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“Vegas, what are you doing here?” Kinn asked when he noticed his cousin entering the living room. It was the third time that week that Vegas visited the main family manor without any apparent reason and Kinn was getting suspicious.

“Sir-” Pete entered the living room in a baggy shirt and a regular pair of black pants. He looked quite fit, if Vegas had to admit - not that he would admit that to anyone. The uniform really hid his true physique.

“Pete! I'm here for Pete!” Vegas said, trying not to panic. Pete looked around, wondering who he was talking to. “Come here, don't be shy!”

Pete reluctantly walked over to where Vegas was standing. Putting an arm around his shoulders, Vegas whispered into his ear. “Pretend you're at least glad to see me. Just do it.”

Pete followed the order, not wanting to anger the minor family son, even though he doubted he'd do anything with Kinn in the room. He grinned at Vegas, their faces dangerously close. There was something burning in his stomach, nervousness spreading on his skin. When they were that close, Pete could see Vegas clearly, the bags under his eyes, the darkness of his irises, the seriousness of his look. He swallowed the lump in his throat.

“Pete? What's going on?” Kinn asked, visibly confused. You and me both, sir, Pete thought to himself.

“I'm here to borrow Pete for a- for a date.”

Kinn squinted. “Is that true, Pete?”

Pete just smiled and nodded, as Vegas kept digging his fingers into Pete's shoulder. “Yes, Khun Kinn, I was on my way here to tell you I'm off for the day. I told Khun-” Vegas gripped his shoulder tighter. “I mean- Vegas that I'm free today.”

Vegas squeezed Pete closer to his chest. “So, my dear cousin, if you don't mind, we'll be on our way.”

Before Kinn could even respond, Vegas guided Pete out of the room. When they were away from everyone, Pete pushed Vegas away, removing himself from his grip.

“What the fuck was that?” Pete asked, not really interested if he offended Vegas anymore.

“Watch your tone.”

“I don't work for you, Khun Vegas,” Pete spat out. “Why did I just lie to my boss?”

“That's none of your business.”

“You made it my business when you pulled me into this mess.”

Vegas just glared at him, not responding. He could see Pete was getting slightly angry, the silly smile no longer plastered on his face. He looked more human without it, less like a shell. What else was he hiding behind that mask, Vegas wondered to himself.

“So why do you keep coming here? To gaze at Porsche? Flirt with him to rile up Khun Kinn?”

Vegas was pissed. No one talked to him like that, especially not the help. He quickly walked over to Pete, half-expecting Pete to run away from him, but the other man just stood there, rooted in place, not moving an inch. He wasn't afraid of Vegas, or at least he wasn't showing it.

“If I didn't know better, I'd say you're jealous,” Vegas whispered, his lips barely touching Pete's earlobe. Pete still showed no signs of disgust, anger or even fear. He was completely neutral, his body standing still and tall, not giving Vegas the satisfaction.

“Jealous of what exactly? Do you think I want your attention? I've met people like you. You bully everyone around you, because you can't get them to like you, so at least they can fear you. Fear is not respect.”

Vegas laughed. It was a shrilling, dead, humorless sound, not really anything like real laughter. “Pete, Pete... You make everyone think you're a fool. I've seen you around, always smiling that stupid smile. You've worked for my cousins for some time now. And if Khun likes you enough to keep you around, it either means you're insane like he is, or you're actually worth something.”

Pete took a step back to look Vegas in the eye. “Whatever you say, Khun Vegas. Am I free to go?”

“Not so fast. Aren't we going on a date?” Vegas asked, pouting.

I would rather die, Pete thought. Instead he just smiled and bowed. “I think it's going to rain,” he said as the sun shone brightly through the windows. He turned on his heel, when a hand grabbed his arm, pulling him around.

“Do not turn your back to me,” Vegas said. “Didn't they teach you that?”

“That was only for real threats. Unfortunately, whatever you thought about yourself, Khun Vegas, I do not see you as a real threat.”

“I could kill you right now. Do you think the main family would care about some lame bodyguard?”

Pete smiled at him, completely relaxed in Vegas' grip. “Others might think of you as a psychopath, but I know that even for you that's a little bit insane. And how will you explain to Khun Kinn you shot your boyfriend right before going on a date? Seems like a bad plan to me.”

Vegas pushed Pete away, his anger growing by the second. Pete was right, he really couldn't do anything about it.

“I won't say anything to Khun Kinn. But do not think this makes it okay.”

“I guess clothes really makes the man.” Pete looked at Vegas, puzzled. Vegas continued. “You're different when you're out of your uniform.”

Pete snorted. “You don't know me. We both know about each other what we've heard from others or what we've seen in passing. This job requires me to have some secrets. I doubt anyone knows the real you.”

“Oh? So what do you know about me? Other than the fact that I'm insane.”

Pete rolled his eyes. “You're not insane. You just don't care.  What makes you think all of these schemes are going to help you beat Khun Kinn? He had the luck to be born into the main family. You didn't.”

“What are you talking about?”

Pete tilted his head to the side, looking like a puppy not understanding his owner. “Khun Korn beat your father. Your father was the one who could fight to become the head of the main family. He failed. It isn't on you to fight Kinn. You're not the one who failed.”

Vegas stared at Pete, the other man just staring back. He could see that Pete was really believing what he was saying. It made no sense. He was the one who constantly fucked up everything, who made bad plans and disappointed his father. How could Pete think his father was the failure? He was the head of the minor family.

“You don't know what you're talking about.”

“Sure, if you want to believe that. Can I go now?”

“You really think my father is the failure?” The softness of Vegas' voice startled Pete. He wasn't used to seeing the sensitive side of the minor family son, mainly because he thought Vegas didn't even have a sensitive side. It was a surprise, to say the least, but Pete wouldn't show it. He kept his face neutral, only the shadow of a smile still present on his features. It was easy slipping the mask back on, the safety of if feeling like home. He was used to hiding what he was truly feeling, a habit that he created when he was just a child. Now it was a habit, something he can stop if he actively thought of it, but before, when he lived with his father, it was a way to survive. Showing his emotions only angered his father more and crying made his grandmother worry. It was easier to pretend and put on a mask, making everyone happy. Except his father, of course. No matter what Pete did, he couldn't make that man happy, but keeping his emotions in check made the beatings hurt less.

Pete shrugged. He wasn't sure if he was the right person to be telling Vegas this, but from the look in his eyes, Pete knew no one told him this. He almost felt sorry for the other man. Almost.

“You're a successful man, but the main family is still controlled by Khun Korn. Your father couldn't beat him, how can you? Riling Kinn up by trying to steal his boyfriend... do you think that makes others respect you more? It shows weakness, especially since you can't control infatuation like respect.”

Vegas just stared at the bodyguard. Pete's words just confirmed Vegas' doubts, he just never thought he'd hear it said out loud.

“I don't need your pity,” he spat out. Pete looked shocked, his eyes growing wide, his smile disappearing.

“If you think that's pity, you've never been pitied. I do not pity you, Khun Vegas. I don't care. I am just voicing my opinion. Isn't that what you wanted?”

“Well, your opinion is wrong.”

“I think you didn't hear me correctly. I am saying it's not your fault. You have the abilities your father taught you. If you aren't capable, that's because Khun Gun didn't teach you well-”

“You can go now,” Vegas interrupted him. He could feel shame rolling off of his body, waves of it spreading around him like smoke.

“Oh, so we aren't going on a date?” Pete joked as he was turning around to leave.

“Don't worry, you won't get rid of me just yet,” Vegas said, his voice low, barely above a whisper. Shivers went up Pete's spine, but he just kept walking, not wanting to show Vegas how his voice affected him.

 


 

Pete luckily managed to avoid Kinn for the next few days, probably because Vegas hadn't come to the main family compound for a while now. He wondered if his words maybe struck a chord with the minor family son, but Pete dismissed that thought immediately. Vegas was so used to being called a failure, his father's outbursts no secret among the guards, but it would take more than just a few kind words from a nobody like Pete to change the narrative he had been fed his entire life.

He sometimes felt sorry for Vegas. He wasn't incapable, taking manners into his own hands more than once and doing well. He remembered the torturing and scheming that Vegas did for the main family, in an attempt to strengthen the bond between the families. He tried, more than his own father had, which should be proof enough to both Korn and Kinn that Vegas was a pawn in his father's game and had no choice in the matter.

At the same time, Pete didn't know why he felt the way he did. Vegas wasn't nice to him, the other man constantly abusing everyone around him. He had never shown any resemblance of humanity, not including his relationship with his brother. Pete had to admit that Vegas tried to be a good older brother to Macau, protecting him from his father on more than one occasion.

Pete walked through the main family compound, sent by Tankhun to return the trays from the room to the kitchen (something he did gladly, because he didn't trust his boss with metal trays around him). As he was going back, he waited for the elevator at the second floor. The doors opened and Vegas was already inside, not exiting, meaning he was going up. Pete smiled his usual smile, bowed and apologized.

“Oh, Khun Vegas. I'll just take the next one.”

Vegas rolled his eyes. “Don't be ridiculous. Get in.”

Pete nodded and bowed in gratitude, not really wanting to spend time with Vegas, but obeying the order nonetheless. He got in and pushed the button for the seventh floor, hoping that Vegas would get off of the elevator sooner than him, and then got disappointed when he saw that the button for the eight floor was already lit.

“Visiting Khun Kinn, sir?” Pete said, nonchalantly, hoping to fill the dead silence with something other than the sound the elevator was doing as it was dragging itself up.

“Yes. Not that it's any of your business.”

“It's not. I apologize for asking.”

Vegas turned to Pete, leaning against the metal wall of the elevator, his hands holding the bar that lay against his back. “Oh, the uniform is back. I thought something felt off.”

Pete turned his head to look at Vegas, not moving from his spot in the corner, holding his guard stance. He smiled to cover his initial shock, and nodded, hoping Vegas would drop it and stop talking to him.

“What, cat got your tongue?” Vegas mocked. Pete was about to respond, when the elevator shook around them and came to a screeching halt. The light went off for a moment, when the battery powered lights lit up.

“Power's out,” Pete said, keeping his voice steady, not allowing panic to take over him.

“I figured that out myself,” Vegas replied sarcastically. “The back-up generator should kick in now.”

“The back-up generators don't power the elevators.”

“What? Who came up with that stupid idea?”

Pete shrugged, feeling his muscles tighten from the panic that was burning in his stomach. He didn't like tight spaces. He didn't even like elevators in general, but he learned to overcome his fear of them, everyone telling him they are so safe. “Why are you yelling at me? Do I look like an electrician? I'm just telling you what I know.”

Vegas rolled his eyes. “I'm not yelling at you. I'm yelling in general.”

“Dramatic,” Pete muttered under his breath.

“What was that?”

“Nothing,” he said and fake-coughed. “Just a cough.”

“Liar,” Vegas responded as he slid down onto the floor. “Do you have your phone with you?”

Pete shook his head. “Don't you?”

Vegas looked up at him like he grew a second head. “I don't carry a phone. I thought guards had phones?”

“Only when necessary. I'm mostly in Khun Nu's service. I don't need a phone to watch dramas.”

Vegas laughed at that, nodding his head in agreement. “Oh, my dear crazy cousin. I don't know how you keep doing it.”

Pete tilted his head, trying to understand what Vegas was saying. “I don't know who keeps feeding you false information, but Tankhun is not crazy. He's traumatized, yes, but wouldn't you be if your father left you kidnapped for two weeks?”

“Two weeks? I heard he was gone for only a day.”

“No, it was two weeks. I saw the reports.”

Vegas narrowed his eyes at Pete, standing up from floor, not liking the way Pete looked down at him. It didn't really help since Pete was slightly taller, but still Vegas felt bigger when was standing. “You weren't here when Khun got kidnapped. You're what 24, 25?”

“I'm 28.”

“What? You can't possibly be 28. I'm 25. You're older than me?”

It was Pete's turn to squint in disbelief at Vegas. “What? I look 28. It's not my fault you frown so much you look older.”

“I will fucking kill you.”

Pete smiled, the panic in his stomach grumbling, but not spreading. Fighting with Vegas helped. “One advantage of me being in my uniform? I'm armed. So don't threaten me. Instead you should probably update your skincare routine. Sun damage isn't cute.”

Vegas rolled his eyes. “I do not have sun damage. I am a religious SPF user, mind you.” He paced the short distance looking up at the ceiling. “This is ridiculous. What's taking so long?”

“Power outages aren't uncommon during this period,” Pete said, shrugging.

“Yeah, exactly, they are common. So I'm surprised why you didn't think of including elevators to your back-up grid.”

“Elevators use up too much energy. It's not a necessity.”

“Well it is a necessity if someone is in one!”

“Again, yelling at me like it's my fault! Stop doing that!” Pete raised his voice, panic seeping into his voice.

“You really like disrespecting me so much, huh?” Vegas replied, his voice now lowered, still echoing in the metal box.

“I am not disrespecting you, Khun Vegas,” Pete said, and continued under his breath. “I am simply trapped with your annoying ass in this deathtrap.”

“Again, disrespectful.”

“Well, maybe do something to earn my respect. Once again, mind I remind you, I do not actually work for you.”

“Brat. You're a brat. I can't believe that Kinn speaks of you so highly and you are a fucking brat.”

Pete scoffed. “I am a brat when I need to be. I am a guard when I need to be. It's called being professional, I don't know if you've heard about it.”

“That's what I'm talking about! Why do you always have to poke fun at me? Why can't you have a civilized conversation with me?”

“Civilized? You don't even know me. You didn't even know I existed until you had to find your way out of a mess like five days ago,” Pete tried to argue, his tie choking him around his throat, sweat dripping down his back. Why was it so hot in here?

“Are you okay?” Vegas asked out of the blue. “You look a little bit pale.”

Pete cleared his throat. “I am fine.”

“Why don't you sit down? We might be here for a while.”

Pete blanched at that, his eyes growing wide, the panic now fully setting in. He gripped the metal bar behind him, closing his eyes.

“I mean, we'll be out of here soon!” Vegas corrected himself, as he saw Pete trying to catch his breath.

“Just shut up. Don't try to comfort me, you're shit at it,” Pete said, taking a deep breath. His forehead was slick with sweat and he felt sick to his stomach, the air stuffy in the elevator. Vegas was looking at him, eyes wide, but he kept quiet.

“Take your coat off. You're overheating,” he broke the silence between them and grabbed Pete by his shoulders, taking the lapels of Pete's jacket in his hands. Pete's breathing was still shallow, his eyes growing even wider when Vegas put his hands on him. Dragging the jacket off of Pete's body, Vegas took off the tie next, removing it completely, placing both items on the metal bar next to him.

“You're claustrophobic?”

Pete nodded, fight completely gone from his body. He kept taking big gulps of air but felt lightheaded nonetheless.

“Stop. Follow me,” Vegas said and grabbed Pete's face in his hands, forcing him to look Vegas' in the eye. Vegas took a deep breath in, holding his breath for a few seconds before exhaling. Pete followed his lead, desperate for the panic to release its hold on him. Vegas kept breathing slowly, Pete following suit, until he could feel the fog in his mind clearing.

Pete cleared his throat, the heat going up his neck and painting his cheeks red. He was way too close to Vegas, his hands still on Pete's cheeks, the grip slightly looser.

“Thank you.”

“No problem. We're even now,” Vegas replied, dropping his hands from Pete's heated cheeks and taking a step back. He looked adorable with the blush now spread all over his pale skin.

“Yes. Even. But I doubt Kinn will ask either way.”

Vegas cocked his head. “What do you mean?”

“Nah, forget it.”

“No, tell me. What did you mean by that?” Vegas insisted.

“I just think... well, in the past you were only with people that Kinn... left. None of those people were your type. Or even you theirs. If they like Kinn, I don't think they'd like you.”

Vegas rolled his eyes. He was doing that a lot in the short amount of time that he had spent with Pete. Annoying brat. “Because I'm so unlikeable, right?”

Pete looked confused. “No. Did I say that? I just mean... I'm not Kinn's type. Kinn isn't my type. I think he might actually believe you have a thing for me.”

Vegas brushed off Pete's words. “Kinn isn't your type? Kinn is everyone's type.”

“Do you really think that? Kinn is pretty, yeah, but he's too... soft.”

“Soft? He's the head of the mafia. We're all ruthless killers.”

“So? I've heard stories. His sex adventures. Soft. Vanilla, if you'd like.”

Vegas felt his cheeks growing hot. He was not about to talk about Kinn's sex life with a bodyguard. In an elevator out of all the places. He cleared his throat trying not to let his mind go certain directions. “And that's not what you like?”

Pete turned his attention to Vegas, anything to stop him from thinking about their current situation. “No. I mean, it gets boring pretty fast, you know. The gentleness. I think I would die of boredom if I were Porsche. But he likes it. They are happy.”

“You are really full of surprises, Pete.”

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. Just that... I would never peg you for a sex freak.”

“I'm not a sex freak. I am just not boring.”

“Okay, I'll bite. What do you like?”

Pete smiled. “I'm not saying anything to you.”

“Why not? I want to know.”

Pete shook his head, but kept quiet.

“C'mon, spill. You probably know what I like,” Vegas kept prodding. He couldn't explain why he was interested in Pete so much, but something in him liked the way Pete talked back to him, how responsive Pete was.

“How would I know what you like?” Pete asked, changing the topic.

Vegas waved his hand, motioning non-committedly at the air around them. “Oh, guards talk, I'm sure of it. I've been with a fair share of them.”

Pete hummed in agreement. “Oh, I know about your... habits. But I don't trust them when they say you were gentle and sweet. Because if you were, well, let's just say, it's not what I thought about you.”

“You've been thinking about me?”

Pete shook his head a little bit too harsh. “You wish.”

“I'm not gentle in bed, to answer your question. I do my job.”

“Boring. So I was wrong about you. Pity,” Pete replied and pouted, pushing his bottom lip out. Vegas wanted to bite him. Something rumbled in his stomach, and he felt like a predator looking at his prey, waiting to pounce.

“What do you mean?”

“How can you develop a relationship when you only have one-night stands?”

Vegas shook his head, laughing. “I don't want a relationship.”

“I'm not talking about a romantic relationship. I'm just saying, purely sexual. How can you be with someone and have good sex if you don't know that person?”

Vegas shrugged his shoulders. “It's easy knowing what people like.”

“Really? Then tell me. What do you think I like?”

Vegas looked at Pete, squinting. He was pretty, Vegas had to admit, the soft face and the dimples when he smiled made him look like doll. “You already said you don't like the soft stuff, so maybe something rough? Do you like it rough, Pete?”

Pete rolled his eyes. “Obviously. I told you that. What else? C'mon, be creative. I already know what you like, just by interacting with you a few times.”

“Oh, is that so? Then tell me.”

“I asked you first.”

“Fine,” Vegas surrendered, lifting his hands up in front of him. “Hmmm, do you like to dominate? Rough it up a little bit?”

Pete burst out laughing, clutching at his stomach. “Are you insane? Do I look like a dom?”

“No? Then what? What do you like, Pete?”

“I'm not telling you. You bragged. I proved you wrong.”

Vegas waved his hand. “Whatever.”

“Doesn't it bother you? With your praise kink? And the dominating persona? To have someone humiliate you and not submit to you?”

The shock from Pete's words ripped through Vegas' body like electricity. He whipped his head around to look at Pete, who looked so innocently back at Vegas, a soft smile dancing on his lips. “What did you say?”

“You are a dom, aren't you? And you definitely like being praised when you do a good job. You crave it. I bet you like tying your subs, maybe even hitting them. Oh, I just know you like inflicting pain. It's just sad that you keep going through people and not even enjoying it.”

Vegas looked confused, surprised and a little bit turned on. How did Pete know all of that? He definitely never got to doing any of it with anyone, most of the guys he was with too scared to do anything with him that wasn't just normal sex and Vegas didn't really like forcing people to do anything they didn't want.

“What? How-”

Pete interrupted him, shrugging his shoulders. “It's written all over you. I just don't understand one thing.”

“What? What is it that you don't understand?” When you already know everything about me, Vegas wanted to say.

“Why don't you find someone compatible? There are BDSM clubs in the city, your family owns like seven of them. Is it because you don't like being with the same person twice or what?”

“BDSM clubs? You want me to go to a club to get laid?”

“Oh, my apologies. It's definitely better to keep fucking Kinn's old conquests.”

“Shut up. I bet you slept with Kinn when you know so much about his sex habits.”

Pete laughed. “Sure, and then I sucked off your uncle, after moving to Tankhun. Why don't you throw your father into the mix as well, while we're at it?”

Vegas scrunched his nose up at the thought. “Ew. Please don't talk about fucking my father in front of me.”

Pete shook his head. Vegas looked like an angry kitten. “I didn't sleep with Kinn. Why would I do that, when I can find someone who knows what I like?”

“Why won't you tell me what you like?”

“Why would I do that?”

“C'mon, don't be shy.”

“Oh, I'm not shy. That's just my private business.”

“Bullshit.”

Pete locked his eyes with Vegas', a smile still plastered on his face. “I doubt you would know what to do with me even if you had me.”

Vegas swallowed the lump in his throat, his pants growing tighter at the thought of Pete at his mercy.

“Fine, you don't have to tell me.”

“I bet you are frustrated. I'd be. Having non-kinky sex with someone you don't even care about. Boring, I must say.”

“Well, at least I'm having sex.”

Pete looked away from Vegas, not wanting him to see the lust in his eyes. Vegas was a gorgeous man and the dominating aura was doing things to Pete, things he could ignore, but didn't really want to.

“Bad sex. No sex is better than bad sex. But I wouldn't know either way. I actually like being with people who know what I like.”

“Slut,” Vegas said under his breath.

“Look who's talk-” The sudden jolt of the elevator cut off Pete's words. His throat constricted, the panic already making his body shake. He somehow forgot for a moment he was trapped in a fucking elevator, the stupid metal thing no moving for a good amount of time.

“Are we moving?” Vegas asked, the elevator making weird scratching noises, metal rubbing on metal.

“We are dropping,” Pete said, as he took a big gulp of air. “I hate elevators.”

“We are not dropping. Don't be dramatic.”

“Then what is going on? We are moving, fast, might I add, and the power is still not on.”

“Oh, fuck, we are dropping.”

“I don't want to die with you in this stupid metal thing.”

“I don't want to die with you either.”

The elevator stopped abruptly, both of them hoping that the freaking doors would open any time now.

“We are still trapped. I hate this day,” Pete said, trying to do the breathing technique the Vegas showed him. It wasn't exactly helping him, but he felt calmer than before, his heart still racing.

“Are you okay?” Vegas asked, as Pete gripped the metal bars again, leaning against the wall, his eyes glued to the ceiling.

“I'll be fine,” Pete replied, his voice shaky.

“Why do you hate elevators so much?”

Pete was silent for a moment, contemplating answering Vegas. He was not really interested in spilling his darkest secrets to a man like him.

“It's not about the elevator. I don't like tight spaces.”

“Why?”

“It's a long story,” Pete dismissed Vegas' question. He really wasn't in the mood to discuss his fucked up childhood with Vegas.

“Would you look at that! We are trapped and don't know when we will get out of this hellhole. All we have is time.”

“Will you stop? I don't need you stressing me out even more.”

“Sorry,” Vegas said, sheepishly. He actually looked apologetic, scratching at the back of his neck. “But no, really, what happened?”

“You are really annoying; did anyone tell you that?”

“I do get that a lot. But tell me. Please, I'm bored.”

Pete rolled his eyes. “Fine. I'll tell you. But I don't need your sympathy or pity or anything. This happened.”

Vegas nodded, slightly tilting his head at Pete. Was Pete's past that bad?

Pete sighed, rubbing a hand over his face, cringing at the memories of his childhood. “It's my father. My mother died giving birth to me and my father raised me. He- he blamed me for her death. That's not really important... Anyway, I started training boxing, because he wanted me to be a man or something, I don't know, I don't really care.” Pete stopped for a moment, the memories of his father filling his mind. He was over it, he really was. He didn't forgive him, could never do that after what he did to him, but it wasn't on his mind every single day.

“Okay. Continue,” Vegas said after Pete was silent for a few minutes. Pete looked at Vegas, a brief flash of shock on his face as if he just realized Vegas was there with him.

“When I would lose a fight, he'd beat me. But that was on his good days. On his bad days... we had this old freezer in the garage, you know? It was usually empty, but it was still working, and on the bad days, when I would lose a fight and my father was drunk, he would lock me in the freezer. For hours. One time he forgot about me for the entire day, so… I don't like tight spaces.”

Vegas looked at Pete, the other man now looking at the floor, his shoulders slouched, leaning on the metal railing on his elbows, his hands made into fists. He knew how it felt when your own father hated you, hurt you. His cheeks burned at the memory of his father hitting him that morning, hurling insults at him.

“I'm sorry that has happened to you.”

“It happened. That's it.”

“You were a boxer?”

“I was the junior boxing champion. That's when Korn recruited me.”

“How old were you?”

“Fifteen.”

Vegas' eyes went wide. “You've been working for the family for thirteen years? What did your father say?”

Pete looked at Vegas, his eyes growing darker. “Nothing. I slit his throat before he could.”

“You killed your own father?”

Pete nodded. “I spent fifteen years suffering abuse from that man. I should've killed him sooner.”

“You really are full of secrets.”

“I'm surprised you didn't kill your own father by now.”

Vegas' chin jutted forward, like a petulant child throwing a tantrum. “Why would I do that?”

“Parents shouldn't abuse their children.”

“My father-”

“Please don't defend him. I know you probably love him, but if you are going to defend him, I don't need to hear it.”

Vegas stared at the floor, Pete's words bouncing off of the metal walls of the elevator. “It isn't as bad as what happened to you. I'm just, I'm bad at following orders, I guess. He punishes me when I fuck up.”

Pete's hand on his shoulder startled Vegas, not even noticing when came closer to him, making him look up at the other man. His eyes were soft, almost sympathetic. “I thought that too. But my father hit me even if I won. Even if I did everything I was supposed to do.”

“I-”

“He doesn't do it because you fucked up. It's because he never won himself.”

“What?” Vegas looked confusedly at Pete. They were so close he could feel Pete's hot breath on his lips.

“You try to beat Kinn. Has your father ever beaten Korn? He's the one who fucked up a long time ago. Now he takes it out on you because he can't accept he's the who failed.”

Vegas lowered his head, not stepping back, the weight of Pete's hand on his shoulder a welcoming feeling, grounding him.

“You should do things the way you want to. To better the minor family. Not to take over the main.”

Vegas snorted, his voice coming slightly thick from the sobs choking him. “But whatever happens, I'll always be secondary.”

Pete took Vegas' chin in his right hand, lifting it up to meet his eyes, keeping his left on Vegas' shoulder. “Why do you need to compete? You are next in line to be the minor family head. A head of a mafia family. Isn't that enough?”

Vegas shrugged his shoulders. “Not for my father.”

“I'm asking you. Isn't that enough for you? You know how to be charge. You are smart. Why waste your energy on Kinn? Let your father do that if he's so desperate. But, if he could've taken over, he would've. Trust me.”

The praise was getting to Vegas’ head, his mind spinning with different emotions, the tears threatening to spill, his chin burning where Pete’s fingers gripped him. His pants grew tighter at the thought of Pete thinking he was worthy. “You said that before. I thought you were messing with me.”

“I wouldn't do that. I know you're capable. It's a shame nobody is putting your skills to good use. Even Korn should be able to see that you're a good asset.”

“I am?” Vegas’ body was reacting to Pete’s praise in a way he didn’t know was possible. What was happening to him?

“Hasn't anyone told you that?” Pete gripped Vegas' shoulder tighter. It saddened him to see Vegas so eager to accept praise even if it came from someone unimportant like Pete. It reminded him of an abused dog allowing itself to be petted after being neglected for so long.

“I don't believe in compliments.”

“I'm not trying to manipulate you. I don't have any use of it.”

“You don't want power?” Vegas asked.

“Why would I? Power is fickle. Look at your father and uncle. They have power. Both of them. But neither of them is happy. Or even satisfied. Content with their lives. Why would I want power? I'm okay with my current life.”

“How could you say that? After what happened to you, I would think you'd never allow anyone to abuse you ever again. Yet here you are giving yourself to the mafia like it's nothing,” Vegas spat the words at Pete, his voice sharp like a knife, hoping to cause pain to the other man, hoping to distract him from how easily he had opened Vegas up, ripping from his chest all the secrets Vegas had spent his entire life keeping.

Pete laughed, the sound a little bit sad. “I chose this. The mafia put my skills to good use. I know what to expect from this job. My father was supposed to protect me.”

“But what about happiness? You said you don't want power, yet you aren't happy. You aren't in love. You're alone.”

Pete took a step back, removing his hands from Vegas, leaning against the other wall to put some distance between them. Vegas almost stopped him. “I know. I don't expect love. I've made my peace with the universe. But I am good at my job. I am safe as I can be and if I'm not, I have to do a better job.”

“That's sad.”

“Look who's talking.”

“What do you mean?”

“You could be in love. You could find someone. You have the power of choice. Why don't you?”

Vegas stayed silent, looking at Pete in disbelief. Did he really think it was that easy?

“Love makes people weak.”

“Only if you love weak people,” Pete replied smoothly. “You can't love someone that doesn't want at least similar things as you.”

“Meaning what? Are we back to talking about sex preferences?”

Pete shook his head. “I'm not talking about that, but yeah, that plays a part as well.”

“What are you talking about then?”

“If you want power, you need someone who wants it as well. But you can't love power more than you love the other person. Or vice versa.”

“That's impossible.”

“What makes it impossible? You just don't want to try.”

“It's impossible because we aren't in the business of trusting people. Kinn trusted and you remember what happened.”

Pete scoffed, pointing his finger at Vegas. “That's your fault. You went out of your way to fuck that up.”

Vegas had the audacity to look shocked.

“I know you seduced Tawan and got him to sell secrets. I should've killed him when I got the chance.”

“How do you know that?”

“I've seen you together. You weren't exactly subtle.”

“Does Kinn know? About us?”

Pete shook his head. “No. I never told him about it. I figured he was already hurt because Tawan betrayed him. He didn't need the heartbreak.”

“Oh. Good.”

“Did you love Tawan?”

Vegas laughed, shaking his head. “God, no. He was boring and clingy. That's why I don't do relationships.”

“Because the other person has feelings? Oh, you poor thing.”

“No, because it makes you lose focus. I had to pay attention to Tawan otherwise he'd get mad at me. He didn't understand what was going on, what I had to do.”

“Betray your family? I wouldn't understand either.”

Vegas slid down on the floor, getting tired of standing. “I didn't betray my family.”

Pete followed Vegas' move and sat down as well.

“I don't care. You didn't trust him enough to explain what was going on. That's what I meant by finding someone who wants similar things. Tawan only wanted your attention.”

“And my dick, thank you very much.”

Pete laughed. “Doubt that felt good. Tawan is as vanilla as they come.”

Vegas shrugged. “It got the job done.”

“You've really never been to a BDSM club?” Pete said all of the sudden.

“What? Like you have.”

Pete furrowed his brows. “What do you think I do on my days off? Sit in my room and read?”

“Wait, really? You go to those clubs? To do what?”

“Have sex? What else would I be doing in a BDSM club?”

Vegas shrugged. “How would I know? I'm not into those things.”

“You aren't? A club is just where you find someone who fits you.”

“Okay, what do you search for when you go to a club? What do they do?”

Pete brushed a hand through his hair, his forehead slick with sweat. “Well, the one that I go to, you have to register. Fill in a questionnaire. You choose a nickname, you can even wear a disguise if you'd like. And then they pair you up. Find someone whose kinks match yours.”

Vegas lifted his arms above his head, stretching. Pete thought he looked a little bit like a cat. “What did you put in that checklist? You're a sub, you told me that much. What else?”

“I'm not telling you that. Go to a club and find out.”

“But I want to know your preferences.”

“Why? Why does it bother you so much?”

“Why can't I figure it out?”

“And that bothers you? I'm not a conquest, Vegas. Nothing will happen if you don't succeed in this.”

“I just wanna know. Why are you so stubborn?”

Pete rolled his eyes. This was getting annoying. “Okay, guess.”

“What?”

“Say a kink and we'll see if you guessed it correctly.”

“Fine. Bo-” The elevator moved. The lights started to flicker as they finally started to go up. Both of them stood up, as the elevator doors opened on the seventh floor. Pete took his jacket and tie, and turned around to leave the cursed metallic box, as Vegas grabbed him by his arm and turned him toward him.

“I will find out what you like.”

Pete smiled at him. “I'll see you around, Khun Vegas.”

Vegas felt something rumbling in his stomach again. His skin was hot, the light sheen of sweat covering his body. Vegas wanted to eat Pete alive.

 


 

Previously Pete never noticed Vegas. He knew who he was, but his reputation told Pete to stay away. So, any time they were in the same room, Pete kept his gaze forward, not drawing attention to himself. But after those two moments when he interacted with Vegas, Pete started to noticed Vegas more and more. He was suddenly everywhere and it drove Pete crazy.

As he was going out into the garden for a smoke, he noticed Vegas on a bench not far away from where Pete was standing. Pete entered the garden, Vegas not lifting his head but aware he wasn’t alone anymore.

“Khun Vegas,” Pete said politely, bowing. “I didn’t want to disturb you, I’ll be on my way.”

Pete turned around to leave, when Vegas lifted his head from his hands, his face littered with bruises, his lip split in two. “Stay. I could use the company.”

Something burned inside Pete at the sight of Vegas’ face. He knew he looked angry, a grimace on his face. He wanted to kill Gun, to make him as afraid as Pete knew Vegas was of him. It boiled under his skin, the memories of him covering his ears, curling up into a ball to make the impact of the punches his father threw hurt less, but that only angered him more. Pete tasted the salty interior of the freezer on his tongue, the coldness wrapped tightly around him as his skin stuck to the icy walls.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Vegas said, pulling Pete out of his thoughts.

“You’re hurt,” Pete simply replied, his words strained, the knot in his throat tight.

“I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine.”

“Then I’ll be fine.”

The sadness on Vegas’ face was brief, but Pete could see how troubled he felt. It was the same way Pete felt after his father hit him, the questions in his mind, going over his steps to figure out what he did wrong, what made him so angry.

“It’s not your fault, you know,” Pete tried. The words sounded empty, the promise behind pointless.

“It was. It always is,” Vegas laughed, his voice thick with tears. Pete sat down on the bench, keeping a good amount of space between them in case Vegas didn’t want to be touched.

“What do you need?”

Vegas turned his head to look at Pete sitting next to him. He looked kind, his face open like he really cared about Vegas.

“Stop looking at me like that.” Pete flinched at the harshness of Vegas’ words, but didn’t look away.

“Like what?”

“Like you care.”

Pete stayed silent for a moment. “I don’t know why… but I do care.”

“Well, you shouldn’t. Not about me, at least.”

Pete looked at Vegas, searching his face for something other than the anger that seeped out of his pores.

“You’re too angry right now, but you’re angry at yourself.”

Vegas looked away, staring at his hands. He didn’t even defend himself. He was pathetic, weak, a disappointment. His father was right–.

Pete placed a hand over Vegas’, stopping his train of thoughts. They looked at each other, neither of them saying anything, as Pete curled his fingers around Vegas’ hand, the weight a welcoming distraction.

“You’re not weak. Whatever your father told you… you’re not.”

Vegas tightened his grip on Pete’s hand, wishing he could say something, anything that would make sense, but his mind was finally empty, only Pete’s words swirling around as he lost himself in Pete’s dark eyes. He wasn't judged, he wasn't mocked, he was understood for the first time… well, ever. Vegas wanted to laugh at himself, how lame he was when he lapped up the minimal amount of kindness from Pete like a starving dog.

“Thank you,” Vegas managed to utter, a pleasant feeling spreading itself all over his his skin, like a warm blanket in the harshest of winters.

 


 

After that time, Pete realized, Vegas sought him out regularly, enjoying the small talk or just the company as they fell into a comfortable silence. It was strange to be so relaxed in Vegas’ company, the air around them light and filled with laughter, but they fell into a rhythm quickly, their personalities matching more than either of them expected to, surprising them when they realized they had more in common than not.

Pete could feel himself falling for Vegas, but he pushed it down, still keeping up the appearances, not wanting to assume anything. It was eating him alive, but he was used to being denied the simple pleasures of life, love being one of them. He stopped hoping for it, realizing it was pointless to keep hurting himself on purpose, so he just ignored it, the anxious pit in his stomach wide enough for him to fall through.

A few weeks later Vegas was back at the main family compound, this time surprisingly invited, and not just to see Pete. Uncle Korn decided to have them over for a family dinner, an event both torturous and interesting. The dinner would go probably one of two ways. Either, everything will be peachy – which Vegas doubted, because they all hated each other, especially Tankhun who will probably pick a fight even before appetizers – or the more probable version, they all end up yelling and screaming at each other, the dinner ruined before it even started.

Vegas hated family dinners, mostly because they weren’t really family dinners. They were meetings disguised as dinner, nobody actually paying any attention to the food, the steaming plates and bowls only as props decorating the table.

He was late and his father was probably pissed at him, his tardiness a sign of disrespect toward the main family. It wasn’t Vegas’ fault the situation at the piers required him to oversee the deals, not trusting anyone around him. Some would call him paranoid, Kinn had multiple times but he knew himself Vegas was paranoid for a reason.

He walked into the hallway, leaving the elevator on the second floor, on his way to the dining room, when he noticed Pete across the hall.

“Pete!” he yelled, the other man turning around, a confused look on his face. Pete walked toward where Vegas was standing, not too far from the elevator, and bowed in greeting.

“Khun Vegas, you’re here for dinner?” he asked, a polite smile on his face.

“Ah, here we go again,” Vegas commented Pete’s behavior. He smiled at the guard. „I thought we were past that.”

“I am still on duty.”

“And if I ask you not to call me Khun, would you?”

Pete thought about it for a moment, before shaking his head. “Like I said, I have a job to do.”

“But you have to listen to orders.”

Pete smiled at that. “Yet you keep forgetting. I don’t work for you.”

Vegas was about to respond, a cheeky reply already on the tip of his tongue, when his father’s booming voice brought him back to the reality.

“Vegas!” he barked, practically running toward them. Pete turned around, fear on Vegas’ face making him worried. It saddened him to see someone as powerful as Vegas so scared of someone he never should’ve been scared of in the first place. Pete’s blood was boiling, the images of his father dancing in front of his eyes, the anger just underneath his skin.

As Gun came closer, he raised his hand in an attempt to smack Vegas, his son not moving, his eyes closed, like he’s expecting it already, wishing it to come sooner so that it’d be done and he can nurse his burning cheek.

Something in Pete shifted, the pit in his stomach swallowing any reason he had left as he grabbed Gun’s arm while it was still in the air, stopping him from hitting Vegas, lowering the arm and steeling Gun with a steady look.

“I do apologize, Khun Gun, but as a guard for the main family, it is my job to ensure all guests of the main family are treated with respect and defended from all threats, be it foreign or familiar,” Pete explained his actions, as he released Gun’s arm, his body acting as a shield between the father and the son.

“If that would be all, you are more than welcome to stay here to recollect your thoughts. I will accompany your son to the dining room. If you’ll excuse us,” he continued, putting his left arm around Vegas, not exactly touching him, but slightly shoving him forward.

“Vegas, move,” he gritted to his teeth, the other man still in shock from Pete’s actions, but he listened nevertheless, moving his feet slowly in the direction Pete was showing. As they left the hallway, Vegas’ father still standing, disbelief written all over his features, Vegas suddenly stopped and turned toward Pete.

“Why did you do that?” he asked, his voice shaky and small. He hated that feeling.

Pete shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t like abusers. I’m not just going to stand by and see you get hit.”

“Thank you.”

“No problem. I just hope I didn’t make the situation worse by intervening.”

Vegas waved his hand. “It was bad either way.”

“C’mon, you’ll be even more late to dinner if we keep talking.” Pete grabbed Vegas by the wrist and started pulling him to the dining room.

“Pete?” Vegas asked, as he allowed himself to be pulled around, Pete’s fingers a welcome weight around his heated skin.

“Yes?”

“You didn’t call me Khun.”

Pete furrowed his brows, as he tried to remember the situation that had happened a few minutes prior. A small smile managed its way on his face, Vegas already feeling warmer as the bright smile lit up the room. “I guess I didn’t. Do you feel offended?”

Vegas laughed, a breathy, happy sound escaping his throat. He was floating, somewhere above himself, stuck on the ceiling, the happy feeling mixed with his blood running through his veins. “Not at all.”

“So, I don’t have to call you Khun anymore?”

“You wanted to keep things professional.”

Pete cocked his head at Vegas, Pete’s fingers still around his wrist. “And you don’t want to keep things professional?”

Vegas stepped into Pete’s space, the distance between them so small, Pete had to lean back to look into Vegas’ eyes. “Do you?”

“It’s not up to me. I do not get a choice in the matter, remember?”

Vegas chose for him. He closed the distance between them, pulling Pete into a deep kiss, his hands now cupping Pete’s cheeks, pulling him closer, like he wanted to devour Pete or wanted Pete to devour him, pushing himself into Pete’s mouth, looking around with his tongue, trying to remember the sweet warmth of his plush, soft mouth.

Vegas was moaning into the kiss, Pete responding to him so beautifully, their bodies slotted together, pulled together like magnets. He wanted to open Pete up, to live under his ribcage, the safest place he could imagine. He wanted to be in Pete’s arms forever, as they enveloped him tighter, the feeling of safety, something Vegas hadn’t felt in so long, burning in him. He instantly remembered his mother, the only one who protected him from his father, her eyes never hard, never judging, always warm and welcoming. She would’ve loved Pete, Vegas thought, as he kept kissing him. It set something aflame deep inside him knowing he chose, that he found someone so kind, so open, someone who was pushed into this world, not someone born into it like Vegas, someone whose blood wasn’t already stained with crime, the mafia his birthright. Part of him hated the fact Pete was even in the mafia world, surrounded by crime when he looked kind, his heart only hardened by the hardships of his life, not really who he actually was.

Vegas prodded at the wall that surrounded Pete, destroying his own in the process, baring himself to Pete, not shying away from the deep want he could see in Pete’s eyes, he could feel under his tongue. Pete wanted him. No, Pete wanted him. It was a painful revelation, a fact so obvious on Pete’s features, how he responded to Vegas’ touches, like he was waiting only for Vegas, created only for him.

Pete pulled away, a whine already on Vegas’ lips, as he looked at the bodyguard through his lashes. He was beautiful, his plump lips slightly red from kissing, a coat of spit shimmering in the dim lights of the foyer they were in. His cheeks were painted red, a slightly questioning look in his dark eyes.

Vegas shook his head, stepping back, his hands still around Pete’s body. “Don’t. We’ll talk about it later.”

Pete closed his mouth, giving Vegas a firm nod, and released Vegas from his embrace, as they continued their way to the dining room. Everybody was already sitting around the table, the food in front of them barely touched, the air in the room stiff and charged.

“Sir,” Pete said, not wanting to interrupt the dinner any more than it already had been. Vegas sat down next to Macau, trying not to look at Pete. Korn looked up from his plate noticing Pete was in the room.

“Pete. Is something the matter?”

“Could I have a word with you, sir?” he asked politely, trying to do damage control after his actions, before Gun complained, not wanting to destroy already strained relationship between the main and minor family.

Korn noticed the look in Pete’s eyes, the urgency mixed with panic, and got up from the table, excusing himself. Pete followed him into the next room, a small office, where Korn sat down and motioned for Pete to do the same. He lowered himself onto the chair in front of Korn, clearing his throat.

“What’s wrong?” Korn asked, his voice steady, but not angry. He never lost his temper, but Pete knew, even so, punishment from Korn was never light.

“I am reporting to you right away, because I didn’t want you to hear from someone else,” he started, as Korn nodded, encouraging him to continue. “I welcomed Khun Vegas into the building, as he was late. Khun Gun came a few moments later, angry. He wanted to hit Khun Vegas, but I stopped him. I told him we protected our guests in this house. I know I disrespected him, and I apologize for that, but… I couldn’t just stand there and watch him hurt his son. I fully understand the consequences of my actions and accept your punishment, whatever it may be.”

Pete lowered his head not wanting to look Korn in the eye. He didn’t want to see the anger in his eyes.

“Pete. I understand why you did it. And you did it in a respectful manner. I will have a word with my brother. Thank you for protecting my nephew. You can go,” Korn said, surprising Pete as he lifted his head to see Korn looking at him with a small, understanding smile on his face. He got up, thanking and bowing as he left the office. As he walked to the hallway, passing through the dining room, he glanced at Vegas, who was already looking at him, a question in his eyes. Sending him a reassuring smile, he kept going, feeling Vegas relax knowing Pete wasn’t in any trouble.

After dinner, Pete was walking to the garden for his smoke break as he got pulled into one of the less busy hallways, a yelp already on his lips, muffled by Vegas’ lips. Pete smiled into the kiss as he relaxed, knowing he wasn’t in danger. Vegas’ hands found Pete’s waist, Pete’s hands wrapped around Vegas’ neck, both of them pulling, trying to get closer and closer.

Vegas broke the kiss this time, leaning his forehead against Pete’s shoulder.

“We should talk, right?” Pete said, as he leaned against the cool wall behind him, Vegas’ body still on top of him.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do we have to talk?”

Pete shrugged, Vegas’ head moving up with his shoulders. “I guess… to know where we stand.”

Vegas looked up at Pete, not lifting his head from its place. Fear was bubbling in his stomach, as anxiety scratched at his skin. “With you. I want to be with you. I’ve been wanting that for the past few weeks.”

Pete smiled, and Vegas knew it was real. There were no edges to this mask, no plastic surrounding it, the emotion genuine, and he couldn’t believe he was the reason for that smile. He almost felt like he didn’t deserve it, wanting to shy away from the brightness.

“I’m okay with that. But I’m still not telling you what I like.”

“That’s alright. I intent to find out on my own.”

They looked at each other, both of them with happiness in their dark eyes, the heat from their bodies almost evident around them, as they stood there, in each other’s embrace, taking it one day at a time. Pete couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come as it meant one more day of Vegas, one more day of his heated skin on Pete’s, his arms around Pete’s waist, his hands everywhere. He wanted to feel every part of Vegas’ body, to see if he’s actually real, to kiss every part of him that was ever hurt, to replace every bad memory with a good one. He wanted the scars on Vegas’ body and soul to heal, the deep marks filled with the love Pete felt around his heart clenching, like a hand that wanted to burst out of his chest and pull Vegas in, where he would be safe and sound.

But he couldn’t do that. All he could do was tighten his grip around Vegas’ body, keeping him safe in his embrace. That should be enough for now.

.

.

.