with your sweet smile
like you’re whispering in my ear
The small, blonde omega turned with a grin as his best friend stopped beside him, panting heavily as he leaned forward, his hands braced on his knees.
“Jungkookie,” Jimin giggled. “Are you alright?”
“I’m great,” the younger male stood up to his full height, more than a head taller than the blonde. “Are you coming to my party tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Jimin beamed at him. “It’s not every day my best friend presents,” he continued, bumping their shoulders together as they walked along the footpath, away from the school grounds.
It was common knowledge that a person didn’t present until the evening of their eighteenth birthday. Two years prior, Jimin had presented as an omega, much to the dismay of his alpha father who had immediately taken off, never to be seen again. Jimin was forced to watch as his mother had writhed in pain every time his father had slept with another, the woman slowly going mad without her mate, eventually killing herself ten months later to avoid the pain.
Jimin’s older brother, Jihyun, was left to raise the young omega on his own. He wasn’t a particularly good guardian, often leaving Jimin home alone, expecting dinner on the table when he returned, usually reeking of alcohol and cigarettes.
It wasn’t an easy life, but Jimin was thankful to have his best friend by his side.
Despite being younger, Jeon Jungkook had taken Jimin under his wing, protecting the omega from unwanted alpha attention at school. The smaller boy had lost count of the number of times he’d slipped his hand into Jungkook’s whilst standing in line at the cafeteria; or climbed into the younger’s lap in the library during their free periods, nuzzling into the dark-haired male’s neck to scent him with Jimin’s own, gentle fragrance of strawberries and cream.
“Hello? Earth to Jiminie!” Jungkook was waving his hand in front of the smaller boy’s face, a wry grin stretching his cheeks.
“Huh?” Jimin blinked in surprise as Jungkook grabbed the elbow of his sweater, stopping him from walking straight into a lamp post.
“Crap,” Jimin laughed a little breathlessly, his small hand over his heart. “That thing just popped up out of nowhere, didn’t it?”
Jungkook giggled, his voice low as he gently steered Jimin around the post, his hand still resting gently on the boy’s elbow. “One day I’m not going to be there to save you,” he teased.
“Don’t lie,” Jimin slipped his hand into Jungkook’s, entwining their fingers, marvelling at the way they fit together so naturally. “You’ll always be there to save me.”
Jungkook sighed heavily, trying - and failing - to hide his grin. “Only because no one else is going to save your dumb ass,” he joked, earning himself a playful slap on his arm.
“Don’t be mean,” Jimin giggled, gripping his hand a little more tightly as they walked. The days were growing colder, a frigid breeze whipping around them as Jimin unconsciously pressed himself more firmly against the taller male’s body, searching for warmth.
Jungkook immediately wrapped one arm around the omega’s tiny waist, holding him close. “Where’s your jacket?” he scolded, but there was no real bite behind his words, just concern.
“F-forgot,” Jimin stammered, his teeth starting to chatter as they walked a little faster.
“Here,” Jungkook pulled him to a stop, shrugging off his heavy, black leather jacket and wrapping it around Jimin’s shoulders, ignoring his weak protests.
Jimin buried his face in the soft leather, inhaling deeply as he smelled the familiar scent of the taller male’s musky cologne.
It was no secret to anyone that they loved one another, though neither of them were willing to risk their friendship to admit it. But tomorrow was Jungkook’s eighteenth birthday, and everyone expected him to present as an alpha. Jimin knew, when that happened, that it would only be a matter of time before they mated.
And truly, who could be a better mate for him than his own best friend?
The sun was already setting as they arrived at Jimin’s apartment building. Hugging Jungkook goodbye, and promising to see him first thing in the morning, the omega walked inside, carefully slipping past the landlord’s apartment, knowing he’d ask for the rent money that Jimin didn’t have.
“Jihyun, are you home?”
Jimin slammed the door closed and walked through the little, run-down apartment to the kitchen. Grabbing a bottle of cold water from the fridge, he headed into the living room where he shrugged off his backpack and kicked off his shoes before falling backwards onto the threadbare couch, wincing when it gave a loud, ominous creak beneath him. He held his breath for a long moment, waiting to see if it would finally break, years of abuse leaving it clinging desperately to life by a thread.
Sighing in relief when it held, he carefully sat up and opened his water bottle, swallowing a few mouthfuls as he listened for any noise, but the apartment was still and silent.
He supposed he should be used to it by now, the emptiness all-too-familiar every time he arrived home from school to find himself alone. Frowning, his tongue poked the inside of his cheek in annoyance.
If Jihyun wasn’t home, there was only one logical place he’d be.
The Garden of Eden.
The town’s biggest casino, rumoured to be owned by the Min’s - the most ruthless mob in the country. Their head was Min Jin Soo, an intimidating man who would kill you as soon as he looks at you.
Jimin hated his brother going to that place, knew it was bad news for the both of them. Jihyun had a terrible habit of not knowing when to stop, an addictive personality that saw him hooked on the thrill of just one big win.
“It’s a sure bet,” he’d promise Jimin every time. And every time he’d be left more in debt than when he began.
As the bills piled up and the debt collectors began calling, Jimin begged his older brother to stop, begged him to find a real job. But Jihyun was too far gone to care about bills. Or their home.
Grabbing the strap of his bag he dragged it closer, pulling out a few textbooks, notebooks and his pencil case. Curling his legs beneath him on the couch, he opened his history book, determined to get in at least an hour’s worth of study time before his older brother arrived home.
The alpha leaned back in his chair and rubbed his bottom lip absently as he stared at the monitor in disgust. “How long has he been here?” he asked the tall man behind him.
“Almost sixteen hours,” the man replied, and Yoongi scoffed.
“He never learns, does he?” it was a rhetorical question. “Any word on the money?”
“We have reports that he’s been spending it faster than he wins it,” the man practically spat the words out. “Got word from our informant that he borrowed money from the Dragons to pay us back, then lost it again at the Ikonic.” He clicked his tongue, not bothering to hide his disgust for the gambling addict.
“Any family?” the alpha asked, still watching the man in the monitor.
“A brother,” the man behind him flicked through the pages of a cream manilla folder, checking his notes. “A younger omega. Seems like a good kid, goes to the school near their apartment, never in trouble. Works part-time at some crappy cafe to pay their bills. Polite kid, head’s in the clouds a bit.”
The alpha nodded, sitting forward a little, eyes on the screen. “Reckon he’ll pay?” he muttered, just loud enough for the man to hear him.
“I dunno, Yoon,” he sighed after a moment’s hesitation. “Six months ago he seemed keen to work something out, but now…” he left his statement to hang in the air, unfinished.
“Yeah,” Yoongi’s eyes grew dark. Cold and calculating as he planned his next move. “Well, I’d say time’s up.”
Jimin glanced up as he heard the lock in the door, craning his neck over his shoulder to watch as his brother entered the apartment, his familiar scent creating an unsettling feeling in Jimin’s belly. But his eyebrows shot up in confusion as the scent was flanked by others, and if he closed his eyes just for a moment he could pick them out:
- Musky, like expensive cigars and whiskey on the rocks
- Earthy, like a forest right after the rain
And one final scent, that slammed into his gut and left him breathless, overpowering the others.
Sandalwood, with a touch of blackberry. It was sweet, but somehow dark and dangerous. It smelled of authority and power.
Closing his textbook, he carefully uncurled his legs and stood, knees a little shaky as he faced the men, curiosity overriding his fear.
A sliver of fear licked along Jimin’s veins as his eyes slightly widened, realising his current predicament; he was an unmated omega, in a room full of alphas.
“Jihyun?” he whispered, turning pleading eyes toward his brother. “What’s going on?”
“These are my friends, Jiminie,” the older male said, his thin lips curled up in what he supposed was meant to be a smile, but was really a thinly veiled sneer. “They’ve come to join us for dinner.”
“Dinner?” he echoed, eyes darting across the line of alphas, drawn to one in particular.
He was smaller than the others, only a little taller than Jimin. His hair had been processed so many times it was practically white, his long bangs hiding dark, piercing eyes. His features were almost feline, lips curled up in a tiny smirk as he watched the omega wring his hands nervously.
“Yes, Jimin,” the omega’s eyes snapped back to his brother as the alpha rolled his eyes with a small huff. “I trust you’ll be able to make something decent for our guests?”
“O-of course,” Jimin frowned slightly, but quickly excused himself to hurry into the kitchen, leaning against the counter as he took a few slow, deep breaths of fresh air before standing up straight, pushing his blonde hair back off his forehead as he pulled open the fridge door and tapped his foot, humming to himself.
There really wasn’t much by way of food. A few pieces of meat and a couple of potatoes and carrots he’d hoped would feed both himself and Jihyun.
Sighing, he pulled them from the fridge and set to work.
An hour later he presented the simple food on the table, having managed to whip up an easy stir-fry for Jihyun and his guests.
Jimin’s stomach grumbled a little as he watched the alphas eat, the small noise barely audible as he blushed and grabbed his stomach, willing it to stay silent.
“Pass the salt, Joon,” a man with red hair and a heart shaped smile said, watching as a tall, lanky man with beautiful, lavender hair passed it to him without a word.
“Jimin,” his brother snapped, grabbing his attention. “Don’t you have homework to do?”
“R-right,” Jimin stammered, taking one last, longing look at the food before hurrying back over to the couch, shrinking in on himself as he curled his feet beneath him as he tried to stay invisible, hunger gnawing at his stomach with a dull ache as the aroma of the meat wafted to him from the table with the alphas sat.
Knowing this could be his only chance to have a little time to himself, he took the opportunity to pull a library book from his bag, lovingly caressing the cover with a small smile.
Beauty and the Beast.
He remembered his mother reading the story to him as a child, how she’d explained the way true love comes from the heart, not the eyes. A bubble of pain bloomed in his chest, and realised he smelled distressed as the small alpha glanced at him sharply. Rapidly blinking back tears he curled even further in on himself, wishing himself literally anywhere but here.
The alpha stared at him for a moment longer before turning back to the table as they finished eating, silently handing Jihyun his empty plate as the alpha cleared away the table.
Yoongi stared impassively at the alpha in front of him, barely able to stop himself from sneering in contempt. The man was trembling, hands shaking as he shuffled the deck of cards Namjoon handed to him.
“I hear you’ve been hanging around the Ikonic,” he said, bringing a cigarette to his lips and inhaling deeply, smirking at the way Jihyun’s eyes widened. “Big win?”
“N-no,” Jihyun stammered, his eyes darting around the small apartment wildly, as though looking for a way to escape.
Yoongi had anticipated this, however, and with a barely perceptible twitch of his head Hoseok fell into the chair beside Jihyun with a wide grin, Namjoon standing on his other side, preventing him from leaving the chair.
“Where are you going?” Hoseok chuckled, pouring him a glass of whiskey and handing him a cigarette. The man’s hands trembled as he glanced at each alpha before leaning forward slightly, accepting the light Hoseok offered. “There you go,” he praised, patting the man on the shoulder almost affectionately.
Jihyun whimpered as the tall man beside him laid a heavy hand on his shoulder. Tears blurred his vision as he looked back across the table at Yoongi, his dark eyes boring a hole right through him as he spoke.
“I’m a fair man, Jihyun, so here’s what I’ll do: Let’s play one round, your choice of game. If you win, your debt is cleared. But if I win…” he kissed his teeth as he smirked darkly at the trembling man. “Desperate men do desperate things, don’t they?” he asked, idly rolling a cigar between his fingers. “What do you say, Jihyun? Place your bet.”
“B-but I don’t have anything to bet,” he whispered, ducking his head to escape Yoongi’s sharp look.
“Hmm, pity,” Yoongi mused, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “Well, I suppose, if you can’t pay then…” he trailed off and Jihyun’s head shot up as Namjoon’s hand tightened on his shoulder.
“No, wait,” he almost screamed.
Jihyun’s hand trembled as he lifted one, pointing across the room. “Him,” his voice barely more than a broken whisper. “I bet him.”
Yoongi twisted in his chair to look at the small, blonde boy on the couch, the book he was reading having fell to the floor, forgotten, as he sat up quickly and stared wide-eyed at the men sitting around the table. A mixture of disgust and betrayal spread across his innocent face.
Yoongi loved them innocent.
“Done,” he barked, turning back and smirking at Jihyun’s ashen face. “Deal it in.”
Jimin’s hands shook as he stared at his brother, his mouth opened but no sound came out as he watched Jihyun hand the cards to Hoseok, who quickly dealt out the hand.
Climbing to his feet, he moved to the edge of the table, watching as each alpha looked at their cards, blanching when Hoseok stood up and slung his arm around the omega, his lips turning up into a heart shaped grin that would have been pretty, had it not been for the coldness of his eyes.
“Hoseok,” he introduced himself, his warm breath fanning across Jimin’s cheek. His scent enveloped Jimin but, rather than frightening him, it was almost comforting. A perfect blend of whiskey and cigars. It was warm, almost made him feel safe.
“Jimin,” he whispered, realising the alpha was still waiting for a response.
“Jiminie,” Hoseok smiled again, his fingers flexing against the smaller boy’s shoulder as he turned back to the game, checking his cards.
Jimin glanced at them, seeing an ace of hearts and an eight of clubs. “W-what are you playing?” he asked quietly, trying not to disturb the others.
“Blackjack,” Hoseok explained, and Jimin nodded dumbly.
He didn’t know too much about the game, but he knew Hoseok had a good hand. A great one, in fact.
Gently moving away from the alpha’s arm, he slipped around the side of the table under the pretence of getting a drink of water. As he slipped by the small blonde he glanced at his cards but was unable to see them clearly.
Frowning a little, he grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and made to move back to the other side of the table, walking behind Namjoon and his brother, freezing when he saw their hands.
Namjoon - the same as Hoseok.
Jihyun… a two of spades and a five of diamonds.
“I fold,” Hoseok said, throwing his cards face-down on the table.
“Same,” Namjoon answered, throwing his down and picking up his glass of whiskey.
“Hit me,” Jihyun said, a little-too-confidently as he laid his cards down on the table.
Yoongi placed another card on the table. A ten of diamonds.
“Hit me,” Jihyun’s eyes glittered, his obsession with winning clearly overriding his ability to think clearly.
“Jihyun,” the omega whispered cautiously, his eyes widening when the small blonde alpha threw out another card. A two of clubs.
“Jihyun, please,” he begged, grabbing his brothers arm. “No more.”
He could feel the curious eyes of the others on him but ignored them, staring at his brother beseechingly.
“Hit me,” Jihyun said, shaking Jimin off his arm as though he were nothing.
Jimin glanced back as Hoseok lightly touched his arm, taken aback by the almost pitying look in the alpha’s eyes as he slightly shook his head.
Turning his head back to the table, his entire world seemed to be moving in slow motion as the small alpha threw out the next card, the blood freezing in his veins as the card fluttered silently to the table.
King of hearts.
Jihyun’s shoulders slumped as he stared at the cards in front of him, unwilling to look at Jimin as the smaller boy called his name.
The omega screamed as a hand came down heavily on his thin shoulder, moving to hold him beneath the arms as he was dragged back from the table, kicking the air furiously.
“Hush, Jiminie,” Hoseok smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes.
An icy fear wrapped itself around Jimin’s heart, squeezing painfully as the small, blonde alpha regarded Jihyun coolly, spinning one of the cards in his hand.
“Y-Yoongi, please,” Jihyun shouted, tears pouring down his cheeks as the alpha looked at him in disgust.
“You’re pathetic,” he said, almost sounding bored as he flicked the card onto the table and stood up, carefully removing his black jacket before folding it and hanging it over the back of the chair.
Jimin’s eyes widened as the alpha took a small, black handgun from the back of his waistband, casually checking the number of bullets in it, removing all but one before closing it and spinning the chamber and holding the butt out to Jihyun.
“Have you ever played Russian Roulette?” he asked, the edges of his mouth curling up into a little smirk.
Namjoon grabbed his arms as the alpha shot up, forcing him back down into his seat and holding him still.
“It’s a fun game,” the alpha - Yoongi, was it? - continued, pulling the gun back toward him and pressing a button at the back. An audible click was heard, and his smile grew wider as he slowly pointed it toward Jihyun’s head, pulling the trigger.
“Bang!” he shouted, laughing when the gun didn’t go off.
Jihyun whimpered as he spun the chamber again. “P-please, you don’t have to do this,” he begged. “J-just take the omega. You won him, f-fair and square.”
“Hmm,” Yoongi paused, his eyes darting over to Jimin as he seemed to consider Jihyun’s plea. “But I really want to kill you,” he sneered. “What kind of a brother throws away his family so easily? You’re scum,” he said, still staring at Jimin as he pulled the trigger, the side of his face, the white of his shirt and his blonde hair all turning a dark shade of crimson as he put the safety back on the gun and tucked it back into the waistband of his black slacks.
Jimin stared at his brother’s slumped-over body, his head blown clear off his shoulders, leaving nothing but a mess of blood, flesh pulp and broken bones.
He couldn’t move.
He couldn't speak.
He couldn’t scream.
His chest was tight as he squeezed his eyes shut, snapping them open again when he felt something touch on his face.
He stared at the blonde alpha as he gripped his chin a little-too-tightly, turning his head this way and that as though inspecting him.
“P-please,” he whispered, licking his dry lips. “I-I don’t have any part of this. J-Just let me g-go.”
“Let you go?” Yoongi repeatedly softly, but his eyes held no warmth. “Why would I want to let you go? I won you, fair and square, just like your brother said. The way I see it, Peach, is you have two choices. You can either pay back every cent your brother owes me, or…” he paused, blatantly looking the young omega’s body up and down, his lips curling into a smirk. “You can be mine, and we’ll call it even.”
“I don’t even know you,” Jimin exclaimed, twisting his face out of Yoongi’s grip, trying to up straight but feeling his knees buckling beneath the intense gaze of the alpha. Strong hands gripped him beneath his arms, holding him up.
“Don’t mistake me,” Yoongi waved his hand dismissively as he stepped away. “I’m only interested in your body.”
“Well,” Jimin scoffed as he fought against the urge to roll his eyes. “That’s a relief.”
“Feisty,” Yoongi chuckled. “I might have liked you, had it not been for the dirty blood running through your veins,” he continued, glancing over his shoulder at Jihyun’s mutilated corpse, his lips curled in distaste. “Any person, who shares the blood of that… that thing,” he hissed. “Doesn’t deserve to live. I’m offering you a lifeline, omega. I’m your only saviour. I highly recommend you spend tonight thinking long and hard about your future,” he turned back to Jimin, raising his eyebrows as though he expected the boy to say something.
“Or what?” the omega snapped, but found himself withering like a flower in the hot sun beneath the alpha’s hard gaze.
“Or, you’ll be forced to pay back every cent your brother owes me, plus interest. Then,” he chuckled, leaning forward to whisper conspiratorially in the younger’s ear. “I might just take you anyway, but give you to my men. Let them instil some... discipline in you.”
He stepped back, glancing at Hoseok as the man walked back into the room with a small, paper bag. Jimin hadn’t even realised he’d left.
“I’ll have my men take care of the body, and there will be people stationed outside your apartment building tonight, so don’t even think about trying to escape me, Peach. You have twenty-four hours to decide, I suggest you make the most of them. Also, here,” he grabbed the paper bag from Hoseok and pushed it into the boy’s hands.
Jimin shakily opened the bag, blinking in surprise at the four, bright red apples. He looked up to say something, but was met with the slamming of the door. They were gone, leaving Jimin alone in the suddenly too-quiet apartment with his dead brother and a bag of apples.
His knees buckled beneath him as he slid to the floor, curling up in a little ball as he started to shake, tears streaming down his cheeks as he rocked himself back and forth.
Just that morning he’d been a regular, nineteen-year-old student. All he wanted to do was graduate high school and get the hell out of his shitty situation, maybe make a new life somewhere he could be himself, could do as he pleased rather than looking after the brother who was supposed to be the one looking after him.
But not like this.
He didn’t like Jihyun, but his brother didn’t deserve that.
How the hell had everything turned upside-down so quickly?