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Yuichiro rolls his eyes.

“But you can barely see a difference,” he states, carding his fingers through Mikaela’s hair.

Usually, when he had Mikaela on top of him, Yuichiro felt a heady combination of desire, anticipation and vulnerability. But with Mikaela draped over his legs and his cheek firmly pressed to Yuichiro’s stomach, he mostly feels warm. He’s protesting his alpha’s silliness, but his own cheeks hurt from smiling so widely.

Two excited fools. They probably deserve each other.

Hopefully, their child will be a little more practical than their parents.

“Doesn’t matter,” Mikaela says decisively, slipping a hand under Yuichiro’s shirt and spreading it over his skin. “We both know you’re pregnant- even your scent changed a little. It isn’t too early to make the announcement.”

Yuichiro shivers a at Mikaela’s cold touch, but it’s worth his slightly hitched breath. His stomach has always been sensitive, and Mikaela knows it. Exploits it. Often.

That’s okay, though. Yuichiro isn’t the only one with sensitive spots.

“Sure, but it hasn’t even been three months,” Yuichiro says and brushes a finger behind Mikaela’s ear. His smile turns into a smirk at Mikaela’s shudder.

“What if something happens? Everyone will know.”

Yuichiro watches as Mikaela props himself up. His smile is soft and Yuichiro closes his eyes as his alpha draws closer and leans down. His lips part in a small sigh as Mikaela mouths at his mating mark, anticipating the flash of heat that immediately follows.

“I won’t let anything happen to you, my lastachka,” Mikaela murmurs against his skin and Yuichiro can’t help but wrap his arms around Mikaela’s shoulders.

Truth be told, the things that worry him are mostly out of his alpha’s hands, but it’s nice to hear his reassurances either way. His parents had certainly never tried to soothe his fears the way Mikaela does.

It overwhelms Yuichiro, sometimes. It’s strange, not needing to hide his insecurities so that they wouldn’t be used against him. He’s still working on it, learning to share his emotions little by little and to open up. It’s rather draining.

But Mikaela is worth it.

“Oh yeah?” Yuichiro grins, trying to lighten the conversation. Mikaela was good to him, but the guy had a tendency to make things a lot more serious than they needed to be. Yuichiro had decided a few weeks into living with Mikaela to try and make the alpha smile more often.

“Also, what’s with ‘lastachka’? I thought you were hung up on ‘Yuu-chan’.”

Yuichiro expects Mikaela to fumble, or at least to laugh, but instead the alpha slots himself between Yuichiro’s legs and drags his teeth over the mating mark. Yuichiro arches his back with a gasp, digging his nails into Mikaela’s back.

Well, that took an unexpected turn. But was it truly all that unexpected? Mikaela rarely missed the opportunity to play around whenever Yuichiro found himself under him. Or on top of him. Mikaela wasn’t picky, as long as the position ended with him balls deep.

His words. Not Mikaela’s.

“You’re a lot of things, Yuichiro,” Mikaela meets his eyes for a brief moment before unbuttoning Yuichiro’s shirt and peppering his bare chest with kisses.

“I’m not going to limit myself to one descriptive for you. It wouldn’t be fair.”

Yuichiro rolls his eyes at his mate’s cheesiness but immediately bursts into laughter as Mikaela’s lips trail down to his belly button. He squirms and tries to push Mikaela away, but Mikaela lingers, blowing a raspberry against his navel before resurfacing with a wide grin.

Yuichiro could swear his heart just skipped a beat.

Mikaela’s smile is as beautiful as ever.

“Anyway,” Mikaela says and dips down to press a chaste kiss to Yuichiro’s lips. “We’re having that party. My mother is already planning on flying in for the official announcement.”

Oh. Great. Another thing to worry about.

“Hey,” Mikaela sits up and gently tugs Yuichiro up as well. Something in his expression must’ve given his thoughts away. Mikaela cups his chin and tucks a stray strand of hair behind his ear, lingering long enough to brush his knuckles down the side of Yuichiro’s neck.

“It’s going to be fine. She’ll love you.”

“But what if she doesn’t?” Yuichiro worries his lip. He doesn’t exactly have a good track record with pleasing parents.

“I’m not a socialite omega or some fancy shit like that. We both know she doesn’t approve of me- she didn’t even come to our mating ceremony.”

Mikaela’s confident mask wavers for a moment. Just a little.

“She…Mother is skeptical of mating ceremonies. She doesn’t believe they show any true commitment,” he reveals with a grimace. Yuichiro doesn’t say anything- he knows the story.

“But a pregnancy?” Mikaela’s face brightens and he reaches down to rest his hand on Yuichiro’s stomach.

“This is real, Yuu-chan. We’re having a baby! Our child is her flesh and blood- of course she’d want to come.”

Yuichiro still isn’t so sure if having Mikaela’s mother at the party he never wanted to begin with was such a good idea, but if it made Mikaela happy, then so be it. Mikaela rarely saw his family, or what was left of it.

Just because Yuichiro has awful parents doesn’t mean that everyone does. He should stop projecting.

After all, he and Mikaela are creating a family, together. And Yuichiro is determined to be nothing like either of his parents.

As for Mikaela? Well, Yuichiro has no doubts about his mate. Just seeing him glow at the prospect of announcing the pregnancy was enough to warm Yuichiro’s heart. Yuichiro just knows that Mikaela will be the better parent.

Strong, smart, rich and caring- Mikaela is the perfect alpha. An ideal mate.

Yuichiro’s slowly coming to terms with the fact that out of all of the omegas that had crossed Mikaela’s path, Mikaela chose him. It’s a slow process, but Yuichiro hopes that by the time the baby is born, things will fall into place.

There’s a pair of lips on his own and Yuichiro startles out of his thoughts, gasping as he’s suddenly pushed back against the pillows. Mikaela’s hands are cupping his face, running through his hair and dragging down his sides in a dizzying sequence.

“You’re either thinking too much or not at all,” Mikaela murmurs, leaning down to nip Yuichiro’s shoulder. Yuichiro bucks his hips with a low whine.

“Everything is going to work out, Yuu-chan,” Mikaela continues, lowering his hands to peel off Yuichiro’s pajama bottoms. “I promise.”

And by the time they collapse back on the bed, sweaty and breathless, Yuichiro thinks he might just believe it.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro is actually enjoying himself. He’d planned on putting on a brave face and leaving the moment it wouldn’t embarrass Mikaela too much, but the party isn’t as bad as he thought it’d be. It’s…it’s fun!

Sure, Yuichiro doesn’t really know anyone. He recognizes a few from his previous engagement and mating ceremonies, but for the life of him he can’t remember their names. This was a Shindo event, and most of the guests were either involved in Mikaela’s business or were close family friends.

Yuichiro didn’t invite anyone from his side, so to speak. His parents were out of the question, and Yuichiro’s best friend was still abroad in her exchange program.

It was a bummer Shinoa couldn’t be there, but Yuichiro was navigating the guests with surprising ease. He didn’t even have Mikaela following him around anymore to make introductions! Everyone appeared to know exactly who he was and they were all so interested in him. And there Yuichiro thought he’d be standing alone in the corner of the large event hall, nursing a tall glass of punch or whatever non-alcoholic drink they served at parties.

“-and then he said that he’d never met such a horrible driver!” Yuichiro rolls his eyes with a grin and flushes just a bit at the following laughter. He’d been regaling three curious betas with stories of his recent endeavor- driving lessons.

Omegas with a driver’s license were fairly common these days, but Yuichiro’s parents wouldn’t hear of it. The lessons were one of the many gifts Mikaela has showered him with lately and Yuichiro has never been so excited about learning.

“But you’re still going to try, right?”

Yuichiro flashes the beta a smirk. “Damn right! Just you wait- by the time I’m done, I’ll be the best driver in Shibuya!”

Lastachka,” a hand settles on Yuichiro’s shoulder and he freezes for a moment before his mate’s scent registers. He turns around with a smile.

Dressed in a fitted black suit with matching leather gloves, Yuichiro’s alpha is as striking as always.

“Mika,” he leans up to press a quick kiss to the alpha’s cheek. Mikaela raises a brow and Yuichiro knows that he’s taken aback at his public display of affection, but Yuichiro merely shrugs. He’s in a good mood. Mikaela chuckles and returns the smile.

“I apologize, but I’m going to have to borrow Yuichiro for a minute,” Mikaela addresses the three betas, who don’t seem to be too heartbroken. Yuichiro gives them a small wave before allowing Mikaela to place his hand on the small of his back and guide him through the room.

“It looks like you’re enjoying yourself,” Mikaela comments, and Yuichiro hums in agreement.

“Yeah, this party is actually a lot of fun! Everyone’s so nice!”

Mikaela’s lips curve in a peculiar smile, but it’s gone before Yuichiro can question him about it.

“I’m glad,” Mikaela says and slows his step. “I’d like you to meet someone, actually,” he continues and finally stops in front of a short, black-haired woman. Yuichiro sucks in his breath. The alpha was beautiful.

“Yuichiro,” Mikaela clears his throat, “this is my mother, Fumiko. Mother,” Mikaela bows his head, “this is my mate, Yuichiro.”

Though shorter than him, Yuichiro feels vaguely threatened by the alpha’s sharp gaze. Fumiko looks him over before offering her hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Shindo,” Yuichiro quickly says as he takes her hand. Fumiko’s grip is firm, a little too tight, and Yuichiro’s secretly relieved when all she does is give him a curt shake.

“I’ve heard quite a bit about you from my son,” Fumiko finally speaks. Her voice is loud and strong and almost doesn’t fit her small frame. “You’re a little too thin, but I suppose you’ll do. You’ve conceived, after all.”

“Mother!” Mikaela protests as Yuichiro’s face turns a bright shade of red. Mikaela starts to say something else, but Yuichiro cuts him off. Mikaela might be his alpha, but some battles are his own to fight.

“I’ve heard a lot about you, too,” Yuichiro says, meeting Fumiko’s gaze with a raised brow. “You’re strong and resilient and have proven to all who meet you that appearances are often misleading.”

For a long moment, Fumiko doesn’t say a word. Yuichiro’s hands start to feel clammy and his confidence wavers, worried that he’d crossed the line. But before he can doubt himself and apologize, Fumiko smiles.

“I can see why my son is so besotted with you,” she says and ignores Mikaela’s flustered expression. Yuichiro’s lips split into a wide grin- he’s never seen Mikaela so out of sorts!

“I apologize for my rude behavior, I was simply skeptical of your rushed engagement,” Fumiko continues and her smile fades into a weary line. “I’m sure Mikaela has told you about my relationship with his father.”

Yuichiro nods and lowers his eyes. Mikaela hadn’t gone into much detail about his parents’ divorce, but it hadn’t been pretty. Yuichiro can understand why Fumiko had been skeptical- hell, he’d been skeptical about his engagement to Mikaela as well, at the time.

Apparently over his embarrassment, Mikaela takes Fumiko’s hand and gives her a warm smile.

“Thank you, mother. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to make the announcement.”

Yuichiro’s mouth goes dry.

Oh. He’d forgotten about that.

“Of course,” Fumiko gestures for Mikaela to bend down and presses a kiss to his temple when he does.

Yuichiro doesn’t say anything as Mikaela guides him to the buffet table in the middle of the room. He bites his lip as Mikaela picks up a glass. His alpha pauses, noticing his uneasiness, and reaches with his free hand to cup Yuichiro’s chin.

“You’ve got nothing to worry about,” Mikaela reassures him, rubbing his thumb over Yuichiro’s cheek.

Yuichiro nods. He knows his apprehension is unwarranted. Every guest he’d spoken to so far had been so nice to him. Being pregnant wasn’t going to change that. However, it felt a little odd that everyone in the room was soon going to know something so intimate.

“Here,” Mikaela takes a step back and hands Yuichiro the glass, followed by a spoon. Yuichiro can see that he’s trying to bite back what looked like a smug smile, but he obviously wasn’t trying hard enough. “You can do the tapping.”

Yuichiro rolls his eyes but accepts the glass and spoon. As long as he isn’t the one making the announcement, he doesn’t mind grabbing everyone’s attention. In fact, it looked kind of fun in the movies he’s seen. Yuichiro just hopes he won’t break the glass.

So Yuichiro pulls back his shoulders and raises the glass, carefully clinking the spoon against it. It doesn’t make a lot of noise, but it’s enough to demand the attention of those near them. Within a few minutes the entire room is quiet and looking at him and Mikaela in anticipation.

Yuichiro sets the glass back down and digs his nails into his palms. Mikaela, on his part, doesn’t appear to be at all affected by the attention. Figures. The alpha was probably used to speaking to audiences far larger than their group of guests.

“My mate, Yuichiro, and I would like to thank you for joining us this evening,” Mikaela’s voice booms across the room, steady and sure. “We hope you’ve been enjoying yourselves. However,” Mikaela pauses, “there is a reason we invited you all here tonight.”

Mikaela reaches for Yuichiro’s hand and takes it. Yuichiro can feel everyone’s eyes on him and he’s pretty sure his face is the reddest it’s ever been.

“Yuichiro and I are proud to announce that Shindo Corp. is expecting an heir!”

Yuichiro didn’t quite expect Mikaela to phrase his pregnancy like that, but now that he thinks about it, it should’ve occurred to him sooner.

Shindo Corp. is a family business- Mikaela’s grandfather started it, and Mikaela became the head after his father passed away. Mikaela and all of the people applauding around them are probably expecting the life growing inside him to continue the family legacy.

Yuichiro bites his lip.

He has so many questions- what if their child is an omega, like him? What if, years from now, they’ll have no desire to take over from their sire? Not everyone was as duty-bound and family oriented as Mikaela…or him, for that matter. Would Mikaela reject their child?

Mikaela squeezes his hand and Yuichiro blinks, pulled back into reality.

He’s being ridiculous. Who worries about their child’s career choices before they’re even born? If anything, Yuichiro should be thinking about his own. His parents had instilled in him the belief that the only thing he’d be good for is carrying children for his future mate.

And, well, that is what he’s currently doing, but things are different, now. Yuichiro has options.

…okay, maybe Yuichiro had too much punch. His train of thought is confusing even him. Is he having mood swings? Already?

“So we made the announcement,” Yuichiro clears his throat and gives Mikaela a friendly nudge. “Party over?”

Mikaela snorts.

“No,” he raises his hand and pinches Yuichiro’s cheek. “Now we smile and nod at all the people who pretend to care.”

Yuichiro rolls his eyes and slaps Mikaela’s hand away. His alpha would call him naïve, but Yuichiro truly believes the people he’s spoken to wish him well. He’s about to say as much when another alpha approaches them.

“Mr. Shindo,” the man extends his hand to Mikaela, who shakes it. The alpha’s eyes briefly meet Yuichiro’s and he offers him a polite smile.

“Congratulations,“ the alpha says, and Yuichiro returns the smile.

“Thank you, Mr…?”

“Simm,” Mikaela fills in. “Rene Simm, an associate of mine. I thank you as well.”

Simm nods, absently fiddling with his watch.

“You’re very welcome. I was actually wondering if I could have a word with you.”

Mikaela looks between Simm and Yuichiro for a moment before giving a nod.

“Of course, Simm,” he says and turns to Yuichiro with an apologetic smile. He leans down to press a kiss on the cheek he’d just pinched. “I’ll be right back.”

Yuichiro doesn’t have a chance to object, even if he’d wanted to. He opens his mouth to say that it’s fine, that he’ll just wait by the buffet, but Mikaela has already walked away with the other alpha. Yuichiro watches them until they disappear in the crowd.

Sighing, Yuichiro turns around to the table and picks up a plate. He hasn’t had a chance to actually eat anything yet and he’s starving. Might as well use the time for something useful, right?

Yuichiro is about to reach for another piece of selyodka (one of Mikaela’s favorites that was starting to grow on him) when someone makes a peculiar noise behind him. Yuichiro can almost swear they’d said ‘ew’. He turns around with a frown.

“Can I help you?”

The man, an older beta with pronounced bags under his eyes, scowls back at him.

“Me? You’re the one who needs help if you’re going to eat that,” the beta scoffs. “But I guess your taste is just bad in general if you agreed to mate with a scumbag like Shindo.”

Yuichiro’s eyes widen and he sets his plate down on the table. Otherwise, he think he might throw it at the man.

“Excuse me? Who the hell are you?”

The beta crosses his arms. “That’s a nice suit you’re wearing,” he says with a sneer, ignoring the question. “Bet it was expensive. Of course, Shindo can afford it- he just takes the money from other people.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Yuichiro can feel his face start to warm up, but this time, it wasn’t from embarrassment. The beta had struck a chord.

Mikaela has been trying for weeks to convince him to spend money on himself, and though Yuichiro’s reluctant to waste so much money on things like clothes, he’d finally agreed to buy an outfit for the party. And now that he did, the beta was making him immediately regret it.

“I’m saying your alpha is a thief and a coward and that you’re no better than him,” the beta narrows his eyes and grabs Yuichiro’s arm. “Spreading your legs for money- typical omega, not even caring where it’s coming from, as long as you’re cared for. You make me sick!”

“Get your hands off my mate!”

Yuichiro feels a wave of relief as Mikaela suddenly appears at his side and pushes the beta away. His hand immediately curls protectively around Yuichiro’s waist and Yuichiro grasps the lapels of Mikaela’s suit jacket. He isn’t sure if it’s for support or to stop him from throwing a punch, but he needs to keep his hands occupied either way.

He’s angry and confused, but at least his alpha is here now.

The beta stumbles back but quickly recovers. He doesn’t seem to notice the sudden shift of attention in the room, or if he does, it doesn’t phase him. He merely shoots Mikaela a bitter smile.

“Oh, I’m sorry! Was I touching something that doesn’t belong to me?” The beta tilts his head. “If so, please do enlighten me. You’re the expert, after all.”

Yuichiro can scent Mikaela’s hostility and bites his lip. It isn’t even aimed at him and it’s making him feel nervous.

“You seem to be confused,” Mikaela says shortly. “Or drunk. I don’t know who you are or how you got in here, but I ask that you leave, now, or else security will show you out.”

Taken aback by Mikaela’s formality, the beta looks around and suddenly seems to register their audience. His face turns a dark shade of red, but he doesn’t back down.

“How dare you pretend not to recognize me, you piece of shit! You took everything from me- at least own up to it!”

 Yuichiro can’t hold it in anymore. He lets go of Mikaela’s jacket and takes a step forward.

“One more fucking word about Mika and I’ll-“

“Yuichiro,” Mikaela’s voice is sharp and Yuichiro pauses. The hand at his waist tightens and he’s forced to step back and return to Mikaela’s side. Mikaela’s never used that tone with him before.

He’s never used his Command on him before.

Two alphas in uniforms appear and after receiving a curt nod from Mikaela, they grab the beta and pull him out of the hall. The man continues to swear at them, ranting about something to do with his business, but none of it makes sense. The silence he leaves in his wake is deafening.

“I apologize for the disturbance,” Mikaela addresses their guests and though he’s still reeling from the encounter, Yuichiro can’t help but admire his alpha for being able to handle the situation so smoothly. If it weren’t for his scent, Yuichiro wouldn’t be able to tell at all that Mikaela was angry.

“By all means, carry on!”

The guests return to their conversations and the room is again filled with chatter and laughter, though this time Yuichiro is pretty sure he knows exactly what they’re all excitedly talking about. No one even notices him and Mikaela slipping away, except for Mikaela’s mother who shares a long look with him near the exit before turning away.

Though Mikaela is quick to comfort him on their way back home, Yuichiro can’t help but feel that there’s something his mate isn’t telling him.

 

.x.

 

Shibuya is as colorful and busy as always. Yuichiro enjoys it. Even as a young boy, he’d frequently volunteer to go out and buy that extra milk or missing eggs that his parents needed. It was a way for him to feel useful, and though it never did buy his parents’ affection the way he hoped it would, those missions (as Yuichiro liked to call them) were a good excuse to leave the house.

That hasn’t changed.

Yuichiro is currently out on a mission to restock the pantry with fruit bars. Mikaela had pointed out that their grocery delivery was going to arrive later that day and that one of his men could easily go and fetch him the bars if Yuichiro was craving them so badly, but Yuichiro had insisted.

Having someone else go would be missing the point. Yuichiro needed to get out of the condo.

He hadn’t said as much, but Mikaela understood. His alpha hadn’t been happy about it, but he didn’t try to stop him when Yuichiro left. He knew he was treading on thin ice after the incident at the party.

It’s been a week since Mikaela snapped at him, and though Yuichiro can see how his alpha would be reluctant to allow his pregnant mate to walk around unsupervised, he doesn’t know how many more apologies he can take. The sad and confused stares.

He needs to put some distance between him and Mikaela, if only for the fifteen minutes it’ll take to go to the store.

In truth, Yuichiro isn’t completely sure why he’s still so agitated. Mikaela might’ve used a Command on him, but he’d apologized profusely for it. Was it the fact that it was done in public? Was his pregnancy making him irrational?

Yuichiro doesn’t think so. There’s something else that’s bothering him, and hopefully he’ll figure it out as he clears his head in the crowded streets.

At least, that’s what he hoped would happen. He never makes it to his favorite minimarket.

“Don’t move,” a voice whispers in his ear. Yuichiro doesn’t even have a chance to register the words- his body immediately seizes up, a reaction to the alpha Command. His eyes widen in horror as an arm is wrapped around his chest and a blade is pressed to his stomach.

Yuichiro wouldn’t dare to move even if he could.

“What the fuck is going on?” He demands, making an attempt to appear confident though his heart is beating fast with fear. “Who are you? What do you want?”

“Shut up,” the male voice replies, and though it isn’t a Command, Yuichiro bites his tongue as the blade cuts through his shirt. The alpha behind him isn’t playing any games.

“Get into the car and don’t make a scene,” Yuichiro’s told and suddenly notices a small white car pulling up next to him. The alpha takes a step back and opens the door, crowding Yuichiro in, and pushes him in its direction.

Adrenaline kicks in as Yuichiro stumbles and catches himself on the car frame. Instead of climbing in, he steels himself and risks a glance over his shoulder.

The alpha behind him is a typical architype, the kind of alpha Yuichiro’s parents probably dreamed of him being: tall and broad, though they wouldn’t approve of his brow piercing. There’s a pronounced scar on his neck, though Yuichiro’s eyes are immediately drawn to his dark expression.

The knife is back at his shirt and Yuichiro gasps as he feels the cold blade against his skin, leaving a shallow cut.

“I said get the fuck into the car,” the alpha growls. For a moment, Yuichiro thinks the pressure on the knife is going to increase, but the driver of the car speaks up.

“C’mon, we can’t hang around!”

The knife disappears and Yuichiro closes his eyes in silent gratefulness before he’s roughly shoved into the car. He falls in an ungraceful heap onto the backseat and the door is immediately shut behind him. He thinks of trying the handle, but the alpha opens the opposite door and sits next to him.

He’s still holding the knife.

Yuichiro swallows thickly as the car starts to move and blinks back the tears threatening to fall. He needs to be strong.  

“Where are you taking me?” He asks, digging his nails into his palms. “What did I ever do to you?”

The alpha and the driver don’t answer him. Instead, he watches in horror as the alpha bends down to pick up a rag that’s obviously drenched with something. When he leans back up, Yuichiro panics and turns to the side, desperately pushing on the car handle, hoping against hope that it would open despite the high speed.

The door doesn’t open and Yuichiro is pulled back in a chokehold. He claws at the alpha’s arm, but it doesn’t change a thing- the rag is pressed to his face.

The last thing Yuichiro remembers is the alpha’s relieved sigh before everything goes dark.

 

.x.

 

Yuichiro is startled back into consciousness as a bucket of water is poured over his head. Spluttering, Yuichiro opens his eyes and shivers, looking around wildly. Where is he? Why is he tied to a chair and absolutely drenched?

His head is throbbing and his vision takes a moment to come into focus, but once it does, everything falls into place. Yuichiro remembers everything- the party, the busy streets and what turned out to be a kidnapping. And now he knows who was behind it.

It’s the man standing in front of him with a large smirk.

The drunk beta.

You,” Yuichiro snarls and tests the ropes binding him to the chair. They don’t give, not even a little bit.

“What the hell do you want from me!”

The beta leans against the wall and raises a brow.

“If you’re expecting me to make a speech and reveal my plans, then I’m sorry to disappoint. I’m not here to speak to you.”

Yuichiro narrows his eyes. His throat is dry, but he’s not going to let that stop him from giving the beta a piece of his mind.

“You go into all the trouble of kidnapping me and don’t even want to talk to me? You really suck as a villain, you know that?”

The beta’s smirk widens into a large grin as he laughs, leaving Yuichiro very confused.

“That’s priceless,” the man finally says and pushes away from the wall. Yuichiro flinches as he steps close and turns his head away when the beta extends his hand, expecting violence, but all he feels is a warm palm cupping his cheek.

“You’re mated to the head of the most powerful yakuza group in Japan, and I’m the villain?”

Yuichiro blinks.

“Wait a minute…” The beta lowers his hand and cocks his head. “Don’t tell me this is news to you.”

“Stop- stop lying!” Yuichiro scrambles, quick to deny, but once the lens is in place, a lot of things start to make sense through it.

The long meetings with business partners Yuichiro never gets to meet? The way Mikaela avoids talking about his days and sharing details? The respect Mikaela gets from everyone they talk to that always feels a little like fear?

The tattoos Mikaela hides under his gloves.

“Mikaela Shindo took everything from me,” the beta says in a bitter voice. “Now that I’ve got you-“

A gunshot cuts the beta off and Yuichiro can see his eyes widen in alarm as the door bangs open. Five masked men burst into the room and point their guns at the beta, who reluctantly raises his hands and gives Yuichiro a dirty look. Yuichiro isn’t sure why until he looks back up at the doorway and his heart skips a beat.

Mika.

“Yuu-chan!” Mikaela rushes towards him. Yuichiro bites his lip and tears begin to burn his vision. He thought Mikaela would be angry, but when his alpha reaches him and starts to cut through the ropes, Yuichiro can tell how scared Mikaela is.

He can scent it.

“Mika,” Yuichiro manages around the lump in his throat. Mikaela presses a quick, reassuring kiss to his lips in between freed ties- though who the reassurance was for, Yuichiro can only guess. Once the last ropes around his ankles fall to the floor, Mikaela leans down and scoops Yuichiro into his arms, cradling him to his chest. Yuichiro wraps his arms around Mikaela’s neck and for once, doesn’t complain over being manhandled.

Because this close, Yuichiro can feel Mikaela trembling.

“I was so worried,” Mikaela’s voice is shaky as he turns his head to nose at Yuichiro’s neck. Yuichiro can tell that his scent is slowly calming his alpha down. “I-I had my suspicions, but I never thought-“

“No, hey, it’s okay,” Yuichiro whispers and tilts his head back to grant Mikaela easier access to his scent glands. “I’m okay.”

Mikaela closes his eyes and nuzzles Yuichiro’s cheek.

“I love you,” he murmurs, and Yuichiro feels a pang in his chest.

Earlier that day, he would’ve repeated the same back to Mikaela without a second thought.

But now…?

Yuichiro isn’t sure he really knows the man he’s come to love.