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They Can Smell Your Intentions

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THEY CAN SMELL YOUR INTENTIONS
chapter one

Nigel Ionescu, Inspector de polite of the Politia Romana, slid a cigarette between his lips and left it dangling there, unlit, as he contemplated the amber liquid in the tumbler before him. Ice clinked as it melted into his scotch, the black, glossy surface of the bar stained with dew that had slid off of the glass and lay in a puddle beneath it. He plucked his unlit cigarette from his lips and downed another two gulps before tipping the glass towards the attentive bartender at the end of the counter, signalling he wanted another. The bartender, a bald, shifty eyed man in his early forties poured his drink without measuring, and when Nigel slipped his cigarette back between his lips he offered a light without asking. Nigel sighed in thanks as he took a drag, the bartender waiting on payment. Nigel nodded his head in time to the music, some dance hall number that was remixed to the point of it disintegrating into digital screeching. He had a half formed memory of Gabi dancing along to this particular tune, the busy nightmare of those days a blur that swirled in unhealthy streams of consciousness that usually ended with him alone in his flat, an empty bottle of whiskey at his side and the sick, sick feeling that permeated the air with its stale promise of protracted solitude.

He hadn't eaten that day and the combination of the crowd and the loud music and the scent of sex and sweat made him slightly dizzy. He downed another gulp and tossed a few extra bills at the bartender to get him to loosen up with the padded payment.

"Haven't seen you around here in forever," the bartender said, his meaty hands braced against the sink in front of him. "Your girl really knew how to tear apart a dance floor. Haven't seen her in a long time, either, come to think of it."

Nigel pursed his lips at this dull observation. He didn't like being recognized, but Bucharest's seedy side had very specific areas and he found he had to use a lot of creative storytelling to get around the fact they knew he was an inspector. "Gabi and I have been done for three years now."

"Divorced?"

"Is that what they fucking call it these days."

The bartender chuckled at this and refilled Nigel's glass without his asking for more. "This one is on the house. You two were like shining stars in this dump. It's gone way downhill since the new management took over. Techno and pink garbage, I have to wash glitter out of my hair every night." He rubbed his bald head for emphasis and Nigel gave him a crooked smile.

"You're here alone?"

Nigel pursed his lips over his drink. "Yeah."

"Break ups ain't easy."

"Since my ex left me, things have been rough," Nigel admitted, and it was true. It had been three years, but what did time matter? Bucharest wasn't so massive that he didn't keep running into her now and then, his Gabi, touring with the symphony, her cello an extension of her being and drawing long notes of sadness out of his heart like arteries along lonely streets. The bartender gave him a knowing nod, and Nigel gave him a sad grin in return.

"Loneliness can be a fickle mistress," the bartender agreed. He picked up random, damp glasses from a bus bin and began drying them with a dishtowel of questionable cleanliness. The music was pulsing behind Nigel's back, its steady thump, thumping pulling his heart into its beat, the flow of his blood out of tune with the music. It was giving him a headache and he downed another gulp of his scotch. Barely dressed girls giggled at the far corner and then dispersed into the crowd. There was a heavy mixture of genders here, Nigel thought, his Alpha nose picking up on the sweat of Betas and a few Omegas, and other fellow sex starved Alphas looking for a quick night of stress relief. He imagined most of them found what they wanted on that dance floor, going home half drunk and making stupid decisions that were based on the body and not on love. It was all such a miserable business, this pandering to hormones and ignoring the quietude of the heart. Love didn't live in places like this, he'd discovered much to his own detriment. Gabi had been fond of clubbing. He should have taken that as a warning sign.

The bartender crept closer, his hands in meaty fists as he rested them on the bar's countertop. Nigel waved him closer, bringing him into his confidence. "I have money, in case you were wondering. I might not be the world's best catch, but even I have needs. Come on, just look at me." Nigel sat back in his chair, his black silk shirt hitched higher on his shoulders as he pushed them back, hands gesturing to his chest. "Sometimes all a guy needs is some comfort he can have until morning, you understand?"

The bartender nodded at the crowd of people dancing to the music behind him. "There's plenty for you to chose from out there."

Nigel made a face. "Don't be so fucking stupid. If I wanted one of those mindless fucks I would have taken it by now. I'm not in the mood to work for it, do you understand? What I want is a transaction. Or do you only pretend to peddle pussy in this place, and my friend was wrong."

The bartender's hackles instantly went up and he crossed burly arms across his wide chest. He looked more bouncer than booze merchant, Nigel thought, narrowing his eyes at him. A pit bull for a gang leader, a bit of muscle to keep the little junkies who worked for him in line. Nigel's crooked smile morphed into a grin. He was definitely on the right track.

"You got strange friends if that's what they're telling you," the bartender said. "So what's it to you? There a pile of chesters waiting for me outside of this dump to arrest me for telling you where to go? It's not my business what the new owners do, I just pour the fucking drinks." There were other customers coming up to the bar but he was pointedly ignoring them. Nigel nodded inwardly, knowing this was going exactly how he wanted. The transaction would happen away from the bar with another go between, and he would be led upstairs, where the cash would change hands first. He had to make sure they showed him the goods before the money came out, he needed to look the part of a savvy customer not willing to be jerked off by some meth head Beta. They knew he was a cop, and they also knew he was a rogue. Reputation was everything.

"This good friend is pretty reliable, and he told me there's lots of Omegas who come here," Nigel replied, shrugging but never allowing his gaze to waver from the bartender's black scrutiny. "I'm not into dancing, and I hate this shit music. I'm here for something sweet. You know what I mean. I'm an unattached Alpha with lots of love to give and I'm ready to fuck until morning." He leaned closer, making sure the stupid, thick headed bastard behind the bar could hear him properly. "I got the cash. Don't try to play stupid with me, I know you have them waiting. I want a room upstairs."

The bartender rolled his eyes and stepped away from Nigel as though disgusted. Nigel didn't care it was all part of the game being played and if the bartender wanted to believe he was now a rogue cop so be it. He tilted his head to one side and Nigel bent over the bar to hear him. "There's this guy, a United Main expat named Paul. He's a tweaker, and his head's not right, he'll be all over the map, but he'll set you up. He's got his body shop over by the restroom near the back entrance. He's the negotiator and he'll take you upstairs from there."

Nigel tossed some money onto the counter, making sure he didn't leave too substantial a tip. "Thanks for the heads up."

The bartender gave him a steely glare. "If anyone asks me, I never talked to you."

"I'm usually too drunk to remember who poured me a drink."

Nigel slid off the stool and headed in the direction the bartender had suggested he go. He caught sight of the young man who had to be the mysterious Paul, a tiny weasel of a creature dressed in ill fitting leathers and a torn t-shirt that was supposed to make him look edgy instead of desperate. He was scanning the crowd like a hawk over a field, his hands deep in his pockets as he held onto both money and drugs. Nigel knew the type well, he was a middle man, a highly forgettable upstart who would end up on the bottom of a canal one day. From the twitching way he stood, his eyes unable to properly focus on the vista around him, it was clear he was high on amphetamines, his constant lip licking and restless demeanour hinting at regular use. Nigel smiled at him, and placed a hand on his nervous shoulder. "Paul, right?"

The little puke grimaced, revealing a row of blackened, rotten teeth, a good chunk of them chipped or missing. "What's it to you?"

"Depends on what you're charging."

"Down or up?" He was talking about the drugs in his pockets and Nigel had no use for those.

"I'm thinking more along the lines of in and out." When Paul remained stupidly silent in the face of this, Nigel sighed, realizing he had to dumb this down a lot further than he'd thought. "I heard you are the man to come to for a fuck."

"Not with me, you're not."

"I know you have extra goods upstairs."

"You want something upstairs it's going to cost you." Paul wouldn't meet his eyes, he kept staring out into the crowd as though looking for easier prey. "I got some special sparkle that can make you forget about it. I got everything you need. You don't need to go upstairs. You got money? How much money? Gotta watch out the po-po are on the down low...Who you been talking to?"

Nigel smirked at this, recognizing Paul asking him where he got his information was an easy way to roll him for money later, on the pretence of not keeping his big mouth shut. Besides, admitting he talked to the bartender would be a big signal that as a customer he was highly untrustworthy, and they needed that trust when it came to Omega trafficking. The laws were getting real tight around the neck of the pimps these days and the traffickers were routinely shipped off to Russian authorities when it was found they had transport and kidnapping connections. Paul, as a United Main expat, wasn't about to get treated very well in a Petersburg gulag. In this case, xenophobia was a two way street. "Let's just say I heard it through the grapevine. Have you got something for me or are you the one who's going to jack me off?"

Paul shifted from foot to foot, catching the eye of someone in the crowd. "Stay here," he ordered, and dove off into the bouncing fray of youth that swept across the dance floor like a colourful, neon blanket.

Nigel sighed, tired of this stupid game already. Paul was dancing and distracted, he'd be a while before he returned to his perch to peddle his wares. Nigel entered the washroom next to the corner where Paul had been standing and pushed his way past the sweaty bodies gathered within, most of them smoking dope on the pretence of taking a piss. Nigel took careful strides to the far side of the urinals, the greasy walls thick with piss and blood from altercations and drunken nights. This was place was never cleaned in its entire history, and the ammonia hit his sensitive nose like a punch. He inched his way to the last stall and knocked on the door. It was opened hastily, and Inspector Dorin Gabor (but everyone called him 'Darko' because of his jet black hair and pale features) peeked around the edge of the stall door, his face like a grimacing weasel. "You got a contact?" Darko asked, and he pressed the earpiece in his ear with the tips of his fingers. "We got the van in position at the back entrance if this guy tries to bolt and we got the hospital on standby in case we run into some sick victims like the last time." Darko's face went pale at the memory. "I really, really don't want this to be like last time."

A flash of memory, of moaning suffering, hit Nigel with anxious fury, and he quelled it with a curse at the air while he sucked on his cigarette, long plumes of smoke leaving him as he breathed it out. "Who the fuck knows? I have to get back out there before the drugged up little piece of puke forgets me. Get the team ready, follow me when you get the word of where we are going, make sure there are no civilians in the way of fire. No fucking lawsuits, right? If you take anyone out, make sure they are worth the paperwork, I don't want to have to wipe my ass on team reports."

"Got it," Darko said, and he closed the stall door, only to quickly open it again. "Nigel!"

Nigel turned, annoyed at his officer. He gave him a questioning shrug.

"Isn't this where you used to take Gabi? I'm surprised the bartender doesn't remember you."

"He remembered me just fine," Nigel said, his face going red. "Fuck's sake, Darko, you always have to bring up the bad memories at the worst possible times, why do you always do this? You know this is where she dumped me. You stupid asshole."

"She still with that Omega guy?"

"His name is Charlie and yeah. If you need some more salt for my fucking wounds let me know."

Darko nodded wordlessly at this. "Let us know when you have the target in sight."

"Don't fuck up," Nigel said.

"We won't, boss."

Nigel gave him the finger as he left the washroom, glassy eyed young men slipping past him. He kicked a small crowd away from the area and leaned against the corner Paul had occupied earlier. It didn't take long to find him in the crowd, finishing up a small drug deal with a pair of partying youths dressed in Adidas gear. They had English accents and cursed with a fluency that rivalled Nigel's. There was a name for them, Nigel recalled. Chavs.

Paul loudly sniffed as he placed one hand into the back of his pocket and wiped at his nose with the other. He'd been testing the product for his customers, showing them it wasn't laced with anything he wouldn't take himself. A good drug dealer always tested his own product, Nigel knew. Paul gave a backwards nod to Nigel and bid him to follow him up a set of narrow stairs hidden behind a red door near the washrooms. Nigel could hear it lock behind them as their steps echoed upwards. "Bit of a back door alley, isn't it?" Nigel said, knowing full well that Darko and his team would know exactly where he was located. "Is there where all the whores live, in an upstairs warehouse?"

"It's a penthouse," Paul sneered down at him, and Nigel was surprised as he broke the barrier of that last top step and wandered into a highly stylized space, complete with expensive white leather couches and a roaring glass fireplace. His black loafers dug into the faux fur rugs strewn about the space, which had a strangely retro feel to it, all Andy Warhol and clear plastic furnishings.

"Wait here. I'll get everything ready," Paul said, and disappeared down a long corridor before Nigel could protest.

He sank onto the white leather couch as he waited, and it was uncomfortable and cold. This was a negotiating room, Nigel realized. It wouldn't be long now, they were already going to set a price. He wondered what they were going to request and he shivered despite the artificial heat coming off of the glass fireplace in tacky waves. There was no doubt in his mind that the offering would be an Omega, one that had already been assaulted and thus wouldn't be worth much on the foreign market--'foreign' being a polite euphemism for the United Main. Only the real creeps used Omegas in the Eastern Unions and it was hardly a lucrative market, the Omegas for that line of work castoffs that were unsellable overseas. The United Main liked them young and unspoiled, and they had the money to pay for them. Nigel felt a sick well in the pit of his stomach at the thought, wondering how anyone could live in such a backwards place that seemed dedicated to making a third of its population suffer. He'd witnessed it himself, weeping Russian Omegas telling him long stories of torture and imprisonment, unable to escape due to the severe bonding laws of the United Main. The best he and his task force could do was make sure none of the skin traffic made it out of the country, because once they hit that cesspit it was over, they disappeared and the world forget they had ever existed. It was almost mythical the way the United Main acted as a black hole of human vice, taking in the sins of the world and holding them close enough to smother them into invisibility.

But Nigel wasn't one to wax too poetically about politics and he could care less about the United Main's issues save for the fact that they were making his life pure hell. There were perverts no matter where you went in the world, there was no getting away from that, but this systematic culling of Omegas was really starting to get under his skin. The new Russian policies that forced a crackdown on Omega trafficking were more than welcome to the citizens of allied countries, but damn if it didn't make his life a lot harder, especially when his task force was one comprised of inspectors more used to homicides than systematic torture. Corpses were ugly but at least they didn't reach out to you with shaking, bleeding hands and beg you to save them.

He got up from the couch and started pacing, wishing the cheap bastards were at least generous enough to leave some booze in the room for him to drink. He lit another cigarette and smoked it quickly, his long legs taking strides back and forth in front of the white leather couches. Who the hell bought a white couch? It was like begging for a stain.

His cell phone rang and he picked it up, his brow raised when he saw it was a text from Gabi. He ignored it and shoved it into the back pocket of his trousers. His whole life was full of blemishes, Nigel figured. A fucking failed marriage because she ran off with a United Main homeless, unemployed sad little depressive brat of all things. A fucking Omega named Charlie Countryman who was so Mainland hillbilly he practically couldn't speak English and it was his first language. That was the one he lost her to, that piece of crap was what she loved instead of him. He could pick his heart to pieces all he wanted in that stupid white room and it still wouldn't give him the answer he wanted. All he knew of love was the obsessive need he felt with Gabi, and it was now three years past their break up and it was long gone.

His cell phone rang again and he picked it up, noting that it was Darko this time sending him a message. *"We got the van in position, weapons ready at the back door. We're just waiting for your order."*

*"Nothing happening yet,"* Nigel quickly texted back. *"I don't like this delay, something feels wrong."*

Pimps usually couldn't wait to get their hands on their money, so a waiting customer who had every chance to change his mind was sitting all levels of wrong within Nigel. He repocketed his cell phone and continued to pace the room, the fake glass fireplace reflected in the clear plastic of the coffee table. He was feeling as restless and punchy as Paul the tweaking drug dealer was, and he puffed away at his cigarette, already longing for the next one and a bottle of scotch to help the horrors of this night go down easy in the pit of his stomach.

Paul bounded back down the hall, his shoulders twitching, his head quickly staring over both of them as he made sure no one else could hear him. "Okay, it's all set up, but here's the thing, I need the money first."

Nigel let out a cruel laugh at this. "Like I haven't heard that one before."

"I'm serious, man, I just need to know what you got for cash. This is going to get me in a heap of trouble. You don't have to pay yet, I just need to know you got it." Paul did another quick look over both his shoulders, as though convinced the devil himself was about to put a knife through his back. "They are going to sell him and ship him off next week, got a buyer and all. There's a real shortage of Omega males in the United Main so anything they can get is considered quality goods. I'm not fully sure if this one's a virgin, but you're getting this one at discount and whatever turns you on, who am I to argue?" Paul shrugged and shoved his hands into his pockets, tattooed fingers curled around drugs and money. "So what's the story? What have you got?"

Nigel wasn't sure he wanted to play the desperate, sex starved punter just yet, and he hoped he showed just the right amount of reluctance before setting his jaw in a firm line and taking out his wallet. He fanned the money within it (all courtesy of the anti-trafficking brigade, of course, and carefully monitored by their accountants to make sure not one tiny cent was misspent. They kept the wads of leu in a locked box, ready to be recycled for the next bust) and then quickly hid his wallet deep in the pocket of his trousers. Paul nodded at this, and he waved Nigel through, guiding him towards a thin hallway with poor lighting, shadows passing over him in thick strips. There were a series of doors, all painted a brilliant red, the tacky suggestion of illicit sex not lost on him. This was where they were housed, punters brought in to meet the unsellable Omegas and where debauchery was sanctioned. Nigel was no prude, if someone wanted to sell their body that was their business, he just had a serious problem with the issue of choice. The Omegas brought here had been stripped of that, they were drugged and forced into these transactions, and with their usual delicate health they became sick fairly quickly. Nigel was getting damned tired of busting down doors and finding tiny Omegas half dead behind them, some of them under aged, most of them so severely traumatized they would never have the hope of a normal life again. His soul was exhausted by it, its substance whittling away with every effort made, of having to play the creep wanting that little bit extra, of waiting in filthy rooms, always keenly aware that the glock hidden at his back could easily be found should they think to give him a pat down. These busts didn't always go smoothly, he'd been beaten and shot too many times to count and he spent too much time recovering, his mind addled with painkillers, a facet that had been a huge reason why he'd ended up with Gabi in the first place. He'd been lying in his bed for weeks, recovering from being shot in the leg and beaten half to death by some coked up punter, and he'd lain on that mattress wondering what the hell he was doing with his life to keep tempting all the evils of the world to take it. Gabi had come into his life then, her cello leaking sorrow up into his apartment, the beauty of the strings wrapping him up in their mournful comfort through the cheap, thin walls and ceiling, and he'd fallen in love as he drifted into the arms of her music.

Even now, as he thinks on it, he can't be sure if it was Gabi he fell in love with or her cello, for the two were definitely far apart in their definition of what love was. He'd been so desperate for something good in his life he'd gone mad for her, that's what he understood about himself, and he couldn't recognize at the time how unhealthy their relationship had been, how he had been all wrong for her. She was filled with a furious energy that exacerbated his own, she sought light and happiness and all he could give her was frantic anger and death.

He was stopped in front of a door and it was swung open, Paul gesturing to him to go inside. "I'm not paying until I see the goods," Nigel said, and Paul huffed at this.

"You need to at least give me half the payment, I'm not sending anything in until I got something in my pocket." Paul sniffed loudly and Nigel wondered if the little creep had done a few lines of coke while he'd kept Nigel waiting. "I can't trust you aren't one of the pigs, and the pigs never pay up front. So unless you got some cash to give me, consider this deal broken."

Nigel was reluctant, but he had to play his part. He dug out his wallet and pulled out some United Main currency, that always made the pimps salivate and Paul, being a United Main expat himself, was no exception. He took the bills and counted them greedily before ushering Nigel into the small room he'd picked. "Just wait here. Might take a bit of convincing on your part, just warning you."

Nigel bristled at this, knowing what Paul was suggesting. The Omega he was bringing in was a fresh one, not used to being whored and still had a bit of fight left. He was expecting Nigel to play the part of a rapist and he had a great deal of trouble with that even as a ruse. "If I have to fight for it you can consider yourself already paid in full. I came up here for an easy lay, not a brawl."

Paul shrugged. "This one is worth it. An Omega from the United Main and you get to pop the cherry, I'd say you got one hell of a bargain. I doubt this one will struggle much, and all you have to do is turn on your Alpha charm anyway, make this one a little puddle of submission, got it?"

He knew what Paul was talking about, and as he walked into the small room, he had to fight every instinct within him that was making him want to turn around and repeatedly punch the little weasel faced bastard in the face until there was nothing left of it. Fucking disgusting little creep. As if he'd do that to anyone, force his pheromones on some unsuspecting Omega and bring them to their knees in simpering submission. Biology said he could do it if he wanted to, but being an Alpha meant you also had self control and were a leader, not a fucking hormone magnet. Little ferret faced fucking piece of shit, he couldn't wait to take Paul down and give him a few good kicks in the stomach and a hard heel to his mouth to take care of what's left of his teeth, that ought to make sure he knew who the Alpha was if that's how he wanted to do it. Instinctively, Nigel spit on the ground near Paul's overly white Nike sneakers and Paul nodded at the gesture of angered dominance, at least being smart enough to step back.

"I'm not saying anything that ain't true," Paul countered.

"Just get the fucking goods and shut up. I've waited long enough."

Paul stormed off as soon as Nigel shoved money into his hands and Nigel was left alone once again in a poorly decorated room. This one didn't even pretend to be pleasant, there were stains on the carpet, and the sheets on the large bed behind him smelled moldy. There was a lingering odour of fear, sweat and sex that made Nigel taste bile in the back of his throat, and he tried to shake it off. He hated these places, his sensitive nose taking in the hormones that permeated the room, the back of his tongue tasting Omega heat and terror, two things that were never meant to go together. He could feel his stomach churning and not for the first time Nigel inwardly remarked he was getting damned fucking tired of his job making him sick.

The theme in this room was (wait for it!) the colour red and Nigel figured it was appropriate considering the blood that was occasionally spilled here. At least this room wasn't devoid of alcohol and he snatched up the cheap bottle of wine waiting on a side table, unscrewing the cap and not bothering with the dusty glasses neatly placed beside it. He stood at the window and took a swig directly from the bottle as he glanced outside, the back alley black and grey beneath the lights of the club. The white van of the politia romana was parked close to the back entrance, and he could feel his cell phone buzzing again. He knew it was Darko, wondering were he was. He quickly answered it, the bottle of wine still in his other hand as he pressed the cell phone to his ear. "I'm upstairs in one of the rooms, they've been using them for transactions. Haven't been given the goods yet, but keep ready, get everyone in position near the back entrance, that's where the pimp known as Paul is going to run. He knows the traffickers, I'm sure of it, he's from the United Main and he likes his drugs. He won't keep quiet."

"We're not seeing any action in any of the other windows," Darko said, sounding disappointed. "What did he tell you about this one?"

"Apparently fresh out of the box and I'm supposed to be a motherfucking rapist for the night."

"Charming. These guys really know how to court romance." Darko paused, and Nigel could hear him bark an order to a young chester who was hovering in plain sight on the other side of the van. He quickly dove behind it, hiding. "I can see your outline from down here. Are you fucking drinking on the job again?"

"Authenticity, you jackass."

"You got suspended last time, or did you forget that, Nigel?"

"Fuck's sake, Darko, you take the fun out of everything."

He hung up the cell and took another swig from the bottle of wine, already tired of the gloom the filthy sex pad was drenched in. He fumbled around the lamp placed next to the bed and brought the room into a seedy glow that revealed a further dinginess, the stains on the bed covers now clearly evident and making Nigel gag. He washed down the bad feelings in his gut with another swig of wine.

He turned with the bottle still poised at his lips and was shocked to discover he wasn't alone in the room. The door had been opened and closed without his ever hearing it, giving the image in front of him a supernatural quality that irked him. The vision in front of him had to be a hallucination, because nothing that perfect could possibly exist, and especially not in Nigel's world. Soft lips, pale, flawless skin, dark curls and blue eyes that pierced through the darkness like some brilliant azure ocean, movements that were graceful and careful, a body exuding innocence and curious desire all at once. He was dressed in a simple v-neck sweater with a dark cotton shirt beneath it, and a tie of all things. Dark pants that ended in Converse sneakers. This darling image was enough to make Nigel take a step back, his Alpha instincts kicking in, wanting to be tender to this sweet smelling little sparrow in his midst, to gently wind his fingers in those soft curls and offer a gentle kiss to assure the startlingly beautiful Omega that he was not there to harm, that he was the protector, that he was going to make sure everything was all right. His cell phone was buzzing like mad, but Nigel was too transfixed to answer it, his focus on the Omega's lips and the fact that they were moving too miraculous an event to make him feel reason.

"What's wrong with your computer?"

Nigel blinked, then frowned, and tried to bring reality back to the disgusting room and found it was difficult to do. "I...What? I don't have a computer."

The Omega standing in his room wasn't impressed with this and his brow pursed into the most adorable little frown Nigel had ever seen. "Paul sent me to here to fix it. Why would he do that if you don't have one?" His voice was as delicate as the rest of him, as though he was picking his words with absolute care and he was clearly worried about being misunderstood. "I guess he made a mistake."

"Who the fuck are you?" Nigel asked, barely registering he was still holding onto the neck of the wine bottle at his side. He put the half empty bottle of wine on the side table near the crusty bed.

"I'm Adam Raki, I'm the IT specialist. You didn't need to swear." He made a disgusted face. "This room really stinks."

Nigel was really confused now, his swirling pheromones mixing in with the male Omega's strangely calm demeanour, making Nigel feel an alien sense of relaxation he couldn't be sure he'd ever experienced before. He sat at the corner of the bed to get his bearings, Adam Fucking Raki standing next to him with his bland yet expectant expression still boring into him. "You were told to come into this room to fix a computer?"

"Yes, and there isn't one."

"How about that. Can you think of any other reason why he may have sent you to this room, Mr. Adam Raki?"

Adam shrugged, his big blue eyes never reaching Nigel's no matter how much the inspector tried to follow them. "He just said there was a computer..."

"You're their IT specialist?" Nigel asked and Adam nodded. Nigel sighed, feeling in his gut that this was going to be a huge waste of time. "Just tell me, what exactly is your job here?"

"I was hired by the Verger Corporation to upgrade their inter office systems. It's a contract position, meant to last a month, though the actual work only lasted a week, so I've been implementing additional programs to assist in the monitoring of their sow to boar ratios. The Verger Corporation deals mainly in pigs. I don't like pork. Why have I been sent to this room if you don't have a computer? What is that terrible smell? My room is down the hall and it's a lot cleaner. This room is very unpleasant."

Nigel groaned at this. "Shit." He dug out his cell phone and quickly contacted Darko, feeling sick to his stomach when his fellow inspector picked up. "It's a fucking hand job. There's only one Omega here and he's not being used for whoring, that little shit pseudo pimp was pulling a scam. Arrest Paul, he'll be going out the back door, we can at least get him for surreptitious soliciting of trafficked humans."

"Fuck's sake," Darko replied, equally frustrated. "What have you got with you now?"

"Some poor Omega sucker who was in the building for a legitimate job. Put on the sirens and shut this dump down, there's at least evidence in these rooms they've been using them for trafficking, though they've moved the Omegas somewhere else." He tucked the cell under his chin and turned to Adam. "You'll have to come to the station for questioning. Right now you're our best witness."

Adam looked incredibly agitated by this, and he began pacing and rocking as he walked, his hands wrung in a steady, precise rhythm. "You're with the police?" Adam shook his head, the motion of his hands increasing in tempo. "I don't like the police. I didn't do anything wrong. I shouldn't be getting arrested. I just came here to fix a computer and there isn't a computer here, and that's not illegal, I didn't do anything wrong!"

"Of course you didn't do anything fucking wrong, just relax." Nigel turned his attention back to Darko who was barking orders to the team. Nigel could hear them storming up the stairs, and the music in the club was abruptly shut off. The silence was punctuated with arguing and loud voices that gradually morphed into cursing complaints that followed the patrons into the distance. Adam Raki was pale enough to be a corpse, his panic sending him into hyperventilation. Nigel watched him carefully, unsure of how to proceed. "Darko, we might need a doctor or something, this guy is losing his shit up here."

"What guy?"

"The Omega. He thinks we're arresting him."

Adam's face pinched in misery and Nigel had to turn away from him, the need to comfort him too damned strong. Well fuck, the little thing was cute, and scared out of his wits by the way he was starting to pant, his chest heaving in sickly gulps of air. The two observations shouldn't have gone together, but Nigel found he couldn't stop himself, the contrasts mixing together into something akin to pity. "What are you scared for? You aren't in trouble."

He pressed the cell phone closer to his ear. "Yeah, Darko, get a car ready for me near the front entrance, never mind the doctor, I'll ride with this one." He hung up and shoved the cell phone into his back pocket, the stupid thing buzzing like a vibrator.

"I'm not going with the police!" Adam fiercely shook his head. "I worked in Russia for the past two years, that makes me an honorary citizen, you can't arrest a citizen of the Unions without cause, and there's no cause here, I just came to fix a computer!" Adam suddenly hugged himself tight as he paced. "I have honorary rights! You can't extradite me back!"

Understanding suddenly dawned on Nigel and he sighed deeply. "We're not sending you back to the United Main, so you can get that out of your head. We just want to ask you a few questions, that's all."

Damn if he wasn't trembling enough to make a butterfly wing envious. You'd think he had a gun shoved in front of his face the way he was acting, like he was about to disintegrate right in front of him and curl into the smallest ball he could. He had no idea why he thought they'd be shipping him home to the United Main, not when the Unions had strict policies against returning unwilling citizens and besides, he was right, he hadn't done a thing wrong, he was blindly panicking.

Nigel is an Alpha and he can't fully deny the fact the Omega before him was unfairly suffering and if there was one thing Nigel couldn't bear to see it was this fragile little terrified thing with such big, big blue eyes staring at him like he was about to cut his throat. So, he did what nature instructed him to do, and if it was too forward and not welcome, he was sure the Omega would let him know. He placed his palm flush against the back of Adam Raki's neck, and applied a small amount of pressure, fingers lightly stroking against his throat. Adam's breath slowly began to return to normal, his eyes fluttering closed as he leaned into Nigel's touch.

"That's...That's really nice."

"I'm not going to arrest you, okay?" Nigel continued to stroke his neck, a part of him answering to the little sighs that Adam was making, a dangerous intimacy he was courting that had very little to do with professionalism. But Adam responded well to it, and he was relaxing beneath Nigel's touch and becoming far more compliant.

"I won't be forced out of the country, back to the United Main?"

"No. But your employer might be in trouble. You might be out of a job."

Adam's eyes were still closed, and he stepped closer to Nigel, as though longing for him to embrace him. This one was certainly a lot more forward than any Omega he'd ever met in the past, if anything they were usually difficult to approach, poisoned by touch instead of healed by it. "I can deal with that." Adam blinked as though waking from a trance, his confusion evident. "What did my employer do that was illegal?"

"We can talk about it at the station. You ride in a car with me and we both go to the station so you can answer a few questions that might help us and that's all, you're free to go after that."

Adam was still reticent, his gaze moving over Nigel's face and doing his best to avoid his gaze. For a millisecond their eyes met in fleeting scrutiny, and Nigel felt such a jolt of electricity through him at the eye contact he could almost see the spark.

"Can I trust you?" Adam whispered to him, and Nigel felt his heart break at the pure honesty of the question. All he wanted to do in that moment was curl Adam Raki up into his arms and tell him everything was going to be okay, whether it was the truth or not.

"Yes, Adam, you can trust me."

Adam's lips parted as though he wished to say something more, but he closed them and simply nodded his head instead. "Okay."

"You'll come to the station with me?"

"Yes."

Well, that certainly felt like a victory. He relaxed his hand and brought it away from Adam's neck to rest at the small of the Omega's back. He was very close to him at this point, and damn the Omega smelled so sweet and lovely, his skin absolutely perfect even at this close an inspection.

Stop it, Nigel chided himself as he steered Adam out of the room and to the car waiting for them downstairs at the front of the club. Stop it, stop it--You aren't falling in love, you pisslick. It doesn't happen this easily. Learn your lesson, you jackass, this isn't the strum of a cello wire, this isn't mournful Chopin wandering around in your heart. It's just a frightened Omega's body close to your Alpha own, it's all biology. It's not love. It's nothing even close to that. Not one bit fuck of it at all.