When suppressants failed to take effect, there was only one way to relieve the symptoms of an omega's heat.
An able-bodied man was required for that.
Xie Han and Shen Wenjun had been engaged in this sort of relationship since they were eighteen.
As a person's secondary sex developed, it became harder and harder to overcome their instincts through sheer willpower alone. Once, in his third year of high school, Shen Wenjun hadn't been able to attend school for a full week due to his heat.
Xie Han had gone to visit him then. As a beta, he couldn't detect the omega's raging pheromones. He was able to stay calm in Shen Wenjun's presence, in Shen Wenjun's room.
To Shen Wenjun, hiding under the covers, Xie Han said, "Let me help you."
Upon hearing that voice, Shen Wenjun stuck his head out from under the covers and saw Xie Han kneeling at the head of his bed.
Xie Han had adopted a very proper position, sitting with his back ramrod straight. He took out a medical report and earnestly explained, "I'm infertile. I won't get you pregnant if I help you. So if your suppressants don't work, you can use me to get through your heat."
Shen Wenjun accepted his offer.
From then on, the two of them would secretly, occasionally engage in activities more intimate than those shared between 'just friends'.
But they couldn't be considered lovers. Xie Han was simply helping Shen Wenjun solve a problem, in his capacity as a childhood friend.
It was all business. A perfunctory in-and-out, so to speak. They would never do anything extra or unnecessary with each other. Shen Wenjun told himself that their engagements could be considered a form of medical treatment. He had to think of it from a rational, scientific perspective.
A rational, scientific perspective.
They'd already passed Shen Wenjun's heat together countless times. But Shen Wenjun still felt his face flush with heat every time. He flung both arms over his face and hid until it was over.
Afterwards, Xie Han acted like nothing significant had happened. He simply asked, "Feel better?"
Shen Wenjun nodded. He took a tissue to wipe himself clean, then sank back into the passenger seat.
He only ever asked Xie Han for help in dire circumstances, when he had no other option. It was difficult to face his good friend in the aftermath. Shen Wenjun was a haughty person by nature, and he despised exposing his imperfections to others. Even to his best friend.
Furthermore, he didn't want Xie Han to think he was a slut.
Even when every cell in his body seemed to be screaming, Shen Wenjun believed he was supposed to endure it as long as he was able. He wasn't supposed to indulge those base instincts.
Shen Wenjun put his pants back on, then turned his face away and gazed out the window. "Let's go."
Xie Han started up the car and pulled out of the underground parking lot.
The air conditioning in the car, set to cold, helped Shen Wenjun gradually lower his body heat. He also acted like nothing had happened, and asked, "Did your transfer come through?"
"It did," Xie Han confirmed. "I'll be transferring over to the precinct in District 6 next week. I don't have any work on my hands right now, so I used up half my saved vacation time to do some house-hunting this week."
Xie Han was a police officer.
Many of those who worked in law enforcement were betas.
As betas, they weren't susceptible to being influenced by pheromones and could therefore conduct investigations calmly and rationally.
Xie Han and Shen Wenjun had separately climbed to the topmost rung of their respective career ladders.
Now, they could finally be together.
Shen Wenjun was thrilled. "House-hunting? House-hunting for what? Come live with me."
Xie Han couldn't help but think, Do you even know what you're saying? We're two people who just did 'that' together…
Shen Wenjun's offer made Xie Han's imagination run wild.
Xie Han, perplexed, gave it another moment's thought before he said, "Mm. I'm looking near your place."
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a place around there?" Shen Wenjun retorted. "Stay with me. I have plenty of extra rooms, anyway. Pick whichever one you like."
Shen Wenjun checked his watch. "I just so happen to have the afternoon free, anyway. I'll help you move."
Xie Han thought of the ring box in his pants pocket, then decided to go with the flow. "Alright. I'll pay rent."
"How long have we been friends?" Shen Wenjun asked. "You think I need you to pay rent?"
Shen Wenjun was a man of action who liked to get things done fast. He helped Xie Han move in that same day.
It helped that Xie Han led a fairly basic life; there wasn't much to move.
Shen Wenjun lived in a high-rise apartment complex in the heart of the city. It was a 300-some square meter suite that his parents had purchased for him.
His father was the head of a large business enterprise; their family wasn't short on cash, to say the least. Shen Wenjun also had three older brothers in the family, all alphas. He was the youngest son and the one and only omega.
That night, Shen Wenjun and Xie Han had dinner at home.
Shen Wenjun took a call from his mother and bickered with her right in front of Xie Han.
"I don't want to go home."
"I can spend my birthday by myself. You'll definitely set up a marriage meeting for me if I go back. I don't want any marriage meetings."
"You said there was no marriage meeting last time too, and that was a lie."
"I'm not interested in those garbage alphas."
"Why do I have to get married, anyway? If I have to get married, I want to find a partner myself."
"What's wrong with growing old alone? Growing old alone would be great!"
"Don't pity me. Xie Han is here, he'll spend my birthday with me. In any case, I'm not going home."
Shen Wenjun ended the call with a huff.
Xie Han looked like he was holding in something he wanted to say. In the end, he only asked, "Did you make your mother cry?"
Shen Wenjun muttered, "She's faking. It's an old trick."
After the call, Shen Wenjun sank into a terrible mood. Xie Han was pretty sure he already knew the answer, but he still asked, "Little Jun, is there an alpha you like right now?"
Definitely not. If he did have someone, he wouldn't have asked Xie Han to help him through his heat.
As expected, Shen Wenjun irritably snapped, "No."
Xie Han brushed a hand over the ring box in his pants pocket again.
He wanted to propose on Shen Wenjun's thirtieth birthday. Even if he couldn't be sure that Shen Wenjun would say yes, he couldn't bear it any longer. He'd already liked Shen Wenjun for fifteen years.
He needed an answer.
Some thought seemed to cross Shen Wenjun's mind. His brows furrowed deeper, and he icily continued, "But it does seem like I've encountered my fated alpha."
"What?" Xie Han asked.
With an extremely dispirited and disgruntled expression, Shen Wenjun said, "You know, the sort of alpha who you're extremely compatible with. The sort with extremely alluring pheromones. I could sense it as soon as I smelled his pheromones. They weren't like other alpha pheromones at all.
"He's some nineteen-year-old brat. Exceptionally stupid. I'm honestly pissed. How could it be a useless thing like that?"
Shen Wenjun didn't need to go back to the university for a while, so naturally he didn't run into Teng Rui again.
He buried himself in his work, determined to forget all about this extremely disappointing fated mate of his. So what if they were highly compatible? He couldn't possibly accept such a substandard waste of air.
In the blink of an eye, the day of Shen Wenjun's birthday arrived. He gave his boss a heads up that he wouldn't be working overtime that day.
"It's my birthday today," he explained. "I'll be spending it with my friend."
"Happy birthday, Little Shen!"
As Shen Wenjun left his boss's office, he furrowed his brow. That mesmerizing scent was in the air again.
Where was it coming from?
Shen Wenjun followed the scent, surprised to find that it actually led back into his own office.
Teng Rui was sitting at the clerk's desk when Shen Wenjun entered. He hastily bolted out of his seat when he saw Shen Wenjun enter. In his haste, he even banged his knee against the desk and accidentally knocked over a stack of case files.
The falling case files nearly took the computer monitor down with them. Teng Rui scrambled to steady the monitor before it could fall.
By then, Teng Rui's face had gone completely red again. He felt he looked much more presentable than he had when he first met Shen Wenjun. He was dressed and groomed properly now, without a hair out of place. He'd even used a breath freshener and slipped a box of condoms into his pocket.
But when opening his mouth to speak, he still stumbled over his own tongue.
"Sh… Shen… Shen-laoshi. Hello. I'm Teng… Teng Rui. I'm the new cl… clerk."
Shen Wenjun didn't show him any mercy. "How do you intend to interrogate suspects with that stutter of yours? Change your line of work."
Teng Rui was already crying in his heart. "I… I… I don't have a st… st… stutter."
Shen Wenjun scoffed.