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The Half-Hitch

Chapter Text

Cecil the Fearless hadn't really banked on running out of cider, especially during the frigid winter months as The Forlorn gathered around his cramped table in his dingy basement apartment. They were just about to reach the Kingdom of Ethuil, swords drawn and shields bared as the cold winter air nipped at their cheeks.

"Damnit Cecil!" Roy said, emptying the last of the pear cider into his glass, shaking the bottle in a futile attempt to retrieve a few more drops of the golden drink.

"Of all times to run out of cider, today's the day!"

Cecil rolled his eyes, snatching the now empty bottle of drink from the Alpha's muscular paw and tossing it into the trash with an unceremonious clunk.

"Stop being dramatic Roy, I'll go get some more. The corner store's still open." Cecil said, grabbing his wallet as he thumbed through the creased bills in the snakeskin wallet before pulling out a tenner. Ignoring his very large and very dramatic friend's complaints, Cecil reached for his bomber jacket on his nightstand, accidentally knocking over two miniatures and a brass dragon figurine in the process.

He walked with quick short steps, the chilly January air nipping at his cheeks. It was dark out at this time of the day, most people had either retreated to the comfort of their heated homes or the welcoming arms of their pack mates. Cecil's ears twitched as a breeze whistled past the tips of his ears, chilling their curled edges. Life hadn't been easy for the young man, Daze was a rough district in a rough part of the city and Cecil didn't have much to his name. Still, he was grateful for the independence offered, to be able to walk around unrestrained, to have his own place, to make decisions for himself – hell even the simple act of being able to decide what to wear and what to eat for himself were privileges that many people, especially alphas took for granted. He neared the convenience store now, the normally pristine windows were now sealed shut with wooden planks, broken glass crunching under his feet. Something wasn't right. His senses pricked up in alarm as he caught a whiff of the rank odor of blood and the nauseating stench of a panicked pack mate.

The putrid odor of the alarm signal had sent all of his senses into overdrive, alarms blaring in his head as his hackles raised, body geared itself for a confrontation, just like those he'd known as a kid. He could feel his heart slam into his ribcage and his vision narrowed. Shit. Something bad had gone down. He shouldn't have been much of a stranger to this, a life spent fighting and clawing his way out to some semblance of freedom and autonomy had primed his senses to any form of conflict. Creeping around the corner of the convenience store and taking care not to cut himself on the broken glass, Cecil followed the rank stench of blood and fear to the back of the store. The smell was overpowering now, coming from the heaps of trash that overflowed from the dumpster. A thin trail of blood trickled down the dumpster, the odor made Cecil gag involuntarily as he walked closer to the dumpster.

Shit. It was dumping night.

If he hadn't found this... thing in the bins, it would've most likely been compacted into trash as Cecil and his Alpha pack mates would've gotten tipsy off of a night of Dungeons and Dragons and pear cider. Forcing down hot and bitter bile, Cecil flung the lid of the dumpster open. The person, if it were even alive at this point, had been unceremoniously flung into the dumpster headfirst. He'd been dressed in a light cotton shirt and shorts, the blue cotton now stained red with blood. Black bruises littered his legs and trademark rope burns encircled his neck. His left ankle was swollen, most probably sprained.

Cecil walked over to the person nervously, trying to suppress alarm bells in the back of his head as he placed his hand on his chest. At least he's breathing. He muttered to himself. The male was most likely an escaped Omega slave, chased down and beaten to an inch of his life before being left to freeze to death in the streets of Ninurta. He tried to shake the male, trying desperately to suppress any scent he could produce; he knew all too well the fear of an Omega when assaulted with a variety of strange scents. He barely stirred as Cecil shook him, eyes briefly flickering open as he fixed his gaze on the young man. He clearly wasn't from Ninurta, deep brown eyes, stared back at him, wavy dark hair a stark contrast to softly tanned skin. The person struggled in his grip weakly, his body clearly exhausted from the horrendous beating he'd endured.

Cecil could feel rage boiling in the pits of his stomach; he'd long spoke out against the horrific treatment of Omegas at the hands of Alpha handlers, the lack of rights, the 'golden cage', the brothels and the very idea of owning a living, sapient human being. He'd forced himself to suppress his rage, the spicy scent had alerted the man somewhat, causing him to stir in his arms.

He'd pressed his nose into his trash-scented hair, purring gently into his hair in a furtive attempt to comfort him. He could feel a low, deep rumble in his chest and tried to mimic an Alpha's purrs the best he could. It wouldn't be as good as an Alpha's, but Cecil hoped that he could soothe the shivering male in his arms. He'd relaxed only so slightly in Cecil's grip, his body releasing the faint scent of vanilla and musk.

"Okay, let's get you somewhere safe." Cecil said, fumbling in his pockets for his mobile phone. He knew his friends, all Alphas, would've been at his house right now. This wouldn't do. All the Alphas, despite being well-meaning individuals would've probably scared the poor Omega shitless. The last thing he needed right now was a petrified slave Omega alerting the apartment to his existence.

Roy

Cecil you back yet?

Nah man somethings gone down cant tell you what but you guys got to go home

What tf do you mean?

Just go Roy and tell them somethings come up

Cecil...

Please? We can do this another day just not today

Okay but you owe me one

Cecil slid his phone back into his back pocket, removing his bomber jacket and wrapping it around the boy. He was injured but still of a healthy height and weight, clearly not someone who'd lived a life of slavery or servitude. He scooped the man up, carrying him piggyback on his back. He was lighter than he seemed, his head lolling submissively against the crook of his neck as he nuzzled into the back of his neck. Not like he’d be able to smell anything, the illegal suppressants Cecil used religiously masked any trace of a scent. Snow had begun to fall now, the tiny snowflakes dotting the boy's hair with specks of white, a contrast to the ebony of his mane.

As Cecil rounded the corner to his house, he made sure to take an alternative route down the alleyways. He had to ensure all the Alphas had vacated the house, while he trusted his friends with his life he'd experienced what an Omega in heat could do to a pack of Alphas. He had to keep the boy safe though, frightened Omegas had the tendency to bolt when startled. Laying him against the steps of the backdoor to his apartment, Cecil opened the door to his house.

The apartment had been vacated in a rush, no doubt due to Roy's help. Trash covered the floor of the apartment as old clothes, empty cider bottles and dice littered the tables and chairs. At least they'd gone, no doubt leaving a huge mess in their wake. He turned his attention to the boy, who had begun to stir by now, crawling aimlessly around in the cold outside his apartment.

"No, no not here. It's gonna be cold. Come." Cecil scooped the male up in his arms, his light body snug in his arms. He carried him into the messy apartment, kicking aside any piles of clothing as he set him down on the floor. Unlacing his sneakers, he kicked them off into a corner. He could do housecleaning tomorrow. The boy was fully awake now, staring at him with wide, inquisitive eyes. He lacked apparent fear in his eyes, nor did he possess the characteristic submission scents that most Omegas would release upon meeting a stranger.

He leaned into him, hoisting him up by his hips, pressing his nose into the boy's neck as a display of comfort. He'd caught a whiff of another scent among the rank of day old trash and blood. A musky, rosy scent not unlike that of an unmated Alpha, signaling dominance and aggression. Cecil flinched, primal instincts flaring in him as he resisted the urge to prostrate himself before the boy.

"Can you stand?" He asked, a reassuring arm wrapped around his hips.

"Yes... I think sprained my ankle though." His voice was hoarse yet sweetly melodic, the gentle tones sending shivers down Cecil's spine.

"Alright. Let me run you a bath. We'll head off to the pharmacy tomorrow and get your wounds treated.”

He'd moved away from his neck, trying his best to ignore the intoxicating smell of tea roses. The smell was reawakening old impulses in him, impulses that he'd struggled against for most of his short, painful life. Unsure if leaving him alone in the living room would've been a good idea, Cecil scooped the boy up in his arms and carried him to the bathroom with him. He'd felt like putty in his arms, not resisting as he picked the man up and laid him down on the cool marble tiles of the bathroom, his heartbeat slow yet steady in his chest. He'd laid placidly on the bathroom floor as he ran him a bath, the Lilly scented bath wash enveloping the bath in a thin layer of white foam.

He clearly wasn't an Omega, based on the intoxicating scent that he gave off, an Omega wouldn't been able to induce such a reaction from Cecil, as much as he'd hated to admit it – the scent stirred up unpleasant memories he'd liked to bury away for the rest of his life. That made him either a Beta or an Alpha, but Betas didn't produce such powerful scents and he'd never heard of Beta slaves before. But Alphas – Cecil almost felt his heart skip a beat. Gritting his teeth, Cecil forced down a familiar twinge, starting first in his belly, the warmth radiating down his abdomen as it settled in the pit of his stomach making his dick twitch. He was not stooping to that level again. He was free. He was in control. He was Cecil Lionheart.

Testing the warmth of the bath with the tips of his fingers, Cecil helped the boy up, resting him against the sink.

"Hey," Cecil whispered, trying to keep his voice low and gentle so as not to startle the boy.

"The bath is ready." He gestured to the steaming bath.

"I'll give you some privacy. I'll be outside if you need me."

The boy hesitated, his eyes downcast as if he'd been unable to look him in the eyes. He nodded, turning his back to Cecil as he stripped of the thin cotton clothing.

The boy had taken his time in the bath, leaving Cecil alone in his messy apartment alone with his thoughts. The boy clearly wasn't an Omega from the scents he produced and the lack of submission pheromones, neither was he a beta; betas didn't release scents and were, for the most part, pacifistic. That only left the possibility of Alpha, which made the attack on the boy even more perplexing. Alphas were top dog in Ninurta, occupying most of the upper echelons of society an unprovoked attack on an Alpha would've been grounds for harsh punishments and maybe even an unprovoked lynching. The only explanation was that he'd offended an Alpha a rank higher than him and had been so much as unceremoniously dumped into the garbage disposal with the day's garbage.

A thin beam of light cut through the darkness startling Cecil from his thoughts. Cecil hadn't noticed the time – he'd been sitting on his bed for nearly an hour. The boy was wiping his feet on the bath mat, towel wrapped around his waist. He was a small man, barely out of his teens with a lean and trim build and a delicate bone structure.

"How're you feeling?" Cecil said.

"I'm... alright. Or at least I think I should be." The kid remained where he was, as if he didn't trust Cecil to not hurt him. Cecil recognized the flash of fear in his eyes, the boy shrinking away when Cecil attempted to reach out towards him.

"Pardon me for asking but," Cecil paused, he wasn't sure if it would be safe to approach such a sensitive topic when he'd just met the boy. "How did you end up in the dumpster?" The boy stiffened up visibly, drawing the towel closer around his petite frame.

"Stuff." His reply was short and curt. "I don't want to talk about it right now."

"Right." Cecil knew it would've been hard for the young man to open up about such a sensitive subject. He inched closer towards the young man, releasing a soft yet reassuring scent of lavender. I will not hurt you. What you have endured is past. "Let's get you someplace to sleep in. You must be tired."

 

Chapter Text

The man had fallen asleep quickly, snoring softly in an improvised nest that Cecil had managed to set up in the living room. Cecil however, couldn’t sleep, pacing circles around his kitchen. He was sure he’d wore a hole in his tiles by now from his frantic pacing but his anxiety wouldn’t let up, thoughts racing through his head. Where did that boy come from, who had left him there and most importantly, who’d decided to beat him to within an inch of his life and leave him to freeze to death in the dumpster? Damnit! Cecil swore under his breath, kicking a nearby trash can. He was a ball of fucking nerves, like a tightly coiled spring. With trembling hands, Cecil slammed down a shot of whiskey before making his way back to the living room.

The man slept soundly, a mess of tangled limbs in the fort of pillows and blankets. Cecil moved slowly to avoid disturbing the man as he bent down to check him over for any further injuries. He’d been lucky to escape mostly uninjured a sprained ankle and some bruises, his assailants assuming that he’d perish from hypothermia. Cecil glanced at him, searching him for any identifying marks, tattoos or brands that might’ve indicated his pack or rank but found none spare for a few generic looking tattoos that adorned his body. He seemed to be the artsy sort, someone who enjoyed bodily modifications and the sort, as evidenced by the numerous tattoos and long, curly hair. He’d removed the filthy, blood-soaked clothing when he’d finished bathing, instead choosing to wear an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants. Even though it’d been slightly oversized, the baby-blue fabric swallowed the man up, relaxing him enough to release a soft scent of tea rose, an antiquated scent that reminded Cecil of his past.

The scent was intoxicating and it took Cecil nearly all of his willpower to resist burying his face into the crook of the man’s neck and inhaling. Steeling himself, Cecil pulled away from him. He wouldn’t appreciate a strange man sniffing around in his personal bubble, especially after such a traumatic experience. There was a faint scent that the man gave off, not quite like that of copper. Cecil assumed the man was still bleeding slightly and that the smell would fade away tomorrow morning. Cecil picked up the discarded blanket, pulling it back over the young pack mate’s chest as he tucked him in tight. He’d work on some editorial columns and grab some alcohol to drink, the infallible combination of alcohol intoxication and human stupidity usually did him in.

Cecil had spent the night typing furiously on his laptop, there were so many typos and so many idiots at this time of the night. He typed until his vision swam, pausing only to take a swig of the bottle of whiskey on his desk. As the night wore on, Cecil could feel his eyes grow heavy, his fingers heavier, and his vision blur to the point he couldn’t tell an I from an O. Groaning, he laid his head down on his desk, closing his weary eyes for what he’d hope was just a short rest.

Cecil was jolted awake by the characteristically shrill whines of a panicked pack mate. Groggy and disoriented from a night spent drunk in between a stack of papers and his desk, Cecil rubbed bloodshot eyes, staggering to his feet.
“What is it?” he yelled. No response, except for the panicked whines of the kid he’d brought home last night.

“Are you hungry?” Cecil paused for a response.

“In rut?” He added when he received none.

The poor kid was probably just slightly disoriented and spaced out from his ordeal, nothing a cup of hot chocolate and a warm breakfast couldn’t fix. He sauntered into the living room, tugging on the drawstrings of his hoodie.

The first thing that hit him had been the smell. It was putrid, a mixture of a calving cow, sulfur and rancid cheese. Strong enough to make Cecil retch and cover his mouth in an expression of disgust. Jesus Christ, the kid must’ve gotten a staph infection or something from the garbage dump based on the way he’d been wailing.

“Hey, you alright kid?” He said, rushing over to the kid.

The kid didn’t respond, clutching his abdomen tightly as he rolled around on the living room floor. He seemed to be in incredible amounts of pain, skin pale and sticky with a sheen of sweat. His face contorted in an unreadable expression.

“Are you okay?” Cecil said, a little firmer this time, gripping onto the kid’s left shoulder and squeezing tightly. The young man shook his head, pushing his head into Cecil’s left thigh.

“No…” He wheezed. “I just woke up like this.” He gestured to his stomach.

Cecil stripped off the layers of sheets that swaddled the man, tearing through them with sharpened claws. The man’s stomach looked just fine, his abdomen lacked the characteristic swelling of an infection and his skin wasn’t feverish or flushed. He poked the kid’s abdomen lightly, testing for signs of pain. A poke to his sternum didn’t seem to faze the man, neither did one to his liver but a light jab in his pelvis earned him a nip.

The smell had intensified at this point and being in the presence of the kid was seriously making Cecil consider bringing along a gas mask. He stank to high heavens, the rancid odor permeating the bedsheets and pillows. Cecil had also started to notice a widening red splotch on the crotch of his sweatpants, the redness a stark contrast to the baby-blue of his sweatpants.

Cecil felt the breath hitch in the back of his throat. A drop. The man was dropping, almost definitely from the stress of being beaten and thrown into a dumpster. The young man had started screaming now, biting down on his hand to muffle his screams as Cecil struggled to keep him upright. Cecil was at a loss of what to do; he’d never handled a dropping pack mate before, but the Omega rooms back at the breeding facility handled daily drops. He tried to jog his fragmented memory for drop procedures; was he supposed to nest the wailing Alpha or did that come after staunching the bleeding? His living room floor had become stained with a growing puddle of blood and endometrial tissue, his bed sheets all but commissioned to the incinerator after the man had dropped, if he could even survive it. The boy screamed again, frantically trying to peel off his blood-soaked pants as the powerful contractions wracked his body.

Cecil rushed to grab his mobile phone, hastily punching in Roy’s number as he paced anxiously around the dropping Alpha. Out of all people around, surely Roy would’ve known what to do right? Roy had been sleeping, the gigantic Alpha slept like a rock and nothing short of a hurricane could wake him up. Cecil tried dialing his number several times, each time getting only the faint beep of his answering machine. Exasperated, Cecil gave up, flinging the useless object onto the couch. He would have to do this himself.

Retrieving a set of old towels from his bathroom cabinet, Cecil spread them out under the dropping Alpha so that he’d have a place to birth the pup. The Alpha seemed to bear down instinctively, grinding his teeth together with every contraction. Cecil wasn’t sure if he was supposed to help the kid or leave him to his own devices, gently stroking his hair in an attempt to comfort him. The kid had sat up on his makeshift bed, propped up by the pillows of the nest in a squatting position, His face flushed, breathing out in short, heavy gasps. Leaning in to Cecil’s touch, the kid bore down, forcing the contents of his uterus onto the makeshift bed.

The fetus was small and malformed, resembling something of a cross between a gremlin and a monkey. It had still been attached to its mother’s placenta, the umbilical cord pulsating with the Alpha’s pulse as it lead up the vaginal canal and into his uterus. The thing squirmed, writhing around in a death throw in a desperate attempt to return to the womb. It opened its mouth, trying to take in air, tiny, undeveloped lungs straining to take in oxygen. It squirmed, choking on amniotic fluid as it flopped helplessly on the sheets.

Cecil stared blankly at the dying pup in the mess of blankets. There, in front of him an Alpha had just dropped. Gathering the pup up in the blankets, Cecil wrapped the baby, passing the tiny pup to its mother. The smell of drop had begun to subside, and in its presence came the cloyingly sweet aroma of rotting flesh. The Alpha ripped the pup out of Cecil’s arms, cradling it protectively in his arms as he nuzzled his face into the child’s neck.

Cecil had spent the next few minutes in a daze, the man making soft crooning noises as he held the dying pup in his arms. The pup had struggled to breathe at first, choking and gasping as its lungs tried desperately to fill with air. It’s breathing had become progressively more labored, irregular and inconsistent as it forced in gasps of air into deflating lungs. It’d laid there, exhausted as its eyes swelled shut. Eventually, the pup’s breathing stopped, it’s jaw slacking as the rhythmic rise and fall of the infant’s chest ceased. The man just sat there, motionless as he watched his pup die.

Roy rapped on Cecil’s door, trying to get the man’s attention. He’d been rudely woken up by several missed calls and a frantic answering machine message about blood. Cecil had the habit of wandering off into strange places at night, waking up and calling his friends in a panic. When he’d received no response, Roy fished around the flowerpot outside of Cecil’s house, pulling out a tiny silver key.

Cecil really needed to find new hiding spots for his keys, Roy concluded. The Alpha hadn’t been able to keep anything alive and the neat little flowerpot stood out like a sore thumb amongst the unorganized mess of discarded motorbike parts, scrap metal and empty liquor bottles. Inserting the key into the lock, Roy pushed the door open.

When Cecil had talked about blood, Roy had assumed that Cecil had cut himself up badly or fucked an Omega so hard that she’d bleed on the covers. He hadn’t expected to walk headfirst into what had appeared to be a young man, cradling a dead pup in his hands. The room reeked of a calving animal, mixed in with the alarm pheromones of an infant and the noxious odor of blood. The young man, by now completely soaked in blood lay motionless in a corner. Roy felt bile rise up in his throat, clamping a hand across his face to avoid throwing up. The odor was simply horrendous. Cecil was sitting on the edge of a makeshift nest, holding the young man firmly in his arms as he stared blankly at Roy.

“What the hell did you do dumbass!” Roy yelled, running over to grab Cecil by his T-shirt collar.

“I saved him.” Cecil’s voice was flat and monotone, the only betrayal of his mental state being the trembling of his lightly muscled body.

“No you didn’t! You, you might've just killed a man!” Roy pointed an accusatory finger to the bed where the young man lay in a rapidly widening puddle of blood on the yellow bedspread.

The man looked worse than when Roy had come in, his face a deathly pallor as he held tightly onto his pup as if it’d cost him his life to let go. The blood had soaked through his pants, now coating the entirety of the sheets as he struggled to stay awake. He panted, breathing shallow and laborious.

“Enough about that nonsense.” Roy’s voice was firm and commanding, causing Cecil to shrink back a little in his seat. “Let’s call the ambulance. Our friend looks like he’s experiencing a drop.”

The ambulance had arrived in minutes, almost as if they’d been tipped off to the dropping man prior to Roy’s arrival. They’d loaded the young man onto the stretcher, pulling him into the back of the ambulance. He’d refused to let go of the dead pup, clinging on desperately to it even as they had tried to pry the two apart. Defeated, they’d settled on wrapping the pup in a white sheet of cloth next to him, causing the man to release his grip on his pup. They’d left, speeding off in the direction of the Memorial Hospital leaving Cecil and Roy alone in the stinking house.

Roy rubbed his temples, plopping down onto the only presentable seat in Cecil’s house at the moment, an old rickety chair that’d been broken thrice and repaired twice. Cecil hadn’t moved from his seat on the bedspread, still soaked in what appeared to be a mixture of blood and endometrial tissue. He stared blankly at Roy, prompting the Alpha to reach over and shake him.

“You okay man?” Roy’s voice had taken on a characteristic tone, like that of a higher ranking Alpha trying to soothe his pack mates. No response.

“Cecil?” Roy repeated, this time with a firmer voice. Cecil didn’t budge, choosing to stare out of a nearby window. Roy shook Cecil again, harder this time as he tried to suss out a response from the guy, who seemed to be trapped in an alternate dimension.

“It was my fault wasn’t it?” Cecil’s voice was low, hoarse from dehydration. For a moment, Roy wondered how long Cecil had sat there, just holding the young man.

“No… Cecil I- “Roy began, cut off abruptly by Cecil tackling him.

“Yes it was! I laid there and let him die!” Cecil was yelling now, in between swipes directed at the larger man.

However, Cecil’s swipes were weak and driven more by desperation and shame than genuine anger. Roy grabbed hold of Cecil’s wrists, pinning them to the ground as he rolled off the seat. The man thrashed, struggling against the large Alpha.

“Let me go you knothead!” Cecil screamed, struggling in the shorter man’s grip. Roy used his smaller size to his advantage, easily dodging the taller man’s desperate swipes.

“Not until you calm down Cecil.” Roy growled, pushing his weight into Cecil, the taller man forced face forwards into the filthy, beer-strained couch. Cecil whined, the sound low and pathetic as he felt the resistance slip from his psyche. As pack leader, Roy’s command words were capable of subduing even the toughest of his pack mates.

They’d stood there, with Cecil’s face pressed into the couch for what seemed like forever. Eventually, Cecil calmed down, his breathing becoming normal as the trembling in his hands and body stopped.

“Right,” Roy said, slumping into the stained couch as he released his hold on Cecil. “Mind telling me about what just happened?”

Chapter Text

Ming Sheng awoke to a buzzing sound, biting at the edge of his consciousness. Forcing bloodshot eyes open, he sat up slowly on his bed. He must’ve passed out after losing all the blood and someone must’ve taken him to the hospital. Instinctively, hands trailed down to his abdomen, stroking the now empty space where his pup had been. A pang of regret rushed through him; his pup had been stolen from him, ejected prematurely from the womb and left to die in his arms.

The soft beeping of the door opening jolted Ming Sheng from his thoughts. Two Nurses, one portly dressed and the other tall and thin like a bird walked in. They’d walked over to his bedside, checking his vitals and the patient notes chart.

“You alright darling? Holding up okay after what just happened?” The thin nurse’s voice was soft and sweet.

I Guess?” Ming Sheng wasn’t used to the level of sweetness from pack mates; thinly veiled or outright aggression was much more common.

“That’s very good. We’re glad you’re coping alright. Me and Agatha,” the thin nurse gestured to the fat one, “will come back to check on you later today. Rest well!”

The Nurses left, leaving Ming Sheng to marinate in his thoughts alone in the dimly lit hospital room.

This hospital room was different from the ones he’d been in before, the walls cream-coloured and the bed a huge, four poster canopy bed. He’d been buried in between a sea of pillows, under layers of soft sheets - sandwiched against a thick duvet and a memory foam mattress. It was soft and enveloping, almost uncomfortably so.

“What do you mean that I can’t go see him?” Cecil said, brows furrowed with frustration as he glared at the attending nurse.

“I’m afraid not Mr. Lionheart. In order to preserve our patient’s modesty, no visitors are allowed in the Recovery Ward.” The nurse replied, fiddling anxiously with her clipboard.

“And why the hell not?” Cecil questioned, an accusatory glare in his eyes.

“Unbonded pack mates tend to scare our patients sir. I’ll have to request that you wait outside until the patient is ready to be discharged.” The nurse whispered, her voice barely rising a decibel as she looked away from Cecil.

Cecil huffed, walking away from the frightened mouse of a nurse. Some new ward regulations must’ve been put in place in the time he’d last been admitted, he’d never heard of a hospital ward that was closed off to all visitors except for mates. For a moment he considered going home; the man almost certainly had a mate and family who were probably looking for him. A found person alert would’ve been sent out and they wouldn’t take kindly to a stranger standing at their mate’s bedside.

Still he’d go check up on the man before leaving. He was probably scared and confused and could use a shoulder to lean on, at least till his mate arrived.

The rusted down lock broke open with a few well-placed strikes, rusty chain link fencing creaking open to reveal a densely forested dirt road that led into a pristine white building. For all of Nintura’s sleek architecture and commitment to cleanliness they tended to miss out on the things people wouldn’t see, leaving sprawling dirt paths to rusted backdoors that a well-trained escape artist could take advantage of.

A triumphant smirk dancing at the corners of his lips, Cecil strolled down the dirt path, whistling a simple tune as he drank in his surroundings. The specialist recovery ward was adjacent to the main building, flanked by maternity and the incinerator. It’d been hidden by lush green foliage to provide privacy to its patients away from the main wards. The door to the ward had come open easily, left unlocked by its careless caretaker who’d slept in a corner with his hat perched precariously atop his head.

The first thing Cecil noticed about this ward was its scent, or rather the lack thereof. It’d smelled like a whole load of nothing, as if scent blockers were purposely used to mask any trace of scent. The corridor walls had been painted a soft cream shade, volumous curtains obscuring the outside world from the hospital’s interior. The room doors were labelled with a pink symbol, shaped like little pink inverted flowerpot, the centre of the flowerpot bearing the room’s number and its occupants name in a small digitalized placard. The rooms seemed to only open inwards, a ubiquitous white keycard reader locking the door from Cecil. There seemed to be ten floors to this building, all lined with doors of similar styles, the only difference between the doors being their number and patient name.

Cecil hadn’t a clue which floor the young man had been placed in and the scent blocker soaps made the task even harder. He searched around for a directory, eventually finding a small digitized board mounted on the wall. The newfangled thing seemed to be made out of a leather-bound board as if the hospital had tried to smooth out any harsh edges in the ward. He fiddled with the board, looking around for a switch. Surely there had to be some way to turn this strange gadget on right?

“Good afternoon Sir!” A high-pitched voice nearly made Cecil bolt, hairs standing on the back of his neck. “How may I be of assistance?

Cecil spun around, coming face to face with a diminutive creature. The creature was shaped like a dog of indeterminate breed, its body made out of a round ball of fiberglass, covered head to paw in soft white fur spare for a little black visor that exposed a screen in place of its eyes

“What the hell are you?” Cecil stammered, bringing a hand to his chest to stabilize the pounding in his chest.

“I am Virtual Assistant No. 0333. Would you require,” The robot paused, cocking its head to the left. “A. A warm meal, B. pack mate support or C. A guide?”

“I think you could bring me to his, I mean my room.” Cecil tried.

“What is, A. Your name or, B. Your room number?” The robot said, bringing up a little hologram of a keypad that floated slightly above its head.

“Uh…” Cecil began, realizing that he hadn’t asked for the man’s name nor did he know his room number. The man looked like he had been a foreigner, most likely a Dark Easterner judging by his long wavy hair. Cecil wracked his brain, trying desperately to think up of a name that suited the young man. He seemed like a Xiao Yang, or a Ming Hua? No too formal. Maybe Ming, Ming something?

“Ming, uh Ming?” Cecil tried.

“I am sorry. There are no patients under the name, Ming Ming. Perhaps you meant Ming Sheng?” The robot said, pulling up the image of a young man with a shock of wavy, dark hair and lightly tanned skin.

“Ah yeah! Ming… Sheng! Yeah that’s hi- I mean me.” Cecil caught the slip up in time, pointing at the man displayed on the Robot’s UI.

“Escorting patient to room, 278.” The robot said, marching off in the direction of the lifts.

The robot brought Cecil down many twisting corridors, the walls painted a uniform shade of cream. Every single floor appeared to have the same uniformly plush curtains, the identical doors all bearing the pink inverted flowerpot. The inverted flowerpot reminded Cecil of something familiar, something that he’d seen before but he couldn’t place its purpose. Maybe it’d been a stylistic choice?

Room 278 had been tucked away in a secluded corridor away from the main hall, right in the corner of the room. The robot had scanned the keycard scanner with its face, causing the door to open with a beep.

“I hope you have found my performance satisfactory. For greater customer satisfaction awareness, please rate my performance out of five stars.” A little display popped up, prompting Cecil to select from one out of five stars.

“Err, alright then. Five stars it is.” Cecil punched in the command for five stars.

“Thank you. Do you require more assistance?”

“No, that’ll be fine.” Cecil said, using his foot to shoo the robot out of the room.

The young man that he met last night, or Ming Sheng as he’d been called had been staring out the window, seemingly lost in his own world. The sound of the door slamming shut startled him, causing him to whirl around in alarm.

“Oh it’s you.” He said, voice dripping with venom.

“I have a name, it’s Cecil.” Cecil replied, absentmindedly scratching the back of his head

“Come on, don’t be so cold. Just wanted to check up on you, see how you were doing.” Cecil folded his arms, looking at Ming Sheng. “By the looks of it you bled like a stuck pig.”

The Alpha ignored him, trailing a hand absentmindedly down to his abdomen, stroking tan flesh underneath printed hospital pajamas.

“Hey I’m talking to you right now.” Cecil repeated, louder and more aggressively this time. Still radio silence.

“Jeez, did the Doctors take away your kid and your ability to speak?”

A low growl picked up in the back of the Alpha’s throat, a warning to step back. Cecil felt a lump rise in his throat, reflexively backing away from the growling Alpha.

“You really are a piece of work Cecil.” He snarled, advancing in on the taller Omega. Anger bristled in his every step, his eyes dilating as the fine hairs on his arms stood on their ends.

“First, you have the nerve to come in here like you own the place,” the man stepped forward. “Then you kill my pup.” Another step forward. “Finally, you ask me out of all things,” the man’s voice rose a pitch as he shoved Cecil against the bed. “If the doctors removed not only my kid and my ability to talk!” The last word came out as a hiss, Ming Sheng’s razor sharp fangs dangerously close to Cecil’s exposed neck.

Cecil couldn’t breathe. The Alpha before him exuded a sort of effortless dominance that Cecil could only begin to emulate in his dreams, the characteristic scent of tea rose again, cloyingly sweet as a Low growl rose from the back of the man’s throat. Almost as if on command, Cecil felt himself sink down onto the plush sized bed, negating the five-inch height gap he had over the young Alpha.

Something flared inside of Cecil, the need to dominate despite his Omegan status. Growling, Cecil rose to the challenge. He forced himself upright from his position on the bed, jabbing a finger into Ming Sheng’s chest.

“Look, I saved your ass. If I hadn’t been there you’d have died of fucking hypothermia!” Cecil said.

“Saved my ass?” Ming Sheng growled, “You set me up in the dump of your goddamn house and almost let me bleed to death!” He moved closer to Cecil, the two pack mates now mere inches apart.

“So! You would’ve died sooner if I hadn’t found you!” Cecil retorted, shoving Ming Sheng backwards.

“Oh really now? Shoving an injured patient? You’re really good at saving people Cecil.”

Cecil sensed a burning at the back of his head, adrenaline coursing through his veins as he resisted the urge to punch the man in front of him. It wouldn’t look good on him to be caught red-handed assaulting an Alpha. Gritting his teeth, he forced the fiercest glare he could muster through the heady stench of the Alpha’s pheromones.

“You ungrateful slut.” He snarled, hands clenched into tight fists. “Go then. See if I care about you and your filthy rape baby.”

The strike to his jaw was sudden and left Cecil unprepared for what came next. The smaller Alpha pounced, knocking Cecil back onto the plush bed. Even in a weakened state, the Alpha's natural strength and aggression overwhelmed Cecil, causing the tall Omega to yelp as Ming Sheng rained blow after blow onto him.

“You bastard!” He screamed, wrapping his hands around Cecil’s bite-scarred neck. “How dare you call my baby a rape baby!” His grip was like iron, choking the breath out of the Omega, almost crushing his windpipe in the process. He barely registered the sharp pain of the Alpha’s nails dragging down his neck, the edges of his vision blurring a dark blue as his consciousness began to slip. He gasped, the tips of his fingers numb with oxygen deprivation. He tried to fight the Alpha’s vice-like grip but an Alpha's natural strength and control over their body far surpassed any strength he could muster. He struggled to draw breath, feeling consciousness slip from him as he fell into a dark void.

Cecil snapped awake with a jolt, sitting straight up on something soft and flat. His head hurt, and so did his arms and his legs and also his neck. Fuck, Cecil thought to himself as he rubbed the back of his scarred neck, Everything fucking hurt. He looked around, tossing the covers off of his body. He must’ve been transferred to a hospital room while passed out, the room cold and clinically white unlike the eggshell-colored walls of the wing he’d snuck into.

“Mr. Lionheart?” the timid nurse again. She walked in, fiddling with the same worn clipboard in her hands.

“What happened?” Cecil asked, voice raspy from the trauma.

“You were attacked by one of our patients Mr. Lionheart.” She replied, drawing out a bottle of pills from the steel tray.

“Patients in our wards tend to be reactive.” She murmured, emptying a dosage of pills into a white paper cup. She passed the cup to him, alongside a glass of water.

“So how long will I be here?” Cecil said swallowing the pills provided. They went down bitter and stuck to the back of his throat.

“Just a few hours Mr. Lionheart. You may go home after that.” She replied, collecting the cup that he’d passed back to her.

She left, the white room door sliding shut behind her with a resounding beep. Cecil stretched, loosening out several kinks in his joints. He flinched when he felt his hip pop against an old break, it’d been an old injury that flared up time from time; the tissue healing wrongly after many fractures. He pressed his hand against his bandaged neck, massaging the injured tissue. Making an educated guess, Cecil assumed the ward had been reserved for feral Alphas. As violent as the man had been, an Alpha going feral after the death or drop of their child wasn’t uncommon. The ward, set up away from the main building and well-guarded would’ve allowed them to recuperate in peace, away from prying eyes and distracting scents. Rolling over onto his stomach, Cecil squeezed his eyes shut. There’d still be a few more hours before he could check himself out, best pass the time with a short nap.