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It’s not quite Martin’s fault , as such. He thinks it’s pretty fair, considering the amount of horrible nonsense in his life, that a few things had fallen by the wayside. Including, for instance, his suppressant medication. Which was fine, when he was weighed down by both natural and supernatural depression and deliberately isolating himself from everyone in his life.

Not so fine, now he’s stuck in an adorable, cosy little cottage with the very available alpha he’s been in love with for years.

Martin’s always been great at anticipating his heat, since his symptoms run like clockwork. Cramps three days before – he’d passed those off as something dodgy in Daisy’s off-brand baked beans, and Jon hadn’t eaten enough of those to question him.  Weepiness two day before – he’d passed that off as leftovers from the complete shit that’s been the past few years of his life, and Jon had been very understanding. Had held him while he cried, awkward but so tender, very carefully keeping his hands in specific, non-suggestive positions.

The thing is, Martin isn’t stupid. He knows a full-blown heat is inevitable. Jon may be sleeping on the settee, but it’s not as if Martin can barricade himself in his room for three days without Jon breaking the door down in concern. Not that it’ll come to that, because Jon will smell him long before. Obviously, the only sensible thing to do is to sit Jon down and talk to him. Tell him he’s screwed up his suppressants, that he’s got a heat coming and Jon might want to make himself scarce – or at least, go and see what the local pharmacy stock in the way of scent blockers. Obviously that’s what Martin should have done days ago.

But. But Jon, who Martin has spent years all but throwing himself at, has spent every night since they got here in the front room. Jon, who knows that Martin loves him, hasn’t touched Martin any way that would be even slightly suggestive. Jon hasn’t said anything, hasn’t done anything.

Obviously he hasn’t. For one, while Martin’s pretty sure he’s not gay, the only person he knows for sure Jon’s dated is Georgie, another alpha. For two, from various things Jon has said over the years, he knows Jon is asexual, whatever his romantic orientation. Martin’s never really considered how asexuality would work during a heat or rut, but he doubts it involves much in the way of frantic shagging, and he’d rather jump off a cliff than pressure Jon into anything. And it would be pressuring, even if Jon is an alpha. Martin doesn’t care what any chauvinist idiot says, Jon’s too damn chivalrous for his own good, especially now that Martin’s so messed up. Thirdly…

Well. It’s Martin, isn’t it?

That’s not Martin being self-deprecating, either. He’s being very objective about this.

So, he hasn’t told Jon. Which is stupid, because even he can tell he’s starting to smell a bit. He’d solved that yesterday by going on a long walk to keep from stinking up the house. Thankfully, though, he has a hidden ally in this fight. Jon’s hypersensitivity apparently latches onto the smell of anxiety; he’s told Martin it smells like acid to him, scorching his nose. That had come out during out of their long evening chats.

“So that’s why you hated me for years!” Martin had said triumphantly, and Jon had groaned.

“Yes, feel free to remind me how desperately shallow I was.”

“I don’t think you’re shallow,” Martin had replied, voice gone much softer than he’d meant it to, and Jon had muttered something and looked at his lap.

Obviously Martin is anxious as hell right now, and it seems to be working well to mask any heat-scent. It’s also working great to stop Jon wanting to be in the same room as him. He’d spent the evening trying to bluff his way through it, act like he wasn’t choking, but Martin had taken the out gratefully and gone to panic in the bedroom.

“Just generalised anxiety,” he’d reassured Jon, who, bless his heart, had tried to get him to stay. “I’ll go have a read, and try and get some sleep in a bit.”

“Okay,” Jon had replied, “if you’re sure?” He’d accepted Martin’s assurances, but Martin had still walked up the stairs to the soft, insistent pressure of Jon’s eyes on his back.

All of this, all of Martin’s deceptions and long walks and dumb luck, has worked fine so far. Up until this morning, when Martin’s woken up flushed and heated and needy – horribly, ridiculously needy – and knowing that his grace period is over. There’s no more hiding it now. In fact, it’s likely the only reason Jon’s not banging on the door in concern is that Martin had been smart enough to leave the window open overnight.

Not, however, smart enough to have done anything to fix this awful trainwreck of a situation. Not smart enough to communicate like a normal adult person. Not smart enough for Jon to want- no. That’s unfair, and Martin knows it.

Well, there’s nothing for it now. He’s going to have to haul himself out of his freezing, lonely bed and go confront Jon. He’s going to explain himself and ask if Jon would mind leaving him food and also completely ignoring anything that happens in this room for the next few days.

He’s not going to cry, and he’s not going to break down and ask Jon to hug him, no matter how much his whole body aches for the touch of an alpha, this alpha. This beautiful, brave, stubborn alpha who’d murdered a full-blown avatar to keep him safe, who’d risked his life to rescue him. Who’s right downstairs, so close Martin’s sure he can smell him – that particular, wonderfully satisfying smell, bitter like fresh orange oil and rich as sodden earth…

No. Not thinking about that. Martin Blackwood is a goddamn adult, and fully capable of getting through a terrible conversation about a totally natural issue without embarrassing himself even more than he already has.

Despite his resolve, Martin’s gut is a solid lump as he makes his way downstairs. The heat is definitely not helping matters – everything feels more right now, as if he wasn’t stressed enough in the first place. He’ll be lucky if Jon wants to stay in the same room as him for long enough to explain anything.

Sure enough, when he gets to the bottom of the stairs and sees Jon sitting at the breakfast table, the other man already has a hand over his nose. “Christ, Martin, what’s wrong?”

Martin cringes. Obviously, obviously , this isn’t his fault – Jon’s made it clear that his sensory issues aren’t something either of them can help, that he’s not trying to somehow ban Martin from being anxious – but it still stings. He’s hurting Jon, hurting the alpha he loves, and that makes him feel even more horrendous right now than it usually would.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he babbles, aching to run back up the stairs.

Jon gets up and moves further into the kitchen, and Martin can hear him opening the window. “It’s fine,” he calls, but his voice is muffled, and when he reappears he’s got his nose shoved in his jumper. “But God, that’s worse than yesterday. You said you were going to be alright!”

Martin takes deep breaths, trying desperately to calm down enough to actually have this conversation. Being downstairs does actually help – he can smell Jon from here, the heavy, ingrained sleep-scent from the sofa and the fresher scent from where he’s standing in the kitchen, even if that one’s tinted with pain. Just knowing that there’s a trusted alpha around has a calming effect, and isn’t that pathetic?

“There’s something I need to tell you,” he says, and then curses himself for using the most ominous conversation opener bar We need to talk . It certainly rattles Jon, who squints worriedly at him.

“Go on,” he says slowly, sinking into the kitchen chair. Martin doesn’t go to sit at the table – Jon’s jumper is still pulled over his nose. Instead, he leans against the wall, locking his arms around his waist in some sad parody of a hug. The saddest thing is, it helps.

“So,” he starts,” then falls silent again. His gut churns, and Jon winces slightly.

“Martin,” he says, that beautiful voice strained in a way that makes Martin hurt , “whatever it is, it can’t be worse than anything we’ve dealt with before.”

Hah , Martin thinks, but he has to admit Jon has a point.

“I’m in heat,” he stutters out in a single breath.

Jon freezes. For a moment, they’re both perfectly still, staring at each other.

“You-“ Jon cuts himself off. “No, of course you wouldn’t smell like it,” he continues, almost to himself. “Not to me, at least, not when you’re so anxious.”

“I’m sorry,” comes out of Martin’s mouth before he can catch it.

Jon boggles at him. “What the hell are you apologising for? It’s not as if you can help it.”

“I could have taken my suppressants on time,” Martin argues, without quite knowing why he’s arguing.

Jon shrugs, birdlike. “I assume you had other things on your mind. Like the absolute nightmare that is our lives.”

Martin nods. “Basically, yeah. I… it didn’t seem important. Near the end.”

Jon winces, and this time Martin’s pretty sure it’s not because he’s stinking up the room. Hopefully the anxiety scent is becoming a bit less onerous now – just getting the words out has calmed him down some. That’s always how it goes for him; he builds something up and up in his head until he’s paralysed with sick terror, then he does it and after that, however terrible it is, it’s done .

“Yes,” Jon replies. Then, “Alright. You’re in heat. What do you need?”

And isn’t that a question. Martin’s legs almost go out from under him, and he prays the leftover anxiety is still disguising the rush of sweet warmth. He sternly tells himself that Jon does not mean it in that way, probably didn’t even consider that his perfectly innocent question could be interpreted like that.

“Just… I’m planning to basically barricade myself in the bedroom and ride it out. Would you mind, you know, getting me some food? During? Just like, leave it outside the room.”

Jon pauses for a second. Enough of his face is still covered by his jumper that Martin’s not confident interpreting his expression. “You’re sure? There’s no need to, to cloister yourself – I’m well aware that the popular perception of a heat is inaccurate. If we’re not going to turn into slavering beasts, I don’t see why you should have to lock yourself in your room.”

God help him, the phrase slavering beasts is actually now a turn-on for Martin. Or rather, anything would be in Jon’s rich, beautiful voice. “I think I’d feel better that way,” he replies. “So I can nest properly, you know.” So I don’t have to be stuck in a room filled with your scent and try to stop myself getting to my knees and begging.

It’s true that Martin’s broadly in possession of his faculties, and will be most of the way through the next few days. It’s also true that Jon smells fantastic at the best of times, and especially so right now. Martin’s only human, goddamn it.

“Of course,” Jon acquiesces like a true gentleman. Of course he doesn’t look disappointed about it, and Martin kicks himself for thinking otherwise. “Whatever you need, Martin.”

What Martin needs is for Jon to stop saying stuff . “Thanks,” he says instead. “Really, thanks, Jon.”

“Of course,” Jon repeats, and he pulls his jumper away enough to give Martin a little smile. Martin tries very hard not to actually melt, and mostly succeeds.

It’s going to be a long few days.

 

~~~~~

 

Now that that horrible conversation is over, Martin’s got to sort out another thing he’s been neglecting. For obvious reasons, he hasn’t built a nest, and now all the ridiculous instincts that come to the fore during heat are screaming at him about it. Like he’ll die unless he’s got somewhere soft and nice to bed down for the next few days.

He tries not to think about the heat supplies he kept in his house, for the once-every-other-year he had to go clean on doctors’ orders. It’s not even the dildos he misses – he wants the well-worn blankets, the fluffy pillows, the soft toys he only rarely lets himself indulge in. There’s an awful moment where the image of his favourite hippo teddy, the one that fit into his arms so perfectly, wells up in his mind and he has to slip back into his room and have a little cry.

Fuck, he hates this. No matter how many times he tells himself that this is natural, normal, that of course he’s so weepy and emotional when he’s this flush with hormones, he still feels so weak . Like he’s every stereotype, every single ridiculous sitcom caricature, every swooning useless bimbo from a blockbuster or delicate flower from a novel. It’s hard to remember all the liberationist literature about how messed up it is to treat emotionality as inherently bad when he’s crying like a baby over how far away he is from Sparkles.

When he’s got himself a bit more under control, he pulls on the softest knitted hoodie he did remember to pack, the one he’s worn through all his heats since he bought it. The comforting, familiar smell bolsters him enough that he can leave the room in search of the linen cupboard.

First, he grabs one of the towels Jon had brought with them – apparently, rough towels are bad for him to the point where he just won’t shower if they’re the only option, so these are nice and soft. Daisy, thankfully, had a good idea of how bloody cold it can get in Scotland when she stocked this place, so there’s also plenty of big microfibre blankets. Martin gathers them up and trots upstairs with his prizes, though he has to go back down a few times to get them all, along with the second spare duvet – the one Jon’s not using.

He wants the one Jon’s using. He really, really does. But that would be properly ridiculous.

When he’s got the blankets upstairs, Martin makes a start on his masterpiece, tucking the towels where his arse will probably end up and arranging the cushions and blankets in the optimum pattern. It’s not as good as it should be, not the same as making it with his own blankets and pillows, and everything does smell kind of musty. But when he’s finished arranging, the bed is much more comfy than it had been, a proper little nest, and the animal inside him trills in base satisfaction.

Jon… hovers. That’s the best word. He’s a terrible hoverer, managing to get in the way wherever Martin is; except the bedroom, of course. Martin suspects it’s the chivalry thing. Jon confided once that he was raised by his gran, and it had made a lot of things about him make sense. He’s got this particularly old-fashioned attitude – not in a bad way, Jon’s never been chauvinistic or cruel. Just, he’s very… gentlemanly, sometimes.

Of course, he often couples it with being a total arse, and patronising to boot, but it’s never in a gross way. Martin’s seen him interact with enough omegas to know he doesn’t have any specific issues. He’s just very Jon, all the time.

Eventually, Jon slips off to the bathroom so he can brush his teeth, and Martin is left alone downstairs. He intends to get a glass of water – his throat is starting to dry as his body temperature rises. He should get water, and something to eat, even if he’s not hungry right now with the heat suppressing his appetite.

He shouldn’t be drifting over to the settee, reaching out to run his hands over the cushions. He should not be leaning down to press his nose into them.

But they smell so good . They smell so Jon .

Just one. He’ll just take one. It’s not like there’s many cushions in the cottage for his nest, Jon wouldn’t begrudge him one. Or two. Maybe three- no. Just two. That’s reasonable, and fair, and excusable. And his nest will be so much better with them, so much better when it smells of alpha , of his alpha-

“Martin?”

Martin spins around in the most guilty way possible. Like there’s any way to disguise that he’s got as many sofa cushions as he could grab in his arms.

Which is… most of them. A significant portion. A really significant portion. Probably, actually, all of them.

“Martin,” Jon repeats, that lovely smooth voice gone so tentative. Like he’s talking to a scared child, and that should piss Martin off something rotten. If he was thinking at all rationally right now, it would. Probably. “Martin, would you… would you mind leaving me a couple of those? Just, just one? You can absolutely have the rest.”

That’s fair, that’s completely fair, of course it is! Jon needs somewhere to rest his dear head at night, obviously he does. He’s only being reasonable – way too reasonable, frankly, considering how ridiculous Martin’s being right now.

So why does it feel like there’s a hole tearing open in Martin’s chest? Why does the thought of dropping even one of these wonderful-smelling treasures make him want to scream ?

And now he’s crying. Fuck. Great. Well done, Blackwood, this is exactly what Jon needs to deal with right now.

“Shit,” he hears distantly, and the disapproval he reads in that swear makes him wail , makes him bury his face in his stolen cushions to try and smother the sound. God, what he wouldn’t give for a wave of icy fog right now. What he wouldn’t give to stop existing for a moment.

And then, there are arms around him, Jon’s arms, sliding round his shoulders, and Martin is gone, totally gone – he drops the cushions and throws himself at Jon, clings with all his strength. Jon grunts and wobbles slightly, but he doesn’t let go; he only holds Martin tighter, guiding Martin’s head to burrow into his skinny chest and squeezing him so perfectly. The awful pit in Martin’s chest is filling back in faster than light, as he drinks in warmth and pressure and glorious Jon -smell, right from the source. How could he have ever thought a bunch of dusty cushions could compare?

Slowly, Jon guides them back to the settee and sinks down, pulling Martin down into his lap. Ecstatic, Martin nestles in, the soft cashmere of Jon’s jumper filling his whole world. For a few minutes, everything is perfect, everything is right with the world.

He doesn’t know how long Jon lets him cling before pulling back a little, easing himself away. Much as he hates to, Martin takes the hint and slides onto the settee beside him. As soon as he’s not surrounded by alpha , shame begins to burn through the fleecy softness in his head, and Martin winces hard.

He opens his mouth to apologise, but Jon raises a hand to stop him. “Don’t,” he says. “You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, Martin.”

It’s not that Martin wants to contradict Jon, not when he’s still half-high on the man’s scent. It’s just… “I do, though. It was only some cushions.” He looks down, fingers twisting into the fabric of his hoodie.

“Was it?” Jon queries. Martin’s head shoots up, but all he gets is a level stare back. Jon’s face is clear, patient. God, Martin loves him.

God, he doesn’t have the energy to fight that right now.

“They smelled like you,” he mumbles. “That’s why I wanted them.”

Jon nods, face unchanging and still. “Because-“ he breaks off, and now there’s a flash of what looks a bit like anger, but Martin knows better than to judge Jon’s facial expressions by the metric of everyone else’s. “Because they smell like an alpha? I can spare most of them, and some jumpers as well.”

“You’d do that?” Martin asks, hating how small his voice sounds.

“Of course,” Jon replies. “If it helps you feel more secure, I’m happy to surrender a few items of clothing.”

The worst bit about falling for Jon is, at first he’d thought it’d be like every other one of his crushes. Martin has three types – untouchable, wanker, or both – and Jon had fallen solidly into ‘both’, which was fine. Comfortable. Martin likes fancying people he’ll never date, either from common sense or lack of opportunity. He knows what to do with crushes like that.

Only then, Jon had to bloody go and be a kind, decent person, which was bad enough. But then he had to do this , to be right there in front of Martin, so infinitely touchable.

Martin is tired of being lonely.

“Not because they smell like alpha, Jon,” he says, shocking himself with every word, with how he keeps going . “Because they smell like you .”

He has to look away then, can’t stand to face Jon when his words sink in. He focuses on the plaid upholstery of the settee, on not accidentally calling on the Lonely and drowning himself in static. However pathetic he feels right now, Martin’s learned that he has some strength. If he can survive Elias Bouchard and Peter Lukas and more other monsters than he really wants to think about, he can survive this.

“Oh,” Jon murmurs. “Oh, Martin, I-“

“I knew it was coming, you know,” Martin babbles, keeping his eyes fixed on the patterns as he lets his heart spill out his mouth. “My heat, I knew, but I didn’t want to tell you. I didn’t want to have to say Oh yeah, Jon, by the way, I’m going to be out of my mind with hormones for most of the next week and, and then have you go, Ah, alright Martin, thanks for letting me know, I’ll just bugger off then. And I knew I’d only have to do it anyway, but it hurt, the thought of having to face that I was going to be so close to you and still going through this absolute bollocks alone, it hurt -“ His words cut out, and he lets his head droop.

Jon’s hand raises, rubbing over his face. “Why in the name of God didn’t you just say something earlier? We could have negotiated all of this –“

Martin can’t , he just can’t – he’d promised himself no more tears, for Jon’s sake, but they well up anyway. He turns into his jumper in some ridiculous attempt to hide them.

“Shit,” Jon mutters again, and then there are gentle hands on his cheeks, tilting his head back round. Martin doesn’t even bother fighting them; it’s not like he’s got any more dignity to lose.

“Shit, Martin, I’m sorry,” Jon sighs, and Martin wants to say no , wants to say I’m sorry, I was too scared, I’m a coward, you deserve-

Suddenly he’s being scooped up again, pulled into Jon’s lap, and he can’t help melting. There’s so much warmth, and everything smells wonderful, and Jon is guiding his head so gently into the crook of his neck, where everything is dark and he doesn’t have to look at anything. Martin shuts his eyes and burrows gratefully.

“Christ, I am awful at this,” Jon mutters absently.

“You’re not,” Martin whispers – about all he can manage, his throat still solid with misery. “I get really weepy, it’s not your fault. And you’re right, I should have said.”

A warm, broad hand spreads over his back, petting gently. “I’m… sure you had your reasons.”

“I didn’t , though!” Martin hisses bitterly into Jon’s neck. God, he’s soaking his tee-shirt, he’s so disgusting right now, how can Jon even stand to be around him? “It was just too difficult so I put it off, and I put it off, and I put it off, and now it’s such a mess and you’re angry and –

”Martin!” Jon interrupts, and Martin stops cold. That voice , holy shit , authoritative and firm and humming with power – Jon’s power or the Archivist’s, it really doesn’t matter, not when Martin is this close to rolling over and showing his belly. As it is, he can’t help his little whine, every dumb animal instinct begging him to melt and give Jon whatever he wants.

“Martin,” Jon repeats, softer now. “Let’s both stop… putting words in each other’s mouths. I’m not angry, I promise you, I just – I’m not sure what you want from me, and that’s a conversation that we both could have handled better if you weren’t currently in heat.”

Martin fights valiantly to get his breathing back under control. “I can consent, you know. I might be hormonal, but I’m not intoxicated or anything.”

“You’re sure?”

Martin pulls back and gives Jon his best approximation of a flat look. He’s not sure how effective it is with his face covered in snot, but Jon seems to get the picture after a few seconds of staring. “That was patronising, wasn’t it?” he mutters with a wry little grimace.

Martin manages a watery smile. “You can’t help it, I guess,” he says, as condescending as he can manage, and pats Jon on the shoulder.

Jon mock-glares at him. “Yes, very funny.” He sighs and reaches out to brush Martin’s hair off his forehead, and Martin all but melts . “I just… I don’t want to hurt you, ever.”

Now that’s ridiculous. “Look, Jon, I’ve been in love with you for, for years – you get that, right? And I –“ Martin forces himself past his nuclear blush – “there’s been times where if someone had asked me, ’Martin, what’s the one thing you want most in the world?’ , I’d have said ‘ To spend a heat with Jonathan Sims,’ without hesitation. Trust me, you’ve got my consent to do anything short of actual bodily harm.”

When he manages to get all the words out he buries his face back in Jon’s neck. It smells so good, and he doesn’t have to face any of the insane nonsense he’s just come out with. Jon’s hand slides into his hair again, though, so he can’t have fucked this up completely.

“Then why ?” Jon says. “If you want this so much, why not just say something? Please, Martin, help me understand.”

Martin shakes his head, burrows deeper. “Because… because you don’t want me. Not like that, not like I want you to. And I’d rather die than do anything you’d regret. I know what you’re like, Jon, especially since you got me out the Lonely. You’re so focussed on making sure I have anything you think I’d want, and I-”

Jon cuts him off with a groan. “Martin. Christ, Martin, you’re actually very intelligent so I have no idea how the hell you’ve managed this .” His hand falls away from Martin’s hair, but it slides over his shoulders, and his other hand is still a gentle pressure at his waist. “I’ll give you that I’ve been… well, there’s no point sugar-coating it, I’ve been incredibly cruel in the past. But I’ve been practically panting after you for months . I walked into the Lonely for you, for crying out loud. I pulled you out with – with the literal power of love. This-“

He takes a deep breath before speaking again. “This is hard. For me. Talking about these things is hard. But I very, definitely do . Want you, that is. I want you enough to die for you, kill for you – Martin, you’re so much to me. You mean so, so much.”

Breathing is difficult, suddenly. Thinking is worse. Martin clings to Jon and reels .

He can’t even disbelieve it, is the thing. This close, with his every breath thick with Jon , he’s able to properly puzzle out Jon’s scent beyond just alpha . Even though there’s no answering lust, there’s definitely something there. Different, but very much the scent of a receptive alpha.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” he finally manages, voice quivering.

Jon sighs deeply. “I suspect you’re going to take issue with this.”

“Tell me anyway,” Martin says, laughing a little. “We might as well get all our stupidity out in the open.”

Jon hums in agreement. “It’s just – you’ve spent months isolating yourself from everyone, and now you have me, and I know that it’s helping. Having me around, having a person around. I just didn’t want you to think that the only human contact you’re getting was in some way… conditional. That you had to do something, return some level of affection, so that I wouldn’t, wouldn’t leave you.”

“Jon,” Martin manages, biting down a giggle.

That gets him a pissy little huff, but also the softest kiss he’s ever had pressed to his head. It sends a little zing across Martin’s scalp, as his body slowly tilts out of extreme distress and a little way into actually, we’re really fertile right now, why waste time crying? “I maintain I had good reason,” Jon mutters.

“No, you’re right. That was really thoughtful of you, even if you had completely the wrong end of the stick.”

“Hmm.”

“Don’t argue with me,” Martin orders from the safety of Jon’s neck, and his heart swells with sweet warmth when he feels Jon press a smile to his forehead. For a moment, he lets himself bask; if he’d thought everything in the world was right before, it’s nothing to this. Jon wants him; Jon is kissing him, soft brushes of lips over his hair. Everything is perfect.

Except, Martin remembers guiltily, there’s still something they have to talk about. Especially since his body is very much back on the sex now, please train.

“But you’re asexual, right? I’m… I’m really not asexual. Not that that’s a problem!” he hastens to add. “Normally I can absolutely do without sex. What do I need that for when I’ve got you?” Martin makes a weird truncated gesture that’s meant to encompass everything Jon is, but it most ends up being him shifting his grip on Jon’s jumper. “It’s just…right now…” He manages not to shift in Jon’s lap, but it’s taking real effort.

Jon stills for a second, then tightens his hold slightly. “Mmm, I am asexual. But that’s not as much of an issue as you seem to think. It’s true that I don’t want you quite like you want me – I can’t, it’s just not something I do. I’m not often in the mood to, ah, participate? But I’m normally not opposed to giving, as it were. Uh.” Jon stumbles to a halt.

“Giving?” Martin asks. He can barely get the word out.

Jon shrugs awkwardly. “I don’t know if it’ll be as, ah, satisfying to you as the… the traditional method. I’ve never been with someone through a heat before. But I’m happy to try – no, let me rephrase. I want to try.” There’s another kiss, soft and utterly lovely; and more, dotted along his hairline. When Jon speaks again, his tone has dipped slightly, voice gone heated in a way that makes the hairs rise on the back of Martin’s arms. “I want to make you feel good, to give you what you need and watch you fall to pieces. You’re lovely like this, Martin; I want to make you look even lovelier.”

Martin actually shivers in Jon’s arms, and Jon’s scent shades into deep satisfaction. “Unfair,” he complains, voice gone ridiculously high.

“True,” Jon rebuts, ducking his head to fit it into Martin’s neck. The sensation of warm breath on his way-too-sensitive neck sends Martin’s head spinning, and that’s before Jon scrapes his teeth gently over the tendons.

“Fuck,” he hisses, and Jon chuckles, warm and heady as his scent. Then he fits his skinny arms under Martin’s bum and lifts him.

“Jon!” Martin exclaims in worry, wrapping his legs tight round Jon’s waist to steady himself. He’s short, yeah, but Martin Blackwood is emphatically not light, and Jon’s always been built like a bloody beanpole. Alpha or no alpha, there’s no way he’s not going to put his back out.

But Jon seems to be lifting him with relative ease. “Beholding,” he says into Martin’s hair as he walks to the stairs. “About time it did something useful for me.”

And Martin wants to argue the point further, wants to point out that he can walk fine on his own, thanks awfully, but. He’s being literally carried to his nest by an- by his alpha. It’s ludicrously romantic. He sticks his face firmly back in Jon’s neck and tries not to hyperventilate. His ribs feel like they’re about to crack, split open from the inside with the force of his joy.

Jon moves up the stairs quickly, kicking the door open and bearing Martin to the bed. He’s half expecting – half hoping – to be thrown, but Jon lowers him into his nest with infinite care, only climbing in after him when Martin refuses to let him go.

“What do you want?” he breathes against Martin’s lips, hands gentle and reverent on Martin’s sides, and God but that would probably have sounded much more awkward if Jon’s voice wasn’t so gorgeous .

Martin tries, he really does, but all he can manage to gasp out is “You. Just, just you, anything you want to do, Jon, please -“

“Anything?” Jon murmurs, and when Martin nods so violently he almost brains himself, Jon’s smile curls into a smirk. He leans down, balancing just above Martin so that their chests are only just brushing.

Then Jon closes the distance and kisses him, and everything is glorious static.

Martin whines into Jon’s mouth at every soft brush of lips, every gentle touch pushing him further into bliss. His body must have doubled its number of nerves, that’s the only explanation for why each touch feels so much more , like his lips are wired directly to his heart. He melts into the mattress and when Jon covers him completely, resting his weight on Martin’s chest and pinning him there, where he’s safe and wanted and loved , every one of those multiplied nerves sings with the rightness of it all.

He never wants it to end, never wants Jon to stop kissing him, but when Jon pulls away from his lips, he makes a beeline for Martin’s neck, licking and sucking in places that Martin knows will flush vivid and brilliant, and God, God . The sparks of pain make Martin twitch and shiver, going straight to the unbearable warmth between his legs, and all at once Martin is not content. How had he never realised how empty he is? How could he have walked around for so long with nothing to fill him up and soothe this sodden, burning ache ?

But it’s okay. It’s okay, because Martin has Jon – Jon who loves him, Jon who’ll make sure Martin never hurts again. Jon who’ll find a way to fill him up, because he said he wanted to give Martin what he needed and Martin needs this like oxygen, like water.

“Please,” he gasps out, and his voice barely sounds human anymore. The scent of the two of them together is as thick as honey on his panting tongue. “Please, Jon-“

“Shhh,” Jon whispers, pulling away from his neck. “I know, don’t worry. I’ll fix it.”

He starts with Martin’s hoodie, urging it up and over Martin’s head, and Martin would complain about the completely wrong focus here, but he is now realising he’s been overheating. Every muscle feels languid and flushed, his head swimming. Once his chest is bare, Jon scoots down to get his mouth on all that exposed skin. He rubs his thumb over Martin’s nipple and grins when it hardens. Martin squeaks when Jon leans in to suck at it, the wet heat making his back arch.

“Gorgeous,” Jon whispers when he pulls away, and when he leans in and bites the other one, Martin actually howls. The pain and suction send waves of heat to his cunt, like he’s a circuit completed by Jon’s mouth. He can’t even breathe past the want .

Jon spends what feels like forever teasing his nipples, before dipping down to kiss along his stomach. He keeps sucking marks into Martin’s skin – hardly difficult, he’s pale as anything and has always bruised like a peach. Every one makes some deep, wild part of him melt in joy; anyone who sees him now will know he’s not alone, that he belongs to someone.

Still, no matter how satisfying it is, Jon keeps teasing . Martin whines when he won’t go further than his stomach, won’t even touch below the waistband of his pyjama bottoms. “Jon, please, I want-“

“I’ve waited so long to get my mouth on you, excuse me for wanting to savour it.” Jon presses another vicious kiss to a stretch mark, nips at the softness of Martin’s tummy, and grins at his yelp. “I want to learn you,” he whispers fervently. “Every noise, every inch.”

Martin feels himself tear up at the thought – being spread out bare before Jon, probably tied up so that no matter how much he whined and squirmed, Jon would be able to look his fill. Touch his fill. Just the thought of being so seen, so intimately known sends a bone-deep shiver through him.

Jon takes his sweet time biting his way across Martin’s stomach. His stubble scratches at the tender skin when he nuzzles it, and Martin can’t stop himself squirming. God, he feels like such a mess, flushed all over and almost undone from nothing at all. His only comfort is that Jon’s eyes are hot with possessive pride – Jon likes him like this, wants him sweating and shaking and undone.

Finally, after what feels like forever, Jon curls his hands around Martin’s waistband. “Okay?” he asks, warm and intent, his gaze burning across Martin’s skin.

And now Martin feels intoxicated; nerves and hormones and anticipation and gut-punch want . “Yes,” he whispers, the words catching on the honey-coating of scent in his mouth. “God, Jon, yes .”

Then his pyjama bottoms are being eased down and away, and Martin has to close his eyes against the rush of frantic heat. Distantly, he hears more fabric rustling, and when he opens his eyes Jon is bare-chested, jumper abandoned somewhere in the nest. Martin’s mouth goes dry staring at all the gorgeous, scarred brown skin on show, the most he’s ever seen of Jon. Any other time, he’d want to shove Jon onto his back, sit on him and spend hours exploring him, cataloguing every hair and pockmark until he knew Jon blind. But he’s so conscious of the space inside him, the need to be stretched, filled, taken .

Thank God, Jon doesn’t spend long looking. He settles between Martin’s legs like he belongs there, one hand resting on Martin’s hip while the other slips down to finally, finally touch his dick. His thumb rubs firmly, perfectly, and Martin’s hips pitch off the bed at the sudden burn of pleasure.

Jon just grins. “Is that good?” he asks, the utter wanker, and keeps going, dipping down to wet his thumb in the frankly embarrassing amount of slick. It’s so good, so good – is Jon getting sneaky sex advice from the Beholding? Or would anything feel this good to Martin right now? He doesn’t care, it’s so satisfying, all he can do is throw his head back and cry out as every muscle is drenched in heat. If only there were something inside him.

He tries to speak but can’t quite form the words, not when his mind is so fuzzy with Jon’s scent, his warmth and presence. Instead he bucks his hips upwards, trying to guide Jon’s long, perfect fingers down. All he gets for that is an arm that should not be this strong pinning his hips to the bed. He whines piteously, as delighted by his alpha’s strength as he is desperate for more.

“Jon,” he whimpers finally, and Jon smiles, leans over and kisses him – so tenderly, there’s so much love in that kiss.

“Alright, dearest,” he whispers, and then two of those fingers are sliding into him, filling him, and a wave of heat washes Martin clean out of his head.

The orgasm lasts forever, and when he gets his breath back it feels like he’s barely come down at all. Jon is fucking him now, slow and in time to the movement of his thumb, and Martin feels like he’s bursting out of his skin, every nerve alight with yes . He doesn’t know how this could possibly get better.

“Another one?” Jon asks in that rich, deep voice, and yep, no, it can. Martin nods, speech utterly beyond him, and he gets another sweet kiss and another finger stretching him wonderfully wider. It’s barely an effort; he’s so wet right now, he can feel it dripping down onto the towel.

“I wonder how many you could take,” Jon says pensively, and Martin quivers at the thought.

“I-“ he pants, struggling to form words when all he wants to do is lie there and cry with pleasure, “all, all, your hand, Jon-“

Jon sharpens , so intent his gaze is like a literal weight. “Yes, that would solve the knotting problem, wouldn’t it? Do you think you could?” He actually smirks, God, Martin hates this man, this perfect alpha who against all odds wants him so much . “Do you think there’s room in you?”

“Ye-yes!” Martin sobs – he needs it, more than anything, Jon’s beautiful hand feels like the only thing that can stop this maddening ache . He braces himself on the bed and fucks his hips onto Jon’s fingers, and Jon laughs even as he moves with Martin to fuck him harder.

“You look so, so beautiful like this,” Jon says, and Martin loves it because it’s not a line, he knows it’s not, Jon would never say something like that if he didn’t mean it. “Begging for me, crying for me. I- Martin, my Martin. I want to give you everything.” He smiles, wide and gorgeous. “I suppose my hand isn’t really that much to ask for, all things considered.”

Another finger slides into him and Martin wails at how right it feels to be pushed open and taken like this. He must be drenching Jon’s hand, his cunt feels so unbearably swollen. Jon pushes forward and Martin can actually feel his knuckles slip inside him, bumping over his entrance and making sparks dance behind his eyes as Jon feeds his palm , his actual palm into Martin’s unresisting body. He’s so full, so perfectly held open, and it’s only going to get better .

“Christ,” Jon murmurs reverently. “You’re taking this so well. It’s so lovely to see you open up for me, slowly, finger by finger.” All Martin can do is stare up at him, starry-eyed, and whimper. The praise spilling from Jon’s mouth makes him shake – he’s good, he’s good , he’s loved .

He opens his mouth to tell Jon he loves him, but all he manages is another soft whine. Jon just smiles back, hungry eyes flaying Martin wide open, as he slides his hand out. The stretch of his knuckles sends Martin shuddering and twisting again, choking out a stream of pathetic little noises that Jon drinks in.

“And you still want more,” he says, leaning in close to Martin’s face, “don’t you? Will you ever be able to get enough?”

Martin quivers, shakes his head. He can’t imagine ever not wanting more of Jon.

The smile he gets for that sets his skin on fire. “That’s good,” Jon replies. “I’ve got more for you to take.” Martin feels his thumb rubbing against his entrance, before it tucks into the rest of his fingers and Jon starts to push.

Martin can’t breathe, literally cannot breathe – he’s never taken anything this size before and Jon keeps pushing, splitting him open around his palm, the base of his thumb, wider and wider and Martin keeps opening up, keeps letting Jon inside.

There’s a moment, when the widest part of Jon’s palm is pressing insistently against him – the burn of the stretch caught and amplified by the heat until it scorches up his spine – where Martin does actually black out. When his vision returns, he finds himself gasping soundlessly, unable to quite process the fact that Jon’s somehow managed to slide his entire hand inside him. That Martin’s body has allowed it, welcomed it.

He clenches down on reflex, and wails when the movement makes it so much more apparent how stretched his is, how filled .

“I love doing this,” Jon says, almost meditatively. “All I need to do is move my fingers the tiniest bit and I get so many beautiful noises and squirms, with almost no effort.” Apparently he feels the need to demonstrate this, and sure enough all it takes is the tiniest shift of the fingers inside him for Martin to whine and shake. “Just like that,” Jon says, delight plain on his face.

Then he slowly, deliberately, curls his fingers into a fist.

It feels like the biggest knot Martin’s ever imagined taking. Every single one of Martin’s desperately oversensitive nerves shorts out, noises he didn’t even know he could make spilling from his lips like water. His vision is blurred with tears, but he can still see the gorgeous power in Jon’s eyes, the shuddering intensity.

“I don’t think you’re done yet,” he tells Martin, so gently, so lovingly. “Am I wrong?”

Martin can’t say a word ; all he can do is arch his back and wail as Jon drives his fist into him, again and again, stretching him impossibly wide open around his actual arm , fuck, fuck -

He comes, again and again, each time just as wonderful. He comes until there’s nothing left in him, until his whole body feels like water, fluid and warm and utterly relaxed. All he can do is sigh softly and melt into his nest. Martin honestly can’t remember how long it’s been since he’s been so bone-deeply content.

Jon begins to move his arm back and Martin growls in protest – he’s so full , he doesn’t want it to stop. Distantly, he hears a little chuckle, and he cracks an eye to glare at his alpha.

“Sorry, sorry,” Jon says. “Just, I do need my arm back now, love. It’s starting to cramp.”

Martin keeps glaring, but he lets his legs fall apart so Jon can slide out. Jon moves away and Martin whines a little to himself. Still, could be worse; he’s tucked into his nest, everything smells like Jon, and he’s so fucked out he’s physically incapable of moving.

Jon is back before he has a chance to properly miss him, sliding into the nest and drawing blankets and a duvet over them. Martin’s not cold, exactly, but being surrounded by softness and scent brings with it a deep, resonating peace.

Arms curl around him, and Jon tucks his face into Martin’s neck. “You were so beautiful,” he whispers into the quiet safety of their nest, “so… My omega. So perfect for me.”

Martin smiles as he drifts away.

 

~~~~~

 

Martin fades into consciousness slowly, warm and content, bum on a fresh towel and soft blankets surrounding him with Jon’s scent. At least, he fades in slowly up until he realises he’s alone in the bed. Then he wakes up fast .

The ridiculous klaxons of alarm send him scrabbling blindly around his nest, as if Jon’s just tucked under a blanket or something. He does, however, land on a piece of paper, and the disposable phone he’d bought when they went on the lam.

The paper is covered in Jon’s messy cursive scrawl. I went to pick up food. Will be a while, please call me if you need. Martin finds himself clutching the note to his heart as he fumbles with his phone and speed-dials Jon’s number, praying to the gods of mobile signal that today will be one of the days you can actually call someone from the cottage.

Thank something, it is. The line crackles, but Jon’s voice comes through clear enough that the tight fist of panicked distressed loosens its grip on Martin’s guts. “Martin?” he asks, “are you alright?” That lovely voice is pretty tight itself, and he can imagine Jon fumbling for his own phone. The image puts a warm little glow in his heart.

“I’m fine! Just, you weren’t here.” He feels ridiculous admitting to it, but Jon just huffs softly, the noise crackling down the line.

“I’m so sorry, Martin. I hoped you’d sleep for longer.”

“It’s fine,” Martin says again. Then, because he really can’t resist, “how far away are you?”

“I’m just finishing up now, but I drove all the way to Helensburgh to get to Waitrose, so I’ll be a while yet.”

Martin can’t help himself; he bursts out laughing. “Waitrose?! Jesus Christ, Jon! I didn’t even know they had Waitrose up here.”

“Yes, well,” Jon huffs. “Not many, and a hell of a drive away, but I got there in the end.”

“But there’s a Morrisons only a couple villages away,” Martin gets out through giggles.

“Yes. Well. I want you to have the best.”

Damn his hormones, now Martin’s too busy swooning to mock Jon as he deserves. “You bloody sap. Also, how middle class are you?”

Jon sighs deeply. “The sins of my upbringing are many, I’m aware. At the very least, I didn’t go to private school.” Martin giggles, and gets another deep sigh. It’s so lovely, to curl up into his nest and tease Jon. So nice to be secure enough that he can do that. If only Jon was here, everything would be perfect.

“I tried to get things I know you like,” Jon continues, and Martin can detect the slight thread of anxiety in his voice.

“I’m sure it’ll be lovely,” he soothes.

Jun huffs, but Martin knows him well enough to tell that he’s touched. “Is there anything in particular you’d like?”

Martin has a think. He’s a bit embarrassed by his answer, but Jon really did say anything. “Do they have Mr Kipling? The angel cake slices?”

“I can check for you,” Jon replies. “And if they don’t, I’ll just go somewhere else on my way back.”

“You don’t-“

“I’m going to anyway.” Martin starts to argue further, but Jon cuts him off. “Have you eaten anything today?”

“No,” Martin admits. “I wasn’t really hungry, you know.”

“In the least patronising way possible, you should probably go and eat something,” Jon says tentatively, and Martin finds himself hugging a pillow through a wave of fondness.

“Sure,” he replies, and forces himself out of his nest. It’s a real effort, between the instincts screaming at him to stay in the safe, warm little burrow, and the fact that it smells of Jon , of them . But Jon’s right. In the past, Martin’s forgotten to eat for days during his heats, and he really doesn’t want to faint again. Jon would have a heart attack.

He means to pull on his hoodie, but ends up grabbing Jon’s tee-shirt. It barely fits him – what’s slightly baggy on Jon is uncomfortably tight on him, as well as being too long, and Martin has to pull his hoodie over it before he starts panicking about how ugly he looks. Still, it smells of Jon, and that’s ridiculously comforting.

He scoops his phone back up, and takes it downstairs with him. Jon doesn’t speak more – Martin can hear the beeps of items being scanned from the other end – but just having him on the other end of the line helps.

The downstairs smells of Jon too, his nose hyper-attuned to the leftover scent on the settee and the few discarded items of clothing. He finds himself humming softly as he roots around the cupboards, eventually deciding to trust the rickety toaster. The beeping on the other end of the phone still hasn’t stopped.

“How much did you buy?” he asks, and Jon sighs deeply.

“I may have gone a bit overboard,” he admits. “In my defence, this is a perfectly natural instinct. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” He doesn’t sound like he’s fully convinced himself of that.

Martin snickers. “Well, if you can’t kill a mammoth and drag it back to the cave…”

“Shut up, you awful man,” Jon says, with no heat behind it.

Distantly, Martin can hear someone, presumably the cashier, ask Jon, “Unexpected heat then?”

“Yes,” Jon replies, only a little snappish. Martin’s proud of him.

“Good luck to you both, dear,” the cashier says, and Martin can hear the warmth even at this distance. Jon thanks her, and Martin smiles as he fishes out his only-slightly-burnt toast and butters it.

As soon as he bites down, Martin’s body remembers that he’s hungry . He devours the two pieces of toast before Jon’s even finished paying, and goes back for more while he’s still munching on the second one. He busies himself making tea as Jon heads for their car – or, well, the car Basira had borrowed off her brother and donated to the Get-Jon-And-Martin-Out-Of-London cause.

Jon stays on the line while he drives, which is pretty bad, Martin knows. He should definitely say something about road safety. But he doesn’t know if he can bear to lose this thin thread of connection to Jon. And it’s not like they’re talking much – the occasional mutter from Jon as someone else on the road does something he considers criminal, Martin humming softly to himself as he drinks tea and cuddles one of the settee cushions.

It’s half an hour before Jon gets home, and in that time Martin busies himself tidying up the living room and fixing his nest back up. Jon puts on the radio; Martin can’t really work out what they’re saying even when the signal holds, but it’s probably something unbearably middle-class on Radio 4.

They don’t talk very often, but that’s fine by Martin. They can talk when Jon’s back where he belongs, tucked into Martin’s nest and sprawled over him.

Finally, finally, Jon breaks the silence to say “I’m almost home.” He sounds so relieved for a second, and it swells Martin’s heart. Even knowing that Jon is going to be actually there in a matter of minutes, it takes real strength for Martin to hang up.

He can’t stop himself from being right by the door when Jon gets in, laden with shopping bags. He’d thought he was calmed down some, but having Jon back properly makes everything click back into place. He trembles with the need to go to Jon, before remembering that he can do just that, that he’s allowed.

Jon puts the shopping down on the floor as soon as Martin moves towards him, stepping forward to catch him as Martin all but throws himself into Jon’s arms. In short order, Martin is bundled up and shoved into the nearest wall, almost tripping over one of the bags. Jon crowds in after him and in moments they’re pressed together so snug that there’s no room for any trace of that awful, churning unease.

“I missed you,” Jon breathes into his hair, before ducking to nip at his neck. Martin winds his arms around Jon’s neck and clings, delighted that for once he’s exactly as needy as the other person in this equation.

“I missed you too,” he replies, and for once he doesn’t even feel weak for it.

Finally, after long minutes of breathing together, Jon pulls away. Martin helps him carry the shopping into the kitchen, even if he does get a filthy glare for it, and he unpacks the bags while Jon stows it all.

There’s… a lot. All of it obviously better quality than anything Martin’s ever bought for himself – except for the several boxes of angel cake slices that Martin unpacks with a huge, soft smile – and all incredibly healthy. The amount of fruit and veg alone makes Martin, who’s so used to ready meals and cans, maybe some jazzed-up instant ramen if he really wants to treat himself, slightly dizzy.

“I don’t know what to do with half this stuff,” he remarks.

Jon blinks at him from in front of the fridge. “I can show you, if you like, but I assumed I’d be doing the cooking.” As usual isn’t said, but it’s implied, and Martin finds himself flushing and looking down.

Martin knows he’s not – he can clean with the best of them, can keep a house organised and sorted, but his cooking skills have always been a sore spot. Growing up, he never had the stuff to do anything fancy, and nowadays it’s just… a lot of effort, to do more than bung a ready meal in the microwave, or a tin into a saucepan. Won’t get an alpha like this floats up from the more sewer-like depths of his memory, and he mentally shakes himself. He doesn’t need to try and earn Jon, not when Jon’s made it clear that he’s here regardless.

His train of thought gets cut off pretty abruptly when he gets to the bottom of the last bag.

“Jon.”

“Martin?” Jon replies distractedly.

Plunking the little blue box down on the table, Martin crosses his arms. “Why are there condoms now?”

That gets Jon’s attention, “Oh. Yes. Well,” he mumbles, grinding to a halt.

Martin can feel his face softening by the second. “Jon, you know you don’t have to do that. What we did earlier, that was…”

“Adequate?” Jon asks archly.

“Fuck off. I’ve never come that hard before,” Martin adds in a sudden rush of boldness. It’s so satisfying to see Jon choke, even more satisfying to see that pleased, smug little smile and breathe in the corresponding warmth in his scent.

Jon sighs, scooping up the last few bits and pieces and stowing them in the cupboard as he talks. “I don’t feel pressured, if that’s what you’re getting at. But while I’m not normally interested in anything involving my orgasms, I’m not unaffected by the metric ton of pheromones you’re putting out right now.” He shrugs. “It’s not something I can entirely predict, and I can’t even guarantee I’ll be up for it, but I’d rather be prepared if I am.”

“Fair enough,” Martin murmurs, shifting in his chair. Speaking of his stupid pheromones, it’s pathetic that he’s getting this wet over one of the least sexual conversations about sex he’s ever been a part of. It’s Jon’s voice, he swears. Jon can make anything sound hot.

His scent must change slightly, because Jon shoots him a sardonic look. Martin glowers back. To his credit, though, Jon does put the shopping away a lot faster after that, before he strides over and scoops Martin out of his chair, hustling him backwards to the settee.

When Martin is seated to Jon’s satisfaction, he drops to his knees and yanks Martin’s pyjama bottoms down. “Yes?” he asks, voice edged with a growl, and Martin is gone , okay, this is not fair.

“Always, yes,” he manages, reaching down to twine his hands through black-and-silver hair. Jon smiles up at his, sharp and gorgeous, before pulling Martin’s hips towards him and shoving his face directly into Martin’s cunt.

 

~~~~~

 

He’s sure he isn’t out for long, this time. The sun is still streaming in through the bedroom curtains, although it’s taken on a softened, yellowed glow. Jon is perched beside him, hand curled around his shoulder where he’d shaken him gently awake.

“I made you a sandwich,” he says, and Martin breathes through the flood of wonder. This is his life, now – warmth and safety and everything he could possibly want, right up to the actual wet dream of a gorgeous alpha carrying him to bed and making him a late lunch.

“My hero,” he whispers, trying to ignore the tears beading in his eyes. One gets free, and Jon swipes it gently away.

He helps Martin into a sitting position, then hovers as Martin devours the sandwich – fancy-tasting ham and pesto on thick wodges of the bread Jon had picked up from the bakery. It tastes wonderful, even better for being made by Jon. Which – sappy, yeah, but Martin thinks he’s earned a bit of sappiness.

“I still can’t quite believe this is all real,” he says to himself when the sandwich is done, and immediately flushes.

Jon just chuckles. “Mmm, I know the feeling.” Still, Martin notices, something is up. He’s fidgeting again, and won’t even look in Martin’s general direction.

“Jon, spit it out,” Martin orders, reaching for Jon’s hand and intertwining their fingers. He feels giddy, brave, like he could do anything, say anything.

Jon fidgets a bit more, mms and ahs , before finally throwing his hands up in the air and fishing something out of his pocket.

It’s a condom. Martin stares at the little blue square, then up at Jon.

“Like I said,” Jon mutters, “pheromones. I think I want to try.”

“You think?’’’ Martin pokes him gently. “That’s not exactly enthusiastic.”

“Well, I’m sorry,” Jon huffs, and the stupid, hormone-drowned bits of Martin’s brain cringe. He wants to apologise – he wants to roll over and show his throat in supplication.

Some of that must show in his scent, because Jon sighs and tugs on their hands, raising Martin’s to his mouth and kissing it with aching softness. “I can’t promise anything, but I want to give it a go. If it doesn’t work you’re welcome to say ‘I told you so’ as many times as you like.”

“I won’t say that, that’d be mean.” Martin squeezes Jon’s hand. “Okay, then. We can try.”

Jon smiles that smug little smile he always gets when he wins an argument. Then his face scrunches, and his other hand starts fidgeting with the hem of Martin’s hoodie.

“You alright there?” Martin asks.

Jon blinks down at him. “I’m not completely sure where to start. Do I just… whip it out, or something?”

Martin doesn’t bother to keep his giggle contained – he knows by now when Jon’s poking fun. “No, definitely don’t do that!” Feeling bold – there’s something weirdly charming about the gangly, awkward alpha in his nest, something that makes Martin feel that strange, soft sense of power he’s always envied in other omegas – Martin scoots over and climbs into Jon’s lap. Jon’s arms come up and around him immediately, holding him close, just where Jon wants him.

“Foreplay is important, you know,” he murmurs against Jon’s lips. For emphasis, he punctuates his words with a wiggle of his hips.

It gets him exactly the reaction he wanted – Jon drags him in for a searing kiss, nipping at his lips and pulling him even closer. Martin whines into his mouth as he basically just sits there and gets devoured, wonderfully secure in the knowledge that he made this happen.

“Foreplay,” Jon replies when they draw apart, “yes. And how do we do that, again?”

Martin has to work hard to get his words back, but it’s worth it to hear the catch of a growl in Jon’s voice. To know that Jon is just as affected as he is. “Well,” he says against Jon’s lips, “first we get you comfortable.”

Jon chuckles. “I’m already very comfortable, right here.” He proceeds to demonstrate this by sliding deeper into the nest, tugging Martin with him until he’s sprawled on his back and using Martin as a blanket. Martin wiggles a little, worried about squashing him, but Jon clamps down and holds him until he stills.

“See,” he says, his lovely face so very close, “comfortable.”

“Good to know,” Martin almost whispers. The heat is building again, nerves reawakening and his whole body tuning itself to Jon. “So now, we get our shirts off.”

“I think I can manage that,” Jon replies. “I figured everything out fine the first time.” The memory of that makes Martin flush all over, and Jon smirks like he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Determined to get his own back, Martin pushes upright until he’s straddling Jon’s hips. He’s never tried to strip sexily before – never really considered that someone would think getting him naked was enjoyable in and of itself – but he tries now. He goes slowly, adds a little shimmy because he feels like it, and when he’s gotten his hoodie over his head Jon is staring up at him with darkened cheeks and darkened eyes.

“That’s my t-shirt,” he says, voice gone a little rusty.

Martin shrugs, self-consciousness returning. He really wasn’t kidding about it being too tight. “Yeah, well, you weren’t there.” He shrugs again, fighting the urge to apologise.

Jon just stares at him for a moment. Then suddenly Martin is being flipped and dumped on his back, pinned by miles of terrifyingly sexy alpha. He squeaks in shock, before the noise is muffled by Jon’s mouth crashing down on his.

“Okay,” Jon tells him when they come up for air, “you’re keeping that on.”

“Really?” Martin asks faintly.

“Do I look like I’m joking?” Jon replies, voice edged with a growl. “It’s-“ He gives up on words and ducks to teethe at Martin’s neck, latching onto the hickies he’s already left and sucking on them until Martin feels like he’s going to scream.

Martin keeps trying to grasp his words, but every new spike of sweet pain sends them scattering again. In frustration, he yanks at Jon’s shirt, trying to pull it off, get his hands on skin. He’s desperate to have Jon bare, in his nest, all his to touch.

Jon doesn’t seem to want to leave off his torturing of Martin’s poor neck, but finally Martin manages to get enough control of himself to pull the jumper up enough to be a pain, and Jon quickly shrugs out of it. Martin sighs in deep satisfaction and starts the vital process of touching every part of Jon he can reach. Jon’s skin is so warm, so soft under his hands, and the pockmarked scars only remind his lizard brain that his alpha has survived so many horrors, that he’s strong, that he’ll keep Martin and their babies safe –

Thank God, Jon cuts off that particular thought before Martin has to own up to it, by sliding his hands under Martin’s waistband. He pets at Martin’s hips for a few moments, digging his fingers into the bruises he’d left scattered there on the settee earlier, before pulling his tracksuit bottoms and pants down as one. And thank God for that too, because otherwise Martin would literally have just soaked through them.

Not to be outdone, Martin grabs at Jon’s waistband and pets his hip questioningly. Jon freezes for a second, eyes going slightly unfocussed.

“Okay?” Martin manages to ask – screw hormones, this is important.

Jon pauses for a second, and then says, “If I say stop-“

“We stop,” Martin says hurriedly. “I don’t, don’t care what- You. You’re more important.”

Jon smiles at that, bends his head to rest it on Martin’s shoulder. Martin bring his hands up to cradle his dear head, slipping his hand into Jon’s hair. It’s gotten so much silkier than Martin remembers from before the Unknowing and Jon’s coma - evidently he’s found a good conditioner brand. 

They hold each other for a while, and despite how much he’s burning for more contact, there’s something so good about just hugging Jon, surrounded by the mixture of their scents. It’s been so long since Martin got to do this with someone, and while Jon hasn’t been stingy with hugs since he pulled Martin out of the Lonely, there’s been nothing quite as contact-heavy as this. Martin’s not the most tactile person, but he loves a good hug when one’s available, and he soaks the warmth and sweetness up like a flower in the sun.

Eventually Jon shifts against him, biting his lip. “To be clear, I don’t think I’m saying stop.” He hesitates, then rolls his hips against Martin’s. It’s a slow, gentle grind, but it still sends Martin’s eyes rolling back in his head, making his whole body shudder. He whines softly, and Jon kisses the sound out of his mouth.

He keeps up the slow circling of his hips, leaning in to nose at the bruises he’d dotted over Martin’s neck. Martin would complain, but he can feel Jon getting slowly harder against him, and that’s as intoxicating as any heat-flush. He grinds up against Jon, probably getting slick all over his tracksuit bottoms and not caring in the slightest, because every time he does Jon makes such a lovely, soft noise.

It’s not long before Martin can feel Jon’s cock resting hard against his groin, and Jon is pulling back to quickly undress. Martin can’t stop staring, skinny hips and dark hair and a long, slender cock that he wants so badly to hold. So he does; slips his hand down slowly so Jon has time to stop him and gently circles it, blood-hot and a perfect, satisfying weight. Jon groans, presses his forehead into Martin’s collarbone.

“Where the hell did that condom go?” he hisses, and Martin giggles. It takes a few seconds of frantically patting down the blankets before Martin’s hand connects with the little square, and he brandishes it triumphantly before passing it to Jon. He giggles again when Jon tears it open so violently he almost drops it, before he finally manages to roll it onto his cock.

“Do you need-“ Jon asks, reaching down to brush his fingers over Martin’s cock. The contact makes Martin jump and yelp, and any other time he’d been all for it. But right now, he’s very focussed on how empty his cunt is, remembering how good it felt for it to be full earlier today, on Jon’s fingers and Jon’s hand. He wants to know how this feels too. He shakes his head frantically, and Jon chuckles shakily.

“I love how much you want me,” he says, almost awkward but as if he’s too caught up in everything to care. “I love how you flush –“ he trails a hand over Martin’s overheated cheek – “and all your little noises, the way you shiver and twitch.” His smile becomes almost predatory. “Wonder what that will feel like when I’m inside you.”

Martin glares up at him, and very deliberately pulls his legs up to hug Jon’s sides. It is, he feels, a pretty clear invitation for Jon to stop theorising and find out for his bloody self.

Jon’s gorgeous mouth parts as he wraps his hand around his cock to guide it between Martin’s legs, and Martin can’t resist pushing up to kiss his slack lips. The head brushes against his entrance, and Martin mewls as Jon pushes carefully forward.

It’s been long enough that Jon’s cock stretches Martin’s entrance, a sweet blunt pressure that sends sparks through his whole body. He pushes back on Jon and whines as that glorious relief, how right it feels for Jon to fill him up.

And fuck, but Jon fills him; he’s wonderfully long, coring into Martin and sating him completely. Martin throws his head back, gasping as Jon bottoms out – like Jon’s filled him too far for there to be room for even air.

When he’s got his hips resting against Martin’s, Jon breathes out shakily. “Do you know how good you feel?” he mutters, hoarse and so sweet. “So hot, inside –“ he laughs shakily – “I almost don’t want to pull out.”

Martin imagines just lying here, Jon inside him; would he go mad from it? He’s sure he would, eventually – his body knows exactly what it wants. He grinds up against Jon, rubbing his cock against Jon’s hip. The twist of pleasure makes him clench down and Jon gasps, draws his hips back and immediately pushes back in. Perfect friction shoves a wail out of Martin, and he sinks his teeth into Jon’s trapezoid, hanging on for dear life.

Jon starts slow, like he’s getting the hang of it, and Martin stifles his whines and moans in Jon’s skin at the slow, dragging burn. After a few minutes, he seems to get the hang of it, and his hips move harder, stronger, long deep thrusts that make Martin release his shoulder and squeal as he’s filled up completely again and again. His head feels fuzzy, everything hot and ecstatic and smelling of Jon, his Jon. Martin wraps his legs around Jon’s waist and lets himself fall apart.

Jon is swelling, just slightly but catching on Martin’s rim, each sweet tug making Martin squeal again and again. He’s getting slowly louder as well, pushing his face into Martin’s neck to smother his groans. Suddenly, he wrenches his head away to look into Martin’s face, and before Martin can get himself together enough to ask why, he’s grabbing onto the headboard and pounding into Martin hard enough that the bed shrieks a protest.

“Martin,” Jon gasps, his gorgeous face dark, sweat soaking into his hair, and his eyes so intent they stick pins through Martin’s chest. He wraps his legs even tighter around Jon’s waist, pulling his hips in until the knot pops through and swells inside him, pushing insistent and perfect into his g-spot until Martin’s eyes are rolling back in his head and he’s coming with a wail. Jon moans, so loud it reverberates through Martin’s ribcage where their chests are pressed together, and grinds in even deeper than Martin thought he could possibly get as he comes.

For a minute all either of them can manage is to hold each other as they twitch and shake through their aftershocks. Slowly, though, they settle, collapsing into each other and into the nest. They lie on top of each other for long minutes, catching their breath together.

Martin shifts, wincing at the mess coating Jon’s towel, and Jon sighs. Carefully, cradling Martin to him to keep from tugging to hard at where they’re joined, he rolls them on their sides out of the wet spot. Now he’s lying on clean fabric Martin hums delightedly, setting aside how uncomfortably sweaty the t-shirt has become to cuddle into his alpha’s chest. Sweet kisses are scattered in his damp hair, and Martin presses answering kisses to Jon’s shoulders, especially the bite-mark he’s left. He eyes that one carefully, but he hadn’t broken skin, just left it slightly swollen. It will probably bruise, but from the way Jon sighs in contentment at each little press of Martin’s lips against the heated skin, Martin doubts he’ll mind.

Floating on an exhausted, fucked-out haze of affection, Martin pulls away to catch Jon’s eyes. He treasures the tender smile he gets, but there’s a slight distance that, Martin being Martin, worries him a bit.

“What’s going on in your head?” he asks, aware that his voice is ridiculously sappy and completely unable to care.

Jon goes all shifty, eyes darting away like they always do when he has to admit to a feeling. His thumb strokes firmly over Martin’s side, soothing himself. “I very much wanted to bite you, just then.”

It takes a moment, for the implication to sink in, and when it does it leaves Martin breathless. “Do you mean like, bite me, or bite me?”

“Eloquent,” Jon mutters, and Martin elbows him in the ribs, careful to aim for the ones that are actually there.

“Piss off.”

Jon snickers, and then sighs deeply. He still won’t look at Martin. “A proper bite. A claiming bite. Not to be cliché, but it was genuinely hard to stop myself.”

Before he can catch himself, Martin asks, “Why did you?”

That gets Jon to look at him, gorgeous eyes round with shock. “Seriously?”

Martin considers taking it back, for all of a second. But no, he’s not that much of a coward. “You know what, yeah. Seriously. Why not?”

Jon shifts, and then stills when he pulls on where they’re joined and makes Martin hiss. He settles with an annoyed little huff and buries a hand in Martin’s hair, very definitely stimming with it. It’s adorable. “You deserve better than some in-the-moment stroke of madness.”

“Ouch,” Martin mutters jokingly, and gets a pinch for his troubles. Which, not exactly a deterrent.

“That’s not what I meant,” Jon mutters. “I… would be lying if I said this was a spur of the moment desire. But it’s definitely not something I wanted to do without talking to you first, especially not when we’re both of our heads on hormones.”

Martin sort of has to concede that. However romantic the idea is, however little he’s sure he would have regretted allowing it, Jon’s right that it wouldn’t have been the smart thing to do. A little wave of cold goes over him when he remembers his mum telling him once that his dad had claimed her during a heat, that it had been a surprise.

“Okay,” he murmurs, snuggling deeper into Jon’s arms. “That was a good call. But… you do still want to, right? Now that we’re not off our heads?”

Jon stares down at him “Christ, yes. More than anything.” He’s so sincere, so much love on his face. Martin never wants to stop looking at him, never wants to let him go. Never wants to be without him.

He’d tried to live without Jon, and it had been some of the worst months of his life. And Martin knows from bad months.

“So why don’t we?” he asks. “I want to, you want to, we can both consent right now. Our lives are insane , and we don’t actually know how long this reprieve will last. Why not take the opportunity? It’s not like it’s a marriage or something.”

“No,” Jon mutters, “in some cultures it’s significantly more binding.”

Martin shrugs. “I want that. I want you to be mine. You don’t have to do it now, or ever, but don’t hold back because you think I don’t want you, or that I don’t know what I’m talking about.” He looks up at Jon defiantly.

Jon leans in to press a kiss to his lips, and Martin melts immediately. “I know, and I’m not saying no. Just that we should give it a little time. Just a little time, so that we’re sure. It’s… it’s important to me, Martin.” His face hardens into determination, which probably shouldn’t be quite so sexy. “ You’re important, and I will not cock this up.”

And what the hell else can he say to that? “Of course, sure. We’ll wait.” Martin still feels a bit wistful, but he’s happy to let the matter drop. It’s hard to feel anything but good right now, nestled into his alpha’s arms.

“My Jon,” he whispers into Jon’s neck, with a little shiver of delight.

Jon’s arms wrap around him even tighter, and his love presses a soft kiss to his hair. “My Martin,” he replies. “Mine. I love you, so much.”

“I love you too,” Martin replies. His cheeks ache, but he can’t stop smiling.

 

~~~~~

 

Martin’s been trying to help with dinner, but every time he gets up Jon shoots him a frazzled little glare. By this point, he’s given up, settling comfortably into the kitchen chair and letting Jon bustle.

“What are you making?” he asks, when Jon is done chopping up vegetables to absolutely tiny cubes.

“A ragu,” Jon replies, scraping his vegetable collection into the pot.

“Not curry?”

“Don’t stereotype,” Jon admonishes, wagging a finger.

“Sorry,” Martin mutters, and Jon grins. His smile is so wide, uninhibited, not like anything Martin can remember seeing on his face. It’s so beautiful, he’s so beautiful.

“We’ll have curry tomorrow,” he murmurs, slipping away from the pot to kiss Martin’s forehead. “We’ll have whatever you want.”

“Oh, that’s a lot of power you’ve just given me,” Martin replies. Everything is warm – the banked fire in his body, the softness bathing his heart. Unreasonably nice smells are wafting from Daisy’s battered old pan, mixing with the Jon-scent hanging in the air, and everything is so good.

“I had no idea I could still be this happy,” he says absently, and winces a little when Jon looks over at him.

All that Jon does, though, is smile back, small and soft and joyful. “Me neither,” he replies. “Me neither, love.” Martin looks up to meet his eyes, let the warmth behind them wash over him and carry him away. For once in his life, he’s not afraid.