From the moving bus, Jongwoon can already see someone waiting. He clutches his backpack a bit closer to himself, averting his eyes when the hooded man zeros in on him from his shadowed spot behind the stop.
He already knows there’s no possible way for him to fight back, not when he hasn’t eaten well in nearly two years. Pretending to have dropped something on the ground, Jongwoon quickly slips his driver’s license into his left sock and his remaining cash underneath his waistband. When the bus stops, he gets ready to get off and braces himself. As soon as he steps off the vehicle, Jongwoon runs.
Suddenly, he’s yanked back by his collar and slammed into the ground. Jongwoon’s back comes in contact with the concrete roughly, and he cries out in pain. The figure—Alpha, judging by the scent—invades his field of vision abruptly and attempts to tear the backpack out of his struggling arms, growling down at him in frustration. Jongwoon grits his teeth and spits at him, only to have a fist smashed into his eye before he finally relinquishes his grip, letting the Alpha grab it away.
However, the mugger doesn’t stop there. Jongwoon only really starts truly panicking when the Alpha pins down his arms and starts groping at his chest. He kicks out, but the Alpha straddles him, running his hands over Jongwoon’s chest until he finally reaches the waistband.
“Fuck you,” he snarls, breath hitching as he writhes in vain. His eyes widen in horror as the Alpha dips his fingers below the elastic.
Only to resurface a few seconds later, a couple of rumpled 5000 Won bills in his hands.
“Us stupid Alphas always think the same,” the mugger says lowly, standing up and delivering one harsh kick to Jongwoon’s stomach before starting to count the money. “Always thinking people won’t go for the pants.”
Jongwoon just glares at him through his watery eyes. Just as the Alpha turns away again, he gets up and breaks into a sprint, ignoring the way his body cries out at him. He scrambles for the corner, and the other lets him go, perhaps knowing that he had nothing else anyways.
He doesn’t stop until he finds a dark spot in an alley, supporting himself on the dirty brick and breathing heavily. Jongwoon’s legs cave in, and he coughs out, the action sending waves of pain through his entire body. Crashing down, he just holds himself. His ability to weep spontaneously has already been eroded away by those past years, so he just closes his eyes.
He’s awakened by an awkward light in the middle of the darkness. Jongwoon snaps his head towards the figure, but he doesn’t have enough energy to prepare himself anymore. His pockets are empty, and he has nothing left except for the driver’s license—practically useless if he’s going to be dead in less than an hour—in his sock.
The stranger approaches him calmly. Unlike what Jongwoon had thought, he doesn’t immediately lunge at him. Instead, he stops right in front of him, expression unreadable.
“You’re one of ‘them’, right?” he asks. Jongwoon squints.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he croaks honestly. The man reaches into his pocket, pulling out what seems to be a card and a pocket light, the latter which he clicks open. Jongwoon hisses, but the other doesn’t even flinch.
“Can you read? Here—” he extends the slip of paper towards him— “A business card of our establishment. We house runaways like you. You can search us up to verify.”
“I don’t have a device,” Jongwoon retorts, taking the card and narrowing his eyes. To his surprise, the man hands him his own.
“The password is 110605,” he says. Jongwoon taps it in, and it opens immediately to the main web page of a strange sort of place.
“Super… Junior?” he blinks in suspicion. He opens another tab on the browser and types it in himself, only for the exact same thing to pop up. This time though, he clicks on the website not hosted by the founders, a news source he knows vaguely. “A ‘haven’ for Alphas?”
“Just Alphas,” the man confirms. “We’re one of the first of our kind.”
“Isn’t that slightly…” Jongwoon shuts up. “Never mind.”
“We don’t just ignore Omegas,” he reassures, as if he knew what he was going to say. “We just don’t shelter them. We give them over to the Omega and Beta only sanctuaries.”
Jongwoon scrolls through the news article further. He swallows, then goes back to the original page and reads through it again.
“This type of thing really exists?”
“We keep a low profile. You can leave whenever you wish, and we won’t keep you there. We just want to help,” the man says. His eyes have softened, not pitying but empathetic. Jongwoon looks away from him, unable to stand it.
“How do I know I can trust you?” he asks quietly.
“You don’t have to. People have walked away before for various reasons. You sign a contract, and then it’s illegal for us to force you to stay if you need to leave.”
Jongwoon thinks. He pulls himself to his feet and looks the man in the eye, noticing their height difference of a few centimeters. Immediately, he stumbles, but the other man brings his arms up to support him, holding him up.
“Where is this place?” he asks, steadying himself on the wall. The man’s face breaks into a smile—relieved.
“Right with me.”
“I’m Choi Siwon,” the man introduces himself. “I’m not an employee, but I support the motel from the outside.” He extends his hand when they reach a red light on the road. Jongwoon shakes it almost wearily. They’re riding in the car now, and he still can’t bring himself to trust the other completely even though he’s the one driving.
“I’m Kim Jongwoon,” he says tersely. Siwon nods, and the conversation ends there, Jongwoon being uncomfortable and him reading the room.
The car itself seems expensive, leather seats and inoffensive air freshener. Even when they run over bumps in the road, Jongwoon can barely feel it. He glances at Siwon again, now more curious than cautious.
“We’re here,” the other Alpha says before he can ask anything. Jongwoon turns to the window, coming face to face with the motel.
His confusion must show on his face. Siwon coughs, “Like I said, we keep a low profile.” He climbs out first, holding the door for Jongwoon. He gets out cautiously, blinking at the building.
It certainly is humble, with its complete lack of loud signs and lights like he’s come to expect from other “motels” or even shelters, whatever this is. In fact, it’s so completely drab that Jongwoon is starting to doubt whether or not he’s been scammed or not, despite the new articles and websites. Siwon leads him towards the door, and it opens automatically. Jongwoon walks in, and immediately, he’s hit by a huge wave of Alpha scent.
“My God,” he mutters. He sniffs around again, almost amazed. “You really weren’t lying.”
“Masi! Back so soon!” Suddenly a loud voice rings through the lobby, and Jongwoon flinches. He whirls around to see another man approaching them.
“Shindong-hyung!” Siwon engulfs the man in an embrace, “I didn’t see you earlier.”
“You always hug others like you’re going to marry them one day,” ‘Shindong’ grouses, but he’s smiling as he extracts himself from Siwon’s grip. He turns to Jongwoon, expression shifting to curiosity. “Is that a new resident?”
“Pulled him off the streets,” Siwon confirms. “Kim Jongwoon.”
Jongwoon bows, and Shindong nods in his direction. “We’ve been dying to meet someone new for a while now,” he says, “Everyone’s kind of bored with each other.”
“That’s not true. You always keep yourself entertained here,” Siwon responds with a chuckle. Shindong laughs.
“Just let me try to make the new guy feel welcomed, okay?” he responds. “Anyways, I’m just heading out. Kyuhyun’s already off for the night, so you’ll probably have to go to Leeteuk-hyung directly. I’ll see you soon.”
“Soon, Hyung,” Siwon promises. Shindong waves at them one last time before disappearing into another hallway off to the side. Jongwoon watches him go, a strange feeling in his chest. “That’s Shin Donghee or Shindong. He used to be a resident, but now he manages everything.”
“Who’s… Leeteuk?” Jongwoon questions. They start walking in one direction, past the receptionist desk.
“He’s the one who founded the Super Junior Motel.” Suddenly, they stop in front of a door at the end of the hall. It’s decorated with a few signs and photos of men grinning jovially at each other. “And he’s the head.” He knocks.
“Who is it?” a voice calls from the other side, pleasant yet tired.
“Siwon! I’ve brought someone along.”
The sounds of footsteps makes Jongwoon’s knees tremble a bit, but before long, a man opens the door.
Then, he’s hit with the scent. It’s the exact same type of scent that he’s been smelling constantly for almost the past few years, though far more muted. Jongwoon steps backwards, his eyes widening.
“You’re an… Omega?”
Leeteuk looks surprised for a second before his gaze turns more professional. He shuts the door behind him, and suddenly, Jongwoon can breathe again.
“Are you comfortable with that?” the Omega asks.
“I usually don’t do registrations,” he explains, “Usually, Kyuhyun’s the one that does it in the front, but he’s already headed home.”
“Do you want me to call him? He won’t mind as long as we pay him overtime,” Siwon pipes in. Jongwoon looks between the two of them almost incredulously.
“No, it’s alright. I’m not bothered by Leeteuk-ssi being an Omega,” he says slowly. Leeteuk nods, listening closely.
“Is the scent a bit too much?” he questions.
“Ah… Yes…” Jongwoon admits. He hooks his fingers together, fidgeting slightly. When he notices Leeteuk’s gaze though, he stops. Leeteuk smiles at him gently, bringing out a clipboard and setting it on his lap.
“I’ll definitely keep that in mind. So, let’s start with the questions?” he suggests. Jongwoon nods. “Full name?”
“Date of birth?”
“August 24th, 1984.”
“How long has it been since you ran away?”
“Uh, just today.”
“Do you have a driver’s license?”
“Yeah, wait—” Jongwoon reaches downwards and pulls it from his sock, hesitating a little before extending it to the Omega. “Sorry, it’s a bit beaten up.”
“We’ll treat your black eye later,” Leeteuk promises. “Do you have any cash on you?”
And like that, the questions continue. They ask whether or not Jongwoon has anyone chasing him or not,—not to his knowledge—whether or not he has access to a bank account,—not a private one, and if he has a phone—he did, but he didn’t take it with him. By the end, he’s fully exhausted, the day catching up to him in full. The pain in his stomach—which had faded earlier—has returned, and he’s barely able to keep his eyes open. Leeteuk, apparently noting this, speeds things up.
“Have you been mated before?”
Jongwoon stiffens. He can see Siwon glancing at him from the edges of his vision, and he gulps down the lump in his throat. Slowly, he raises his hands towards his collar and pulls it downwards, revealing a bright and angry mark.
Leeteuk marks something down. Siwon looks sympathetic.
“Lastly, are there any preferences you have for a room? For example: no loud noises, a larger space, etc.? And not just for a room, anything in general.”
Leeteuk swallows. He wipes his palms on his lap and stares down into it intently.
“I—I would like a nice view please,” he stutters. Leeteuk smiles again and marks it down.
“We have one available. Just read the terms and sign here. Don’t worry, the first few months are free, and we can negotiate based on your circumstances.”
Jongwoon takes the pencil and paper again. He reads carefully, the feeling in his chest growing stronger with every word.
“You alright?” Siwon asks, a concerned glint in his eyes. Jongwoon nods stiffly and takes a big breath.
“I’m not signing my freedom away again, right?” he chokes out. Leeteuk's face shifts into something sadder, and he shakes his head.
“You can leave whenever you want,” he says. “Whether it’s because you feel unsafe or if you feel ready to get your own place, we’ve had people do all those things before.”
“Okay.” Jongwoon grips the pen in his hand. “Okay.”
“Welcome to Super Junior,” Leeteuk says, smiling again. “I hope you enjoy your stay here.”
Jongwoon’s room is at the end of the hallway. By now, Siwon has bid them goodbye for the night, leaving him and Leeteuk alone. The Omega shows him the room first before handing him his keys and guiding him somewhere else.
“I’ll be retiring, but I’ll be right in my office,” he says. “You don’t have to come in, just knock.”
“Ah, okay,” Jongwoon bows. “Goodnight, Leeteuk-ssi.”
“Call me Hyung if you want,” the Omega replies easily, “After all, I am only one year older than you.”
“Only one year?” Jongwoon echoes. Leeteuk laughs.
“I look young, don’t I? Goodnight to you too, Jongwoon.”
With that, he leaves. Jongwoon keeps his eyes on him until he disappears, and he lets out a sigh. He looks at the keys in his hand and the slight metallic smell coming off of them, marked with the room number. In his other hand, Leeteuk has handed him a slip of paper with another room number on it and a name.
“... Kim Ryeowook?” he wonders.
He looks down the hall again, following the sequential ordering of the numbers to a room closer to the exit. Cautiously, he raises his hand and knocks.
“Who is it?” The door opens suddenly to reveal a shorter man with perceptive eyes and bow-like lips. Jongwoon bows.
“Hello, I’m a new resident. Leeteuk-ssi—Leeteuk-hyung says you can help with this?” he points towards his eye, and Ryeowook instantly understands.
“Oh, come in! You must’ve been a pretty short notice arrival. Excuse the mess—” he beckons him into what looks like the living room area, and Jongwoon enters carefully. It smells like Alpha, except sweeter. The scent isn’t overpowering or particularly odorous at all, but he wrinkles his nose.
“My scent’s a bit messed up, right?” Ryeowook comes in behind him. He drags out a chair and gestures for Jongwoon to take a seat. “I have a hormone imbalance and can’t afford the medicine yet, so it’s just like this.”
“Ah—I’m sorry,” Jongwoon says awkwardly, sitting down. Ryeowook heads somewhere deeper in the room to open what seems to be the refrigerator, returning with a bag of ice. He grabs a spare towel from the top of a clothing pile and wraps it in it.
“Hold this to your eye,” he instructs. Jongwoon complies easily, letting the coldness swallow up the swelling. “Do you have any other injuries?”
“I got kicked in the stomach earlier,” he confesses. Ryeowook nods.
“After twenty minutes, take that off your eye and hold it to the area of impact. Switch one more time, then I’ll give you more ice.”
Ryeowook blinks at him curiously. “Man of few words, aren’t you?” he says bluntly. Jongwoon averts his eyes.
“Ah, you just have to warm up to us, right? Everything will be alright.”
He presses his lips together but nods. Ryeowook stands up again, heading behind. He watches him pull something else out of the refrigerator, a tupperware.
“Have you eaten—wait, I’ve never asked for your name, right? What’s your name?”
“Kim Jongwoon. I was… born in 1984,” he offers the information automatically. Ryeowook hums.
“You’re a hyung then. Hungry? I’ve got kimchi stew.” He holds the container up.
Jongwoon can feel his stomach rumble in hunger. It’s probably been twenty hours since he’d last eaten and even longer since he’d had a good meal. He looks at Ryeowook again, and the Alpha’s eyes are kind and transparent. He swallows again, letting the saliva fill his mouth. Taking a deep breath, he faces it.
“I’d like some, thank you.”
An hour later, he’s throwing up into Ryeowook’s toilet, the younger patting his back sympathetically.
“You ate too quickly,” he explains. Jongwoon just looks at him, eyes teary.
“Well no fucking shit.”
He slaps his hand over his mouth at that, before he has to bend over the toilet again to dry heave into it. Ryeowook looks startled for a second before breaking into laughter, sound clear and fresh.
“So you can cuss pretty well!”
Jongwoon can only retch in response, and the younger Alpha goes back to consoling him.
He gets to know the others in the motel fairly quickly.
“The building is small to begin with, but there are so many empty rooms that it makes Teukie-hyung frustrated sometimes. He says there are too many Alphas that can’t find this place but need it. Right now, we only have about five residents, including you.”
“Honestly, we only really have space for ten if everyone gets their own rooms but yeah.”
Jongwoon can’t stop the surprise from showing on his face. He sets his spoon down, glancing around the room. It’s decently sized for something that’s only one room. Ryeowook hums at his reaction, folding his hands over his lap.
“I should tell you a bit about the guys.”
Jongwoon only sleeps about three hours before he’s woken up, the light softly streaming in through the window. His room is still at its most barebones state, the walls uncolored and the only furniture being the bunk bed, a table, and a couple of chairs. He winces as he turns onto his side, touching his black eye lightly.
When Jongwoon can finally muster the energy to get up, he frees the sun from the curtains and unlocks it, breathing in the fresh air. In all honesty, it smells like petrol and drying tar, but at least it’s different from the stifling scent he was forced to wear on himself back then.
It takes him another hour to allow himself to peek out his front door.
“Leeteuk-hyung, you’ve probably heard about him from Siwon already. He’s usually in his office, but you can catch him during mealtimes.”
True to Ryeowook’s words, Leeteuk is nowhere to be seen in the morning. Jongwoon lets it be, especially because he has no desire in going into that office again.
“Choi Siwon’s the main shareholder and helps us the most financially. He’s the heir to a famous company, but his father still has most of the reins, so he feels like he can’t help as much as he would like.”
Siwon’s not around either. According to Ryeowook, he has a separate job besides taking care of Super Junior, so he can only visit occasionally.
“And also, there’s another employee here. His name is... Cho Kyuhyun. He’s a Beta and he works the desk.”
When he first sees him, Kyuhyun is on his phone, tapping concentratedly at the screen. Jongwoon doesn’t have the courage to interrupt, passing him with only a slight nod that the young Beta probably can’t even see.
“Finally, the Alphas. Kim Heechul, the oldest resident and the most senior. He’s been here the longest since the founding, and rumor is that Leeteuk-hyung started this all because of him.”
Heechul is sharp tongued and beautiful. Jongwoon meets him just as the older Alpha is ducking out of Leeteuk’s office. He grimaces at the Omega scent, and Heechul similarly wrinkles his nose.
“You’re the new one, aren’t you? Come with me, you smell like vomit.”
The older Alpha drags him into a public bathhouse, which is thankfully empty in the morning. Heechul sighs in relief as he sinks into the water, gesturing at Jongwoon to follow. The younger tries to exercise caution at first only to lose it all in the face of the mind-numbing comfort of the hot bath, even if he is naked in front of a guy he had only met an hour ago.
Needless to say, they get to know each other well after that.
“Shin Donghee or Shindong is the second oldest and has been here the shortest. However, he’s quickly made himself a place inside the business of the motel and earns a salary taking care of the technical things.”
“You’re Kim Jongwoon, right? We met last night.” On their second meeting, Shindong extends a hand towards him with a large smile rounding his face. Jongwoon shakes it, feeling strangely like a business partner rather than a flatmate.
“It’s nice to meet you, Shindong-ssi,” he greets politely. Shindong blinks.
“We’re not strangers, are we? You don’t have to be so formal,” he points out. Jongwoon fidgets with his hands, rubbing his thumbs together.
“Call me Hyung then?” he suggests timidly. Shindong grins.
“Call me Shindong then.”
Suddenly, a muscled body barrels into the other Alpha along with a loud cry, completely circling his waist with his arms. Shindong splutters in disgust, shoving the other off of him.
“Lee Donghae I swear—”
“Lee Donghae got here right after Heechul. He’s got a job collecting garbage around the neighborhood. He gets up early for it so you’d have better luck catching him in the afternoon.”
“Hyung!” Donghae stares at them with his puppy-like eyes, and even Jongwoon can feel his heart bend a little. Shindong however, seems to be resistant to it, turning his head disdainfully away from the younger. Donghae wilts even more, and at this point Jongwoon can’t do anything except helplessly look between the two of them. Shindong scoffs.
“Don’t be disrespectful,” he scolds the younger, “Haven’t you been whining all month about wanting someone new?”
“Wait, you’re the new guy?” he immediately whips his head towards him, and Jongwoon has to avert his eyes from the sheer enthusiasm rolling off of this guy. He’s too excited. Too damn handsome.
“Uh, that’s me,” he says. Donghae’s face breaks into a wide smile.
“Nice to meet you! I’ve been waiting for such a long time—”
“Then there’s uh, me. I came here only a little earlier before Shindong-hyung and am still looking for a job. Well, I do… busking sometimes? But that doesn’t really count…”
“You two are going to scare him off,” Ryeowook’s high voice echoes through the hallway. Jongwoon whirls around to see the shorter Alpha casually strutting towards him. He relaxes a little bit at seeing the familiar face, the anxiety calming.
“Good morning, Ryeowook,” he greets. Ryeowook waves in his direction.
“You two met yesterday, right? For his eye,” Shindong deducts. Jongwoon nods.
“I’m very grateful.”
During all this, Donghae just looks at him, tilting his head. “You’re a bit strange,” he declares. Ryeowook elbows him. “But don’t worry, everyone’s like that when they first come,” he adds after.
“Let’s just go eat,” the youngest sighs. “C’mon Jongwoon-hyung.” Him and Shindong start going on ahead. Donghae lags behind, pouting slightly. Jongwoon observes him, scratching at his arm.
“Uh—I’m good with skinship if you were… curious,” he says to the other Alpha directly for the first time. Donghae looks startled at first, but then he beams while leaning onto his shoulder, filling Jongwoon with this inexplicably warm feeling.
They go off together then, to get lunch.
“Single Alpha?” The interviewer raises her eyebrow at him. Jongwoon presses his lips together.
The Omega takes another look at his resume, flipping the pages over on her clipboard. He’s lucky enough that Kyuhyun had let him borrow the reception’s computer to write his resume and that Shindong knows a lot more about Microsoft Word than he does.
“I think you’d find a better job elsewhere,” she says upfront.
He bows. Donghae’s suit is a little short on him but far too bulky. It makes him look far frowzier than he actually is, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t shaved in a few days and that his black eye is still well and alive on his left side.
When he looks back up, the Omega’s narrowed eyes are a clear sign to get out.
“It’s not your fault.”
Shindong places a small tray of bread in front of him, and Jongwoon hesitates to eat it, tearing it in half and nibbling on the smaller piece.
“It’s okay, I’m not dejected.”
But he is. It probably shows on his face. Shindong sighs.
“Seriously though, it isn’t. Employers always hesitate to hire Alphas that don’t look their quote unquote best, especially ones without any current partners. They say they’re too unreliable that way, or they’re taking up job positions that could be given to Alphas with families or Omegas in general.”
“That sounds… fair enough.”
Shindong snorts at that. “There’s a reason I started working here in the first place. Siwon pays more than minimum wage.”
Jongwoon buries his head in his hands. “I wish I could afford a suit. Damn robber took everything I had,” he mumbles. Shindong pats him on the back.
“It’s good if you let it all out.”
Jongwoon goes to more job interviews. He leaves all of them without a job.
“I thought the polite thing to do was to leave an email instead of saying it to my face,” he says to Donghae, who shrugs. He still smells like steam from the shower he always takes after work, not wanting the scent of garbage to intrude into the motel's air.
“Did you put down an email address to write to?”
“I’ve never had a private one,” he admits. Donghae makes a noise in the back of his throat.
“You should have one,” he says firmly. Jongwoon just nods, but he smiles unconsciously. He reaches towards the younger Alpha’s hair and ruffles it. Donghae turns to him, an astonished look in his eyes.
“Hyung—” he sniffs. Jongwoon shoves a spoonful of doenjang stew into his mouth before he can start crying.
Later, he has Shindong walk him through creating an email account. There’s little more he can do than watch the younger panic over the viruses he might have accidentally downloaded onto the software.
“How did you even get tricked so badly? I thought you put 'office worker' onto your resume? How did you even survive in a place like that?”
“I don’t know,” he says helplessly, “I don’t know.”
“I heard you’re getting closer to Donghae now,” Ryeowook says, spooning some tteokbokki into Jongwoon’s bowl. “He sort of has that effect on people.” They’re the only ones left here in the morning, Donghae off on his job and Shindong trying to make their webpage more accessible.
“I’m getting closer to everyone,” Jongwoon replies because it’s true. And because something in the other Alpha’s musky-sweet scent tells him that it’s the right answer. Ryeowook hums.
“Kyuhyun told me that a new Alpha’s coming soon,” he says. “They found us online through our website.”
“Kyuhyun tells you a lot,” Jongwoon observes. Ryeowook glares at him.
“I hope you choke on the delicious food I make for you. And eat more of it, for God’s sake!”
Contrary to Jongwoon’s rather lackluster reaction however, he is curious about the new Alpha. It’s already been a week since he first came, but based on the arrival dates of the other four Alphas, it’s an extremely small gap between new residents.
“What do you think he’ll be like?” he asks Ryeowook, who shrugs.
“Alphas run away for a variety of reasons,” he replies vaguely. Jongwoon swallows. He stares into his fire red bowl of tteokbokki, which he hasn’t touched.
“Did Kyuhyun say anything else?”
Ryeowook chews on his lip. “No,” he decides. Jongwoon hums.
He takes a break from job interviews to clean out the extra rooms in preparation for the new Alpha’s arrival, mostly just hitting dust out of tables and scrubbing rust off of metal bed frames.
“Goddamn, they should get some new beds in here. It smells like a robot has bled out,” Heechul complains. Somehow, Leeteuk had convinced him to help out with the process, which is honestly a relief because the older Alpha is a whole lot better at the whole cleaning thing than Jongwoon is.
“We can’t afford it! I’ve crunched all the numbers,” Shindong shouts from the outside.
“Your arms are too skinny!” Donghae adds after that. It isn’t clear who he’s talking to, but judging from the size of the metal frame he’s currently carrying in one arm right now, it’s at least a little bit irritating.
“Damn bastards,” Heechul curses, “Always saying shit.”
“Fucking kids,” Jongwoon agrees automatically. He doesn’t notice Heechul shoots him a surprised glance. What he does notice however is the older clapping him on the back and crowing with laughter.
“You’re my favorite, Jongwoon-ah,” he says warmly. Jongwoon’s chest feels strange. It’s the first time someone has said that to him without other connotations.
It’s nice though. It is.
“Heechul-hyung, do you have a job?” he wonders out loud. Heechul freezes for a split second before he slams the duster into the corner, effectively clearing it of all dirt. Jongwoon watches in amazement.
“You know, the only place that wants to hire me is the brothel,” he says. “Have you seen this face?”
“You’re very pleasing to look at,” Jongwoon responds. Heechul hits him again, this time with the other end of the duster.
“Shut up, brat. Don’t just agree with everything I say, it’s annoying!”
“But I thought—”
“You know we have other rooms to clean, right?” Ryeowook peeks in. “Hey, you two are doing pretty well though. Better than ShinDonghae is.”
“Of course we are,” Heechul huffs. “Shindong’s a hoarder, and the only things Donghae knows how to clean are his dumbbells.”
Jongwoon laughs. Ryeowook raises an eyebrow, but he laughs too.
“Are you going to wait for him to arrive?” Donghae asks him, his legs swinging from the lobby’s couch. They’re both waiting for the new Alpha’s arrival, Donghae because he’s guilty he wasn’t able to see Jongwoon at first and Jongwoon because he has nothing better to do. He nods in affirmative, licking his dry lips again.
“I’m not asleep until the sun’s at least halfway across the sky anyways,” he says. Donghae looks like he’s about to say something, but he stops midway, eyebrows furrowing. Jongwoon elbows the younger Alpha lightly, not wanting to worry him. “It’s a good thing coffee exists, right?” he jokes. Donghae manages a small smile. On the other side of the room, Kyuhyun stretches, yawning loudly.
“I swear, if this guy doesn’t get here quickly—” he grumbles. He’s usually like that, more of a grump than almost everyone in the motel put together—excluding Heechul. Sometimes, Jongwoon doubts that Kyuhyun’s really that many years younger than him, but other times,
“You’re just bitter that Ryeowook wouldn’t sacrifice his beauty sleep for you,” Donghae teases. The glare he receives from the Beta is murderous.
“Shut up, Hyung,” he sighs and flops down into the chair. “Really though, how long will we have to wait?”
Donghae leaves the couch to throw an arm around his shoulder, guiding him upwards and towards the back where the kitchen area is.
“We’re going to get something. You coming?” he calls behind him.
Jongwoon shakes his head. Donghae gives him a thumbs up and drags Kyuhyun out. The youngest’s eyes linger on him for a moment before tearing themselves away.
They’re only gone for about three minutes when the automatic doors suddenly slide open and a figure stumbles in, a bag on his shoulder. Jongwoon runs over, catching him just before he tilts onto the ground.
The first thing Jongwoon notices about the new Alpha is that his scent is muddled, like a mix between Alpha and others. It’s not like Ryeowook’s. It smells like…
The man suddenly groans.
“A-are you okay?” Jongwoon snaps out of his daze, stuttering. The Alpha cracks his sunken eyes open at him, and the beanie on his head slides down onto the floor, revealing a head of bright blue hair.
Jongwoon almost drops him.
“Is this… Super Junior?” the man rasps. Jongwoon swallows.
He manages to carry him over to the couch, laying the slender frame delicately onto the soft leather. The Alpha shifts uncomfortably, eyelids scrunching. Jongwoon just stands above him, unsure of what to do.
“I’ll go get someone—” he starts, but the man’s hand quickly comes upwards to grip the hem of his shirt like a vice, eyes pleading. Jongwoon’s breath hitches, his heart palpitating dangerously.
“Please stay,” the Alpha pleads, voice only a whisper. Jongwoon can only nod, settling down right next to him. Gently, he tries to pry the man’s fingers off of his sleeve, but it only relocates at his hand, engulfing his smaller palm into a desperate grip.
Jongwoon blinks at him but doesn’t protest, letting the other hold onto him even though they’re total and complete strangers. It makes him feel nice, needed.
Of course, that equilibrium is broken when Donghae and Kyuhyun come back to the lobby, admittedly not loudly but loud enough to shock the new Alpha awake. Jongwoon squeezes his hand on instinct, and to his surprise, he calms him down that way. But it doesn’t last long when suddenly, Donghae drops his cup of water onto the floor, sending the paper cup ricocheting off the carpet and the liquid sinking into the ground.
“What the hell!” Kyuhyun complains, but the other doesn’t respond. Instead, his eyes are wide in shock, lips moving only slightly.
The Alpha jerks at the sound of the name, and he stands up suddenly, all traces of exhaustion replaced by the same emotion that has carved itself into Donghae’s face.
“Oh my God.”
The new Alpha staggers forward into Donghae, and Donghae wraps him in a bone-shattering hug, burying his head into the other’s shoulder. They crash into the ground together, clutching at the backs of each other’s shirts and clawing at each other’s arms. The oily scent of the newcomer is quickly smothered by the relieved scent of Donghae, who crushes the other’s much smaller frame to his chest like a lifeline.
Jongwoon is frozen on the couch as he watches tears stream down his dongsaeng’s face, but nothing makes him more surprised than when the new Alpha grasps him just as tightly and wails, his sobs rippling through his entire body.
Him and Kyuhyun make eye contact. The Beta shakes his head.
They’ll have to deal with this later.