front of them. Liam appraised the alpha for a moment, thinking he’d never seen someone so plainly in love.

“Going to do anything to celebrate?” Liam asked, grabbing a box of home-brand cereal.

Niall shrugged. “Louis’ rut will be around then, so.”

“Fun time, then?” Liam said, winking exaggeratedly.

Niall shrugged, suddenly looking distracted.

“You okay?” Liam asked him, stomach twisting in concern.

Niall shrugged again. “Just thinking about stuff. Are you okay?”

“Smooth deflection there,” Liam mused.

“Seriously, though,” Niall said, grinning wryly. “What’s happenin’ in the life of Payno?”

“Not much, if I’m being honest,” Liam answered. He pushed their trolley around the corner, watching warily as Niall’s eyed the shelves of sweets. He grabbed the alpha by his hoodie and hauled him along to the next aisle, where they picked out their respective breads. “Just got classes and stuff.”

“Boring,” Niall sing-songs, picking out an obscure looking loaf that’s obviously for Louis.

“Sorry my life isn’t as interesting as yours,” Liam clucks. “I mean, not all of us can be in a polyamorous relationship with two omegas that go into heat every two weeks.”

“Jealous, are we?” Niall asked suggestively, waggling his eyebrows. He looks way too happy with himself, Liam reckons. “You talk to Zayn, then?”

Liam swallows thickly. “About what?” he asks, feigning innocence.

Niall gives him a flat look. “You know what.”

“Might have spoken to him,” Liam answers vaguely, pretending to be interested in the different type of cheese spreads available.

“Have you, like,” Niall begins, trailing off as he obviously tried to find the right way to phrase it. “Have you agreed to fuck and duck?”

“Oh my god,” Liam groaned, moving forward to cover Niall’s laughing mouth while he looked around wildly to make sure no poor old granny had heard. “I don’t think you could have said that louder if you’d tried, fuck.”

Niall, still laughing, skipped down the aisle, boisterously calling out: “I hope it’s worth the wait!”

 

Fuck, the wait is horrible. It’s like now that he and Zayn have agreed to it, there’s a countdown looming over Liam.so every thought, constantly reminding him that in a few short weeks he’ll be knotting the omega.

The worst part is how the connotations of everything has changed, how everything now has this new charge that makes Liam’s pulse race.

It starts that night after Liam’s back from the supermarket, when Harry’s gone into heat and thus he and his boyfriends are understandably busy. Zayn knocks on his door, soft hair dishevelled and eyes framed by thick glasses, asking if Liam has a spare notebook.

They end up studying together. And it’s fine, really. Until Zayn starts sucking on his pen.

He may be doing it absentmindedly, but Liam is unduly focussed on the action, on the way the omega’s lips pucker around the tip, eyes heavy and downcast as he stares at the page in front of him in thought, his left hand subconsciously scratching his neck.

He looked up, finding Liam’s eyes on him. “What?”

“Sorry, sorry,” Liam said quickly, dropping his gaze back to his textbook. He really needs to get a grip.

 

It happens again a few days later, when the weather is surprisingly warm and Louis is forcing them all outside to kick a football around. It ends up being the alpha’s verses Louis and Harry, with Zayn reading a book and half-heartedly praising Harry when he manages to kick the ball without falling flat on his face. On the field, Liam’s taken up defence while Niall is on the offense, the two of them failing miserably as Louis single-handedly dribbles the ball up the field and kicks three goals within the first ten minutes. Harry is less of a player and more like an enthusiastic cheerleader, running alongside Louis and shouting encouragement, and then snogging him reverently after each goal.

“I want to kiss him, too,” Niall whines after the second goal, pushing himself up off the grass after having tried to deflect the ball with a slide. “Wanna kiss both of them.”

“Kick a goal and I’m sure they’ll be happy to oblige,” Liam informs him, pushing him back towards the centre of their make-shift field.

Niall doesn’t kick a goal. Instead, the first chance he gets he boots the ball away from him and into the air, where the winter wind carries it onto the air.

Liam watches in bewilderment. “What’d you do that for?”

“Niall,” Louis groans, looking up at the offending roof remorsefully. “That was the ball you got me for Easter.”

“I’ll buy you another one,” Niall promises, ducking down to try and kiss his boyfriend. Louis evades him, though, and spins around to direct Zayn.

“Malik,” he calls. The other omega looks up from his book, face obscured by dark sunglasses. “Can you get the other ball from my bag?”

Louis, apparently, comes prepared to his kick-arounds.

Zayn snapped his book closed in what appeared to be an annoyed gesture, but pushed himself up regardless. Liam watched as he approached the bag a few paces from him, leaning over to dig around. And-

Oh.

Zayn’s jeans were tight around the legs, but the waist was loose enough that a pair of white briefs could be seen from where his shirt rocked up. The swell of his ass was noticeable, raised into the air in the same way Liam had pictured him in the dreams he’d been having lately. And, fuck, Zayn wasn’t even doing anything, but Liam was freezing up and blacking out a little as images of fucking Zayn from behind dirtied his brain.

“Alright there, Liam?” Louis asked him. The little shit was smirking.

Liam shook his head to try and rid himself of the thoughts. “Just thinking about how sweet victory will be when we beat you.”

“Keep dreaming, Leemo.”

 

It keeps happening. Maybe it’s because the hormones in the building have been going nuts lately, between the presence of the omegas making everyone’s ruts a little harder to shake, and with that guy Andy’s mate being over while she’s in heat. But for whatever reason, Liam keeps catching himself fantasising about Zayn, about fucking him and sucking him off and marking him up for the world to see. Every time Zayn turns his head and exposes his neck, Liam has to consciously hold himself back from sucking a bruise into the soft-looking skin. Every time the omega swear, Liam’s mind wanders back to that day at the bar, where Zayn was cursing and begging Liam to take him. And whenever someone talks about knotting, or rutting, or just sex in general, Liam becomes all too aware that Zayn’s heat is quickly approaching and Liam is allowed to do something about it.

It doesn’t take Niall long to catch on.

“I have gathered you here today,” Niall begins, stirring an unholy amount of sugar into his coffee. “To discuss the fact that you get a stiffy every time Zayn so much as speaks.”

Liam’s blushing in mortification immediately, glancing around at the other customers in the crowded shop. “Why do we always have to have these discussions in public places?” Liam implores, rubbing his hands down his face. “Why, Niall?”

“Don’t try and change the subject,” the Irishman scolded.

Liam made a face. “I wasn’t-“

“His heat’s coming up, you know,” Niall cut him off, suddenly looking a bit more serious despite the froth moustache he was rocking.

Liam eyed him curiously. “Okay…?”

“I’m just worried, ‘s all,” Niall answered his unspoken question, shrugging and leaning back in his chair. “Just, like, if you’re so affected when he’s not even-“

“I can control myself, Ni,” Liam assured him, holding his mug of tea with both hands to try and fought the chill in the air. “I think I’ve proven that by now.”

“Still,” Niall says. “Everyone has their limit.”

And it’s so like what Zayn had said to him that one time, about how even the best of alpha’s had a breaking point, that Liam has to pause for a minute.

What happens after Zayn’s heat is over, when they’re sick of their arrangement and decide to stop? Will Liam be able to realistically control himself after that point, with Zayn right across the hall and going into heat every month? Because Liam isn’t naïve, he knows whatever is about to begin won’t last until he’s finished university and moved out of the dorm. It makes his head swim with doubt, suddenly, realising that either he’ll find someone else or he’ll have to watch Zayn find someone else and take his place. He hasn’t even fucked Zayn yet and he’s already jealous at the thought of someone else touching him, fuck.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” Liam says eventually.

He wanted to add something else, but Niall’s attention was drawn to his phone when it started ringing. The Irishman frowned down at the phone in confusion for a moment before picking up. “Harry?” he asked, a hint of worry creeping into his voice. “I thought you had work?”

There was a pause while Harry replied. Niall’s face creased, evolving from anxious to confused.

“…okay,” he said slowly, lowering the phone from his ear and pressing a button. “You’re on speaker, babe.”

“Liam?” Harry asked. His voice sounded strange. Tighter than usual, Liam thought.

“Yeah?”

“Er, Zayn wanted me to pass on a message,” the omega said. There was a strange noise in the background, the sound of something large being smacked against a wall repeatedly. “Other door?”

Liam’s brows drew together in confusion. “What?”

“Uh,” Harry said, clearly out of his element. “Lou?”

“Yeah?” came Louis’ voice, far away and tinny.

“Ask Zayn what the word was,” he said to the boy before his voice came closer to the phone again. “Louis’ on the phone with him now.”

Liam and Niall looked at each other in confusion while they waited. The omegas on the other end seemed to be having trouble with communication, because Louis was just faintly shouting random words that sounded similar while Harry tried to figure out what he was saying.

“He said you’d know what it means,” Harry said, this time directly into the phone, clearly talking to Liam. “A code, or something. But he can’t remember how to pronounce it. He- something German?” Liam racked his brain and tried to remember what Zayn was talking about.

“Not to rush you, but he sounds a bit… agitated,” Harry said a little impatiently. “He sounds-“

“Where is he?” Liam demanded, standing up and already pulling his shoes on. Because suddenly he was remembering a joke he’d made that night he and Zayn got drunk, how he’d jokingly insisted they use a code for precisely this moment.

“In his room,” Harry informed him. He sounded a little wary. “Liam, what’s going on?”

“Tell him I’ll be there soon,” Liam said quickly, grabbing his jacket from the back of his chair. Niall called out to him as he ran out of the shop, not even pausing to pull on his hoodie as he ran down the street and around the corner. He needed to get to Zayn, and soon. He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the boy alone during heat. Or worse, having another alpha take his place.

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

It was unbearable. His skin crawled with pulses of pain, a feeling like knives ripping him apart from the inside. He tugged at his cock, desperate for release and only satisfied for a handful of seconds before the brief pleasure dissipated, and he was left with the same unrest. His body was screaming at him to fling open his door and grab the nearest alpha, have some nameless boy knot him until he was sated. But he had to wait for Liam. His body craved Liam, craved his promise of taking care of him.

He eyed his box of toys that sat at the top of his open closet. He so desperately wanted to grab something to take the edge off, but he couldn’t stomach the thought of moving right now. Every movement he made had his insides curling in pain, but every moment he wasn’t being fucked was equally as worse. He needed something – even if it was just plastic.

He was too wired to move, though. Instead he grabbed his pillow and rutted into it, sensitive cock sliding over the quickly dampening pillowcase. His chest felt tight as his breaths came out in small hitches, unable to control himself as he groaned brokenly. Everything felt raw and blunt, both over- and underwhelming him simultaneously. He just wanted it all to stop so badly.

He reached for his phone where he left it on the mattress, needing to call and find out where Liam was but knowing he couldn’t talk to Harry now, not like this. Not when he was so desperate.

The minutes ticked by and Zayn wondered if the alpha was coming at all. He could very well have decided that he doesn’t want this, that he’s not comfortable with their arrangement. He’s probably disgusted by the thought of Zayn, willing to let just anyone fuck him. He probably thinks Zayn’s a fucking slut, spread out on his bed and waiting to be knotted by someone he barely called a friend, if that.

He sobbed out as the tension in his abdomen began to build again, something in his stomach coiling and fluttered as he ground into the pillow faster. He could feel slick starting to drip down his thighs, mixing with the cum he hadn’t bothered to clean after orgasming three times in twice as many minutes. He felt disgusting, swimming in his own fluids as he thrust more erratically, rhythm dropping as the coil in him tightened and tightened and tightened and then suddenly released, galaxies exploding behind his eyes as he choked out a strangled noise.

It took a moment for the buzzing in his ears to stop, a little too long before he realised that someone was knocking quickly on his door. Zayn’s head swam from the smell of something delicious and intoxicating. His body seemed to realise it was an alpha before he did, mouth opening to choke out a “Please,” before he could stop himself.

“Zayn,” Liam called through the door, voice sounding tight.

“Liam,” Zayn gasped out, cock thickening impossibly more at the sound of the alpha’s voice. “Liam, please fuck me.”

Liam made an audible noise at that. Zayn could hear the boy shaking the doorknob. “I need you to open the door, Zayn, then I promise I’ll take care of you.”

Zayn scrambled up from his bed on shaking legs, body propelled to the door like Liam was physically yanking him. He pawed at the door, brain foggy as he tried to open it a half-dozen times before he remembered the lock, shoving the metal out of the way and swinging the door open. Liam was on him immediately, crowding him back towards the bed and kicking the door closed on the way. Zayn mewled at the feeling of the alpha’s hands on his bare skin, an instant spark running through him that had the pain immediately contorting into pleasure like warm water from a shower.

Liam held him close and sucked at his neck, large hands palming at Zayn’s ass and sliding over the streaks of slick that ran down his thighs. Zayn whined and pulled at Liam’s shirt, yanking it over his head with fever. The moment the material was gone Liam’s mouth collided into his, licking deep into his mouth possessively.

“Still want my knot?” Liam groaned into his mouth. His arms curled around Zayn’s back, not an inch of space between them as Liam ground his hips into Zayn’s throbbing cock. Zayn could feel how hard the alpha was, making him mewl at the feel of their pricks being so close together.

“Want you to fuck me good,” Zayn all but begged, stumbling backwards towards the bed and dragging Liam with him. “Fill me up, babe. Want to feel you.”

It was all he could think about. Liam’s knot, finally in him, bringing him a type of satisfaction he hadn’t felt before. Having the alpha fill him up with his seed, mark him and fuck him and make him feel so good. He needed Liam so badly, fuck.

Liam was still almost fully dressed, but Zayn didn’t care. He needed Liam now.

Liam groaned when Zayn’s hands surged up to undo his pants, fingers fumbling over the buttons until he could pull the offending material down with his boxers. Liam’s cock sprung out, hard and red and angry, huge and everything Zayn needed. He really wanted to suck Liam off, but the need for relief was too prominent.

“Now, please, Liam,” Zayn begged, crawling backwards on his bed. Liam drifted with him, the two of them physically unable to separate more than a few inches. A tight feeling of pain was pooling into his bloodstream, agitated at having the alpha so close but not touching him. “Need you so bad.”

“Flip over,” Liam all but demanded, quickly nipping at Zayn’s neck before the omega turned onto his stomach. Large hands came to rest on his hips, palm down his back, knead the flesh of his ass before-

“Oh fuck,” Zayn groaned out when Liam suddenly pushed two fingers into his hole. The alpha was wasting no time, scissoring him quickly and poking at his prostate in quick thrusts. Zayn buried his face in his folded arms, rocking his hips back on Liam’s digits as his stomach began to tug with a familiar coil of pleasure. His breath was coming out in short gasps, heart hammering as Liam added a third finger and thrust deeper, the alpha’s free hand pinning his lower back to the bed while he continued to assault Zayn’s sweet spot. “Liam – fuck, Liam, Liam-“

Zayn choked out a cry when he came, hips stuttering uselessly into the damp mattress while slick dripped down his thighs. Liam made an aborted noise, too, before he was covering Zayn’s body with his own and sucking possessive bruises in Zayn’s skin. “So fucking gorgeous,” Liam growled, fingers kneading the flesh of Zayn’s thighs. “So fucking wet.”

“Wet for you,” Zayn croaked out, raising his ass to grind back against Liam’s hard prick. “Want you, Liam. Want you so bad.”

“I’ve got you,” Liam promised, leaving one last kiss to Zayn’s shoulder before pulling away a little, lifting Zayn’s hips until the omega was on his hands and knees. He placed a hand at the bottom of Zayn’s spine, the other somewhere Zayn didn’t know until Liam was pressing the head of his cock to his rim. “Hope you’re comfortable,” Liam said.

And then he was pressing his cock into Zayn’s hole without preamble, the length of him filling Zayn up inch by glorious inch. The stretch was a background thought, the ache eclipsed by the sheer relief of being filled by an alpha. Zayn whined and mewled, fingers clenching the sheets as Liam bottomed out.

Liam must have been as desperate as Zayn was, because he forewent any form of teasing or building rhythm in favour of snapping his hips from the get-go. He began with short, deep thrusts, the type that had Zayn cursing out and shifting up the bed from the force of them. Liam’s fingers dug into his hips, holding him in place as best as he could with slippery skin, the bruising grip adding to the feeling of it all.

“So tight,” Liam grunted out. He changed the pace, now pulling out almost the entire way before slamming himself forward again, making Zayn’s thighs quake and ass clench in approval.

“Feels so good,” Zayn moaned. He ground his hips back as best as he could, meeting Liam with each thrust.

“Want me to fill you up, babe?” Liam asked. He grabbed Zayn by the hair and pulled him upright, so that he was now fucking up into Zayn and hitting his prostate dead-on every time. “Fill you up with my pups? Bet you’d look so good with your stomach all swollen-“

Zayn choked out a whimper, cock releasing without warning. He felt winded with the force of it. Liam hummed in approval, hand snaking around to pump Zayn’s dick in time with his thrusts. Zayn’s skin vibrated with sensations, so fucking sensitive but so fucking in love with the feeling of the alpha using him.

“Gonna knot you,” Liam told him, thrusts shallow and erratic before he was suddenly shoving his cock into Zayn, going further than before, Zayn’s rim stretching painfully as he buried his knot in him. Zayn cried out at the feeling, convinced he was being ripped open, the pain too much until-

Liam was cuming, his seed spilling into Zayn while their bodies joined together in a way that felt so obscene but so fucking good. Zayn gasped from it, something indescribable happening inside him. It felt- it felt like his heat had come to a pique, had achieved that sense of finally that he’d been chasing for years. That epitome of fucking relief that he’d been dreaming of since he was thirteen and had his first heat, crying alone in his room because he couldn’t figure out how to stop it from hurting. And now-

There was no pain. There was just constant fucking pleasure, like a vibrator on his prostate, causing his dick to swell dizzyingly quick.

Liam must have been able to sense it, hands leaving Zayn hips. One came to smooth down his stomach soothingly while the other reached for his cock, barely half a dozen quick tugs and a thumb over the slit before Zayn was cuming again, hips stuttering forward involuntarily and making them both hiss as Liam’s knot tugged painfully.

Zayn, finally feeling relief, couldn’t help but rest his head back on Liam’s shoulder. Liam kissed his neck and temple softly, undisturbed by how sweaty his skin was. The alpha’s pants were still pooled around his knees, which probably wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but Liam didn’t seem to care all much when he gentled Zayn onto the bed and carefully turned them onto their sides, so that the alpha was spooning him. Liam slowly grabbed a pillow from the top of Zayn’s bed and slid it under Zayn’s head, the material soft against the omega’s cheek. Both of them were lagging with exhaustion, Zayn’s cock hanging limp, Liam’s knot providing only a dull ache while it refused to go down.

“Best to sleep until it’s over,” Liam mumbles, forehead resting on the back of Zayn’s neck. Zayn hummed in agreement, eyes falling closed and asleep within seconds.

 

He woke up once a while later, when it felt like he’d only been sleeping for a few minutes but must have been at least half an hour. Liam was pulling out of him carefully, muttering soothing words as Zayn whimpered a little, eyes screwed shut. Zayn buried his face in the crook of Liam’s bent elbow. He fell asleep again with Liam’s hands resting gently on his hips.

 

He woke up again a while later, desperate and grinding back against Liam. The alpha was quick to full hardness, lips gliding against Zayn’s neck as he slid in between his cheeks, slick making it easy to just push in and thrust shallowly. Zayn arched back against him, squirming and breathing out in aborted gasps as Liam snapped his hips. Zayn came three times by the time Liam was spilling inside of him, already halfway asleep when Liam bit down on his shoulder and pulled out.

 

When he woke up properly, it was hours later and his skin felt like it was being torn off an inch at a time. Pain crashed over him in incessant waves, causing him to cry out and dig his nails into Liam’s bicep.

“Fuck,” Zayn whimpered. Eyes still closed, he rutted into Liam’s side, desperate for relief. “Liam, please wake up. Need-“

“Wha…” Liam mumbled, slowly waking up. Zayn opened his eyes and watched the moment Liam’s tired confusion transformed into understanding and arousal, eyes dilating as he took a deep breath. “More?”

Zayn nodded desperately. “Please.”

Zayn climbed onto the alpha, straddling him and grinding down onto Liam’s thickening dick. He slid over it, back and forth and groaning lowly from the feel of it fattening between his bare cheeks. Liam’s fingers dug into his hips, the alpha staring up at him with dark eyes and a red bitten lip.

“Gonna fuck me, Li?” Zayn asked, rolling his hips obscenely over the dick trapped beneath him. “Gone give it to me all over again?”

Liam groaned loudly. He used his grip on Zayn’s waist to lift him slightly, making Zayn mewl from the contact, and reached between their bodies to line his hardened cock up with Zayn’s hole. Zayn’s eyes fluttered when the head caught on his rim, a spark of sensation running up his spine. Liam held him there, not moving any further in despite Zayn’s urgent moans.

“Please, Liam,” he pleaded, desperate for relief.

Liam gave in. He held himself steady as he loosened his grip on Zayn’s hip, allowing the boy to sink down on him. Zayn didn’t go down slowly; no, the feel of Liam inside him was too intoxicating – he slid down Liam’s cock as quickly as his body would allow, falling heavily and feeling the head of the alpha’s dick nudge his prostate.

“Oh, shit,” Zayn sighed, relief pooling in his stomach and quickly transforming into arousal. Liam was groaning lowly, hands scratching up Zayn’s back and making the omega arch.

Zayn was too desperate for any sort of adjustment period, and instead started moving almost immediately. He swivelled his hips in circles, feeling the thick, rigid line of Liam’s cock move in him as he did. He rose his hips a little, dropping down in small bounces that quickly increased in pace.

He didn’t have control for long. Liam was quick to grab Zayn’s waist and hammer up into him, taking no prisoners as he held him in place. Zayn could do nothing but collapse on Liam’s chest, groan into the crook of his neck as Liam granted in effort.

“So hungry for my cock,” Liam moaned. His fingers dug into Zayn’s skin, a gesture of possessiveness and awe. “Fuckin’ gagging for it.”

Zayn whimpered into the alpha’s skin, completely overwhelmed with the sensations: Liam’s cock inside of him, thick and brutal, his own cock assaulted by friction between their bodies, bruising fingers digging in to his skin, filthy words muttered in his ear. Rolls of tension were expanding in his stomach, causing Zayn to squirm against Liam’s grip and mewl uncontrollably. Liam held on tighter, hands a little firmer, before shoving Zayn down on his cock.

The two came at the same time, cursing and groaning. It was like nothing Zayn had ever felt before, the feeling of releasing and being filled simultaneously, the dichotomy of giving and taking and using and being used. Zayn fucking revelled in it, in the feeling of the tension finally leaving him. He buried himself in Liam, arms winding up to grasp the alpha’s short hair as he continued to pump his seed into him.

Zayn felt a sense of finality and exhaustion more acutely than before. “I think I’m done,” he said when Liam’s body relaxed in exhaustion. “Finally.”

“That was…” Liam trailed off, chest rising and falling in breathlessness. “Intense.”

Zayn looked up and saw as Liam seemed to become his own person, still possessive with the way he gripped Zayn’s hips but lacking the dominant persona he’d had just moments ago. “Yeah,” Zayn agreed.

Now that the heat (pun not intended) of the situation had left him, Zayn was struck by just how weird this situation was. He and Liam talked, yeah, but Zayn wouldn’t really classify them as proper friends. And yet Zayn was crouched on his chest, unable to move because Liam’s cock was stuck up him.

He couldn’t help but snort a little.

“What?” Liam asked, shuddering a little as his knot pulsed slightly, but still able to look confused beyond the arousal.

“This situation is ridiculous,” Zayn said, still chuckling. “I mean, like, what do we do now? We’re gonna be stuck like this for a while.”

Liam cracked a smile. “Got any coursework to do?”

“And, what, use your chest as a table?” Zayn laughed. Liam shrugged a little, grinning. “Liam, I feel like this situation is weird enough without me writing out a thesis while your dick’s still in me.”

“Could make your thesis better,” Liam said.

Zayn grinned, resting his head back down on Liam’s chest because he truly was exhausted. It felt like every single one of his muscles had been put to use in the last eight hours, now strung out and rapidly developing an ache that Zayn couldn’t define.

Beneath that, though, he felt giddy. He felt loose and mellow and serene, tranquilised after a run of good sex. And, fuck, it was good sex. Really good sex. He was left with a bit of a high, the tension of years of suffering through his rut disappearing after a night.

Fuck, this was actually a ridiculously good plan.

And he’d get a whole month to recuperate, too. As great as Liam was at this, Zayn felt thoroughly sore and fucked out, and new he’d need a decent amount of time before he was up it all again. And then he remembered.

“Fuck,” he hissed, sitting up straight.

“What?” Liam croaked out, hissing as his knot was tugged on abruptly.

“Your rut’s in, like, four days,” Zayn groaned.

Liam raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

“Aren’t you tired?” Zayn asked. “Exhausted? Ready to fucking collapse at the thought of moving even a tiny bit?”

Liam shook his head. Zayn frowned.

“Stupid fucking alpha,” Zayn muttered, laying back down. “With your stupid stamina and stupid sex drive.”

Liam laughed a little, rattling Zayn as his chest moved with it. “You’re in a weird mood.”

“Am I?” Zayn mumbled. He nuzzled his face into the crook of Liam’s neck, inhaling deeply.

“Yeah,” Liam said.

Zayn sighed out contentedly. “Smell good.”

He smelled fucking delicious, actually. Zayn didn’t know how to describe it as anything other than the smell of a strong alpha who’s taken care of him. Zayn loves that, having been cared for.

“Seriously, Zayn,” Liam huffed out in amusement. “What is up with you?”

Zayn didn’t answer, instead resigning himself to smiling as he bit gently at the intents of Liam’s collar bone. The alpha gasped lowly, hands tightening on Zayn’s waist while he cursed softly. Zayn licked the spot over when he was done, before properly relaxing and closing his eyes in preparation to sleep. “Nighty night,” he mumbled.

“G’night,” Liam returned. One of his hands came to rest higher on Zayn’s back, a comforting weight as Zayn fell asleep.

 

Zayn doesn’t remember waking up when Liam pulled out, or even when the boy shucked Zayn off him so he could leave. When Zayn does wake up, though, he explicitly remembers how loopy he’d been after taking Liam’s knot.

“It’s called sub space,” Louis informs him. He and Harry are over at Zayn’s for once, the three of them curled up on his (now thankfully clean) bed the next day.

Zayn’s brow furrows in confusion. “What?”

“It’s, like, a kind of delicate time after you’re done being knotted,” Harry elaborates. “And it’s really important that your alpha takes care of you during that stage, or things can go downhill really quickly.”

“It’s more relevant when you’ve mated,” Louis says quickly at Zayn’s horrified face. “It’s just a period of time where all the hormones that were built up slowly relieve themselves, and it’s either things go right and it’s an easy transition, or things go badly and then go to shit, you know?”

“So you’re telling me,” Zayn begins. “That not only do I have to be a submissive little fuck during my heat, but I’m also going to be needy as shit afterwards, too?”

“Only for an hour or so, chill out,” Louis said.

Zayn threw his hands up in exasperation. “Why the fuck aren’t we taught this?”

Harry shrugged. “Makes alphas uncomfortable, I think.”

Zayn didn’t bother pointing out how stupid that was – he knew that the other omegas wouldn’t find it as concerning as he did. They love their alpha, so they’re not going to question the semantics between relationship dynamics and shit.

But Zayn didn’t love his alpha, so he resigned himself to brooding while he sipped his coffee.

“So how’re you feeling?” Louis asked, crossing his legs and watching Zayn intently.

Zayn eyed him suspiciously. “Fine.”

“Like, physically,” Louis explained. “Gettin’ knotted for the first time is a bit, um, painful.”

Payne-ful,” Harry giggles.

Zayn averts his eyes. “We’re definitely not having this conversation.”

Zayn so didn’t want to discuss it: how his lower back ached, how there was now a slight limp to his step, how he’d moved all his necessities closer to the bed so that he wouldn’t have to move for a day or two. It wasn’t horrible, per say – it actually felt pretty satisfying – but Zayn knew how he looked, with the finger-print shaped bruises on his hips and the hickeys literally his neck and the obvious limp in his step, so Zayn didn’t particularly feel like going out.

“My first knot was horrible,” Louis said, wincing a little.

Zayn knew very few things about Louis’ life before he met Niall and Harry: he comes from a huge family, he started dating an older alpha when he was sixteen, and that particular relationship was an incredibly touchy subject that Zayn Should Not Mention Under Any Circumstances. So him bringing up this Grimshaw bloke now is completely out of character.

“How come?” Zayn asked gently, not wanting to spook the other omega. Harry looked just as attentive, a soft hand on Louis’ ankle.

“He didn’t, um, tell me he had his rut,” Louis told them, eyes downcast when he shrugged. “Not until after.”

Zayn and Harry sucked in twin breaths. Ever since his mother had sat him down to have The Talk, Zayn had been terrified of getting his heat at the same time as an alpha has their rut, absolutely frozen in fear at the thought of getting pregnant. The idea of being responsible for another human had his skin crawling. He didn’t want to go there, not for a long time. But Louis – at fucking sixteen?

“He could have gotten you pregnant,” Harry sniffed, curling Louis into his chest.

Louis doesn’t answer, just lets Harry hold him. Zayn wonders if Niall knows, how the alpha would react if he did. Zayn himself wants to track down the guy and sock him; he can’t imagine how Niall and Harry would feel.

The playful mood was gone. Thankfully, though, only a few moments passed before there was a knock on the door.

“Who is it?” Zayn called.

“It’s- uh, Liam.”

Harry and Louis perked up instantly, shooting Zayn lewd, knowing looks.

Zayn ignored them. “Door’s open.”

Liam pushed open the door cautiously, looking nervous when he poked his head in. His expression transformed into surprise when he saw the other two omegas. “Oh, hi,” he said, clearing his throat. “I’m sorry, I only bought enough for two…”

Zayn looked down at the plastic bag Liam was carrying, filled with a few cartons of food and smelling delicious. What the fuck was happening?

“That’s okay,” Louis said, sliding off the bed. “We needed to get going anyway.”

That’s definitely a lie. Zayn recalls them saying they were free the whole night, that they could even sleep over (but Zayn had declined quickly due to, you know, only having one regular size bed).

“Alrighty then,” Liam said, smiling as they walked past. “Can you remind Niall about gym tomorrow?”

“Will do,” Harry called, and then they were gone.

Liam looked nervous again. “Can I come in?”

After a moment, Zayn nodded slowly.

“I bought Chinese,” Liam told him once he’d closed the door, holding up the bag.

The smell hit him, fresh and sweet and delicious, and he didn’t even think before he was making grabby hands at the bag. Liam laughed a little, still mostly nervous, and dutifully stumbled forward and handed Zayn the food.

“Plates?” Liam asked, looking around.

“Just forks, I reckon,” Zayn said, peering in at the containers. He waved vaguely at his kitchenette. “First drawer.”

Liam grabs a pair of forks and returned to the side of the bed, passing one to Zayn as the omega pulled out the three containers. Zayn looked up at the other boy, finding him wringing his hands nervously as he looked around the room.

“You can sit down, you know,” Zayn told him after a moment.

Liam nodded a little jerkily. Sat.

Zayn eyed him funnily as he opened up the beef soy noodles. “What’s up with you?”

“How are you?” Liam says instead of answering, sitting stiffly on the bed a fair distance from Zayn. His movements were almost robotic as he opened the lemon chicken, gently stabbed a piece and chewed. He looked up at Zayn distractedly.

Zayn frowned. “I’m fine.”

“Yeah?” Liam asked, movements pausing. He looked suddenly relieved. “That’s good, right?”

“Are you on something?” Zayn asked, bewildered. “Like, are you genuinely trippin’ out right now?”

“No,” Liam answered. He looked confused by the question.

Zayn was impossibly more confused. “Then why are you all… fidgety?”

Liam looked like he really, really didn’t want to answer. He averted his eyes, shoulders a little hunched in embarrassment while he chewed deliberately slowly. Finally, when he couldn’t drag it out any longer, he mumbled something.

“What was that?” Zayn prompted.

“Niall said I needed to check on you,” Liam said, unable to look Zayn in the eye. “That I, like, had to care for you. Afterwards.”

Zayn smacked his face with a small groan, damn near blinding himself with the end of his fork. “Why would Niall tell you that?”

“I don’t know,” Liam said, waving a hand in exclamation. “He just told me to buy you food and, like, give you a foot rub or something.”

“Please do not give me a foot rub,” Zayn told him, shaking his head. He stabbed a piece of fork and chewed in annoyance, making a mental note to smack Niall the first chance he gets. “That after care stuff is only necessary if we’re mated, Liam.”

“Oh,” Liam said. Then he shrugs. “That’s good. I’m horrible at massages.”

Zayn’s gaze gets stuck on Liam’s hands for a moment, recalling those same fingers kneading the flesh of his thighs just twenty-four hours ago. He’s suddenly extremely aware that this the first time they’ve seen each other since it happened, that they’re sitting in the exact spot where it all went down. Zayn suppressed any feelings of embarrassment, arguing with himself that this was what they agreed on. He had no reason to be embarrassed.

“So, you’re, like, okay, yeah?” Liam clarified.

“Yes Liam,” Zayn said, rolling his eyes. “You okay?”

“I’m freaking out a little,” the alpha said.

Zayn blinked over at him in surprise. “Over what?”

“Over, just,” Liam tried. Took a breath. “Last night was, like, huge, right? And we’re gonna be doing it all over again in two days. And I feel like it should be weird.”

“But it isn’t weird,” Zayn said, nodding along. “Or, not as weird as it should be.”

“Why isn’t it weird?” Liam asked him, as though Zayn could give him an answer. The alpha was looking at him imploringly, sincerely confused.

After a moment, Zayn shrugs. “It’s biological,” he supposes.

 

 

Liam

 

He wasn’t counting down the hours to his rut, per say. Only-

It’s all he can think about. He’s at the gym with Niall and all he can think about is how close it really is. When he’s lining up for a coffee he’s suddenly hit with the fact that he’s fucked Zayn, that he gets to fuck him again. In class he’s assaulted with memories of Zayn’s naked body, glistening with sweat while his mouth parts in a silent beg; the way his muscles clenched and relaxed beneath Liam’s hands, how he tightened around his knot, how he was so desperate for Liam, only Liam, calling out for him every time their skin wasn’t touching.

Liam needs to get a grip.

“I need some fresh air,” Liam mumbles to the girl he’s meant to be studying with. She nods absently, not looking up from her work as Liam’s slides off his seat and heads for the library’s doors. He takes a deep breath when once he’s outside, willing his mind to stop racing.

He really needs to chill out.

 

“I thought you wanted to cut back,” Niall says, eyeing the amount of food the waiter puts in front of him.

“Rut’s coming up,” Liam said, digging in to the mountain of chips.

“Rut doesn’t affect your appetite.”

“Nerves affect me appetite.”

Niall snorts at that, picking up his burger. “What’ve you got to be nervous about?”

“Zayn,” Liam said immediately. He was shoving chips into his mouth at a disturbing rate. His mother’s warning about him being a ‘nervous eater’ rings in his head.

“What about him?” Niall asks, mouth full of chicken and avocado.

“I don’t want to hurt him,” Liam says quickly, honestly, blurting out his answers because his filter has gone out the window alongside his balls. “And you know just as well as I do that I won’t be able to control myself if he backs out half way.”

“You would be able to,” Niall disagrees, wiping a bit of sauce from the corner of his mouth. “And he won’t back out. You’re just getting flustered over nothing.”

“I’ve never been like this before,” Liam exclaims. He continues eating, although he looks up at Niall imploringly.

Niall watches him for a moment. There’s depth in his bright blue eyes, a type of wisdom that Liam gets glimpses of every now and again. Today was not one of those times, apparently. “Yeah.”

They continued to eat in silence, until Liam was done with his chips and moving on to his sandwich.

And then Niall said: “He’s going to have a really sore arse by the end of this.”

Liam choked on his bite of beef, coughing jerkily as his mind shifted between surprised and mortified. “Did you – have to – say – that – so loudly?” he wheezed, smacking his own chest.

“Don’t pretend like you weren’t thinking it,” Niall told him, chewing indifferently. “After his heat, and now your rut – I dunno if it’s lucky or unlucky that they’re both in the same week.”

Liam, finally able to breath, threw a napkin at the other alpha. Niall didn’t even flinch when it hit his forehead, just kept on eating.

“Talk about more bang for your buck,” Niall said.

“I will slap you, you Irish fuck,” Liam told him.

Niall just cackled.

 

As the hours creep closer to his rut, Liam begins to feel the familiar tension begin to build in him. He becomes more fidgety than usual, waking up hours too early and going to the gym for too-long sessions that leave him winded, going for a jog after lunch and then a run before bed. He can feel all this energy inside of him, and knows that none of it will dissipate until the next afternoon. He snaps at Niall when the boy clicks his pen three times in a row, then apologises immediately, then feels like crying because he’s hungry again. Niall is sympathetic, the other alpha knowing exactly what he’s going through, but his boyfriends eye Liam strangely and make jokes about Liam needing a tampon. Liam ignores them, knows it’s all in good heart.

He wakes up on the twentieth and knows he can’t risk going over to Niall’s, not with the two omega there. He debates on going to Zayn’s while he waits for the rut to hit but figures the boy is at a class, and it’d probably be a bit awkward just waiting around for a few hours, anyway. So he just hangs out in his room and waits.

 

His rut is late. It’s nearly midnight, and he’s still hanging around in his room, trying to read a boring textbook with unfocused eyes. His skin is vibrating with tension, he’s sporting a semi, and his rut is nowhere to be found.

Frustrated, he decides to go for a walk.

He slips on a pair of basketball shorts and his old runners, then spends a good five minutes trying to remember where his earphones are before he realises he’s been holding them the whole time. He steps out of his room, locks the door, and promptly runs into Zayn.

“Sorry,” Liam says immediately. He places his hand on the omega’s shoulder to right him, and instantly feels it.

It’s like a ripple through his body, the way his rut hits him. Starting from his feet, flooding up his legs and torso before centring in his head, causing his spine to stiffen before slackening rapidly. He feels the moment his eyes darkens, watches as Zayn’s own widen as he watches.

And then the calm before the storm vanishes, and Liam’s pinning Zayn to the wall before he even knows what’s happening.

“Need to fuck you,” Liam told him, grinding his rapidly hardening cock into Zayn’s crotch, feeling the omega’s prick respond. He’s holding Zayn by his shirt, head bowed as pleasure rolls through him. “Need you right here, fuck.”

Zayn’s wiry arms come to wrap around Liam’s neck, pulling the alpha closer and inhaling shallowly. “Bedroom, Liam.”

Liam leans down to suck Zayn’s bottom lip into his mouth, pressing their hips more firmly together. “Here.”

Zayn’s breath hitches. He surges forward to lick into Liam’s mouth, whining as Liam scratches fingers up his shirt. Liam’s knot begins to throb, desperately needing to knot. He grabs Zayn by the hips and spins him around, wedging the omega’s body between him and the wall.

“Can’t wait to fuck you,” Liam tells him, fingers digging into Zayn’s hips. “Been thinking about it so much, how much I want to knot you again.”

“Yeah?” Zayn whimpers out, hand reaching back to wrap around the back of Liam’s neck and draw him closer.

“Gonna make you feel so raw,” Liam promises. He snakes a hand down the back of Zayn’s pants, feeling the slick that’s beginning to dampen his cheeks. “Need to take you.”

“Bedroom,” Zayn repeats. Liam slides a finger between his cheeks, pushing in roughly and biting down on Zayn’s shoulder when the omega lets out a breathy gasp. Zayn’s head falls forward onto the wall when Liam slides in another digit, thrusting shallowly. Liam can feel the desperation building, that primal part of him begging to take over. But Liam needs to make sure Zayn’s ready, needs to make sure that he doesn’t hurt the boy like his body is screaming at him to do.

“If you want to back out, you need to do it now,” Liam tells him lowly, dragging his teeth over Zayn’s shoulder. “Not going to be able to control myself soon.”

Zayn grabbed the hand not fucking him and brought it round to his crotch, where he pressed it against his thickened dick. “Does it feel like I want to back out?”

Liam growled and pulled his fingers out, instead favouring to wrap an arm around Zayn’s middle and haul him into the boy’s room. It’s dark inside, like Zayn had been leaving for the night, but Liam’s become accustomed enough to the dorm to know exactly where his stacks of books are piled, where the corner of his hard desk is. He all but dumps Zayn on the bed, hurriedly trying to rid himself of his clothes while the omega does the same. He can feel that chant inside of him getting louder, more insistent, screaming at him to take what’s his.

Once he’d stumbled out the last of his clothing, he crawled up Zayn’s body and pressed them together, biting harshly at Zayn’s neck while he pulled the omega’s hips up to meet his. He felt the flesh beneath his fingers, the way Zayn shuddered and arched when he grazed his knuckles over the soft spot under his balls. He groaned lowly, hips stuttering forward as he tried not to let go of control.

Zayn seemed to have a different idea. “Let go,” he said, wrapping his legs around Liam’s waist. “Fuckin’ let go, Liam.”

Liam let go.

He reached down to pump himself before angling his cock towards Zayn’s hole, pressing at the muscle insistently until it lessened its resistant. He slid in smoothly, growling lowly at the heat that engulfed him. The voice in his head was like music, celebrating and egging him on. He bottomed out, swivelling in figure-eights while Zayn mewled beneath him. The omega clawed at his back when Liam inched out before snapping forward again, making Liam hiss as the pain of it just added to the pleasure.

It was fucking primal. Liam enclosed Zayn with his body, arms curling under his shoulders as he snapped his hips, again and again and again while Zayn cried out with each thrust. Liam’s knot was aching steadily, but it wasn’t time yet. He just really needed to fuck Zayn.

“Liam,” Zayn whispered out, limbs wrapping firmly around Liam’s body as he sod up his pace. “Li, Li-“

“Sounds so fucking good,” Liam all but growled, lips latching onto Zayn’s neck. The sound of his own grunts mixed with Zayn’s whimpers and the slap of skin on skin was intoxicating, engulfing him in heat and need and so much fucking pleasure.

His past rut’s had consisted of him dragging his knot over dry sheets, biting down on his arm to stop himself from screaming in frustration as his knot had nothing to latch onto. But now he did have something, someone, spread out for him and open and willing and waiting, all for his cock. His head spun in arousal, bruises blooming on Zayn’s skin as he continued his assault.

“So – good,” Zayn tells him. He hitches up his hips a little, sobbing out in surprise. “Right there – Liam!”

Liam dicks into the same spot over and over, revelling in how Zayn cried out with each plunge. The omega’s cock laid untouched and heavy between them, dragging over Zayn’s taut stomach as Liam continued to fuck him. Liam thought about getting Zayn off, but was too desperate. He needed Zayn to hold out with him. He wanted to watch the omega cum off his cock, just his cock, wanted to watch the boy arch in pleasure when his knot latched.

One of his hands fisted Zayn’s hair, pulling so that his neck was exposed for Liam to nip at. A part of him was desperate to break the skin, draw blood and mate him, but he had enough control to stop himself. Instead he bit up his jaw, both hearing and feeling the whimpers that emitted from Zayn’s throat. Liam dragged his teeth over the omega’s pulse point, inhaling the pheromones his skin with threatening to suffocate him with. Smelling so sweet, so fucking-

“Liam!” Zayn cried out when Liam moved closer to just rabbit into him. His thrust were in wick successions, unrelenting as he hammered into the omega.

“Wanna see you cum from my knot,” Liam told him, voice low and raspy. “Can you do that for me? Get off on just my dick?”

“Gonna get off on just your mouth if you keep talking like that,” Zayn groaned out. His back was beginning to arch, stomach muscles rippling as tension built. The omega whimpered. “Need your knot.”

“Fuck,” Liam groaned. He pumped a little longer, eyes screwing shut as his knot throbbed waves of need through his body. It was so demanding, so intense, Liam had to give in.

He pushed in his knot, feeling the resistance Zayn’s entrance exhibited, how the muscles contracted around him. He felt compressed and suffocated for one, two, three seconds, and then suddenly the pressure gave way like a strung-out rubber band suddenly being released, waves of tension rolling out of his body as he released inside of Zayn. “Shit, shit, shit,” the omega groaned out, first in pain and then in pleasure as his body responded to Liam’s seed.

Zayn looked fucking gorgeous, skin glistening with sweat, hair falling over his face, head shifting over the mattress as Liam’s hips stuttered with irregular thrusts. And then Zayn was cuming, back arching and mouth dropping in a silent cry while his legs curled tighter around Liam, fingers pressing firmly to the back of his neck, ass clenching deliciously around his knot, milking the last of his seed out of him. Liam was suspended in time, watching how Zayn finally shuddered and released a breath, back lowering down to the mattress as he came off his high. Liam bent down and kissed him possessively, hoping he’s ruined the omega for anyone else. The thought of Zayn with another alpha had his stomach turning sourly.

“Fuck,” Zayn groaned when he pulled away, head resting back against the bed. He looked overwhelmed and thoroughly fucked out. Liam was quite proud, to be honest.

Unlike during Zayn’s heat, it didn’t take long for Liam’s knot to shrink. Liam pulled out gently, kissing Zayn’s collarbone soothingly as the omega hissed in discomfort.

“I feel like I’ve been ripped in two,” Zayn gaped out, breathing still irregular.

Liam collapsed next to him. The primal voice was disappearing, rapidly being replaced with concern for the omega. “Did I hurt you?”

“Nothing I’m complaining about,” Zayn said, shrugging and stretching with a yawn. “Fuckin’ exhausting, though.”

“As exhausting as your heat?” Liam asked.

After a moment, Zayn shook his head. “Nah, heat’s more tiring – because of the pain, and stuff.”

“Pain?” Liam questions. He always figured being in heat was like rutting, where there was a build-up of tension that needed to go somewhere. The wince on Zayn’s face said this was not the case.

“Most painful thing I’ve ever been through,” Zayn tells him. The omega’s blinks are becoming longer, voice a little milder as exhausted crept up. “Hate it so much.”

Liam considers this. “Why don’t you just take suppressants?” he asks.

Zayn doesn’t answer him, but Liam knows he’s awake. He watches as the omega tries to slow his own breathing, watching how he shifts uncomfortably until he rolls onto his side and then lays on his front, face angled towards Liam. After a moment he cracks an eye open, looks back at the alpha evenly. “Goodnight, Liam,” he says pointedly.

Liam doesn’t bother him anymore, if only because sleep is working well to pull him under, too.

 

They fall into a routine surprisingly easily. While Zayn’s heats are still largely erratic, they manage to organise their coursework and other commitments so that the four days before the twentieth of each month and the two days after are always left aside for their “arrangement”, as Zayn likes to call it. The next time Zayn goes into heat they’re luckily just at Niall’s dorm, and Liam is quick to haul the omega into his arms and carry him next door, and then spends the next twenty-four hours fucking him into the mattress while Harry periodically brings them food. Five days later, Liam stumbles into Zayn’s dorm and they repeat the process, and then lounge about for the entirety of the next day while their bodies (Zayn’s in particular) recovers from the past week.

Liam learns a lot about Zayn during this time. In between rounds, when Zayn is sated enough for a quick kip or just an hourly break, they ask questions back and forth, slowly fulfilling the ‘friends’ part of their ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement. Liam learns that Zayn has three younger sisters, still-married parents, and has a huge extended family that he doesn’t get to see as often as he likes. Liam also learns that Zayn can absolutely nail six different dishes but is shit at cooking otherwise, he can play the guitar and a bit of piano, and can speak Urdu. He tried teaching Liam a little, but he’s so bad at pronunciation that he ends up saying nonsensical phrases that make Zayn snort with laughter.

But for everything he does learn, there are a bunch of other questions left unanswered. Liam recognises the fact that being an omega is a sore spot for Zayn, as he completely omits any discussion of this part of him and dodges any of Liam’s questions that hit too close to home. He becomes less defensive over time, though, and while he initially tells Liam to fuck off every time he asks something too personally on accident, by the time Zayn’s third heat with him has come and gone he’s recognised Liam’s sincerity and simply says “I don’t want to talk about that” if Liam brings up something he doesn’t realise is touchy.

All in all, they fall into a pretty easy routine. And a pretty easy friendship.

 

“I wonder if the cheesecake is organic,” Harry says, staring intently at the menu.

Louis snorts as he runs a hand through the boy’s mess of curls. “I very much doubt it.”

“There’s no harm in asking,” Harry says. He both sounds and looks languid, probably from the loud round of sex Liam heard last night. Held been at Zayn’s, having just finished his rut, when the three boys next door started going at it. (And Liam doesn’t know why they want to punish themselves like that, with Louis’ heat coming up any day now – they should be resting, really.)

“Please do not ask if the goddamn cheesecake is organic,” Zayn groans, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. “It’s like asking if the BLT is vegan.”

Louis tried to hide his laughter as a sneeze, but Harry heard anyway and huffed in annoyance. He wasn’t sour for long, though, before Niall was wrapping a placating arm around his shoulder and pulling him in close. “Ignore them,” he murmured, kissing the top of his head gently. “They’ll all die before you. You’ll be a hundred and twenty and victorious.”

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Zayn says, smiling wryly. “If he steals my shampoo one more time, I’ll drown him with it.”

“Rude,” Harry said.

Liam watched the exchange in amusement, content to just watch. He’d well and truly become comfortable with these boys, but he was just so exhausted today that he’d prefer to just eat his lunch and then go home and take a kip. Maybe he could convince Zayn to let him sleep on his gloriously comfortable bed. He feels like the answer would be ‘no’ after how much time they’ve spent together in the bed the past week.

The waiter came around to take their orders, looking please about the fact that Zayn and the two alphas ordered the same burger and Louis just ordered the house waffles, but then became increasingly flustered as Harry asked if various items on the menu were organic.

“I don’t think the vanilla slice is organic either, sorry,” the beta apologised. “I can ask the chef whether the dressing in the salads are?”

“Do you really need to eat rabbit food?” Louis asked, looking at Harry incredulously. “Like, Hazza, I love you, but please for the love of God just pick a sandwich.”

“I’m trying to do a cleanse,” Harry responds indifferently, studying the menu again. “Can I have some green tea?”

“Sure,” the beta says.

“You can’t just have tea for lunch,” Niall says.

“I’ll have something else to eat when I get home,” Harry assured the alpha. He grinned winningly at the waiter, passing over his menu with a ‘thank you’. The girl looked happy to leave.

“Why do you have to be so difficult,” Louis whined. It was with a smile, though, the boy unable to be annoyed with his boyfriend for more than three seconds.

Harry shrugged. “Last night you didn’t-“

He cut off suddenly, face paling as he stared at Louis. Liam’s brows drew together in concern as he watched Harry shake a little, but then a gush of wind came through the open door and Liam could smell it, the sweet scent of the beginnings of a heat.

Liam could have sworn Louis was next, though. The suddenly anxious look on Niall’s face tells him that the other alpha thought the same thing too. But then there’s another gush of wind and Liam realises Niall’s not anxious about Harry going into heat – no, he’s anxious because Louis’ started his, too.

“Oh my god,” Zayn says, as realisation dawned upon the five of them. Louis and Harry turned to Niall simultaneously, eyes darkening as they surveyed their alpha.

Niall looked between the two of them, bewildered and terrified and aroused. “Oh no.”

It was a mad rush to get out of the diner. Liam quickly fished out money while he waved Niall off, the alpha’s arms suddenly full of two desperate omega. Niall wasn’t able to move while the both of his boyfriends clung to him, pawing at him as they talked filthily. Others in the restaurant had well and truly taken notice, some alpha standing up in interest as they realised that there were two omegas and only one of Niall. Liam wanted to help manoeuvre them but knew that he’d lose control if he got too close to the sweet-smelling pair, and instead opted to hold out a hand in warning at any alpha who stepped towards them.

Zayn didn’t have the same problem, though, and quickly darted to the other side of the table to wrap his arms around Harry. The other omega hissed and thrashed when he was removed from Niall, but it allowed the alpha to lift Louis and jog the two out of the restaurant, the rest of them close behind.

They’d luckily decided to bring Niall’s car due to the threatening grey clouds over head. So Zayn stuffed Harry in the backseat with his boyfriends before throwing Niall’s keys to Liam.

Liam shook his head. “You’re going to have to drive,” Liam said through gritted teeth, shifting uncomfortably on the spot as his body responded to the pheromones in the air.

“I don’t know how to drive,” Zayn told him, already making a move for the passenger seat. “You need to try.”

Liam did as best as he could. The ride was too long and too jerky and too dangerous, with Liam getting constantly distracted by the sounds of moaning and lewd promises being made in the back seat. He made the mistake of glances in the rear-view mirror while he was stopped at a light, and was assaulted with the image of Niall looked arousal and overwhelmed with an omega on either side of him, both grinding into his thighs and kissing up his neck. One of Niall’s hands was palming Harry’s crotch while the other dug into Louis’ leg, both of them mewling in approval. The car behind Liam had to beep for a solid ten seconds before Liam was able to snap out of it and keep driving.

Zayn once again helped Niall get his omega up the stairs of the dormitory building while Liam hissed at any alpha that showed too much interest. Niall was constantly stumbling, clearly unable to find a proper balance as one of his boyfriends would pin him to rhea wall and grind against his hip while the other would palm the bulge in his pants and mouth at his chest. Liam tried to help but ended up having Niall growl lowly at him, hands curling possessively around his boyfriends’ arms.

Finally, finally, they were in their room, slamming their door in their hurry to get on with things. Liam was left panting as he rested his head on the wall, willing his cock to go down. But the pheromones were still in the air, strong and delicious.

“You okay?” Zayn asked. Liam was acutely aware of how close he was, and had to force himself to move away.

“Don’t,” Liam said. “I wouldn’t be able to control myself.”

Zayn assessed him with dark eyes. Then, shrugging, he opened his own door and took a step inside. He looked over his shoulder at Liam, who was still trying to will his raging erection down. The omega raised an eyebrow. “Coming?”

“What?”

“You want help or not?”

Liam didn’t even have to think about it. He stumbled after Zayn, desperate for contact. The door was barely closed before Zayn was pinning him against it, dropping to his knees and unbuttoning Liam’s jeans. He pushed down the offending material and Liam’s boxers in one swift movement, just enough to have Liam’s cock free of its confines.

“Please don’t knot my mouth,” Zayn said. And then he was sucking Liam’s prick into his mouth.

Liam’s head fell back heavily against the door at the heavenly contact, the feeling of tight heat and a wet tongue lapping at his tip. Liam’s legs shook from the feel of it, from the pressure of keeping upright. Zayn took him further into his mouth, lips widening obscenely as he took more of Liam’s cock. He looked fucking debauched, unsettled hair falling over his face as he went lower, plump pink lips thinning as his cheeks hollowed. He started bobbing his head and Liam cried out, hands coming to curl into the omega’s hair as he was engulfed in heat and arousal.

With Zayn’s mouth on him and the smell of heat in the air, it was easy to imagine Liam was fucking the boy through his own heat. His mind was transported to just six days earlier when they were in the same position as the boys next door are. Liam pictures Zayn sprawled out for him again, fucking down on his own fingers while Liam had undressed and gotten ready. He thinks of the way breathy moans had escaped the boy’s lips, how the omega had been calling out for him, desperate for him. And then he opens his eyes and Zayn’s on his knees in front of him, swallowing around as much as his length as he could while he made lovely, obscene noises with each bob.

Liam felt tension quickly building – thankfully not in the form of a knot, instead just an ordinary orgasm. But, fuck, it wasn’t ordinary; how could it be ordinary when Zayn was kneeling for him, so fucking obedient and gorgeous as he sucked Liam with enthusiasm and fluttered his eyelashes prettily.

Liam groaned brokenly, hands tightening in Zayn’s hair as the omega bobbed his head once more, twice more, a third time, and then Liam was spilling down his throat, making an aborted noise as his released rocked through him. Zayn sucked him through it, undisturbed by how Liam’s hips stuttered forward involuntarily as aftershocks made him spasm.

“Fuck,” Liam gasped when Zayn pulled off with an obscene slurping noise.

The omega looked up at him with wide, dark, doe eyes. “We’re never telling the lads about this, ever.”

Liam couldn’t help but slide to the ground. “Agreed,” he said, blindly reaching out for Zayn. “Here, your turn.”

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

They fucked up. They really royally fucked up. This was not a part of the agreement.

Zayn is lying in bed, having a mental crisis while Liam dozes next to him. The alpha had been sleeping for at least an hour now, after they had – fuck – sucked each other off. His mouth was still red and swollen, slightly parted as he breathed long, even, exhausted breaths. Zayn watched him, trying to focus on something other than the panic creeping up on him.

It’s just that it’s all suddenly crashing down. Prior to today, they’d managed to stick to their agreement, be mutually beneficial. And now Zayn was Liam’s fuck toy. Awesome.

He sat up, wincing at the discomfort in his lower back. The past week had been intense, to say the least: Zayn’s heat had been for longer than usual, spanning a full two days, and then there was Liam’s rut where the alpha had been just as rough as usual (but apologised for it immediately and looked guilty as fuck until Zayn literally covered his mouth to stop him from babbling), and then the events that occurred today. Needless to say, Zayn’s ass felt like the aftermath of a car crash.

Zayn really needed to take his mind off everything. But he was too sore to go far, and he couldn’t do anything much in here without waking Liam up, and the boys next door were well and truly busy. (Zayn could hear them with disturbing clarity, how the two omegas were sobbing in discomfort, and Niall tried to balance between them. Zayn wonders how Niall’s going to keep them both satisfied, with having to alternate between knotting the two. He makes a mental note to take a case of beer over there tomorrow.)

Sighing, he slipped out of bed and grabbed a book to read, knowing it was going to be a long afternoon. When he settled back into bed, laying on his stomach with his book in front of him, Liam turned and threw an arm over Zayn’s back, cuddling closer. Zayn had figured out by this point that the alpha loved a good cuddle, especially after a good round of sex.

Zayn refused to think about it.

 

When Zayn finally got a text the next day to say he could come over, he nearly sprinted to the dorm next door, dying for company (and to know how the boys were holding up). He had spent the morning brainstorming puns and coming up with lewd questions as payback for the countless conversations these boys had made awkward with Liam, but the moment the door was open he figured he should give them a break.

Harry was the one to open the door, dressed in an oversized purple sweater and purposely loose pants. He smiled tiredly, sated but exhausted, deep bags under his eyes.

Louis didn’t look much better. His hair was in disarray, his skin was sporting almost as many bruises as tattoos, and he was chewing gingerly at left over pizza. Zayn really didn’t want to know what he had been doing with his mouth.

And then there was Niall: boisterous, larger-then-life, superhuman stamina alpha Niall Horan, unmoving on his bed as he stared at the ceiling. He looked like he’d seen a few things.

“I just want to say,” Zayn began, closing the door behind him. “That I told you so.”

Harry giggled and Louis rolled his eyes. Niall did nothing. His entire torso was covered in love bites, bleeding together at some points. His neck was covered, too, and Zayn think he can spy a few discernible bite marks.

“I think you killed him,” Zayn commented. He approached the bed, and passed Niall a beer he’d bought around. “Drink up, buddy.”

“My body doesn’t work anymore,” Niall groaned out, wide blue eyes snapping to Zayn’s. “They’ve ruined me, I think.”

“And now you’ve got this every month,” Zayn reminds him, clinking their bottles together.

“Oh, God,” Niall groaned.

Zayn raised an eyebrow. “Was it really that bad?”

“It was fantastic,” Niall told him. He looked like he wanted to cry. “I think I’m dead.”

“Let him sleep,” Harry said, wandering over to drag Zayn into the kitchen where he was making toasties. “Louis and I could have naps while the other was being knotted, but Niall was awake the whole night.”

“Shit,” Zayn dragged out in sympathy, taking a swig of his drink.

Harry goes about making the sandwiches while Zayn just sits and watches, content after having no company for the day. He still wasn’t up to going to classes just yet, and he needed a little breather from Liam for a little bit while he tried to sort out his own head, so he was really just thankful he can hang out with his best friend for a while.

“How was last night?” he asked quietly after a while, mindful of the alpha sleeping behind him.

Harry grinned. “Hot.”

“I can imagine,” Zayn said. He eyes Niall’s torso again, how there was only slivers of pale skin between the marks. “Reckon he’ll be able to handle it for the rest of your lives?”

This, apparently, was not the right thing to say.

Harry’s face darkened immediately, eyes dropping down as he concentrated intently on cutting cheese. Zayn watched as his best friend’s shoulders slumped a little, the way his next breath was shaky.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

Harry looked up and over Zayn’s shoulder, first at Niall’s sleeping frame and then over to where Zayn knew Louis was on the couch. “Nothing,” Harry said tightly.

Zayn looked over his shoulder, finding Louis watching them curiously. He turned back to Harry and mouthed ‘Later?’

Harry extended his pinkie slightly, their secret gesture from back in the days where they’d go clubbing and would need signals for if alphas started hitting on them. Wiping the corner of his mouth meant he was fine. Extending his pinkie meant he needed help.

 

It wasn’t until a few days later when Harry was able to come to Zayn’s room without Louis and/or Niall trailing with him. He looked flustered, nervously pushing back his curls until Zayn passed him a bandana. He was still keyed up, though, so Zayn guided him onto the bed and laid down next to him, curling their fingers together while he waited for Harry to calm down.

“You okay?” Zayn asked when Harry was breathing properly.

Harry looked across at him with sad eyes. “Niall wants to mate with me and Lou.”

Out of everything Zayn had been preparing to hear, this had not crossed his mind. “What?”

“He wants to mate,” Harry repeated. “All three of us. Together.”

“Is that a bad thing?” Zayn asked. Because Harry looked distraught, but Zayn knew the boy was a hopeless romantic – he’d usually be jumping for joy at the thought of someone wanting to spend their life with him.

“It is,” Harry sniffed.

Zayn ducked closer and smoothed a hand across Harry’s cheek, heart breaking as he watched the boy’s eyes swell with tears and nose redden with the effort of holding them back. “Hazza,” he says, so confused. “Please tell me what’s wrong.”

“What if one of us has a kid?” Harry asks suddenly, voice wet. “What if Louis gets pregnant? Then suddenly they’ll have a child, and I’ll just be the weird guy along for the ride.”

“That child would be just as much yours, Haz,” Zayn tells him. “They would never cast you aside.”

“Not intentionally,” Harry agrees. He looks down, curling in on himself a little. “But there’re so many things that wouldn’t recognise our relationship. Like if we wanted to buy a house, only two of us could put our names down. And only one of us can be the next of kin for accidents. And, fuck, I want to travel the world, you know? But it’d be too expensive for all three of us to go, and I know Louis would want to stay with Niall for his heats. And then suddenly I’m alone somewhere in Asia and they’re Skyping me to say that they want it to be just them-“

Harry breaks off in a sob, trying to pull his legs up so he can curl into a ball. Zayn doesn’t let him, though, instead pulling him in close and letting him cry softly into his chest. “Harry,” Zayn soothes thickly. “Fuck, Harry, they wouldn’t-“

“I love them so much,” Harry tells him, sniffing pitifully. “But I can’t mate with them if there’s even a chance that I’ll get left behind.”

Zayn can read between the lines. As an omega, Harry would be bound to Niall for life, while Niall would always have the option of leaving. He could leave with Louis. And Zayn knows that Niall wouldn’t do that, would never do that, but the thought was terrifying enough for him – he couldn’t imagine what Harry was feeling.

He held the other omega close, rocking them gently as Harry sobbed into his shirt. Tears pricked Zayn’s own eyes as he became increasingly frustrated with himself because there was nothing he could do. His best friend’s heart was breaking, and there was not a thing he could say to help.

“When does he want to do it?” Zayn asked after a while, when Harry had calmed slightly.

“Next heat,” Harry mumbled.

Zayn winced. “And Louis wants to?”

“He’s ecstatic,” Harry tells him. He pulls away enough for Zayn to see his red-rimmed eyes. “He can’t fucking wait.”

 

Harry ends up staying for the night. Niall comes over to ask for him but Zayn claims he’s feeling homesick and Harry’s just helping him deal. Niall asks if he can quickly talk to his boyfriend but Zayn shakes the head, comes up with some other excuse he can’t remember, and closes the door.

“You’re gonna have to tell them how you feel,” Zayn murmurs when the end-credits for the cheesy Nicholas Sparks movie are rolling on his laptop.

Harry drags out a breath and curls more firmly into Zayn’s side, eyes screwed shut. “I know.”

“Why are you so convinced they’re going to leave you, babe?” Zayn asked, carding fingers through the boy’s soft hair. “Like, leave you specifically, and not you guys leaving Louis or something.”

“We’d never leave Louis,” Harry said immediately. Defensive. Then he deflated a little, resting his head on Zayn’s shoulder. “You remember the day at the café, yeah?”

“When you both went into heat?” Zayn asked. The other omega nodded.

“They were both annoyed when I was trying to order food,” Harry sniffed, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.

“They weren’t annoyed, Harry,” Zayn immediately denied.

“But they didn’t understand me,” Harry countered. Silent tears were beginning to spill down his cheeks, dripping slowly as the boy focussed on his breathing. “And Niall got you to separate me from him. And then he knotted Louis first. And he was so good with Louis in the morning, and they were saying how much they loved each other while they thought I was sleeping. And, fuck, they’re so great together, Zayn. They just fit.”

Harry sniffs loudly, looking up at the roof as he tried to will the tears away.

“They’re perfect for each other,” he said finally, smiling sadly. “There was a reason Niall wanted Louis even after he already had me.”

 

Zayn noticed the change in increments.

It started with Harry inviting him out for coffee more regularly, to that place across campus that Louis hates going to because the “chairs are so fucking musty”. Niall doesn’t like the place, either, because it’s very much an omega zone, and the baristas tend to eye him suspiciously every time he walks in. They just sit and chat, and when Zayn suggests they head back, Harry orders them more drinks.

When they are at the dorm, Zayn can’t help but notice how Harry doesn’t lean into Niall’s side as easily, how he avoids curling up with Louis like he usually would. Instead Harry opts to stand by Zayn or be in the kitchen, cooking something or other. It was a nervous habit that he’d had since Zayn had known him. His heart was breaking just watching.

“You okay, love?” Niall murmured quietly, wrapping his arms around Harry from behind.

Zayn watched Harry relax for only an instant before he was tensing with panicked eyes, cutting up walnuts jerkily. “Just tired,” he answered quickly.

Niall’s expression immediately contorted into concern. “Didn’t sleep well?”

Harry nodded, eyes darting to Zayn’s for a split second before he was averting them again, ears red. He’d always hated lying.

“Maybe you’re coming down with something,” Niall frowned. “Do you want to take a nap? I can finish up here.”

“I’m okay,” Harry said quickly.

Niall lingered for a moment, face still concerned and confused. Then, slowly, he released his arms from around Harry. The omega relaxed immediately. Niall looked downcast as he wandered off to check on Louis.

“Stop stringing this out,” Zayn muttered quietly. “It’s been a week, Harry.”

“I’ll tell them when I want to tell them,” Harry hissed back. He looked surprised by the vehemence in his own voice, eyes wide for a moment before he smiled sheepishly. Zayn waved him off before he could apologise.

 

“You look tense,” Liam commented. Zayn jumped in surprise, phone dropping loudly on the table. He winced inwardly as a few people around them turned, startled by the disrupted quiet of the library. Zayn looked up at Liam, finding the alpha examining the angry scribbles on the page Zayn was supposed to be planning an essay on.

“Do I?” Zayn finally asked.

Again, Liam’s gaze darted to the scribbling on the page. “I’d say so.”

Zayn sighed. Didn’t answer. What could he say? He wasn’t going to tell Harry’s boyfriend’s best friend about something that Niall doesn’t even know yet. And he definitely wasn’t going to tell Liam that as much as he loved Harry, the last two weeks have been horrible – Zayn hated going out, and Harry’s insistence for coffee or lunch dates or trips to the shops are doing his head in.

Liam slowly lowered himself onto the seat next to Zayn, apparently giving him time to say no if he wanted to. Zayn allowed it, not caring all that much. It was weird, though, how Liam was so tentative about sitting next to him, despite having had his dick up Zayn’s ass more than a few times in the last three months.

“Well, I’ve got a proposition for you,” Liam said, looking determined.

Zayn thought about the last proposition they made. “I’m listening.”

“So, I was meant to see Deadpool with Niall, but he reckons that Harry’s coming down with something so he wants to stay at home,” Liam began. “But I’ve already bought the tickets. So. Wanna come?”

Zayn looked at the work in front of him that he should be doing. He then thought of how much shit was about to hit the fan. Pinching his nose, he nodded. “Please tell me we can go right now.”

 

The session wasn’t until after dinner, actually, but it turns out that Zayn didn’t care much. Because the movie was so fucking good, and Liam was such a good movie watching companion (laughed in the right spots, didn’t check his phone even once, silently offered his chocolate to Zayn every now and again), and Zayn felt relaxed for the first time in too long.

“Now you’ve got to admit that Marvel is better than DC,” Zayn said when they left the theatre.

“That was a fantastic movie,” Liam agreed, eyes bright. He grinned. “But DC is still better.”

“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Zayn asked, mock appalled.

“Just wait until Batman vs Superman comes out,” Liam said. “Then you’ll be eating your words.”

“Don’t count on it,” Zayn told him. He finished his leftover sweets from his pocket and popped one in his mouth, giddy with the feeling of just hanging out. It was something he hadn’t been able to do lately – or ever, really. He wasn’t the greatest at making new friends, often pissed off everyone he met because he felt so strongly about certain topics (important topics, he reminds himself), and his conversations with Harry and Louis were often loaded with the heavy pretences that came with long term friends. But he was enjoying this, that space in between acquaintance and friend, where they didn’t know enough about each other to turn their playful bickering into anything deeper. It was great. Ignorance is bliss, and all of that.

“Your heat’s coming up this weekend, right?” Liam asked after they’d been walking for a couple minutes.

“As if you don’t already know,” Zayn snorted lightly. “I’ve seen your calendar.”

Liam laughs with him a little. Then he suddenly turns to Zayn as he walks, grinning widely. “Give me some tips.”

Zayn looked at him strangely. “What?”

“Some pointers. Stuff to do better,” Liam clarified. Zayn shook his head in bemusement, wondering who the hell this guy is. “C’mon. It’ll make it better, you know?”

“What happened to the flustered guy after my first heat, huh?” Zayn asked lightly. Liam smiled a little sheepishly. Zayn wondered if he felt the calm of the night, too, if he felt more comfortable in the same way Zayn felt relaxed. It really as a great movie. “Okay, fine. But you have to give me some, too.”

“Deal,” Liam said with a grin.

Zayn didn’t even have to think about the first one. “Take your pants off.”

“What?”

“You never take your pants fully off,” Zayn tells him. “And it just makes things harder.”

“You’re pretty demanding at the time, though,” Liam countered, laughing. “I always feel like I’ve got no time.”

“Just ignore me when I get like that,” Zayn told him. “Your turn.”

Liam thought for a moment. But then he was shaking his head. “I honestly can’t think of anything.”

Zayn gave him a pointed look. “You literally just promised you’d say something.”

“I can’t think of anything!” Liam defended, hands up. “There’s nothing you can improve on. A+ partner.”

“But now I’m the asshole that criticised you,” Zayn all but whined. “C’mon, Liam.”

Liam raised his shoulders. “Don’t… bite me?”

“You sound unsure,” Zayn commented.

“That’s because I don’t want you to not bite me.”

“Oh my god,” Zayn groaned. He walked into the dorm building when Liam held the door open, rubbing his hands down his face. “How are we having this conversation.”

When he looked up again, Liam was blushing sweetly. It contrasted so much with his leather jacket, but was actually sort of endearing. Zayn inwardly shook his head.

“Sorry,” Liam said, ducking his head as he grinned.

“I’ll let it slide if you admit Marvel is superior,” Zayn offered as they climbed the stairs.

Liam snorted. “I’d rather you just be annoyed with me.”

Zayn isn’t annoyed with him, funnily enough. Usually he hates it when people back out of their promises – even one as small as this – but instead he found himself grinning constantly. He doesn’t think about it.

He’s about to reply with some comment or another, but gets side tracked by a figure on the second flight of stairs. Harry sits there, head in his hands as his body shook like a leaf in the wind. He looked up, red-rimmed eyes meeting Zayn’s as the younger omega sniffed. “Hey,” he said, voice cracking.

Zayn didn’t say anything, just crouched down next to him and pulled him in close. Harry collapsed in his hold, causing Zayn to stumble back onto the stairs as sobs quaked through Harry’s body.

“I told them,” Harry whispered out, fat tears soaking his face. “I told them and now-“

“It’s okay,” Zayn cooed, holding the boy a little tighter. He didn’t have to think too hard to figure out what happened. He turned to Liam, who just stood there, looking simultaneously uncomfortable and concerned. “Niall’s gonna need you,” he told him. “You should probably go up there now.”

Liam nodded quickly. “Yeah,” he said, and then he was gone. Selfishly, Zayn mourned the good night. But then he snapped out of it he cradled Harry closer, kissing the top of his head as he felt the boy’s heart break.

“I think we’re done,” Harry managed to say after a moment. “I think we’re over, Zayn.”

Zayn felt like crying himself, seeing his best friend like this. “Harry-“

“They don’t want me anymore,” Harry sobbed. He fisted the front of Zayn’s shirt, shoulders shaking with the force of his crying. “I fucking- fucking knew this would h-happen.”

Zayn wanted to know exactly what was said, exactly how the conversation and ensuing fight went down, but knew that Harry was too inconsolable right now. So instead he gentler him onto his feet, guided the crying boy to his dorm, and tucked him under his covers, where Zayn knew it’d only be a matter of minutes before the boy cried himself into exhaustion. Zayn sat on the edge of the bed, carding his fingers through Harry’s hair as the boy hiccupped and shuddered his way down to even breaths, eyes closing and not opening again.

As carefully and quietly as he could, Zayn left the bed and exited his room, softly closing the door before he made his way to Niall’s. He didn’t bother knocking, just walked in. He wasn’t surprised at the sight he was met with: Louis sitting on the couch, shaking with the effort of holding back tears while Niall rubbed his shoulders and hid his face in the crook of his neck, Liam awkwardly sitting there and looking so sad and so desperate to help but having no idea what to do.

Zayn closed the door. Crossed his arms. “What happened?”

“Drop the fucking attitude, Malik,” Louis hissed. “I’d rather not have you gang up on us, thanks.”

“It’s not ganging up if it’s just me,” Zayn pointed out. “And I love you, but I need to know why the fuck Harry thinks you guys don’t want him anymore.”

“He’s the one who said he didn’t want us!” Louis defended, standing up angrily. “He’s the one who said he didn’t want to mate us, and that we’d never work-“

“Louis,” Niall said. It was a quiet plea, but it was enough to get the omega’s attention. Louis deflated instantly, collapsing back into Niall’s lap. He turned away from Zayn, sobbing quietly into his alpha’s shirt. Niall himself looked up at Zayn with sad, glassy eyes, looking more broken than Zayn had ever seen him before. “Zayn,” he approached softly. Voice cracking. “Is Harry done with us?”

Zayn hesitated, not entirely sure how to answer. He decides to stick with the things he knows for sure. “He loves you,” he says finally.

“But?” Niall prompted, sniffing softly. Liam rested a hand on his shoulder in comfort.

“He loves you,” Zayn repeated. Left it at that. “I’ll order us some dinner.”

“I’m not hungry,” Niall said.

“Shouldn’t you be with Harry?” Louis asked, slightly bitter.

“I’m wherever I’m needed,” Zayn said, knowing that Louis didn’t mean the vehemence in his tone. “So I’m ordering us a shit tonne of pizza.”

After he’d hung up with the pizza place, Niall nodded to the door. Zayn followed him out, unsurprised to find the alpha staring at Zayn’s door. He can’t imagine what’s going through his mind.

But then Zayn was closing the door and the change was instant, Niall’s expression crumpling now that he didn’t have to stay strong for Louis’ sake.

“Tell me what to do,” the alpha begged. “Please, Zayn.”

Zayn pulled him into a tight hug, bewildered. He’s never seen Niall in this capacity, breaking and confused and overcome with emotion. “You’ve got to tell me what happened,” Zayn says quietly. “I can’t help if I don’t know.”

“The three of us were going to mate next week,” Niall mumbled, an admission into Zayn’s shoulder. “But then he said he didn’t want to, and he didn’t want to be in a- be in a relationship like ours, that we’d never work-“

Niall broke himself off, taking a deep, shuddering breath.

“He doesn’t want us,” Niall continued after a moment. He pulled away, head ducked. “He’s done.”

Zayn wanted to tear his hair out. The three of them were all scared and blind, rebounding their pain and rejection off of each other until Zayn couldn’t tell where it began. And Niall looked so fucking weak, forcing himself to hold back tears lest he be judged, even in such a vulnerable situation. Zayn didn’t know what to say.

He was saved, though, when Liam stepped out of the door and wrapped his arms around his best friend. Zayn watched silently as Niall drew strength from Liam, the taller boy muttering something while the blond nodded, the two holding each other up. It wasn’t long before Zayn felt like he was intruding on something private, so he snuck past them and back into his own dorm, finding Harry awake and scrolling through photos on his phone. Zayn didn’t have to look to know who the photos were of. He definitely didn’t have to think too hard to recognise that everything was about to change.

 

 

Liam

 

“Thanks for this,” Zayn mumbles as Liam appraises a Deadpool figurine. Liam looks over and finds that the omega is pulling out a volume of Marvel Origins, immediately flicking to Iron Man.

“No problems,” Liam said, shaking his head in amusement. Trust Zayn’s sanctuary to be a comic book store almost entirely devoted to Marvel. Liam’s spotted, like, three DC comics, and they’re literally all Batman. It’s ridiculous.

Zayn goes to sit down on one of the bean bags, the Origins volume firmly in his grasp. Liam wonders if it’s something he just found or a book he reads often, too expensive to buy but too good to just leave alone. Liam grabs an Archangel comic and sits on an adjacent beanbags, looking around guiltily when a few Styrofoam beans poof out from under him. No one seems to notice, so Liam buries his face in the comic and determinedly refrains from blushing.

“Bad week?” he asks after a few minutes, when he realises he’s already read this one.

“Harry’s driving me nuts,” Zayn said with a small huff. Liam looks up and found the boy chewing his thumb nail while reading the words on the page intently, before he was slamming the book shut and looking up at Liam a little sharply. “Does that make me a bad person?”

“What?” Liam said, confused by the sudden turn.

“Does it make me a bad friend if I’m avoiding him?” Zayn clarifies. “I mean, I just need a breather, I guess? Because he’s been living with me for every minute of the last week. And it’s like when we lived together, only he’s on a constant rotation of rom-coms and cries every time Hugh Grant says literally anything, and so I tried to ban Hugh Grant movies, but then he just downloaded them all again while I was at a lecture, and-“

Zayn stops. Takes a deep breath.

“Point is, this whole situation could be fixed if they’d all just talk to each other,” he concluded. “And I really want to punch Hugh Grant.”

Liam barks out a laugh in surprise, not used to seeing Zayn so heated and flustered outside of the bedroom. “It’s just a stressful time,” Liam finally says. “It doesn’t make you a bad person if you feel like you’re being suffocated.”

“I’m guessing you’re going through the same thing with Niall?” Zayn supposes wryly.

Liam shrugs. “I don’t live with him, so.”

Zayn nods at this. He opens his book again, searching for a page before snapping it close and looking back at Liam. “Why are they being so stupid?”

“Harry’s just scared, I think,” Liam says. “And I think the other two are just lost.”

“They need to show Harry that they’re not going anywhere,” Zayn says, nodding to himself.

“I don’t think it’s that easy,” Liam disagrees. Zayn cocks his head a little in a gesture for him to continue. “It’s, like, psychological, right? Harry needs to overcome his fear somehow, otherwise anything Niall and Louis will still seem off to him, like.”

Zayn looks like he’s considering this. He’s quiet for so long that Liam gets up to grab another comic, carefully lowering himself again so that the beanbag doesn’t burst below him. He opens the comic, barely reading two pages before Zayn was groaning where he was sitting and sliding onto the floor languidly. “They’re just so daft sometimes,” he huffed out. His head lolled over to look at Liam, eyes squinting up at him due to the light overhead. “How’s Niall?”

That had been another term of the fight, Liam supposes. Zayn was looking after Harry, and Liam was checking up on Niall – and Louis by default, too, considering he was always with his alpha. He knew that Zayn had been texting Louis too, but his proximity with Harry prevented him from visiting the other two all that much. Point is, there was a bit of division, and Liam and Zayn were forced to pick sides like ex-nuptial children picking their favourite parent. Liam still really likes Harry, but it’s probably best to let it all either blow over or settle down before he tries to reach out again.

“He’s miserable, of course,” Liam answered.

“Of course,” Zayn repeated. “They all are. Fuck.”

“Sorry guys, mind keeping it down?” the girl at the front counter asked. It sounded non-committal, though, voice monotonous as she skimmed through a merchandise catalogue.

“Sorry, Jade,” Zayn called back. He sat up slowly, giving Liam a flats look that made he feel a little scrutinised, before Zayn was suddenly beaming. “Food?”

Liam blinked at him. “Huh?”

“I feel like fried rice,” Zayn said in way of answer, pushing himself to his feet. He looked down at Liam expectantly.

Liam stood up with a laugh. “Alright, alright.”

 

“Cats or dogs?” Zayn asked.

“I showed you a photo of Loki five minutes ago,” Liam reminded him. Zayn just raised an eyebrow. “Dogs, honestly. Movies or music?”

“Music,” Zayn answered immediately. “Boxers or briefs?”

“Again, you already know the answer to that,” Liam said in exasperation. Zayn laughed, but still looked at him pointedly. Liam rolled his eyes, but his smile betrayed his amusement. “Boxers.”

“Huh,” Zayn said, grinning when Liam threw a napkin at him. They dug back into their food, comfortably silent in a way Liam would not have predicted all those months ago. Obviously, there was a lot more small talk than what he’d have with someone like Niall, but Liam found himself enjoying the lack of proper depth in their conversation. T made everything seem easier.

“How’s the food going guys?” the waiter asks, smiling professionally. Liam noticed how her eyes lingered on Liam a little, but didn’t mention it, just averted his eyes.

“Good,” Zayn said. “Really good.”

“Awesome,” the girl said, grabbing Zayn’s empty glass. She grinned again, this time more playful. “You guys are so cute together, by the way.”

Liam nearly choked on his own drink. “No, we aren’t- we’re not-“

“Oh,” the girl said. “Sorry, I just assumed…”

Zany opened his mouth to say something, but when Liam caught his eyes he hesitated, then clamped his mouth shut and turned away. Liam watched him in confusion as the waiter stuttered out another apology and scampered off. Liam was fixated on the way Zayn reverted his attention back to his food.

 

“You’re kidding me,” Liam gasped out when they approached Zayn’s room. The smell of heat was thick in the air, simultaneously intoxicating and suffocating Liam, making the hair on the back of his neck rise is want and his dick thicken in need. He was almost deafened by the primal chant in his head, nearly blinded by the image of knotting an omega.

Zayn eyed him warily before knocking sharply on his own door. “Harry?”

Liam cursed when he heard a small whimper in response. “He’s too early,” Liam moaned, backing away to his own door but unable to actually leave the scent surrounding him. “He’s not meant to-“

“Another week, yeah,” Zayn said absently. He leant closer to the door, voice a little louder when he spoke. “Harry, I’m gonna grab you something to help, yeah?” he said. He turned to Liam and pointed to the alpha’s dorm. “Go jerk it out, or something. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let you in there.”

Liam couldn’t help the growl that escaped him, but quickly clenched his jaw and nodded. He tried unlocking his door while Zany approached Niall’s, not even knocking before he was swinging it open. And then a new smell hit him, another omega in heat with the underlying scent of an alpha with them.

“Fuck,” Zayn cursed, slamming their door closed. He pulled at his own hair, clearly at a loss at what to do.”

Liam stepped towards Zayn’s dorm. “I can-“

“No, you can’t,” Zayn told him firmly. He walked past Liam and went to his own door, pulling out a key to lock it. He tested it a few times, and when he was sure that it was properly locked he slid to the ground, back to the door and poised like a watch dog.

“What’re you doing?” Liam slurred, mind fogging from arousal as the scent continued to assault his senses. He rested an arm on the wall in support, clawing uselessly as he tried to distract himself.

“I’m not letting anyone touch him,” Zayn said.

As if on cue, an alpha further down the hall stuck his head out in interest, eyes dark and predatory. Liam and Zayn both hissed in unison.

“Go home, Liam,” Zayn said pointedly.

Liam whined. “I need-“

“Fuck off!” Zayn growled.

It took everything in him, but somehow Liam managed to get his door open, stumbling through and slamming it shut, lingering against the wood as he slowly locked it. The scent of heat was less abrasive in his room, but it didn’t matter. He was already too keyed up to do anything.

Stumbling without coordination, Liam made his way to his bed and crawled up his sheets, pressing his clothed erection into the mattress and hissing lowly at the friction. He ground against the sheets, feeling his cock throb with want and need.

He didn’t allow himself to think about Harry, or Louis. Instead he pictured what he knew: Zayn in heat, glistening and perfect, rocking back on Liam’s cock as he took him from behind. Liam pictured the obscene arch in the omega’s back when Liam pulled his hair, how Zayn’s lips would part and the way a string of curses and moans would add to the cacophony of noise in the room. He thought about the feel of skin on skin, the slap of their thighs together, the taste of Zayn’s skin when Liam ducks down to bite the curve of his neck.

He pictures Zayn working himself back on Liam’s cock, fucking himself down on Liam’s cock in earnest when the alpha gave him the control. Liam could see it with astonishing clarity, that third time they’d hooked up, how Zayn had been bouncing on his cock and suddenly slipped, sinking down heavily and swallowing the knot into his hole without warning. How Zayn had cried out and clawed at Liam’s chest, overcome with pain until he squeezed and Liam came, leaning up to suck one of the omega’s nipples as shudders raked through him. Zayn had released shortly after, thick ropes of cum spilling out over Liam’s chest and Zayn’s own stomach.

Liam shucks off his clothing quickly so that he can chase a sweeter friction as he rutted against the sheets. His cock felt dry and raw, but he didn’t care. He could recall the feel of Zayn’s slick pooling over his cock with such clarity that it felt almost real, too real, so real that Liam was coming before he’d properly finished the thought in his head. He hid a whimper into his pillow, a too-familiar name at the tip of his tongue, while his hips stuttered into the mattress.

He collapsed languidly, breathing heavily and willing himself to sleep. It’s easier to keep control when he’s unconscious.

 

Liam doesn’t wake up until the early hours of the morning, when it’s still dark outside but thankfully smelling less like heat. He pushes himself to his feet, joints popping and muscles aching a little, and stumbles over to his window to crack it open. It’s absolutely freezing outside, but Liam relishes in the fresh air and the clarity it bought.

He slid on a pair of joggers before stripping his sheets from the bed. He contemplated locating another set to put on, but was just too fucking tired. One night without sheets wouldn’t hurt.

And then he was shuffling over to his door, suppressing a yawn as he opened it. Zayn was still propped up in front of his dorm, dozing in a position that looked rigid and uncomfortable. Liam smiled softly, thinking about the first couple times Zayn had been in heat here, where Liam was in the exact position the omega’s in now.

Gently, Liam nudged Zayn awake. The boy blinked open his tired eyes, rubbing at them with whole fists. Liam didn’t say anything, just pulled him up and lifted the exhausted boy into his arms, carrying him into his room and softly shutting the door before laying Zayn down on the sparsely covered bed. He grabbed the duvet while Zayn kicked off his shoes and jeans, and then Liam laid down next to him and cocooned them both in the blankets. Zayn was warm and pliant in his arms, shuffling closer and now protesting when Liam pulled him in to his chest and wrapped his arms around his small frame. It wasn’t hard to fall asleep.

 

“Morning,” Liam mumbles when Zayn finally woke up around noon.

Zayn’s expression twists, trying to bury his head in Liam’s arm as he mumbles incoherently, clearing disgruntled with being awake.

“Sorry,” Liam says, guilt pooling as he notices the bags under the omega’s eyes. “Needed to wake you.”

“Why?” Zayn groans, pulling the covers over his head.

“Harry’s heat has finished, I think,” Liam tells him.

Zayn sits up instantly, blanket pooling at his stomach as he stares at Liam. He looks manic, almost, with his dark hair sticking out messily and his eyes trying to both squint and widen at the same time. “Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure,” Liam says, nodding.

Zayn is quick to slide out of bed, foregoing his pants and shoes as he strode towards the door. He stretched as he went, revealing a smooth expanse of skin as his shirt rode up. Liam blushed in guilt when he remembered what he’d been thinking of last night.

Picking up a shirt along the way, Liam trailed after the omega. He watched as Zayn unlocked his door and peered in, before closing the door again with a frown. “Not in here.”

Liam frowned, too, suddenly anxious. Could another alpha have gotten in? Did Harry sneak out? Liam’s head prickled with anxiety as he realised that Harry could be anywhere right now, having been fucked by anyone. He realises that he’d have to tell Niall. Then he realises that it’d mean the end of their relationship.

“We should check Niall’s,” Liam said, a last ditched attempt in hopes that this situation will turn out okay. Zayn seemed to recognise the weight of it as well, taking a deep breath before nodding.

Liam wasn’t nearly as calm as Zayn looked, so he stood back when Zany opened the door. The two of them peered in quietly, holding their breaths.

“Oh thank fuck,” Zayn gasped out, slumping in relief and pushing the door open further. Niall, Louis and Harry all sat on the couch together, a tangle of limbs that clung to each other. Harry was crying steadily about how horrible his heat was without them, how stupid he’d been, how he regrets leaving them at all.

“You don’t have to apologise,” Louis sniffed, holding Harry tightly as tears pooled in his own eyes, completely ignoring Zayn and Liam in the doorway.

“We’re never going to leave you behind,” Niall told him firmly, pressing his lips to Harry’s temple.

Zayn turned to Liam and high-fived him. “Finally.”

“And may they never be stupid again,” Liam sighted in relief, closing the door. The three boys on the couch watched them sheepishly, but didn’t disentangle themselves even an inch as Zayn and Liam approached. Liam wrinkled his nose as something vague but unappealing made itself known to him. “Ugh, it smells horrible in here.”

“I thought alphas liked the smell of heat?” Zayn asked, eyeing him curiously.

“It doesn’t smell like heat,” Liam said. He walked a little further into the room, trying to pinpoint it. The scent wasn’t vomit-inducing, exactly, but more intimidating. Like a warning to stay away. Like Liam was intruding on something. Or someone.

And then he spied the huge bite mark on Louis’ neck.

“Oh my god,” Liam said excitedly, everything suddenly making sense. “You guys mated?”

Because that’s why Liam felt like he shouldn’t be here: the omega had been claimed, and had thus become thoroughly less appealing to his senses. It was like he was a vampire and Niall had his boys dressed in garlic, only-

Only Harry still smelt the same.

The young omega suddenly stiffened, looking between his boyfriends. “You what?”

 

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

Everything is silent. Zayn is watching Harry, who is staring at Niall in absolute horror, and then at Louis. His mouth, which had been hanging open, slowly closed, his jaw setting into a firm jut as Louis slowly lowered his eyes. Harry carefully reached a hand forward and pulled down the boy’s sweater, uncovering a huge, purpling bite mark.

He retracted his hand like he’d been stung.

“Harry,” Louis pleaded quietly.

Harry didn’t say anything. He stood up slowly, robotically disentangling himself from the two boys, face looking like the calm before the storm. Niall grabbed his wrist, but one cold, level look from Harry had him pulling back with a slight tremor in his hand.

Zayn had never seen Harry like this: stony faced and detached, expression betraying nothing as he calmly walked past him and out the door. Zayn only allowed himself one deep breath before he was heading for the door. He paused, though, not quite looking at the boys on the couch when he spoke. “I’m going to console my friend,” he said, low and piercing. “And then when I get back you better have a good fucking excuse about this.”

And then he was walking out and slamming the door, finding Harry frantically trying to open Zayn’s door and growing more and more frustrated as it continued to remain locked. Zayn strider over quickly, pulling Harry away from the door and clutching him close, but Harry pushed him away. “Just open the fucking door, Zayn.”

He stumbled back in surprise, taking in Harry’s heaving chest and the way he shook with restraint. Zayn nodded jerkily and unlocked the door.

Harry was fine for a moment, just standing in the middle of the room with clenched fists, and then Zayn was closing his door again from the inside and Harry just broke down.

It was the only way Zayn could describe it: the way Harry kneeled over and clutched his stomach in agony, how sobs were ripped from him like something vital being removed, the sound of Harry heaving out his breath in huge gasps of air.

“Shit, Haz,” Zayn croaked out. He flittered, not knowing what to do. Harry looked like he way in physical pain, hunched over and howling out his sobs. Zayn’s chest was caving in on him as he watched his best friend’s heart finally shatter, fucking disintegrate as he struggled to process what was happening.

And then Harry actually collapsed, falling heavily to the ground with a loud thud. He was still conscious, though, sobbing into Zayn’s thin rug while his entire body shook with the force of it. Zayn didn’t care if Harry punched him at this point; he pulled Harry up and onto the bed, blinking back his own tears as he watched the boy curl into a ball and bury himself in the blankets.

“Please leave,” Harry asked. His voice shook dangerously, like there was a third wave of his grief that Harry was barely holding back. Zayn really didn’t know what it might entail.

“Harry,” he said gently, smoothing a hand over Harry’s hair like the boy loves.

Harry pulled away from him. “Not – now.”

And Zayn knew there was nothing he could say or do now. Harry was at a point of absolute anguish that was uncharted territories, something that Zayn realised – begrudgingly – that he needed to figure out on his own. So he quickly dug out a bottle from his stash of alcohol and placed it on the bedside table, and then quietly left the room, unable to spare Harry another glance because the tears in his eyes were threatening to spill over.

He had to take a moment in the hallway. He rested his forehead against the wall, trying not to let the anger he was feeling cloud his judgement. But it was all-consuming, making his skin feel hot and his blood boil dangerously. He clenched his jaw and balled his fists, trying to remind himself that he needed to hear Niall and Louis out, needed to get their side of the story before he lashed out. But his mind kept returning to the image of Harry’s face contorting into painful detachment the moment he realised his boys had left him behind.

And, god, it had happened right after his heat. He’s probably gone into sub drop, fuck.

He stormed into Niall’s dorm then, slamming the door closed as he regarded the two pitiful pieces of shit still sitting on the couch.

Niall went to speak, but it was Louis that got there first. “Please don’t yell at us,” he begged, eyes wet and bloodshot. “It’s bad enough as it is.”

“Bad for you?” Zayn scoffed, absolutely livid. “Kept telling him bullshit about never leaving him behind and then you pull this shit.”

“I couldn’t control it,” Niall all but sobbed. “I was too amped up and I was fucking upset and Louis was out of his mind in his heat-“

“Meanwhile Harry was in absolute fucking pain right next door,” Zayn snapped.

Niall stood up. “He left us.”

“Because he was fucking terrified of you two ditching him!” Zayn snarled. Niall froze, eyes locked on how pissed Zayn must look. “And you just confirmed his worst fear. Congratu-fucking-lations.”

“Zayn,” another voice said softly. Zayn whirled around found Liam standing there, looking placating but firm in his clear warning to back off.

“Stay out of this, Liam,” Zayn told him.

Liam’s mouth thinned. “You’re yelling at my best friend.”

“Your best friend just fucked mine over,” Zayn snapped.

“Why is Niall getting all the blame here?” Liam demanded, dropping his pretence of keeping the peace. “Because he’s an alpha?”

“Because he’s an asshole.”

Everyone seemed shocked, if the ensuing silence was anything to go by. Zayn turned back to face the offending alpha, eyes narrowed and body vibrating with anger.

“I’m only giving you one chance to convince me otherwise,” Zayn said slowly, edging closer with a type of menace that had Louis looking nervously between them.

Niall blinked back at him, eyes glassy and full of misery. “I don’t want to convince you otherwise,” he said quietly, and then he was dropping back onto the couch and fucking wailing. He was rocking himself gently, his head disappearing into his palms as he buried his face.

Zayn deflated. He knows it was an accident – because Niall loves Harry.

“I’m sorry,” Zayn said, kneeling in front of the inconsolable alpha. “Shit, man, I’m- I just reacted, you know?”

“At the time it made sense,” Niall managed out, sounding like he was choking on his own emotion. “We- I thought that Harry wouldn’t mind.”

“Everything was just so… overwhelming,” Louis jumped in, sniffing loudly. Zayn noticed that he and Niall weren’t touching at all, and stiffened every time one of them moved too close. “We were both so fucking sad but our hormones were going nuts with the heat – and, just, everything makes sense when you feel invincible, you know?”

Zayn didn’t know, actually, but he knew how clouded his judgement can be when he’s in heat. Hell, he had been preaching for years about how omegas can’t be held accountable for what they say or do or ask for in their heat. And, yeah, he’s still fucking livid that Harry’s been put through this, but he needs to keep in mind that these boys have to go through it too.

“So what’s next, then?” Liam suddenly asked, approaching them. “What happens from here?”

“We win Harry back,” Niall said, still shaking with emotion but voice firm.

Louis nodded in agreement. Then he looked at his alpha, eyes wide. “How do we do that?”

Slowly, everyone turned to look at Zayn. Zayn stumbled back, palms out, shaking his head reverently. “I’m definitely staying out of this.”

“I don’t think you really get that choice, when he’ll be staying at yours until this is fixed,” Liam said. Then he frowns sadly. “Or he finds a new place to live.”

“You sure have a way of saying the wrong things at the wrong time,” Louis commented lightly. He forced a smile.

Liam ducked his head. “Sorry.”

“I’m going back to mine,” Zayn said, already halfway to the door. “Don’t come over unless you text me first, and definitely don’t come over if I’m not there, okay?”

The boys muttered their assent, through hiccups and deep breaths. Zayn spared one last withering look at Liam before he was leaving again. The sight that met him when he re-entered was something he hadn’t seen in a while but was pretty much expected: Harry sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed, a bottle of hard liquor sitting in his lap with a third of its contents gone, glassy eyed and grinning wetly when Zayn entered. He wordlessly held the bottle out towards him, and Zayn took a grateful swig, prepared to catch up.

 

It’s horrible. Harry still goes to his classes, but leaves half of them midway through because he can’t concentrate, and then stumbles back into the room an angry, crying mess. Twice in as many days Zayn wakes up in the middle of the night to find Harry sticking his head out of the window and sobbing in air like he can’t breathe. He teeters dangerously between absolutely inconsolable and frighteningly passive, switching between the two so irregularly that Zayn finds himself holding his breath every time they’re in the same room. And Harry doesn’t eat, either. In the proceeding four days after the Great Shitstorm, Zayn is unable to coax him into eating little more than tea and grapes. His skin looks pale and sunken, eyes wild briefly in between long periods of being dull and lifeless, and he overall becomes an entirely different person to who Zayn once knew him as. He’s broken, pure and simple. Zayn's terrified to leave him alone.

“There’s nothing you can do,” Liam reminds him on the morning of the fifth day, when they’re standing in Zayn’s doorway while Harry sleeps right in the corner of his bed. Liam had long since apologised for snapping at Zayn, and Zayn had easily dismissed the whole thing because Liam was just defending his best friend like he was at the time. It was still a touchy subject, but they’re professionals at ignoring touchy things by this stage.

“I know,” Zayn says. “I still don’t want to leave. Even for my heat.”

“I feel like he’d feel worse if we started fucking right in front of him,” Liam comments mildly.

Zayn tears his eyes away from Harry in surprise, snorting. “What ever happened to you being embarrassed by this stuff?”

“It’s been months,” Liam shrugged. He still blushed, though. Then he cleared his throat. “I just have one class left today, so I’ll see you after?”

Zayn nodded. “Hopefully my heat doesn’t hit before then. Maybe leave your door open?”

“I’ll just give you a key,” Liam said, fishing through his pockets. He produced a small key, one that looked almost identical to Zayn’s, with a little Batman key chain that made Zayn smile when he took it. “I’ll be back in a couple hours,” the alpha promised, quickly ducking down to kiss his cheek before he was running off.

Zayn stood there, gobsmacked, cheek tingling a little from the friction their stubble had.

Harry raised his head a little, grabbing Zayn’s attention. “Do you guys always kiss goodbye?”

“No,” Zayn said, frowning. He shook himself of the thought. “You hungry?”

“Nope,” the other omega answered, dropping his head again and closing his eyes. His voice was a little hollow, completely lacking his usual charisma. Zayn sighted and rummaged through the fridge, seeing if he could find anything to tempt Harry with. But, to be honest, there was nothing tempting to even himself, and he was fucking starving.

“Well I’m starving,” Zayn said, pulling on a jumper. “I’m gonna get some food. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

He was almost at the door when Harry asked the question. “Are you going next door?”

Zayn froze, wincing inwardly. “Yeah,” he said after a beat, hoping to god that he would be rewarded for his honesty instead of having Harry set off again. He prayed to every deity he could think of.

“Okay,” Harry said. He didn’t say anything else, so Zayn left.

“How is he?” Louis asked immediately when Zayn walked in to his dorm. He was pushing himself off the couch, knocking a book to the floor. He didn’t seem to care all that much.

Again, Zayn hoped telling the truth was the best option. “Miserable,” he said, avoiding Louis’ eyes. “Where’s Niall?”

Louis shrugs. Doesn’t answer. Zayn wonders if there had ever been a time where Louis didn’t know where one of his boyfriends was. He couldn’t think of a single instance.

“Are you guys okay?” Zayn asked slowly. He felt awkward, like he was intruding or overstepping, but he reasoned with himself that Louis was his friend, too, and if the boy as unhappy then Zayn should be trying to help him out.

“We miss him, obviously,” Louis answered. His face was carefully constructed, not giving anything away.

Zayn frowned. “I meant, like, you and Niall specifically. If you’re okay with each other.”

Louis shrugged again. “We’re mated.”

“That’s not an answer,” Zayn told him. He tried to remember if he’d seen Niall and Louis interact for more than a few seconds at a time over the last few days. He couldn’t even remember if he’d seen them even touch each other.

Louis sighs and ducks his head. He looks small, Zayn thinks, no longer lit up and taking up the whole room with his grand personality. “It’s not easy,” Louis admits after a moment. He walks past Zayn and into the kitchen, pulling out some crackers and dip. “And I love Niall, but.”

“But?” Zayn prompted, dread pooling in his veins.

“We always went into it thinking that Harry would be here, too,” Louis said. “So I don’t know how long me and Niall can stay as just us two.”

Zayn swallowed thickly. “But you’re mated.”

“I know,” Louis says softly.

“You would never be able to mate again.”

“I know.”

He was only whispering now, looking barely upright. Zayn rushed to his side when he began to sway a bit, looking drowsy and wasted. “Lou?”

“Sub drop,” Louis mumbles, resting heavily onto Zayn. “Harry must be feeling it too.”

Fuck, Zayn isn’t equipped enough to fix this situation.

He ends up guiding Louis onto his huge bed, and then calls Niall to tell him to come home immediately. He busies himself with eating the food Louis had half-prepared while the other omega sleeps, and has eaten way too much by the time the alpha pushes through the door, arms full of groceries.

“What’s wrong?” Niall asked, eyes whirling around the room before fixing on Louis’ sleeping frame.

“You’ve got two omegas in sub drop,” Zayn says sharply. “How about you tell me what’s wrong with this picture.”

Niall silently unpacks the groceries, squirming a little under Zayn’s hard gaze. Zayn watches as the boy pauses every once in a while to look over at the bed, face contorted into concern whenever he looks at his boyfriend. He looked miserable, Zayn thinks. But not miserable enough to justify ruining Louis’ life.

“I don’t know what to do,” Niall says at last. He’s more collected than he’s been the past few days, but there’s no way to mask the sadness in his voice. “Harry won’t talk to me, and Louis isn’t comfortable being in a relationship without him – and neither am I, to be honest – and everything sucks right now and I have no idea how to fix it.”

Everything sucks right now?” Zayn repeated incredulously. “Are you serious right now?”

“Stop fucking screaming at me,” Niall snapped. His chest was heaving when he rounded on Zayn, blue eyes holding a storm. “How would you feel if your boyfriend dumped you out of the blue, huh? How would you feel if you woke up one morning and realised you’d made the biggest mistake of your life?”

“The biggest mistake of your life?”

And, fuck, that was Louis, awake in bed and blinking up at Niall wetly.

“Shit, no,” Niall groaned. He left the kitchen and dropped to his knees in front of Louis, trying to cradle the omega’s face even as he tried to move away. “Not you, you’re not a mistake, baby, I meant mating you without Harry, that’s all, okay?”

“Worst mistake of your life,” Louis said again, tears pooling. He tried to move away again but Niall pulled him closer, huddling them together up on the bed, muttering something to Louis that Zayn couldn’t hear. Louis looked terrible, body convulsing as he nodded but continued to cry. Zayn turned away when Niall looked over at him with narrowed eyes.

“Why did you come here?” Niall asks finally, when Louis has stopped whimpering and has apparently accepted Niall’s apology, eyes closed softly as Niall’s gently rubbed his stomach and chest. The alpha himself was looking up at Zayn with wide, tired eyes, looking ready to pass out for a long time.

“Food,” Zayn said. “But also because something needs to change, here.”

“Obviously,” Niall said.

“I can’t guarantee that Harry will take you guys back,” Zayn began. “But I know he’s never going to love anyone the way he loves you. So please try.”

“Okay,” Louis said, eyes still closed. Niall kissed Louis’ temple gently, murmuring something else that made the boy smile a little. There was still a noticeable gap where Harry would usually be, but Zayn thought this might be progress. Hopefully.

He left them like that and returned to his room to find Harry standing in the kitchen and drinking a glass of water. He was still cocooned in blankets, clutching them tightly while he appraised Zayn. “Your heat’s coming soon, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Zayn answered. He collapsed heavily onto his bed, a headache well and truly forming. He was so fucking done right now.

“So you’re going to Liam’s?” the boy pressed.

“Yeah.”

“Can I come?”

Zayn snorted.

“C’mon,” Harry whined jokingly. “It’ll be like the good old days – only Liam will be there to watch.”

“If Liam’s there, he won’t be watching,” Zayn told him with upturned lips. “I’ve gone six years of going through heat without a knot, and I’m not going back there any time soon.”

“What about if Liam starts dating someone else?” Harry asked curiously.

Zayn shrugs. “Then I’ll go back to my old ways. I don’t know.”

Harry shuffled back over to the bed and draped the blankets over Zayn’s shoulders. “Cuddle with me for a bit?”

That sounded exactly like what Zayn needed right now, actually.

 

He’s not sure when he fell asleep, but he’s acutely aware of being ripped from unconsciousness by a searing pain pulsing through his body. He cried out but he’s not sure if any sound actually escaped him, everything turning into white noise as his heat consumed him. He grabbed onto the body next to him blindly, shuffling closer to try and grind away the pain. But the body was wrong: didn’t belong to an alpha, didn’t belong to Liam.

“Liam,” Zayn whimpered, fishing the front of Harry’s shirt tightly as another sharp stab of pain shot through him.

“I’ll go get him,” Harry told him, moving to leave the bed. But he wasn’t able to go anywhere with Zayn’s hand still firmly grasping him. Zayn pulled the other omega closer, grinding his cock into the boy’s hip. “Zayn, c’mon, let go. I’ll go get you an alpha, yeah?”

Zayn nodded frantically. “Liam.”

Harry managed to escape his grasp, and then Zayn was painfully alone. He ground his hips into the bed but it wasn’t enough, could never be enough now he’s felt a knot. And his heat was so fucking over-whelming that Zayn knew he wouldn’t get through it unless he was knotted soon.

He smelt Liam’s scent only a moment before he felt the alpha, large hands grabbing his hips. Zayn blinked his eyes open just as Liam ducked down and licked into his mouth, biting his bottom lip possessively while Zayn mewled and clung to his biceps.

“Smell so fucking good,” Liam groaned, pulling Zayn’s hips up to meet his. “Gonna split you open, baby.”

“Go to your room,” Harry said from somewhere in the room.

Zayn and Liam growled at him in unison, but before Zayn had the chance to fully pull Liam on top of him, the alpha was hauling him up into his arms. Zayn revelled at the strength Liam was displaying, how his muscles flexed obscenely beneath him, how his broad hands held him up at his thighs. Zayn grinded his hips against the alpha’s stomach, lowering his head to suck at Liam’s neck. “Fuck me, Liam,” he whined lowly, tension quickly building. “Want to feel you cum inside me.”

“Wanna feel my seed?” Liam asked through a groan. His fingers dug into Zayn’s flesh, making him mewl and squirm encouragingly. “Want me to fill you up with my pups?”

“Wanna feel you so bad,” Zayn moaned, quickening the pace of his hips.

“Please leave,” Harry begged.

“You can fuck me here,” Zayn whispered. “He can watch. I don’t care. Want you so bad, Leeyum-“

“I will literally hose you down if you try and fuck with me in the room,” Harry warned.

Liam growled and stumbled towards the door, strides jerky and irregular as Zayn pawed at his body. He just felt so fucking good, so fucking strong, and Zayn wanted every fucking inch of him, wanted to feel what Liam could do with that strength. He thrusted his hips faster as his stomach began to coil, odd shapes and galaxies forming behind his eyes while he breathed out in sharp gasps and whimpers, everything building and building and building and then Liam was biting down on Zayn’s shoulder and he was cuming, tension releasing rapidly as his cock thrusted irregularly through the aftershocks.

“Fuck,” Liam muttered, shoving Zayn up against the wall in the corridor. He pushed his groin up against Zayn’s ass, letting the omega feel his length through too many layers. “Feel how hard you make me? Wanna fuck you so bad.”

“Please,” Zayn whimpered. There were people in the hallway, all staring at them fixatedly, but that only added to the sensation of it all; all these eyes on him, all these alphas wanting him while Liam thrust up against him – Zayn felt so fucking wanted, making pride and power surge through him. “Make them watch,” Zayn whispered hotly into Liam’s ear, biting at his lobe. “Show them how good I can take it.”

“How good you can take me,” Liam growled. “No one else.”

“Only you,” Zayn placated. He whimpered as one of Liam’s hands palmed him desperately, fingers rough on the outline of his cock, the alpha’s eyes dark and possessive. Another alpha came too close and Liam was suddenly snarling at them, wrapping his arms around Zayn firmly and carrying him into his room. He pressed Zayn up against the door immediately, holding him up with just one arm as he worked to undo his own pants. He had barely gotten his cock out before he was surging forward and licking into Zayn’s mouth while simultaneously pulling Zayn’s sweats down enough to feel his hole, two fingers pressing at the rim while Zayn whined brokenly.

“So fuckin’ wet,” Liam groaned. Before Zayn could say anything, Liam was guiding his cock to Zayn’s hole and pushing in, readjusting his grip on Zayn just enough to have the omega sink down on his dick.

Shit,” Zayn cried out at the intrusion, eyes rolling to the back of his head. His cock squirted out precum weakly, still trapped in his pants, as Liam fucked up into him. Liam pressed him into the hall, using strength purely from his bulging arms to hold him up as his hips snapped up into him, relentless in his assault.

“Feels so – good,” Liam told him, licking a stripe up Zayn’s neck and biting at his jaw. “So – fucking – tight. Made for this – aren’t you?”

Zayn could do little more than moan and roll his hips in time with Liam’s thrusts, breath erratic as he became quickly overwhelmed with the slide of Liam’s cock in him, the pressure of his thick hands on his hips, the shared air as Liam left not an inch of space between their chests. Zayn wrapped his legs around Liam a little tighter, giving him leverage to bounce quickly while Liam held him up.

“Keep going, just like that baby,” Liam gasped in encouragement, holding Zayn firmly. Zayn could feel the tension building again, felt warmth pool in his stomach as Liam’s praise and his assault on his prostate worked in combination to have pleasure dripping down his back. Liam used solely his hips to press Zayn to the wall for a moment while he rearranged his hands, and then he was suddenly grabbing Zayn’s ass roughly and lifting him up and down his dick forcefully. Zayn’s jaw dropped at the feeling of Liam shoving in as far as he could go without adding his knot, cock thick and pulsing in him, nudging against his prostate just right to have Zayn spilling over again.

“Liam!” he cried out, slumping forward. Liam stumbled a little, but didn’t stop his thrusting; if anything, he became more insistent, groaning under his breath as he hammered up into Zayn’s hole. And then he was lifting Zayn completely away from the wall and towards the bed, cock still firmly lodged in him when he laid Zayn down again, rabbiting the omega into the bed without preamble. Zayn gasped pleasure. “Leeyum-“

He was cut off when the alpha suddenly jabbed forward sharply, thrusting his knot into Zayn’s hole. And, fuck, there was the pain again, eclipsing fucking everything, long seconds made longer by the stutter of Liam’s hips before the boy was cuming, warm seed filling Zayn up and causing him to arch his back in pleasure. Liam’s cock pulsed thickly, drawing ragged breaths from the alpha as he dropped his forehead to Zayn’s.

“Fuck,” he moaned, hands smoothing up Zayn’s torso. He wrapped a hand around Zayn’s prick loosely, tugging a few times and making Zayn whine in sensitivity. But he didn’t stop, didn’t pull back, just kept on stroking him, gradually tightening his fist and running his thumb over the thick vein on the underside of Zayn’s cock. Still relishing in the feel of being knotted, it didn’t take long before Zayn was releasing for a third time, further darkening his pants. He felt absolutely fucked out and filthy.

“You’ve gone – backwards,” Zayn panted, hands groping Liam’s sweaty skin as they both came down from their high.

“What?” Liam mattered into his skin. He was inhaling deeply, trying to regulate his breathing, Zayn thinks.

“Usually you – don’t take – your pants of,” Zayn managed out. “And this time – you – forgot mine – too.”

“I didn’t forget, per say,” Liam defended, but he was grinning when he pulled back slightly. His eyes were scrunched up a little, doing that squish thing he does when he feels particularly giddy. Zayn wondered when he started to be able to differentiate between his smiles. Liam pulled back a little more, mindful of where they were connected at his knot. “Here, let’s try and get them off.”

It was a struggle, to say the least. Zayn wasn’t particularly flexible in the first place, let alone when he’s exhausted, and so he kept accidentally kicking Liam in the face when the alpha lifted his legs. His thighs were quaking so much from exhaustion that he was forced to rest his calves on Liam’s shoulders, leaving the boy blinded as he tried to pull the sweats up his legs. And then when they fucking finally got the pants off, Zayn insisted Liam remove his socks, too (mostly because it was hilarious to watch), making Liam huff out a laugh as he chased Zayn’s feet and ripped off the offending material.

Surprisingly, taking off Zayn’s shirt was just as tiring, because Zayn had to negotiate with his own body about sitting up without disturbing the knot still pulsing in him and threatening to rip out. By the time he had thrown the shirt to the ground, he was well and truly ready to sleep for an eternity.

“Zayn,” Liam whined, poking Zayn in the stomach. “I’m still fully dressed.”

“Then take your shirt off,” Zayn replied without opening his eyes.

Liam pushed at his ribs again. “What about my pants?”

“Your fault,” Zayn grinned. He felt the alpha slide his hands underneath him, one on his lower back and the other between his shoulder blades, before he was flipping them so that Zayn was on top. Zayn didn’t even flinch, used to this after the last four months, and just got comfortable on Liam’s chest. “You’re very comfortable, you know.”

“I’d be more comfortable if I could take my pants off,” Liam grumbled mildly.

Zayn pet his chest consolingly. “Next time you’ll remember.”

Liam’s snort in reply was the last thing he heard before he was drifting to sleep.

 

Sometime later, he was woken up from the feeling of Liam gently lifting his body to try and pull out his cock. Zayn slid his hands down Liam’s arms and stopped his movements, pinning that alpha’s hands to the bed as he slid more fully down his prick again. He ground his hips languidly, groaning and cursing in soft whispers as he felt Liam’s prick thicken inside of him, growing quickly to full hardness, making the boy below him hiss in pleasure.

“Feel so full,” Zayn moaned quietly, face still pressed to Liam’s chest as he swivelled his hips slowly. His cock was trapped between their bodies, but he didn’t care; all that mattered right now was the feel of Liam’s cock inside him. “So good.”

“Shh,” Liam cooed quietly. The room was silent bar their hitched breathing, tiny little sighs in the dead of the night. “Just work yourself down, baby.”

Zayn whimpered quietly. He rolled his hips in a full circle, breaking down into figure-eights as he quickened his pace. Liam rolled his hips with him, thrusting gently every now and again, muttering praise as Zayn fell apart on his dick. Everything was so quiet, so intimate, hardly any part of their skin not touching. Zayn held Liam’s hands down even as his body begged to be touched, simply because he wanted the control. He worked himself at his own pace, teased himself for as long as he could take before he clenched around Liam sharply and stilled, causing Liam to hammer into him involuntarily.

The sudden pressure on his prostate had Zayn spilling over with a soft cry, burying his face in the crook of Liam’s neck while he gasped and stuttered. He released the alpha’s grip and allowed him to grab his hips for leverage and rut up into him, pressing open-mouth kisses to Zayn’s neck before he was biting down and spilling inside of Zayn. The omega rolled his hips gently to help the stutter of Liam’s hips, sighing contentedly into Liam’s neck.

 

At some point between the seventh and eighth round, while Zayn was sleeping, someone bought them food. Zayn woke up to the smell of pizza and figured it was Niall.

“Thank God,” Zayn said, making grabby hands for the box in Liam’s hands. Liam was clad in just a pair of boxers, bare torso and neck littered with bruises and making Zayn’s cock twitch pitifully at the sight of golden skin.

Liam handed over the box dutifully before grabbing the second box off the dresser and coming to sit across from Zayn. Zayn leant against the headboard, wincing a little as his body ached in discomfort. He eventually gave in and just sat on a pillow, much to Liam’s amusement.

“Feeling a bit tender?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Shut up,” Zayn laughed, flicking a piece of tomato at him. It landed on his chest. Liam just shrugged and scooped it into his mouth, undisturbed by the trail of oil it left on his sternum. Zayn really wanted to lick it off.

“How long do you think we have?” Liam asked before taking a bite of pizza.

Zayn pondered this, feeling the dull ache in his bones and the way his blood pumped a little faster as he watched Liam swallow. “Not long.”

“Don’t eat too much, then,” Liam said with a quirk to his lips. “Wouldn’t want you getting a stitch.”

Zayn kicks his hip lightly. “You’re the one who couldn’t even move three hours ago.”

“That’s because you just wanted to keep going,” Liam defended. His eyes were a little wide like he was having a war flashback. “You wouldn’t even let me have a break. It was terrifying.”

Zayn nudged him again and the façade broke, his face eclipsed by a bright smile. “You’re so dramatic,” Zayn snorts, shaking his head.

It was silent for a few minutes while they wolfed down greasy pizza. Zayn took the time to look over the room he’d long since memorised: burgundy walls, clothes strewn everywhere, otherwise surprisingly neat. The kitchen was relatively big, too (or at least in comparison to Zayn’s tiny shit box), and the fridge seemed to be perpetually stocked with energy drinks and watermelon. (Zayn had asked about it one time, and Liam had only shrugged and said “I love watermelon.”) He didn’t have a lot of furniture, though; the bed, a tiny bedside table, and a stool by the kitchen bench were really the only things in the room. Even his clothes were tucked away in a wardrobe, not in a dresser like Zayn’s own were.

Zayn wonders, not for the first time, if the people who designed this building just decided to say ‘fuck it’ and made every room different, considering how completely contrasting Liam’s dorm, Niall’s, and Zayn’s all were. It was sort of ridiculous.

“So,” Liam says after a while, licking his greasy lips and shifting the pizza box of his lap.

“So,” Zayn echoed. He continued eating, not sure when he’d next be able to, considering how strong his heat was proving to be this time around.

“Tell me more about your family,” Liam requested, smiling.

Zayn eyed him suspiciously. “What?”

“I mean, if you want to,” Liam continued, sensing Zayn’s tone. “I just feel like I know all the little things about you but not the big things. The basic things.”

“I’ve already told you about my family, though,” Zayn reminded him. He felt the familiar prickle of panic run up his neck, but tried to suppress it. Liam wasn’t asking for anything specific, Zayn reminded himself. He was just being curious.

“You’ve told me you have three sisters,” Liam pointed out. “That’s all.”

“There’s not much to say,” Zayn shrugs. “Three sisters: two betas and an alpha, my dad’s an alpha and mum’s a beta-“

“Hang on,” Liam cuts in. “What did you say your sister was? An alpha?”

Zayn ducked his head. Swallowed thickly. “Yeah.”

Liam let out a low whistle. “Holy crap.”

“It was a bit of a shock,” Zayn admits after a moment. “Especially because she had her first rut when I first went into heat – so that was a mess, for obvious reasons.”

“Obvious reasons?” Liam asked. Zayn looked up and found the boy tilting his head in confusion. Zayn’s eyes widened.

“Oh shit, you don’t know?” Zayn asked in surprise. Then he remembered. “Sorry, forgot your sisters were betas. That makes sense.”

“What makes sense?”

“Liam, bloodlines don’t stop… things,” Zayn winced. He had no idea how to word this without sounding crude, without feeling the bile rise in his throat. “Like, I had to be removed from the house because my sister was so out of her mind.”

Liam doesn’t say anything for a long time. He just sits there, looking frozen in horror while the weight of Zayn’s words sunk in. Zayn wondered if he could picture it as clearly as he could: Zayn fourteen and in heat, overwhelmed and confused and in pain, and then suddenly having his door thrown open. His sister bursting into the room with dark eyes. His mother wrestling her back out while Zayn writhed and begged for relief. His dad unable to even enter the hallway, because he was so aware of his own lack of control. Zayn’s mother dragging him out of bed and into the shed outside, locking him in even as Zayn screamed bloody murder. Hearing his sister calling out to him. Waking up the next morning next to a dusty lawnmower, feeling so fucking disgusting, unable to stop the bile from spilling over. Not being able to look his sister in the eye for a week. Having his parents explain to him that Zayn needed to go stay at a friend’s house for a while, just until Doniya was more in control of herself. Only seeing Doniya a handful of times in the ensuing year. Seeing the dim look in his father’s eyes as he referred to Zayn as an omega.

“Shit,” Liam says finally. He scrubs his hands over his face. “I’m really sorry, Zayn.”

Zayn just shrugs. “It’s been six years, so.”

“Still,” Liam says. “Is that why you came all the way down here for university?”

Zayn doesn’t answer. He thinks Liam gets the hint when he’s halfway through his next slice of pizza.

“Do you think I still have time to go to the loo?” Liam half jokes, sliding off the bed.

“I’m really not into watersports, so go pee,” Zayn says, waving a hand at the bathroom door. He can feel the way the ache is becoming gradually more prominent, the way his skin was starting to feel tight and restless. “I reckon this is going to be a long heat. The rest of the day, maybe.”

“I need the exercise,” Liam jokes, stretching lazily as he wonders off into the tiny bathroom.

 

“Oh, fuck,” Zayn moans, fingers trying to find purchase on the cold tiles as Liam dicked into him.

“You said – I had – time,” Liam grunted, wet hands tightening on Zayn’s hips.

“Not to – shower,” Zayn managed to retort. Water cascaded down his face, a little too cold but he couldn’t find it in him to complain. Liam was fucking him so good, the tip of his cock nudging insistently at his prostate with every thrust. “Fuck, Leeyum.”

Liam crowded him more firmly into the wall, fucking up into him with the sort of reverence that could only be described as primal. His lips came to latch on Zayn’s wet skin, sucking harshly and stroking Zayn’s cock quickly. “You close, baby?”

“Always close,” Zayn chokes out. “Always close with you.”

Liam grinned into his neck as Zayn came, white ropes of cum littering the wall in front of him. Zayn panted out exhaustedly, cock not softening at all as Liam continued to rut into him. His cock was thick and insistent, feeling so good and obscene as it dragged over Zayn’s walls, glide eased by an ungodly amount of slick. And it felt so good, so fucking good, but not enough to sate him.

“Need your knot,” Zayn begged, hands snaking behind him to wrap around Liam’s neck. Liam licked into his mouth when Zayn turned his head, pulling the two of them almost impossibly close together the feeling of Liam’s cock in his ass and his tongue in his mouth was almost too much, bringing him to the edge so quickly that he got a bit of a head rush. He stumbled a little and Liam’s knot was suddenly prodding at him rim, making him gasp loudly.

“Ready for me?” Liam asked him, groaning the words into his mouth.

Zayn was unable to do anything but moan. Liam took it as an affirmation, shoving his hips forward roughly while he held Zayn close. Zayn cursed out at the intrusion but was soon a mewling mess when he felt Liam coming inside him, warm and wet and filthy.

“You feel so fucking good,” Liam gasped into his mouth before kissing him again, long and deep. He pulled away, breathing irregularly when he rested his forehead to Zayn’s temple. “After all this fucking time, you still blow me away.”

Zayn whimpered at the words, feeling choked from the heat of the room and Liam’s praise. But he felt satisfied. Mostly. He was almost immediately hit with exhaustion, his breathlessness transforming into a feeling like being suffocated, only just this side of containable when he clutched at Liam’s arm around his stomach.

“I’m still not finished,” Zayn almost sobbed, tears prickly his eyes. “This is- what, our eighth round? And I’m still not done.”

“’s okay,” Liam soothed, kissing his cheek softly. “’s okay, Zayn. It’ll be over soon, I promise.”

 

It wasn’t over soon. His heat went for three consecutive days. Three. And then just as he was slipping out the door, limping but thoroughly satisfied, Liam was groaning and sliding his arms around Zayn’s waist, pulling him back into the room and muffling his moans with Zayn’s neck. Liam’s rut only lasted until the next morning, but Zayn was fucking feeling it. It had been four days straight of being absolutely pounded into with almost no break, and all Zayn wanted was to go back to his room and sleep somewhere that didn’t smell so much like fucking semen.

Only he couldn’t do that. Because when he opened his door, there was Harry, sprawled out and naked on his bed. And there was Niall and Louis, proving their love to him.

Zayn quickly backed out of the room and went back to Liam’s.

 

 

Liam

 

Zayn’s eyes looked wide and haunted when he re-entered the room. He rested against the door, frozen for a moment before shaking his head in bewilderment.

“What?” Liam asked, raising his head from the pillow. The rest of his body refused to move, too exhausted.

“The three fuck-eteers,” Zayn said. “In my bed.”

Liam blinked in surprise. “Were they…”

“Completely naked,” Zayn said, shuddering. “In my bed.”

It didn’t take long for Liam to process this. He pointed to his closet with a stiff hand. “I’ve got a bottle of Jack behind the pile of snapbacks.”

 

“I’m starting to think you’re a bad influence,” Liam said, hiccupping a little. He wasn’t drunk, but he reckons it’s not long before his head starts swimming. “The only times I’ve drunk in the last year have been with you.”

Zayn took another swig of amber liquid and passed it back again. “Maybe I’m a good influence then.”

Liam snorted. He appraised the bottle, a decent amount of it now gone, before swallowing back another mouthful that burned the whole way down. He and Zayn were on the bed, shoulder to shoulder against the headboard, huddled under a mountain of blankets to try and fight off the chill in the room. Liam had thought about turning on the heater, but he was too sore to move. Zayn was worse off.

“I feel like I’ve had the Eiffel Tower inserted into my ass,” Zayn slurred a little. “Or, like, one of Saturn’s rings.”

“Is Saturn the one with the rings?” Liam asked.

“Who knows?” Zayn threw his hands into the air. He took another drink. “Hopefully it won’t be this bad forever.”

Liam turned his head and appraised him with a small, amused smile. “Why don’t you just take suppressants?” he joked. (And it was definitely joking, because Liam really didn’t want Zayn skipping his heats. He really didn’t want Zayn to not need him anymore.)

Zayn didn’t seem to get it was a joke, though. His eyes darkened a little, head lowering.

Liam must have a death wish – or just became ridiculously curious when he’s tipsy and has no self-control – because he decided to press further, decided that he wanted to know these things. Because suddenly the weight of how much he hasn’t been told was pressing in on him. There was so much that Zayn kept from him, so much he didn’t trust him to know. And Liam had a sinking feeling that it had more to do with him being an alpha than it did with Zayn simply wanting to keep his shit private. “Why don’t you take suppressants?”

“None of your business,” Zayn hissed. He didn’t accept the bottle when Liam offered it to him.

Zayn,” Liam all but whined. And, fuck, he must be tipsy, because he knew he was pushing too far and yet he couldn’t fucking stop.

“Fuck this,” Zayn snapped. He slid out of the bed, starting to pull on his shoes.

Liam watched him in surprise. “Where’re you going?”

“Somewhere I won’t be fucking interrogated,” Zayn hissed at him, vibrating with anger.

Liam frowned. “It was a simply question.”

“It’s not a simple question!” Zayn exclaimed. He whirled on Liam, eyes dark and fiery. “Don’t pretend you understand for a fucking second-“

“Because I’m an alpha?” Liam asked. He could feel his own anger spiking, that habitual annoyance at being stereotyped. He clambered out of the bed, putting a fair distance between them. “Do you not trust me because I’m an alpha? Something I can’t control?”

Zayn scoffed angrily. “Oh, fuck off.”

“You’ve known me for months now,” Liam hissed, stepping closer. “Do you honestly still think of me as nothing but an asshole?”

“You don’t understand what it’s like,” Zayn told him darkly, voice lowered and fists clenched.

“You’ve been a dick to me, and to Niall, and to literally every alpha you’ve ever come across, ever since I’ve known you,” Liam seethed, voice just as tight and low. “For no reason, Zayn.”

Zayn blinked over at him. And then Zayn exploded.

“How would you feel if you could be raped at any moment, huh?” Zayn demanded, rounding on him. Liam had never seen him like this: shaking with agitation, eyes blinking rapidly as angry tears swelled, hands balled dangerously as he glared over at Liam. “You don’t understand what it’s like. If I go into heat, any motherfucker in this building could have their way with me and I can’t do shit.”

“Then take the fucking suppressants,” Liam snapped.

“Why should it be up to me?” Zayn growled back. “Why can’t you assholes take responsibility for once in your life?”

“There are no suppressants for us,” Liam pointed out, just heaving with how fucking worked up he is. “That shit would make us-“

“Infertile,” Zayn finished for him. “Well congratulations, Liam: that’s why I don’t take the fucking pills.”

Liam froze, blood running cold. Zayn turned away from him slightly, tugging his hair angrily as tears poured down his cheeks. He whipped them away angrily, clearly annoyed with himself.

“I’m a male omega, Liam,” Zayn laughed out wetly, eyes flat. “There aren’t many perks.”

Liam stepped closer to him, heart breaking. “Shit, Zayn-“

“Don’t,” the omega snapped when he came too close. Liam stilled, holding his breath. Zayn shook his head. “I don’t want your fucking pity. And I definitely don’t want to keep fucking around with you if you’re not going to- to respect me.”

Zayn’s breath was starting to come out erratically. He looked like he was trying to hold back actual sobs, wrapping his arms around himself tightly and looking up at the roof while he blinked away tears.

“My own fucking sister can’t control herself around me,” Zayn sniffed angrily. He looked at Liam suddenly. The look in his eyes had Liam’s heart breaking. “I’m terrified of my own family, Liam. I can’t even visit them because I’m so fucked up.”

“You’re not fucked up,” Liam told him firmly, feeling tears prick his own eyes as he watched Zayn’s careful demeanour break.

“If I’m not fucked up, then your kind are,” Zayn shrugged. “You can choose.”

Liam swallowed thickly. “I’m sorry that you can’t have-“

“I don’t even know if I want kids,” Zayn said, wiping at his eyes. “But I’m not going to take the fucking pills if there’s even a chance I do.”

And then Zayn was heaving out stuttering sobs, throat shuddering with effort as his eyes leaked too quickly for him to wipe the tears away. Liam couldn’t control himself when he closed the distance and pulled Zayn into his chest, feeling the boy shudder and convulse as gut-wrenching emotion rocked through him. Liam pulled him close, blinking back tears, kissing the top of Zayn’s head in what he hoped was a soothing gesture while he let Zayn get it all out. “I’m not like that,” Liam promised, desperate to make Zayn see. “I never want to hurt you.”

“I never said you wanted to,” Zayn sniffed. “I just said you could.”

That night Liam laid Zayn down in bed and slept with him in the most innocent way possible: clothes still on, on their separate sides, Liam respectful of the fact that Zayn needed distance. But in the middle of the night he felt Zayn reach out and grab his hand, soft and warm and pleading. Liam fell asleep wondering whether they just took a step forward or a step back.

 

Niall, Louis, and Harry sat in a row on the couch, staring fixatedly at Liam on the opposite chair, somewhere between defensive and defiant. Liam shifted uncomfortably in his seat, feeling like he was the one being interrogated when it should be the other way around. Their eyes were just so piercing, bright green and icy blues – and how the fuck did that happen? Weren’t non-brown eyes recessive genes? Do they just naturally attract each other?

“Earth to Liam,” Niall said, a small smirk on his lips. He had an arm wrapped around both of his boyfriends, holding them both protectively. The two omega were positively gleaming, littered in fresh hickies and faint bags under their eyes from a no doubt sleepless night (but thankfully sleepless for a reason other than crying).

“So,” Liam said, appraising them. “Everything’s okay?”

“Pretty much,” Niall said. He grinned.

Liam nodded, fighting back his own smile. He had promised Zayn that he’d be stern and get all the details before he started congratulating them, but it was really fucking hard when he was seeing three of his best friends happier than they’d been in weeks. He crossed his arms, hoping that it would help contain his excitement. “How did you guys end up…”

“Fucking in Zayn’s bed?” Harry finished, eyebrow raised in question. Liam nodded. “I was going nuts being by myself, so I went to go for a walk, and ran into Louis. And he just started apologising non-stop. And then Niall came out and did the same thing. And then we fucked.”

Harry was grinning so widely that his face must hurt, Liam thinks.

“There’s a bit more to it,” Niall said, smiling fondly at his omega. “And obviously I’m going to be making up for all this shit for a while, but I’m glad it’s all been sorted.”

“Almost all,” Louis said. “Hazza still needs to be mated, so that’ll be fun.”

“Remind me to go stay in a hotel when you guys go into heat again,” Liam said, shuddering. “You’re incredibly loud, did you know that?”

“Take Zayn with you,” Harry tells him. “Have a romantic getaway.”

Liam frowned a little. “We’re not-“

“Chill,” Harry said, smiling to let Liam know he was joking. “You guys’ll figure it out in your own time.”

“Figure out what?” Liam asked, confused.

“You shouldn’t bait him,” Niall mutters into Harry’s temple, smirking a little. “You’ll give him an aneurism.”

Liam still had no idea what they were talking about, but he didn’t much care to find out at this stage. Besides, they were getting off topic. “So Harry wants to mate with you guys?”

“Yep,” Harry answered. Niall kissed his cheeks softly while Louis reached out to hold Harry’s hand over Niall’s lap.

Liam racked his brain for one of the other questions Zayn had wanted him to ask. “Are you moving back here then, Harry?”

“Obviously,” Harry said. “Why? Getting sick of having sleepovers with Zayn?”

“Getting sick of him hogging the bed,” Liam joked. (Truth was, Zayn was an excellent bed buddy. He either stayed on his side or cuddled close so that they were wrapped around each other comfortable: he didn’t kick or flail in the middle of the night; and he didn’t steal the blanket all that much. If he got cold, he tended to just move closer to Liam rather than pull the duvet away. He doesn’t even snore or anything. It’s great.)

“…anyway,” Louis said slowly when the joke was held for too long. “Things are good. Any other questions?”

Liam tried to think back, but finally said ‘fuck it’ and pulled out his phone to look at the list Zayn sent him. “Oh!” he said, finding an important one. “When are you telling your families? Bit of a big deal.”

“My parents already know,” Niall told him. “And they probably told Greg, so my family’s sorted. Boys?”

“I still need to tell Mum,” Louis said. “And I don’t think any of the girls are old enough to hear about it yet.”

It was silent, then, where Harry was supposed to answer. He didn’t. Liam looked at him curiously, but the look on Niall’s face said not to push it. “Cool,” Liam said instead, clearing his throat. He looked back at his list. “The rest of the questions are pretty, um, explicit, so I’m gonna let Zayn ask those.”

“How explicit?” Louis asked, trying to peer over at Liam’s phone. “Jesus, how many emojis do you two send?”

Liam clutched it to his face defensively. “I like them,” Liam said.

“You’re so fuckin’ whipped,” Louis said, shaking his head in amusement. He stood up from the couch (making Niall whine a tiny bit – co-dependency from mating, and all that), clasping his hands together before Liam could say anything. “Tea, anyone?”

Harry made an ungodly screeching noise in confirmation, sounding so much like a delighted velociraptor that Liam actually jumped in shock and dropped his phone. Niall didn’t react as though it was an unusual occurrence.

“Well, as long as you’re happy,” Liam says.

 

“That’s it?” Zayn asked, incredulous. “They just ran into each other, apologised, and just got back together?”

Liam shrugged. “Were you hoping for something dramatic?”

“Seems a bit anticlimactic,” Zayn says. He mattered a ‘thank you’ to the woman when she handed over Zayn’s ice-cream, already fixated on the mint chocolate in front of it. He’d been craving it all day, apparently, and had coerced Liam into coming with him to buy some, despite the horribly cold temperature. Liam’s hands were buried in his coat pockets, shaking his hand when the woman asked if he’d like anything.

“It’s started raining,” Liam noted, nodding at the miserable weather. Zayn looked away from his cone only briefly before he was focussed on it again, silently slipping into a seat at one of the small, flimsy tables. The metal of the seat was freezing when Liam sat down. “How can you eat something so cold on a day like this?”

“Have you ever eaten curry on a hot day?” Zayn asked. Liam nodded. “Same premise, opposite terminal.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Liam told him.

“Cool,” Zayn said, non-committal. He sighted out contentedly when he had his first lick. “I love ice-cream so much, oh my god.”

He’s being weird, Liam thinks. Like how he is immediately after his heat. Mushy and soft and completely unaffected by the wave of dark emotion that had crashed over him only two nights ago. Liam tries to keep the frown off his face when he thinks about it. It’s not something they’ve discussed since, and it’s not something Liam wants to discuss until he knows for sure that Zayn is comfortable with it. Liam’s absolutely kicking himself for pushing Zayn so hard that night, and he knows that the alcohol that had been in his bloodstream was no excuse. So he doesn’t plan on asking Zayn anything more.

But he does want to get to know Zayn likes that. He’d love to be close enough with Zayn to know these things, to be trusted to know these things, to have earned that right. And he wants Zayn to know about all of his darker memories and secrets and the types of things that only Niall knew, and then some. He wanted to be more than just fuck buddies, he thinks. Maybe take Zayn on a date or something, introduce him to his parents or-

Wait.

Liam’s chest becomes tight suddenly, images blasting through his mind so quickly he was getting a head rush: images of Zayn being interrogated by his sisters and playing with his younger cousins and looking at baby photos with his mum; images of Zayn throwing grapes into the air and trying to catch them in his mouth and being surprisingly good at it; images of Zayn dressed up for Ruth’s wedding in a few months, grinning at Liam through the mirror as they both did their hair.

“You alright there mate?” Zayn asked, still licking at his ice-cream.

Liam couldn’t answer, the thought of their hands intertwined as they walked around campus rendering him incapable of speech.

Zayn frowned. “Liam?”

“Sorry,” Liam squeaked out, standing up. “I, um, just remembered something.”

“Yeah?” Zayn asked. He was staring at Liam while he licked the ice-cream, looking so fucking obscene without even trying.

Liam swallowed thickly. “Yeah.”

The silence quickly had Zayn pulling out his phone to play a game or text someone or whatever it was he was doing, leaving Liam to have to face his own thoughts. And, fuck, he was terrified, because he hadn’t considered dating Zayn before – or anyone, really. Relationships had always been secondary to him, after school, because he’d witnessed how intense his friends’ relationships were and he hated the idea of being that consumed by someone. But suddenly he did want to be consumed by Zayn, wanted to have everything they’ve had so far and more. Because maybe Liam hadn’t been looking for someone like that, but he’d found him anyway.

And then things were clear: he wanted to be with Zayn.

It was only a matter of whether Zayn wanted him too.

“Zayn,” he said tentatively. The boy looked up from his phone, amber eyes curious. Liam racked his brain for something. Stupidly, all he could think about was their first proper conversation they’d had all those months ago, in Niall’s dorm discussing Marvel and DC, and how far they’d come since then. From strangers to fuck buddies to friends, they’d made a right mess of themselves by defying every tradition that they should have adhered to. And here they are now, Liam in love with the one boy who he never thought would even smile at him.

“Liam?” Zayn said, brow furrowed in confusion.

Batman vs Superman comes out tomorrow,” Liam tells him.

Zayn shudders. “Don’t remind me.”

“Wanna go see it?”

Zayn looked extremely affronted by this. “Why would I want to do that?”

“I came and saw Deadpool with you,” Liam pointed out.

You invited me to see Deadpool,” Zayn corrected him. “And that’s completely different.”

“How so?” Liam asked, eyebrow raised.

“Because Marvel is actually good.”

“Zayn,” Liam all but whined. And, fuck, he was starting to sound love sick by this point. He gave the boy his best puppy eyes, regardless, refusing to blink as Zayn looked back at him evenly.

Finally, he broke. “Fine,” he said. “But I’m not paying for it. I’ll buy the snacks.”

“Deal,” Liam said. It sounded a lot like a date. He didn’t hate the thought.

 

Due to Zayn having a late class, they decided to meet at the theatre, so that Liam could book the tickets earlier to save time. Liam stood on the front steps, hands tucked into his jean pockets to beat the October chill. He may or may not have gotten slightly more dressed up than usual (hopefully nothing too noticeable), sacrificing his usual winter coat for a leather jacket, but still wearing a snug pair of jeans and thick boots that kept his feet warm. And he may have styled his hair. Possibly.

He looked at his watch, nervous despite the fact that Zayn still had ten minutes before he could even possibly be seen as late. Liam had just come extremely early, too keyed up to stay in his room and do work.

Honestly, he shouldn’t even be so nervous about this. It wasn’t a date, and Zayn definitely wasn’t his boyfriend. There was no pressure here. And yet Liam felt like he needed to impress Zayn somehow, make him see Liam in a different light. A boyfriend-y light. Fuck. He hates being like this.

Knowing he as just going to get crazier if he stayed still, he went back inside and decided to buy all the snacks himself. It gave him something to do, at least, even if he did go overboard with the amount of chocolate he purchased. He’s a nervous eater, is the thing, something that his mother had sighed about when he was younger and found biscuit crumbs all over the couch the night before he had a big test. Liam frowns, realising that he eats when he’s nervous and drinks when he’s relaxed. That doesn’t sound too healthy.

“Sorry I’m late,” someone was saying, jogging up to him. “I had to get some notes from the week of classes I missed.”

And then Liam was looking up and over the mountain of food on the table, finding Zayn breathless and gorgeous, grinning down at him in apology. And Liam thought it was entirely fucking unfair that Zayn could look so good after apparently running all the way here from campus, hair windswept and nose red from the cold and the weight of his bag pulling his jumper down slightly and showing a hint of the tattoos Liam knew was underneath. He wasn’t even all that dressed up, really, just in a thick sweater and tight jeans, but he might as well have shown up in something from a Valentino runway with how good he looked.

Zayn’s eyes dropped to the food. “Liam,” he said. “What the fuck.”

“Sorry,” Liam said. He didn’t explain the nervous eating thing, because he knew that Zayn would straightaway ask what he’s nervous about, and Liam’s a horrible liar. He stood up and pulled out the tickets, handing one to Zayn. “Ready?”

“Sure,” Zayn says, helping Liam with picking up the abundance of lollies and drinks. Zayn hip-checked him on the way to the cinema door. “Don’t mind me if I fall asleep within the first ten minutes, though.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of things to pour on you if you do,” Liam told him sweetly. Zayn snorted out a laugh as they were ushered into the cinema, making Liam smile. He seemed happy. Happy to be here. With him.

“You’ve been zoning out a lot lately,” Zayn observed when they found their seats. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Liam dismissed, resting in his seat properly.

They had to put some of the food on the ground due to a sheer lack of space, but even still their laps were all but completely covered in sweets and chips. Zayn shook his head at it all. “This is going to be a bitch to pay for,” he said.

Liam frowned at him in confusion. “I already paid for it?”

“But I’m paying you back for it, obviously,” Zayn said, popping some Skittles into his mouth.

“Don’t worry about it,” Liam said. Zayn went to say something but was cut off by a large group of people saying ‘excuse me’ as they shuffled past, nearly knocking all the food off their laps. Zayn grinned when he realised that a boy who looked to be one of the group’s little brother was wearing an Iron Man shirt.

“That’s my type of orphaned billionaire philanthropist-turned-superhero,” Zayn mattered to him, nodding at the kid. Liam kicked lightly at his foot.

Liam can’t recall much detail about the movie. Between Zayn’s fascination with the packet of crisps sitting directly over Liam’s crotch, the way Zayn winced at some of the cheerier lines but begrudgingly smiled at the clever ones, and the way Zayn’s mouth wrapped around the lip of his drink bottle every time he took a swig, Liam was completely distracted. Even after the movie, when Zayn was avoiding all of Liam’s questions about whether or not he liked the movie by saying how much he hated the new design of Batman’s suit or trying to side-track Liam by offering him the remnants of their food, Liam seemed to be working on autopilot. Because he knew that things had changed now. He wanted to give whatever this was a shot, and he just hoped to god that Zayn wanted the same thing.

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

“I feel like this isn’t going to end well,” Zayn said, eyeing the pitch warily. Harry nodded in agreement, mirroring Zayn with his hands in his pockets. Niall, on the other hand, stood with his hands firmly wrapped around the top of the low metal fence, the white of his knuckles showing his anxiety.

And Zayn totally gets that. This team has always traditionally consisted of alphas; while there was no official rule preventing anyone else from joining, it was kind of implied that only alphas were welcome, that they were the only demographic that could keep up. But Louis was determined to at least complete the try-outs. As much as he might soften around Niall, his defiance when playing soccer closely resembled Zayn’s response when the manager at Carmen’s told him that hiring him would be “unwise, considering the external obstacles involved.” (And, okay, maybe the man had a point, especially after the whole debacle six months ago, but it was all semantics, really.)

So Niall was rightfully worried, watching as some of the jackasses on the team eyed Louis with looks varying from lewd to condescending.

“Don’t worry, babe,” Harry told his boyfriend, resting a hand on one of Niall’s. “He’s got Liam, yeah?”

Zayn nodded in agreement. Liam had decided to join with Louis, both so Louis had a friend and because Liam wanted to increase his exercise regime. (“So I can keep up with you during your heat,” he’d joked when Zayn asked. “I’ve never really felt unfit until I met you, you know.”)

“Liam wants to play defence, though,” Niall pointed, bouncing his leg nervously. “And Louis will be somewhere up forward. They won’t be training together.”

“They might get to verse each other, though,” Zayn said. “So you know Liam won’t try and, like, trip him, or summat.”

“Still,” Niall said.

They watched as the coach surveyed the two dozen boys in front of him. Nearly every alpha on campus was trying out, bar the few outliers like Niall who had no desire to run around for an hour at a time when nothing would evolve from it. Zayn recognised almost every single one of the guys from their dorm building, eyeing Mark and Andy and that one guy that Niall hated with a burning passion because he kept halting Harry after their mutual classes to talk for ages about absolutely nothing. Mostly Zayn noted how damn big all the alphas were, made to seem all that more towering in comparison to Louis’ compact size.

The coach seemed to notice this, too, and quickly approached Louis. Zayn couldn’t hear what the man was saying from so far away, could barely discern the basic features of his red face, but he could see Louis nod his head determinedly, making the coach raise his arms in a ‘what can you do?’ gesture at the alphas. Zayn watched Liam clap Louis on the back and shake him a little in excitement.

“See? That went well,” Harry said. “I think.”

Zayn didn’t share the same sentiment. He watched with narrowed eyes as the coach approached a few of the larger boys, the type of guys who probably made the team every year, and said something to them while nodding his head over at Louis while the omega wasn’t looking. A feeling of dread settled in his stomach, lips thinning. He didn’t mention it to the other two.

It was fucking freezing, but none of them made a move to leave, all three of them too anxious. Louis had been so god damn excited when he’d announced to them that he was going to try out for the team this year, fucking beaming and basking in their cheers. Zayn knew that none of them wanted to see his dreams crumble, but knew they needed to stick around just in case.

They moved to sit under the covered area of the bleachers when it started drizzling a little. The training session started out as a little boring, with the coach just making them run around in some sort of drill that Zayn was struggling to follow. His eyes flickered between Louis’ feet expertly negotiating a line of cones and Liam’s flushed face as he sprinted a length of twenty meters before tailing Louis along the cones. It all looked tiring. Zayn was glad that neither had asked him to tryout.

After a decent fifteen minutes of this, the coach directed them to takin penalties. Two goalies alternated every dozens shots or so while the rest of the boys lined up. Louis stood in the middle, ducking in and out of Zayn’s line of sight as the bodies in front and behind him eclipsed his small frame. He lost Liam, too, until the alpha was at the front of the line. He watched as Liam concentrated carefully, backing up a half dozen steps before running forward, an enticing power in his thighs as he smoothly kicked the ball. He completely missed, kicking it a good five meters outside of the left post, but still beamed up at Zayn and the boys anyway.

A few people later, it was Louis’ turn. He kicked a perfect top box. The other boys on the field watched him with bulging eyes as he went to the back of the line again, high-fiving Liam’s outstretched palm along the way. Louis was keeping his face carefully nonchalant, but Liam was apparently excited enough for the two of them.

Liam’s second attempt when straight at the goal, but the keeper caught it before it landed. Louis’ shot straight into the bottom right corner after faking left. The coach looked incredibly confused.

Zayn watched as the coach split the boys up into teams. He gave Liam and Louis the same yellow bibs he gave to ten other boys that Zayn instantly recognised as the weakest guys on the pitch. A sharp stab of annoyance shot through him.

“Second string,” Niall scoffed darkly. “He’s better than anyone else on the field.”

Zayn and Harry hummed in agreement. Zayn’s eyes didn’t leave the field, watching as Louis was damn near left out of the team huddle before Liam was forcefully making room for him. their group seemed to have a heated discussion, one that left Louis with a dark expression as he wandered off to stand in the left wing position.

“Doesn’t Louis usually play up forward?” Zayn asked, trying to remember.

Niall released an angry puff of air. “Yep.”

Niall’s anger, along with Harry and Zayn’s bristling annoyance, only increased as the game went on. The yellow team never passed the ball to Louis, leaving him to only get touches if he directly intercepted someone. And then the moment he had the ball the other team would back off, not even challenging him for it, making a huge show of putting their hands in the air and shaking their heads as Louis ran past. Zayn could tell by the set of Louis’ shoulders that the omega was embarrassed. Zayn really wanted to punch every member of his team.

Except for Liam, who was doing his best to pass the ball to Louis but had it tackled from him almost every time. He was falling over a lot, too, apparently thrown off his game by the amount of people who actually, you know, could play. Zayn would be incredibly amused if he wasn’t so annoyed about how the team was treating Louis.

Finally, it looked like Louis had had enough. He stormed off the field and to the coach, who was standing at the bottom of the bleachers as he surveyed the game, with a face that looked carefully constructed to hide his hurt.

“Did you ask them to treat me differently?” Louis demanded of the man, pointing angrily at the field.

“Look, son,” the coach said in a placating tone that had Zayn’s teeth grinding. “The school board would have me fired if someone hurt you-“

“I’m a damn good player,” Louis cut him off, seething. He got closer to the coach, barely two feet between them, voice just as loud. “Tell them to play properly, because I can’t show you shit unless you do.”

“You’re not in a position to demand things,” the man said.

“And you’re not in a position to discriminate,” Louis countered. He lowered his voice, then, slackening his shoulders and apparently pleading with the man. Reluctantly, the man nodded, and called in the captain of the red team. Zayn noticed that Niall was standing with balled fists. He wondered if Niall realised this was a common occurrence for his kind.

The game gets slightly better. Louis isn’t moved from his position on the field, but his team starts actually utilising him – and, how about that, they’re magically able to keep up with the opposition the moment they give Louis reign. It isn’t long before the opposition start to give him a fair go, either, putting a bit of pressure on Louis as he takes the ball down the field, which Louis just took in his stride as he evaded their attempts at stealing the ball. And suddenly with a fast break down the field, no one in front of him bar some defence players that couldn’t contain him, Louis ducked through the field and scored the first goal of the match. Ten minutes later, he scored a second goal. Soon after that his team’s captain begrudgingly moved him up to left striker, much to the annoyance of the boy who was (failing) in that position.

It ended up being a close game, with Louis’ skill being unparalleled but the collective force of the opposition easily being able to breach their defence and score goal after goal. Louis played a fair game, too, passing the ball off to his team mates even though he could have single-handedly scored every single one of their goals. His team ended up losing 6-5, but Louis was beaming when he stumbled over to the bleachers to grab his drink bottle from Harry.

“That was brilliant,” Liam said, running in behind him and grabbing his own water bottle.

“I think you managed to make a new record for falling over in one hour,” Zayn told him, surveying the mud that covered Liam’s gym gear and previously yellow bib in amusement.

Liam just beamed at him before swallowing down half the contents in his bottle.

“You were amazing out there,” Niall said to Louis, grinning proudly as he wrapped his arms around his boyfriend, who was being smothered in kisses by Harry.

“It was good while it lasted,” Louis smiled back, shrugging. “Like, it was decent of them to let me do the try-out.”

“He’d be stupid to not put you on the team,” Harry said, lifting his chin in a sort of defiance that Zayn didn’t often see him display.

“Exactly,” Niall agreed, curling an arm over Harry’s shoulders when Louis pulled away to retie his shoes.

“Payne! Louis!” the coach was suddenly shouting. He waved them over hurriedly, the majority of the other boys already lined up on the field.

Louis raised his eyebrows at them as he jogged off. “Time will tell.”

The coach gave an ungodly long speech, gesturing wildly as he paced in front of the row of boys. Zayn was once again reminded of how small Louis was compared to all of them. But he was also reminded of the fact that this was Louis Tomlinson: standing proud, shoulders straight and hands behind his back. Whether or not he got on the team, Louis was safe with the knowledge that he had the best stats for the tryout. Zayn smirked a little, realising that these big old alphas had been outdone by an omega. It was a good thought.

Fucking finally the coach started handing out the official team jerseys, calling out names one by one. Zayn didn’t know how many players were going to be on the squad, but knew that at least half a dozen would have to be rejected. He swallowed thickly, realising that Louis wouldn’t be able to call out the coach on discrimination if he was turned down along with six alphas.

Every time an alpha’s name was announced, the boys from last year’s team when cheer and smack hands as they welcomed back another brother. Eight, nine, ten people were selected for the team, until finally the coach said a name that had very few people cheering. Liam stumbled forward in surprise, only moving to accept the jersey from the coach when Louis pushed him forward in excitement. Liam took the jersey, looking back at Louis warily. The boys already on the team clapped their hands and smacked his back in approval, despite the fact that he’d been one of the worst on field. Zayn wished he could see Louis face, wondering sadly if Louis had realised the same thing he had: if Liam had been given a spot before him, then Louis wasn’t going to get a spot at all.

But then, fuck, coach was announcing another name, and suddenly Louis was the one stumbling forward in surprise. Liam cheered wildly for him, and a few of the other boys clapped him on the back. Most of them just clapped politely. But it didn’t even matter, because-

“He’s on the team,” Niall hollered, beating his chest. He turned to Harry, smacking a kiss to his mouth. “Our boyfriend is he first ever omega to secure a place on the campus footy team!”

Harry looked like he was going to piss himself with excitement, bouncing up and down with Niall as the final few names were announced. And then Louis and Liam were sprinting over, eyes bright. Louis immediately jumped into Harry’s arms, the two of them then crashing into Niall until they were a mess of limbs all talking at once. Zayn looked at Liam, who was bouncing in excitement, and just said ‘fuck it’ and pulled Liam into a proud hug.

“I can’t believe I’m on the team,” Liam gushed, shaking his head. “They probably want some comic relief to make the good guys look better.”

Zayn laughed and pulled back, drunk off the high all five of them were feeling. He turned and found Niall grinning at them. “I vote we get smashed tonight in celebration of Louis here making history.”

“Definitely,” Zayn agreed, reaching forward to tousle Louis’ hair. “Not Carmen’s, though – I told them I was sick to get out of a shift.”

 

They end up going to a bar within walking distance of their dorm, not too far off campus. It was absolutely packed, considering it was a Friday night and there was some sports game or another being avidly watched on a huge plasma screen over the bar, but it might as well have been empty for the way their energy took up the room. Louis was just in a constant state of shock, shaking his head every time Niall or Harry reminded him that he’d gotten onto the team – and they reminded him a lot, unobscured pride permanently etched into their faces, whispering things in Louis’ ear about how they planned to congratulate him at home.

Liam, meanwhile, was becoming drunker and drunker, matching Zayn drink for drink. It couldn’t have even been nine p.m. before they were absolutely sloshed, laughing uncontrollably at Niall’s Irish drinking songs and cooing every time their three friends said something even vaguely mushy. (Zayn also noted that Liam had a habit of tacking ‘that’s what she said’ onto everything that came out of anyone’s mouth, regardless of if it made sense. He may very well be the cutest drunk Zayn has ever come across.)

When Niall started slurring in Spanish they decided to leave, stumbling down the deserted streets and hollering at any other drunken group they passed. Zayn was in such high spirits that he actually didn’t care that the threesome in front of him started to literally grope each other halfway back home.

“I wish I had that,” Liam slurred, walking next to Zayn as he eyed the three in front.

“What?” Zayn asked.

That,” Liam said, gesturing vaguely. “Like. Louis got on the team, right? So he gets to have fantastic sex. But I – hic – I don’t. But it looks like fun.”

Zayn grins over at him. “You’ll get it one day.”

Trying to get home is an absolute mess, between Harry nearly cracking his head open from tripping so often, and Niall stopping to talk to everyone he comes across to tell them how great his boyfriends are, and how, admittedly, Zayn isn’t the most logical person when he’s drunk (although he can feel himself sobering), and keeps trying to walk along brick fences before Liam’s grabbing him by the waist and putting him back on the ground again.

“Don’t want you to die,” the alpha would grin at him, eyes a little glassy. “It’d be sad.”

The dorm building was abuzz with noise when they got back in, all the other alphas apparently celebrating the team selections too. Niall, Louis and Harry stumbled off to their room without so much as a goodbye, too wrapped up in each other to waste time. Zayn watches them go, Harry’s hands already undoing Louis’ zipper before their door is even open, Niall holding Louis’ ass firmly against his crotch when he crowds his boys inside.

Zayn turns to Liam. “Hey Liam?”

“Yeah?” Liam asks, looking back down at him.

Zayn surges up and kisses him, holding Liam on either side of his face. Liam made a noise of surprise but didn’t pull back, arms instead winding around Zayn’s waist as he leant him against the wall. Zayn licked into his mouth reverently, chasing the taste of alcohol on Liam’s tongue and revelling in the feel of Liam’s broad hands on his slim hips.

Zayn wordlessly reaches out and grapples the doorknob for his room, pulling away just enough so he could see what he was doing. Liam kissed down his neck as Zayn fumbled to unlock the door, gasping a little when Liam started to suck a mark into his neck. Liam’s fingers were tugging Zayn into him by the belt loops, crotches held firmly together as Liam averts Zayn’s attention to suck his bottom lip.

“Fuck,” Zayn mutters, door finally swinging open just as Liam starts grinding their hips together. He pulls Liam into the room, kicking the door closed after them. “C’mon, Liam, wanna fuck.”

“Wanna eat you out,” Liam whined against his lips. He palmed Zayn’s ass reverently, groaning lowly as he squeezed the flesh. “I never get to take my time with you. Wanna-“

“Okay,” Zayn says, biting back the mewl his lips were threatening to release at the thought of falling apart on Liam’s tongue.

Liam groaned again, sucking on Zayn’s tongue for a moment before he was pulling back and pulling at Zayn’s shirt until he got the hint and lifted his arms, chests momentarily separated before the offending material had been stripped off and Liam was pulling them back together again, now scratching down Zayn’s back as he mouth at his neck. Zayn grabbed Liam’s shirt from the back and tugged until Liam dutifully took it off, leaving his gorgeous torso and thick arms exposed, muscles rippling obscenely until Liam was kissing him again and Zayn’s eyes were fluttering closed.

Zayn dragged Liam back towards the bed, shuffling across the room blindly until the back of his legs hit the bed frame. Liam laid him down, pressing his hips into Zayn’s and swallowing Zayn’s moans. And then Liam was pulling back and undoing Zayn’ pants, dragging them down an off along with his briefs, throwing them across the room unceremoniously. He went to duck back down but Zayn pressed a foot to his chest to stop him, laughing drunkenly. “Take off your pants,” he giggled. “If you don’t do it now you never will.”

Liam grinned and rolled his eyes, but made a huge show of stripping out of his jeans. He stumbled a little when trying to fully pull them off, but it didn’t make the sight of his unclothed cock any less arousing for Zayn, standing tall and shining wetly from precum.

“You’re so fucking hung,” Zayn groaned, head falling back against the mattress. “Can you fuck me now?”

Liam shook his head, blushing sweetly. “Turn over.

Zayn complied, flipping himself with hardly any grace, feeling the drag of his aching cock on the soft sheets. He ground forward a little experimentally, letting out a sigh at the gentle friction. Liam crawled up the bed behind him, gently spreading Zayn legs further apart. He kneaded the flesh of his thighs tenderly, grip firm but not yet bruising, pressing in a little harder when Zayn mewled in encouragement.

“Looks go good,” Liam moaned nearly incoherently. Then he was shifting a little and suddenly Zayn felt his tongue licking a long stripe over his hole.

“Oh fuck,” he gasped, body immediately shaking with pleasure. Liam tongued at his rim, quick little flicks of his tongue that had Zayn shaking within seconds. “Leeyum.”

Liam’s only response was to bury his face further, his stubble scratching against Zayn’s sensitive skin as he licked into him, gradually deepening his motion with every stroke. Zayn fisted the sheets tightly, mouth agape as Liam’s mouth made some god damn obscene noises. He rocked back on Liam’s tongue, addicted to the slide of it inside him, how fucking wet and warm and perfect it was. Liam spread his cheeks apart further, licking lazily over his hole, no finesse but still having Zayn shaking.

“Fuck, Leeyum,” Zayn whined, rolling his hips on the bed for release. “Feels so – oh, god.“

“Tastes so good,” Liam groaned against him. He sucked at the edge of Zayn’s rim, making the omega curse and jump, thighs quaking from how good it felt.

Liam started to fuck him with his tongue, rabbiting his mouth forward and making Zayn mewl. Zayn rocked back on him, eyes rolling into the back of his head as waves of pleasure crashed through him. Liam just held him tighter. The alpha assaulted his hole so thoroughly that Zayn could feel himself becoming wet with slick, making Liam moan as he tasted it. Zayn hissed and mewled as Liam did, feeling Liam’s thick, wide tongue spreading him wide. Zayn was practically panting, eyes screwed shut as his body shuddered, overwhelmed by how fucking good it felt.

“Wanna fuck you,” the alpha groaned. “Can I take you like this?”

“Fuck, yes,” Zayn whined desperately, hands curling further into the sheets, nearly ripping them off the bed. Liam bit gently at the flesh of his thighs before crawling up the bed, guiding himself to Zayn’s hole. He just held the tip there, not pushing in. Zayn craned his head to look at him with desperate eyes, and Liam just smiled and kissed him, letting Zayn taste himself before Liam was pushing in slowly. Zayn arched in pleasure. “Fuck.”

Liam thrust once, slow and deep, drawing a long whine from Zayn as he felt the glide inside him. Zayn’s eyes were firmly shut, but he felt as Liam caged him in with strong arms, resting his forehead on the back Zayn’s neck and letting out a ragged breath as he thrust again, just as slow, gradual little increments that had Zayn holding his breath. Zayn pushed his hips up to meet Liam on the third stroke, whimpering a little when Liam’s cock nudged his prostate. “Gonna take our time,” Liam muttered again his skin, kissing the spot again. “Gonna make you feel so good.”

It can’t possibly feel better than this, Zayn thought, tightening his grip on the sheets. Liam’s hands snaked up his arms and came to rest over Zayn’s clenched fists, soothing the white out of his knuckles until Zayn relaxed a little. Liam held him like that, fingers overlapping, when he started swivelling his hips down into Zayn, slow and languid, heart beating against Zayn’s back in a rhythm that matched his own.

Liam did take his time. He switched between swivelling his hips in slow circles, driving Zayn absolutely mad for minutes on end, before thrusting in these long, pulsing drags that had Zayn’s breath hitching at the feel of it. One of Liam’s broad hands travelled down the expanse of Zayn’s body, bending Zayn’s leg and resting on his hip for leverage as the new angle had him going in deeper, grinding down onto the little bundle of nerves that had Zayn whimpering.

“So beautiful,” Liam was muttering against his skin, dicking into him like a gentle crash of waves, coming and going in one smooth movement. “You’re so beautiful, Zayn. Feel so good.”

Zayn couldn’t reply, didn’t know how to reply, but Liam wasn’t looking for a response. He just latched his lips onto Zayn’s shoulder and rocked them together gently, so soft and calm. Zayn needed more.

“Liam,” he begged, moaning as the alpha ground his hips a little. “Liam, need – ah – need more. Need you to-“

“I’ve got you,” Liam promised. He pulled out, making Zayn whine in protest, before he was gently turning Zayn onto his back and pulling one of his legs onto his shoulder. He kissed Zayn’s knee gently before he was sliding in again, filling him up to the point where Zayn was throwing his head back in pleasure.

Zayn could do nothing but claw at Liam’s back when the alpha began thrusting again. He was going faster than before, still nowhere near their usual fast pace but definitely at a rhythm that had Zayn mewling. He was just being so fucking gentle, resting his head against Zayn’s as he fucked in, whispering words of praise as Zayn just whimpered and took it. It was so much more intimate than anything Zayn had ever experienced, and he knew that he should be panicking right now, but the pleasure of it and the remnants of alcohol still simmering in his bloodstream had him just letting go, forgetting the fact that he and Liam aren’t supposed to be doing this, that this is wrong, that he’s going to regret it so fucking much in the morning. Instead he just concentrated on the muscles of Liam’s back beneath his hands, the tickle of Liam’s hair against his temple when he groaned lowly in his ear, the perfect movement of his hips.

Zayn was becoming quickly overwhelmed, but in a good way. In the type of way that had him pulling Liam closer instead of pushing him away. In the type of way that had him begging Liam to touch him instead of just doing it himself.

Liam complied easily, dropping a kiss to Zayn’s temple as he wound a hand down and enveloped his cock in his large hand, stroking gently in time with his thrusts. Zayn cried out from the sensation, little dribbles of precum making the glide that much smoother, the perfect amount of friction to have Zayn whimpering and stuttering his hips in Liam’s grip. He alternated between rocking down on Liam’s dick and up into the tight heat of his hand, that overwhelmed sensation transforming into a tight coil centred in his stomach, making his skin prickle with tension.

“Faster, Liam,” he begged, rolling his hips. “Need to-“

Liam tightened his grip and stroked him faster. He sucked a mark into Zayn’s skin, smiling against him as Zayn gasped and shook.

“Liam,” Zayn whined, nails digging into Liam’s back as the coil tightened. Liam started snapping his hips faster. “Leeyum-“

They came at the same time, Zayn crying out while Liam opted to clamp down on his shoulder, the two of them shuddering together with stuttering hips and heaving chests. Every part of them was touching, leaving Zayn quickly sensitive, but he didn’t pull away. He pulled Liam closer, kissing him reverently as they came down from their highs, feeling closer than Zayn had ever felt before.

Liam gently pulled out and rolled until he was on his back with Zayn laying on his chest, absolutely boneless as his breaths continued to come out in slow hitches. Liam stroked a hand up and down Zayn’s back soothingly, easing the adrenaline out of him and calming Zayn enough to lull him down again.

He was nearly asleep when Liam kissed the top of his head, murmuring quietly: “Please don’t hate me in the morning.”

 

(Liam’s not there when he wakes up, but Zayn thinks it’s for the best. They both need to figure out their own heads, about whether the previous night was crossing a line or not. And it definitely was, Zayn concluded. But it didn’t have to be a big deal. Liam had been wanting to get off with celebratory sex, and Zayn had helped him out, the same way they’ve been helping each other for the last few months.

“So it’s not that weird, really,” he tells Liam quietly when Liam brings it up, in Niall’s kitchen as they’re chopping fruit to make smoothies. “It’s basically the same thing we’ve been doing. And we were drunk, so.”

“Yeah,” Liam says. He’s frowning, Zayn knows, but smiles when Zayn looks up at him questioningly.

“Are you okay with that?” Zayn asks him, suddenly unsure. Zayn’s mind is a bit foggy, but he tries to remember how drunk Liam had been. His stomach sunk at the thought that he’d taken advantage of Liam.

“It was fine, yeah,” Liam said quickly, sensing Zayn’s anxiety. “Just a bit, um, unexpected.”

Zayn nodded a little in agreement. He dumps the freshly cut watermelon into the blender, looking up at the other three boys to make sure they weren’t listening before he spoke again. "Is it something you’d be okay with doing?” he asked, gaze moving from the tangle of limbs on the couch to Liam’s confused face. “Like, just hooking up and stuff.”

Liam moved past him to drop his large handful of bananas into the blender. He was taking his time to answer, Zayn noticed. He swallowed thickly.

“We don’t have to, obviously,” Zayn backtracked quickly. “I just thought-“

“It’s fine,” Liam assured him. He hip-checked Zayn playfully for emphasis. “Might as well.”

Stupidly enough, this decision actually excited him. He’s not entirely sure why. He figured it was because of how good the sex was, especially now that they knew what each other liked. And the fact that Liam respected him, Zayn added mentally. It was the ideal situation in his mind.)

 

“Excited?” Zayn asked. He was bouncing his leg a little to try and heat up a little, wondering how the fuck Louis and Liam could be fine in just shorts and a jersey (although, admittedly, Louis did have a long-sleeve shirt under his).

“Bit nervous,” Louis said, shrugging. “I’m playing centre-mid for the first little bit.”

“Coach’s put me in defence again,” Liam groaned, eyeing the field anxiously. “I can’t play defence.”

“You can’t play anywhere, Payno,” Niall told him consolingly.

Liam laughed and lunged at him, dragging him into a headlock that Niall valiantly attempted to fight him on. The three omegas rolled their eyes in unison and turned away.

“You’ll be great, Lou,” Harry told him. Louis smiled and kissed Harry’s cheek softly in thanks, cuddling his arms underneath Harry’s thick jacket.

“We’ll be here to cheer you on,” Zayn added.

“Do you even know the rules of the game?” Louis asked him, quirking his lips.

Zayn shrugged. “Semantics.”

“Please don’t cheer if I get tackled,” Louis begged him, laughing. “That’s all I ask.”

Zayn gave him a flat look. “I know some things, you dick,” he said, gently shoving the other omega. “Liam’s been teaching me some stuff.”

“In between rounds?” Harry asked, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. His boyfriend laughed.

“Shut up,” Zayn said with a blush, turning to look at the field again. He’d made a poor choice in telling the boys about his and Liam’s amended arrangement. He also made the mistake of telling them about last night, when Liam had been beyond nervous about his first match of the season, so Zayn had sucked him off and then rode him until Liam didn’t think about it anymore. He definitely shouldn’t have told them that.

Niall and Liam wandered over soon after, still laughing and shoving each other. When Niall threatened to lunge again Liam ran around Zayn and used him as a shield, hands on his shoulders and holding him close to his chest. Harry and Lou looked way too smug about this.

“Don’t you have a game to play?” Zayn asked Louis pointedly.

Louis sighed dramatically and made a ‘come on’ gesture at Liam. “Let’s go, Payno, before your husband slaughters me.”

Zayn freezes. He watches Liam’s reaction carefully. Liam just laughs and follows Louis onto the field. Zayn is going to kill Louis. And Harry, who isn’t trying to hide his snickering at all.

“You two are the worst,” Zayn mutters, elbowing Harry in the ribs as they go and sit down in the bleachers.

Niall peers at him over Harry’s head in confusion. “What’d they do?”

Zayn just shook his head. There was no way he was telling Niall about any of this if he didn’t already know. The less people making jokes at Zayn’s expense, the better.

The game started, and it was good. The boys had had a few more training sessions, three in the last fortnight, so the team had gotten relatively better about including Louis and utilising his skill. The opposition were clearly thrown by Louis’ presence, but didn’t seem too hesitant to play a fair match. Niall had surveyed their team and told Zayn and Harry, who couldn’t instinctively know like alphas did, that the opposition had three betas on their team. Obviously a more inclusive school, Zayn thought wryly.

It was a low scoring game. A quarter of the way through, Andy scored a fluke goal, but otherwise the match consisted of a lot of back-and-forth intercepting that made Zayn a little dizzy as he watched. The third time he watched Liam fall over (or, rather, was pushed over, but the foul wasn’t called by the umpire), Zayn averted his eyes because they were hurting from the strain of focussing on something so far for so long. He should have bought his glasses.

He ended up looking at the sparse crowd around them, and made a game of trying to figure out who each person was there for. He saw a small group of pretty girls cheering every time Andy got the ball, and figured one of them was his mate and the others were friends. A few rows down from them was a timid looking guy sitting with a toddler on his lap, bundled in clothing. Zayn couldn’t figure out who exactly he was there for, but guessed they were a brother or someone watching the game with his daughter.

A few metres across from him, about a dozen yards or so from Zayn, was a tall guy with a copper quiff and a coat that seemed too thin for the freezing weather. At first Zayn thought he might be here for the other team, not cheering on Louis and Liam’s team at all, until Louis suddenly intercepted the ball and he started clapping politely. Zayn watched him closely, noting that five minutes later when Louis got a fast break down the field, the guy (who looked to be in his late twenties) clasped his hands and sat up a little straighter, eyes fixated on the omega.

Zayn got a sinking feeling in his stomach. Louis only had one brother, who was just a baby, and this man was way too young to be his step-dad.

Zayn nudged Harry. “Do you know him?” he asked, nodding his head to the guy who was completely ignoring the actual play on the field and instead just watching Louis as he was subbed off for a drink break.

Harry followed his line of sight. He watched the man, too, and shook his head. He nudged Niall and asked the same question.

It was tense, watching Niall’s demeanour change as his gaze drifted from the stranger on the bleachers to his own boyfriend on the side of the field, standing with his back to them, completely oblivious. “No idea,” Niall muttered lowly, blue eyes narrowed slightly as the man pulled out his phone and took a photo.

Niall stood up.

“He could be a friend from a class,” Harry said quickly, grabbing Niall’s hand. “Give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Slowly, tensely, Niall sat down again. “He better hope to god that Louis knows him.”

At half time, Liam came bounding over, looking like a delighted puppy with the side of his face covered in mud but in no way dimming the light in his eyes. He took one look at Niall’s stormy face, though, before he was turning to look at the copper-haired man, who was still staring at the field where Louis was.

“What’s going on?” Liam asked in confusion.

“We’re about to find out,” Niall said through clenched teeth. Zayn looked past Liam’s wide shoulders and found that Louis was jogging his way over. He also found that the man was standing up, prepared to greet him.

“I’ve got this,” Zayn said, quickly ducking down the bleachers. He knows that if the alphas intervened that the man would probably get defensive. He wouldn’t suspect much from Zayn.

Zayn jumped the fence separating the bleachers from the field and met Louis a little ways from where the copper-haired man was waiting. “Eager to see me?” Louis asked him.

“Who’s the guy standing behind me?” Zayn muttered quietly. Louis frowned in confusion before subtly scanning the people behind him, sensing his tone. Zayn’s stomach dropped when he realised Louis had no idea who he was talking about, that Louis didn’t have an excuse for the man like ‘oh, he’s my cousin’. “Blue jacket. Tall hair. Standing near the gate in front of the others. He’s been taking photos of you.”

Zayn watched as Louis redirected his gaze, watched as Louis’ eyes widened in shock. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. “Oh no.”

“You know him,” Zayn guessed grimly, his panic rising. Louis didn’t look happy to see this guy. “Who is he? Lou-“

But Louis was already evading him, heading for the fence. He didn’t walk towards the man – walked purposely away from him, actually – but the guy walked over to intercept him anyway. Zayn quickly jogged over, watching as both Niall and Liam squared their shoulders and wandered over to meet them.

“Louis,” the man was saying when he got there, grinning brightly. “Long time no see.”

“Go away, Nick,” Louis was saying, a pleading edge to his voice. The man, Nick, stood between him and Niall, who looked ready to pounce with Liam and Harry flanking him cautiously.

“I only just got here,” Nick said, smiling slyly. He stepped forward, causing Louis to step back.

Niall and Zayn stormed forward at the same time, moving to flank Louis on either side. “He told you to leave,” Niall said, voice grating. “You should respect that.”

“Who’s this?” Nick asked, eyeing Niall up and down.

“His alpha,” Niall snapped. “His mate.”

Nick appraised him with a smirk, clearly amused as he stood up a little straighter and found himself so much taller. “Such a small little thing. Odd choice, Lou.”

“Who’re you?” Niall countered. He was positively seething, accent a little thicker in his annoyance. Zayn watched as Liam carefully stepped in front of Harry, preparing for a fight.

“I’m Nick Grimshaw,” the man grinned. “Louis’ boyfriend.”

Ex-boyfriend,” Louis snapped.

They stood in suspended silence for a moment. Zayn’s not sure if Niall knows about Louis’ past, knows the same little bit of information the omega had relinquished to him all those months ago, but when Zayn was the only one surging forward in anger, he figured either Niall didn’t know or didn’t put the pieces together.

“Hello there,” Nick grinned down at Zayn as he stormed forward. Zayn didn’t answer verbally. He just punched him in the face.

“What the fuck,” Grimshaw hissed, stumbling back a little and clutching his jaw.

“Piece of fucking shit,” Zayn spat at him, swinging his leg to try and kick him down. The man evaded him, still apparently in a state of shock. It made Zayn even angrier. “You think lying to him was funny? You could have gotten him pregnant, you sick son of a-“

Zayn didn’t get to finish his sentence, because the alpha was suddenly stepping forward and grabbing him by the neck, pushing him down into the fence. Zayn cried out when his cheek hit the metal, blood pooling his mouth when he slid to the ground, pain exploding in the side of his face.

It took him a moment to refocus, but when he did he found Liam and a guy he didn’t recognise pinning Grimshaw down while Harry jumped out of the way and Louis stood in front of Niall, holding him back. Zayn sat there, cheek and lip aching, having no idea what to do, immobilised by pain. Members of the team had run over, taking the man from Liam and dragging him out of the area. Niall was shouting threats at the guy, yelling at the top of his lungs while Louis tried to subdue him. He only stopped when Louis forcibly grabbed his jaw and made him look at him. Niall’s eyes softened. Zayn looked away.

Liam was suddenly there, crouching by his side. “Zayn?” Holy shit-“

“I’m okay,” Zayn managed out, wincing as the movement caused more blood to pool in his mouth. He spat it out on the other side of him, wiping his mouth and grinning at Liam’s concerned face. “Worth it.”

“Why the hell would you punch an alpha?” Liam asked, somewhere between fond and worried off his face. When Zayn did nothing but shrug, Liam shook his head and helped him up. “C’mon, let’s get your face fixed.”

Zayn stumbled a little when he stood up, feeling a bit of a head rush, but immediately pushed Liam’s hands off of him. “You’ve got half a soccer game to play, Liam. I’ll get Harry to take me to the nurse.”

“We’re not allowed to play with blood on our jerseys,” Liam said, motioning to the long streak of it down his chest. “Some random rule. I don’t know.”

Zayn frowned at the red streak. “Is that mine?”

Liam shook his head. “Niall managed to get a punch in before I grabbed the guy,” he explained, gesturing to where Zayn had last seen Grimshaw.

“Alright,” Zayn said. He allowed Liam to wrap a steadying arm around him, if only because it was cold and Liam’s body heat was enticing. “To the nurse, then.”

“I can sew it up,” Liam told him, walking him in the wrong direction, towards their dorm building. “It’ll save you having to walk so much if you’ve got a concussion.”

Zayn peered at Liam funnily as they walked away, finding him waving at the other lads as they went. “Since when can you sew up a bust lip?”

“Mum’s a nurse,” Liam said in way of explanation. He held Zayn a bit tighter. “Fuck, it’s cold.”

“Why didn’t you bring a jacket?” Zayn asked him, chuckling a little as Liam tried to use him as a personal heater.

“I did. It’s in my bag back at the pitch,” he said.

Zayn stopped walking. “Don’t you want to go back and get it?”

“Nah.”

The walk back to the dorm building was thankfully short, only ten minutes or so, but they both let out relieved sighs when they were indoors and out of the cold wind. Zayn’s face was aching by this point, an insistent little throb centred at his lip while he felt bruises blooming along his cheek and jawbone. Liam frowned every time he looked at his face, but didn’t comment.

Zayn ended up sitting on the stool in front of Liam’s kitchen bench. Liam pulled out a first aid kit from his wardrobe and placed it on the bench, pulling out a few things. He handed Zayn antiseptic wipes, but took one look at Zayn’s bloodied face and apparently thought better about it and took the wipes back.

“This may sting a little,” he warned softly. He cupped Zayn’s chin and wiped gently at his face, careful not to prod at the split in his lip. Zayn just watched his face, mesmerised by the pure concentration set in Liam’s features, the good intentions in his chocolate eyes. Zayn took the time to really look at his face, to really consider him: thick eyebrows contrasting with plump lips contrasting with a sharp jawbone contrasting with round cheeks. Liam had always been a walking contradiction, looking like a model alpha, but a heart of gold lacing everything he did. Zayn can’t believe that six months ago he didn’t trust this boy. He can’t believe he didn’t let himself see the obvious.

“What’re you thinking about?” Zayn asked quietly. He winced a little when Liam gently dabbed at his lip.

Liam smiled softly. “I’m thinking about how stupid you were to punch that guy.”

Six months ago, Zayn would have shoved Liam away from him and yelled at him for the vaguely problematic undertones of that statement. Six months ago, Zayn would not have grinned up at the alpha lazily, unconcerned. But here he is.

“Who was that guy?” Liam asked when he was preparing the needle.

“Someone who deserved more than two punches,” Zayn answered. He left it at that. It wasn’t his place to tell Liam about Louis’ past, even if all he wanted to do was curse out the man who lied to Louis and almost impregnated him, who tried to ruin his life at such a young age, who dared to return without warning and throw Louis off balance. But that wasn’t a conversation he needed to have with Liam. And the best thing about Liam, is he didn’t push the topic. He just smiled in understanding and carefully held his chin as he sewed his lip, never wanting to push Zayn further than he was comfortable. Six months ago, Zayn wouldn’t have appreciated it so much.

 

The next time he saw Liam was two days later, when it was late enough at night that Zayn figured he was asleep. Zayn himself was watching a movie on his laptop, mind whirling too much to sleep. He’s not sure why his brain was so active, but he had this feeling like something was on the tip of his tongue, desperate to be said or heard or both, but he couldn’t pin point what it was. It was so instant, though, that he couldn’t recall half of what he had been watching, and jumped in surprise at the soft knock on his door.

He got up slowly, softly calling out to know who it was. Liam replied, voice low and a little desperate. Zayn frowned, opening the door to find Liam bundled up in a thick jumper and sweatpants, looking soft and cuddly and smaller than Zayn had really seen him before. Liam made a quiet, aborted sound, before he was stepping forward and cradling Zayn’s face, kissing him gently, mindful of his still-swollen lip and bruised cheek. Zayn’s lashes fluttered in surprise, but he didn’t pull back. Liam did after a moment, resting his forehead against Zayn’s and exhaling raggedly.

“You okay?” Zayn asked quietly.

Liam nodded a little, swallowing thickly. “Can I hang out here for a while?”

Zayn appraised him, once again taken back by how off Liam looked, like he had the weight of the world crushing him slowly. “Okay,” Zayn said. He grabbed Liam’s sleeve, just above the wrist, and guided him over to the bed where his movie was paused. They climbed in silently. Zayn didn’t question it when Liam immediately curled into his side, throwing an arm over his stomach and holding him tightly.

“Thank you,” Liam whispered a little while later, when Zayn was sure that he was asleep.

Zayn shifted a little closer to him, lightly tracing the minimalistic design on the front of Liam’s jumper. “You sure you’re okay?” he asked, equally as quiet.

“Just homesick,” Liam murmured. His eyes fluttered shut as he let out a controlled breath through his nose, only opening his eyes a few moments later. “I think a might head home for the weekend. Need to see my mum, I think.”

Zayn wondered what had happened to make Liam need his family, whether it was something specific or just one of those pangs, the type that sometimes had Zayn crying in frustration because he couldn’t just go home. “Yeah?”

“Miss her cooking,” Liam murmured with a small smile, eyes downcast. “I mean, she’s shite at making most things, but her spag boll is amazing.”

“I miss my mum’s cooking, too,” Zayn admits, watching his fingers on Liam’s clothed chest. “Best cook I’ve ever known.”

“How far away does she live?” Liam asked quietly.

“Ages away,” Zayn said. He’s not exactly sure, but knows it’s too far for him to make a day trip. “Yours?”

“Six hour drive,” Liam says. Zayn whistles lowly. “I could take the train, but if it starts snowing then they might cancel the line, and I need to be back for a lecture on Tuesday. So. Niall said I can take his car.”

“Let’s pray there’s something other than Christmas songs on the radio,” Zayn jokes lightly.

“It’s barely even November,” Liam says. He smiles, nose scrunched. Zayn just raises an eyebrow. Liam lets out a laugh. “Yeah, okay. I’m probably going to have to incapacitate Michael Bublé by the time I get there.”

“Don’t forget the trip back, too,” Zayn added.

Liam laughed, shuddering dramatically. “Maybe I should just make a playlist and let my phone die.”

“Don’t you dare,” Zayn said, clutching Liam’s jumper a little more. “You’re leaving me with those three idiots next door. I need your phone working so I can give you a daily rant. Maybe an hourly one.”

“Avoid calling after working hours, unless you want my sisters hijacking the conversation,” Liam murmured with bright eyes. “They’d love to grill you for blackmail material to use against me.”

“I see no downsides on my part,” Zayn joked, making Liam laugh quietly and nudge his knee against Zayn’s. He kept the point of contact, not moving away. Zayn didn’t want him to move away.

He could picture it so clearly: calling Liam after the lads had done something particularly exasperating, halfway through a rant when there’s suddenly a feminine voice talking to him, then another, both with some variation of Liam’s Wolver accent. Zayn pictures them asking questions that had him laughing in surprise while Liam groaned in the background, shouting for Zayn to not answer before one of his sisters was tackling him while the other ran off with the phone. Zayn imagines being properly introduced to them, meeting them in person, giving a face to the women Liam had talked about so often. He imagines meeting Liam’s parents, too, eating spag boll in a house that wasn’t his but felt familiar because Liam had talked about it so often, about the odd colour and the imperfections and the hole hidden behind a photo frame from when Ruth had thrown a ball and completely missed her target.

Zayn wonders if these are thoughts he’s allowed to have as Liam’s fuckbuddy.

He concludes that he isn’t, and ignores the nagging feeling by falling asleep.

 

 

Liam

 

The trip home was ridiculously long and silent bar the constant loop of the Top Ten Christmas Jingles of All Time (featuring too much Bublé), but was completely worth it when Liam stepped out of Niall’s car and found his mum rushing out to meet him.

She wrapped him into a tight hug, taking away all the tension he’d been harbouring for the last however long. “Little bean,” she sighed out contentedly, sounding just as relieved as Liam felt. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in years.”

It might as well have been years, Liam thought. Eight months was way too long. “Good to be back,” Liam said honestly. He pulled back, frowning up at the sky when he felt the first snowflake hit his cheek. “You should go back inside. I’ll just grab my things and come meet you, yeah?”

“Okay, baby,” she nodded. She held his shoulder for a moment, assessing him. “You look older.”

“That’s the point of time, Mum,” Liam joked.

“Oh, hush,” Karen said, swatting his arm before bustling back up the driveway and into the house. Liam released a breath. He finally felt at home, but there was still something missing. He knew exactly what it was.

Shaking his head of the thought, he quickly gathered his duffle bag and the rubbish that had accumulated over the course of the trip before hurrying on inside. The snow was started to fall a little heavier, threatening to pin Liam down with it if he didn’t get a move on.

The first thing he noticed when he walked inside was how warm it was. The second thing he recognised was the smell, the scent of something nearly ready in the oven mixed with a waft of his mother’s perfume that lingered in her wake, smelling like home. The third thing he noticed was the pair of heels on the shoe rack.

“Mum?” he called out, deciding to just drop his bag at the entryway as he made his way through the familiar house. “Is Nic here?”

“Me, actually,” Ruth said, appearing out of practically nowhere, before wrapping Liam into a hug. Liam went with it, grinning in surprise.

“What’re you doing here?” Liam asks when they pull apart.

“Mum told me you were coming down. Figured I’d come, too,” Ruth answered, shrugging. “Nic’s coming tomorrow night.”

“We’re having a proper family weekend, then?” Liam grins.

It was amazing how quickly they fell into their old childhood routine: Karen cooking something that mostly consisted of heating up things from the supermarket, Ruth pottering around the kitchen under the guise of helping (but really just to make sure their mum doesn’t set the stove on fire again), Liam offering to help but being constantly shoved out of the way, possibly an even worse cook than his mother. His father comes home not long after Liam’s arrived, and pulls him into a tight hug, muttering how proud he is that Liam’s still in university.

“I never made it nearly as far as you’ve gone,” Geoff says. It’s something Liam’s heard a hundred times before, but still manages to make him duck his head in embarrassment. “You’re all set for your future, and I couldn’t be prouder. “Almost all set,” Karen corrects, waving a spatula in Liam’s direction. “Still no sign of a nice girl, I presume?”

Liam averts his eyes, forcing himself to not think of Zayn. “No one,” Liam says. “Maybe one day, Mum.”

And the conversation drops. For a moment, anyway. But when Liam looks up he finds Ruth watching him closely, eyeing him funnily before a slow smile grows on her face.

“Who is it?” she asks.

Liam feels his cheeks heat. “Nobody.”

“There’s definitely someone,” Ruth says, eyes positively gleaming. His parents were watching now in curiosity, slow grins forming on their own faces.

“It’s none of your business,” Liam shoots back – but, fuck, he’s grinning too. This is so fucking ridiculous.

“Beta or omega?” Ruth continues. She leans over the kitchen island, dangling her glass of wine precariously as she watches Liam blush further. “Omega, then,” she concludes. “Mated?”

“No,” Liam says immediately.

“But you’ve been with her during heat,” she guesses. “Right?”

Ah, female pronouns.

It wasn’t that Liam’s family were homophobic, or that Liam thought they wouldn’t accept him. Their obliviousness was more so just a result of Liam never having that conversation with them, despite how well and truly overdue it was. Liam had known he had no preference since he found out he was an alpha, rutting out a knot for the first time while he pictured a boy from his class.

It had been a bit of a confusing time.

“I’m definitely not having that conversation with you,” he finally says.

“That’s my boy,” Geoff grinned, clapping him on the back. “You’ll be bringing her around soon, yeah? She must be damn near perfect if she’s won your heart.”

“Yeah,” Liam says, smiling gently. He definitely does not think of Zayn. That would be ridiculous.

Suddenly his phone was ringing, saving him from further interrogation. He looked at the caller ID and grinned. He ducks out of the kitchen and out of his family’s line of hearing.

“What’s up?” he asked when he answered.

“I’m going nuts, Liam,” Zayn said. “The lads have gone into heat and they’re so fucking loud.”

“Damn,” Liam says, wincing sympathetically. “That bad?”

“Well, I’ve never like dubstep,” Zayn says. “And their banging on my wall is just confirming my opinion. They’re not even keeping up a steady rhythm. It’s disorientating.”

Liam laughs. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.”

“Ugh, I wish you were here so I could camp out in your room,” Zayn groans. “I’m genuinely considering just renting a hotel room for three days.”

“Just go stay in my room,” Liam tells him.

“I can’t just stay in your room, Li,” Zayn says. Liam could imagine him rolling his eyes.

“Why not?” Liam asks. “You’ve still got my spare key, right?”

“Well, I didn’t throw it into the wind, Liam,” Zayn chuckles.

“Then go stay at mine,” Liam says. “I think my fridge is stocked, too, so you’d be all set for the next few days.”

“I really truly hope they don’t keep going for a few days,” Zayn says. “I think Niall would actually die.”

“Let’s hope they never have heats as long as yours, then,” Liam laughs.

“Don’t remind me,” Zayn groans again. “I think I’m gonna get that checked out during the hols. It’s getting ridiculous.”

“Personally, I don’t mind,” Liam joked. He grinned when it made Zayn laugh. Fuck, Zayn had a nice laugh.

“I bet you don’t,” Zayn says, still chuckling. “But my ass does not appreciate it nearly as much, so.”

Liam was about to say something, he’s not entirely sure what, but was cut off by his mum shouting that dinner was ready. “I’ve got to go,” Liam said regretfully. “Dinner’s on the table.”

“Spag boll?”

“Unfortunately not,” Liam said. “If I don’t call you back before bed then assume mum’s killed me.”

“I’ll have the funeral service on call,” Zayn promised.

Liam grinned the whole way through dinner, making his sister coo embarrassingly. His parents just looked proud.

 

“I can only talk for, like, two minutes,” Niall whispers, sounding out of breath. “The boys are taking care of themselves for a minute.”

“What’s up?” Liam asks, sensing Niall must have a hella important reason for calling in the middle of his boyfriends’ heat.

“Do you know where Zayn is?” Niall asks. “We desperately need food and he’s not answering.”

“I haven’t spoken to him since last night,” Liam says, frowning.

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Niall says. “But I can’t leave the apartment at all and I don’t want to call any alphas to come by.”

“I’ll try and reach him,” Liam says. “Get back to your boys. If I can’t get a hold of him I’ll order you some pizza.”

“You’re an absolute legend, Payno,” Niall says. “Love you!”

Liam hangs up, wishing he’d never had to hear the low whining in the background of that phone call. He rubs his hands together, debating on whether to go back inside and grab his gloves. But he’s comfortable, he reasons. Cold, but Liam had missed this: sitting on the back porch, watching the light smattering of snow collect on the grass, breathing in the cold air and feeling calm because it’s so much fresher than back of university. Lacking the testosterone, he thinks.

He dials Zayn’s number, unsurprised when it goes straight to voicemail. He’s probably got class, or has his phone off while he studies in the library. Or maybe his phone is dead but he’s unwilling to go back to his room to get a charger, too comfortable in Liam’s bed. The thought makes him smile.

“Alright, Liam?” his dad asks. Liam looks up and finds his father closing the back door, balancing two mugs in his hand. He passes one to Liam with a smile.

“Yeah, all good,” Liam says, cupping the coffee with two hands.

His dad sits down next to him, sipping his drink as he appraises the backyard. It’s a familiar scenario: Liam remembers them sitting out here like this, side by side, from at least a hundred different occasions. He remembers taking a break and drinking lemonade after spending hours working on the backyard, or taking a breather while his sister fought inside, or having his father console him on his sixteenth birthday when no-one from school showed up to celebrate. His father was always there, offering Liam a glass or companionable silence or words of wisdom (that mostly consisted of “trust me, things will get better”).

“Missed being home,” Liam admits, following his father’s gaze.

“Missed having you here,” Geoff says. “What brings you back so early? We weren’t expecting you until Christmas.”

“Was getting a bit overwhelmed, I suppose,” Liam says, shrugging. He takes a sip of coffee. “Needed a break.”

Geoff hums in understanding. “You should’ve bought your girl down,” he says. “I’m dying to meet her.”

Here’s the opportunity for Liam to tell him that there’ no girl on his mind.

Then again, he’s had this opportunity a hundred times before. He never takes it.

“Maybe next time,” Liam says.

“Invite her around during the hols,” Geoff says. “I’m sure your mum wants to spoil her rotten. What did you say her name was, again?”

“I didn’t,” Liam says.

“Keeping her a secret, are we?” Geoff laughs.

“Something like that,” Liam grins.

They fall into comfortable silence after that, just watching the snow fall as they drink their coffees slowly. A while later Ruth comes and joins them, and they just catch up. It’s nice, Liam thinks. Hecan’t run from his problems, no, but when he’s out here, it feels like they aren’t problems at all.

 

The next time he checked his phone, he had more than two dozen missed calls and so many texts that the app kept crashing every time he tried to open it. He looked at who he’d been calling, finding most were from Zayn. He chews the skin of his thumb, knowing that he should be going downstairs to have dinner with his family, and that it’d be rude to keep them waiting. Incredibly rude.

He calls Zayn. (Of course he does.)

The phone rings twice before he’s met with a low whine. “Liam,” Zayn says, voice high and needy.

Liam’s eyes widen in shock. “Zayn?”

“Need you, Leeyum,” Zayn groans. There’s a sound like sheets moving, an image of the omega grinding himself down into the sheets popping into Liam’s mind.

Liam tried to think about what day it is, about how long it’s been. “Have you gone into heat?” he asks finally, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Mmhmm,” Zayn hums a little, breath hitching sporadically. “Need you, Li. Need your knot.”

“Fuck,” Liam hisses, swaying a little as the words settle in his bones. “How long have-“

Leeyum,” Zayn whines – and, fuck, that’s how he says his name when he’s cuming, when his mouth is parted and body is shaking with pleasure.

“I can’t- I’m hours away,” Liam said, screwing his eyes shut as he listened to Zayn continuing to whimper desperately.

“It hurts, Li,” Zayn whispered. Another groan. “Liam, I need you so bad-“

“I know, baby,” Liam tried to sooth. “I know.”

Zayn sounded like an absolute mess, transforming from needy and desperate to terrified and exhausted within seconds. He must have been in heat for a while now, Liam thinks. He must be hurting so fucking much. He listened as Zayn began to cry, sobbing out Liam’s name brokenly, sounding like he was in so much fucking pain. Liam’s heart was breaking as he listened, hearing the boy he loved cry out his name and beg him to come home. He was in so much pain, and it was Liam’s fault.

He was repacking his bag before he even consciously realised it.

“Zayn?” he called softly down the phone, tentative as Zayn continued to sniff and slur his words. “Zayn, baby, I’m gonna try and be there soon. But I need to hang up for a minute, okay?”

“Please don’t leave me,” Zayn begged. “I can’t…”

“It’s okay, love,” Liam told him soothingly. “I just need to go for two minutes, then I promise I’ll call you right back, okay?”

Zayn sniffed raggedly. His breath was hitching again, and Liam didn’t know whether it was due to him crying or getting himself off again. He doesn’t know which one makes him feel worse. “Please hurry, Liam.”

“Two minutes,” he promised. He hesitated before hanging up, but knew it had to be done. Grabbing his duffle, he barely paused to make sure he had everything before flying back downstairs. He rushed into the kitchen, much to his family’s confusion, quickly shoving his wallet and keys in his pockets.

“Where’re you going?” his mother asked, watching him with concern.

“Zayn’s gone into heat,” was all he said, spinning around as he tried to locate his coat.

His father stood up from the dining table. “Who’s Zayn?”

“Zayn’s the- uh, the omega,” Liam said absently, finally seeing the sleeve of his jacket poking out from over the couch. He went forwards to grab it, but suddenly his father’s hand was on his chest, stopping him, damn near making Liam growl in impatience.

“The omega’s a boy?” Geoff asked. Liam met his eyes flatly.

“Look, dad, I really don’t have time to have some sort of sexuality crisis with you,” Liam told him, shoving past his hold and finally grabbing his jacket. He pulled it on quickly, ignoring the three pairs of eyes boring into his back. Once his coat was on he looked back, finding his parents staring at him in shock while Ruth watched on apprehensively.

“Have you mated with this boy?” Karen asks.

“No,” Liam tells her. “But I need-“

“Then why do you have to leave?” Geoff asked. “Your sister will be here any minute. Not to mention how long the drive will be-“

“I have to go,” Liam says firmly. His family stilled, clearly not used to the tone in his voice. “It’s up to you whether I leave on good terms.”

His father appraised him for a moment. Liam wondered if he could see the shake in his hands, the heat in his blood, the desperation lacing every single thought he had. He was going crazy in his own skin, thinking about Zayn in his dorm, writhing in pain, only a single door separating him from the dozens of alphas in the building. And he couldn’t even call one of the boys to protect him, because they were focussed on their own heats. So Zayn was alone, and vulnerable, and crying out for Liam, and Liam couldn’t do shit about it.

When his father still didn’t answer, Liam just left.

He called Zayn and put him on loudspeaker before peeling out of the driveway.

“I’m on my way home now,” Liam told him, car swerving dangerously as he tries to set the navigation system while speeding down the suburban street.

“Please get here soon,” Zayn begged through a groan. “Hurt’s so much, Li.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Liam promised, racing around a corner. Niall’s car squealed in protest, reminding Liam that it’s not exactly an extremely endurable car. He slowed down ever so slightly, just enough to have the engine stop making threatening noises.

When the engine had settled some, Liam became increasingly aware of Zayn’s moans and hitched noises. He also realised that his phone battery wasn’t going to last the six hour drive.

“I don’t think I can stay on the phone the whole time,” Liam admits regretfully.

He hears Zayn make a terrified noise. “What? Liam, no, I-“

“Shh,” Liam soothes. He swallows back the guilt and emotion and overwhelming sense of impotence in this horrible fucking situation. “It just means that I need to tire you out before my phone dies, yeah?”

“Liam,” Zayn whimpers softly.

“Are you touching yourself, Zayn?” Liam asks, desperate to keep the pain out of Zayn’s voice by any means necessary. Zayn makes a noise in conformation. Liam lets out a breath, trying to keep his mind focussed. “Okay, love, I want you to get yourself off for me. Can you do that?”

Zayn’s silent for a moment. Then: “How?”

And, fuck, if that isn’t the hottest thing Liam’s ever heard. Zayn asking Liam to direct him, to guide him, asking him for permission. Liam shudders in arousal. “Want you to lie on your back,” he says finally, picturing it in his head. “Are you doing that, baby?”

“Yeah,” Zayn breathes out shakily. There’s shuffling, and then there’s nothing as Zayn waits. So fucking obedient for Liam, fuck.

“I want you to stroke yourself off,” Liam tells him. “As quickly as you can. Wanna hear you cum in under a minute, okay babe?”

“I’m so sore,” Zayn whimpers. “I can’t-“

“You can,” Liam says firmly. “Want you to do it. Right now.”

Zayn whined again, but complied. Liam knew the exact moment that Zayn touched himself again, hearing the gentle hiss as clearly as if he had spoken. Zayn’s breath hitched, and fuck if Liam couldn’t picture it all so quickly: Zayn spread out on his bed, fucking up into his hand slowly, using cum from a previous orgasm to smoothen the glide. His sweaty hair would be matted to his forehead, skin glistening enticingly, mouth parted prettily around a moan. Liam could hear the slick sounds of skin on skin as Zayn pumped himself faster, breathing quickly and harshly, barely muttering “Li, Li, Li” as the muscles in his stomach no doubt tightened with pleasure. He suddenly cried out, causing Liam to swerve a little in surprise, letting out a high, needy whine.

Liam swallowed thickly, listening as Zayn let out shallow puffs of air in between small sobs. “Zayn?”

“It hurts so fucking much, Liam,” Zayn told him, sounding so fucking small and broken.

“I know, baby,” Liam said. His knuckles were white on the steering wheel. “But I’ll be there soon.”

“I can’t wait,” Zayn managed out, accent thick with pain. “I-I… I need to get someone, Liam.”

Liam felt bile rise to his throat. “Zayn, no,” Liam protested quickly. “Don’t.”

“I need a knot so badly,” Zayn whimpered. Liam could picture him curling in on himself, hands trembling somewhere near the phone.

“I’ll be there soon,” Liam said again.

“It feels like someone’s ripping my skin off,” the omega sobbed, sounding like he was heaving the words out, almost incoherent from wet emotion. “I can’t- it’s never been this bad before. I’m-“

He cut himself off, letting out a loud, shaking cry, positively fucking wrecked with how desperate he was. It made tears prick Liam’s eyes, furious with himself for putting Zayn in this situation.

“It’s too much, Li,” Zayn manages out after a while. Liam can hear movement again, and prays to god that it’s Zayn touching himself, and not trying to leave the room.

“You can do this,” Liam said, determined. He would never forgive himself if Zayn went and let himself be fucked by someone he barely knew, would hate himself as he watched Zayn realise what he’d done and become disgusted with himself, fucking blame himself. Zayn was such a strong person, and Liam couldn’t bear the thought of Zayn throwing himself at someone he wouldn’t give a second glance to if he was thinking properly.

“I can’t,” Zayn told him wetly. “I can’t, Liam, I-“

“You can,” Liam said more firmly. “You’re the strongest person I know, Zayn. You’ve been through so much shit in your life. You can do this, I promise.”

I need you,” Zayn whispers.

Liam blinked away the tears threatening to spill over, hearing just how terrified and broken he is. He hopes Zayn doesn’t hear him when he sniffs. “I know,” Liam says. “I’m so sorry.”

He silently listens to Zayn cry, not knowing what to say to make it better. There’s no one he can call to keep Zayn in his room, and it hits him like a truck that he’s the only one that can prevent what seems to be the inevitable at this point. And he’s failing. His one fucking job, the original and most important part of their agreement, and he couldn’t even do that. He knew that Zayn’s heat was coming up soon, knew that it was unreliable and he couldn’t afford to just leave town. And yet he did. He left Zayn all alone, muffling his howls of agony into his sheets, every noise he makes more gut-wrenching than the last. Liam feels like something dark and nasty has climbed into his chest, tearing his ribs to pieces to get to his heart, fucking shattering something vital. He fucking deserves it, he thinks. He deserves to be in just as much pain as Zayn is in. Zayn shouldn’t have to be in pain at all.

Liam was just entering the freeway when Zayn next spoke. “Please talk to me,” he croaked, barely there. “I need you to- I need a distraction.”

“Okay,” Liam said, equally soft. “What do you want me to talk about?”

“Anything,” Zayn says.

Liam wracked his brain for a story: something witty and interesting or funny and light-hearted, something to keep Zayn’s mind off of his heat. But Liam couldn’t think of anything. The thought of Zayn was all too consuming. He decided to just say what he wants.

“You’re so gorgeous when you’re in heat,” Liam tells him. He adamantly keeps his voice even. “I mean, you’re gorgeous in general, but – but when you’re in heat, you look so good.”

Zayn made a choked sound, low and appreciative. Liam took this as a good sign.

“You’re always so desperate for me,” Liam continues. He imagines the first time Zayn went into heat when they spent it together, how Zayn had opened the door and pulled him in immediately, whispering filthy words and promising to be good. “So eager and lovely. I love taking care of you when you’re like that.”

“Love it when you take care of me,” Zayn admits quietly.

It’s not ‘I love you’, but it still makes Liam’s heart swell. “Yeah?” he says, fighting back a smile. “I love helping you. You’re so beautiful, Zayn. And you’re always so good.”

“Always wanna be good for you,” Zayn mumbles.

“You always are,” Liam promises him. “I hope I’m good for you, too.”

“You are,” Zayn says. He’s whining again, his brief moment of relief beginning to slip away.

“I love how loud you are,” Liam continues, letting his voice drop a little lower, a little dirtier. “I bet the whole building can hear you. Bet they all wish they were me, hearing you like that. Sounding so fucking wrecked. So fucking desperate.”

“Liam,” Zayn mewled. “Liam, please-“

“Love how you say my name,” Liam cuts him off. “Sounds so fucking obscene in your mouth.”

Zayn whimpers again. “Liam.”

“I’m gonna fuck you so good when I get back,” Liam tells him, feeling his cock swell at the thought. “I’m gonna make sure everyone can hear us. Want them to know you’re mine, Zayn. I’m gonna make you scream my name, so loud that everyone has to stay up and listen. Listen to me fuck you, to you begging for me, make them all want you so bad-“

Leeyum,” Zayn was all but shouting, coming undone all over again. Liam continued to mutter to him filthily, hearing Zayn groan and whine at his words. Liam felt like he’d never been more turned on in his life.

“You would like that, wouldn’t you?” Liam asks him, smirking a little to himself. “If everyone could hear me dicking into you. Would you want them to watch, too? Watch me knot you until you can’t talk anymore?”

Zayn doesn’t respond. Liam’s chest swells, realising he can’t because he’s that turned on.

“I’m gonna make you feel so good,” Liam said. “Just a while longer, and I’ll be everything you need.”

Zayn still doesn’t respond.

“Zayn? Love, you with me?” he asked.

No answer. Liam furrows his eyebrows, and looks down at where his phone is lying on the passenger seat. The screen is black.

“Fuck,” Liam swears. He smacks the steering wheel, so beyond fucking frustrated. He was hours away, and his phone was dead. Hours away, and Zayn was alone. Hours away, and he had no way of keeping Zayn in his room any longer.

This was not going to be a fun trip.

 

As he drives, Liam remembers the first time he saw Zayn. He had just emerged from the moving truck with one of the boys’ boxes, and was met with the sight of a gorgeous, dark-haired boy, staring at him with narrowed eyes. Liam’s first thought was ‘Jeez, this guy is territorial’. His second thought was ‘He has a right to be’.

Zayn had been standoffish, but Liam can understand why as he looks back. Liam had been imposing, asking questions, trailing Zayn everywhere even as the omega gave him clear signs to back off. Not to mention Liam’s mistake of crowding him when he first went into heat.

Liam wonders how they got to this point. He wonders why Zayn gave him a chance at all.

 

Sometime between Liam’s second and third hour driving, he thinks about how this whole situation could have been avoided if he’d invited Zayn to come with it. (Well, aside from how awkward it’d be to knot Zayn with his family in the same house. But still.)

He imagines how his family would interact with Zayn: his sisters would be immediately pouncing on him, grilling him for any embarrassing stories he might have on Liam. They’d coerce Zayn to talk about himself, too, and how he got to know Liam. Zayn would probably drink wine with her, and be telling the orange peels story before they’ve even had dessert.

His mum would be instantly in love with him, Liam thinks. She’d ask so many questions about his family and culture, and would hug him tightly when Zayn admits that he’s not in massive contact with his parents. “Well, I’m going to call you every day,” Karen would say. Zayn would laugh, but then a week later when Karen actually does call him mid-afternoon he’d probably get all choked up.

Liam finds it harder to pin his dad’s reaction. He’d either be a bit awkward with Zayn, not used to being around a male omega, or he’d be the same great man Liam had idolised his entire life. Liam imagines sitting on the back porch, with his father on one side and Zayn on the other. It’s a nice thought.

 

He wants to date him. Fuck, he wants Zayn to completely own him. Liam wants to be his. He hates that they can hang out together, or sleep together, or fuck for a week straight at a time, but Liam can’t take it further. He can’t ask Zayn to wear his jersey at soccer matches or invite him to his parents’ for the weekend or brag about him to his friends. He can’t discuss his future with Zayn because he always feels that he’s a second away from saying ‘I want a future with you’ and he doesn’t want to scare him off. Liam can’t kiss him without having to take it further, can’t hold his hand, can’t introduce him as anything other than ‘my friend Zayn’. He can’t tell him he loves him.

But he wants to. Fuck, he wants to. If he wasn’t so certain that Zayn would run away screaming, he’d scream it from the fucking rooftops.

But that’s the thing: he is certain. He’s not stupid enough to think Zayn would completely change his position on dating just for him.

 

Just over four hours into the trip, Liam is forced to stop and get food. His eyes are becoming fuzzy with hunger and exhaustion, so he allows himself a fifteen minute break while he fills up the gas tank and woofs down a box of wedges. He’s still exhausted when he starts up the engine again, blinking heavily, but he’s determined to get home as soon as he can. Every moment he’s away is another moment that Zayn is suffering, and Liam can’t afford to stop somewhere for the night.

He’s so fucking tired, but the thought of Zayn in his room has him focussing more fully. He imagines Zayn spread out and naked, grinding messily against the sheets, softly moaning. He pictures Zayn’s eyes fluttering tiredly, long lashes casting shadows on his cheek when the moonlight illuminates his face. Stupidly, he imagines Zayn gasping out his name, begging for him. His face has streaks of dried tears, his brow is screwed in frustration and need, but he’s alone. He’s not in someone else’s room.

Hopefully it’s not just wishful thinking.

 

Twenty minutes from home and his driving becomes more reckless than he’s ever allowed himself to drive before. He drives as fast as he comfortably feels he can without crashing, utilising the lack of other cars on the road at such a late hour. He has no idea what time it is, his eyes too bleary to be able to read the time on the car’s radio screen. He’s long since turned off the music, finding that everything that came on was patronising him: love ballads, sex songs, songs about jealousy. Everything reminded him of Zayn, reminded him that Liam wasn’t there for him.

Street lamps blurred overhead, playing with his vision. One moment he was driving and the next he was held somewhere in suspense, not quite anywhere, and then he was back again.

He slowed down, figuring that no one would benefit from him crashing.

 

When he finally pealed to a stop outside of the dorm building, Liam was exhausted but antsy. He ripped his seatbelt off and slammed the car door shut, legging it up into the building. Niall was without a doubt going to incur a hefty fine for his illegal parking, but Liam dismissed the thought, knowing he could just pay him back.

He was sprinting up the stars, nearly stumbling on his own feet a half dozen times but refusing to slow down. There was a clock in his head that matched his heartbeat, ticking and ticking and ticking until Liam felt like he was going mad. He tried to focus his senses to figure out whether Zayn had moved rooms. The relief that washed over him was uncanny when he realised that, no, Zayn was still in his room.

Liam didn’t waste time when he got to his room. He pushed the door open and closed it again quickly, chest heaving in exhaustion. And there Zayn was, lying on the bed with his back to Liam, sobbing quietly.

“I’m here,” Liam said, ripping off his clothes. “I’m home, Zayn. I’m here.”

“Liam,” was all Zayn managed out, not even turning his head. He must be fucking exhausted, Liam thinks.

Finally free of his clothes, he climbed onto the bed behind Zayn. He revelled at the first touch, feeling Zayn shiver under his fingers, press back against his hand. Liam kissed gently over the fantail tattoo on the nape of his neck, wrapping an arm around Zayn’s waist.

“Please,” Zayn muttered, voice hoarse. “Please.”

“I’m here,” Liam said again. His hand drifted lower, clutching Zayn’s hip for a moment while he just breathed. And then he was guiding himself, easing in slowly with Zayn’s slick making the glide easier.

Zayn made a low, aborted noise when Liam bottomed out, breath coming out in ragged breaths that sounded more like dangerous hiccups than anything. Liam wrapped his arms firmly around Zayn as he fucked into him, the drag of his cock causing them both to hiss.

“I’m so sorry,” Liam whispered, resting his head on the back of Zayn’s neck. “I’m so fucking – I’m sorry.”

Zayn gently guided one of Liam’s hands to his neglected cock, a sound caught in his throat at the contact. Liam stroked him off quickly, speeding up his hips to match it, drawing out rough noises from the omega as he finally found a rhythm that had his knot expanding rapidly. Zayn began to respond more, too, his exhaustion giving way to instinct. He rocked his hips back to match Liam’s thrusts, gasping sweetly as Liam fucked into him. Soon he was cursing as he found his voice, moaning lewdly with hands clawing at the bedsheets.

“Gonna knot you,” Liam promised, voice thick. “Again and again until I can make it up to you.”

Zayn didn’t respond, just moaned a little louder as Liam gripped his hip for leverage. Liam pushed in further than before. He shuddered as his knot slid into Zayn’s tight heat, such warm and lovely pressure on his cock, making his knot pulse and convulse. Zayn groaned and arched, squeezing around him perfectly, causing Liam to moan out loudly as the coil in his stomach exploded, his cock spilling out into the omega. He clamped down on Zayn’s shoulder lightly, eyes screwed shut as his body thrummed with energy. Zayn was cuming, too, chanting out “Liam, Liam, Liam” as his cock spurted weakly.

Liam reached up and tilted Zayn’s head back with two fingers. Zayn complied easily, craning his neck until Liam’s mouth was claiming him, kissing him sweetly, brows furrowed because he’s so fucking frustrated with himself. Zayn was panting against his lips, but he sounded laboured and exhausted. Liam held him closer, muttering apologies that fell on deaf ears as Zayn fell asleep within seconds.

 

“Stop apologising and just – just – fuck, Liam,” Zayn groaned, head ducking in pleasure. Liam was rabbiting up into him, clutching his hips with the type of reverence that didn’t even begin to explain how determined Liam was to make up for the previous day. Zayn had admitted that he’d been in heat since he’d woken up the previous morning, meaning that he’d been trying to take care of himself for nearly a full twenty-four hours before Liam was finally there with him. Liam had no intention to slacken now that he’s back.

“Sorry,” Liam says again. He groans, digging his fingers in a little firmer as he raises his hips to thrust up into the omega, lost in the tight heat. “Fuck, Zayn, you feel so good.”

Zayn just mewls, falling more heavily onto Liam’s chest, rocking forward with every sharp thrusts. “Leeyum,” he groans, fingers clutching at Liam’s shoulders.

“I’ve got you,” Liam says. He rocks up into him with sharp swivels, holding his hips in place. “That feel good, baby?”

“So good,” Zayn moans, breath hot on Liam’s neck. “You going to knot me?”

“Wanna feel me?” Liam returned. Zayn nodded against his skin, whimpering encouragingly. “Gonna fill you up, baby. Fill you with my seed. You’d look so good, love. Stomach all swollen, carrying my pups-“

Liam,” Zayn cried, hips stuttering forward. Liam felt the spill of hot liquid on his chest, felt as Zayn ground his cock weakly down onto his skin, breathing harshly into his ear. “Liam, fuck – Liam.”

“That’s it, babe,” Liam moans, feeling zayn clenched around him. “Gonna take such good care of you.”

He flips them, pinning Zayn to the mattress as he fucks in with more reverence. Zayn whines and arches on the bed, looking so fucking gorgeous as his eyes screw shut, mouth open and letting out lewd noises. Liam holds his legs and fucks in deeper, jabbing the omega’s prostate in quick succession to have him crying out.

“Love how loud you are,” Liam groans. “Want the whole building to hear.”

Zayn moans impossibly louder, oh so eager to comply. He rolls his hips, meeting Liam’s quick thrusts, the sound of skin on skin filthy in the quiet room.

“Bet they all wish they were here with you,” Liam mutters, ducking down to whisper right in Zayn’s ear. “They’d give anything to see you like this. All sweaty, and lovely, and eager for cock. For my cock, right?”

“Always yours,” Zayn agrees through a whine.

“They wouldn’t be able to keep their eyes off you,” Liam says. He bites at Zayn’s lobe, feeling the shudder it elicited. “They’d want to touch you so bad, Zayn. They would need to touch you-“

“Knot me, please,” Zayn gasped, clawing at Liam’s back. “Need you right now, Liam.”

Liam dicked into him harshly, holding Zayn’s hips still and feeling the omega’s legs scramble for purchase as his knot latch. Liam was cuming in seconds, groaning into Zayn’s neck as wave after wave of pleasure crashed through him, rendering him completely breathless.

“Oh, god,” Zayn moaned. His body went limp and languid, relaxing in Liam’s grip. “Fuck, I’m glad you’re home.”

“Glad to be home,” Liam mumbles. He carefully flips them, letting Zayn rest on his chest while he relaxes back on the sheets. Zayn sighs contentedly against his skin, kissing his collarbone gently before properly resting his head beneath Liam’s chin.

“Sorry you had to come back early,” Zayn says after a moment. “You should’ve stayed there longer. I would’ve been fine.”

“I should have never left,” Liam said.

Zayn tilts his head to peer up at him imploringly. “You’re not obliged to be with me, Liam.”

No, but he wants to. “I know,” Liam says. He wants to say more but doesn’t.

“You drove six hours for me,” Zayn says in quiet disbelief, shaking his head a little before he lays it back down again. “Ridiculous.”

“Worth it,” Liam says, lightly kissing the top of his head. “Let’s take a nap, yeah? I’ve exhausted.”

“Good night,” Zayn says. Liam chuckles a little, knowing that it’s barely morning.

“Good night,” he says anyway.

 

Two days later, Liam sits will Niall on the roof of the building, staring out over the campus as they drink beer. “I’m in love with him,” Liam admits after a while.

“I know,” Niall says.

“Yeah?” Liam asks, looking over at him curiously. “How can you tell?”

“I can see it on your face,” Niall says.

Liam takes a drag of his cigarette, wondering when exactly he started smoking. He looks back down at the campus in front of him, silent as the sun sets. “Can you tell if he loves me back?”

Niall doesn’t answer. Liam ducks his head.

“Can you?” he repeats.

“He’s not one for relationships, Li,” Niall says gently. Liam looks back at him when he feels the other boy nudge his shoe. “I wouldn’t rule it out, though.”

Niall pauses, eyes tracking as a girl chasing a leaflet that had been swept up in the wind. He shrugged his shoulders.

“I’ll ask him,” Niall says finally. “Is that something you want me to do?”

“Might as well,” Liam says.

The next morning, Niall knocks on his door. Liam opens it with baited breath. He knows why he’s here. He knows what news he has. Niall doesn’t say anything, just pulls him into a tight hug. Liam feels his chest crack just that little bit more.

“I don’t think you can keep doing this,” Niall whispers.

Liam lets out a breath. “I know.”

Niall buries his face in Liam’s neck. “You need to end it.”

“I know.”

 

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

He was caged in. It felt like the walls were looming in over him, around him, under him, no way out. His breath came out in irregular bursts, leaving his chest heaving and his throat croaking as the air he gulped seemed to have no effect. ‘Would you ever date him?’ rings through his mind. His vision swam. ‘Do you love him, Zayn?’

Zayn doesn’t know what to feel, how to react. His mind is screaming at him, so loudly that he can’t decipher the commands, just keeps taking half-steps towards nothing. His room is too small, he thinks. He needs to get out.

But on the other side of his door is Niall. On the other side of his door is Liam.

Liam.

When did he fall in love with him, exactly? At what exact moment did his brain and heart and fucking gut decide that Liam is the one for him, the only person he’d ever want or need to be with? His mind provides no answers. Only more questions.

Zayn can’t think straight. He blinks and he’s being knotted for the first time, Liam’s promise to take care of him ringing in his ears. He blinks again and he’s in his room. Another moment and he’s writhing in Liam’s bed, desperate for him to come back. Then he’s back in his room. Liam mumbling ‘Please don’t hate me’. Room. Gazing up at chocolate eyes as his lip throbbed with pain. Room. Hearing Liam telling him ‘I love it when-‘

But he never said ‘I love you’.

That’s what it comes down to. Because Zayn is the omega, he’s the one with the most potential to get hurt, he’s the one who would have to risk fucking everything. Liam has all the power, and Zayn feels fucking chained as he’s hunched over in his dorm.

Zayn starts throwing things in a duffle bag but he doesn’t know why. He has no place to go, no home other than the tiny space he was currently in. But he packs things anyway, not grabbing anything of specific worth. A figurine. A hat. A key. He looks down and realises they’re all Liam’s.

When did Liam manage to invade his space? Zayn looks around, eyes drifting over Liam’s shirts and one of Liam’s comics and a dozen other miscellaneous items that all revolve around the stupid fucking alpha across the hall.

Zayn’s the stupid one, though. He’s the one that fell in love.

How fucking dare Niall confront him about it? Zayn had been perfectly fine ignoring that feeling in his gut, thanks. He’d been perfectly fine before Niall had forced him to think.

Maybe they get off on it, Zayn supposes. Maybe Niall and Liam had a good old laugh about how fucking obvious Zayn was, how fucking docile he had become around Liam. Or maybe Liam was disturbed by it. Maybe he’d sent Niall over to confront him. Maybe Liam was about to break things off, right when Zayn had become comfortable. Maybe Zayn disgusts him.

Zayn pauses. Breathes.

He knows it’s a lie the moment the thought crosses his mind. Liam isn’t malicious. He isn’t sick at the thought of Zayn, either.

Alone in his room, Zayn was forced to acknowledge the little collection of details he’d memorised over the course of the last nine months: Liam holding himself back when Zayn first went into heat around him; Liam never respecting Zayn any less for being an omega; Liam going out of his way to accommodate for him and the other boys; Liam consoling him and being his anchor when Harry was fighting with his boys; Liam wanting to know every little detail about him; Liam murmuring soft words when he thought Zayn was asleep; Liam, Liam, Liam.

Fuck, Zayn’s in love.

And there’s a chance Liam might love him too.

He calls Niall. “I need to talk to you,” Zayn says. “About Liam.”

“I literally just left,” Niall said.

“I know,” Zayn said. “Please come.”

One perk of Niall living next door is that Zayn waited a total of twenty-eight seconds before Niall was knocking. He let him in and motioned for him to sit on the bed, while he stayed standing and paced in front of him.

“Forget what I said earlier,” Zayn told him. “I was- I was scared. I didn’t know what to think.”

“But?” Niall prompted.

Zayn stopped pacing. “But I love him,” he says. “I really do.”

And Niall fucking hollers, clapping his hands and bouncing excitedly on the bed. “Thank fuck,” Niall said. “I wanted to head-butt you before.”

“So, yeah, forget what I said before,” Zayn says. He can’t keep the smile off his face when Niall jumps off the bed and wraps him into a tight hug, exclaiming valiant words of celebration that didn’t sound unlike his poetic waxing when he’s drunk. Zayn laughed and held him just as tightly. He wonders when he got so comfortable with this alpha. He wonders when Liam managed to help him with that, too.

“He’s gone out, but he’ll be back any minute,” Niall says, grinning. “I’ll send him in here when I see him.”

“Thanks, Niall,” Zayn says. He pulls away slightly, calming a little as he looks up at the bright blue eyes. A sense of gratitude overcomes him. “Seriously,” he says. “Thank you so much. For everything you’ve done this past year. I don’t ever thank you enough.”

Niall shakes his head, smiling. “Don’t thank me,” he says. “I shouldn’t be praised for giving you respect. You deserve it just as much as any of us do.”

Zayn hugs him again.

 

It’s not until ten minutes later that Liam knocks on his door.

Zayn is breathless when he sees him: golden hair still a little mused from sleep, grey sweater clinging snugly to his muscular frame, familiar combat boots peeking out from low-slung jeans. He’s fucking gorgeous, Zayn thinks. He’s so fucking out of Zayn’s league, but he’s hopeful anyway.

Until he sees the look on his face.

“Everything okay?” Zayn asks. Liam’s eyes are downcast, jaw a little stiff. He looks uncomfortable. Zayn tries to remember the last time Liam has been uncomfortable around him.

“I talked to Niall,” Liam says.

Zayn’s stomach drops. “Yeah?”

Liam goes to say something. Closes his mouth. “Can I come in?” he asks.

Zayn nods dumbly, stepping aside. Liam stands where he was pacing just moments before. He doesn’t sit down. He’s not planning on staying, Zayn realises.

“Niall, um, told me how you feel about… me and you,” Liam said. His eyes were dark and guarded.

Zayn sat on the edge of his bed. “Did he?” he managed out, throat dry. His hands flittered nervously in his lap. “What did he say?”

Liam didn’t answer for a while. The seconds ticked by, and Zayn felt like he was being punched in the sternum with every moment. This wasn’t good news. Liam was a terrible actor, something that Zayn had previously found amusing. Now he just wished that Liam was a good actor, that he was messing around, that the hard set of his jaw was just for show. Finally, Liam squared his shoulders. “I don’t think we can do this anymore.”

“This?” Zayn asked.

“Fucking around,” Liam clarified.

Fucking around.

“Not when we feel so differently about it,” Liam says. “Not when one of us wants more than the other.”

Zayn ducks his head, a fresh wave of embarrassment crashing over him. “Fair enough,” he forces himself to say.

Liam backed away to the door, shoulders hunched a little. “If things ever change,” he begins, not looking at Zayn as he speaks. “You know where I am.”

Zayn doesn’t watch him leave. He doesn’t watch anything at all. He just closes his eyes and curls himself into a ball, cradling himself while his chest threatens to crack open and let his heart run away with Liam. The emptiness inside of him makes him think it might already have.

 

Well after midnight, Zayn finds himself staring at his ceiling. The ceiling stares back at him, equally as vacant, equally as unwavering. Zayn doesn’t think it’s trying so hard to contain itself, though. Not like he is.

He’s not numb, exactly, but he’s immobile. His blood pulses with terror and his head throbs with embarrassment and every inch of his skin aches for Liam, but he’s silent. He’s still. He’s alone.

He should have seen this coming. Of course he was going to fall for Liam; as much as he tries to deny it, Zayn is just like any other stupid omega in this world, ready to roll over and submit to an alpha that gives him enough attention. Zayn’s never been an exception to anything. He’s never been exceptional, only cynical and blinded by his own twisted emotions.

Liam was an exception, though, because despite everything Zayn’s come to learn about alphas, Liam was kind and compassionate and showed Zayn respect. He was there when Zayn needed him, and backed off when Zayn asked. He never pushed, he always asked for permission, and he’s rarely done a single thing to make Zayn feel uncomfortable. And as if that wasn’t enough to make Zayn fall in love with him, he was fucking gorgeous both inside and out. He was everything Zayn needed, everything he wanted, everything he fucking ached for.

He was everything he couldn’t have.

 

Zayn wants a day to himself. To recuperate and to sort out his head and to prepare himself for the reality of the situation. When he next leaves the dorm, he wants to be able to keep himself upright and put together. But Harry ends up coming over the next day. Maybe that’s why he can’t pretend.

“Please leave,” he mumbles, still staring up at the ceiling adamantly. Harry closes the door and pads over, ignoring Zayn’s noise of protest when he slid between the sheets beside him.

Harry curled up into Zayn’s side, resting his head on Zayn’s chest. “You want to tell me what’s going on?” he asks once he’s comfortable. Zayn blinks back tears.

“Hasn’t he told you?” Zayn scoffs wetly.

“Who?”

“Liam,” Zayn says. He winces involuntarily at the name, hears the crack in his voice. “He, uh. We’re done.”

Harry’s quiet for a while. Zayn wishes he would leave and let him have his one day, would let him figure everything out. He also wishes that Harry had never left him in the first place. He wishes that Harry never met Niall and they never moved here and the Zayn never met Liam.

But he remembers how happy Harry is with his boys, and how happy Zayn himself has been for the last few months. Despite everything, Zayn wouldn’t trade that in for the world.

“Did you say no?” Harry asked quietly, holding Zayn close.

“No,” Zayn says. “He did.”

And then he’s fucking sobbing, unable to hold back. Fat, angry tears slide down his face, obscuring his vison while his chest heaved and hiccupped. His heart ached like someone was squeezing it, refusing to let it function properly. And his skin prickled and his limbs felt all wrong and he just wanted to pass out and never wake up at this point. Because he had been so fucking sure Liam would say yes, so fucking sure that’s where his conversation with Niall was leading. In those brief minutes between speaking with Niall and speaking with Liam, he had come to imagine how good it could all have been: waking up with Liam, bickering about superheroes over breakfast, walking each other to class and then meeting up later when they hung out with the boys, holding hands and smiling because they’re so fucking in love, making everyone jealous, making everyone know that he was Liam’s and Liam was his.

But right now he’s in his room, balling his eyes out, body shuddering as the image pierced through him like rusted barbed wire. Harry held him close but it did nothing. Harry wasn’t the right person.

He was the only person Zayn had, he suddenly realised. Now that Liam was gone, Zayn was back to having only one person in the entire fucking world that he would ever let himself cry in front of. And sooner or later, Harry will be going back next door, back to his two other people. Back to his life where he doesn’t have to look after his blubbering best friend. (If Zayn still was his best friend, as Zayn realised with a jolt that he had been a shitty friend lately, whining about Harry to Liam and avoiding him when he needed him the most and putting himself ahead of others like he always fucking did. Zayn fucking hated himself.)

“You should go,” Zayn said when he was able to speak. His body still convulsed from the effort of holding back sobs, but he was still able to gently but firmly pull himself away from Harry.

“Zayn,” Harry said softly.

“Please,” was all Zayn could say, already turning to face the wall. He pulled the blankets closer around him, trying to fight off the cold that he knew centred in his chest.

He could hear Harry behind him, sniffing quietly, probably thinking it was his duty to make Zayn feel better. To be his keeper. But then he was leaving, just as quiet as when he entered, closing the door so softly. It still sounded like it was being slammed.

 

Mint chocolate is always a good comfort food, Zayn thinks. It also happens to be the one thing missing from his pantry. Harry and Louis had done a shop for him (without telling him, they just did it), buying pretty much every bit of junk food available from the local supermarket. But no mint chocolate. And, fuck, he could grab literally anything else from his pantry. But he really fucking wanted mint chocolate.

He tells himself that this is a step forward as he slips on his coat and combat boots. He’s leaving his room for the first time in three days. So even if he’s leaving purely to buy more junk food, it’s still progress, right?

When he steps out of his room, he has to pause for a moment, because Liam’s room is right there. The boy he’s in love with is right in there. But there’s nothing to do with that information, so he just shoves his hands in his pockets and goes to the shops.

He ends up buying three blocks of mint chocolate and one of salted caramel, the latter being a present for the boys next door to say thank you. He has no excuse for the amount of chocolate he plans to consume himself. He figures that no one can judge him if no one knows.

He feels good today, actually. Not in the type of way where he can shout it from the rooftops, or is ready to see Liam, or is ready to answer more of Harry’s questions, but good nonetheless. He got coffee on the way back from the supermarket, and the warmth of it is doing wonders to his mood. Or maybe that’s just the caffeine.

He nearly drops it all when he hears moaning. He’s outside Liam’s room, and he hears moaning. And it’s not even the fucking twentieth yet.

Zayn shoves himself into his own room to keep from doing something stupid. Images of Liam naked and grinding down onto his sheets fill his mind, images of Liam’s bare back glistening with sweat while his mouth parts sweetly and his hooded eyes seek Zayn’s.

Zayn eats his goddamn chocolate with his back to the door.

 

Louis takes one look at his face. “Coffee?”

“So much coffee,” Zayn begs. He stumbles into the room, finding Niall and Harry giggling over something on Louis’ laptop. They look up and see Zayn’s overwhelmed expression and turn it off.

“What happened?” Harry asked green eyes wide and concerned.

“Well,” Zayn begins. He drops his satchel to the ground and scrubs a hand down his face, taking a deep breath. “I was late to my morning lecture, so Prof Kelean was glaring at me for literally the entire hour and everyone knew it. And then at my literature tutorial my laptop died, and I get penalised for not having the right equipment even though there was nothing I could do, and then some dick head spilt his pepper-fucking-mint tea all over the essay I was writing by hand and didn’t even apologise beyond saying ‘aww shit man sorry bro’, as if his fake-ass Scotty T accent was going to magically fix the fucking paper I’d spent over an hour writing. And then, fucking of course, I forgot my wallet, so I had no money for lunch, so I had to quickly run back to my place for something and then-“

He cuts himself off, suddenly realising that he has absolutely no intention of telling them about the next part.

“Anyway,” he tries to start again. “By the time I got back for my afternoon class I was late for that one, too, and Mr Douglas made me stay back so he could ask me all these stupid questions about the amount of class I’ve been missing, and had the fucking audacity to suggest I take suppressants if I’m so sure I want to do this course. And I had to just fucking leave. And, just, today has been shit.”

He finishes, takes a breath, and looks at the boys’ reactions. Louis looks startled. Harry looks sympathetic. Niall avoids his eye, looking at his hands.

“You know, then,” Zayn says. He collapses on an adjacent armchair.

Niall nods hesitantly. “Liam told me.”

Fuck, Zayn had been hoping no one else would find out. His face heated with absolute mortification.

He’d been rushing back out of his room after grabbing his money and ran straight into some girl, throwing them both to the ground. He’d been apologising through his groans of pain, reaching out a hand to see if she was okay, but she was already being helped to her feet. Zayn looked up and found her hand in Liam’s.

Zayn had been absolutely speechless. It was the first time he’d seen Liam in over two weeks, mainly because he had Liam’s schedule memorised and made sure they never ran into each other. He supposes Liam had been doing the same, not wanting to run into the guy who’s desperately in love with him. Zayn’s caught off guard by the sight of him, looking freshly shaven and hair styled and nose a little pink from the cold. And looking very, very uncomfortable.

That’s when Zayn noticed Liam and the girl were still holding hands.

“Oh,” he said quietly, eyes fixated on how the girl’s dark skin and Liam’s pale fingers looked so elegant together, fingers twining seamlessly. Zayn and Liam had never held hands. This girl was already miles ahead of him.

Zayn pushed himself to his feet, muttering “sorry” before running off. Liam didn’t call out for him. Zayn didn’t expect him to.

And now here Zayn was, watching Liam’s best friend awkwardly try and negotiate how to explain the situation to him.

“They’re not, like, proper yet, I think,” Niall says, still not looking Zayn in the eye.

“Liam’s dating someone?” Harry asks in surprise. He turns to face Niall in confusion, eyes demanding answers. This seemed to make Niall even more uncomfortable. Maybe Liam had asked him to keep the situation a secret. Maybe Liam had been trying to save Zayn the mortification of realising that Liam didn’t reject him because he didn’t want to date, he just didn’t want to date Zayn.

Louis scoffs from in the kitchen. “That was quick.”

Niall frowns at that. “He hasn’t dated anyone in nearly two years, Lou,” he says. Zayn watches as Louis goes to protest and then stops himself, suddenly realising that Zayn doesn’t count.

Things are quiet for a moment. And then: “What’s her name?” Zayn asks.

“Zayn,” Harry says softly, eyes wide and sad like he knows how much this is torturing him.

“Her name is Leigh-Ann,” Niall says.

Zayn swallows thickly. “Is she good for him?”

Niall doesn’t answer. Zayn takes it as a yes.

 

A week away from when his heat is scheduled to hit, Zayn starts panicking. He keeps having flashbacks to when he last went into heat, when Liam wasn’t there for hours. It had been so fucking painful, the agony more intense than anything he had ever experienced in his entire life. He had felt like his nails were being ripped off, and his skin was being pulled away, and something was ripping him open from the inside, fighting to get out. Zayn had been unable to do anything but curl into a ball and try and sweat it out, even the thought of getting himself off too painful after a while. And when Liam had hung up the phone he was alone, too, damn near screaming in pain, wanting nothing more but to rip his door open and find someone to help. He wouldn’t have hesitated for even a moment if another alpha had knocked on the door. He thinks the only reason no one did was because of Liam’s scent everywhere.

But he didn’t have Liam’s scent to protect him anymore. And he figures that if he’s going to end up letting someone knot him anyway, he might as well find someone and try and save his dignity by at least organising first.

Only thing is, he doesn’t exactly know many alphas. He only really knows Niall and Liam, and he can’t ask either of them, for obvious reasons. The remainder of the alphas in the building were already mated or otherwise taken, or absolute strangers, or really incredibly creepy guys, or-

“Mark?” Zayn asks tentatively as he watches the boy climb the stairs. ‘Boy’ probably isn’t the right word for him, considering his gigantic stature, thick arms, and heavily-stubbled face. Not to mention the lewd grin on his face.

“Omega,” Mark greets. He crosses his arms and leans against the wall casually, looking Zayn up and down. “You and Liam broken up yet?”

“We were never together,” Zayn corrects. He shuffles awkwardly. “But yes.”

Mark walks a few steps forward then, looking confident like a predator, bright eyes fixated on Zayn. Zayn’s instincts told him to snap a snide comment and run, but he kept himself there. This had to be done. He can’t handle another heat by himself. Not now when he can picture Liam with someone else.

“I’ve got something to ask you, actually,” Zayn forces himself to say.

Mark grins like he was expecting this.

 

A few days later, Zayn unlocks his door to go to class, finds Liam outside his door, and promptly goes into heat.

The first wave of it swells through his body like a tidal, making his fingertips feel fuzzy with the sudden sensation. His body is overcome in pleasure, added by the scratch of his jeans and silky smooth feel of his shirt and the tickle of hair on the back of his neck. His eyes fly open and he finds Liam staring at him, eyes dark and panicked.

It takes every bit of willpower Zayn is to force himself back into his room. He calls Mark, listens as the boy announces it to his friends and hears them all cheer, and waits.

(His heat, thankfully, only lasts for a little over a day. Zayn sleeps between rounds to avoid talking to Mark, and the alpha seems equally as happy with the arrangement. When he’s finally done and asks Mark to leave, the man pats his back a little condescendingly, making Zayn flinch, before he’s stretching and groaning and walking out with a grin on his face. Zayn curls into a ball, feeling nauseous. He’s in pain for days, not used to how much it can hurt to have someone be rough when they don’t immediately kiss over the bruises. He’s disgusted with himself, but mostly he just feels sick because Liam should have been there, and he wasn’t.

Zayn runs into Liam the morning after, and watches as his eyes take in the bruises visible on his neck and wrists. Zayn ducks his head and silently makes his way to Harry’s, ignoring Liam when he softly calls his name.)

 

“-I just can’t believe he honestly thought alienation wasn’t a Brechtian convention, honestly,” Louis rambled. “Out of anyone in the class, I was paired with this absolute dumbass.”

“I’m sure he’ll be helpful in other ways,” Harry said, linking arms with Louis consolingly as they walked.

“He better be good at writing, because I’m not doing the analysis and the script,” Louis grumbles.

“That’s the McKingley guy, right?” Zayn asks. Louis nods. “He makes really good coffee, so there’s that.”

“I’m a tea drinker, you swine,” Louis says in exasperation, playfully shoving Zayn. Zayn laughs and shoves him back, before bolting up the stairs. He goes to turn up the stairwell but skids to a stop, very nearly smacking into Mark’s chest.

“Hello there,” Mark says. He smirks for a moment and then realises there are two boys flanking Zayn, and becomes suddenly closed off. He scratches his chin. Can we talk? Er, privately?”

Zayn really doesn’t want to be somewhere in private with this guy ever, ever again, but finds himself nodding anyway. Mark probably just left something in his dorm that he’s lost in his washing. A five minute conversation and Zayn can go marathon a season of Criminal Minds until he passes out.

Harry and Louis eye Mark warily as they walk past, clearly confused. Zayn hadn’t told them about how he hooked up with the alpha, because the two thankfully went into the heat mere minutes after Zayn was finished, giving Zayn a couple days to have some bruises heal and figure out how to hide the others with shitty store-bought make-up. All they know of Mark is how he tried to knot Zayn the first time he went into heat, over ten months ago. Understandably, they didn’t trust him much.

“So,” Mark said when they were alone in the stairwell. The smirk was back on his face.

“So,” Zayn repeated, watching him warily.

“You’ve been ignoring my texts,” the alpha comments.

Zayn raises an eyebrow. “It was just a one-time thing. You knew that.”

“One heat, yes,” Mark agrees. “But my rut’s coming and I figured I should give you warning beforehand. Be a gentleman, and all that.”

Zayn just blinks up at him. Something between terror and sheer awkwardness seizes him, makes his stomach turn and his face heat just that little bit. “Mark,” he says slowly, trying to pick his words carefully. “I’m not- that’s not going to happen.”

Mark’s eyes darken. “What?”

“We never agreed on your rut, too,” Zayn said.

“It was implied,” Mark grunted.

“Sorry,” Zayn says. Mark glared down at him for a long moment, hands balled into his fists by his side. And then he storms past, knocking Zayn’s shoulder, looking like an overgrown toddler as he stalks off and slams his door shut. Zayn let’s out a breath, glad that he won’t have to deal with him any longer.

But he spoke too soon.

The next morning when he was on his way to class, a few alphas muttered something as he past, familiar slurs that Zayn hadn’t heard in a while. But their voices were low. He could be imagining it.

Only, when Zayn’s class was finished and he was walking back up to his dorm, some guy muttered “omega bitch”, and there was no one Zayn heard him wrong. He shrugged it off and kept walking, only to have another group of guys hiss obscenities as he walked past.

It kept happening. Every time he passed an alpha who was friends with Mark, he’d be called anything from an “omega bitch” to a “runt”, with plenty of slurs about his skin and frigidness in between. A couple of Mark’s close friends were even riled up enough to corner Zayn, telling him he was a hypocritical bitch, only using Mark for himself and then ditching him like he claims alphas inherently do. “Tables have turned now, huh, Malik?” they had hissed. “Fucking prude, you are.”

(“Maybe they’re right,” Zayn had said quietly to Harry, one night when he was hiding out in the dorm next door because his had been knocked on too many times for Zayn to sleep. “I mean, I always preach about respect and equality, and now look what I’ve done.”

“The respect you talk about is different to what they do,” Harry tells him firmly. “They think they inherently deserve it, whereas you think it has to be earned. It’s their fault for forgetting that respect isn’t a birth right.”)

To make things worse, while all this is happening, Zayn keeps spotting Liam. Whether it’s around campus or in the dorm building, Zayn keeps running into him. He’ll be buying coffee and suddenly see Liam walk past on his way back from the supermarket, or he’ll be stepping out of a lecture building and spy Liam waiting for someone a little ways a way. More often than not, he’d have that girl Leigh-Ann with him, looking sweet and docile and everything Zayn wasn’t. She fucking gorgeous, too, and from what he’s heard of her she’s a fantastic person too. Zayn hates her. He hates himself.

Zayn doesn’t realise how bad things have become until these two problems of his collide. He’s shrugging off a usual bout of slurs, trying to shove past a group of alphas so he can get back to his room, when suddenly Liam was there and looking livid.

“What did you just say to him?” Liam demands, question directed at the last boy who had spoken. His shoulders are globed and tight, jaw a sharp line that looks uncharacteristically intimidating.

It gets on Zayn’s nerves.

“I can handle myself,” Zayn snaps at him. It makes the other alphas laugh as they walk off.

Liam turns to him, frowning. “They were saying-“

“I know what they were saying,” Zayn says. “And I’m fine, thanks, so you can fuck right off.”

It’s the first sort-of conversation they’ve had since they ended their arrangement. It’s also the first time in a week Zayn’s seen Liam without his new girlfriend hanging off his arm. Liam’s eyes harden a little. “I was trying to help, Zayn.”

“Look at happened last time you tried to help,” Zayn scoffed. He tried to go to his room to cool down, but Liam’s hand caught his wrist and he was immobile.

“You can’t say that,” Liam tells him. “It’s not fair.”

Zayn swallows thickly. “Not fair on which one of us?”

“What are you doing, Zayn?” Liam asks after a moment. Zayn turns and finds Liam looking down at him with the earnest, deep-brown puppy eyes of his. “Sleeping with Mark and-“

“That’s none of your business,” Zayn snaps.

“It is when you’re covered it bruises,” Liam snaps back.

“He got a bit rough,” Zayn says. “Don’t be dramatic.”

“I’m just worried you jumped in too quickly,” Liam tells him.

“And your girlfriend took you, what, a week to date?” Zayn retorts. He’s never seen Liam like this, all cagey and saying shit he knows will upset Zayn. Liam doesn’t answer, so Zayn doesn’t wait any longer. He just goes back to his room.

 

Despite how shitty everything has gotten, Zayn looks forward to one thing: the end of year trip to Harry’s step-father’s cabin. It had been a tradition going on three years, one that Niall and Louis had joined them on the year prior. The first week of Christmas holidays were always reserved for their trip, where they’d close themselves off from the world and just relax for a while before Zayn follows Harry home to his parents’ house and the other two go back to their homes.

Unfortunately, this year Zayn will have to leave early on account of his heat coming. He was thinking about not coming at all, but Harry had begged him to, claiming that being away from everything will be good for him.

“Only two nights,” Zayn negotiated. “I need to come back after that, okay?”

“Promise,” Harry said, before smacking a kiss to his forehead and running off to tell his boyfriends.

Zayn had the last class out of all of them on the last day of term, so Niall just drove the car around to outside his lecture building so they could leave straight away. The car was going to be a bit squishy, with the four of them taking up a fair amount of space and then all their clothes and things took up what was left.

Only when Zayn opened the door, he realised that this year would be more crammed than usual, because Liam was in the passenger seat.

 

 

Liam

 

“He didn’t know I was coming?” Liam asks in a quiet mutter. The omegas in the backseat had been sleeping for a while now, lulled by Niall’s relatively mild driving and the warmth of each other’s bodies from where they were tangled. They didn’t look like they were in a necessarily comfortable position, but their faces were serene. Liam tried not to watch how peaceful Zayn looked. It was such a stark contrast to what he’d seen of him lately.

“The boys though it would be better not to tell him,” Niall said, equally as quietly.

Liam looked out the window. “Because he wouldn’t come if he knew?”

“Probably,” Niall said. He’s never been one to sugar-coat things with Liam. “I still don’t understand why you broke up with him.”

“You know why,” Liam says. He watches as the scenery whips by, obscured by rain, making it hard to tell the time. They should be arriving soon, though, Liam hopes.

“I really don’t,” Niall tells him.

Liam’s brow furrows in confusion. Niall had been the one to tell him that Zayn didn’t want him like that, that he needed to break up with him.

“Did you even speak to him before you did it?” Niall asks him.

“Yes,” Liam says. “We wanted different things. I felt more than he did. That’s all there is to it.”

And that’s all there will be to this conversation, Liam thinks. Niall tries to ask him more questions but Liam makes a point of turning up the radio slightly and settling himself properly into his seat, closing his eyes and praying that he can just sleep for the rest of the trip.

(He can’t, but he can pretend. He listens to the light snoring in the backseat and then the sound of Zayn slowly waking, a sound he’d become far too accustomed to over the last string of months. Zayn’s voice was groggy and low when he asked Niall where the crisps were, sounding so familiar and yet so foreign. Liam really wanted to kiss him. He really wished Zayn would let him.)

 

“Lou, Niall and I will be taking the master bedroom, for obvious reasons,” Harry says as they carry their things into the surprisingly big house. He looks over his shoulder at Liam. “You and Zayn can pick wherever. He usually chooses the room furthest away from the pool, though.”

“There’s a pool?” Liam asks.

“Yeah,” Louis says. “We’ll go swimming tomorrow.”

“It’s the middle of December,” Niall sighs in exasperation, wrapping his arms around Louis from behind. “It’s freezing outside, babe.”

Louis just smiles brightly. “One you’ve made the sale you’ve got to stop selling, love.”

Liam watches them fondly, and then remembers that he doesn’t have that anymore. Zayn walks past him silently on his way down the hallway and into his room.

“Goodnight, then!” Harry calls after his retreating figure.

“We should all probably go to bed,” Niall says. Liam nods in agreement. It’s well on the way to midnight, and most of them had been up early for class. Liam feels like collapsing, anyway.

He carries his things to the room Harry directs him to. The room is nice and cosy, with a relatively large bed and large windows that show a plethora of trees towering overhead. Liam closes the curtains and gets changed into sweats before sliding into bed.

Same as always, he doesn’t sleep too well. Not since he’s been sleeping alone.

It’s stupid how dependent on Zayn he had become. Even from something as simple as having a warm body at night, someone he could cling to and talk with if he’s having trouble sleeping or just hold as a warm weight while he’s dozing. He had loved going to sleep with a warm cheek on his chest and waking up with an open, tired mouth near his neck. Waking up with Zayn was his favourite part of his day, better than the sex or the conversation (even though both were amazing), simply because it was consistent and calming in a world Liam had been struggling to make sense of for a while now. Zayn had grounded him, had given him something tangible, and now Liam was just floating around again.

Fuck, it had hurt to break things off. Zayn had looked like he’d punched him in the gut, staring up at him with wide eyes like he didn’t understand. But Liam knew he did. There was no way he missed how fucking devoted to him Liam was.

Liam rolls over and hugs a pillow, wishing it wasn’t so cold. He wished a lot of things.

 

“Morning,” he greeted Niall when the other alpha stumbled into the kitchen.

“Mornin’,” Niall returned, yawning. Liam smirked at the bruises on his neck and stomach, visible when he stretched. Niall eyed his coffee with tired eyes. “Please tell me there’s more of that.”

“I just boiled the kettle,” Liam said. Niall goddamn moaned, surging forward for a mug. Liam eyed him warily.

They went about their own morning routines, with Liam making himself toast and another coffee while Niall made a humongous amount of scrambled eggs (hopefully to share with his boyfriends, otherwise Liam might be concerned). Liam wonders what Zayn will be having for breakfast, and then frowns when he realises Zayn will probably sleep through breakfast, and then wonders nothing at all because Zayn’s feeding schedule is not his business.

“Got much of a plan today?” Liam asks, topping up his coffee.

“Harry wants to go hiking, but I don’t know,” Niall says. He looks outside, frowning. “It’s bloody freezing out there.”

“Aren’t you Irish?” Liam asks.

“Aren’t you finished with breakfast?” Niall counters. He grins and piles the scrambled eggs into one hugs bowl, and sticks three forks into it.

“I’ll go hiking with Harry, if he wants,” Liam says.

Niall barely even looks up as he cracks pepper onto his creation. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Liam says. “It’ll be fun.”

 

‘Fun’ probably wasn’t the right word choice. That wasn’t the fault of the actual hike, though. The scenery was beautiful and a great contrast from the near-suburban area his university was a part of, and the air was clear and perfect, albeit a bit cold. It was nice to have something to do that made his muscles ache pleasantly and his walk seem to have more purpose. And it cleared his head a little, too.

But Harry was with him. As in Harry, best friend of the boy Liam loves who doesn’t love him back.

It’s a little awkward.

“So,” Harry says as they walk, when he can no longer fill the silence with fun facts about the nature around them. “How’re you doing, Liam?”

“Good,” Liam says. He hopes it doesn’t sound as much as a lie to Harry as it feels for him to say it.

“And your girlfriend?” Harry asks. Liam’s gaze snaps to him, finding the omega staring ahead faux-innocently.

Liam furrows his eyebrows. “Who?”

“You don’t have to pretend,” Harry said gently, smiling weakly. “Niall told us about Leigh-Ann.”

Liam wondered if ‘us’ extended to Zayn. “She’s not my girlfriend,” Liam says honestly.

“Is she like what Zayn was?” Harry asks.

“No,” Liam denied immediately, annoyed by the insinuation. No one could be like Zayn, not in the way he wants. He cleared his throat. “No, she’s not.”

Harry considers this. It’s unnerving, Liam thinks, of just how similar Harry and Zayn are when they process new information. They both look down and watch their hands, which are often fiddling with something, but are otherwise still and mild. Their shoulders both hunch a little, as though they’re being weighed down by the process of their own thought. And then, once they’ve come to some sort of conclusion, they’ll nod a little before looking up again. Harry’s eyes are wide and curious when he asks: “Why did you say no?”

Liam, again, frowns in confusion. “No to what?”

Harry raises his hands defensively. “Fine, you don’t have to tell me,” he says, smiling apologetically. "I just hope you two work it out.”

“Can we talk about something else?” Liam pleads. He really doesn’t feel like opening those wounds, not when he has to see Zayn’s face in the flesh when they get back. He wanted to do this hike to clear his head, not refill it with questions of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.

“Sure,” Harry says. “Does Louis’ ass look great in his soccer shorts, or what?”

“Oh my god,” Liam groans. Why the fuck did he agree to this?

 

“Just talk to him,” Liam hears Louis hiss. “For five minutes, honestly.”

“I don’t want to,” Zayn snaps back.

“Why?” Louis whines.

“Because it’s awkward, Lou,” Zayn says.

“He’s not going to give in, babe,” Niall says consolingly. Liam hears Louis huff. “C’mon, let’s make lunch, yeah?”

It’s silent for a moment, and then: “Do you know where Harry is?” Zayn asks. “We need to figure out what time he’s taking me home tomorrow.”

Liam’s heart sinks. Zayn’s leaving. He can’t handle being in Liam’s presence, is so fucking off-put by Liam that he’s willing to go live by himself for half a week before Harry takes him home for Christmas. He’d actually prefer absolute isolation than to be anywhere near Liam.

Liam makes a point of re-closing the front door so that the others don’t think he had heard the conversation. The moment he steps into the kitchen, Zayn is leaving through another door, phone already pressed to his ear.

“Hey,” Niall says brightly. Too brightly. “How was the hike?”

“Good,” Liam says.

“Where’s Harry?” Louis asks.

“In the pool,” Liam says.

There’s an awkward silence, then, where the two boy across from him grin tightly, clearly hiding something, while Liam just stands there uselessly.

“Do you want to go join him?” Liam asks them.

Louis clasps his hands together. “Splendid idea, Payno,” he says, turning to Niall. “Want to come?”

“It’s too cold,” Niall moans, but let’s himself be dragged off anyway.

“You’re Irish,” Liam hears Louis retort as they walk away. He doesn’t hear Niall’s reply, but he imagines it’s something either lewd or defensive. Or both.

Liam looks around the kitchen, at a loss of what to do. He’s too keyed up to read or do a bit of coursework, but he’s not pumped up enough to go for another walk or jog. He flits around uselessly, considering making something to eat but finding everything unappetising. Even watching the telly sounds unappealing. He’s suddenly all-too aware of the fact that he’s the odd one out, as he’s always been. He’s new to this trip and the newest to this group and new to this situation. He’s also the bad guy, apparently, the one no one wants to be around in the wake of his and Zayn’s distance. It’s all very reminiscent of his early teen years, where no one wanted to be friends with the weird kid who was always going to hospital and talked about comic books too much. He ducked his head and went to his room, figuring a shower would be a nice place to get away without feeling alone.

 

“I hate that movie,” Louis groans, diving his head into Niall’s shoulder in some sort of dramatic outburst.

“Don’t you say things,” Zayn grumbles. He sits down in resignation, discarding the copy of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ into the pile of movies. “What do you suggest, then?”

’Bend It like Beckham’,” Harry suggests.

Zayn gives him a flat look. “No more soccer. I watched you guys play FIFA for four hours, Harry. Four.”

“How about something funny?” Niall suggests.

“I vote the soccer movie,” Louis says. He turns expectantly to Liam. “You gonna back me up on this?”

Liam looks between each of the boys. Niall sits on the couch with Louis by his side and Harry sprawled out between his legs, with Zayn sitting across from them with the plethora of movies in between their crossed legs. Three pairs of eyes are fixated on Liam, while Liam first looks at Zayn and then back at his hands.

“What’s it about?” he asks hesitantly.

Louis cheers like this means he’s one, while Harry starts rattling off a dramatic (and probably inaccurate, by the look on Louis’ face) synopsis of the movie. Liam looks up to see Zayn watching him, but the boy averts his eyes as quickly as they had come.

 

“We’re going at eight tomorrow, right?” Zayn asks tiredly, rubbing his eyes with whole fists, yawning as he pulls the blanket tighter around himself. Liam keeps pretending to be asleep, eyes barely open enough to see outlines of the two omegas. Niall had carried a sleeping Louis to bed a moment earlier, grumbling because Louis was clingy when he’s tired and refused to position himself more comfortably in Niall’s arms.

“Let’s make it nine,” Harry yawns back. “I wanna give my boys blowjobs before we leave.”

“I really didn’t need to here that,” Zayn says. “Night, Hazza.”

Liam hears them both shuffle off. Neither of them attempt to wake Liam up or throw a blanket on him. Liam didn’t expect them to.

 

You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Liam startles, sitting upright in bed, panicked by the sound of Zayn yelling. He quickly slips out from his nest of blankets and pulls on a jumper as he races out the room and towards Zayn’s voice, where he’s standing in the doorway to the master bedroom.

“What’s going on?” Liam asks warily, only narrowly avoiding resting a hand on Zayn’s shoulder when he peers over his head and into the room. And-

The other boys aren’t in there. Their bed is made, their bags of clothes are gone, and the room is as immaculate as when they arrived.

“They’re gone,” Liam says in surprised.

“They better fucking not be,” Zayn growls. He ducks under Liam’s arm and down the hallway, storming into the kitchen. Liam trails after him, and finds Zayn peering outside, eyes squinting against the sun’s reflection on the snow. “Fuck.”

“What?” Liam asks.

“Car’s gone,” Zayn says. He steps away from the window and presses frustrated fingers to his eyes, breathing harshly. “They fucking-“

“Calm down,” Liam tries to soothe. “It’s okay.”

Zayn removes his fingers and glares up at him. He looks like he wants to say something, this type of emotion in his eyes almost spilling out from the twitch of his lips, but seems to think better of it when he shakes his head and walks off again. He goes to the kitchen bench where his phone is and quickly dials a number, tapping his foot impatiently as he waits. “Harry,” he hisses when the boy presumably answers. He turns his back to Liam. “What game are you playing at?”

Liam hears a faint reply, too quiet for him to make out. It seems to aggravate Zayn more.

“I told you, Harry, I- no, I’m not doing that,” Zayn tells the other boy. “This is ridiculous, come pick me up.” Whatever Harry says next has Zayn looking back over at Liam for a second before turning away. “I swear to god, Harry.”

And then Zayn’s pulling the phone away with an aborted noise. The look on his face makes it clear that he’s been hung up on.

Liam goes back to his room to grab his own phone and calls Niall. He’s not surprised when Louis picks up.

“Morning, Liam,” the omega chirps brightly.

“I need to speak to Niall,” Liam says evenly.

“He’s driving,” Louis says. “Anything I can help you with.”

Liam pinches his nose and sits down on his bed. “I, um,” he starts, blushing a little. “I can’t stay here. It’s not, uh, safe.”

“What do you mean?” Louis asks.

“My rut’s coming up at the end of the week,” Liam says. He digs his fingers into his jeans to try and relief the tight feeling coursing through his veins. “It’s not, uh- if Zayn’s here-“

“You should probably be more worried about Zayn’s heat, Liam,” Louis tells him. “Have a good week!”

And then he promptly hangs up. When he tries calling again, it goes straight to voicemail. Liam groans in frustration and flops back on his bed, wondering how much messier things could possibly get.

 

“Do you want a sandwich?” Liam asks.

Zayn doesn’t look up from where he’s curled up on the couch. “No, thank you.”

Liam frowns. “You didn’t have breakfast, though.”

“I’m not hungry,” Zayn says. It’s the same thing he’d said this morning.

Liam tries to concentrate on the telly program as he makes his lunch, but it’s fucking hard. Since Louis mentioned Zayn’s heat, Liam can’t get it out of his head. It must be coming any day now. That’s probably why he was scheduled to leave early, Liam thinks. So he can go back to Mark.

Something dark and ugly makes an appearance in Liam’s stomach. He ignores it.

Zayn hasn’t mentioned his heat. It’s only been five hours, Liam supposes, but still. Maybe Zayn thinks the boys are bluffing when they say they’re not coming back until the end of the week. Maybe Zayn thinks that he can will it away.

“Would you like a drink?” Liam tries.

“No, Liam.”

“Please have something,” Liam asks.

“I said no, Liam,” Zayn snaps, turning to narrow his eyes at him. “Stop pushing me.”

Liam goes to say ‘I’m not pushing you’, and suddenly realises that Zayn isn’t talking about the food. He’s talking about everything. He’s talking about Liam’s disgusting affections and his inability to ignore them and the plain simple fact that Liam is an absolute mess without him. Zayn probably sees how love sick Liam is and has gotten the impression that Liam is trying to guilt him into a relationship.

Liam swallows thickly and finishes making his sandwich before going back to bed, where he eats in silence and stares ahead. After a while he gets bored and checks his phone, and finds a missed call from his father.

Sorry I took so long to call you,” Geoff says, voice tinny from the phone. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m proud of you no matter what. If this boy makes you happy, then I have no reason to not love him. Feel bring to invite him home for a few days. I’ll talk to you soon, Liam.”

Liam turns his phone off and shoves it back into his bag.

 

Sometime after sunset, Niall finally answers his phone.

“Before you say anything, this wasn’t my plan,” Niall tells him. “My boys play dirty, Liam.”

“How dirty?” Liam grumbles.

Promising-things-in-bed type of dirty,” Niall says. “And there’s two of them, Liam, two.”

“Please come pick us up,” Liam begs, hugging a pillow. “We’re both miserable.”

“Precisely why we’re doing this,” Louis says, voice shocking Liam. “The two of you need to talk. Properly talk. Not just grunt and cut each other off every five seconds. You’d be amazed what you might learn.”

Liam pulls the phone away from his ear and taps his head with it, fighting against slamming the goddamn device into the nearest wall. “This isn’t funny.”

“Of course it’s not fucking funny,” Harry’s voice is suddenly hissing. Liam flinches in shock. He doesn’t think he’s ever heard the omega swear. “You’re both fucking hopeless without each other, did you know that? Fucking miserable. I’ve been watching my best friend fuck himself over for the two months, and I’m sick of it. Go talk to him.”

He’s the one who doesn’t want me,” Liam points out.

“Just fucking talk to him,” Harry snaps.

There’s a bit of a jostle down the line and murmured voices, until Niall has returned to the phone. “Sorry,” he says. “Harry’s right, though.”

“I hate how he looks at me, Niall,” Liam says quietly. “Like I’m the bad guy. I hate that he hates me.”

“He doesn’t hate you,” Niall promises. Liam sniffs a little, doesn’t reply even as his body has the urge to pour everything out. Niall sniffs a little, too. “If things get really bad then I’ll come get you, okay?”

“I don’t imagine things going too well,” Liam tells him. He rubs his eyes, not surprised when his hand comes away damp.

“Just see how you go,” Niall says.

Liam is the one who hangs up this time. He puts his phone on the bedside table carefully, keeping his movements slow and deliberate. He just needed to stay calm, is all. He just needed to hold himself together for a few days longer.

He buried himself back under the blankets, knowing there’s nothing else he can do today but sleep. It was snowing too much outside for him to reasonably go for a walk, and Zayn was still in the living room with the TV. Liam considered reading something but found he had little motivation. He felt lethargic, all in all. The last two months had been a matter of going through the motions, of taking things a day at a time, of promising himself that things will get better.

Things haven’t gotten better. He can’t get the imagine of Zayn out of his mind, that morning after his heat had finished, covered in bruises and bites that Liam didn’t inflict. Liam hated how Zayn had smelt, too – Mark’s scent clung to him, saturated him in pheromones that told Liam to back off. Zayn had looked sad, too. And he’d been limping. Liam had wanted nothing more in that moment than to wrap the omega into a hug, just to hold him, to promise that even though things are weird and Liam’s a bit hurt, he’d always be there for Zayn. Because he loves Zayn, yes, but more than anything he knows what it’s like to feel alone, and he never wants Zayn to feel that way.

Liam’s jolted from his thoughts by a knock on the door.

“Liam?” Zayn calls softly.

Liam sits up a little. He contemplates grabbing a book to make it seem like he was doing something over than wallow in his own pity, but decided he couldn’t be bothered. “Yeah?”

Zayn pushes open the door slowly. He looks timid when he pokes his head in, biting his lip nervously, looking so small and soft where his fluffy hair fell to the top of his glasses. “Um,” he said, looking down at his feet as he shifted on the spot. “Can I just, um, talk to you about something?”

“Okay,” he said, voice a little croaky. He sat up and rested back against the headboard. Zayn came in and, after a moment of hesitation, sat on the end of the bed. Liam cleared his throat. “What’s up?”

“I think I, um, know why the boys ditched us,” Zayn said quietly.

Liam swallowed back the dread. “Yeah?”

Zayn looked down at his hands and sniffed from the cold. “My, um, heat’s coming,” he says slowly. He blinks up at Liam with wide, scared eyes. “Like, soon. A matter of hours.”

Liam just nods at this. He doesn’t tell Zayn that he already knows.

“And, like, I’m not going to be able to, um, control myself,” Zayn says.

“I know,” Liam says quietly.

Zayn looks like he’s blinking back tears. “I’m going to end up forcing myself on you, Liam.”

Liam makes a noise of protest. “Don’t you dare blame yourself, Zayn,” Liam says firmly, fingers itching to hold him. “This isn’t your fault.”

“I’m so fucking sorry,” Zayn manages out. He’s shaking, and Liam knows it’s not just from the cold. “I need you to- I have to ask you.”

“It’s okay,” Liam says softly.

“I need you to take care of me again, Liam,” Zayn sobs out. “Just one last time, I promise.”

Liam can’t help it then. He reaches out and pulls Zayn to him, clutching him close to his chest. Zayn’s freezing, shuddering, pressing cold fingers to Liam’s collarbone as he cries softly into Liam’s neck. He’s clearly overwhelmed with the situation, with the thought of having to go through a heat by himself again. It kills Liam. Zayn just keeps repeating over and over how much his heat hurts when he’s alone, how much he needs him, how fucking sorry he is for asking Liam to do this. Liam’s heart swells, realising that Zayn’s trying to be considerate of Liam’s feelings. That’s why he’s been keeping his distance. That’s why he held off from asking for so long.

“Can I please stay here tonight?” Zayn asks, not looking Liam in the eye. “I know it’s shitty of me to ask-“

“Please,” Liam says. Zayn looks up at him then, red eyes a little surprised and a lot relieved. Zayn slowly manoeuvres himself under the covers, laying down on one of the pillows with a quiet sigh. Liam lays down next to him. They don’t touch at all, not until they’re both nearly asleep and Zayn mutters ‘I’m sorry’ and Liam has to reach out a hand to nudge Zayn’s, silently telling him it’s okay, I’m here, I won’t let you hurt when it hits.

 

Liam wakes up to the sound of soft moaning. He breathes in and is flooded with the smell of something sweet and intoxicating, making his whole body curl in pleasure. It’s faint, though, barely beginning.

He cracks his eyes open and finds Zayn still facing him, eyes closed and still breathing slow and evenly despite the little keens that escape him. He looks so gorgeous, Liam thinks, bundled in an oversized hoody and the thick comforter, nose a little pink from the cold weather, shaking a little. His hair nearly obscures the top half of his face, but Liam can still see the fan of thick lashes, making beautiful little shadows in the fading light.

When Zayn moans again, fingers twitching, Liam shifts a little closer so that his body is right next to Zayn’s. Apparently on instinct, Zayn unconsciously lolls forward, hands coming to rest against Liam’s chest, hard cock rubbing against Liam’s hip.

The omega lets out a slow breath, lashes fluttering. “Liam,” he croaks.

“Right here, baby,” Liam says. “I’m right here.”

Zayn burrows in closer, all but pushing Liam on his back, leaning down to mouth at Liam’s collarbone with soft, warm lips while he ground his cock against Liam’s waist.

Zayn,” Liam moans out.

“I n-need you,” Zayn stammers against his skin. He clutches the front of Liam’s sweater a little tighter. “Now, Liam, please.”

“I’ve got you,” Liam promises. He sneaks his hands up Zayn’s jumper and grazes his nails over smooth skin, feeling Zayn shudder. The omega climbs more fully onto him, mewling softly when Liam’s hands trail lower.

He pushes his fingers past Zayn’s waistband, squeezing Zayn’s ass a little just to make the boy’s breath hitch, before dancing a hand around Zayn’s hole. He can feel the tell-tale dampness of slick beneath his fingers.

“You’re already so wet,” Liam groans. He pushes in a finger, listens and feels the shudder it elicited from the omega. “Gonna feel so good around me, aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” Zayn manages. Liam pushes in a second finger and slowly scissors the boy, other arm coming up to loop around Zayn’s back and hold them together.

“Reckon you can cum off just my fingers?” Liam asks quietly. Zayn nods quickly, head falling heavily against Liam’s neck as he rolled his hips down on Liam’s digits. Liam thrusts his fingers slowly, winding them up to try and finds Zayn’s sweet spot. He knows he has when Zayn suddenly cries out and pushes down on Liam’s fingers sharply, groaning lowly.

“Right there,” he moans, grinding his hips faster. “Fuck, Liam – right there.”

Liam obliges, pistoling his fingers in the same spot over and over, grinning as Zayn’s breaths came out short and tight, body tensing and mouth falling open. Liam pressed Zayn’s back into him and encouraged the boy to grind his cock for relief while he worked on his hole. Soon Zayn was chanting “Liam, Liam, Liam” as he alternated between rolling his hips into Liam’s stomach and down onto his fingers, building up a frantic rhythm that soon had him tensing up and spilling over into his sweats.

Liam flips them with a growl, the scent of Zayn’s heat suddenly all-consuming. He kisses the omega possessively, biting desperately at his lip and licking into his mouth as he grinds their hips together, revelling in Zayn’s mewls up sensitivity and pleasure.

“Gonna fuck you good, baby,” Liam promises, tugging on Zayn’s sweats and pulling them down as quickly as their position would allow. “Won’t let you hurt.”

Once Zayn’s pants are gone, he can’t help but duck down and suck softly on the tip of Zayn’s dripping cock, suckling down the cum that hit his tongue. Zayn gasped and fisted Liam’s hair, bucking his hips and whining when Liam didn’t take him further. Liam extracted himself from the gorgeous cock to instead mouth and bite at Zayn’s hips, making the omega squirm prettily while Liam eased his own cock out. He crawled up the bed again, smothering Zayn’s moans with his own mouth as he guided his cock in, feeling Zayn’s tight hole tense around him gorgeously.

“You feel so fucking lovely,” Liam groans, thrusting gently. Zayn’s legs wind around his waist and pull him closer so sharply that Liam bottoms out in a collision of hips that had Zayn crying out obscenely. Liam snaps his hips again, feeling Zayn clench around him. “Always so good for me.”

“Fuck me proper, Liam,” Zayn whined. He scratched down Liam’s back, making the alpha arch and shudder. “Need your knot so bad, Li. Need it now.”

“Okay, baby, just relax for me,” Liam soothes. Zayn relinquishes his legs’ grip of Liam’s waist just enough to give Liam more leverage. Liam uses this to his advantage, caging Zayn in with his arms on either side of the omega’s head while he snapped his hips forward, making every thrust count, making Zayn feel so good. Liam felt drunk with it, seeing the effect he had on the omega. Zayn arched his back and exposed his neck gorgeously, eyes screwed shut and white knuckles clutching at sheets, mouth parted as he mewls and keens. Liam was so fucking in love.

“Can you- can you – please,” Zayn managed out, words a gasp at the corner of Liam’s mouth.

“Soon, baby,” Liam cooed. He pulled back and grabbed one of Zayn’s legs, pulling it over his shoulder and holding it there with a firm hand. He drove in properly, then, absolutely rabbiting into Zayn’s hole while the omega watched him with lidded eyes, looking so fucking debauched, so fucking lovely. Liam could feel his knot swelling dangerously, threatening to pop soon, regardless of if it was in Zayn. His body was screaming at him to push forward, but Liam was intent on making this as good for Zayn as possible. If this was the last time he could ever have Zayn, he wanted to make it something to remember.

He fisted Zayn’s cock and stroked him quickly, double-time to his thrusts, making Zayn’s eyes roll to the back of his head. His jerks were sloppy but effective, a constant pressure that he knew drove Zayn crazy, and had Zayn right on the edge. And then Liam pulled out and ducked down, swallowing Zayn’s cock into his mouth, taking it all the way down and holding it for a moment before bobbing his head, feeling Zayn’s tip nudge at his throat with every jerk of his jaw. Zayn’s legs kicked on either side of him, thighs threatening to squeeze him in, but Liam kept going, hummer around his cock, sucked and slurped and bobbed until Zayn was bucking his hips and all but shouting his name, hands desperately fisting Liam’s hair while his legs scrambled for purchase.

Liam pulled off while Zayn was still pumping out his seed, and knew that there was a line of Zayn’s cum running down his mouth and throat when he repositioned himself and thrust back into Zayn’s hole, back in their previous position, not giving Zayn a break when he started snapping his hips again.

Liam,” Zayn gasped, the syllables cracking. “Liam, fuck, I-“

Liam cut him off, shoving his knot into the ring of muscle. He felt Zayn seize up and watched his eyes fly open, before Liam shuddered out in release and suddenly Zayn was moaning out with him, cocks releasing simultaneously despite Zayn only having seconds of rest in between. Liam’s body convulses with his orgasm, feeling his seed spill into Zayn in waves. He leans down and rests his head in the crook of Zayn’s neck, holding him close.

“Oh, fuck,” Zayn moaned. His body became slowly pliant beneath Liam’s, tension leaving him like a tide. He turns his head and catches Liam’s mouth in a heated kiss, licking away the cum still on Liam’s face. “Shit.”

Liam manoeuvres his hands beneath Zayn’s back and flips them as gently as he can, mindful of the knot holding them together. Zayn lays easily on Liam’s chest, looking content. He’s still wearing his sweater, pushed up a little when Liam smooths a hand up his back, the other resting comfortably on his hip. Liam realises he’s still wearing his goddamn sweats. “The legacy continues,” Liam chuckles, making Zayn look up curiously. “My pants are still on.”

“They are,” Zayn agrees quietly. He blinks up at Liam once, twice, and then his eyes are welling with tears. Liam startles at the sight of them, hands flittering over Zayn’s body as he tried to figure out what to do.

“Zayn?” Liam asks worriedly. He tries to hook a finger under the omega’s chin to get him to look up, but he just turns his head away. “Zayn, what’s wrong?”

Zayn sniffs and shudders, reminiscent of how he had been hours ago. “I don’t know,” Zayn says. He looks up at Liam with sad eyes. “I don’t know what’s gone wrong with us.”

Liam’s heart breaks at that. “Zayn-“

“No, it’s fine,” Zayn denies, trying to wave him off when he curled back down onto Liam’s chest. “I’m just sensitive. Sorry. Please don’t worry.”

It’s hard for Liam not to worry, though, when Zayn feels so fragile in his arms. Something isn’t right, and it doesn’t take Liam long to realise that Zayn’s in the darker fringe of sub space. Liam can’t figure out why, though. He racks his brain to try and figure out what he did wrong, said wrong, when he let Zayn down. He can’t think of it, though, and by the time he works up the courage to ask, Zayn’s already asleep.

Knowing that the next couple of days are going to be exhausting, both emotionally and physically, Liam forces himself to sleep, too.

 

“Oh, fuck,” Liam moans, tightening his grip. “Feels so good, baby.”

Zayn just keens, lowering himself onto Liam’s cock again, grinding all the wait down and swivelling in figure-eights on his way back up, making Liam curse and groans. “’m so full,” Zayn moans, fingers clawing at Liam’s chest. “Your dick’s so – so big, Liam.”

“Love watching you fall apart on my cock,” Liam tells him. He grabs Zayn by the neck and licks into his mouth, bucking his hips up a little to make Zayn pant noisily.

“Wanna be good for you,” Zayn tells him, bouncing his lips.

“You are,” Liam says earnestly. “You always take my cock so well, love.”

Zayn positively mewls at this, fingers digging into Liam’s shoulder as leverage to start bouncing with more reverence. The slick sound of skin on skin tumbles around the room, sounding like a mantra that Liam just wants to hear on replay for the rest of his life. Zayn makes these high, breathy noises that have Liam’s toes curling, eyes screwing shut because it all feels so good. Zayn is a tight, warm, engulfing presence around him, looking and feeling and smelling delicious, warm beneath Liam’s palms and sweet on his mouth.

“When do you want my knot, love?” Liam asks.

“All the – time,” Zayn keens, bouncing faster, harder, sharper.

“Do you want it now?” Liam asks lowly. He rests one of his hands on Zayn’s stomach and feels as his muscles contract beneath his fingertips. “Want me to fill you up, baby? Give you what no one else can?”

Zayn makes an aborted noise, rolling his hips faster. Liam sits up and pulls them flush together, biting on Zayn’s gorgeous bottom lip, loving how it makes Zayn shiver in pleasure.

“What if Mark could see you now, huh?” Liam muses, licking across Zayn’s collarbone. He mumbles the words into Zayn’s skin, feeling their effect. “Bet he would be so jealous, watching you ride my cock like this. Bet he’d kill to take my place.”

Zayn’s hands wound up to hold the back of Liam’s neck, holding him close as he continued to bounce and moan.

“Look at you, love, so desperate for me,” Liam hums. He thumbs over the head of Zayn’s cock. “Was Mark this good to you?”

“Never,” Zayn whined.

“Never?” Liam repeated, smirking against Zayn’s skin. “He didn’t know what you liked, did he?”

Zayn drops his head to Liam’s shoulder, giving up and letting Liam fuck up into him. “No. I didn’t like what he did.”

“Do you like what I do?” Liam asks, punctuating every second word with a sharp thrust.

“Ye-yes, love what you – do,” Zayn moans. He mewls needily, cock swelling between them. “Fuck, Liam, love you, love-“

And then he’s cuming, spilling between them, body fucking wrecked with the force of his orgasm, it looks like, shuddering in jerky convulses, crying out Liam’s name while he works himself back down on Liam’s cock. Liam is fucking – he’s fucking elated, suddenly, and doesn’t tease at all when he shoves his knot into Zayn, cuming as soon as he’s latched, dragging Zayn into a kiss while he releases.

He kisses Zayn long and slow, letting the tempo settle, putting fucking everything into that kiss. Because Zayn said he loves him, there’s no mistaking it, and Liam feels pride swell in his chest, so fucking proud that he made Zayn feel that good, that he made him feel that loved and adored. He holds Zayn close to him, one hand wound around Zayn’s back and the other on his hip, licking into Zayn’s mouth languidly, the mood transforming to something more settled, more intimate.

Liam doesn’t pull away. They don’t speak or acknowledge anything, they just kiss and press themselves together and map out each other’s bodies with their fingertips and before he knows it, Liam is drifting to sleep with the love of his life right in his arms where he should be.

 

He wakes up first a few hours later, when sunlight is flittering through the thick curtains. He wonders how long it’s been, how long Liam’s had the blessing of having Zayn in his arms. He takes a deep breath and nuzzles Zayn’s neck softly, breathing him in, and knows Zayn’s heat is finished. It’s only been a day and a half. Liam smiles a little, realising that it gives them more time to figure things out beyond their base body instincts.

He smooths a hand down Zayn’s back as he watched the boy sleep. He looked so gorgeous, so beautiful, so out of Liam’s league. He was all Liam wanted, from the way he talked about the things he loved to how he was so unapologetically himself. Liam loved him so much.

Liam wondered if what Zayn said last night was true or not. Something in his chest seizes at the thought that Zayn’s words were just in the heat of the moment, nothing more than sweet nothings to placate the desperate shake in Liam’s hands. Liam hopes to god he didn’t mishear, above all else.

Slowly but surely, Zayn wakes up. He blinks at Liam sleepily, looking like a cute, disgruntled kitten, stretching lazily before fitting his body back with Liam’s.

“Morning,” Liam greeted softly.

“Morning,” Zayn returned. He cuddled close, being his usual needy self he is immediately after his heat.

“Do you want me to get you breakfast?” Liam asked.

“Later,” Zayn says, pulling the blankets up tighter around them. “Just want you right now.”

That makes Liam’s chest swell again. It doesn’t alleviate the doubt, but it does let him relax, just for this moment. He presses his lips to Zayn’s temple for a moment, revelling at the feel of his soft skin. Zayn was so gorgeous like this, breathing softly and holding Liam without letting his reservations with alphas hold him back. He’s tranquil, Liam thinks. At peace. Just as happy to be in Liam’s arms as Liam is to have him in his own arms.

Or is he? The doubt swirls in the back of his mind, a cruel little taunt that reminds him of the sympathetic look on Niall’s face when he told him Zayn had said no, how Zayn had just said “fair enough” when Liam felt like his heart was being ripped from his chest, how the whole thing had so little effect on Zayn that the boy wasn’t even looking when Liam gave him a final, hopeful glance, praying that he’d call him back and tell him he felt the same way.

And suddenly Liam can’t lay here and pretend anymore. He needs to know, once and for all. He needs this all to finish one way or another. “Zayn?” he approaches.

“Hmm?” Zayn hums.

“Can we just, uh,” Liam mumbles. He sits upright with difficulty, feeling bad as Zayn begrudgingly pushes himself up into a sitting position, still right by Liam’s side.

“What’s up?” Zayn asks through a yawn. He looks so fucking adorable. Liam loves him so much.

“You said something,” Liam begins, looking down at his hands. “Last night.”

“I say a lot of things,” Zayn mumbled.

“No, Zayn,” Liam says, holding Zayn’s hand. He looks up at him imploringly, begging him to understand. “You said you loved me.”

Zayn freezes. Liam watches the shift, how Zayn became immediately closed off and panicked, slowly extracting his hand, staring at Liam with wide, terrified eyes.

“I’ve got to know,” Liam begs, feeling pathetic. “I’ve got to know either way.”

“You know I do,” Zayn says. He looks so fucking sad, pushing himself away from Liam, putting so much fucking distance between them, leaving Liam cold in his wake.

Liam’s brain ticks over in surprise and confusion and dread, because this admission didn’t make Zayn happy. “You do?”

“Of course I fucking do,” Zayn says lowly, eyes still wide and anxious. He watches Liam’s confused expression and sucks in a breath. “Did you break things off because you thought I only had a crush?”

“You…” Liam trails off, mouth dry. “What?”

Zayn slides off the bed and starts collecting his clothing, looking desperate to leave.

“Zayn,” Liam says. “You liked me back?”

Zayn pauses then. Looks up. Watches Liam with horrified eyes. “What do you mean back?”

“I broke things off with you because you didn’t like me,” Liam says. He feels light-headed with astonishment. “Are you trying to tell me you actually did love me?”

Zayn watches him, absolutely frozen. The weight of the situation hangs between them, emphasising the divide that’s been present for months now. Liam isn’t sure he wants to cross it right now. Finally, Zayn lowers his eyes. “Still do.”

Liam sucks in a breath. His blood heats, a little simmer that has his voice coming out with a low edge when he spoke. “Then why the fuck did you sleep with Mark?”

Zayn’s gaze snapped up then. His eyes narrowed. “You broke up with me, Liam. Don’t pretend it was the other way around.”

I’m not pretending anything,” Liam snaps.

“What, and I am?” Zayn scoffs. His eyes are dark in a dangerous away, body thrumming with agitation.

“Two months ago you told my best friend that you wanted nothing to do with me,” Liam reminds him. He slides out from the bed, too, needing to plant his feet more firmly on the floor. “I’ve been fucking miserable.”

“Did Niall tell you I called him back twenty minutes later, huh?” Zayn demands. “Did your best friend tell you that I asked you over that morning to admit all this shit to you in the first place?”

Liam clenches his jaw. No, Niall didn’t. To be fair, Liam hadn’t been listening to much of anything he had told him. He didn’t even give him a chance. The moment Zayn’s name came out of his mouth, Liam was changing the subject or snapping at him to cut it out or just walking away all together.

“Don’t blame me,” Zayn says, and he sounds fucking hurt. “Don’t pin this on me.”

“What about you, then?” Liam demands. “If you knew I was in love with you-“

Zayn physically flinches. The words die in Liam’s mouth. Zayn lowers his gaze again. “I didn’t think you did,” Zayn tells him. “I thought… and then you showed up with that bitch on your arm-“

“Leigh’s not a bitch,” Liam snaps immediately. Zayn’s jaw snaps closed. “That’s what I don’t get about you, Zayn. You’re all about defending yourself but don’t blink twice about calling my friend a bitch, or going off about how your best friend becomes docile around his alpha.”

“Liam,” Zayn warns.

“Are you ever going to admit that sometimes the world isn’t out to get you?” Liam asks. He doesn’t know the conversation got here, but suddenly he feels like his head might explode if he doesn’t get out every last drop. “Are you ever going to fucking trust me?”

“Liam,” Zayn repeated. His eyes were wet and red, nose sniffing angrily.

“Maybe it’s a good thing that we went to shit,” Liam tells him. He squares his shoulders, an edge of finality to him. “I’m sick of having to fight you every step of the way.”

“Would you prefer I’m just some submissive slut who’ll be your little plaything?” Zayn demands.

“Are you even listening to yourself?” Liam cries, hysterical. “You’re putting words in my mouth.”

“You did the same fucking thing,” Zayn spat angrily. “If you’d let me get a fucking word in that morning then maybe we wouldn’t be in this fucking mess.”

“Wouldn’t we?” Liam asks incredulously. “Are you sure? Because if I remember correctly, I was the one who told you to come find me when you’re ready, and you never did.”

Zayn sniffs again. “I thought you meant ready to fuck around without my feelings getting in the way.”

Liam rubs his face in frustration. He takes a deep breath, shaking his head. “This is so ridiculous,” he says. He doesn’t look up. “Why can it never be easy with you?”

Liam,” Zayn says. His voice is so fucking thick with emotion, sounding like he’s on the verge of sobbing. Liam looks up and finds the boy looking absolutely distraught, clutching his discarded clothes like a lifeline, a silent tears spilling down his cheek. He looks so fragile, breaking apart, staring at Liam with so much shock and hurt that Liam didn’t know he was capable of inflicting.

He looked like everything Liam had been feeling for months now.

“I’m sorry I can’t be what you need,” Zayn says quietly. Another tears pools over, running faster than the other. Zayn blinks slowly, face contorted in pain. “I wish I could be how you want me to be, but I can’t. I just – I just can’t.”

When Liam next speaks to Niall, his voice is low and firm when he asks that he and Zayn can be picked up, as soon as fucking possible. He asks that Louis drives up a spare car, too. Liam adamantly doesn’t look at Zayn when he slides into the second car, and definitely doesn’t say goodbye. They’ve said enough to each other. Liam doesn’t want to hear anything more. He’s sick of them only ever apologising to one another. He’s sick of how deep they can cut each other without even trying.

Chapter Text

Zayn

 

Nothing can explain the nausea that consumed Zayn during the car ride back from the cabin. His stomach was churning in constant disgust, feeling like it was simultaneously being stretched as it was being compacted. His heart seemed to be beating at the wrong pace – Zayn wasn’t sure if it was too fast or too slow or skipping so many beats that he can’t discern what it’s meant to be, but it felt wrong. He felt wrong. He felt like he was going to be sick.

His hands were shaking where he rested them neatly on top of a folded jacket. He doesn’t know whose jacket it is. All he knows is that someone or another had thrusted it into his hands, had asked him to put it on, to try and beat the harsh winter cold. But Zayn knew that a jacket wasn’t going to warm him. He felt cold to the soul, burnt out and floating, not a single anchor in sight.

Harry sat next to him as Louis drove. The curly-haired omega looked distraught with worry. Zayn couldn’t look at him for more than a second without wanting to scream.

Zayn wonders if Niall’s car is as silent as this one. He wonders if Liam is trying to hold back his emotion like he is, or if he’s still yelling, still screaming, telling Niall all the reasons that Zayn isn’t good enough. Zayn can’t be good enough. Zayn doesn’t work with what Liam wants. How Zayn’s broken.

He really is going to be sick.

They’re driving through a small town when Zayn cracks. “Stop the car.”

“What?” Louis asked, looking at him through the rear view mirror.

“Stop the car,” Zayn repeats, frantically trying to unlock the door even as the car’s still moving. "I need to- I’m gonna-“

Louis stops the car and Zayn rips off his seatbelt and stumbles out. He takes deep, heaving breaths, unsurprised when it feels like he wasn’t breathing at all. His chest felt tight and pinching, walls closing in his ribcage, trying to trap his heart and pushing further when his body realises it’s already gone, poisoned and tainted after it had been thrown back at him like moulded lunch. Liam didn’t want it. Liam didn’t want him.

“Zayn?” Harry enquires. He goes to touch Zayn’s shoulder but Zayn flinches away from him. He evades him completely, ducking back to the car to grab his rucksack. Harry’s voice wavers when he asks: “What’re you doing?”

“I’m going home,” Zayn tells them. He looks around wildly, trying to discern the nearest bus stop or train station or somewhere he can call a cab, regardless of how much it’ll cost to get him where he needs to go.

“The university closes today,” Louis says. He stands next to Harry, palms out like he’s trying to placate a crazed dog.

“I’m going home,” Zayn stresses.

Harry jaw drops. He steps forward. Zayn steps back. “Zany, what are you talking about-“

“Shut up,” Zayn snaps at him. “Both of you fucking shut up.”

Harry’s jaw snaps closed like he’s been stung. Louis’ hand slowly, protectively closes around his boyfriend’s wrist. Zayn snarls when he sees it.

“You two have ruined everything,” Zayn hisses at them. He wants to claw his face off. He feels so wrong. “You forced me to- the one thing- I can’t-“

“Calm down,” Louis tries to soothe. “It’s okay-“

“It’s not fucking okay,” Zayn snarls. He wraps his arms around himself, trying to ignore the temptation to claw at himself. “Heats are- you know how fucking terrified I am about being- and you just… You forced me to ask him.”

“We didn’t mean to,” Harry defended wetly.

“What did you mean to do?” Zayn demanded. “When I told you my heat was coming, and you locked me in a house with an alpha, what the fuck did you think was going to happen?”

“We just wanted you back together,” Louis said. He sounded weak, face contorted in guilt and worry. Zayn wanted to claw his face, too, wanted him to feel what he did.

“We were never together,” Zayn hissed. “That was the whole point!”

Zayn watches in frustration as Niall’s car pulls up behind theirs. Only one person gets out. It’s not Liam. Of course it’s not Liam.

“I didn’t know you were in love with him,” Harry said. He was crying. Zayn didn’t know whether he felt satisfied or not.

Zayn’s lip curled. “What did you think, then?”

“We thought you were both just being stupid,” Louis tells him. “We thought it would help-“

“To force us to fuck?” Zayn said. “You do realise that’s what happened, right? We didn’t get closure, we didn’t fix things, we just fucked because neither of us could physically hold back. You used my own heat against me, you assholes. And you-“

Zayn turns to point an accusing finger at Niall, who now stands by his boys with his palms up.

“You knew that it was a misunderstanding,” Zayn snaps at him. His voice is low, lethal. It’s a voice he doesn’t recognise, void of emotion but somehow still thick with it. “All you had to do was tell Liam what I told you. All you had to do was fucking talk.”

The other two omegas turned to Niall then, looking shocked. Harry took a step towards him. “You knew?” he demanded. “Why didn’t you…”

“It didn’t cross my mind,” Niall defended meekly.

“Bullshit,” Zayn glowered.

“I wasn’t thinking right,” Niall tried. He looked stressed, avoiding the wide eyes of his boyfriends. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“Me and Liam have been miserable for months,” Zayn told him lowly. He stalked forward slowly, spitting his words out through clenched teeth. “Why didn’t you tell him?”

Niall looked at his feet. “I- I can’t.”

Zayn squares his jaw. “Niall.”

“I didn’t believe you,” Niall finally admitted, eyes wide and guilty.

“You didn’t believe me,” Zayn repeated, incredulous.

“I didn’t know whether you genuinely liked him or not,” Niall continued. He sounded like he was choking on his own words. “I didn’t want to get his hopes up if… If you were to…”

It took a moment for Zayn to realise what Niall was insinuating. When he did, he stumbled back in shock. “You thought I was going to reject him on purpose,” he said, bewildered. It wasn’t a question. “Make an example of him.”

Niall looked up at him then, face etched in guilt. “He’s my best friend.”

Zayn’s gut wrenches in nausea again. “You don’t think I’m good for him, either.”

“That’s not what I said,” Niall tried to reason. “Zayn-“

“Why leave us both at the cabin, then?” Zayn asked. Tears were well and truly pouring over his eyes. “Why do that to him?”

“I realised I made a mistake,” Niall said.

Zayn stumbled further back. “I can’t…”

And then he was turning and running off, not entirely sure where he needed to go but knowing he needed to get away; away from Harry’s sad eyes and Louis’ guilty expression and all the secrets Niall kept but shouldn’t have and the fact that Liam couldn’t even get out of the fucking car.

He wasn’t sure if any of the boys were following him, but he ducked into an alleyway and hid behind a set of bins anyway. He sat on the disgusting ground and pulled his knees to his chest, and let himself sob every fucking emotion he had out of him. They poured out of him, not individually but in waves, waves of grief and anger and hurt and frustration and fucking agony combining until he didn’t know what anything meant, didn’t know whether the clench in his gut was anger or anxiety, didn’t know if the spike in his pulse was terror or just the sudden realisation that he was alone. He fucking heaved his emotions out, shuddering with it, shaking so violently that he couldn’t see straight.

He tried to reign it in. He tried to gain control. He failed.

Beyond everything was the fear of going home. He hadn’t spent more than a few hours at his house since he was fourteen, instead jumping between his grandmother’s house and Harry’s. He had spent every term break at Harry’s, the terror of being home too much. He hated how his mother trailed him like a body guard, and how his younger sisters watched him with disbelief that their brother is a runt, and how Doniya refuses to be in the same room as him because she’s so mortified about that night six years ago, and how his baba always looks so uncomfortable. He doesn’t go home for a reason. He calls only on birthdays for a reason. They’re not a family for a reason. But he has nowhere else to go.

It was terrifying how quickly the bulk of the emotion he was feeling left him. He felt, with observation rather than actually senses, as everything left him. It just dissipated. Poof. And in its wake was just sadness; bone-deep, all-consuming, weight-on-the-shoulders sadness.

Niall thought he was going to hurt Liam as some sort of agenda against alphas. Niall thought that’s the type of thing Zayn might do. Zayn gives off that impression.

Fuck, Zayn hates himself so much.

When it had been long enough that Zayn figured the boys would have given up (if they’d come after him at all), Zayn pushed himself up from the ground with too-stiff hands. It didn’t take long before Zayn found a bus stop that would take him to a bigger town with a train station. Zayn tried not to think about what awaited him at home.

 

Zayn remembers when he was younger and had just finished school for the day, he’d trudge home and push open the door, slam it shut again, drop his bag and kick off his muddy shoes, and then go track down his mum because she was the only one who ever made him feel better after a day of being told his spelling was shit and he was too small to be on the basketball team and everyone thought he was weird and, all in all, he was the epitome of every thirteen year old who desperately wanted to fit in but didn’t know how.

Now, twenty years later, he doesn’t open the door. He knocks because he doesn’t live here anymore.

It takes a minute for his mother to answer the door, probably trying to pull something out of the oven without dropping it. When she does open the door, though, she’s breathless and about to apologise, before she realises who it is.

Beta,” she gasps in surprise. And then she’s pulling him into a tight hug, cradling the back of his neck, holding him close as he numbly wraps his arms around her waist. She pulls back a little, familiar amber eyes searching his with astonishment and worry. “Jaan, what are you doing here?”

“Homesick,” Zayn muttered quietly. He tried a weak smile. “Missed you.”

Trisha, to Zayn’s absolute gratitude, doesn’t ask any more questions. She just ushers him inside and smiles a little when Zayn takes the time to neatly pull off his shoes and hang his coat and bag properly before following her into the kitchen. “I’m cooking a double batch of samosas,” she tells him. “I bet they summoned you, hmm?”

Usually, Zayn’s mouth would water at even the thought of the delicious food. But now, even as his mother serves them on a plate and put three in front of him, Zayn isn’t able to do anything but shrug and pick one of them apart. Trisha watches with a concerned frown.

“What’s wrong, beta?” she asks. She places a soft hand over Zayn’s to stop him from ripping open a second pastry.

“Nothing,” Zayn says. He doesn’t recognise his own voice, how devoid of emotion it is, even as it croaks in exhaustion from crying to much earlier.

“Zayn,” she mother prompts gently.

Zayn looks up at her then. He swallows thickly. “Nothing, ammi. I’m just tired from the trip.”

“I imagine so,” Trisha says. “How long is it from campus – eight hours? Nine?”

Zayn shrugs. “I was at Harry’s cabin.”

“Oh,” Trish says in understanding. “Are you going back there or to Harry’s house for Christmas?”

Zayn avoids her gaze. Looks down. Wonders how to ask.

“Oh, beta, do you want to stay here?” Trisha sighs in understanding. She sounds tired, and pitying, and endlessly concerned. “Doniya will be coming-“

“I can stay at a hotel when she’s here,” Zayn says. He smiles wryly. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

His mother elects to ignore this. She pulls up a chair and sits on the other side of the kitchen island, pulling one of Zayn’s hands into her own. “Why aren’t you staying with Harry, love?”

“Can’t,” Zayn says shortly.

Beta.”

“Don’t want to,” Zayn amends.

“Did something happen?” Trisha asks. She looks understandably upset by this; Harry had been Zayn’s best friend since they were kids, after all, and the bond only became stronger when they both discovered themselves to by omegas, and Zayn would go stay with Harry’s entirely-Beta family. Harry had been a brother to him. Zayn pushes the thought out of his mind. He’ll deal with that another time, when he doesn’t feel so empty. He risks being consumed by grief if he starts now.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Zayn says after a moment.

Trisha frowns, not unkindly. “Your baba will want a reason when he comes home.”

“Tell him whatever you want,” Zayn says. He shrugs again. “I have enough money to find a motel somewhere.”

“Have you been working?” Trisha asks. Zayn knows it’s an attempt to divert the conversation for his sake. He loves his ammi.

“In a bar,” Zayn answers. He starts picking at the samosas again. “Good pay.”

“Aren’t you worried about there being…” Trisha trails off, thinking. “Some, er, inebriated alphas?”

“’s low risk,” Zayn lies.

“How low risk?” Trisha asks suspiciously.

“Very low,” Zayn says. “Can I please lie down somewhere?”

His mother blinks at him in surprise. Her eyes rake over him, and Zayn isn’t sure what she sees, but it’s enough to have her eyes softening. “Of course, beta,” she says. “Your old room still has a bed in it.”

“Thanks,” he says quietly. He leaves his samosas, ruined but uneaten, on the bench, and goes to grab his things before heading off to bed. Best not to give his father a heart attack.

He convinces himself to check his phone when he lays down in bed. There are so many missed calls and texts and emails that he feels a bit dizzy with it, but none from the person he wants to hear from most (and least). So he turns the phone of and throws it somewhere he can’t see, and then closes his eyes and convinces himself that it’s natural to feel this empty.

 

He doesn’t know what time it is when he blinks his eyes open to find his father crouched in front of him, gently trying to wake him up.

“Hey, baba,” Zayn says quietly. He smiles weakly. “How’s work?”

“Fine, beta,” Yaser says softly. “How long have you been here?”

“I don’t know,” Zayn says quietly, honestly.

Yaser cards a hand through his hair. “How long are you staying?”

“I don’t know,” Zayn repeats. He closes his eyes again, waits until the stinging sensation is gone before he opens them again. His father watches him with soft, almond-shape eyes that Zayn used to idolise when he was younger. Still does, in some sense. He wonders if that’s because he loved his dad or just instinctively wanted to impress the alpha.

“Do you want to come down stairs for breakfast?” Yaser asks. “The girls are dying to see you. Your ammi has been holding them back, but only barely.”

“I’m not hungry,” Zayn tells him softly.

“Neither am I, beta,” Yaser admits. “Your ammi tried cooking pancakes again.”

Zayn recalls a dozen memories of his mother making the lot of them sick with batches of pancakes that always went wrong. It’s distantly funny. He doesn’t smile.

Yaser watches him for a moment. Zayn doesn’t know when to recoil from him or hug him. Neither feels right. So he just stays where he is and blinks at his father easily until, finally, Yaser quirks his lips and stands up to leave. “I’ll bring you something edible before I leave for work.”

Zayn nods once. His father leaves, and Zayn rolls over to face the wall, curling himself into a tight ball lest he let go of the fatiguing control he’s managed to establish. He tries not to think about where he should be now, who he should be with. He tries to ignore the anxiety creeping up on him on the thought of his sister’s impending arrival. He tries, and he succeeds, because being numb is a lot easier than the other options.

 

“Has he mentioned someone to you?” Yaser asks quietly from somewhere down the hall.

“No,” Trisha says. “I would have told you if Zayn had called.”

“Maybe the Styles boy knows,” Zayn’s father suggested.

“I doubt he will tell us if Zayn doesn’t want us to know,” Trisha said. She sighed a little. “I just hope our beta is okay.”

“I think it might be a bit too much to hope for,” Yaser says grimly.

There’s a pause, one that Zayn forgets to breathe in. Then: “Should we just ask him?”

“I doubt he’ll tell us,” Trisha says. “I would have never told my parents if I were in sub drop.”

“So that’s definitely what it is, then?”

“I didn’t want to think so,” Zayn’s mother says quietly. “But it’s been four days and he’s scarcely left his room. I don’t think there’s any way to deny it now.”

They either stop talking or move too far away for Zayn to hear, then. He curls further into himself and closes his stinging eyes, wondering if he really is pathetic as they think he is. Pathetic little omega, couldn’t even land an alpha who was in love with him. Zayn wishes he didn’t love Liam, because this type of love feels like a punch to the gut with every breath.

 

It’s not until Safaa comes into his room, tears threatening to spill over, that Zayn finally gets up.

“Hey, love, what’s wrong?” he asks croakily, sitting up and wiping her tears.

“You’ve been here for ages,” his sister said. “And you haven’t come to see me.”

Zayn feels a stab of guilt. Of fucking course he’s managed to drag his family down with him. He hates himself so much. “I’ve just been tired, apiya,” he tries to soothe. “I’m not trying to avoid you.”

Safaa sniffs, eyes wet. “Come make cookies with me?”

Zayn bites his lip. He hates seeing his sister like this, looking even smaller than usual, terrified that Zayn didn’t want to see her. But Zayn also has this nauseating, churning feeling that won’t leave his stomach, and even the thought of leaving this room makes bile rise to his throat. He winces apologetically. “Saf-“

“No one else is home,” she says. “Just me.”

Zayn hates to admit it, but the knowledge that his father, an alpha, wasn’t home had the knot in his stomach loosening just that tiniest bit. He stood up slowly and pulled on a second sweater and some socks, and then followed his sister out of the room, wincing at the light in the hallway and nearly passing out when they pass a window and the sun shines in. the most light he’s seen in days are the thin, dim glimpses that manage to peek in from behind the thick curtains.

He has to pause before entering the kitchen. Sunlight streams in, bouncing off the different surfaces, illuminating various appliances that Zayn knows are new, have been bought in the six years he hasn’t lived here. He’s suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling of not belonging, of being an intruder, of being an inconvenience. He’s in the way. Fuck, he’s always in the way. Even just by existing he’s turning everything to shit. And it started with his sister, his father, and now-

“Zayn?” Safaa says gently, eyes wide.

“Sorry, apiya,” Zayn says quickly. He shakes his head of his thoughts and steps into the kitchen. His mind is still unbearably foggy, but he forces a weak smile onto his face. He’s determined to not ruin this relationship, too.

 

His little sisters are fantastic people most of the time, and his parents are trying their best to hide their discomfort with his presence, but Zayn still finds himself mourning his family. Chosen family, that is.

He’s ruined things with Liam. That was inevitable. But he’s also ruined things with his best friend, and two other guys that he had come to love, to seek out their companionship, to genuinely want to be around them. Nothing hurts Zayn more than the fact that through one shitty mistake, he’s managed to severe his friendships with four people. Four people who, up until Zayn made a mess of things, would have been more than happy to let Zayn cry on their shoulder, or distract him when he’s down, or coax him out of the dark parts of his mind. Those four boys had broken down his walls, impossibly, but now there was so much else between them.

Zayn doesn’t know if he can forgive them; because forgiving them means forgiving himself, and that’s something he can’t do.

He can’t forgive Niall for assuming the worst of him and purposely ruining his chances with Liam. He can’t forgive himself for being such an asshole as to give Niall the impression that it’s something he would do.

He can’t forgive Harry and Louis for using his heat against him. He can’t forgive himself for not calling for a taxi, even though he had the number programmed into his phone.

And he can’t forgive Liam for what he said. Zayn can’t forgive himself for everything he’s done wrong by Liam; the assumptions and stereotyping and hostility and using him and not figuring out what he wanted before it all came to a head.

Mostly, Zayn’s just tired.

 

Zayn dreams about Liam.

He dreams about the curve of his lips when he smiles and the crinkle of his eyes when he laughs and the sway of his body when he gravitates towards Zayn. He dreams of how Liam says his name and how happy he looks when they’re with friends and how he was equally as happy when it was just them. He thinks of Liam as light, sunshine, the type of thing the world needs. He wonders what that makes himself, if he had managed to dim Liam somehow. He’d twisted Liam’s smile into something wry, at least when it was directed at him. He’d ruined everything.

 

Zayn is just staring blankly out the window when Trisha sits down next to him. She hands him a mug of something warm that smells delicious but makes his stomach churn anyway. Zayn tries to shuffle away from her subtly, but she makes a displeased noise and pulls him closer, tucking him right by her side and carding a hand through his disgusting hair, trying to soothe him in the same way he remembers her doing as a child, six years ago when he first went into heat and absolutely hated himself for not making his father proud.

“What’re you thinking about, love?” his mother asks quietly, a murmur that sounds like a melody. Zayn closes his eyes.

“Nothing,” he says. “Nothing at all.”

His mother doesn’t answer, not right away. She keeps scratching idly through Zayn’s hair, until he relaxes some and accepts the comfort, burrowing closer and finding solace in how warm she is. “I know you’re not okay,” Trisha finally says. “And I just want you to know that I love you.”

She’s lying, he thinks. He doesn’t say anything.

“Whoever he is, I’m sure he loves you, too,” Trisha continues.

Zayn chokes on a sob that’s suddenly fighting to escape.

“I found your phone behind the desk in your old room,” his mother continues, holding him close. “You have so many missed calls, beta. Why won’t you answer them?”

“I can’t,” Zayn croaks.

“Why not, beta?” Trisha asks gently.

“Because he loves me, ammi,” Zayn manages out. “But it’s not enough.”

He’s crying, then, hunched over with the force of it, tears dripping onto his mother’s cardigan, tea spilling onto his lap but he can barely feel it. His mother looks absolutely terrified, trying to comfort him but unable to do anything but hold him to her chest and let him get it all out. He doesn’t get it all out, not even close, but Zayn supposes she wasn’t really expecting him to.

 

On Christmas Eve he calls Louis.

“Zayn?” Louis says in astonishment, picking up on the second ring. “Zayn, I-“

“Happy birthday,” Zayn says. “I’m sorry.”

And then he hangs up and makes sure his phone is on silent when he pushes it to the bottom of his bag.

 

Surprisingly, Zayn’s parents don’t ask him to go to a hotel when Doniya comes to town. His mother just quietly warns him of his sister’s arrival, and shakes her head softly when Zayn offers to leave.

“Don’t be silly,” she says.

Zayn isn’t being silly, though. The last time he and Doniya had been in the same room, she was trying to claw her way to him while he cried and begged for relief in the same bed he’s been staying in for the past week. It was by far the worst night of his life, and neither of them have really spoken since, beyond an initial apology text from her and a ‘happy birthday’ text from him every year, that consistently went unanswered.

She arrives just after dinner. Zayn is thankful, now that he doesn’t have to suffer by being forced to eat a meal with her sitting at the same time. This way, if anything went wrong, or was too awkward, Zayn could just beg off and go to bed.

He holds his breath when the car pulls into the driveway. He can hear their younger sisters outside, squealing in delight, shouting “Doni!” before no doubt jumping right on top of her. It’s probably a lovely sight. Zayn doesn’t look. He stays on the couch and stares adamantly at his hands, even when his parents rush past him to go greet their daughter. Neither of them ask why he isn’t excited. They both remember that night, too.

His gut wrenches as he hears the cacophony of voices come closer to the door, then in the foyer, then right there in the room. It’s when all the noise suddenly die that Zayn forces himself to look up, meeting the eyes of a woman who was just a girl the last time they met. She’s taller, and more rounded, and grown into her body. Her eyes no longer bug out of her head and she has a new, more flattering haircut, a little shorter than Zayn thinks he’s ever seen on her. But the thing he notices the most is her blinding smile, free of the awkwardness six years of separation should have created.

“Hello there, bhaiya,” Doniya greets. She raises an eyebrow. “You’ve sure grown up.”

Zayn can’t help it, then. He jumps up and wraps her into a tight hug, so fucking relieved that she’s here, that she knew he was there and still came. And he’s relieved by the lack of hostility in her expression, and how she tightens her dainty arms around his waist and laughs quietly at the sheer reverence behind Zayn’s hug.

“I’m glad you’re here,” she whispers.

“I miss you,” Zayn whispers back. “So fucking much.”

“No swearing in my house, beta,” Trisha quips. “Or you can’t have dessert.”

Zayn pulls back with a wet smile, rolling his eyes a little.

“He’s probably not going to eat anything, anyway,” Waliya says a little dejectedly. She looks up at him, almost challengingly. “Will you?”

Zayn looks around at his family, all together for the first time in over six years, watching him carefully. It was in his hands, he realised. He could either go upstairs and wallow by himself until he fell asleep, or he could sit back down at the living room table and try to mend something he’s been missing for the longest time.

Safaa makes the decision for him when she grabs his hand and drags him towards the kitchen. For the first time since arriving, Zayn isn’t consumed by sadness.

 

His good mood continues into the next day, where no one mentions the word ‘Christmas’ but there’s still an unusual amount of food and a few “late birthday presents” for each of them and this overall cheeriness in the air. He still feels a bit empty, he still feels like there’s a gaping hole in his chest, but he allows himself this. He allows himself a few days to enjoy one aspect of his life, newly restored and beautiful.

He’s in a good enough mood that he calls Harry.

“I’m so sorry,” Harry says before Zayn can get a word in. “I’m so sorry, Zayn.”

Zayn sits down on his bed. “Harry-“

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Harry blubbers. “I wasn’t thinking straight. And I know it’s no excuse. I just saw how sad you were and thought you might have somehow gone into sub drop and the only way to fix it is to be with your alpha again and I know that Liam isn’t your alpha and that you’re not his possession but I felt like there weren’t any options left and I know I should have just spoken to you but-“

“Harry,” Zayn tries to interject.

“-you weren’t eating properly, and it terrified me. I’d never seen you like that, and no one had explained to me what actually happened, and then Louis thought it might be sub drop-“

“Harry.”

“-and at first I didn’t even consider it because you and Liam had your falling out days after your heat finished, so it didn’t make sense. But you had all the symptoms-“

Harry,” Zayn says loudly, sharply.

He hears the other omega suck in a breath. “I’m just really, really sorry Zayn.”

“Apology accepted,” Zayn says.

“What?” Harry croaks. “I- just like that?”

“I’m not saying what you did was okay,” Zayn tells him. “But I know you didn’t have any, like, malicious intentions. So let’s just dead the issue, yeah? I miss you.”

Harry starts crying again. Zayn does, too. They’re an absolute mess for the longest time, until suddenly Zayn can hear a different voice crying, and the Louis’ on the phone croaking out his own apologies, and swearing ferociously every time Zayn tried to tell him that he still loves him, that it doesn’t matter anymore. Louis’ adamant that Zayn understands how sorry Louis is, and how much he regrets ever scheming to get Zayn and Liam together.

There’s a lot still unsaid. There’s a lot they’ll have to talk about when they get back to university. But Zayn finds himself grinning into the phone, happy tears pouring silently down his face as he catches up with his boys. They’re spending Christmas together, apparently, after Harry’s smaller family drove the short hour trip to Louis’ house. They explain the absolute chaos of having nine children (themselves and Gemma included) running around the place and stealing food when the parents weren’t looking. They sounded giddy, and Zayn hoped that he had added to that.

After a while, though, Zayn had to ask. “Have you guys spoken to Niall?”

“Yeah,” Louis answered. He sounded a little sombre, clearing his throat awkwardly. “We’re… we’re quite mad at him, to be honest.”

“He didn’t tell us jack shit about Liam’s feelings,” Harry interjects.

“But he knows he’s been shit,” Louis says. “I don’t think someone can possibly show more regret without, like, making a neon sign for it, or something. He’s still not getting lucky any time soon.”

“I think I know why he did it,” Zayn says quietly. He lays back on his bed, staring up at his ceiling as he thinks about how miserable the Irishman must be with his boyfriends so mad at him.

“Yeah?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” Zayn echoed. He cleared his throat. “Listen, if either of you want to come down for a couple days for New Years, my parents are going away for the weekend and leaving me with my little sisters. So, like, you guys could come stay.”

“That sounds ace,” Louis says. “I can’t, though, because I promised mum I’d stick around to help with the kids. I don’t think she fully considered the amount of work there’d be behind having seven children.”

“I’ll come, though,” Harry pipes in. “I’ve been missing Safaa.”

“What about Wali?” Zayn asks with a grin.

“I hate her,” Harry said. Zayn can imagine his pout. “What kind of satanic being doesn’t like ‘Love Actually’? And every time I see her she brings up the goddamn orange peels-“

Zayn cuts him off from abrupt laughter. It shakes through him, bouncing around an empty ribcage until it felt weighted with something, anchored, held down despite the elation in him. It’s the first time he’s laughed in weeks, and fuck it feels good.

 

He returns to his usual self, piece by piece. The one phone call with Harry and Lou turns into daily texting that makes his mum glare at his phone from how annoying the chirping is, but she never says a word (because she’s happy to see him connecting to the world again, Zayn supposes). He starts eating properly, three meals a day. He can’t finish what’s on his place every time, but it’s a start.

On the day after Boxing Day, he goes shopping with Doniya and finds that while he hates every moment of it, he’s glad he went because it gave him a chance to catch up with his older sister. Doniya’s in a relationship, he finds out after a while, with a beta boy who she wants to mate with but is still trying to figure out how. They’ve been together for nearly two years, and are moving into an apartment together in February. He’s a little older, a couple years, but he’s perfect, Doniya tells him. Zayn asks, hesitantly, if he can meet him one day. Doniya promises to host a house warming party once they’re settled in the apartment.

On the 28th, Zayn stays in bed almost the entire day. He finally crawls out to see his family for dinner, and feels warm when no one comments on it. Trisha just hands him the bowl of potatoes and kisses him on the top of his head while Yaser tries to settle an argument between the two younger girls. Doniya has gone home again, but Zayn doesn’t mind so much when he sees that she’s texted him a message to say she hopes he feels better.

The next morning, Zayn wakes up early and creeps downstairs to make chocolate pancakes.

“Smells good,” Yaser tells him when he walks into the kitchen, bleary eyed and strongly resembling Zayn when he rubbed his face in exhaustion.

“Thanks, baba,” Zayn smiles.

His sisters and mother come down shortly after. The girls all but cheer at the sight of the pancakes, making Trisha squawk indignantly (“You guys told me you hate pancakes!”) but Zayn thinks it was mainly to hide the grin on her lips.

Zayn doesn’t know what toppings any of the like on pancakes, but surprisingly doesn’t beat himself up for not knowing that one detail. Things are good, he tells himself. There’s no point getting upset.

Zayn eats two small pancakes. It’s progress.

He hangs out in the kitchen while the girls wash the dishes, if only because he wants their company. He learns about the classes Waliya thinks she might choose for the following year at school, and listens as she tentatively admits she might want to be a doctor but is scared she’ll go into heat.

“Are you an omega?” Zayn asks gently.

“Don’t know,” his sister answers with a shrug. “But it’d make sense, wouldn’t it?”

“Because I’m an omega?” Zayn asks. She pauses, but nods. Zayn smiles to ease her worry. “Apiya, ammi’s a beta and baba’s an alpha. Doniya’s an alpha, too. I’m the odd one out, remember?”

“You’re not odd,” Waliya snorts. She appraises him. “Not because of your breed, anyway.”

Zayn’s lips quirk. “Why else am I odd, then?”

She scrunches up her nose. “I found your figurine collection.”

 

It takes him until the day before New Year’s Eve before he calls Niall.

It’s silent for a while when the Irishman answers. “Hey,” Zayn says after a few moments.

“Hey,” Niall returned. It was painfully awkward, hesitant. There was so much that neither of them wanted to say. Zayn let out a shuddering breath.

“I just need to say some stuff, okay?” Zayn asks. Niall doesn’t answer. Zayn takes that as his assent, and takes a deep breath. “What you did was shit,” Zayn says. “It was fucking horrible, okay? But I know why you did it. I’ve been hard on you, and on Liam, and on probably every alpha you’ve seen me interact with, and I just-“

He cuts himself off. Swallows hard.

“I struggle, sometimes,” he continues, a little quieter. He wonders if Niall can hear the shake in his words. “I grew up with some, uh, set-backs, that I’ll explain to you one day. I promise. And I know it’s not an excuse, and I know I can’t use what happened as a reflection of your entire breed, but- but I’m scared, Niall. And this is going to sound like shit, but it’s a type of fear you wouldn’t know unless you felt it, so I don’t expect you to understand.”

He sniffs and takes a breath, trying to control the sting in his eyes. It’s easier like this, he thinks. Talking on the phone. He can’t be side-tracked by how jittery Niall’s aura as an alpha makes him, can’t be subconsciously intimidated. It also helps him to not see Niall’s face, who no doubt looks regretful and encompassed with guilt. Zayn just needs to speak without anything influencing what he says.

“Do you remember that day in your dorm when we were first getting to know each other, and you started your rut?” Zayn asks.

Hesitantly, Niall says: “Yeah. I do.”

“Do you remember what you said to me when we saw each other a few days later?” Zayn asks.

“I apologised,” Niall said. He’s silent as he thinks for a moment. “And I said it would be best for us not to be alone together again. Or me with any omega, really. Right?”

“Yeah,” Zayn nods. He takes a shuddery breath. “Now imagine being an omega. If I’m ever alone with an alpha that goes into rut, there’s nothing I can do about it. The only reason that day didn’t go to shit was because you held your control long enough for me to leave. But not every alpha is as restrained as you.

“At the bar, for instance,” Zayn continues. “So many betas were in the bar at the time that I went into heat. Do you know why none of them helped me leave?”

“No,” Niall says quietly.

“Because they knew I was done for,” Zayn tells him. “If any of them tried to step in, the alphas would beat the shit out of them. That’s just biology.”

“I’m so sorry Zayn,” Niall tells him.

“I’m not trying to say you’re like them,” Zayn tells him firmly. “I’m just trying to tell you why I’m so difficult with you guys. It’s not because I think you’re bad people – it’s purely because experience has shown me that the only way I can stay safe is if I push you all away before I’m in a position where I can’t.”

Niall doesn’t say anything to that, but Zayn can hear him suck in a sharp, stuttering breath. Zayn smiles weakly to himself.

“So I didn’t want to be with Liam,” Zayn says. His words are low, like if he speaks too loudly then too much will come out. “I didn’t want to be with anyone, not when they could have so much control over me.”

“But then you changed your mind,” Niall says.

“I did,” Zayn agrees. He wipes away a single fallen tear. “Because Liam is fucking amazing, you know? I never felt unsafe with him, not towards the end.”

Suddenly Niall laughs quietly, wetly. “Remember the first couple of times you went into heat?” Niall asks. Zayn says his affirmation. “He slept outside your room like a guard dog. He didn’t even know anything about you, but he saw that there was an omega living in a building of alphas, and he just had to protect you. He didn’t care if you liked him or not, or if you’d ever date him – I don’t even think he was attracted to you at that point. He just wanted to help.”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Zayn laughs gently with him, shaking his head. “That’s why I changed my mind. He didn’t want me because I was an easy fuck, or anything. He was genuine.”

“He still is genuine,” Niall says. “He told me about your fight, but- there’s still hope, yeah? You two have both been through so much shit. You deserve each other.”

Zayn furrows his eyebrows. “Liam never mentioned having any problems.”

“He’s embarrassed, I think,” Niall said. “Or maybe didn’t think it compared to whatever your past was like. I can tell you, if you’d like. He wouldn’t mind.”

Zayn bit his lip. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Niall says. There’s noise like he’s getting comfortable, and then a small sigh. “I don’t know if Liam ever told you, but he and I met when we were about twelve. He was this pudgy kid that giggled at everything and was absolute shite at maths. Naturally, we got along.

“He was also bullied, though. Heavily bullied. His older sisters were both betas, but he had a bunch of cousins that were omegas, and everyone just assumed he’d end up being either breed. He was also that type of kid that wanted to be friends with everyone, and didn’t immediately understand why that wasn’t possible. Other kids teased the absolute shit out of him. I think they backed off a bit when I moved to the school and took a liking to him, but even what I witnessed was horrendous. I doubt he even realised at the time that it wasn’t normal to have his lunch stolen every day, or get shoved around in a circle of boys for twenty minutes, or any of that. All he really knew was that no one really talked to him properly, and I think it was a bit disorientating. It was especially shit when I found out no one showed up to his sixteenth birthday party. I was back in Ireland for me aunt’s funeral and couldn’t be there, and apparently every single person in our year level came up with some shitty excuse.

“Anyway. A couple months after his birthday, he had his first rut. And I think it really confused him, when he went to school and suddenly people were opening their arms for him. A couple girls literally asked him out the week after he returned to school, because he was the first boy in the year level to become an alpha. It was weird.

“So Liam became really suspicious of people who came up to him. He didn’t like feeling entitled, and he didn’t like how people only cared about him now that he wasn’t going to be an omega. So aside from me, he didn’t really make new friends. He didn’t go to any parties or go on any dates until he was eighteen and went out with a beta girl who was relatively nice to him when they were kids. Things didn’t work out, obviously.

“This all carried through to university, where everyone was throwing themselves at his feet because that’s what they’d been taught to do. And then you came along,” Niall laughs, no doubt shaking his head. “And he just wanted to be around you all the time. Because, like, you literally could not give less of a shit about him. You didn’t bully him like the kids in primary school, but you didn’t kiss his ass like everyone else does now. You made a point of telling him that his status meant absolutely nothing in his eyes. That’s why-“

Niall cuts himself off. Coughs. Lowers his voice.

“That’s why I felt something was off when you suddenly changed your mind about him,” Niall tells him. “You hadn’t given any sort of indication that you liked him, and when I asked Harry he said that you were still firmly opposed to dating. So I, uh, expected the worst, and figured I’d not get Liam’s hopes up. If you guys ended up together, then cool. And if you didn’t, then Liam would already be expecting it. I didn’t think he’d break up with you before you got to speak, though.

“So that’s where I was coming from,” Niall finishes. He lets out a breath, as though relieved. And waits.

Zayn had made his mind up long ago to forgive Niall. “Okay,” he says.

“Okay what?” Niall asks, bemused.

“I’m gonna talk to your boys and tell them to stop boycotting you,” Zayn says. He grins. “You rut’s coming up in a week or so, yeah? Probably would want your boys helping you.”

Niall laughs properly at that. Zayn smiles at the sound of it, lighter and brighter than before.

“Harry’s coming ‘round tomorrow, actually, so I’ll tell him in person,” Zayn amends. “He’ll be happy, no doubt. He’s been hoping we’d properly bond for a while now.”

“Is this us bonding, then?” Niall asks.

Zayn flops back on his bed. “I’d say a round of pints when we get back home would cement the bonding experience, I think?”

“My shout, then,” Niall laughs. Then, after a moment: “Have you spoken to him?”

Zayn doesn’t have to ask who he’s talking about. “No.”

“Will you?” Niall asks.

“I’m putting the ball in his court,” Zayn says. His eyes dance over the cracks in the ceiling paint. “I still love him. But I understand if he can’t love me the way I want him to.”

They leave it at that. Niall hangs up with a promise to bring some chocolate and Irish whiskey back from Mullingar, making Zayn cheer so loudly that he knows it’s not a trick of the light when he finds his mum smiling brightly to herself in the kitchen. Zayn wraps his arms around her as she cooks, thanking her for everything she’s ever done for him, this past week included. A few hours later she walks out to the family car with Yaser, reminding Zayn where all the emergency numbers are located (lists on the fridge, in the fruit bowl, on Zayn’s bedside table, and programmed into both his and Waliya’s phones), and promises they’ll be home no later than the 2nd of January.

“Go have fun,” Zayn tells her, holding the passenger seat door open for her.

“You sure you’ll be alright?” Yaser asks him, standing by the driver’s door. He looks at Zayn with earnest, imploring eyes, genuine in his concern.

“Yes, baba,” Zayn says. He smiles, one that isn’t forced. “I’ll be fine.”

“Love you, beta,” his father tells him. “I’m so proud of you.”

And then they’re driving away, leaving Zayn in the driveway trying to fight off a blush as his heart swells and his sisters tease him mercilessly. Zayn distracts them with the offer of making a New Year’s cake. He checks his phone and finds Harry’s texted him ‘See you tonight!!!!!!!!!!’ with a string off peach emojis.

 

When the doorbell rings that night, Zayn is half covered in flour and his arms have batter all over them, making it look like his skin was melting off. He looked at Safaa, who was laughing uncontrollably while trying to scoop the batter out of her hair.

“Wali, get the door!” he calls loudly.

“I’m about to have a shower!” she calls back.

Zayn rolls his eyes and grabs a tea towel.

“I’ll get it,” Safaa offers.

“Harry will run away screaming when he sees your hair like that, apiya,” Zayn teases. Safaa crosses her arms in faux annoyance, and makes a point of following Zayn to the door. The doorbell goes off again, and Zayn shakes his head. “Chill, Harry, it’s not that cold outside.”

He makes sure his hand is relatively batter-free when he opens the door, grinning at the curly-haired easily. Only, it’s not Harry on his doorstep, with a smattering of snow on the shoulders of his winter coat and a sheepish smile on his face. It’s Liam.

Chapter Text

Liam

 

“Can you three even try to walk normally?” Zayn groans. Liam laughs and winds an arm around the omega’s waist, pulling him closer as they watch the other three boys climb all over each other. Zayn narrows his eyes up at Liam accusingly. “This is totally your fault.”

“How so?” Liam asks, smiling down at him fondly.

“You were the one to suggest we walk to the movie,” Zayn told him.

“That was you, actually,” Liam pointed out. Zayn squawks indignantly, trying to hide his smile when Liam grinned and ducked down to kiss his cheek.

Up ahead, the three boys stumbled haphazardly towards the theatre, completely wrapped up in each other. Harry and Louis’ heats had finished that morning, and none of the boys could be separated for even five minutes just to walk somewhere. Niall had a hand in Louis’ back pocket and his other arm around Harry’s shoulders while both boys sandwiched him in between his chest, whispering and giggling pawing at his shirt. Liam had glimpsed Niall’s face only a few times since they’d met up in the hallway outside of their rooms, and knew that the Irishman probably still had that dazed, thoroughly-fucked look on his face after knotting both his omegas for two and a half days straight.

“I give it a year before Niall just gets them pregnant,” Liam says to Zayn. “Just so he can have nine months of no heats.”

“Nah, he’ll do one at a time,” Zayn tells him. “He’ll alternate so that one of them is always pregnant, so he can have the next ten years or so only dealing with one of them in heat at the one time.”

“He’d have to deal with pregnancy hormones then, too,” Liam points out. “Don’t people get horny in their, like, fourth month, or something?”

“No idea,” Zayn says, shrugging.

At the theatre, Liam tells Niall to just go sit down somewhere while he and Zayn grab the tickets. Niall looks beyond thankful, still limping a little bit as his boys drags him over to a couch that probably wasn’t designed to seat three people but they’d make do anyway. Liam shakes his head in bewilderment, figuring that he looks just as weirded out as Zayn does.

“Do they even know what ‘Inhumans’ is about?” Zayn asks Liam once they’ve gotten the tickets and are lining up to buy food and drinks. He nods over to the boys, who are a heap of limbs and lips by this point.

“I don’t think they’ll be paying much attention to the movie,” Liam laughs.

“True,” Zayn agrees. He looks at the array of food and drinks available. “You going to freak out and buy everything again like you did when we saw ‘Batman vs Superman’?”

“Shut up,” Liam says, playfully shoving him. “I was nervous. Wanted to impress you.”

“I think you impressed the people who watched you buy it all,” Zayn tells him.

Liam laughs and pokes Zayn in the ribs, making the omega squirm and giggle. Liam only stops where they’re at the front of the line, and tries to keep a straight face while putting in their order, even as Zayn’s fingers tickled up his spine. He thinks the cashier noticed him twitching too much to believe his nonchalance.

“You should probably stop,” Liam murmurs to him, grinning. “I reckon my rut’s coming soon. You don’t want me wanting revenge for anything, do you?”

Zayn’s eyes darken a little in arousal, but he still manages to smile it off. “Oh, relax. Your rut will come after my heat, and by then you’ll have forgotten about this.”

“You think you’re that good, huh?” Liam asks lowly. He places his hands on Zayn’s narrow hips, stepping a little closer into his space.

Zayn wraps his arms around his neck. “I must be phenomenal in bed to have kept you around.”

“You’re phenomenal all the time,” Liam tells him earnestly. He smiles softly, eyes raking over Zayn’s gorgeous face. “I stayed because I love every single thing about you, babe.”

Zayn grinned back at him, eyes shining. He looked away with a chuckle, still not used to Liam’s unabashed affections, no doubt. “Don’t get sappy on me now, jaan,” Zayn tells him playfully. “I won’t make it through the movie if you keep looking at me like that.”

Zayn goes to take the other boys’ drinks over to them while Liam waits for the food, but Liam grabs his hand and pulls him back gently. “Hey,” he says softly. “I love you, yeah? I hope you don’t think that I, like, settled for you, okay?”

“We’ve already had this conversation over New Year’s,” Zayn reminds him, smiling contentedly. “I love you, Liam, and I know you love me. I’m all good.”

Liam kisses the back of Zayn’s hand softly before watching him walk back over to the boys. Even though Liam knows Zayn loves him, and Zayn tells him that fact so often that they’re beginning to reach Harry’s level of disgusting sappiness, sometimes Liam still feels nervous. It’s ridiculous, he knows, after a year and a half, but he can’t help it.

He’d said some horrible stuff to Zayn that day at the cabin. Some unforgivable stuff, really. He’d completely ignored what he knew about Zayn’s past and called him difficult, had been selfish about the entire situation, had allowed his confusion and emotional rollercoaster to cloud his reactions. And, above all, he’d neglected Zayn during subspace, putting him through nearly two weeks of absolute hell before Liam manned up and drove to Zayn’s family home to grovel for forgiveness.

Zayn didn’t forgive him immediately, and Liam’s thankful every day for that. They spent three days purely talking and hanging out as friends, with Liam getting to know Zayn’s sisters as just a friend for university until, the morning Mr and Mrs Malik came home, Zayn referred to him as “meri jaan”. Liam had no idea what it meant at the time, but his heart swells whenever he remembers that afternoon when Zayn had crowded him in the hallway and quietly murmured it meant life and soulmate and love. He’d kissed Liam, then, in the corridor where any member of his family could walk past at any moment. They had driven home the next day, but not before Yaser had pulled Liam aside and made him promise to always do right by Zayn, because Zayn had been dealt with so many bad cards in his life and didn’t deserve another.

Liam thought about that conversation every day, but especially in the first week after he and Zayn arrived back at university. Liam had been determined to make sure he’d never hurt Zayn again, so he made sure the two of them talked everything out. It was a terrifying few days, but nothing can compare to the relief Liam felt at the end of the week when Zayn said “I forgive you, I love you” and grinned when Liam returned the sentiment.

“Sorry for the wait,” the cashier said, placing all the sweets on the bench in front of him.

“No problems,” Liam said, scooping everything up. “Thank you.”

All the boys grabbed what they wanted from Liam’s arms, leaving him with crisps, chocolate and soda for him and Zayn to share. Zayn pushed up the arm rest divider when they sat down so that he could cuddle up to Liam’s side, making the other boys pretend to dry-heave when they saw.

“Both your boyfriends are literally sitting on your lap,” Liam points out to Niall. “Surely that’s not comfortable.”

Niall shrugs but doesn’t answer, can’t answer, because Louis suddenly has the desire to feed him popcorn.

“They better not talk during the movie,” Zayn says. “We’ve had these tickets for weeks.”

“I’ll pee on them if they do,” Liam assures him. Zayn barks out a laugh, stifling it into Liam’s shoulder.

Liam can’t help but feel happy. He’s got the guy of his dreams right by his side, the greatest friends in the world sitting behind them (although, he has to admit, he doesn’t appreciate the sound of them making out and giggling, but figures there’s not much he can do about that, especially so soon after the omegas’ heats), and he’s about to watch a movie he’s been looking forward to since it was revealed at the Marvel Expo more than three years ago. He feels elated, all in all. Peaceful. There is, of course, that underlying pump in his bloodstream, though, as there always is leading up to his rut. It makes him a little restless, shifting around a bit during the previews, clutching Zayn’s knee possessively.

“You okay, babe?” Zayn asks, looking at him curiously.

Liam looks back at him, absolutely in awe. Zayn’s eyes are bright even in the dark room, and his face is cast in shadows by the light of the cinema screen. His hair is recently shaved and at that length that drives Liam crazy with the constant need to rub his hands over it and scratch Zayn’s scalp in the way he loves. His eyelashes are as long and gorgeous as always, and the quirk of his lips makes Liam grin. He’s so fucking beautiful, and Liam can’t believe he gets to say ‘This is my boyfriend’ to the people he introduces the boy to.

Liam ducks forward to kiss him softly. It was only meant to be a peck, but he finds he can’t pull away. Something is holding him there, compelling him to lick into Zayn’s mouth and dig his fingers into Zayn’s thigh possessively. He recognises the feeling, but it doesn’t make sense. It’s barely halfway through the month, Zayn hasn’t even had his heat yet, but still-

His blood simmers in his veins and his mind clouds over. All he can see is Zayn, all he can feel is the omega’s body beneath his hands, all he can smell is the sweet scent of his body wash. All he wants to do is knot him, fill him up, absolutely ruin him for anyone else.

“I think,” Liam says quietly, voice low and deliberate. “I think we need to get out of here.”

“What?” Zayn asks, pulling back a bit. He watches Liam’s face in confusion, but after a moment his eyes darken in recognition. “Oh.”

They abandon their food and the boys. Zayn grabs Liam’s hand and tugs him out of the theatre, shivering a little when Liam crowds his body and walks so that they’re constantly touching, Liam’s chest glued to Zayn’s back. “Can you make it home?” Zayn asks him lowly when they’re out in the (thankfully deserted) hallway.

Liam ducks down and bites at Zayn’s earlobe. “No,” he whispers, hands on the omega’s waist and grinding his hips into his ass. “Need you right now, baby.”

Zayn leans back into his touch for a moment, before suddenly jerking away and pulling Liam into an empty theatre with a sign saying ‘under construction’ at the front. Liam doesn’t even question it, just grins in anticipation as Zayn pushes him down onto one of the seats and straddles his lap. “It’s a bit early,” Zayn huffs out, grinding down on Liam’s tented crotch.

Liam groans and tightens his grip on Zayn’s hips, holding them still so he can grind up into them, mouth falling open in pleasure. “I forgot it gets weird,” Liam moans. “After – ah – after mating.”

Zayn grins. “That makes-“

He cuts off abruptly, staring at Liam’s face. Liam stills beneath him, no idea what’s going on. Then, suddenly, he smells it: the sweet, intoxicating scent of Zayn’s heat, making his toes curl and the hair on the back of his neck raise in anticipation. He tightens his hold on the boy, pulling him impossibly closer and breathing him in.

“Oh, fuck,” Zayn moans, resting their foreheads together as Liam grinds up into him with more reverence. “Shit, Liam, I- fuck, need your knot.”

“Yeah?” Liam mutters, hands trailing around to palm at his ass.

“Need you now,” Zayn whines. His fingers fumble down Liam’s shirt to his crotch, blindly trying to undo his pants.

“I’ve got you, baby,” Liam promises. He stands up, lifting Zayn with him, and lays him down on the disgusting carpet of the abandoned theatre. Zayn can’t keep his hands off him as Liam undoes both their pants, pulling Zayn’s completely off with his boxers while he simply elects to push his down just enough to free his cock. They’re both in a frenzy, the collision of Liam’s rut and Zayn’s heat making everything that much more urgent. Liam’s almost overwhelmed with it, with the primal need to fuck Zayn down, claim him, make him feel so good, absolutely wreck him.

Zayn grabs the front of his shirt and tugs him in heavily, making a pleased noise when Liam falls heavily on him. “Can’t wait,” he gasps, rolling his cock up against Liam’s clothed stomach. “Need you now. No teasing.”

“Okay, baby,” Liam says. He pulls their mouths together again, desperate and hungry, swallowing down Zayn’s moans as he pushes into his hole. Zayn convulses and shudders beneath him, hands stuttering over Liam’s shoulders and down his chest while he whines needily. Then, suddenly, he wraps his legs around Liam’s waist and pulls him in close, causing Liam to slam his cock forward so that he bottomed out with a collision of hips, knot nearly slipping in prematurely. Zayn cried out loudly, throwing his head back from the force of it, leaving his neck exposed for Liam to lick over the bite mark still visible from months ago, a mark that makes Liam’s chest swell because it won’t ever fade. Zayn gasps out, clutching Liam’s neck and holding him there, legs trembling.

Liam pulled out his cock a mere few inches before slamming in again, not messing around when he started up a quick, brutal pace that had both of them groaning desperately. Zayn rolled his hips in time with him, the slick sound of skin on skin and their heady moans the only thing that could be heard in the empty theatre.

Liam leaned on one arm by Zayn’s head while his other hand gripped Zayn’s hip possessively, thrusting into him so quickly that he just felt a blur of pressure and tight heat on his cock, making his knot pulse urgently.

“You feel so good, baby,” Liam tells him through a groan, obsessed with the feeling of his cock being squeezed in by Zayn’s heat. He mouths over Zayn’s jaw, absolutely intoxicated by him. “Want me to fill you up, babe?”

“Wanna feel you,” Zayn moans.

“I’m gonna cum in you,” Liam tells him, nipping at the omega’s ear. “Fill you up with my seed, nice and good. Make you feel so full. Full of my pups, yeah?”

“Please, Liam,” Zayn groaned. His cock bobbed obscenely between them, angry and purple and desperate to cum, precum staining his shirt where Liam hadn’t pushed it up enough. A low, primal noise escaped Liam’s lips from the sight of it.

“Gonna knot you babe,” Liam grunts out, and then he’s pushing in further, slamming their hips together, pushing insistently until his knot was fully inside of Zayn, pulsing and fluttering from the delicious, nearly unbearable pressure, until Liam was cuming with a shout. He leaned heavily over Zayn, burying his head in the boy’s neck as he felt the tight ring of Zayn’s muscles milk him for what he’s worth. He wrapped a hand around the omega’s cock, stroking him off with a tight fist, making Zayn mewl in pleasure, chanting Liam’s name loudly, desperately, lovingly. Liam kissed him possessively, hungry at first and then turning languid as they can down from their highs, grinning into the kiss. Liam felt the urgency leave them, replaced purely by satisfaction.

When he pulled away, however, Zayn was frowning.

“What?” Liam asked, concern immediately flooding him. “Did I hurt you?”

Zayn shook his head. His mouth was parted a little, shocked. “I’m done,” Zayn told him in bewilderment. He looked down at where Liam’s knot still held them together firmly, no sign of deflating just yet. The omega looked back up at Liam. “I finished.”

“Finished what?” Liam asked, confused.

“My heat,” Zayn clarified.

Liam closed his eyes, searched for the thrumming in his veins that had been there just moments before, all-consuming and urgent and primal. His eyes flew open. “Me too.”

“Your rut, my heat…” Zayn murmured to himself, hands skating over Liam’s shoulders absently. His brows furrowed in concentration, gaze a little unfocussed. Liam would find it adorable if he wasn’t so stumped. Then, suddenly, Zayn’s eyes widened, snapping to Liam’s in shock.

Realisation dawned on Liam just seconds before Zayn spoke.

“Liam, did you just impregnate me?”