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Seven Days

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Of all the ways he thought he could have kicked his proverbial bucket; either through the games or by old age, Sang-Woo never considered the possibility of dying in his hyung’s arms as a result of stabbing himself in the neck. To be fair, taking his own life wasn't a new thought (a week ago he was in a bathtub hotboxing himself with carbon monoxide), but never had Gi-Hun entered the picture.

Perhaps in a faraway dream when he first  presented as an alpha, the perfect complement to Gi-Hun’s omega, that they would be mated in the future - hence the subsequent death in his mate's arms. However, the harsh reality couldn’t be further away from those childish fantasies; and that once hopefully dream grew more distant as time went by, finally left to be forgotten. Sang-Woo knew any lingering feelings he held towards the older omega were buried and locked away the day he received Gi-Hun’s wedding invitation. 

He recalled throwing the invitation in the bin and visiting the closest bar to drink himself to stupor. 

Despite all the heartbreak he suffered due to the omega, Sang-Woo never once blamed Gi-Hun. Ultimately,  it was his own fault that he wasn’t expressive with his feelings; and it was the fear of being rejected that he never crossed the line with his affection. He allowed them to become strangers, and to this day it still was Sang-Woo's biggest regret. If only he had the knowledge he held now regarding Gi-Hun; he wouldn’t have hesitated so much in courting the man. 

Sang-Woo always considered materialistic things to measure affection, and he always thought it was the same for everyone else. Besides, all those around him measured success and affection through either money or beauty. He foolishly thought that Gi-Hun would begin seeing him as a possible mate if he became successful; however, the distance he placed between them during college and start of career only provided an opportunity for another competitor to take what was his. It wasn’t until the final game did he realise that his hyung never went after money. He had killed that young alpha pup, Sae-Byeok and betrayed Ali; yet Gi-Hun never wanted him dead - even after he brutally attacked the omega. The man was willing to give up the prize money if he could save Sang-Woo’s life. 

Such a foolish omega. He recalled thinking affectionately before reaching for the knife to stab himself in the throat. 

Perhaps it was that unconditional love and affection, which attracted Sang-Woo in the first place.  

Sang-Woo knew he didn’t deserve Gi-Hun. 

Gi-Hun was too pure and selfless compared to him.

However, Sang-Woo didn’t have the humility to back away either. 

Gi-Hun was his. 

After all, the reason he risked financial fraud was to earn enough money to support Gi-Hun. All it took was gossip from his mother about Gi-Hun’s failed marriage and crippling debt for him to come up with that ridiculous plan. Had his plan worked, he would have had enough cash to clear the omega’s debts making Gi-Hun indebted to him - creating an unbreakable link between them. He would have obviously used it as a means to reel the omega into his arms and keep the man there.

It wasn’t healthy, but it was secure. 

Being the head of investment in a securities company, security was prized above all else.

Although now learning his hyung’s character and what the man valued, money meant very little to this omega in the grander scheme of things. Not mention the guilt of considering to black mail the man into a relationship.

‘What a pity.’ Sang-Woo thought as he kept his gaze on Gi-Hun’s crying face.

His vision was slowly fading into black, and the chill of the rain was beginning to engulf his senses.

‘You shouldn’t cry for me.’ He thought as he tried to summon the strength in his arm to wipe the omega’s tears.

‘I’m not worth your tears.’

He felt an incredible amount of shame and guilt. That he allowed the allure of the prize money bewitch him into attacking the omega. Sang-Woo felt his inner alpha recoil at the knowledge of harming their potential mate. The pain he inflicted on Gi-Hun hurt more than what was inflicted on him. Somewhere along the way, he had lost his way. He lost his sight on what was truly important. Instead of focusing on Gi-Hun; his eyes were set on the prize. 

After all, the reason he was in the game was due to the omega. How could he have prioritised winning if it meant killing Gi-Hun? Killing the very person he swore to protect and love. Curse his greed to earn money - it was what made him good at his job, but terrible in life.

Thankfully, he realised that error before it was too late.

And the decision to sink the blade into his throat was an easy one to make. It was the least he could do to repent for all the unforgivable transgression he'd committed against the omega.

If only he had one chance to re-do everything. 

If only he could make it right.

If only he could go back seven days.

‘I would use it to make you smile instead of cry, Jagiya.’

With that his heart stopped and before his conciousense faded completely Sang-Woo heard the most heart wrenching wail.


X.

The ringing in his ears never faded, nor the biting cold and dampness. However, the searing sensation on his throat had disappeared as he felt his vision gradually return. Blinking away the dizziness and once he felt as if the world had stopped spinning, Sang-Woo took in the surroundings of his room. It all seemed familiar - the tiles, the bathtub, the smoke in the air and the bottle of soju in his hand. Seeing his submerged body fully clothed in his favourite office suit; everything clicked into place.

This was the hotel bathroom he had planned to kill himself in before the second invitation came in.

Seven days before his death.

Upon that thought, he heard the incessant ringing of his room bell. 

In disbelief, Sang-Woo reached up to his neck and tried to feel for the wound.

Was it all a dream? 

A highly intricate hallucination born from a mixture of alcohol and carbon monoxide?

For the alternative of time-travel was far too ludicrous.

Hearing the bell chime once more, Sang-Woon pulled himself out of the tub. 

There was only one way to find out.

Taking small measured steps towards the front entrance; paying no attention to the puddles of water he was leaving behind, Sang-Woo took a deep breath once he stood behind the wooden door. The person ringing the bell must have sensed his presence for the ringing had stopped. Feeling the adrenaline flush the haze of alcohol away from his mind and his senses now razor sharp, he repeated what he did in his dream.

“Who is it?” He asked, trying to keep all emotion away from his voice.

Despite his brain screaming at how illogical it may have been, his heart must have known for he was already looking down at the floor when a familiar card slipped in. 

He didn’t need to pick it up to know what was written on the other side.

Time: Midnight, Jun 23
Place: Same as previous.   

Slowly lowering himself to the floor, his entire body felt numb as the possibility of him travelling back in time became more and more apparent to him. 

Of all people, why him?

Among those in their group, he was the last person who deserved a second chance. Was it his sacrifice in the end for Gi-Hun? If so, that didn’t amount to anything - especially since he was responsible for the omega choosing the hardest shape during the honeycomb game. He never excused his behaviour; he had never wanted to fight against Gi-Hun and Sang-Woo intrinsically knew that there could only be one winner. At the time he considered the omega dying in that game was infinitely better than at a one on one with him. In the end, neither option was good, as he ended up killing himself instead of taking Gi-Hun’s life.

Thinking about the omega, an idea dawned upon Sang-Woo.

He was still finding the whole time travel concept too far out and the incident with the card had the probability of being the lucky guess. 

Sang-Woo recalled overhearing Gi-Hun speaking with the old man about his life before the game. Although he would always zone out any gossip his mother would tell him, Sang-Woo never failed to pay attention  when the topic was Gi-Hun. The alpha already knew the omega was currently finding accommodation with his mother; the conversation with the old man merely confirmed Gi-Hun's location (that he was sleeping in his mother's home right now). He also recalls the tell-tale scent of an omega coming down from his heat when Gi-Hun approached him before the honeycomb game. Fortunately the stress of the game and the scent of sugar had distracted everyone from his hyung’s scent, not to mention being an older omega past his prime didn’t make the situation obvious. However, he noticed the guards and Deok-Su’s gang’s attention would occasionally drift towards the older omega. 

A growl erupted from his throat at that memory. 

If this was the past and his math was correct, Gi-Hun was currently in the crux of his heat in that little alcove of a house off the main street. 

Filled with purpose, Sang-Woo picks himself up from the floor and walks towards the bathroom. He needed to rid himself of this drenched clothing, tidy up the room and empty his stomach of all the soju.

He had already wasted one life hesitating.

He wasn’t wasting another.


X.

It hadn’t taken long for Sang-Woo to find the omega. His banging of the front gate and the sound of his voice was enough for Gi-Hun to emerge from his mother's home. Using the excuse of the game invitation and his scent as an alpha, he imposed himself upon the omega and manipulated his hyung into inviting him inside. Part of him was surprised Gi-Hun answered his call at all. Given how careful omegas were around their heat. However, knowing Gi-Hun, Sang-Woo guess the older man must have assumed his heat was too weak to entice him and that he wasn't desirable enough to mate (utter bullshit from the alpha's point of view). Not mention the amount of trust Gi-Hun had in him.

So long for the pride and joy of Ssangmun-dong, if his mother knew what he planned to do tonight he would have been slapped senselessly by her. 

Regardless, morals and social etiquette wasn’t his concern right now.

Had he returned much earlier, he would have courted the omega right. Showered him with gifts, flowers and attention. Asked his mother for permission, behaved like a gentleman by following every relationship milestone to the finest detail. He would rather spend the rest of his lifetime trying to make it up to Gi-Hun, than miss out on this opportunity.

Quickly surveying the area, he could see how sparsely decorated the room was. The beaten mattress on the floor only had a single sheet and whatever clothes Gi-Hun owned were arranged in a circular fashion to mimic a nest. Taking a subtle sniff, he could smell the musky sweetness lace in the air. It wasn’t as strong as he remembered from his childhood; when he once helped Gi-Hun return home due to a surprise heat cycle in school. Yet it was equally tantalising. Wetting his lips, he idly made note of how parched his mouth and throat felt. Fortunately, he was much older and he had years of practice controlling his emotions and instincts. 

It had taken everything not to break down and cry; when he first saw a groggy Gi-Hun emerge sluggishly from the small passage to unlock the front gate, wearing nothing but a worn out blanket and an oversized old t-shirt. 

To be proven right, that he indeed had been sent back to the past.

That he had been given a second chance. 

Sang-Woo was grateful for the dim lighting, hiding his features for he would have definitely been called out by the omega for staring.  

“What’s gotten you all riled up, Sang-Woo?” The omega tirely asked as he handed over a cup of warm tea to him before returning to his nest. 

"Where is your mother?" Sang-Woo asked instead. He had noticed the faintness of the older omega's scent when he initially entered home. 

"Ah… She’s with your mother at the moment." Gi-Hun shot him a confused stare but answered regardless as he shifted around the nest. Trying to find the optimum location to curl up in.

Sang-Woo hummed in response. Despite the two of them growing apart as they aged. Their mothers remained fast friends. It also made sense for Gi-Hun’s mother to leave the premises during her son's heat cycle to provide a sense of privacy. 

Although the intensity of the heat declined with age, making the omega more and more aware during their cycle; Gi-Hun wasn’t unaffected by his presence. Sang-Woo could spot some of the unconscious and instinctive behaviour from the omega. The slight tilt of the to display the lack of claim, the lack of eye contact and sweetening of his scent. None of it went unnoticed, and it wasn’t unreciprocated either. For he found himself straightening his spine and puffing out his chest. From the twitches of Gi-Hun’s nose, Sang-Woo was willing to bet he had unconsciously released some alpha pheromones. Even his cock began to fill, but he reigned in his instincts as there were far more pressing matters to address.

Placing the cup down on the floor after a long sip, Sang-Woo cleared his throat, “I want to know if you are going to the game tomorrow as well.”

He could smell a slight dip in the sweetness as it soured a little with the topic, but Sang-Woo caught a flash of disappointment before it was masked with curiosity.

“As well? Ahh… Of course, you’ve gotten the card as well.” Gi-Hun muttered to himself before raising his gaze to meet Sang-Woo’s. 

There was a brief pause before he looked down and replied softly, “My mother needs money for the hospital. She’s sick… Diabetes.” 

Once more the sweet scent soured with sadness, and Sang-Woo let out a soft hum in acknowledgement. The alpha folded his arms in order to prevent himself from reaching out inorder to comfort the omega - something he knew that wouldn’t be welcomed, not yet.   

“Gi-Hun,” He begins in order to grab the other’s attention, “do you trust me?”

Even with this crap lighting he could see the doe-eyed look his hyung sent his way, “Of-Of course! Sang-Woo! Why-Why shouldn’t I?”

‘There was plenty to choose from.’ Sang-Woo thought to himself sardonically, recalling his previous life. 

Once is a mistake. Twice is a choice.       

He wasn’t going to repeat what he did last time, and he was going to use everything in his power to prevent any of it from repeating. 

“If you trust me, Hyung...” Sang-Woo switches to the old term of endearment, “Then please do not enter the game.”

As expected this request upsets the omega as he asks in disbelief, “Why?’’

“Think about it, Hyung… We all have to compete and if we cancel the game, the winnings will go to the deceased only.” He chose his words carefully. 

“I know that…”The omega huffed out, but he could hear the lack of confidence in Gi-Hun’s voice. 

“The first game reduced our numbers little over a half, if a similar system continues it wouldn’t take more than five more games to whittle our number down two or three… and who knows if the games are individualistic or team.” Sang-Woo took a brief pause before adding, “...or even against each other.”  

The sharp intake of breath he heard from across him, indicated Gi-Hun had realised what he was trying to imply. 

“Then...” the omega broke the silence, uncertainty colouring every word, “what do you want me to do, Sang-Woo? My mother...” He trailed off.

Using this moment, Sang-Woo cautiously approached the older man. Although older omegas weren’t overwhelmed by instincts or their heat cycle, they were still susceptible to them. It was an unwritten rule; to never enter an omega’s nest uninvited - even approaching it without consent was heavily frowned upon; not to mention enticing an attack from the omega. However, Sang-Woo was willing to risk any potential altercation for this.

He ensured every move was slow and non-threatening, as he released one of his hands to reach out. Only stopping when he heard a soft warning growl from omega across from him. Keeping his position firm, he kept his palm facing up as a gesture for Gi-Hun to place his hand on it. Sang-Woo watched as Gi-Hun inspected his hand and tried to read his motives; it was tense a few minutes after the omega reached out hesitantly and placed his hand on Sang-Woo’s palm. 

“I have some money with me. I want you to take it and look after both our mothers.” He explained as he began gently stroking the omega’s hand with his thumb, “I will enter the game for the both of us - No. I will win for both of us.” 

The silence sat heavily between them, but Sang-Woo noticed Gi-Hun hadn’t pulled away from him. Rather the omega’s grip on his hand tightened almost imperceptibly. 

“Wh-Why...” he heard Gi-Hun stutter softly, as he felt the man’s gaze trying to read his mind.

Why are you doing this?

Why should I trust you?  

Sang-Woo smiled to himself. He might as well be honest about it. 

“Because I have no wish to fight you, Hyung… I only wish to have you beside me.”


X.

Once more that oppressive silence was between them, as Gi-Hun processed what he had just said. 

After what seemed to be an eternity, the omega broke into a fits of laughter. However, Sang-Woo could hear the strain in the older man’s voice. He knew Gi-Hun had understood what he had meant but chose not to believe it. Tightening his grip on the omega’s hand he remained expressionless until Gi-Hun’s laughter died down. 

“Careful how you word that, Sang-Woo.” He joked, but the humor fell a little flat. “Someone would have thought you were proposing to me.”

“What happens if that is true?”

Gi-Hun blinked at his response, the fake smile slowly fading away from his face. This was when he realised Sang-Woo hadn’t let go of his hand.

“Why me?... Why now?...” The omega whispered as he glanced down at their interlaced fingers, watching Sang-Woo’s thumb continuously stroke the knuckles of his hand soothingly. “You deserved better, Sang-Woo… You are the pride and joy of Ssangmun-dong...” Gin-Hun added, his voice breaking in between.

‘It is you who deserves better, Gi-Hun.’ Sang-Woo mused to himself.

If he were a bigger man - a better man, he would have never approached Gi-Hun in the first place. 

But Sang-Woo wasn’t any of those things. 

He was selfish, greedy and possessive instead. 

Especially of what he considered as his.

“I am six hundred and fifty million won in debt due to financial fraud. I’ve been fired by my company and have the police after me. I’ve also mortgaged my mother’s property and lied to her about my location… I am not the pride and joy of Ssangmun-dong.” He answered coolly. He was ashamed of this in his previous life; but, in this he felt no embarrassment. 

For he knew his Gi-Hun would never judge him on that. 

“I am forty six, never married and mated… No matter who I was introduced to, or met - I always found myself comparing them to you.” Sang-Woo wasn’t a gambling man, but he was willing to take this risk. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he added once meeting the omega’s gaze,“I only wanted you, Jagiya.” 

Gi-Hun let out choked sob at the pet-name. The alpha briefly considered holding back on the confession till a later date when they had rekindled their previous closeness. Besides, from Gi-Hun’s perspective, it seemed to come out of nowhere. However, Sang-Woo knew he would have to lay himself bare for the omega to trust him. 

From the final moments leading to his death, Sang-Woo knew Gi-Hun cared for him deeply. Even Ali had curiously asked if they were mates from all the skinship Gi-Hun shared and welcomed from him. Despite all that, the alpha couldn't say for certain if Gi-Hun thought of him romantically. As an extremely close friend - definitely… but as a mate, it was a leap of faith he had to take. 

Sang-Woo didn’t need to see the tears as he could smell the distress in omega’s scent. He should have known the heat would make the man more sensitive; but, Sang-Woo did feel a wave of guilt in breaking his promise in not making the older man cry in this life. He could only hope that these were happy tears.  

“Why now, Sang-Woo?... After all this time, why now?” Gi-Hun choked out tensely, trying to keep his emotions at bay; but failing.

Although it wasn’t obvious nor direct, the lack of rejection was enough to tell Sang-Woo his feelings weren't one sided.

With his free hand, Sang-Woo slowly reached out to cup the omega’s face. Stopping when he felt tension, and proceeding when he felt Gi-Hun’s frame relax. His palm must have been cool as Gi-Hun’s face felt warm against his skin. Ever so gently, he brushed away the tears as he cradled the omega’s face in hand. Despite the lack of self-care, Gi-Hun’s skin was soft to the touch and Sang-Woo despised his past self for harming it. 

“The game.” He answered simply. He couldn’t give the whole truth, but he would try to be as honest as he could. “It forced me to acknowledge that I hadn’t let you go.” 

“Let me go?” Gi-Hun repeated hesitantly. 

“There is a reason I didn’t attend your wedding.” Sang-Woo patiently explained, “I hated everything about it.” and he began listing all the faults he recalled from the pictures that were published online. 

“Those were all decisions by my ex-wife.” Gi-Hun whispered, completely taken back by Sang-Woo’s knowledge.

“I know.” He merely replied with a smile, allowing the omega to read between the lines. Sang-Woo knew he could speak about his reasons for being in debt, but he hadn’t wanted the man to feel indebted to him. He would rather win him over this way. 

Allowing a few moments to pass, Sang-Woo spoke up once more as he curled his fingers underneath Gi-Hun’s chin, tilting it upwards to meet each other’s gaze. 

“So… What do you say, Jagiya?” He purred out the pet name, and smiled when he felt the omega’s frame tremble at it.

“Are you sure, Sang-Woo?” Gi-Hun asked breathlessly, as a wave of heat took over his senses, “Are you sure you want to be with me?”

Sang-Woo could sense there was something else the older man was hesitating to ask, but he could make a guess as to what it was. Shuffling himself forward, he replied back quietly but his tone firm and resolute.

“Yes, Gi-Hun. I want you to be my mate.”

The surprised gasp at his response and tight grip on his hands was all he needed as confirmation that his answer was perfect. 

“And if you are willing, I wish to bond with you now.”

Gi-Hun replied in a soft and breathless tone, “Yes.” 

That was all Sang-Woo needed before entering the secure ring of the omega’s nest.


X.

Although he was invited into the nest, Sang-Woo could sense the lingering confusion bouncing within Gi-Hun’s mind. He had become quite adept at reading the emotions fluttering across the man's face during his past life (what useful skill). He really couldn’t fault the omega for feeling that way; there was nothing normal about a long forgotten childhood friend suddenly barging into their house and confessing their feelings. The alpha knew the trust between them was fragile and delicate, one wrong move or word would immediately shatter what they had between them. 

He would rather die than do that.

As he already did once before.

Although the weight of Gi-Hun's gaze felt heavy on his skin, Sang-Woo chose to ignore it. Allowing the omega to observe him md formulate an opinion about what had taken place. 

The mattress was thin and could barely fit the both of them, but Sang-Woo ignored the discomfort and allowed the omega to guide him into position. Usually he’d hate the thought of being pushed and pulled around; but, when Gi-Hun was involved - the alpha was willing to make an exception. Feeling the subtle tugging at his clothes, Sang-Woo slowly removed each article; handing it over to the omega to arrange into the nest.  

It wasn’t long until the alpha found himself laying on his back naked with an equally nude Gi-Hun curled up beside him, with the omega’s head resting on his chest. Distractedly, Sang-Woo ran his fingers through the omega’s hair, whilst he allowed his mind to drown in his thoughts. Mating was obviously on both of their minds, but currently the omega was in the lull of his cycle. The short bursts of waves were just preparatory for the crux of the heat and from steady increasing sweetness in the air - Sang-Woo knew Gi-Hun’s wasn’t too far away. Had they been younger, they would have mated for each wave. However, neither Gi-Hun nor he could have managed more than one mating session per day. 

They were both middle aged men, after all.

Hence, much like many couples their age, they opted to wait for the most intense wave to mate and spend the rest of the time cuddling. 

‘“Sang-Woo…” The omega spoke up, breaking the comfortable silence which had settled between them, and the alpha let out a low hum to indicate he was listening. 

“If… If you wanted me from the beginning...” Gi-Hun hesitantly began, uncertainty colouring every word, “Why did you leave Ssangmun-dong?... Why did you leave me?”

Sang-Woo wasn’t surprised at all by the question. He had expected Gi-Hun to piece together the information and realise that the alpha had been crushing on him since their childhood. Regardless, Sang-Woo took a moment to formulate his answer. Despite the question not being a difficult one to answer, one wrong word and everything they had right now would shatter beyond repair. Considering his options, the alpha decided to remain truthful and sincere. When the man put his mind to it; Gi-Hun always had a sixth sense when it came to picking out lies - especially from him. 

“Because I wanted to come back to Ssangmun-dong as someone else... as an alpha who had money, career, property.” Sang-Woo carefully explained. “I wanted to come back as a potential mate... and not as your dongsaeng.”

Languidly raking his fingers through Gi-Hun’s locks, he added, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t fast enough.”

He felt the hand on his chest clench into a fist and the omega’s frame tensed up, “You could have told me...” he heard Gi-Hun mutter disappointedly underneath his breath, “I would have waited for you.”

“I know that now.” Sang-Woo replied using a soothing tone to placate the disgruntled omega. Shifting to his side, he pulled Gi-Hun into a firm embrace; and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. “No use crying over what is lost - let's just focus on what we have right now instead.”

Gi-Hun remained silent, but eventually relaxed into his arms. However, the omega's honeyed scent still held a sour note; hinting that there was something else bothering him. Sang-Woo knew he couldn’t force it out, but he could at least provide the opportunity to speak up.

“What’s on your mind?” He casually asked after a few moments of silence had passed. 

He could feel Gi-Hun try and fail to suppress his anxious fidgeting, before giving in and replying timidly, “Even now, I still cannot believe you want me. This all feels so surreal… As if I'm in a dream. I’m an old omega with nothing to offer but an almost five hundred million won debt and a gambling addiction… I can’t even give you a pup.”

Sang-Woo hummed distractedly, before responding, “Well… I could ask you the same.” he began, his voice light and teasing, “I cannot believe you could accept me - and I'm scared to wake up tomorrow to find out this has all been a dream. Like I've mentioned before, I’m an old alpha with nothing to his name except a six hundred and fifty million won fraud and being a wanted criminal.” 

The alpha paused for a moment to change his tone to a more serious one, “Gi-Hun…Ever since the beginning, I’ve only wanted you. Being able to give me a pup was never really something I was concerned about. Having you in my life beside me was all I ever wanted.”

Giving a few moments for Gi-Hun to process what he had said; Sang-Woo could finally feel all tension leave the omega at last. He could practically smell the air become impossibly sweet and ripe as all traces of sourness left the man’s scent. That coupled with the telltale rise in Gi-Hun’s body temperature, shortness in breath and resumed fidgeting only further confirmed his suspicions. 

The omega was entering his main heat.

Gently flipping Gi-Hun onto his back and boxing him with his hands and knees, Sang-Woo purred out from above, “Besides, I never had the habit of sharing, Jagiya.”

Shifting his weight to a single arm, he used his now free hand to curl his fingers underneath Gi-Hun’s chin, gently forcing the omega to meet his gaze. He could hear the soft whimper released from the man beneath him as they locked eyes, and Sang-Woo let out a low rumble in response. 

“Now that I finally have you, Jagiya... I don’t think I’d even allow a pup to have your attention.” He whispered softly before lowering his face for a kiss.


X.

In every past fantasy of his, Sang-Woo always pictured their first time to be this aggressive mashing of bodies. Perhaps it was a result of all the media he had consumed at the time or their clashing personalities. Regardless, despite Gi-Hun being at the crux of his heat and Sang-Woo's instincts screaming to claim the omega beneath him immediately; the alpha found himself being unnaturally kind and tender with his conduct. Maybe it was his age that he had mellowed down, but he had a feeling it was due to the person being Gi-Hun; that he couldn’t be his usual callus self. 

Their first kiss was both sweet and chaste. Every move was slow and light, carefully measured and thoroughly thought through. It had taken the alpha by surprise, by how much care he held towards the omega beneath him. As he found himself wanting to take his time, savoring each and every reaction he could pull from Gi-Hun. Gently Sang-Woo nibbled on the omega’s lower lip, tracing the outline with his tongue - silently asking for permission. 

Gi-Hun responded so prettily, by reaching up and wrapping his arms around Sang-Woo’s neck to pull him closer.  The alpha couldn't hold back the growl which erupted from him when he finally got to taste the omega as Gi-Hun parted his lips allowing the Sang-Woo to dive in deeper. Rolling their tongue against each other, whilst alternatively sucking on the omega's lower lip, caused Gi-Hun to softly mewl and gasp into the kiss. Sang-Woo drank in every little hitched breath and muffled moan greedily. Not breaking his attention from the omega's lovely mouth, the alpha shifted his free hand from Gi-Hun’s chin to reach behind and gently squeeze the omega’s neck. The firm pressure caused Gi-Hun to arch his back, trying to close any gap between their heated bodies as he released a low moan into Sang-Woo's mouth. 

When they finally broke apart for air, Gi-Hun pleaded breathlessly, “Sang-Woo… Please...”

Finally having those doe-eyes focused on him, and him alone, was almost too much, but the alpha steeled his resolve. He wasn’t going to rush this at all, tomorrow night he would be returning to hell. Where he would have to experience all the remaining games once more. Watching people be brutally slaughtered one by one, without the comfort of having Gi-Hun beside him - was a near impossible task. As a result, he wanted to take his time, burn every single scene of this very moment into his memory. For Sang-Woo knew this moment right now and the fact Gi-Hun was waiting for him to return would provide great comfort during the trials. 

“Jagiya...” He crooned, as he began trailing kisses along the omega’s unblemished neck. “I will.... I promise…”

Gi-Hun let out soft whine, as Sang-Woo found his engorged mating gland and began lavishing it with attention. Part of him was still grateful that the omega’s ex-wife had been a beta. Not that Sang-Woo would have cared if the Gi-Hun had been claimed before; but, he did take pleasure in knowing that he would be the only one to mark the omega. Suckling on the gland, and grazing it with his teeth, Sang-Woo smirked when he heard a sharp keen erupt from the man beneath him as the omega began clawing at his back.

“Patience, Jagiya...” He purred out as he made his way further south. 

With great care not to disturb the nest too much, Sang-Woo lowered himself onto his elbows whilst his knees gently parted the omega’s legs - allowing him to settle himself between the older man’s thighs. Although the alpha had all the patience in the world - Gi-Hun didn’t. For Sang-Woo quickly found the omega wrapping his legs around his hips pressing their throbbing lengths together.

Sang-Woo growled at the sudden friction whilst he shot the omega a glare. However, Gi-Hun had picked on the lack of heat behind his gaze, and arched his back once more - closing any distance between them.

The alpha felt his control falter for a second, but he held strong. Returning his attention on the task at hand.

Which was worshiping Gi-Hun.

Sang-Woo slid one hand into the gap created between the mattress and omega’s spine. Using his fingers, he traced every curve alongside Gi-Hun’s back. Even now, San-Woo couldn’t help but marvel at how soft and smooth the skin felt across his fingertips. He couldn’t wait to provide the omega with the softest sheets and fluffiest bed in their future home. Sang-Woo would personally ensure the omega wouldn’t experience any further hardships in life. Dipping his fingers into the divot of Gi-Hun’s spine and dragging his nails downwards towards the omega’s supple bottom, Sang-Woo watched as Gi-Hun’s body trembled in response; letting out a mewl when he tightened his grip on plump bottom cheek.

Shifting himself down as he continued to leave a trail of marks down omega’s chest. Soon Sang-Woo began focusing his attention on the nipple now in front of him. Using the tip of his tongue he flicked the erect nub, and heard a Gi-Hun’s breath hitched at the sensation. Sang-Woo held back a chuckle, and then proceeded to coat the teat with his saliva; only to immediately seal it with his lips around it and suck hard. 

The response was instant, as he felt the omega thrash in his arms once more. The heat had made the older man more sensitive, and Sang-Woo drank in every reaction shamelessly. Keeping his weight on one arm, he used his other hand to roll and tease the other nub between his fingers. Although the Gi-Hun was thinner than he would prefer (possibly due to the lack of proper food), the omega’s chest was considerably plump. The alpha mused absentmindedly if he continued to lavish the man’s chest with attention and bully a little more, would the omega begin to lactate?

Filing the obscure thought for a later date, Sang-Woo released the drenched nipple and switched sides.

Hearing Gi-Hun cry out in frustration was music to his ears. He could wait to drive this man to the edge before claiming him. 

“Sang-Woo! Please!” The omega begged as he teased the bud in his mouth, and the alpha could feel the urgency building in his cries. Even the grinding of their cocks had become more erratic as time passed. 

However Sang-Woo still wasn’t done. 

“I will, Jagiya. I promise.” He crooned once more, stroking the omega’s side to sooth him. 

Once he assessed that Gi-Hun had calmed down enough, Sang-Woo shuffled himself lower. He could feel his mouth water the closer he got towards the omega’s opening. His years of self-discipline and memories of his past life were the only things that kept him from snapping and immediately thrusting into the omega. Although it was possible that Gi-hun was wet enough to handle the sudden intrusion; Sang-Woo couldn't bear causing even the slightest amount of discomfort. 

Ignoring his painfully throbbing length, Sang-Woo enveloped the omega’s cock into his mouth and hallowed his cheeks. At that, Gi-Hun gasped and shuddered as his hands fisted the sheets. Pleased at the reaction, Sang-Woo began to swirl his tongue around the head before beginning to bob his head up and down. He could feel the omega’s hips starting to buck; and using his strength he wrapped his arms around Gi-Hun’s thighs, holding the older man in place. 

“Sang-Woo!” Gi-Hun sobbed out, burying his hands in the alpha’s hair. “Please! I can’t! Please!”

Feeling the omega’s body tense up (a sign of a fast growing orgasm), Sang-Woo immediately pulled off Gi-Hun’s cock with an audible wet pop. Propping himself up, the alpha took in the utterly debauched omega below him. Red puffy lips from being bitten continuously, eyes unfocused and full of unshed tears, skin flush and glistening with the sheen of sweat. In a sense he did feel a little guilty from edging the omega too much. However, he couldn’t help himself - every little sound Gi-Hun made was far too addictive to stop from doing so. 

“You promised, Sang-Woo...” The omega whimpered, and Sang-Woo’s heart clenched at the broken tone he used. “You promised...”

“I will, Jagiya.” He cooed out, bending down once more to card his fingers through Gi-Hun’s hair. “Let me savour you. Adore you. Worship you.” he whispered huskily, peppering the omega’s flushed face with soft kisses. 

Reaching down, between their bodies and between the omega’s legs, Sang-Woo quickly found Gi-Hun’s opening. It was truly a sight to see how responsive Gi-Hun was towards his touch, as he watched the omega throw his head back as he circled the tight ring of muscle with his finger tips. Clenching his jaw, Sang-Woo slowly pushed one finger past the rim and sucked in his breath as he felt the warm wet heat cocoon his finger. He couldn’t wait to have that heat around his cock and knot. 

He allowed a few seconds to pass before adding the second - growling as he felt the omega clench around his fingers. Gi-Hun keened and shivered as he began playing with the rim, stretching it in order to reduce any future discomfort when he entered. Pumping his fingers and adding a third, Sang-Woo continued to further loosen the muscle. Although it wasn’t necessary to do this much given how wet Gi-Hun was - he would rather be safe than sorry.

It didn’t take long for Sang-Woo to find the omega’s prostate; as feeling around and applying pressure to a certain spot made the older man's body lurch and cry out. Sang-Woo took a mental note of the location, as he continued to circle and rub around that area - causing Gi-Hun to tremble and moan with every stroke.

“I want you, Sang-Woo.” The omega whispered beathily, “I want you now, Alpha.”

What little control Sang-Woo had remaining, subsequently snapped at that primal address. Decades of fantasizing Gi-Hun calling him by that, and finally hearing it in reality was unbearable. Burying his face into the crook of the omega’s neck, Sang-Woo let out a low growl. Taking a moment to recollect whatever that was left of his self-restraint, Sang-Woo slowly  withdrew his fingers; to which the omega let out a disappointed and needy whine at their loss. 

Using the remaining slick on his fingers to coat his cock, Sang-Woo spied a worn out pillow nearby. Gi-Hun must have been watching him, for without a word the omega lifted his hips - allowing the alpha to slide the pillow under his buttocks, propping himself up. Satisfied with the position and swiping the extra slick which had run down Gi-Hun’s thigh to lubricate his cock further, Sang-Woo guided his cock to the omega’s entrance. 

Sang-Woo made sure to keep his attention on Gi-Hun’s face as he pushed forward. He wanted to burn every single reaction the omega displayed into his mind as he buried himself gradually into that incredibly addictive opening. Seeing the older man’s eyes roll back, hands fisting the sheets once more and mouth slack open to moan as he entered inch by inch. It was sinful erotic and nothing else compared to the sight he had before him.The alpha gritted his teeth and grunted as he felt his length slowly being engulfed into that slick wet heat. Despite stretching the man out with three of his fingers wasn’t enough as Gi-Hun was still impossibly tight. 

“Fucking hell.” Sang-Woo swore as he focused on his breathing to take his mind off his growing orgasm. 

He was no longer young. Long gone were the days where he could cum twice in a row. 

“So fucking tight. So fucking perfect.” He groaned, to which the omega below him preened, breaking eye contact to look away as flush took over their body.

‘Cute.’ His mind supplied, and San-Woo couldn’t help but feel affectionate at the endearing reaction for his praises. He definitely would be complimenting the omega more in the future to see Gi-Hun blush so prettily.

Unable to contain his feelings, Sang-Woo lent down and pressed a soft kiss on the omega’s forehead. He allowed a few moments to pass for the two of them to adjust to the overwhelming sensation, and once he felt Gi-Hun’s frame relax he shot a questioning look. The omega hesitantly nodded and wrapped his arms and legs around Sang-Woo. Returning the embrace, the alpha began thrusting his hips. 

Only taking an inch at a time, with an excruciatingly slow and languid pace to make sure there wasn’t any discomfort for the omega; Sang-Woo began thrusting. He shuddered as he watched Gi-Hun tremble and twitch at every move. Gradually, the alpha increased his pace, and his thrust became harder and faster. As a response, Gi-Hun’s cries picked up in volume; gasping when Sang-Woo ground his hips or keened when he changed the angle of his thrust to hit where the omega’s prostate would be - was absolutely delectable. 

Feeling his knot begin to swell, Sang-Woo pulled away. Much as he wanted to knot the absolutely amazing omega beneath him, being tied in missionary wasn’t comfortable in the long run. Gi-hun let out a loud frustrated cry at the sudden loss of his length, but allowed the alpha to guide him on to his knees. Perhaps it was a hardwired instinct, for the omega immediately parted his legs and lowered his chest and face onto the mattress.

Presenting himself to Sang-Woo.

Unconsciously, the alpha felt the rumble build within his chest at the scene before him, “Beautiful.” he rasped at the sight. 

“Please, Alpha.” Gi-Hun begged, turning his head to the side allowing him to make eye contact with Sang-Woo. “Mate me, Alpha.”

Sang-Woo made a strangled sound before growling as he lurched forward, unable to control himself from roughly re-entering the omega from behind. However, Gi-Hun didn’t seem to mind for he cried out in pleasure as Sang-Woo’s length slid back in. Gripping the man’s hips and keeping the pace from earlier, Sang-Woo drank in the sight of a frantically mewling Gi-hun below him. The alpha adjusted his hips with every thrust until he found the angle in which his cock would rub against the omega’s prostate - he knew he found the right one from the buckling knees, incomprehensible babbling and clawing of the sheets. 

It was a shame they couldn’t continue this for long, for Sang-Woo could feel the Gi-Hun’s body tense up once more. Not to mention, he too was reaching his climax as well. Draping his body over the omega, Sang-Woo reached down and began pumping Gi-Hun’s length to the rhythm of his thrusts. With a few more thrusts and pumps, Sang-Woo felt Gi-Hun clamp drown his cock with a vice-like grip as the omega climaxed on to his hand - crying out his name. 

Sang-Woo soon followed Gi-Hun as he rutted against the shuddering figure. The alpha felt his vision unfocused as the rush of his orgasm flooded his system. Feeling his knot swell locking them in place, he sighed. Once the initial wave has passed Sang-Woo gently lowered himself to the side; pulling the omega into his embrace. 

Coming down from the high and once their breathing had returned to normal, Sang-Woo whispered softly, “Gi-Hun, would you allow me to be your pair?” 

What truly was seconds, but felt like an eternity; Gi-Hun whispered back, “Yes, Sang-Woo.”

With that, Sang-Woo bit down on the omega’s mating gland.


X.

Waking up in Gi-Hun’s nest, and with the omega in his arms was indescribable.

Intrinsically, Sang-Woo knew that his life was now on a different path.

A newer path. 

A better path.

His future has changed, and even with the ever present looming deadline to return to the game drawing closer, Sang-Woo knew there wasn’t anything to fear. 

Gi-Hun was safe, and away from harm. 

He had prior knowledge of what the games would be, and who the other contestants were. He knew that his win wasn’t guaranteed, but now had more of a reason to come back alive. Now that he finally had Gi-Hun within his reach, he couldn’t allow the stupid possibility fo death snatch their future together away from him. Thinking about the other contestants, his heart twinged painfully. Although he could prevent Gi-Hun from rejoining; he couldn’t prevent Ali or Sae-Byeok. Realistically, he would have to watch them die once more. 

However, this time he would avoid trying to play a role in their demise. 

He owed them that much.   

“What are you thinking so deeply about?” A sleepy voice broke his train of thought. 

Sang-Woo turned his head towards it’s direction, and couldn’t stop the soft fond smile from appearing on his face. 

It was nothing like he had imagined when he was younger. They weren’t in a plush luxurious apartment or house in Gangnam, drowning in the most expensive Egyptian cotton sheets and pillows that money could buy. The room was damp and run down, with barely any furniture. Even the mattress didn’t feel as if it did anything, for Sang-Woo could feel the cold and hardness of the floor bite into his back. Not to mention the alarming amount of mold he could see growing on the ceiling. 

Yet.. It was everything he’d hope for.

Gi-Hun curled beautifully in his arms, with their legs intertwined. His knot had gone down, allowing the omega to turn in his embrace - his head resting against Sang-Woo’s chest and securely tucked under his chin. There wasn't any space between them as their bodies had melted into one another overnight - perhaps to keep warm from yesterday's downpour. The omega’s hair was a mess, and his skin was littered with bruises and bites - Sang-Woo purred internally at the sight of the healing claim mark now an angry bright red against the milky white of Gi-Hun’s neck. 

“Perfect.” He whispered unconsciously as he stared at Gi-Hun, resulting in the omega flushing red and burying his face into Sang-Woo’s chest. 

“I’m not.” Gi-Hun muttered under his breath, obviously trying to hide his embarrassment. However, the reaction only made San-Woo want to tease the man further. 

“You are... My perfect little omega.” Sang-Woo crooned huskily in Gi-Hun’s ear, causing the man to gasp and shiver in his arms. Although the main heat had passed, the omega was still coming down from his cycle. Feeling his cock twitch with interest, Sang-Woo ground his length against Gi-Hun’s - perhaps another round was possible before he left for the games. 

Regardless it didn’t matter if they couldn’t, for Sang-Woo was satisfied with Gi-Hun’s shy blushing face as he tried to hide it in the alpha’s chest. 

It was absolutely adorable. 

Unable to contain himself, Sang-Woo tightened his arms around the omega and pressed a soft kiss on the crown of his head. He couldn’t have cared less if they had remained in this position till he had to leave. Having said that, the gurgling sounds of Gi-Hun’s stomach made the alpha within him want to provide for his new mate.

“Come...” He urged gently, “Let’s find something to eat.”

However, his tugging was rebuffed with Gi-Hun pulling him down to the mattress. Sang-Woo smiled exasperatedly at the petulant nature, and ran a hand through the omega’s wild hair.

“It’s not good for you to remain hungry and dehydrated.” He whispered soothingly, in an attempt to reason with the other man.

After a few moments of silence he heard Gi-Hun speak up, voice muffled by his chest, “Do you have to leave?”

The somber tone immediately told Sang-Woo what the omega was referring to, “Unfortunately.” he answered regrettably. 

“There has to be another way, Sang-Woo.” Gi-Hun urged, looking up to meet his gaze. Sang-Woo could feel his chest knot up painfully at the bewildered, broken expression on the omega’s face. “Use that special mind of yours. There’s got to be another way… You can’t go back to that place. You saw what they did… I can’t lose you too… I just can’t...”

It had always been a topic of conflict for the alpha, Gi-Hun’s naivety and optimism. During the games he would often find himself being annoyed by the older man’s sunny disposition. Yet, he couldn’t help but be pulled towards it as well. The gentle hopefulness Gi-Hun would display had always been a soothing balm towards his tormented soul during the lull between the games. It was also a  painful reminder in the end to what he sacrificed as well - selling his humanity and moral consciousness for the prize money. 

Now he knew, his annoyance was never about Gi-Hun’s lack of self awareness; rather, his personal inability to reciprocate. It was a clear indication of how unworthy he was of the omega - his dirty black soul wanted Gi-Hun’s untainted one. 

Had he been a bigger man, Sang-Woo would have walked away in this life.

He knew his choices in this life wouldn’t absolve his past ones.

He knew his hands were still stained with betrayal and blood. 

Despite knowing all that, Sang-Woo couldn’t let Gi-Hun go. 

For Gi-Hun was his. 

Sang-Woo pulled the now sobbing omega into him, and allowed his alpha instincts to take over. Pushing out a steady calming scent and a deep rumbling purr vibrate in his chest, whilst Sang-Woo rubbed soothing circles along Gi-Hun’s back. Had there been an alternative, he could have taken it in a heartbeat. However, they both needed the money. Gi-Hun’s mother needed medication and he had a feeling his mother was already alerted about his fraud. 

“Gi-Hun... Jagiya...” He began, once he knew the omega had sufficiently calmed down, “I know my word isn't worth much right now.” Hushing the expected rebuttal, Gi-Hun was about to make at that statement, he continued, “I can’t give you any guarantee right now, but I promise you - I will win and I will return.”

He knew those words didn’t provide much comfort, and he wished there was a way to prove he was to return. Running his hand through the omega’s hair, “Seven days from tonight. I promise you I will call for you in seven days.” Assuming the games played out in the same manner and the contestants were eliminated similarly; five games remained for five days, and he gave himself two days of leeway.

Hearing a noncommittal noise from the omega, Sang-Woo smiled sadly.

This would have to do.


X.

It was eerie and unsettling at how near identical the games and the time between played out without Gi-Hun being present. Ali had tried to befriend him initially, but Sang-Woo remained distant. He neither wanted to befriend the man due his guilt of betraying the Pakistani, nor did he want to distance the man due to his role in the Tug-O-War game. The curious questions regarding Gi-Hun he replied with an uninterested shrug, but his eyes would gravitate towards the bed that the omega had used in his past life. 

Although he hadn’t approached Sae-Byeok before the honeycomb game, she still chose the triangle and Ali had chosen the circle. Even the Tug-O-War teams wound up the same despite him distancing from the old team. Only difference being that there were nine players in each team and not ten. Perhaps more players had failed to pass the honeycomb game in this life, for Gi-Hun’s genius idea of licking the back of the disc wasn’t demonstrated by the omega to be copied. 

The only thing that felt different was the old man’s attention to him. 

At first he had considered the man daydreaming due to his age; however, Sang-Woo quickly noticed the subtle looks and stares the man sent his way. 

Now that he thought about it, when the fighting broke out once more he noticed that it wasn’t until the old man began crying out to stop it did they switch on the lights. Many other players had done the same, but it wasn’t until the old man spoke up did the fight be controlled. Not forgetting he had seen how feeble and uncontrolled the man was of his body - it was impossible to think that the old man managed to evade the motion detector on the doll in the first game. Maybe it was a mixture of curiosity and guaranteed win that he decided to pair up with the old man for the marble game. 

“Where is your friend?” the man asked Sang-Woo whilst they played with the marbles.

Sang-Woo knew Gi-Hun had befriended the old timer, hence it wasn’t unexpected. However, he chose to remain silent and focus on the game. 

“You know... I ran into him... the night before and he mentioned he would be joining the games.” The old man spoke to himself, but the new information caught Sang-Woo off guard. 

The old man must have known something, for he smiled when Sang-Woo looked up to meet his gaze. The alpha narrowed his eyes, and curtly responded, “He’s somewhere safe.” 

This time it was the old man who had been rendered speechless, for he blinked several times as if Sang-Woo spoke another language.

After a few tense seconds, the old man mused out, “Ahh, I see... You’re playing for both of you and him.” There was a brief pause before the man added in absentmindedly, “How... Self-less...”

It unnerved Sang-Woo how the old man managed to figure that out, but he chose not to respond; only allowing the gunshots and the announcement of eliminated players to fill the silence. His instincts were telling him to keep his omega far away from the man before him, yet he couldn’t figure out why he found the man a threat. 

“You may have mastered the art in hiding your expression and tone, but you still are an open book when it comes to your scent.” The old man supplied. “When you came here you had the lingering scent of a freshly mated alpha, and your friend that night was entering his heat… it wasn’t hard to put it together.”

Sang-Woo cursed internally at the lack of scent blockers. It was an educated guess, but a correct one nonetheless. Regardless it wasn’t in vain, something the man mentioned hinted at something. The old man spoke about being able to control one’s scent, and the way he worded it seemed it was without the use of scent blockers. The only people he knew who were able to do so were always from the richest families in Korea or anywhere else in the world. It was a trained behaviour that only the richest could afford to learn. 

Player 199. Eliminated. 

‘Ali.’ His mind whispered sadly before refocusing on the old man. 

There was no way, such an individual would enter this shit hole - unless it was done voluntarily.

One thing he learnt working in investment, no matter how much debt the rich incurred. Their network would always come in to help them stay afloat. Which was why he hadn’t felt any shame in committing the fraud. 

Player 240. Eliminated.

‘Sae-Byeok must be in tears now.’ The alpha idly thought as he looked towards the direction of the gunshot.

Keeping his suspicions to himself, Sang-Woo continued to play the game. This time no longer felt guilty in cheating the old man of his marbles (he had practiced his sleight of hand, in hiding the marbles whenever necessary). The man had mentioned he was terminally ill, which had initially appeased Sang-Woo;  but, now he had a feeling that even if the old man had lost the game - he wouldn’t be killed.  

“You’re a smart one, aren’t you?" The old man commented as he kept losing his marbles. Eyes shining knowingly and his expression openly amused. 

Sang-Woo neither confirmed nor denied that statement, by remaining silent and stoic. 

“Perhaps there is some good in the world.” The man muttered to himself sagely, before handing Sang-Woo the final marble. "Ah! I remember! My name is Oh Il-Nam. It was a pleasure playing with you."

“Do try to win, Cho Sang-Woo.” He added as Sang-Woo turned around. 

He didn’t even bother looking back when the gunshot echoed. Only taking note of the lack of a wet thump, that usually indicated a body falling to the floor.

Player 001. Eliminated.

“Bullshit.” Sang-Woo cursed under his breath as the guard led him away from the game area.


X.

Sang-Woo allowed his mind to wander as he rode the limo with arms tied behind his back and blindfolded. As expected the final game was between Sae-Byeok and him. However, her injuries had prevented her from fighting him properly. Despite him being a cold and brutal man, Sang-Woo found himself hesitating to kill her. Although he knew he could easily overpower and win the game; he chose to only focus on defending. He had already ended her life once, he couldn’t do it again.

He still recalled the utter loathing and hate that entered Gi-Hun’s eyes.

Even though this life’s Gi-Hun would have no knowledge of it, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“Shall we enact rule three?” he asked her, noticing her grow weaker from blood loss.

“No.” She answered instantly, eyes firm and resolute. “It would make Ji-Yeong’s sacrifice worthless. It would make everyone’s death worthless.”

“Then what can I do for you?” He changed the topic. Sae-Byeok collapsed to the floor, but he didn’t approach her. Despite their amicable relationship this round, they didn’t trust each other.

“Look after my brother... Cheol. Kang Cheol.” The young alpha must have realised she wouldn’t be able to win the game, for she began giving details of the boy’s location. 

“Understood.” Sang-Woo replied firmly as he watched her close her eyes and her body become motionless. 

“Congratulations.” The front man’s voice pulled him from his memories, and Sang-Woo turned his head in the direction it had come from.

“Thanks.” He replied curtly, keeping his voice steady despite how vulnerable he currently felt.

“The host is extremely impressed with you.” The man continued, his voice despite being emotionless; held a small pause to convey his confusion and curiosity.

Sang-Woo kept his silence. He had guessed these games had an organiser, it was obvious from the scale of the operation and money placed into the pot. However, he also knew that nothing good came out of piquing such people’s interest. He wasn’t stupid to think that Gi-Hun and he wouldn’t be left unmonitored by them, but he didn’t want to arise any further suspicion apart from being a former players of the game. 

The Front Man paid no attention to his silence and continued nonchalantly, “From the start, you were picked to be a favourite to win - your character profile mentioned you would make the necessary decisions to win for each game. No matter how heartless or brutal they were.”

He could feel the weight of the Front Man’s penetrative stare, and despite how unnerving it felt; Sang-Woo kept himself calm and collected. The other man may have the higher ground, but he wasn’t going to cower in fear. 

“Which was why it was surprising to all of us, of your decision on how to play the final round.” Another brief pause as if for Sang-Woo to speak up, but the alpha held his silence. Sensing that he wouldn’t add anything to the conversation, the Front Man spoke up once more, “Some of the VIPs weren’t happy by the lack of a bloody final battle; however they were delighted by the rather unpredictable turn of events…”

In spite of his decision to remain impartial, Sang-Woo couldn’t help but strain his ear to hear the Front Man’s voice. 

“That the most pragmatic and logical man in the game decided he wanted to play house with one player and adopt another’s relative was... unexpectedly selfless.” The Front Man ended, his controlled nature cracked at the final two words.

Although he felt the silent pressure to answer, Sang-Woo was more focused on the fact they knew about his mating with Gi-Hun. He wasn’t surprised by their knowledge, they did know each player's circumstances, address and other intimate details. However, his alpha instincts were raging at the mention of his mate from another alpha (despite the lack of scent from the front man, the way the man carried himself screamed alpha). Sang-Woo knew the money was nothing more than an elaborate and expensive leash; that he and Gi-Hun would always be on the games organiser’s radar. 

“You won the money fair and square.” The front man commented, “We won’t interfere with your life.”

Sang-Woo held back a scorff; interfering didn’t mean they wouldn’t be watching him closely or trying to make contact with him. If the host was impressed with him, coupled with the nagging feeling of the old man still being alive - they would definitely be in contact in the future. The only three questions were how soon, what about and if he could decline their call or offer.  

Gi-Hun’s safety and happiness was his priority - he’d burn everything else to the ground to guarantee that. 

“Either way... Good-bye, Cho Sang-Woo.” The Front Man said as he heard the gas hiss inside the vehicle; and his world faded black.


X.

Sang-Woo wakes up to the pain of his face meeting the hard gavel of a road and something sharp stuffed into his mouth. Once the throbbing pain of a headache resided to a more manageable level, he focused on trying to rid himself of the blindfold and spitting out what was shoved into his mouth. Fortunately there was a curious religious fanatic, who had come to his aid.

Standing up and dusting his clothes, Sang-Woo gazed at the object in front of him - an ATM card. Wrinkling his nose in disgust, he wiped the saliva off the card and then took his surroundings.

He almost snorted when he saw a lit up ATM not too far away from him. 

‘How crass.’ Sang-Woo thought as he made his way towards the machine.

Inserting the card and faced with the request to insert his pin, he paused for a moment. 

There wasn’t any number on the card or note mentioning his pin number. It was highly unlikely that the organisers of the game would cheat him out of the prize after going through all that to host them (he doubted that the payout was even a fraction of the cost to run the event). Which led him to thinking that it was a number he was familiar with.

There was only one number that tied him to the games.

Carefully he punched in a familiar series of numbers.

0218.

Seeing the bank balance screen, Sang-Woo let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. 

Finally.

Finally the money was his. 

“No...” Sang-Woo immediately corrected himself, recalling Gi-Hun’s broken expression in his last moments.

“It’s his.” He muttered to himself, as he withdrew ten thousand won for his journey back home. Everything he had done till now was for Gi-Hun. The nights he spent gazing at the illuminated piggy bank above him were no longer filled with aspirations to regain his previous status in life. What drove Sang-Woo was the need to provide his omega with the life he always dreamt of giving. 

Many had praised his intellect; but, Sang-Woo knew otherwise. It took him literally dying and being brought back to the past for him to realise his feelings for Gi-Hun. It took him literally stabbing his own neck to realise how much the omega cared for him. How much the omega was willing to sacrifice for him. How much the omega was willing to put aside, just to walk away with Sang-Woo’s pathetic life in hand. 

He still couldn’t believe that Gi-Hun still wanted him to be in his life despite turning into an absolutely deplorable human being.

Nearly killing the man twice in his previous life, and still being chosen above the prize money - he truly didn’t deserve being Gi-Hun’s mate. 

Yet, Sang-Woo still couldn’t relinquish his hold on the omega. 

In this life he was considered selfless, but Sang-Woo knew the truth. 

He was a selfish, greedy and possessive bastard. 

Turning on his heel he began walking towards the nearby taxi stand - he had a mate to return to.


X.

Sang-Woo wasn’t impervious to the uncertainty of Gi-Hun's possible reaction towards his return.

Although he was largely confident the omega would be happy with his arrival; the seven days he had been away from his mate - anything could have happened. He had provided Gi-Hun with what little funds he stowed away for his mother’s immediate treatment; making sure the money was used on the hospital before leaving for the games (Sang-Woo trusted his mate in being faithful, but he didn’t with money... perhaps the gravity of his mother’s illness would have prevented Gi-Hun from gambling it away, but he couldn’t be sure). 

Despite the whirlwind of emotion swirling inside his mind, Sang-Woo pressed the bell to the Seong residence. 

Hearing the door open and the slow shuffle of footsteps make their way to the front gate, Sang-Woo heard his omega gruffly ask before appearing in line of sight, "Who is it?" 

Smiling at the mild annoyance in the man’s tone, the alpha simply answered, "It's me."

He could hear the footsteps pause for a moment before sprinting towards him. 

"Sang-Woo?" Gi-Hun whispered brokenly as their eyes met through the bars of the gate. "Is that really you?"

"Yes, Jagiya." He replied softly, "I'm back… as I promised you - I won." 

Within a matter of seconds, the metal gate was flung open and Sang-Woo had his arms filled with a sobbing omega. 

He really wasn't keeping his promise of not making Gi-Hun cry, was he? 

Fortunately he had the strength to hold them both upright and the lack of people in the middle of the night gave them privacy from unwanted attention. He would have immediately ushered Gi-Hun inside had it been the day; but due to how empty the street was, Sang-Woo simply chose instead to tighten his arms around his mate instead. 

"I prayed." Gi-Hun babbled in between sobs, "I prayed every day for you to come back to me." 

Sang-Woo was never a religious man, but given that was sent back in time… he wasn't so sure now. Instead he replied rather plainly, "Thank you, Jagiya." 

Running a hand along the omega’s spine, Sang-Woo gently soothed the man in his arms. Once he felt the tension gradually fade away from Gi-Hun’s frame, the alpha softly coaxed his mate inside. 

Although they had moved from the streets to inside the house, Gi-Hun and he had yet to break apart. No matter how disgusting he felt (he couldn't imagine how he smelt), Sang-Woo couldn't summon the willpower to peel Gi-Hun away from him. The past week had been literal hell - not forgetting the fact he had gone through it twice. However, it was worth it. 

Gi-Hun was worth every second of it. 

Sang-Woo felt his lips curve upwards as he felt the omega snuggle into his arms, desperately clutching onto his figure. His mate had clearly exhausted himself from all the crying and was now blissfully asleep. They were far from any mattress or bed, lying on the cold living room floor. Yet, Sang-Woo never felt more comfortable. 

Bit by bit his frazzled nerves, keyed up senses and near crippling anxiety melted away as he watched the steady rise and fall of Gi-Hun’s chest. 

Gi-Hun was alive.

He was alive.

They were both alive. 

Pressing a soft chaste kiss on the omega’s mouth, Sang-Woo allowed the rhythm of both their heartbeats to lull him to sleep.


X.

It's funny how money could turn one's life around. 

Sang-Woo had heard that phrase multiple times throughout his professional career; but this was the first time he had experienced it.

The first order of business was to clear both of their debts and Sang-Woo’s name. Both Gi-Hun and he decided to keep their mothers in the dark about his crimes, and allowed them to assume the whole thing was a misunderstanding by the police and his work. It wasn’t hard to explain the money either, given his work in securities; which both women happily accepted. The only hiccup was the sliver of disappointment in his mother’s eyes when he confirmed that Gi-Hun was his chosen mate. 

He could understand why, the lack of prospective children and Gi-Hun’s past as a gambling addict. Nonetheless, the alpha remained firm and stood his ground. Sensing his inflexibility in his decision, his mother conceded. Although her rather quick change of heart  was possibly due to Gi-Hun keeping in touch with her and helping her out at the store all these years. Even the week he was gone, his mate had stayed true to his word and looked after both their mothers attentively. Maybe it was his mother's illness, the bonding, Sang-Woo’s participation in the games or an amalgamation of the three that had kicked the omega’s destructive habit. 

It wasn’t easy for Gi-Hun, for Sang-Woo had seen how the man struggled at denying himself of the temptation.

How quickly the omega would look away from the gambling establishments he’d often frequent in the past, or tightly grip Sang-Woo’s hand as if it were a lifeline whenever it was advertised or mentioned within their vicinity. Regardless, the effort wasn’t unnoticed by the alpha; and he couldn’t help but feel the growing sense of pride at every little win the omega made towards it. Gi-Hun had initially refused to be allowed to handle any money; but as the months passed, and with consistent gentle encouragement from Sang-Woo he accepted a card for their joint account.  

He still found it amusing at how easily their lives had melted into each other. At how easily it flowed together. With their mothers being witnesses, they registered their bonding with the ministry after clearing his name. Sang-Woo purchased a spacious apartment in the city for both women to share (having their mother as best friends did help in preventing any predictable in-law drama), whilst Gi-Hun and he bought a house in a wealthy residential area. 

Sang-Woo had briefly considered returning to his old career, but quickly dismissed it, recalling the amount of effort he would have to put in. He had already wasted enough time ignoring Gi-Hun, he wouldn’t start again due to his work. Fortunately his experience in wealth management was proven useful, as it allowed him to know where to invest the remaining prize money profitably. Now many of his work days were spent in his study answering emails and only leaving the house to attend key stakeholder meetings. 

Gi-Hun on the other hand, had fully embraced his traditional omega role of taking care of the house and all of it’s chores. Sang-Woo was rather impartial towards societal norms of couples; he couldn’t care less of what role his mate wanted to take as long as the omega was happy. If his mate enjoyed the cooking, cleaning and laundry; then so be it. Sang-Woo himself enjoyed spoiling and providing for his omega - so couldn't complain about following some archaic rules. Perhaps there was some truth to their instincts and the traditions of old (but then again the alpha didn’t think about it too deeply). 

Once they had settled into a comfortable routine, Sang-Woo sat Gi-Hun down and spoke about his promise to Sae-Byeok. He knew that his mate was curious about what happened in the games, but Sang-Woo remained tight-lipped about that week. Although he hadn’t tricked Ali, pushed the glassmaker or attacked the Sae-Byeok; he wanted to keep Gi-Hun as far away from the games as possible. 

“You don’t have to tell me about what happened.” Gi-Hun stated firmly, when one of their late night conversations went towards the direction of the games and Sang-Woo refused to answer.  He still recalls how tenderly the omega held his hands, reassuring him that he wasn’t angry at Sang-Woo’s silence. 

“Just promise me you will never lie to me when you do, Yeobo.”

“I promise, Jagiya.”

Sang-Woo felt his expression soften at that particular memory.

Despite Gi-Hun being an open book of emotions and extremely charitable with skinship, he was uncharacteristically shy about using pet names. Only doing so in the privacy of their home and never in front of any company. Although the omega had no qualms about holding hands in public (and the occasional stolen kiss when no one was looking), Gi-Hun still blushed whenever Sang-Woo would address him affectionately. Even in the presence of Cheol, the omega would flush slightly and would reluctantly respond in kind after much deliberation. 

Kang Cheol’s introduction to their life hasn't changed much of their dynamic either. Though Sang-Woo was partially reluctant to bring the boy to their home instead of their mothers, he quickly found himself becoming attached to the young pup. He had initially been against the boy coming into their lives, due to the possibility of sharing Gi-Hun’s attention with him. However, much like his sister; Cheol was smart and understood that Gi-Hun was his during the day and Sang-Woo’s after work - an unspoken agreement between them.

It was amazing how easily the young pup and omega had bonded. Perhaps there was something about Gi-Hun that exuded safety, comfort and trust; for he remembered in his previous life, even Sae-Byeok began seeking out the man towards the end of the games. It hadn’t escaped his attention the somber mood that would grow each time Gi-Hun spoke to his daughter Ga-Yeong; and it had alarmed the alpha for he couldn’t think of a suitable solution. Thankfully, bringing Cheol to their home seemed to remedy that, as he would watch the omega nearly smother the pup with maternal affection. 

Although it was never explicitly discussed, Sang-Woo figured that his failure in being a good parent for his daughter, was the reason as to why his mate absolutely refused him at the suggestion of placing the pup in their mothers' care. 

He could still remember the first they all met. 

“Kang Cheol” He began softly as he crouched down to meet the boy's eye level and to reduce his intimidating stature.

The pup watched him cautiously, and Sang-Woo couldn’t help but be reminded of the younger woman with similar mannerism. Smiling sadly and keeping his voice unthreatening, the alpha continued, “Your sister, Sae-Byeok, asked me to take care of you.”

“Where's Nuna?” The boy immediately questioned and Sang-Woo felt Gi-Hun become restless behind him. 

“I’m sorry, Cheol… But your sister passed away.” He answered honestly. Gi-Hun and him both agreed lying about the whole situation wasn’t going to help matters down the line. However, he dreaded facing the emotional breakdown upon conveying the news. Sang-Woo was talented at many things, but comforting children wasn’t one of them. Hence his omega’s presence for this initial meeting. 

But Cheol proved him wrong by remaining largely composed. The pup averted his gaze and Sang-Woo could see the rapid blinking away of tears and quivering of his lower lip - Cheol had suspected his sister's demise, Sang-Woo merely confirmed it. Although the boy remained fairly still, the alpha could see the faint trembling of suppressed emotions in his frame. Even his scent had soured with sadness, and he could smell Gi-Hun’s scent react instinctively towards it. Sang-Woo sent a look towards his mate, to remain where he was; and Gi-Hun reluctantly nodded back.

The alpha understood the need to comfort the pup; but at this moment, Cheol had only just met them. The boy probably had a lot of questions, and he had the answers. Sang-Woo knew he couldn’t tell the entire truth, but he would try to come as close to it. Preserve the image the boy had of his older sister - leave it untainted from the knowledge of her participation in a death game.

He owned Sae-Byeok that much.   

“How?” Cheol finally choked out, voice and lip both trembling as he spoke. 

“She got badly injured in a competition to win a lot of money.” He replied simply, painting over a lot of the gruesome details. He hadn’t even shared them with Gi-Hun, for the less they knew - the better. 

“Stupid Nuna.” The boy muttered under his breath as he finally crumpled and Gi-Hun immediately scooped the pup into his arms. Despite the initial distrust Cheol had towards them, the sadness of losing his sister was enough for him to lower his guard and seek out comfort from his omega mate. Sang-Woo watched Gi-Hun nuzzle the boy in his arms as he slowly rubbed circles along the pup's back. 

“Why are you helping me?” Cheol finally asked after he had mellowed down. 

Sang-Woo smiled once more at the boy as he answered, “I made a promise to your sister to look after you.”

The alpha sighed fondly at that memory. Realistically, he knew the boy would grow up and would want to hear more details later on in life; and Sang-Woo had often contemplated that decision. Cheol did have a right to know the truth, but what good would it be? The young pup may end up hating them, and that would break his mate’s heart. Also there was a possibility of the boy trying to enact revenge on those involved - he was pretty sure Sae-Byeok would reach out from beyond the grave to kill him, if anything were to happen to her little brother. 

‘What a mess.’ Sang-Woo grouched internally, but never regretted any of his decisions. He had seen how happy Gi-Hun had become, now that Cheol had entered their lives. So for that he would figure a way out that would ensure the happiness remained untouched. 

Walking out of the specialty jewellery shop, Sang-Woo smiled to himself as his thoughts shifted. He had noticed Gi-Hun had been looking at collars lately; more often than not, the omega’s gaze would drift to displayed collars at various stores and unconsciously touch his neck. Sang-Woo hadn’t gifted his mate one earlier in their relationship due to it being considered an outdated tradition. However, if his omega desired one; he would gladly place the most suitable collar around Gi-Hun’s beautiful neck. 

Thankfully, there were still some places that custom made collars. Sang-Woo had been regularly making secret trips outside these past few weeks to check on the progress as he wanted to surprise the omega with a gift for the new year. He knew Gi-Hun had noticed his suspicious behaviour, but hadn't said anything - something Sang-Woo was grateful for, as he couldn't think of a good enough excuse to explain his trips. Neither could he outright lie to his omega. 

As he steadily made his way towards the location he had parked his car. Sang-Woo noticed something tucked underneath one of his wipers.

A solitary rose, with a small black envelope tied with a pink ribbon.

No matter how warmly he had dressed for winter, his blood ran cold as a familiar chill of dread crept into his mind. He knew their lives were monitored, and he knew he would be in contact - Sang-Woo wasn't naive to think that his winning would mark the end of the relationship. He had only hoped the time between that fateful limo ride and now would have been longer. Heart raging, the alpha snarled underneath his breath before carefully opening the envelope to pull out a gold card from within to see three familiar symbols. With great trepidation, he flipped the invitation to the other side. 

December 24th, 11:30PM
Sky Building, 7th Floor
From Player 001

Sang-Woo couldn't help but laugh. 

Sometimes, he hated being right.


X.

Christmas Eve had been a rather quiet affair. Neither Gi-Hun nor he observed the holiday, but for the sake of Cheol they decided to go through all the traditions of setting up the tree, decorating and buying presents. Although, the boy feigned disinterest; they both could see the impatient glances towards the parcels under the tree and innocent curiosity towards many of the glimmering decorations littered around the apartment. 

Having finally put the child to sleep and ensuring his own mate was out cold. Sang-Woo slipped out of their bed and quickly changed into a turtleneck and pants. The alpha took one last look of the slumbering omega, before grabbing his coat and heading out. 

The trip to Sky Building wasn't long, but Sang-Woo felt his instincts coil up in agitation. He would do anything to keep the life he had - to keep Gi-Hun (and now Cheol) safe. To keep his family safe. He knew nothing good would come out of this meeting... And he also knew nothing good will come out of not coming to this meeting either. 

Clenching his jaw tight, he watched the taxi pull up to the building. 

Sang-Woo paid no attention to the lack of other numbers on the elevator - in a way it was on brand with the whole concept of not giving the players much of a choice. Stepping out to a bare floor, he carefully surveyed the area as he walked around. On the final corner, he was greeted with the sight of an emaciated person laying on a hospital bed, illuminated by a solitary light and plastered against the window. Cautiously, he approached the familiar figure; only stopping a few feet away. 

"You're not surprised." The old man simply stated. 

He wasn’t.  

"Still not much of a talker, eh?" Amusement colouring the old man's tone was familiar, but the feebleness was more apparent. 

He watches impassively as Il-Nam politely requests, "Please pour me a glass of water, Sang-Woo." 

Sensing the lack of a choice in the matter, Sang-Woo compiles - but he is careful to keep his distance and silence. 

"You truly are an enigma, Cho Sang-Woo." The man begins as he meets Sang-Woo’s gaze head on. "Everything in your file stated you were greedy, selfish and prideful. You were one of the players who had the highest debt and the most to gain from winning. Having the brains to think around the rules, the ruthlessness to make the necessary sacrifices and the drive to see it through. You were a favourite among the VIPs from the very beginning." 

Everything the old man said was true. He truly was all those things. In his previous life and this. Only difference was this time his goal had changed from being winning the money to winning the money for Gi-Hun. For their life together. 

"We all expected you to celebrate your success on your own. Many of the previous players would take their own life after the winnings due to survivors' guilt… but we all know you would have been different." 

That alarmed Sang-Woo, but he kept his scent and emotion tightly controlled. Was that what happened to Gi-Hun after his death in the Squid Game? He quickly dispelled those thoughts as he recalled the memory of his mate sleeping in their bed. In this life Gi-Hun was alive and happy, that was all that mattered now. 

"But then you proved us all wrong… You mated with a fellow player. Seong Gi-Hun." Sang-Woo grit his teeth at the sound of his mate's name being uttered by Il-Nam. He wanted nothing more than to smother the man to death, but the possible consequences of his actions were too high of a price to pay. Especially if those consequences considered Gi-Hun’s safety.

"You decided to protect another player by preventing them from returning. You also decided not to attack the other finalist despite it being the final battle, and instead look after her sibling - yet another selfless act… We had initially thought they were empty promises, but you actually kept them." 

The old man didn't bother hiding the uncertainty in his tone as he turned towards the window to watch the people walking on the streets below. It was then did Sang-Woo realise why his action confused Il-Nam. Why he was considered to be such an enigma. 

The dying man had spent his entire life seeing humanity turn against each other to earn money for themselves. Yet, here was Sang-Woo, proving the man wrong. In a sick sense, the man before him was trying to see if the so-called goodness existed in the world through these games. In his career in investment, Sang-Woo had come across many people as Il-Nam; those with so much wealth, they became out of touch and alienated by society.  Their world view was so warped, it was as if they were outsiders observing humanity. Rather than humans themselves.

Morals and empathy were just words for these kinds of people.

What the old man  couldn't understand was his willingness to sacrifice himself for Gi-Hun (and now Cheol). Despite showing ruthlessness to win the game as expected by Il-Nam, Sang-Woo's decision to look after the omega and pup went against all the ideals the old man had known.

"What do you want from me?" Sang-Woo finally asked, voice calm and emotionless.

Il-Nam sighed at his lack of answer, but answered regardless, "My time is coming to an end; and my successor, the front man, will be taking up the role as host. Leaving the front man position vacant." 

He hadn't needed to hear the rest, for Sang-Woo immediately cut-in, "Why do you think I would consider such… employment?" He struggled trying to find a suitable word, as only curses came to mind. 

"Because you, Cho Sang-Woo, are a pragmatic and logical person." Il-Nam patiently answered. "Not to mention the VIPs are fond of your unpredictability. They hope it will bring some excitement towards the organisation of future games."

With that his phone buzzed indicating a new message. The old man gestured for him to read it and Sang-Woo glanced at his phone. 

It was a basic outline of the role, duties, working periods... and compensation. 

He blinked multiple times at the number.

"It is not a mistake." Il-Nam commented idly, sensing his thoughts. 

Sang-Woo cleared his throat, but kept his expression neutral as he asked, "Am I allowed to decline this offer without any negative consequences to my life, my family or our quality of life?" 

Once more his question had surprised the dying man.

After a brief pause, Il-Nam answered slowly, "You are." 

"Then, will that be all?" Sang-Woo prodded. He had grown exceedingly exhausted with this conversation. His goal of attending was to assess if there was a threat on their lives. Satisfied that it wasn't the case, Sang-Woo now wanted to return Gi-Hun’s side. It was nearly midnight - he had been gone long enough. 

Turning around to make his way towards the elevator, he paused as he heard Il-Nam speak up once more. 

"Take your time answering us on that offer. Preferably within the next seven days."

He didn't bother answering as he resumed his journey out of the building. On his way back, Sang-Woo kept reading the 'job offer'. Due to his experience in investments, their bank accounts only appreciated with funds. Ideally, both Gi-Hun and he could remain unemployed for the rest of their lives and still live comfortably.

Yet, the prospect of earning more was always enticing. More money always meant more success. More power. 

At the cost of his humanity, morals and empathy.

Immediately he was reminded of the unadulterated hate and anger Gi-Hun directed at him when he killed Sae-Byeok. The guilt and shame of harming his omega due to being bewitched by the prize money in his previous life. When lost himself into the depravity of the games. That memory jerked him away from the sweet whispers of more cash. 

Closing the messaging application and gazing at the wallpaper - picture of Gi-Hun and him at one of their dates. 

"Thank you." He whispered at the photo, eyes softening.

Sang-Woo carefully opened the front door to their home. Even though it was all new, he couldn't risk making a sound when he returned. However all that effort was in vain, for he was greeted by the sight of his very much awake mate waiting for him on the living room couch. 

Despite being obviously displeased by Sang-Woo’s night excursion, he could help but notice how utterly adorable Gi-Hun looked wrapped up in their shared blanket. 

"Where did you go, Yeobo?" The omega asked softly, refusing to meet his gaze.

He had been increasingly secretive recently due to wanting the gift to be a surprise; and the whole debacle with Il-Nam’s meeting hadn't helped matters either. Sang-Woo mentally groaned at how clichéd the situation was, for his recent behaviour was the textbook signs of cheating. Especially today's late night rendezvous.

Laughable as it may be, Sang-Woo didn't want to cause a misunderstanding between them. So, he placed the gold invitation on the coffee table before sitting beside the distressed omega. The subsequent sharp intake of breath from Gi-Hun beside him, signaled to Sang-Woo that the man recognised the symbols.  

And before his mate could work himself into a panic, Sang-Woo pulled the omega into his arms, pushing out some comforting pheromones as he answered calmly, "Don't worry, I was just tying up some loose ends." 

Pressing a soft kiss to Gi-Hun’s crown, he added soothingly, "I will never leave you. Never again. I promise, Jagiya." 

His only answer was the sweetening of the omega’s scent as the man relaxed into his arms. They remained in comfortable silence, scents intertwining. 

“I love you, Sang-Woo.” Gi-Hun whispered shly as he buried himself in the alpha’s embrace. 

Sang-Woo felt his breath catch in his throat at those words, but instinctively tightened his arms around the omega. 

“And I love you, Gi-Hun.” He whispered back reverently. 

The omega let out a soft pleased sound as he continued nuzzling, and Sang-Woo turned his head to sweep Gi-Hun’s lips into a tender kiss.

Cho Sang-Woo never considered himself a good man.

But for Gi-Hun, he would try to be. 


 

To: [Private Number]
From: Cho Sang-Woo

Thank you for the offer. Unfortunately, I would have to decline.  

Sang-Woo then promptly archiving the message thread and went about his day. Unbeknownst to him, another message arrived.

To: Cho Sang-Woo
From: [Private Number]

Noted. Feel free to reach out if and when you change your mind.