moodymoody

moodymoody

07-05-2022

20:32

#fushiita #伏虎 #めぐゆじ abo au where pups who present as alphas are sent away from their home village to train in the wilderness with their sires, and once they are deemed to be full-fledged alphas they will return to their village to participate in the courtship festival.

springtime - the time for young alphas to leave the village to train with their sires. yuuji, megumi and nobara came along with the other villagers to see yuuta off. everyone brought something to gift the young alpha,

all kinds of things like preserved food, tools and their spares, extra fabrics, and golden advice. “in winter, make sure to look for yellow snow - they’re super healthy,” satoru, yuuta’s older cousin, said sagely. his mate, suguru, smacked him on the head.

once the farewell party dispersed, the trio of pups resumed their playing at the meadows. “if I present as an alpha,” yuuji said loudly as he picked at wildflowers, “I wanna make a training pack with you guys.” nobara scoffed, “that’s only if we all end up as alphas.”

yuuji pouted, “well, I just want to stay with you guys…be buddies forever.” nobara laughed at that, though she didn’t poke fun at yuuji like she normally would. —

as the oldest in their friend group, nobara presented first - an alpha, as predicted, what with her fiery personality. the copper-haired alpha looked very pleased as her family paraded her around the village. she waved at the onlookers like a proud lioness.

when the kugisaki family procession passed by yuuji and megumi, nobara’s face lit up. she stood up on her palanquin and posed as yuuji whooped and cheered. months then pass and in winter, megumi presented. like nobara, he emerged from his bedroom as an alpha.

“an alpha to right our wrongs,” megumi’s uncle, naobito, laughed boisterously. beside him, his younger brother ougi bowed his head in shame. ougi’s omega daughters, maki and mai, sat outside in the corridors with the other omegas, listening in to the alphas’ cheers.

despite them being part of the clan, they were not even permitted to enter the celebration hall. wasuke frowned when he caught a glimpse of an omega’s sleeve through the gap in the door. it was the village’s coldest winter to date - how could they be kept outside?

“what an odd clan,” he muttered to himself, “disrespecting their omegas like that. this is why they will always be outsiders.” jin placed a placating hand on his father’s forearm, “the zen’ins have always been this village’s protectors; they, as well as us, have great pride

in their alphas. it’s no surprise that they would develop a bias towards them.” despite his son’s words, wasuke kept on muttering about the zen’ins barbarism. yuuji hated it when his grandfather badmouthed his friend and his family.

it would be a couple hours before yuuji was finally able to meet megumi, all dressed up in an elaborate getup of the finest furs. the wolf headdress perched atop his head looked like it was swallowing him whole. even nobara’s celebratory dress wasn’t as gaudy as this.

“you look like you’re being eaten!” nobara guffawed, pointing at megumi’s disgruntled expression. yuuji walked into the small altar-like space to see megumi throwing pears at nobara, all of which she caught and later stashed into her pockets.

“ooh! cool hat, megumi,” yuuji exclaimed, making grabby hands at the wolf snout. as he drew closer, a foreign scent started to grow stronger. yuuji paused just in front of megumi, his nose wrinkling. the raven-haired alpha, noticing his reaction, sat up straighter.

yuuji squinted his eyes, expression puzzled, “why do you smell so strong?” nobara stuck her tongue out at megumi, “haha! he’s saying you stink!” “no he doesn’t,” megumi said defensively. “he’s going to present soon, so of course scents will seem stronger to him.”

“oh yeah! yuuji, you’re not supposed to be here! shoo, shoo!” nobara suddenly turned and pushed the pink-haired pup out of the small space. “noooo!” yuuji dug his heels into the wooden floorings, resisting nobara’s pushing. “I wanna stay! I just got here!”

it wasn’t fair that his friends presented before him. he was the only pup in the group. he couldn’t even be with them as their fresh alpha scent could potentially influence his body to present as an omega.

dejectedly, yuuji let nobara shove him out. he dragged his feet all the way back to his family’s table, sulking all throughout the celebration until they had to leave. back at megumi’s nook, the new alpha was not pleased. he glared at his friend. “why did you kick him out?”

nobara turned to him, ticked off at his tone, “ha? are you stupid? we can’t have him present as an omega! what’s gonna happen to our group training?” “that idea’s stupid, anyway.” nobara raised her thin eyebrows. “you…if yuuji heard that, he would be so sad.”

“doesn’t change the fact that it’s stupid,” megumi groused. he placed his chin atop of his fist. “in fact, I don’t want him to be an alpha. that would be terrible.” nobara hummed, side-eyeing her friend. what an idiot, she thought.

“even if he’s an alpha, you can still court him. you know that, right?” megumi’s pale face reddened. he averted his gaze. “but there would be no pups,” he pointed out. “hmm…what are you, a pervert? you’re starting to sound like old man naobito.”

“don’t compare me to someone like him!” “but doesn’t yuuji’s grandpa hate the zen’ins? there’s no way he would let his only grandkid run off with someone like you.” “…you make me seem like a criminal,” megumi groused under his breath.

“and about yuuji’s grandpa…I have a solution for that.” megumi craned his head to peer out the slit between the curtains. confident that no one was close enough to hear them, he beckoned nobara to come closer.

she plopped down right beside him, and he cupped his mouth to her ear. “after I come back from the training,” megumi whispered solemnly, “before the autumn festival, my dad and I are gonna break off from the clan.”

nobara’s eyes widened. she clenched her hands into fists, suppressing the urge to express her surprise. “then, once my dad and I have established our new pack,” megumi continued, his hands beginning to shake, “I’m going to court yuuji.”

knowing how the zen’ins were, naobito would not accept a member of the clan leaving without a fight…a big fight. “dad…he wanted to leave before my presentation, but I told him to wait.” megumi lifted his head up, looking at nobara right in her soul.

his eyes burned green, bright against the shadow of the wolf head above him. “I want to show everyone…I want to show them that I’m against the zen’ins’ way of living, and that I am worthy for yuuji.” nobara furrowed her brows, “what about if you were an omega?”

“I would still fight with my father,” megumi said decisively. “that wouldn’t matter. the point is, I want to get rid of the zen’in name from my existence once and for all.” “heh. that’s pretty cool of you.”

the alphas whipped their heads towards the back of the small space, where a small gap lies between two planks of wood. a single golden eye peered at them, full of interest. “can’t wait to see kick naobito’s ass,” the person said, snickering.

nobara swiftly grabbed her hairpin from her bun and thrusted it at the eye, but a pale hand shot out to stop her. “maki,” megumi began, voice low, “you better be careful…take a step away from where you are now and I will take action.”

“haha! threaten me all you want, kiddo. alphas don’t scare me, especially not you,” maki said. for a zen’in omega, she spoke roughly, like how the sea merchants would. “that’s not a problem to me,” megumi said coolly. “you will still pay the price if you rat me out.”

“don’t worry, boy. I’m on your side. in fact,” maki said as she pushed a finger into the small gap, “how about we make a partnership? I want in on what you’re planning.” megumi and nobara looked at each other. uncertainty hung heavy in the air, weighing their shoulder down.

“…then you should talk to my father,” megumi said. “nah, you’re easier to talk to. besides, you can convince your old man to let me join you guys, no? he would be more willing to listen to you than me.” megumi narrowed his eyes, “there’s still no good reason to have you in.”

“c’mon, megumi. what omega wouldn’t jump at the chance to leave this hellhole?” maki reasoned. nobara shrugged her shoulders, seeing her point. the finger wiggled incessantly as if trying to sway megumi’s opinion of this newcomer.

before megumi could reach a decision, however, footsteps drew near. maki quickly withdrew her finger and scurried away. the curtains were drawn to reveal naobito, the old alpha swaying on his feet. “huh? did I interrupt you kids?” he slurred, looking between the two of them.

“anyways, get out there, megumi. it’s nearing the end of the party. go send your guests off.” without needing to be told twice, the two young alphas scrambled out into the open. megumi had to stand by the entrance gate to thank all of their guests for coming.

eventually, the itadori family walked over to give their blessings and bid their farewell. wasuke did so very briefly, barely sparing megumi a glance. even yuuji was acting distant, his brown eyes glued to the ground.

megumi grabbed his hand as he walked by, forcing yuuji to look at him. “hey,” he said softly. yuuji averted his gaze, still moody. megumi squeezed his hand in an attempt to soothe him. “I’m looking forward to your presentation,” he said sincerely.

“…yeah,” the pink-haired pup said. he squeezed megumi’s hand back before he let go, trailing after his grandfather and father. megumi watched him go, almost forgetting to send off the next guest. —

it was early springtime and it was finally yuuji’s turn to present. megumi woke up early that day, even earlier than the omegas at the estate. he quickly washed and dressed himself up before making a stop at the kugisaki residence.

nobara was all ready to go, dressed in her favourite spring green kimono. together, they raced towards the itadori residence, a humble home by a peach orchard. an array of pinks greeted them as they neared the house - cherry, plum and peach blossoms were in full bloom.

nobara reached the gates first. she banged her fist against the thick wood, making sure she’s loud enough to awaken the whole house. they didn’t have to wait long before choso, yuuji’s older brother, greeted them. he opened the gates just far enough so his head could be seen.

“nobara, megumi - good morning,” the dark-haired alpha said, sounding tired. “thank you for coming all the way here, but I’m afraid I can’t let you two in.” the young alphas look at each other. megumi’s heart was beating loudly in his eardrums, threatening to burst them.

“…yuuji…” nobara began, fidgeting in her spot, “…is he alright?” “he’s fine, just really tired. his heat started late last night, you see.” heat. yuuji presented an an omega.

megumi pursed his lips. he grabbed at the front of his hakama, willing his hands to stop shaking. he felt nobara nudge him with her elbow, but he couldn’t focus on the dull pain, not when he was trying so hard not to jump up in joy.

“can we come back later to give him our gifts? we’ll make sure they’re unscented,” nobara asked choso as she continued to attack megumi with a barrage of elbow nudges and back slaps - she was full on beating him up now. “uh…sure. I’ll tell him about you two,” choso said.

on their walk back towards the village centre, nobara continued to smack megumi. “what’s wrong with you?!” megumi howled as he kicked the back of nobara’s leg, causing her to stumble.

“you looked like you were gonna pass out!” nobara cried. “then, you had this dumb look on your face!” “what dumb look?!” “like this!” nobara then twisted her face to mimic the strangled look she claimed megumi donned. he looked at her, horrified. “I did not look like that!”

“you did! you’re so embarrassing - ugh! bet you’re already thinking about mating yuuji.” nobara shuddered. “yeugh! pervert-gumi!” megumi shoved nobara, his face as pink as the flowers around them, “shut up! you’re making this weird!”

they continued to bicker even after the reached the fruit seller, and even as they browsed through the racks of nesting blankets. as megumi waited for nobara to pay for her gifts, he had some time to think about what had just transpired.

yuuji presented as a complement to his alpha - amazing. there was still, however, the issue about making his intentions known and breaking off from the clan.

furthermore, as it was nearing the time for him and nobara to leave for training, he had to find a way to make sure no other alphas would lay their claim on yuuji. satoru? no - megumi had the feeling that alpha would take yuuji as his second omega.

yuuta was to return from his training earlier than megumi so he could ask him, but the older alpha had his eyes on someone already - he didn’t want to risk ruining yuuta’s chances with his intended.

he could ask choso…who was he kidding? yuuji’s family would rather match him with an alpha from another country than have him stay chaste for a zen’in boy. megumi sighed. he ruffled his hair in frustration. “wow. didn’t think your hair could get any messier than that.”

that familiar voice. megumi looked up to see a bespectacled omega peering down at him from where she stood on the steps to the blanket shop. beside her was another omega, her twin sister, greeting him with a small, friendly wave.

“hi, megumi,” mai said. “funny seeing you here. buying a gift for someone?” megumi stood up to regard his cousins properly, “for my friend, yuuji. he presented as an omega.” mai’s eyes widened and her jaw slackened, “really? I’m so sorry…”

at megumi’s confusion, mai elaborated. “an alpha and an omega being friends is a bit…you know…well, anyways, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friendship.” megumi frowned, “we’re still friends.” at that, mai laughed.

“for now, at least, but everyone knows an alpha can only look at an omega as a potential hole to sink into.” her eyes turned into thin crescents as she smiled. “it’s only a matter of time before you start to see him as less than human-”

“oi,” maki interrupted, addressing her sister. “we’re not here to waste time. go buy your blankets. we still have chores to do.” mai narrowed her eyes at maki, but relented. as she entered the store, nobara was on her way out.

not so subtly, the copper-haired alpha stuck her foot out right in front of the omega, causing her to stumble in her steps. “careful there,” nobara drawled, looking at mai with bored eyes. “wouldn’t wanna smash your ugly mug on the floor.”

mai clicked her tongue, but said nothing. “dang, what’s her problem?” nobara groused, still glaring at the dark-haired omega. “I’m sorry for what she said. mai is…a bit troubled,” maki said as an explanation. nobara scoffed. “a bit rude, don’t you think?”

“that’s what a zen’in upbringing does to an omega,” maki said solemnly. “makes us hateful, jaded…but she can still change. mai’s still young, after all.” she then trained her eyes on megumi. “which is why I want to join you in breaking off from the clan.”

megumi held her gaze. there was grim determination in those gold orbs, the desire for a better life - not just for her, but for her sister. she would not betray them, megumi thought. she had so much to lose. “I’ll talk to my father about it,” megumi conceded.

for the first time in his life, he saw maki smile. “great,” she said. “I’m counting on you.” “I’m counting on you, too,” megumi replied, “as we need strong members for our new pack.” at that, maki grinned wolfishly. “don’t worry about that, kiddo.”

megumi nodded, then he paused - a thought had just popped up in his head. “since we’re in the same team now, you don’t mind if I ask you for a favor, right?” he asked. maki shrugged. “as long as it’s nothing too risky. what do you have in mind?”

as megumi was about to explain his situation, he hesitated - now that he was thinking about it again, it sounded terribly stupid. nobara, thankfully (or not), stepped up to speak for him. “he wants you to keep an eye on yuuji while we’re gone,” she said monotonously.

maki barked out a laugh, her head thrown back as she cackled. “hah! what, scared someone else is gonna snatch him away? shouldn’t you be more scared about the possibility that he’ll have his eyes on someone else?” megumi opened his mouth to argue, but stopped himself.

maki cocked her head to the side, “what? did that not cross your mind? you think that after you make your intentions known, he’s just going to devote himself to you?” the omega shook her head. “he’s not yours and he’s not made for you. he’s an entire human being.”

that was what he thought. who else would yuuji devote himself to? as far as he knew, yuuji didn’t have any interest in anyone, but who’s to say that won’t change? “really now…I thought you’d be better than the alphas in our clan, megumi,” maki said with great disappointment.

“it doesn’t matter if I keep an eye on him or fight off others who develop on interest in him. if yuuji decides that he wants to be with someone other than you, who are you to deny him that?”

as maki continued to talk, shame filled megumi’s chest. she was right - he was acting like those arrogant, selfish alphas he never wanted to be. “instead of worrying about yuuji,” maki concluded, “you should focus on your training. be an alpha that yuuji will approve of.”

“…yeah…yeah. you’re right.” megumi bowed his head. “thank you for enlightening me, maki.” “…having an alpha bow for me is pretty great,” maki thought aloud. “well, anyways, I’ll look after your friend, but not for the reason you originally had in mind.”

megumi’s bow deepened, “thank you, maki. I’m very grateful.” “eh, don’t sweat it. just make sure to convince your old man to include me in his schemes.” “consider it done.”

mai finally emerged from the store carrying a few blankets. she took one look at nobara, then turned her face away, nose pointed up in the air. she then walked away without so much as a farewell. “…anyways, I’ll see you two around.” maki left with a wave, jogging up to mai.

“…that maki girl…” nobara said dreamily, “she’s like, super cool…” “hmm? yeah, she’s a good person,” megumi replied distractedly. “can you wait here? I need to buy some other stuff. —

TBC next scene: megumi marches up to the itadori residence not as a friend, but as an alpha👀

thank you everyone for reading this fic! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the story so far! I hope you’ll continue to enjoy it as the plot progresses :D

when consciousness came to yuuji, the first thing he thought was, “dang, it’s pretty hot in here.” minutes then passed, and despite him having thrown off his blankets and rolled his sleeping robes off his shoulders, the heat didn’t seem to lessen.

fear growing in his stomach, yuuji hauled himself onto his feet and hobbled down the corridors towards his father’s room. that was when the door to choso’s room opened and his older brother ran at him with great concern.

“nii-chan,” yuuji sobbed, clinging onto choso’s jinbei, “my body hurts. I think I have a fever…” yuuji continued to babble incoherently as choso carried him all the way to their father’s bedroom, where jin nursed him while choso ran off to ready the heat room.

choso returned with bounding footsteps and with jin’s help, he carried yuuji and a mountain of blankets and pillows to the wooden structure in the north of their family grounds. when yuuji became aware of where they were taking him, he began to wail.

he kicked and screamed and demanded to be brought back to his room, crying at the fact that fate had cursed him and made him an omega unlike his friends.

jin and choso released their scents, hoping to calm him down. although the pup ceased his struggling, tears continued to pour down his ruddy face. the rest of the night was a blur to yuuji. he remembered waking up to a tray of food near his terribly-made nest.

though he wanted to rebel, he couldn’t help but pick at the mochi jin prepared for him - it’s his favourite and he could never turn it away. the next time yuuji woke up, he had his head on jin’s lap. a gentle hand untangled damp pink locks, scratching his scalp occasionally.

“how are you feeling, yuu-chan?” jin asked, his voice a mere hush. yuuji pressed his face into his thigh. “I hate this,” yuuji whined. “now megumi and nobara are gonna leave me behind. they’re not gonna wanna be friends with me anymore.”

“oh, that’s not true. they’ll love you even though you’re an omega now. in fact,” jin said with an upbeat tone, “they came over this morning to see you. choso said they’ll come back later to give you gifts.”

that didn’t lift yuuji’s spirits, however. his friends couldn’t even visit him on his presentation day, instead having to wait until yuuji’s heat subsided. he bet they would give him lame gifts like blankets and hair clips, not a gift yuuji would actually like.

it was nearing the time for the alphas’ farewell - yuuji didn’t have a lot of time to spend with megumi and nobara before they become alpha and omega, not megumi, nobara and yuuji. as yuuji voiced out his concerns, his father rubbed his back soothingly.

“what if they come to hate me? what if they think I’m a boring omega? what if megumi’s family won’t let me play with him anymore?” jin shook his head, “yuu-chan, those are not nice thoughts. aoi from the dojo is an omega. do you think he’s boring?”

yuuji sniffled, “…no…” if anything, aoi was far from boring - he was too much to handle, always badgering anyone he deemed strong-looking to spar with him.

he still remembered when aoi challenged megumi some days after megumi’s presentation. the burly omega easily pinned him to the ground. “you see? your secondary gender doesn’t define your entire being, nor does it determine your worth to others.”

yuuji obediently stayed quiet as his father continued to talk. “if anything, being an omega is a great blessing. they are precious life givers, the beacon of the future. you’ve seen how our village greatly respect our omegas, right?”

yuuji shuffled so that he was looking up at jin, “but the zen’ins hate omegas, and megumi is a zen’in.” “the zen’ins have strayed so far from the right way of living,” jin said sadly. “alphas are protectors - they are made to be bigger and stronger than omegas,

but that doesn’t make them superior than omegas. perhaps us, the villagers who rely so much on their protection, have cursed them to be that way…” “cursed them…” yuuji repeated breathily. “and as for megumi, you would know him better than I do. does he hate omegas?”

yuuji didn’t have to think too long for an answer, “no. he thinks they’re pretty cool because they can carry pups in their bellies.” jin smiled, “omegas are strong in their own way. only they can be resilient enough to go through pregnancy and childbirth.

you should have pride in yourself, yuu-chan. pride and confidence can get you anywhere in life.” that was the last thing yuuji remembered before his heat took him away once more.

his father’s words stuck with him through his unconsciousness, swirling around in his head until they rooted themselves deep within his heart. —

a lone figure was leaving the itadori residence. he stuck out like a sore thumb because of his dark kimono, stark against soft pinks of the flowers around him. he noticed megumi and nobara approaching, and his solemn face morphed into a kind smile.

“good evening! yuuji’s heat left him not too long ago, so it should be safe for you two to meet him,” geto said amicably. megumi nodded. “I take it you’ll be his mentor.” geto nodded, “naturally, seeing as I’m his closest omega relative.”

megumi’s brows furrowed, “you’re…not going to take him to your village, right?” geto’s smile didn’t let up, “don’t be silly, megumi. an omega doesn’t leave their home village unless their family or their mate take them away.”

megumi thought about that. if yuuji were to become his mate after megumi and his father established their own pack, would he be willing to leave this village? it would be nice if they could establish their own village. he and yuuji could populate the whole village themselves.

but that was a thought for another day. after bidding their farewells to geto, megumi and nobara continued on their way to the itadori residence. this time, it was jin who opened the gates for them. like choso, he looked rather worn out.

without a word, megumi pushed forward a lacquered wooden box into jin’s arms. the older alpha blinked in surprise, looking down at the hefty box. “is this what I think this is?” he asked. he brought the box up to his ear and shook it lightly. sheepishly, megumi nodded.

jin placed the box in front of him, expression unreadable. this was the first time megumi had seen the usually mild-mannered alpha look so serious - why, of course, seeing as this issue heavily involved his son. after what felt like an eternity, jin sighed.

“I don’t know, megumi,” he said tiredly. he rubbed a hand down his face. “you’re a good pup and you’ve taken care of my son all these years, but to allow you to court him?” megumi was beginning to hate this feeling - the beginnings of a rejection.

jin looked over at nobara, “how about you go on over to yuuji first, nobara? choso will take you to him.” nobara spared megumi a glance before she followed choso out of the guest room. it was now just megumi and the sire of the love of his life.

“you understand why I’m hesitating, right?” jin asked, though it wasn’t quite a question. “…it’s because I’m a zen’in, isn’t it.” jin nodded curtly. “but I plan to leave the clan once and for all once I come back from training. would you…reconsider me, then?”

“but you would be a young alpha in a very young pack,” jin pointed out. “how will you provide for yuuji?” “my father is a hunter, and I plan to be one as well,” megumi said. “a cousin of mine - an omega - she will also be joining our pack, so yuuji won’t be alone.”

again, jin sighed, conflicted, “look, megumi-” “I will do my best to prove my worth to you and to yuuji.” determination is clear within megumi’s trembling voice. “I will back away once yuuji rejects me but until then, I will continue to fight for him.”

jin couldn’t argue with that - at the end of the day, a courtship is solely between a suitor and their intended. although it’s customary to ask for the family’s blessings, it was only done so to prevent bad blood from forming.

with megumi’s higher status, he didn’t need to ask for jin’s blessings. he could walk right into their territory and whisk yuuji away, and nobody in the itadori family could do anything, but the young alpha was courteous enough to respect him and his family’s opinions.

perhaps megumi could just do it - break free from the curse set upon his blood. jin inspected the box once more before he gingerly opened the lid. inside was a tea bowl painted in lustrous turquoise and pearly white.

a bewildered laugh escaped jin’s lips when he was the signature stamp at the bottom of the bowl. “my! this must have costed a fortune!” he wondered aloud. megumi looked away bashfully. in truth, he spent a lot of his savings on gifts for yuuji and his future father-in-law.

“you must be well-educated about the tea ceremony, megumi.” the young alpha shrugged, “I find the activity enjoyable.” “really, now. then, I’ll be sure to invite you over for tea once you come back.” hope glimmered in megumi’s eyes. with trembling lips, he bowed. —

although choso was right in front of him, it felt like there was an extra pair of eyes at the back of his head that were glaring daggers at him. when choso escorted nobara back to the guest room, he begrudgingly agreed to take megumi to yuuji per jin’s request.

“choso! be sure to be nice to this young alpha - he could be your brother-in-law someday!” jin had said cheerfully, only to be met with a sudden spike in a spicy charcoal-like scent. megumi knew that was the moment choso started to hate him.

nobara sent him off with a sympathetic pat on the back. it wasn’t much, but…yeah, it wasn’t much. megumi was still terribly nervous to be alone with choso. it felt like they spent ages going from one corridor to the next. megumi suspected choso intentionally took the long way.

finally, the reached the heat room. it looked like a storehouse and roughly the size of one. this was the first time megumi had seen a heat room. choso stopped in front of the door. his hand was at the handle, ready to slide it open, but hesitation stopped him.

he turned slightly to the side and regard megumi with dark eyes. “wait here while I prepare the screen,” choso said, voice menacing. like a gust of wind, he quickly slipped inside, leaving megumi waiting.

there was some shuffling and voices were raised, but after a while everything quieted down. choso emerged sometime later and beckoned towards megumi to enter the room.

there were blankets strewn about the floor and the room still smelled faintly of blossoms, but what caught megumi’s attention was the large paper screen erected right in the middle of the room.

there was the clear silhouette of yuuji, all spiky hair and slight frame. megumi’s heart leapt with joy. megumi sat down on the cushion provided to him by choso, who chose to sit down not too far from megumi.

the older alpha’s presence was stifling, but it was the price he had to pay to see yuuji again. there was some light sniffling before yuuji spoke, “hello, megumi…” his voice, usually strong and vibrant, was reedy and scratchy. megumi’s lips pulled downwards.

“you must still be so tired. I won’t take too much of your time-“ “no!” yuuji suddenly spoke up. “please stay for as long as you want. I really miss you…” megumi thought he had died and was ascending to the heavens. he had never felt so happy.

“so…choso told me about you…” yuuji started. he sounded sad. “what’s this all about, anyway…” megumi shifted on his seat, “I came here as a potential suitor.” there was a brief, tense silence, then yuuji forlornly asked, “…not as a friend?”

“I-well, you’re still my friend-” “then why didn’t you come as my friend like nobara did?” megumi wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. at his silence, yuuji continued. “do you not see me as your friend anymore?” “no! that’s not it!”

at the slight rise in his voice, choso’s scent flared in warning. “I…you’re still precious to me-you’re my dearest friend,” megumi explained. “it’s just that…I…” a sigh escaped his lips. he felt so vulnerable. “I…I’ve been in love with you for the longest time.”

yuuji looked at his hands in his lap, “s-since when?” megumi traced the outline of yuuji’s shadow on the screen, “do you remember when we went to the northern river three summers ago?” “…you mean when you slipped off a rock and nearly drowned?”

megumi scratched his head, “I was just a bit disoriented, not drowning. I can swim, y’know.” “you were sinking, though…and I jumped in to save you.” “and when I woke up on the shore,” megumi continued, “your face was the first thing I saw…

and I thought that you looked really pretty.” on the side, choso coughed into his fist. megumi ignored him. “then I thought, ‘I want your face to be the first thing I see when I wake up’.” “you’re so cheesy,” yuuji mumbled, voice strained.

“and when I got back to my room later that evening, I thought that I want to keep seeing your face first thing in the morning for the rest of my life.” megumi could clearly see the yuuji of that day, water droplets clinging to his tan skin and hair strands,

cheeks flushed from exertion, brown eyes glowing when relief finally set into his bones when he realized that megumi was safe and sound in his arms. yuuji hugged him tightly right after, not letting go until nobara pulled him away.

megumi had been dreaming about being held like that again ever since that day, though he promised himself that if that chance were to come again, he would wrap his arms around yuuji too. “megumi,” yuuji croaked, “you’re so sappy. you never told me this.”

“I…wanted to wait until the time when you can see me as more than just a friend.” he could trace the shape of yuuji’s face, could imagine the curve of his lips and the softness of his eyes, but he wanted to see the real thing - he needed to see yuuji right there and then.

“I want to always have you in my life,” megumi said softly. “being your friend is not enough for me…what I wish so desperately is to have you as my life partner…my mate.” choso chose this time to cough obnoxiously into his sleeve. again, megumi ignored him.

yuuji was undeterred by choso’s antics, as well. megumi could see his shadow shift as he bowed his head slightly. “I’m so afraid of you and nobara looking at me differently now that I’m an omega.” “even if you had presented as an alpha, I would still come for you.”

yuuji sniffled, “we won’t be able to have pups then.” “then we’ll find other ways to have them,” megumi said with such surety. “or if pups are not a possibility, then I’m willing to let that go. as long as I have you with me, I’m beyond satisfied.”

yuuji’s shoulders sagged ever slightly - what worries he might have had had left him, leaving him lighter in both body and heart. there was slight shuffling as the screen jostled lightly. then, fingers wriggled under the screen, seeking warm touch.

megumi glanced at choso - his pale face was stony as he stared at him. megumi decided to ignore him. he scooted closer towards the screen, not minding the flaring charcoal scent emanating from the side of the room. his own finger touched yuuji’s, caressing soft knuckles.

“the screen’s not actually needed, by the way. choso’s just being mean,” yuuji then said. megumi hummed in amusement, side-eyeing yuuji’s overprotective brother. “I don’t mind it, I know he means well.” megumi did mind it, however, but he wants going to make an enemy of choso.

yuuji giggled then, the sound like tinkling bells, “honestly…I don’t mind spending the rest of my life with you, megumi.” megumi’s mouth ran dry, “does this mean you’ll consider me as a suitor?” yuuji’s fingers laced themselves with megumi’s, “yes. I’ll consider it.”

if megumi hadn’t died yet, then this must be the moment his soul left his body. he thanked his late mother for birthing him, and his father for raising him. “that means you must impress me at the courtship festival,” yuuji warned. megumi could hear the pout in his voice.

“I will,” megumi promised. “I’ll impress you so that you won’t have your eyes on anyone other than me.” —

if yuuji was being honest, it was odd to view megumi as anything other than a friend. still, if yuuji were to be mated with someone, he would rather choose someone kind and caring and capable like megumi…in other words, megumi himself.

in preparation for the presentation parade, suguru dressed yuuji up in his finest kimono - suguru said it was gifted to him by yuuji’s mare, suguru’s sister. “look at you! the prettiest omega in the village,” suguru cooed, fixing his obi.

yuuji blushed, “hardly. isn’t that your title?” “hmm-hmm, not anymore, not since you came along, yuu-chan.” suguru clapped his hands once he he was finished with yuuji’s ensemble. “by the way, your friends want to see you before you get on the palanquin.”

yuuji looked down at himself. his kimono felt stiff - it was hard for him to move around. he wanted a cool headdress like megumi had. “this is embarrassing,” yuuji whined. suguru pat his head to console him. “why is it? I think you look amazing. your friends will think so too.”

and they did - when yuuji walked out to meet his friends, nobara cheered gleefully while megumi couldn’t stop staring at him with glittering eyes. yuuji his his face behind his sleeves. “you look so cool!” nobara squealed. she elbowed megumi, snapping him out of his trance.

“y-you pretty,” megumi stuttered. nobara cackled. “ha! megumi lost his brain cells! what’s that? ‘you pretty’,” nobara mimicked megumi, exaggerating her voice. megumi jabbed her on the ribs. a weird feeling washed over yuuji as he watched his friends bicker.

megumi was now his suitor, but the three of them were talking like they normally would. megumi and nobara were very supportive - they even helped yuuji get onto his palanquin, and walked right beside his procession as his family paraded him around the village.

whenever yuuji’s eyes strayed to them, they would wave wildly at him, calming his nerves whenever his fingers started to tremble. yuuji then thought, wouldn’t it be nice if the three of them could be in the same pack?

after the parade was finished, the three friends gathered together in yuuji’s room…with choso supervising them in the corner. yuuji was opening up his presents when megumi quietly slid a wooden box towards him.

“I already opened your present, megumi. what’s this for?” yuuji picked up the box. it was made of a high quality wood and was bare from any design save for the zen’in family emblem on the face of the lid. “it’s my gift to you as a suitor,” megumi explained.

inside was a wide-edged blade with a fur guard and black leather handle. yuuji couldn’t restrain his “ooh”s and “aah”s as he looked at the well-crafted knife from every angle. “you’ve always been the better runner, and your strength and aim unmatched,” megumi explained.

“even though you can’t participate in the training now, I promise to teach you how to hunt if you become my mate and join my new pack.” with that explanation, yuuji fell in love with the knife even more. megumi had always praised his athleticism,

and it was truly delightful that megumi still appreciated his skills despite him not being able to formally become a hunter like megumi. yuuji made to throw himself at his suitor in pure joy, but was held back when choso pulled him back by his collar.

when the day came for the young alphas of the village to leave, yuuji made sure to wake up earlier than usual to prep himself. he wore an emerald green kimono with with a red and gold obi - the colours that symbolize his dearest companions.

he then grabbed a small palm-sized box and a bigger box from his drawers and stashed it in his bag. yuuji made sure to arrive at the meeting spot earlier than everyone else, yet there were still birds that were earlier than him.

no matter, he thought, he could still have megumi and nobara all to himself before the others would arrive. for nobara, yuuji gifted her the larger box containing a brand new hammer. he hoped she would use it as she polished her construction skills.

as nobara ran off to show off her gift to the other alphas, yuuji was left alone with megumi. he suddenly felt shy - how uncharacteristic of him! “I have a gift for you too, of course,” yuuji said as he fished out the small box,

“but it’s not as useful as nobara’s hammer.” yuuji placed it on megumi’s awaiting palm. their fingers brushed ever so slightly. “but it’s still important, as it’s a symbol of my intentions towards you.” nestled in a bed of velvet was a small bottle tied to a necklace.

upon closer inspection, there was a pinkish object contained inside the pinky-sized bottle - a lock of hair. a lock of yuuji’s hair. yuuji proclaimed megumi as his favoured suitor. megumi would have taken yuuji into his arms…if only choso wasn’t there.

“I’ll come back as a worthy alpha,” megumi declared with all the seriousness he could muster - his green eyes were intense, burning brightly with resolution. “I promise you, yuuji, that hunger and sadness will not touch you if you choose me.”

yuuji nodded, eyes misty, “then don’t leave for too long. you know I hate being lonely.” with great tenderness, megumi lifted the back of yuuji’s hand and pressed it against his soft lips. “I will return to you before that loneliness can seep into your bones.”

TBC next scene: a look at how different alpha and omega trainings are 💪


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