Chapter 1: the part where everything is fine
You grew up friends with Noctis. Not really sure why - you excelled at academics, maybe, you were supposed to tutor him. Neither of you really remember the earliest times in your friendship. The memories get vivid when you finally present. Everyone knew Noct was going to be an alpha, so that wasn't a surprise. But when one of his closest friends presented as an omega with the most potent scent around, it drew attention. You were on suppressants as soon as your body could safely take it not for the heats, but to try to dampen your smell. From puberty, you started getting drowned in alpha attention, not much of it pleasant. So early on, with consent from both of you, Noct started to scent you. Not a claim, of course, merely nuzzling against your neck (sometimes sucking gently on your gland, although this was generally reserved for times when your scent was out of control). It's become one of the staples in your relationship. Every time you see each other, every hug in greeting is always so he can keep you safe. Over the years, his scent has become your comfort, something that can always calm you down. Even now, having him suckling on your gland is the only thing that can really help you recover from your anxiety attacks.
You suppose that's the main reason he let you accompany him on this trip. He felt like you were far too vulnerable without him to protect you. You denied that passionately, of course, but he insisted. Although camping isn't your cup of tea, you do have to admit that your quick reflexes and keen senses have saved the group from quite a few ambushes. Also, you weren't much of a fighter, but you were the best caretaker around. Sometimes you wondered if the boys let themselves get a little injured just so you'd baby them.
Either way, most of the time you spend in the Regalia involves you sandwiched between the alphas in the back, mostly laying on Noct. You’re asleep most of the time, their strong presence allowing you to rest easily. But sometimes you wake up to Noct's lips on your neck and Gladio rubbing your arm soothingly, both of them purring in their instinctive “calm the omega” gesture. There were perks to still being omega-passing on hormones, you suppose. Prompto passes for a beta while he's on his suppressants, which is probably better for his pride, but you can't really imagine how it feels to not depend on alphas.
Maybe depend isn't the right word - you can take care of yourself just fine, especially since you've never had a heat. But there isn't once in your life that you've needed something that an alpha wasn't immediately trying to get for you, and comfort behaviours are always welcome. The increasing rarity of omegas in the kingdom means that you could generally cause a scene if you wanted to, oftentimes finding yourself pampered by complete strangers responding to your tears. You find the protective flare in their scents to be reassuring in a bizarre way. You're rather traditional omega in that way - the confidence of an alpha is soothing to you. The best way to get your attention when you're emotional is to use their alpha-voice, even though there have been debates for years over the morality of ordering omegas around that way. The resignation of control is something that inexplicably calms you, and Noct knows this well.
So you're not all that surprised when he wakes you by growling a command into your ear with a primal strength. “Get up,” he says, and you immediately find yourself scrambling to comply.
“Imperials found us,” he explains while helping you right yourself. “Gladio is relocating the car. We'll come back for it later. Right now we have to pack up as fast as possible.” His voice retains some of the dark timbre so you don't protest. You look over to see Ignis giving Prom the same talk, obviously the beta’s job so the younger omega isn't scared.
It doesn't take the four of you long to break camp, acting with a hushed ease that comes from weeks of practice. Iggy leads the way, and you shoulder your portion of the camping materials, balancing your bag of medical supplies in your arms. It might only be an hour til dawn, so you're all reasonably rested. And you were well on your way to the next town. Overall your situation isn't too bad.
Eventually you meet Gladio on your hike through the forest, and he wordlessly reaches to take the pack off your back. You try to protest by squirming away from him. He levels a serious glare at you, and enough irritation filters into his scent that you relent. You pout at how pleased he seems as he swings it over one broad shoulder, ruffling your hair before moving to take something from Prompto too. The trek is rather pleasant after that, the feeling of danger eventually fading as the sun begins to rise. Ignis announces that you're not more than a few hours from town, and you readjust your hold on the bag. The silence gives you time to sift through everyone’s individual scents. You’re trying to detect any fear they might be hiding from you, or any hints of pain from old injuries. Luckily the worst you smell is the dull musk of exhaustion; a feeling that weighs heavy but not negative on your group. Prompto is still uneasy but, you suppose, you smell that way too. Maybe it’s an omega trait to be wary of everything. Or maybe it’s learned from fighting with your reckless companions for so long.
You reach civilization again in late morning, and Ignis immediately goes to rent a caravan. He and Prompto go out to fetch lunch, leaving you and the alphas to get settled. When you enter your temporary shelter, Noctis is quick to shed his jacket. He pulls you close and scents you gently, licking once over your gland before laying down on the bed and dropping off to sleep. “Awful lazy for a prince,” you say fondly, your voice at an odd pitch from disuse.
Gladio grunts in agreement, dropping the rest of the group’s belongings on the floor. It’s warm in the narrow caravan, and you sit to struggle out of your boots. He clears his throat and drops his jacket on the floor too, announcing that he’s going to secure the perimeter. You’re a little uncomfortable, in a restless sort of way, but the heat isn’t helping either. You search through your relatively sparse pack for your lighter tank top, changing into it leisurely. The stagnant air feels almost cool against your now bare arms. Maybe you can talk the boys into buying a fan.
The sight of the three articles of clothing on the floor - your shirt and the alphas’ jackets - cause the restlessness to flare up again. Without really knowing what you’re doing, you move into the back room and gather extra blankets, careful not to disturb Noct. You drop them right where the curtain falls to separate the bedroom from the main part of the caravan, then move back towards the bags. If you were thinking properly, or at all, really, you would be ashamed of yourself. But your skin is tingling and you feel a little short of breath and you pull the softest clothes you can find out of the bags, going through them one at a time. You toss every suitable item back to the blankets without looking. It takes a while, because your knees are weak by the time you walk over to the pile and sit yourself in the middle of it. By an embarrassing dance of squirming and pulling blankets into place, accompanied by frustrated whimpers, you manage to create a nest around yourself, finally laying down comfortably on the hard floor. You finish it off by pulling Gladiolus’ leather jacket on top. It’s cool, and smooth, and smells strongly of him.
You press your face to it and drift off to the sound of Noctis’ quiet snoring.
Chapter 2: the part where things are less fine
i thought about separating this into 2 different chapters but i couldn't decide where to cut it so here's this monster! (also thanks for all the kudos already <3)
You wake a few hours later, a hushed conversation audible through the thin walls. Your back is a little stiff, and you’re dizzy for a second after you stand, but overall you’re feeling much more like yourself. The door of the caravan creaks loudly as you step outside. Four pairs of eyes are immediately fixed on you, which is an unnerving amount of attention from such a normally active group. “Uh, hi?”
Prompto is the first to say something, tilting his head to the side as he asks, “Have a good rest?”
“I guess,” you yawn. “You guys eat already?”
Ignis slides a take-home box across the table to you, a look of obvious concern on his face. You don’t notice it at first, too focused on the food you start to shovel into your mouth. There’s an uneasy silence and you look up to see everyone still staring at you. “What?” You say, getting a little irritated.
“Please pardon the question, but, ah… do you nest often?” Iggy is worried, his normally muted scent now alight with emotion.
“ What? ” You look at all of them in shock, but none of their expressions change. “Why is this-- I didn’t ,” you gasp, cutting yourself off in realization. Noct nods slowly, patting your hand to comfort you.
Your face is suddenly aflame and you’ve never been more embarrassed in your life. “I didn't take all your stuff, did I? I am so sorry, guys. I swear, this never happens, I don't know what came over me! I'll go put everything back, I'm sorry,” you ramble, starting back inside.
It's Gladio that grabs you by the arm, keeping you from leaving. “Stop,” he booms, his alpha-voice deep and dark. You don't know that he's ever used it on you before. Certainly not like this. It freezes you in your tracks, and you hear someone gasp at his boldness. There is an indecipherable emotion in him. His scent hits you all at once, almost enough to take your breath away. The fact that he's asserting his dominance like that just makes him all the more alluring, and the force of his presence sends tingles all the way down to your toes. “We’ve talked about it already,” he says more calmly. “If your nest makes you comfortable, then keep it. You can have our extra clothes for now.”
“I really appreciate it, but I’m not going into heat, so I really don’t need a nest.” None of them seem convinced, and Gladiolus is about to say something else when you continue. “This patch must be running out, is all. I’ll change it tomorrow and everything will be fine, okay?”
His hand tightens around your arm for a moment, his thumb running over your skin a couple times before he murmurs, “keep it for tonight, then.” His voice is lowered and delicious. You’re not sure if it’s alpha influence or if you just submit easily to him, but you don’t feel like you have a choice in the matter. He forces eye contact to make sure you understand how serious he is.
“Yes, alpha,” you breathe.
Satisfied, he steps away from you and retakes his seat. You cautiously pick the food up again and take it over to an empty seat next to Prompto. Somehow the fellow omega seems more welcoming at the moment. You’re proved right when he turns to you and asks sincerely, “How are you feeling?”
“Honestly? A little feverish. I always do towards the ends of the patches, so it’s nothing new. I haven’t made a nest in forever, though.”
He shrugs, picking at your leftovers with his fingers. “I used to nest all the time, even if I was nowhere near a heat. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Thanks,” you say, nudging him with your elbow.
“Don’t worry about it,” he tells you. His hand sneaks back to the container in front of you, and he’s about to steal more food until Noctis interrupts.
“Prom, let them eat first, you pig.”
You giggle as the blonde pretends to be offended, the two old friends playfighting just for laughs. “Honestly, it’s fine,” you interject after a while. Prompto only takes little bits at a time anyway, and he always gives you plenty of time to shoo him away if you want. For all he tries to be nonchalant and detached, the kid’s a real sweetheart.
After the commotion dies down and you finally finish your lunch, Iggy places a map and a daemon wanted poster on the table. “We took the liberty of gathering information about our next hunt while you were asleep. Since you’re not feeling well, we can leave early tomorrow. Everyone needs the rest regardless.”
So the five of you make a detailed plan for the hunt, including many, many backups. Eventually everything that can be discussed has been discussed. You talk Iggy into letting you stock up on curatives - because he handles the gil in the group, he accompanies you to the market. The beta makes sure that you’ll be able to easily carry your purchases, examining you with protectiveness that borders on concern. On the walk back, you reassure him that you really are fine, that everything will be sorted out once you switch patches. He gives you a grateful smile and doesn’t press the topic any further.
You leave Ignis to his own devices, making your way inside the caravan. Prom sees that you’re back and starts to make his way outside, presumably to talk to Iggy. So you step around him and over your nest (which you're trying desperately to forget). Noct is on his back browsing his phone on one of the beds, and Gladiolus is apparently stretching on the other, although you suspect it might be closer to posing as soon as you walk in. You crawl next to the prince until you can rest your head on his chest comfortably, curling up into him. He immediately accepts you, rearranging himself to hold you. Noct takes a deep breath in through his nose, and starts to purr quietly on the exhale, having picked up on your less than stellar mood. Absentmindedly, he starts to pet you, his wrist brushing repeatedly against your neck and leaving more of his scent on you.
“Can I ask you two a question?”
Noct raises an eyebrow at the other alpha, who’s now leaning towards you. “Sure,” he drawls, setting aside his phone.
“You aren’t together, are you?” Both of you shake your heads in unison, confirming Gladio’s statement. “Then what’s with all the scenting?”
The prince sighs, his fingers still moving rhythmically over your head. “Pretty sure I told you this already. A long time ago. But their omega-smell has always been really strong, and creepy unclaimed alphas always single them out for it. So I started to scent them to keep other guys away.”
“Does that really work?”
“Has so far,” you mumble. It might be wishful thinking, but Gladio’s scent shifts to something lighter with what might be relief. He wasn’t really worried that you were dating Noct, was he? Not enough that it would actually change his scent. There must be something else going on, you tell yourself.
“Is it really necessary for you to suck on them, then?” His voice holds ten different emotions you try not to identify. Nevertheless the question seems like a challenge.
“I do what makes them happy. Got a problem with that, Glad?” The pheromones from both men spike suddenly, preparing for a fight.
The last thing you need before a hunt is a clash between alphas, so you reluctantly slide out of bed. Making sure to make a big deal out of it, you shuffle over to your nest and collapse in it, snuggling down into the clothes. You’re pouting like a child but you know that your scent is becoming bitter too. Noct looks at you out of the corner of his eye and scoffs, knowing exactly what you’re up to. He lets you do it anyway. After all, he's probably as irritated with the conflict as you are.
It doesn’t take much to make you cry, especially when your hormones are unbalanced like this. Thinking about it for a bit, smelling the tension in the air, is enough to make you tear up. Gladio still hasn’t reacted but you know he will eventually. You sniffle, wiping your cheeks and pulling one of Iggy’s sweaters over you. It’s when you toss one of Gladio’s shirts out of your nest that he finally relents.
“Hey, hey, shhh, it’s okay,” he starts immediately. His hand is warm where it rubs across your back, and he tries to press his chest as close to you as he can; you let him, hiding your face in his skin and sniffling more. “I’m sorry, sweetie. Shhh, shhh….”
He starts to rearrange your nest and something in the way he holds you makes you let him. Once he pulls the strongest smelling clothes out and replaces his shirt, he starts to shift closer. It hits you suddenly that he wants to come in with you, and you make yourself as small as you can to give him room. The alpha settles himself behind you and immediately starts to purr. He’s very warm and unbelievably strong, cradling you against him firmly. You’re surrounded by his skin and his scent, earthy and sharp and undeniably alpha . He starts to rub his cheek against yours and you purr gently at him. Soft enough that it could be called an accident, he brushes his lips against the side of your neck. The rumble in his chest grows louder still as you relax into him.
Gladiolus has taken care of you before, but never quite like this. You’re used to having him cater to your nature. Something in his actions leans more towards romance, maybe the way he runs his hands over your body when all you really need to calm you is his scent and a good purr. He’s handling you so gently yet so much that it seems more than platonic. A friendly alpha wouldn’t spend so much time demonstrating how completely you fit in his arms, how good his hands feel on your hips and how intimate his breath is in your ear. Nevertheless, the proximity of his pheromones sate all your omega cravings, and you rest naturally with him in your nest. Not quite awake but not asleep either.
You vaguely hear his rough voice speaking sweet nothings into your ear. They stop suddenly as the door to the caravan swings open and Prompto bounces inside, stopping short and grimacing. “It reeks in here, guys, what the hell were you doing?”
“Fightin,” you mumble, trying to nestle deeper into Gladio’s embrace.
“We were not--” He starts, but Prompto cuts him off.
“Doesn’t matter, just make sure you all shower. You need to get out of here and let it air out, too, or none of us’ll be able to sleep tonight.”
“You’re starting to sound way too much like Iggy,” Noct points out, but he stands up anyway. He keeps a pointed distance between himself and Gladio as he skirts around your nest on his way to the door.
“I’m just trying to keep you from complaining so much, mister grumpypants,” the blonde teases, following him out the door.
You’re still unwilling to move, but it’s a little worse when Gladiolus just hefts you in his arms and stands, carrying you easily out of the caravan. You might be blushing when he sets you down by the others. At least you can blame it on the midday heat, but no one dares say anything in the first place.
“Now that everyone is finally together,” Ignis starts, getting the immediate attention of the bunch. “We should go for a brief trip to stock up on supplies before the sun sets.”
“Who knows how long the hunt will last,” Gladio says, nodding in agreement.
“And I am running low on elements right now. Couldn’t hurt to find some deposits,” Noctis concedes.
“So it’s settled!” Prompto exclaims, chipper as ever. “Let’s go right away, before our resident sleepyheads crash again.”
You stick your tongue out at him and cross your arms, which are suspiciously hard to move. Your scent is muddled with both alphas’ combined, and you know your hormonal mood swings aren’t helping either. The smells weigh heavy on your subconscious and your mind is fuzzy. A shower would probably help, you decide. You’ll make sure to call dibs.
The five of you set off into the plains, Prom setting a quick pace you don’t think you can match. Something is different, you think. A waning patch has never made you this sluggish before. A few minutes in when you’re lagging behind, breathing hard and dropping out of the lighthearted conversation, Glad falls back to match your pace. “Are you doing okay?” He asks, his voice catching on a whisper. You can read on his face that he's worried; unfortunately a worried alpha only makes you more unsure.
“I don't know,” you say honestly. Your voice is wheezing embarrassingly, and you turn your head away, looking at your feet.
“Is that part of your suppressants or--”
“I don't know ,” you repeat, anxiety mounting rapidly. There are tears quick to form when you think about the implications of your current state.
“Oh no,” he breathes, reaching to touch, to comfort you. “It’s okay, cupcake. You’re going to be okay. I promise, alright? I swear I’ll take care of you.”
Right now you really don’t want to cry - you’re honestly trying your best to suck it the fuck up. But your brain is in full panic mode, caught in an endless loop of negatives that overwhelm your still foggy mind, and your trembling legs stumble on the rough terrain. Gladio stops you and makes you wait for him to kneel in front of you. “Go on,” he instructs. You don’t have it in you to resist. You climb on his broad back and let him carry you that way, a piggyback ride. Like you’re a child.
He cranes his neck to the side in order to give you a place to rest your chin, and you press your face against his. “There should be a river pretty close,” he tells you. “We can rest there, okay?”
“Alright,” you try, but your voice is small and pinched and pathetic. You wince so strongly you’re sure he felt it.
He doesn’t say anything about it, but his thumbs start to rub patterns on your legs where he’s holding you up. You close your eyes and take deep breaths through your nose. The repetitive motion of his gait is soothing to your frazzled mind, and the panic slowly starts to recede.
Your emotions have been out of control lately, you think. Maybe there was something with the specific suppressant patch you’ve had on? You’ll have to check the date, but you’re almost positive it hasn’t expired yet. The most likely explanation to you is that someone else is going through a rut or even a suppressed heat, and the proximity to the hormones is affecting you too. But you couldn’t possibly ask anyone about that. If there’s anything amiss by the time you replace the suppressant, you’ll see a clinic.
That’s what you tell Gladio when he asks for an honest answer about what’s happening to you. He says that’s a good plan and pats your thigh.
Your face flushes at his praise, and you’re smiling, suddenly, like a child struck with puppy love.
That analogy is maybe a little too accurate so you hide your stupid grin in Gladio’s shoulder and try not to fall asleep to the gentle banter of your companions.