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Pick up these Broken Pieces (So you can stitch them back together again)

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Ways of Fate

From the moment of birth, one is half of a whole

With a full heart and full mind, but half of a soul

Following star-crossed patterns, on threads tugged by fate

All struggle to meet those destined to become their mate

Some travel over oceans, yet never find their love

Some stay the beaten path, never reaching far above

Then there are those who feel abandoned, forsaken, and surpassed

Those who believe they are undeserving, due to shadows of the past

One such soul lives struggling, many problems serving as a bane.

A soul who’d given up on his other half, one who could take away his pain

* * *

Sometimes, Caesar thought all the hassle just wasn’t worth it. 

To drag himself out of bed at ass o’clock AM, trudge in the freezing cold and darkness to campus from his shoebox-sized rented apartment, and open up the coffee shop that most caffeine addicts frequented before class. Honestly, it was a miracle he hadn’t been mugged yet, and no rogues had come after his scent, so he supposed he should take that as good luck.

As an international student struggling to make ends meet, not to mention the money he sent home, it wasn’t as though he had an option. After all, the owner of the shop paid Caesar a few extra bucks for working so early, and let him keep most of the tip money from his shifts, so it wasn’t like it was a horrible arrangement. It was far better than some of his other side jobs. Perks aside from pay being his boss wasn’t an asshole.

It was those first few minutes of lying there after his alarm went off, glaring angrily at the ceiling and wishing he had the ability to rewind time, that so irked him. Why couldn’t he just turn back time? Just so he could return to the restless tossing that constituted for sleep, instead of this brutal cycle he was trapped in. It was Monday. He was aching, bruised, and sore from the previous day's labors, and he really didn’t feel like getting up.  

To be fair, it wasn’t that bad. 

Was it?

He was a sophomore, and he’d been able to make money off of tutoring Italian and working at the coffee shop since he’d first arrived in America. He’d picked up other means of income in the months after first touching down here, and those were where the bulk of his savings arose. It wasn’t like he kept much of it. Just enough to pay room, board, and the odds and ends necessary to maintain a somewhat decent quality of life. 

The rest went home. Always had. Always will.

As he stomped down the street, gloveless hands shoved into the pockets of his second-hand jacket, worn-out boots crunching in the snow, he felt the smallest bit homesick. It happened on days like these, after all. Times like this made him remember the sun-drenched little town where he grew up. There were winters there, too, of course, but for some reason, in his earliest memories, all he could ever recall was the heat of summer. Then, he supposed the memory of winter was pleasant too. There had been a big festival in winter, that had been fun. Even if they’d had to stop holding it when he’d gotten a bit older after some hard times had hit. Perhaps he was naive as a child, but that was all thanks to his Father’s hard work. His Mother had passed before he was old enough to even conceptualize death. His little brothers certainly didn’t understand it. He doubted they even remembered much of her beside her face. His father had worked himself to the bone to provide for Caesar and his three younger brothers. 

Caesar, though, being a good deal older than his brothers,{7 years older, if you were curious} was able to realize sooner than they that things weren’t as perfect as their Father allowed them to believe. It was then he’d started studying. A college in Rome would have been nice. A stone's throw from the town of his youth. He’d have been ok with that, no, plenty happy with that. If he could just have lived in blissful ignorance for the rest of his life, he’d have been grateful. 

He wouldn’t be paying rent for a crappy apartment or walking across town in the dark in the snow if that had happened.

If things had been different. If he’d just been born in a better place. If he weren’t an omega. If his mother hadn’t fallen ill, if his father hadn’t died, if his brothers were older, if, if, if…

If people weren’t terrible, cruel, manipulative bastards.

But, hey, Caesar could admit he was a bit biased.   

Things had changed. And after that, he’d received a letter for an academic outreach opportunity from some sort of foundation. Thanks to his good grades previous to the derailment of his entire life. It was the best chance he had to get his and his brothers lives on track again somehow.

Underprivileged omegas in higher education? I don’t remember…it was something like that. 

So he’d left, and hadn’t been back to Italy since. 

Of course not. 

Plane tickets were expensive, especially to such a destination as the city he knew turned out to be. From America to Rome? Just for a visit? Absolutely out of the question. Sure, Caesar wasn’t from Rome itself, but that was the closest airport. Flying somewhere cheaper and buying a train ticket would knock it above his price range as well. Not to mention the added expense of flying his brothers back home as well, if they truly did intend to spend some time back home.

And even if he could afford it, Caesar wouldn’t return. It wasn’t in the cards for him, no matter the cost, and knowing he’d likely never see those narrow winding streets, or the people he’d grown up surrounded by again, put a further damper on his already grievous mood.

So instead he took Summer classes because his scholarship covered it so why not take advantage? 

Then again, that was also because he’d had some savings to cover for his brother's tuition, so he could take full advantage of the cash grant his scholarship gave him. Unfortunately, that cash was stretched thin for this Spring semester, and so were his own savings. Therefore, he’d decided to stick to a few online courses, and work his ass off to build up his savings again. 

As such, he was opening for the coffee shop during what was typically the slowest time of the year, since no one wanted to walk in the miserable cold to the shop and then back to school again.

Did he mention it was 4:30 in the god damned morning? 

Yeah. 

That too. 

Finally arriving at the coffee shop, he unlocked the door, flipped the open sign, and started prepping for the day. 

As he was reaching up to pull down a box of napkins to set out in the dispensers, a scrawl of purple writing on the inside of his wrist peeked out through his jacket. 

Caesar didn’t even need to read it to know what it said. The words were burned into his mind. He’d read them over and over and over when he’d received them as a 16-year-old. 

Hide me! Please! I’m begging you! 

It wasn’t a soulmate phrase that inspired much optimism. 

Whatever the hell they’ve done, looks like I’ll get dragged into it…

The first night spent with your soulmate in a jail cell for concealing them from the police? 

I can see the headlines now. Forget it. And besides, I don’t have enough money to risk having to pay bail.

It was at the very least a point in the right direction. He knew his soulmate was English speaking, or at the very least they’d meet in an English speaking country. Well, here the omega was in America, so that checked box number 1.

As the barista stocked the napkin dispensers, he thought it over for what certainly wasn’t the first time.

I don’t have time for that right now. Classes, work, rent…my brothers are counting on me, and I don’t think I could handle a soulmate at the moment. Then, it’s not like I get a choice of when I meet them…an upper who would want someone like me must be nonexistent anyway.

When he’d been younger, Caesar’d been very much infatuated with the concept of soulmates. True love, written in the stars, your perfect other half. Between secondaries and soulmates, Caesar knew that most people tended to find others before that particular person came into their life. You saw scandals all the time, that a happily mated couple was torn apart because one of them happened to meet their true soulmate, and those feelings simply couldn’t be denied. After all, it wasn’t guaranteed you’d meet your soulmate. You could comfortably live a happy life, fall in love, get mated, have a family, be successful and content, grow old, and die, without once even setting foot on the same continent as them. Then there were people with multiple soul marks, meaning they had numerous people who’d be perfect for them. Some only went one way, with someone having words for someone else, but that person, in turn, waiting on words from another. 

It was really way to complicated. Caesar was grateful he at least didn’t have multiple marks. His words were bizarre, too, which lent to him being able to easily identify his soulmate, should he actually meet them. People said you felt it when they said their words to you, like electricity running through your veins, or seeing the sun after many days of cloudy darkness. That person you didn’t know you’d been searching for until you found them.

Or whatever other mushy crap people come up with to describe it…

That was how his Father had explained it, and how his Father and Mother had been was a memory Caesar still treasured. After his mates passing, Mario Zeppeli had never been quite the same. He’d still be happy with his children, still worked hard to support them, and still continued to be the Father they needed. Yet, late at night, through the thin walls of their home, Caesar could hear him crying. This stoic alpha man who’d always been a pillar of strength in the boy's life. He could hear the words he’d speak as if hoping for some miraculous response. 

The words that had been on his Mother’s wrist.

I really do hope ‘Hide me! Please! I’m begging you!’ Doesn’t become a romantic phrase if I do wind up in a relationship with this idiot.

Of course, wondering could only get you so far. His brothers, his home, the responsibilities that had rested on his shoulders for five years now, that was all he was concerned with. Those responsibilities which had only become further complicated by his presentation. Before long, Caesar banished the thought entirely, and continued working on getting everything set for the day.

 

After Sunrise.

 

About three hours had gone by since opening. Caesar had received a few customers, there for a muffin and coffee to go, perhaps an egg sandwich, one had even ordered tea. 

Another had attempted flirting with him but Caesar had played dumb until the beta had gotten the message and beat it. 

Aside from that, it hadn’t been very eventful, and he was currently sitting on a stool behind the register, working through some reading from one of his online courses.

He drummed his pencil in a rhythm on the counter, notes in a bizarre combination of his native language and English scribbled haphazardly in the dollar store spiral notebook he had. 

Two years…and I’m still not sure about some stuff to do with English…

He hadn’t spoken it much beyond the mandatory language class in high school, so it didn’t come naturally. Not to mention how much school he’d missed before the scholarship being dangled like bait above his head. He’d put his head back to the books after that letter, seeing an opportunity for better. Even if it stretched his already worn-out body thin on lack of sleep, he’d managed to get himself back to the level that he’d been able to qualify for the scholarship.

As for his English, he’d gotten far better than the barely conversational level he’d been at upon first arrival, so that was something positive to have come of all this. 

His serene study times appeared to be coming to an end, though, as the front door of the coffee shop was yanked open and slammed shut again. 

Caesar, startled from the sudden entrance and the ringing of the entry bell, dropped his pencil and snapped his head up.

Leaning back against the door, panting heavily, was a giant. 

Now, Caesar was tall. 

Something that had caused his presentation to be an even bigger surprise. He’d once been reasonably well built, even muscular, but the grueling schedule he maintained in America, not to mention previous problems he’d had still at home, had thinned him out. Despite this, the fact still held that he stood a bit over six feet tall.

Yet for this stranger, Caesar had to tilt his back in order to look him in the eye. He was massive, not just in height, but also hulking with muscle. He had shockingly green eyes, a head of spiky brown hair, and was wearing what looked to Caesar like formal attire. A green sweater vest with a black bow tie over a white collared shirt, and a pair of black slacks and snappy dress shoes. Over this, he had a heavy black winter jacket that just looked expensive, in the Italians opinion. Brown gloves were paired with this too.

As intimidating a figure as the hulking alpha could have been, though, it was greatly diminished by how he looked for all the world like a child afraid of getting scolded. 

“He’s gonna kill me…” 

He muttered aloud, and Caesar caught a distinct Londoners accent to his voice. Then, he spotted the omega behind the counter.

Without hesitating, he rushed up to him, slamming his palms onto the counter and vaulting the register with ease.

Before Caesar could open his mouth, the boy had landed, surprisingly light, and clapped his hands together.

“Hide me! Please! I’m begging you!” He pleaded with a large pair of puppy eyes inches from the blondes face.

Sputtering, Caesar couldn’t find words, and alarm bells were going off inside his head.

Soulmate. This guy is my soulmate. My alpha. Has to be.

He supposed this was his punishment for thinking peoples descriptions of the first words of their soulmate were exaggerated. Then, for Caesar, it felt different. 

It didn’t feel electric, or like his heart would leap from his chest. 

Nothing like that, which were the typical replies you’d get if you asked someone who’d experienced the joy of being able to meet their soulmate. Instead of making his hands tremble, or his head spin, or his heart stop, it was very different indeed.

It was warm…calming…settling. Like coming home after a long, long, time of being lost out in the cold.

The bell signaling the opening of the shop's door rang out again. 

“Shit!” Caesar’s soulmate dropped to the ground, curling up to hide behind the counter.

An elderly looking man entered the shop. Despite his age, he still had a straight posture, and exuded an aura that wasn’t to be trifled with. He had a large scar running down his face, and wore a bowler hat and suit, which also looked expensive. He was accompanied by two other well-built men wearing similar attire. Caesar couldn’t make out a powerful scent on any of the three, so he figured the lot of them must be betas.

What is with all these damn rich people?

Caesar was still trying to process the situation, so when the man approached the counter, a polite smile to his face, he decided to calm himself down.

“Sorry to bother you. Did a boy about your age run in here? About this tall, wearing a black overcoat, brown hair?”

He asked this, raising his palm to about the level that Caesar had seen his soulmate to stand tall.

“Hello, sir, I, uh…”  He glanced down, and saw the boy crouched behind the counter, making a pleading gesture with his hands.

He turned back to the man again. “I…didn’t. No, no one's been in here since early this morning.”

The man hummed. “I see…well…in that case.” 

He began turning as if to leave, then tilted his head back. “Joseph, unless you wish to get this poor lad in trouble you’d better come out.” 

Caesar stiffened, but before he could try to keep up the charade, or out the newly-named Joseph, as he wasn’t sure yet which he’d choose, a loud groan came from behind the counter.

“You wouldn’t, old man!” The alpha popped up from his hiding place, peering over the counter with a pout on his face. 

The so-called ‘old man’ turned again, a smile playing on his lips. “You’re right, I certainly wouldn’t.” 

Joseph’s eye twitched. “You’re the worst!” He made to hide behind the counter again, but before he could, the old man stalked forward with a speed that starkly juxtaposed his age and seized him by the ear.

“Now, now, no more of that. What would your Grandmother think? We need to get to the hotel.” 

“Don’t you bring Granny Erina into this! I ran off because I haven’t gotten to look around at all! We’ve been everywhere and I’ve just been cooped up inside the whole time! It’s driving me bonkers! The second I was off that damn plane I had to move!”

“What do you think could happen if someone recognized you? You’re lucky it seems this unwilling cohort of yours doesn’t know who you are!”

Am I supposed too? 

Caesar wondered vaguely, trying to match a face from the media to Joseph’s. 

Well, it wasn’t like he had much time for TV, movies, or anything else. The only reading he ever did was the studying type, and he had watched a pretty good movie a couple months back, but that was for a film analysis his English class was doing. 

“Uncle Speedwagon, that hurts, lemme go!” As the boy was whining, he was dragged back over the counter, nearly taking the register with him, and towards the door.

As they were just about to leave, Caesar, still grasping the register he’d barely caught before it fell, realized with a bolt that he’d never said anything in reply to Joseph, so he didn’t know about the words yet.

Panic erupted, and so he shouted the first thing that came to mind.

“Wait, hold on! You’re my soulmate!” 

Silence fell harshly across the tiny shop, and Caesar felt like he’d just stood up and screamed in a library from how they were looking at him.

Joseph’s mouth dropped open slightly before a wild grin spread across his face.

“You heard him!” He chirped joyously.

Speedwagon slowly released the young man’s ear, eyes wide with shock. 

“Is that…actually…?”

“Yeah! See!” Joseph pulled down his sleeve. 

Caesar could see in his own handwriting the words he’d just spoken, pale blue against Joseph’s skin, and felt the pressure lift from his shoulders. 

So it wasn’t one way…

He had to admit, he had feared that to be the case. Then it would have been extremely embarrassing to have shouted such a thing. 

“Oy, so it’s you! You’re…you’re him! The one and all that! Haha!” Joseph clapped his hands as he strode happily back over to the counter, thrusting a hand out.

“I’m Joseph Joestar, but you can call me Jojo! Everyone does…”

He shot a glare over his shoulder. “…except the old man when he’s cross with me.” 

Speedwagon rolled his eyes fondly at that. 

Caesar hesitantly took the offered hand, and found an enthusiastic handshake to be waiting for him, jarringly moving his arm up and down.

“I’m Caesar…Caesar Zeppeli. Nice to finally meet you, I guess.”

Joseph stuck out his bottom lip. “You guess? That’s a bit harsh.” 

Caesar awkwardly worked his hand free. “Ah, well, just…surprised. Anyway, um…”

Speedwagon stepped up beside Joseph. “Listen, Jojo, we need to go. I’m sorry, but if we stay here any longer…the journalists will find us. Or worse, the paparazzi. Which would be an even worse situation if they found out you just met your soulmate.” 

Joseph shuddered dramatically. “You’re right…but…”

He looked sadly to Caesar. 

Speedwagon put a hand up. “Mr. Zeppeli, you said? When does your shift end? Or rather, when are you finished for the day?” 

Caesar bit his lip. “Well…I have this…then to study…then other work…then I’m closing here…probably around 9:30?”

Speedwagon hummed. “I’ll have a car sent to collect you from here. Then you and Joseph can figure out what you’d like to do somewhere private and safe. Perhaps over dinner?” 

He winked. “Don’t worry, I won’t join you.”

“Uncle!” Joseph drew out the word in a whiny, high-pitched tone.

A dinner…with these people? I don’t have the clothes for that. I don’t own a dress near fancy enough…would it be inappropriate to wear pants?

Was Caesar’s current internal dilemma. 

“And besides…”  Joseph looked to him again, and for a moment, those green eyes felt for all the world like they were everything that mattered.

Work, studies, money, worries, pain, stress…they could all go to hell if he could stay like this just a few moments longer.

Caesar couldn’t look away, and Joseph edged a bit closer again. 

Speedwagon exhaled dramatically, a deep sadness lingering in his eyes “I never did meet my soulmate…don’t know what it feels like.” 

He hesitated, then took another breath and spoke again. “I wouldn’t want to steal anything from either of you, Jojo, but…”

“I know…I know.” Joseph tore his eyes away, and Caesar could only think of finding some way to return the alphas gaze onto himself.

A few seconds more and Joseph looked up again, forcing a smile. “Just a few hours, and we’ll figure it out, right!” He declared.

Caesar nodded dumbly. “S-Sure…yeah. See you tonight, then…”

“Yeah! See you tonight!” 

They were out of the shop as quickly as they had come in. Really, Joseph couldn’t have spent more than 10 minutes with him. 

Caesar saw them headed up the street, and no sooner had they disappeared from sight did a mob of several people wielding cameras and notepads come rushing up, practically plastering themselves to the coffee shop window.

“Gah!” He backed away from the counter, realizing these people were the reason Joseph left so soon. They must have been chasing him, along with his Uncle and those associates of theirs. That was why he’d rushed into the shop so suddenly.

…just who the hell is he?