Castiel approached the club, rolling his shoulders and tilting his head to the side to crack his neck. He barely even cringed anymore at the thumping bass of the overhead club music, well used to it after the constant exposure he’d gotten in the past two weeks. He nodded once at the bouncers, who let him in the second they recognized him as one of Azazel’s guys.
He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the massive mirror that took up the entire expanse of ceiling in the hollow foyer leading to the dance floor. Everything was in order: his hair slicked back with an obscene amount of gel, the thick black tribal tattoo peeking out from above his tight V-neck and worn leather jacket, the dark scowl fixed firmly on his face. There were other things that were in place, too. Things the mirror couldn’t see. Things like the impossibly small recording device hidden in the pendant around his neck.
He worked his way through the club’s dance floor easily, pushing away the omegas and betas that tried grinding against him. Finally, he slipped behind the bar and entered the back room, following several winding hallways to the club’s basement. He passed several guards as he went, who all nodded at him in recognition and let him pass.
When he reached his destination, he was surprised to see that there were only two people in the spacious lounge. It was void of Azazel’s usual cronies. There was only Azazel, Castiel’s temporary boss, and a scantily clad beta that was perched on Azazel’s lap. Azazel looked up when Castiel came in and smiled. That creepy smile always made Castiel want to shudder all the way down to his toes, but all he did was deepen his scowl.
“Azazel,” he said, glancing over the beta girl with a raised eyebrow.
“Evening, Krushnic. You like her, boy?” Azazel asked in Russian, unceremoniously shoving the girl off his lap. “You can have her; I’m done with her. I’m in the mood for a tight little omega tonight. It’s been way too long since I've had one.”
Azazel stood and stretched. He seemed surprisingly sober, Castiel realized. That only happened when the man had big plans for the evening.
“So did you take care of that FBI bitch that’s been trailing me?”
“She won’t bother you again,” Castiel replied in fluent Russian, giving Azazel a knowing nod.
Azazel broke into a grin. “That’s my boy! Tell me, how did you do it? Arrange for a little ‘accident’? Was there at least a little bit of pain before she bit it?”
“Yes to both,” Castiel bluffed, reminding himself to tell Hannah to lay low until Azazel was behind bars. Hopefully, he wouldn’t have to. Hopefully tonight would be the night Azazel would slip up. But then, Castiel had been hoping that since he'd worked his way into Azazel's circle two weeks ago.
“Oh, that’s just delightful,” Azazel said, approaching Castiel and clapping him on the arm. “Aren’t I just so lucky to have you? Drink?”
Azazel walked over to the minibar and started pouring before Castiel even answered. “No. You know I don’t drink on the job.”
“Yes, yes. You’re no fun. Sit,” he ordered, growing suddenly serious, and pointed at the couch. Castiel moved to obey. Azazel turned to the beta girl and switched to English. “You: out. Now.”
When the beta was gone, Azazel sat on the coffee table across from Castiel, so close his knee bumped Castiel’s when he sat. He had two glasses in his hands, and he offered one of them up to Castiel. Castiel took it with a sigh but didn’t drink it.
“We’re going on a little trip tonight, you and I.”
Castiel was immediately on alert. He didn’t like the barely contained glee in Azazel’s tone, or the way Azazel was looking at him like he was waiting for Castiel to realize something big.
“There’s something I want to buy,” Azazel continued, ignorant to Castiel’s panic.
Castiel didn’t say anything, refusing to take the bait.
“Come now, Krushnic. I feel like I’m talking to myself here. I know you want to ask. You’ve been a very loyal little watch dog for me, haven’t you? I’m glad I found you when I did, but I’m starting to worry about you…do you know how to keep a dog loyal, Krushnic?”
Shit. He knew. He definitely knew.
“No. I prefer cats.”
Azazel laughed. “You make me laugh, Victor. I’ll tell you how you make sure a dog stays loyal—“
Castiel really hoped Azazel wasn’t going to say something along the lines of “you beat them into submission.”
If he needed to, he could easily take Azazel out. He’d seen Azazel fight; his fighting style was all brute alpha force. Castiel, on the other hand, used his strength when he needed to but relied more on finesse. Yes, it would be easy for him to take Azazel down.
But then there’s his small army of cronies, waiting just outside. Once he took Azazel down, Castiel would be hard pressed to make it out of the club alive, even with the surveillance van full of backup parked just down the street.
“You keep a dog loyal by treating it well.”
Castiel blinked at him. “What?”
“You heard me. If a dog loves you, it'll protect you until the end. That’s why I’m going to get you a little gift. That thing I’m going to buy tonight? I’m going to buy you one, too. Then every time you enjoy your little gift, you’re going to remember who gave it to you and you’re going to know that nobody else will treat you as good as I’m treating you.”
“What is it?” Castiel asked warily.
Azazel smiled again, that same smile that made Castiel want to pull his gun and wipe the unsettling expression off the man’s face. “I’m not going to tell you; you’ll have to wait and see.”
“Can you at least tell me where we’re going?” Castiel asked, mostly for the benefit of the FBI agents listening through the microchip in his necklace.
Azazel thought it over. “We’re paying Dick Roman a visit.”
“Dick Roman,” Castiel frowned, faking confusion. “I’m not familiar.”
He was, according to his cover, supposed to be fresh off the boat from Russia. Obviously, every American citizen knew who Dick Roman was.
“Hmm. I guess you wouldn’t be. Billionaire business man. Head of Richard Roman Enterprises. Aspiring politician. He’s in the news a lot.”
Cas nodded, running what he knows about Azazel against what he knows about Roman and trying to figure out what a sleazy Russian embezzler would want with an upstanding American businessman. Unless Roman isn’t as upstanding as everything thinks.
“I can see you trying to put it together, Krushnic, but you’re never going to guess. Now come on, Roman’s expecting us and I’ve had this appointment for half a year.”
On the way out of the club, Castiel spotted Inias across the street, leaning casually against a pole. He nodded once when Castiel met his eye, letting him know the team was ready to follow him and Azazel.
It made Castiel relax a little.
In the car, Azazel looked over at Castiel thoughtfully. “How do you feel about omegas?”
Castiel frowned at the unexpected question. “The same as any alpha, I suppose.”
“I only ask because I’ve never seen you with one before.”
“That’s because we’re not all exhibitionists,” Castiel snorted, giving Azazel a pointed look.
Azazel laughed. “So I like people knowing how often I get lucky! Sue me. God, I almost feel sorry for whatever omega falls into your trap, Krushnic. I imagine your bloodlust carries into the bedroom, no? You’re probably into all sorts of horrific shit.”
Castiel smirked and looked out the window, nothing in his expression betraying how sick he felt at the very thought.
Azazel’s driver took them to a large warehouse outside of town. It was completely unremarkable from the outside, but once they entered the building—escorted by two heavily armed alphas that came out to meet them—it looked more like an office building downtown than a cheap warehouse in the middle of nowhere. A short, black haired beta man waited for them in the foyer.
“Welcome, Mr. Azazel. My name is Edgar. If you—“
“Roman said he’d meet with me personally,” Azazel growled in his thick Russian accent, cutting the man off.
“He will. Before I can let you go any further, however, I’ll need you to remove your weapons.”
Azazel squinted at Edgar. “Fine.”
“And your men will need to stay here.”
Azazel scowled so deeply Castiel wouldn’t be surprised if his face stuck that way.
“We can’t have too many untrained alphas in the back room at once, you understand,” Edgar explained, “If any of your men are betas, they’re welcome to join you.”
“I guess that makes sense. He comes with, though,” Azazel nodded at Castiel, “I’ll be buying two tonight, one for myself and one for him.”
Castiel frowned, still trying to figure out what the product was.
“Fine. Then he has to give up his weapons, too,” Edgar said, watching Castiel. Castiel watched him right back.
“We have to hand over our weapons,” Azazel said to Castiel in Russian. Castiel nodded.
They both handed over their guns. Edgar raised an eyebrow after the fifth hidden knife was added to the steadily growing pile of weapons. “We’re Russian,” Azazel said with a shrug.
Once he was sure all of their weapons had been removed, Edgar led them past the security gate and beyond the foyer. Rather than lead them into the main floor of the warehouse, he led them down a back hallway, into an elevator, and up to the second floor. When the elevator doors opened, they revealed a lavish penthouse office.
A tall, thin man with a sickly sweet smile Castiel immediately recognized as Dick Roman stood to greet them. There was a large, burly alpha with a short beard standing at the back of the room, near another door. Castiel assessed him, immediately on alert when he took in the alpha’s size and brevity, but something about him was gentle, subdued. He was wearing some sort of uniform, like a waiter at a restaurant.
Edgar joined the alpha in the back, waiting for further instruction from Dick Roman. Dick approached Castiel and Azazel.
“Mr. Azazel, I assume. Pleasure to finally meet you,” Roman smiled, shaking Azazel’s hand. He turned to Castiel. “And you are?”
“Victor Krushnic, my right hand man. Also looking to buy.”
“And why can’t Mr. Krushnic answer for himself?” Dick asked, something in his smile going cold.
“Doesn’t speak a word of English.”
“Ah,” Roman said, shaking Castiel’s hand. His smile relaxed again. “I take it that means he’ll want a Russian product? The selection may be more limited—“
Azazel chuckled. “I don’t think he’ll mind. It’s not like a language barrier is the end of the world, in this case,” he said. He and Roman shared a secret smile.
“No, I suppose not,” Roman agreed. He turned to the alpha standing in the back. “Benny, bring us some drinks. What will you have?”
“Bourbon for me, nothing for Krushnic.”
The waiter, Benny, disappeared with a nod.
“I’m glad you chose Roman Enterprises, Azazel. We take much pride in the high quality of our products.”
“So I’ve heard.”
Benny returned with two drinks, handing one to Azazel and another to Roman. “Thank you, Benny. You’re dismissed,” Roman said, waving a hand at the alpha. Benny bowed and disappeared back into what Castiel assumed was the kitchen.
“So, I was wondering,” Azazel began, “do we get to test the merchandise before we buy it?”
“Absolutely not. I take pride in my merchandise being ‘never-before-used’, if you understand my meaning.”
Azazel grinned. “I understand perfectly.”
Castiel hated this. He hated everything about this. He hated that he had no idea what was going on, for one thing. Also, if things went south, there was no way his team would be able to get up here, past all those guards. He didn’t know what Roman’s business was, but he had a feeling it was way bigger than anything he’d dealt with before, and he had no idea what to do.
What was Roman selling? It was obviously something illegal. What would the implications be if Castiel were to go along with this? Was there an opportunity to arrest both of them? No, Castiel didn’t have nearly enough backup for that.
“I do have some paper work I’d like to go over before you can select your purchase. Some questions of security and secrecy—am I correct in assuming you’ll be paying for both yourself and your friend, Mr. Azazel?”
“Good. Then no need to concern Mr. Krushnic with all of this. The less people that know the…particulars of my business, the less people I have to worry about keeping an eye on.”
“Of course. Discretion I understand.” He switched to Russian. “Krushnic, go wait back in the kitchen. The grown-ups have some business to attend to. I’ll call you if I need you.”
Castiel nodded, casting a last wary look at Roman, and headed to the door the waiter had disappeared through. He pushed it open, finding it led into an empty, industrial kitchen. Empty except for an omega standing very near the door, who yelped and jumped back when it suddenly swung open.
“I wasn’t…um, eavesdropping or anything. I was just…”
Castiel didn’t care. He didn’t even hear the man. It was like he had suddenly forgotten English, because he didn’t comprehend a word that was said.
The omega was beautiful. The most beautiful omega Castiel had ever seen.
He was tall, an inch or two taller than Castiel, and muscular for his gender. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and had Castiel’s brain been able to function at all, he might have realized why; as it was, he was distracted by the toned stomach and hard planes that were exposed to his gaze.
The omega had short, sandy brown hair that was spiked up at the tips. He had the big, wide, doe eyes that are characteristic to omegas, and they were the most beautiful shade of jade green Castiel had ever seen, framed by thick lashes. Then there was the freckles, just barely visible against his tanned skin, that framed those beautiful eyes and were scattered across that endearingly crooked nose. And his lips. His lips. Perfect- full, pink, and bowed- like every other part of him.
Best of all was his scent. It wasn’t too sweet, wasn’t too strong. There was a certain tang to it, something sharp that Castiel couldn’t quite identify. It was something familiar. Something constant. Something steady. And it was undoubtedly the scent of an unmated omega.
A growl tore up past Castiel’s lips before he could stop it. It had the omega taking a wary step backward, further into the kitchen, but that wasn’t right. He should have been stepping closer. Toward Castiel.
Castiel stepped forward, following the omega.
“Are we gonna have a problem here, pal?” the omega asked. God, his voice. It was low for an omega’s, and rough, but there was a lot about this green eyed angel that didn’t seem typical to his gender. His height, for example. The boldness of his gaze.
The question had Castiel stopping short, snapping out of his hormone-induced haze. The omega’s tone was defensive, his body tense. There was fear there, too. Wariness. Nervousness.
Fear of Castiel.
The omega glanced over his shoulder, toward another door at the other end of the kitchen. With the movement, the light caught on something around the omega’s neck. Castiel had been too distracted by the omega himself to actually notice it before, but now that he did he felt the blood drain from his face.
It was a collar.
A thick, metal, inescapable collar with “Roman Enterprises” etched into the front. Suddenly, more of Azazel and Roman’s comments made sense. Suddenly, Castiel knew what Azazel was buying from Roman.
Dick Roman was selling omegas.