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Pinpricks skittered up and down Jensen’s spine, had been since he’d woken up a few moments before. Actually, they had been the reason he’d woken up, becoming clearer with every passing second, more piercing. Too painful to disregard, even in sleep.

Yeah, ignoring this, asleep or awake? Not an option.

And, jesus, he was hot. So fucking hot. Just scorching fire twisting through his insides, burning through his veins, slithering over his organs. Too tight skin on the outside keeping him all together, just barely stopping him from melting into a puddle.

Of molten lava, that was.

Ha, and that was... not funny. Not even a little bit.

Jensen pushed away from the wall of his bedroom. Right after he’d rolled off the mattress and gotten his feet underneath him, he’d crashed against it. The plan had been to get to the bathroom for a little relief of the bladder emptying kind even if he couldn’t relieve just yet the torment that was, as signified by his aching back, in his very near future. Then said torment had been there, slamming down on him, all at once. Which, unfortunately, came with the unintended consequence of him almost face planting into the wall after he’d lost his footing and stumbled. The painful meeting between his nose and the drywall had only been averted by him getting a hand up in the nick of time to brace himself.

His before Jared heats never used to be like this. For nine years, from the day Jensen had turned sixteen and gone through his first, they’d come on as gradually increasing waves of intensity. This one, and the last, hadn’t been like that at all.

Their onsets had both been pinpricks, awake, crest. By far, these heats were the worst Jensen could ever remember having.

But that was the effect of having a heat while mated, wasn’t it. The body’s way of making it good for an omega, of making an omega want it. Almost mindless with a yearning that only an alpha could appease. Because a mated omega had better want it once his or her alpha caught hint of their scent. A scent designed to stimulate an alpha down to the very core, rev up tenfold the most base of desires to fuck, knot and breed.

Heats prior to mating were intended for omegas, to draw in their pick of alphas. Heats after mating were intended for alphas, to make sure the omegas stayed.

Jensen wobbled his way back over to his bed and sprawled across it on his stomach, unable to suppress a groan as agonizing want washed over him. His asshole fluttered, desiring to be filled and stuffed, oozing slick that would ease the way for a good, hard dicking. Blood rushed into his cock, causing it to chub up and fatten. The friction resulting from his churning hips and the slide of his underwear along his shaft made him gasp.

He scrambled up onto his knees. Presented himself. For his alpha’s use. For his alpha to knot.

Alpha. Alpha. Alpha.

Jared.

Like hell was that that happening. They had a business arrangement, not a love match. A mating arranged by Jensen’s father and Jared to unite two distantly related, powerful Families of old blood. And an arrangement it had remained in the time Jensen and Jared had been together, despite Jensen trying his best to meet Jared halfway and make it something more at the beginning, wishful to make the best of the situation.

Wishes in one hand, shit in the other. This mating had taught Jensen in excruciating detail the answer to which hand got filled first.

Jared hadn’t touched Jensen since their first, only, night together when he’d marked Jensen as his mate by biting him on the shoulder, claiming him, during Jensen’s heat. Had made it clear four months in just where Jensen stood when he’d gone out of town to personally oversee a deal and let Jensen weather through his next heat alone, far as Jared knew anyway, without first making sure before leaving that Jensen had the necessary supplies to get through it. No two ways about it, Jared’s absence during that time of need had been all the explanation Jensen needed.

By the time Jared had returned home, Jensen had been gone from Jared’s house. Moved back into the penthouse he’d never given up. The fact that Jared had made no move to contact Jensen in all that time, outside of the occasional short, tense, heavily coded text related to business, solidified what Jensen already knew.

Regardless that Jensen was an Ackles, regardless that Jensen was the fucking heir apparent to the Ackles Family, a disposable pawn was all that he was, and ever would be, to Jared Padalecki.

At least Jared wasn’t abusive, Jensen thought as he reached out towards his nightstand. And that was, no joke, just about the only positive thing about him, far as Jensen was concerned.

After a few moments of groping, his clumsy fingers finally curled around his cell phone. He didn’t call the person his body ached for, throbbed for. Who he did call, instead, was the person that he’d always been able to count on—helping him through his heats, getting rid of bodies, back-up, intel, everything—no matter that he was also now, technically, Jensen’s rival.

Technically be damned.

“Christian?”

Jared wasn’t abusive. Not physically or verbally. But he was negligent. And when it came to a mated alpha and his or her in heat omega, that was just as bad.

“Need you to come over, man. My heat just hit.”

*

“You’re my plus one tonight,” Jensen called out from the depths of his closet, exiting soon after, black boots in hand. He made his way over to the wall of his bedroom that was also a mirror, floor-to-ceiling.

Black undershirt. Favorite gray, collared sweater. Dark rinse jeans. Good to go.

According to Christian’s reflection, he was in the exact same spot he’d been in since coming over that morning. Sprawled out in the oversized seat that Jensen had bought years ago for these specific visits, feet kicked up on the matching ottoman. His head was lolled back against the top of the cushion, his eyes closed and fingers laced together over his chest.

He looked entirely too peaceful at a time when Jensen’s heat still bubbled just under his skin. Banked enough to let him go out, make appearances, before it eventually came roaring back to make life miserable all over again.

“Yo, asshole! You hear me?” Jensen said when his first statement failed to produce a response. He walked over to Christian, then shoved the ottoman out from under his feet. “Have you moved at all since getting here?”

“Fed and watered your ass, didn’t I?” Amused blue eyes opened and focused on Jensen.

“My hero.” The response may have been sarcastic, but the sentiment behind it was genuine as indicated by Jensen’s head nod.

The corner of Christian’s lips tilted upwards in a brief smile. Message received. “Jackass.”

Since Jensen’s first heat, Christian had been there no matter the circumstances and distance between them, there to help whenever Jensen couldn’t find an alpha. Their relationship to each other, while far transcending a normal friendship, had never been sexual, however. Helping was simply Christian staying in the room with Jensen, giving Jensen the comfort and protection of knowing an alpha was near while Jensen knotted the hell out of his own ass with the variety of toys he’d amassed over the years.

Sometimes, Christian offered unwanted advice about changing angles and taking it deeper (and yeah, get that ass up in the air, Jenny, present it), which usually ended with Jensen lobbing one of his silicone dildos at him once the fugue settled enough for him to think straight (because one dick deserved another). Most times, Christian was cool, like today. Stayed quiet, either on his phone texting, deep in thought or sleep.

With Jensen now being mated, Christian’s presence during his heats set him on edge in a wrongbadwrong, not his alpha kind of way. But they’d discovered during Jensen’s last heat that while Christian being there no longer produced the security of before, Jensen’s body was familiarized with him enough to still let Jensen take care of himself.

The major downside was that it took a lot longer now to bank each wave of the heat. And banking only occurred after Jensen was wrung out to the point of exhaustion and tears. So many orgasms and yet he still felt so hollow afterwards. In the end, he came away with his body satisfied, his asshole puffy and red from the abuse he’d heaped on it.

And, if in the end he also came away with a sense of wretchedness from his alpha’s absence that he felt on a deep, intrinsic level? That he felt all the way down to his bones? His marrow?

Well, that lack of a true fulfilment was something Jensen chose not to think on.

“So, you in or not?” Jensen dropped onto the feet free ottoman to pull on his boots.

“Oh, so you asking now? I actually get a choice?” A significant pause, then, “Goddamn, dude, someone seriously forgot to tell you that elbow patches went out of style in the eighties, huh.”

“I look awesome. Besides, you? Don’t get to critique what I’m wearing given that you still don’t seem to understand that Cowboy isn’t a valid fashion choice.”

“Since when?”

“Since you came to your senses and gave up trying to have any type of life in Oklahoma for good five years ago, that’s when.”

“Screw you, Ackles. Your face isn’t a valid fashion choice.”

“Just answer the question. In or not?”

Christian chuckled and, with a leer, said, “Baby, you know I’ll always be your plus one.”

“Fuck off.”

“Padalecki’s also gonna be there, I suppose.” And, suddenly, the mood was serious.

Jensen looked up from tying his laces and met Christian’s gaze. “Problem if he is?”

The smile he received was big, with too many teeth and too little mirth. “Nah, not today.”

Unsaid was that it would be a problem one day. A big problem. While the Ackles had always been cool with the Kanes, close enough that Jensen and Christian had been raised together for all intents and purposes, until the strain brought on by the very recent development of Jensen’s mating to Jared that was, the same could never be said of the Padaleckis and Kanes.

It was common knowledge that the Padaleckis refused to even acknowledge the Kanes. That they considered the Kanes to be minor. Country upstarts not worthy of attention and certainly not worthy of doing business with.

One day soon, Jensen knew that his friendship with Christian would be forced into an end. Jared was a Padalecki, was the Padalecki, and Christian was a Kane, after all.

And Jensen was Jared’s, whether he wanted to be or not. His side in this yet unfought battle had long ago been pre-determined and his long history with Christian wouldn’t make one fucking difference.

But today was not the day to worry about inevitabilities.

“Good,” Jensen said. “Let’s go.”

*

Tonight’s get together was mainly a gathering of the Who’s Who in New York. The most important players of Families, Syndicates, heads of businesses who dabbled in shadier dealings and even gangs were all present in the hotel’s ballroom, mixing with the socialites and local celebrities who liked their lives with a side of danger. All in all, it was intended to be a diplomatic way for everyone to keep an eye on everyone else. Keep notes on who was still around, who was gone, who was on the rise, who to look out for.

And it was hosted by none other than Jensen’s father. A fucking community service to the underworld he held annually.

Across the room from where Jensen stood by the bar was the man himself, seated at a table and accompanied by a lady Jensen recognized after a few seconds of scrutiny as being the owner of several strip joints that laundered money for the Ackles. He’d never had any personal dealings with her himself, so he hadn’t had the occasion to determine if she was alpha, beta or omega, though he’d wondered before. His bet was on beta going by how she appeared to be coolly dealing with his father, the alpha of all alphas. Not at his throat, so not an alpha, and also not defensive with wariness, so not an omega either.

Raising his beer in salute, Jensen received a reserved smile from her along with a raise of his father’s eyebrows. A clear question as to Jensen’s present company, no doubt. Jensen shrugged, then brought his bottle to his lips and tilted his head back for a long drink. He owed the man no explanations.

“Fucking bastard,” Christian all but spat.

But Jensen didn’t say anything. For several reasons. First, Christian was entitled to his opinions. Second, Jensen was determined to enjoy the time he had left with his friend, limited as it was sure to be. Third, and probably most important of all, Jensen didn’t disagree.

He’d never been his father’s favorite, that spot had been taken by Jensen’s older brother who’d been groomed, since birth, to take over the reins once the old man finally kicked it. Then the asshole had gone and gotten himself offed a few years back, put down by a single blow to the temple delivered by someone pissed off with all his alpha posturing, leaving Jensen to return home early from college so that he could take the spot as heir. Mistakenly, Jensen had thought that his new position would elevate him above his father’s machinations, despite Jensen being an omega, even if he and his father weren’t and never would be close.

Look how well that had turned out for him. Mated to Jared and he didn’t have the first clue as to why.

Or maybe... maybe he did.

Fuck, Jensen had been stupid all this time. Blind. He knew, he knew exactly why his father had arranged this mating. It got his father another alpha son, didn’t it. Sure, not one that had sprung forth from the old man’s loins, but one even more capable than Rock ever would’ve been when it came right down to it. A respected alpha worthy of one day heading up two Familes at the same time, needed because Daddy Dearest apparently didn’t trust Jensen to wipe his own ass, much less one day be the top Ackles in charge.

Jensen was tempted to help his father along in reaching an early expiration date. Something to potentially discuss later that night with Christian, after the next wave of his heat had abated.

But there was still one thing that Jensen didn’t know. That he needed to know.

Just what in the hell was it that Jared got out of this deal? Two Families for the price of one? Seemed like too much trouble to be bothered with, in Jensen’s opinion.

And, God, just thinking of Jared caused Jensen to heat up. It almost felt like Jared was somewhere in the very near vicinity. The fucking pinpricks were back and Jensen knew he was flushed, the beads of sweat welling on his forehead proof.

“Hoo, boy, looks like the fun’s really about to get started now.”

“The hell you—” Jensen’s question died halfway asked. Because he knew exactly what Christian was talking about.

Jared. By the door having just arrived. He was flanked by JD on one side, and Hodge was right in front of him, one of Hodge’s hands in the center of his chest keeping Jared in place while Hodge spoke, low and fast. JD just looked amused by whatever was going on over there.

But Jared wasn’t paying attention to either of his lieutenants. His focus was all on Jensen, his narrowed eyed stare causing Jensen’s asshole to clench and soak his boxers through with slick. The flaring of Jared’s nostrils preceded him pushing past Hodge.

Scent caught.

Hodge threw his arms up in defeat. “Swear to God, why do I bother.”

Jensen was aware that Hodge was saying something else (maybe asking JD if he was going to get Jared, because Hodge was done?), but Jensen wasn’t for sure. He didn’t care. All that mattered to him was Jared stalking towards him.

His alpha was coming to him. His alpha was there to fuck him. Knot him.

Finally.

Soon as he was within touching distance, Jared curled a hand around Jensen’s upper arm. Yanked him away from Christian. “For real? Still with this little pissant?” Quiet, oh so quiet, “He fucking you, Jensen? You been letting this little nobody fuck you through your heats?”

“Watch yourself, Padalecki,” Christian sneered.

But that was all he got out. Because JD was there, leading him away. “C’mon, son, let’s go over here and join your sister and cousins. Now’s not the time for this fight.”

“Let’s go,” Jared said to Jensen.

Which snapped Jensen out of his heat stupor. He yanked out of Jared’s grasp. “Fuck, no, I’m not going anywhere with you.”

A quick look around, though, confirmed Jensen’s suspicion. All attention was on them. Staying definitely wasn’t an option, Jensen didn’t do people all up in his, but neither was leaving with Jared.

Jensen headed towards the exit where Hodge was still located. Soon as Hodge opened his mouth, Jensen snapped, “Shut the fuck up.”

Man, I so do not get paid enough—”

“Hodge, shut it,” Jared snarled from right behind Jensen.

“I give up. I give up. I do. Oh, and just for the record? You two assholes were made for each other!”

Once outside, Jared grabbed hold to Jensen’s arm again, using his grip to drag Jensen around a corner and through a dim lot before Jensen could even think of getting away. When they reached Jared’s huge, black SUV, Jared shoved Jensen into the backseat, then climbed in right after him.

Jensen sat still, didn’t even try wasting energy on an escape effort that would be futile. All of Jared’s vehicles were made to his specifications. The second row seats in this particular model had been removed to give his long legs room or to comfortably hold a captive when the occasion called. The windows were all tinted black, much darker than the law allowed, and were sure to also all be bullet proof.

And the doors...

No one was getting in or out unless Jared wanted them to.

Using the pads of his thumbs, Jensen rubbed his temples while he got his thoughts together. He dropped his hands. Met Jared’s gaze. “What the fuck do you want? Just tell me what the fuck it is that you want from me?”

Their legs were pressed together, thighs to knees, the warmth emanating from Jared exacerbating the heat boiling through Jensen. Jensen’s breath hitched as Jared threw an arm around Jensen’s shoulder and leaned in close. Swallowed hard as the answer tickled against his ear. “Right now? I just want you to ride me.”

Asshole mate or not, fucking was something that Jensen was on board with. He kicked off his jeans and sodden boxers, while Jared simply unbuttoned and unzipped his own pants. His cock, when he pulled it out, was already hard, ready, head an angry red and smeared with precome. The knot at the base was a hint, not yet inflated, but there, visible.

Jensen couldn’t wait to get it in him.

But this was going to go down how Jensen planned. And he had no interest in being knotted face-to-face with Jared for half an hour or more.

Back to Jared, his legs on the inside of Jared’s, Jensen reached a hand behind him to hold the cock steady that he needed and wanted to feel deep inside of him. He sank down, his ass so wet and ready that the motion was swift, smooth.

And relief. Sweet, sweet relief. Jensen bent over slightly and reached out one arm to slap his hand against the nearest window, the other braced against his own knee. He balanced himself, then used the leverage he’d created to slide up and down, to fuck himself on Jared’s dick.

It didn’t take long before the knot started to catch at his rim. This would be an uncomfortable knotting for sure. Jensen’s position ensured minimal touch points between him and Jared, pretty much the only one being Jensen’s ass and Jared’s crotch. Jensen would literally be hanging off of Jared’s knot and he was okay with that.

Apparently, Jared wasn’t. He kicked Jensen’s feet out, then manhandled Jensen until Jensen’s legs were on the outside of his splayed open ones, Jensen’s back pressed tight to Jared’s chest.

He thrust upwards. Set up a brutal pace that left no doubt as to who was fucking who.

“I can smell that little nobody all over you. You let him fuck you, Jensen?” The words had all come out as a rumbling growl, almost sub vocal. “Nah, you didn’t. You know better, don’t you?”

“Didn’t fuck me,” Jensen gritted out between clenched teeth. “He never fucks me. He’s just... there.” And because he couldn’t help himself, he added, “There when my alpha isn’t.”

“No more. You can keep your little pet nobody for now. But pets aren’t allowed in the bedroom, so keep that flea bitten mutt out of yours from now on.” A hand wrapped around Jensen’s neck. Squeezed. Not tight enough to stop Jensen from drawing in air, just tight enough to get his attention. “Just in case I’m not making myself clear, I have no problem with destroying him. All of them. Got me?”

“Fuck. You.”

The chuckle Jared let out was dark, but he removed his hand. “That’s what I’m doing.”

Pleasure shot through Jensen as Jared’s hand wrapped around his cock. Jared stroked him with a firm, steady grasp.

“Fuck, yeah, this is exactly what you’ve been needing, isn’t it. My knot in your ass. My come filling you up.” Jared groaned, long and loud. He shoved his hips upwards, held still for a second as his knot locked itself tight in Jensen’s ass. When he collapsed back down to the seat, Jensen had no choice but to go with him. “I know your little Prima Donna act has been because I missed your last heat, but you know the nature of our business. Sometimes, Jensen, sometimes I’m just not going to be there.”

Teeth dug into Jensen’s shoulder, Jensen could feel them through both his sweater and shirt, could feel them settle right over Jared’s claiming mark and, with a gasp, Jensen painted Jared’s fist in stripes of white. His mouth was wide open as he panted through his orgasm and Jared used the opportunity to stick his fingers right in, feeding Jensen the salty taste of himself.

“But I’m here now. Giving you everything you need. Giving you the only thing you’ll ever need.”

The rhythmic pulse of Jared’s knot pumping out spurts of come lulled Jensen into a sense of peace. He was safe. Sated. Things he hadn’t felt in far too long.

Jared’s big hand, sticky wet with a combination of Jensen’s bodily fluids, snaked its way under the sweater and shirt Jensen wore to splay open fingered over Jensen’s belly, flesh-to-flesh. A hot brand. Of ownership. Suggestive of things to come.

And before Jensen fell that last little bit into the sleep of the satiated, he heard Jared’s whisper of, “I want it all.”