The student union smells like a pit of hormones.
It's not, what you'd call, a refined space. Not by any means. Mostly, it's crammed with the wild pheremones of unmated Alphas; pulsing in time with the music, eclipsing the regular waft of Beta and Omega scents. Mingling in your nose, it's unmistakable: bitter, raw spice. Woody. Other Alphas make your hair prickle - confined spaces and sweaty bodies make you want to claim out some territory. Bark at anyone who steps a little too close.
But this isn't undergraduate school. You're not walking into the pit of death.
"Vodka coke" Rey grins, handing you a rippled glass of dark liquid. She's got this look about her; the one all those Omegas do. Dark, short cut hair: femininity in the curve of her jaw. Her scent radiates life. Something crisp and beautiful and oddly feminine; decidedly radiant. She smells like fresh oranges, like sugar and scones and crisp apples. They all do - they all smell like that. Like something delectable. A delicious food; a warm comfort. You know plenty of Omegas - well, plenty of female ones.
You wrap your fingers around the cool glass; pulling it to your lips and downing it. A buzz in your pocket: two buzzes. Probably Finn filling up your voicemail box with drunken calls about seeing a cute dog or something.
"Gonna nip outside. There's..." you gesture with your hands eccentrically, earning a huffed laugh from Rey. She's good like that - the closest friend you've got, easily. She listens. Gets your erratic humour.
"Stay out of trouble, buddy. And if you see-"
"-Yeah, yeah. I've got it" you huff "go for the jugular."
She toasts you as you shuffle through the crowd; pulsing bodies rammed too close together. The booths are utterly squashed in: leather sticky with stale beer and old musky scents. Your head is nearly pounding in time with the music - is this place ever even cleaned down? Is disinfectant really that hard to come by?
But the balcony is so much better; the summer night air hitting your skin and cooling the sweat on your brow. Your dress flutters in the breeze. Nothing fancy - short and black. Red lipstick. A dash of eyeliner. You don't want any of these schmucks getting any ideas. It's not shameful; not even a little. Being an Alpha doesn't make you lesser. Maybe, when you were a teenager, that shit clung to you like a thin sheen of sweat - but times are changing. Female Alphas don't get shirked like they used to anymore. Hell, there's even some...some real and legitimate sense that you're something special. Something to be curated.
Which is easy for them to say. Easy for Betas to sit back and sip their lot. You're not ungrateful - you're not. The whole obsession with Alpha and Omega pairings being the only way to get by is gross and outdated and tasteless.
That doesn't stop the pining, though.
"Thought you didn't like this place."
It's a voice that sends your lip curling; turning you to whirl around on the concrete floor as your hand braces yourself against the wooden balcony.
Ben fucking Solo.
"That's none of your business, Solo."
He licks his lip - and it fucks you off. Everything about him fucks you off, in some sort of...some sort of systemic domino effect of bullshit only he can pull off.
The guy's your absolute, grade A-type bullshit ass arrogant Alpha prick. Built like a brick house; ripping muscles all stuffed under a button up shirt. The top buttons are always just a little disheveled - as though he's trying to shove his scent glands right up into unsuspecting faces. Tousled black hair, pointed nose. Bumpy. Like he's broken it one too many times from putting it where it isn't wanted. Brown eyes. Pouty lips. Freckles.
He's hot - of course he's hot. He had to be hot, didn't he? He can't leave anything to chance. That's not how Ben Solo works. He doesn't do that whole fumbling student schtick you see in 9am tutorials. He's pressed, he's on time. Law student or something. Rich parents.
"Cat got your tongue?" he clucks, flashing a slight smirk at you as he shoves his hands in his pockets. His pheromones dart off in all directions: punchy and heady. Like dragging a spoon of cinnamon over your lips. Your Alpha senses keen upward: eyes heavy on his. Keep him in your gaze. If he lunges; you'll be faster.
"Sorry; I'm curious. Did my tone not spell it out for you? Won't you just fuck off?"
He mockingly rolls his eyes; chewing the inside of his cheek. His nostrils flare as he takes you in: no doubt weighing up how much he can torment you before you snap and bite off his head.
"Something I said?"
Your grip on the balcony railing tightens. A group of students shuffle by; Ben's tall form shuffles closer to you.
Your chest threatens a rumble.
"She was cut up, you know" you spit, pulling up an index finger and jabbing it at his chest. "You spend three weeks following her around like she's your one and only, and then her heat comes and you promise to be there, and you just...dissolve? Without so much as a text?"
Rage darts from your pores; heady and thick. You can almost smell it yourself - you imagine half the Alphas at this bar can smell it, too. Soaking into the walls.
Ben doesn't flinch.
"If you're so worried" he shrugs, brow darting upward "you're her best friend. Why don't you just-"
You fucking tried. You tried. But you hear the air leave Ben's lungs as you throw him up against the brickwork; fisting at the top of his collar as your chest heaves. His pupils dilate thickly; anger, surprise. He's surprised. Part of you knows that's the only reason you were able to force him back up to the wall - he's probably two hundred pounds, easily. He could easily just throw you from the ledge of the balcony.
Scents dance in your periphery. You're drawing an audience. Alpha fighting Alpha. It's a dance as old as dances can be.
"Shut up" you hiss; baring your teeth as you lean up on the balls of your feet. "Before I rip your throat out through your nose."
Ben's pheromones are point blank shooting you in the face; and now you're closer, they're...entangled. Plasticky. The cinnamon smells like that shitty syrup you get in coffee shops - it's marred with chemical dryness that oozes from the pores in his neck. It's a smell that comes with blockers - illegal blockers. They help Alphas stop rutting on every poor Omega in their periphery. But Ben's are disgustingly strong - which just about figures. Figures he'd be a sex addict.
He eyes you with a heaving chest; projecting threatening undertones, challenging you to act.
You're so sick of him.
"You smell like shitty blockers" you growl. "They're illegal. Or do you not give a fuck about the law so long as you're the one applying it?"
It's absolutely one hundred percent not something anyone in civil society would ever, ever bring up. But you've snapped - you're too far gone. Rey is wonderful; she's your closest friend, and he'd rather see her treated like dirt than admit his own misgivings or fears. He deserves this. Worse than this.
Something fractures. Ben's pupils swallow his iris; his scent scatters. In that momentary weight of shock, his head dips just enough that his gland is exposed to you - exposed just enough that it's a subconscious victory. Submission keens at his spine as you hum deep in your chest; adrenaline flooding you as his pheromones relent to yours. It must be humiliating for him - an Alpha so arrogant, so highly regarded - to submit to your gritty gaze.
"They're legal" he says dryly.
You scoff; letting go of his shirt.
And just like that: Ben's gaze drifts to the crowds. Away from you. Eyes down. It's victory; you can taste it.
"Tell me why, then" you shrug angrily, folding your arms over your chest "if you're not hiding anything: tell me why."
Alpha voice breaks through: and Ben's hands shake in his pockets. He's trying to fight it; trying to fight a direct order from a victorious sparring partner.
His plush lip trembles. You're acutely aware of just how anxious he is - just how much he's suddenly, irrevocably fearful under your watch. It's something heady and odd and dangerous - something you don't quite understand. Perhaps he's not the arrogant prick you see him for.
"...Don't ask me to do that" he whines. He tries so, so hard to use his Alpha voice - but it's a mess. His voice wavers as though he's a teenage boy - wavering with uncertainty, with darting inflections. It only weakens his position as he huffs a breath, trying to move away from you and back into the safety of the pulsing bar.
You maintain your gaze. Lip set. Jaw square.
Ben pushes away from the wall; and in a moment of madness, you grasp his wrist.
His pulse flutters so wildly under your hand that it muddies your brain. Your fingers can barely lapse the muscle of his arms; they're huge, bulging things. Hands large and calloused. But even so; you grip as hard as you can. Thumb on his wrist scent gland, an automatic motion with no bearing on any attempts to control him whatsoever. But everything swerves. His dark waves of hair fall across his forehead as he weakly tugs his wrist; as though your grip is iron and not the weakest response imaginable.
His dark eyes are almost raw. He's vibrating with energy; shuddering and shaking in his shirt at your demand. What the fuck? Is he really that high on blockers that your scent is knocking him this hard?
The most embarrassing whimper cuts his throat: low and dark and desperately anxious. The plasticky smell almost seems eclipsed by a whole new curl of fragrances; too fast for you to comprehend. Spicy, delicious, intolerably strange. Synthetic and not. Laced with so many drugs that confusion rattles your gut.
"Alpha" he groans, squeezing his eyes shut as his breathing comes in thick and fast "please".
And just like that; your grip releases. Shock radiates from you as you watch his broad back dart for the exit.
He doesn't look back.