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The Pragmatic Sanction

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“Are you the one who beat up Baekho and Hyungsik ‘cause I smell you all over them?” Mingyu craned his neck to look back at him as he exited the stairwell. A part of him wondered why Minghao hadn’t gotten with the program and fallen in line with everyone else to get out of the building but he assumed it was because Jun had gone off somewhere.


“You know about that?” Minghao snapped. “Did you tell them to pick on us? Because if you did then I think that’s a justification for Jun handing their asses to them.”




Every second that went by was a second lost bickering with this idiot. Jun had probably healed by now but it still wasn’t safe for him to stick around with no one else in the school to come to his aid.


Right when Mingyu was about to speak, Minghao cut him off and swallowed down his pride.


“Forget it. I’m looking for Wonwoo. Have you seen him?” the delta asked, refraining from breaking down in front of the alpha and balling his eyes about the omega being in mortal danger. The last thing he needed was to have to bury all one-hundred pieces of his friend after those sickos cut him up and harvested his organs. 


“Wonwoo?” Mingyu held the stairwell door open, stopping in his tracks. The orange light shining in from the late afternoon sun outside shone bright on Minghao’s eyes. Enough that the alpha could see he was genuinely fearful for Wonwoo’s condition. It made him worried to be honest.


“Why? You lose him?” the taller boy snorted, pretending as though he didn’t just think about asking if his future mate was alright. 


It wasn’t like it was his fault that Wonwoo was now missing, but Mingyu wouldn’t see it that way. If anything, the apex alpha would probably either shrug him off and shout profanities about how uptight “Jeon” was and how he didn’t care if his highness the omega died from too much carbon dioxide. Then there was the other outcome: Mingyu might go on a rampage because he was madly in love with the boy. Minghao didn’t bother fretting over the two possible outcomes. This was Wonwoo they were talking about. He was more than just the glue that could keep the Jeon and Kim packs together, he was their life. If Wonwoo was Julius Caesar then Minghao and Woozi were his Rufio and Brittanus, two of his most loyal servants, proud to be enslaved to him. Minghao would have been delighted to hang Jeon Wonwoo’s picture on his wall more than any other King, Queen, or dictator. 


Backing up so that his feet were ready to help him ascend the stairs, Minghao adopted a stern look on his rugged face, still recovering from minor burns and sprinkled with a little dust and debri. 


“Wonwoo’s been taken. I’ve been trying to find him and the assailants.”


Mingyu looked like he wanted to burst out laughing. That was, until he realized Minghao wasn’t trying to make fun of him.


“W-What?” he chuckled, bringing his chin up to his mouth to suppress his giggles. “Assailants?”


The delta pursed his lips for a moment, trying to think of a way that would break through Mingyu’s defenses all the while not provoking him too much.


“I think the people who have been killing the cattle on your preserve just took Wonwoo. They got Chanyeol too. They were after Rose at first- at least, we thought they were. But now they have Wonwoo- So you have to help us-” Minghao’s voice cracked as he explained everything, running up to Mingyu and begging. He shook the alpha’s shoulders and tugged at his collar, but Mingyu stared ahead at the wall in front of the first set of stairs, understanding all of the fear and desperation in Minghao just from the frantic movement of his shadow. He didn’t even have to smell the waves of neuroticism rolling off of him. The stench of fear had hit him in the face like a wall of cold blizzard snow.


“Get out of my way.” Mingyu said in his alpha’s voice through clenched teeth, glaring at the delta with hatred. “Or did you want to go first?”


Minghao stumbled back.


“If you’re angry that I haven’t gotten to the eighth floor yet it’s because I’ve been trying to convince you this whole time. Jiyong and the others couldn’t have gotten far. They can’t just fly out of here.”


Mingyu thought for a moment. His wolf was doing everything it could to suppress the same feeling of fear and worry that was radiating off of Minghao but not even an apex alpha could accomplish such a feat when its other half was in danger. His wolf was howling now, and Mingyu was trying his hardest to think clearly. It also didn’t help that Minghao looked as disoriented as a dreidel that had been spun too hard. 


“If whoever these guys are can’t fly, then why the hell are you going upstairs?”


“I- I thought-”


“Get back to your friends Hao.  I’ll find him.” Mingyu shook his head, stomping angrily into the lobby.


“It doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders, Mingyu. Woozi’s already calling the police and Soonyoungs getting security-”


“So you’ve faced these guys already?” Mingyu turned to look at him, backing up into the cafeteria and impatiently waiting for a response. He assumed Wonwoo’s friends had at least tried to get him back.


“Jun fought three of them before but they seemed more powerful this time. You’ll need help-”


“If your friends are hurt you should be with them. I don’t need more dead weight holding me back. Wonwoo’s body is enough.”


At first Minghao thought it was cute that Mingyu had somewhat of a heart but his willpower was utterly decimated by those last few words. Not to mention, Mingyu’s tone of voice wasn’t very optimistic nor comforting as an omega’s would be. In less than fifteen minutes, Minghao was already beginning to feel the effects of losing the Jeon pack’s heir. Mingyu seemed to be just as disarrayed as he was but in is case it had only been moments since he heard that Wonwoo was missing. If only Wonwoo could see how much Mingyu cared about him…. 


“They’re wearing all black. They’re pale and sickly-looking and will terrify you the minute you get close-”


“I’ll know 'em when I see them then.” Mingyu grunted, running into the cafeteria. 


Wonwoo better break up with Seungcheol and get with him for this.

~ II ~

It was a good thing that Minghao didn’t follow him or else he may have had a nagging delta on his shoulders. It was one of the many reasons people often assumed Minghao and Wonwoo were brothers. Both always liked to remind their boyfriends that anything they possibly could do was dangerous and idiotic. So why was he taking the cargo lift down to the basement? Well, one: it was faster. And two: he’d always wanted to do it. 


It was also kind of dumb for Minghao not to see that the only other way this Jiyong kid could have gone was down if not up. And the loading dock below the cafeteria was the perfect place to make an escape. All it took was rolling up the protective sheet of metal that covered the door to the kitchen to hitch a ride on the elevator in the back. Despite the fact that it wasn’t built to carry people, the shaking and jittering of the metal cage surrounding him was kept to a minimum. But he still couldn’t be sure that his arrival in the basement went undetected. 


Just as the moving platform was in ten feet of distance from the damp concrete floor, a purple ball of light came out of nowhere, melting through one of the chains that held it up. The left over energy splashed against the wall next to him where it had overshot its target, causing the apex alpha to wince and lose his sight for a moment. It was just enough time for him to be caught off guard by a massive black bird to ascend towards the platform, shooting up the shaft with its wings outstretched as if it could intimidate the werewolf into backing up.


Undeterred, Mingyu bore his fangs and growled as he slid down the platform now that one of the chains had snapped and it was unbalanced. The alpha swiped at the bird with a clawed hand but the jumbo jet-sized crow evaded the attacks, clawing at him with its  talons and continuing to squawk and hover over him as if to distract him from his true target. 


Over all of the squawking, Mingyu was surprised his ears could even focus right now, picking up on the sound of a vehicle’s engines starting despite two shadowy figures still making their escape towards their getaway van with Wonwoo and Chanyeol in their clutches.


Roaring, Mingyu jumped off the platform, falling ten feet as two more blasts of energy came his way, scorching the run down walls next to him and sparking like damaged electrical wires. Though their aim was rather disgraceful in his opinion, the sorcerers knew that bright white flashes of light could impede a werewolf’s eyesight.


Clever little things.  


They might as well have been goblins or garden gnomes.


Where werewolf hunters could route and force werewolves into making detours with their fancy flash bombs, even getting alphas caught up in their devilish tricks, this kind of mimicry was insulting to him. An apex alpha of the Kim pack, being defeated by an oversized crow and a light show intended to scare him away? If these guys were in fact trying to intimidate him then it was clear they knew they couldn’t win. As his dad would have told him, it was a sign of desperation.


An alpha’s roar was enough to get the group of black-hooded sorcerers to fall back and only on the assumption that Mingyu could destroy them in mere seconds. The two of them who had been carrying Wonwoo and Chanyeol made a run towards the white utility van that was live-parked in front of the loading dock - a concrete slab that extended out from the edges of the storage part of the basement and connected it to the underground garage. There were two other vehicles he had noticed or rather heard: a motorcycle whose revved-up engine made it seem faster than it probably was, and an old broken down Chevrolet Impala which could have used a paint job. They may not have been getaway vehicles but they certainly would draw attention and suspicion from police officers and any normal person. Probably the good kind of attention the sorcerers were hoping for that would divert attention away from the white van without a license plate.


The police wouldn’t need to chase them down, Mingyu thought. He swore on the Kim pack’s honor that he’d stop the van from even getting an inch out of the garage. The socerers already had a death wish and were making him even more angry now that one of them had thrown Wonwoo into the back of their van like he’d been just another box to ship out to a buyer.


In fact, it made him so infuriated that the next time a purple energy blast came his way, he punched it out of the sky, causing it to explode in mid air. Although impressive for a non-magical being, the subsequent blast sent fumes and dust from the ceiling and floor between him to plume in the air, temporarily blinding him. In no less than a second, one of the quick-thinking sorcerers reinforced his comrade, firing a spread of smaller orbs from the palms of his hand with the hope that at least a few of them would hit their target. Just as he had been blinded, so were they, and the result was a wasted effort on the other boy’s as Mingyu emerged from the dust, charging at him. 


“Get in.” one of them shouted, kneeling on the bumper as he held the door open for his friend who eagerly complied and slammed both doors shut, concealing both the bodies of Wonwoo and Chanyeol from Mingyu’s view. Now defenseless, the other two men who had been at their vehicles respectively put their feet on the gas and lead the van towards the exit of the garage, sticking their hands out to shoot their own energy orbs at the alpha, hoping it would keep him off balance and deter him from pursuing. 


Flashing his eyes, Mingyu kept pace with the vehicles as they increased their speed, dodging and dancing around the projectiles being thrown at him all the while figuring out a way in his head how he was going to get open those doors to the van. He could easily take out the two guys guarding Wonwoo hands down, but it would be tricky with moving targets attacking him at the same time. That fact was what prompted him to run up to the motorcycle and slash its tires with his claws, causing it to lurch to the right and then spin across the ground before crashing into the wall in a heap of fire and mangled metal. The driver didn’t know what hit him, and reached out to stop himself from hitting his head as he fell to the ground, curling himself into a ball to mitigate whatever damage might be done to him. 


Bruised and scraped, the lanky and pale-faced man wasn’t completely down for good, and he got up to throw a punch at the apex alpha but Mingyu got him in the stomach, throwing him to the ground. By the time Mingyu was done playing around however, the van had already gotten to the exit while the Chevy that had been alongside it swerved to block him from chasing after it. Mingyu would have been delighted to turn it over and smash through their makeshift barrier but he was forced to stop as two boys got out of the car. Immediately summoning their dark powers, they went to telekinetically maneuvering two concrete dividers that had been laying near the exit towards him. Whereas any agile werewolf would have dodged them, Mingyu put his claws away and punched through the first slab of rock, splitting it in half and letting it crumble behind him as he ran towards the second one, using his whole body this time to ram through it. 


Clearly petrified but also hopeless and desperate, the two sorcerers lept to the sides of their car, lifting it together with their magic so that it levitated off the ground making it easier for one of them to throw it at him. It wasn’t much to look at as a car but it must’ve weighed a ton and Mingyu was forced to call upon his wolf this time to help him stop it from knocking him over and crushing him. 

Leaning forward with his arms out, he lowered his head and heaved out a breath, letting the side of the car which was now tilted upwards scrape against the concrete floor and then slam back down onto the ground. It was an impressive show of force, but a performance the two sorcerers did not stick around to observe as they tampered with the mechanical lock to the garage gate. While one tossed milk crates and boxes of produce and frozen meat at him, the other’s magic swirled around the levers and clamps of the garage door, causing the gate to fall down fast and block anyone from leaving the garage. It was clear now that Mingyu’s two opponents were fine with being left behind and trapped in the same room as him. At best, Mingyu thought it was the honorable thing to do if not disturbing. They couldn’t have been much older than him. Maybe twenty? Twenty five? To sacrifice themselves for such a nefarious cause; the kidnapping of an innocent omega. And for what? Ransom money? Sexual degeneration? It couldn’t have been why they’d done so in the first place. These guys had to have been motivated from some kind of ideological reason. Perhaps the glory that surrounded martyrdom and self-sacrifice was what really gave them true power. It was a thought he’d save for another day. After he rescued Wonwoo.


Right when Mingyu assumedt they were about to make a move on him, the two sorcerers’ bodies burst into purple debri, gleaming like gold dust and other minerals not given enough time to combine into a solid block of light. Helped by the wind coming into the cold and damp garage from the outside, the magical dust slid through the rectangular gaps in the gate and reformed into bright gleaming orbs of plasma before vanishing in mid air. It may have been another portal they’d gone through now that they didn’t have two bodies to drag with them which prevented them from changing shape.


The alpha ran towards the garage gate, taking a proactive stance and pushing against the wiry metal. Maybe if it had been any other stone wall or concrete divider he could have burst through it and only suffer a few minor bruises and scrapes. But the cage-like door was like barbed wire and got sharper everytime he pushed on it with his hands, bending all the way as he leaned forward but never snapping or breaking. It wasn’t brittle like an ordinary piece of metal, and it burned him every time he touched it.




His wolf was currently freaking out inside, pushing him to just run through the gate and not caring if they got chopped up like cheese through a grater. But the playful side of him also wanted to give the gate another try and probe for any weaknesses. He supposed he could run through the wall next to it but where was the fun in that? Besides, he preferred making his own path rather than simply maneuvering around obstacles and “finding another way”. That kind of thinking was for alphas who weren’t strong enough to take the enemy head on. And it was an excuse for cowards, an omega thing to do, Mingyu snorted to himself. Of course Wonwoo had to be the omega who got himself kidnapped in this situation.


One… two… three… the alpha counted in his head before whipping his fist forward and punching the gate.


Just like Jun with the window, a massive sheen of energy that had covered the entire gate suddenly lit up in a bright purple color. Another magical force field. 


“Fuck.” Mingyu hissed, not so much hurting from the sting as he was frustrated. He’d never crossed paths with a magic user in a fight before, but he remembered something about kitsunes during his childhood training. His father had said something about brute force destroying even the most obscure and trickier forms of foxfire kitsunes liked to use whenever they found themselves backed into a corner or without any options. Now that he thought about it, most if not everything he’d learned when he was a young pup was how to hunt and go on the offensive. Fighting the urge to laugh in such a situation, he supposed hunting Wonwoo indeed was what he was doing now.


“Fine then. You guys wanna play dirty? Thinking some lame ass energy barrier’s gonna stop me?” Mingyu chucked, flashing his eyes and bringing his arm back. 


Another blow to the force field and the layer of purple light shattered into a million pieces, the shards of energy crystals and other abstract shapes dissipated in thin air before they even touched the ground. Lifting up the gate and throwing it back into its socket in the ceiling was a piece of cake for the alpha who didn’t waste a second to get back on the sorcerers’ trail. They hadn’t made it far, blowing the stop sign at the end of the road from the campus and merging with the traffic going south towards Boseong National Park. If they’d gone north they would have gotten stuck in traffic from Jaseog’s downtown area and all of the business that came along with being on the main street. But as anyone would have expected, the country road the sorcerers had decided to take was sparse enough to travel on quickly and go unseen. It didn’t matter either way. They weren’t escaping.


Like the first night he’d blown his chances at reconciling with Wonwoo in the cave, he found himself transforming again into the ravenous beast form that had embodied all of the dark emotions swirling around in his mind. Whereas his wolf had let his tactful and intelligent side have control for the beginning of the fight, now it had enough with the fun and games, tearing its fur out at the thought of Wonwoo being violated. The wolf inside him hijacked his body and burst out of his clothes, not needing the pull of the full moon or any supernatural force to permit him to do so. Mingyu didn’t know whether his wolf was more angry at him for letting their mate get away than it was at his kidnappers, but it was useless to ponder about as his conscience was thrown into the backseat while the wolf took the steering wheel. In a way, Mingyu kind of felt like a dejected boyfriend, driving down a country road crying over a breakup and listening to a sad song. But he didn’t feel embarrassed this time to admit it. The pain, fear of loss, all of his anxiety…. He didn’t know what he’d do if he lost Wonwoo. 


Maybe that was why he didn’t have any shame in letting his true form come out and giving in to the darkness inside him. Wonwoo never seemed fond of his normal self anyways. 

~ III ~

“We have the apex alpha in hot pursuit, Supreme Prefect.” Apis said a little shakily as the van rocked back and forth over bumps on the scarcely-traveled forest road. It was a scene out of a movie. Like an intro or opening to murder mystery. A van driving down a long windy road while autumn came and went with it, falling from the trees in red, orange, and yellow. He wished he could have enjoyed it more.


No matter the turbulence, Apis’s eyes remained locked and firm as he gazed into the silver ball in his hand, meeting the Supreme Prefect’s own pink and tired ones. The young priest had always taken those eyes as a sign that the older man was delving too close to the threshold of his dark powers; of unlocking his full potential. So much so that it was causing irreversible corruption in the man’s soul and body to the point that it looked like it was killing him. Though his concern for the elder could never overcome his even stronger capacity for fear, intimidation, and obedience. That was why he wouldn’t dare challenge the lifestyle of a Supreme Prefect, especially since it was his duty as a high official to follow in the man’s footsteps and venture to the limits of magic so that they could achieve the power to accomplish their objective on this world. It was just that Anubis was getting too unruly and erratic for his tastes. Not that he had the luxury of being picky. But what usually came out of the man’s mouth was bordering on both the physical and philosophical extremes.


“Lord Venamis said that it might work to our advantage to grant those two another chance to rekindle their relationship with one another.  After we’ve done what we could and processed the omega of course. With events unfolding however, it appears to me now that this is far too close of an encounter for my liking, Apis. Lord Venamis ordered us to reveal ourselves to our enemies but this is suicide. Surrender the omega to Kim the second he sinks his claws into your van. However, you must ensure that the banshee remains in your custody at all costs. Think of it as bartering a life for another. No doubt, Mingyu will save his omega before he saves her. It’s the least we can accomplish if keeping hold of Jeon is no longer feasible.”


“Yes, Supreme Prefect-” Apis nodded, not bothering to inform the elder that Jiyong had utterly failed his part of the mission to take Rose. Doddering in the past was futile now. Just as he managed to swallow his regret, Apis’s body lurched forward slightly as something heavy and sharp landed on the roof of their car. He had been kneeling in the cargo compartment so as to keep his balance during the ride, but even then he was forced to hold onto one of the handles by the sliding doors, looking towards their driver with anger written all over his face.


“Is that him?” he snapped, hoping the boy at the wheel would understand who he was referring to. If it was indeed the apex alpha on top of their roof they were definitely not going to be able to get back to The Grove in one piece. 


“It’s Horus, brother.” the driver said politely and in a voice that soothed his nerves. They all watched the feathered man who was practically making a nest out of their van shift back into his human form as he climbed in through the passenger window.


“Finally. I was beginning to think we only had three of you left.” Apis looked around at all of them, not bothering to hide the fact that they were all dispensible in his eyes. 


“He’s gaining on us just so you know!” Horus craned his neck to yell into the backseat and cargo area, but Reshep and Jiyong who were standing by the doors didn’t need to be told as the fearful expressions on their faces were enough of an indicator just how dire the situation was. Apis’s stone cold face would have cracked too if it hadn’t been for the voice of his master reminding him that he was still on the other end of the orbiculum in his hand.


“High Priest Apis, are things getting out of hand for you?” the Supreme Prefect inquired. The funny thing about orbiculums was that they portrayed small details and facial movements one would never have caught in person. As sincere as Anubis sounded, his eyebrows had already arched in annoyance.


“N-No, Supreme Prefect” Apis swallowed. “We are still enroute to The Grove. It is merely that the apex alpha is gaining.”


“I can smell your fear from a mile away, sorcerer.” a dry but eloquent voice said as if pointing out the obvious. Apis’s eyes widened slightly but he was fast to cover up his sloppiness, bowing immediately at the presence of his eminence, Lord Venamis whose ghostly apparition appeared out of thin air. 


“There is no fear where true power lies. And it is almost in our hands, Lord Venamis.” the young man whispered to the floor, careful as to not upset their benefactor by projecting overconfidence. 


“I hope your sorcerer is telling the truth, Anubis.” Venamis said to the Supreme Prefect but curiously kept his gaze on the younger and more vulnerable one still bowing at his form. It was impossible to tell whether the young priest was shivering in fear or being bumped around by the van, but Venamis had swallowed his pride at the fact that his mere presence startled lesser beings long ago. 


“Throw down all your cards if you have to. The banshee is first priority. Then the omega. I will rendezvous with you shortly.”


Apis gulped, knowing what Venamis wanted wouldn’t all be given to him, but his sudden fear of dying at his claws was wisped away as the van’s doors behind them were pulled open to allow Jiyong and Reshep to combine their energy and send a large ball of it towards the apex alpha who was at the moment a mere twenty feet behind them chasing their van at forty miles per hour. The bright sunlight from outside as well as the harsh wind blew Venamis’s cloud-like figure away and just on time. He had made it imperative that no one discover his involvement much less that a mysterious and shadowy benefactor helping their cult even existed.


The sudden burst of energy from Jiyong and Reshep smashed against the beast’s black-furred shoulder, burning some of his fur and incinerating whatever ripped clothing remained on the creature but the attack wasn’t enough to stop the apex alpha much less delay him. The beast roared instead, scaring their driver and causing him to swerve as if he’d been honked at by a road-raged trucker.


“I am aware of Jiyong’s aspirations at becoming a member of the brotherhood, a full-fledged sorcerer even.” Anubis said to him, making sure most of his face was covered by his cloak. “But I have no doubt he and Reshep are prepared to make their sacrifices and return to Ixtlan. If their souls long to go home on such a path, then it’s Destiny’s way of conveying this to us. With all the power we wield and our manipulations of the physical universe, we often forget that we are not always in control of our fates.”


“We know what to do, Supreme Prefect.” Apis nodded, telekinetically calling his weapon towards him. The Rod of Asclepius shined golden even in the lack of light inside the van, but it was enough to restore the Prefect’s confidence, eliciting a smile from him before the orbiculum flickered and the light inside the crystal ball died out.


If they were about to die ensuring Wonwoo and Chanyeol’s escape, then it was no use holding back. The kitsune’s energy captured inside the rod should be enough to at least shock the alpha and grant them more time to put distance between them. 


The eyes on the gilded dragon head flashed and energy seeped up through the shaft, swirling with the animal’s tail up the rod of the weapon until finally a flame more orange than the sunset shot out like water from a spiget, almost engulfing the apex alpha had he not leapt ten feet into the air and landed on the roof of their van behind them. 


Apis gawked at the creature, turning around to guard himself from a potential swipe to the face from the apex alpha’s claws but Mingyu was more focused on stopping the vehicle, setting his sights on the driver. Not even needing to unlock the door, the three hundred pound beast sank his claws into the boy’s chest and yanked the screaming driver out of his seat and threw him out the window, leaving his already wounded and limp body to roll on the road like a puppet ejected from a bad performance. 


The van swereved and turned sideways, tires screeching against the road and making black trials in the asphalt. Mingyu unfortunately was thrown off the top of the vehicle by their sudden stop and slipped down onto the windshield and hood on the other side. 


Knowing it would have been suicide to hop down from the bumper and circle around the van to get a direct hit on their pursuer, Apis opted for a different approach. Aided by the telekinetic powers of Jiyong and Reshep, Apis floated to the top of the van, charging up the Rod while he made his ascent.


Squawking, Horus reverted back into his bird form, and the crow fled out of the passenger window, circling around the apex alpha on the front of their car like a vulture. In an animalistic rage, Mingyu clawed at the air in frustration, and it was this distractibility that made him vulnerable to attack. Normally, the durability and damage tolerance of an apex alpha’s body would have been equivalent to a mountain of cast iron but with Mingyu’s feet teetering on the edge of the hood and his attention focused elsewhere, the Rod of Asceplius operating at one-hundred percent power was enough to knock him off balance and send him tumbling in front of the car. Mingyu sank his claws into the road, japs snapping and snout snorting in anger before pushing off with his massive paws and pulling himself forward to charge the getaway vehicle. It was almost like he forgot Wonwoo and Chanyeol were still in the van but they weren’t in any immediate danger of being squashed as Mingyu only crushed the hood of the van beneath him, flattening it like it had been put through a scrap yard compactor. The sudden weight on the front caused the back of the van to go up in the air like a seesaw and projecting Apis’s body like a catapult.. 


Resourceful as ever, the seasoned sorcerer bided his time in the air, bringing his weapon back until he was right over the beast who’d attacked their van. Mingyu could only watch in confused curiosity as the man struck him with the gilded pike. Despite not having seen it coming from such a poorly-built and sickly looking man, it still hurt. 


The apex alpha clutched his jaw where he’d been hit, tasting blood where a tooth had been knocked loose. In spite of this, the sting only lasted for a moment and he was back on his toes, roaring at the man that landed gracefully in front of him. If only his wolf could have known that the anger-provoking smirk on Apis’s face was just a distraction or else Mingyu would have never ceded control to it. While his wolf attempted to crush the high priest under his fists, Mingyu couldn’t help but notice from the back of their mind that the feathered one they called “Horus” had flown over the roof, disappearing behind the van like a starling retreating to its nest. Meanwhile, Apis’s retinue of sorcerers Reshep and Jiyong hopped out and came to their leader’s aid. Jiyong, the youngest initiate in their brotherhood attacked the alpha with bursts of purple light and plasma while the older and more experienced Reshep sent waves of energy through the air, probing his mind. The viscious mental attack consequently altered his psyche. From anger, Mingyu’s mind descended into terror and the internal chaos that had spread throughout him prompted the beast to clutch his head, shrinking in fear. It wasn’t until he snapped himself out of it however that the more rational side of him broke free from the sorcerer’s emotional manipulations and swung his colossal fist through the air, sending the man’s frail and brittle body into the bushes alongside the road. Though if his “rational” side were to be honest, it wasn’t his strength of mind or level of intelligence that had allowed him to break free from their enemy’s mental web. Rather, it was simply the realization of the fact that an apex alpha could never experience fear. It would have been a dishonor. 


Clenching his teeth, Jiyong pressed the attack, giving the enemy all he had but his energy had been drained the moment he’d shot his first bolt of plasma. The bubbling and sizzling purple orbs of light splashed off of Mingyu’s arms and chest as he galloped towards the boy, picked him up, and rammed his upper body through the van’s already-cracked windshield. Jiyong’s head fell limp and hung over the dashboard but Mingyu wasn’t through with him yet, flinging him out onto the road in front of the van like he was just another article of clothing he didn’t feel like wearing that day. 


Apis bawked at him in horror but made no move to attack. Yes, he may have been older and far more experienced than any of the members of their cult, but with age came wisdom and humility. Even he, High Priest Apis, knew he was no match for an apex alpha born and bred from the Kim pack. It didn’t matter that the Rod of Asclepius was the symbol of occult magic, heralding the return of the gods and summoning their power. That thing inside the boy in front of him was a demon! It couldn’t be cast off so easy with the wave of a wand nor scared and cajoled into leaving.


But sometimes, even someone as old and wise as him could express his confidence in some other form….


Spotting a winged shadow moving across the road towards him, Mingyu gazed up into the sky, more annoyed than curious as to what possibly could have possessed the bird hybrid (if that really what it was) to come back for more.


Rather than smirk and be amused, Mingyu was utterly horrified inside to see his young omega mate dangling from the claws of his captor. Like a speck of rain falling at the onset of a great storm, one red drop fell upon him and rolled down his nose. It was then that all of his bloodlust had disappeared and he thought he was going to be sick. The feathered crow creature’s talons dug right into Wonwoo’s pale and thin arms, holding him up as if he were about to be nailed to a cross. It was no wonder why these sorcerers hadn’t tried anything too risky back at the school. They certainly had saved the best for last. 


Mingyu shook his head, snapping out of his shock and pouncing towards the nearest tree. It was a sturdy pine with a few branches but overall a tall and thick enough trunk that he could sink his claws into and climb. The massive crow squawked at him as if taking joy in his plight, and flapped his wings even louder to taunt him. Mingyu did his best to drown the noise out and focused on Wonwoo’s heartbeat, relieved that it was still beating normally and steady. Meanwhile, his wolf kept a stoic facial expression as it climbed the pine tree, not betraying anything to the crow as it climbed up to the bird’s height, daring it to fly away. He knew that while it had taken him a moment or two to climb the tree, the crow could have flown away with its prey by now, but the shapeshifting sorcerer was predictable as ever, staying to lure him in and torment him as a child teased a dog.


As expected however, Mingyu knew it was a trap. And maybe the secret knowledge that Chanyeol was still in the van and was most likely being “relocated” right now was tucked away in the back of of his mind. It made no difference. Both he and his wolf were focused on their mate right now. No matter how ruthless his moral conscience made it seem, it was better to save at least one than to have both die or be taken away. And that was just his conscience speaking. Both Mingyu and his wolf mutually agreed that their mate was their number one priority. Being practical and focusing on saving one person before saving the other was just a formality; a justification for saving Wonwoo should anyone ever question the morality of his actions. 


Having reached the top, Mingyu held on to a sturdy-enough branch and set his sights on the bird creature circling over the road now, orbiting close to him enough so that he could try and snatch the omega away while also flying back and denying Mingyu the omega. It was clearly all just a game and ploy for the creature, but Mingyu knew he could win. Not wanting to play around anymore, Mingyu lept from the branch and ended up tackling the bird creature in mid air, strangling it so it would let go of Wonwoo on reflex. The alpha stared into the bird’s bulging eyes with a determined and angry expression, reaching below them to snatch Wonwoo’s wrist and pull him up into his chest with his other hand while he choked the life out of the avian. Horus flapped his wings in distress, like a chicken upon being beheaded, and they all started their descent towards the ground. 


Initially hoping to use the bird to soften their landing, the monster that had taken over Mingyu abandoned such an attempt, holding Wonwoo close to him as they landed. It was putting it lightly to say that the three-hundred pound werewolf caused a small earthquake when his paws touched the ground, but the alpha didn’t feel a thing.


Like an asteroid hitting the moon, the apex alpha bore a massive hole in the center of the road, exposing the cold and hard dirt underneath that hadn’t thawed from the previous winter. In the process of making the crater, the van in front of them fell into the sinkhole. Notwithstanding, Apis and a semi-recuperated Horus were able to make their escape with Mingyu too far away to do anything, He could only stand in the hole he had made in the road, regretting that he didn’t bring immediate death upon the two sorcerers as they fled towards the sky. No longer in solid human form, Apis rearranged himself into a ball of light and poofed out of reality while Horus flew into the setting sun with Chanyeol swaying in his claws like an acrobatic performance or a rollercoaster ride gone wrong. As much as Mingyu knew it was the right thing to do to pretend and act like he cared for the blonde boy being abducted and flown away, he didn’t care. He didn’t at all. Why should he even? 


Brows contorting in confusion and anger, Mingyu looked down at the limp little thing in his clutches, still sleeping as if he’d been the one to prick his finger on the cursed spindel and not Briar Rose. The wound the bird had dealt him had mostly healed. Nontheless, Mingyu was eager to take the lingering pain away, frantically coddling Wonwoo’s arms and hugging them between his hand and chest as if he were a human bandage. One by one, Mingyu held the omega’s wrists in his hands and let the black veins of pain shoot up his arms and be absorbed into his biceps. It wasn’t enough to make the alpha strain and stop to take a breather, but it was breathtaking to watch the boy in his hands become even more tranquil and serene now that any hint of discomfort had been removed from his docile face.


Wonwoo was so beautiful right now that it caused pangs in Mingyu’s heart that could’ve tore his soul open if he didn’t have enough self control. He wasn’t going to cry and shake Wonwoo to get him to wake up. He could still hear his heartbeat thankfully. But still, why’d they done this to him? To his pack! It wasn’t just the land on the Kim Preserve that he’d grown up to love, but also the people he’d been with and wanted to be with forever. Wonwoo was going to be his mate, and just when he thought they could agree to disagree and put the past behind them, someone had almost taken his dream away and given him a glimpse of a true nightmare. To think, had he not stopped the sorcerers, Wonwoo wouldn’t have been in his arms right now.


Sure. It may have been that his beastly form wasn’t simply spurned on by righteous anger and his undying love for Wonwoo, but rather an animalistic reaction to undesirable events. He felt like a chameleon forced to blend into his surroundings, a tiny useless butterfly who had to open up its wings and pretend that it was a ferocious owl to ward off predators. It was all an optical illusion. But to whom? Himself? 


Under all this fur and muscle, and behind the blood red eyes, he was a kid again, scared and confused. Mingyu didn’t fight because it was “the right thing to do” and to protect those who were unable to protect themselves as the Kim Code had always been. He fought for selfish reasons and he was ashamed that he wasn’t ashamed. 


If Wonwoo woke up he didn’t mind if the omega slapped him in the face right now. Granted, he was an ugly monster. And he didn’t think that because he hated how inhumanely large and oversized he was, how long his canines had gotten, or the fact that he’d probably leak drool if he didn’t keep his mouth shut. In pure english, he hated how he looked because he knew why he looked this way. This form -- this optical illusion that was supposed to make him look like a dauntless warrior whose bark was just as powerful as his bite - was really the true embodiment of the cold black heart he had inside. Anyone would have beat themeleves up over such a realization, but Mingyu had other things to worry about, particularly the little thing in his arms suddenly moving about.


Rousing from his beauty sleep in Mingyu’s rough but gentle paws, Wonwoo woke up to a wall of midnight black and dark gray blocking his view. Maybe if the thing in front of him had been tan and a little less hairy, he would have rolled his eyes knowing how much of a gym rat Mingyu was and how he liked to show off. Maybe he’d even tell the alpha how much he wished he’d let him die or be taken away than have to smell his B.O. and be coddled in his arms, but this wasn’t Mingyu…. 


The omega’s eyes more or less bulged out of their sockets and kicked at the monster’s chest, trying not to blush as he felt Mingyu’s rock hard abs beneath the dark gray fur. It was no use hiding it from those alpha eyes though. Reddened or not, Mingyu could see through everything. 

As much as Wonwoo knew screaming would be futile as well, he opened his mouth but managed to only get out a squeal as the colossus holding him wrapped his entire clawed hand around his head, leaving only his nose and eyes to breathe and peek out at him in horror. 


If this was it, he hoped he tasted bad and gave Mingyu diarrhea. 


He clenched his eyes shut as if he were in pain and he tried for one last time to get out of the werewolf’s hold, squaring his shoulders and pushing off from its knuckles but the alpha’s fist was still clamped shut around his torso. It was funny that only a moment ago, he’d been resting on Mingyu’s paw and now he felt like a cardboard box in a trash compactor.


Mingyu seemd to catch on very quickly, visibly frowning down at him. Wonwoo’s heart shattered into a million pieces once he opened his eyes again and spotted the anguish on the beast’s face. 


Wonwoo sighed. He was no better than Mingyu throwing a temper tantrum now was he?  If the younger was so self-conscious about his appearance then Wonwoo definitely was too and he was sorry for it.


Spotting the look of understanding, the lycanthrope loosened his grip and eased his large paw off of the omega’s mouth, grunting and snorting as if to warn Wonwoo that he better not scream like last time. The elder still regarded him with unease but let his arms fall back behind him to steady himself using the werewolf’s arm on his right and grabbing the dull ends of the claws on his left as Mingyu lowered him towards the ground. 


“Alright.” Wonwoo breathed, trying to suppress the loud gasps for air he was making as he got over the previous traumatic experiences. 


“S-Sorry for yelling.” 


Mingyu released another grunt, this time, lowering his head to glare at the omega and bump his face with his snout.


“Okay okay- I’m really sorry. And I didn’t mean to make you feel like a monster.”


For a moment, the alpha still glared at him, still frustrated that Wonwoo didn’t understand. He didn’t need his stupid apologies. He already knew he was a monster and Wonwoo was damn right to be afraid of him. There was no use going over the fact which probably would have been more embarrassing than the first time his future mate woke up screaming at the sight of him. It was a ‘whatever’ kind of moment though. There were more pressing matters to tend to. He could let Wonwoo have a moment of relief.


Mingyu’s eyes closed slowly in acknowledgement of the omega’s apology, but before he could even open them again he felt something spiny and cold land softly on his cheek like the white fluff of a dandelion on freshly cut grass. He opened his eyes quickly to check if the sorcerers had returned and put a spell on him but he realized it was just Wonwoo’s hand that made him feel this way. 


It wasn’t necessary for Wonwoo to be kidnapped by sorcerers, knocked out, and thrown into a van to have cold hands. The omega often remarked that his fingers were always freezing and Mingyu didn’t doubt him now. It was only that… Wonwoo’s fingers may have been cold and brittle being so long and thin, but they warmed his face with a different kind of heat than mere thermodynamics could describe. They were supernatural creatures obviously. But even true love went beyond that. No spell or chemical made in a lab could ever make him feel this warm. And that was saying something since he was a walking pile of fur.


Clearly, Mingyu didn’t have control over himself now since his head had become flooded with thoughts, both questions, intentions, and statements he wanted to make. It was his human side talking, surrendering consciousness and retreating into the back of his mind to cope and deal with the overflow of emotions running through him. Meanwhile, his wolf could no longer endure the mental deliberations and licked a fat stripe up Wonwoo’s face before moving in to poke at his cheek and scent his neck. It was clear to Wonwoo now that the alpha was desperate to express his affection for him, even foregoing the attempt to revert back to his human form and use words. It didn’t matter anywyas. Not now when they spoke the same language. He would be a fool to disrupt such a soundless harmony.


Dragging his fingers along the werewolf’s face, Wonwoo traced Mingyu’s snout before cupping his jaw. As cliche as it seemed, the omega had both their heads come together like swans, staring into Mingyu’s red alpha eyes as if to make sure that he knew he loved him without saying it. 


It was certainly a picturesque moment if one could blot out the pervious scene of Wonwoo jerking his head back when Mingyu licked him. Though right now, everything was fine. Mingyu didn’t need to be so aggressive and passionate any more. The warmth between their foreheads was enough for the both of them to understand how relieved they were to be with each other, no matter how short it was. 


The beast’s fur was illuminated by blue and red lights shining from behind his broad shoulders, prompting him to crane his neck behind him and confirm that it was indeed Jaseog Police and not the sorcerers returning in blue and red orbs this time. Clutching on to the werewolf’s chest, Wonwoo peered out from behind him, not as relieved as he should have been. Sure he didn’t want to leave the warmth of Mingyu, but there was another question. What was he going to tell the police about Chanyeol? 


Picking up on the smell of anxiety radiating off of him, Mingyu pulled him into his chest one more time. It wasn’t the kind of “goodbye” hug that family gave to each other when they left the Thanksgiving dinner. And it wasn’t a firm and rough “bro hug” either. Mingyu wouldn’t have been shy to admit that he wanted to get his scent all over the omega before he handed him over to the police and medical examiner. He could have straight up told the cops off and said that Wonwoo was alright, but he wasn’t Wonwoo’s alpha yet and therefore couldn’t make decisions for him. Reluctantly, he turned both their bodies so that their sides were facing the squad of officers scrambling out of their patrol vehicles to check up on them. Wonwoo could only press his face into the tuft of fur on Mingyu’s chest, beginning to sob both in shame and sadness for the abduction of one of his friends. Chanyeol had always helped him in computer science, being the first to partner up with him on projects, and never teasing him for being too afraid to ask questions. He knew the kid got bullied sometimes, but to go out like this? The least fate could have done was given Chanyeol a few more years after high school to be free to be a proud nerd for once.


Wonwoo slammed his fist on the beast’s pectoral before a female officer, a beta from the smell of it, took his hand and wrapped an arm around his shoulder while he covered his eyes with his fingers, not wanting to look at the grim and drooping faces of all the officers who were ready to shoot Mingyu if he dared to move an inch. As if to make them less uneasy, the apex alpha devolved back into his human form, letting his own bodily processes shrink his bones back to size and rearrange his limbs. 


Two out of the eight officers stepped forward immediately to hand the young man a pair of gray sweatpants while the other gave him a police jacket, badge included. If Wonwoo wasn’t so distraught, he might’ve looked over his shoulder and told him that he looked good in the uniform and to join the force one day, but he could only grant Mingyu a teary-eyed smile, nodding in gratitude. 


Mingyu blushed, not liking how he suddenly noticed his stupid sweatpants getting tighter at how cute and beautiful a teary-eyed Wonwoo looked, but none of the officers surrounding him said anything, either hooking their hands in their belts and inspecting the devastated getaway van or reaching for their notepads and walkie-talkies. It may have been the lack of sunlight and gray clouds suddenly looming overhead that hid the redness on his cheeks, or maybe the officers all understood and weren’t surprised that he was fond of an omega like Jeon Wonwoo. Who wouldn’t?


Mingyu knew one of the officers to be Baekho’s father, the same guy who handed him the sweatpants. He’d known Kang Ikhyun to be a humorous man and he bet that Mr. Kang had been cracking jokes in his head about how he wouldn’t tell Baekho that Mingyu was wearing his pants leftover from basketball practice, or that Mingyu had one-upped him in acquiring the favor of his ex-crush. Yes, Baekho was even worse to Wonwoo in middle school than Mingyu was in high school, but he had the biggest crush on the elder before Mingyu could even get his s.h.i.t. together. Baekho had always been more of a ‘grown up’ than him, being the first one to introduce him to Bud Lite, fireballs, mary jane… you name it. Mingyu hadn’t actually put a blunt in between his lips yet of course. But with Baekho and Hyungsik cheering him on, he couldn’t say he never would. 


It was funny that he should think of those two in a moment like this, but he guessed it was because of the look Baekho’s dad was giving him. It was almost like he wanted to say something but couldn’t.


Giving up, Mingyu made eye contact with the man. There was a mixture of anger and incredulity on the alpha’s face but he hid it with his usual brooding and stoic expression.


Mr. Kang stepped forward, hunched over as a gust of wind made his jacket and hair flap around. The man looked like he was suppressing the urge to yelp in pain.


“You alright kid?” 


Mingyu nodded, still studying him.


“I just wanna be with my omega.” he said gruffly, turning his eyes elsewhere towards the men crowding around the unmarked vehicle whose engine was still fuming; crushed where he’d landed on it in his werewolf form. He hated that he was back to normal now. No one would take him seriously anymore. He’d lost the grandeur of an apex alpha and the intrigue from Wonwoo that came along with it. The omega probably thought he was back to being the dumb jock he’d always known at school. It sucked. Out of all things however, the burning arousal and lust he felt for Wonwoo never went away. It was like all the testosterone his body had been pumped with never left like the fur previously covering him, or his claws and fangs. He had to keep his distance from Wonwoo. Though he wondered if Wonwoo felt the same way. The omega had indeed looked a little flushed as he’d been taken to the other side of the police convoy. Mingyu could only hope that they’d let him near him if the ‘need’ ever arose.


“You’ll see him again soon. I promise kid.” Mr. Kang said, not seeming very interested in his future mate’s welfare or current status. Well, it wasn’t like Mingyu was interested in talking to the officer either, stealing glances at Wonwoo every other second as he was being checked up on and looked over by a paramedic on the bumper of the ambulance that had arrived.


“Mind telling me what Baekho and Hyungsik were doing knocked out cold in the library?” the eyes of Baekho’s father creased into slits as he shivered slightly in the wind. Though Mingyu guessed it was the normal sign of anger that usually arose in the man whenever he didn’t know what was going on or couldn’t control his surroundings. 


“I don’t know, sir. After practice, we split up. I went to my locker ‘cause I forgot something and Baekho and Hyungsik went to the library. I’m guessing they probably picked a fight with Seungcheol or something. He’s the only other beta I know of who could go up against your son.”


Mingyu knew he was a terrible liar when it came to his mother, but Mr. Kang was an idiot.


“Look, that might be a good guess, but it wasn’t him. We caught his friend’s scent all over them.” Mr. Kang nodded to Wonwoo who was still slumped over on the doorstep of the ambulance. “We didn’t need to take any DNA samples or find traces of claw matter lodged in my son’s body to know it was the delta. C’mon, Mingyu. You know this. I want to make sure my son and his friend are safe. I want everyone to be safe.” the man’s eyes perked up slightly. 


“I also want to know who I’m dealing with. I need your cooperation, son.”


Mingyu’s brows furrowed and he looked at the middle-aged man with disgust. Kang had always been the officer who put his family’s name first. It didn’t matter if his son was a perpetrator and broke ten laws in one night. He’d cover it up. And if his son was the victim, Mr. Kang could probably get away with dealing out an immediate public execution without any trial by jury. Strength and status-wise, Mingyu had nothing to be afraid of. But Kang Ikhyun was a slippery little snake that could strangle him if he wasn’t looking.


“Don’t you already know?” he retorted, not caring if his tone was disrespectful. “Wonwoo almost got kidnapped. Not to mention Chanyeol’s gone now. You’re not gonna ask about them or how they’re doing? Far as I know, Choi only gave your son a scratch.”


Kang didn’t look as bothered as he should have been. Though that was to be expected. He may have been a police officer with close ties to a lot of people on the force and behind the scenes, but he knew the power behind the Kim family name.


“I’m doing this for the sake of Wonwoo, son. You may not see it, but the only way these purple orb freaks got into the school and escaped with two students was because it was an inside job. I’m not the police chief yet but if I was, I’d have his delta friend be taken in and questioned. Baekho and Hyungsik saw him and Wen Junhui bullying Chanyeol before things got violent. And now the poor boy’s missing. Most likely dead even. Fortunately my son and his friend cared enough to step in.” 


Mingyu suppressed a chuckle.


“I’m glad Baekho did if Chanyeol was getting bullied. But that doesn’t explain what’s going on.”


“It doesn’t.” Mr. Kang admittted, shoving his hand in his pockets. “Just know I’ll get to the bottom of this for Wonwoo, Chanyeol, and my son.”


Mingyu nodded grimly, stuck between wanting to tear his ears out or shoving a sock in Baekho’s dad’s mouth. Taking the higher road, he turned his back to the man, checking on Wonwoo one last time from a distance before he was escorted into one of the officers’ patrol cars. It was after one of the larger beta officers locked the door did Mingyu realize he’d been tricked. The man who had led him to the backseat of the vehicle reached for his walkie-talkie, murmuring something about a ‘code red’.


“Siwon. Confirm that the apex alpha is detained.” a female voice said, slightly muffled coming from the device. Mingyu instantly recognized it as the female officer who had escorted Wonwoo away to be taken care of.


“Copy. Alpha is secure.”


“Good. Get him out of here. The omega’s going into heat.”


Through the vents of the car and the holes of the partition separating the front and back seat, Mingyu could smell the sweet aroma of his omega like the smell of apple pie and cinnamon being blown in the wind. Wonwoo was calling out to him. Except now the stench of rubbing alcohol for his wound and the manufactured heat suppressant injections surrounded it, choking his nostrills.


He’d crushed the front of a van before with just his feet. There was no doubt he couldn’t tear open a roof if he wanted to.