Chapter 1. Degel
Degel finds his friend.
When Degel arrives, there's no one else in sight, but he can still sense another alpha's scent lingering in the air. It's faint, almost completely vanished, proving that its owner was long gone. But the smell itself is enough to frighten Degel because the tension and the overwhelming feeling contained in it clearly shows that the alpha to whom it belonged is undoubtedly wild and powerful. This conclusion leads to the concern that his friend, the one that he's looking for, faced a great danger.
Degel finds him not long after that. He is in a terrible mess. His clothes have been ripped unrecognizably, bruises are everywhere on his body and some injuries look really serious. But the worse is that the scent of the alpha that Degel sensed earlier is all over him.
'Oh my God, Kardia!' He can't help to exclaim loudly and hurriedly approaches his friend.
He had anticipated something bad, a fight in which most likely Kardia would be placed at a disadvantage and obviously get several wounds. But this, never had it cross Degel's mind that such an unbelievable thing could ever happen to his friend. There's a painful bite mark on Kardia's collarbone. It resulted from teeth sinking into the skin with such an enormous force that it was enough to tear it and draw a lot of blood. And what covers him, Degel frightfully notes, is not just blood. It's the mixture of blood and a liquid that is thick with the scent of other alpha. Degel is pretty sure of what it is. This state only leads to a possibility: there has been a mating.
Clearly and terribly enough, Kardia has been forced to mate with another alpha. Of course mating between two alphas isn't something completely impossible or that has never happened before. But it's rare, and more importantly, it concerns Kardia. So it's reasonable that Degel is now on the verge of a panic attack.
'Ugh..' a quiet moan escapes the other's lips, successfully pulling Degel out from his pathetic trail of thought.
'Kardia.' He calls worriedly.
Kardia slowly opens his heavy eyes, still unfocused and clouded. 'Degel?'
'Yes, I'm here.' He shifts closer so that his friend can see him more clearly. 'God, what happened to you?'
The other murmurs weakly in answer. 'Running into a monster at a wrong time, I guess.'
Not very far from the reality, Degel mentally agrees with the sarcastic joke. 'Are you okay?'
'As you can see, not yet.' Kardia shifts slightly and then stops immediately as a pained whimper escapes his mouth. There was clear discomfort in his face. 'It aches everywhere, including where I've never known that it could.'
Degel feels truly bad for him. He gently brushes the hair back from his friend's face, his brow furrowing. 'Just take a rest, then. I'm here with you now. We will talk about what happened later, okay?'
'Hnm hm…' The other nods and falls fast asleep.
When Kardia wakes up for the second time, it's the next afternoon. Degel has managed to take him to a nearby cave and gave him a quick treatment for the bruises and wounds that are all over his body. His ruined clothes had also been replaced.
Kardia lets out a small grunt, trying to sit up. The pain is still there, but it's not unbearable like the first time. Before he could finish his movement, Degel jumped out of nowhere to appear next to him and give him a hand to support his sore back.
'How are you feeling?' He asks in a worried tone.
Kardia pants slightly, leaning against the wall. 'Better. Thanks, Degel.'
'You're welcome.' he pauses for a while to ensure that there's no further damage, then continues 'So, would you mind telling me the whole story?'
'Ugh...' Kardia groans uncomfortably. Remembering what happened was both humiliating and disturbing. He glances at his friend who still looks at him patiently. Tearing his gaze away, he sighs loudly. 'I'm pretty sure that I was having a completely normal fight with that bastard since the very beginning. Then, in the middle of it, he seemed like going into heat, I don't know, and he started attacking me in an entirely different way. You know how it is, and you know the rest as well.' He finishes with a shrug, clearly showing that they weren't having that conversation ever again.
Degel nods silently. Honestly speaking, he is lost for words. This whole thing was too surreal to accept. He had never thought, not even in his wildest dream, that there would be a day in which his friend would be forced by another alpha. It seemed an insanity.
'So, what are you going to do?' After a while, Degel asks with uncertainty.
'I'm gonna kill that bastard.' He mumbles darkly through gritted teeth. 'The bond hasn't completed yet, I only have to break it and I'll be fine.'
At that, Degel gasps. 'It hasn't—?'
'Yeah, I didn't bite him, even though I desperately wanted to, sinking my teeth into his throat and ripping it open.' His face then becomes darker than Degel could ever imagine it could be. 'But first, I think I should wait until my strength is fully back.' Kardia says tiredly and closes his eyes.
Degel blinks, then realizes how exhausted his friend seems and hurriedly helps him to lie back.
The recuperation, however, doesn't seem to go as smoothly as it was expected. It's been three days, but they can't have anything to be optimist about since the wounds haven't seemed to heal at all and Kardia's strength has still showed no sign of recovering. In addition to their concerns, his scent is dull, unsteady and sometimes it becomes weird, not really like an omega's, but alarmingly close to something that's fascinating and tempting to be conquered. It is needless to say how bad it is, especially when they're in the forbidden forest, infamous for its perils, and far away from their territory. Dangers are everywhere and their current condition isn't a good one to deal with any threats right now. They have to return home as soon as possible, yet they also had to find the way to get out of there in one piece, which seemed quite problematic.
Degel refuses to leave his friend alone and undefended in such place and Kardia can't convince him into doing so, since he doesn't seem to have much belief in his ability of self-defense. Even though Kardia hates admitting it, Degel's concern is reasonable. Normally, he could easily handle himself in a forbidden forest, but the state he's now in is nowhere near normal, and worse, he sometimes gives off the smell that screams 'come and take me'. That's the problem, and Degel definitely isn't risking his friend's safety.
'Please tell me that that one night won't change me into an omega.' Whines Kardia, after they have escaped yet another attack.
They're still on their way home, depressingly. It's been five days since Degel found Kardia, five days they've been dealing with wild beasts and other alphas thanks to the wonderful scent and Kardia's condition. Indeed, beasts are not much of a problem. The real one is the other alphas that have been trying to get to them. There aren't many of them but unfortunately, the alphas who can wander around the forbidden forest are certainly strong ones. Degel and Kardia definitely aren't up for a fight at the moment, likewise, while an alpha is bad enough, they have more than one to deal with. Thus, facing with such opponents, their only possible mean is to run.
Degel stops over next to his friend and attentive looks around. They are close to the forest's edge now. If nothing unexpected happens, they will be there by the next two hours. Still, after the last days, Degel has little belief there could be such an ease. Just then, there were two alphas after them. He can't sense them now, but it doesn't mean that they're safe.
'That might not be likely to happen.' Eventually, he says.
Kardia looks up at him from where he's sitting, complaining, 'You don't seem too sure about that.'
Degel's brow furrows as he answers. 'I can't. There's too little records of it. You know, mating between two alphas is… extremely uncommon.'
Kardia only snorts in disapproval.
Suppressing a sigh, Degel changes the subject. 'Anyway, how are you feeling?'
'Not any better.' Mumbles the bluenette, his voice is filled with sarcasm. 'I still can't feel my strength, my senses are dull, nothing seems to be improving expect for the scent, which is a miracle.'
Truth be told, Degel didn't expect any different.
'Talking about the scent,' Kardia suddenly adds, 'there's always a rough twist in my stomach before it's given off.'
So, it's the reason for his earlier complain.
Degel shakes his head slightly. 'Maybe it's just because your body is trying to cope with what he left inside of you.'
The mention makes Kardia's eyebrow twitch uncomfortably. 'It still sounds bad.'
They both fall into silence for a few minutes before Kardia speaks up again. 'Can you sense it?'
Degel looks at his friend questioningly.
'I mean, the scent.'
'Oh,' he guesses what he might be referring to, 'Yes, I can sense it, I can feel what it implies, too.' Kardia makes a noise and Degel knows that he was right. 'Come on, I thought we both have already known that I'm an alpha since I was fourteen, haven't we?'
'Yeah. Never mind. I'm just asking.'
Degel let out a sigh. 'Look, I don't know what you have in your mind, but it doesn't work the same on me. I've known you for my whole life as well as the fact that you're an alpha. You are like family to me, therefore, I find it weird and uncomfortable rather than fascinating. It's like when you see your brother naked. You know how it feels like, right?'
Kardia stares at him for a long time, then scratches the back of his neck in confusion. Why the hell were they having this kind of conversation, anyway? 'I know. It's just crossed my mind that it might bother you, that's all.'
'I'm glad you asked in such a way. It could've been more awkward.' Degel replies reluctantly.
Then Kardia starts mumbling something about killing the bastard who caused all this.
Degel is about to think that it'd be the end of their little talk when Kardia asks another question, this time he seems more curious. 'How about Unity?'
Degel blinks. 'Unity?'
'He's your childhood friend too, right? And you guys are going to mate. Does it have something to do with him being an omega?'
Now the confused one is Degel. 'Maybe.' He shrugs. 'It just feels natural for me to be possessive and having the desire to protect him.'
Kardia makes an annoyed face. 'I think I will never understand all these bounding things.'
'You've always said that.' And this time, Degel feels slightly thankful. He wouldn't be comfortable explaining his feeling to his friend. 'That's also your reason for refusing to look for a mate.'
'I'm not interested, being tied to someone else. It just won't work on me.' He frowns thoughtfully.
And Degel knows that giving his friend the lecture about finding the right one and emotions would just be useless as always. Besides, to Kardia, it would sound so freaking tawdry. He then realizes why they were talking about that subject. Kardia had just been forced to mate with someone he barely knew, it makes bounding seem even more intimidating.
'We should go now.' Kardia says, standing up. 'There's no point in wasting more time.'
It isn't time wasting. Degel knows he has to say something to reassure his friend, but for now, he can't find the right words. Maybe it's about understanding, not binding. Then again, how do two persons, who barely know each other, can have such a thing as understanding? They actually haven't meet yet. But soon they will.
And thinking about that, 'Kardia, when we've found— '
Degel's sentence is cut short and they both stand still, frozen. There it is again, all of a sudden, the intense and overwhelming scent filling up the atmosphere. The next thing Kardia knows is the piercing pain shooting throughout him. It's the now familiar cramp in his stomach. But this time, the pain is so great it makes him curl up instinctively. His sight blurs and Degel's shocked voice sounds far way. Great, here comes the worst part, the scent, his own weird, disgusting scent starts spreading through the air, appealing, inviting. It's thicker than ever, as if it was trying to reach, to respond to its instigator. But there's more than one bastard to deal with.
Panting heavily, Kardia forces himself to straighten up. He meets Degel's alarming gaze, already aware of what is coming. There's two alphas, those who had been after them earlier. The encounter is unavoidable.
Not long after that, two figures arrive in front of them. Degel takes a step forward, purposefully blocking the way between them. He snarls threateningly at them, baring his teeth. His whole body tenses up, ready for the upcoming fight. Kardia stands next to him. There are trails of sweat running down his face. Degel can tell that his friend is still in pain. He probably can't last long, they can't run now, either. Clearly, they are at a disadvantage, but Degel is sure that they won't back down.
Their opponents, on the contrary, seem very relaxed. One of the newcomers speaks up first.
'Hi there, sweetie. A little bit nervous, aren't ya?'
The guy's voice is annoying. He blatantly studies Kardia from head to toe and licks his lips in a sickening way.
Kardia merely grunts in response.
The other one is seemingly more cautious. His narrowing gaze slowly shifts from Kardia to Degel. He utters with a gruff voice. 'You are not his alpha.'
'Ha, isn't it clear that the bond is incomplete, dude?' The first one interrupts, then points towards Kardia. 'That's what makes you the precious one, doesn't it? Marked, but unclaimed.'
'It is not what I meant, dumbass!' Hisses the other.
'Whatever! You can keep your shit and jerk off to it. I'm getting my prize now.' Mockingly, he walks pass his fellow, aiming at Kardia.
The first movement is fast. As careless he might seem, this man is a tough adversary. Kardia can block the initial blow, but he's not so sure about the others. The other two have also taken action, Degel is busy now.
Taking back a step, Kardia barely escapes what would have been a very painful blow. The guy bursts out laughing, already set up for another strike. Kardia utters a curse and can't find himself feeling as excited as usual. What he's doing now isn't even fighting. Right from the beginning he had missed the rhythm. It's just the matter of time until he is taken down. He has to find another way, but his head is spinning, he cannot concentrate on the other's movement, let alone think. It's when his stomach gives another squeeze that he completely loses his track and gets a direct kick. The blow sends him flying back a good few yards before he hits a tree and drops right on the spot. Degel's yell flashes over his ears.
'Ugh…' Kardia groans, trying to stand up and fails. It isn't about the crash, though he can be sure that half of his wounds are now open again. He knows, but it's not painful as much as it should be. The pain in his stomach has blurred every other feelings, it's still so painful that the rest of his body is numb.
Through clouded eyes, he sees the smug bastard get closer. And he can't even stand now.
End chapter 1
A/N: I'd like to thank Ale-chan for having been dealing with me and my unbearable irresponsibility from the very beginning, gosh, what would I do without you?
And for those who's been waiting for 'Addiction' (which is now 'Asphyxiophilia'), I'm sorry I can not continue it now. I'm so so sorry.