By the time Jack receives the ransom note Rhys has been missing for less than an hour.
He had been shifty, restless in Jack’s downtown office, and Jack had taken one look at the faint dusting of color on Rhys’ usually pale cheeks and sent him home. Rhys had scowled when Jack had ordered him an escort, but Jack can recognize the early signs of an omega’s heat even if this is still new for Rhys, and he wanted the kid safe at Jack’s townhouse before the symptoms grew too strong. Jack would follow in a few hours, as soon as he wrapped up the meeting with Torgue.
Jack wonders later if this could all have been avoided if he had just taken Rhys home himself.
We have your pet omega , the note reads, still spattered with the blood of the escort. The rest of the note - bring the money, come alone - doesn’t matter as much as the scrap of Rhys’ shirt it’s wrapped around.
“The kid’s probably already dead,” one of his lieutenants says as Jack carefully smooths the note out on his desk. “This is a fucking trap.”
Almost certainly. But it’s been a long time since someone’s been bold enough to touch what was obviously Jack’s, and he can’t let that stand.
It’s four hours before someone comes back with a sighting of Jakobs’ men where they shouldn’t be, in the warehouse district down by the docks, and another two before Jack can mobilize enough foot soldiers to burn the place to the ground if he has to. All the while as the minutes tick past Jack thinks about what a group of rival alphas or even betas could do to an omega in heat, even one as... unique as Rhys is. He’s not sure there’ll be much left of the kid by the time they get there.
Jack is going to make the streets run red with the Jakobs gang’s blood.
Jack stands back as Wilhelm kicks down the warehouse door, and as he steps over the bodies of the sentries and enters the building Jack breathes in deeply. Over the aroma of fresh gunpowder and rotting seaweed, he can smell the distinctive scent of an omega in heat.
There appear to be no guards posted on the inside, which is odd, but Jack’s too busy taking the stairs two at a time, following that scent, to really think about what that means. The door to the room that Rhys’ scent is coming from is ajar, and when Jack pushes on it the door halts a few inches in, catching on a heavy weight on the other side. Jack throws his shoulder against the door, forcing it open - stupid , he should have let someone else go first, but he can hear a broken little whine from the other side now, and that sounds like Rhys - and when he stumbles into the room the first thing he sees is the blood.
It’s everywhere: painted on the walls in arterial sprays, smeared across the floor, pooling under the bodies littering the floor. When Jack looks down there’s a hand trailing out from behind the door; when he peers around he sees that the weight blocking the door was a corpse of a heavyset man with an ugly gash across his throat.
Belatedly the stench hits him, of spilled blood and fresh death and of omega in heat, but he still can’t see Rhys . He can hear his men coming up the stairs behind him and he growls at them to stay put as he steps further into the room.
“Rhys?” he calls softly. “You in here, kiddo?” Jack knows he is, but he doesn’t want to spook the kid any more than he already is.
There’s a small shifting from the darkest corner of the room, behind a large filing cabinet, and as Jack cautiously steps over another body he hears a small thump and a whine, like someone trying to get up and failing. There are red smears trailing around the cabinet, and when he rounds the corner he finds Rhys, wedged between the cabinet and the wall, breathing fast and short, eyes screwed shut and head tipped back, the scent of arousal wrapped thick around him.
The fingers of his left hand are wrapped unforgivingly tight around the handle of a knife, and he is covered in blood.
Shit . Jack drops to his knees, heedless of the way his slacks instantly start to soak up the mess on the floor. “Come on, talk to me, kid.” Tell me none of that is yours. As soon as Jack puts his hands on Rhys the kid’s eyes fly open, wide and unfocused, and there’s an abortive movement with the knife, but when his eyes focus on Jack he makes a noise of unadulterated relief and suddenly Jack has his arms full of shaking, blood-soaked omega.
“ Jack, Jack, Jack, Jack ,” Rhys is breathing his name out like a mantra as he tries to press closer; he is, however, still gripping the knife, which is a lot closer to Jack’s back than Jack generally allows.
“Whoah, whoah, easy there,” Jack says, one hand pushing on Rhys’ left shoulder and running down Rhys’ arm even as his other arm wraps firmly around Rhys’ waist. “Let’s just - why don’t you give me that, okay?” He tries to pull the knife out of Rhys’ hand, but Rhys’ fingers appear to be locked around the hilt, and Jack has to pry them off one by one. Rhys doesn’t fight him, but he doesn’t seem to know how to help, either; when the knife finally clatters to the floor Rhys throws himself back at Jack, wrapping his arm around Jack’s back and burying his face in Jack’s neck. Jack runs his hands up and down Rhys’ body, searching for injuries, and finds nothing.
And suddenly it dawns on him what must have happened here.
“Christ, kid,” he says, pushing Rhys’ head back with a hand on his jaw so Jack can look at him. “You are something else, you know that?” Rhys whines at him again, past coherent speech, and when Jack runs a hand down to cup Rhys’ ass he can feel the slick soaking through Rhys’ pants. Rhys’ eyelids flutter and he pushes back into Jack’s hand, moaning in approval when Jack slips a hand past his waistband and delves his fingers into Rhys’ wet and empty hole. Rhys shudders as a fresh wave of slick wets Jack’s fingers, and Jack’s cock reminds him that it is very interested in the omega in his lap.
“Shut the door,” he says over his shoulder, trying to hold Rhys still as he shakes in Jack’s arms.
“Sir, are you sure -” on of his men starts, and Jack really can’t be bothered to remember his name right now but he marks the voice so he’ll remember who thought they could question Handsome Jack.
“ Shut. The door,” he says, and is gratified to hear it slam shut behind him as he turns his attention back to Rhys.
It’s going to be nearly impossible to get Rhys back to even the nearest safe house, let alone Jack’s townhouse, in the condition he’s in. It’s still early in his heat, but he’s rubbing his hips against Jack’s in desperate little circles and when Jack shifts Rhys clings to him even more fiercely. Jack’s cock is definitely taking an interest; if he can fuck some sense back into Rhys, if he can take the edge off, maybe they can get back to Jack’s townhouse before the full force of Rhys’ heat sets in.
That, and the thought of Rhys tearing through a room full of men with nothing but a switchblade is really doing it for him.
Jack turns and pushes Rhys to the floor, and Rhys grunts when his back hits the blood-smeared boards. His eyes are fixed on Jack with a single-minded intensity, like Jack is the only thing in the world that matters, and he tugs on Jack’s belt, trying to undo it.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart, we’re getting there,” Jack says, and he’s not sure Rhys can really hear him, but that or the fact that Jack is undoing Rhys’ belt and pulling down his pants and underwear seems to calm him a little. Jack undoes his own pants enough to get his cock out, which is hard and ready thanks to the thick scent of Rhys’ heat filling the room. Jack takes Rhys by the hips and coaxes him to turn over, which Rhys does eagerly when he figures out what Jack wants.
Jack takes a minute to appreciate the view: Rhys balanced on his knees and arm, hand flexing on the blood-splattered floor, slick and ready and hungry for Jack’s cock. Rhys makes the most incredible noise when Jack bottoms out on the first thrust, and Rhys’ head drops down to rest on his forearm as Jack pulls back and does it again.
“Jesus, what must they have thought when they picked you up,” Jack says as he works his way in and out, groaning at the warm heat of Rhys’ body. “Soft little omega, ready for the taking. But you showed them, didn’t you, baby?” Jack can picture it, Rhys’ knife slicing through his captors’ throats just the way Jack had taught him, and imagining the look of surprise on those assholes’ faces as their life drained away makes Jack’s dick jump and Rhys moan in response.
Jack’s not being gentle, but as he grips Rhys’ hips and pulls the kid back onto his cock he thinks that gentle is not what Rhys wants right now, not if the breathy little noises he’s making are any indication. Jack braces his legs wider and grinds his hips into Rhys’ ass, digging in his fingers, and Rhys shudders, painting the floor with come and tightening around Jack’s cock.
“That’s good, kiddo,” Jack says breathlessly, stroking Rhys’ side. “But we’re not there yet.”
Rhys’ moans turn to sobs as Jack doesn’t let up, but he shoves himself back onto Jack’s cock as best as he can with the little leverage he has. Pretty soon Jack can feel his knot start to swell, and the base of his cock starts to catch on Rhys’ hole as Jack thrusts into him. Rhys can feel it too, and his voice turns even more desperate than before.
“Please - please ,” he gets out - the first words besides Jack’s name that Jack has heard from him since this whole fiasco started. “ Please Jack , I need it, I need it -”
“Back with us, are we? Don’t worry, baby, I’ve got you.” Jack’s hips jerk and he gets one last thrust in before he’s coming and his knot swells inside Rhys. Rhys’ voice hitches mid-moan, and when Jack gets a hand on his dick he comes again, body locking down around Jack’s cock.
Rhys goes limp, body pulling at Jack’s where they’re locked together, and Jack pulls him upright, settling him against Jack’s chest so they’re both more comfortable. He figures they’ve got a few minutes of lucidity before Rhys’ heat comes back with a vengeance, and he means to make the most of them.
“What happened here, Rhysie?” Rhys shifts in Jack’s lap, presumably testing the fit of the knot inside him, and settles back against him but doesn’t respond. “Come on, sweetheart, you can tell me.”
For a minute Jack thinks Rhys isn’t going to answer, then Rhys clears his throat. “They brought me up here and untied me. They said they were going to - they wanted to hurt me.” Rhys huffs out a dry laugh, raspy with the strain he’s put on his voice. “So I hurt them instead.”
“You certainly did. Good job, pumpkin.” Rhys preens under the praise and Jack chuckles. “God, I can just imagine - you’ll have to tell me all about it later, okay?”
Rhys hums in agreement and closes his eyes, leaning back against Jack. For several long minutes they sit in silence, Rhys breathing deeply and Jack nosing up and down Rhys’ neck. After a while, though, Jack feels his knot start to soften, and while it’s not close to going down completely he knows that’s his cue to move.
“Okay, kiddo,” Jack says, adjusting his grip on Rhys’ hips. “We’re going to pull you off a bit early so we can get home and do this all over again.”
“No, I -” Rhys puts his hand on Jack’s but Jack is already pulling him gently upward, and there’s a faint resistance and then a slick pop as Jack’s softening knot slips free. Rhys makes a small hurt sound as it leaves him, and he turns to glare at Jack.
“Sorry sweetheart, had to be done.” Jack starts pulling Rhys’ pants back up, and Rhys reluctantly moves to help. “Unless you want to stay here the entire length of your heat?”
Jack can tell that Rhys is considering it from the look on his face. “Purely rhetorical, princess, now come on, up and at ‘em.” Jack pulls Rhys into a standing position and readjusts his own clothing. They’re both an absolute mess - covered in blood and other fluids, Rhys looking dazed, his eyes already starting to glaze again. They have to get out of here, and Jack takes Rhys by the arm and marches him toward the door.
The suspiciously blank looks on his men’s faces when he opens the door is frankly hilarious; there’s no way to disguise what he and Rhys had been doing, but honestly Jack doesn’t give a shit. He needs to get Rhys home , and then they can deal with Rhys’ heat in comfort and safety.
And then Jack can deal with Jakobs.
Later, much later, after they’re home safe and Jack’s knotted Rhys at least three more times (and convinced him to take a bath), Rhys is finally worn out enough to slip into an exhausted sleep.
“Knew you’d come for me,” Rhys murmurs just before he closes his eyes. “Just had to hang on.”
Jack doesn’t have a ready answer for that, but Rhys is asleep anyway, and although Jack has encouraged and nurtured that perfect faith in Rhys, he is unprepared for the strength of his own response.
I would have burned this city for you , Jack thinks, nosing into Rhys' neck and breathing in his familiar scent. I would have burned it to the fucking ground.