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Sayuri gave him a sad smile when she saw his stunned face. She shifted the clipboard in her hands awkwardly as she repeated herself.

"I'm sorry Hyakuya, but Kimizuki won't be staying with you this week."

"That doesn't make sense," Yuichiro insisted, struggling to mute the anxiety he knew he was radiating. He didn't need a repeat of the sedative shots he'd received during his first heat.

"Shiho was assigned to me last year. No one else in my year has had their alpha switched so quickly."

A flicker of sympathy flashed across the beta's face for a short moment, which only served to confuse Yuichiro further.

His gut feeling was right, then. This wasn't something good.

"You're a special case, Hyakuya," Sayuri said firmly, meeting his eyes.

Yuichiro returned her gaze, but with great difficulty. The calm, authoritative quality in her demeanor was hard to ignore, especially on the days before his heat cycle. Nevertheless, he refused to accept such a change without a suitable explanation.

While cocky and stubborn during the interludes, Shiho Kimizuki was a suitable mating partner, as far as Yuichiro could tell. He'd never been with another alpha before, but Shiho would take him carefully and diligently, making sure that he was comfortable at all times and that no seed was wasted while they knotted.

When Yuichiro panicked during their first heat, Shiho had soothed him and waited until the sedatives had kicked in before touching him.

To switch an alpha could be a traumatic experience if done suddenly. Four days before his heat was sudden enough in Yuichiro's book.

"The Board decided to reassign you to a more experienced alpha. Currently, that is all you need to know."

"But-"

"That is all," Sayuri cut him off.

Yuichiro remained silent, but the dirty look he shot the beta spoke volumes. Sayuri just laughed.

"Don't worry," she softened, attuned to the frustration he was feeling. "I'm sure everything will turn out for the best."

Sayuri turned to leave his room before pausing at the door to add, "don't forget- a stressed omega is an infertile omega. Treat yourself to something before your heat starts."

"Don’t give me a reason to stress out, then," Yuichiro muttered under his breath, but the beta moderator had already left the room. He fell back onto his bed with a deep sigh.

Ice cream sounded good.

 

.x.

 

The first thing Yuichiro noticed when the alpha walked into the meeting room was his uniform. Pure white with black and gold decorations, all expertly sewn together and draped over a defined form. The alpha's scent reminded him of the salty caramel chocolate bar Yoichi once let him have a bite of.

Just like any other alpha, this one carried the unmistakable undertone of blood.

"You're a commander," Yuichiro stated as the alpha sat down. Blue eyes blinked back at him in surprise.

"I see you can read the ranks on my shoulder," the alpha remarked, tilting his head. "How unusual. I've never met an omega who took interest in the military."

Yuichiro sat back in his chair and watched the alpha carefully.

It was true that Yoichi never displayed interest when Yuichiro tried to engage his friend in a conversation about the military, but Yuichiro had always held a fascination for the world of uniforms and guns. The beta in his daycare had been an army medic in the Great War before he was injured and had been happy to tell stories of his exploits in the battlefield to whoever would listen.

Yuichiro listened.

He knew his interest was unusual for an omega, but he couldn't help himself.

Yuichiro couldn't tell if this alpha was pleased or not. All he did was look at him with those angelic blue eyes. If he hadn't taken a suppressant pill before this meeting, Yuichiro was pretty sure that those eyes would have had quite the effect on him.

The alpha leaned forward in his chair and grasped Yuichiro's hand, bringing it to his lips in a chaste kiss. The beta moderator cleared his throat from the other side of the room, but the alpha refused to let go.

"My name is Mikaela Shindo," he introduced himself softly, murmuring the words over the back of the omega's hand. "It's an honor to meet you, Yuichiro. I look forward to sampling your blood."

At a loss for words, Yuichiro yanked his hand back, face flushed. Shiho had never spoken to him like that. He felt his heartbeat quicken at the smirk that appeared on the alpha's face.

"That's enough," the beta stood up and walked to the door, gesturing for the alpha to leave. "There'll be enough time for that tomorrow."

"Until then," the alpha stood up and bowed his head at Yuichiro before leaving the room, not before sending him another piercing gaze as he rose.

Yuichiro's legs felt weak as he left the room a few minutes later. He was pretty sure it had nothing to do with his upcoming heat.

 

.x.

 

His mating quarters were more extravagant than Yuichiro remembered them being.

He'd been locked in the quarters with Shiho three times since his heat cycle had begun at the age of seventeen. The rooms hadn't changed much before during the three month intervals in-between his heats, but the rooms were barely recognizable when he walked into them now.

While the layout was the same, it appeared that all of the furniture had been replaced.

The canopy bed was larger, the floor was carpeted and after a thorough inspection, Yuichiro discovered that all of the cupboards in the kitchenette were full of a variety of quality sweets. He was used to bags of chips and cereal boxes. Even the bathtub was more spacious than before- and was that marble?

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Yuichiro walked over to the counter and poured himself a cup of water. His throat always felt dry after taking that pill the moderator would give him before being locked away. They said it suppressed the animalistic tendency of marking your partner during your heat and binding them to you, but Yuichiro wasn't absolutely sure why it was something to suppress.

Not being allowed into the rooms without taking the pill stopped Yuichiro from voicing his doubts. By the time he'd take the pill, all he could focus on was his body's need for an alpha's touch.

The door opened in the background and closed, followed by the distinctive sound of the system locking it from the outside.

Nobody was allowed to walk in on a mating couple, and the couple wasn't allowed to leave until their heat cycle was over. All in the name of undisturbed procreation, of course.

The alpha's scent proceeded him, wafting through the quarters and making Yuichiro's mouth water. He set down his glass in the sink, but before he could turn around and approach the other man, a pair of arms circled his waist and pulled him against the alpha's chest.

"Did you find the special sweets I ordered? I made sure they're your favorite," Mikaela breathed against his ear, tracing it gently with his tongue. Yuichiro gasped.

The alpha chuckled throatily.

"Like that, don't you? There's more from where that came from," he promised, scenting him with a deep inhale. "You smell absolutely delectable."

Yuichiro exhaled shakily and turned around in Mikaela's embrace, meeting his eyes with a shy smile.

"You ordered the sweets especially for me?"

Now that he thought about it, it made sense that his new alpha would have more money than his previous one. Mikaela was a commander, which could hardly be compared to Shiho's lower rank as an officer.

Still, having extra cash didn't mean that it had to be spent on an omega. Yuichiro would have to submit to him regardless of fancy gifts. 

Blue eyes met his once more, sending a shock of heat through his body.

"Yes, I did. The happier you are, the sweeter you will taste."

Yuichiro nodded.

He was still excited to have a large selection of sweets at his disposal, but he'd been stupid to hope for even a moment that they'd been given to him for purely unselfish reasons.

Nobody did anything without a reason, after all, and this breathtaking alpha was no exception.

Sensing the flicker of disappointment, Mikaela brushed his gloved hand against Yuichiro's cheek and looked down at him tenderly.

"I plan on making you enjoy this as much as I will," he swore, pressing a kiss to his temple. "By the time I'm done with you, you'll forget that there was ever a time in which I wasn't a presence in your life."

The last remark made Yuichiro take a step back out of the alpha's embrace.

"You don't mind that I mated with another?" he asked, regarding the other man cautiously. 

If there was one word to describe an alpha, it was pride. For a commander of such high ranking as Mikaela, it was unthinkable that he'd agree to be assigned to a previously mated omega.

Mikaela frowned.

"I wouldn't be here if I did, would I?" he countered, stepping forward and looming over the omega. "Are you questioning my judgement?"

Yuichiro could feel his heart beating quickly in his chest. His body called out to him to apologize, to do everything in his power to eliminate the danger of a displeased alpha.

Despite his natural instincts, Yuichiro refused to cower into a corner and submit to someone he didn't trust. Who tried to intimidate him so.

All he'd done was try to make sure that the alpha truly wanted him despite his history- was that something to be punished for?

"Maybe I am," he snapped back, folding his arms across his chest and trying to look more assertive than he felt. "What are you gonna do 'bout it?"

The alpha looked at him blankly for what felt like eternity. Yuichiro was starting to lose his nerve when he was lifted off of his feet and carried over Mikaela's shoulder into the main room. He cried out in indignation as he was dropped down on the bed, only to be trapped beneath the alpha's strong form as he climbed above him.

"You're a feisty little omega. I like that," the alpha smirked, baring his fangs.

"I'm going to enjoy pleasuring you to submission."

Mikaela lowered his mouth to Yuichiro's shoulder, peppering the milky expanse with small nips and kisses as far as the fabric allowed. Yuichiro sighed and tilted his head to the side, exposing his neck to the alpha.

He could try to pose a challenge to Mikaela during their coupling if he was in the state of mind to do so, but it was dangerous to interfere with an alpha's feeding.

Besides- he owed this to the alpha. Mikaela was entitled to his blood.

All omega and beta children quaked in fear at the stories of the time before the Board.

There'd been a time when the alphas dominated the land, when chaos ruled and blood was easily shed. The alphas didn't take pills to control their base needs and nothing could be accomplished while all they did was rut, feed and fight.

Thankfully, the betas led a revolt and took control after years of struggling against the small, but strong alpha minority. They invented the pills to curb the animalistic tendencies in both the alphas and omegas, and regulated their heats in an orderly fashion.

The alphas for the past fifty year had been sent to the military to monitor the violence in their nature. As compensation for guarding the rest of society, they were provided with omegas to mate and feed off of under supervision.

The Board made sure that everyone got what they needed to survive- nothing more, nothing less. Efficiency was the key.

Yuichiro shuddered to think what his fate might've been had he lived back then. His life expectancy wouldn't have been very long.

He snapped into focus as he heard Mikaela growl. He looked up in time to see the alpha's blue eyes turn red before leaning down and piercing his skin with his fangs.

Yuichiro's eyes glazed over, swearing under his breath as he wrapped his arms and legs around the alpha's form, bringing them closer. His body heated up at once.

 

He'd missed this feeling of being completely overtaken. The pheromones in the air coupled with the lightheadedness he was beginning to feel was intoxicating. Heat coursed through his veins and he keened, bucking his hips up against the alpha's groin.

Mikaela pulled out of his neck slowly, licking over the puncture wounds with his tongue. When his eyes found Yuichiro's, they were blue once more. Only now they were hazed with lust.

"You taste just as good as you look," he said a little breathlessly, grinding his hips down against Yuichiro's and drawing out a loud moan. "Allow me to show you my appreciation."

Mikaela's touch felt nothing like Kimizuki's.

Chapter Text

He couldn't be sure if the shot of ecstasy was the result of some sort of training his body had gone through during the past few days, or whether it was completely natural. Nevertheless, Yuichiro couldn't help the slight hitch in his breath and his racing pulse.

He spread his legs even wider, allowing the alpha easier access to the soft flesh of his thigh. His eyes fluttered shut as Mikaela pulled his head back and dislodged his fangs ever so gently, running his lips over the puncture wounds before raising his eyes to flash Yuichiro a smile.

Yuichiro felt light headed, but he preferred to see it as a sign of his contentment rather than that of his recent blood loss.

"I swear you taste better with every feeding," Mikaela hummed, pressing his lips to the top of Yuichiro's foot in an affectionate peck. "Keep this up, and I don't think I'll be able to hold back."

Yuichiro rolled his eyes, gently kicking his foot against the alpha's cheek in mock protest.

"So much for a disciplined commander. What are you going to do, suck me dry?"

The alpha looked at him silently for a long moment, humor divested from his features. He took the offending foot in his hand and settled it down gently on the bed before leaning over Yuichiro's form, trapping him from all sides.

"It's no laughing matter, Yuichiro. Many an omega lost their lives to their alpha's gluttony."

Yuichiro's throat felt overbearingly dry all of the sudden and the sound of his nervous swallow was audible in the silent room. He shifted beneath the looming alpha, avoiding the eyes he'd learned to love watching as they darkened in lust.

There was something very intense about those blue eyes of his and at the moment, Yuichiro couldn't bring himself to meet them.

A hand grabbed his chin and forced his gaze up, wounded green staring back at determined blue. Mikaela's fingers tightened their grip, digging his nails into skin.

"I'd never presume to take your life, Yuichiro. If you doubt everything else I say, never doubt this. Your life is precious to me and I'd never intentionally harm you."

The sincerity of the declaration baffled Yuichiro. He'd been pampered, fed on and thoroughly taken by alphas, but he'd never felt threatened by one.

It had never crossed his mind that Kimizuki was capable of inadvertedly killing him, and if he'd considered it a possibility, Shiho never said such a thing to him in their limited time together.

Mikaela was acting as if life threatening heats were commonplace enough, and it unnerved Yuichiro, to say the least.

"You say that, but you keep force feeding me all those sweets," he said finally, finding the bravado to use a mockingly accusatory tone. He shook his head, forcing the other man to release his chin. "You're risking my life with every bite."

As if a veil had been lifted, the alpha's stern features lit up in a smirk.

"I like my omegas sweet," he stated, brushing the back of his hand across Yuichiro's cheek.

"Both here," the alpha pressed his lips to the base of the omega's neck, running his tongue over the bite marks that littered Yuichiro's skin. "And here," he raised his other hand and reached back, prodding his fingers against Yuichiro's entrance and coating them with slick.

Yuichiro gasped and his cheeks grew warm as he watched the alpha bring those fingers to his mouth, licking them off one by one. He noted how Mikaela's length began to harden against his leg from the act. Or was it due to his own arousal permeating the air around them?

"As I said. Sweet."

Mikaela had the audacity to laugh at his flustered state.

"What is it, darling?" he cooed, peppering Yuichiro's chest with kisses. "Do you want a taste as well?”

Yuichiro shook his head.

"Tempting, but no. On the other hand," he reached down and grasped the firm flesh between the alpha's legs, "I'd be happy to sample this."

Mikaela's head snapped back and he groaned as the omega's palm circled his flesh. 

"Have I ever denied you a thing?" Mikaela assented, scooting further up the omega's body until his lower half was aligned with Yuichiro's head.

"Go on. Take as much as you need."

Yuichiro stared at the dangling length, more than just a little nervous. He'd been teasing Mikaela when he'd asked to taste his cum. Yuichiro had been sure that the alpha would offer to take him instead.

He certainly never sucked a cock before.

Yet there was one right in front of his face, demanding his attention the longer it waited. Was the alpha really going to have him…?

"The longer you wait, the more you're going to have to swallow, you know."

Yuichiro scowled, shooting Mikaela a glare, which of course had gone unseen. He sighed in resignation and turned his attention to the alpha's cock. This was the first time he had a chance to examine it in such proximity.

The alpha was large, of course, but he'd already known that from the way his body stretched around him. Yuichiro raised his hand to cup the sac at its base, rolling it in his palm as he continued to examine the alpha curiously.

Aside from an appreciative moan and the smallest roll of his hips, Mikaela left him to it without further comment.

Feeling the weight in his palm and the musky scent thickly surrounding him sent a shiver down Yuichiro's spine. There was no rational reason for his body to respond so powerfully to the mere presence of an alpha's cock in his line of vision, but then nothing ever made sense to him when he was in heat. He didn't need anything to make sense as long as it helped him sate his hunger.

And sate his hunger he would.

Gripping the base with one hand, the other helped guide the pulsing appendage in between Yuichiro's lips, settling momentarily on the tip of his tongue before he surged upward and swallowed as much as he could reach. His arms circled the alpha's hips and pulled him down, urging him to move.

Mikaela understood Yuichiro's unspoken request and pumped his hips, pushing his cock further down the omega's throat. Yuichiro yanked his head away and coughed, wiping away the saliva that drooled down his chin in the act.

Yuichiro's pulse quickened in alarm. He'd just failed his alpha, hadn't he? He'd rejected the man's length, regardless of how much he had started to crave it.

Would Mikaela punish him for it? Would he force him to continue? He'd demonstrated his dominance quite a few times over the past few days, but what if he figured it wasn't enough?

"Hush, little one," Mikaela moved down Yuichiro's body and fell to his side, settling his hand reassuringly on the omega's hip.

"I can smell the distress radiating off of you. Didn't I just promisr never to hurt you?"

Yuichiro swallowed thickly and shook his head. He resented the tears that threatened to well in his eyes.

His heat was a humbling experience he was forced to endure quarterly, and he disliked the person he became under the influence of the hormones. Where was his pride? Where was his sense of security? Why was he reduced to tears at the mere thought that his alpha was disappointed with him?

"I hate this," he whispered.

Mikaela sat up, startled.

"What do you mean?"

Yuichiro could tell that the other was wounded and that he'd done nothing to warrant such a blow, but there was something about the confusion that bit at the alpha's pride that Yuichiro couldn't help but feel was deserved.

If he had to endure it for three whole days, the alpha should be able to handle it for a few uncertain minutes.

"Yuichiro, answer me."

The omega sat up as well, covering himself with the crumpled sheet on his side and scowled. He was compelled to obey, but he didn't have to do so willingly.

"I hate this," he repeated, bunching the sheet in his fists and focusing intently on his folded knees.

"I hate feeling so… weak. So dependent. I know I could take care of myself, but there's something inside me that makes me want to leave everything to you. I hate how one word, one touch from you can make me forget myself."

Yuichiro had expected the alpha to brush him off and convince him that none of it mattered, but all Mikaela did was look at him. He stared at him without blinking, brows furrowed as if he were trying to solve a riddle he just couldn't figure out. Yuichiro's skin burned beneath his scrutiny.

"You would've made an excellent soldier."

Yuchiro blinked in surprise and turned to look questioningly at the alpha. That hadn't been what he'd expected at all.

"I've never met an omega who was able to transcend their natural instincts in such a way that they were as aware of their influence on them as you do. To be capable of analyzing oneself in such a way is critical for self-improvement and strategical thinking."

Mikaela leaned forward and brushed his knuckles tenderly over Yuichiro's cheek.

"I would consider it an honor to father a child with you."

Yuichiro's cheeks flamed. Despite Mikaela's talk about transcendence, the mere mentioning of a potential child was overwhelming every rational thought he had.

It was obvious that the aim of their shared heat was to procreate, but to have his alpha- a high ranking commander- say that he considered it an honor to mate with him, of all omegas…

"Really?" Yuichiro breathed, not realizing that he'd surged forward to brush their lips together until he could feel Mikaela's fangs worry his lower lip.

"Really," Mikaela confirmed, eyes darkening as he flipped them over. Yuichiro found himself straddling the alpha's hips and could feel the man's arousal against his skin.

Mikaela smirked.

"Ride me."

The command went straight to Yuichiro's groin.

"Take me within you. Give me a child, Yuichiro."

And at that moment, there was nothing the omega wanted more.

 

.x.

 

"So? How was it?"

Yuichiro grin said it all.

"Oh! So you liked him!"

Yoichi mirrored Yuichiro's enthusiasm. They hadn't had the chance to sit down and talk properly ever since he'd been informed that he was being reassigned to Mikaela. He hadn't realized it until he'd seen Yoichi's questioning look, but Yuichiro had been yearning to share his experience with someone.

"Well c'mon," Yoichi prompted him, settling his hands on his bulging stomach. "Tell me all about it."

Yuichiro's eyes followed Yoichi's hands longingly.

Part of the reason he hadn't seen his friend in such a long time was because every time he looked, his stomach was a reminder of his own body's failure. It'd been wrong of him to push Yoichi away in his bitterness, but now Yuichiro was finally able to regard him with nothing but warmth.

After all, it would be his turn soon enough. If it wasn't already.

"I was confused when they told me that Shiho wouldn't be my alpha anymore," Yuichiro began and Yoichi nodded empathetically.

It was almost unheard of to reassign mates and if the bond was strong, it could potentially harm the pair. It was only natural that Yuichiro would feel a sense of loss.

Yuichiro paused to consider his previous alpha. In the throes of his heat he'd forgotten all about him, but now that he thought about it, he wondered how Shiho had reacted when he'd been told that he was being reassigned.

Did he protest? Did he miss him? Was he sharing the bed of a different omega now?

"I didn't want a new alpha. But then they had me meet Mikaela and, well… he was decked with medals!"

Yoichi gave him a knowing look.

"You always did have a thing for high ranking officials."

"How could I not? They're alphas I can respect. And to have one as my mate… I still can't wrap my mind around it."

Yuichiro shook his head in wonder.

"Anyway, we met again right before my heat and, well… you know how that goes," he could feel the color rising in his cheeks and continued quickly before Yoichi could pursue the subject. "Next thing I know I'm back in my apartment."

"And?" Yoichi pushed. His eyes wandered to the flat expanse of Yuichiro's stomach. "Did you get the test results back?"

"I'm supposed to get them today," Yuichiro said nonchalantly, but his nervousness must have been apparent as the other omega reached out and took his hand, smiling reassuringly.

"I'm sure it's going to be positive," he said. "There's no reason for it not to be."

That was what Yuichiro had thought the first few times, but there was no reason to dwell on it. He'd know soon enough.

Mikaela was his alpha. He wouldn't fail him.

 

.x.

 

 

Taking a deep breath, Yuichiro opened the envelope. He sat down on the edge of his bed as his eyes scanned the report, searching for the word he so hoped to find. They finally stopped over the large, red letters.

His heart dropped.

Negative.

 

Chapter Text

Yuichiro buried his head under the pillow. He closed his eyes and tried to take a deep breath.

Negative.

The guilt felt like a blow in his gut and his body curled up instinctively beneath the covers. Shame burned his skin. Images of the tall blond receiving the bad news plagued his mind. He didn't need to be there to imagine it down to the last detail. He could practically see Mikaela's disappointment etched on his face. Yuichiro swallowed down the bile.

He had failed his alpha.

After all Mikaela had done for him, after all the kind words and scorching touches, Yuichiro had failed to deliver. His body refused to fulfil its purpose. How hard could it be, getting pregnant? Everyone else did. Hell, even Yoichi was a few months away from parenthood. Wasn't he stronger? Wasn't Mikaela one of the most powerful alphas in the region?

If so, what had gone wrong? Why was it so difficult?

It had to be his fault. Every omega could carry a child. Every alpha could sire one. Mikaela couldn't be the one to blame for Yuichiro's failure. He had his experience with Shiho to prove it. The truth was blaringly obvious.

Finally taking that deep breath, Yuichiro sat up. The room was dark and he was very much alone- another testament to his infertility. Had the test result been positive, Mikaela would be there by his side, holding him close and fulfilling the oath of every alpha to protect their pregnant mate. He would be running his hands over his skin and making him feel wanted.

Nobody would want him now. Not after four unsuccessful heat cycles.

Yuichiro climbed out of bed and turned on the light. After a week of self-inflicted isolation he figured that it was time to face the world. He would return Yoichi's calls and tell him what he probably already knew. He would start working out again. If he couldn't be round with child, Yuichiro would do his damn best to be the hottest omega in the complex. If he worked hard enough, maybe Mikaela would consider spending his next cycle with him again. Yes, he would-

Yuichiro fell to his knees, breathing heavily. He was breaking out in a cold sweat.

One thing at a time. He could do it… but not now. In a bit.

Heaving a great sigh, Yuichiro straightened and walked toward the bathroom. He desperately needed a shower. Catching his reflection in the mirror, he quickly looked away. He didn't need a reminder of how pathetic he looked. It was enough that he felt like one.

The water felt good. Purifying. It ran down his skin in hot streaks, washing away the sweat and dirt. Yuichiro wished it would clean more. Wouldn't it be nice if all he had to do to fix his imperfections was to step out of the shower? Let it wash away all his doubts and fears and allow him to take control of his life once more?

Yuichiro grabbed the bar of soap on the edge of the tub and started to rub it against his skin. He rubbed until he turned red, until he felt as raw as he did on the inside. He craved that balance. His body deserved the pain. Let it know how it had failed him.

His hand stopped once it reached his stomach. He peered down and set the bar of soap back on the side, gently holding his open palm over the taut skin. He ran his fingers over the underside, carefully prodding and caressing where his womb would have been had he conceived.  

The thought struck him. There was no need to be gentle- there was nothing there.

This time, Yuichiro didn't bother biting back the tears.  There was no one there to watch him.

 

.x.

 

"What the fu-mmph!"

Yuichiro was slammed against a wall. The alleyway was dark and rancid and he was pretty sure he had stepped on something, but it was hard to focus on anything but the brute strength crushing his wrist over his head. He tried to push his assailant away with his free arm, but nothing would move him away. To top it off, before he could call out for help, his mouth was sealed with something soft and wet.

Someone was kissing him.

Cautionary tales of omegas being raped by stray alphas in the past came to mind as Yuichiro tried to resist. This wasn't supposed to happen anymore- the betas had made sure of that. This was what they had all been warned would happen if the alphas were allowed to roam the streets freely as they once did. Yuichiro had done what he was told, had played his part. He didn't deserve this! He just wanted to get to the gym!

"Wrap your arm around me," the alpha hissed in his ear as their lips parted. He paused to nibble at the lobe. "Stop acting like you're about to piss yourself and pretend you're overjoyed to see me again. It'll look suspicious if you keep wiggling around like that."

Yuichiro's eyes widened. What kind of demand was that? He wanted nothing to do with this alpha! Why on earth would he think that Yuichiro would- wait, is that pink hair?

"Shiho?"

The alpha snorted and let go of Yuichiro's wrist, moving his hand to rest on the omega's hip instead.

"Took you long enough. You'd think you'd recognize my scent."

Now that Shiho mentioned it, he did smell familiar. Yuichiro bristled.

"You scared the fucking life outta me! Forgive me if I don't have the time to focus on your scent!"

"Whatever. You need to play along. I have something I need to tell you."

Yuichiro huffed but wrapped his arm around Shiho's shoulder, pulling him closer. It felt familiar. Nice.

"I don't see why you need to practically rape me just to talk to me."

Shiho's grip tightened on his hip.

"I wasn't going to-!"

"Sure got me thinking you were."

"I suppose it's for the best," the alpha paused to lick his cheek. "If I got you convinced, the cameras probably thought so too."

Yuichiro felt his face burn. Shiho's weight on him, pinning him to the wall and his hand on his hip… it was reassuring.

"Wait. What cameras?"

"Surveillance cameras. Around the whole city. You really are an idiot, are you?"

Yuichiro felt no need to rise to the insult, not when Shiho was dragging his teeth down his throat. He tilted his head back and shivered. He hadn't submitted in the longest time. Not since-

Mikaela.

"No, stop," Yuichiro whispered, torn between the comfort he felt and the memory of his assigned mate. "I have a different alpha now. I can't-"

"I know," Shiho cut him off. There was something sharp in his voice, something like bitterness and Yuichiro wanted to ask but wasn't given the chance. "It has everything to do with what I need to tell you. Now shut up and put on a show for the cameras. Don't give them any shred of doubt that what we're doing isn't passionately making out after not having seen each other for so long."

With that, his mouth was back on Yuichiro's. He would have resisted, but something about the urgency in Shiho's words kept Yuichiro from pulling away. He leaned into the kiss, playing along as he was asked.

Shiho was the one to break the kiss. Panting slightly, he rested his chin on Yuichiro's shoulder.

"I know I'm not your alpha anymore. I know I'm not supposed to contact you anymore, but I just had to find you. I know… I know you're infertile, Yuichiro."

Yuichiro stiffened.

"How do you…?"

"Your name was on the file," Shiho whispered.

"What file?" Yuichiro snapped. "What the hell is going on? You better start talking-"

Shiho's teeth sank into his shoulder.

Oh.

He was still a little dazed when the alpha pulled away. Blood was trickling down Shiho's chin and he quickly wiped it away with his hand. He looked slightly guilty.

"I'm sorry, but I needed to tranquilize you. I can't have you freaking out on me. Now be a good boy and listen to what I'm trying to say."

Yuichro nodded. He couldn't do much else.

"We never had much time to talk when we were together during your cycles. I didn't really tell you about my job. I mean, you know I'm a solider, but I actually work for the Board. It's an extension of the military, but I won't go into details…"

Not quite sure what Shiho's job had to do with Mikaela, Yuichiro dug his fingers into the alpha's uniform. "You're rambling."

"Right. Sorry. Anyway- one of the things my unit is in charge of is manual labor. We build the fences surrounding the city, we take care of the drainage… and among other things, we bury the dead.

Before we get to the actual burying, we receive files with the names of the dead so that we can carve their headstones. There was a mix up with the files this week. We got the names of the people we're supposed to bury next week. Yuichiro…"

Shiho raised his hand to the omega's face and brushed his hair back.

"Yuichiro, your name was on the list."

Yuichiro blinked.

"There must have been a mistake. My file must have gotten mixed up with the files of the deceased. I can't… I'm not dead. I don't need to be buried."

"I was horrified," Shiho bit his lip. "Imagin finding out that your ex- mate is dead through a mix up with the files.."

"I'm not dead!"

"I know you're not, dummy. But only after I made a point of looking at your file. According to what I read, you're supposed to die on Thursday."

Yuichiro blinked. "In three days? What? How?"

Shiho took a deep breath.

"The cause of death was euthanasia."

He gripped Yuichro's arms.

"I need you to focus and listen. After realizing that you're still alive, I looked at past files. I had seen euthanasia listed before, but never stopped to think about it. I tried to find some sort of connection between the cases, and I found that they were all omegas. Omegas, with no listed offspring."

Yuichiro's pulse quickened.

"What… what does that mean?"

Shiho pulled the omega to him in a warm embrace, running his hands up and down his back soothingly.

"I can't be sure, but I think that the Board is doing something to infertile omegas. I was told that you have a new alpha and I figured that it was my fault that you hadn't gotten pregnant, but by my calculations you've already had another heat and… well, you don't smell pregnant. I think the Board realized this, too."

Despite being prompted into the crook of Shiho's neck, Yuichiro didn't feel the relaxing effect of the alpha's pheromones.

"I'm going to die?" he whispered. "Because I'm infertile?"

He felt Shiho's hand glide down his back and slip something into his pocket.

"You're not going to die," he swore. "I won't let them."

Yuichiro pulled away.

"How can you say that?"

"I have a plan," Shiho rushed, grabbing Yuichiro's hands in his own. "I'm going to get you out of the city. Your only chance is to join the one organization the Board's interference in is minimal. The military."

"I can't join the military," Yuichiro scoffed. "I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm an omega."

"I've noticed," Shiho said softly. Yuichiro swallowed thickly.

"Anyway… there's no way they'd let me in."

Shiho let go of one of his hands to pat the omega's pocket. "That's where the pills I give you come into play. They're suppressants. They're used to suppress an alpha's scent so that he can be mistaken for a beta should he be captured in battle and thus be underestimated. I think… I hope they can work for an omega, too."

"You want me to pretend to be a beta?"

"Yes," Shiho nodded. "Betas don't fight, but they can tend the wounded in a battlefield and drive the jeeps. All you need is to be mistaken for a beta long enough for a troop to take you on and take you as far away from the Board as possible. Then… well, you'll figure something out."

"I'll figure something out?!"

"Look, I know it's not the best plan," Shiho snapped, taking a step back. "I've only had a few hours to work on it. For now the most important thing is for you to leave the city, and that's what these suppressants are going to do. The rest will have to work out."

Yuichiro's mind reeled. It was a lot to take in. The Board had taken care of him ever since he could remember. It had catered to his every need. Finding out that the people he had learned to trust above all others meant to do away with him…

"I know it's a lot to take it," Shiho said gently, clutching Yuichiro's forearm and rubbing soothing circles against the fabric. "You might not believe it. But it's true, and I'm going to help you. It's going to be okay. I promise."

Yuichiro's breath caught in his throat.

"…what do you need me to do?"

"Alter your appearance as much as you can," the alpha said quickly, apparently having thought it through. "Meet me at the gate at nine. Take the suppressants before you leave. Be sure not to act like you're planning on leaving or anything. Don't pack, don't say goodbye. I'll take you to the nearest base and help you register."

Yuichiro shook his head.

"It sounds too easy."

"Sometimes the best plan is the simplest plan," Shiho shrugged. "Unless you've got a better idea. I'm all ears."

"Okay, okay, I get it. I'll do it." Pausing, Yuichiro searched the alpha's face for reassurance. "What happens if we get caught?"

"We don't."

Yuichiro nodded. He understood the implications. What he still didn't understand…

"Why are you helping me? Even if we make it, you're still going to be under suspicion if you come back. It's dangerous."

Was that a blush?

"I… I want to do right by you, Yuichiro. I wasn't the alpha you needed. I don't care what happens to me. I want to protect you even if you aren't my mate anymore. After all," he offered a small smile, "isn't that an alpha's job? To make sure you're safe?"

Smiling back, Yuichiro pressed his lips to the alpha's in a chaste kiss.

"Thank you."

Maybe this would work out. Maybe he would make it out alive. And maybe, just maybe, as a beta… maybe he'd be able to start saving people himself.

Chapter Text

Brown hair. Brown eyes.

Yuichiro blinked at his reflection. He looked…off. Like an identical twin who got a few details wrong in the womb. He certainly didn't look different enough not to be recognized on the street.

Yuichiro sighed. It was the best he could do on such short notice.

It had been easy enough to sneak into another omega's room in the complex while she was confined in another building with her alpha for their heat. Her name was Rika, if he remembered correctly, and she was known for her penchant for makeup. Yuichiro figured that if someone had the means to alter his appearance, she would.

Her stash was vast, but as he went through it, he found that she mostly possessed eyeliners, nail polish and lipsticks. Those wouldn't help him one bit.

If he was supposed to pass for a beta, Yuichiro needed his face to appear as clear as possible. The only men who wore makeup were omegas, and even he didn't put on more than the occasional lip gloss.

Twenty minutes of frantic searching passed before Yuichiro finally found something useful. Hair dye and contacts. Yuichiro hadn't met anyone aside from Shiho who dyed their hair, but apparently Rika wasn't a natural brunette. All the better for him.

Carefully following the instructions, Yuichiro had waited as long as the bottle said, but the final result wasn't half as good looking as Rika's.

They must have had help. There was no way that Shiho was better at primping than he was.

The contacts were a different case altogether. Yuichiro had stood in front of the mirror for half an hour, holding his eye open with one hand and trying to press a contact with the other. No matter how many times he tried, his eyes would shut involuntarily and water uncontrollably. He wasn't sure how he managed it in the end, but there he was, his green eyes obscured by brown.

Yuichiro bit his lip. He wasn't sure that he liked what he saw, but it hardly mattered. He grabbed a box of contacts and a bottle of the dye just in case and returned to his own room, praying that no one would see him in the hallway.

The easiest part was his clothes. Yuichiro was never a flashy dresser, and thankfully neither were most betas. A pair of dark blue jeans and a plain white t-shirt were as undescriptive and common as possible. There was no reason for anyone to pay him any attention. Though, what with his amateur dye job…

Yuichiro shook his head and sat down on the edge of his bed. He pulled out the box of pills Shiho had given him and looked it over.

One pill per week… these are pretty strong.

The suppressants he was given during his heat only lasted for four days, but they were meant to curb his base instincts and to stop him from fully mating and marking his alpha. They had to be very powerful to control such a basic need and desire. The suppressants Shiho gave him were only meant to mask his scent. He supposed itt must be an easier thing to suppress.

Carefully, Yuichiro opened the box and pulled out one small, white pill. Up close, they looked more like tablets. He wouldn't even need water to swallow one of those. It was probably due to the military design.

Yuichiro studied the tablet in his palm. He wondered if there were any side effects. Shiho had said that they were meant for alphas. What if they didn't work on omegas? And even if they did, would his scent go back to normal after the suppressant completely left his system?  There was nothing healthy about pretending to be what you're not- both physically and mentally.

Yet, there it was again. He had no choice.

At least Yuichiro didn't have to worry if they hindered his fertility. He shot the mirror a bitter look before popping the tablet in his mouth and swallowing it dry. Aside from the unpleasant feeling of it going down his throat, Yuichiro didn't experience any new discomfort. He picked up the box again and read the back. The suppressants started to work within ten minutes.

How would he know when his scent changed? If it changed at all? He would have to risk it. It was all he could do.

Yuichiro waited half an hour before giving himself one last once-over in the polished silver mirror and leaving his room. There was nothing to look back at. Shiho had advised him not to pack anything, but Yuichiro couldn't resist packing a few essentials in a small bag.

He had just about an hour to reach the gate undetected. Squaring his shoulders, Yuichiro crossed the halls and walked through the lobby, doing his best to look calm and unperturbed. No, of course he wasn't a runaway omega due for euthanasia. No, he was a regular beta who had a regular life-

"Excuse me?"

Yuichiro froze. He had been so close. His hand was on the handle. If only he could just take one more step and pretend he hadn't heard…

A hand on his shoulder. There was no way out.

"I'm sorry, can I talk to you for a minute?"

Yuichiro turned around and schooled his features to the best of his abilities. In front of him stood a beta he hadn't seen before. The beta was wearing a government uniform, just like the rest of the betas who worked at the complex. Was he a new worker?

The beta lowered his hand and smiled at him pleasantly.

"Hello, my name is Ren. I don't believe I've seen you here before. You don't work here, do you?"

Yuichiro released the breath he hadn't noticed he'd been holding. This was a new worker. He didn't recognize him.

"No, I don't," Yuichiro shook his head.

"I thought so. I'm new here, but I'm pretty sure I already met everyone in the staff," Ren said pleasantly. "I don't mean to be rude, but I was wondering who you were visiting. I'm trying to get to know all of the residents, you see."

"I…"

It was working then, wasn't it? The suppressant? Betas weren't allowed in the complex unless they were employees or visiting family. Ren must really believe he was a beta.

"I was visiting my sister Rika," Yuichiro said quickly, her name the first to come to mind. "She wasn't here, though."

Ren nodded.

"Yes, Rika is currently in heat and will be returning shortly. I didn't know that she had a brother! Shall I inform her of your visit when she's back?"

Yuichiro smiled in relief and extended his hand. "I'd appreciate it. Thank you. It was nice meeting you, Ren."

Yuichiro wondered if he was taking his act too far, but it was intoxicating to have the beta shake his hand and treat him so politely. Like an equal. He wasn't too bothered about Rika. By the time she got back and informed Ren that not only did she not have a brother, but that her room had been ransacked as well, Yuichiro would hopefully be far away.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro gripped Shiho's hand tightly as he caught sight of the guard at the gate. He hadn't encountered an alpha he hadn't known in a very long time and it was hard to resist the urge to turn away and run. Even if he was in a car. Shiho squeezed his hand back reassuringly.

His ex-mate may not have been able to sense his unease any longer with the suppressants in his system, but Yuichiro knew that Shiho knew his body language better than anyone. Even Mikaela. It was the natural result of spending three heats together.

With an alpha on his side, Yuichiro steeled himself. They would drive through that gate. He was a beta now. There was no reason for the guard to suspect that he was anything but. He needed to think like a beta.

But for now, Shiho could do all the talking.

With one last squeeze, the alpha released his hold on Yuichiro's hand and stopped the car in front of the gate.

"It's going to be okay. Just follow my lead."

Yuichiro nodded and swallowed thickly as he raised his head. A beta wouldn't try to make himself look smaller next to an alpha. A beta would look the alpha in the eye and demand to be treated with respect.

"Names, please," the guard called out to them, looking as bored as Yoichi when encountered with military terms. The guard must have been at his post for, what? An hour? Three hours? Yuichiro couldn't blame the alpha for his glazed-over expression. He didn't know what he'd do if out of all the jobs he could be given as a soldier, he was stationed at a civilian gate.

"Shiho Kimizuki and Ryuu Amane," Shiho said quickly. Yuichiro raised a brow. Ryuu wasn't a name he'd pick for himself, but it would have to do.

"Kimizuki…" the guard looked through his list. "Yeah, okay. There isn't any Amane here, though."

Yuichiro was amazed at how both alphas remained indifferent while the panic radiated off of him in waves. With a jolt, he remembered that no one could scent his emotions so easily. It was utterly convenient.

Shiho shrugged. Yuichiro couldn't understand how he managed to stay so nonchalant.

"He's my cousin. From out of town. I think I forgot to register him."

The guard scowled. "You know there's a penalty for that."

"I know," Shiho sighed and dug his hand in his pocket, pulling out a wad of bills and handing it to the guard through the window. "Here you go. You can keep the change if you fill out the paperwork for me."

For a minute Yuichiro thought the guard might argue, but he seemed to think it through and waved them by, grumbling about lazy government workers. Shiho smiled smugly and shifted the gears. A moment later, they were out of the city.

"I can't believe it," Yuichiro said softly, turning around in his seat and looking at the gate as it quickly faded in the distance. "We did it."

"Yes, we did it," Shiho repeated, his gaze never leaving the windshield. "It's a miracle we made it through with that atrocious hair job of yours."

"Atrocious? Have you looked in the mirror?"

Shiho smirked. "You say that now, but I seem to recall that you were rather enchanted with my hair when my dick was up your ass."

Yuichiro felt his cheeks grow warm.

"Shut up. I was high on pheromones. I'd say anything if it made you go faster. You were so fucking slow."

"Was not," Shiho bit back.

"Was too."

"Ugh, you're impossible. Whatever. You're lucky you've got me to help you. We'll redo your hair before we enter the camp."

Yuichiro sighed in exasperation.

"I don't care about my hair. I just want to know how the hell I'm going to pull off this whole beta thing."

Shiho was quiet for a few minutes, tapping the wheel absently as he considered his words.

"It's not going to be easy, but I think you can do it. You aren't exactly the typical omega, you know. Just keep your head down and do what you're told until you have the chance to run off."

"You make it sound so easy."

"It doesn't have to be hard. No one is going to pay you too much attention. It's the army- people are too busy to take interest in a plain beta who wasn't good enough to get a job with the government."

"Is that really why betas join the military?"

"Usually. Except for the medics, which you obviously are not."

Yuichiro nodded glumly. It figured that when he finally fulfilled his impossible dream of enlisting in the military, he'd be in the lowest rank possible with no option of promotion.

No. It wouldn't do him any good to think that way. He wasn't enlisting in order to embark on some illustrious military career. The army was an escape route. It was for the best that he would be for the most part ignored.

He looked out the window. The ground was mostly barren, a few weeds growing along the road in the otherwise brown landscape. He missed the grass in the complex's back yard.

"If I'm not going to be a medic, what will I do?"

Shiho clicked his tongue. "If they figure you're worth the effort, they might teach you how to drive. Otherwise, they'll probably put you in the canteen or have you clean toilets. All the fun stuff."

Wonderful. He was starting to envy the guard at the gate.

"Hey… are you sure you're going to be okay? You won't get into trouble?"

The alpha turned and gave him a soft look before his eyes returned to the road.

"I'll be okay. I'm not a complete idiot, you know."

"It's hard to tell."

Shiho snorted and steered the car off of the highway and on to a smaller road.

"We'll be there in less than an hour. The main bases are always near a city. I'll drop you off at the gate, but I can't go in with you. I've got a graveyard shift tonight and it'll look suspicious if I'm late."

"… your puns are horrible."

"Not as horrible as your hair."

"Will you give it a rest-!"

The hour passed far too quickly to Yuichiro's liking and before he knew it, he was climbing out of the car. Shiho climbed out as well and walked around the vehicle to stand in front of him, taking a moment to look him over before pulling the omega in a tight hug.

"Take care of yourself, Yuichiro," he whispered.

Yuichiro clung to the alpha's form, inhaling his reassuring scent as much as he could before the arms around his back loosened their hold.

"Thank you for everything," Yuichiro whispered back. "If we ever see each other again, I owe you a big one."

"Just stay alive and I'll consider it repaid," Shiho said gruffly and with one last lingering look, he turned around and climbed into the car.

Yuichiro watched as the car drove away and waited until it disappeared without a trace in the horizon before setting his eyes on the entrance to the base.

Another gate. Another confrontation. Another chance for him to get caught and to be sent back to the city.

Taking a deep breath, Yuichiro took the first step.

He had never felt so alone. But maybe, now that he had only himself to rely on, he would finally find out what he was really worth.  

Chapter Text

"You there! Identify yourself!"

Yuichiro squinted at the sudden assault on his face. The artificial glare of the guard's flashlight hurt quite a bit. He raised a hand in front of his face and turned his head to the side.

He wouldn't have to initiate the confrontation, after all. The guard had come to him. It retrospect, it was a bit odd that the alpha hadn't approached him before, when he had arrived in Shiho's car. Cars were rather conspicuous and the gate wasn't that far away. Maybe the guard had fallen asleep on duty.

He certainly wasn't asleep now. One hand on his gun and the other holding the flashlight, the guard looked alert enough that any sudden movement would set him off. His close range only strengthened the force of the light on Yuichiro's face.

"My name is Ryuu Amane," Yuichiro called out, giving up and closing his eyes. "I'm from the city. Could you lower your flashlight, please?"

The guard huffed in annoyance but nevertheless complied, lowering the light so that it shone on Yuichiro's torso instead. He saw spots when he opened his eyes, but they quickly faded, replaced with the visage of a tall and skinny alpha.

"State your business."

Yuichiro's pulse drummed in his ears.

"I, er… I've come to enlist? I guess?"

The guard blinked at him.

"You're telling me you came all the way from the city, at night, to 'maybe enlist'?"

"No, I really want to enlist," Yuichiro amended, cheeks flushed. "I know the hour is off, but there wasn't putting it off and-"

The guard lowered the flashlight and sighed.

"Whatever. Don't want to hear it. I've got no problem letting you in as long as you aren't armed."

He took a few steps closer and nodded at Yuichiro's arms. "Up where I can see 'em."

Yuichiro swallowed and raised his arms to his sides, allowing the alpha to pat him down. He looked away until the guard stepped back. It hadn't been as awkward as he'd thought it would be. There was nothing sexual about the man's pats up and down his arms and legs.

It was the first time an alpha had touched him so… methodically.

A quick check of his bag followed. The guard gave it a cursory look before shrugging and pushing it back into Yuichiro's arms.

"You're clear. Follow me."

Nodding owlishly, Yuichiro stumbled behind the alpha, clutching his bag to his chest. They passed through the gate and entered the base. Yuichiro almost bumped into the guard as the alpha stopped and turned to face him.

"Can't leave my post, but it's easy enough to find HR. It's that big white building over there, can you see it?"

Yuichiro looked at the direction the man pointed at and after a few moments, recognized the building. It wasn't too far. He nodded.

"Good. Better get there before they close. It's after hours, but someone's probably there messing with the paperwork. If you're lucky, they'll be in a good mood and take care of you. Otherwise you've gotta wait 'till morning."

Mouth drying at the prospect of spending the night wandering about an unfamiliar military base, Yuichiro offered his thanks to the guard and hurried toward the white building. He thought he could hear the man mutter something about 'crazy betas', but he didn't have time to celebrate his new identity.

It felt a little eerie walking through the base at night. Everything was dark and quiet. A few soldiers were sitting outside at a picnic bench, smoking and talking, but they stopped to watch as Yuichiro passed them by. He could feel their curious eyes burning at his back.

Yuichiro's mood brightened once he turned the corner. Light shone through HR's window.

He took a deep breath, climbed up the stairs to the door and pushed through it, cringing as it slammed behind him. The hallway was dark, but the door to the lit room was open. Papers rustled, and someone was humming.

"Is someone there?"

Yuichiro walked over to the open door. A young girl was sitting behind a desk, sorting through a pile of folders. Beta, by the smell of her. Her red hair was cropped and she wore thick glasses. Currently, she was looking up at him, tilting her head with a cautious smile.

"Hello. How can I help you?"

A little overwhelmed, Yuichiro entered the room and stood in front of the desk.

"Hey, sorry to bother you, but I just got here and I want to sign up. This is where you do it, right?"

The beta raised her brows.

"This is where you sign up, yes, but that's usually done during, well… daylight. Why on earth are you here at eleven PM?"

Yuichiro rubbed the side of his neck sheepishly.

"It's a long story. I get it if you can't do anything right now, I can come back in the morning. I really need somewhere to stay, though. Is there an empty bed or something I can use until then?"

The girl frowned. "That's not how it works, mr…?"

"Amane. Ryuu Amane."

"Right then, mr. Amane. I can't just assign you a bed. You have to be a registered soldier at this base."

"Then I'll register now."

"I'm afraid that isn't possible," the beta shook her head. She set down the file in her hand. "I'm not in charge of new recruits. That's Akane's division. I don't even have the password to her computer."

Yuichiro felt panic constrict in his chest. "Then just give me some corner to sleep in, I don't know. I don't have anywhere to stay."

The beta bit her lip. "I don't think I've got the authority to do that."

"What am I supposed to do, then?!"

Narrowing her eyes, the beta folded her arms against her chest.

"I don't appreciate you yelling at me, mr. Amane. You can't just waltz in here and demand things. Especially after hours. I don't have to help you with anything until eight AM."

Yuichiro's shoulders sagged. He gripped the fabric of his bag and looked down at the floor. Tears threatened to well, but he blinked them back.

"I'm sorry," he said in a small voice. "You're right. I shouldn't have yelled. I just… I'm just so lost."

"…fine."

Yuichiro looked up hopefully at the tone. The beta's severe expression had softened somewhat, but she still looked conflicted.

"I guess I can let you sleep here. I'll have to stay to make sure that you don't touch anything, but I was going to pull an all-nighter anyway. I've got a lot of stuff to file before they let me take the day off tomorrow."

Relief flooded through Yuichiro's body, easing the tension that had been building up ever since he broke into Rika's room.

"Thank you," he said sincerely, looking around. "Where can I…?"

"You can settle down in that corner, I suppose," the beta pointed at the far side of the room. "Bathroom is down the hall. I'm going to have to keep the light on, you know."

"It's okay," Yuichiro nodded. He walked over to the corner and set his bag down on the floor. He returned to the beta and offered her his hand.

"I really appreciate this, miss…?"

"My name is Yayoi. Pvt. Yayoi, to you. Don't thank me yet. Sleeping on the floor is a bitch for your neck."

Yuichiro shrugged. "It's better than outside."

"I guess…" Yayoi looked like she was about to add something, but thought better of it and returned to her paperwork. Yuichiro took the hint and left the room, searching for the bathroom. It was down the hall, just as he'd been promised, and while there was no shower, it was more than enough.

He returned to the office after relieving himself and freshening up. Yayoi offered no greeting.  He walked to his corner and sat down. The floor was cold, but it was true what he'd said- at least the room itself was warm.

"Goodnight," he called out and received a harried noise in return. It was probably for the best. He was already intruding; it was rude to expect anything more than what he had already been granted. Yuichiro hoped that Yayoi's all-nighter would be a success. He didn't want to be the reason she didn't get the day off.

The sound of paper was strangely reassuring and soon enough, Yuichiro was lulled to sleep. The light bothered him and the floor was still very much cold, but the exhaustion of the day got the better of him and he slept soundly.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro woke to the sound of the door slamming. He bolted upright in his corner, banging the back of his head against the wall. Swearing, he peered up at the brown haired beta standing in front of him.

"Now this isn't something you see every day."

Yuichiro frowned and rubbed the tender spot on the back of his head.

"This is the new recruit I told you about, Akane," Yayoi walked into the room with two steaming mugs of what Yuichiro quickly identified as coffee. His eyes widened in surprise as he was handed one.

Feeling a bit awkward to be sitting on the floor with the two betas hovering above him, he stood up and accepted the mug.

"Thanks."

He felt a little disoriented and leaned against the wall, closing his eyes as he sipped. Blessed caffeine coursed through his veins.

"He looks just as dejected as you said he did," Akane grinned at Yayoi, ignoring Yuichiro's glare from the back of his mug. "I can't believe someone wanted to enlist so badly that they walked in at eleven PM."

Yayoi nodded solemnly and took a seat behind the desk, nursing the mug in her hands. "It's you, Akane. They just can't get enough."

Snorting, Akane walked over to the desk as well and gathered a pile of folders in her arms. She backtracked to the door and paused, looking over her shoulder at Yuichiro.

"Well, are you coming?"

He stared at her blankly.

"You do want to register, don't you?"

Blinking, Yuichiro shook his head and gathered his bag in one arm, holding carefully onto the mug in his spare hand. "I'm sorry, I'm a little out of it. You're in charge of new recruits?"

"That I am," Akane sing-songed at him before leaving the room. Yuichiro followed her to the office across the hall.

Setting the pile of folders on her desk, Akane sat down and motioned for Yuichiro to take the opposite seat.

"It's good you got here early. If you came this afternoon, you'd be waiting the whole day to see me."

Yuichiro decided not to comment and simply sipped at his coffee. It was a little bitter than what he was used to, but it helped keep his eyes open. Yayoi's prediction of a sore neck had been correct.

Akane cleared her throat.

"Let's get started, shall we? Kindly fill out this form," she pulled out a paper from one of the folders and passed it to him. There were a bunch of pens on the table to choose from. All of them were pink.

Thinking fast under Akane's curious gaze, Yuichiro tried to answer the questions about his background as quickly and as confidently as anyone who didn't have to hide their identity did. By the look on the beta's face as she read his replies, he hadn't done a very good job.

"So. Ryuu Amane. You were born in the city and lived there your whole life. Upon reaching maturity, you took the placement exams, failed them and have only come to us… two years later?"

Yuichiro wanted to kick himself. He was lying about his very nature- why hadn't he lied about his age?

"I spent two years waiting to retake the exam," he said quickly, trying to think of what the betas at his complex had told him about their sorting process. "I kept nagging them, but they wouldn't let me. I guess it took me a long time to accept that my place is in the military."

Akane raised her brows. "What made you give up?"

Yuichiro smiled sheepishly. "My friend kicked me out of his apartment. I didn't have anywhere to go, so I came here."

"That has to be the strangest reason anyone ever enlisted. Well, here you are!"

"Here I am," Yuichiro confirmed, watching Akane as she stood up and bustled about the office, opening and closing closets in search for something.

"I just gave someone a copy the other day… oh, here it is!"

Akane returned to the desk with a key.

"This is the key to the barracks you'll be staying in. You're in luck- the next draft is in three weeks, so you'll join the rest of the new recruits once they arrive."

"Three weeks?" Yuichiro frowned, taking the key and turning it over in his palm. "That's a really long time."

"What, did you expect to be trained individually? We have the occasional drifter who comes in on their own, but they all have to wait until the main draft. Some wait for months."

That made sense. "Okay. But what do I do 'till then?"

"Mostly cleaning. You'll be under the command of MSgt. Goshi, along with the other drifter who came in a few days ago. Three weeks really isn't a long time," Akane offered him a smile. "You'll be in basic training in no time."

Yuichiro's pulse quickened. This was really happening. He was in.

"You'll have to take your medical exams with the rest of the new recruits once they arrive. I'd have you do them now, but the doctor isn't in today and I don't want to keep you here another night on the floor."

Yuichiro stiffened. "A medical exam?"

Akane waved her hand dismissively. "Nothing major, just a few blood tests and stuff like that. Nothing to be worried about."

That was where she was wrong. Yuichiro was terrified. He couldn’t allow them to take his blood. The suppressants masked his scent, but he doubted they helped with blood tests.

What was he going to do?

"I can take you to your barracks, if you want," Akane's voice filtered through the fog of anxiety Yuichiro had immersed himself in. He looked up and nodded.

"Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks."

Following Akane out of the building, Yuichiro tried to calm himself and listen to the beta's chattering about logistics. There wasn't any point worrying about medical exams that were only going to take place in three weeks. He had other things to focus on.

"-and before you ask, no, you won't be getting a uniform until basic training. You could ask for one, technically, but they don't take individual requests seriously."

"I see," Yuichiro tried not to sound too disappointed. He'd been looking forward to having his own set.

"I wouldn't be too brokenhearted over it, you'll be wearing them for the rest of your life. Oh, we're here!"

Yuichiro peered up at the tall concrete building. It was pretty ugly.

"Your room number is on the key. Your roommate will explain about your schedule. If you have any other questions, feel free to stop by. We've got the best coffee in the whole base."

Yuichiro resigned himself to a lifetime of horrible coffee.

"Thanks, I'll come visit you sometime."

Akane beamed at him and turned to leave. Yuichiro watched her for a moment before steeling himself and walking into the building, searching for room number 46.

…which turned out to be on the fifth floor. With no elevator. Slightly panting, Yuichiro rolled his shoulders and turned the key in the lock.

He wasn't sure what he had been expecting, but it wasn't this. The room was small and bare, save for four bunk beds lined up against the walls.

"Who are you?"

A girl, sitting on top of one of the beds, set down her book to look at him questioningly.

An alpha.

Yuichiro closed the door and gingerly set his bag down.

"I'm Ryuu Amane. I'm a new recruit, too."

The girl looked at him closely for a long moment before her mouth stretched in a smug smile.

"I didn't think I'd have to share the room so soon. My name is Shinoa Hiragi."

Chapter Text

The hallway was dark and cold. Yuichiro's steps were too loud, but the flip-flops Shinoa had given him couldn't help it. The communal bathroom was only a minute away from the room they shared, but it felt like forever by the time he reached the door and closed it securely behind him. He reached for the light switch and waited for the flickering LEDs to turn on and illuminate the room.

He was alone. Perfect.

Solitude was the reason he'd waited for 3 AM to shower, after all. With no one around, Yuichiro could finally take out his lenses and wash them properly. It was about time, too- his eyes were burning.

Yuichiro hung his towel on the wall and approached the line of sinks, peering at his reflection in the mirror. He looked like, well… hell.

That night spent on the floor in the HR's office had done nothing for his hair. He hadn't taken a shower in two days and the sweat stuck to his skin. Yuichiro felt altogether disgusting. He'd never allowed himself to reach this state before. Or, rather, the betas who cared for him hadn't. Even during heats, the alpha was expected to make sure that his mate bathed in between sessions. No one liked a filthy omega.

Baring his teeth at his reflection, Yuichiro washed his hands and carefully removed his lenses. Taking them out was surprisingly easier than putting them in. He tore off a piece of tissue paper and placed it on the counter, setting his contacts down carefully. He'd give his eyes a chance to rest while showering. They'd have to go back in before he left the room.

Truth be told, it was comforting to see his natural green eyes stare back at him from the mirror. They were rimmed with red and stung like a bitch, but they were still his. Yuichiro looked at them a little longer before turning on the faucet and cupping his palm to catch the water. Shinoa had kindly let him borrow a towel, but she didn't have an extra toothbrush. Until he could afford to buy one himself, water would have to do.

Yuichiro grimaced at the thought. He hated his morning breath.

Undressing quickly, Yuichiro grabbed the bottles Shinoa had lent him and walked into the shower stall, groaning audibly at the stream of warm water cascading down his skin. Oh, he'd needed that. It felt amazing.

Yuichiro allowed his mind to wander as he set about the task of washing himself. A lot had happened in the past forty-eight hours and his thoughts flitted from one thing to the other. His escape with Shiho… Entering the base… Meeting Shinoa…

Shinoa. He'd never encountered a female alpha before. They were as common as male omegas, but once he'd settled on his preference, the only alphas he'd met were male. It had been odd to meet a girl who wasn't a beta or an omega and her scent was off, but it didn't take long for Yuichiro to recognize the alpha in her.

Loud, confident and assertive, Shinoa had quickly established her dominance. She might had been more subtle had she known Yuichiro's true nature, but in her eyes she'd been putting a beta in his place.

"Don't get me wrong," she'd said after shaking his hand. "I've got nothing against you, but there won't be any wishy-washy beta manipulation in this room. Respect me, and I'll respect you. Is that clear?"

Yuichiro grinned and shook his head at the memory. He'd been cowed by the blunt introduction, but the alpha had turned out to be a good person after he'd agreed to her conditions. Upon hearing that he'd brought next to nothing with him, Shinoa had given him whatever she could spare, promising to help procure the rest.

It was nice to have someone he could rely on.

Finishing up, Yuichiro toweled himself dry and put on the clean white undershirt the alpha had lent him. It was small, but it would have to do. He cringed as he stepped into his dirty underwear, but there was nothing he could do about it. Gaze lingering thoughtfully on his jeans, Yuichiro decided to forgo them for the night. There was no one to see him walking down the hall in his underwear, anyway.

He gathered his things in his arms and made to leave when he realized that he'd forgotten his lenses. Swearing, Yuichiro set everything down on the bench and returned to the sink, washing the lenses (he really hoped that was what you were supposed to do with them) and carefully pressing them back into his eyes.

Ten minutes later found him in bed, curled up beneath a scratchy woolen blanket. Shinoa was sleeping soundly on the bottom bunk across from him, settled comfortably in the sheets she'd brought from home.

Yuichiro sighed in frustration. He knew that his circumstances were different and that he hadn't been able to afford the time to pack properly, but every step he took proved that he'd been very ill equipped. Couldn't Shiho have given him some things of his own before dropping him off like a lost puppy in front of the base?

Shaking his head violently against his pillow, Yuichiro clenched his eyes shut. He knew he was being ungrateful. If it weren't for his ex-mate, he'd probably be six feet under. He owed Shiho his life. How could he think of him in such a way?

Yet he couldn't help it. He'd never experienced such discomfort, having always been provided with the best. No omega was ever left wanting.

Well, what did you expect? A small, clear voice echoed in Yuichiro's head. You've always wanted to be a solider. The military isn't fun and games.

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. It was true. He'd wanted to enlist ever since he'd seen the alpha uniform for the first time. The stories they told always mentioned the hardships of war, but it never occurred to him that their struggles could extend to lacking a pair of clean underwear.

What would Mikaela think if he saw him lying there, feeling sorry for himself? He'd probably take back what he'd said about Yuichiro making a good soldier. He'd regret ever sharing a bed with him. He'd certainly refuse to do so again.

Tears stung Yuichiro's eyes and his face burned with shame. He knew he was acting like a spoiled child- he hadn't even started his service yet, and he was already complaining.

Taking a deep breath, Yuichiro bunched the blanket in his fists. He was a beta now. He'd never be as strong as an alpha, but betas were supposed to be resilient. Mikaela would want him to push through. Shiho risked his life for him to survive. He refused to let them down.

Yuichiro's resolution was the last thing on his mind before sleep finally claimed him. He body was exhausted, and if what Shinoa said was true, he'd have to wake up soon enough.

 

.x.

 

"I refuse to be late because of you, Ryuu. Either you leave with me this minute or I'll leave you behind."

Bleary eyed, Yuichiro stifled a yawn as he tried once more to smooth down his hair. There was one strand that refused to lie flat, no matter what he tried. At Shinoa's insistence he shrugged at his reflection in the mirror and followed her out of their room. He was quickly coming to terms with the fact that he just wasn't going to look good for the foreseeable future.

"Where are we going?" he asked, catching up with the alpha as they exited the building.

Shinoa pointed to a small courtyard with a flagpole.

"We raise the flag every morning. MSgt. Goshi will be waiting for us- oh, there he is!"

Yuichiro studied the man as they grew closer. Goshi was a tall and broad alpha with blond hair pulled back in a short ponytail. He sported a small goatee on his chin. Yuichiro inwardly cringed- he didn't find facial hair at all attractive.

They stopped a few steps away. Shinoa raised her hand in a salute and Yuichiro quickly tried to mimic it, but by the strange look Goshi gave him he supposed he'd done a sloppy job of it.

"So you're the new recruit Akane told me about. What's your name?"

Yuichiro stiffened.

"My name is Ryuu Amane, sir."

Goshi nodded at him.

"Amane. Have you ever raised a flag before?"

Yuichiro looked down at the floor. "No, sir."

"Wouldn't have expected you to. No need to feel bad about it." He gestured to the flag. "Hiragi will teach you."

Feeling a little bit better, Yuichiro followed Shinoa to the flag and stood opposite her, arms balled into fists at his sides just as she stood. When Goshi called out the order, he raised his hand up in a salute and helped Shinoa raise the flag. When it reached the top of the pole with a metallic clang, he took a step back and saluted again, mimicking the alpha.

"Very good," Goshi patted him on the shoulder. "You're a fast learner."

Yuichiro smiled uncertainly. "Thank you, sir."

"Can we go to breakfast now?" Shinoa cut in impatiently, grinning as Goshi gave her a withering look.

"You'll wait until I'm done talking. Now, Amane," he turned back to look at Yuichiro. "Did Hiragi explain what you'll be doing?"

Yuichiro shook his head.

"Impertinent and unhelpful. Typical, Hiragi."

Shinoa flashed him a smile.

"Whatever. I guess I'll have to explain. You see, Amane, I'm a busy man. Among other things, I'm in charge of logistics and maintenance of this base. You and Hiragi aren't my only charges, so you won't be seeing much of me. As long as you don't stir any trouble, I couldn't care less what you do. You aren't a soldier yet, and as such not our responsibility. You following?"

He waited for Yuichiro to nod before continuing.

"You and Hiragi are expected to help clean, but once you've finished your daily assignment, you're free to do whatever you want. If you need me, you can always talk to me when we meet in the morning to raise the flag or in the evening, when we lower it. Do you have any questions?"

Yuichiro shifted uncomfortably.

"More of a request, actually. I didn't bring a lot of things with me and I need some basic stuff. I know I'm not officially part of the military yet, but is there any way I could get some clothes, or at least a toothbrush?"

"That's a bit of an issue," Goshi frowned. "Usually I'd tell you to buy whatever you need at the canteen with your salary, but you aren't going to get paid until you start basic training."

Yuichiro's chest constricted.

"However," Goshi continued, "I suppose I could try to find what you need. How about you make a list and give it to me tonight?"

"Really? That'd be great!" Yuichiro beamed. It was a good thing he didn't find the alpha attractive- the prospect of owning a toothbrush was intoxicating.

Goshi cleared his throat.

"That's settled, then. Do you need anything, Hiragi?"

Shinoa raised a brow.

"Got it. I think it's the bathrooms for you today. I'll leave you to it."

Scowling at the retreating figure, Shinoa grabbed Yuichiro's hand and pulled him forward.

"He knows how much I hate the bathrooms," she complained. "C'mon, let's go to the rec hall. I'm starving."

Yuichiro didn't mind much being manhandled. He was rather hungry, too.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro didn't think it possible for the days to pass as quickly as they did. Akane had been right- three weeks were nothing.

From flag ceremonies and washing floors, the time flied, considering he didn't have much else to do. He couldn't believe that he would finally get his uniform in less than a week. Between Goshi and Shinoa's help, he had everything he needed to begin the next stage of his life.

The most important thing he learned during this time, perhaps, was that he hated cleaning. Shinoa shared the sentiment.

"Hey," he paused one afternoon with a duster in his hand, looking over his shoulder at the alpha, who was busy sweeping the office. "You never told me why you got here early. Why didn't you wait for the local draft, like everyone else?"

Shinoa continued to sweep.

"…Shinoa?" Yuichiro turned around and lowered his arm, studying the sweeping alpha in concern.  "What's wrong?"

"Drop it," she said abruptly, stopping only to shoot him a blank look. "I don't want to talk about it."

Yuichiro bit his lip. He hadn't meant to pry.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly as he returned to his dusting. They finished the room in silence.

Shinoa's mood seemed to change once they were outside in the sunshine, heading toward the shed to return their equipment. "Looks like you're struggling. Do you want me to carry something for you?"

Yuichiro huffed. "I'm fine.  It's just a few brooms."

"Oh really?" the alpha smirked. "In that case, you wouldn't mind carrying my stuff, would you?"

Before he could protest, she stuffed his arms with the remaining mops and rags and ran off, laughing. Yuichiro cried out in protest and tried to run after her but soon gave up in the favor of balance. Oh, he was so going to steal her dessert at dinner…

"Well, if it isn't Cinderella," a voice called out. Yuichiro peered over the weight in his arms, trying to get a better look at the source of the voice.

Two soldiers blocked his path. Alphas.

Swallowing thickly, Yuichiro lowered his gaze and tried to pass them by, but a hand caught his arm and yanked him back. The cleaning equipment clattered to the floor as he struggled, but the soldier wouldn't let him go.

"What's the matter? Don't you want a break?" the second soldier asked, grabbing his other arm. Yuichiro grit his teeth.

"Let me go! I don't want any trouble."

The soldiers laughed.

"Aw, who said anything about trouble? Tell you what- if you're so eager to go back to your job, I'll give you something worth cleaning…"

To Yuichiro's horror, he felt something stiff press against the back of his leg. He tried to run, but his body wouldn't cooperate.

His mind drew a blank. He'd been stupid not to consider the possibility of assault.

Just because he smelled like a beta, it didn't mean that he looked like one. If an alpha wanted release, who else was he going to go to? With no omegas in the base, a beta was the best they could get.

"Let him go!"

Yuichiro openly gaped as Shinoa rushed toward him. He'd never scented such aggression before. The soldiers, however, didn't look impressed.

"And if we don't?" one of them asked, tightening his grasp on Yuichiro's arm. "What'cha gonna do about it?"

The soldier suddenly cried out in pain and released Yuichiro. He looked in shock as drops of red fell to the ground from the gash that appeared on the alpha's arm. Shinoa appeared unperturbed as she studied the bloody blade in her hand.

"I suggest you let go of my friend," she said to the second soldier, who immediately backed off.

"You're crazy," he muttered, approaching the other alpha and inspecting the wound on his companion's arm. "We're going to report you."

Shinoa shrugged.

"Go ahead. I'm sure the committee would be delighted to hear that you harassed a beta."

The soldier narrowed his eyes.

"Come, Ryuu. We're leaving," Shinoa barked. Startled, Yuichiro bent down to pick up all that he'd dropped and hurried after her. They weren't pursued.

The aggression hadn't faded by the time they reached the shed, and even after they deposited the supplies and returned to their room, it was still bubbling beneath the surface. Yuichiro didn't dare speak, not even from the safety of his bed.

"What were you thinking?" Shinoa broke the silence as she closed the door after them. "Why didn't you run the moment they came onto you? Do you know what would have happened if I hadn't-"

"Thank you," Yuichiro cut her off, clutching his pillow to his chest and squeezing. "Thank you for standing up for me."

His gratitude caught her unawares. Momentarily rendered mute, she sat down beside him and took a deep breath.

"I wouldn't have had to interfere if you'd had a sense of self preservation."

Yuichiro looked down at the floor.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I just… I just kind of froze up, y'know? I didn't expect something like that to happen here."

Something flashed across Shinoa's face. Her scent spiked, but by the time Yuichiro raised his head, whatever it was had disappeared.

"Of course it can happen, Ryuu," she said gently, taking his hand and rubbing it gently. "It can happen anywhere. Even in the city. You need to learn how to protect yourself."

Yuichiro managed a smile. "I guess I came to the right place, then."

Chuckling, Shinoa released his hand. "Right you are."

The silence that followed wasn't as loaded as the previous one, but Yuichiro was just as taken aback when the alpha broke it.

"Mitsuba."

"What?"

"Her name was Mitsuba," Shinoa repeated, avoiding his gaze. "She was my best friend. An omega. We… we loved each other, in the full sense of the word."

Yuichiro's pulse quickened.

"Were you…?"

"No, we weren't assigned mates," she said dryly. "When the Board found out, they separated us. I was sent here, and she…" Shinoa's voice cracked. "They mated her to someone else."

Yuichiro reached out instinctively and wrapped his arm around Shinoa's shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

"That's horrible," he said softly. He'd heard stories about separated lovers, but the separation had never been caused by the Board. How many lives was it destroying with its system of efficiency?

"That's why… that's why I couldn't stand the thought of you being forced by someone you don't want. Just thinking about her, alone in a room with some alpha she doesn't know… compelled to submit against her will…"

Tears flowed down Shinoa's cheeks. Yuichiro could feel some well in his own eyes.

He didn't know alphas could cry.

Chapter Text

"Wake up, lazyhead."

Yuichiro groaned and pulled the covers over his head. He'd gotten used to waking up early, but this was ridiculous. The sun hadn't even risen.

"C'mon," Shinoa's voice called out to him from across the room. "Don't make me come over there."

Yuichiro ignored her, choosing instead to close his eyes and roll onto his side.

"That's it. Don't say that I didn't warn you."

He opened his eyes just in time to see the blanket being yanked off of his body and thrown onto the floor. He instinctively curled into a ball, swearing as the cold air met his warm skin.

"Fucking hell. Why are you so mean to me?"

Shinoa rolled her eyes and walked away. She was already dressed in her usual blouse and skirt, purple hair tied back in a bow. Yuichiro had taken a moment when he'd first met her to wonder if hair dying was more popular than he'd previously thought. He knew better than to ask.

"I believe it's called 'tough love', sweetheart. You should be thanking me- we need to be at HR in half an hour."

Yuichiro stumbled out of bed, rubbing his eyes as he tiredly gathered his toiletries. "Why do we need to go there?"

Shinoa gave him a strange look. "Were you not listening at all to Goshi last night?"

Frowning, Yuichiro scratched his hip absently beneath his shirt as he bent down to pick up his jeans. He thought back on the previous night. What had Goshi said that had been so important-

"Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck," Yuichiro dashed out of the door and ran to the bathroom, pausing only to lift the undershirt he'd dropped. He could hear Shinoa laughing in their room.

How could he have forgotten? Was it denial, perhaps? Excitement?

He was enlisting today.

Getting dressed took half the time it usually did. Making sure that his contacts were indeed in place and that his hair looked somewhat decent, Yuichiro left the bathroom in a hurry and deposited his things in the room. Shinoa was sitting on her bed, looking at him expectantly.

"What?" Yuichiro snapped, doing a half-hearted job of making his bed.

"Aren't you going to pack your bag?" she cocked her head, setting her gaze on his forgotten backpack on the floor. "You realize we might be assigned a different room with everyone else."

Yuichiro froze.

"How… how much time do we have?"

Shinoa glanced down at her watch.

"Ten minutes."

Yuichiro didn't waste his breath swearing this time. He grabbed his bag and stuffed anything and everything he could find, whatever would fit. He had precious little to start with but somehow he couldn't manage to zip the bag shut.

"Oh, give it here," Shinoa reached out for the backpack. Yuichiro watched in amazement as with a flick of the wrist she pulled the zipper all the way up.

"You're something," he said as she handed it back to him. Shinoa grinned and grabbed her own suitcase, making a beeline for the door.

"So I've been told. If you're done staring, it's high time we left. We can make it if we run."

Yuichiro almost missed the door slamming in his face.

 

.x.

 

As it turned out, nobody else was on time. Yuichiro and Shinoa arrived three minutes late only to find that they were the first ones there. Akane greeted them with a wide smile and handed them both a Styrofoam cup full of steaming coffee. Yuichiro took one sip and set it down on the table. Shinoa finished the whole thing.

People started to arrive after fifteen minutes, mostly in pairs or small groups. Akane offered them all beverages, but not many were inclined to talk and socialize. Yuichiro watched them closely as each one walked through the open door.

"I thought male alphas are the majority here," he commented to Shinoa, who was busy leafing through an outdated newspaper.  "I haven't seen any walk in yet."

Shinoa turned to him and raised a brow.

"Of course not. They don't do 02 basic training."

"What do you mean?" Yuichiro frowned.

Sighing, Shinoa set the newspaper down on the table.

"We’re going to go through level 02 training. It's the lowest difficulty rank. Male alphas do 03, and the guys who excel at that go on to 04 and 05 training. They belong in the elite unites and hold the most dangerous positions on the battlefield."

Yuichiro blinked in confusion. "So, you're telling me that our training is only going to include betas and female alphas?"

"Not much else left, is there?" Shinoa shrugged.

"But that's not fair!" Yuichiro insisted, taking a look around the room. "Just because we're betas doesn't mean that our bodies can't handle strenuous training. And you!" he turned back to face Shinoa. "You're an alpha! It's-"

"Sexist, I know," Shinoa said carelessly, crossing her legs. "It's true that a man's body is built stronger than a woman's, even an alpha's, but I don't see any reason why I can't do the basic level for male alphas."

She shook her head and grabbed Yuichiro's abandoned coffee, chugging it down. Yuichiro opened his mouth to voice his indignation, but she cut him off before he could get a word in edgewise.

"Whatever. It's not like I wanted to enlist in the first place."

"Still. You should be given a choice."

A large group of young people walked through the doors. Akane appeared at their side, clipboard in hand.

"Looks like the bus from the city finally arrived," she nodded at the group. "I guess we can start with signing in. What did you say your last names were?"

It took a good forty minutes for everyone to sign in with Akane. Once she had everyone's names down and made sure that they all wrote their signatures on the forms, she cleared her throat and addressed the crowd.

"Listen up! A soldier will be with you shortly to guide you through the process of enlistment. Please make sure-"

"I'll take it from here, Akane," a voice called out. An alpha in uniform walked into the room and stood next to the beta, nodding at her before turning his gaze to the small crowd. The room fell silent.

"Welcome to the Nagoya infantry base. By the end of the day, you'll be newly recruited soldiers. I expect you all to act accordingly. Problematic individuals will be taken care of."

Nobody said a word.

"Now, allow me to elaborate on the process you'll be going through in the next few hours. You'll be led through different stations, all of which are crucial for a new soldier. Logistics, medical examinations, interviews… you'll see. At the end of the process you'll be divided into squads. Any questions?"

Yuichiro's hands grew cold. He'd thought that if he didn't think about the medical exams and didn't say a word about them, somehow they'd disappear. Of course they didn't. What was he going to do? Most importantly, what will they do to him once they figure out that he isn't really a beta?

"No? Good. Follow me."

The group (Yuichiro counted about fifty or so) followed the solider out of HR. Shinoa nudged him and gave him a questioning look, but Yuichiro shook his head and smiled. He didn't want her to worry on his account. She probably had her own issues to deal with. Enlistment was a momentous event and was bound to raise problems and insecurities for everyone, not only those that had something to hide.

The jeering and catcalls from the soldiers they passed by wasn't helping any. Yuichiro had quickly learned that new recruits weren't treated very nicely. He'd seen more experienced soldiers bypassing new recruits in line at the rec hall, or taking two desserts even though it left the younger soldier without one at all. He'd never had anyone but new recruits help him and Shinoa clean.

It was a widespread problem but nobody bothered fixing it. The older soldiers weren't scolded and the newer ones never complained. They all knew that the time would come for a new wave of recruitment, and then they wouldn't be the youngest soldiers around. They would get the chance to bully. It was a vicious cycle and Yuichiro wasn't looking forward to being on the bottom of the food chain.

They arrived at a large building Yuichiro had seen before but had never entered. They formed a line and each new recruit in turn received a number, guiding them to the room they were meant to begin the process in. Shinoa looked back at Yuichiro after taking her number and wished him a quick 'good luck' before walking down the hall.

"You're up next, Amane. Come on."

Yuichiro walked up to the alpha and waited.

"Report immediately to room number six."

"Yes, sir," Yuichiro saluted the soldier, but the alpha had already addressed the next beta in line. Face flaming in embarrassment, he walked through the hall quickly, searching for room six.

He found it soon enough and knocked on the open door.

"Hello?"

A beta in a white coat appeared.

"Ah, I see we've already started. Please come in and close the door behind you."

Yuichiro stepped inside and waited for the door to shut closed behind him, his heart dropping as his eyes fell on the metal tools on the beta's desk. He was obviously a doctor. He'd be taking his blood in no time.

He took a deep breath and took a seat opposite the beta at the desk.

At least he wouldn't have to go through the whole process only to be disqualified in his last station.

"Let's begin, shall we? What's your name?"

"Ryuu Amane, sir."

"No need to call me that. Could you sign these forms for me?"

Yuichiro looked down at the pile of papers shoved in his direction. "Do I really need to read all of these?"

The doctor chuckled and stood up, turning his back to Yuichiro as he approached his examination table and began to fiddle with the different instruments.

"Of course not. I don't expect you to read thirty pages in the five minutes you'll be here. Just sign them."

Yuichiro watched the beta's back in apprehension. "I don't want to sign anything I haven't read."

"It's just forms stating that you realize that you might lose your life during your service and that you agree to sign over your body to the Board should they require it for medical research. It's a standard procedure."

Startled, Yuichiro hesitated before picking up a pen and signing on the last page. He'd never heard about soldiers donating their bodies to research, but then there was no reason not to. It didn't matter if the Board had him in their grasp if he died. There was hardly anything they could do to him once he was gone.

"Excellent," the doctor returned to the table with a number of instruments. "Now, if you could open your mouth and extend your arm?"

Yuichiro opened his mouth and was immediately greeted with a thermometer shoved down his throat. He choked, but the doctor swatted the arm he was currently handling.

"Don't open your mouth until it's done."

Yuichiro clamped his mouth shut but was far more concerned with the needle the doctor was prepping. This was it. His blood was going to be taken.

The beta stopped for a moment to take out the thermometer, which had started beeping. He gave it a cursory glance and set it down on the table.

"Normal temperature. I need you to be still for the vaccination."

"Vaccination? I thought- fuck," Yuichiro hissed as the needle pierced his skin. The pain was momentary, though, and the throbbing that followed hurt a lot more than the needle once it was removed.

"You're done here," the doctor said absently, wiping his arm with alcohol and strapping a piece of gauze to the puncture wound.

Yuichiro sucked in his breath.

"I'm done? Really?"

The doctor sat back down at his desk. "What did you expect? Do you want me to weigh you?"

"No," Yuichiro said quickly, "I just thought there was a blood test involved."

The moment the words left his mouth, Yuichiro wanted to hit himself. If the doctor had somehow miraculously forgotten to take his blood, now he surely would.

To his immense relief, the doctor shrugged. "Nope. I don't know who you heard that from, but we don't do blood tests. However," the beta smirked, "if you're so keen on sharing your blood, you could always donate."

"…donate?"

"Yes," the doctor grinned. "It's a special military program for betas. You see, sometimes there aren't enough omegas per season and quite a few alphas have to go without. Omegas are required to donate blood once they reach a certain age, but it isn't always enough. That's why we encourage our betas to donate every so often to help out their comrades. Interested?"

Yuichiro shook his head. "Er, no, not really. Not right now, anyway. Where do I go next?"

The doctor waved him out. "Go to room fourteen."

Yuichiro couldn't get out of there fast enough.

 

.x.

 

The hours passed quickly. By the time Yuichiro stood outside of the building in neat lines, he was dressed in uniform and beaming with pride. He'd never thought the day would come that he'd wear army boots, but there he was, sporting his very own shiny pair. Everyone surrounding him was buzzing in excitement as well. It had been a long day, but there they were, ready to take on the world.

"Soldiers!"

Silence fell as the alpha from before stood in front of them. Six other alphas in crisp uniforms stood beside him, gazing at the group severely.

"You have completed your enlistment. You've officially joined the military. Welcome to our family."

He nodded at the other alphas.

"These are your squad leaders. Their job is to guide you through your training for the next five weeks. They will teach you what it means to be a soldier, what it means to work as a team. Simm!"

The black haired alpha took a step forward.

"This is Rene Simm. You'll refer to him as squad leader number one. 'Commander' works as well. The following names I'll read out are under his direct authority."

Yuichiro listened intently, but neither his nor Shinoa's names were called. The seven soldiers who were named followed the black haired alpha (or Yuichiro supposed, squad leader number one) to the side.

The next four alphas were introduced and assigned a squad. When the fourth alpha took his squad aside, Yuichiro sighed in relief. He shared a quick smile with Shinoa. She hadn't been called either. It looked like they'd be together under the purple haired alpha who now stepped forward.

Yuichiro held back a snort. It looked like Shinoa's hair color was rather popular.

"Meet your new commander, squad number six. His name is Lacus Welt." The alpha turned to Lacus. "I'm leaving them in your hands, Welt."

Lacus nodded and pointed at a tree at the far end of the yard.

"I want all of you there in thirty seconds. Go!"

Startled, Yuichiro ran along with the other five people in his squad. They quickly reached the tree, but somehow Lacus had beaten them to it.

"Pitiful. We're going to have to work on your running," Lacus shook his head. "Especially you. What's your name?"

A beta with long, dark brown hair straightened up, visibly panting.

"My name is Aiko Aihara, commander."

Lacus clicked his tongue.

"You're in horrible shape, Aihara. You're lucky we're going to be sitting down now."

Taking the hint, the group sat down on the ground and waited. Lacus leaned back against the tree trunk and cleared his throat.

"Before I explain our schedule, I'd like everyone to introduce themselves. We already know Aihara, so how about we start with… you."

He pointed at an alpha with curly red hair.

"Okay. My name is Mito Jujo. I'm from a small town nearby."

Shinoa was next.

"My name is Shinoa Hiragi. I'm from the city. I've been here for a few weeks already with Ryuu," she smiled at Yuichiro.

The next soldier, a brown haired beta with his hair drawn back in a ponytail, cleared his throat.

"I'm Makoto Narumi. It's a pleasure to meet you all."

A black haired alpha was next.

"Shigure Yukimi. I'm from the city, too."

All eyes fell on Yuichiro, the last in line. He took his cue.

"Ahah, well, just like Shinoa already said, my name is Ryuu Amane. Nice to meet you!"

His fellow squad members looked friendly enough, but Yuichiro wasn't sure about his commander. He could feel the alpha's eyes lingering on him even as Lacus gave his introductory speech.

Yuichiro was suddenly very grateful for the multiple layers his uniform required.

Chapter Text

If Yuichiro had to use one word to describe his first day of basic training, it would be 'overwhelming'. Everything happened so fast and Yuichiro had been so focused on every individual task that time had no meaning beyond the minute range.

Thirty seconds to run! A minute to gather your things! Forty five seconds to stand in formation! What, no one had set their watch? Start from the top!

Yuichiro's head was throbbing by the time he sat down on his bed in the squad's tent. They were given one hour to prepare for the night before lights out. Lacus had warned not to leave their tents once the hour was over. Should they be caught wandering by a patrolling commander… well, it would be a shame to get in trouble on the first day.

Closing his eyes, Yuichiro ignored the hustle and bustle of his squad making their beds and organizing their bags. He didn't bring sheets and blankets with him in his bag. The linen he'd used before belonged to the room he'd shared with Shinoa. Sitting up groggily, Yuichiro grabbed the rucksack he'd been provided with and looked inside.

Two canteens. A sleeping bag. A helmet and an extra uniform. Yuichiro could work with that. He stood up and pulled out the sleeping bag, unrolling it over the thin mattress. It would have to do. At least it wasn't winter. He might sweat more during the day, but the nights should be pleasant enough.

"Ryuu," Shinoa called out from the other side of the tent. She carried a towel and what he recognized as her sleeping clothes in one hand. In the other she held a small plastic basket with a hook, inside of which were small bottles. She tapped her wristwatch.

"There's only half an hour left! Aren't you going to shower?"

Yuichiro looked around and realized that most of the squad had already gone. The only other person in the tent was Mito, whose red hair was wet. She sat on her bed opposite him in her pajamas and was reading a book. Feeling his eyes on her, Mito looked up and nodded at Shinoa.

"She's right, y'know. I don't know about the boys' showers, but we had a really long line. If you go now you might just make it."

Yuichiro didn't need to be told twice. He grabbed his backpack and ran out of the tent to the bathroom.

It was chaos inside. Betas in various states of dress (and undress) stood around, waiting in clusters in front of shower stalls, talking and laughing. Everything was shrouded with steam. Piles of clothes and towels littered the benches. Yuichiro couldn't find a free hook to hang his bag from and in the end just pushed a bunch of shampoo bottles to the side and set it down on the edge of the bench.

Now that his things were set down, Yuichiro took the opportunity to look around properly. He wished he didn't. Pushing by everyone, he hadn't noticed the state of the showers before. Yuichiro's eyes widened as he observed the curtainless shower stalls. It was one thing to walk around naked (though Yuichiro didn't think he could). It was another thing completely to shower with everyone's eyes on you, watching your every movement as they waited for their turn.

Yuichiro's mouth felt dry. How was he supposed to shower like this?

"Are you in line?"

Yuichiro tore his eyes away from the showers to catch an eyeful of Makoto's chest. Yuichiro quickly looked away and coughed.

"Er-yes. I am."

Makoto raised a brow. "You better hurry, then. There are only two people in front of you."

Yuichiro looked up and indeed, the crowd had begun to thin out. He took a deep breath and started to unbutton his uniform shirt. He felt Makoto watching him.

"What?" he snapped, pulling off his shirt and yanking the undershirt over his head. He stuffed them in his bag.

"Why are you so touchy? You'd think you'd never been in a communal shower before."

Yuichiro undid his belt. "I don't know where you came from, but all of the communal showers I've been to have curtains."

Makoto hung his basket on a newly-freed hook. "That's stupid. We're all betas here- there's nothing to be ashamed of."

Yuichiro ignored him as he started on his shoes. He was about to pull his flip flops out of his bag when Makoto walked into the shower.

"Hey! I got here first!"

"If you weren't busy acting so prissy, you'd be in here already. I'm not planning on wasting my time waiting for you to grow a pair."

Cheeks flaming, Yuichiro pulled off the rest of his clothing and grabbed a soap bar. He walked up to Makoto and crossed his arms.

"I'm ready, now."

"Too bad," Makoto closed his eyes as the water cascaded down his skin. "I'm in here."

"It's my turn!" Yuichiro exclaimed, keenly aware of the eyes he was attracting with his raised voice. "You didn't even start yet!"

Makoto rolled his eyes. "Stop acting like a whiny brat. The sooner you let me finish, the sooner you can go in."

Yuichiro grit his teeth. He knew that what Makoto said was reasonable, but the insult of being spoken down to like a child when he'd been the one wronged provoked him like nothing else. Despite everything he'd gone through, he was still being treated like someone fragile. Someone who needed to learn their place.

Well, all of that was over, now. He was a fucking soldier and he was going to fight for what was his.

Yuichiro slipped past Makoto into the stall and turning around, tried to push him out. Makoto's back was slippery and wet.

"Get out and wait your turn like everyone else."

Yuichiro's push was enough to make Makoto drop his shampoo bottle, but aside from that he didn't move an inch. He turned to face him and grabbed his arm, yanking him away from the wall.

"Come on, I don't want to hurt you. There must be a free stall by now you can use."

"You don't want to hurt me?" Yuichiro hissed, pulling his arm out of Makoto's grasp. "You've got to be joking. I can take you anytime."

"You?" Makoto snorted, looking Yuichiro over and smiling at him condescendingly. "Your scrawny little arms and legs couldn't harm a – hey!"

Yuichiro curled his hand into a fist and surged forward, punching the beta as hard as he could in the gut. Makoto grunted in pain but before Yuichiro had a chance to gloat, he found himself pinned back to the wet wall. Makoto's fingers were wrapped around his neck. He pressed down. Hard.

Yuichiro coughed and thrashed his limbs, trying to push Makoto away, but the beta stood his ground. Yuichiro's vision started to blur.

"Admit it," Makoto said roughly, digging his fingers into Yuichiro's skin. "Say you're nothing but a pampered city beta who doesn't know the first thing about fighting."

Yuichiro shook his head and tried to pry Makoto's fingers off of him. When that didn't work, he raked his nails over the beta's shoulders. That didn't help, either.

"Say it!"

"What's going on here?"

Makoto's hands immediately fell to his sides. Yuichiro coughed and rubbed his throat soothingly before raising his gaze to see Lacus standing in front of them, fully dressed with a severe frown on his face. Yuichiro froze.

"Not only are you two late," Lacus said slowly, "but you're also fighting. On your first day." His eyes settled on Yuichiro's throat. The scratches on Makoto's back.

"Or perhaps I walked in on something else entirely…?"

Yuichiro's cheeks flushed crimson. Makoto's coloring wasn't too different.

"O-of course not!" Makoto stuttered, stepping away from Yuichiro, who at the same time shook his head violently. "I would never-"

"That's enough. I want you both dressed and tucked into bed in five minutes. Should you be late again, you'll get more than just a warning," Lacus said darkly and walked away.

Yuichiro and Makoto exchanged looks for a brief moment before scrambling out of the shower and grabbing their towels, drying themselves and getting dressed.

"This is all your fault," Yuichiro complained as he pulled on his sweatpants. "If you hadn't cut me in line, none of this would've happened."

"My fault?" Makoto huffed. He toweled his hair dry and pulled it back up in a ponytail. "You hit me first!"

"I wouldn't have hit you if you-"

"Shit," Makoto buckled his wristwatch on. "We've got a minute left."

Yuichiro swore and grabbed all of his things, rushing after Makoto back to their tent. They made it with ten seconds to spare. Everyone was already in bed.

"Where were you?" Shinoa whispered from Yuichiro's left as he climbed into his bed.  He unzipped the sleeping bag and crawled inside it.

"It doesn’t matter," he said quickly. Aiko was already asleep on the bed to his right. He could hear footsteps drawing closer to their tent.

Yuichiro closed his eyes just in time for Lacus to walk in, shining his flashlight on each of the beds. The light shone in Yuichiro's eyes for a moment before moving on to the next bed. Once the inspection was over, Lacus turned his light off and left.

Yuichiro's muscles relaxed as the footsteps faded in the distance. He let out a small sigh.

Yes. His first day had been overwhelming.

 

.x.

 

"…and remember, these are your personal weapons. You'll be held accountable for them. Remember our lesson about gun safety- no pointing it directly at another person, no leaning against it and especially no playing around. Soldiers have been killed by their friends before."

Yuichiro nodded along with everyone else. Squad leader number one (Rene, if he remembered correctly) was standing in front of the armory doors. All six squads stood in formation. Yuichiro's nose itched, but the only way he'd be allowed to scratch it is if he raised his hand and asked for permission to step back.

He wouldn't, though. He'd endure the itching. The last thing Yuichiro wanted after the previous night was extra attention.

"Last but not least, you must carry your gun wherever you go. Hang it up when you shower. Sleep with it under your pillow. Forgetting your weapon and leaving it behind will earn you a severe punishment."

The excitement built up in Yuichiro's chest. He was going to get an actual gun! He didn't care if it was an outdated M-16. No omega was ever allowed to touch a weapon. They were creatures of procreation, of life. It was wrong to give them a tool that could kill.

The fact that it could potentially protect them from harm never seemed to come up.

All of that ceased to matter. Here he was, standing in formation in front of the armory doors, waiting to be called in and handed his very own gun. The symbol of a soldier, of a warrior. Of a person who could fight and protect. Someone worthwhile.

"Ryuu Amane!"

"Yes, sir!"

Yuichiro broke the formation and walked forward, approaching the armory. A beta from inventory lifted a gun from a pile and turned it over.

"You're registered under 7263018. Remember its number."

Yuichiro nodded and carefully took the gun when it was offered to him. He held it by the handle and walked over to the group of trainees who had received their weapon before him. They were crowded around a large box of black slings. Yuichiro walked over and pulled one out. He silently watched a female alpha with blond hair from another squad attach the sling to her gun and pulled it over her head. Yuichiro imitated her. The gun was long and heavy against his back.

He loved it.

Biting back a smile, Yuichiro walked back to the group and joined the formation. He couldn't wait to learn how to use it.

 

.x.

 

Shooting would come later, Yuichiro was promised. Until then, there were many things they needed to work on.

"Come on, Amane! Push yourself!"

Yuichiro grit his teeth and sucked in his stomach. He could do this. Three more pushups and he could go on to running.

"You honestly thought you could fight me when you can't even do pushups?" Makoto grunted from the side, already on his twentieth. Yuichiro refused to look his way. Instead, he focused all of his frustration on lowering himself down to the ground and pushing back up.

By the time he reached the last pushup, Makoto had stood up and began running. Yuichiro pushed himself up to his feet and saw that the only other person who was still on the ground was Aiko. Her breath came in quick pants.

Yuichiro lingered for a moment, feeling a little awkward. He didn't feel right leaving her all alone, but it wasn't like he could help her. In the end, he settled on cheering her on.

"You can do it! Only a few left!"

Aiko looked up at him with a scowl. "I don't need your pity. Fuck off."

Stung, Yuichiro turned away and jogged to the center of the field, joining the rest of the squad in their laps. They dropped out one after one as they completed their final laps. Yuichiro remained the last person on the field for a few minutes before Aiko joined him. They ignored each other.

Once he completed his final lap, Yuichiro ran over to the squad where they rested in the shade of a tree. He crumpled to the ground next to Shinoa and took a long sip from his canteen.

"Looks like you made yourself a new friend," Shinoa said dryly, nodding at Aiko's direction. "She won't even look at you. What on earth did you do to her?"

"I didn't do anything," Yuichiro huffed, trying to catch his breath. "She thinks I'm being condescending."

Shinoa snorted as she fanned herself. "She must not know you very well. You were cleaning toilets just a week ago."

Yuichiro gave her a dirty look and focused on emptying his canteen. "You cleaned them, too."

"True," Shinoa conceded merrily, "but at least I don't come off as high and mighty."

"I do not!" Yuichiro insisted. "I was just trying to be nice!"

Shinoa shook her head fondly.

"Tact, Ryuu. You'll learn it someday."

Yuichiro began to protest, but was cut off by Lacus.

"Alright, everyone! Go gather your guns from the pile and walk back to your tent. I want you dressed and back here in formation in ten minutes. Go!"

Yuichiro grumbled as he walked back to the tent. How could cheering a teammate on be considered tactless? Maybe it was a matter of what he'd said? The way he'd said it? Ugh, girls could be so complicated…

The PA system sparked to life.

"All trainees to the center field immediately."

The voice repeated the command a few more times. Yuichiro rushed with everyone else to the field, confusion etched on every face. He briefly considered how lucky it was that he hadn't started to change clothes. Shinoa was wearing track pants and her uniform shirt. She narrowed her eyes at him as they stood next to one another in their squad's formation.

"Don't you dare," was all she said before everyone fell silent.

All of the squad leaders stood in a line in front of them, faces as stark of emotion as they'd been on the first day. They stood tall with their hands balled at their sides. Rene took a step forward.

"Presenting the Company Commander. Attention!"

Everyone stiffened as an alpha strode into the middle of the field, carrying himself with all the dignity and respect a man of his position deserved. He stood in front of the squad leaders and faced the trainees. Aside from the gun slung across his back, he held one in his hand.

Yuichiro's eyes widened. He turned pale.

No. It couldn't be.

Yet there he was, standing in front of them all with his blond hair tied back, looking as severe as Yuichiro had never seen him before. He couldn't stop himself from trembling as he remembered those deft fingers pressing into his body.

"Soldiers!" Mikaela Shindo addressed them.

Yuichiro dug his nails into his palms. Breathe.

"It has come to my attention that you have all received your guns a few days ago," Mika spoke, walking slowly and studying them carefully. "You've all been warned about leaving your weapons behind. And yet," he raised the gun in his hand, "this weapon has just been found abandoned in the field."

Yuichiro could feel whatever was left of his color drain completely from his face. He didn’t need to hear the number Mikaela read out to know that the gun belonged to him. He knew his back had felt suspiciously light.

How could he have forgotten to pick it up from the pile?

Such a small, stupid mistake. Yet it was going to cost him dearly.

"Will the owner of 7263018 step forward?"

Yuichiro's heart beat frantically in his chest. He took a deep breath and broke formation.

"It's mine," he said.

Mikaela froze. His blue eyes widened and he stared at Yuichiro for a full minute. He walked over to him and reached out, only to remember himself and lower his hand. He straightened his back and looked down at Yuichiro with misty eyes.

"Yuichiro? Is that you?"

 

Yuichiro swallowed thickly and shook his head.

"No, sir. My name is Ryuu Amane."

That seemed to check him. His eyes hardened and Yuichiro could see how he struggled to muster all of the professionalism he could afford.

"Amane," Mikaela said his name quickly, as if it didn't belong on his tongue. "You realize that you've abandoned your weapon?"

"Yes, sir," Yuichiro lowered his eyes.

"And that you've been warned time and time again by your commanders not to do so?"

"Yes, sir."

"You accept the consequences?"

 Yuichiro raised his head and met Mikaela's eyes.

"Yes, sir."

Only Yuichiro could hear how Mikaela sucked in his breath. He turned away sharply and walked over to Lacus, whispering something in his ear before handing him Yuichiro's gun. Lacus nodded and saluted as Mikaela hurried out of the field.

Rene stepped forward and cleared his throat.

"Back to your tents! Take a ten minute break!"

The formations broke and everyone walked back to their tents, talking in low tones to each other. Yuichiro continued to stand in the middle of the field, watching Mikaela disappear beyond a corner.

"Ryuu," Shinoa wrapped her fingers around his wrist and gently tugged. "Come, we should go."

"Amane!"

Shinoa stiffened at his side and let go, dropping her arms to her sides. Yuichiro watched impassively as Lacus walked over, his gun still in his hands.

"Here," Lacus offered it as he stood in front of him.

Yuichiro blinked.

"I'm getting it back?"

Lacus frowned.

"Just take it, Amane. Company Commander's order. I'm going to take you to his office tomorrow morning. Try to keep it together until then."

With that, Lacus turned and walked away.

Yuichiro took the gun back and slung it over his shoulder. He felt cold. Hollow.

"Ryuu? Are you okay?"

Yuichiro offered Shinoa a small smile.

"Yeah. Let's go back to the tent."

Chapter Text

Mornings were always hard for Yuichiro. He had a natural tendency to sleep in, and the betas at the facility never saw a reason to change that. A rested omega was a stress-free omega. How many times had Yuichiro been told to relax, to take a deep breath and let it go? How many times had he been told that 'a stressed omega is an infertile omega'?

Since arriving at the military base, Yuichiro was forced to learn how to manage his time. If he had to meet Goshi at seven to raise the flag, it meant that he had to be in bed by ten if he wanted to sleep the eight hours he was used to. It'd taken him a while to get used to it, but Yuichiro had been proud of the way he'd managed to follow his new routine.

Basic training took every shred of accomplishment Yuichiro'd felt and shoved it in his face. Waking up at five thirty every morning, while going to sleep at eleven the night before had sounded like a bad joke in the beginning, but Yuichiro soon learned that it was to be his new reality. Six hours just wasn't enough and he couldn't understand how his team was so energetic in the morning. It was all Yuichiro could do to pull himself out of bed and get dressed.

This morning was different. Yuichiro woke up before the tent's alarm clock went off. He curled up in his sleeping bag and dug his fingers into his palms.

Oh, god, he thought, unable to drift back to sleep. Mikaela's going to be so mad.

A million scenarios ran through his mind as he thought of his summons to Mikaela's office. None of them were good.

Mikaela had recognized him right away, despite his different coloring and scent. A brief image of Shiho berating him for his horrible dye job came to mind, and Yuichiro groaned in frustration. Of course four-eyes would end up being right, after all. He could practically hear the smug 'I told you so'. If only he'd let the alpha redo his hair, maybe Mikaela wouldn't have realized it was him…

Yuichiro shook his head. That was silly. Of course Mikala would recognize him. Even if he'd been blond and his eyes blue, his face was an immediate giveaway. It was just his luck to encounter someone he knew on his first week of basic training.

Running away made a brief appearance, but Yuichiro shook that away as well. There was nowhere to run to. If he was going to die, he'd rather be shot with poison than suffer a slow death out in the wild.

Was there even a need to run away?

Yuichiro thought about that. Meeting Mikaela was preferable to having a beta from the facility recognize him. What was the worse Mikaela could do? Yell at him for disappearing without notice?

That was assuming that the alpha cared enough. They'd only been together for one heat, after all. For all Yuichiro knew, Mikaela could have already been assigned a new omega.

Yuichiro tried to ignore the stab of pain that came with that thought.

He can give me in.

Yuichiro's breath caught in his throat. He hadn't considered it before, but extradition was a real possibility. What was to promise that Mikaela wouldn't hand him over to the Board once he confirmed his identity? There was a lot the alpa could lose should the Board discover that he was harboring a fugitive. Yuichiro doubted he was worth that much to Mikaela that he'd risk his neck for him. It wasn't like he was carrying his child…

Yuichiro climbed out of bed and quickly began to dress. The alarm rang just as he grabbed his gun from beneath the mattress and headed toward the bathroom. Shinoa blinked her eyes blearily at him right before he left the tent.

Yuichiro brushed his teeth and studied himself carefully in the mirror. His hair didn't look as disastrous as it usually did. Biting his lip, Yuichiro wet his hands and dragged his fingers through his now-brown locks, smoothing them down. He considered his reflection. Sure, his brown eyes weren't his favorite color, but they were his eyes. He wondered if Mikaela liked brown…

Shame colored his cheeks, but Yuichiro refused to look away from his reflection. He looked presentable. If nothing worked… if Mikaela recognized him and insisted on sending him back into the hands of the Board…

Well, Yuichiro knew just the way Mikaela liked his cock sucked.

"Will you move already?"

Yuichiro frowned as he was jostled by Makoto, but aside from giving the beta the finger behind his back, he didn't act up. He didn't want any trouble, not when he was about to face Mikaela. The last thing he needed was another fight on his record.

He walked back to the tent and made his bed. For the first time since leaving the complex he had spare time in the morning and once he finished organizing all of his things, Yuichiro didn't know what to do with himself. He sat down on the bed with his gun carefully balanced on his lap and watched as everyone prepared themselves for the day.

"Hey," Shinoa said as she sat across from him on her bed, pulling on her socks. "How are you feeling?"

Yuichiro shrugged.

"You're going to be fine," Shinoa said firmly. "You'll walk in there and apologize. What's the worse punishment he can give you? Extra guarding duty?"

"Actually, I'm pretty sure he can be kicked out," Mito said from the other side of the tent as she polished her boots. "My cousin lost his gun during basic training and had to go back to the city and work to pay back the cost. These things cost a bunch," she nodded at Yuichiro's gun.

Shinoa shot her a look. "That's different. Ryuu didn't lose his gun, he just forgot it. You're not going to be kicked out," she turned back to Yuichiro with a smile. "Don't let her scare you."

Yuichiro smiled nervously. He hadn't even thought about the punishment he was bound to face.

I'm so screwed.

The morning passed by quickly after that. Breakfast was eaten in the rec hall and it was all Yuichiro could do to keep down his hardboiled eggs. He tried to concentrate when the squad stood in formation outside and listened to Lacus reading out the day's schedule, but all Yuichiro could think about was his summons.

"Amane, you'll be coming with me to the Company Commander's office."

Yuichiro snapped into focus and realized that everyone's eyes were on him. He nodded, his blood pounding in his ears.

"The rest of you can return to your tent for a short break until I return. Dismissed!"

Shinoa squeezed Yuichiro's shoulder reassuringly before walking away with the others. Yuichiro watched her go before following Lacus down the path.

They walked silently through the base, Yuichiro always two steps behind his squad leader. Five minutes later they stopped in front of an office building. Lacus turned to face Yuichiro.

"You're going to speak to the Company Commander now. He's going to ask you a few questions and based on your answers, he'll decide your punishment. Salute when you enter the room and when you leave. Am I being clear so far?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Do you remember the way we came?"

Yuichiro nodded. His palms were sweating.

"I expect you to return immediately to your tent once you're done. Commander Shindo's office is the first one to the left."

"I will, sir."

Lacus turned to go, but paused long enough to meet Yuichiro's eyes.

"Good luck, Amane."

"Thank you, sir," Yuichiro blinked, taken aback at Lacus's forwardness. The alpha was already gone.

Steeling himself, Yuichiro walked into the building and approached the first door to the left. He gathered his courage and knocked.

"You may enter."

Yuichiro took a deep breath and opened the door, closing it after him as he walked in. Mikaela's office was a small room, full of shelves and paperwork. The alpha was sitting behind a desk and was watching Yuichiro intently as he entered the room.

Recalling Lacus's instructions, Yuichiro raised his hand in a salute, which Mikaela returned. He lowered his hand.

"You wished to see me… sir?"

"Yes. Take a seat, Amane."

Swallowing thickly, Yuichiro pulled back the chair on the opposite side of the desk and sat down, looking down at his lap. His pulse was thundering in his ears.

"Do you know why you're here?"

Yuichiro nodded. "I abandoned my weapon, sir."

Mikaela cleared his throat. "Look at me when I'm talking to you, soldier."

Yuichiro raised his eyes. He hoped his face didn't betray his mortification. Mikaela's blue eyes were hard and his lips were pressed in a thin, disapproving line.

"I've been looking through your files. I found them rather incoherent. This one," Mikaela picked up a page from his desk, "states that you studied at Shinku high school. This one, on the other hand," he set the paper down and pointed at a different one, "says that you went to Oma. Which is it, then?"

Yuichiro was certain that his cheeks were burning red. "Shinku, sir."

"Really? Then why did you list two different high schools?"

"I… I transferred in my second year," Yuichiro said quickly.

"I see," Mikaela said blandly, looking down at the document. "And what of your residence? You wrote here that you lived with your friend at 40 Center street in the city, but Center street only goes up to thirty five."

Shit. Yuichiro had frequently shopped on Center street and thought he could confidently bluff at the very least about his address, but he'd never actually paid attention to the house numbers.

"That's a mistake. I live at 20 Center street. I don't know why it says forty."

Mikaela watched him for a long minute before crunching the document in his hand and throwing it into the trash bin to his right.

"Nice try, but I've checked the city's registry. No one by the name of Ryuu Amane has ever lived there."

Yuichiro froze.

"However, there is a Yuichiro Hyakuya listed. Or rather, was listed. He died, you see," Mikaela caught Yuichiro's eyes. "Around the same time you registered at the base. Interesting coincidence, don't you think?"

Yuichiro looked away. There was nothing he could say.

"Yuichiro. Look at me."

This time when he said it, Mikaela's tone was soft. Yuichiro's gaze returned to the alpha's face. What he saw took his breath away.

He hadn't seen someone looking at him with such need in so long.

"It's okay, Yuu. You can let go."

Yuichiro's breath caught at the nickname. Mikaela had only ever used it when he was close to completion.

"I don't know what you're talking about, sir," Yuichiro insisted, balling his hands into fists on his lap. "I don't know why the registry didn't have my name, but it isn't Yuichiro. My name is Ryuu."

Yuichiro grasped at the last threads of his false identity. He didn't know what Mikaela's intentions were. For all he knew, the moment he got a confession, he'd tie him up and send him back to the city.

Mikaela looked taken aback. He sat back in his chair and frowned.

"Don't play coy. You're a terrible liar, Yuu. I don't know how you changed your scent, but no hair dye or contacts are going to fool me. What do you take me for?"

Yuichiro shook his head. "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't know what you're talking about."

He watched as the emotions played on Mikaela's face. He looked confused, hurt, and Yuichiro wanted nothing more than to push away from the chair and launch himself into the alpha's arms. He wanted to reassure him that he had his omega back.

But he just couldn't take that risk.

Mikaela's scent spiked and before Yuichiro could react, he was yanked out of his chair. The alpha grabbed him by his wrist and pulled him up, forcing Yuichiro to stumble against his chest. Yuichiro tried to pull away, but the alpha's other hand held him securely by the waist.

"There's no reason for you to deny it, Yuu. You're safe with me."

Yuichiro shook his head violently. "Let me go!"

It would be so easy to melt into Mikaela's touch, to let the alpha hold him and relinquish control to older, more experienced hands…

"You know you want me," Mikaela whispered, brushing his lips against his ear. "God, I've missed you so much…"

Tears formed in Yuichiro's eyes. Mikaela's scent was overwhelming. He needed to submit. He wanted to tell the truth.

No. I'm not a weak little omega anymore.

Summoning all of his strength, Yuichiro pushed away, backing against the wall. His face was red, but his eyes narrowed in determination. He wouldn't go down without a fight.

Mikaela looked like he was about to step forward and grab him again, but instead his face drew a blank. Yuichiro watched in confusion as the alpha returned to his desk and sat down, regarding him impassively.

"Fine, then. Two can play this game."

Yuichiro tensed.

"As for your punishment. You'll be helping out in the kitchens for the next week."

Blinking, Yuichiro watched the alpha's face carefully. That wasn't too bad.

"Of course," Mikaela continued, "you'll be doing it in your own free time. You're to wake up early to help prepare breakfast for your platoon. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir." Yuichiro's heart sank.

"I expect you to keep up with the rest of your squad. I don't imagine that'll be much of a problem for you. It's not like you're an omega. Did you know that they need at least eight hours of sleep every night to function?"

Yuichiro grit his teeth. "I'll be fine, sir."

"Good," Mikaela pursed his lips. "You're dismissed."

Yuichiro raised a hand in a shaky salute before leaving the room. He rushed out of the building and slammed the doors behind him. His blood boiled.

If Mikaela thought he could bully him into breaking down, the alpha was dead wrong.

The game was on.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro liked food. Really, he did.  Food was definitely on his list of the pleasures of life. Sweets, especially. Chocolates, biscuits, cookies…

Yes, food ranked rather high. But sleep came first. At this rate, Yuichiro was pretty much ready to give up on his meals in favor of a half-hour nap.

"Good morning, Ryuu," Shinoa said cheerfully. Yuichiro blinked at her and stifled a yawn. He spooned a hardboiled egg from the large bowl in front of him and ladled it into her plate over the counter automatically. She flashed him a smile and walked away. The next trainee in line looked about as animated as Yuichiro felt.

Five hours of sleep. It was absolutely cruel to make him wake up an hour earlier than everyone just so that he could stand behind a counter and put eggs on their plate. He didn't need to be up a whole hour just for that. The kitchen staff didn't even want him for prep.

It was one thing to make a sacrifice for something important. Yuichiro could understand that, could force himself to cooperate. It was another thing entirely to know that your punishment was absolutely useless to the people around you.

Yuichiro was a walking zombie. For nothing.

It was hard to say that Mikaela was to blame (after all, how was he to know that the cooks valued trainees in their kitchen as much as they did rats?), but Yuichiro had a feeling that the alpha had planned this from the start.

Prepare breakfast for my platoon, my ass. He knew I was going to be bored out of my mind.

"Earth to Amane!"

Yuichiro snapped into focus. Makoto was standing in front of him, holding his plate out impatiently. Yuichiro scowled at him and ladled an egg into his plate, turning to smile at the beta next in line. Anything to spurn Makoto.

Even if he had to serve him, it didn’t mean he had to be nice.

"I want two."

Yuichiro frowned. He returned his gaze to Makoto and shook his head.

"And I want ice cream. Tough shit, Narumi. Go away- you're stalling everyone."

Makoto didn't budge. "Just give me another egg. Some of us actually have a physique to maintain."

"What physique? You mean all that flab I saw in the shower?"

"Shut up. What do you care about one little egg, anyway? I'm starving!"

Yuichiro rolled his eyes. "I don't care, the staff does. One egg per person, that's the rule."

Before Yuichiro could stop him, Makoto reached out and grabbed an egg from the bowl. He shot Yuichiro a smirk over his shoulder as he walked away.

"Hey! Come back with that, you scumbag!"

Much to his mortification, Yuichiro felt his eyes tear up. He always got emotional when he was tired, but this was absolutely ridiculous. Why on earth would he shed tears over a stolen egg? It was rather hormonal of him…

Wait.

Fuck.

Yuichiro rushed away from the counter ("take your own eggs!") and walked into the kitchen. He took a moment to compose himself.

He took his weekly pills on Tuesdays. Today was Wednesday.

He'd forgotten to take his pill.

Panic welled in his chest. How could he have forgotten to take his pill? Fatigue was no excuse. This was a worse mistake than forgetting his gun.

Okay. Chill. Take a deep breath.  

The pill's effects were obviously still at play. Nobody had made any indication that he smelled different or even worse, that his scent had changed completely. He was still a beta in everyone's mind. That was the most important thing.

His hormones were probably a mess. They could easily explain how agitated he felt, and how close to tears he'd come over something stupid. Yuichiro figured he was lucky his heat wasn't due for another two months- he doubted the residue effect of the pill would've been able to mask his scent in that case.

The real question was how long the effects would last before he took the pill.

He couldn't take any chances with this.

Yuichiro slipped through the back door and quickly made his way toward the tents. The last thing he wanted was to get caught walking about on his own when he was supposed to be with his squad, but he didn't have much of a choice. He'd rather face another hundred punishments than be exposed.

He managed to make it to his tent undetected. Tension rolled off of him like waves as he sat down on his bed and rummaged through his bag, pulling out the small box of tablets and popping one in his mouth. He swallowed it down dry and stuffed the box back in the bag, hiding it beneath his bed.

Yuichiro needed to wait at least ten minutes before returning to the mess hall. That's how long the pills took to come into effect. The first time he took them he'd waited about half an hour, just to make sure, but he didn't have the luxury to wait that long.

He'd have to put his trust in the small print.

"Amane?"

Yuichiro froze. He turned and looked up. Mikaela stood at the flap of the tent, his lips turned in a stern frown.

Yuichiro could have laughed. Of course Mikaela would be the one to find him. Weren't they all told how the company commander made the occasional round, just to make sure that no one lingered in the tents? Cosmic irony was probably having a field day.

Regardless, he stood up and offered Mikaela a salute.

"Company commander."

"You're supposed to be in the rec hall with your squad," Mikaela continued, glancing down at his watch. "Why are you here?"

Yuichiro took a deep breath. This was going to cost him, but it was the only feasible excuse he could come up with. He couldn't afford Mikaela finding out the truth.

"I…was tired." Ugh.

Yuichiro could have withered what with the way Mikaela's eyes gleamed. He knew that gleam- the alpha had the same kind when he'd initially put Yuichiro in his place, back on the first day of his heat.

"I see. You thought you could sneak back to your tent for a short nap? I'm surprised at you, Amane. A true soldier needs stamina to push through their training."

Now that was completely uncalled for. Yuichiro's cheeks flushed in shame. He'd clung to Mikaela's words during his first few days at the base. He drew his strength from the alpha's assurance that he was soldier material, whispered as they'd made love.

How could he retract his words like that? Did he even realize the kind of blow he'd dealt him?

Mikaela's face softened.

"I understand if this is a little overwhelming. Just say the word, and I'll let you sleep as much as you want."

Yuichiro pursed his lips. Oh god, the notion of curling up (in what he imagined to be) Mikaela's soft bed and closing his eyes for the rest of the day was alluring as nothing before. His frayed nerves agreed.

His pride begged to differ, however.

"I apologize, company commander. I'll return to my squad. If you give me a second chance," he drew this out languidly, redoing his belt buckle before meeting the alpha's eyes, "I think you'll find my stamina more than satisfactory."

The alpha's eyes lingered on Yuichiro's buckle a beat longer that what would be deemed appropriate. Catching himself, he met Yuichiro's gaze.

"Return to your squad," he ordered. His voice sounded hoarse.

Not one to be told twice, Yuichiro saluted and sauntered out of the tent. The ten minutes hadn't passed, but if Mikaela hadn't sensed a change in his scent, no one would.

Despite his drowsiness, Yuichiro couldn't help but smirk.

1:0 to Yuichiro.

 

.x.

 

The accursed week of late nights and all too early mornings had drawn to a close without further incident. Yuichiro had never appreciated a six hour sleeping cycle as much as he did now. Why had he ever felt it to be insufficient? Six hours were more than enough to restore his energy and help him wake up with a smile.

Even Shinoa was taken aback.

"Who are you and what have you done with my friend?" she whispered as they took their seats in the classroom. They were supposed to be memorizing steps from the first aid booklet they'd studied over the past few days, but Yuichiro was too busy looking around him.

All of the faces in the room were similar, but Yuichiro realized with a guilty pang how he could barely put a name to a face. How long have they been together? Three weeks? Had he really wallowed so deeply in his misery that he failed to make any friends whatsoever?

"I feel like a new person, Shinoa," he beamed at her as he opened his book. "There are only two weeks left to basic training and I want to make the most of them. How can I do that without a smile?"

Shinoa raised her brow and said nothing.

"Rise for the company commander!"

Yuichiro stood up with everyone else as Mikaela walked into the room. He wasn't sure why the alpha was there. Rene usually taught first aid.

With a stiff nod from Mikaela, the room retook their seat. Everyone watched as the alpha walked into the middle of the room, carrying a paper bag.

"Good afternoon. As you've all been told, today you shall be tested on your knowledge of first aid theory. I'm to be your supervisor for the duration of the test."

The squad leaders walked down the aisles, handing out the test sheets, face-down. Once everyone received a copy, Mikaela cleared his throat.

"You may start now. All completed tests are to be handed to me. You have an hour. Good luck."

Yuichiro turned over his sheet and looked over the questions. Oh, he knew this one! What was the first thing he needed to do if he saw an injured soldier…?

About twenty minutes into the test a trainee stood up and walked over to Mikaela, saluting him and handing in his paper. Yuichiro openly gaped. How on earth had the beta managed to finish all thirty questions? Yuichiro was still on his tenth!

His eyes widened further as Mikaela's hand delved into the bag on his desk and handed the trainee a chocolate bar. Yuichiro swallowed thickly. They were his favorite brand.

Mikaela raised his eyes and caught Yuichiro's gaze. He smirked.

That bastard! Was he trying to tempt him with chocolate? Did he think something like that would actually work?

Yuichiro's mouth began to water. He shook his head vehemently and focused on the test questions at hand. There was no reason for him to be so distracted by the mere proximity of his favorite sweet.

Trainee after trainee rose from their seats and handed in their tests, receiving an approving nod from Mikaela and a candy bar for his troubles. Yuichiro watched the clock nervously. How was everyone finishing so quickly? There were fifteen minutes left, but over half of the room were already outside, waiting for everyone to finish…

Yuichiro's face was warm as he finally stood up and approached the alpha. There were five minutes left, and he was the very last trainee to have finished their test. His eyes burned. Was he really that stupid? Was an omega truly inferior to his beta and alpha counterparts?

Was spreading his legs all he was good for?

"I'm done, sir," he said softly, handing over his test. Mikaela looked up and nodded, taking the sheet from him and adding it to the pile.

Yuichiro's eyes lingered on the bag.

"Ah, did you want one? I'm sorry, there's none left," Mikaela followed Yuichiro's gaze. Yuichiro's heart sank.

"There's more in my office," Mikaela offered quietly, tilting his head. "I believe I have some licorice as well. They're yours if you want them."

Yuichiro frowned.

"No, thank you."

He left the room without saluting, but he couldn't be bothered. He joined Shinoa outside in the courtyard as they waited for the squad leaders to assemble them.

"Ryuu? Are you okay?" she asked. "Where's that smile you were sporting before?"

"Gone with my confidence," he said dully. "I feel so stupid."

Shinoa clucked her tongue. "Not at all. Maybe this just wasn't your day."

"No, I'm just stupid. I thought thirty questions in an hour was a lot, but apparently everyone else can finish them in half that time."

"Thirty questions?" Shinoa frowned. "Ryuu, there were only fifteen."

Yuichiro inhaled sharply.

"No, I'm pretty sure there were thirty questions."

Shinoa shook her head. "I had fifteen. Everyone else I asked had, too. There must have been a mistake on your form. I bet they'll give you extra credit when they realize you answered double the amount of questions in the allotted time!"

Yuichiro shrugged. He felt hollow.

"Sure. Extra credit."

No wonder there hadn't been any candy left for him. Mikaela had deliberately given him a longer test than everyone else, just so that he'd finish last. Did he mean to make him feel inferior as well? Was it the alpha's way of saying that he didn't belong in a military base?

Yuichiro shifted the gun sling on his shoulder and sighed. He couldn't be completely sure if Mikaela intended to make him feel inadequate, to break his spirit, but that was the result, regardless.

 

.x.

 

"Use your knives carefully! They're meant to cut bandages, not skin!"

Yuichiro rolled his eyes. Only someone with a death wish would be able to cut themselves on the blunt blades they'd been given. He was barely able to cut the bandages with his.

"Hurry up and bandage my arm, Ryuu. I'd be dead by now. You're so slow—"

Yuichiro huffed. "I'm working on it! It's this damn knife that won't cut!"

"Oh, just give it to me," Shinoa sat up and took the knife away, managing to tear off a large piece within the matter of seconds. She handed both the knife and the bandage back to Yuichiro with a self-satisfied smile.

"Don't be such a showoff," Yuichiro grumbled under his breath and set to bandaging her arm. How were they supposed to do it? One turn to the right, two knots on the bottom…

"Ryuu," Shinoa whined. "Everyone's already switched. I should be bandaging you now."

"Not until I'm done with you," Yuichiro said firmly. He glanced around and saw that, indeed, the other pairs had already switched places. His eyes wandered to where the squad leaders sat and talked in hushed tones. It was rare to see them smiling in front of them.

Next to them sat a medic, who was humming under his breath as he drew shapes in the dirt. His presence was required when the trainees were handling dangerous objects, but the chances someone would hurt themselves while using such a ridiculous knife were close to none.

Mikaela hovered over the medic, watching the trainees as they practiced their knots. His presence was required as well. Judging by the way his eyes darted from place to place, Yuichiro figured the alpha was bored as well.

An idea came to mind.

Mikaela's bored? It's about time I made our game interesting.

"Ryuu! Watch what you're doing!"

Yuichiro paid Shinoa no mind. He dragged the knife against the skin of his underarm in a horizontal line. He pressed hard and he figured that all he'd get was a bruise, but sure enough, a sliver of red bloomed beneath the blade.

"Now look what you've done," Shinoa said crossly. "I told you to be careful." Her eyes fell on the wound and she absently licked her lips. Remembering herself,  she swallowed thickly and averted her gaze. "Better go to the medic and get that cleaned. You don't want the alphas here all over you."

Yuichiro gave her a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry. I'll be right back. Maybe he'll let you bandage me after he disinfects it!"

He stood up and made his way to the edge of the group where the medic, and Mikaela, were sitting. Mikaela raised his brows as he drew close.

"Yes, Amane? Is there something you need?"

"Actually, I do, sir. I cut myself," Yuichiro said, rolling his sleeve up and exposing the cut. Blood beaded and trickled down his arm.

Yuichiro watched with satisfaction as Mikaela's eyes widened and dilated as the medic jumped to his feet and inspected the wound, tutting as he applied antiseptic. Yuichiro answered the medic's question with a slightly guilty tone, but his gaze never left Mikaela's face.

The alpha swallowed thickly, just as Shinoa had, and looked away. His voice was strained when he finally addressed Yuichiro.

"Are you in pain?"

Yuichiro shook his head with a smile. "Nope! It was just a little cut. I could show you, if you want—"

"No, that's quite alright," Mika said hurriedly. "I trust Nitori has patched you up. You may return to your practice partner."

Yuichiro saluted and returned to Shinoa, who fussed over him once he sat back down. Yuichiro tried to concentrate as she took her turn and bandaged his arm. He really did. But his attention was completely devoted to Mikaela, who looked rather red in the face. A quick look passed between them before the alpha turned away sharply and left.

"Ryuu? Are you listening to me?"

"Yes, of course," Yuichiro assured Shinoa. He looked down at his arm as she explained the knots she'd tied to keep his blood from hypothetically flowing, but all he could think about were Mikaela's dilated eyes.  

He shivered slightly as he recalled the feeling of the alpha's fangs piercing through his skin.

By the time I'm done with you, Mikaela, you'll never want me to leave your side. The Board has nothing on an alpha in rut.

With any luck, Mikaela would be driven into one soon.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro wondered if the water would be warm. He never was the first in the showers. He supposed that those who undressed with inhuman speed and claimed the stalls before everyone else got to enjoy warm showers. Two minutes under the cold spray proved him wrong. It didn't matter if he was the first or last- everyone had to suffer through the cold.

Yuichiro shivered and leaned down to pick up his soap bar. He sighed softly as he rubbed it leisurely over his arms and legs.

This shower was the first one in weeks that he didn't have to hear the other betas rushing him and clamoring for their turn. No pairs of eyes running over his skin comparatively. He intended this shower to last more than the usual two and a half minutes.

I should've done this sooner, Yuichiro berated himself. I feel like a person again.

Though if he were honest with himself, Yuichiro wouldn't have been able to sneak out of bed in the middle of the night and shower alone. He wouldn't have dared to risk his commanders' displeasure and it wasn't too long ago that he had to wake up an hour earlier than everyone else.

Now that his punishment was over, he could easily afford to sacrifice half an hour for the sake of his personal hygiene. He didn't even mind if one of the commanders caught him while doing their nightly rounds. What was the worse they could do? Send him to Mikaela?

Yuichiro certainly wouldn't mind. He'd find a way to turn it to his advantage, one way or the other. They both knew he was winning their little game. It was only a matter of time before—

Yuichiro's cheeks burned. The water was still very much cold on his back and the night air even cooler, but the images that ran through his mind kept him warm.

He'd figured early on that the only way to stay alive was to tease Mikaela and keep him guessing. There weren't any other options he could think of. Mikaela seeing and recognizing him had given his freedom and ultimatum. Either he'd be sent off to the Board, or the alpha would keep him as his own. There was no in between.

Yuichiro had enlisted with the knowledge that his military service would be a short one. The initial plan had been to stay on long enough for the Board to forget about him before running as far as he could go. He was never meant to develop an illustrious military career.

And yet… being given a uniform and looking himself in the mirror had been a dream come true for Yuichiro. Being assigned a squad and carrying a gun had been so real. It was hard to think that while his friends would continue and climb the ranks, he'd be working on an escape plan. That all of his training meant nothing in the long run.

That was before Mikaela made his appearance. Now Yuichiro's future was very much defined, and he wasn't sure if he liked where it was heading. Sure, his games with the alpha were what kept him going, but the thought that he'd inevitably end up in Mikaela's bed was becoming harder and harder to accept.

Sure. Yuichiro had enjoyed himself immensely during his heat with the alpha. At the time, there was nothing more that he wanted than to carry his child and be a family together. It was still Mikaela he envisioned when he thought of wandering hands roaming over his body, sharp fangs sinking into his skin…

But there's so much more I can offer.

Enlisting had opened Yuichiro's eyes to a world of possibilities he'd never had before. To delve into it, only for it all to be snatched away due to one, small mistake…

It was going to happen sooner or later, Yuichiro reminded himself, digging his nails into the soap bar. I should consider myself lucky that I have someone to take care of me once this is all over.

Yuichiro set down the soap and leaned his forehead against the wet wall, allowing the cold water to cascade down his body. He couldn't bring himself to move. Not just yet.

Is it so bad? A small voice said inside his head. Is it so horrible being Mikaela's mate?

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. His hand, which had been hanging limply at his side, rose and gently wrapped around his cock. He closed his eyes.

It's been so long.

Yuichiro couldn't remember the last time he'd pleasured himself. There hadn't been much time or opportunity to do so before. He wasn't sure about the other betas, but he'd never seen any of them touching themselves in the showers. He'd always been too tired and embarrassed to do it in the tent, while everyone slept.

His grip tightened and Yuichiro gasped. He hadn't minded someone hearing the water running and catching him in the shower before, but now… he'd be mortified if someone walked in after hearing his voice.

Yuichiro's pace quickened as he recalled images of his last heat. They were a little blurry, but he could never forget the feeling of Mikaela's tongue on his entrance, running over the tight muscle before delving in…

Yuichiro moaned. He couldn't help it.

'Ride me', Mikaela had said on their first night, and Yuichiro remembered how he'd climbed the alpha's legs, just a bit nervous. He'd never ridden anyone before and he wondered how it would feel. Shiho had always let him lie on his back as he took him, but the idea of taking control of their pace already had Yuichiro's slick running down his bare thighs.

He could never forget the lidded look Mikaela gave him as he unzipped the alpha's jeans and pulled out his cock. It was odd to think about the alpha in civilian clothes, but of course he hadn't worn his uniform to their heat suite.

Yuichiro's mind came to a halt. What would Mikaela look like with his face flushed, with his white uniform sticking to his sweaty skin? Would he wear his hair down?

Yuichiro's mind wandered. He could clearly see himself straddling the alpha in his office, reaching back and untying the ribbon that held Mikaela's blond hair up. His blond hair would fall, framing his face as Yuichiro would grab him by the back of his neck and mesh their lips together.

Yuichiro's breathing was heavy. He'd been under the cold spray of the water for over ten minutes, but no matter how hard or quick he stroked his cock, he still couldn't cum. He took a deep breath. There was no escaping it, was there?

Yuichiro bent down with an air of impatience and lathered his fingers with the soap bar. It wasn't the slick lube he was used to, but it would have to do. There was no way he was going to return to the tent just to bring a bottle of shampoo.

Grateful that the shower stall was small, Yuichiro placed one hand on the wall, bracing himself as he spread his legs. They slid against the other wall as he reached between his thighs. Yuichiro circled his entrance for a few moments before slowly pressing in a finger.

Yuichiro hissed. It had been a while, after all. His legs shook a little as he pumped his finger, stretching his muscles as much as he could before adding another one. It burned like hell (this was the last time he was using godforsaken soap), but his cock was still hard.

He closed his eyes again, replacing his fingers in his mind's eye with Mikaela's length. The alpha certainly had no problem with finding the cluster of nerves that sent Yuichiro over the edge.

Yuichiro bit his lip as he bent his fingers. It'd taken him a good three minutes, but he found what he'd been looking for.

He pressed against his prostate with renewed determination.

Yuu, you're so good for me, Mikaela would say as he'd grip his hips, driving him harder on his cock. I can't get enough.

He came with a small cry, muffled against his arm. The hand between his legs stayed there a beat longer before pulling out, covered in slick. Yuichiro groaned as the sickly-sweet smell assaulted him.

It was nothing like the rivers that flowed during his heat, but he'd have to wash himself again to get rid of the smell. He might be taking a pill, but there was nothing that could mask the unmistakable scent of omegan slick.

 

.x.

 

"What do you mean by 'field training', sir?"

Yuichiro's pulse quickened. He was glad that Shigure had raised the question. Everyone had nodded when Lacus announced that the platoon was to leave early the next morning for three days of field training, and he'd felt stupid for not knowing what it exactly entailed. He wasn't the only one, then.

Lacus didn't seem annoyed by the question. In fact, his patient voice was probably an indicator that he'd expected their confusion.

"You're all aware that you're going through 02 level training. You may not be training to be combat soldiers, but every soldier must know how to use their gun. During field training we'll be camping outside of the base and practicing in the shooting range."

Lacus stopped at looked at them, narrowing his eyes.

"This will be a physically trying experience, and many of you will find it difficult. I expect you all to support each other. You're a squad, and it's about time you start acting like one."

Yuichiro nodded along with the others, but he knew that he couldn't really count on anyone, aside from Shinoa.

"We leave at five AM tomorrow morning. We'll wake you up at four. Pick a partner and pack one bag with two sleeping bags. We've decided to let you all go to sleep early so that you get your mandatory six hours of sleep, so don't waste them. You're free to go."

The group dutifully scattered and walked back to the tent. It was already late, and Yuichiro was determined to sleep his full share. He'd have to be on his toes if he wanted to brave an intense training session.

"You'll be my partner, right, Ryuu?"

Yuichiro looked up and smiled at Shinoa.

"Of course!"

He felt a small pang in his chest as he watched her, humming happily with her gun banging against her back as she skipped toward their tent.

Yuichiro didn't deserve to have such good friends. He'd never once stopped to think about Yoichi. The omega probably thought that he was dead. Of course, he hadn't been able to tell Yoichi about his escape, but to have only realized this now…

What kind of friend was he?

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro looked around. It was dark, but he could easily make out the green glow-stick shining on top of the mountain. All he needed was to make his way unnoticed to the next bush, and his path was pretty much clear.

His bones ached, though. Every muscle in his body cried for rest. His face was dirty and his clothes stuck to his skin, but Yuichiro tried to ignore it all. He'd made it this far. What was a bit more?

Their first day of field training had been just what Yuichiro'd envisioned. The platoon spent the most of the morning setting up camp. They'd divided into three groups, two squads each, and pitched up their tents in formation. The double-tents were tiny and barely able to contain the two people they were meant for, but Yuichiro knew that he'd have no problem sharing with Shinoa. They were both small enough.

The rest of the day they spent in individual squads, learning how to maneuver in the field without being spotted. Yuichiro watched as Lacus showed his team how to skip, roll over and fall to their stomachs behind large bushes and rocks. He taught them how to counter green and black paint on their faces for camouflage. They all practiced crab-crawling with their guns balanced over their arms.

Yuichiro never felt this tired. Not even after the first day of his heat.

Once night fell over the sand dunes, Mikaela had gathered them all and announced that they'd all be implementing what they'd learned during the day in a final competition to end the day.

"The first one who manages to climb the mountain and steal the stick-light without being caught by one of the squad leaders wins," Mikaela had finished, nodding at the mountain in the distance. "No one sleeps until the stick-light is claimed."

Yuichiro had considered hiding behind a rock and waiting for someone to climb the whole thing and get the stick-light, but his body kept moving, pushing itself further and further. He saw other trainees being caught and sent back down the mountain to try again, but somehow he escaped the sharp-eyed commanders.

Heart beating excitedly in his chest, Yuichiro crawled the short distance to the large bush a few paces away. From there it was a straightforward climb to the stick-light. He just needed the opportune moment to—

"Get off of me!"

Yuichiro quickly raised his hand. He hadn't been able to see in the dark, but now that he was behind the bush, he could clearly see the other person hiding behind it. With a start, he realized that it was Makoto.

"It's not my fault you're just lying here," he said, lowering his head and climbing to his knees. "You're not supposed to stay in one place for too long, y'know."

Yuichiro's excitement faded. If Makoto was here, then surely the competition was over for him. He'd seen how fast the beta could run. He had no chance outrunning him to the stick-light.

"I know that," Makoto huffed. He closed his eyes and grimaced. "It's not like I can help it?"

Yuichiro frowned. "What do you mean?"

"You're blind as a bat, aren't you?" Makoto sneered. He gestured to his leg. Yuichiro bristled at the comment and was about to reply when his eyes followed Makoto's hand. They fell on Makoto's leg, which even in the dark, was visibly injured. There was a long rip in his pants leg and something shone in the scarce light. Blood.

Yuichiro's eyes widened.

"What happened?"

"I was heading toward this bush when I heard someone coming. I immediately fell to the ground and started crawling, but I must have done it wrong because my ankle started killing me. I managed to pull myself behind the bush and realized that I was bleeding. Just my luck to scrape myself and twist my ankle at the same time."

Yuichiro looked down at the gash. It wasn't just a scrape- the cut was pretty deep. The beta had probably fallen against a sharp rock.

"You need help," Yuichiro said firmly. "Why didn't you call for someone?"

"What am I, an omega?" Makoto sneered. Yuichiro stiffened, but remained silent as Makoto shook his head. "I'm fine. I just need to rest for a few minutes before I get up. I'll be fine. Not that you should care."

Yuichiro blinked.

"What are you, stupid?" Makoto growled. "Go get the stick-light!"

Yuichiro's pulse quickened. Makoto was right. With the beta out of the game, Yuichiro could easily win. All he needed to do was push past the bush and climb the small distance between them and the top of the mountain…

He studied Makoto's face carefully. The beta was looking at him stubbornly, but Yuichiro could see how pale the boy really was. He needed medical attention, A.S.A.P.

Yuichiro readjusted his gun across his back and grabbed Makoto's arm. He ignored his protests as he slid closer and grabbed the beta by the waist, pulling them both up to their feet.

"What are you doing?" Makoto hissed.

"I'm helping you down the mountain," Yuichiro said stiffly.

"You'll lose!" Makoto frowned. He stepped on his injured foot and cried out.

"Careful!"

"Why are you helping me?" Makoto said through gritted teeth. "Why don't you just go get the prize?"

"Because you need help. Because you're my teammate, and we're supposed to look out for each other."

That silenced Makoto for a while. They continued down the mountain. Yuichiro watched as the other trainees climbed in the opposite direction and how, inevitably, they all stopped and stood up once they heard a cry of victory from the very top. Yuichiro swallowed thickly, but kept his hold tight on Makoto's waist.

"…you're so strange," he heard the beta murmur from his side. Yuichiro couldn't help but smile a little.

"I know."

The squad leaders ran to them once they reached the bottom of the mountain, crowding around Makoto as Yuichiro set him on the ground. The medic came in a flurry of bandages and Yuichiro watched from the side as one of the alphas carried the beta back to the camp.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned around, meeting Mikaela's eyes in the dark. His white uniform shone in the moonlight.

"Well done, soldier," he said softly, lowering his hand.

Yuichiro felt his face warm up and was thankful for the scant light of the night. "Thank you, sir," he mumbled.

 He didn't see any tension in the alpha's smile as he turned and walked away.

 

.x.

 

"Repeat every direction after me! I don't want anyone moving without my direct order!"

Yuichiro nodded along with the other six trainees. They all stood in a line at the shooting range, earplugs in their ears and cartridges in hand. Rene's voice was muffled, but Yuichiro could still hear him somewhat.

"Remember- never cross the line! Now repeat after me. Gun sixty degrees in the air!"

Yuichiro repeated the order, raising his gun.

"Check your gunlock!"

Heart beating in his chest, Yuichiro turned ever so slightly and checked that his lock was still on 'safety'.

"Five fingers on the handle!"

Yuichiro tightened his grip.

"Load your guns!"

Yuichiro repeated the order. He then quickly pushed the cartridge in and switched the lock to 'semi'. They'd been warned never to change it to 'auto'- Rene told horror stories of trainees who made the mistake and in their panic turned around while their gun shot every one of its bullets, injuring the soldiers around them. Yuichiro swallowed thickly and pulled back the charging handle. With one pull of the trigger, it would be ready to—

"Fire!"

Yuichiro looked through the sight of the gun and once it found its target, he pulled the trigger. He held the gun steady as it shot, the sound ringing in his ears even with the small yellow plugs in. He could hear his pulse as he was told to fire again and again.

"Cease your fire! Proceed to crouching position!"

Yuichiro took a deep breath, switched the lock to 'safety' and did as he was told. There were three positions to shoot from- standing, crouching and lying down on your stomach. He preferred standing, as the crouching hurt his legs and the lying was heavy on his arms, but they had to shoot five bullets in each position.

He gave a start when he felt two hands on his shoulders. It was a good thing his gun was locked. He looked to his side in confusion as he felt someone sidle up against his back and whisper in his ear.

It was Lacus.

"Here," the alpha said, holding Yuichiro's shoulder in one hand as he guided Yuichiro's arm with another. "You have to hold it like this. There you go."

Yuichiro's cheeks flamed.  The alpha's hands felt heavy. He knew that the squad leaders were supposed to help them and correct their hold, but the hands that now lingered on the small of his back felt a little off.

He was saved by Rene, who shouted for everyone to stop. Lacus quickly pulled away and Yuichiro lowered his gun, pulling out his earplugs as he looked around, wondering what had caused Rene to shout.

The alpha was crouched next to Aiko, whose eyes were red. She sat on the floor with her gun on the ground, her chest heaving as she cried.

"I can't… I can't…!"

Everyone watched silently as Lacus led her out of the range. Shinoa was the first to raise her hand.

"What happened to Aiko, sir?"

Rene sighed.

"It's nothing for any of you to worry about. Aihara is suffering from a case of shock, which is common enough for people shooting for the first time. Even with the earplugs, the sound can be a little overwhelming…"

Rene trailed off. At everyone's questioning looks, he cleared his throat.

"She'll be fine. Resume your formation on the line and put your earplugs back in. We'll complete this round without her."

Yuichiro did as he was told. They finished their round as promised. Yuichiro felt a little guilty for the relief he felt at Aiko's breakdown. Had she not started to cry, Lacus would probably still be there, his warm hands still on his back…

He shook his head. He was probably just imagining things.

Chapter Text

"On your marks—"

Yuichiro took a deep breath. He could do this.

"Get set—"

There was literally no way he could botch this up.

"Go!"

Yuichiro ran. They were a small group, a mix of the six squads. The only other person from Lacus's squad who was with him was Makoto, and somehow, Yuichiro didn't mind that. They'd hardly stopped teasing and taunting each other since that night on the mountain during field training, but their jabs had lost their maliciousness, somehow. Makoto refused to admit that he owed anything to Yuichiro, and that was perfectly fine with him since the last thing he needed in his life was another awkward relationship.

Yuichiro's foot bumped into a loose peg on the ground and he staggered forward, almost losing his balance. He stayed upright, thankfully, and continued to run with a throbbing toe.

"Stop daydreaming," Makoto snapped from his right, never diverting his gaze from the finish line. "You're going to fall for real next time."

Yuichiro licked his lips absently. They were cracked and salty from sweat. It stung.

"Speaking from experience?"

Makoto huffed and quickened his pace, running a little faster with his back to Yuichiro. "Shut up."

Yuichiro would have snickered, but he was just a bit too out of breath for unnecessary gloating. He'd already made plenty of jokes about Makoto's self-proclaimed 'twisted ankle'. A quick look from the medic and that was ruled out. He'd bruised it enough to earn him bed rest in the tent for three days, but Makoto had been in tip-top shape by the time they started their final exams, two weeks later.

In all honesty, it was a little unfair that he could still run faster than Yuichiro. Bed rest and a higher score? Justice was truly blind, and not in the poetic way.

The running track passed through the middle of the trainee's mini-base. All around them were other small groups being tested on other skills they'd learned during basic training. Yuichiro's group had to run the track ten times in under twenty minutes, and that gave him enough time to look about, despite Makoto's nagging.

There was Shinoa, practicing her first aid with a pretty alpha from Rene's squad. Yuichiro couldn't help but grin, stretching his poor lips and making them burn. He was glad his friend had a better partner. She truly had a talent for medicine, but if she'd been paired up with him again, she'd never have a chance at the perfect score she deserved.

On the left there was an even smaller group, fiddling with the radio. That was supposedly the easiest exam and Yuichiro still felt embarrassed over how long it took him to put back the battery. It wasn't his fault that it chose his turn to get stuck! Makoto, the bastard, had laughed for a full minute.

Yuichiro could see Mito sitting in a half circle, calmly cleaning her gun with her group. The different parts were set in front of her and she wiped them all nonchalantly with the little piece of fabric they'd been given. Yuichiro was a little nervous about it. The cleaning part was fine, but remembering which part to take out first and what goes where took more concentration than his interest could afford. He wasn't planning on getting a very good score on that.

Last but not least were Aiko and Shigure. Their group was sitting beneath a tree and if Yuichiro hadn't known any better, he would've hightailed it in the other direction. They were all in various stages of putting on a gas mask.

Biological warfare was a real possibility, or so Mikaela had assured the platoon during his lesson. Alphas were known for their aggression and betas for their ingenuity, after all. What was there to stop them from collaborating in a neighboring country and coming to a mutual decision to invade? Who was to say that they would be using only guns and explosives?

Yuichiro had been a little unsettled after that lesson. The retired betas he'd spoken to as a kid never mentioned anything more complex than a gun wound. To think that he could potentially survive a bombing, only to succumb to germs was…alarming, to say the least. He had to resist the urge to go over to Mikaela at the end of the lesson and ask if they were really expecting anything to happen.

He sought comfort for a different alpha instead. Unfortunately, Shinoa didn't have any answers herself.

The only thing that Yuichiro could soothe himself with was the knowledge that he'd get a mask if the world ended. He was the first one to master putting it on under thirty seconds in his squad, which was a first. It made him feel safe.

"Ryuu!"

Yuichiro snapped back into focus, but it was too late. The peg was still on the ground and he tripped over it again. Only this time, he fell flat on his face.

"Ugh", he mumbled under his breath. He tasted blood- his lips had finally given in. Just great.

"I told you to pay attention," Makoto huffed. Yuichiro blinked and looked up. The beta was standing in front of him, chest visibly rising and falling. Makoto was offering him his hand.

For a minute there, Yuichiro didn't know what to make of it.

The beta shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He looked a little uncomfortable. "Well, c'mon, I don't have all day. Pull yourself together."

Yuichiro shrugged and took the hand, allowing himself to be tugged up and back onto his feet. He immediately wiped his hands on the back of his running shorts.

"Your hands are sweaty," he complained, lips painfully stretched in a smirk.

Makoto rolled his eyes. He turned around and resumed his running. Yuichiro followed.

"Don't tell me you're going soft!" Yuichiro yelled at Makoto's back.

"Wouldn't dream of it!"

Yuichiro was the last to finish, but that hardly mattered. He ran the ten laps under twenty minutes and was proud of himself. The fact that Makoto had botched his chance at a perfect score just to help him back up to his feet…

He could be wrong, but Yuichiro decided that he'd made another friend.

 

.x.

 

The last exam was over and Yuichiro felt he could collapse, which he promptly did once he found a shady area. He took a long sip from his canteen and closed his eyes, lying back on the ground. His arms and legs were all over, but he couldn't care less. There was no one to see him.

Most of the other trainees were walking over to the rec hall for lunch. As it was the last day before their swearing-in ceremony, discipline was lax. The rest of the day was more or less free and for once, Yuichiro couldn't even stomach the idea of food. He could definitely do with a nap, though.

"Amane?"

Yuichiro's eyes flashed open. Lacus was standing in front of him, brows raised. Yuichiro quickly scrambled to his feet, face red. So much for no one around to see him.

"Why aren't you going to eat?"

Yuichiro shrugged. "I'm not hungry, sir."

He thought he'd be berated and forced to go. The military was surprisingly strict about food. A beta from another squad once refused to eat during lunch and his squad leader had sat down next to him for two hours with a full plate until he agreed to polish it off.

To his surprise, Lacus only shook his head and looked around. Yuichiro didn't dare say anything and kept his head down, wiping off the dirt from his shirt.

Lacus cleared his throat and Yuichiro looked up. The alpha's face was blank.

"I need you to stop by my office during your free hour tonight. You'll get extra time to make up for it."

Yuichiro's pulse quickened.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked. There was a nervous lilt in his voice and he hated it. "Did I do something?"

Was this it? Did they find out he was an imposter? If so, wouldn't he be summoned to Mikaela's office? Maybe… maybe it had nothing to do with his type. Maybe his test scores were so awful that he'd have to repeat basic training. Was that even possible?

"No, there's nothing wrong, Amane. I just need to talk to you about something. You aren't in trouble, for once."

Yuichiro's eyes widened. Lacus was smiling. He didn't think he had the capability to do so!

"I, um, okay. I mean- yes, sir."

Lacus nodded and raised his hand, patting Yuichiro on the shoulder as he turned to go.

Yuichiro watched the alpha as he made his way to the squad leaders' housing.

What on earth was that all about?

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro watched as Makoto took off his shoes and slipped on his flip-flops.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" the beta asked, standing up from his bed and grabbing his towel. "If you don't hurry, you're going to be the last in line. If you think I'm gonna wait for your scrawny ass-"

"You can go ahead," Yuichiro cut him off, stretching his arms over his head. "I'll shower later."

Makoto studied him for a moment before shrugging. "Whatever."

Yuichiro closed his eyes and heard the tent's flap rustle as the beta left. At the moment, there was nothing that he wanted more than to join Makoto and wash off all the sweat and grime, but he had to go soon. At least, that's what he figured. Lacus hadn't set a specific time…

"Ryuu? Are you okay?"

Shinoa was standing in front of him when Yuichiro opened his eyes. Her hair was wet and her t-shirt stuck to her stomach. She packed her little blue basket with toiletries into her bag and slung her towel over her shoulders as she sat down on her bed opposite him.

He offered her a tired smile.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"I dunno," she said slowly, frowning as she looked him over. "You look a little out of it. Why aren't you showering? Free time's almost over, y'know."

Yuichiro sighed. "Yeah, I know. I guess I'm just a little worried, is all."

"Wanna talk about it?"

Yuichiro shrugged. "It isn't a big deal. Lacus wants me to go to his office now and… I'm not sure what he wants."

Shinoa's worried face broke into a large grin.

"You should've told me sooner! I could have saved you a bunch of internal turmoil. It's just like you to be worried over something like that, heh."

Yuichiro raised his brows. "What are you talking about?"

"Lacus has been taking us all aside over the past few days to talk to us. Sort of a personal evaluation or whatever. You really haven't noticed?"

Frowning, Yuichiro thought over the last week. Now that he thought about it, there were certain group activities and lectures that his teammates were absent from. Was that where they'd gone?

"Are… are you sure?"

"Yeah!" Shinoa waved her hand dismissively. She wrapped her towel around her head, squeezing her hair dry as she spoke. "He just asks you questions about your experience and stuff like that. Ten minutes and you're done."

Yuichiro felt his whole body relax, as if he'd been holding his breath the whole day and was finally allowed to release it. He mirrored Shinoa's grin.

"Oh. Okay. Good. I should probably go to him, then…"

Shinoa nodded. "Tell me how it went!"

"Will do!" Yuichiro called out over his shoulder as he stood up and walked out of the tent. His back felt so light without the usual presence of the gun- they'd given them back to the armory the day before. He didn't miss it at all.

The way to the commanders' offices was unfortunately familiar, and Yuichiro soon found himself standing in front of Lacus's door. He'd passed Mikaela's earlier on his way in. He'd lingered there, toying with the idea of going in, but quickly pushed it aside and continued down the hall.

He'd think about the alpha and what was going on between them after his talk with Lacus.

Yuichiro knocked and carefully opened the door, poking in his head.

"Hello?"

Lacus was standing next to a shelf, studying a photograph on the wall.  He turned around and smiled.

"Amane. Come in and take a seat."

Yuichiro walked in and closed the door behind him, taking a seat on a couch. The office was really more like a common room for all of the squad leaders. There weren't any desks and the hardest surface was a low coffee table in the middle of the room. It was rather informal and Yuichiro relaxed against the pillows.

He realized with a jolt that it had been months since he'd last sat on something so comfortable.

Lacus walked across the room and sat down on the couch next to him, leaning against the armrest. He carried a clipboard and gave it a brief look before looking up and meeting Yuichiro's gaze.

"I'm glad you came, Ryuu. I thought you'd forgotten."

Yuichiro's eyes widened a little. Lacus had never called him by his name before.

"No! I didn't forget. I just, um, well—"

To his astonishment, Lacus chuckled.

"It's okay, you don't have to explain yourself to me. You're here now, and that's what's important."

Yuichiro looked down at his knees, flustered. He wasn't used to this kind of talk from his squad leader. Where was his sharp tongue? Where were his frustrated sighs?

"If you say so, sir."

"There's no need for you to be so formal. You're swearing in tomorrow. You can call me Lacus."

"…Okay."

Yuichiro didn't know what to do with his hands, and he eventually settled them at his sides. He wondered if Lacus had spoken this way with his teammates. Were they as uncomfortable with it as he was?

"Now, Ryuu. I have a few questions for you. Try to answer as honestly as possible, alright?"

Yuichiro nodded.

"Great. First question. Do you feel that you're familiar with the military's structure and behavior code?"

That wasn't too hard. "Yeah. We learned a lot about it during class. You'd have to be pretty thick not to get it."

Lacus flashed him a smirk before continuing.

"Do you feel that we missed something in our curriculum? If so, what do you think we should add or elaborate on?"

Yuichiro thought about it for a moment.

"I think we should have focused more on self-defense. It's a little ridiculous that I'm finishing basic training and I'm going to be a soldier in the military without knowing how to defend myself if someone attacks me."

Lacus nodded and wrote something down on his board.

"There's something to what you're saying, but you've got to remember that this is 02 training, Ryuu. You aren't going to be combat soldiers, you know."

Yuichiro frowned. "I know that, but that doesn't mean that I can't be attacked. What am I supposed to do if that happens? No one taught us what to do."

"What exactly do you think you're going to be assigned to do that you're going to be attacked?" Lacus pressed, sounding a little too amused in Yuichiro's opinion.

"…I don't know."

"Let me rephrase that, then," Lacus said slowly, setting down the clipboard and looking at Yuichiro with a serious expression. "What would you like to do?"

Yuichiro tilted his head. "I have a choice?"

"Well…" Lacus shifted in his seat. He reached out and rested his palm on Yuichiro's thigh. "That depends."

Yuichiro's breath hitched. He couldn't move, not even when the hand squeezed. Lacus rubbed his thumb over the seam of Yuichiro's uniform pants.

This can't be happening. That can't be my squad leader's hand on my thigh- oh my god.

Lacus stood up and took a step toward him, his hand never leaving Yuichiro's thigh. He leaned down and placed his other hand on Yuichiro's shoulder, tilting his head to whisper in Yuichiro's ear.

"Think about it," he said softly. His breath was hot. "Do you really want to be stuck as some custodian? A secretary? A word from me, and you can be so much more…"

Yuichiro's heart was beating wildly in his chest. What was going on? Did Lacus know that he was an omega? Why was he doing this? Was he just attracted to him? Did this happen with everyone else? Had he said something to make the alpha think he was interested? Why…?

"Well?" Lacus's hand on his thigh delved down, cupping his crotch and gently squeezing. His tongue was painting a line up his neck. Yuichiro could feel the alpha's fangs against his skin.

Reason finally kicked in and Yuichiro abruptly stood up, forcing the alpha a few steps back. His face burned, but he crossed his hands against his chest in determination.

"No," he said firmly, meeting Lacus's gaze. "Sorry, but I'm not interested."

Lacus looked a little shocked and Yuichiro used the opportunity to gather himself and walk toward the door. He never made it, though. Lacus recovered from his rejection sooner than he'd thought and he was currently looming over him, pressing Yuichiro up against the wall. His thigh was pressed between Yuichiro's legs, pushing them apart. The alpha's hands were placed threateningly on the wall on either side of Yuichiro's head.

"Don't be hasty," he said, rolling his thigh up and pressing it against Yuichiro's groin. Yuichiro sucked in his breath. The scent of alpha was overwhelming. If he didn't move soon, he wouldn't be surprised if his slick kicked in. It'd been so long…

"I'm not interested," Yuichiro tried again, mustering his will and looking Lacus in the eye. "Please let me go."

"I'm going to have to disagree with you," Lacus murmured huskily. "This part of you certainly does." He rolled his thigh again, pressing even harder this time. Yuichiro gasped.

"C'mon. Don't let your stuck-up beta sensibilities get in the way of your career. I can help you, Ryuu. Let me take care of you."

Yuichiro shut his eyes tight as Lacus lowered his head and grazed his neck with his teeth. Yuichiro's pulse was thundering in his ears.

He had to get out of this while he still could. Lacus still thought he was a beta. Yuichiro pressed his body forward, but the alpha didn't budge. If anything, he accidently rubbed against Lacus and he had to bite back a moan.

"Please," Yuichiro grit out. He raised his hands to Lacus's shoulders, trying to push him away. "If you let me go now, I promise I won't tell anyone."

Even Mikaela. Especially not Mikaela. The alpha hadn't minded that Yuichiro had spent his heat with another before they met, but he wasn't so sure if Mikaela would be so forgiving if he was fucked while they were still technically mated.

Lacus pulled away from his neck long enough for Yuichiro to see his eyes darken.

"No one would believe you. Who do they think they'll listen to?" He lowered one of his hands, delving between Yuichiro's back and the wall and cupped Yuichiro's ass with his palm.

"If they ask me, I'll be happy to tell them how you came on to me, begging for my help," Lacus hissed in Yuichiro's ear. "They'll want to know just how you threw yourself at me."

Feeling completely and utterly trapped, Yuichiro did the only thing he could. He leaned forward and stepped on Lacus's foot as hard as he could.

The alpha cried out and took a step back. That was enough for Yuichiro- he bolted out of the room. He didn't stop running until he reached the tent.

His throat was dry and he took a moment to compose himself. Yuichiro straightened out his clothes and took a deep breath before pushing through the flap. Everyone looked at him when he walked in.

"Ryuu?" Shinoa called out. Her head peeked from beneath her blanket. "You okay?"

Yuichiro nodded mutely. He walked over to his own bed and yanked off his shoes. He ignored the alpha's questions as he lay down on top of his sleeping bag. He closed his eyes.

Somehow, he didn't think Lacus would cover for him if he went and showered now. He'd have to wake up in the middle of the night again.

Yuichiro curled into a ball and bit his lips. They still hurt.

At least he didn't kiss me…

 

.x.

 

"Aiko Aihara!"

"Yes, sir!"

Yuichiro watched as Aiko ran over to Lacus. He stood next to Mikaela with the Treaty of Accord in his hands. Aiko saluted them both.

"Do you swear to dedicate your life to your country?" he offered her the document.

Aiko raised her left hand to her breast and placed her right hand on the document. In a loud, clear voice she said, "I do".

She shook both of the alphas' hands before returning to her place in the formation. There were tears in her eyes, and Yuichiro wished he could share her excitement. Lacus had forcefully taken it away from him.

"Ryuu Amane!"

Yuichiro took a deep breath.

"Yes, sir!"

It pained him to run over and salute. Nevertheless, he maintained a smile as he was sworn into the military over the document the betas and alphas had signed decades before to create the twisted reality he lived in.

He hesitated for a moment before taking Lacus's hand and shaking it. He refused to meet the squad leader's eyes and pulled away the moment he could. Mikaela's touch was warm.

"You have a lot to be proud of, Ryuu," Mikaela said softly as they shook hands. Their fingers remained interlocked for a long moment.

"Thank you," Yuichiro whispered, not quite meeting Mikaela's gaze as well. He pulled his hand away and made his way back to the formation.

He could practically feel Mikaela's eyes on his back, but Yuichiro resisted the temptation to look back when he took his place. He stared forward blindly, deaf to the rest of the ceremony.

I'm worthless, he thought dully as the next name was called. He'd always seen Lacus's helpful advice and encouragement as an extension of his squad leader's belief in him and his abilities. He should've known his interest was far from innocent.

In the end, they all wanted the same thing. All of them. Shiho, Mikaela, Lacus… The only thing he was good for was sex. It didn't matter if he was an omega or a beta. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he tried to prove himself… none of it mattered.

Yuichiro started to tear up, but his tears weren't the tears of joy his teammates were shedding.

Maybe the Board was right.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro watched as Mikaela was handed a large manila envelope.

"Once I call your name, you will approach me and be handed a letter containing your assignment. Tonight will be your last night as trainees."

Hands sweating behind his back, Yuichiro pointedly ignored the squad commanders standing at Mikaela's side. He was thankful that they weren't the ones to hand out the assignments. It would have been mortifying to have Lacus hand him a lousy assignment with a smug 'I told you so' smile on his face.

Either way, his assignment didn't matter much. Yuichiro had no doubt in his mind that once everyone left, Mikaela would reclaim him. Their little game was over. Yuichiro had yet to admit to being the omega Mikaela had mated, but that hardly mattered. His identity was obvious to anyone who bothered looking. Soon enough he'd be tied down to Mikaela's bed and knotted to the alpha's content.

Yuichiro couldn't bring himself to care.

He spaced out as the other trainees were called one by one and handed a white envelope by Mikaela. No one was allowed to open their envelope until everyone received their assignment, and as such there was a lot of fidgeting and nervous smiles abound. It was only when Yuichiro's squad was addressed that he decided to pay attention.

Aiko went first, as always. She looked relieved as she returned to the formation, clutching her envelope in hand. It was a little wrinkled by the time she stood in her place, feet pressed tightly against each other in attention.

"Ryuu Amane!"

Yuichiro automatically walked forward, approaching the alpha with nonchalance he'd never thought himself capable of possessing in Mikaela's presence. Mikaela's face remained professionally blank as always while in front of an audience, but when Yuichiro looked up, there was something warm in his ice-blue gaze.

Quickly looking away, Yuichiro took the envelope handed to him and returned to his spot. He watched as Shinoa, Mito, Makoto and Shigure received their assignments as well. Yuichiro hoped they got something good. His squad deserved it.

"Congratulations," Mikaela said grandly, allowing himself a rare smile. "You've all worked hard. You may open your letters."

There was a large ripping sound as the trainees opened their envelopes in excitement, extracting the letter that stated their assignment and the location of their new appointment. The ripping was soon following by disappointed groans and cries of delight.

Yuichiro looked down at his envelope. He was curious, of course, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to open it and discover what assignment he'd never be able to do.

"You've gotta be kidding me," Shinoa hissed. She walked over to Yuichiro and waved her letter in his face. "They want me to be Goshi's assistant! Me! Why on earth would he want me back? We never got along!"

That had Yuichiro's lips turn up in amusement.

"What, seriously?" He took Shinoa's letter and looked at it. Indeed, there was Goshi's name, black on white. "This is priceless."

Shinoa huffed. "Well, I refuse to believe you did any better. What did you get? Janitor?"

"I don't know," Yuichiro shrugged.  "I haven't opened my letter yet."

"What? Why?" Shinoa frowned. Before Yuichiro could stop her, she grabbed his envelope from his hand and tore it open. Yuichiro didn't bother trying to retrieve it- once Shinoa got her hands on something, the only way to get it back was when she was done with it.

"…at least you'll never go hungry," she said in the end, handing him the letter. Yuichiro took it and quickly searched for his job description.

"Canteen clerk?"

"Me too!"

Yuichiro turned to see Makoto approaching him. He didn't look too pleased.

"I can't believe they want me to stand behind a counter and sell candy! I'm better than that!"

Yuichiro nodded. Makoto was right- there was so much more he could do. To assign him to the canteen was an insult to his excellent scores.

"Where is your canteen located?" Makoto asked. Yuichiro studied his letter once more.

"I'm assigned to the main canteen in this base," he said dully. Not that it really mattered, anyway. He wouldn't be spending much time there, if at all.

Makoto swore. "Not only am I a fucking canteen clerk, I also have to spend the rest of my service with you."

Yuichiro couldn't help but snort. "I'm not thrilled either. Imagine having to see your face every day!"

"Oh, stop it you two. Don't you see? This is a sign! You were meant to be," Shinoa sang, clapping her hands.

"Not fucking likely," Makoto muttered under his breath. He walked away.

Yuichiro wasn't too worried about him. If anything, he felt a little guilty. Makoto was probably relieved that he'd have a friend with him in his new assignment, but he'd soon find out that Yuichiro wasn't a permanent fixture at all. He'd be left alone to deal with the hungry alphas.

"Why the sad face?" Shinoa crooned, tucking a strand of brown hair behind Yuichiro's ear. "Are you going to miss me?"

Yuichiro blinked.

"Yes," he said plainly. He hadn't thought about it before, but Mikaela was unlikely to allow him to see his friends again. Yuichiro wouldn't be under the influence of the suppressants any longer and Mikaela would probably be hesitant about him seeing anyone who could potentially rat them out.

Was this his last day with Shinoa?

Shinoa looked taken aback at Yuichiro's honesty. She furrowed her brows for a moment before taking both of Yuichiro's hands in her own and holding them tightly.

"Don't look at me like that," she said sternly. "Did you think I was going to just go off and abandon you? Honestly, Ryuu."

Yuichiro shook his head. "No, but-"

"No 'buts'," Shinoa cut him off. "We're still going to be in the same base, remember? I'll come over every day. Where else can I run off to when Goshi'll start to talk to me like he's my boss?"

Yuichiro chuckled. "He is going to be your boss, though."

"That's beside the point," Shinoa shook her head. "The point is that I'll remain the ever-annoying presence in your life as I am today."

"Wonderful."

"That's the spirit!" Shinoa grinned and let go of Yuichiro's hands. "Now c'mon! Let's go see what the others got!"

Yuichiro allowed himself to be tugged along as they went one by one, exclaiming over plumb assignments and comforting those who didn't get what they wished for. He tried to be as involved as he could, but he couldn't help but feel that he was being watched.

Finally gathering his courage, Yuichiro looked over his shoulder. Two blue eyes met his and held his gaze for a long moment before Yuichiro tore away and looked back at Shinoa.

He could still feel those eyes on his back.

 

.x.

 

The next morning they woke up at four AM. Everyone spent three hours cleaning their tents, the bathrooms and the courtyard before they were gathered. Bags packed and excitement in the air, Mikaela addressed them all for the last time.

"Today is the first day of your assignment. Those that were assigned to this base shall leave after breakfast. Those that have been assigned to another base will now board the buses waiting for you outside of the gate. Breakfast will be waiting for you at your new bases. Good luck!"

Breakfast was a quiet affair. Yuichiro's table felt empty without Shigure and Aiko. Shinoa tried to fill the silence and engage Mito in conversation, but the redhead only answered her questions with clipped 'no's and 'yes's.

She's going to have to work on communication if she wants to be a good shooting instructor, Yuichiro thought absently.

"So, Ryuu and Makoto! Are you guys excited?"

Both Yuichiro and Makoto shrugged.

"I just hope the canteen manager is decent," Makoto mumbled. He wasn't a morning person, and his eyes were barely open. Even his ponytail was a little drooped.

Yuichiro rolled his eyes. "You better wake up before we get there."

"Oh, shut up," Makoto shot him a glare. "I can't deal with you so early in the morning."

Mito sipped her coffee in silence.

They finished by nine and gathered their bags. Yuichiro looked over at his tent one last time as they passed it on their way to the gate. He felt a pang in his chest. There would be no more late nights chatting and joking with his squad after lights-out. There would be no more contests to win, no teamwork to work on. He probably wasn't going to hold a gun ever again.

No great loss there, he thought and took a deep breath. Nevertheless, he was going to miss his limited military experience.

"Hurry up," Makoto said impatiently. "We're gonna be late if you keep daydreaming."

Yuichiro opened his mouth to reply when a hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned around.

"Hello," Mikaela said softly.

Yuichiro's heart sank. This was it. He knew it was coming. He hadn't thought it would be this early, though. He'd figured Mikaela would give him a few days on the job before swooping in and claiming him.

He wasn't ready.

"Hello," Makoto answered uncertainly when Yuichiro didn't respond. He looked a little confused.

Mikaela cleared his throat. "I see you're leaving. Do you have everything packed?"

Yuichiro nodded mutely. So did Makoto.

"Excellent," Mikaela smiled. "Do you boys need help finding the canteen?"

Yuichiro frowned. Of course Mikaela would have known his assignment. The only question was why he was offering to guide him to it. Wasn't he supposed to be taking him away in the other direction?

"No," Yuichiro said firmly. "We've passed it before. I'm sure we can find it on our own."

Mikaela nodded. "Alright, then. I wish you both good luck."

And with that, he turned and walked away, leaving Yuichiro to exchange a confused look with Makoto. What had all of that been about?

Was this Mikaela's way of saying that he wasn't interested anymore?

 

.x.

 

"Hi there! You must be Ryuu and Makoto!"

Yuichiro looked at the beta cautiously. He looked a little too cheerful for someone in the military service. Maybe he was so glad to see them because he desperately needed manpower?

"Come in," the beta said pleasantly as Yuichiro and Makoto nodded. He stepped aside and allowed them to enter the canteen before locking the door behind them. If that wasn't a little ominous, Yuichiro didn't know what was.

"Gotta lock it, or else people will be walking in here whenever they want," the beta dangled the keys and set them down on the counter. "They don't always realize we can't be open 24/7."

When neither Yuichiro nor Makoto answered, the beta chuckled.

"I'm sorry. Where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Shinya, and I'm your officer. You'll soon discover that I'm easy to work with, as long as you don't cause trouble. Listen to me, and I'll listen to you. Understood?"

"Yes, sir," Yuichiro and Makoto said automatically. Shinya clicked his tongue.

"No need for that anymore. You aren't in basic training. Call me Shinya. Now, let's get you two settled, shall we?"

Shinya led them to a set of rooms above the canteen. He chatted at them as they were showed into a small room with two bunkbeds. Both of the bottom bunks were taken.

"That's where Chess and Shusaku sleep. They're both at breakfast right now, but you'll meet them soon enough. They'll teach you all there is to working at the canteen," Shinya hummed. "The canteen opens at ten, so you have some time to set yourselves up. I'm downstairs if you need anything."

Yuichiro and Makoto watched as Shinya walked away and closed the door after him. They looked at each other for a long moment.

"Well? What do you think?" Yuichiro asked, sitting down on one of the beds. Makoto sat down as well.

"I think that guy is creepy as fuck. Who dyes their hair silver? And what kind of name is Chess?

Yuichiro smirked. "It must be a nickname. I can't believe someone would name their child after a game."

They spoke for a bit as they each claimed a top bunk, making their beds and arranging their things in cabinets. Yuichiro was about to venture out of the room and find the bathroom when the door opened and two betas walked in.

The girl had vivid blue hair that made Shinya's choice of color look tame. The boy who followed her sported a darker shade of Shinoa's purple.

Why on earth does everyone color their hair? Is this their way of exhibiting individuality in a place where everyone wears the same clothes?

"Oh! It’s the new guys!" the girl exclaimed. She walked over to her bed and quickly looked it over. "I hope you didn't touch anything."

Taken aback, Yuichiro shook his head. "No, we haven't."

The girl's expression softened and she walked over to the boy. "Good. My name is Chess, and this is Shusaku. He's a little shy."

The boy, Shusaku, shook his head and pried Chess's hands off of his arm. He approached Yuichiro and extended his hand.

"Don't mind Chess, she's a bit possessive. It's nice to meet you. What's your name?"

Yuichiro smiled. "It's nice to meet you too. My name is Ryuu, and this-" he nodded at Makoto, "is Makoto."

Shusaku made his way across the room to Makoto and shook his hand as well. Their hands remained clasped for a moment longer than necessary before Shusaku pulled away. He looked a little flustered.

"Ooh, Shusaku's made a new friend!" Chess grinned. "I guess that leaves you and me, Ryuu."

Yuichiro raised a brow in Makoto's direction. He avoided his gaze. Well, they certainly had something to talk about later.

"Thanks, but I'm spoken for," Yuichiro said. Chess puffed out her cheeks and huffed, but before she could continue, Shusaku cleared his throat and cut her off.

"Come, let's go down to the canteen. We'll show you how everything works," he said cheerfully, walking out the door. "It's pretty easy!"

Yuichiro and Makoto followed him, while Chess opted to sulk in the room. That suited Yuichiro fine- he wasn't quite sure what to do with her. He was far more interested in watching Makoto and Shusaku bump into each other on the stairs and see their cheeks flush in unison.

Maybe Makoto wouldn't be miserable once Yuichiro left. If Yuichiro ever left, that is.

Did he want to stay? Did he have the choice?

 

.x.

 

The first two weeks passed by quickly. Learning how to multitask was the most difficult thing about working in the canteen. Yuichiro only had to watch Shusaku a few times before asking to try it out himself. How hard could fetching a sweet from the shelf and returning the change be?

He was partially right. The work itself wasn't difficult, but controlling the alphas was. The soldiers kept pushing past the betas in line and demanded service, immediately. Chess managed them by flirting and Shusaku ignored their taunting, but Yuichiro was having a hard time going with the flow.

"Why don't you say something to Shinya? You don't have to serve them if they're rude to you," he confronted Shusaku one day as he went out back to fetch something from the storage. Shusaku shrugged.

"Shinya says that we need to learn how to deal with them ourselves. He can't be here all the time, y'know," Shusaku said tiredly. "It's just how it is."

Yuichiro didn't like it one bit and by the looks of it, neither did Matoko. Matoko tried yelling a few times, but he was always put down by one of the alphas. It was only when Shinya walked in that everyone behaved themselves.

In short, the workday was mind-numbing and exhausting. Yuichiro wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, though.

For one, his workplace allowed him to see Shinoa every day. True to her word, she'd stop by for a few minutes each day in between chores. Makoto would take over at the counter and Yuichiro would sit down with her at one of the tables and share a smoothie as she described her days with Goshi. She tended to exaggerate, but Yuichiro could tell by the smile on her face that she wasn't actually suffering.

He discovered the second reason he valued his assignment on his fourth day. He'd been helping Shinya in the storage room when he stumbled across a small box. Curious, he opened it to find a bunch of little botxes, all identical to the almost empty box in his bag.

"Ah, yes. The suppressants," Shinya said over his shoulder, making Yuichiro jump. He dropped the box. Thankfully, only a few bottles fell out. He quickly bent down and picked them up, setting them back in the box.

"What are they for?" Yuichiro asked. He wanted to be sure that they were the right kind.

"They were originally made for alpha soldiers to suppress their scent in captivity. There are shots that they take now before they go into battle that do the same thing for a longer period of time, so these pills are more or less obsolete. We don't carry them anymore."

Panicking, Yuichiro had later on that night taken as many bottles as he could afford and left the money in the register. He had just about enough for six months. If he hadn't been assigned to the canteen, he wasn't sure where he would have gotten the suppressants. They were permanently off the shelves.

Only, he wasn't sure if he'd need them for that long. Or would he?

Mikaela hadn't made an appearance since the first day of their new assignments, when he'd offered to show Yuichiro and Makoto the way to the canteen. Yuichiro kept waiting for a glimpse of blond amidst the alphas that crowded the counter, but he never even got a whiff of Mikaela's scent.

Yuichiro didn't know if he was relieved or not.

Did Mikaela's absence mean that he'd lost all interest? Did Yuichiro want him to lose interest? It was probably for the best. That way, he could bid his time and find out a way to run as far away as he could from the Board. He wouldn't be tied down by any alpha's will.

On the other hand, the notion of Mikaela's rejection wounded Yuichiro more than he was willing to admit. He'd been so sure that Mikaela wanted him, that he would claim him after basic training. But here he was, passing out cookies and glaring at strange alphas that leaned too close over the counter.

Maybe Mikaela had found out about Lacus. Maybe he didn't want him now that he'd been touched by a different alpha. It hadn't been more than a grope, but maybe that was enough for Mikaela. Or maybe… maybe he found someone else. The Board might have assigned him a new omega. There wouldn't be any reason for him to pursue an unwilling runaway when he had a pliant and fertile omega in his bed.

Suddenly, Makoto and Shusaku's awkward flirting angered him more than anything. Even his conversations with Shinoa weren't as enjoyable.

"Ryuu," Shinoa snapped her fingers in front of his face. "You're spacing out. You haven't listened to a thing I've said, have you?"

Yuichiro shook his head. "I'm sorry. I just feel kinda… out of it."

Shinoa's annoyance turned to worry. "Is everything okay? Did something happen?"

Yuichiro sighed.

"No, nothing happened per say, but lately I-"

"Excuse me?"

Yuichiro's pulse skipped a beat. There was no mistaking the silky voice behind him. Nevertheless, his eyes widened as the alpha entered his line of vision, looking a little out of place in his white uniform among the lower ranking soldiers.

"Oh. Um. What are you doing here?" Yuichiro blurted out, ignoring Shinoa's scandalized gasp. Mikaela, on his part, looked a little relieved.

"I wanted to talk to you," he said slowly, looking around. Everyone was staring. "Is there someplace private we can go?"

Yuichiro swallowed thickly and nodded. He didn't dare meet Shinoa's demanding gaze. He'd have a lot to answer for later on.

He stood up and walked over to the door. Yuichiro didn't check to see if Mikaela followed him as he climbed the stairs to his room, but when he stopped to open the door, Mikaela was right in back of him.

Yuichiro opened  the door and to his relief, no one was in the room. He walked in and waited for the alpha to do the same before closing the door behind them both.

They stood awkwardly in the middle of the room before Yuichiro decided to take things into his hands and sat down on Chess's bed. Mikaela sat down on Shusaku's opposite him.

"So…" Yuichiro trailed off.  "What did you want to talk about?"

Mikaela fiddled with his gloves. He didn't quite meet Yuichiro's eye.

"I wanted to see how you were doing," he said at last.

"I'm fine," Yuichiro said automatically. "Is that it?"

Mikaela pursed his lips.

"That's not a good answer. Are you happy here? Do they treat you well?"

Yuichiro folded his arms across his chest and narrowed his eyes.

"Why are you suddenly so concerned? It's not like you actually care."

"What do you mean?" Mikaela looked like he'd been slapped in the face. "Of course I care about you."

"Is that why you took two weeks to come find me? Did you finally make time for me out of your busy schedule?"

"I wanted you to have time to settle in before I intruded," Mikaela frowned. "Was that wrong?"

Yuichiro blinked.

"…no. I guess not," he said grudgingly. He unwound his arms and set his hands on either side of his thighs. "Really, I'm fine."

"Something felt off about you the last few days of training," Mikaela insisted. He leaned forward, meeting Yuichiro's eyes. "I'm worried about you."

Yuichiro stiffened. Mikaela had noticed, then? If he was asking, that must mean that he didn't know exactly what happened, right?

"You don't need to worry," Yuichiro shrugged. "As I said, I'm fine."

"I find that hard to believe," Mikaela said dryly. He stood up and walked over to Yuichiro, whose eyes widened as the alpha fell to his knees in front of him. His hand was taken and pressed gently against Mikaela's lips.

Yuichiro gasped.

"I'm your alpha, Yuichiro," Mikaela said slowly. "It's my job to take care of you. If something is wrong, I want to make it right."

Yuichiro's heart pounded. How long had it been since he'd been called by his name? It felt a little odd. Like it didn't belong to him anymore.

He pulled his hand out of Mikaela's grasp.

"Yuichiro is dead," he said blandly. "He died in your care. You weren't there when he needed you the most."

Mikaela shot up to his feet in a flash and grabbed Yuichiro's arm, pulling him up as well. His eyes flashed dangerously.

"Do you know how I felt when they told me you died?" he hissed. "Do you know the agony I went through, knowing I'd lost you? Thinking that I didn't protect you, like I promised?"

Every fiber in Yuichiro's body screamed at him to go pliant, to obey the angry alpha who had him in his mercy, but Yuichiro was just as angry. Just as indignant.

"Oh, boo-hoo," he seethed, trying to pry away from Mikaela's hold. The alpha's grip was too tight. He resigned himself to glaring up at the other man.

"So your feelings were hurt. You were sad. Big fucking deal. I would have died if Shiho hadn't saved me. You gave up your right to be my alpha the moment I was sentenced to die. Don't you dare try to act like you care!"

Mikaela's grip tightened. Yuichiro cried out as his other arm was grabbed and he was shoved back down on the bed. Mikaela was immediately on top of him.

"I am your alpha. I will take care of you. I won't fail you again, Yuichiro. You won't have to rely on anyone else."

Yuichiro struggled. "Get off of me!" he yelled, flailing his arms and legs. Here was where his non-existent self-defense skills would have come in handy had he been taught them. "Leave me alone!"

"No. You're coming with me. I won't leave you ever again. I'll always protect you!"

Yuichiro panicked as Mikaela leaned down. His face was inches away from his own. Yuichiro's pulse exhilarated and his breathing was shallow as Mikaela was about to press their lips together. Much to his embarrassment, tears started to form in his eyes.

I don't want this. Not like this.

He closed his eyes, steeling himself for the kiss, but nothing happened. After a moment of complete silence Yuichiro hesitantly opened his eyes, only to see Mikaela looking down at him, stunned.

"…Mikaela?"

At the sound of his name, the alpha snapped out of his shock and quickly sat up. His eyes were still wide and his face was pale. He looked completely horrified.

"I'm sorry, Yuichiro," Mikaela said as he stood up and took a few steps back. "I-I was out of line. I just wanted…" he trailed off. Much to Yuichiro's shock, there were tears in the alpha's eyes as well. He'd never seen him cry before.

"I'll leave you alone," the alpha said firmly before turning around and rushing out of the room. "Please forgive me."

Yuichiro quickly sat up. He didn't try to follow the alpha. He wasn't sure that he wanted to.

Then why did he feel so abandoned?  

Chapter Text

Makoto had given him a strange look when he walked down the stairs. Yuichiro resolutely ignored him, silently offering a prayer of thanks to whatever god that had sent Shinoa away before his return to the canteen. The last thing he wanted was his friend hounding him for answers as to why their Company Commander had sought him out. Yuichiro knew that he'd have to think of something to tell her tomorrow, but for the moment, he needed his space.

Shusaku had inadvertently helped him by distracting Makoto throughout the day. Yuichiro made sure to remain at the beta's side. Whenever Makoto looked his way, determined to get an explanation, Shusaku's presence made him think twice. Yuichiro was perfectly fine with using underhanded means to retain his privacy. Anyway, it was Makoto's own fault for being too chicken to approach and strike up conversation.

Yuichiro couldn't run forever, though. Makoto finally caught up with him in their bedroom once they all finished cleaning up and closing the canteen for the day. Chess had gone to meet her friend in the armory and Shusaku had beaten Yuichiro to the shower. Grumbling, he returned to their room, only to find Makoto sitting on Chess's bed, looking at him expectantly.

"You can't keep avoiding me," Makoto huffed. His arms were folded against his chest.

Yuichiro stiffened. "Who's been avoiding who?" he returned the question. He walked over to his bed and deposited his towel and pajamas on top of it. "I've been in the canteen all day. It's not my fault if you don't have the balls to talk to your crush."

Yuichiro rolled his eyes at the inevitable sputtering that followed.

"I don't have a-!"

"Oh, give me a break. You're not fooling anyone, Narumi. All it takes is one look at your face when he's around."

Makoto coughed. "…don't make this about me, Amane."

Yuichiro heaved a great sigh as he sat down on Shusaku's bed. Right where Mikaela sat, just a few hours ago.

"I don't want to talk about it."

"You can't just say that!" Makoto insisted. "You can't seriously expect me to stay silent when commander Mikaela fucking Shindo comes out of nowhere and asks to talk to you!"

"I can and I will." Yuichiro frowned. "I don't have to tell you anything."

"No, you don't. But that just leaves me with my own imagination, and let me tell you, it's going places you don't wanna know about."

Yuichiro's cheeks flamed. "Get your mind out of the gutter!" he picked up Shusaku's pillow and threw it at the beta. Makoto caught it with a smirk.

"Is that a denial?"

"Of course it's a fucking denial! God, why would you even think that?"

Oh, there were plenty of reasons, and Yuichiro could name them all himself. Still, it was too dangerous to have Makoto even joke about it. If the beta decided to share his theories with anyone else, it would be an utter disaster.

Besides. It felt weird to have his friend think of him in such a context. It was enough that they'd already seen each other naked. Makoto's imagination had quite a lot to go on…

Kill me now.

"Why wouldn't I think it?" Makoto countered. He set the pillow down on the bed and leaned back on his forearms. "Please, enlighten me. Give me any reason to get this picture out of my mind."

Yuichiro groaned and flopped back onto the mattress. He closed his eyes and flung his arm over his face. The day was turning out to be terribly difficult. His pulse was thrumming like a drum in his head.

"Ugh, fine. It's no big deal. We just… we knew each other from before I enlisted. He used to go to my school."

"Really? Then why did he keep making your life miserable in basic training?"

"He didn't make my life miserable," Yuichiro sighed. "He had to punish me. It didn't matter that we knew each other. In fact, he could have given me something far worse than waking up an hour early for a week."

"I guess…" Makoto trailed off. "That explains why he offered to help us find the canteen on the last day. But what did he want to talk to you about?"

Yuichiro thought for a moment. "He just wanted to see how I was doing." That was sort of the truth, wasn't it?

"…alright. Fair enough."

Makoto's tone was skeptical and Yuichiro knew that there was more the beta wanted to ask, but he'd answered enough questions to make it all sound somewhat believable. In the end, Makoto wasn't a prying type of guy. He wouldn't ask about the particulars of their conversation. There was obviously something more to it than just a friendly query about his health, but that was already too private for Makoto to feel comfortable to ask about.

Yuichiro was thankful for it.

 

.x.

 

Shinoa, on the other hand, had no problem with invading his privacy.

"But why would he ask to talk to you privately?" she huffed. Yuichiro had set out her favorite chocolate chip cookies on the table they shared in an attempt to appease her, but nothing would distract the alpha from her goal.

"How should I know?" Yuichiro rolled his eyes. They'd been over this three times already. "He's awkward as hell and doesn't like to break out of character in front of soldiers he'd only just commanded. You can understand that, can you?"

Shinoa looked at him suspiciously before reaching out to take a cookie. She took a bite as she visibly contemplated his words.

"He broke out of character just by seeking you out so publicly," she pointed out. "He didn't sound half as scary as he usually does."

Yuichiro shrugged. "I told you, he's awkward."

"These cookies are actually pretty good…" Shinoa mumbled to herself. Her eyes turned sharp at Yuichiro's satisfied smirk.

"Don't you start getting all smug, Ryuu. You haven't gotten yourself out of this, yet. So, what? He's your friend? Why does he care so much?"

Yuichiro frowned. He was about to correct her, to tell her that the right question would be 'why didn't he care enough', but that was completely counterproductive.

"He's not exactly my friend, per say. But our families know each other and… I guess he feels responsible for me."

Did he, really? It certainly sounded that way during their last conversation the day before. Maybe that was a sign that he cared somewhat. But what did it help if he wanted to provide for him now? Yuichiro didn't need Mikaela now. There was no reason for him to go crawling back into the alpha's arms and beg him to take him back. It wasn't like he wanted to.

…or did he?

Shinoa's expression softened. She finished her cookie.

"Why didn't you tell me about him, though? It's nothing to be embarrassed about."

Yuichiro could feel his face grow warm. "I-I guess not. But it didn't feel appropriate when he was in charge of us, y'know? It wasn't really relevant."

Shinoa grinned. "No, I suppose not. I do have one more question, though."

Yuichiro sucked in his breath. What else did she want to know?

"What is it?" he asked warily.

"Do you have any more cookies?"

Yuichiro blinked and looked down at the platter. All of the cookies were gone. When did that happen?

"You know this is on my tab," he huffed as he stood up.

Shinoa batted her lashes at him. "Thank you for treating me!"

Yuichiro exchanged a knowing look with Makoto at the counter. The beta wordlessly handed him another box of the cookies and wrote it down on a pad next to the cash register.

There goes my paycheck.

But when he turned back and saw Shinoa looking at him in undisguised excitement, Yuichiro couldn't help the surge of warmth he felt in his chest. He was lucky to have her.

He'd never say it to her face, though.

 

.x.

 

"Ryuu! Can you cover for me for a bit? I need to go to the bathroom."

"Sure," Yuichiro called out over his shoulder from the table he'd been cleaning. Shusaku flashed him a grateful smile as he walked out the door. Yuichiro didn't have a problem with taking over Shusaku's shift for a few minutes- god knew how many times the beta had done the same for him.

He walked past the tables and behind the counter, reaching for a bottle of juice for a tall alpha in front of the line. He smiled brightly as he was handed the money and returned the change.

As long as no one was brawling or yelling at him, Yuichiro didn't mind his job so much. It was hardly what he'd envisioned he'd be doing when he'd dreamed about enlisting, but it was better than some of the other jobs the trainees had gotten. He wondered if Mikaela had a hand in his placement…

Yuichiro quickly dealt with the next few customers. Once the last of them was gone, he turned around to the shelves and continued his ongoing project of reorganizing them. It was so much easier when they were all set according to type. What was the point of putting winter gloves next to a bar of chocolate?

Chess kept messing up his order, though, and Yuichiro kept having to put everything back where they belonged.

"I'll have a bag of sunflower seeds."

"Coming right up!" Yuichiro said cheerfully. He bent down, picked up a bag and turned around to face his customer.

"That will be three fifty- oh."

Yuichiro's mouth felt dry. He'd been too focused on his task to place the alpha's voice, but there was no mistaking his squad leader, now that he stood in front of him. He was smiling at him.

"What's wrong? Cat got your tongue?"

Yuichiro's eyes frantically searched for someone, anyone to intervene. Aside from a group of alphas from HR sitting and chatting at a table in the back, none of the other betas that worked with him were in the room.

Yuichiro swallowed thickly and placed the bag of seeds down on the counter. His hands curled into fists at his sides as he met Lacus's eyes.

"That will be three fifty," he repeated firmly.

Lacus hummed as he reached into his pocket and pulled out exact change. He noisily dropped the coins onto the counter. One coin slipped and fell down on the floor. It skidded right past Yuichiro's foot and continued to roll until it came to a stop at the bottom shelf of goods.

"Aren't you going to pick that up?" Lacus grinned.

Gritting his teeth, Yuichiro turned around and quickly bent down, picking up the stupid coin and putting it back on the counter. When he looked up at Lacus, the alpha was openly leering.

"Nice view."

Yuichiro felt his face warm up. He picked up the bag of seeds and shoved it in Lacus's direction. The alpha caught it just before it toppled over.

"You have what you want. Now go."

Lacus shrugged and took the bag. Yuichiro watched the alpha as he walked away. He couldn't relax until Shusaku returned with an apology on his lips.

"I'm sorry I took so long," he gushed. "I met Makoto on the stairs and…we talked!"

Yuichiro's tension melted at that. He couldn't keep a straight face at the thought of Makoto fumbling awkwardly through a conversation. Shusaku's excitement was contagious.

"That's great!" Yuichiro enthused. "Good for you!"

He was relieved when his break finally came around, though. Yuichiro couldn't get out of the room fast enough. He needed some fresh air.

 

.x.

 

Another week passed and Yuichiro finally allowed himself to relax. Lacus hadn't made another appearance in the canteen. At least not during his shift. Maybe it was a one-time fluke. He'd gotten through it, hadn't he? Besides, what was the worse the alpha could do if he returned? Taunt him?

On the other hand, Mikaela had remained true to his promise and had not come back, either. Yuichiro tried to ignore the empty feeling in his chest when he saw Makoto and Shusaku trying to 'accidentally' brush up against each other as often as they could. He was happy for them- he really was. But whenever he saw Shusaku's cheeks stain red and Makoto smiling into his pillow, he couldn't help but feel that he was missing something.

He tried not to, though. Yuichiro was better than his instincts. He didn't need to have an alpha at his side for him to feel validated! He'd come so far on his own. He didn't need Mikaela to care for him.

But something was making him miserable.

Chess was looking rather down herself. Yuichiro wasn't sure if he wanted to know what could cause the beta to look so sad, but his curiosity got the best of him. Was she feeling lonely too?

"What's wrong?" Yuichiro finally approached Chess and asked as they were closing the canteen for the day. "Did something happen?"

"No, but it will be tomorrow," she said moodily. Yuichiro blinked in confusion.

"What's happening tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow is inspection!" Yuichiro could hear Shinya's voice calling from the storage. They paused and waited for the beta to elaborate.

Yuichiro frowned. Whatever it was, it didn't sound very fun.

Shinya walked into the room, brushing his hands off on his apron. "Is everyone here? I might as well make the announcement."

Makoto looked around the room and nodded. "Yes. We're all here."

"Good!" Shinya smiled lazily as he leaned against the counter. "As I said, tomorrow we have an inspection scheduled."

"What does that mean?" Yuichiro asked cautiously. Chess's expression had gone sour.

"It means that we need to get up in the middle of the night and clean!" she snapped, shooting Shinya a glare. "Not that you care. You don't have to do any of the cleaning."

"When you become an officer, you won't have to do any cleaning either," Shinya said calmly. He looked over at Yuichiro and Makoto. "Don't let Chess scare you. You do need to wake up a few hours earlier than usual, but once you're done, you'll have a nice, clean environment to work in!"

Yuichiro didn't try to disguise his lack of enthusiasm.

"I suggest you go to sleep now. Get as many hours of sleep as you can. I did my fair share of cleaning, and it's no fun when you're dead on your feet, believe me."

Yuichiro followed the others as they left the room and climbed up the stairs.

"Shinya sure seems happy about all of this," he grumbled as they walked into their bedroom. Shusaku snickered.

"What's so funny?" Yuichiro asked.

"Of course he's happy," Shusaku said smugly. "Whenever we have an inspection, he gets to see that guy he's infatuated with."

"Really?"

Yuichiro wondered what kind of guy Shinya would fancy. Was the inspector an alpha or a beta? What about him made the ever nonchalant officer swoon?

Somehow, Yuichiro couldn't find it in himself to be too angry when he set his alarm to an hour he hadn't experienced since basic training. He was too curious.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro took it all back. He was furious with Shinya. The beta had been awake just as long as the rest of them had been, but he looked and acted as if he'd slept for decades and was ready to take on the world.

Yuichiro looked as if he hadn't slept in three years.

It hadn't even been worth it. Everyone had been tasked with cleaning different areas of the canteen, and Yuichiro had been given the hardest part: the storage. Why did they even need to clean it, anyway? Everything was stored in boxes. It wasn't like the dust was hurting anyone.

They'd stopped for a quick breakfast at seven before finishing up. The Master Sergeant, as Shinya referred to the inspector, was scheduled to arrive at eight. By seven fifty, Shinya had gone over and approved everyone's assignments.

"You've all done a good job," he said as he gathered them all for the overview. "I'm proud of each and every one of you."

Well, Yuichiro couldn't stay angry with the beta for long. Not when he said things like that. Yuichiro was practically preening by the time there was a loud knock at the door. Adrenaline kicked in as he watched Shinya walk over and open it with a wide smile.

"Guren! How lovely of you to drop by!"

"It's a pleasure," the man said dryly. They shared a look before Shinya stepped aside and allowed Guren (Yuichiro supposed) to walk in.

The alpha dug his hands into his pockets and surveyed the room with disinterest.

"I guess I'll start here," he gestured toward the counter.

Shusaku looked a little anxious as Guren passed him by as he approached the counter. It had been the beta's assignment and he watched attentively as the inspector looked about.

"This looks clean enough," Guren said absently as he bent down to look through the cabinets. "The trash can is empty. Good."

Shusaku visibly relaxed.

It looked as if Guren was about to continue to the next assignment when he paused in front of the shelves. He ran his finger behind a jar of jam.

"Who was in charge of the counter?"

Shusaku sucked in his breath. Yuichiro's heart reached out to him as he took a step forward.

"I was, sir."

"And did you clean all of the shelves?"

Shusaku lowered his gaze. "I did."

Guren extended his gloved hand. One of the fingers had a light layer of grey on it.

"What do you call this?"

"Dust, sir."

"But didn't you say that you cleaned the shelves?"

Shusaku voice shook. "I-I thought I did."

"I guess you're not very good at it then, are you?"

Yuichiro frowned. That was taking it a little too far. It was just a little bit of dust- there was no reason to go and insult someone because he missed a spot!

He walked over to the beta and stood in front of him, blocking Shusaku from Guren's apathetic gaze.

"You don't need to be so mean about it," he snapped. "I saw Shusaku clean. He worked really hard."

Guren raised a brow.

"It doesn't matter how hard he worked if he didn't reach the required result."

"Of course it matters!" Yuichiro exclaimed. "He did his best and you have no right to insult him over a speck of dust!"

"No right?" Guren repeated. He looked amused. "And who are you to say I have no right?"

Yuichiro huffed. "My name is Ryuu Amane."

"Is that so?"

Yuichiro narrowed his eyes. He didn't like the condescending tone the alpha used.

"Ryuu Amane. Usually I'd let you off for being a newbie, but something about you really pisses me off. Do you have any plans for the holiday weekend?"

Yuichiro blinked. He'd forgotten all about the national holiday weekend. Most soldiers went home to their families to celebrate.

"I, um…"

"Well, if you do, cancel them. You're going to be here."

Shinya cleared his throat.

"Guren, the canteen isn't going to be open on the holiday-"

"It will be now," Guren cut him off. "Luckily for you, Amane, I don't have plans either. You'll have your own private inspection during the weekend. And if my inspection doesn't pass," he gestured at the others, "your friends will have to clean again next week."

Yuichiro's chest constricted as he watched Guren leave. He wanted to yell out, to throw something at the stupid bastard, but he knew that he'd already caused enough trouble. A quick glance around at the tired faces of his friends was enough to make his heart sink.

"Don't worry," he said loudly. "You won't have to clean again. I promise."

Makoto rolled his eyes. Chess unabashedly glared.

"Thank you for standing up for me," Shusaku said softly. "I'm sorry I got you in trouble."

Yuichiro turned around in surprise. He'd almost forgotten about the person he'd been trying to protect in the first place.

"Nah, it was totally my fault," Yuichiro shrugged it off. "Don't feel bad about it."

Shusaku frowned. "Still," he insisted. "It's the national holiday weekend! You don't even get to rest!"

"It's okay. Really," Yuichiro added quickly when he saw that Shusaku was going to object. "It's fine. I was going to stay here anyway. Might as well do something with myself, right?"

"I guess…" Shusaku sounded unsure.

"Forget about it. If you really feel bad, you can buy me a chocolate bar."

That was enough to pacify the beta. There was another beta, however, who was a little harder to please.

"That was a stupid thing to do, Ryuu," Shinya said quietly as he pulled Yuichiro aside. "You need to be more respectful to people with higher ranks than yours. They have the ability to punish you if you aren't."

Yuichiro bristled. "He was insulting Shusaku, though! How could you defend a guy like that?"

Shinya sighed and shook his head. "I'm not defending him. What he said wasn't nice, sure, but don't you think Shusaku has heard worse? We're in the military, Ryuu. Not everyone is nice and polite. You need to pick your battles. This wasn't even your fight to begin with."

"Sorry, but I'm not going to just stand by quietly when one of my friends is being picked on," Yuichiro said stubbornly. "That's just who I am."

"That might be true," Shinya said slowly, "but your little act of heroism just cost you your vacation."

Yuichiro shrugged. "It doesn't really matter. I didn't have any plans."

Shinya looked at him for a long moment. "You know that you can always come and talk to me if you have a problem, right? I'm here for you, Ryuu. It's my job to care for you."

"I… er, sure." Where did that just come from?

"Do you want me to try and talk to Guren?" Shinya asked softly. "I can try-"

"No, it's fine," Yuichiro quickly said. "Really."

It really was. Yuichiro didn't look forward to cleaning the whole canteen again all by himself and sitting in an empty room all day, waiting for customers that will never come, but it was a small price to pay for helping out a friend.

Not to mention, he now had a reason not to go back to the city on the holiday.

It was a bit unsettling how little he actually missed it.

 

.x.

 

Guren had said that he'd return to inspect the canteen again during the holiday, but he never specified when. For all Yuichiro knew, the alpha would be knocking at the door at six in the morning.

Grumbling under his breath, he dragged himself out of bed far too early for a weekend. It was nice to have the room to himself, though. Yuichiro considered his reflection in the mirror. It didn't matter what he looked like, did it? No one was around to notice his bedhead or the wrinkled state of his uniform.

 

Yuichiro was in a slightly better mood as he climbed down the stairs and ate a little something. He decided to get the cleaning over with as quickly as he could and sleep at the counter for the rest of the day. With a little music to clean by, it wouldn't be so bad, would it? It wasn't like the place was filthy. They'd just thoroughly cleaned it a few days before.

Within forty five minutes Yuichiro was done with the main room. All that was left was to go over the storage. Humming to himself, Yuichiro grabbed the cleaning supplies and the portable radio and walked over into the back room. Just a little bit more, and he'd be good to go.

Yuichiro dipped a washcloth in the small tub of water he'd lugged and started by attacking the dust that had already settled on the top of the boxes again.

Take this, idiot Guren, he thought with satisfaction. I'd like to see you find one speck of dust!

At least the music was catchy. The radio was playing a light, upbeat tune and Yuichiro shook his hips in time to the beat. He hadn't danced in ages- not even at the omegan complex. He'd always been told he had two left feet, but he figured that he wasn't much of a hazard if he was dancing alone.

The sound of footsteps could be heard over the music the radio was blaring. Yuichiro paused and quickly set down his washcloth in the bucket. He huffed in annoyance. How could Guren possibly expect him to finish cleaning? It wasn't even ten AM!

"You're crazy," he called out as the footsteps grew closer. "There's no way I could-"

The words died on his tongue. The alpha standing in the doorway wasn't Guren.

It was Lacus.

"The canteen is closed," Yuichiro said roughly. He tried not to let the panic he felt in his chest show on his face.

Lacus leaned against the doorframe. "That's not what I heard," he said idly.

Yuichiro frowned. 

"I don't care what you heard. Go away."

It wasn't like he expected Lacus to listen to him, but Yuichiro's pulse quickened as the alpha entered the room. He approached him slowly.

"No. I told you to leave. Stay away from me!" Yuichiro shouted over the music. He grabbed the wet towel in the basin and flung it in Lacus's direction. It hit the alpha square in the chest, but the only thing it managed to do was make him laugh.

"That was adorable, Ryuu. Is that the best you can do? I thought we taught you better.'

Yuichiro finally allowed himself to panic. He rushed past the boxes, trying to find a route that would let him pass the alpha and leave the room without being caught. Lacus moved fast, snapping out of the lazy smugness he'd been moving with before. He reached out and grabbed Yuichiro's arm.

Crying out, Yuichiro tried to pull away, but he was slammed against one of the boxes. Yuichiro groaned as he fell to the floor with a dull thud. His ribs hurt, but he'd be damned if he allowed the pain to stop him. He started to crawl away, but a hand on his leg dragged him back. He was shoved onto his back and pinned to the ground by Lacus's heavy frame.

"Imagine my delight when I heard that you'd be staying here throughout the holiday, all alone," Lacus crooned. Yuichiro gasped in pain as the alpha's nails dug into his arms. "I've been waiting for this sort of opportunity. I can finally talk some sense into you without anyone interfering."

Yuichiro shook his head vehemently. "Get off of me!"

Lacus smirked. "Not a chance. Not when I've got you exactly where I want you."

Yuichiro paled as the alpha rolled his hips. There was no mistaking the bulge brushing against him.

This couldn't happen. He couldn't let this happen. After all this time, after all he'd been through… He wouldn't go down so easily. No without a fight.

"I said get off," Yuichiro hissed. He managed to raise his leg and knee the alpha in the stomach. Lacus grunted, but when Yuichiro tried to pull away, a hand shot to his throat.

Yuichiro coughed, limbs flailing as he struggled for air, but Lacus didn't remove his hand. If anything, the grip around his windpipe tightened.

"You're going to pay for that," Lacus whispered hoarsely. "You're going to realize that you should've just said yes. This is all your fault."

There were tears in Yuichiro's eyes as Lacus leaned down. He bypassed his face, though, and much to Yuichiro's relief, the hand around his throat was gone. He gasped for breath and completely missed the alpha's intentions. By the time he noticed the fangs grazing the skin of his neck, it was too late.

Yuichiro cried out as Lacus pierced the skin. His heart was beating like crazy- he knew that in a matter of seconds, it would all be over. His struggle would cease once the endorphins in the alpha's saliva entered his bloodstream. Lacus would know who he was the moment he got a taste of his blood.

Yuichiro's breath came in shallow pants as he felt Lacus drink. His body grew limp and his eyes glossy. His mind was slowly being taken over by a cloud of pleasure…

Lacus growled in content.

"Get off of him, you son of a bitch!"

Yuichiro blinked through the haze. He was more than a little confused. Why was he feeling so light, all of the sudden? Where was Lacus?

A man, an alpha crowded his line of vision. It wasn't Lacus. Yuichiro frowned at the blurry image. Large build, dark hair. Was the alpha giving him his hand?

"Hey, Amane. Are you okay?"

Yuichiro gingerly sat up. The room began to spin.

"Whoa there, take it easy." A hand supported him from behind his back. Something cold was pressed to his lips.

"Here. Drink this."

Yuichiro obeyed. Once the water was done, he felt another hand delve beneath his knees. In a moment he was airborne, held up and carried through the room. Yuichiro's stomach lurched, but his eyes were focused just enough to see a body lying motionless on the floor.

"Is he dead?" he whispered.

"No, unfortunately not. The bastard is out cold, though," the gruff voice replied. "Almost drained you. I'm personally going to make sure he ends up behind bars."

Yuichiro rested his head against the alpha's chest. His scent was reassuring. He'd smelled it before, but he couldn't place it. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't open his eyes long enough without feeling the need to expel the contents of his stomach.

"Don't worry, kid. I've got you."

It was the last thing Yuichiro could recall before the world went black.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro opened his eyes.

He groaned softly as he was assaulted by a bright light, far too intense to be natural. All he could see was white. White with a bunch of cracks and dirt. Was that the ceiling?

Yuichiro blinked, twisting his body this way and that as he waited for the world to come back to focus. He bit his lip as his shoulders keenly protested the movement. There were bruises on his back, Yuichiro could tell, and something was stuck in his arm. Yuichiro turned his head and looked down. He briefly noticed the needle, but what caught his attention was the man sitting next to him.

"Oh, you're awake."

Startled, Yuichiro tried to climb out of what turned out to be a bed, but he found out the hard way that he was too weak to move. His body snapped back with a dull thud and tears formed in his eyes at the pain that blossomed at the back of his head. Nausea followed the abrupt movement.

He was sore, defenseless and in an unfamiliar place. Had the Board finally caught up with him? Was this the facility they used to hide away infertile omegas before they were euthanized?

Yuichiro's breath caught in his throat. Was the needle in his arm injecting him with poison?

"Relax," a voice cut through Yuichiro's growing hysteria, nipping it at the bud. "Look at me, Ryuu."

Ryuu? No beta from the city would call him by his fake name. That must mean…

Yuichiro looked back at the strange man. His voice was familiar, and Yuichiro was pretty sure he'd seen that face before. But from where?

"Wait," Yuichiro said hoarsely, narrowing his eyes at the alpha before they widened in recognition. "Guren?"

Guren frowned. "That's Master Sergeant to you, private."

Yuichiro coughed and shook his head. Guren's eyes softened somewhat and he leaned over, picking up a glass of water from the bedside table and placing it in Yuichiro's hands.

"Drink. You've lost enough fluids as it is."

Yuichiro accepted the glass and took a short sip. As the water touched his lips, however, he realized just how thirsty he actually was, and downed the whole thing in one swig. Some of the water went down the wrong pipe and he choked. The glass was swiftly taken from him and a large hand patted him firmly on the back.

"Stupid kid," Guren muttered. "You just woke up and already managed to hurt yourself."

Yuichiro glared at the alpha through watery eyes but did nothing to shake off the hand that had lingered on his back. The heat it offered his sore muscles was desperately soothing.

Once he'd caught his breath, Yuichiro reclined on the propped up pillows and Guren's hand regretfully retracted. Yuichiro felt tired, and he hated all of the uncertainties he found himself thrown into.

"Where am I?" Yuichiro finally settled on a question. Before he could help it, another escaped his lips. "Why are you here?"

Guren raised a brow and leaned back in his chair. He folded his arms across his chest and shrugged.

"You're in the base's medical wing. I was the one who brought your sorry ass here."

If anything, those answers only served to confuse him further.

"What… what happened to me?"

"Well, what do you remember?"

Irritated at the deflection, Yuichiro huffed and looked away. If he remembered anything, he wouldn't have asked, would he? Nevertheless, he closed his eyes and tried to recall as much as he could. Maybe he wouldn't have to ask Guren anymore questions and see that smug face as he answered them.

What was the last thing he could remember… he was cleaning, wasn't he? Guren had punished him, had made him stay the weekend to clean all by himself. Had he tripped over something and hurt his head? He certainly remembered the sensation of landing on the floor.

Yuichiro was about to share his theory when a flash of red crossed his mind. Red eyes. Purple, too. What…?

Yuichiro's eyes widened and his hand immediately reached for his throat. He pressed his palm against the column of his neck, and while most of his hand felt warm skin, there was a patch of cotton and tape at his pulse.

"No…"

Yuichiro's stomach turned as it all came rushing back- Lacus appearing at the doorway, his assault… Yuichiro shuddered. His fangs. He vividly remembered the sensation as Lacus sank them into his skin. The unwanted pleasure that built as his lifeblood was devoured by his previous squad leader.

What didn't make sense was how he ended up here, in the medical wing. Guren said he'd taken him here, but Yuichiro couldn't remember his presence at all. His mind drew a blank after the point his body had started to feel weightless.

Yuichiro looked back at Guren, and something in his expression must have been rather vulnerable since the alpha's smirk promptly disappeared.

"Lacus…" Yuichiro whispered, fingering the sheets. "What happened to him?"

Yuichiro was certain Guren could scent his anxiety, but the alpha could only guess at how terrified Yuichiro felt. The implications of his failure landed on him like a strong blow, leaving him somewhat dazed.

He'd allowed Lacus to drink his blood. There was no doubt in Yuichiro's mind that the alpha knew his secret. The question was, what would Lacus do with it? Had he already told everyone? Did Guren know? Oh, how he needed to ask, to know. The uncertainty was killing him. But he just couldn't risk it.

For all he knew, Lacus was planning on keeping the information as blackmail material.

Guren cleared his throat.

"I caught that bastard on top of you when I came to see if you finished cleaning. I honestly thought that you were both at it, but when I came closer to separate you, I saw that you were unconscious and pale."

Yuichiro's cheeks flamed. Just the notion of someone thinking they'd walked in on him was mortifying. Especially with Lacus. At least the alpha hadn't torn off his clothes.

"Anyway, I pulled him off you and knocked him out. You lost a lot of blood and needed immediate medical attention."

Yuichiro nodded vaguely and looked down at the needle in his arm again. It was attached to a clear bag hanging off of a walker next to his bed. He was being infused with liquids, then. That made sense.

His skin grew warm as a hand was placed on his arm, right next to the needle. Yuichiro looked up and swallowed thickly when Guren met his eyes intently.

"What that scumbag did was a disgrace to all alphas. If I'd known that he'd been stalking you, I wouldn't have made you stay alone and defenseless against his advances. I apologize for putting you in that kind of situation."

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. His throat felt raw.

"It's not your fault," Yuichiro admitted grudgingly. "You couldn't have known."

Guren frowned. "Still. I'm willing to take responsibility."

Yuichiro resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Alphas were such predictable creatures. They were either lustful beasts or prideful beings that took failure too seriously.

"If I had a dime for every time an alpha told me he'd take responsibility—" Yuichiro started, but was interrupted by the sound of the door slamming open. He looked away from Guren and blinked owlishly at the intruder, who was approaching him at an alarming pace.

"Yuu-!"

Of course Mikaela would walk in the moment someone mentioned answerability.

Yuichiro watched warily as the alpha walked over and stood in front of his bed. The thunderous look on his face froze as Mikaela noticed Guren. His face hardened and he stood stiffly, hands clenched into fists at his sides.

"Ryuu," Mikaela corrected himself. He ignored the other alpha and met Yuichiro's gaze with a strained look. "I came as soon as I heard."

It was only when Yuichiro felt the hand on his arm tightening its grip that he realized that Guren was still touching him. He yanked his arm away irritably.

"Who is this, Ryuu?" Guren frowned. He studied Mikaela's uniform. "Is he troubling you?"

Yuichiro felt a pang of guilt as he saw Mikaela blanch. He answered Guren quickly before Mikaela could lash out.

"No, no- this is my friend. He—"

"I'm Commander Mikaela Shindo," Mikaela cut him off coolly. He was looking down at Guren, nose wrinkled with distaste. "And who might you be?"

Guren stood up calmly and turned to face the other alpha.

"I'm Master Sergeant Guren Ichinose. What business do you have with my charge?"

"Your charge?" Mikaela repeated incredulously. He shifted his gaze back to Yuichiro questioningly. "Is this true, Ryuu?"

Yuichiro huffed. "It's the first I'm hearing of it."

Guren looked at him sharply. "Until Shinya returns from the city, you're under my authority. Didn't they teach you how the hierarchy works in basic training? Or are you just thick?"

Bristling, Yuichiro was about to climb out of the bed and show Guren who exactly was the thick one, but Mikaela beat him to it.

"You have no right to speak to him like that," the alpha snapped. "Hasn't anyone taught you how to treat your subordinates?"

Guren chuckled. "You're hardly one to talk. I know who you are- you're that rampant alpha's officer. What kind of commander are you if you can't control your soldiers?"

In a flash of movement, Mikaela rushed forward and grabbed the collar of Guren's uniform. He growled menacingly, eyes flashing red.

"Mika, stop it!" Yuichiro cried out. He yanked the blankets off of his body and crawled to the edge of his bed, as far as the needle would allow. The sudden movement made him feel faint, but the frustration that bubbled beneath the surface kept him focused.

"Guren saved my life," Yuichiro hissed. "Without him, Lacus would've drank me dry. If anything, you should be thanking him."

Mikaela paused.

Yuichiro knew that he'd landed a low blow, but his head was spinning from the aggression in the air. He felt a desperate need to cower and present himself to the strongest alpha in the room, and he had no intention of doing so. Mikaela reeked of possessiveness that he didn't deserve and Yuichiro felt grim satisfaction at the conflicted expression on the alpha's face as he released Guren and took a step back.

They all remained quiet for what felt like hours before Mikaela cleared his throat and offered Guren his hand.

"I apologize," he said, the strain evident in his voice.

Sensing that that was all he was going to get, Guren nodded and took Mikaela's hand, shaking it. They both pulled away quickly, neither eager to maintain contact longer than necessary.

Guren silently looked between them and gave a long-suffering sigh.

"I'm going to get myself something to eat. Try not to die while I'm gone, kiddo."

Mikaela narrowed his eyes menacingly, but Yuichiro simply shook his head with a small smile as the alpha walked away.

"Try not to choke on anything, old man," Yuichiro called after the retreating figure, who looked back over his shoulder with a smirk before closing the door after him.

Once the other alpha was out of the room, Yuichiro could tell that Mikaela had relaxed somewhat. His shoulders weren't as stiff as before and he looked tired as he sat down in Guren's unoccupied chair. They shared a long look.

"So," Yuichiro finally said, settling back against his pillows. The strain of dealing with two hostile alphas was getting to him, and his body was still weak. "What are you doing here?"

Mikaela blinked.

"I wanted to see you," he said slowly, as if stating the obvious. At Yuichiro's unimpressed frown, Mikaela ran his hand through his hair in what looked like at attempt to settle his nerves, if his strained expression was anything to go by.

"As Lacus's commander, I was summoned to check up on him. He's my responsibility and if he's hurt, I'm the first one the medics contact. I imagine your officer is on his way to see you, too."

Yuichiro inhaled sharply. "Wait. Lacus is here?"

"He's in a separate room at the other end of the hall," Mikaela said quickly. He reached out and took Yuichiro's hand, rubbing his thumb over Yuichiro's knuckles soothingly. "The door is guarded and no one is allowed in and out of the room aside from the medical staff and myself. He can't hurt you, I promise."

Shaking his head, Yuichiro pulled his hand away from Mikaela's grasp. "That's not what I'm worried about. He drank my blood, Mika."

Mikaela's eyes darkened as he retracted his hand. "I'm aware," he said shortly. "He'll be imprisoned for it."

"I don't care if he gets punished or not," Yuichiro insisted. His pulse quickened beneath Mikaela's heavy gaze, but he wouldn't be distracted. "He drank a lot. There's no way he doesn't know that I'm an omega, even after that blow Guren landed on him. He's going to tell everyone and the Board will take me away and kill—"

A hand cupped his cheek and turned his face to meet dark blue. Yuichiro stopped talking.

 

"Lacus won't say a word," Mikaela said firmly, with confidence Yuichiro could only envy. "I took care of it."

A shiver ran down Yuichiro's spine. He'd do well not to make an enemy out of Mikaela.

…he couldn't believe he was being turned on by this.

"What do you mean, you 'took care of it'? What did you do?"

"That's none of your concern," Mikaela said dismissively, tracing his thumb over Yuichiro's jaw. "I did what I had to do as your alpha. I only ever seem to be there for you in the aftermath, so I might as well help with what little I can."

Yuichiro wanted to look away at Mikaela's bitter tone, but he couldn't help but feel a little disgruntled by the alpha's attitude. It reminded him of the way the betas in the compound talked down to him, never explaining themselves and expecting him to obey. Though the military was about obedience, but Yuichiro hadn't been trained for mindlessness.

Mikaela hadn't trained him to obey without a thought.

"I deserve to know," Yuichiro huffed. He raised his hand and placed it over the one Mikaela had on his face. "Come on, Mika. You need to trust me more. Weren't you the one who said that I'd make a good soldier? I can handle it, whatever it is. I've handled Lacus before."

The hand on his face stiffened.

"What?"

Yuichiro's confidence faltered at the sharp tone. Had he said something wrong?

"Yuichiro," Mikaela said his name in a low voice. "Explain."

"I-I… well…" Yuichiro lowered his hand and settled it on his lap. Mikaela's eyes were unnerving him and when he lowered them from the alpha's face, Mikaela didn't say a word. Yuichiro was thankful for it.

He supposed he'd gotten himself into this one. Yuichiro wanted to kick himself- he shouldn't have said anything. He'd promised himself that no one would ever know about what happened that night, least of all Mikaela, but he just had to go and open his big mouth.

Just fucking great.

"It's not such a big deal," he said finally, gathering his courage and meeting Mikaela's eyes again. "Lacus called me in for an evaluation toward the end of basic training and tried to hit on me, but I got out of there before anything could happen. That's it."

"'That's it'?" Mikaela growled. His hold on Yuichiro's face tightened. "Yuichiro, that's serious! You should have reported him immediately! What if he assaulted you? He could have hurt you!"

Mikaela's grip was borderline bruising, but Yuichiro didn't allow himself to complain.

"Oh, he tried," he raised his chin. "He was all over me. But I stepped on his foot and ran out. You see? I can handle these things just fine."

"You call that handling things? Look at you!" Mikaela released his hold and gestured down to the needle in Yuichiro's arm. His eyes flashed red. "You're in a hospital bed because you got yourself a stalker! And this is the best case scenario! Lacus could’ve killed you if another alpha hadn't stepped in. If you'd just told me, none of this would have happened!"

"It's not my fault he couldn't get a hint!" Yuichiro snapped. "Why can't you just listen—"

"No, Yuu. You listen."

Yuichiro's words died on his tongue. He'd never seen Mikaela so furious. Were- were those his fangs?

"I've been patient, Yuu. I've been so patient with you. I let you finish basic training, I let you become a soldier- hell, I was ready to let you keep your distance for as long as you needed. But I was wrong. I never should have let you out of my sight."

"Mika—"

"I thought you were strong-willed, but you're just plain too stubborn for your own good. You keep getting yourself into trouble and you refuse my help, refuse me as your alpha. Look where your independence got you, Yuu. Your identity was almost revealed. You almost died."

"But—"

"It's time you stopped playing this childish game of pretend. You're not a beta. You're not a soldier. You aren't capable of fending for yourself. You're an omega, Yuichiro," Mikaela paused. " My omega. And I won't allow you to put yourself in danger any longer. You need to learn your place."

Mikaela finally stopped. His face was flushed, but as the silence stretched on, he seemed to remember himself. His fangs were quickly retracted and his eyes returned to their original blue. Yuichiro could feel the alpha's gaze on him, waiting for some sort of response, but he felt too numb to give one.

Mikaela had efficiently gone through every one of his insecurities and Yuichiro was left feeling raw and exposed. The one person he expected to understand, the only one he'd trusted, had single-handedly reduced him to nothing but the infertile omega he was.

After everything he'd gone through, after all the hardships he'd overcome, how could Mikaela say such a thing to him? Did he really think so little of him? Was he just a warm body to fuck, after all?

Tears clouded his vision and Yuichiro wiped them away furiously, humiliated by his weak response. His body was always the first to betray him.

Mikaela's eyes widened. He reached out, but Yuichiro yanked away from his touch.

"Shit, Yuu, I'm sorry," the alpha said quickly. His voice shook. "I didn't mean it. You aren't just an omega, you're so much more than that, I just—"

"I think you should go," Yuichiro cut him off.

Mikaela shook his head. "No, wait—"

"Please," Yuichiro's voice cracked. "Just… go."

The alpha looked like he wanted to cry as well, but he eventually schooled his features and stood up.

"I'll go, but this isn't over, Yuu," Mikaela said firmly. "I meant what I said, though I didn't mean to insult you. You're my omega, and it's high time I started treating you the way you deserve."

Not quite sure what Mikaela was getting at, Yuichiro watched the alpha warily as he walked away.

"Don't worry about Lacus. It's all taken care of," Mikaela repeated one last time before closing the door behind him. Yuichiro stared at the door for a minute before lying back down on the bed, thoroughly exhausted.

Mikaela never did say what he'd done to the other alpha.

 

.x.

 

"Missed me, kid?"

Yuichiro yawned and rubbed his eyes tiredly as Guren walked into the room, carrying a tray of what looked like food from the mess hall. He'd fallen into a fitful sleep after Mikaela left and he wasn't too sure about being able to stomach anything. Especially not that evil-looking stew the kitchen insisted on serving every Sunday.

"In your dreams," he mumbled as Guren set the tray down on the bedside table and took a seat next to him. Yuichiro eyed the food warily.

"What is that?" He asked.

Guren shrugged. "Damned if I knew. But you're going to eat it, whatever it is."

Yuichiro narrowed his eyes. "Not a chance."

"You need food in your system, Ryuu," Guren said slowly, grating on Yuichiro's nerves. He might be younger, but he wasn't an ignorant child. "This was what they served today, so this is what you're gonna eat."

Yuichiro shook his head.

"Isn't there anything else? Don't they have their own food here?"

Guren snorted. "This is a medical ward, idiot, not a fucking hospital. Everyone eats the same thing. Now get this down your throat or I'm going to have to do it for you."

"You wouldn't."

"Try me."

Yuichiro frowned. "I'm not eating that."

Shrugging, Guren picked up the plastic spoon and ladled a bit of the stew. He cupped his hand beneath it as he guided the utensil to Yuichiro's lips.

"Say 'ahh'!"

Yuichiro quickly turned away, ignoring the spoon as Guren used it to prod against his cheek. After about the fifth time, he raised his hand and grabbed Guren's wrist, pulling it away from his face irritably. Some of the stew spilled on his lap, but he couldn't care less as long as it wasn't in his mouth.

"I said I won't eat it," he hissed. "Try that again and I'll pour the whole thing on your head."

Guren smirked. "Cute, but I'm not buying it." He retracted his arm and Yuichiro reluctantly released his wrist, poised to react should Guren attack again.

"I'm not leaving until you finish the bowl," Guren stated plainly, setting down the spoon and crossing his legs.

"Fine," Yuichiro spat and lay down, rolling over to his side with his back to the alpha. Guren could sit and stare all he wanted. He wasn't going to eat that vile thing in a million years.

They sat like that for a good fifteen minutes before there was a knock at the door and the sound of footsteps as the intruder let themselves in.

"Ryuu! I tried to get here as fast as I could- oh, Guren! I didn't think you'd be here."

Yuichiro sat up and couldn't help but smile sheepishly as he saw Shinya walk in, still dressed in his formal uniform. He obviously hadn't stopped by his room to change before visiting him.

"I'm full of surprises," Guren said smugly as he nodded his head in greeting. "Looking sharp as always, Shinya."

Seeing that the only chair in the room was occupied, Shinya seated himself on the foot of Yuichiro's bed. Now that he was closer, Yuichiro could see how tired the beta looked. There were worry lines etched into his brow as he looked at them both.

"I knew leaving you wasn't a good idea," he said quickly, pausing only to shoot Guren a dirty look.

Guren's smirk didn't falter, but Yuichiro noticed how his nails dug into his arms at Shinya's words. Sighing, Yuichiro ran his fingers through his hair. His temple throbbed.

"It's my fault this happened," he said grudgingly, shaking his head as Shinya opened his mouth the interrupt.  "No, let me finish. I should have told you about Lacus. I didn't think that he'd try to come and find me, but… still. You're my officer, and you deserved to know before allowing me to stay unsupervised. I'm sorry."

Shinya's eyes softened.

"You should’ve told me, but it wasn't your fault you were attacked. That kind of thinking will get you nowhere."

Yuichiro shrugged. It was nice of Shinya to say so, but it was obvious to everyone in the room that the only person to blame was himself. Even Mikaela thought so. If he'd allowed himself to rely on others, none of this would have happened.

"…anyway, what's that horrible smell?"

Yuichiro blinked. He'd gotten used to the pungent scent of the food Guren had brought him, but now that Shinya pointed it out, it washed over him anew.

"It's that stew Guren wants me to eat," Yuichiro made a face. "He won't leave until it's gone."

"Damn right I won’t," Guren huffed. "You need energy to get better. That stew has a lot of iron in it to make up for all the blood you lost."

Shinya smiled for the first time since entering the room. "Ah, Guren. I didn't know you cared."

"It's not that I care," Guren scowled. "I just need him to go back to work as soon as possible. You're down one man for your shift schedule."

Yuichiro's eyes widened as Shinya reached out and placed his palm on Guren's knee. He looked utterly unconvinced by Guren's selfish display.

"I heard that you were the one that walked in and rescued Ryuu," he said quietly. "Thank you."

Yuichiro watched in amazement as Guren flinched. His face was tainted with the lightest shade of red.

"It's nothing," he said gruffly, but he did nothing to remove Shinya's hand.

Groaning, Yuichiro collapsed back against his pillows and closed his eyes.

"You two need to get a room."

Shinya quickly retracted his hand and Guren pulled his knee away, only to reach out and pinch Yuichiro's cheek.

"Don't get cocky, kid. You might be bedridden, but I don't need to give you orders to make your life miserable."

Huffing, Yuichiro slapped Guren's hand away. At least he was back to normal now.

"You mean like force feeding him that awful stew?" Shinya wrinkled his nose. "Honestly, Guren. I'll go get him something from the canteen."

Guren shrugged.

"Do whatever you want. I'm outta here. Some people actually have work to do, y'know."

Yuichiro smiled smugly as he watched Guren exit the room even as the bowl on the bedside table remained full to the brim. The small victory with the promise of a decent meal made his face light up with satisfaction.

It was almost enough to make him forget Mikaela's sharp words. Almost.

 

.x.

 

The first thing Yuichiro saw when he walked through the door was purple. It was very brief, too, since he was immediately yanked forward and enveloped in someone's arms.

"Ryuu! I missed you!"

Inhaling the alpha's calming scent, Yuichiro closed his eyes briefly before gently pulling back with a shy smile.

"It's good to see you, Shinoa."

Now that he looked around, his eyes widened as he noticed the balloons hanging from the walls and a small sign draped over the countertop reading 'welcome back'. His heart skipped a beat at the amount of smiling faces crowding around him.

"So you finally were able to get up on your feet. Took you long enough- hey!"

Shusaku pushed Makoto away. "Stop being rude. He just got back." He turned to face Yuichiro and smiled at him genuinely. "It's good to have you back, Ryuu. We were all really worried about you."

Chess pushed a box of cookies into his hands. "Here. Eat these, you look pale enough as it is."

Warmth spread in Yuichiro's chest as he accepted the cookies.

"Thank you. All of you," Yuichiro said quietly, shifting awkwardly in his place in the middle of the semi-circle. He wasn't too fond of being the center of attention, but he couldn't deny how good it felt to be back with his friends. He hadn't even known that they'd cared that much.

He could feel Shinya's approving gaze as they all sat down to eat a late breakfast together. He'd been in the medical ward for over three days (which was ridiculous in his opinion, but the doctors had insisted on it) and no one had been allowed to visit him aside from Shinya and Guren who walked in every now and then. There wasn't too much to catch up on, but everyone was eager to hear what exactly had happened in the storage room.

By the time they'd cleaned up and opened the canteen to the general public, Yuichiro was shooed to his room to rest. He'd protested and insisted that he was fine, but Shinya had practically forced him up the stairs.

"The doctor said you still need a few days to recuperate," the beta called up to him. "You'll have a lot to answer for if I find you behind the counter."

Grumbling, Yuichiro closed the door behind him as he walked into the room. After setting down the small bag Shinya had packed for him, he walked over to the mirror and looked himself over.

Chess was right. He was rather pale.

Narrowing his eyes at his reflection, Yuichiro sighed and was about to turn away when he noticed something green behind him. Frowning, he looked over at his bed. True enough, there was a large green lump on top of his mattress.

He walked over and reached up to the top bunk, grabbing the item and pulling it down for inspection.

Flowers. Roses, to be exact. Green roses. Did roses even come in such a color?

Startled, Yuichiro sat down on Chess's bed and studied the flowers. They were about fifteen roses, arranged prettily in a bouquet. He looked around, but he couldn't find any note.

There was a soft knock at the door, immediately followed by an apologetic Shusaku who walked in with a stained shirt.

"I'm sorry to disturb you. I just needed to change- oh! You saw the flowers!"

Yuichiro tilted his head questioningly. "Did you leave them for me?"

Shusaku chuckled as he unbuttoned his uniform. "No, but I did put them there. An alpha in a white uniform came by earlier and asked me to make sure you got them."

Yuichiro's face grew warm. There was no question about it- it had to be Mikaela. What was he thinking, though? He was being too obvious.

"Green roses are an interesting choice," Shusaku added and he dug through his bag. "I used to work in a greenhouse before I enlisted and my boss taught me a bit about flowers."

"You did?" Yuichiro set the flowers down on the bed. "Why are they an interesting choice?"

Shusaku tapped his chin. "Well, they're crazy expensive, for one. Green roses are pretty rare."

Yuichiro rolled his eyes. Of course Mikaela would choose a bouquet with the largest price tag.

"Green roses mean new beginnings, if I remember correctly," Shusaku continued as he shrugged on a new shirt. "I think they also have something to do with respect."

Yuichiro's chest constricted. Was this Mikaela's was of saying that he was sorry?

Shusaku snapped his fingers. "That's right! Their most significant meaning is fertility. Alphas would constantly order these for their omegas before their heats."

"…oh."

"Well, I gotta get back to work. Feel better, Ryuu!" Shusaku said cheerfully and gave a little wave as he closed the door behind him.

Yuichiro looked down at the flowers. Bitterness burned in his throat as he roughly grabbed them and walked over to the trash bin, throwing them in unceremoniously and watching them disappear beneath the lid.

"You're my omega, and it's high time I started treating you the way you deserve."

"Fuck you, Mikaela Shindo," Yuichiro muttered as he hoisted himself up onto his bed and buried himself beneath the covers.  

Oblivion couldn’t take him fast enough.

Chapter Text

"C'mon, Ryuu. It's been a week. Who's your secret admirer?"

Yuichiro rolled his eyes as he sipped his tea, choosing to ignore Shinoa's words and focus on the sweet taste of the three sugar cubes he'd put in his mug. Makoto had looked at him in disgust when he'd first put one cube in, and just to rub it in his face, Yuichiro had added two more. He quickly discovered that he enjoyed it. Now it was something he did every time he opted for a warm drink during the day, regardless of the beta's prying eyes watching as he dropped them in, one by one.

Shinoa tutted as she reached out for another cookie. Yuichiro wasn't sure how exactly she kept herself in shape with all the sweets she ate. It wasn't like working for Goshi was physically taxing. If he were honest with himself, Yuichiro wasn't entirely certain how he remained slim with all the sugar he consumed on a daily basis. He'd once sat in on a class about omegan physiology, and they might have mentioned something about metabolism, but for the life of him he couldn't recall the details. Not that it was the most pressing matter at hand.

No. He needed to think of something to get Shinoa off his back. Just like he did every other day when she stopped by the canteen during her lunch break.

And just like every other day, he set down his mug with a sigh.

"I told you already. It wouldn't be a 'secret' admirer if I knew who they were, would it?"

Shinoa shook her head. "Don't give me that. I can tell you know who it is. You wouldn't be so willing to give away the chocolates they send you if you didn't."

Shrugging, Yuichiro leaned back in his chair. The canteen was busy and Chess was on duty, manning the register with a disgruntled Shusaku, who was there to pull down items she couldn't reach. They all took turns and now that Yuichiro was on his break, he had to deal with the customers' indecisiveness.

"Would you believe that my admirer just really doesn't know my taste?"

Wrong. Every box of chocolate he'd received had been full of comfiture Yuichiro could have only dreamed of sampling. He practically drooled over the elaborately wrapped boxes that were left at the canteen's door with his name on them, but he had to remind himself to be strong.

He wasn't some omega Mikaela could buy off with expensive sweets.

Of course he knew who the mysterious sender was. Who else would bother trying to butter him up? Who else knew what he liked down the color of the wrapping paper? Yuichiro had no idea how Mikaela knew so much about him, and it was a little unnerving (no, it wasn't flattering at all). He didn't even know what Mikaela did in his free time, much the less his favorite foods.

Unless you count my blood…

Shinoa's eyes widened as she saw Yuichiro's cheeks taint red.

"I knew it! You're hiding something from me, Ryuu Amane, and mark my words! I'll figure it out sooner or later, so you might as well come clean."

Yuichiro couldn't help but grin at that. "I'd like to see you try."

"You're on," Shinoa smirked. "If I can't guess who your secret admirer is within the week, I owe you ten bucks. If I can…" Shinoa trailed off, tapping her chin as she went over the possibilities in her mind. Yuichiro didn't like the wicked glint that shone in her eyes.

"If I win, you need to kiss Shusaku when Makoto is around."

Yuichiro pushed back from the table, looking quickly toward the beta, who thankfully had his back to them.

"Are you crazy?" Yuichiro hissed. "Why on earth would you want me to do that? Makoto would kill me-"

"Exactly," Shinoa raised her brows knowingly. "Those two have been skirting around each other for months! They need a small push to bring them together. If I win, you'll be exactly what they need."

"…you should really learn to mind your own business," Yuichiro grumbled, but at Shinoa's shrug, he sighed in defeat.

"Fine."

Preening, Shinoa twisted her wrist and glanced down at her watch.

"Excellent. I really should be going now, I'm fifteen minutes late. Goshi is probably wandering around the office looking lost right about now."

Yuichiro snorted and shook his head.

"You do realize he managed without you for ten whole years."

"Ten very miserable years," Shinoa said solemnly as she pushed away from the table. "He's very lucky to have me in his life."

"Keep telling yourself that," Yuichiro grinned and stood up as well. He offered Shinoa his hand, but the alpha walked up and wrapped him in her arms in a tight hug.

"You know you can always talk to me, right?" She said softly.

Yuichiro's face colored. His eyes grew a little watery, too, but he managed to keep the bubbling emotions in his chest in check.

He was used to having Shinoa mothering him, but the combination of the last week and the care in her voice made him raise his hands and hug her back.

That must be the reason. He wasn't usually this emotional.

"I know," he said, his voice a little gruff. "Thank you."

He wished he could take her up on her offer, but Yuichiro knew that it simply wasn't feasible. At this point he had no doubt that she'd want to help him, but it would be selfish of him to involve her in the mess he'd made of his life. He didn't want to get her in trouble should someone find out.

He took over from Chess after Shinoa left, and made it through the day without any further incident. He locked the register at the end of the day and was busy sweeping the floor when the sound of the door opening made him turn around with an irritated frown.

"Can't you read? The sign says that we're- oh. It's you."

Yuichiro had expected Mikaela to show up at some point after a week of being showered with unwanted gifts. That didn't mean that he wanted to see the alpha, though. He grimaced when he saw the package in Mikaela's hands.

"Look, I know this is your way of trying to apologize, but this is getting ridiculous."

Mikaela looked down at the package and smiled sheepishly. He set it on top of one of the tables.

"I suppose I might have gone over the top," he admitted, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear nervously. "I just…"

Yuichiro raised his brows and leaned against the counter.

"You just?"

"I just wanted you to have the best during your recovery," Mikaela said quickly. "I would have come to deliver every gift myself this week, but I had to go to the city. I wanted at least this one to be personal."

"I don't want it," Yuichiro sniffed. "Any of it. You're wasting your money."

Mikaela's lips curved in a small smile. He looked tired. "I thought you might say that. Still, they are all tokens of my affection. I hope you'll accept at least this one."

"Why should I accept any of it when the first thing you do after our fight is insult me?" Yuichiro frowned, tightly gripping the broom in his hand.

The smile on Mikaela's face disappeared.

"What do you mean?"

"You know exactly what I mean," Yuichiro hissed. "Now if you care about me at all, please go away and leave me alone. I don't need you or anyone to court me, or whatever it is you think you're doing."

Mikaela's brows furrowed. "Yuu, wait. I really don't know-"

"Out!" Yuichiro yelled, marching over to the alpha and pushing him back. It was only when he got close that he could smell it- it was faint, but Yuichiro could definitely detect traces of an omega's scent.

"…"

Mikaela reached out and hesitantly placed his hand on Yuichiro's shoulder.

"Yuu? What's wrong?"

"What were you doing in the city, Mikaela?" Yuichiro asked, pulling away from Mikaela's grasp.

The guilt that flickered across Mikaela's features for the briefest moment was enough.

"How dare you," Yuichiro seethed, hands curling into fists at his sides. "How dare you walk in here when you reek of another omega?"

Mikaela pursed his lips. "There you go again, making assumptions. If you'd just let me explain for once-"

"By all means, enlighten me. Please tell me why you think you have any claim on me when you've clearly just spent a week with a bitch in heat."

"…you know what?" Mikaela growled, eyes flashing red. "I don't deserve this. I don't have to explain myself to you. Why should you care if I've fucked another omega? You clearly don't want me, so what difference does it make to you?"

For once in his life, an alpha's anger did nothing to subdue Yuichiro's own. He didn't want to take a step back and make himself smaller. He didn't want to beg Mikaela for forgiveness. He didn't want to fall to his knees and present himself, to offer his neck in submission in order to appease the alpha.

Instead, he fought back.

"Of course I care if you fuck someone else!" He hissed. "You're my alpha! You're supposed to protect me! But all you've done is make me miserable! I- I hate you!"

Yuichiro raised his hand and swung his fist, aiming at Mikaela's jaw. His punch was intercepted midway as Mikaela quickly grabbed his wrist and turned him around, slamming Yuichiro against the wall. Yuichiro continued to struggle, but both of his arms were pinned above his head.

"You're the most unruly omega I've ever met, Yuichiro Hyakuya," Mikaela said, his voice as rough as his unyielding hold. "You claim to want to be treated like a beta, but in the end of the day, you're no different than your peers in the compound, aren't you?"

"Fuck off," Yuichiro spat, trying his hardest to wriggle out of Mikaela's grasp. His body was growing warm. "If I'm a no- good omega, then you're terrible at being an alpha. What kind of alpha lets their omega do all the dirty work and relies on others to save him because he's never around?"

Mikaela's nails dug into Yuichiro's skin, making him gasp in pain.

"You know nothing of what you speak of," Mikaela said in a low tone. "You'd do well to keep your mouth shut before you make an utter fool of yourself."

"Oh yeah?" Yuichiro stepped on Mikaela's foot, hoping to yield the same result as it did with Lacus, but the alpha didn't budge. "Make me."

A growl was the only warning he got before Mikaela released his hands and dipped his head, grabbing Yuichiro's jaw and meshing their mouths together. Yuichiro frantically tried to push Mikaela away with his free hands, but the alpha only kissed him harder. A knee pressed between his legs.

Without realizing what he was doing, Yuichiro's fingers grabbed the material of the back of Mikaela's uniform, but instead of pulling him away, he was holding him closer. His eyes fluttered closed as he slid his tongue against Mikaela's, fighting for dominance in their battle of wills. His hips moved on their own, rocking against the alpha's thigh as an embarrassingly high sound scaped his throat.

If anything, it made Mikaela press down against him harder, his bruising hold sliding down to grasp his neck. Yuichiro's nails dug into Mikaela's back, wishing they were long enough to draw blood.

It was only when he nicked his lip on one of Mikaela's fangs that Yuichiro came to his senses. Blinking, he turned his head away and quickly sucked on his lip before the alpha could do it for him.

"Yuu…?"

Mikaela's eyes were still red and his hand was still on Yuichiro's neck, but the pressure lessened. He looked a little confused.

Using the alpha's moment of uncertainty, Yuichiro pushed Mikaela away and watched as he stumbled back a few steps.

"Stay away from me," he said quietly, his chest rising and falling as he tried to catch his breath. "I don't play second fiddle to anyone."

Mikaela's eyes returned to their sky-blue. He met Yuichiro's gaze for a long moment before looking away.

"…fine," he finally said. He turned around and slowly walked to the door.

"I'll see you in court, Yuichiro."

Yuichiro's brows furrowed in confusion as he watched Mikaela leave. What did he mean?

It was only when he went back to his broom that the realization hit him. He felt sick.

He must be talking about Lacus's trial.

Yuichiro never wanted to lay his eyes on the alpha again, much the less have to face him in court and serve as a witness against him. He still didn't know what Mikaela had done to promise Lacus's silence. What if the alpha decided to blackmail him? Or even worse, rat him out in front of the judges?

He continued to organize the room and put everything away when he noticed the package on the table. Mikaela must have forgotten to take it back with him.

His initial reaction was to want to throw it away out of spite, but the misshapenness of the package made him pause. It certainly didn't look like another box of chocolates. What could Mikaela have wanted to give him in person?

Curiosity piqued, Yuichiro sat down and tore at the packaging despite himself. His heart skipped a beat when he looked inside.

There was a stuffed animal beneath all the colorful paper. A teddy bear, to be exact. His teddy bear. Yuichiro recognized it instantly by the small tear in its right ear and the jam stain on its stomach. It was the bear he'd had since his childhood, the one his mother had given him before he was sent away to the city to be brought up under the watchful eyes of the betas.

How had Mikaela gotten his hands on it? Yuichiro had left it in his room when he'd been in a rush to escape. Did Mikaela visit his compound when he'd been to the city? They must have cleared his room by then, though. A new omega probably slept in his bed…

He lifted the bear and held it close, tucking it beneath his chin. It smelled a little like Mikaela.

 

.x.

 

The courtroom was much smaller than Yuichiro had imagined it to be. He'd thought it would look like something from the t.v shows Yoichi liked to watch, with grandly-dressed judges and a large jury, all seated on shiny wooden benches.

Perhaps courtrooms like that existed. But not in the military. Aside from Shinya and Mikaela sitting in the back of the room, there were no other spectators. Hell, there weren't even any lawyers. Lacus stood in front of the bored-looking judge with his hands tied behind his back, an alpha orderly hovering nearby in case Lacus tried to attack anyone. Yuichiro sat with Guren a little further away, both waiting to be called on to witness.

"You claim it was consensual?"

Lacus nodded. "Yes, sir. Ryuu has wanted me ever since his first day under my command. He was a troublemaker, and I believe it was all a plea for my attention. He might tell you that he didn't want me, that he was attacked. But he has a known history of playing hard to get."

Yuichiro fidgeted in his seat, eyes downcast. His cheeks burned. How could Lacus claim such a thing? He thought he could hear Guren mutter 'bullshit' under his breath.

The judge frowned. "Your officer has recommended I imprison you for assault. He's the one who's supposed to look out for your best interests. How do you explain his recommendation?"

Lacus turned his head back and exchanged a cold look with Mikaela.

"With all due respect, sir, my officer cannot be considered an impartial party. He's just jealous that I was the one who got Ryuu in the end. He's had his eyes on him ever since they met. He wants me imprisoned just to get me out of his way."

The judge turned his eyes to Mikaela and looked at him for a long moment before nodding at Lacus.

"That will be all for now, you may sit down. Ryuu Amane, please stand up."

Swallowing nervously, Yuichiro stood up and walked over to the judge, resolutely ignoring Lacus at his side.

"Tell me what happened in your own words, Amane."

Yuichiro took a shaky breath.

"I was cleaning the storage room," he started, not quite meeting the judge's eyes. "Master Sergeant Guren made me stay at the base alone over the holiday weekend as a punishment for being disrespectful."

"You see? I told you. He's a troublemaker who'll do anything for attention."

Yuichiro flinched and the judge cleared his throat.

"This is your first warning, Welt. You do not have the leave to speak unless I give it to you. Now, please continue, Amane."

"I.. well, I was cleaning, and I thought I heard Guren walk in. But it was Lacus. He started taunting me and I asked him to leave, but he refused and started to walk towards me and I hit him with a towel but he still wouldn't stop and-"

Yuichiro paused. His body was trembling. He didn't want to continue, he didn't want to relive the memory.

"Sir," Mikaela stood up and addressed the judge. "Is this truly necessary? You have his written statement at hand. There's no need for him to recount what must be a traumatic experience in front of everyone."

Yuichiro turned his head in surprise. Mikaela's face was blank, but Yuichiro could tell that he was angry. He could see Mikaela's usually pale face was a little flushed and his nails were digging into his palms.

Was he trying to look out for him? Or did he just not want to hear the story?

"Commander Shindo, you may not speak out of place either. I ask that you sit down and remain quiet for the rest of the trial."

Mikaela pursed his lips and nodded, sitting down as he was told, but his body looked stiff. Yuichiro returned his gaze to the judge.

"Take your time, Amane, but I do need you to continue."

"Yes, sir."

Yuichiro closed his eyes and practiced breathing for a minute before opening his eyes and continuing. His body had stopped trembling.

"I tried to run away, but Lacus caught me and pinned me to the floor. I still wanted to get away, I even kneed him in the gut, but he was too strong for me. He bit me."

Remembering Lacus's words, Yuichiro steeled himself and looked the judge in the eye.

"I was unwilling, sir. I don't know why Lacus insists that I was interested, but he's delusional. I don't want him, and I never have. He…he came onto me during basic training, when he was still my squad leader, and was very aggressive when I turned him down. He threatened me. He almost killed me when he drank my blood. I wanted nothing to do with him."

"You lying whore," Lacus seethed. "You liked it! You were moaning and moving under me like an omega in heat! You were enjoying it just as much as I was!"

"No I didn't!" Yuichiro yelled before the judge had a chance to reprimand the alpha. He turned around and faced him. "You had absolutely no right to touch me! I was your subordinate. I… I trusted you. You tried to take advantage of me-"

"That's enough!"

Yuichiro quickly turned back to the judge, cheeks flaming at the reprimand. He knew that he had been out of line, but he had to say it.

"Amane, please leave the room to cool off. You will stay outside until the end of the trial. And you," he turned to Lacus with a severe frown, "you're walking on very thin ice. You would do well to remember that your future lies in my hands. You don't want to displease me."

Yuichiro was escorted by the orderly outside of the building. He bought himself a bottle of water from a vending machine and sat down on a bench, trying his best to calm down.

He was going to miss Guren's recounting, but the main thing he was worried about was that Lacus might reveal his identity if it looked like things were going badly for him. He'd almost let it slip during his outburst. If he realized that he was going to prison either way, he might not care about Mikaela's threats and would be angry enough to drag Yuichiro down with him…

It wasn't until forty grueling minutes later, when the bottle was empty and the plastic was distorted in Yuichiro's anxious hands, that the doors opened and everyone walked out. Everyone except for Lacus.

"Ryuu!" Shinya ran over to him. Yuichiro felt the anxiety melt at the happy look on his officer's face.

"Lacus has been convicted," Shinya grinned, reaching out and grasping Yuichiro's shoulder. "You were very brave up there, and your testimony was very important to the ruling. You'll never have to see him again."

Yuichiro felt like he was about to cry.

"I told you I'd put him behind bars," Guren walked over with a smirk. He looked a little pale, too. "Didn't I promise you, Ryuu? You've got a lot to thank me for. You can start by confessing your endless gratitude and baking me a cake."

"You owe me three cakes, Guren," Shinya let go of Yuichiro's shoulder and raised a brow at Guren. "If anything, you should be baking me one."

"How did you figure that ?"

Yuichiro drowned out their voices, too relieved to focus on their bickering. His attention was caught by Mikaela, who had stepped out of the doors and was quietly talking with an orderly. Yuichiro waited for their conversation to end and for Mikaela to walk away before turning to Shinya and Guren.

"I'm sorry, but there's someone I need to talk to. Don't wait up for me, okay?"

He didn't wait for their reply before running over to Mikaela, who stopped and waited for him once he realized that he was approaching.

"Congratulations, Yuu," Mikaela said softly once Yuichiro reached him. "You won."

Yuichiro ran his fingers through his hair and offered the alpha a little smile.

"Yeah, Shinya told me. How long did Lacus get?"

"Ten years."

Ten years. Yuichiro wasn't sure if that was considered a long time or not.

"He didn't… he didn't say-"

"No," Mikaela cut him off. "No, he didn't. He might not like the idea of being imprisoned, but I've got enough on him to send him to death row."

Yuichiro swallowed. Whatever it was Mikaela had to threaten Lacus with, it must be pretty serious.

They continued to walk until they reached a secluded corner. Mikaela leaned back against the wall and took out a box of cigarettes from his pants, lighting one up with a flick of a lighter he pulled out from his breast pocket.

"I didn't know you smoked," Yuichiro stated after Mikaela let out the first puff.

"There's a lot you don't know about me," Mikaela said absently as they both watched the smoke disappear. He took another drag.

Yuichiro fidgeted with the bottom of his shirt. He was starting to feel uncomfortable with the whole situation. After what happened the other week, he hadn't thought Mikaela would stand up for him at all, especially not at the cost of his own reputation. What was the alpha playing at?

Whatever it was, he didn't want to remain in his debt.

"So what do you want?" He broke the silence, meeting Mikaela's curious blues resolutely.

"What do you mean?"

"What do you want for keeping Lacus quiet?" Yuichiro plowed on, not allowing himself to stop and think over his words. "My blood? A blowjob? Do you want to fuck me against the wall? You were going to do it anyway if I hadn't stopped you the last time."

Mikaela looked at him with wide eyes for a long moment before scowling and exhaling the smoke from his lungs.

"I don't know if they teach you this in omega school or whatever, but here's a tip. Don't offer anything you aren't willing to give."

Yuichiro huffed. "Don't give me that. I just want to square things out before we go our separate ways."

"Forget it. I'm not interested."

Yuichiro could feel his face heat up. "What, now that you got an omega bitch in the city I'm not good enough for you? Is that what you're saying?"

Mikaela raised his brows.

"Are you trying to get into my pants?"

Yuichiro stepped away, shaking his head vehemently.

"Of course not! I just… ugh, whatever, forget I said anything. This conversation is over."

He turned to go, but a hand caught his arm and stopped him from walking away. Yuichiro looked over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes.

"What?"

"I was just wondering what you're planning on doing when your heat starts," Mikaela said, dropping the cigarette to the floor and putting it out with the toe of his boot. "It should start any day now."

Yuichiro turned around. His mouth felt dry.

"That's not possible," he said quietly. Mikaela let his arm drop. "I'm taking suppressants-"

"I figured as much," Mikaela interrupted. "They're running out, you know."

Yuichiro bit his lip. "I know. I have a stash in my room."

"…regardless, you're aware they only suppress your scent, right? There's nothing they can do to stop your heat."

Yuichiro's blood ran cold. He remained immobile as Mikaela went on.

"They must have done something to your hormonal balance, though. You should have gone into heats weeks ago, but I only started smelling it on you the last time we met. The other alphas wouldn't recognize it for what it is since they think you're a beta, but I know better, don't I?"

Yuichiro leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes.

It all made sense. He knew he'd been overly emotional over the past few days. And that kiss… it didn't happen on its own accord. His body had been pushing him to come into contact with an alpha for days already.

"I hope those pills didn't cause any permanent damage…"

Yuichiro laughed bitterly. "What do they have left to damage? It's not like I had anything functional in there anyway."

"What do you mean?" Mikaela frowned.

"Haven't you realized it yet? I'm infertile, Mika."

Mikaela stared at him for a long time before taking a step back. He cast his eyes down to the ground and rubbed his arm self-consciously.

"I-I didn't know."

Yuichiro smiled grimly.

"Why did you think I ran away in the first place? They wanted to kill me when I didn't conceive."

"I thought… I knew you didn't conceive. I just didn't think that… are you sure?"

Yuichiro gave a tired sigh and dug his hands into his pockets.

"What kind of omega doesn't get pregnant after four heats in a row? The Board was pretty sure. What do I know?"

Mikaela still looked troubled, so Yuichiro pushed off from the wall and walked over, taking the alpha's hand and offering him a kind smile.

"Hey, it's okay if you want to walk away. I get it. There's no point tying yourself down to an infertile omega. You should go back to your omega in the city. They-"

"Were forced on me by the Board," Mikaela said bitterly. He squeezed Yuichiro's hand. "I've been making up excuses for months, but it was too dangerous to refuse them any longer. I didn't want them to grow suspicious and come snooping around. They'd easily find you if they sent someone after me."

Yuichiro blinked.

"And do you think so lowly of me that you'd assume I'd want to walk away? Wait, don't answer that," Mikaela smiled sheepishly before extending his free hand and pulling Yuichiro close.

"I don't care if you're infertile. All I care about it that you're alive and here with me. I've never met another omega like you, and… "

Yuichiro closed his eyes and pressed his cheek against Mikaela's chest, nuzzling him as a few tears started to fall. After holding them pent up inside of him for so long, he finally let them out.

"I'm sorry," he said in a small voice, partly muffled by Mikaela's shirt. "I didn't mean to be so difficult. I just… I was scared and I…"

Mikaela made a soothing noise from the back of his throat and settled his chin on top of Yuichiro's head, scenting him. His hands worked up and down Yuichiro's back. Yuichiro had never felt more secure.

He didn't know if it was the upcoming heat that was doing the talking for him, but he suddenly didn't care about other omegas or the fact that he couldn't have a child. All he wanted was to have Mikaela hold him until the end of time. Hell, he didn't even care about the flowers anymore.

"…they couldn't have meant that if you didn't know I was infertile," he sniffed, laughing despite himself.

"What are you talking about?" Mikaela murmured, pressing his lips to the crown of Yuichiro's head.

"The flowers you sent me. The green ones. Shusaku told me that they symbolized fertility."

"…I had no idea that flowers are supposed to represent anything. I just thought that they were pretty. They…they reminded me of your eyes."

Yuichiro grinned. He knew he looked ridiculous, smiling with a red nose and tear-stained face, but he couldn't care less. He laughed.

"I'm such an idiot."

Mikaela paused and gently pulled Yuichiro away, holding him at arm's length before leaning down and pressing his lips to his forehead.

"Maybe, but you're my idiot," he hummed as he licked up the salty trail on Yuichiro's cheeks. Yuichiro flushed and pushed him away.

"A-anyway. What are we doing about my heat?"

"You'll be spending it with me, obviously. I have my own quarters. No one will be able to walk in on us."

Yuichiro bit his lip. He wanted nothing more than what Mikaela just described. But there were so many things that could go wrong.

"But what will I tell Shinya? My friends?"

"I'll speak with Shinya," Mikaela said dismissively, reaching out and cupping Yuichiro's chin in his palm. He rubbed his thumb over his lower lip. "You just worry about packing a bag tonight and coming over to my quarters tomorrow morning so that you'll already be there when your heat starts."

Before Yuichiro could pose another question, Mikaela tilted his head and pressed their lips together for a short kiss. He smiled at Yuichiro's dazed expression as he pulled back.

"You worry too much, Yuu. Let me take care of things, alright?"

Yuichiro nodded slowly.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to let Mikaela handle things for once. Maybe he didn't have to shoulder all of his problems on his own. Maybe it was okay to let himself be an omega and for Mikaela to be his omnipotent alpha, just like things were in the beginning.

…but why did the thought make him so uncomfortable? He couldn't remember…

 

Chapter Text

A few stolen kisses and murmured promises later, Mikaela walked away. They'd agreed that Yuichiro would wait a few minutes before leaving as well, just in case someone was watching. Yuichiro didn't mind. He knew he could use a few minutes of solitude before walking back to his room. He didn't think he could face anyone in such a dazed state.

Mikaela had promised to speak to Shinya, but what about his friends? It wouldn't be right for him to leave on such short notice without a word. He'd already scared them once before- it would practically be a slap in their faces to pull a disappearing act after how much they fussed over him when he was recovering.

Yuichiro had many faults, but he wasn't ungrateful. He wished Mikaela had told him what he was planning on telling Shinya so that their stories could match. He should have asked while he still had the chance.

Running his fingers through his hair irritably, Yuichiro made a mental list of what he'd need to pack. In his previous heats, the suites had been filled with everything the facility had anticipated he'd need. Mikaela might have paid for an upgraded version, but Yuichiro doubted he'd dictated the specifics (aside from the special sweets he ordered). He couldn't be sure if Mikaela's quarters would have everything his body needed to cope with the intense heat.

All you really need is Mika.

Yuichiro shook his head at the errant thought, coughing away his own embarrassment. He couldn't be certain that he'd really spend the week in Mikaela's bed like that. Like how they did before.

Sure, they had just kissed and reached an understanding of sorts (Yuichiro still felt a little uneasy). Sure, Mikaela had been the one to offer and ultimately decree that he would spend his heat in Mikaela's private quarters. But did that mean that they would sleep together? He couldn't be sure. It had been heavily implied, but… did he even want to?

"I like my omegas sweet," Mikaela stated, brushing the back of his hand across Yuichiro's cheek.

"Both here," the alpha pressed his lips to the base of the omega's neck, running his tongue over the bite marks that littered Yuichiro's skin. "And here," he raised his other hand and reached back, prodding his fingers against Yuichiro's entrance and coating them with slick.

Yuichiro's face burned and he leaned against the cold wall, closing his eyes and trying to compose himself. He could feel his body stirring at the memory.

Yes, he wanted to. Dear lord, did he want to. He wanted to feel Mikaela's lips on his skin, to feel his hands grabbing and searching, to feel his cock embedded deeply inside him, filling him to the brim—

That was the heat doing the thinking. Of course it was. But Yuichiro couldn't help but dream about Mikaela picking him up and carrying him to his bed. The bed he'd fantasized sleeping in during his restless week of punishment during basic training.

It was useless to imagine these things, though. Yuichiro didn't know for sure if Mikaela even wanted him anymore. If he could even afford to stay with him throughout the heat. It wasn't like he was getting time off like he did during Yuichiro's previous heat. This wasn't an official mating. Mikaela would still need to wake up early every morning and work throughout the day.

Yuichiro's chest constricted at the thought. He needed to prepare himself for the very real possibility of spending most of his heat alone, if not all.

"Ryuu? You can probably leave by now."

Yuichiro's eyes snapped open and he scrambled away from the wall as if the surface burned his very skin. His face drained of color as he saw Shinoa approaching him. She didn't look happy.

"S-shinoa," he greeted her nervously. "How long have you been standing there?"

The alpha raised a brow. "Long enough to realize that I have no idea who you are."

Shit.

Yuichiro bit his lip and reached out, trying to take Shinoa's hands in his, but she pulled away.

"How long were you going to hide this from me? Were you ever going to tell me?"

"I'm sorry," Yuichiro said quietly. His eyes dropped to the ground. "I didn't want to get you involved."

"You didn't want to get me involved? I'm your friend. That's what friends do."

Yuichiro shook his head. "No, friends protect each other. I didn't want to put you in danger."

Shinoa frowned.

"In that case, how am I supposed to protect you if you won't even tell me what you need protection from?"

Yuichiro could tell that Shinoa was frustrated and he could understand why. Of course he understood. He would feel the same way if he accidentally found out that he didn't even know his best friend's real name.

But her tone wasn't sharp like he would have expected it to be. Her eyes betrayed her hurt, but her voice was soft. Careful. Why wasn't she yelling at him and reprimanding him for essentially lying to her? Why was she looking at him warily, refusing his touch as if he might break at the slightest thing?

"…I can take care of myself."

"I'm not saying that you can't," Shinoa quickly said. Her nose was growing a little red. "You've made it this far, right? But it was difficult. I kept seeing you struggle but never really understood. You never gave me a chance."

Yuichiro pursed his lips. "I'm a fugitive, Shinoa. I couldn't risk telling anyone."

"Commander Shindo knows, though."

Yuichiro's face flamed. He looked away from Shinoa's inquisitive gaze.

"Mika… he was my alpha. Is my alpha? I don't know," Yuichiro mumbled, rubbing his arm awkwardly. "He recognized me during basic training. I tried to deny it, but that didn't really work."

Shinoa's eyes widened.

"That explains… a lot of things, actually."

The alpha was smiling, but Yuichiro still felt conflicted about how well she was taking it all. Where was her anger? Why was she so accepting?

"Why aren't you yelling at me?" He asked, the words tumbling from his mouth unchecked. "Why aren't you mad? I lied to you. I didn't trust you."

Shinoa regarded him silently for a moment before shrugging.

"Do you want me to be mad at you?"

"Of course not," Yuichiro snapped. Without stopping to think, he stepped forward and roughly pushed Shinoa back. She looked at him in surprise, but aside from raising a brow, did nothing.

"Stop holding back, goddammit!" Yuichiro hissed. "It's because I'm an omega, isn't it? You think I can't handle a few harsh words? I'm not going to break, you know! Don't you dare look down on me now that-ah!"

During his rant, he hadn't noticed how Shinoa's eyes had turned red. He didn't have time to dodge as he was slammed against the wall, the alpha pinning him to the cold cement by the neck.

"Are you happy now?" She growled. "Is this what you wanted? Don't flatter yourself, Ryuu. You're not my type. I'm kind and understanding because you're my friend. Because that's what friends are supposed to be."

She paused, and her eyes returned to their normal color. Once she saw that Yuichiro wasn't going to cut her off, she gave him a small smile and pulled away.

"Am I angry? Of course. Do I feel hurt? Absolutely. But I can understand why you did it, Ryuu. I'm not happy that I had to find out about it this way, but I'm glad that I finally know. I probably would have done the same thing."

Yuichiro wasn't proud of himself. He should have known better than to reflect his insecurities on Shinoa's behavior. In the end of the day, not everyone was out to belittle him. He had friends, and it was about time he treated them as such.

"…I'm sorry," Yuichiro said softly, looking down at the ground. "I should have known better. I-I'd understand if you—"

His words were muffled by the large bow Shinoa always wore in her hair. He closed his eyes and smiled as he was enveloped in a tight hug, returning it without a second thought.

"You talk too much, Ryuu."

He didn't deserve a friend like Shinoa, but he was going to do his damn best to try and make it up to her.

"By the way," the alpha said as they pulled apart, a smirk appearing on her face, "Mikaela Shindo."

Yuichiro blinked. "What?"

"Mikaela Shindo," Shinoa repeated happily. "That's my guess. He's the one that sent you all those gifts, right?"

"T-that's cheating!" Yuichiro exclaimed.

"So it's true!" Shinoa grinned. "I win!"

Yuichiro shook his head.

"No, you cheated."

Shinoa stuck out her tongue at him. "I won fair and square. I didn't hear anything about presents in your conversation. I made an educated guess, is all."

Yuichiro narrowed his eyes. He'd mentioned the green roses Mikaela had sent him, but he couldn't really know when Shinoa had started eavesdropping. Hell, he still didn't know why on earth she'd happened upon them in the first place.

He huffed and started to walk away, ignoring the alpha as she followed and chatted at him.

He took it all back. Shinoa was a horrible friend.

 

.x.

 

"I'm not doing it."

"A bet is a bet, Ryuu," Shinoa whispered, an evil grin adorning her features. "I won and you lost. Better pucker up."

Yuichiro shook his head. He wasn't sure if Shinoa was aware now that she knew to identify the scent of his upcoming heat, but he was starting to feel uncomfortable. Mikaela had really swooped in on time to make him realize what his body has been trying to tell him for days. Had they spoken even a day later, well…

Yuichiro was glad he was only about an hour away from a secluded room. He pressed his thighs together.

"This isn't a good time," he hissed. His face had been flushed all morning and even Shinya had pulled him aside and asked if he needed to see a doctor.

Shinoa continued to grin. "No, this is a perfect time. Look," she nodded at the counter, where Makoto was counting the money in the cash register. She then gestured toward an unsuspecting Shusaku, who was humming as he cleaned tables.

"They're both here. What better opportunity are you going to get?"

Her expression softened as Yuichiro shifted in his seat. She reached out and took his hand, which made him jump a little from the contact. He wasn't attracted to female alphas, but in his current state, he couldn't help but tense even at the most innocent brush of skin.

If Shinoa knew what she was doing, her warm smile didn't betray her devious intentions.

"I know it's hard for you right now," she said sweetly, rubbing his knuckles soothingly with her thumb. She ignored his glare. "But you're going to be MIA for a while and it wouldn't be fair if you're the only one having fun. Don't you think Shusaku should get some too?"

Spluttering, Yuichiro pulled away from her touch and folded his arms against his chest. He wasn't amused.

Shinoa laughed and rested her chin in her palm, tilting her head with a lazy grin.

"Besides, wouldn't you want to try and appease your devoted friend who's been there for you since day one while you-"

"Alright, alright!" Yuichiro snapped. His cheeks burned, but that was nothing new for the day. He shot the alpha a dirty look. "You don't get to guilt trip me after this is done, Hiiragi."

Shinoa nodded eagerly. "I won't, promise."

Sighing, Yuichiro conceded defeat and pushed away from the table. He watched Makoto nervously before walking over to Shusaku, who was still busy polishing the opposite table. He swallowed thickly as he came to a stop behind the beta.

This was it. He might as well get it over with.

"Shusaku?"

The beta turned his head around with a smile.

"Yes, Ryuu? What is-mmmph!"

 

Yuichiro closed his eyes and leaned forward, pressing his lips against Shusaku's without giving it too much thought. He'd originally planned on immediately pulling away as Shinoa hadn't specified the duration or kind of kiss he was supposed to initiate, but his lips tingled pleasantly and… his hand was moving on its own, rising to cup Shusaku's face as he tilted his head to deepen the kiss—

His eyes flashed open in alarm and he choked on a cry as he was suddenly yanked away by the collar. He wasn't in the state of mind to try to deny the way he trembled at the look Makoto was giving him.

He looked furious.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" The beta yelled, shaking Yuichiro roughly. Shusaku stood behind him, face as red as Yuichiro imagined his own to be.

He couldn't see Shinoa, but he thought he could hear someone snickering.

"I kissed him!" Yuichiro huffed, disregarding the way his pupils dilated at the constricting grip Makoto had on his collar. "You've got a problem with that?"

All Yuichiro could register was a growl before he was pushed back. He stumbled, the back of his legs painfully hitting a nearby table.

"You can't just go around kissing people!" Makoto grit his teeth. He looked over his shoulder at Shusaku, who met his gaze intently. A blush dusted his cheeks.

Yuichiro held the edge of the table for support. His thighs were quivering and his breath was coming in shallow pants, but he still managed a smirk.

"What's the big deal? It's not like you want to kiss him… right?"

 Before Makoto could formulate a reply, Shinoa called out from the other side of the room.

"Give Ryuu a break, Makoto. He was just helping a friend out with his first kiss."

Both Yuichiro and Makoto's eyes widened. While Makoto turned around to confirm it, Yuichiro narrowed his eyes at the alpha. Had he known that he would have been Shusaku's first kiss, he wouldn't have agreed to the bet.

He didn't have the heart to fight back when Makoto charged forward and grabbed at the front of his shirt, a murderous glint in his eye as he raised his other hand and balled it into a fist.

"How could you--!"

Yuichiro flinched and closed his eyes, ready for the blow he probably deserved, but it never came.  He heard a rush of footsteps and a cry of pain that wasn't his own. He opened his eyes when he was released and gasped when he saw Mikaela grabbing Makoto's wrist.

"Raise your hand on him again, and you'll regret it," the alpha hissed. His grip tightened and Makoto yelled.

"Stop it, Mika. Let him go!" Yuichiro's voice trembled. He wanted nothing more than for Mikaela to release his friend, but he couldn't help but swallow thickly at the heady scent of an incensed alpha that had just protected him from physical harm. It was doing nothing to help stall his heat.

His thighs felt sticky. Great.

Mikaela raised his gaze, probably to argue his case, but the moment their eyes met, the alpha froze. A jolt of heat coursed through Yuichiro's body and he whimpered.

Mikaela shoved a bewildered Makoto out of his way and extended his hand out to Yuichiro.

"Come," he said gruffly, eyes never leaving Yuichiro's face. "It's time to go."

The room was silent as Yuichiro nodded and took Mikaela's hand, allowing him to guide them both out of the canteen without a word. It was only when they'd turned a corner that Yuichiro's mind cleared enough to realize where they were going.

"Wait," he protested, stopping in his tracks. He shivered at the warm breeze on his skin. Was he really so sensitive during his heat?

"I need to go get my things. I-I didn't even explain—"

"Later," Mikaela cut him off. He tugged at Yuichiro's hand and they continued to walk. "There's no time for that now," he elaborated after a few moments, his words short and clipped.

Yuichiro had to wonder how Mikaela had the presence of mind to guide them through the base. There were quite a few alphas that stopped and watched them during their short walk, confusion evident on their faces as they passed by. Yuichiro would have laughed if he wasn't so preoccupied with the way Mikaela's hand felt big and strong around his own. He certainly didn't notice how Mikaela would bare his teeth and growl if another alpha came too close.

The rest of their journey passed in a blur. Yuichiro vaguely recalled being led into a vehicle and whimpering at the loss of contact when Mikaela sat in the driver's seat. He did remember trying to reach over and unbutton the alpha's pants, only to have his hand slapped away and being told to sit still.

By the time Yuichiro found himself inside Mikaela's quarters, his vision was blurry and he could hear his pulse. His mouth was dry. For the first time in his life, Yuichiro was experiencing the less desirable effects of the heat on his body. Sure, his body craved an alpha's touch, but he was far more preoccupied with trying to find a way to quench his thirst.

This had never happened before. The betas at the facility had never allowed him to reach this state. Could he have even reached it in the city? Was it a side effect of being on the scent suppressants for so long?

"Here," a glass of water appeared in his line of vision and Yuichiro eagerly reached for it, downing the cool liquid in a few, short gulps. He made a small sound of dismay- he was still thirsty.

The glass was taken from him and wordlessly refilled as Yuichiro seated himself on the nearest piece of furniture, which turned out to be a couch. He accepted the full glass with a nod and finished it in a matter of seconds as well.

He felt a little better, but he was still so hot.

"…do you want to take a shower?"

Yuichiro blinked in surprise. He'd forgotten that Mikaela was in the room. How far gone was he?

Mikaela certainly didn't forget. In fact, the way he anticipated Yuichiro's needs would have been a little unnerving if Yuichiro hadn't been so grateful for his foresight. This was the way an alpha took care of their omega, wasn't it?

It was… nice.

"Yeah," he cleared his throat. His voice was raspy. Now that he thought about it, he wasn't just hot- he was plain gross. He could feel the sweat dry on his skin and his slick was probably staining the couch. His clammy hands weren't helping any.

Mikaela nodded in the direction of the small hallway. "Bathroom is the first door to the right. Jump right in- I'll go get you a towel."

Yuichiro stood up on wobbly legs and took a few steps. He watched Mikaela curiously at the alpha inhaled sharply and balled his palms into fists before turning around abruptly and walking away.

Curious, Yuichiro reached out and stopped Mikaela by the arm. A fresh wave of heat slammed into him and he gasped as the alpha paused and turned to meet his eyes.

"Aren't…aren't you going to join me?"

Mikaela's arm trembled under his touch.

"You want me to?"

Yuichiro nodded, but apparently it wasn't enough for the alpha.

"Are you sure?"

"Fucking hell, Mika. If you don't want to touch me so bad, you shouldn't have-aah!"

Yuichiro was cut off by a pair of strong arms that lifted him up and slung him over Mikaela's shoulder. He would have cried out his indignation, but he was too occupied with the novelty of being manhandled in such a way to protest too much.

Mikaela's strength shouldn't have been as much of a turn on as it was, but Yuichiro was rendered powerless at this point to his instincts. He was thankful that he had the presence of mind to recognize it for what it was, at the very least.

This was why his heats scared him, more than anything. But he couldn't dwell on it for long. Not when he was finally set down in the tub and wonderfully cool water was coming down- wait.

"I still have my clothes on!"

Mikaela's low chuckle made Yuichiro's heart skip a beat. The alpha climbed into the shower, fully clothed as well. His hair was less of a mess than Yuichiro's what with it being tied back, but it wasn't the quickly dampening locks that Yuichiro had his eyes on.

No, it was the predatory smirk and the unwavering dark gaze that Mikaela gave him that made Yuichiro take a step back, only to hit the wet wall. He almost slipped, but Mikaela closed the gap between them and pinned his body back, supporting Yuichiro's weight as he regained his footing.

"Not for long," Mikaela murmured as his fingers worked on Yuichiro's collar. There were strands of wet hair in his eyes, but the alpha never once looked away from the creamy expanse he was revealing, one button at a time.

"Ngh…"

Yuichiro closed his eyes, finding it difficult to contain the needy sounds escaping his lips as Mikaela pulled his shirt off and allowed it to fall in the water. Yuichiro didn't really mind- his uniform probably needed a good wash either way. Or rather, how could he mind, when Mikaela's cool lips were on his heated skin?

Yuichiro continued to squirm and cry out as Mikaela peppered his collarbone with quick, chaste kisses. His hands grasped Yuu's sides and his thumbs were rolling the omega's nipples beneath them. Yuichiro whined and dug his fingers into Mikaela's uniform jacket, holding onto his shoulders for support.

"I missed you," Mikaela's words were puffs of warm air on Yuichiro's neck. "Missed you so much, Yuu…"

There was a thigh pressing between his legs and Yuichiro moaned, rolling his hips against it in his dire search for friction. He was hot, too hot, but he needed more.

Mikaela's scent was everywhere, heady and potent and arousing like never before, if such a thing were possible. There was a desperate edge to this wave of heat and Yuichiro needed something to curb it. Anything. If only he knew what it was.

"Mika, please," Yuichiro bit his lip. He was half naked, but it wasn't enough. He couldn't be sure if what was running down his legs was water or slick, but he needed the rest of his uniform off.

"I want to feel you, all of you," he continued, somewhat delirious and he continued to ride Mikaela's thigh. His nipples felt sore, but he wouldn't have it any other way. He tilted his head back and bared his throat, feeling the cool tiles against his cheek.

"Take what you want and give me what I need, dammit."

A growl was his only warning as Mikaela leaned down, but instead of sinking his fangs into his neck like he anticipated, his mouth was the one being taken. Yuichiro's eyes fluttered shut and he moaned into the kiss, raising his hands from Mikaela's shoulders to card his fingers through the alpha's hair. He caught the ribbon keeping Mikaela's hair tied back and yanked at it, satisfaction blooming in his chest as his hands were engulfed in Mikaela's soft tresses.

Mikaela's fingers roamed up and down Yuichiro's chest as they kissed, their lips meeting and parting only to meet again. Yuichiro liked the desperate taste Mikaela carried on his tongue, but it only served to stir the fire in the pit of his stomach. It did nothing to sate it.

He was close to tears by the time Mikaela pulled away for the last time, diving in not to press their lips together, but to kiss a trail down Yuichiro's jaw. Yuichiro swallowed thickly as the alpha's lips lingered at his pulse.

Where Lacus had bit him.

"There," he demanded, his voice rough.  "Right there."

For a moment Yuichiro thought Mikaela would refuse. But before he even had the chance to insist, he felt Mikaela's tongue on his skin, his fangs lightly scraping the surface.

Yuichiro relaxed as they finally sank into his flesh. His head swam with pleasure as the endorphins from Mikaela's bite entered his system. But this time, he had no reason to fear the outcome.

This wasn't like last time. Mikaela wasn't like Lacus.

"Ahhh," Yuichiro moaned. His body trembled and he felt weak, but there was nothing he could think of that was more empowering than to willingly give himself over to his alpha. Nothing rivaled the way he provided Mikaela with life- not even Mikaela's knot.

When Mikaela pulled away, his gaze was tinged with crimson. He'd been messy this time, and there was a dribble of blood on the corner of his mouth.

Yuichiro couldn't tear his eyes away.

 

.x.

 

"Mika, I—ngh!"

Yuichiro arched his back, tightening his hold around Mikaela's neck as he moved his hips. Mikaela's hands were sweaty as they helped maneuver him up and down the alpha's cock, but Yuichiro couldn't care less. Not when he was so close to the first completion of his heat.

The bed shook as he bounced, squeezing his muscles around Mikaela's length as much as he could, coaxing the alpha to cum with him. His breathing came in shallow pants and deep moans, limiting his senses to only what he could feel, what he could touch.

"You're so hot, so good for me, Yuu," Mikaela grunted, digging his fingers into Yuichiro's hips. "Tell me how much you want this, how much you need me."

Yuichiro fought to catch his breath, to string enough words together to please his alpha.

"Please, please," he chanted, rolling his hips. "I need you, I need this, I…I…"

The world shifted and Yuichiro was on his back, his legs spread wide open as Mikaela continued to fuck him in earnest, hips snapping back and forth. Yuichiro cried out and grabbed the blanket beneath him, holding on for purchase as his body was rocked against the mattress.

He was so close, so fucking close, he could practically taste it. All it took in the end was for Mikaela to push into him one more time and shudder as he bred him. The way the alpha's knot filled him pushed Yuichiro over the edge and he came, his seed painting the expanse of his stomach white.

Mikaela's eyes were still red when Yuichiro looked up at the panting alpha. He frowned, unsure of the thrill that shook him as Mikaela lowered his head and held his leg in place as he closed in on his thigh.

"Mika," he said hesitantly. His voice shook. "Mika, I don't think I can take another-ah!"

Tears stung Yuichiro's eyes as he tried to sit upright but was kept down with a warning growl. Mikaela had piercing the skin of his inner thigh, but with all of his teeth- not just his fangs. It hurt, but the scary part was how right it felt. As if his body was recognizing what he couldn't and accepting it.

He stopped trembling and settled down, baring his throat submissively in case Mikaela wanted to drink again. He wasn't sure why he was doing it, but it felt like the most natural thing to do. He spread his legs even wider, accommodating Mikaela, who hummed in approval as he finally pulled away. He laved the bite with his tongue and indeed, Yuichiro was relieved that some of the pain was gone.

Still connected by Mikaela's knot, Yuichiro allowed himself to be pulled into Mikaela's arms and onto his chest as the alpha lay on his back. Their mouths met in a languid, lazy kiss.

"What…what was that?" Yuichiro inquired after pulling away. His thigh throbbed with the lingering traces of pain. He rested his cheek against Mikaela's sternum and closed his eyes. He was tired, and he wanted to rest as long as he could before the next wave of heat overtook him.

Mikaela was quiet as he raised his hand to run his fingers through Yuichiro's hair, petting him soothingly.  It was a full minute before he answered.

"…I think I marked you."

Yuichiro stiffened.

"You marked me?"

Mikaela sighed. Yuichiro could feel the vibrations of his voice against his cheek.

"I think so. I wasn't fully in control when I did it. It was an uncontrollable urge I never felt before."

Yuichiro's mind raced. What Mikaela said made sense- he had wanted to stop it, but something primal inside him had approved, had made it felt natural. Was this what the suppressants he and Mikaela were forced to take before his heat in the city had been supposed to stop?

Aside from the pain and the (Yuichiro winced) permanent scar, he couldn't see why it would be so important for the Board to want to prevent.

"Do you feel any different?"

Mikaela shook his head. "No. Do you?"

"Me neither."

They remained quiet, each one deep in their own thoughts. Mikaela's knot eventually subsided and Yuichiro pulled away with a loud, wet noise, making him flinch as he chaffed his thighs together. The mark still hurt.

He curled up at Mikaela's side and closed his eyes, inhaling Mikaela's scent as he drifted off to sleep. Mikaela's arm wrapped around his shoulder reassured him in a way he didn't think such a simple gesture could.

They might have broken a taboo, but with Mikaela finally marking him as his own, Yuichiro couldn't help but feel like something finally fell into place.

For the first time in months, he felt safe.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro's body cried in protest as he tried to push himself off the bed. There were muscles he didn't even remember having screaming bloody murder at him. It didn't matter how many times Mikaela rubbed soothing circles into his back- what Yuichiro needed was a long, hot bath without any kind of touching. Nothing.

…which was a rather tall order to ask for since all his body wanted was to be touched. To Mikaela's credit, the alpha tried to keep his hands to himself once the first wave had subsided, but Yuichiro still somehow found himself on all fours, screaming Mikaela's name. And he was pretty sure that one was his fault.

The first twenty four hours were behind him, though, and clarity was slowly reclaiming his heat-addled mind. Yuichiro was able to sit down at the kitchen table like a person and eat a full meal, which was surprisingly good. He hadn't known that Mikaela could cook. He ended up showing the alpha his appreciation by falling to his knees and blowing him against the counter, but hey, at least his stomach was full with something aside from Mikaela's seed.

The only thing he wanted now was that bath and he'd be damned if he didn't get one. His thighs and stomach were crusted with dried cum and Yuichiro needed to get the taste of sweat out of his mouth before the second wave hit. Now that Mikaela was gone, a thorough wash without any disruptions was finally possible.

An unfamiliar feeling coiled in Yuichiro's stomach as he finally managed to climb off the bed and waddle into the bathroom. He'd never felt it before, but he had a pretty good guess what brought it on.

Yuichiro had never been apart from his alpha during his previous heats. The betas always made sure to lock them up together just before it hit and they hadn't been allowed to leave the mating quarters until it subsided. Even now, Mikaela had been with him more or less from the start.

But this wasn't the city and the Board wasn't monitoring his heats anymore. Yuichiro didn't know what Mikaela told Shinya to excuse his absence, but Mikaela had no reason to stay in his apartment the whole day. He was a commander, and his soldiers needed him. He could sign and use his vacation days, but since he'd just been to the city to spend time with his new omega (mandatory or not), the system wouldn't agree to it. Especially on such short notice.

Mikaela was already in trouble for missing a full day. He explained to Yuichiro that he might have to stay a few extra hours to make up for it, but at the time, Yuichiro had been so sated that he didn't mind. He couldn't have predicted that Mikaela's presence was so important to his body, even if it they weren't actually fucking.

Whatever, Yuichiro rolled his eyes and tried to ignore the sharp stabbing pain in his stomach. I needed a break from him anyway.

The tub was still wet from the shower Mikaela had taken earlier to wash off the scent of omega. He pushed the plug in place and turned on the faucet, smiling slightly at the sound of the water filling the tub. He wouldn't have to wait long.

In the meantime, Yuichiro walked over to the sink and rummaged around for a spare toothbrush but couldn't find one. He eyed Mikaela's brush, placed innocently in a plastic cup. Yuichiro reached for it.

If Mikaela had given him enough time to grab his bag, Yuichiro wouldn't have had to resort to using his. He picked it up and considered it for a moment before putting it back in the cup with a frown. He might suck the alpha's cock, but he couldn't stomach using his brush.

Determined to find some kind of alternative, he opened the cabinet above the sink and to his surprise, found a new brush still in its packaging. Yuichiro made a triumphant sound and picked it up. When he turned it, though, he saw a small sticky note on the back.

For Yuu

The coil in Yuichiro's gut tightened and he cursed under his breath as he tore the packaging and pulled the brush out. He crumpled the note in his hand and threw it into the trash bin along with the plastic.

Mikaela must have bought it for him before they'd stumbled into his apartment. Hell, now that he thought about it, the alpha had to have gotten it before they'd even agreed on him staying with Mikaela during his heat. None of the canteens were open at such a late hour, and Mikaela picked him up early in the morning…

Confident bastard , Yuichiro fumed as he forcefully brushed his teeth. He'd had this all planned out, didn't he?

But the brush was convenient and soon enough Yuichiro was appeased by the minty taste in his mouth. He didn't have it in him to get worked up over a stupid toothbrush. Besides, he was running a bath to relax. He wouldn't let Mikaela's vague intentions get in the way of it.

The tub was reasonably full by the time Yuichiro finished brushing his teeth. He climbed into the water carefully and hissed at the heat, but insisted on submerging himself completely. His body was over-sensitive and it took him a while to get used to the warm temperature, but once he was settled in, he closed his eyes and leaned back.

"Ahh…"

Yuichiro might have drifted off for a few minutes, since when he opened his eyes, he was choking on the water. His body jerked and he sat up straight, coughing until his throat felt raw. Accompanied by the pain in his belly, Yuichiro's mood was turning sour.

Was he really incapable of relaxing without Mikaela around?

Fuming, Yuichiro reached out at the collection of soaps on a small shelf over the tub and picked up a bottle at random. He poured some of it into his hand and started rubbing it over his arms and chest.

A familiar smell assaulted him and much to Yuichiro's surprise, quelled the ache. Curious, Yuichiro lifted his hand to his nose and sniffed at the clear gel in his palm.

It smells like Mika.

Yuichiro's cheeks grew warm at the thought of his body calming down at the mere scent of the alpha. He couldn't deny how much it soothed him, and it was more than just a little mortifying. But Yuichiro didn't mind as long as it improved his mood. Maybe now he could finally relax.

Humming to himself, Yuichiro squirted a generous amount of the lotion into his hand and started rubbing it into his skin. The heavier the scent became, the more relaxed his body felt. Yuichiro was slowly coming to terms with his discovery.

In fact, he should be damn pleased about it. This was an excellent way to manipulate his body without having to spend time with Mikaela. Hell, maybe he wouldn't even need an alpha at all during his heat. He could just take the bottle with him and go back to the canteen—

Yuichiro gasped as his hand rubbed between his thighs. He'd meant to wash off the dried semen, but he hadn't realized how sensitive his skin was. He tried again, this time a little more gently, but all he felt was ill-timed arousal.

The familiar feeling of his sight growing hazy overcame him and Yuichiro leaned back against the wall for support. He brought his hand back up, desperately inhaling the scent in a desperate attempt to stave off the second wave, but all it did was flood his senses with need.

Whining, Yuichiro wrapped his fingers around his shaft and started pumping hastily, hoping to get off quickly and regain a clear mind. His cock pulsed and he cried out, arching his back, but no matter how much he stroked, he just couldn't tip over the edge. Yuichiro tried rubbing his thumb over the slit, biting back a moan, but even that did nothing but stoke the flame of his heat.

Tears of frustration welled in Yuichiro's eyes. The second wave never hit so early. He was usually allowed a few hours of grace before his body revved up. He barely had two hours. Was it because Mikaela wasn't there? Was it because of his scent? Damn that lotion. He shouldn't have even touched it.

Mikaela was going to be gone all day, though, and Yuichiro wasn't allowed out of the apartment under any circumstance. If anyone caught a whiff of him, there would be nothing he could do about it, especially with Mikaela gone.

They knew they'd both be left wanting, but Yuichiro didn’t think it would hurt this much.

Gritting his teeth, Yuichiro turned around and braced himself against the wall. He spread his legs and raised his ass in the air. Normally he'd be uncomfortable at the sudden change of temperature, but his body was already so heated, he accepted the cold air gratefully with only a slight shiver.

Taking another generous squirt of Mikaela-smelling lotion in his hand (he might as well), Yuichiro reached back and easily slid two fingers inside his hole. He'd been fucked and knotted so many times throughout the day, he didn't need any kind of preparation. His muscles were stretched and loose and soon enough Yuichiro pumped his fingers at a steady pace.

He rested his forehead against the cool tiles, closing his eyes as his chest rose and fell in time with the thrusts. He was close, so close, but with a growl he realized that even this wasn't enough. He prodded around for his prostate, but for the life of him, Yuichiro couldn't find it.

Yuichiro finally gave up when his wrist refused to cooperate any longer. He sat down in the lukewarm water, feeling sorry for himself. His cock ached and his hole twitched, but there was nothing he could do to sate himself. Not until Mikaela returned. And that would be, in how long? Six hours?

Yuichiro was downright miserable.

He stayed in the water for a few more minutes before coming to terms with the fact that a relaxing bath just wasn't meant to be. Yuichiro climbed out of the tub and dried himself off with a nearby towel, flinching at the way the rough material felt on his skin.

The towel fell to the floor in a heap and Yuichiro left the room, deciding to let himself dry off naturally. Besides, his body was probably warm enough to melt chocolate in an instant. He needed to try that with Mikaela—

Yuichiro shook his head. He couldn't let himself go down that path. If he was to survive the next few hours, he needed to keep his mind clean. It was problematic enough that slick was already started to trickle down his thighs and his cock was pressing insistently against his stomach.

Even Mikaela's mark throbbed.

Digging his nails into his palms, Yuichiro tried to focus on the pain as he looked around for something to distract him. Mikaela's quarters were considered a luxury in military standards, but they weren't very large. He couldn't stomach the thought of food, so after downing a few glasses of water in the kitchen, Yuichiro didn't have a reason to linger.

Yuichiro tried sitting down on the alpha's couch and read a book from the extensive collection on Mikaela's bookshelf, but he kept shifting uncomfortably. He couldn't focus on the words. Even on a good day, the content would have put him to sleep. Why on earth did Mikaela care so much about the history of weapons?

Well, maybe that was why he was a commander and Yuichiro worked at a canteen.

Yuichiro knew he was making a mess, but he couldn't be bothered to put the book back on the shelf. He returned to Mikaela's bedroom for the lack of anything better to do.

The room smelled strongly of sex and pheromones. Yuichiro had wanted to open the windows, but was stopped just in time by Mikaela who insisted that they couldn't risk anyone scenting him and tracking him down. Yuichiro didn't mind the smell so much when Mikaela was there, but now that he was gone, it only served as a reminder of what his body was craving the most.

Frowning, Yuichiro looked about the room. There must be something he could do. His gaze settled on Mikaela's desk and an idea tugged him forward.

He really shouldn't snoop…but now that the opportunity presented itself, Yuichiro couldn't help but walk over and sit down. He hesitated at the pile of papers on the desk, but curiosity won out in the end and he started to read.

Mikaela already knew so much about him. Yuichiro deserved to have an inkling of who Mikaela was out of uniform.

The pile of documents proved to be interesting, but they didn't tell much. They were merely reports of the progress of the new group of recruits. Yuichiro read a few of the trainees' files before growing bored. This wasn't what he wanted.

Finding nothing else on the desk, Yuichiro opened the drawers and started to rummage through them. The first drawer contained a few pens and scraps of paper. The second one was empty. Discouraged, Yuichiro almost didn't bother to open the third drawer, but he decided to do so anyway, just to know that he'd left nothing untouched.

At first it looked like the drawer was empty like the second one, but before Yuichiro closed it, his eye caught a dash of color. Tilting his head, Yuichiro reached in and pulled out something wooden.

A photo frame.

Eyes widening, Yuichiro studied the photo carefully. His breath caught painfully in his throat.

 

The Mikaela in the photo looked younger, just a little older than Yuichiro. He was wearing a different uniform, one that looked very similar to the one Yuichiro owned. He obviously hadn't been promoted yet. It looked…odd.

But what looked even more out of place was the warm smile on his face as he looked down at the other person in the photo. He was standing behind a chair and was wrapping his arms around the younger boy's shoulders. The boy's face was lit up in a matching smile as he turned his head to meet Mikaela's gaze.

The boy's hands were resting on his stomach, which Yuichiro realized with a start was slightly bulging. No, there was no denying it- the boy was most certainly pregnant.

And if he was pregnant…that would necessarily make him an omega. Mikaela's omega.

It couldn't be Mikaela's current omega. The photograph was obviously taken years before. Which must mean…It must mean that Mikaela had an omega before him.

The pain in Yuichiro's stomach reared its ugly head and returned with a vengeance. But Yuichiro chose to ignore it as he forced himself to really look at the other omega.

The longer he studied the photograph, the more Yuichiro realized that the omega resembled him quite a bit. His hair was brown and his eyes were a dark shade of hazel, true, but weren't Yuichiro's features the same in his disguise? He couldn't put his finger on it, but there was something about the omega's face that was strikingly similar to the one Yuichiro saw in the mirror.

Unable to look any longer, Yuichiro's eyes returned to Mikaela, which was probably the wrong move. There was so much love and affection in the alpha's gaze while he looked down that Yuichiro had to put the photo down. He felt sick.

He didn't think it was possible, but he could feel his length start to soften and his hole wasn't twitching anymore. Instead, all he felt was an emptiness he wasn't sure what to do with.

Yuichiro...it was difficult admitting it to himself, but his reaction alone was enough. He was jealous. He wanted Mikaela to look at him like that.

Oh, he'd felt Mikaela's blue eyes scorching him, but the heat in his gaze was always lust or anger. Never love. At least, he didn't think so. There was no reason for him to think so, not really.

He obviously loved the pregnant omega in the photo. They were a picture perfect couple: young, beautiful and fertile. They probably did the Board proud.

Yuichiro shoved the photo back into the drawer and slammed it shut. He didn't want to see them anymore. That omega only reminded him of all the things he couldn't have in life- love, children, a healthy relationship. Mikaela said that he didn't need children from him, but what kind of alpha could love an infertile omega?

Mikaela might think that he wanted Yuichiro, but once his heat subsided, he'd probably want nothing more to do with him. He'd caught Yuichiro. The chase was over.

Though he'd only woken up an hour before, Yuichiro was feeling incredibly tired. He pushed away from the desk and trudged over to the bed. Climbing in, he delved beneath the blankets and hugged his knees to his chest. He didn't feel so hot anymore.

Yuichiro drifted off to sleep with a bitter taste in his mouth.

 

.x.

 

There were lips on his shoulder when he woke up. Blearily, Yuichiro opened his eyes to find a fully-clothed alpha hovering above him, littering whatever exposed skin he could reach with kisses.

When he noticed that Yuichiro was awake, Mikaela smiled down and pecked the corner of his mouth. Yuichiro yawned and turned onto his back, spreading his arms in an open invitation. Mikaela took very little time to accept it, sliding into Yuichiro's embrace and pressing their mouths together.

Yuichiro moaned into the kiss, canting his hips beneath the blanket. Mikaela ground down against him in response, smirking as Yuichiro pulled away with a gasp and arched his back. He was completely awake now, and so was his body.

Mikaela was finally back. Yuichiro needed him badly. He kicked the sheets off his legs and wrapped them around Mikaela's hips, sliding their bodies together. He needed Mikaela's cock inside him, now. He needed his knot to spread him, to fill him to the brim with the alpha's seed…

Mikaela ducked his head and nuzzled Yuichiro's neck. "'missed you. You…You smell like me," he stated with no small satisfaction in his voice. Yuichiro could feel the alpha's length harden beneath the fabric.

The words felt like a waking call. All Yuichiro needed was to remember the disastrous bath he took in order to recall the rest of his morning. All at once his need subsided and he turned his face away from Mikaela's kiss. His lips pressed against his cheek instead.

"Yuu?" Mikaela furrowed his brows. "What's wrong?"

When Yuichiro didn't reply, Mikaela looked at him for a moment before starting to move. He dragged his lips over Yuichiro's chest, pausing to pop one pert nipple into his mouth and roll the nub with his tongue. His hand delved between them and grasped Yuichiro's cock, giving it a light squeeze.

Yuichiro let out a strangled cry and batted Mikaela's hand away. "Stop it!"

As if burned, Mikaela pulled back, his face the picture of confusion. There was some hurt there, too, but Yuichiro wasn't ready to acknowledge it.

"Did I do something wrong?"

Mikaela's voice sounded tired and strained.

Yuichiro unhooked his legs from around Mikaela's hips and sat up. Wordlessly, he grabbed the blanket it pulled it back over his body, covering his skin from the alpha's gaze. Mikaela sat up as well.

"Are you going to say anything?"

Yuichiro looked away. He knew he was being unhelpful, but he didn't know how to address the gnawing emptiness in his chest.

Mikaela gave a growl of frustration and climbed off the bed. Yuichiro watched as the alpha went through what must be his evening ritual, pulling off his uniform jacket and hanging it up in his closet. He then continued to pull a small handgun out of his belt, setting it down with a loud clang on the desk. Yuichiro winced.

"Who is he?"

The words spilled before he could stop himself and Yuichiro half hoped Mikaela wouldn't hear them. But the alpha turned around and frowned at him.

"Who are you referring to?"

Once the dam was broken, the rest of his words tumbled out effortlessly.

"The boy in the photo. Your omega ."

Yuichiro spat out the last word, his body tensing in preparation for a fight. But he wasn't prepared for the stricken look on Mikaela's face.

His ire faltered as Mikaela bent down and opened the third drawer, pulling out the photo. He looked down at it for a long minute before turning around and walking over to Yuichiro, settling himself at his side.

"Going through another person's belongings is rude, Yuu."

Mikaela's voice was soft and wasn't the bit accusatory, but Yuichiro still felt the need to defend himself.

"I-I was bored because you left me and—"

"His name was Kota."

Yuichiro faltered. He hadn’t expected Mikaela to answer him.

"…'was'?"

Mikaela nodded. His grip on the photo frame tightened.

"He…he passed away."

Pain blossomed in Yuichiro's chest and he swallowed thickly. It wasn't sharp like what he usually felt- it was more of a sorrowful ache. He'd never felt it before. If he had to label it, he'd have to guess at something related to grief.

Whatever it was, it didn't belong to Yuichiro.

This is what Mika must be feeling.

Startled at the revelation, Yuichiro took a moment to experience the emotion. Tears filled his eyes and he reached out, draping himself over Mikaela's back. If Mikaela felt anything the way he was, he must be craving comfort. The alpha jerked in surprise at the sudden contact but did nothing to pull away. In fact, he relaxed against Yuichiro's chest.

"What happened to him?"

Mikaela started to answer, but cut himself off after every other word, trying over and over again to choose the right words. In the end, he made a small sound of frustration and sighed.

"Kota was my first omega. He was given to me after my first promotion and I…I couldn't get enough of him. He was kind and happy and wanted nothing but to be loved. And it was so easy to love him."

Yuichiro stiffened, but Mikaela continued, lost in memories only he could see to notice Yuichiro's discomfort.

"He got pregnant after his second heat. We were both ecstatic. I started saving up. I loved seeing the way he grew big and heavy with our child. We were going to be a proper family, y'know?"

Mikaela paused. He looked down at the photograph.

"The baby…the baby came early. There were complications, and…there was so much, so much blood. He kept growing weaker and paler and all I could do was sit there and watch."

Mikaela's voice was bitter and Yuichiro squeezed his arms tighter around the alpha's shoulders, trying to provide some source of comfort, but Mikaela spoke as if he wasn't there at all.

"I was so fucking useless. And it was all my fault!" Mikaela grit his teeth. He pulled away from Yuichiro's embrace and stood up. There were tears in his eyes.

Yuichiro's heart skipped a beat.

"Your…fault? How could it be—?"

"I was the one who knocked him up," Mikaela spat. "I was the one who put a baby in his belly. And it killed him. He died because of me ."

"It's no laughing matter, Yuichiro. Many an omega lost their lives to their alpha's gluttony."

Yuichiro shook his head furiously. He might not care much for this Kota, but Mikaela's grief was practically tearing at his seams. He couldn't differentiate between Mikaela's sorrow and his own pain at seeing his alpha so troubled.

"It's not your fault!" Yuichiro cried out. He gripped the edge of the bed. "You couldn't have known! You both wanted a child!"

Mikaela shook his head. His shoulders sagged and he looked a little lost. He placed the photo frame back on top of his desk.

"That doesn't matter," he said quietly. "In the end, he died because of what I did to him. If I hadn't fucked him, if he'd been paired with a different alpha…he might have lived. He was only sixteen."

At loss at what to do aside from the base urge to comfort, Yuichiro stood up and walked over to the alpha. He circled his arms around Mikaela's waist and hugged him close, resting his cheek against Mikaela's chest.

Mikaela didn't move.

"I'm sorry," Yuichiro whispered. He nuzzled the fabric of the alpha's shirt, taking in his scent. "I'm sorry I brought it up."

Mikaela relaxed in his embrace and wrapped his arms around Yuichiro's frame, returning the hug.

"It's alright," Mikaela murmured. "You deserved to know."

They held each other for what felt like hours before Yuichiro pulled away and stood on his toes, tilting his head to press a kiss to Mikaela's lips. Mikaela pressed back, his hold tightening around Yuichiro's shoulders as their tongues danced together in a series of molten kisses.

Mikaela started to walk and before he knew it, Yuichiro was pushed down on his back against what was becoming a very familiar mattress. His skin burned under Mikaela's wandering hands and he sighed in content and closed his eyes as he felt the alpha spread his legs.

But instead of hearing the sound of Mikaela unbuckling his belt or the rustle of fabric, Yuichiro felt something warm and damp on his thigh. He opened his eyes to see Mikaela hook his leg over his shoulder and press his mouth to the mating mark on Yuichiro's thigh.

Yuichiro's breath stuttered and he felt an electric current pass through him as Mikaela licked the marked skin. He moaned, squirming against the sheets. He couldn't understand why Mikaela tracing the bite with his tongue was so erotic, but there was no denying his body's reacting. He writhed and gasped when Mikaela sucked, almost reenacting the bite just without the teeth—

No, scratch that. There was a telltale pinprick and Mikaela's fangs sank into Yuichiro's thigh. Yuichiro hissed and arched his back, fully welcoming the way his system was flooded with pheromones.

His body shuddered as Mikaela drank his fill. Yuichiro gazed down at Mikaela with lidded eyes, a surge of pride blossoming in his chest at the confirmation that he was the only one who could comfort and provide for Mikaela this way.

Mikaela might have had an omega he'd loved in the past and he might have one waiting for him in the city, but neither of them bore the alpha's mark. Neither of them really understood the full consequences of it quite yet, but there was a deep-rooted sense of right that Yuichiro couldn't deny.

Mikaela pulled away shortly after, pressing a gentle kiss to the thoroughly-marked skin and succeeding in making Yuichiro's heart skip a beat.

"Why?" Yuichiro asked, no louder than a whisper. "Why did you choose me?"

His question seemed to catch Mikaela by surprise. The alpha lowered Yuichiro's leg down on the mattress carefully and moved up his body, settling at Yuichiro's side. He reached out and cupped Yuichiro's cheek in his palm.

There was something unsettling in the alpha's silence and Yuichiro spoke, his nerves getting the better of him.

"Is it…is it because I look like him?"

There, he'd said it. Yuichiro braced himself for a torrent of fervent denials, perhaps apologies, maybe even anger. But Mikaela only shook his head. He brushed his thumb over Yuichiro's lips.

"I was devastated when Kota died," Mikaela said softly. He looked at Yuichiro, but his eyes were far away. "I couldn't handle the pain. The military is an excellent place to forget yourself in your work, and I put my whole being into my new job. It took me a few years, but I was finally promoted to a commander. What I didn't realize that along with private quarters and a handsome paycheck, I was eligible for other privileges. The Board… they wanted to give me a new omega."

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. He hadn't realized he'd been gifted to Mikaela as an occupational perk.

Mikaela's fingers traced down Yuichiro's throat, admiring the contrast his marks made against the creamy expanse. Bite marks, hickeys…Yuichiro would have to wear his collar up for weeks.

"I'd been living off blood bags for so long, I didn't feel the need to feed off another living being anymore. I declined their offer, but the Board insisted. They invited me to the city to review eligible omega files and I went, thinking they'd respect my decision if I spoke to them in person…"

The fingers stopped and Mikaela seemed to return to the present. He met Yuichiro's gaze with a sad smile.

 

"I looked over the files, just to be polite, but when I came across yours… You took my breath away, Yuichiro. You do resemble Kota, I won't lie, but your eyes were what caught my attention. They were so happy, so full of life , and they sparked something in me I hadn't felt in a very long time. They…You filled me with hope, Yuu. Just from your picture alone."

Yuichiro felt his face heat up. No one had ever spoken like this to him before.

"I continued to read your file and realized that you were having trouble conceiving. I had my doubts, but I thought…" Mikaela paused and looked away. His face was flushed too.

"I know this might sound silly, but I thought that maybe I could redeem myself with you. If I…if I killed Kota by giving him a child, then maybe I could save you by doing the exact same thing. I wanted to do right by him, and I wanted to help you, too."

Yuichiro shook his head and reached out, placing his hand on Mikaela's chest. He could feel the beat of his heart even through the fabric of his shirt.

"It's not silly," Yuichiro murmured. His pride hurt a little, but perhaps he deserved to be reminded that he wasn't the only person in their relationship, or whatever they were to each other. He'd never really troubled himself with what Mikaela might be feeling. With all Mikaela had done for him, the least Yuichiro could do was listen.

"I might be a rebound," he started carefully, "and I might be infertile, but I really appreciate—"

There was a sudden shift beneath him and Yuichiro found himself straddling Mikaela's hips. The alpha sat up and held his face in both of his hands, pressing their foreheads together.

"You aren't a rebound," Mikaela said firmly. Yuichiro tried to avert his gaze, but Mikaela tightened his grip. "No, Yuu, listen to me. Just look at you! How could you ever be anything but your own person?"

Yuichiro bit his lip. This wasn't going the way he'd planned. He'd wanted to assure Mikaela that he was thankful for his help, but the alpha turned it around and he ended up being the one who needed to be comforted.

Mikaela lowered his hands to grip Yuichiro's thighs. He brushed his fingers lightly over their mating mark, and Yuichiro inhaled sharply. Humming in approval, Mikaela continued to drag his fingers over the sensitive skin as he murmured words against Yuichiro's jaw.

"You're my mate. Mine . I'm never going to let anyone take you away from me again. When they told me you died…"

Mikaela's voice trailed off and Yuichiro felt tears burn his throat. He pulled Mikaela's chin up and meshed their lips together in a desperate kiss and Mikaela didn't deny him. If anything, he returned the kiss with fierce determination.

Yuichiro had been so focused on escaping the city with his life and surviving on his own in the military, he hadn't stopped to consider what Mikaela felt when he disappeared. Sure, he had every right to expect his alpha's sympathy, but maybe Mikaela deserved some too.

To have not one, but two omegas die in your care… Yuichiro couldn't imagine carrying that kind of responsibility.

"I'm here now," he assured him in between gasps for air. "I'm here. I'm yours."

Mikaela's arms wrapped around Yuichiro's waist and he broke the kiss. His eyes were wet and he leaned forward, nestling his nose in the crook of Yuichiro's neck. Yuichiro returned the hug and slung his arms over Mikaela's shoulders, holding him close as Mikaela's back rose and fell in silent sobs.

"…please don't leave me."

Mikaela's words, almost muffled against Yuichiro's skin, melted the last of Yuichiro's resistance. Mikaela needed him just as much as he needed Mikaela, perhaps even more. Why should they have to fight alone? Why couldn't they stand together, supporting one another?

"I won't," Yuichiro swore. "I won't."

The next few minutes passed in a blur of tangled limbs and labored breath. Yuichiro had pushed Mikaela back against the pillows and proceeded to lift himself up and sink onto the alpha's cock. He let out a sigh of relief as he finally felt whole, complete. Filled .

This is what belonging to Mikaela felt like, and Yuichiro wouldn't have it any other way.

 

 

Chapter Text

"Yuu…hah, I really need to—ngh!"

Yuichiro blinked up at Mikaela's face, feigning innocence to the best of his abilities. But with his lips wrapped around the alpha's cock it was a bit of a lost case. It didn't really matter what he looked like, though. Mikaela's cheeks were flushed and his eyes were glazed over in the best of ways. It made Yuichiro's heart skip a beat to see them focused solely on him and as a reward, he hallowed his cheeks around the flesh in his mouth and nuzzled his nose in Mikaela's public hair, inhaling his scent.

Mikaela cried out and precum fluid ran down Yuichiro's chin. He was still hard when Yuichiro pulled back and his face was the picture of confliction. Yuichiro couldn't help but smile smugly as he wiped his mouth with the back of his palm.

"I'd like to see you go anywhere with a hardon," he challenged Mikaela and sat back on his haunches, spreading his thighs just so. He could feel Mikaela's heavy gaze on his naked skin, but the alpha make no move to take what he obviously needed.

"You're being unreasonable," Mikaela insisted, though his husky tone put to question who exactly was the one going against reason. "I can't skip work again. My soldiers need me."

Yuichiro knew that Mikaela was right, of course. He was a soldier too and the system was everyone's number one priority. If soldiers- especially commanders- just did what they wanted, everything would collapse.

But one more day wouldn't tip the scale, would it?

"But I need you more," Yuichiro bit his lip. "Do you know how frustrating it is for me when you're not here? My heat is going to be over soon anyway. You can work as much as you want then."

For a moment, Yuichiro was sure he'd convinced Mikaela and closed his eyes as the alpha leaned down for a kiss. But before he could wrap his arms around Mikaela's neck and pull him down, Mikaela broke away and climbed off the bed.

"If I don't go today, they might send someone to look for me," Mikaela said evenly, though he sounded as if he was trying to convince himself more than anyone else. "I'd do anything to make you happy, Yuu, but your safety comes first."

There we go. Once the issue of safety and Mikaela's duty to protect Yuichiro rose, there was no derailing him from it. Recognizing his argument as a lost cause, Yuichiro sighed and collapsed against the pillows, turning to his side and staring at the wall purposefully. Just because he was letting Mikaela go didn't mean that he was happy about it.

There was a dip in the bed and Yuichiro felt a pair of lips brushing against his bare shoulder.

"I'll try to come back during my lunch break," he murmured, breath hot on Yuichiro's skin. He continued to run his hand over Yuichiro's hip and thigh. "Cheer up, love."

Yuichiro froze.

"What did you just call me?"

Mikaela's hand dipped over Yuichiro's side and wrapped his fingers around Yuichiro's length. "Love," he repeated, his fangs lightly scratching the surface as he peppered kisses on the nape of Yuichiro's neck. "Do you not like it?"

Yuichiro felt his face warm up, and it wasn’t just because of the firm grip on his cock. Not quite sure what to say, he turned around and balanced himself on his arms and legs. Mikaela's hand fell away.

"Yuu…" Mikaela started, regret lacing his tone. "We went over this already, I—"

"You don't have the time, I know, I know," Yuichiro snapped, a little irritably. He looked over his shoulder and gave Mikaela a pleading look. "But you don't have to knot me."

Mikaela shook his head. "I don't think I could hold back if I enter you…"

"Then don't," Yuichiro shrugged. "Fuck my thighs instead. It won't be long, I swear."

Yuichiro worried that Mikaela might reject this idea as well, but sure enough the mattress shifted beneath him and he could feel Mikaela grip his hips from behind. His breath hitched as he felt Mikaela's fingers press into his hole.

"I thought you weren't…"

"I'm not," Mikaela said quickly, voice rough around the edges. "I'm just making this easier."

The fingers pulled out and Yuichiro gasped when they delved between his thighs, coating them with a mixture of his slick and Mikaela's seed. He shivered as they brushed up against the sensitive skin of his balls.

"Squeeze your thighs for me, Yuu-chan," Mikaela murmured, and Yuichiro did as he was told. He pressed his legs together as tightly as he could and crossed his ankles for good measure. A shiver ran up his spine when the warm weight of Mikaela's cock prodded the back of his thighs.

Yuichiro relished the moan that left Mikaela's throat as he pressed between his legs, and couldn't help but voice his appreciation as well. He wasn't too sure about the thick presence of Mikaela's cock between his thighs, but the way it brushed against his own length more than made up for it.

"Is this alright?"

Yuichiro pushed his hips back in response. Mikaela took the hint and started to move in earnest, fucking Yuichiro's thighs with an underlying sense of desperation. Yuichiro reached out and grabbed the closest pillow, burying his face in it as he continued to rock back against Mikaela's cock.

It burned. Good god, it burned. His slick hadn't been enough of a lubricant to prevent chaffing but he'd be damned if he didn't enjoy the way it contrasted with the pleasure of the friction against his cock. He gasped when he felt one of Mikaela's hands drape over his hip and circle as much of their two lengths as it could hold, pressing them together.

"Shit," Yuichiro grit his teeth and shifted his weight to one arm so that he could join Mikaela's hand between their legs. They moved in tandem, a mess of limbs and sweat and the heavy scent of sex in the air. If Yuichiro had the capacity to contemplate their new position he'd be mortified at the lewd sound of their flesh slapping against each other and their heavy breathing, but thankfully all he could think about was how it was a shame that they'd never tried this before. They would have to do it again, maybe with clothes next time.

Mikaela's hips stuttered and he didn't pull out from between Yuichiro's thighs. Yuichiro could feel a bump against his skin and when he looked down, he marveled at the sight of Mikaela's knot, red and throbbing. Thick spurts of cum splashed on his stomach and stained the sheets and the stream just kept going and going.

Yuichiro licked his lips absently. No wonder he always felt so full when Mikaela knotted him.

He didn't expect to be flipped onto his back so suddenly and when Mikaela crawled on top of him, Yuichiro blinked owlishly at him. The alpha wasted no time spreading Yuichiro's thighs into a perfect V and continued to buck his hips, riding out his orgasm against Yuichiro's length.

"C'mon, love," Mikaela prompted, digging his nails into Yuichiro's skin. "Cum for me."

Mikaela's words worked their magic and Yuichiro saw white as he released, his cum joining the alpha's mess on his chest and stomach. Mikaela's hips stilled and they remained in the same position, breathing heavily as his knot subsided. Yuichiro supposed that it didn't last as long if it wasn't deeply imbedded in someone's ass.

"Well…that's new," Yuichiro murmured. Mikaela laughed breathlessly and pulled away. He climbed off the bed and crossed the room towards the door. Despite having just been sated, Yuichiro couldn't help but drink in the handsome picture Mikaela's naked figure made. Broad shoulders, a trim waist and strong legs…

Yuichiro forced himself to look away. It was pointless to deliberately make himself hard again.

"I'm going to be late," Mikaela called from the hallway and Yuichiro shrugged, delving beneath the covers with a blissed out smile. They both knew it was worth it.

The sound of the shower turning on was the last thing Yuichiro could recall before closing his eyes and drifting off.

 

.x.

 

Their last minute session only staved off the inevitable. Yuichiro had been able to rest his body for a few hours, but as time passed, he woke up as hot and bothered as he'd been on the first day of his heat. A cold shower helped clean his body and made him feel more like a person, but once he was out Yuichiro found himself leaning against the wall with his hand between his legs.

Mika will be back soon, he tried to reason with his frustrated body. One more night, and everything will go back to normal.

He'd meant to return to Mikaela's bedroom, but Yuichiro's feet took him to the living room instead. The last time he sat there he hadn't found anything interesting to do, but he was so sick and tired of being confined to the bed that he determined that he'd wait out the rest of the evening on the couch. Enough was enough.

Yuichiro sat down with a small sigh. The couch wasn't as comfortable as Mikaela's bed, but it was a welcome change. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the headrest, his towel spread beneath him as to avoid soaking the cushions with his slick as he'd done before. Mikaela hadn't noticed the stain yet, but once the apartment was aired out, there would be no mistaking the distinct scent of omega coming from the room.

Mikaela wouldn't be able to have company for months.

Still relishing the cooling effects of the shower, Yuichiro allowed himself to start thinking about his- well, their - future. He'd done his best not to dwell on it whilst in the throes of his heat, but he couldn't wish away the morrow. They needed to sit down and have a talk. Yuichiro shifted uncomfortably at the prospect of sharing his feelings and considering their options , but he recognized that it was something that needed to be done.

Groaning, Yuichiro forced himself to open his eyes. Their upcoming conversation was important, but there was something far more urgent demanding his attention right between his legs.

"…this is torture," Yuichiro muttered angrily as he reached down and wrapped his hand around his aching cock. He hated how self-aware his heat was turning out to be without the influence of the Board's pills, but seething wasn't going to take the edge off. His length was sore and his wrist hurt, but he kept tugging and pumping his hand, hoping against hope that he might be allowed to cum from this alone.

Five minutes later found him straddling the couch's thick armrest. There were tears of pent up frustration in his eyes as he leaned down, pressing his chest to the smooth fabric. His left leg dangled uselessly over the floor while his right was folded on a cushion, helping him keep his balance along with his arm. Yuichiro took a moment to gather himself before raising his hips and reaching back between his legs to slip two fingers into his hole.

Yuichiro's breathing grew labored as he rocked his hips, rubbing his length against the armrest while fucking himself on his fingers. Back and forth, back and forth. The friction was delicious but he needed more, more. A high-pitched whine left his throat as Yuichiro shamelessly rolled his hips, inserting two more fingers. Just a bit more, maybe another finger…?

The distinct sound of a key turning in the lock didn't stop Yuichiro's movements. Mikaela was finally home, and not a minute too soon. If he put on enough of a show, maybe the alpha would fuck him right there on the couch. It was a lost cause anyway, what with all the precum and slick that continued to trickle down his thighs.

Yuichiro couldn't see the door, but he could hear it open. He licked his lips and raised his hips just a bit higher, letting out a lewd moan.

"Mika, please!"

There was a gasp from behind him and Yuichiro's fingers faltered. It wasn't the deep, husky voice he was used to. It was high and feminine and oh, god. Yuichiro sniffed the air and his body froze.

"Ryuu!" The voice cried his name, scandalized.

It was Shinoa.

It felt as if someone had poured a bucket of ice over his head. Yuichiro's arousal dampened and he retracted his fingers as quickly as if he'd been stung. He swung his leg over the armrest awkwardly and stumbled to turn around and grab the towel he'd left on the cushions. He heard the slam of a door closing and he quickly looked up, positive he was as red as a child's balloon.

"Tell me when you're decent," Shinoa's voice called out to him from the other side of the door and Yuichiro swallowed thickly, his body moving on its own accord. He dashed to the bedroom and slipped on his freshly pressed uniform pants. Yuichiro didn't bother with underwear and he'd have to clean it again, but he didn't have the time to look for something else. He grabbed one of Mikaela's white undershirts from his closet and stopped in the bathroom long enough to wash his hands before returning to the living room.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Were the first words that left Yuichiro's mouth as he opened the door. He was angry, confused but mostly mortified and his shoulders shook with nerves. Shinoa had been grinning when he'd first seen her, but her expression changed into something more serious when she saw the distressed state he was in.

"Is that a way to greet your friend? I was worried about you. Now are you going to let me in or…?"

Somewhat chastised but still very much indignant, Yuichiro stepped aside and allowed Shinoa to enter the apartment. He closed the door after her and held onto the cold handle a moment longer to ground himself.

It was only when he pushed away from the door and walked towards Shinoa that he noticed her eyes. She was staring at him with her pupils blown wide and Yuichiro belatedly realized that he had let an alpha into his home that probably reeked of heat pheromones. Hell, he was still in heat.

There was a heavy silence between them before Yuichiro gathered his courage and cleared his throat.

"Shinoa?"

His voice seemed to get through to the alpha she offered him a guilty smile.

"Yeah, sorry to break it to you, but you stink. When was the last time you showered?"

Yuichiro rolled his eyes and frowned, but he could feel his muscles relax as the tension faded between them. Shinoa had been affected by his heat but the moment had passed and she was back to being her annoying self. Speaking of which…

"Who the hell just walks into an apartment without bothering to knock?" Yuichiro bristled, ignoring Shinoa's question. "And how the hell did you get in anyway?"

The alpha shrugged and set down the plastic bag she'd been carrying on the coffee table. "Commander Shindo gave me a key. I approached him and offered to bring you some extra clothes and he told me to go right ahead. I didn't expect you to be humping a couch when I walked in."

Yuichiro's face flared and he folded his arms stubbornly against his chest.

"Well excuse me for being in heat!" He snapped, glaring at his friend. "I didn't think Mikaela would allow another alpha, or anyone for that matter, anywhere near me. No one else was supposed to come in."

Shinoa hovered over the couch and seemed to be deliberating over whether she wanted to sit on it or not. She ended up making a face and remained standing.

"I prefer female omegas, as my file clearly states. Commander Shindo knew he had no reason to worry over my visiting you. He said it would be good for you to see a friendly face," Shinoa added, her lips turned down in what Yuichiro believed was supposed to be a pout. "I'm the one who was given an eyeful without my consent. In fact, I should probably sue you for sexual assault."

"What?!" Yuichiro sputtered. It figured that Shinoa would turn things around and make it about herself. Incensed, Yuichiro pulled out a book from the nearest bookshelf and threw it in the alpha's direction. "If you want an assault, I'll give you one!"

Shinoa grinned as she ducked the book. And the second, the third and the fourth. The fifth heavy tome Yuichiro flung at her managed to hit her shoulder and Yuichiro let out a cry of victory before offering his hand to the sullen alpha.

"Truce?"

Shinoa studied his hand for a long moment before letting out a theatrical sigh and taking it. They shook once and she quickly pulled away.

"Truce."

Now satisfied, Yuichiro looked around at the mess he'd made and felt a little guilty about throwing Mikaela's books around like that. It didn't matter how boring they were- they belonged to Mikaela and he was being disrespectful of his hospitality. Shinoa helped him pick them up and handed the books one by one as Yuichiro placed them back carefully on the shelf.

"So you brought me clothes?"

Yuichiro walked over to the coffee table and rummaged through the bag. It looked like Shinoa had opened his closet and shoved in the closest things at hand, but there were a few items that he might wear tomorrow. Of course, they weren't all that useful to him on the last day of his heat, but it was the thought that mattered.

Shinoa hummed and leaned back against the wall. "Yep. Shinya snuck in something when he thought I wasn't looking, so you might want to dig a little deeper. By the way, I don't know if you've noticed, but your eyes are green."

Yuichiro was itching to search through the bag for Shinya's gift, but Shinoa's comment forced him to stop and flash her a sheepish grin.

"Oh, yeah. This is my natural color. I've been wearing brown contacts."

Shinoa blinked and a wry smile spread across her face. "Figures."

Not quite sure what to make of her statement, Yuichiro decided to ignore it and sate his curiosity instead. He dug his hand through the tangle of soft fabric in the bag and groped around until his fingers closed around something solid. He made a triumphant noise as he extracted it from the bag. When he saw what it was, his mouth immediately began to salivate.

"Cherry Q! These are my favorite! Why did he…?"

"He thought they might cheer you up," Shinoa drawled. Her easy demeanor looked a little forced. "Commander Shindo explained to him that he arranged for you to spend a week of recuperation in the city. He said that it was his way to apologize to you for the Lacus incident. He felt responsible for his actions as Lacus's commander."

Yuichiro paused. He'd been busy tearing open the packaging, but the way Shinoa spoke made him uncomfortable.

"Hey, are you okay?"

When Shinoa didn't answer, Yuichiro bit his lip and took her hand, pulling her to the kitchen. He sat her down and offered her a glass of water as he settled on the bench beside her. The chocolate box remained untouched in front of them.

"Shinoa," Yuichiro started gently. "What's wrong?"

"You need to stop lying," Shinoa finally said.

Yuichiro furrowed his brows. "What do you mean?"

"You have to stop hiding who you really are from the people who care about you," Shinoa elaborated. "It isn't fair to them."

"Um, I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm kinda on the run right now from a government body that wants to kill me," Yuichiro snapped. He opened the chocolate box and popped a praline into his mouth, using the sweet flavor to chase off the bitterness he felt. "I can't just go around telling people that I'm a fucking omega."

Shinoa shook her head. "I'm not asking you to be out in the open, obviously. I just think that it's time that you told your friends."

"The more people that know, the higher the risk of others finding out. Even I know that."

"What," Shinoa raised a brow, "do you think your friends would rat you out? You don't trust them? Is that it?"

"No! I'm not saying that! Look," Yuichiro ran his fingers through his hair, "things happen. People overhear things they aren't supposed to. I just can't risk anyone else knowing that I don't belong."

"You can't keep living like this," Shinoa pressed. "Are you going to come up with a new lie every three months? How are you going to explain Commander Shindo's continual presence in your life? His interest is already raising a few brows. You can use all the help that you can get."

Yuichiro bristled. "We'll figure something out. It's too dangerous to tell anyone else, and that's final."

Shinoa looked at him for a long moment.

"I understand why you're scared," she said softly, "but we're talking about your friends here. They worry about you. Don't you think they deserve to know? Wouldn't you like to know if they needed your help?"

"Well, yes, but that's beside the point," Yuichiro frowned. He took another chocolate. "I'd be putting them in danger just by knowing. It's enough that you know, and even that was by accident."

Shinoa rolled her eyes. "It was meant to be," she insisted. "Aren't you tired, Ryuu? Of lying? Wouldn't it be so much easier if the people you live with knew who you were? Could be considerate of your needs?"

"Of course I'm tired!" Yuichiro bit his lip. "Do you think it's been easy, hiding my identity for so long? I'd love to be able to tell everyone. But it's not that simple…They might not-"

Yuichiro cut himself off. He voice wasn't cooperating.

There was a hand on his shoulder and Yuichiro refused to turn his head to meet Shinoa's eyes.

"…this isn't just about safety, is it?" Shinoa stated quietly. "You're worried what they might think when they find out the truth?"

"…I'm an omega," Yuichiro finally whispered. "Omegas aren't meant to be in the military for a reason. They won't want anything to do with me."

Shinoa's grip on his arm tightened.

"That's not true! They care about you, Ryuu, and that won't change how they think of you—"

"You can't understand. You're an alpha," Yuichiro said dismissively. "They'll think I'm weak!" Yuichiro's voice broke. "They'll think I'm a pathetic loser!"

"You're wrong and you know it," Shinoa shook her head. "They won't treat you any different."

"…."

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. His gaze remained glued to the table.

"…regardless, this isn't my decision to make," Yuichiro said tonelessly. "Mikaela's life is on the line now too. I'll have to talk to him about it."

Shinoa lowered her hand.

"Alright," she conceded as she stood up. "But I won't drop it, so you better talk to him soon. I don't like lying to them."

There was a frown on her face and Yuichiro didn't respond as she pulled out a key out of her pocket and set it down on the table.

"Please return this to Commander Shindo and give him my regards."

Yuichiro nodded yet didn't move as Shinoa left the room. He closed his eyes as he heard the door close behind her.

He felt drained, but there was a pang of guilt in his chest that refused to go away. Shinoa was being unreasonable, but in the end of the day, she was just trying to help. He should have thanked her for the clothes, at the very least.

But her words upset him and Yuichiro needed to gather his bearings before broaching the subject again. She'd caught him unawares and he had a lot of thinking to do.

Mikaela found him there half an hour later, sitting at the kitchen table with a half empty box of chocolates in front of him. The alpha looked at him uncertainly before taking the seat Shinoa had evacuated.

Yuichiro offered him a small smile and sighed softly as Mikaela leaned down to press a quick kiss to his cheek.

"The door was open," Mikaela said evenly, though Yuichiro could sense the underlying reproach in his words. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Now that his alpha was back, the last traces of his heat were making themselves known.

"Shinoa was here and I guess I forgot to lock the door after her. I'm sorry."

He knew that it was a stupid move and that though the scent of his heat was weak, it was still dangerous to leave the door unlocked. Yuichiro expected Mikaela to scold him, but after being given a long look, Mikaela reached out to take a chocolate from the box.

"Did she upset you?"

It wasn't a topic Yuichiro was eager to discuss, but he appreciated Mikaela not dwelling on the door and lecturing him. He supposed he owed him an answer.

"She was just trying to look out for me," he mumbled, running his fingers through his hair. He didn't remember the last time he looked in a mirror.

Mikaela raised a brow and stopped Yuichiro's hand, taking over his grooming himself. His touch was gentle and soothing and Yuichiro couldn't help but relax and lean against the alpha's shoulder.

"I thought you'd like to see her. I'm sorry to have distressed you—"

"No! No, it's not like that. I was glad to see her. It's just…"

"…just?"

Yuichiro took a deep breath. "She wants me to tell everyone."

The fingers in his hair stilled. "Tell them what?"

"She said that I can't keep hiding my nature from my friends," Yuichiro said slowly, nuzzling Mikaela's shoulder in a silent request for him to continue his ministrations. "My heats, my needs…even you, my alpha. She said that lying to everyone would just make our life harder."

Hearing no response, Yuichiro pulled away to look at Mikaela's face. The alpha looked pensive with his brows furrowed and his lips pursed in concentration.

"Mika?"

"She's not wrong," the alpha admitted. "Now that you're marked, I expect it'll be even more difficult to hide our relationship."

Yuichiro shook his head. How could Mikaela be so calm about this?

"But it's dangerous! If word gets out, they'll be considered accomplices for not giving us in. I can't do that to them."

Yuichiro fell silent as Mikaela carefully took his hand and held it in both of his. He felt compelled to look away, but he couldn't ignore the intensity of the alpha's gaze.

 

"I think you should tell your friends," Mikaela stated. "Better they know and keep your secret than someone growing suspicious. One of your friends might think that I'm blackmailing you or pressuring you into a relationship and report me, and while they'd be thinking that they're helping you, all they'd be doing is unintentionally giving us in."

Mikaela's words made sense, but Yuichiro bit his lip. He'd been doing everything he possibly could to hide his nature, who he was, even his appearance! The one rule that guided him through his service was to keep his head low and not reveal a thing. He'd yet to intentionally disclose his identity to someone and the thought of doing so with a number of people was paralyzing.

"You don't have to decide now," Mikaela's voice was soothing and warm. "I think you should follow Shinoa's advice, but it's ultimately your decision to make. I'll support you either way."

"I'm afraid," Yuichiro whispered. It killed him to admit to it but the words fell from his lips, unbidden.

There was a tug on his hand and Yuichiro was pulled into a warm, albeit somewhat uncomfortable, embrace. He pressed his cheek to Mikaela's chest and allowed the alpha to wrap his arms around him and hold him tight.

He felt secure. He felt safe.

"I know," Mikaela said softly. "It's okay to be afraid. But I'll never let anything bad happen to you. You're my omega and my responsibility and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to protect you. Never doubt that."

Yuichiro nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He knew things were going to change after his heat, but he hadn't thought that it would change so drastically. He was going to have to make a decision eventually, but right now all he wanted to do was curl up against his alpha and let him murmur promises of care in his ear.

It was going to be difficult to learn how to rely on Mikaela, but Yuichiro was determined to try. They were a team now, for better or for worse, and if there was anyone he could trust, it was his mate.

The questions regarding their future could wait. Tomorrow was a new day, and Yuichiro wanted to enjoy the remaining time they had left before he'd have to leave the apartment and return to the canteen. To his friends.

"…this is uncomfortable."

Mikaela chuckled and Yuichiro bit back a smile at the vibrations against his cheek. He did let out a surprised sound, however, when he felt a hand underneath his knee and he was maneuvered into the alpha's lap. Yuichiro raised his head and wrapped his arms around Mikaela's neck.

"Is this better?"

Yuichiro pretended to think about it as Mikaela's hands began to roam his back, dipping beneath the fabric of his shirt and splaying his hands on Yuichiro's stomach. Yuichiro tilted his head back and gasped as Mikaela rolled his hips, pressing what could only be the beginning of an erection against Yuichiro's bottom.

Determined not to be outdone, Yuichiro leaned forward and pressed their lips together in a hot, languid kiss. He smirked at the alpha's dazed expression as he pulled back, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

" Much better."

Chapter Text

 

Mikaela's hand ghosted his shoulder- a feather light presence, hesitant but wishing to reassure. It was that, more than anything else in the room, that made Yuichiro lean back in his chair with a smile and raise his hand to intertwine with Mikaela's, pressing it down on his shoulder, keeping it there. Where it belonged.

There would be no more secret looks and hidden meetings.

He could feel Mikaela's hand jump just a bit under his and Yuichiro had to stop himself from looking up to see Mikaela's face. He could easily imagine his expression, though. Shocked, but quickly recovered to his professional blank stare. There would be a mirroring smile if they were alone, but the people in front of them might get a warning glance instead. A threat, or perhaps even a dare.

Not that it was necessary. Or, well, that's at least what Yuichiro hoped. But it was a nice thought either way.

So he looked straight forward with his head held high at the semi-circle he'd arranged in the canteen. His friends sat in those chairs and looked at him silently; brows raised high and questioning glances at the alpha's looming presence at his side.

He could do this.

Mikaela's hand squeezed his shoulder.

"I know you're all wondering why I asked everyone to stay after closing," Yuichiro started, wetting his lips. He loosened his jaw just a bit when he realized that he was clenching it. "And I know that I've worried you multiple times these past few months. I've been acting kinda off and disappearing for days at a time…I'm sorry. I should've come clean before, but…"

His eyes darted to Shinoa, who gave him a thumbs-up and an encouraging smile. Heartened, Yuichiro returned the smile and continued, though the words were heavy on his tongue.

"Y'know, I'll be honest. This isn't easy, and I didn't mean to tell you, like, ever. But you all have the right to know. You're my friends and I know now that it means more than just a few laughs and eating lunch together. It's about trust, too, and I know that you guys trust me. So it's high time I trusted you."

Shusaku cleared his throat. He edged forward in his seat and grasped Yuichiro's knee, giving it a little squeeze. Yuichiro could feel Mikaela stiffen at his side, but ever the stoic commander, he didn't move. He'd been downright territorial since Yuichiro's heat.

"It's okay, Ryuu," Shusaku said, pulling back. "Take your time. We're just glad you're ready to talk."

"Fucking finally," Makoto muttered, only to hiss when Shusaku poked him in the ribs, but he took the hint and stayed quiet.

Yuichiro took a deep breath.

"No, he's right, I've been avoiding this long enough. But I guess you've pretty much figured out that Mikaela and I are in a relationship, haven't you?"

Yuichiro caught a glimpse of the way Shinoa's face fell and quickly looked away. He knew what she'd been expecting. But he just…he just couldn't.

There was too much at stake to tell everyone in the room that he was an omega. If he told Makoto and Shusaku, he'd have to tell Chess as well, and they weren't all that close. Yuichiro could've told Shinya, but what if his officer was questioned? He'd done so much for Yuichiro and kept quiet about so many things, Yuichiro hated the thought of putting him in any more danger. Already he could see the disapproving frown on his face, and that was just from the mere idea of his being together with a commander.

Which was in its own right an absolute mess. Not as much as if he'd currently been under his authority, but still. Relationships between different ranks weren't encouraged.

But at least they weren't the first alpha and (supposedly) beta couple.

Yuichiro knew that he had to tell his friends something, and this was the closest thing he and Mikaela could agree on. It was still very much a sacrifice and Yuichiro wasn't sure that he was ready to face the consequences, but it wasn't as bad as the alternative.

He'd talk to Shinoa later.

"You sonofabitch!" was the first verbal response Yuichiro got for his confession. Figured it would be from Makoto. Yuichiro braced himself as his friend jumped out of his chair, ready to face whatever it was Makoto wanted. But Mikaela took one step forward, silently marking his territory. He didn't even need to growl to keep the beta from moving in Yuichiro's direction. Perhaps Makoto recalled the last time he tried to raise his hand on Yuichiro in Mikaela's presence.

"You lied to me," Makoto hissed. "You told me he was just a friend!"

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. There wasn't much he could say to that.

"I'm sorry," he said quickly, surprising them both. To be fair, he was just too worn out to muster the energy to fight. "Yeah, I lied. But now I'm telling the truth." And wasn't that what mattered?

Makoto's brow wrinkled in confusion but he never had the chance to pursue it. Chess popped out of her chair and offered her hand to Mikaela.

"Well, I don't mind," she said cheerfully, winking at Yuichiro as Mikaela cautiously shook her hand. "Can't blame Ryuu for having impeccable taste."

Mikaela smiled for the first time since they walked through the doors of the canteen. "I'd like to think so."

Yuichiro playfully shoved Mikaela back, ignoring the way his stomach twisted at the looks Chess was sending the alpha. He was glad at least someone was taking it well, but there was something about the open interest in her eyes that made him uncomfortable.

Yuichiro resolutely turned away. He knew there was no need to worry about Chess talking Mikaela up. In fact, he should probably thank her as her little flare of energy broke the ice. Makoto inched closer now that Mikaela's attention was diverted and demanded to know when exactly he'd started sleeping his way to the top.

"Well, I'm still stuck working at the canteen with you, aren't I? Guess I'll have to work a little harder next time."

Shusaku joined the conversation before it got crass and Makoto even cracked a smile by the end of it. It was only when Yuichiro looked over his shoulder that he noticed that Shinya was still seated. His face was blank and he was clearly focusing on something. Yuichiro followed his gaze to Mikaela, who was in the middle of telling some sort of story to an attentive Chess.

It was only when everyone returned the chairs to the tables that Yuichiro realized with a start that he hadn't seen Shinoa leave. She must have gone right after his confession, as he couldn't recall her saying anything after that.

A hand on the small of his back pulled him out of his thoughts. He turned to offer Mikaela a weak smile.

"Hey."

"Hey yourself," Mikaela leaned down to peck his cheek, something he'd never done before. Yuichiro was momentarily taken aback before allowing himself to be wrapped in the alpha's arms.

"How are you feeling?" Mikaela asked, his breath ruffling the top of Yuichiro's head. "You seem a little down."

Yuichiro closed his eyes and inhaled, taking in Mikaela's soothing scent. He smelled a little of the cigarette he smoked on the way to the canteen. "A little, yeah. Things didn't…go the way I thought they would."

Mikaela rubbed his back slowly. "You were very brave today. You can't control the way others react, though. I'm sure they'll come around sooner than later."

"D'you really think so?"

"I know so. They're your friends, after all."

Yuichiro thought about it for a moment. Shusaku and Chess seemed fine with his revelation. It wasn't like it made any kind of difference in their lives. Makoto…he was just miffed about having been left out of the loop for so long. Which was fine and he would totally get over it soon.

…yes, he would.

Shinoa…well, she was disappointed, which was understandable. But the more Yuichiro thought about it, the more frustrated he felt. His secrets were his to share if and when he was comfortable sharing them. He had no obligation to do whatever it was Shinoa thought was right. She was his best friend, but in the end of the day he had every right to live his life the way he wanted. Just because she gave him advice didn't mean that he needed to follow it.

"Yuu?"

Yuichiro opened his eyes and pulled away from Mikaela's embrace. "Shinoa's upset with me."

Mikaela looked at him for a long moment. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to have to talk to her," Yuichiro sighed. "But you're right. She'll come around."

"Do you regret not telling them everything?"

Yuichiro shook his head firmly. "No. This was the right thing for me. For us."

Mikaela's eyes widened for a fraction before his face split in a wide smile. Yuichiro felt something warm in his chest and he couldn't help but smile back. Mikaela looked younger when he smiled like that.

He tilted his head up when Mikaela drew close and pressed back against the alpha's lips in a sweet kiss. Mikaela continued to trail his lips down Yuichiro's throat before Yuichiro pushed him away with an impish smile.

"Stop it, someone might come back down."

Mikaela smirked and stepped back, but not before he dragged his fangs over Yuichiro's pulse. Yuichiro suppressed a shiver and wrapped his arms around himself.

"You better go. You're getting a new batch of recruits tomorrow, aren't you?"

Mikaela nodded. "Are you sure you don't want to stay with me? I could ask your officer—"

"No, it's alright," Yuichiro said quickly. "Believe it or not, I actually like it here."

Mikaela shrugged, as if he didn't mind either way, but Yuichiro knew better. This was going to be their first night apart since his heat and if he were honest with himself, Yuichiro wasn't sure how he was going to fare. The empty feeling in his stomach at the sight of Mikaela walking towards the door didn't bode well.

As if sensing his distress, Mikaela paused. "You know you can call me whenever you need me, right?"

Yuichiro nodded, mouth going dry. He hadn't felt like this since he'd said goodbye to his parents before leaving for the city. Damn, why was he getting so emotional? He almost never thought about his family. And Mikaela wasn't going anywhere, not really.

"I'll stop by tomorrow if you'd like…?"

"No, it's okay. You're gonna be super busy this week. Your soldiers will need you more than ever, especially after…well, y'know…"

He didn't like saying Lacus's name out loud.

Mikaela offered him a wry smile. "I'll admit it's going to be odd not seeing you every day, thinking of new ways to make you crack and confess. It was fun."

Yuichiro raised a brow.

"Fine, it was frustrating and unprofessional on my part. But you have to agree that our little game added spice to what would've been an otherwise rather dull basic training."

"For you, maybe," Yuichiro snapped. The empty feeling was quickly ebbing away in favor of impatience. "You weren't the one scared and fighting for his life."

Mikaela's smile faded. "You didn't have to be. If you'd come clean—"

"Just go," Yuichiro sighed. The stress of the day was finally getting to him and he could already feel the beginnings of a headache. "I don't want to fight right now. I'll talk to you later."

Mikaela pursed his lips and nodded. He seemed to hesitate for a moment before reaching out to take Yuichiro's hand. When Yuichiro didn't resist, he leaned down and kissed it, just the way he did the first time they met.

"I'm proud of you," he murmured, meeting Yuichiro's eyes. "I'm very lucky to have you as my mate."

Yuichiro might have melted at that. Just a bit. At the very least his expression softened and he brushed Mikaela's cheek with his thumb.

"Me too," he said quietly.

Later on, beneath the covers on his bed, Yuichiro squirmed, trying to get used to sleeping alone again. The fact that there were three other people in the room did nothing to soothe the ache he felt.

When he finally fell asleep, he dreamed of a pair of stunning blue eyes turning crimson with desire.

 

 

.x.

 

 

"Ryuu?"

Yuichiro looked up from the cash register and offered his officer a grin. His first day away from Mikaela was going better than expected and he was surprisingly enjoying himself. He hadn't spoken to Shinoa yet, but the rest of his friends were being their usual selves…whatever that meant. In a way Yuichiro was a little taken aback that his big confession didn't have as much of an impact on them after all the emotional energy he'd invested in it, but he was honestly relieved.

Maybe his relationship with Mikaela wasn't as big of a deal as he'd thought.

Even work had a positive effect on him. He'd actually missed it. Yuichiro wasn't sure if it was his personality or his nature, but in the end of the day he liked making people happy. Sure, handling rude patrons was an ongoing struggle, but there was nothing like handing a tired soldier his favorite candy bar.

There was something comforting about routine and Yuichiro was eager to delve back into it. Shinya's serious expression told him that it might be a little too soon to get used to it, though.

"Could I borrow you for a minute?"

"I-sure, yeah," Yuichiro took a quick look at the line. There were four people left. "Let me just ring these guys up, okay?"

Shinya shook his head. "They can wait. I'm sure Makoto would be happy to cover for you for a bit."

Hearing his name, Makoto leaned back in his chair at the table he was sitting next to with Chess and shot Shinya a sour look.

"Not cool, Shinya," he called out. "I'm on my break. Ryuu wasn't here for ages. It's about time he worked just like the rest of us."

While Yuichiro was inclined to agree (though that didn't stop him from sticking his tongue out at Makoto), Shinya narrowed his eyes.

"You'll do as you were told," he said sharply. "God knows you're not lacking breaks."

Yuichiro looked down, severely uncomfortable with the whole exchange and somewhat unnerved by it. He'd seen Shinya serious before, but never so icy with them. Makoto looked surprised as well as he wordlessly pushed away from the table and approached the register.

The soldiers waiting in line were staring and Yuichiro quickly turned away to follow Shinya outside. Thanks to his officer's behavior, he'd have to talk to Makoto as well as Shinoa. Just great. Everyone probably thought he was getting preferential treatment. Hell- Yuichiro half expected them to think that he was sleeping with Shinya too.

Shinya led them to one of the smoking benches outside the canteen and gestured for Yuichiro to take a seat, which he carefully did. The ash tray attached to the side of the table was full of cigarette butts and Yuichiro hoped that Shinya wouldn't notice. He hated clearing out the ash trays.

"So…what did you want to talk about?" Yuichiro broke the silence, trying to sound as casual as possible. Shinya met his gaze with a frown.

"Ryuu, you know you can tell me anything, right?"

Yuichiro blinked.

"Uhm, yeah, of course." Lies, but Shinya didn't need to know.

"I'm serious, Ryuu. I'm your officer and as such, I'm in charge of your safety and wellbeing. If there's something troubling you or if someone is bothering you…"

Yuichiro wasn't sure that he liked where this was going.

"I'm fine, honest," Yuichiro smiled reassuringly.

Shinya still looked troubled, though.

"Are you sure? You aren't…you aren't being pressured into something, are you?"

Yuichiro tilted his head. "What do you mean?"

Shinya met his eyes unflinchingly. "Is Commander Shindo forcing you into a relationship with him?"

"…what? No! Of course not!"

Shinya didn't look convinced. "I heard about the way he hounded you during your basic training, Ryuu. That kind of obsession isn't normal. And the way he just whisked you away to his rooms for a few days…"

The officer's tone dripped with disapproval and Yuichiro's interest was piqued.

"Mikaela said he spoke to you about it, though?"

"Only after you'd already gone," Shinya didn't look happy. "He approached me the next day and told me that he'd spoken to the doctor who'd taken care of you during your hospitalization and that they both agreed that you needed a few more days off from work in a neutral environment."

"Really?"

"He didn't have any right to go to the doctor on your behalf," Shinya snapped. "He isn't your commander anymore and going like that behind my back is undermining my authority. I agreed to it because he had a signed letter from the medical ward and because…because you looked like you needed a rest," Shinya admitted. "I didn't want to get in the way of your recovery over some petty power play."

Yuichiro felt a fresh wave of guilt surge in his chest. There he was, lying through his teeth to his officer, when all the beta wanted was the best for him. He didn't deserve Shinya's care.

"…thank you," he said eventually, his hands fidgeting beneath the table. "I did need the rest." Mikaela hadn't mentioned a trip to the medical ward, but then there were plenty of things Mikaela didn't deem necessary to share with him.

"If I'd had known that you'd come back having slept with him, I never would've allowed it," Shinya's eyes grew cold. "It was unorthodox, but I thought that Commander Shindo had offered his rooms out of guilt for being in charge of the soldier who assaulted you. But all along he just wanted you where he could have you all to himself."

Shinya was right, of course. But at the same time he got it completely wrong. The circumstances were a crucial factor and since Yuichiro could hardly say that he'd gone into heat and needed someone to fuck, he was left red-faced and speechless.

"I-I…." Yuichiro didn't know what to say. "How do you know that we slept together?"

It was a dumb question and awkward as hell to discuss with his officer, but Shinya offered him a wry smile.

"I'm not dumb, Ryuu. It's written all over your body language. In fact, if I didn't know any better I'd say that you were sleeping together for a while, now."

Even Yuichiro's ears felt warm, but Shinya didn't seem at all embarrassed. Maybe he was just used to Guren's bluntness.

"We have known each other since before I enlisted," Yuichiro conceded, weighing every word. He needed to make it sound like Mikaela wasn't just using him, but not to make their relationship any more suspicious than it already was. "We just haven't made it official until now."

"So this thing between you guys isn't new?"

Yuichiro shook his head.

"And he isn't taking advantage of you?"

Yuichiro grimaced and finally, finally, Shinya smiled, looking just like his usual self.

"Oh, good. I'm glad we cleared that up."

Yuichiro mirrored Shinya's smile. "Yeah, me too."

He stood up and started to head back to the canteen when Shinya called after him. Steeling himself, Yuichiro turned around. "Yes?"

"You know you owe your friends a whole bunch of shifts for your romantic getaway, right?"

There was a wicked smirk on Shinya's face and Yuichiro couldn't help but laugh.

"I'm on it!" He mock saluted and rushed back in the building, a new spring to his step.

With his officer's worries put to rest and his friends appeased, all he needed was to have that talk with Shinoa. Knowing her, it wouldn't be easy, but Yuichiro was determined to make it work.

 

 

.x.

 

 

As it turned out, reaching Shinoa was harder than Yuichiro thought it'd be. Shinoa had a tendency to be around all the time, but when she didn't want to be found, it was damn near impossible to talk to her. After waiting a week to see if she'd come to the canteen, Yuichiro decided to be a little more proactive and go to Goshi's office himself. If what Shinoa claimed was true, she spent more than half of her day slaving over the man's desk.

Truth be told, Yuichiro was more than just a bit antsy. He still had quite a few shifts he still needed to pay his friends back. Shusaku claimed that he didn't need to be repaid but Yuichiro insisted on giving back every hour he'd taken from their schedules. Having three people to reimburse meant that he couldn't leave the canteen all that often and Mikaela hadn't had the time to visit him, either. When he finally had a break it took all of Yuichiro's energy to drag himself upstairs to his room for a nap.

But today was going to be different. Chess was finally doing one of her own shifts and Yuichiro had two hours to kill. Going to see Mikaela was out of the question as it was smack in the middle of the afternoon. As much as Yuichiro craved the alpha's companionship, he couldn't just waltz into the training camp and cozy up to the commander.

That left him knocking on the door of Goshi's office. Despite having been under Goshi's supervision for a few weeks, Yuichiro never actually visited his office. The man preferred sending him and Shinoa off on various tasks throughout the base.

When no one answered, Yuichiro tried the handle. Locked.

"Fucking hell," he groused and turned to leave. Short from trying her dorms, Yuichiro wasn't sure where to look. And seeing as he didn't even know which building she slept in, Yuichiro wasn't left with many options.

There was a gnawing sense of guilt in the back of his mind that asked what kind of a friend he was that he never bothered to ask his best friend where she slept, but Yuichiro pushed the voice aside for the moment. He'd ask Shinoa when he saw her.

Which was sooner than he expected.

Approaching the office carrying a large box was none other than his friend.

"Shinoa!"

The alpha stopped in her tracks and lowered the box. Once their eyes met she frowned, but made no move to leave. Yuichiro considered himself lucky as he made his way towards her. If she'd just turned around and walked away…he'd run after her, of course, but it would've hurt.

"Hey, how are you?" He asked, offering her a shy smile. "Can I carry that for you?"

Shinoa's grip visibly tightened on the box. "No, it's okay, I've got it," she insisted. However, one hand dug into her pocket and flung a key in Yuichiro's direction. "You can open the door, though."

Yuichiro fumbled to catch the key and rushed to the door to open it before Shinoa got there. The box looked heavy and he didn't want to make her hang around holding it longer than he already had. Once they were both in the office she set it down on a cluttered desk with a dramatic sigh.

"Damn, that's the last time I'm doing the dirty work for that bum!"

"What's in the box?"

Shinoa unfolded the flaps and pulled out a large, bulging envelope. Yuichiro peered inside the box only to see more.

"These are reports," Shinoa clarified as she set the one labeled December on top of a pile of papers. "Goshi's superiors decided they wanted all of the reports about his maintenance jobs from the past six months to see if they can cut the costs for the next two quarters. Of course, Goshi never bothered to file any of them. Guess who's stuck going through these now?"

Yuichiro flinched. That sounded absolutely awful.

"That sucks," he wrinkled his nose. "Do you want some help?"

Shinoa's entire demeanor seemed to perk up at the idea. "God, yes," she gushed, settling herself down at the desk and pointing at a chair with a stack of folders piled on top. "You can take those off and pull up a chair. We've got a lot of work to do."

Yuichiro was already starting to regret his offer as he set down the pile of folders on the floor and dragged the chair to the desk. Shinoa had already set in front of him an envelope labeled March.

"It's no wonder you never invited me here," Yuichiro noted as he opened the envelope. "This place is an absolute mess."

Shinoa shot him a look as she passed him a rubber stamp. "Well forgive me for having an actual job that takes a good chunk of my time," she huffed, then pointed at the bottom line where Yuichiro was expected to stamp. "Not all of us can sell sweets for a living."

"Hey! My job is difficult too," Yuichiro insisted. "Customer service is a pain in the ass. It's a lot of physical labor, too, cleaning and stocking. You should know that what with how often you're there."

"At least you have people you work with," Shinoa pursed her lips and looked down at the papers in front of her, busy scribbling something. "At least you have an officer who cares about you."

That last part was said so quietly that Yuichiro looked up from his own work. To his surprise, Shinoa avoided his gaze. Something…something was off.

"…Shinoa?"

"Forget I said anything," the alpha said quickly and turned the page. "It's nothing."

Yuichiro wouldn’t be deterred. "Is something going on with Goshi? I know he can be a little hard to handle, but—"

"I said it's nothing!"

Yuichiro flinched. He couldn't help it. An irritated alpha wasn't a force he was biologically meant to deal with.

Realizing that she'd raised her voice, Shinoa's expression softened and she looked up from the papers. She was smiling apologetically, but Yuichiro could see the dark circles beneath her eyes and the strain in her smile.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you. I just…it's been a long week."

Yuichiro reached out and took one of her hands in his, startling her. But she didn't pull away and Yuichiro took it as a sign.

"No, I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I haven't been a good friend lately. I was too caught up with my own shit to look around and realize that you weren't happy. And…and I'm sorry that I disappointed you last week. I just wasn't ready to take that step."

Shinoa shook her head. "It's your life, Ryuu. I think you should've told them everything, but in the end it was your call to make. I shouldn't have stormed out like I did."

"So we're cool now?"

They shared a look before breaking out in identical grins and untwining their hands. Yuichiro was still curious about Goshi and he was determined to find out what was wrong with him, but he knew that he'd get nothing until Shinoa felt ready to share it with him. The same thing had happened when he'd questioned the alpha on her past.

Yuichiro paused mid-stamp, his mind reeling. He'd never thought to take a moment and wonder how Shinoa felt about his reunion with Mikaela while she was still separated from her omega, Mitsuba. Damn, he was a worse friend than he'd initially thought.

Before he could open his mouth and ask, Shinoa beat him to it. She really did have impeccable timing.

"There's nothing particularly wrong with Goshi," she started tentatively, clicking her pen in a nervous rhythm. "But you know how absent-minded he can be. Some days I won't be in the office at all and he just doesn't notice. It was nice at first because I could visit you and the canteen as much as I wanted, but…"

Shinoa paused and took a deep breath. "But I see how involved Shinya is in your work and how much he cares about all of you and…and I guess I'm jealous. It would probably be different if I worked with other people but it's just me in here most of the time. It gets kinda lonely, y'know?"

Yuichiro felt his gut twist painfully. Of course she was lonely. He was her best friend and with him running around getting in trouble and going into heats, she was left more or less to her own devices. For all of the risks of living with other people, Yuichiro knew that he'd feel terrible if he had to spend most of his time alone. As an omega, he never had to. And now that he had a marked mate, he was practically guaranteed lifelong companionship.

No wonder Shinoa looked so tired. He'd probably look just as bad if he had no one to talk to most of the day.

"-and it's not like my work is exactly gripping, either," Shinoa huffed, dropping her pen on the floor. Swearing, she leaned down to pick it up. "I dunno, I guess I'm just wondering what to do with my sorry life."

"Could you ask to be reassigned?" Yuichiro's throat grew tight. "I mean, it's not like you're the first person to be miserable with their assignment. They probably have a whole department for it. I can ask Akane, she'd be happy to help—"

"I already tried that," Shinoa said dryly. "With a new batch of recruits coming in, there aren't many available assignments, and I'd drop dead before I transferred to logistics."

"Well…" Yuichiro quickly wracked his brain, trying to think of some kind of alternative. "Maybe you can ask to have some of the new recruits join you? You can say that your job needs more than one person to handle things. It's true, isn't it?"

Shinoa hesitated. "I mean, yeah, I could use the help and it'd be nice to have someone around, but I'm considered Goshi's assistant. I don't think he can have more than one…"

Yuichiro shook his head. "I'll talk to Mikaela about it. He's in charge of the assignments, after all."

"Really?" Shinoa's face brightened. "You'd do that for me?"

"After everything you've done for me? Of course!" Yuichiro beamed and pushed away from the table, opening his arms. "You're my best friend. I'd do anything to make you happy!"

Shinoa grinned and stood up as well, rushing into his arms and hugging him excitedly.

"Thank you," she murmured, practically squeezing him. "I owe you one."

"Nah, if anything I still owe you a few more favors," Yuichiro hummed, though he briefly wondered if he'd regret saying so out loud. "I'm just happy I can—what's wrong?"

Shinoa had gone rigid in his arms. She gave no reply, ignoring him in favor of standing on her toes and nosing his neck. Unnerved, Yuichiro wasn't sure what to do with his arms, so he kept them loose on the small of her back. He grew steadily more uncomfortable the more she lingered and sniffed and was considering pushing her away when she pulled back with a gasp.

"What?" He demanded, rubbing the side of his neck where she'd scented him. "What is it? You're scaring me!"

"You're going to have to tell them," Shinoa said in a small voice, eyes wide as saucers.

"Tell them what?" Yuichiro snapped.

"That you're an omega."

Yuichiro frowned. "I thought we went over this, Shinoa. It's not something I want to do."

"You don't have a choice."

"Why? Spit it out already, dammit! What's going on?"

Shinoa's gaze darted to his stomach and Yuichiro felt his blood rush in his ears. No. It wasn't possible. He couldn't be—

"You're pregnant, Ryuu."

Chapter Text

 

Yuichiro wasn't fond of mirrors. He knew that there were many that considered him attractive, but all he ever noticed were his flaws. His hair that would never stay in place the way he wanted it to. The bags under his eyes from sleepless nights and daytime worrying. His skin had turned a nice shade of light brown from his time in the sun, which was an improvement from the sickly pale he'd been in the city. But did that make up for the loss of his green eyes, one of his features he'd loved the most?

What Yuichiro always avoided looking at was his stomach. His flat, barren womb. It was a constant reminder of the way his body failed him in the worst way possible.

No, Yuichiro wasn't very fond of mirrors. He was never happy with what he saw.

Yoichi used to tell him about the fabled glow carrying omegas had about them. Yuichiro certainly thought that his friend looked brighter than he normally did while he was pregnant, but Yoichi theorized that it wasn't a physical change so much as the happiness he felt radiating from his face.

"You'll know what I mean, Yuu. It's just a matter of time before you'll feel it too!"

Looking at his reflection now, Yuichiro wondered if there was something wrong with him. Where was the happiness Yoichi had promised him?

He'd rushed back to the canteen after Shinoa's revelation, adrenaline pumping through his veins as he grabbed a pregnancy test from the storage room. There were no omegas in the base, but female betas used them too. They weren't as fertile, but on the off chance that they were pregnant…

Yuichiro had heard that a beta from his course of basic training had been given a dishonorable discharge after finding out that she was expecting.

There was no place for pregnancy in the military. Pregnant people were meant to be protected, not carry the burden of being a protector to anyone but their unborn child.

Yuichiro didn't know what he was hoping when he'd taken the test in the bathroom, but the two pink lines confirmed what Shinoa had already told him.

He was pregnant.

Yuichiro was quick to unbutton his uniform and pull his undershirt off in order to study his stomach. It didn't look any different from what he always saw in the mirror, but he knew that there was something in there. Something he'd been waiting for his whole life.

Yet all he could feel was dread.

How was it possible? He'd tried to conceive so many times, under the best conditions the facility could offer. He'd almost been killed for failing. This wasn't…this wasn't supposed to happen. It didn't make sense.

Yuichiro carefully placed his hands over his stomach and his mouth twisted in a bitter smile. He'd dreamed about this moment for so, so long. With how screwed up his life was, it was perfectly fitting that he'd finally conceive at the worst possible time. Just when he thought things might be looking up, fate just had to knock him up while he was in the one place that being pregnant would put everyone he loved in danger.

…what would Mikaela say?

"Ryuu? Are you in there?"

Yuichiro froze. Makoto knocked on the door and called his name again.

"I-yeah," Yuichiro's voice cracked. He hadn't said a word since running out of Goshi's office and his throat was dry. "I'll be out in a minute."

"…are you okay?"

Yuichiro frantically looked around the room, looking for a place to hide the pregnancy test. He couldn't flush it down the toilet and the garbage can didn't have a lid. Maybe he was being paranoid, but he couldn't risk any of his roommates seeing it.

"I'm fine!" Yuichiro snapped as he wrapped the stick in a wad of tissues and stuck it in his pocket. It was gross, but he couldn't think of a better place if Makoto was going to be coming in. He quickly washed his hands and grabbed his discarded clothes before opening the door. Yuichiro expected to be greeted with an impatient frown.

The way Makoto looked at him wasn't exactly impatient, though. There was the typical irritation they always shared for one another, but there was underlying worry in his expression that made Yuichiro pause.

"Did something happen?" Makoto asked, voice gruff as he took a step back to allow Yuichiro to pass. Yuichiro shrugged and crossed the room, setting his uniform on Chess's bed. She'd kill him if she knew that he liked using her bed when he got dressed or needed to sit. He liked to think that it was his revenge for getting top bunk.

"I saw you running up the stairs, you know."

Yuichiro snorted and pulled his undershirt over his head. "Maybe I just felt like stretching my legs."

Makoto watched him critically. "You looked like you were going to cry."

Yuichiro met his friend's gaze and held it for a moment before sitting down on the bed with a long-suffering sigh.

"Why does every little thing I do make you so suspicious?"

Makoto crossed his arms and leaned back against the bathroom door. "You always seem to be involved in something. And if I don't ask, you aren't going to tell."

There was a sharp reply waiting impatiently on his tongue but Yuichiro bit it back. When they first met he wouldn't have hesitated to tell Makoto to mind his own business and even get in a fight, but now…

They were friends, weren't they? Hadn't he just promised himself to trust his friends more? If Makoto was in trouble, he'd expect the beta to come to him for help. Why couldn't he do the same?

Makoto was right, though. He always did seem to be involved in one intrigue or the other. If he was his own friend he'd probably be rolling his eyes at all the drama he attracted. Who wanted to help someone who was always getting into trouble?

"…I'm sorry," Yuichiro said quietly, looking down at his boots. "I don't want to be a burden."

He didn't look up as Makoto pushed away from the door and walked over to the bed, settling down next to him. There was an uncertain hand on his shoulder and it felt strange but Yuichiro appreciated the gesture nonetheless.

"You're loud and annoying, but I wouldn't call you a burden," Makoto offered. Despite the dubious compliment, Yuichiro found himself smiling.

But when he raised his head and turned to look at Makoto, the beta didn't return the smile. He looked startled.

"Shit, Ryuu, I'm just teasing. I didn't mean to—"

"What are you talking about?" Yuichiro's brows furrowed, but the way his vision wavered was just as much of a telltale sign as the sudden wetness rolling down his cheeks.

He was crying.

Yuichiro raised his hand and stubbornly rubbed the tears away as Makoto looked at him with open concern. He hated this- this weakness that ate away at everything he had. His failings marred his past and were going to rob him of his future if he didn't do something soon. His pride should be the least of his worries, but he couldn't help but resent how vulnerable he felt. How he hated the pity in Makoto's eyes.

Maybe the first step was acknowledging it. All of it.

"…I'm scared," Yuichiro admitted, his voice a low whisper. His eyes burned. "I'm scared, and I don't know what to do."

The hand on his shoulder tightened its grip.

"Is it Commander Shindo?"

Makoto's words were short and clipped and Yuichiro's eyes widened at the hardened expression on the beta's face. He narrowed his eyes when Yuichiro didn't immediately answer.

"That sonofabitch," Makoto swore and stood up. "I knew he couldn't be trusted! What did he do?"

"Nothing! He didn't do anything!" Yuichiro scrambled to his feet as well. "It's not him, Makoto."

"You don't need to protect him!"

"I'm not!" Yuichiro insisted as he grabbed the beta's arm. "I'm serious! He has nothing to do with it!"

Well, that wasn't very true, was it?

"Not…not directly. I mean, it is rather direct but I swear he isn't the actual problem—"

Makoto cleared his throat.

"You're rambling, Ryuu. Just tell me."

Yuichiro bit his lip. He could still take it all back or make something up. He still had the chance to keep his secret to himself. Did he even trust Makoto with something like this?

Looking into the beta's eyes, he realized with a start that yes. Yes, he did.

"I'm pregnant."

A beat of silence. Makoto's face, which had been scrunched up in confusion, stretched in a large smile.

"Hah hah, very funny. Now tell me what's wrong."

Yuichiro pursed his lips and repeated himself.

"I'm pregnant."

Makoto shook his head. "Look, if you don't want to tell me, you don't need to lie. Just say that you want me to back off and I will."

"I'm not lying!" Yuichiro snapped. He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the pregnancy test, still partially wrapped in tissue paper. He held it out for Makoto to see the twin lines himself.

Makoto wrinkled his nose. "I don't know where you got that, but the joke's starting to get old. I was just trying to help you!"

"For the last time, this isn't a joke! If you want to help me you can start by taking me seriously!"

"How can I take this seriously?" Makoto huffed, raising a skeptical brow. "The only way you're pregnant is if you're an—"

"Omega," Yuichiro said quietly.

"But that's not possible," Makoto interjected.

Yuichiro didn't say anything. He gave the beta a tired smile and sat back down on the bed.

Makoto's face paled.

"…shit."

Makoto remained silent as the words tumbled from Yuichiro's mouth, slow and deliberate. Yuichiro tried not to look at the beta as he told his story, but every now and then he'd glance up and catch one of his reactions. Anger, fear, confusion. Yuichiro thought that it would be difficult to open up like this and to share what was becoming a series of rather unfortunate event, but he'd been wrong.

The words came easy, flowing seamlessly one after the other as he challenged what Makoto knew to be a flawless system. He'd been cautious at first when he mentioned how Shiho had told him that he was scheduled to be euthanized. Yuichiro prepared for the beta interrupting him and denying that the Board was capable of such a thing.

That never happened, though. Makoto was the picture of an attentive listener and by the time Yuichiro was done, his friend was sitting on Shusaku's bed opposite him. His hands were clasped on his lap and he was staring ahead unseeingly. 

"…and that's it," Yuichiro lamely finished, stashing the pregnancy test back in his pocket. He offered Makoto a nervous smile. He'd never verbalized his story like that and it felt rather…liberating. Sure, he'd shared the very beginning with Shinoa, but a lot had happened since he'd told her. What was nice about being with Mikaela was that he didn't need to be told- he was a part of it all. He simply knew.

But this…this was nice, too. Now he could only hope that he'd been right to trust.

"I want to be mad," Makoto finally spoke up. His eyes focused and he met Yuichiro's gaze unflinchingly. "I want to be angry with you for not telling me sooner. But honestly? I probably would've done the same thing."

Yuichiro blinked.

"I mean, yeah, I wish you'd trusted me with all of this earlier on and that I could've helped you with a bunch of stuff but that's on me, isn't it? You can't just force someone to open up to you. I guess I'm just glad that you're doing it now."

No, no. That wouldn't do. The last thing Yuichiro had meant to do when telling his story was to make his friend feel like he'd failed him somehow. Jaw set, he stood up and went to grab Makoto's hand. The beta offered no resistance when he was pulled to his feet.

"It had nothing to do with you," Yuichiro insisted. He didn't need to be gentle with his words around Makoto and that was one of the things he liked the most about his friendship with the beta. They could insult each other as much as they wanted as long as they got their point across.

"It's me, okay? I'm paranoid. The only reason I even told Shinoa was because she overheard me and Mikaela. If I had my way I'd never tell anyone. But now…I'm stuck. And I'm scared."

Makoto's eyes briefly wandered down to Yuichiro's stomach before grimacing.

"You're really pregnant, huh?"

Yuichiro let go of the beta's hand and nodded.

Makoto gave a low whistle and squeezed his shoulder.

"Well, at least you've got people to help you now. You aren't alone anymore. Speaking of which, have you told the sire yet?"

Yuichiro was just starting to cheer up when Makoto mentioned Mikaela. His eyes grew wide with the realization that he still needed to tell him

Makoto lowered his hand with a smirk.

"Sharing the news with your friends before your mate? That's harsh, buddy."

"Shut up! It's not like it was intentional! You were just in my way!"

Makoto laughed and started towards the door.

"Wait! Makoto?"

The beta paused and turned.

"Yes?"

"Please…"

Makoto's expression softened. "Hey, relax. I won't tell. I've got you covered."

Yuichiro smiled ruefully and nodded. Maybe one day he'd be able to come clean to everyone. But for now…for now he was taking it all step by step. Opening up like this was taking its toll and he felt rather drained.

He'd tell Mikaela tomorrow.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro knew that no one could scent his pregnancy at such an early stage unless they were intimately close, but that didn't stop him from dousing himself with some of Shusaku's cologne. It wasn't exactly his style but he vowed to find a scent he could wear every day until he figured out what to do. No amount of artificial scent would help once his pregnancy reached its second trimester but for now it helped ease his anxieties.

There was nothing he'd rather do than lock himself up in some room until he gave birth, but since that wasn't an option, Yuichiro would have to brave the outside world. For now that meant taking the base's local bus line to the farthest edge where the new recruits were trained.

To see Mikaela.

Yuichiro had told the alpha that he wouldn't be visiting him but well, this was something that couldn't wait. At least that's what he told himself when he got off the bus and looked at the familiar gate to the training grounds.

He hadn't been back there since his own training had ended. Yuichiro timed his visit so that everyone would be in the rec hall eating lunch when he arrived. He didn't want to draw any unneeded attention and Yuichiro knew from experience that new recruits gawked at anything new and unfamiliar.

He really didn't want hundreds of eyes watching him as he made his way to the offices.

A wave of nostalgia hit him as he passed by the tents. How many nights had he spent in that large one over there, wishing he had more hours to sleep? And the showers- shit, those were really gross. He'd never forget his mortification at being caught fighting naked with Makoto that first night.

His mind helpfully supplemented that the one who'd caught them was Lacus and Yuichiro had to forcefully push those memories away. His squad commander was in most of his memories of basic training and his actions had soured each and every one of them.

Yuichiro bit his lip. Lacus's lasting damage went far beyond unwanted advances and threats.

By the time Yuichiro reached Mikaela's office he decided not to let Lacus continue to ruin his life. This moment belonged to him and Mikaela alone. No looming shadow had the right to take it away from him.

He knocked on the door a couple of times but there was no answer. When he tried the handle the door opened and Yuichiro let himself in. He was surprised that Mikaela hadn't locked it, but maybe he didn't have anything worth hiding in there.

The office looked exactly like it did the last time Yuichiro was in there. At the time he'd been a nervous wreck pretending to be a clueless beta. He'd sat down in that chair next to Mikaela's desk and denied that he had any relation to the commander's omega.

Yuichiro wore a wry smile as he sat down in Mikaela's chair, opposite from where he'd been told to sit all those months ago. From refusing to admit that he was Mikaela's omega to telling him that he was carrying his child. How the tables had turned.

Growing a little bored of swiveling around in the chair, Yuichiro decided to do some snooping to pass the time. He gave a cursory sweep of the desktop and aside from a list of names, Yuichiro found nothing very interesting. He read the list of who he assumed to be the new recruits to see if he recognized any of them, but none stood out to him. It was a little disappointing but Yuichiro conceded that it was probably for the best.

The next place he searched were the drawers. The last time he opened Mikaela's drawers in his apartment he found a photo of the alpha and his previous omega. Yuichiro wasn't so sure if he wanted to see the deceased omega again and considered leaving the drawers alone, but his curiosity got the better of him.

The first drawer was full of office supplies- the usual pens, staples and sticky notes. Yuichiro shrugged and tried the second drawer. This one had a few documents and Yuichiro pulled them out to get a better look. While he moved them to the desktop, however, something small and colorful fell to the floor.

Yuichiro leaned down and picked up what turned to be a photograph. At first glance he thought he had stumbled upon yet another photo of Kota, but as he took a closer look he realized with a start that the boy in the picture was him.

 

He hadn't posed for any photos recently, but judging by the state of his uniform and the other soldiers around him, the snapshot was taken during basic training. It wasn't a very flattering photo, to be honest- his hair was a mess and there was dirt all over him. The shot wasn't good either, taken on the sly from an awkward angle.

But his smile was visible as he was bandaging Shinoa's arm in what had to be one of their first aid sessions. The photo had crease marks where it had been folded and the left corner was torn. Yuichiro could only guess at how many times Mikaela had held it.

It was silly of him to be embarrassed- Mikaela was his mate, after all. But Yuichiro couldn't help the pleased flush at the thought of the alpha keeping a picture of him in his desk. He made a mental note to pose for a proper photo that Mikaela could keep lying around if he insisted on having one.

Maybe he'd even get one of Mikaela for himself.

"Yuu?"

Yuichiro looked up from the photo to find the alpha standing in the doorway, wide blue eyes staring at him from across the room. He offered Mikaela a wide smile as he waved the photo, beckoning him closer.

"Surprise inspection! I never knew you were so sentimental, Mika."

The alpha closed the door behind him and approached the desk, setting his weapon down on the chair and leaning forward with his arm raised. Yuichiro was certain Mikaela was trying to snatch away the photograph, but the alpha's fingers circled around his wrist instead and pulled him closer. He closed his eyes as Mikaela pressed their lips together in a fleeting kiss.

By the time they pulled back, the photograph was no longer in his hand.

"You cheated!" Yuichiro gasped, reaching up to try and take it back. But no matter how far he stretched, Mikaela held it just out of his reach. "You're playing dirty!"

"I'm not the one who broke into an office," Mikaela said with a smug smile as he tucked the photo in his breast pocket. He chuckled as Yuichiro sat back down in his chair with a dark look.

"I didn't break in. You left the door open."

Mikaela shrugged and seated himself on the edge of the desk.

"Details. Now, to what do I owe this pleasure? I didn't think I'd see you this week."

It took Yuichiro a moment to realize that he was smiling again. He was happy. It felt like he hadn't been so giddy in a very long time. Maybe it was because the handsome alpha sitting in front of him was his. Or maybe it was their bond relishing their physical proximity.

Perhaps it was his pregnancy, making him feel safe and cared for now that he was near his child's sire.

In the end, the reason didn't matter. What was important was that Mikaela was finally there, with him.

"I missed you," Yuichiro admitted, curling up in the chair. Mikaela practically glowed as he stood up and circled the desk, opening his arms in invitation. Yuichiro didn't think twice as he scrambled out the chair and into Mikaela's hug.

Mikaela's arms closed around him in a snug embrace and he pressed his lips to Yuichiro's brow. "I missed you too," he murmured, squeezing him. Yuichiro returned the hug as good as he got.

Being in his alpha's arms made all of his worries fade away.

"There's something I need to tell you."

Mikaela's grasp loosened and he stepped back, arms still around Yuichiro's waist. With a mischievous grin he turned them around and sat down in the chair all while dragging Yuichiro along. He pulled Yuichiro into his lap as if he weighed nothing more than a sack of flour.

Yuichiro shouldn't have been so surprised, though. After the heats they spent together, he was very much aware of the raw strength his alpha possessed that allowed him to take Yuichiro in rather…creative positions.

Yuichiro wrapped his arms around Mikaela's neck and shifted so that he was seated comfortably. With Mikaela's firm chest in front of him and his hands supporting him from behind, Yuichiro felt safe.

"There. Now that we're settled, what did you want to tell me?"

Yuichiro paused. He'd thought of many different ways to tell Mikaela, but now that they were face to face, he wasn't so sure how he wanted to go about it.

"Yuu…?"

"Have you been feeding enough?" Yuichiro cut him off abruptly, settling on a more roundabout way to deliver the news.

Mikaela's gaze immediately dropped to Yuichiro's throat. That told Yuichiro everything he needed to know.

"Just because I'm here doesn't mean that you can't feed from the blood donations," Yuichiro chastised as he unbuttoned his collar. "You don't have to limit yourself to feeding only when we're together."

He was ignoring the obvious and his words were a clear directive to Mikaela not to mention the other omega he probably fed from waiting for him in the city. They'd never really addressed the nameless omega and Yuichiro had no intention to bring them up right then.

Fortunately, Mikaela took the hint.

Yuichiro tilted his head back and dug his fingers into Mikaela's hair as the alpha nuzzled his neck.

"There are unassigned alphas who need them more than me," Mikaela's words tickled his skin. "Besides, the only blood I crave now is yours. No one else even comes close."

Yuichiro's cheeks flared as Mikaela dragged his tongue up the column of his throat before sinking his fangs into his skin. He gasped at the prickle of pain and waited for the pleasure to wash it away.

Losing track of time was a common side effect to feeding. Both alphas and omegas were known to lose grasp of reality as they were connected in such a primal way. In fact, it was one of the reasons the Board used to explain the use of the suppressants they mandated during heats. The couple could not be trusted to know when enough was enough.

It took an experienced alpha with discipline to tell when he'd had his fill and to pull away. Mikaela fed from him multiple times since they'd mated but that didn't make the act any less intimate. Any less risky.

Yuichiro used to think that the best way to go was through a feeding while the endorphins clouded your mind as you faded into darkness. After his near death experience with Lacus, however, Yuichiro decided that being fed on wasn't the best way to spend your last moments.

He couldn't be sure how much time had really passed, but Yuichiro felt that it was distinctively shorter than usual. As he blinked through his haze he realized that Mikaela's now-red eyes were openly staring at him.

Oh, yeah.

"Is it true?" Mikaela's grip tightened. It was a silly question as Yuichiro's blood was more of a guarantee than any of his words, but Yuichiro acknowledged the alpha's need for a verbal confirmation with a cautious smile.

"I'm pregnant."

Yuichiro caught the stricken expression on Mikaela's face before he was pressed against the alpha's chest in a smothering embrace. He didn't know what to make of it as he nervously waited for Mikaela to speak.

Mikaela's arms trembled.

"I-I don't understand," he finally found his voice. "I thought you couldn't…?"

"I thought so too," Yuichiro said quietly, taking a deep breath and scenting Mikaela's panic. He'd been prepared for it but it still hurt nonetheless. "I guess the Board was wrong."

"It doesn't make sense…"

As Mikaela's grip weakened, Yuichiro used the opportunity to pull away and reach out to hold Mikaela's face between his palms. The alpha was pale and he looked at him with such fear that it made Yuichiro's heart ache.

"You don't want it?"

It was a question Yuichiro never thought he'd ask but then again, he never thought he'd be in this kind of situation in the first place. His past self would sooner lock him up than let him entertain the idea of ending his pregnancy but things were different now. He didn't have the luxury to carry.

As much as it pained him to think about it, If Mikaela wasn't going to be there to support him through it all, Yuichiro didn't think he'd be able to do it on his own.

His question seemed to catch Mikaela unawares and he blinked, startled. The alpha's face regained some of its color as he leaned forward to press their foreheads together. Yuichiro's breath hitched as Mikaela's fingers wrapped around his wrists.

"God, no. There's nothing I want more than to have a family with you. I love you and I'll love our child just as much."

Mikaela's declaration made Yuichiro feel lighter than he'd felt for days. He couldn't help the large grin that stretched across his face. Mikaela's next words helped ground him.

"If the baby hurts you, though…"

Pain flashed in Mikaela's eyes and Yuichiro flinched. He could feel the distress oozing from his alpha.

He wasn't the best at comforting people, but Yuichiro hoped that their biology would at least help a bit as he nuzzled Mikaela's cheek.

"I'm not Kota," he reminded Mikaela, steady and firm. He couldn't show a shred of doubt. "And there's no reason to think that something will go wrong. Just because it happened once doesn't mean that it will happen again. I want this child. Do you understand?"

Yuichiro's words were meant to reassure Mikaela, but as they tumbled out, Yuichiro realized that he meant them. He'd been shocked and scared and hadn't wanted to become attached to the person only just starting to grow inside him, but…fuck.

He wanted it. He wanted to have this baby. He wanted Mikaela's baby.

It could have been their bond, but Yuichiro liked to believe that it was his words that made Mikaela pull back and meet his gaze, looking the most somber Yuichiro had ever seen him.

"I understand."

As soon as he said it, Mikaela's expression brightened into a warm, hopeful smile that made Yuichiro's chest constrict in the best of ways.

"I can't believe it," he whispered as he placed his hand on Yuichiro's stomach. There was still something reserved about his happiness, but it was more than enough to soothe Yuichiro's doubts for now.

Yuichiro lowered his hands to Mikaela's shoulders and returned the smile.

"Looking forward to being a father?"

The watery smile Yuichiro got took his breath away, just as much as the kiss that followed.

"You have no idea."

 

.x.

 

The first month passed before Yuichiro had the time to sit down and really think about the changes his body was preparing to go through. The only difference he saw in the mirror was his neck clearly marked for everyone to see now that he and Mikaela weren't a secret anymore. Yuichiro still wasn't sure how he felt about the purple bruises. Sure, it was nice to know that his alpha cared for him, but did everyone else need to know just how much?

His irrational side, the one Yuichiro was now associating with the pregnancy despite it always having been there, said yes.

The memories that came with the bite marks made them just about tolerable when he caught his customers staring and when his friends made lewd comments.

Shinoa had been the first to point them out and Yuichiro had to wait and see if Makoto would follow. They hadn't really spoken privately since his big reveal and Yuichiro noticed that the beta made a point to look away when they were getting dressed in the morning. He still teased him, but Yuichiro noted the way his vocabulary had grown a bit…tamer. There was something different in the way he looked at him and Yuichiro had no choice but to get used to it.

He supposed that he couldn't expect to be treated the exact same way as he was used to. Not now that Makoto knew that he was an omega. A pregnant one, at that.

To his delight (and chagrin), Makoto eventually joined in on Shinoa's racy speculations. Maybe he realized that Yuichiro was the same as he'd always been, beta or omega, but Yuichiro wasn't about to go and ask. He didn't want to make things more awkward than they needed to be.

Especially when he needed all the support he could get. With Mikaela summoned back to the city for his scheduled visit with the other omega (or the Decoy, as Yuichiro liked to call them), his friends were all he had to keep him from sulking in bed all day.

The bond made their separation all the more painful.

"Why the long face, Ryuu?"

Yuichiro turned to look at Shusaku.

"I'm bored," Yuichiro said. It wasn't really why he was so glum, but he hadn't been lying either.

The afternoon in the canteen was slow during lunch hour when the soldiers had to be in the mess hall. Yuichiro wasn't particularly sure why they were open at all, but he knew better than to ask Shinya. His officer wasn't the one who made the rules when it came to opening hours. He had better luck asking Goshi, and that wasn't about to happen in a million years.

With a pang of guilt Yuichiro realized that in the heat of things he forgot to ask Mikaela about assigning Goshi an additional helper to keep Shinoa company. The current troop in basic training weren't due to finish for another two weeks, though, so he still had some time. Yuichiro needed to write it down.

He leaned back against the counter and sighed. "Need some help?"

Shusaku shook his head from where he was crouching in front of the bottom shelves. Restocking was a pain and Yuichiro had no real desire to organize deodorants on a shelf, but it was better than just standing around.

"No, I'm good. But cheer up! We finally got that chocolate shipment from last week!"

"Really?" Yuichiro perked up. They'd ran out of chocolate bars the previous week and aside from being deprived his favorite sweet, it was tiring explaining to patron after patron that it wasn't their fault that the shipment had yet to arrive.

A new shipment meant even more sorting and stocking, though.

"I guess I'll go out back and get—"

The rest of Yuichiro's sentence was cut off by the sound of a siren piercing the afternoon lull. The sound was grating and Yuichiro's first instinct was to cover his ears. The panic that it stirred made him lower them to be able to hear what was going on.

Shusaku quickly stood up and they looked at each other, mirroring their confusion. What was happening? Where they supposed to do something? Did they need to go somewhere?

Shinya ran into the room. His face was shockingly pale and the frown he wore made Yuichiro want to place a hand protectively on his stomach. If the usually easygoing Shinya was troubled then something had to be wrong.

"Both of you go to the storage room immediately and lock the doors," Shinya barked. He was carrying his gun.

"Wait, do you know what's going on?" Yuichiro demanded, ignoring the way Shusaku was trying to follow their orders and pull him back.

"I don't," Shinya said, his lips pressed in a thin line. "There weren't any drills scheduled for today."

A shiver ran up Yuichiro's spine. That didn't sound good.

"Ryuu, c'mon!"

He started to let Shusaku drag him away when he realized that Shinya wasn't with them. His officer was going in the opposite direction, towards the door. Yuichiro came to a full stop.

"Where are you going?!"

"I'm going out to investigate," Shinya snapped over his shoulder.

Yuichiro ran after him. "You can't go out there alone!"

Shinya paused and turned around.

"You aren't coming with me," he stated. "I need to find Chess and Makoto. Go back with Shusaku and don't let anyone in."

"But—"

"That's an order, Ryuu!"

Yuichiro was saved the need to reply when the door burst open. Shinya immediately jumped in front of him and cocked his gun, but he lowered it as soon as he saw who it was.

"Guren?"

The alpha was covered in dirt and was supporting another soldier, his arm draped over Guren's shoulders. The soldier, a beta Yuichiro didn't recognize was unconscious and his thigh was covered with something red.

With a sickening feeling, he realized that it was blood.

Shusaku ran to them with a first aid kit and helped Guren set the man down on the floor. The moment Guren stood up Shinya grabbed his arm.

"Guren, what the hell—"

"We're under attack," the alpha said shortly, shaking Shinya off and watching as Shusaku was busy sterilizing the wound. Yuichiro blocked out the rest of their anxious conversation as his mind collaborated the yelling and screaming outside with the recent piece of news.

This time, when his hands went automatically to his stomach, he didn't bother lowering them. No one was looking at him anyway.

The siren was still blaring.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro rested his chin on his knees, hugging his folded legs as the jeep jostled everyone in the back with him. He couldn't see anything in the suffocating darkness and the only reminder he had that there were other people with him was the occasional bump of a shoulder with the soldier sitting next to him. No one was saying anything despite the fact that there had to be at least five of them. But then, who'd be up for chit-chat when there were missiles falling all around them?

Yuichiro shuddered and ran his tongue over his chapped lips. They stung, but they served as a reminder that he was still alive. If he could hurt, he could feel. Only the dead felt no pain.

His mind wandered back to that injured soldier Guren had carried into the canteen. Shusaku had been level-headed and administrated first aid as soon as he could, but Yuichiro couldn't be sure if the guy made it. The bleeding…it was heavy, most likely from hitting an artery. Shusaku might've applied a pressure bandage but it could've been too late. Yuichiro hadn't really been focused- the only thing he could remember was the pool of blood and Shinya arguing with Guren.

The next thing he knew he was on this jeep.

Yuichiro didn't know where they were going. He didn't know how long they'd been driving. He didn't even know anyone on the jeep. All he could think about were his friends. Where were they? Were they okay? Shusaku, Shinoa, Makoto, and Chess? What about Guren and Shinya?

Why were they being attacked? By whom?

The number of uncertainties overwhelmed him and Yuichiro took a deep, shuddering breath. He needed to stay calm and clear his mind. Just because the world around him was falling apart didn't mean that he could, too. This wasn't the first time his reality shattered and he had to quickly adapt. He could do this.

Okay, sure, things were a little more complicated than before. For one, he didn't have Shiho to walk him through it all. The second, more important detail was that Yuichiro didn't have only himself to protect now.

He was carrying another life inside him, no matter where he went.

Yuichiro dug his nails into his legs as he tried to keep himself present. He couldn't afford to let himself disassociate like he'd done at the canteen. He needed to organize his mind, plan his next step.

That was easy enough.

He needed to find Mikaela.

But to do that, he needed to know where he was going.

"Hey," Yuichiro leaned to his side and nudged the person sitting next to him. It was the first sound he'd made since snapping back and his voice was raspy, but it felt it'd been loud enough to get everyone's attention.

"…what?"

The soldier's voice was low and unfamiliar. Yuichiro shifted, stretching his arms as far he dared.

"Do you, uh, know where we're going?"

There was a beat of silence and everyone could hear the noise from the outside of the jeep. Yuichiro could head a faint whistle and then the dull sound of an explosion. It was pretty far away, though. At least he hoped so.

"They're evacuating us to the city," the soldier finally replied, slow and huffy. As if stating the obvious. "Isn't that why you're here? Your officer must've pulled rank just to get you on this jeep. That's what mine did. They wanted to get as many betas out of the base as possible, but there were only so many vehicles, y'know?"

Yuichiro inhaled sharply, eyes widening as the pieces started to fall into place.

Someone coughed from the other side of the jeep. "Alphas are so fucking cocky," a female voice complained. "Always training and preparing for war. They never bother preparing for what happens if they aren't winning."

"They got us out of there within the hour," another voice pointed out. Now that Yuichiro had broken the silence, it felt like everyone had something they needed to say. "That's pretty damn good prep if you ask me."

The female beta scoffed. "If they were actually prepared they would've been able to get everyone out, not just a chosen few with connections."

Yuichiro swallowed thickly. "So there are still people at the base?"

"Duh," Yuichiro didn't need to see the beta to know that they were rolling their eyes at him. "All the alphas are there, doing what they do best. The medics are probably running around like crazy and everyone else is hiding in a shelter if they know what's good for them."

"How…how many got out?"

The soldier sitting next to him rolled his shoulders. "I dunno. We're ten, right? I know there were at least fifty jeeps ready to pull out. Pretty sure we're in some kind of motorcade."

Yuichiro didn't bother joining the speculations after that, choosing to focus on the information at hand.  Shinya, or maybe Guren, had made sure that he'd be on one of the evacuation jeeps. He bit his lips and shut his eyes tight, trying to remember something from the past hour or so, but nothing came to mind. Frustrated, Yuichiro took a deep breath and decided to focus on what he did know.

He was being taken to the city. The place he swore he'd never set foot in again. He was returning in disguise and could try to blend in the crowd, but Yuichiro knew how meticulous the Board was. A big evacuation like this would be carefully documented. Once they looked over his files, would they recognize him? Were they even still looking for him?

Yuichiro closed his eyes again and rested the back of his head against the trembling wall behind him. He was going to the city, like it or not. What happened there hung on too many variants for Yuichiro to be able to even formulate a plan. He'd just have to…wing it.

That shouldn't be too difficult, right? Mika was supposed to be in the city 'till the end of the week. Unless he was on a jeep heading straight to the base right now to provide backup.

The rest of the ride felt significantly shorter than Yuichiro remembered the distance to be. Not that the car ride with Shiho all those months ago felt long at the time. He'd been so nervous and the alpha was a fast driver. But even without much conversation with the other betas in the jeep and the lack of visuals, the jeep came to a stop a lot sooner than Yuichiro was ready for.

There was a general sigh of relief when the armored doors opened and a gush of fresh air entered the back of the jeep. The light from the setting sun was blinding enough for Yuichiro to have to squint at the alpha who'd opened the doors.

"We're here," she called out as she offered her hand to the beta sitting closest to the door. A couple of the betas opted for jumping out themselves without any help, but Yuichiro chose to wait at the back of the makeshift line. Usually, he'd think nothing of it, but with his…condition, Yuichiro really didn't want to take any unnecessary risks.

Besides. It wasn't like he was rushing to enter the city.

His turn finally arrived and the alpha smiled at him as she held out her hand.

"It's alright," she said kindly as Yuichiro took her hand and climbed off the jeep. "We're all safe now."

Yuichiro returned her smile and looked around. Safe from the mysterious air raiders, perhaps, but the danger that waited for him in the tall glass towers of the city Board scared him more than any enemy soldier did.

Steeling himself, Yuichiro joined the rest of the huddled betas as they were led into a large building. It reminded Yuichiro of the airports he'd seen in old movies- long lines, a lot of noise and tempers worn thin.

Their jeep was obviously not the first to have arrived, and one look behind him told Yuichiro that they weren't the last, either. Their original group dispersed as they were ordered to stand in lines for what Yuichiro thought looked like a metal detector. To his left there were two betas yelling at each other.

"Ugh, I wish he'd just shut up," the beta in front of Yuichiro complained to no one in particular that Yuichiro could see. Curious, he decided to answer.

"What's going on?"

The beta turned to him and rolled his eyes. "From what I got, he doesn't want to remove his piercings even though they're setting the metal detector off. I mean, yeah, it's obvious that the jewelry is the issue and that he isn't a spy or something carrying some secret weapon, but c'mon! He's holding up the line!"

The betas in charge apparently thought the same as two security guards immediately appeared and carried the protesting beta away. Yuichiro watched him silently as he was dragged to an adjacent room at the far end of the hall.

"Next!"

Yuichiro snapped his gaze back to his own line and took a step forward. The beta next to the metal detector wore the Board's security uniform. She looked stressed and Yuichiro's heart went out to her for a moment before holding his breath and walking through the metal detector. Sure, he had a very good reason to fear her, but that didn't mean that he couldn't relate. How many times had he worn the same exact expression during rush hour at the canteen?

The machine remained silent, much to his relief, and the beta waved him forward to the next line. While Yuichiro hadn't worried all that much about the metal detector (he had a lot to hide, but none of them were metallic), what waited for him at the end of the new line made him faint.

A beta sat at a small desk with a computer, looking up and studying the faces of the next person in line before asking them a series of questions. Yuichiro couldn't hear what they were saying, but they obviously were questions, as the other person had to speak as well.

Yuichiro was pretty sure they weren't chit-chatting about the weather.

Swearing a storm inside, Yuichiro dug his nails into his palms as he practiced the breathing Shinoa taught him once. Freaking out would only draw more attention to him and he'd be carted off to the unknown room like that beta with the piercings.

But how was he supposed to stay calm when he was literally waiting in line for a representative of the Board to question him?

"Next!"

Yuichiro's heart hammered in his chest as he stepped forward and stood in front of the desk. The beta glanced up at him tiredly before turning back to her screen.

"Name?"

Yuichiro wet his lips. "Ryuu Amane."

"Amane…" The beta repeated and muttered quietly to herself as she typed. "Raito…Ren…Ritsu…hmm."

She looked up. "You don't appear in our database, Ryuu."

Yuichiro felt the blood drain from his face.

"T-there's gotta be some mistake," he insisted, meeting the beta's eyes. "I'm in the system! I mean, I get paid every month, I've done my paperwork—"

"Relax," the beta cut him off, a little impatiently. "You aren't the first not to appear. Thousands of military profiles have been lost due to the air raid. We think they bombed- never mind," the beta sighed. "It just means that you need to create a new profile."

"A new profile?"

"That's what I said," the beta snapped. She pointed in the direction of a door to her right where a number of people stood. "You need to go to the adjutant office. Next!"

Yuichiro stumbled forward as he was sidestepped by the person behind him. He turned around just long enough to glare at the beta before sulking to yet another line. The group in front of the adjutant office was significantly smaller than the winding lines he'd waited in before, but there were still about a dozen or so people waiting to create new profiles.

Yuichiro groaned and sat down next to a beta on the floor. He just wanted to get this over with.

"Long day, huh?"

Yuichiro turned his head to look at the other beta. He offered him a tired grin. "Tell me about it."

The beta stretched his arms in front of him with a high-pitched noise before sagging back against the wall. Yuichiro noticed a cut on his arm.

"You got hurt?"

"What, this?" The beta twisted his arm to get a look at the cut. "Nah, I got that yesterday in the kitchen. Scratched myself on some stupid counter."

Yuichiro made a face. "Ugh. Kitchen duty is the worst."

The beta chuckled and clapped Yuichiro on the shoulder. "Damn right. Imagine doing it every day for the rest of your life."

Shuddering, Yuichiro tried not to remember those awful early morning hours in the kitchen during his basic training. Compared to what he'd gone through recently, though, Yuichiro wasn't sure they were so bad after all.

"I did get this today," the beta turned his hand over and showed Yuichiro his palm. The center was completely covered with gauze and medical tape.

"What happened?"

"Burned myself," the beta said curtly, considering his palm before lowering it into his lap. He didn't elaborate.

"That…I'm sorry. I hope it heals soon."

The beta smiled thinly. "Thanks man, I appreciate it. But hey!" His enthusiasm seemed to return as he wiggled his fingers. "At least my fingertips are fine! Can you imagine the pain in the ass this'd be if they were burned too?"

Yuichiro tilted his head. "What do you mean?"

"Y'know, for the fingerprints? You're here to create a new profile, right?"

Yuichiro swallowed the bile choosing that moment to burn his throat.

"They need fingerprints?"

"Of course, how else are they supposed to ID you?" The beta frowned. "Hey, are you alright? You look like you're gonna be sick."

Yuichiro pushed himself to his feet. "I-I need to go to the bathroom. Do you know…?"

The beta nodded and pointed. "Yeah, over there. I'll save your spot for you, don't worry."

Yuichiro bolted towards the bathroom. It was all he could do to hold in the nausea before reaching a stall and emptying the contents of his stomach until there was nothing left to heave. Coughing, Yuichiro slunk down to the floor and buried his face in his hands.

It was over.

He'd been lucky to get this far undetected. But entering that adjutant office would be his last step as a free man. Yuichiro remembered the very first day he entered the omega facility and created his own civilian profile. The fact that the military was a more or less independent body meant that he'd been able to get away with his fake identity, but now?

His fingerprints belonged to a missing omega.

Yuichiro couldn't go into that office. He couldn't. But what choice did he have?

"Hey, are you okay in there?"

Yuichiro froze. He hadn't heard that voice in almost a year. But it couldn't be!

…could it?

"If you're hurt, you should be seeking medical attention," the familiar voice rattled on from the other side of the stall.

Yuichiro wasn't sure what to say.

"…I'm sorry," they apologized. "I don't mean to pry. I'm sure you've been through a lot these past twenty-four hours and the last thing you want is some stranger yammering at you, but you need to take care of yourself."

Yuichiro cleared his throat and cringed. His mouth tasted awful.

"I'm okay…" He rasped, unsure if disclosing his voice was the right thing to do. But he was running out of options.

The stranger didn't seem to recognize him, though.

"You don't sound okay," the voice reprimanded him. Yuichiro could just picture the way the other's face was probably softening just about then. "I can help you. Can I come in?"

Yuichiro considered it for a moment before pulling himself up onto shaky legs and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He wasn't sure if he was ready for this reunion, but hell, he was desperate.

"Yeah, just a sec," Yuichiro clears his throat again and reaches out to open the door. He steps back and bites his lip.

He was right.

He might've been wearing a uniform the other never saw him in, colored his hair and had brown eyes instead of green, but Yuichiro knew the man in front of him would recognize him anywhere.

Watching the recognition dawn in his eyes brought a fond smile to Yuichiro's lips. If his situation wasn't so drastic, he would've laughed.

"Y-Yuu? Is that…are you really Yuichiro?"

Yuichiro gave a quick nod before pulling the omega into the stall and closing the door behind him.

"It's good to see you, Yoichi."

Chapter Text

 

Yuichiro expected to be questioned right off the bat- that’s what anyone would do when confronted with a long-lost friend, right? Well, he’d forgotten how clingy Yoichi can be. He doesn’t get a word in before he’s smothered in one of Yoichi’s hugs. Once upon a time, Yuichiro would indulge him for a beat before pulling away, but now…

Yuichiro wraps his arms around Yoichi’s shoulders and returns the hug. He doesn’t want to let go.

“They told me you died,” Yoichi’s voice is muffled and Yuichiro is pretty sure that Yoichi is crying. Hell, he’s probably crying, too.

He tightens his hold.

“I had to run away,” Yuichiro admits against Yoichi’s hairline. It’s been almost six months since Shiho ambushed him in a dark corner and shattered his trust in the Board, but being back in the city makes it all somehow fresh and raw.

Still, Yoichi deserves to know the truth.

So Yuichiro pulls back and takes Yoichi’s hands as he lowers his voice and tells him everything. About the Board, his escape. About Mikaela and Shinoa and Makoto. About basic training, Lacus and the canteen. Yoichi, like the great listener he’s always been, never looks away or interrupts as Yuichiro tells him his story. His expression changes with every twist and turn, but the first sound he makes is a pleased gasp.

“Wait, you’re carrying?” Yoichi exclaims and squeezes Yuichiro’s hands. “After all this time?”

Yuichiro smiles back, a little nervous and overwhelmed by Yoichi’s excitement.

“Yeah, I guess. Go figure, right?”

Yoichi pulls him back into another hug, a little gentler this time.

“I’m so happy for you, Yuu,” he whispers.

Yuichiro doesn’t trust himself to speak, so he simply nods and returns the hug before pulling away.

“So how about you? What have you been up to?”

Yoichi sits down on top of the toilet seat with a sheepish grin.

“Compared to what you’ve been through, my life is kinda boring,” he shrugs and chuckles when Yuichiro makes a face. “But I like boring!” He quickly adds.

Yuichiro rolls his eyes.

“I could do for some boring right now,” he mumbles and leans back against the wall, crossing his arms. They haven’t heard anyone else come into the bathroom since their reunion, but Yuichiro still keeps his voice down. Just in case.

“C’mon, out with it! You had your baby, right?”

Yoichi’s expression immediately softens.

“Yes, Tomoe,” Yoichi says with a note of pride in his voice. “Just over six months! She’s back home with my alpha, Gekkoin.”

Yuichiro tilts his head.

“Home?”

Yoichi nods. “After I gave birth, the Board gifted us a housing unit in one of the family towers. It’s small,” Yoichi shrugs with a grin, “but cozy!”

Yuichiro isn’t really sure what to say to that, and Yoichi catches on his hesitation. His smile falls and he fiddles with the middle button of his button-down shirt.

“I know the Board tried to kill you,” he says slowly, “but they’ve been nothing but kind to my family. That obviously doesn’t excuse everything they’ve done to you,” Yoichi quickly qualifies, “but it’s going to take me a while to come to terms with…everything, you know?”

Yuichiro purses his lips. He doesn’t want to argue with Yoichi first thing, but he can’t help but feel that old flare of jealousy he’d felt ever since Yoichi conceived. He’d always been the perfect omega- nice, pretty and fertile.

And then there was Yuichiro. He couldn’t get anything right. Even when he’d finally gotten himself knocked up, the timing couldn’t be worse and he was currently on the run for his life. Again.

Why couldn’t have things worked out for him the way they did for his friend? He deserves to be relaxing in bed with his alpha at his side as they wait for their child’s birth- not hiding in a bathroom stall, delaying his imminent capture!

But looking at Yoichi’s worried face, Yuichiro holds his tongue. Yoichi isn’t the one who’d made his life near impossible. There was no reason to let out his frustration on someone who clearly cared about him- on someone he cared about as well, though it was becoming even clearer that he hasn’t been a very good friend.

“No, I get it,” Yuichiro says gruffly and clears his throat. He should change the topic. “So, uh, Gekkoin is living with you, huh? How’s that working out?”

Had Yuichiro successfully conceived with Shiho or Mikaela while under the Board’s watchful eyes, they also would’ve been relocated to a family unit. He would’ve spent his pregnancy with his alpha and the first twelve months after the baby was born together- the exact amount of time the Board estimated the baby needed its alpha around for healthy development.

But it was more than that- it was a chance for the three to bond. To become a family. The alpha was given a leave of absence from the military to perform perhaps the most important job of all- fatherhood. And then, once the family was established…

Yuichiro blinks back the memories of his own parents. Things worked differently in the suburbs. He’d been miserable, at first, when he’d been chosen to be raised in the city. But it was an excellent opportunity for him and in truth, he’d enjoyed life as much as any omega could. Until the Board deemed him damaged, of course.

That was beside the point. As a city omega, Yuichiro had been promised a proper family experience with frequent visitations from his alpha long before they retired. That wasn’t in his future anymore, but it was a bit of a comfort to know that it hadn’t been a complete lie. Yoichi was living the dream, wasn’t he?

Yoichi’s expression brightens at the mention of his alpha.

“It was difficult at first,” Yoichi confides and releases his anxious hold on his button. “I felt like I was disappointing Gekkoin, somehow. Like I didn’t interest him enough. To be honest,” Yoichi offers Yuichiro a shy smile, “sometimes I wondered if he would’ve preferred an omega like you.”

Yuichiro blinks.

“Like me?” He raises an incredulous brow. “What do you mean, ‘like me’?”

Yoichi leans back with a slow smile and crosses his legs one over the other.

“Oh, you know,” he raises his hand and waves in Yuichiro’s direction. “Interesting. Funny. You always have something to say about everything, always knew a lot about the military. It felt like there was some…dissonance between our worlds and he was impatient with me for my lack of interest in his.”

Yuichiro rubs his thumb over his arm as he considers Yoichi’s words. It was a little difficult for him to believe that Yoichi would think that he was better at him in something.

“So what did you do?”

Yoichi gives him a knowing look.

“I read up about the military as much as possible,” Yoichi says. “All the ranks, base locations, Gekkoin’s job- everything I could get my hands on. I was on bed rest for the last bit of my pregnancy and I needed something to do, anyway.”

Yuichiro gives a low whistle.

“Damn, I never thought I’d see the day Yoichi Saotome would go out of his way to read up about the military!”

Yoichi leans forward and gives him a playful shove. Yuichiro grins and pushes him back.

“Okay, so what happened?”

Yoichi huffs and rolls his eyes.

“It didn’t work. Gekkoin thought I was being pathetic and ‘weak-willed’,” Yoichi mimics a deeper voice with a disgruntled scrunch of his nose. “He didn’t like that I was trying to please him, I guess.”

Frowning, Yuichiro decides that he doesn’t like Gekkoin.

“But you said that things are good between you now?”

Yoichi nods with a smirk.

“Yep. I snapped,” he says happily. “Went totally berserk on him. I told him how fed up I was with trying to make him happy and that I was doing all the work carrying his child and that he’d better get over himself.”

Yuichiro gapes at his friend. In all of their years together, he’s never once seen him lose it. Somehow, it sounds…scary.

“…and that worked?”

“Like a charm!” Yoichi chirps. “He respects me now, I think. He says I scared him more than his drill sergeant ever did- but I think he’s overreacting.”

Somehow, Yuichiro doesn’t think Gekkoin was.

“I’m glad it worked out between you two,” Yuichiro finally says, pushing off the wall with a sigh. Now that they were all caught up, there was no use in stalling.

“I’d ask you to visit me in prison, but I don’t want either of you or Tomoe getting in trouble because of me.”

Yoichi gives him an odd look.

“Prison?”

Yuichiro shrugs.

“I mean, it makes sense they’d send me there, right? At least until I have the kid.”

Yoichi stands up as well and takes his hands.

“You’re not going to prison, Yuu,” he states, all traces of his previous smile gone. “I’m going to take you home with me. Gekkoin will know how to contact your alpha and get you both out of here, okay?”

Yuichiro shakes his head.

“I can’t go with you,” he bites his lip. “I’m in line for creating a new profile and the moment they get my fingerprints in the system, they’ll know who I am. I can’t just walk out of the building without an ID card.”

Yoichi’s eyes light up.

“Well, today’s your lucky day, Ryuu Amane,” Yoichi winks and releases Yuichiro’s hands. “The Board has been requesting volunteers to come and help out at the absorption facility. I came to help hand out rations,” Yoichi clears his throat. “Guess who’s sitting in the adjutant office?”

Yuichiro’s brow furrows in confusion.

“Officer Shiho Kimizuki,” Yoichi says softly and opens the stall door. “Come, let’s get you washed up and I’ll find you a bite to eat while we wait for your turn.”

Yuichiro doesn’t protest as Yoichi helps him wash off the sweat and grime from his face and arms in the bathroom sink. Yoichi’s cheerful chattering fades into the background as Yuichiro tries to think of what he’s going to say to the man that helped him escape, all those months ago.

He does feel a little bit better once Yoichi hands him a nutrition bar as they walk out of the bathroom and down the crowded hall towards the office. The beta that had promised to save Yuichiro his spot was just about to go in.

“Hey, you’re back!” He notes with a grin as he stands up from the floor. He looks down at the rest of the people who’d seated themselves in various positions and shrugs. “Sorry guys, but he’s after me.”

The beta doesn’t need to deal with the group’s disgruntled objections- he walks right into the adjutant office. Yuichiro becomes the target of tired glares and whispered insults, which he supposes is fair enough. No one likes a cutter.

He’s fairly certain that Yoichi’s presence is the only thing that stops the group from speaking up. They look at Yoichi with no little confusion, most likely wondering what an omega was doing at the facility. If Yoichi notices their stares, he does nothing to indicate so. He leans against the wall next to Yuichiro and chats with him about Tomoe.

“-and she has just enough hair to put a bow in! I wish I had a picture to show you, but you’ll see her soon enough, right?”

Yuichiro blinks at the sudden lull and turns to look at him.

“Sorry, what were you saying?”

Yoichi’s eyes soften and he places a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, you’ve got this! You’ll be out in ten minutes, tops.”

Somehow, Yuichiro doubts it, but he decides to try out Yoichi’s optimism. After all, if he’s right and Shiho is the one waiting behind that door, what’s the worst that could happen?

Shiho risked his life for him once. What would’ve been the point if he didn’t help him now?

…unless.

The door opens and the beta from before walks out. He flashes Yuichiro a thumbs up before continuing in the direction of the last line.

Yoichi gives Yuichiro a gentle push.

“Go. I’ll be waiting for you.”

Yuichiro forces a smile and nods, mustering confidence as he walks into the office and closes the door behind him.

With a jolt, he notices the familiar dark pink head, bent over the desk as he thumbs through several documents in obvious search of something.

“Name?” Shiho asks in a distracted voice.

Yuichiro steps forward and clears his throat.

“Ryuu Amane, sir.”

Shiho’s hands pause and he looks up sharply, eyes widening as he meets Yuichiro’s gaze.

“Hey,” Yuichiro greets him with an awkward wave.

Shiho blinks at him.

“Uh, can I sit down?”

“What the fuck are you doing here?” Shiho appears to have found his voice as he stands up from his chair.

Yuichiro’s hackles rise, almost familiarly.

“Nice to see you, too,” Yuichiro rolls his eyes and straightens his shoulders. “Do you think I actually want to be here? I can think of a million other places I’d rather-ah!”

Shiho moved quickly, wrapping him in a tight hug before Yuichiro could even think about taking a step back.

“You idiot,” Shiho says thickly, tucking Yuichiro’s head under his chin. Yuichiro lets go of the breath he’d been holding and relaxes, indulging himself for a moment and allowing himself to be comforted by Shiho’s scent.

Safety.

“I’ve been worrying about you,” Shiho murmurs, continuing to hold him close. “Ever since I left you at those gates. But I guess you aren’t too much of a moron if you’ve made it this far.”

Yuichiro snorts and tries to pull away, but Shiho’s grip suddenly tightens around his waist. He tilts his head and leans down to nose at Yuichiro’s neck. Yuichiro’s breath hitches and he grabs Shiho’s wrists in a nervous warning.

As suddenly as it happened, it stops, with Shiho pulling away and letting go with narrowed eyes.

“I think something is off with your suppressants. You don’t smell omega, but…”

Yuichiro raises a brow, which only seems to frustrate Shiho more.

“You smell pregnant. Which is impossible…right?”

Yuichiro looks away and has the decency to blush. He doesn’t bother resisting as Shiho grabs his arm.

“What the fuck, Yuu? Don’t you realize how dangerous-“

“It wasn’t intentional, okay?” Yuichiro snaps and yanks his arm out of Shiho’s grasp with a scowl. “And I wasn’t risking myself with some rando, I was with my alpha, okay?”

Shiho blinks and Yuichiro can see on his face exactly when the pieces fall into place.

“Wait…Commander Shindo was at your base? I-I didn’t…If I’d known, I would’ve driven you further, to the Shinjuku base. Did he- did he blackmail you?”

Yuichiro’s anger fades and he takes Shiho’s hand with a sad smile.

“It’s not your fault, you didn’t know. We had our issues, but he didn’t blackmail me, Shiho,” Yuichiro meets the alpha’s eyes. “Everything was consensual.”

Shiho looks at him for a long moment before giving a stiff nod. He does squeeze his hand, however.

“I know the timing isn’t great, but…I’m happy for you, Yuu. This is what you’ve always wanted.”

Yuichiro returns the nod. He knows the sentiment was loaded, but he appreciates it all the more for it. He can feel all the ‘what-ifs’ in the air but this wasn’t the time nor place to address them.

They look at each other a bit longer before Shiho lets go and returns to the back of his desk, clearing his throat.

“I’m assuming you’re here because your profile has been lost, correct?”

“Yeah.”

“Then take a seat,” Shiho gestures to the chair on the opposite side of the desk and Yuichiro takes him up on the offer.

“You’re one lucky kid,” Shiho grunts as he starts to type and focuses his attention on the screen. “You would’ve been done for if you landed on anyone else.”

“I’m aware,” Yuichiro says dryly and drums his fingers on the desk. “What do I need to do?”

“I’m going to ask you a few basic questions and you’ll have to tell me what you told HR at the base.”

Yuichiro bites his lip.

“And what about the fingerprints?”

Shiho turns to look at him with a smug smile.

“We’ll use retina recognition instead. That’s what we use when the fingerprints are damaged. You’ve never had your eyes scanned before, right?”

Yuichiro feels like a heavy weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

“No,” he says with no little relief in his voice. “Not that I can remember.”

Shiho gives him a long look.

“Well, I guess we’ll see for sure after the scan. If your name pops up, we can always delete it and try…”

Yuichiro waits for Shiho to continue his sentence, but the alpha thinks better of it and shakes his head.

“Whatever, let’s get started. So where were you born, Ryuu?”

The questions go on for a few minutes as Yuichiro tries to remember the lies he’d told during his registration at the base. The eye scan goes thankfully without a hitch and before he knows it, Yuichiro is holding a brand-new ID card in his hand.

“So…that’s it?”

“That’s it,” Shiho confirms with a small smile. “Now you just need to go through relocation.”

Yuichiro’s grip tightens on the card.

“I, uh, my friend said he’d take me home with him. Is that okay?”

Shiho raises a brow.

“I guess, but you’ll have to ask at the relocation desk.”

Yuichiro nods.

“Well…his name is Yoichi Saotome, just in case you want to come visit or something.”

The offer appears to take the alpha by surprise, but he quickly recovers with a shy smile.

“Okay, good to know,” he says and reaches out to squeeze his shoulder.

“Good luck out there, Yuichiro.”

Yuichiro returns the smile and continues to wear it as he walks out of the office. Yoichi is exactly where he’d left him, leaning against the wall. Just like he’d promised.

Their eyes meet and Yuichiro nods, answering Yoichi’s concern with a flash of his new ID card. Though Yoichi had been the optimistic one, his shoulders slump as he visibly relaxes.

“See? I knew it’d be fine,” Yoichi whispers as they walk down the hall towards the relocation line. Yuichiro shrugs. He isn’t quite ready to celebrate until he’s out of the facility- preferably not in chains.

The beta at the relocation counter doesn’t have any objections as Yoichi gives her his address and promises to host Yuichiro for as long as needed. With the sudden influx of soldiers from the various bases around the city, citizens were encouraged to open their homes. The fact that Yuichiro already had a volunteer only made her life easier, according to the beta, as she entered Yoichi’s address into her computer.

And then, just like that, they step out of the facility.

And into the city.

Chapter Text

Walking through the city streets feels like a dream. Or like a nightmare. Yuichiro keeps swinging between the two.

On the one hand, passing by familiar shops, parks and the omega gym he used to frequent brings back memories of a simpler time, when his biggest worries were finding the right shade of gloss and receiving a letter with a positive lab report. Though he couldn’t do back then half of the things that he can do now with his beta status, Yuichiro sometimes misses that innocent, naïve existence.

On the other hand, Yuichiro can’t help but feel like he’s being watched. Shiho’s words about the Board having cameras all over the city suddenly come back to him and Yuichiro can feel his pulse quicken. Will his new coloring and uniform be enough to fool the cameras? For all he knows, there could be spies on every corner, scanning the crowds for criminals.

“Yuu?”

Yuichiro blinks and looks down at Yoichi, who gives him a worried frown.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, m’good,” Yuichiro manages, clearing his throat and offering Yoichi a shaky smile. Yoichi’s expression softens and he squeezes Yuichiro’s hand.

“I’m sure it feels strange to be back here after all this time,” Yoichi says quietly as they cross a street. “But you’ve got nothing to worry about, everyone’s busy with the sudden military personnel absorption.”

Yuichiro’s nerves calm a little at that. Yoichi was probably right. With everything going on, the chances that the Board were out looking for him were slim to none. He was being stupid. Shinoa would call him selfish.

Sure, the world certainly didn’t revolve around him, but could he be blamed for feeling that sometimes it did? Yuichiro could swear that life liked to single him out personally and cause him trouble more often than not.

Life was apparently on a break, though, as nothing happened on their way to Yoichi’s apartment. No one stopped Yuichiro, asked for an ID or grabbed him out of nowhere. Yuichiro was finally able to appreciate the sheer amount of color surrounding him without tensing up, ready to run at the smallest sign of danger.

It really was amazing, how colorful everything was- the buildings, the shops, even the people. Yuichiro had grown so used to varying shades of green, black and grey that he’d almost forgotten that other colors existed. That people were allowed to wear blue, for example. Red. Even orange!

As he and Yoichi grow closer to the family compound, Yuichiro absently wonders when his immediate reaction to danger had changed to flight. He’s pretty sure he used to have more spunk than that. Maybe it had something to do with Mikaela’s mark? His pregnancy?

Yuichiro wishes there was someone he could ask.

Soon enough, Yuichiro follows Yoichi down a path off the main street and into a tall building. They stop in front of an elevator and Yuichiro suddenly realizes that he hasn’t been in one since he left the omega compound.

“Hey, what floor is your apartment?”

Yoichi blinks at him.

“Uh, fourth. Why?”

Yuichiro brims with excitement as the screen on top of the sliding doors indicate that the elevator is on its way down to them.

“Can I press the button when we go inside?”

Yoichi looks startled for a moment before he breaks into a large grin.

“Of course you can, Yuu. Whatever you want.”

Yuichiro grins back at him and turns to the doors just as they open with a loud ding. He really doesn’t know why he’s so excited about something as simple as an elevator, but Yuichiro supposes that after being in a fixed setting, even the smallest difference was thrilling in its own way.

As promised, Yuichiro presses the button indicating the fourth floor and half a minute later he and Yoichi step out of the elevator and onto a carpeted hallway with large glass windows. Yoichi turns to walk down the corridor, but Yuichiro pauses and approaches the window.

“It’s beautiful,” he says quietly.

And indeed, the view was. The late afternoon sun shone brightly over the city, washing the sleek buildings with light that sparkled against the windows. Patches of color bloomed around the towers and shops, each one surrounded by a public garden. From so high above, Yuichiro can see the entire neighborhood and appreciate the aesthetic design.

Carefully planned by the Board, like everything in the city.

A gentle hand on his shoulder snaps Yuichiro out of his reverie. He turns to see Yoichi looking at him with a sympathetic smile.

“Come, let’s get you something to eat. When was the last time you had something?”

Yuichiro’s mood brightens considerably at the prospect of food. Come to think of it, he hadn’t eaten anything since leaving the base- which he can’t even fully remember. For all he knows, it’s been over a day. He hadn’t felt it before, but now that Yoichi mentioned it, Yuichiro can feel the unmistakable pangs of hunger in his stomach.

“Way too long,” Yuichiro offers Yoichi a sheepish smile and follows him down the hall to one of the doors. “I’m starving!”

Before Yoichi can open it, however, Yuichiro gasps and grabs his arm.

“Wait, you don’t think I’ve hurt the baby, do you?” Yuichiro demands, panic lacing his voice. He keeps forgetting that he isn’t the only one he has to care for anymore. If he doesn’t eat, then his child doesn’t eat.

It scares him that he needs to keep reminding himself.

“Well, it couldn’t have been good for it,” Yoichi states and grabs Yuichiro’s hand, squeezing it before Yuichiro can spiral. “But I don’t think you’ve done some irreversible damage. C’mon, no point worrying about it now- the best thing you can do is eat something.”

Yuichiro silently nods and allows himself to be pulled into Yoichi’s apartment. A few minutes ago, he would’ve insisted on looking at everything, exploring Yoichi’s family unit. But now it feels like a heavy culmination of all of his worries has seated itself in his chest.

Guilt, fear, longing, resentment…Yuichiro doesn’t know what to feel. What he does know is that he shouldn’t be going through this emotional rollercoaster without his alpha by his side. Without Mikaela. An alpha’s job was to support, to provide comfort and stability- among many other things.

But he’s alone and has absolutely no idea where Mikaela is.

“Yoichi?”

Yuichiro inhales sharply as a large man walks into the room, carrying a small baby over his shoulder. The size difference was slightly comical and Yuichiro would’ve laughed if not for the deadened expression in the man’s eyes. The dark circles surrounding them spoke volumes of the man’s mental state.

An irritated alpha was no laughing matter.

“Tomoe,” Yoichi coos and crosses the room, reaching for his daughter. The alpha leans down obediently and hands her over, his expression softening somewhat as Yoichi presses a kiss to his cheek.

“She woke up just after you left and refuses to be put down for even one freakin’ second,” the alpha grumbles and rolls his shoulders with a relieved sound. “I thought I was gonna have to-hm?”

Yuichiro startles as he suddenly notices the alpha’s eyes on him. He scrambles to his feet at the low growl that comes from the back of the alpha’s throat and narrows his eyes back at him, baring his teeth with a hiss.

If he isn’t going to have an alpha to protect him, then he’s just going to have to protect himself. Stupid Mikaela was never around when he needed him.

“Hey, cut it out!”

Yuichiro blinks as he watches Yoichi shove the alpha with his free hand. He couldn’t possibly have enough strength to move the alpha, much the less overpower him, but the alpha huffs and shifts out of his aggressive posture. He doesn’t look any friendlier as he folds his arms against his chest and gives Yuichiro a scowl, but at least Yuichiro doesn’t feel threatened anymore.

“Why is a beta soldier in our living room?”

Yoichi rolls his eyes and pats Tomoe’s back as she starts to fuss.

“That beta soldier is my best friend Yuichiro, and if you don’t stop glaring at him you’ll be carrying Tomoe for the rest of the day.”

Yuichiro takes an uncertain step back as the alpha’s eyes widen and his arms fall to his sides. Yuichiro isn’t sure which made him more uncomfortable- the previous aggression or the present blatant staring.

Yuichiro as in the Yuichiro who died?”

Yoichi ignores the alpha’s question and walks back over to Yuichiro.

“I’m sorry, he’s just cranky from…well, from everything,” Yoichi slyly grins. “That’s my alpha, Gekkoin. He’ll be nice to you from now on. Isn’t that right, babe?”

Yuichiro watches with no little awe as Gekkoin’s face flushes and quickly nods, chastened. Yuichiro could’ve sworn that there had been some fear in the alpha’s eyes.

“And this is Tomoe,” Yoichi’s grin softens. Yuichiro gapes as the baby is suddenly presented to him.

“Here, hold her for a minute while I go get you something to eat, okay? Gekkoin gets a break…for now.”

Not being given much of a choice, Yuichiro accepts Tomoe and sits back down on the couch, carefully balancing the baby on his lap. He looks down at her nervously, bracing himself for the inevitable tears. He is probably one of the first people Tomoe has come into contact with besides her parents, and his scent was likely to scare her.

He holds his breath as he watches Tomoe’s face scrunch up in confusion and waits for the first cry.

It doesn’t come.

Tomoe sniffs and looks up at him curiously, and Yuichiro can’t help but smile. She was…well, she was adorable. He can smell Yoichi’s distinctive scent on her and a little bit of something else, which must be Gekkoin. The scent suddenly increases and Yuichiro freezes as he feels a weight settle a respectable distance from him on the couch.

“She likes you,” Gekkoin states in a gruff voice. Yuichiro straightens his shoulders and turns to look at the alpha.

“Yeah, I guess she does.”

They stare at each other for a long, awkward moment before Gekkoin looks away with a sigh.

“I’m sorry for the posturing before,” he says, running a hand through his thick hair. “I just don’t like the idea of strangers near Tomoe.”

Yuichiro nods.

“It’s okay, I get it. I’d feel the same way, I think.”

He hopes. He’s pretty sure Mikaela would.

…he’d like to think Mikaela would.

“Thanks. So, uh…the last I heard from Yoichi, you were…dead. And an omega,” Gekkoin adds, tilting his head and frowning in confusion. Yuichiro can tell that he was trying to be discreet about scenting him, but it was pretty obvious with the way his nostrils were flaring.

Yuichiro shrugs.

“I’d tell you the story, but it’s pretty long and Yoichi already heard it-“

“Yoichi is gonna be in there for a while,” Gekkoin says knowingly. “From my experience, when he says that he’s going to the kitchen for just a ‘minute’, he’s actually working on a three-course dinner. So tell me everything- we’ve got nothing but time,” Gekkoin leans back with a smirk.

Left with no more excuses, Yuichiro takes Tomoe’s tiny hands in his and focuses on her as he tells his story for the third time that day. By the time he reaches the part where he reunited with Yoichi, there’s a spicy aroma in the air, wafting in from the kitchen.

It takes Yuichiro a moment, but once he recognizes the smell, tears sting his eyes. He can’t believe Yoichi remembered.

How long has it been since he’s had curry?

“So let me get this straight,” Gekkoin speaks up. Yuichiro turns to look at him and notes that the alpha’s complexion had turned a little pale sometime during his story.

Feeling a bit self-conscious, Yuichiro looks away and focuses on bouncing Tomoe on his lap. She giggles, and somehow, it makes Yuichiro feel a little less suffocated.

“The Board tried to kill you because they thought you were infertile,” Gekkoin ticks off a finger, “you ran away and enlisted as a beta in the military,” another finger. “Your alpha, Mikaela Shindo, found you and knocked you up,” Gekkoin’s voice sounds strained, “and now you’re on the run, pregnant and on your own?”

Yuichiro huffs. Everything the alpha said was true, but that doesn’t mean that he likes the tone it was said in.

“You make it sound like Mika is a bad guy,” Yuichiro frowns and lifts Tomoe to lean on his shoulder the way he’d seen Gekkoin do before.

“Well, he isn’t a very good alpha, leaving you to deal with all of this by yourself,” Gekkoin points out.

“That’s not true!” Yuichiro snaps and stands up.

“He had to go to the city because of his other omega. If he’d refused, that would’ve made the Board suspicions,” Yuichiro continues. “It’s not his fault that all hell broke loose!”

Gekkoin gives him a long look before standing up as well.

“Maybe not. But he should be here, with his mate,” Gekkoin says decisively. He reaches for Tomoe and Yuichiro hands her to him after a split second of reluctance. He’d enjoyed holding her, and by the alpha’s expression, Yuichiro can tell that Gekkoin had noticed.

“I don’t find it hard to believe that the Board does away with people they can’t use,” the alpha purses his lips. “I’ve always thought that betas were too…logical. Fucking snobs, looking down on us for having actual emotions,” Gekkoin mutters.

Yuichiro opens his mouth to say that he’d met plenty of betas with emotions, but Gekkoin doesn’t give him the chance.

“I might not look it now,” the alpha gestures to his t-shirt and sweatpants, “but I’ve got connections here in the city. I can try to help you find Shindo. But don’t get your hopes up,” Gekkoin immediately adds as Yuichiro’s face brightens. “From what I heard, all active duty alphas were sent back to the bases to protect them and retaliate. If your alpha really is a commander, I’m guessing he was on the first jeep back.”

Yuichiro can feel a lump forming in his throat, but he swallows it down and nods.

“Thank you. I appreciate it.”

Gekkoin considers him silently for a moment and returns the nod with a smile.

“No problem. Now let’s go into the kitchen, I think dinner’s ready.”

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro wakes up to the sound of knocking.

He blinks, unfocused and disoriented.

Wha-?

The sound of footsteps grow closer and Yuichiro sits up on the couch, apprehension suddenly sinking into his limbs as he sees Gekkoin walk over to the door with a tense expression.

The events of the previous day replay themselves in Yuichiro’s mind and he stumbles to his feet, exchanging a worried glance with the alpha.

Who is at the door?

Does he need to hide?

Gekkoin peers through the peephole and turns back to Yuichiro with a frown.

“Who is it?” Yoichi whispers, walking out of the bedroom in a robe that was much too big on him. Gekkoin’s eyes narrow.

“I told you to stay in the bedroom with Tomoe. Now take Yuichiro and go- I’ll handle this.”

Yuichiro is a little surprised to see Yoichi obey the alpha’s command without question. He nervously follows his friend into the bedroom, grabbing and carrying the blanket he’d been using with him. Better not leave any signs of a guest if the Board was looking for him.

As the bedroom door closes behind them, Yuichiro can hear the apartment door open. He bites his lip and tries to make out the conversation, but another sound from behind him catches his attention.

Turning around, Yuichiro sees Yoichi curled up on the bed, clutching a sleeping Tomoe to his chest and looking at him with tears in his eyes.

He was shaking.

Yuichiro sucks in his breath and climbs up onto the bed, crawling until he settles comfortably at Yoichi’s side. He wraps an arm around his shoulders and tucks Yoichi’s head under his chin.

“It’s gonna be okay,” he says fiercely, though they both know that he doesn’t have the power to promise something like that. Still, it felt better than just sitting in silent fear.

“I won’t let anything happen to you or Tomoe, okay? Or to Gekkoin. I’d sooner jump out of that window. They can’t say you harbored me if they don’t find me here, right?”

“Yuu!” Yoichi sniffs, scandalized. “Don’t say things like that!”

“But it’s true,” Yuichiro insists, and he means it. After all of the kindness Yoichi has shown him, he won’t allow the Board to ruin their happiness as well. “Look, if someone comes in now, tell them tha-“

The door suddenly opens and Yuichiro jumps out of the bed, grabbing the closest solid object. He throws the alarm clock at the door and sprints, attempting to bypass the intruder by using the element of surprise. But a strong pair of arms grab him from behind and hold him in place.

“Let go of me!” Yuichiro screams and lashes out, trying to land any kind of hit on the man who grabbed him. His heart pounds mercilessly in his chest and frustrated tears sting his eyes. He can hear a piercing cry in the background. Tomoe had woken up.

“Get your fucking hands off me!”

“Will you just shut up for a minute?!”

Yuichiro freezes, his next scream dying on his tongue.

Oh, he recognizes that voice.

“How long is it going to take you to scent first, hit later,” the familiar voice grumbles and Yuichiro is abruptly let go. He stumbles to the floor and glares up at the alpha.

“Fuck off, Shiho. When will you learn to stop grabbing me out of nowhere?”

Shiho rolls his eyes and offers Yuichiro his hand, who promptly refuses it and climbs to his feet on his own. He huffs and walks back to the living room and onto his makeshift bed with shaky legs. His pulse is still thudding in his throat.

Stupid Shiho scaring the hell out of them all. Yuichiro doesn’t need to be an expert to know that all of these nerves aren’t good for the baby.

A few minutes pass before the bedroom calms down and Yuichiro can hear someone approaching from behind. This time, he focuses for a moment and identifies Shiho’s scent before reacting.

“I’m sorry for scaring you,” Shiho stops in back of the couch and apologizes. Yuichiro doesn’t turn to look at him- apologies were always awkward between them. There was no need to make them even more so.

“You should be apologizing to Yoichi,” Yuichiro mutters. “You really scared him.”

“I’ve apologized to him and to his alpha,” Shiho says quietly. He waits for a long moment before clearing his throat.

“Can I sit next to you?”

Yuichiro shrugs.

Taking the shrug as an affirmation, Shiho appears in Yuichiro’s line of sight and takes a seat next to him on the couch. Neither of them say anything for a few minutes until Yuichiro breaks the silence.

“What are you doing here?”

Shiho turns to look at him with a raised brow.

“I told you I’d come to visit you once I had some news. I would’ve thought twice about coming if I knew I’d be greeted by a fucking alarm clock thrown at my head.”

Yuichiro scowls and crosses his arms over his chest.

“Yeah well sorry for assuming the worst. It isn’t like my life is in danger or anything.”

Shiho lowers his gaze.

“You’re right, I’m sorry, I didn’t think-“

“So what’s the news?” Yuichiro cuts Shiho off. He doesn’t want to hear any more apologies. Shiho looks back up, surprised, before nodding and straightening his glasses on the bridge of his nose.

“Right. So the attack was apparently launched by the Delta rebel units with aid from Arpad,” Shiho says stiffly. “It was repressed during the night and our forces are now working on retaliation.”

Yuichiro nods, though he doesn’t know what Shiho is talking about. How could he have been in the military all these months and had never heard of Arpad? Or rebel units?

“Gekkoin said chances are that Mikaela was sent back to the base,” Yuichiro says quietly, and his lips purse grimly as Shiho nods.

“Most likely. They were even trying to send some of the city guard for backup.”

Yuichiro sighs and leans back against the couch, closing his eyes.

“Actually, that’s something you might be interested in.”

Yuichiro opens his eyes and looks at Shiho questioningly.

“They’re recruiting volunteers to go back to the base and help with rebuilding. Apparently the buildings suffered a lot of damage,” Shiho tilts his head.

“If you were to volunteer, it could be your ticket out of the city and back to your alpha.”

Yuichiro’s eyes widen.

“But what about the baby?”

Yuichiro turns around and looks at Yoichi, who had walked into the living room with Tomoe on his hip. He meets Yuichiro’s eyes with a frown.

“They need laborers, and the last thing you need to do is exert yourself so early on in the pregnancy. Not to mention that your suppressants stash is gone, isn’t it? Even if it survived the attack, who’s to say you’ll have access to it in time?”

Yuichiro swallows thickly and looks back at Shiho.

“He’s right- I don’t have any on me,” he bites his lip. “Do you have any left? I’ve got about two days before I need to take another dose.”

Shiho’s grim expression doesn’t bode well.

“No,” he shakes his head. “They don’t issue them anymore.”

Yuichiro slumps back onto the couch. He’d known that.

“Besides,” Shiho speaks up, “can you even take them anymore? Y’know…with the pregnancy?”

Yuichiro stills. He hadn’t thought about that. How could he have never considered the option that his suppressants might hurt the baby?

Fuck. Just….fuck. He isn’t fit to be a parent.

“We don’t even know if Mikaela is at the base,” Yoichi’s voice snaps him out of his thoughts. He almost jumps as Yoichi plops down next to him on the couch.

“I say you stay here with us until you know where Mikaela is. There’s no point leaving until you’re sure he isn’t here.”

“But the Board can swoop in at any minute,” Yuichiro argues and stands up. He notices Gekkoin, leaning silently against the wall, listening to their conversation. Yuichiro looks back down at Yoichi and Tomoe.

“My being here is putting all of you at risk,” Yuichiro states. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. To any of you,” Yuichiro turns to look at Shiho as well.

“Then what are you going to do?”

Yuichiro’s shoulders slump at Gekkoin’s question.

“I don’t…I don’t know,” he whispers.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro tries not to fidget, but patience has never been his strong point. It feels like all he’s been doing these past two days has been sitting on this couch. Yoichi and Gekkoin’s apartment wasn’t really meant for more than two grown people, and Yuichiro can’t help but miss his bunk bed. He’d been sharing a room with three other people at the time, but somehow that one room felt larger than Yoichi’s apartment.

Yuichiro wonders where Makoto, Shusaku and Chess are, at this very moment. If they’re okay. Are they together? Did any of them make it to the city? Are they wondering where he is? And what about Guren and Shinya? The last time Yuichiro saw them was during the attack.

The person Yuichiro misses the most, however, is Shinoa. He’d never tell her that if they do see each other again, though- she’d never stop gloating about it. Still. While Yuichiro was supposed to dedicate these past two days to thinking about his next step, his thoughts often wandered to his friends. If there was any way to contact them, maybe to ask for their help. That certainly would make things easier.

Yuichiro didn’t even need to try to think of Mikaela. His alpha is always there in the back of his mind, a gaping cavity in his chest that won’t be filled until Yuichiro sees him again and knows that he’s safe. Yuichiro doesn’t know much about mating marks, but Mikaela’s mark was still there, on his thigh. He’d checked. He hopes it’s a good sign.

Either way, thinking is all he’s been doing for the past forty-eight hours, and his time is running out. The effects of the last suppressant Yuichiro took the previous week would start to fade soon and by tomorrow morning, he’d smell like any other pregnant omega. There’d be no way to travel the city undetected once that happened.

Yuichiro groans and slides halfway down the couch. Why can’t anything just work out for him for a change?

“Your dramatics aren’t going to help solve the problem,” Shiho snaps from the other side of the couch.

Yuichiro narrows his eyes and sticks his tongue out at the alpha.

“Well, it’s not like your glaring at the wall is doing any good, either. If you don’t want to be here, then just go. No one asked you to hang around.”

Shiho looks at Yuichiro blankly.

You asked me to, just yesterday. I’m not sure if you’ve got pregnancy brain, or if you’re always this stupid.”

“What did you just-“

The bedroom door opens and Yuichiro quickly shuts his mouth and straightens back on the couch, though not before giving Shiho a dirty look. He’d give Shiho a piece of his mind later, after he was out of Tomoe’s earshot. Yuichiro was never explicitly warned, but he has a feeling that Yoichi would do the Board’s work for them himself if Yuichiro woke Tomoe up from her nap early because of his yelling.

Besides, he was already feeling like a burden on Yoichi’s family. Yuichiro doesn’t want to make things any more difficult for his friend than they already are.

So Yuichiro gives Yoichi and Gekkoin an anxious smile as they walk into the living room and sit down on the chairs in front of the couch. He and Shiho had been waiting for them to come out of their room after putting Tomoe down for her nap.

Apparently, Gekkoin had an idea. Or so Yuichiro was told about an hour ago. Yuichiro has a feeling that Tomoe wasn’t the reason the pair had taken so long in the bedroom. By the tense expression on Yoichi’s face, Yuichiro can guess who they’d been talking about.

“Thank you for your patience,” Gekkoin nods in Shiho’s direction. “I know you must be busy, especially with the mess caused by the recent attacks. But in order for my plan to work, you need to be involved as well.”

Yuichiro watches as Shiho returns the nod.

“Of course. I’m just as invested in this as you all are.”

Yuichiro shifts uncomfortably, a little unnerved by Gekkoin and Shiho’s formal interactions. He supposes that was just how alphas spoke with one another when there was no established ranking. Or maybe it was because they didn’t know each other very well. Either way, it made Yuichiro’s situation feel like a military operation.

Yuichiro isn’t sure how he feels about that. What he does know, however, is that he appreciates Shiho’s presence. He needs to keep reminding himself not to take the alpha’s help for granted. Shiho was risking his neck just sitting here in the same room with him.

Maybe he shouldn’t taunt Shiho as much as he does. But that was just how they communicated.

“So what’s your idea?” Yuichiro clears his throat. He wants to know what was making Yoichi look so pale.

Gekkoin shifts his gaze to Yuichiro and Yuichiro fights not to automatically lower his eyes. Being in the alpha’s presence meant a constant battle against his most basic instincts and to be frank, it was exhausting. But Yuichiro wasn’t about to tell his friend that his alpha was intimidating. Especially when Gekkoin probably didn’t even mean to look so severe… most of the time.

“Well, we were thinking,” Yoichi speaks up before Gekkoin can reply. “You’ve been here for three days so far, and nobody’s come knocking on our door, so you’re probably safe here.”

Yuichiro opens his mouth to object, but Yoichi raises his hand and beats him to it.

“But you don’t want to put us in danger, I know, which is why you don’t want to stay. But I just wanted you to know that it’s an option, okay?”

Yuichiro offers Yoichi a small smile, but they both know that Yuichiro wasn’t going to stay. Still, the offer means a lot to him.

“So we were thinking what else you could do. We’ve all agreed that returning to the base is too risky,” Yoichi states and everyone nods, “and either way your scent is going to return soon, so the window for that has already closed. You can’t go back to the base smelling like a pregnant omega.”

“What does that leave him with, then?”

Yuichiro turns to look at Shiho, who was leaning forward with a noticeable crease in his brow.

“It’s not like Yuu can walk around the city, especially once his scent returns. He needs somewhere he can stay put. If your plan is for him to stay at my place, then that just isn’t going to work- I live in the urban barracks.”

Yuichiro rolls his eyes and folds his arms against his chest. As if he’d go from risking Yoichi and his family to risking Shiho.

“That isn’t the plan,” Gekkoin finally speaks up. “I’m aware of the city military division’s housing arrangement, Yuichiro staying by you was never on the table. But you are right about Yuichiro needing to stay put and lay low until we can track down his alpha. He’s in no position to go searching for him.”

Yuichiro can feel his face heat up at the insinuation that he would. Apparently Yoichi had told Gekkoin about their conversation the previous night. Yuichiro isn’t stupid, he knows he can’t just walk around and seek Mikaela out. But a guy can dream, right?

He misses Mikaela. Terribly.

“So what do you think I should do?”

Yuichiro straightens in his seat and meets Gekkoin’s eyes. The alpha looks at him for a long moment before giving him a curt nod.

“There’s a small maternity hospital in the city called Seraphim. It’s run by a private company that works with the Board, but doesn’t report to them- at least, unofficially. The hospital admits omegas that have wealthy alphas that are willing to pay for them to receive private, top-notch care. But the best part is that they’re discreet.”

Yuichiro bites his lip. Discreet as they may be, entering any kind of institution was risky.

“Okay, but to the system I’m supposedly dead. Won’t they check who I am? Who my alpha is?”

“That’s where you come in,” Gekkoin jerks his chin in Shiho’s direction. “You’re going to pose as Yuichiro’s alpha. And you,” Gekkoin returns his gaze to Yuichiro, “will be playing a country omega who got knocked up by a city alpha. Since you wouldn’t be an authorized match, the hospital will know not to search for you in the system and to keep your presence under wraps- for the right price, of course.”

Slowly nodding, Yuichiro turns to look at Shiho.

“What do you think?”

Shiho purses his lips.

“I think this could work, but there are a few issues we need to think about. Our cover story needs to match, for one. And we’d need the money, of course. I don’t…”

Shiho flushes.

“I don’t have that kind of money. I’ve heard of Seraphim, too, and from what I know, they’d ask for a year’s worth of my salary upfront. I’d give it if I could, but I just don’t have that money in my account.”

“Don’t worry about the money- if we both chip in, we should have enough to afford their fees. But there’s something else you two need to talk about,” Gekkoin says in a gruff voice. Yuichiro’s eyes widen a little in alarm as he sees Yoichi look away.

Shit. What was the catch?

“Your scent will be returning soon,” Gekkoin continues and meets Yuichiro’s gaze. “And you’re pregnant with Mikaela Shindo’s child. Your scents are going to be mixed, and no one is going to believe that Shiho is your alpha.”

Yuichiro tries to catch Yoichi’s gaze, but his friend won’t meet his eyes.

“Then what do we do?” Yuichiro eventually asks, breaking the silence. He looks around the room and even he can tell that everyone was uncomfortable. As if they’d all realized something that he hadn’t.

Frowning, Yuichiro turns and takes Shiho’s hand. He tugs at it, demanding the alpha’s attention.

“What is it? What aren’t you telling me?”

Shiho’s face turns a deeper shade of red and he fiddles with his glasses with his free hand.

“Well, you see…it’s an issue with your scent and, uh…it would mean changing your scent. Actually, no, not exactly changing it, but overpowering it, I guess?”

Yuichiro turns to look at Gekkoin, feeling a little lost. He has no idea what Shiho is talking about.

“What Kimizuki is trying to say is that he’ll need to hide your alpha’s scent,” Gekkoin says stiffly. “And that kind of serious modification can only be done with a thorough scenting session.”

It takes a moment for the meaning of Gekkoin’s words to register. Once they do, however, Yuichiro drops Shiho’s hand and stares at the floor, embarrassment burning from the back of his neck to the tips of his ears.

Oh.

Shiho was going to have to scent him. Thoroughly.

No one had ever done that to him. Not even Mikaela, though the alpha had told him often enough that he’d want nothing more than to do so. It hadn’t been possible at the base. Especially while he was on the suppressants.

Would he be betraying Mikaela if he allowed Shiho to scent him? Even if it was purely for his safety?

Yuichiro knows Mikaela would be the first to tell him to go through with it, that nothing was more important to him than Yuichiro and their child’s well-being. And yet.

“We don’t have to do it,” Shiho quickly speaks up. “We can think of a different plan. Or maybe we can just say that your alpha was killed in the air-raid and you’re my cousin or something. I’m sure-“

“No. I’ll do it.”

Yuichiro looks up and meets Shiho’s eyes with conviction.

“This is the best plan we’ve got and we have to be as straightforward about it as possible. The last thing we need is the hospital to start investigating things.”

“Yuu, are you sure?” Yoichi speaks up, finally raising his gaze and reaching out to squeeze Yuichiro’s knee. “Are you really comfortable with this?”

Yuichiro shrugs and shakes his head.

“Not really. But I can’t afford not to.”

Yuichiro tilts his head in Shiho’s direction.

“Are you okay with this? I’ve already asked so much of you-“

“I’ll do it,” Shiho cuts him off, a little sharply. “Like you said, we don’t really have any other options.”

“That settles it, then,” Gekkoin states and stands up. “You’ll come over tomorrow evening for the scenting and then go directly to the hospital. Now if you come with me, we can go over our bank accounts and divide the expense.”

Shiho nods and stands up as well. He shakes Gekkoin’s hand and gives Yuichiro one last furtive look before he walks out of the apartment together with the other alpha, leaving Yuichiro and Yoichi alone in an awkward silence.

“…I’ll pay you back,” Yuichiro clears his throat, intent on changing the subject. “I promise, once everything is settled, I’ll pay you both back. Even if I need to ask Mika for the money, I’ll do it!”

It was bad enough that Yoichi and Gekkoin were risking themselves and their daughter by harboring a fugitive- now it sounded like Yuichiro was about to bankrupt them on top of everything. He feels…awful. He’s been nothing but an inconvenience since he met Yoichi in the bathroom stall.

Yoichi offers Yuichiro a watery smile.

“It’s the least I can do for my best friend,” he whispers and takes both of Yuichiro’s hands in his own. Yuichiro feels a lump forming in his throat and he returns the smile, squeezing Yoichi’s hands.

“Thank you.”

Sometimes, there just wasn’t anything else to say.

 

 

.x.

 

 

Yuichiro sits in the middle of Yoichi and Gekkoin’s bed, looking around the empty room. It felt wrong, being on their bed, knowing what it was going to smell like once he and Shiho were done. But it wasn’t like there were any other comfortable surfaces to perform the scenting on in the apartment. The bedsheets could always be washed and the room aired- the couch, on the other hand, would’ve been a lot more difficult to clean.

As he nervously waits for Shiho to join him, Yuichiro wonders if he should start to undress. Would that come off as eager? Vulgar? Or would waiting with his clothes on make things even more awkward?

Ugh. He can’t wait for this to be over already.

Yuichiro isn’t given a whole lot of time to agonize over his state of dress. His eyes snap to the door as it opens, revealing a blank-faced Shiho.

“Did they leave?”

“Yes,” Shiho nods and closes the door shut after him. “They took Tomoe with them on a walk. We’ve got about an hour.”

“Got it.”

They look at each other for a long moment before Yuichiro clears his throat.

“Okay, so, how are we doing this?”

His question seems to snap Shiho back to focus and he squares his shoulders.

“We should take off our clothes,” he states, all business-like, and proceeds to unbutton his uniform jacket. Yuichiro blinks and immediately follows suit, pulling off his clothes and folding them in a pile on the edge of the bed, next to the pile of civilian clothes Yoichi set aside for him to wear after the scenting.

Yuichiro doesn’t know when he’ll get to wear a uniform again. If he’ll get to wear one again.

Once he’s fully naked, Yuichiro takes a deep breath and lies back against the pillows, looking over at Shiho, who was down to only his socks. He tries not to stare, as Shiho was obviously trying not to, but Yuichiro couldn’t help but be curious.

It was only natural to wonder if his previous alpha had changed in any way since their last heat together.

Yuichiro knows he had.

His hair color and contacts must be jarring for Shiho, for one- not to mention Yuichiro’s new scent. Gekkoin had been right, his scent had changed since the last time his body had produced it. There was a new depth to it that was all Mikaela.

That couldn’t be easy for Shiho. Especially coupled with Mikaela’s mark on Yuichiro’s thigh and the little baby bump that didn’t belong to Shiho.

Shiho, on the other hand, hadn’t changed much. A little thinner, perhaps. Yuichiro’s eyes quickly roam over his body and his breath hitches as he reaches the alpha’s face. Shiho was staring at him intently with an unreadable expression on his face.

Yuichiro follows Shiho’s gaze to the inside of his thigh.

Face flushing, Yuichiro crosses his legs and sits up.

“I haven’t asked, but…do you have a new omega?”

Shiho presses his lips into a thin line and shakes his head.

“No. The Board hasn’t seen fit to grant me a new omega.”

“Oh…”

Yuichiro doesn’t know what to say to that. On the one hand, there’s a part of him that’s glad that he isn’t forcing Shiho to cheat on another omega by helping him. On the other hand, he feels bad for the alpha. He had probably been Shiho’s only chance at mating with an omega, and when he’d proven infertile…

“Let’s just get this over with,” Shiho mutters and climbs on top of the bed. Yuichiro holds his breath as the alpha invades his space and pushes his legs apart, forcing himself between them. Yuichiro falls backs against the pillows in resignation.

He watches in an embarrassed silence as Shiho grasps his cock and starts stroking himself, trying to work himself to completion. But as the minutes passed and the silence only broken by the obscene sound of Shiho’s hand and heavy breathing, the alpha’s length refused to harden.

“Fuck,” Shiho grits his teeth and pulls away with a sound of frustration. Yuichiro props himself up on his arms and worries his lip as he carefully thinks about what he’s about to offer.

“What…what can I do to help?”

Shiho’s eyes snap to his.

“You smell wrong,” Shiho states with a growl. “You stink of him. I can’t get it up like this.”

There’s a sharp retort on Yuichiro’s tongue but he bites it back. Now wasn’t the time to argue.

“Tell me what you need,” Yuichiro says steadily. He doesn’t miss the way Shiho’s gaze lowers to his neck and in that moment, Yuichiro knows exactly what to do. He hasn’t done this in a long time, but if that’s what Shiho wanted…

Yuichiro tilts his head to the side in silent invitation and apparently, that was all the alpha needed. A moment later Shiho is back on top of him, one hand on his shoulder as the other grabs Yuichiro by the hair and holds him in place as he sinks his fangs into Yuichiro’s neck.

Gasping, Yuichiro’s vision quickly starts to swim and he can feel his entire body being consumed with heat. He closes his eyes and whimpers, wrapping his legs around Shiho’s hips and dragging his nails down the alpha’s back. Yuichiro gasps as the fangs retract from his throat and he collapses back onto the pillows, dizzy and vulnerable.

Fangs are replaced by lips that begin to kiss a pattern down the column of Yuichiro’s neck and across his chest. Yuichiro hums, not entirely focused but enjoying the pleasant sensation, and moans as he feels the alpha’s firm length drag over his hipbone.

“M’gonna scent you,” a deep voice growls in his ear, and Yuichiro shivers in anticipation, head still a little cloudy.

“Gonna make the whole world know that you’re mine.”

Yuichiro’s eyes flash open as his legs are suddenly grabbed and pulled into the air. He groans as Shiho tightens his grasp on his knees and slides his cock between Yuichiro’s thighs, pressing it flush on top of Yuichiro’s length.

“Try to close your legs as much as you can,” Shiho orders and Yuichiro obeys, flinging his head back with a moan as the alpha starts to move. His thighs shake with the effort to keep them in place, but it’s well worth the friction. Shiho’s cock was big and warm and felt amazing between his legs, sliding against his length.

It doesn’t take long for Yuichiro to cum with a shout. His legs would’ve fallen if not for Shiho’s tight grip. Yuichiro waits with lidded eyes for the alpha to finish as well and smiles in satisfaction as Shiho grunts and cums all over his stomach with one last thrust.

They stare at each other for a few moments, panting, before Shiho gently sets Yuichiro’s legs back on the mattress.

“Thank you,” he mumbles and leans down to press a quick kiss to Yuichiro’s cheek. Shiho then pulls back and dips his fingers in the small pool of cum cooling on tip of Yuichiro’s stomach.

“Time to start the scenting, I guess.”

Yuichiro makes a noncommittal sound and closes his eyes. He slowly starts to come back to his senses as he feels Shiho rubbing something sticky into his skin. He shifts as prompted, giving the alpha access as he rubs in circular motions against his neck, his wrist and behind his knees. His eyes flutter back open as he feels Shiho continue the rubbing between his thighs.

Suddenly, everything is back in focus.

Inhaling sharply, Yuichiro covers his face with his hands and tries to make sense of what just happened.

He remembers letting Shiho drink from his blood in order to get it up, but things got a little hazy after that. Yuichiro knows that’s what usually happens, but he’d trusted Shiho not to take advantage of his pliant state.

Did they…did they have sex?

Scenting only requires the alpha to cum and rub their seed into the omega’s pulse points so as to cover them with their scent, but Yuichiro is pretty sure that he’d finished as well. He hadn’t planned on it. Shiho was supposed to only get himself off.

What did this mean?

“Hey,” Shiho says softly and gently tugs at Yuichiro’s hands. “Yuu. Talk to me. What’s wrong?”

Yuichiro allows his hands to be pulled away from his face and looks up at Shiho with wide, teary eyes.

“Did I…did I just cheat on Mika?”

Shiho’s eyes widen before his brow furrows and he pulls back. Yuichiro doesn’t take it as a good sign.

“I didn’t fuck you,” Shiho says bluntly, “if that’s what you’re asking.”

Yuichiro flinches.

“But we did…I did touch you. Sort of. It was in the heat of the moment and you-you were into it and I was into it and I didn’t- fuck. I wasn’t thinking.”

Yuichiro doesn’t know what to think. They sit in silence for a few minutes before Yuichiro’s lips start to quiver.

“Well, whatever happened, it’s done,” he says decisively and reaches for the clean set of clothes Yoichi had set out for him. He pointedly ignores Shiho as he scoots off the bed and starts to dress, grimacing at the necessary but grimy state of his skin. He won’t be able to shower for twenty-four hours or else risk shortening the longevity of Shiho’s scent.

Yuichiro freezes as his wrist is suddenly grabbed.

“I’m so sorry, Yuu,” Shiho says in a pleading voice Yuichiro has never heard before. It’s enough for him to turn around and look at the alpha, who was still sitting naked on top of the bed. The only word Yuichiro could find to describe Shiho’s expression was pained.  

“I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you like that,” Shiho continues in earnest. “I should’ve had more control of my instincts. I know it’s no excuse, but I guess that I-I just miss you. And seeing you so completely claimed by another alpha, it…it made me angry. I know he’s your alpha now, but I’ll never stop wishing you were still mine.”

Yuichiro swallows thickly and exhales a shaky breath.

He still doesn’t know what to think.

“…let’s just get going. Yoichi and Gekkoin should be back any minute,” Yuichiro murmurs and pulls his wrist out of Shiho’s hold. Shiho looks at him silently for a moment before climbing off the bed and dressing himself back into his uniform.

Yuichiro gives his own uniform one last glimpse before crossing the room and opening the door, leaving Shiho to finish getting dressed. Yuichiro walks over to the familiar couch and slowly sits down.

He can still feel Shiho’s lips on his neck.

Chapter Text

Yuichiro sits on the chair in the waiting room feeling oddly exposed. As a beta with a mild scent (or none at all in his case while on the suppressant), Yuichiro had gotten used to the privacy of his emotions belonging to him and him alone. But now that his scent has returned, all of his anxiety and nervousness was being broadcasted to the world.

That’s how it always had been, at least since he’d presented. Yuichiro can’t even remember a time when he’d been naturally scentless, covered only by his parents’ joint scent.

But then he’d gone and gotten a taste of the luxury of keeping his feelings to himself. And now that it had been taken away from him, Yuichiro doesn’t know what to do with himself. There were ways to disguise emotions, tricks every alpha and omega learned from friends or from their own experiences. Yuichiro can’t seem to remember any of them, though. Or perhaps they just didn’t work on pregnant omegas.

Or maybe his whole body was fucked up from using suppressants, being marked, carrying an alpha’s child and smelling heavily like a different one. Yuichiro wouldn’t be surprised.

Shiho, on the other hand? Shiho was certainly surprising him.

Sitting right next to him with his hand on Yuichiro’s knee, Shiho couldn’t be further away. It felt like someone else entirely was inhabiting the alpha’s body. Shiho might be playing a worried, loving partner, but Yuichiro isn’t sure that anyone would buy it with how stoic Shiho’s expression was. Or how they’ve barely exchanged a word since entering the hospital- since they’ve left Yoichi’s apartment, to be precise. Not that anyone would know that just by looking at them.

Still. Shiho’s silence wasn’t helping Yuichiro’s nerves any. He isn’t used to being in the same room with the alpha without arguing at least once. The lack of banter was oddly unnerving.

“Aren’t you going to tell me to relax?”

Shiho finally turns to look at him and raises a brow.

“Why would I do that?”

“I dunno,” Yuichiro rolls his eyes and looks around the empty room before lowering his voice. “Maybe so that I don’t blow our cover?”

Shiho shakes his head and looks away.

“Your anxious scent goes hand in hand with our cover story,” he says crisply and adjusts his glasses. “By all means, continue to work yourself up.”

Yuichiro bares his teeth and jerks his thigh out of Shiho’s grasp. The jerk!

Yuichiro might’ve missed their banter, but this wasn’t…this wasn’t exactly banter. It wasn’t the usual insults and insinuations. Shiho was just being mean and distant.

After what had happened in Yoichi and Gekkoin’s bedroom, Yuichiro can’t understand how Shiho can afford to treat him this way. On all accounts he should be on his knees, begging Yuichiro for his forgiveness!

…but there was only Yuichiro’s account. He hadn’t told anyone about the incident, it was still too fresh and confusing and now wasn’t the time to dwell on it. He and Shiho have to be convincing and getting into a fight in the hospital was just too risky.

Still. Shiho knows how scary this all is- he’s probably scared, too. Why can’t they just support one another?

Mikaela wouldn’t intentionally put him down when he was so vulnerable. He’d hold him close and whisper reassurances even if they’d just fought. Because he took his duties as an alpha seriously.

Yuichiro feels a pang of guilt and curls his hands into fists on top of his knees.

He doesn’t know if he’s feeling guilty for breaking Mikaela’s trust or for expecting Shiho to act like his alpha when he obviously wanted to be but would never be able to. But he feels guilty all the same.

“Kimizuki?”

Yuichiro jerks out of his morose pondering as the office door opens and a middle-aged beta steps out into the hall with a clipboard in hand. Yuichiro and Shiho quickly stand up and Yuichiro doesn’t notice that Shiho had taken his hand until he feels the alpha squeeze it reassuringly.

Was it part of the act, or was Shiho really trying to make him feel better?

“Right this way,” the beta steps aside and gestures for them to enter the office. Yuichiro follows Shiho into the room and takes a seat next to the alpha in front of a large wooden desk. The beta closes the door after them and proceeds to sit down on the other side of the desk, wearing a polite smile.

“Thank you for waiting, Officer Kimizuki and Mr. Ichinose. My name is Horn Skuld, and I am the head of the inpatient ward of Seraphim. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she extends her hand and both Shiho and Yuichiro shake it in turn. She then sits back and glances down at the pile of papers in front of her.

“I’ve gone over the forms you’ve filled out, and so far, everything appears to check out.”

Yuichiro nods and swallows thickly. Ichinose was his mother’s maiden name, and while it felt odd and a little risky to use it, Yuichiro reasoned that it made more sense than making up a new name entirely. Should the hospital decide to investigate, they’ll find that indeed there is an Ichinose family in the small town he was born in.

“However,” Horn raises her gaze, “there was no referral from an official Board facility.”

Yuichiro sucks in his breath.

“We were told,” Shiho clears his throat and speaks up, “that not all cases require an official referral. My connection mentioned that Seraphim is known for its…discretion, when it comes to special circumstances.”

Horn gives them both a long look before tilting her head with a small smile.

“I see. And what special circumstances are we dealing with today?”

Yuichiro wets his lips nervously and places a protective hand on his stomach, trying not to be too obvious about his discomfort as Shiho wraps an arm around his shoulders. He hopes he looks convincing.

“As you know from the forms, I belong to the military’s urban division,” Shiho says slowly, hesitatingly. Yuichiro is impressed- it doesn’t sound like he’s been practicing this little speech at all. Yuichiro had heard every word of it as they’d both waited for Yoichi and Gekkoin’s return, unwilling to make any other conversation.

“The urban division is sometimes sent to help out with manual labor in the countryside, and that’s where I met Ichiro. I was stationed in his town for a few months and...”

Yuichiro bites his lip as Shiho places his palm on top of the hand on his stomach. He looks away.

“Well, this happened,” Shiho finishes with a nervous chuckle.

Horn raises a brow.

“I see,” she says and Yuichiro can feel her heavy gaze on his stomach.

“You’ve been awfully quiet, Ichiro. May I call you that?”

Yuichiro quickly nods.

“Thank you. But yes, you haven’t said much.”

Yuichiro’s shoulders tense and he raises his eyes from the floor to meet Horn’s.

“That’s because I’m scared. And nervous. And embarrassed,” Yuichiro states, a little relieved to be able to speak some truth in the mix of the lies he and Shiho have been telling.

“I never should’ve let this happen,” he says firmly, “and now I have to go into hiding because we couldn’t help ourselves. I’m ashamed,” he adds, “but…”

He turns to look at Shiho with a soft smile.

“I won’t get rid of our baby, even though it puts us at risk. I love Shiho. And I love our baby.”

Yuichiro’s face burns and he quickly looks away when he thinks he sees a flash of emotion in Shiho’s eyes. He hates that he has to hurt the man who’s done nothing but help him. Even when Shiho had violated his trust in the process.

“What special circumstances indeed,” Horn hums and leans back in her chair, studying the two of them before addressing Shiho.

“Special circumstances require special compensation in order to make it worth our time,” she drawls and reaches for a pen. “I assume your connection has informed you of our fees?”

Shiho gives a curt nod.

“Yes, I am well aware,” he says stiffly and pulls out a checkbook from his coat jacket. “I’m prepared to pay full-board for Ichiro for the duration of his pregnancy. His presence will need to be discreet.”

Horn finally gives them a real smile.

“Of course, Officer Kimizuki. You’ve come to the right place.”

Yuichiro returns the smile a little shakily as he relaxes into his chair, indulging in a bit of relief. They aren’t out of the woods quite yet, but at least the first step has been a success.

After Shiho finishes signing the rest of the forms (and the cheque), they all stand up.

“Now that everything is in order, I’ll give Ichiro a tour of the facility and show him to his room,” Horn announces and walks over to the door.

“Alphas are not permitted inside the inpatient ward, so I’m afraid you’ll have to leave, Officer Kimizuki. Don’t worry,” she quickly adds as she sees their expression. “Visitors’ day is every Tuesday. You’ll be able to see each other next week. Until then, I’ll give you both some privacy for your goodbyes.”

Horn exits the room and closes the door behind her, leaving Yuichiro alone with Shiho.

He doesn’t know what to say.

That is, until he sees the security camera in the corner of the room.

“I’ll miss you,” Yuichiro says loudly, perhaps a little too loud. But he wants to make it clear to anyone who may be watching them that their cover story is real.

Shiho’s eyes widen and he looks a little startled as Yuichiro steps forward and raises his arms to wrap around Shiho’s neck. Shiho looks down at him in confusion but places his hands on Yuichiro’s hips, playing along despite the unspoken question.

Yuichiro is transported back to the alley Shiho had cornered him months and months ago, scaring the hell out of him and forcing him to play along for the sake of the cameras as the alpha told him that he had a death sentence hovering over his head.

Remembering how Shiho had handled it back then, Yuichiro leans forward and presses their mouths together in a chaste kiss. He can taste the shock on the alpha’s unresponsive lips. Yuichiro then trails a path of kisses across Shiho’s cheek, where he lingers.

“There’s a camera,” he whispers in Shiho’s ear, and Yuichiro can tell by the sudden stiffening of the alpha’s body that he understood. A moment later Shiho’s body relaxes as he too slips into the act, tightening his grip on Yuichiro’s hips.

“I’ll miss you too, baby,” the endearment sounds unnatural, forced, or maybe it was just because Yuichiro wasn’t used to Shiho calling him anything other than his name. Even during the brief period they were assigned to each other, Shiho never gave him any nicknames.

Perhaps Shiho is thinking the same thing, because he quickly draws Yuichiro close into a hug and changes the topic.

“But don’t worry, I’ll come see you on Tuesday,” Shiho promises.

There’s a sharp knock on the door and Horn lets herself back in.

“We should really get going, Ichiro.”

Yuichiro nods and pulls away from Shiho. For a moment, he wants to grab his hand and beg him to stay. To not leave him here in this new place alone.

But the moment quickly passes.

He’s done this before. He’d entered a military base all on his own and created a whole life for himself. He can do it again.

Yuichiro will reinvent himself as many times as necessary.

Shiho gives him one last kiss on the cheek before offering him a quivering smile. Something tells Yuichiro that that wasn’t an act.

“Bye,” he whispers, and Shiho grunts something unintelligible before turning around and walking out of the room. Yuichiro and Horn silently watch him leave before Horn clears her throat.

“Don’t look so sad, you’ll see him again soon,” she says brusquely and ushers Yuichiro out of the office, locking the door behind her as they step out of the room. Horn then turns back to face him and gives Yuichiro a once-over.

“You’re too thin for a pregnant omega. Don’t they have food in the countryside?” Horn clucks her tongue and continues, not waiting for Yuichiro to answer.

“Didn’t you bring anything with you?”

Yuichiro flushes and shakes his head.

“No. We-I didn’t have time to pack.”

Horn sighs and starts to walk down the hall. Yuichiro blinks and quickly catches up.

“We have some spare clothes for our patients, I’ll send a nurse to fetch some for you later. Come, let me show you around.”

Yuichiro follows Horn as she points out the various rooms- the cafeteria, the entertainment room, the nurse station and the staff offices. Yuichiro notes how the visitors’ area looked fancier than the rest of the building, but overall Seraphim was just as clean and nice as Gekkoin had promised.

There are a number of pregnant omegas and beta nurses in every room they visit, and Yuichiro feels a little relieved at how happy everyone looks. How…calm everything was. Maybe he’ll actually get to relax for a bit before resuming his search for Mikaela. Do some tests, see if the baby was okay after everything they’ve been through together.

The tour does not include the delivery rooms and nursery; Yuichiro would get to see them eventually, according to Horn. Yuichiro wonders if he’ll still be there when that happens. He hopes not. He doesn’t want to go into labor without Mikaela at his side.

Horn ends the tour in the patient rooms hall and stops in front of the second door to the left.

“You will be sharing a room with two other expecting omegas,” Horn informs him and opens the door to reveal a cozy room with three beds, two of which were piled with things and clearly in use. She shows Yuichiro to the unoccupied bed and gives him a gentle pat on the back.

“This will be your bed. I’ll let you settle in- I have a few things to attend to before dinner. Dinner is served in another forty minutes in the cafeteria- you remember where it is?”

Yuichiro nods.

“Good boy. If you ever need anything, just let the nurses know,” Horn gives him a wide smile and walks out of the room, leaving the door open behind her. Yuichiro wrinkles his nose in distaste. He doesn’t like how condescending the beta was, but he supposes he’ll just have to get used to it.

After all, that was just how omegas were treated in general. By all betas. Yuichiro just hadn’t seen it as condescending before. But now that he’d spent a significant amount of time as a beta?

…well.

Letting out a frustrated groan, Yuichiro sits down on his new bed and absently notes how soft it feels. Now that was a significant change from the military bed he’d just recently missed.

Maybe staying put in Seraphim wasn’t going to be such a bad thing after all. Maybe returning to be an omega was a healthy move.

A familiar scent catches Yuichiro’s attention as another omega walks into the room.

Short, petite with a distinct stomach and flowing pink hair. Yuichiro briefly wonders if she and Shiho use the same dye.

Either way, Yuichiro frowns. Her scent is familiar, but he can’t place her. In fact, Yuichiro is pretty sure he’s never seen this omega before.

“Oh, hello,” the omega looks at him in surprise and closes the door after her. “You’re the new roommate?”

Yuichiro offers her a tentative smile.

“Yeah, my name is Ichiro.”

The omega returns the smile and walks over to his bed, extending her hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Ichiro. My name is Krul- it’s an old family name,” she quickly adds with an impish grin, “I’m not actually cruel.”

For the first time in what feels like years, Yuichiro laughs and shakes her hand.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you too!”

Much to Yuichiro’s surprise, Krul grabs his shoulders and looks at him earnestly.

“I’m so glad you’re here. Alek, the other guy in our room, is ever so dull. I’ll be glad for your company.”

Yuichiro feels a little unsettled but nods and smiles. As he takes another whiff of Krul’s scent, however, his smile freezes on his face and his eyes go wide.

He suddenly remembers where he’d smelled her scent before.

On Mikaela.

And he can smell Mikaela’s scent on her as well.

There was no doubt about it-

He’s found the Decoy.

A very pregnant decoy.