Alpha!NJ wants beta!HS in his pack...no matter what.
Ship: namseok focus to ot7 endgame
CW: stalking, manipulation (will add more as needed)
NJ has been looking at him for a while, now. He noticed him right away and he made sure to come back to this coffee shop every day at the same hour since then. It paid off, because the lovely beta seems to be a regular at this place.
NJ has been taking his time. It’s important to study the object of your desires to better know how to approach and bind them to you. Betas, especially, can be a bit fiddly with their subgender instincts and submission. NJ is an alpha and a strong willed at that.
He’s pretty sure he would be able to subdue the beta if it came to it. But there’s something much sweeter when they come to you willingly.
Right on time, NJ notices an alpha approaching the beta’s table. He looks like he’s on a mission and also the type of alpha that doesn’t take no as an answer.
NJ makes sure to wait for a few moments — wait for the alpha to push a little against the beta’s boundaries — before he gets closer to the duo.
“—told you, I’m not interested”, is saying the beta through gritted teeth.
“Come on, a pretty boy like you—”
“Everything okay, here?” NJ intervenes, making sure to keep his posture relaxed even as he stands tall.
Both alpha and beta turn to him – neither looking pleased.
“Who are you, his boyfriend?” challenges the alpha.
NJ raises his eyebrows. “Does it matter?” NJ shakes his head. “He already gave you an answer. Leave.”
The alpha frowns and gets closer. “What’s your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem”, NJ says. “Unless you create one for me.”
NJ makes sure to keep eye contact with the man, allowing his wolf to come to the surface and show all that it could do if challenged. The other alpha tries to stare him down but he quickly gives up, looking away.
“Whatever, dude. Like I care.” He makes a point of walking around NJ, keeping his distance as he leaves.
NJ turns to the beta, who doesn't look pleased. Not an easy one to impress, he notes. “You alright?”
“Yes. I was handling it.” The beta is frowning, something stubborn in his expression. NJ suppresses a smile. He always loved a challenge.
From up close, NJ can better appreciate the beta’s soothing scent of lavender and chamomile. It’s inviting, even while the man’s expression is closed off.
In the past week, NJ has made a point to let his alpha grow familiar with the beta’s scent — standing behind him in line to get coffee, sitting at a nearby table, passing close by to move around the place… it was easy enough to get close in a public space.
NJ can now pick the beta’s scent out of a crowd.
“Sorry for intruding”, NJ says. “I was searching for a place to sit and heard you two.” NJ gestures around the shop, currently pretty busy. “Is it a problem if we share the table? I have a few work emails I need to answer.”
The beta squints his eyes at him. NJ’s alpha appreciates his cautiousness — a smart and careful beta will make the pack stronger. No matter his reservations, though, the beta nods towards NJ. A polite boy, under the spunkiness — just like NJ likes them.
“Thank you”, says NJ as he sits, placing down his coffee order and the chocolate cookie he bought. He busies himself with taking out his laptop and turning it on.
The beta’s head is turned down at his phone but NJ knows he’s glancing at him from under his fringe. NJ politely ignores him, letting his apparent disinterest lull the beta back in a relaxed state.
NJ takes his time pretending to write a couple of mail replies, his alpha focused on the man in front of him. The beta doesn’t seem to be paying attention to him anymore, slouched back against his chair.
The perfect moment for NJ to move his hand towards his cup of coffee and purposefully knock against the cookie’s plate instead.
“Oh!” NJ exclaims, looking down at the incriminated piece of pastry. “Um”, he looks towards the beta, who’s looking back at him now, attracted by the noise.
“They gave me a free cookie but if I eat it and spoil my appetite my packmates will scold me”, NJ tells him, directing an embarrassed smile towards him. NJ pushes the plate towards the other man. “Do you want to eat it?”
“They gave you a free cookie?” repeats the beta, perplexed.
“Ah, it happens sometimes”, NJ says, bashfully looking down towards his coffee cup, inviting the beta to follow his gaze — “enjoy, handsome” is written cutely on it.
Knowing how to write in different handwritings is a skill that NJ is proud of.
The beta looks back at NJ. “Must be hard to be so popular, uh?” He’s smiling, but there’s a sharp edge to his heart shaped lips. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
NJ appreciates that he doesn’t trust easily. It'll make his surrender all the more satisfying.
NJ makes sure to smile in a way that hides his sharp teeth and shows off his dimples when he says, “I would be in your debt if you made this cookie disappear.”
The beta laughs and the joyful sound makes NJ’s alpha purr in satisfaction in his chest. “And what about *my* spoiled appetite and disappointed packmates?”
NJ followed the beta around a couple of nights before and he’s fairly sure that no packmates or significant others exist.
Still, he plays along. “I would never dream of putting you in trouble.” He smiles charmingly. “Want to split it, then?”
“What a generous offer”, says the beta, laughing again. “It would be just as generous of me to accept.”
“Extremely generous”, NJ agrees. He breaks the cookie in half and offers the bigger piece to the beta. “I’m KNJ.”
The beta accepts the cookie, smiling up at NJ from under his lashes. “Pleasure to meet you, NJ-ssi. I’m JHS.”
Just as NJ planned, sharing the cookie breaks the ice. Making small talk, they share their birth year and discover that they’re same age friends. The lack of age hierarchy seems to further help putting HS at ease, who drops formalities right away.
NJ’s alpha is pleased to see the beta eat what they provided. He's ravenous with the need to make him part of his pack. He can’t wait to bite him. NJ wishes they could scoop HS up and bring him to the den right away.
But, all in due time. They just have to be patient, he chastises his alpha as the wolf grows frustrated.
NJ makes sure not to overstay his welcome and after the cookie is eaten and his coffee cup emptied, he stands up, saying his goodbye.
HS looks disappointed to have their time cut short but wishes him a good rest of the day. So endearing. HS doesn’t know yet that he doesn’t need to be sad at their departure — NJ will become a fixture in his life soon enough.
NJ leaves the coffee shop, pleased with himself. He does his best not to smile like a fool all the way to the subway entry one block over. There, he notices someone familiar sitting on a bench, smoking.
“Hey, dude”, says the alpha that was bothering HS when NJ intervened.
NJ approaches him. “Hey”, he replies back, clasping their hands together. “Good job, back there.” NJ says, passing him the money they agreed on.
A few weeks have passed and every day NJ has spent a little bit of time with HS at what has become their spot in the coffee shop. HS has been welcoming every time NJ joined him, seemingly saving him the seat. Routines are important and help people feel at ease.
But poking at that ease is just as important. Sometimes presenting a person with something unexpected, however small, can shake them enough to reveal more about themselves than they would otherwise. Sometimes it can be a way to push boundaries.
Just a couple of days ago, NJ had decided to test the waters and make a small change in their routine.
He had been the first to arrive and sit down at their table. He had kept an eye out for HS while pretending to be busy on his phone. When HS had arrived, NJ had answered loudly to a made up call, making sure HS would notice him on his own.
HS had approached him, smiling curiously down to him. “You’re here early today!”
“Yeah, I have a meeting later so I decided to take my break now”, NJ had told him.
“Well, let me just get my coffee and I’ll be all yours!”
NJ had noticed that, once he felt confident enough to be more open, HS tended to be a little bit of a flirt.
Before HS could walk away, NJ had pushed the second cup of coffee on the table towards the beta. “I, ah…” He had looked down, bashfully. “Since I arrived a little early, I got your coffee too.”
“You know my coffee order?” HS’s eyebrows had shot up so high they could have joined his hairline. “Has that coffee been sitting there long?”, he had asked as an afterthought, looking suspiciously at the cup.
“Ah, no.” NJ had hidden his face behind a hand, feigning embarrassment. “I arrived a few minutes ago and ordered for you. I didn’t even think you could arrive much later or not at all today… I feel foolish now that I’m saying it out loud.”
He had made sure to show his face again and look up at HS before adding hesitantly, “I got so used to seeing you every day I just assumed you would come.”
“Aish, NJ-ah… you’re so cheesy”, had joked HS, even as he had looked affected by NJ’s words.
He had sat down, accepting the cup of coffee from NJ’s hands. “So, how’s your day going?”
They had moved on, conversation flowing easily and when NJ had left the coffee shop that day, he had known it was time to push things forward.
Now, as he’s having breakfast with his pack, NJ feels the same itch under his skin. He wants HS to meet his pack, to start having the beta integrate with the people that will become his family.
NJ has been thinking about which of his packmates will be the first to meet HS.
Around the table, SJ and TH are taking turns feeding JK and each other. It’s a sight that always makes NJ’s alpha at ease: the pack all together in one place, taking care of each other.
For how adorable they are, the two pups are extremely excitable and may be too overwhelming for HS as the first introduction to the pack.
And neither SJ nor YG would leave the den for something like this.
Really, there’s only one choice but it’s also the one that NJ feels the more confident in regardless.
He looks down on his lap, where a sleepy JM is purring, face squished on NJ’s chest.
JM can easily charm the pants off of anyone he puts his mind to and he’s eager to prove himself. He also has similar interests to HS and he used to have the same independent strike. NJ is sure the two will go along like a house on fire.
“Open up, JM-ah”, YG says from beside NJ. He’s been trying to feed the younger one since they all sat down to eat.
JM shakes his head. “Want Alpha to feed me.”
NJ’s alpha more than appreciates how JM is unable to care for anything but him whenever NJ is around.
“Well, fuck me, I guess”, YG grumbles. He elbows NJ. “Tell him to eat, *Alpha*.”
“JM-ah”, NJ says, and JM immediately straightens up to meet his eyes. “Listen to your hyung and eat.”
“Yes, Alpha.” JM turns to YG and obediently opens his mouth, accepting the food.
“Good boy”, praises NJ, caressing JM’s back. He can feel the younger man shiver at the contact. “Once you have eaten your breakfast, you have to get ready to come with me.”
“We’re going out together?” JM asks excitedly. His smile is so big that his eyes have almost disappeared into happy moon lines.
NJ can’t help but pinch his cheek. “Yes, baby. Wear something cute, mh?”
HS notices NJ first. The alpha is standing in line to get coffee and, as tall and big as he is, it’s always easy for HS to spot him in a crowd.
It has become a habit for HS to watch NJ before he joins him at the table. The alpha is usually on his phone while he waits and HS can appreciate his aesthetically pleasing figure without being noticed.
Today, though, NJ is not alone. A shorter man dressed fashionably is attached at the alpha’s arm and they seem entirely focused on each other.
NJ has mentioned his packmates before, trading little tidbits of information and anecdotes for HS’ own boring daily routine.
Looking at them together now, HS tries to recall what NJ shared and wonders which one the man is.
The guy is tilting his head back to show off his neck at any possible moment and not so subtly keeps scenting NJ’s jacket. For his part, NJ is keeping him close, quick to give him his full attention.
Something turns in HS’ stomach. He’s not sure what’s making him uneasy. Something about the dynamic feels off. But HS is unsure if he’s projecting his own reluctance towards commitment or if what he feels is closer to… jealousy — however shaken that thought may make him feel.
HS is not looking for a romantic or sexual relationship with NJ. He’s not searching for that type of relationship at all at the moment, and for a pack even less than that — which NJ would come with.
But HS has to admit he had been feeling quite lonely since he moved into the city and it’s been more manageable since he met NJ. He likes spending time with the alpha.
HS may not be looking for more than the easy friendship they have developed but it feels good to be under NJ’s attention. He has a way to make HS feel listened to and understood. He makes HS feel… special.
It’s difficult for HS not to be embarrassed by how attached he has grown to that feeling.
HS doesn’t want things to change. He doesn’t like the idea of having to see how attentive NJ may be toward a packmate, someone he shares the most intimate of bonds with.
Not that it matters, reflects HS. It’s not as if NJ will need to spend his coffee break time with HS today, not when he brought one of his packmates along.
HS didn’t notice he was still staring at NJ until he’s met with the alpha’s gaze. He quickly looks away and then scolds himself for it. He has no reason to act awkward now. HS steel himself to look back at NJ just in time to find him and his companion beside his table.
“Hi, HS-ah”, NJ says, voice warm and dimples visible.
“Hello”, replies HS, and smiles at the man next to the alpha to include him in his greeting.
“This is one of my packmates, PJM”, tells him NJ, looking proud.
PJM has lovely features, and a soft voice too, notices HS when he’s greeted politely. HS replies with his own name and then looks back at NJ, who’s already watching back.
“Can we both join you today, HS-ah?”, the alpha asks.
HS is sure the surprise shows on his face but he quickly reassures NJ that yes, of course they can join.
As the two sit down, somehow JM is able to keep a hand firmly around NJ’s bicep the whole time. From up close, HS notices that JM is an omega, even if his sweet scent is almost completely hidden under NJ’s. The alpha must have scented him thoroughly recently.
HS briefly imagines what would be like, to allow an alpha like NJ close to your vulnerable spots and let him touch and mark and claim. What would it be like to be surrounded by NJ’s scent? That scent that is so strong it made HS on edge at first.
NJ’s scent is warm and inviting but with an edge of possible danger attached to it, like burning wood.
“HS-ssi”, JM says, bringing him back to attention. “Alpha told me you are a dance teacher.”
HS takes a second too long to connect the alpha that JM is addressing to NJ. Not many people their age are so formal amongst packmates. HS wonders if NJ is one of those traditional alphas that insists on his packmates to address him by his title.
The thought doesn’t sit well with him.
The problem with HS is that sometimes, when he’s met with something that rattles him, he can’t help but push. “Talking about me with your pack, *Alpha*?”
NJ’s eyes flash with an emotion too quick for HS to decipher but his body tenses up in response. “I do”, he answers, voice lowered into a soft growl.
“We’re just so curious”, JM intervenes, apparently not noticing the heated tension. HS wonders how that’s possible — he can feel it like electricity on his skin.
“Curious?”, asks HS, trying to focus on JM. “Of me?”
“Of course! Alpha doesn’t often mention new people…” JM trails off, looking lost in thoughts for a moment. “I actually don’t think he ever—”
“I don’t make friends easily”, NJ intervenes, looking embarrassed.
HS wouldn’t have guessed so and the newfound knowledge makes him think like he’s not alone in valuing his friendship with NJ. The sense of relief he feels in that moment is like a rush of adrenaline.
JM, who was nodding his head towards NJ, turns to look at HS, smile back in place. “When Alpha told us he made a new friend we just couldn’t stop asking questions!”
“JM-ie has been very eager to meet you, HS-ah”, says NJ. “He used to dance professionally as well.”
"Ah, yes… I have a bad knee", JM answers. His smile remains in place but HS has the impression that they touched a sensitive subject. "But I still dance for fun sometimes!”, he adds. “Just yesterday YG hyung insisted that me and SJ hyung played ‘Just Dance’ with him!”
He smiles towards HS and stage-whisper, “YG hyung worries that me and SJ don’t get enough exercise…”
“Aww and I missed you three dancing?” NJ asks, pouting.
‘He pouts!’, marvels HS.
JM wiggles his eyebrows at NJ. “You want to see me dance, Alpha?”
“I want to see you always”, replies NJ wiggling his eyebrows back.
HS can’t help but compare the way NJ interacts with his packmate with the way the alpha is with him.
The NJ he got to know is attentive, a little awkward, and takes HS seriously, no matter what they’re talking about. This NJ is confident, flirty and easily affectionate. HS wonders how NJ was with JM before they mated.
What sides of NJ has HS been privy to that others don’t already know?
Clearly enjoying NJ’s cheesy line, JM throws his head back in a loud laugh, leaving his mating bite exposed for the world to see. Some bite scars are cleaner than others but JM’s is… messy.
It’s clear the omega wasn’t keeping still when the bite was given to him.
Before he can reign in his thoughts, HS pictures JM twisting and turning under NJ’s, the alpha pinning him down with his bigger body, muscles bulging, skin glistening with sweat, naked —
HS forces himself to tear his eyes away from JM’s neck. He can only hope his scent didn’t betray him.
Cautiously, HS glances at NJ. The alpha is staring right at him, pupils dilated. HS quickly looks away. Not such luck, then. At least NJ is too polite to mention any—
“You smell so good, HS-ssi”, JM exclaims right at that moment. He's straining himself to lean towards HS as much as the table between them permits him. His pupils are dilated too. He takes a big breath in.
HS is too mortified to reply. People aren’t usually so forward. Mentioning other people’s scent is something only kids do until they learn what’s polite to point out and what not.
“JM-ah, behave!” NJ grabs his packmate by the nape, pulling him back on his chair. JM immediately relaxed his weight against the alpha, gaze unfocused. “Apologize.”
HS never heard NJ using such an authoritative tone. The Alpha voice touches something deep inside HS, something wild and untamed that has just perked its ears in attention. HS feels unsettled by it. He doesn’t like it. If it had been him that NJ was using that voice on...
If it had been him—
But, clearly, JM is not HS. He can’t look away as the omega bares his neck, first at NJ and then… at *HS*! No one has bared his neck for HS since he was a pup play-fighting with other kids.
“Sorry, beta”, JM murmurs, voice sweet and low.
HS' mouth falls open. JM is addressing by his subgender like it's a title, like… like HS is *his* beta.
HS isn't sure if this is just the way JM is — naturally submissive and malleable — but this isn’t appropriate.
He looks at NJ, sure that he won’t appreciate his omega addressing someone outside of his pack so intimately, but the alpha doesn’t seem to have noticed the slip, busy as he is trying to calm JM down.
HS should probably pretend he didn’t hear it either, at least for now. He doesn’t want to make a big deal of something that may just have been a slip of the tongue.
After the first shock at being addressed as someone’s beta dies down, HS is confronted with a new uncomfortable fact.
His wolf liked it.
NJ knows that meeting JM has left HS unsettled. Overall, NJ thinks that things were going well until JM pointed out the way HS’s scent changed.
NJ had been surprised too. HS had smelled like desire, like he had wanted either one or both of them. NJ had barely been able to keep his alpha in check — his wolf had pushed to take what HS’s scent was promising right there and then.
So, NJ can hardly fault his omega, even if he hadn’t been pleased at the moment. But it’s not new information that JM’s wolf has been closer to the surface ever since he was taught to accept his place in the pack. NJ has been prepared to handle some kind of faux pas.
When he joins HS at their table that day, NJ wears an apologetic expression. He hands the beta the pastry he bought as he sits down.
There’s a tense edge to HS’s smile when he greets NJ. “Another gift from your admirer?”
“Ah, no…” NJ rubs a hand on his neck, smiling shyly. “This one is on me, as an apology.”
“What do you have to apologize for?” HS’s tone is even but his expression is still reserved. Sounds like a test. Good thing that NJ never failed one.
NJ purposefully looks into HS’s eyes as he speaks. “We made you uncomfortable, JM and I.”
“Ah, NJ-ah…” HS is the first one to break eye contact. His shoulders sag, part of the tension bleeding away. “Thank you. You’re very thoughtful”, he says, accepting the pastry.
That’s a first step but NJ wants for HS to share his thoughts with him. “Are things awkward between us, now?”
HS seems surprised by NJ’s direct question and shrugs, picking at the pastry instead of meeting NJ’s eyes. “It was a… weird moment.” He ends up saying.
NJ knows that there’s more that HS could share and lets the silence stretch, waiting for HS to feel uncomfortable enough with it to fill it himself.
Finally, HS caves. “I’m wondering…What about you?”
Now, this is a surprise. “Me?”
“Was it uncomfortable for you?” HS asks and this time he looks at NJ, as to wanting to read him.
What does HS want to hear, he wonders. What answer will pacify the beta enough to feel at ease with NJ once again?
“What do you mean, HS-ah?”
“Ah…”, HS forces out a laugh, self conscious, hands flying around as if to cancel his question altogether. “Never mind, I shouldn’t have—”
“HS-ah.” NJ grabs his hands, surprising the beta into stillness. “Be honest with me. Please.”
HS takes a moment but then says, hesitantly, “your packmate… seemed very affected by ah.. my scent.”
“Yes. Are you worried about what happened? The way our scents flare up is not something we can control, HS-ah. I would never fault your wolf for…” NJ can feel his voice lower. “...expressing themselves and their desires.”
“Ah, no, that— that’s. Ok to know but. Not what I was referring to.” HS turns his head, as if he wants to hide from this topic.
“My apologies. What was it then?”
HS bites his lip. “Just— It didn’t bother you? That it was such an— Ah… intimate moment.”
HS looks at NJ like he’s searching for something. “Have you… heard? What JM called me?”
Ah. They’re getting closer to what the problem is. “He called you beta.”
HS nods his head. “So you did hear. I wasn’t sure.”
NJ cocks his head. “Is this what you are worried about? Why do you think I would be uncomfortable?”
HS seems reluctant to say more, but he hasn’t tried to free himself from NJ’s grasp so the alpha decides to push for more. He moves his hands to HS’s wrists, slowly massaging the scent glands there. The beta’s scents intensify and NJ breathes it in greedily.
HS smells as good as always but his uncertainty leaves a distinct aftertaste in the alpha’s mouth.
“NJ-ah!” HS exclaims. He makes an attempt to free his wrists from NJ’s grasp but it’s fleebile and unconvincing so the alpha holds on. “That’s a dirty trick!”
“I’m sorry”, NJ appeases him. “I just want to know what you’re thinking about.”
HS tries to suppress a pleased smile but does a poor job of it. Good. “Ah, NJ-ah…”
“So, do you want to tell me?” NJ tries to coax him again.
“I just thought… that maybe you would be jealous. Of your packmate addressing me like that. Since I’m not— I’m an outsider.”
NJ’s wolf growls, rebelling against the idea that the beta doesn’t belong to them. But NJ knows he has to tread carefully. They can’t afford to move to reveal their cards too quickly and scare the beta away.
“We’re friends, aren’t we?” NJ settles on, caressing HS’s wrists, this time to soothe. “My alpha isn’t jealous of you. He likes you.”
For such a self assured beta, HS sure has the sweetest scent when he feels timid and pleasantry embarrassed. NJ can’t wait to find all the ways he can have him smell like that again and again.
“Is this why you’re touching me so much today?” HS asks, his smile both endeared and flirtatious. “Because your wolf likes me so much?”
NJ’s grip tightens, just for a moment. “Yes. My wolf likes you a lot, HS-ah.”
HS’s scent spikes. This close, NJ can sense his conflicting emotions, like a part of the beta is purring in contentment and the other half is trembling with anxiety. “But, just as friends, right? Because I’m not looking for a mate. Or a pack.”
“Of course. Just friends”, NJ says, even as his wolf is screaming *mine, mine, mine*. “I like having a friend outside of my pack. It’s easy to talk to you, HS-ah. And with us being the same age I feel like I can be really open. No formalities between us, you know?”
He rubs on the beta’s scent glands again, slower this time. A little too intimate for a scenting between friends but NJ is pretty sure he can push it just a bit.
And he’s proven right when HS relaxes, his scent turning calm and sweet once more. “I’m glad. I— my wolf likes you too, NJ-ah. And it usually doesn’t really care for people.”
*It*, that’s how HS calls his wolf. Sounds like the beta isn’t close to that intimate part of himself. Well. NJ can turn that to his advantage.
When HS arrives at the museum, NJ is already there. Him and his younger packmates.
HS feels a bit nervous about today’s outing. He almost chickened out and texted NJ to call it off.
When NJ had explained to him that they may see each other less since the alpha finally finished that project at work that was making him work extra hours and giving him the excuse to visit the coffee show every day, HS had been disappointed.
NJ had told him that usually he spent as much of the weekend with his pack as possible — Sunday in particular as a day dedicated to them.
HS had said he understood even if inside he had already been feeling the loss of all the time he had been spending with NJ lately.
It had been then that NJ had proposed to exchange numbers and hang out sometimes outside of the familiarity of their usual coffee place.
HS had accepted, surprised but pleased that NJ seemed as eager as him to keep in contact.
That Saturday, NJ had been planning to visit a museum that had a temporary exhibition on performative dance. The alpha had mentioned how that made him think of HS, so he had invited the beta.
HS usually spent the weekend in the practice room or at home watching tv. He still didn’t really had the time to make more friends to hang out with. And he felt like he needed an excuse to get out of his routine.
So HS had accepted the invitation, flattered that NJ had been thinking of sharing his hobby with him in a way that could be fun for HS too.
NJ had told him that usually he took himself to these museum dates alone because his pack preferred to spend their leisure time at home.
So HS had been expecting a solo outing with NJ.
But the previous night, NJ had texted him saying that the “pups”, as he usually referred to the younger members of his pack, had whined about wanting to spend time with their Pack Alpha.
It had been enough for HS to almost call their plans off but NJ had added that his younger packmates had expressed a desire to meet HS as well.
After the way that time with JM had ended, HS had been feeling a bit hesitant to accept.
He was worried that things may be awkward with the omega.
But, this was NJ’s pack. If HS wanted for them to be friends, he couldn’t avoid his packmates forever, he guessed.
So, here he is. At the museum, looking at NJ and the trio of young men that were surrounding him.
As he gets closer, HS can better see them. He's somehow surprised to notice that, out of office hours, NJ seems to prefer wearing earth toned cozy clothes. Close at his side, JM looks as lovely as the beta remembered.
The other two “pups” are taller and bigger than HS has been expecting by the way NJ referred to them. Especially once HS gets a whiff of their scents and realizes they’re both alphas.
“HS-ah”, NJ greets him. “So glad you could make it.”
“Glad to be here”, HS says, smiling at the whole group. “Good to see you again, JM-ssi. And nice to meet you both”, he adds towards the “pups”.
One of the two young alphas gets closer and grabs HS’s hand between both of his, shaking it with enthusiasm.
“HS-ssi! I’ve been so excited to meet you!”
He has stunning features and his scent is strong enough to make HS almost dizzy for a moment. He feels a bit out of his depth. “Um…”
“TH-ah”, NJ chastises him, grabbing the younger alpha by his nape and pulling him back from HS. “Don’t overwhelm him.”
TH’s face falls and the puppy eyes he turns on NJ would have melted all of HS’s resolve to further discipline the pup.
The Pack Alpha, though, adds, “we talked about this.”
TH pouts but nods. “Yes, Alpha.” He turns to HS again. “Sorry, HS-ssi. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” His smile is big and boxy and he’s still keeping HS’s hand between his.
HS is equal part puzzled and fascinated. “No worries.”
One of TH’s hands leaves HS’s to reach behind himself. “JK-ah, come say hi!” he says to the last “pup” of the group. To HS, he says, “JK-ie is shy. He probably won’t be able to talk to you until he gets to know you better.”
“That’s not true, I’m not like that anymore!” The JK-ie in question protests and then, as to prove his packmate wrong, he turns to face HS. “Pleasure to meet you, HS-ssi. I’m JJK.”
Apparently having consumed all of his bravado with this one social interaction, JK blushes and hides himself behind NJ.
HS smiles, endeared. “The pleasure is mine, JK-ssi.”
Surprisingly, HS can feel stir up an old beta instinct he thought he had managed to control — the instinct to take care of the people around him, especially the younger ones. He can barely contain his impulse to coo at the baby alpha.
NJ’s packmates don’t have the same qualms and quickly coo and aww towards JK, TH letting go of HS’s hand to pet JK’s hair while JM tickles him under his chin. JK submits easily to their attention.
When he looks towards the pack alpha, NJ is looking pleased at the trio and then turns towards HS, as to include him in the moment.
“Let’s go, pups”, NJ says, still looking at HS.
As the young ones all quickly follow their Alpha, HS feels a pull, deep inside of him.
His wolf wants to follow this alpha too.
Wandering through museums has never been HS’s favorite activity. He likes art as much as the next person but his understanding of it is limited.
Visiting a museum with NJ is something else altogether.
For once, the alpha knows more about the exhibitions than HS could ever have guessed — almost like he studied them ahead of time, the beta thinks, amused — and he’s passionate and quick to involve both HS and the pups by sharing his knowledge with them all.
HS is surprised to notice he’s having fun. The pups are often on top of each other, quick to rough play but just as quick to settle down with only a pointed glance from their pack alpha.
They’re also very affectionate, both with each other and NJ.
The young ones are always touching each other or their alpha in some way, exchanging scents easily and often.
To his surprise, they try to involve HS in their shenanigans. TH reaches for his hand more often than not, dragging the beta to his favorite pieces of art.
True to TH’s prediction, JK has mostly shied away from conversing with HS. But the young alpha has been trailing behind him, almost shielding the beta from the rest of the people around.
HS isn’t sure of it but he could swear that JK has been trying to smell him, almost putting his nose in HS’s hair at one point.
He can feel his wolf preen subtly at the attention. HS is a bit confused by how much more he seems to be aware of his subgender instincts lately.
HS looks around for NJ, a bit scandalized by that last interaction and his wolf’s response to it, but the pack alpha is busy in a conversation with TH, both of them looking focused on the exposed art piece in front of them.
He’s saved by JM. The omega grabs JK’s by his nape, dragging him away from HS. “Let him breathe, pup!”
“Ah, sorry, hyung”, JK replies, hiding behind his packmate’s back once again. From there, he peeks at HS from under his lashes. “Sorry, HS-ssi. You… smell very good.”
It’s not the first time that this pack has mentioned HS’s scent to his face and HS is starting to think they just may not have the best social manners.
“JK-ie is sensitive to scents”, JM says. “He usually has to be close enough to scent one of us when we leave the den so he’s not overwhelmed.”
“Your scent is very calming. I think it’s helping him in a similar way. Am I right, JK-ah?”
JK, his face hidden in JM’s neck, nods and mumbles something that sounds like an agreement.
“Well. I’m glad my, ah, scent is not overwhelming for you, JK-ssi”, HS settles on.
JM cocks his head to the side. “Are we making you uncomfortable again, HS-ssi?”
HS is startled by the forwardness of the question. “Um…”
“Oh, I— I’m sorry, HS-ssi, I didn’t mean to”, JK says, his eyes big and watery. His scent starting to turn upset.
Oh dear. The last thing HS wants is having to explain to NJ why he made one of his pups cry.
Speaking of, NJ is getting to them in quick strides, TH fast at his heels, probably attracted by JK’s scent.
HS feels like this is the moment he should start panicking but from deep within, a steady presence guided by instincts that he usually ignores, knows what to do.
HS doesn’t *feel* his scent change but he notices the effects on both JK and JM, who are close to him. The two focus their attention on the beta, pupil dilated, their body relaxed and breathing slow and deep.
“Everything’s fine”, HS says. “No need to panic over this, mh?”
JK nods, his scenting turning mellow once again.
“What’s happening?” NJ asks as he arrives, hands reaching for JK. “Are you okay, pup?”
JK goes easily between the other alpha’s arms, nodding.
NJ inhales deeply and he immediately zeros in on HS, nostrils flaring. “Beta.”
HS swallows down the urge to reply to the alpha with his title, like one of his packmates. He tries to push down his wolf but it proves difficult, like now that it has tasted freedom it’s hard to give control back to its human part.
“HS-ah”, NJ says, snapping the beta back to attention. “What’s going on?”
HS shakes his head, unsure what to say.
In the brief silence that follows, JK is the one to answer. “I made HS uncomfortable.”
His voice is slurred, like he’s still under the effects of HS’s calming pheromones.
NJ pets the pup’s nape, shushing him. He still looks at HS expectantly. “Did he?”
HS, feeling put on the spot, quickly shakes his head. “Nothing happened, really.”
NJ, not looking convinced, turns to the other person present. “JM-ah?”
“JK-ie was close enough to scent him”, explains the omega.
“Ah… Were you overwhelmed, baby?” NJ asks the young alpha in his arms, voice tender. “You should have told me.”
JK sniffs. “I didn’t realize… HS-ssi’s scent was enough to keep me from noticing all the people around.”
HS feels his face flush at that. His wolf is way too happy to hear that and he knows his scent must have gave that away when NJ’s gaze finds his.
“Mm. I understand, baby”, NJ says
JK sniffs some more. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, pup. Did you apologize to HS?” JK nods. “Good.” To HS, he asks, “do you accept his apologies, HS-ah?”
The people around are looking at them curiously and HS only wishes to go back to not being the center of attention. He nods at NJ. “Yeah… no need for it, really.”
NJ nods back. “All settled now, uh? My good boys.”
HS’s guts clench. Still close to the surface, his wolf stirs with interest. HS quiets it down. No need to take NJ’s comment like the beta is included in that ‘good boys’.
“Good for Alpha”, JK agrees, having no qualms about reclaiming the praise. His face is hidden against NJ’s neck, looking like he’s inhaling big gulps of the alpha’s scent.
TH gets closer to the other alphas, almost covering JK’s body with his own. “Aww, pup… Always wants to be good for his packmates, uh?”
JK nods, trembling between the two alphas.
“TH-ah, don’t work him up now”, NJ warns him.
“Aww, but he’s so cute when he’s needy…”, sing songs TH.
“TH-ah.” NJ’s tone is firm. “I mean it.”
“They’re always like this”, JM shares with HS in a stage whisper. “TH likes to push, and he likes to be put back in his place.”
“Ah, um…” HS fumbles with what to say. He can only hope his scent doesn’t betray the sudden interest he felt at that image.
“Oh!” JM exclaims. “Shouldn’t I have said that?”
“Well. This is the second time we’ve met each other”, HS can't help but point out.
JM blinks up at him. “Yes?”
HS blinks back. Do city people just have less boundaries and hangups with what is and what isn’t appropriate to discuss with nearly strangers?
“I guess I’m just not used to people speaking so openly in front of me.”
“Alpha said you’re safe”, JM shares. “I guess we’re just being more open than we usually are.”
“Do you feel safe, HS-ssi?", asks the omega, his voice as sweet and intoxicating as his scent. "With us?”
Lil poll for you now my darlings... What do you think HS should answer to JM's question??
(If the poll time ends before the next update but you have an opinion pls qt this tweet w/ur answer !! :)) Ty )
HS doesn’t know if he’ll get to a point where he’ll have known JM for a long enough time not to be shocked by his forwardness. Today is not that day.
"JM-ssi…” HS doesn’t even know where to start.
He’s painfully aware of how close the alphas are still, and how they could turn their attention to him and the omega at any moment. HS keeps his voice low when he says, “that’s a complicated question."
JM cocks his head, looking like he’s the one surprised now. "Is it?"
“How could it not?” HS replies. “Trust is… it’s not something that comes easy for me.”
“Oh.” JM seems to consider that. “I never thought about it that way. Trust is easy. Like what one does with their instincts, you know?”
“Um, I’m not sure?”
“Like trusting your wolf!” exclaims JM, smiling. “You know when you feel them? Here?” he asks, putting a hand on HS’s torso.
HS hasn’t been touched with this type of easy familiarity in a long, long time. He can feel JM’s warmth through his clothes.
He feels incredibly aware of his own skin, tingling underneath the layers separating him from JM’s touch. HS simultaneously wishes JM would take away his hand and that he would never let go.
“Can you feel it?” JM asks. “Your wolf?”
HS’s wolf is soaring in his chest at being acknowledged by one of the most mesmerizing omegas it ever met. It’s clawing at HS’s chest like it wants to be let out, take HS’s place and show the omega it’s worthy of his attention.
HS shakes his head, throat clogged with unease. Why is his wolf so present lately? Why does it react so strongly with this pack?
JM looks at him intently. “No? Your wolf doesn’t speak to you?”
HS shrugs. “Sometimes”, he chokes out.
“What does your wolf think about us, then?” JM asks.
HS takes in a ragged breath. He can’t look away from JM’s eyes. HS is usually reserved when it comes to talking about his wolf side but he can’t even think of lying to the omega in front of him. “It trusts you. My wolf.”
JM’s smile is big and joyous. He’s still touching HS. “That makes me happy.”
HS is sure that his wolf would do pretty much anything to make this omega happy. The thought is terrifying.
Perhaps sensing HS’s distress, JM rubs his chest, as to comfort him. “And what about you, HS hyung?”
*Hyung!* HS gasps at the intimate addressing. “JM-ssi…!”
“Tell me”, JM demands and adds, “hyung.” As a challenge. He’s looking straight into HS’s eyes.
HS really can’t deny him anything at this moment. “JM-ssi”, he starts but corrects himself when JM squints his eyes, his nails digging into HS’s chest briefly. A warning. “JM-ah.”
JM nods. “Speak freely, hyung. I want to know.”
"I… I’m not sure”, he says. “Part of me… really wants to— Wants to trust you. But…”
“But?" presses JM.
HS looks quickly towards the alphas, checking that they’re still not paying attention to this conversation. The three seem to still be focused on each other, so the beta whispers, “I’m scared.”
HS swallows. "Of getting too close."
"Isn't that a good thing? Being close to someone?" JM takes a step forward. His hand is now trapped between their bodies.
With this little distance between them, HS can smell JM’s sweet, flowery scent, even under the layers of scenting from the rest of his pack.
"Not always”, HS replies.
HS shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter.”
JM’s eyes are intense and focused entirely on him. HS shuts his own close.
JM’s smell gets stronger. It’s all that HS can notice now.
HS shakes his head again but this time is to keep the memories at bay as he says, "like when you are bitten and bonded to someone and can't get away, no matter if you want to or not."
JM doesn’t answer but his scent turns bitter. HS opens his eyes to the omega’s shocked and distraught expression.
“JM-ah! I didn’t mean—” HS feels so stupid. Why did he say that? He knows how something like that can be misunderstood by someone who’s happily mated with a doting pack. This is exactly why HS is so careful with sharing parts of himself with others.
“I’m sorry! This wasn’t referred to you at all! It’s just— it’s just me! It’s a me problem!”
JM opens his mouth as if to say something but two arms appear to hug him from behind. It’s NJ, who’s scenting the omega.
TH and JK are at his side, so close to the pack alpha that they move like a three person creature.
“You smell upset, baby”, NJ murmurs to the omega.
HS answers before JM can. “It’s my fault. I said something insensitive.”
When NJ’s intense stare turns on him, HS can only lower his eyes. He feels like a disappointment. He already upset two of NJ’s packamates today. And people say betas are meant to bring peace into any group they are with. What a joke!
HS’s attention is called back by a distressed whine. The beta’s eyes snap to JK, who’s scratching his nose. ‘Oh, right’, thinks HS, ‘sensitive nose’. His scenting has probably been reflecting his sour train of thought.
“I’m sorry”, HS says. “I think I’ve caused enough problems for today. I should go home.”
“No!” TH exclaims. “We like having you around!”
HS tries to sum up a smile for the alpha pup. “Thank you. But I still think I should go.”
“HS-ah”, NJ say. “I don’t think you should be alone right now. You smell upset too.”
HS looks away. People are giving them space but some are still looking their way with curious expressions. “I— I don’t want to stay here anymore. There are too many people around.”
“I’ll take you to a safer place, HS-ah.” NJ says, sounding as if he’s promising the beta more than to just take him away from this museum. “All of you pups.”
“Come back to the den with us!” TH exclaims.
HS is too stunned to speak. Packs don’t usually invite people to their den, unless they’re family or very close friends. HS looks at NJ to gauge his reaction.
The alpha doesn’t seem upset at TH’s suggestion. If anything, he looks pleased. “I think that’s a good idea. SJ and YG hyung would love to meet you. And the pups want you to. Don’t you, boys?”
Both TH and JK enthusiastically nods their heads, pleading their case.
HS opens his mouth, fumbling with what his answer should be.
Right then, he feels JM’s hand grip his clothes. HS covers it with his. When he focuses on the omega, JM is already looking back at him.
“Come”, JM says. “Please.”
Another lil poll for you! :3
Should HS accept the pack's invitation?
(If the poll time ends before the next update but you have an opinion pls qt this tweet w/ur answer !! :)) Ty )
On the way to the pack’s place, everyone is sticking close to each other.
NJ is herding them all, constantly counting heads and touching elbows and the small of their back to nudge them in the right direction.
JM is tucked close between the pack alpha and HS, of whom he hasn’t let go of yet.
TH and JK are in the front clutching to each other and looking back to the rest of them every few minutes to check that they’re following.
HS feels his own instincts to keep close and stay alert for potential threats begin to stir. It’s a bit ridiculous — they’re traveling through public transportation and not in the middle of the woods after all — but his wolf won’t settle.
Drained from the highs and lows of the day so far, HS allows himself to keep an eye out for the “pups” and to follow NJ’s lead.
HS is surprised to find out that the pack’s apartment is in the wealthier part of the city. The building has high security and a reception.
Thanks to the key in NJ’s hands, the elevator takes them to the last floor and opens directly into an open space loft.
Exposed to sight there’s a big kitchen, a dining table, a long sofa with a wide tv screen propped on the wall, and, last but not least, a nest.
Everything around him would be enough to overwhelm him but HS can’t look away from the nest.
It’s a built in space, sunken into the floor and padded with what looks like the softest materials, pillows and blankets carefully arranged.
HS never saw anything like it and not only because people usually can’t afford such a display.
Nesting is such an intimate thing that the majority of omegas wouldn’t allow anyone but their closest packmates or family members to see them in it.
Before he can reign in his thoughts,
HS imagines JM sleeping peacefully in the nest, safe, trusting his pack to keep watch.
Something deep inside of him aches but HS pushes it down, looking away from that side of the room.
“Welcome!” exclaims a warm voice.
It belongs to a tall man with broad shoulders and a face that belongs in a kdrama. An omega.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m KSJ but please call me hyung”, SJ says with a blinding smile. “Every friend of NJ is a friend of mine.”
“Um, hello”, HS says, smiling back.
“YG-chi, come here to say hi”, SJ calls behind his shoulders before the pups surround him to scent him in greeting, properly distracting him.
“Doing okay?” NJ asks from beside him. His eyes are focused on HS’s.
“Way better now, thank you.”
“Good.” HS feels the alpha’s hand coming up to pat him on the back in a reassuring way. “It’s a pleasure to have you here, HS-ah.”
HS looks down, trying to hide his pleased smile. “Thank you for inviting me, NJ-ah.”
NJ’s hand moves up and down on his back, a slow caress. “It makes me happy to have you around.”
Something warm curls up in HS’s chest but before he can reply, a new voice says, “am I interrupting?”
That warm sensation immediately turns into scorching hot embarrassment when he meets the unimpressed stare of the last one of NJ’s packmates. Another omega.
HS shakes his head and makes an attempt at putting some distance between him and NJ but the alpha’s hand settles firmly on his waist, keeping him put.
“Hyung”, NJ says, his voice even but with an edge to it. A warning?
“Won’t you introduce me to your last minute guest?”
His tone is mild but the words make HS flinch. He tries again to move away from NJ — and the omega — but the alpha has a grip of steel.
“Hyung, meet JHS”, NJ says “HS, this is MYG. And he knew you would come.”
“Yes, you gave me all of thirty minutes of forewarning”, YG replies, rolling his eyes. “Thanks.”
NJ motions for the omega to get closer, which he does, however off put he looks.
He’s now near enough that HS can smell his soft, delicate scent. It compliments NJ’s strong one surprisingly well.
“I’ve missed you, hyung”, the alpha says, grabbing his packmate by the nape. NJ’s thumb is pressing against his scent gland. “Didn’t you miss me too?”
YG maintains an annoyed frown but he shudders, clearly affected by his alpha’s touch. “I guess.”
NJ kisses him, right in front of HS. The beta freezes, unable to look away.
It’s a brief kiss, more of a firm peck than anything else. The omega’s body relaxes against his alpha.
“Have you finished embarrassing our guest?” SJ says, popping up besides the trio.
YG rolls his eyes. “You just came here to claim a kiss for your own.”
“I did not!” he protests. His ears are burning red.
NJ laughs and finally lets go of HS, using that hand to grab SJ and draw him closer. He kisses him too and whispers something to him that HS doesn’t catch but makes SJ look timid and pleased.
YG is watching the two too, a soft look on his face — until he notices HS looking his way and then his expression fades back to neutral again.
“Are you hungry?”
It takes HS a moment to register that SJ’s question is pointed at him.
“Oh, um. I don’t want to impose…”
“Nonsense!” SJ exclaims, taking HS arm in arm and guiding him further inside the apartment. “Me and YG have been preparing some snacks! The pups are always hungry.” He places HS at the table. “Just give us a minute to bring everything out. Pups, come help me!”
HS is left looking at SJ and YG moving in the kitchen while the younger packmates bring out the drinks.
Bringing the glasses, NJ asks, “something to drink?”
“Ah, yes, thank you, NJ-ah.”
“It's your favorite”, the alphas says as he pours him a soda and hands it to him.
HS laughs, surprised that NJ would remember such a random passing mention of his. “Thanks.”
“Hyung— ah, HS-ssi, sorry”, TH says.
HS smiles. “Hyung is fine, TH-ah.”
“Ah, hyung, then!” says TH, returning the smile.
“Hyung, you’ll love what YG and SJ hyung prepared for you! They’re amazing cooks!”
“You don’t have any allergies, right?” SJ asks. “Alp—NJ-ah said you didn’t.”
“If there’s anything that you don’t want to eat, please feel free to leave it”, YG says, sitting down in front of HS once everything is on the table. “We won’t be offended.”
“Oh. I’m not a particularly picky eater but thank you, YG-ssi.”
“Alpha”, JM says, appearing between HS and NJ. “I want to sit on your lap.”
HS thinks that a pout like that should be criminalized.
“Wouldn’t you prefer to sit on a chair, like a big boy?” NJ jokes, even as he pats his leg, gesturing for the omega to sit on it.
“No, I want to be close to you and HS hyung.”
“Then I’ll sit on HS hyung’s other side”, TH exclaims, doing so.
That leaves JK standing and pouting. It may be too cute for HS to handle.
“You are both calling him hyung now!” he whines.
HS can’t help but laugh. “You can call me hyung too, JK-ah.”
“HS hyung!” JK looks pleased for a moment but then frowns again.
“Um, do you want to sit besides TH?” HS tries to guess.
“No!” JK exclaims and then immediately burns bright red, refusing to look at the beta or saying anything else.
SJ laughs. “Oh, poor puppy. Come sit in between me and YG”, he urges. “Or are we not enough for you anymore, uh? All of our pups want to sit next to their new hyung…
Have we lost our novelty already?”
“Hyung, stop!” JK whines but sits down as instructed. He immediately starts putting food on his plate.
“Well, please, everyone grab something to eat as well before our sweet JK-ie will finish everything on the table.”
“You better eat something too, JM-ah, even if I’m not feeding you every bite”, YG says, pointing his chopsticks towards the younger omega.
JM, his face hidden against the alpha’s neck, replies, “Alpha will feed me.”
“Oh, is that how it’s going to be?”, says NJ, starting to fill his plate with enough food for two people.
JM looks worn out, vulnerable. HS is taken over by the need to take care of him in some way.
“Um, do you want something to drink too, JM-ah?”, HS asks. “Some water?”
JM blinks his eyes open and nods. The way he looks at HS makes the beta’s blood pound in his ears.
When HS hands him a glass filled with water, the omega makes no attempt to grab it.
“Want beta to feed it to me”, he says.
HS feels light headed.
“JM-ah, don’t be a brat”, YG says. His voice is more tense than HS has heard it yet.
JM is still looking straight at HS. He tilts his head, opening his mouth. He makes no attempt to grab the glass.
Barely breathing, HS brings the glass to the omega’s lips, helping him drink sip by sip. When the glass is empty, he takes it away.
JM licks his lips. “Again.”
HS is already reaching for the water bottle before NJ says, “are you really thirsty or are you just enjoying HS’s attentions, JM-ah?”
JM shrugs. “Both?”
NJ passes him his own glass. “Drink this, baby.”
JM pouts but does as he’s told.
“HS hyung, tell us how you and NJ met!” TH demands.
“Um, I thought that NJ-ie told you already”, he replies.
“He only told us that you met at a coffee shop”, the young alpha says. “How is that telling a story! Where’s the drama, where are all the details!”
HS laugh. “So every story needs drama to entertain you?”
“Well, there’s not really any dra— oh wait! Maybe there *is* a little drama in mine and NJ’s first meeting I can tell you about.”
“Oooh”, TH exclaims. “Do tell.” He leans in — as does JK, HS notices.
“Is this gonna be embarrassing for me?”, NJ jokes.
“Not at all! Unless being something akin to a knight in shining armor is embarrassing in your opinion”, HS jokes back.
JK gasps, his eyes shining bright. “What happened?”
“I may be making it into a bigger deal than it is”, HS warns. “But NJ did interrupt a random guy that wasn’t taking no for an answer and made him walk away.”
JK looks at his alpha like he could command the sea to open for him and it would listen. “Oh, wow.”
“It was nothing”, NJ dismisses it. “HS had everything under control, as he made sure to tell me himself”, he adds, with a dimpled smile towards the beta.
HS smiles back, pleased and a little embarrassed. “Well, it was still appreciated. Even if I may not have shown it at the time.”
“Hey, I get it. There are weird people out there. A beta like you has to be careful.” NJ shrugs.
What’s that supposed to mean, wonders HS.
Before he can even think to ask for any clarification, JM tugs on the beta’s sleeve.
“Hyung.” He looks worried. “Did the guy come back?”
HS blinks, surprised. “Um. No? No, I don’t think I saw him again at the coffee shop.”
“Are you sure?” JM insists.
JM nods, but looks lost in thoughts.
“Why? Is something wrong, JM-ah?”
“I… I had a similar experience but. The guy kept coming back. Again and again.”
“A stalker”, NJ clarifies when HS looks at him for answers. He caresses JM’s head, pushing the omega towards his neck.
JM latches on the alpha’s scent gland immediately. NJ only hums in approval. “But I took care of it. He will never bother you again, baby.”
“That’s awful”, HS says.
“We’re lucky that Alpha arrived at the right place at the right time and that JM is with us now”, SJ says.
“And he’s safe.”
“JM-ah, take my hand”, TH demands, stretching his arm towards the omega. JM does the same and grabs his hand. Now they’re holding hands right in front of HS’s plate. “I love you.”
“Speaking of times in which Alpha was our hero”, SJ exclaims in a humorous tone, clearly attempting to lighten up the atmosphere. “The first time I met him he saved me from one of the most boring nights of my life!”
“Which one was actually the most boring ever? I’m sure you had plenty before”, YG jokes.
“For the purpose of this dramatic retelling, my dear YG-chi, the one I’m referring to will be *the* most boring night in my entire life!” SJ replies with flair.
HS giggles and he can hear everyone else laughing too, even JM.
“It was a very, very boring work event organized by my dad’s workplace and of course my presence, as the CEO’s only son, was obligatory”, SJ says, looking at everyone around the table.
“I had been dragged over to these dinners all through my childhood so I very well knew what was expected of me, as my father was parading me around.” For a moment, SJ’s smile turns bitter but it’s gone in the blink of an eye.
“And then, as I was left alone to entertain the oldest and most boring of my dad’s investors, *he* arrived! A ray of light, a breath of fresh air, my very own prince charming!”
“Aw, hyung, that’s too much”, NJ protests.
“And then what happened?” JK asks, completely enchanted.
“You have listened to this story a thousand times”, YG tells him but he’s smiling.
“What happened was that NJ came out of nowhere and swept me off my feet, of course.”
“A recurring theme…” YG mumbles.
“I was completely enamored by the end of the night and ready to run away with him!”
“So romantic”, JK sighs.
“My dad wasn’t very happy… but he got over it!” SJ continues.
“Especially now that NJ followed in his footsteps. I would have made for a terrible CEO… but our Alpha is more than capable to rise to the challenge.”
This isn’t something that HS knew. He’s been led to believe NJ just worked in some company as an underling. Or did he just miss something NJ may have shared?
“And that brought us you, our sweet alpha pup”, SJ says, petting JK’s hair.
“Ah, hyung”, JK says, blushing. To HS, he clarifies, “I was looking for a job at the time and Alpha gave me one at the company…”
“Isn’t that just perfect?” SJ exclaims. “Everything worked out just like it was supposed to!”
Out of the corner of his eyes, HS thinks he sees YG rolling his eyes.
“What about you, YG-ssi?” HS asks on an impulse. “How did you and NJ-ah meet?”
YG answers without looking at the beta. “Nothing as fairytale-like, I’m afraid.”
“Hey, now”, protests NJ in a humorous tone. “Don’t make it sound boring.”
“Your story is romantic too!” JK protests.
“We’re childhood friends who triggered each other’s presentation and mated young.” YG meets HS’s stare openly before adding, “we were struggling to make ends meet before we met SJ hyung.”
The omega seems to be expecting HS's reaction, but whatever he’s supposed to have HS is unsure of.
“And I couldn’t be more lucky for you to have found me”, SJ says, reaching towards YG with the hand that was in JK’s hair. “I only feel better knowing my family’s money is now yours too.”
YG doesn’t reply but turns his head to allow the other omega to caress his cheek.
“We wouldn’t be where we are now without contribution from everyone in our pack”, NJ says, kissing the top of JM’s head.
“That’s right”, SJ says, smiling adoringly towards the alpha.
“My contribution is right on this table”, TH jokes, inclining his head towards the composition of flowers in a vase.
“It’s beautiful, TH-ah”, HS says.
“My parents have a flower shop that I worked at”, TH explains. “Alpha was a regular and we hit it off.”
That kind of sounds familiar. NJ seems to have a predisposition for fortuitous first meetings.
HS doesn’t plan to overstay his welcome but when the pups ask him to stay some more to play Just Danc3 with them, he accepts. Their enthusiasm is worth it, especially when JM smiles up to the beta and drags him in front of the tv.
When, after a couple of rounds, he asks for the bathroom, HS is sent to a door that opens on a corridor with multiple rooms. Following directions, it’s pretty easy to find on his own.
What he’s not expecting, when he’s done with the bathroom and opens the door, is to see YG standing in the corridor.
HS is sure that his scream would have been heard all the way down to the first floor if YG wouldn’t have been ready to cover his mouth with both his hands.
“Shhh”, the omega whispers. “I just want to talk to you alone, no need to call everyone in here.”
HS nods his head and, once he’s released, whispers back, “talk about what?”
“About what you’re doing with NJ.”
HS’s cheeks burn hot. “I’m not doing *anything* wit—”
“Keep your voice down!” YG shush him. “You should stop hanging out with him.”
YG frowns. “It won’t end well for you if you don’t.”
HS can’t believe his ears. “Are you *threatening* me?!”
“I’m not—” YG’s face is flushed.
He grabs HS’s by the shirt and brings him closer to him. “Listen to me!”
“What’s going on?” asks a new voice. NJ is behind YG, finally notices HS. He’s been too focused on the omega to hear the alpha coming.
“Nothing!” YG exclaims, immediately putting distance between himself and the beta. “I just wanted to make sure that HS would find his way back.”
“From the bathroom?” NJ asks, eyebrows raised.
HS looks at YG like he’s grown two heads. Is that really what the omega wants to go with? There’s not being good with coming up with an excuse on the spot and then there’s whatever YG is doing.
“Listen”, HS says before anyone else can say something more.
“I’m not sure what’s happening but I have to go now.”
“Already?”, NJ says. “But you haven’t finished the game. The pups will be sad.”
HS pushes past him. “No, I really have to go!”
NJ grabs his wrist, stopping him. “Wait!”
“Let me go, NJ-ah.”
“HS-ah, if you want to go I won’t keep you. But you seem upset. I don’t want you to be alone right now”, the alpha says, getting closer. “I’ll walk you to your place.”
“Well, I want to be alone”, HS replies, tense. “I said, let me go!” He tugs at his wrist for emphasis.
For a moment, the alpha’s grip grows tighter and HS thinks NJ won’t let go.
But a moment later he’s released, the alpha showing his hands in surrender.
“Then go”, NJ says. “You’re free to leave whenever you want, my friend.”
Something in the alpha’s eyes pushes the beta’s instincts to run but he doesn’t give in.
Slowly, HS walks away.
Not an update but if u read so far, I'm curious on where you stand
(This won't influence the ending one way or the other)
What would u like to see happening in the end?
Feel free to qt if u want to back up ur choice w/details :)
Also here's a couple more cw:
- Dubcon/non-con themes (so far only been hinted at but it could come up more explicitly)
- unreliable narrators (we can't always trust what the characters will SAY especially when they talk to HS)
Please take care of yourselves!
NJ watches HS walk away. Once the door closes behind him, he turns to his omega.
YG has been looking at him warily but he drops the stare as soon as he meets NJ’s eyes.
“What did you say to him?”
As if his scent doesn't tell NJ when the omega is lying.
YG always smells guilty on such occasions. NJ never had the same problem.
NJ steps forward, grabbing YG’s chin in his hand and moving the omega to face him. “Why don’t you tell me the truth now, my love?”
YG’s lips tremble. His eyes are shining. He’s always cute when he cries.
“Shhh, no need for tears”, NJ coos. “Just tell Alpha what you did and I’ll make everything okay again, mh?”
YG shakes his head. The denial is still cute but this is not the moment to encourage his omega’s bratty side.
NJ pinches his chin a little stronger.
“Don’t make me ask you again, YG.”
At the drop of honorifics, YG whines. “I just— Just tried to warn him.”
YG nods, looking pitiful.
“Go on, baby.”
“I told him…” YG hiccups. “To stay away from you.”
YG sniffs. “That bad things will happen to him if… if he doesn’t.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk”, NJ tuts. “Is that all?”
YG nods again, pouting sullenly.
NJ cocks his head to the side, studying the omega. “Why are you so against HS joining the pack? You don’t like him?”
YG frowns. “You know it’s not that.”
NJ can already sense a change in attitude. Better to have it out and nip it in the bud then let it fester.
“What is it, then?”
“I don’t want you to hurt anyone else!”
And there it is.
NJ caresses his cheek. “When have I ever hurt you, baby?”
YG glares at him. “What you did to JM—”
NJ feels a pang of irritation. Not this again.
“How many times are you going to throw that in my face? I know I pushed too hard… It won’t happen again.”
“It shouldn’t have happened in the first place”, YG insists. “Locking him alone in that room for so many days—”
“What would your solution have been, uh?” NJ asks back.
“He wanted to leave us! The bond was already formed, it would have hurt all of us! It could have killed *him*!”
NJ can feel the fear and frustration in YG's voice when he replies, “I don't know! But I was the one left with the pieces! I’m the one that put JM back together! Me!”
“And that’s why we work so well together, hyung.” NJ pets his hair. “I break things and you put them back in place.”
“Don’t joke”, YG says, moving away from NJ’s hand. “I still have nightmares about the way that JM was screaming for us.”
YG massages the bite scar on his neck. “Sometimes I can still feel the hurt through the bond.”
NJ covers the omega’s hand with his. “Phantom pain. It’ll go away, hyung.”
“Unlike SJ’s agoraphobia…” YG mutters.
Another old argument.
Looks like he did let some things fester, after all.
“I told you that I won’t force him to see a specialist.” NJ sighs. “Don’t you remember how traumatized he was by his father forcing him to leave the house for all of those work events?”
“That’s different than encouraging him to stay indoors at all times!” YG insists.
“I won’t apologize for wanting my omega to feel safe in his own den, hyung.”
“You just want all of us to be trapped up here!” YG accuses him.
“I want all of you to be safe… But I never prohibited you to go anywhere, hyung. You decided to be a recluse all on your own.” NJ remembers him.
“Because I can’t leave SJ and JM alone like that!”
“Can’t or won’t?” NJ pushes. “It’s unfair to blame your own choices on me.”
YG opens his mouth, as if to retort with something, but then closes it again. He shakes his head. “There’s no use arguing with you, we always talk in circles…”
Finally, the omega is back in a more malleable headspace, notices NJ. It’s the right time to make him see reason.
“That’s why we need a beta to balance us out”, NJ tells him. “HS is perfect for us, hyung. We will all benefit from him joining the pack. My wolf is more settled when he’s near me.”
“Really?” YG asks, and NJ can see the smallest amount of hope in YG’s eyes.
His first mate has always been a helpless romantic.
“Yes. And I know the pups feel it too”, NJ says. YG has a soft heart, he would do anything for them. “Have you seen how clingy they are already? JM-ie especially.”
“JM would do anything for you”, YG says but it’s not as strong a rebuttal as the previous ones.
“This is gonna be for his own good. Don’t you want him to get better?”
“You know I do.”
“I’m telling you, HS is our best bet. Give him a chance”, NJ presses.
“I know you would love him too. Have I ever given you a packmate you didn’t fall in love with?”
When NJ puts his arms around him, YG lets himself be held. “No, you’ve always been good at that.”
NJ kisses his forehead. “Then trust me.”
Not an update but if u read so far, I'm curious on where you stand
(This won't influence the ending one way or the other)
What would u like to see happening in the end?
Feel free to qt if u want to back up ur choice w/details :)
NJ knows he has damage control to do.
He doesn’t want to overwhelm HS after what happened but he also doesn’t want to give the beta enough time to distance himself from him.
So NJ has been texting HS in the past few days, starting with checking in that the beta did arrive at his own apartment safe and sound after rushing out of the den.
HS had taken longer than he usually did to message NJ back but he did respond.
And that has been a pattern with their method of communication since then. NJ is tired of it.
It’s time to stop this kind of behavior.
NJ has tried to corner HS, waiting at their usual coffee shop but to no avail. The beta had not come.
NJ has contemplated the idea of showing up at HS’s workplace or apartment but he’s not supposed to know where those are — as the beta never actually told him — and NJ doesn’t want to show his hand that way, yet.
So he has only watched HS from afar, watched him as the beta left his apartment to go to work and vice versa. Watched as HS went to a different coffee shop during his breaks.
NJ’s wolf is not happy about them keeping their distance.
But at least he’s soothed by being able to keep track of the beta.
In the end, NJ has caved and explicitly asked for HS to meet him today.
The beta had left him on read for a long time before finally accepting.
NJ arrives well in advance and positions himself on the other side of the street where, from inside a bookshop, he has a perfect view of the coffee shop’s entrance.
He doesn’t want to already be inside and signal to HS how long he has been waiting for.
And he also wants to take note of what mood HS will arrive in and prepare for it.
After some time, HS does arrive. Even if not as early as NJ, the beta does show up beforehand. He looks nervous and morose.
NJ waits some more, figuring out how to best approach the beta.
Finally, he leaves his spot and walks towards the coffee shop.
Once inside, he spots HS easily. The beta is at their usual table and already with a cup of coffee in his hands. He is looking intensely over the door and immediately meets NJ’s eyes.
NJ waves and offers him a smile. HS’s smile, although present, is small and reserved. Looks like YG’s words did some damage.
NJ walks to him. “Hello, HS-ah.”
“Hi.” HS meets his eyes for only a moment, before looking away. Even his voice is demure.
This won’t do. The beta is too closed off already. NJ needs to disarm him.
“Do you mind if we take a scroll in the park nearby?” NJ asks. “I’ve been sitting down all day, it would do me some good to stretch my legs.”
HS looks back at him surprised. They usually just sit in the coffee shop when they meet. “Um, sure? Do you want to get your order to go, then?”
NJ smiles. “I don’t need it. I just wanted to see you.”
At that, HS stumbles over his feet as he gets up.
NJ catches him before he can hurt himself.
“All right?” NJ murmurs, hand gripping the beta’s elbow.
HS nods, his lip thinning. He takes a step back, lightly tugging on his arm as to silently ask to be released.
NJ waits just a second more before letting him go.
HS is a big boy, he could ask NJ explicitly to stop touching him if he really wanted that. At the same time, NJ is planning to keep toeing that line between respectful and too familiar when it comes to physical touch. The beta just needs some time to accept and welcome his touch.
They were doing so well before. NJ will get them there again.
“Right this way”, NJ says as he gestures to the exit.
When HS gets closer, NJ takes the opportunity to guide the beta’s movements with a hand on the small of his back.
HS tenses but stays put.
NJ smiles. What a good boy.
“So”, HS says once they’re walking through the park. “You said you wanted to talk.”
NJ, hand still placed on HS’s back, stirs him towards the path that will lead them to one of his favorite spots. “I missed you, HS-ah.”
The beta bends a little over himself at those words. His lips thin again, as if he’s refraining to say something.
NJ caresses his back. “You don’t have to say it back. It’s okay if you don't feel the same way.”
“Not feel— It’s not that, NJ-ah!” HS answers back, looking straight at the alpha.
NJ meets his gaze calmly. “Then what is it?”
HS frowns and looks away. He shrugs.
Well, that won’t do.
“Is this about your conversation with YG?” NJ asks.
HS’s gasps. “He told you?!”
“YG tells me everything”, NJ says. “He’s embarrassed by his behavior.”
“Is he?” HS studies his face. “What exactly did he tell you?”
“That he tried to warn you to stay away from me”, NJ replies easily.
“Oh.” HS blinks, looking ahead. “Well, that’s… true.”
“You seem surprised by that”, NJ observes. He takes advantage of HS’s guard being down and draws him closer.
HS shakes his head. “Confused, mostly. I… I don’t understand why—”
“It’s my fault”, NJ says. “Because of all the extra working hours, I’ve been away from home longer than the pack is used to. YG missed me… and when I brought you to the den he got jealous.”
“Jealous?” HS frowns. “Was he really just—”
“YG has a lot going on”, NJ says, interrupting that train of thought. “Please don’t be mad at him. He’s been under a lot of stress, especially without me around.”
“What do you mean?”
When HS turns his head to look at him again, NJ makes sure to show him his most concerned expression. “As my First Mate, YG claims a lot of responsibility for himself. He’s the Head Omega, for one, even if SJ hyung is older.”
“It sounds like something that could be difficult to navigate”, HS reflects.
“YG has always been a very caring person”, NJ says. “And he’s always been protective of SJ, because of the circumstances he was in before he joined us.”
“What circumstances?” HS asks. “If I’m not overstepping…”
NJ rubs HS’s back. “Of course not. We’re friends. You can ask me anything, HS-ah.”
“Oh.” HS looks down, smiling privately.
“SJ’s family… has not been the best at supporting him during some difficult times. When we first met him, he was suffering from a grave form of agoraphobia.”
“How is he now?”
“It’s still something we’re working on”, NJ replies. “And YG in particular takes upon himself the responsibility of helping SJ get better.”
“And YG does his best for the pups too. He always makes sure everyone’s well fed and healthy.”
“I noticed that”, HS says. “Especially with JM…”
Of course he did. NJ smiles down at him. “Yes, he worries about JM a lot too. You’ll have noticed how JM needs… extra attention, at times.”
HS nods. “Is he… okay?”
“He’s getting better. Sometimes it’s hard for him to be present in the moment. He needs physical reassurance that the pack is close by.”
NJ sees on HS’s face the beta is piecing together the information he has. “He must have suffered a lot from what happened with that…stalker.”
Well, if this is what HS concluded all of JM’s problems stem from, NJ won’t correct him. “That’s right.”
HS nods. “I’m glad he has packmates like you to help him through it.”
“Thank you, HS-ah”, NJ says.
“You can see how YG has a lot on his plate. I know it’s a lot to ask after the way he must have frightened you, but could you forgive him? He really does feel terrible about it.”
“Ah… Yes, I’m not… I’m not mad, NJ-ah.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes”, HS says.
NJ’s hand travels from the small of HS’s back to his nape. He doesn’t squeeze it but he lets his weight rest there. “Then why do you look so sullen, uh?” HS tries to move his head away but NJ keeps him put, gently but firm. “Talk to me, friend.”
“I… Well, it’s just that now I feel… guilty.”
HS’s shoulders sag. “For… avoiding you, NJ-ah. I’m sorry. I wasn’t sure what to think and… and I’m also keeping you away from your pack, now.”
“Shhh, hey, none of that”, NJ says. “I’m with you because I want to, HS-ah. My pack understands that. They like you. If anything, they’re jealous that they don’t spend as much time with you as I do.”
HS smiles but shakes his head.
CW: gaslighting and implied past abusive behavior
“Look, we are here”, NJ says as they arrive in front of a small artificial lake. It’s an idyllic, private nook, usually going unnoticed from the majority of people.
“It’s so beautiful…”
NJ smiles, guiding them towards a bench. “I think so too. Sometimes I come here when I need to be alone and think for a while. I wanted to share it with you.”
“Oh.” HS seems pleased to hear that.
The silence around them is interrupted only by the quacking of the ducks that are swimming close, hoping for a food offering.
When the beta has completely relaxed against him, his scent peaceful and content, NJ asks, “what’s really worrying you, HS-ah? You always seem on edge when the pack is involved.”
HS startles at the accusation. “What? No, I—” He’s blinking quickly, like he’s trying to regain his footing. “NJ-ah, I don’t have a problem with— I’m not on edge!”
NJ makes a show to raise his eyebrows. He doesn’t say anything but lets his expression speak for him.
HS frowns and turns his face. His body is now tense, and he’s trying to move away from the alpha.
NJ puts an arm on HS’s shoulders, keeping him where he is. “HS-ah, look at me.”
HS shakes his head.
“Beta”, NJ says.
“Look at me”, NJ repeats.
Slowly, HS turns.
NJ waits until the beta’s eyes meet his before speaking. “Mine was a simple observation. I wasn’t implying anything bad. I know you don’t actually have something against my pack.”
HS relaxes slightly at that but he still looks troubled. “Of course not, NJ-ah.”
“I know, HS-ah.” NJ grip on the beta’s shoulders tightens. “But there’s something you haven’t told me, isn’t there? Something that makes you uncomfortable at the idea of being around a pack.”
HS shakes his head. “NJ-ah, I… I don’t. Don’t want—”
“Tell me, HS-ah”, NJ says and there’s enough force behind his voice to make it sound like a command.
HS shudders. “Please. I don’t want to think about it.”
NJ caresses his arm, reassuringly. “I just want to help, HS-ah. I’m worried about you. It’s not healthy to keep everything bottled up like this.”
HS bites his lips, refusing to answer.
“It’s just us, here. You don’t have to be afraid.” NJ’s free hand pats HS’s knee, effectively enclosing the beta in an embrace. “Aren’t you worried about lashing out at the people closer to you? All because you ‘don’t want to think about it’?”
HS gasps. “I. I would never—”
“Then let me help, HS-ah”, NJ murmurs. “You don’t have to be alone. Let Alpha help.”
HS represses a noise that sounds like a sob.
NJ gets even closer, his forehead now firmly planted against the beta’s temple. “You can cry if you want.”
“No, I—”, HS says, voice distressed. “NJ-ah…”
“What is it?” Slowly, NJ starts rocking the beta back and forward, like he would with a fussy pup that needs settling. “Tell Alpha all about it.”
“I… It’s my family”, HS finally says. “My parents… they don’t have a happy union.”
NJ made a noise of encouragement.
“Our family, we… our pack was. A small one. Just my parents and my sister and I.”
NJ nods his head, letting the beta know he’s listening.“And. My dad, he’s. He’s the Pack Alpha. He’s… he’s not an easy person to be around, you see, he—”
HS stops talking, shaking his head. “Doesn’t matter. It was worse for mom. She… she’s so sweet and. Well. Even if she regretted their union, they’re mated and she’s an omega. So. You know how bad it can get for omegas’ health if they try to break the bond.”
HS shrugs, feigning nonchalance. The deep frown on his face says otherwise.
“Oh, HS-ah…” NJ sighs. “Of course you have commitment issues now.”
HS glares at NJ, offended. “Hey! I don’t—” He stops for a second, before admitting, “well. I guess I do have commitment issues…”
“We can work on that.” NJ caresses HS’s thigh. “Is this why you moved so far away from your family?
HS sighs. “Yeah… My sister mated young to escape my dad’s authority over her. But I… I couldn’t stomach to do the same. What if the person I found was just the same as—
So I ran away.” His lips tremble. “I left my mom alone, NJ-ah.”
NJ hugs him even closer. “Your mom is an adult and she made her choices, HS-ah. You don’t have to feel guilty for making yours.”
“Maybe.” HS lets himself be held.
“I’m sorry for being so weird around you and your pack, NJ-ah.”
“Shhh. I’m just glad we have talked this through, HS-ah”, NJ says. “Now we can get past this. We are not your parents.”
“I… I know…”
“The more time you’ll spend with me and my packmates, the more at ease you’ll feel, HS-ah.”
“Ah… but I…”
“Don’t you trust me, HS-ah?” NJ asks. “And don’t you want to make up for ‘being weird’, as you put it, around my pack?”
“Well, yes, but—”
“Then this is your chance to prove it, HS-ah. To yourself as much as to those around you.”
HS trembles in NJ’s hold. Finally, he nods.