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never be like you 🥀 soonhoon

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Do not repost the illustrations.

Chapter Text

He loved a boy
Who was at war with himself.
Whose mind was a battlefield
His love could never conquer.
But still he tried,
And the casualty was his heart.
For love,
Cannot heal at all.

 

Because it was his gift,
To make everyone fall for his smile,
And push them away with his sadness.

 

MKL & CG

Chapter Text

All is fair in love and war. But he could not damn believe that all was fair after he found out the ridiculous exposé. It was Mingyu that was coming to bring him the news. The goodness brought by the cold, fragrant, first morning of spring has been ruined.

Soonyoung is in the courtyard. There was dust in his eyes, under his nails, and he breathed heavily. His lungs burned as he looked straight at Jeonghan, who joined his training with their swordmaster. But the scent of leather just distracted him, and he felt urgent for some reason.

Hyung! he screams. The swordmaster, although lower in the social hierarchy, has given Mingyu a look of disrespect. The prince only screamed again, Soonyoung hyung!

Mingyu smelled like a boss. Soonyoung does not know if this is because of his punctuality as the third in line for the crown as king. But he always wore leather and he always dresses as if he is always in a meeting with the palace advisors.

What do you want? We're training, Jeonghan simply says as the thin sheen of sweat perches on his nose. Eyes focused on aiming at Soonyoung.

You guys have to come, now! he can barely speak properly. Mingyu was never like this, he was always respectful to everything and everyone. Unless, there is a real emergency.

Let me just finish this hyung off so I can behead him, Soonyoung attacks Jeonghan in his haste, but the elder manages to dodge and smirk.

Our crown prince and second eldest brother, Mingyu continued to announce. He said, He just reported about stepping down from royal duties.

What? Jeonghan literally stopped in his motion and looked at his youngest brother.

A deep silence falls on the courtyard. The only noise was from Mingyu who was panting harshly, as well as the sharp sound of a sword finding its place in the sheath by Soonyoung. There was a deafening silence in his head, too. He tried his best to process the words of their youngest.

Junhui resigning from his royalty should be good news for him—Soonyoung becomes the first in succession if their father, His Majesty the King of Gyeonggi-do, abdicates the throne to him.

But this was the other way around. The reason Junhui is surrendering his royal duty is because he is pursuing his betrothed, who was a commoner. And according to the law, an heir must renounce his or her position as a member of the royal family and resign from his or her duties as members of the family.

The King and Queen had expected this, and although not necessarily mad at their second eldest, everyone was disappointed. If Junhui is pursuing the commoner life, this would also mean that the arranged marriage is off. The alliance is off. And that was the bad news.

With Gyeongsang-do in arms, they were ready to march on Gyeonggi-do. What kind of hope do they have without an alliance with the second largest metropolitan? There is no future for them if the war happens.

Are you sure? Soonyoung asks, his eyes and face now more serious than when he was training. Jeonghan saw this, and it was the first time he felt that he did not want to mess nor joke with his younger brothers.

Mingyu only nodded. He has now recovered his panting and has stood straight. He told him, It had the legal seal of Gyeongsang-do, and its royal guards personally delivered the letter.

And they formally declared a war already? he asked instantly.

No," Mingyu answered as fast as he asked. He then told him, The engagement is still valid but they have moved it into an earlier time.

Soonyoung waited for his youngest brother to continue. He cannot think of anything that was going to happen next. All of these were happening unexpectedly.

But he can read in Mingyu’s eyes that he will not like what he is going to say next. There was a small relief knowing that the other monarch did not proclaim bloodshed. But he was sure that this was heading undesirable for him. Though whatever it is, he was going to do it for his kingdom.

Mingyu took a deep breath, and he even gulped, before saying, His Majesty the King appoints you to marry the eldest omega prince, instead.

The warmness of his blood that rushed in his veins from training turned cold in an instant. It was so cold that it felt as if his body stopped supplying blood in his organs. 

His system shattered then and there. If Jeonghan was a scary one, he knew the limits and the tendencies when Soonyoung was angry. Because he was now taking a step back, ready for when or not Soonyoung explodes.

Soonyoung exhales deeply, Absurd, I was just thinking that losing a war could have been better.

People also defend their selfishness by prioritizing their own desires above those of others. When a war breaks out, enforcing the law becomes even more difficult. As a result, it seems that all is equal.

And if fairness is true, then the ones who behead soldiers at the border are legitimate, and so are lovers who throw acid on girls. All is fair in love and war.

Chapter Text

It was unorthodox that Soonyoung was meeting the eldest prince of Gyeongsang-do when he just raged at how unfair the system is. But with his kingdom on the brink of war, there is really no way to wait. And they were not kidding when they said that the matrimony was moved at an earlier time. Because this is the first time he is meeting his fiancé, and it is only less than two weeks before their union.

That day when he heard the news, Soonyoung had only seen the lad a few times through portraits—his portrait paintings—which he believed were unreliable. Any good painter who does not want to be beheaded would even make the ugliest royalty a god in its perfection. The eldest prince of Gyeongsang-do could have been an ogre.

The royal palace of Gyeongsang-do is humongous. It was as expected from the metropolitan. It was more vast than theirs, the royal palace of Gyeonggi-do, but there was something odd about this place.

The air was cold. Its bricks and floors were grey. There were no decorations such as flowers or any fancy plants as a sign of life but the large monarch family tree was extravagantly framed. He has never seen a palace so unwelcoming as home. Their own palace was definitely beautiful, cozy, and especially homely.

Soonyoung thinks about who is gonna suffer the most from this arrangement. He for sure would have to give up love, because he has no choice anymore. Well, he has nothing to lose in the first place. No other man—he wasn’t particularly into women—or any omegas has caught his attention ever since. The fact that he cannot choose was the only issue.

He always had the greatest dream of getting married, having kids, and building a beautiful and happy family of his own since he was a young man. So this arranged marriage thing was not really a bad thing. Soonyoung just worries as to whether his bridegroom is actually alright with this. Or else his only dream and goal would fade like ashes.

Soonyoung has been informed of the name of his bridegroom. His mother softly said the name, “Royal Highness Lee Jihoon, the eldest Prince of Gyeongsang-do.”

“Lee Jihoon? I thought I was marrying an omega?” Soonyoung blurted, which made his brothers laugh. The name sounds too alpha-ish.

“They said Lee Jihoon is pretty. But he’s not like any other omegas so you better get your dick ready to be cockblocked,” Junhui shared the information he learned from the advisors before.

To which Soonyoung bantered at Junhui with, “Ya, if you weren't crazy, you can marry this Lee Jihoon.”

이지훈 李知勳 , the characters on the unsealed letter from Gyeongsang-do read.

“Know, contribution, credit, meritorious deed,” Soonyoung muttered to himself. His thumb ran through the strokes of the name, “Come across with wisdom.”

Her Majesty the Queen had told him that the eldest prince was raised to inherit the throne as expected to be crown prince. The man was raised to be a king, the ruler of Gyeongsang-do alone. But it was unfortunate when the heir, and the eldest, presented as an omega. So now, he is being auctioned off to marry.

Their mother told them yesterday enough things about this kingdom. He and his brothers never assumed that omegas could be anything other than being a bearer, a homemaker, even a fragile partner.

The youngest, Prince Mingyu, said that he has seen the prince before. He said that at a ball in Gyeongsangbuk-do hosted by—Prince and Duke of Daegu-si Choi Seungcheol and his eldest brother Jeonghan’s husband, the man has been introduced to a number of other alphas, especially princes. But he has declined each and every single suitor.

Junhui even shared that he heard gossip that the omega prince lacked humility. And at that, Soonyoung has become unsure about this man. If Junhui could have, anyone could have, anyone ever could, which is really disheartening considering that this inconvenient duty now falls upon him.

Because if he lets his bridegroom misbehave, if he lets him disrespect him out of pettiness or out of ignorance or simply out of despair, if he can’t even control his husband, his mate, his king consort, how is he supposed to rule his kingdom?

Soonyoung just figured that the man is untrained. The hypothesis of the omega prince being untamed and possibly untameable is a conclusion. He pronounces that his marriage is impossible, out of anyone’s control.

His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, and His Majesty the Crown Prince, have been led by the butler into the last door of the wing. And if Soonyoung had assumed that his bridegroom would be an ogre, he is taking it back.

When the large oak doors opened to the council chamber, there His Royal Highness the Prince of Gyeongsang-do stood in front of his procession. His face is bewitching, and it was too delicate to justify the aura that exudes passion. His skin is pale enough to absorb hues from the world around him—even in contrast to the black suit that adorned his body. His face and whole figure is magnificent, like a painting by Lucian Freud.

 

 

Lee Jihoon is more exquisite than it had been in the paintings. His beauty is out of this world. It was almost as if he could replace Aphrodite.

Soonyoung and his parents bowed respectfully before the royal family of Gyeongsang-do. The prince smiled politely as his father introduced them, especially him, as the groom of Prince Jihoon.

When all formalities of greeting each other's families were done, Soonyoung unexpectedly heard from Jihoon who spoke firmly, “Welcome, His Majesty the Prince of Gyeonggi-do, Kwon Soonyoung.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Royal Highness the Prince of Gyeongsang-do, Lee Jihoon,” he smiled at him genuinely.

The prince only returned his smile with a nod and professional smile. This man must be thinking only about the affiliation of their kingdoms. And it was a foreign impression to him.

Back in their kingdom, whenever their family would host a ball, most duchesses and all the omegas, especially ladies, would give their best to get his attention. It was very rare for anyone to not at least be attracted to him. Because when he greeted him, his eyes never laid on him again.

This one—he is just different. And Soonyoung has already noted the little things about him as their parents talked. He is real, because he does not sugar coat his words. He is unafraid, because he voices out his opinions to the Kings and Queens. He is confident, because he has conviction with his words. He is unbothered, because he does not care about the negative opinions of some advisors. He is different in many more ways. This one, Jihoon, is just different.

And if the odds would be on his side, as he becomes lucky enough to be the man who opens his heart, Soonyoung bets that he will give him a whole different perspective of life. He was determined to break the ice and climb up his walls. He might not be interested in trying out the romance in their marriage, but he will make him fall in love with him.

Then and there he swears to make sure he learns to love him too, the way he is starting to fall in love with him at first sight.

Chapter Text

It was known that Gyeonggi-do and Gyeongsang-do were not the best of terms. Years ago, a war had almost obliterated both lands due to an unknown and unspoken tension. Jihoon’s father has been trying to find a solution since the war. And although he wasn’t exactly sure if the King had gone mad, he was positive about the proposition. 

Being born the eldest made him get along with his father well. All his life, Jihoon had prepared to take over as heir and rule their kingdom. It was always fascinating for him to hear all the praises of all these people who expected him to be King. Yet, despite being the eldest of two other boys, it was unfortunate for him to present as an omega. That alone was enough disappointment, and enough reason for Jihoon to do anything so that his father would be proud of him.

Jihoon grew up being surrounded with other noblemen and conservative majestic families only. When he presented at sixteen, he was taught how to be a good omega. How to be respectful of their alphas, how to behave according to their inferior condition, how to be polite, submissive and obedient in all situations. And it was no fun because omegas are always taught chores, homemaking, and values that are claimed crucial for subordination. 

This did not stop him from training, though. Maybe it was because he was raised to be an alpha that he continued to act like one. When he was not training with the advisors and the council, he was meeting with the royal swordsmen and archers to do intense combat sessions. He also had to make appearances at balls their kingdom hosted, introducing himself as the promising eldest Prince and second in line of the throne.

Jihoon has always set standards that his brothers can look up to, and broke the mold to hone their ambitions and potential.

Kwon Soonyoung, the name was bitter against his tongue. He was an ebullient man, one that took after his parents identically. His mannerism and ideals directly mirrored that of the King of Gyeonggi-do. He was literally a younger version of everything his father was, but Jihoon had to admit that he had the serene beauty of the Queen of Gyeonggi-do. The first encounter was not bad.

His father took a sip of his wine, placing the cup down, “Please get to know the fellow tonight, Jihoon.”

Jihoon looked and nodded at his father with a fake smile. He said, “I’ll try my best, Your Majesty.”

After the dinner, Jihoon shifted back and forth from the swirling balls of light above back to the flickering candles across the brick path. The delicate rose bushes in the garden obstructed his vision slightly. He continued walking, until he reached the gazebo. 

A heavy sigh escaped his lips as he gazed in the night sky. Jihoon saw the stars shine bright, dancing upon black canvas to produce beautiful lights. It always brought him comfort whenever there were social gatherings. And he would always escape whenever there is a chance, even if it is just for a few moments.

“Mr. Lee,” he recognized the voice, and he knew the person who it was. He must have been sent out to find him, “What could you be doing here instead of sharing a talk with the ménages?”

Ménages, Jihoon thought of all the places where he had seen a light so bold. Not just from the stars, but within his eyes, as their eye contact took hold. This man must be in favor of the proposition for him to establish their household just like that.

There are omegas whose choice it is to dress up and get ready in order to attract an alpha—in order to find love, that is something that they seek. And perhaps not as many opportunities as heirs, that desire was prevalent and that desire, though not the only valid one, is still enough reason to understand the Crown Prince. Besides, Jihoon is a catch, so Kwon Soonyoung shall definitely be feeling fortunate being arranged with him.

Jihoon is someone who is kind—someone who cares about other people and someone who especially cares about transparency. He cares about the truth. He cares about the people he loves and he is, without question, a nurturer. He is the kind of person who will help someone if he believes they need it, if he is asked to, or just because she is a prince and it is something he should do. Therefore, whether or not the hopes of finding true love is valuable, the aforementioned are enough reasons to say that he does not have a choice. More than anything, however, he does not want to disappoint.

“Sire,” he gently brought himself to a seated position as his hands dug into the soft grass. He said, “Do not act coy, my father must have sent you.”

The omega looked at the alpha in such a way that caused his heart to melt, as Jihoon stared back in his deep brown eyes. And Soonyoung loved the way it felt. He chuckled, “I believe this is yours.”

In his hands he held a delicate white lily, lowering it down for the omega to take it. Jihoon looked up then slowly stood in front of the gentleman. His deep brown eyes looked deep in his chocolate ones, and it felt as if Soonyoung was looking into his soul.

Jihoon extended his hand forward, fingers carefully bypassing his fingers to grab the delicate flower that had fallen from his hair. He says, “It is, thank you.”

“Most royalties like roses and tulips. Lily is an interesting choice of yours,” Soonyoung lingered around watching Jihoon place the flower back into his hair, tucking it in securely.

“Well, sire,” Jihoon brushed his suit from sitting down on the grass after fixing his hair. He told him in sarcasm, “Next time I will make sure to be clad in roses and tulips with no other flower to be seen.”

Soonyoung put up his hands in defense. He replied, “I mean no harm pointing that out, I like lilies. And it fits you… modest, devoted, and pure… I think I’d even like to see you in it during our unification.”

“Don’t remind me,” Jihoon bitterly let out as his eyes drifted around. He realized that the more stars have come out for the night. 

“Not excited?” Soonyoung leaned his back against the gazebo rails. The suit he wore was obviously slightly too small for him as the material hugged his defined arms showing off the muscle that hid in his jacket when he crossed his arms.

Jihoon was like the sky. And Soonyoung could do nothing but stare at him longingly—as the omega looked up at the stars—hoping inside that one day Jihoon would fall to earth. Because at that moment he first landed his eyes on the omega, it was like listening to a song for the first time, and knowing it would be his favorite. And if anyone asked him if he believed in love at first sight, he would say no. Is it impossible to be in love with him without knowing his name or face his entire life?

Maybe he fell in love with his aura, his silence. The way he kept things hidden inside him like eyes in the crack of a door. But he spent his days waiting for him, searching the crowds for his face. And when he saw him it was like destiny. 

“I’m doing this for my kingdom, sire. Should I be happy about not having any final say on this?” Jihoon scoffed, realizing that Soonyoung was nowhere to be found but behind him.

“Please stop the formality, my dear. I hate when people make me feel like I’m superior. And you addressing me ‘sire’ sounds condescending when…” Soonyoung scrunched his nose.

“When… we’re marrying? Well, what would you like I call you… uhh, my alpha ?” Jihoon was playing with him. He could tell by his voice, he said ‘alpha’ in a way to make it stand out against the other words. He wanted to get a reaction out of him.

“My name would be just fine. And what should I call you? Shall your first name be alright, dear?” Soonyoung looked at Jihoon who was facing him now. The omega has his hands in his pockets. And he looked up at the skies again to ignore his first reply.

“You should earn the privilege to call me by my name, sire,” Jihoon slowly looked down to face him. He said, “This omega is wanted by a lot of those like you, and you shall prove me worthy.” 

Jihoon walked in front of Soonyoung and just looked at him without more words. Now that the alpha could see him clearly, he was reminded of pâté. Jihoon felt cold and suspicious, lurking like an unfinished business. His composure looked unsure too, and he seemed tasteless with salt. Jihoon was overwhelming, yet he was also underwhelming at the same time.

“We shall head back,” was all the alpha could say.

Because at that moment, Jihoon felt like everything—the winter hibernation, the lonesome cold, the wind understood, the isolation emerged. And somehow, his eyes felt like they were in the clouds. It was heavy and dark. And the corners were waiting to fall like rain.  

He was a cold night in the city lights with a restless heart. And if he has put walls around to be nowhere in sight, Soonyoung will put up a fight, with all his might, to drag him right beside him every night. So that Jihoon can be the coldest place he knew that he managed to warm up and settle into like home.

Chapter Text

Soonyoung has been quiet for a few minutes now. Back in their palace, he and his brothers had the day for themselves to train archery. The Prince and Duke of Daegu-si, Choi Seungcheol, was also there with his younger brother Prince Hansol. His eldest brother was not there, though. Prince—now Duke Consort to Seungcheol—Jeonghan was personally preparing hot cross buns and shortbread for an afternoon tea with their parents, the King and the Queen.

He had especially asked for Seungcheol today because he must probably know a lot about Jihoon. Considering the dukedom of Daegu-si is under Gyeongsang-do, Seungcheol is the only person Soonyoung knew who got affiliated with his betrothed. 

Mingyu was looking at the form of Soonyoung, who had his one eye closed, checking his aims. He joked, “It’s still too early to practice shooting, hyung. The matrimony is not near until six days. You are not even sure if he wants your dick.”

Before Soonyoung could even cuss at the youngest, Seungcheol smirked, “Soonyoung needs to step up his game. If you’ve seen Jihoon from last year’s highland games, he bested all his suitors and shamed other clans in archery.”

Seungcheol started to aim. He pulled the string slowly, taking a deep breath, before releasing to land within the bullseye perimeter.

“Really? Is he that good?” Hansol retrieved an arrow. He also asked, “Didn’t you also like him before, hyung?”

“Who, Jihoon?” the eldest asked. He looked around to check if there were any signs of his husband, “I certainly fell for the eldest Kwon, but I did. I did like Lee Jihoon. I mean, who wouldn’t like him? He is definitely a catch.”

“Well, his kindness is a façade. His attitude was anything but…” Mingyu trailed off. He looked at Soonyoung and said, “What did he tell you again?”

“The prince told me to earn the privilege to call him by his name,” Soonyoung answered.

Mingyu sighed, “I wish you luck, hyung.”

Ya, my success on this proposition influences all our prospects. All of the prospects of the kingdom,” he reminds them. He then tells them, “We will all need to find love one day, in the same way our father and our mother shared. I am just merely hoping that the prince will come around so that I am able to continue such a grand tradition.”

Junhui chuckled at the sentiments of his brother. He smiled at him, “Is it love at first sight? Sometimes the butterflies in your stomach are wasps.”

“Is it bad if it’s love at first sight?” Soonyoung asks.

“No, not at all. But that is the thing about the iron omega,” Seungcheol says. He told him, “Jihoon is an untamed wildfire, raging with all his might. His flames will burn you down. Sort of like a poison that will kill you slowly and torture your days over quick death.”

“He’s the poison I am dying to drink then,” Soonyoung tells them. 

Ever since last night, he cannot stop thinking about Jihoon. His brothers have been pestering him about his attitude since the first time they heard about him. But he cannot see that in him, though. The feeling is bothering him. Like whatever he does, he just gets his attention. Soonyoung even finds it interesting how he takes up all the space in his head ever since.

Jihoon was beautiful. But not in the same way everyone thinks that about him. He is beautiful for the way he is mysterious. He is beautiful for his ability to make him feel the butterflies in his stomach even if Jihoon was insulting him. And he knows that he already is a lot to handle, but there is always a glimmer in those who have been through the dark.

He looked on the ground, then to a distance and said, “Loving him is going to be a splendid, wild chase adventure. But I do not, and would not mind.”

There were claps that were gradually getting louder. The men looked at their backs to see their eldest brother clapping, “That’s right, that’s how I raised you.”

The brothers laughed at that. When they were all younger, Jeonghan had always been deemed as an omega.They have always been taught that there is no such thing as ‘what alphas do’ and ‘what omegas do’ by their parents. Their father especially did not pressure their eldest to limit what Jeonghan can do.

Soonyoung can clearly remember how despite being an omega, Jeonghan stood up for him and Junhui when they were being bullied in school. Or that one time when he kicked an alpha while Mingyu ran to him out of fear. 

They were always used to being with each other. But as they grew up, each of them started becoming independent, with different values, beliefs, even preferences on simple things. And along with that, it has been too long since they all got together.

Jeonghan was especially missed. As the Duke Consort, he had to provide companionship and moral practical support. In short, he had to be anywhere that Seungcheol had to be. The married couple did not even have the time to think about forming a family yet.

When he had placed a few hot cross buns and shortbread for them to taste before the tea proper later, they all sat down to rest. Jeonghan spoke out of nowhere, “Have you met the ex-lover of your future husband, Soonyoung-ah?”

“Huh?” Soonyoung looked at his eldest brother.

“He had one?” Seungcheol asked this time.

Jeonghan chuckled at his husband. He leaned back, crossed his arms, and asked his husband with a smirk, “I thought you liked him before? Why didn’t you know?”

“Kang Insoo is not an ex-lover if Jihoon did not like him, my dear,” Seungcheol replied to his husband with a chuckle.

“Kang Insoo?” Mingyu asked with a mix of confusion and surprise. He even added, “The smug, presumptuous, inelegant, and awkward suitor in the chagrin of omegas?”

“Indeed,” Jeonghan confirmed. 

Now it was Hansol who spoke for the first time, “He is an insistent suitor of the Prince. He is completely pedantic and creepy.”

To which Seungcheol added, “And I will tell you what, he is older than all of us by a decade. Teenager Kang Insoo has been eyeing Jihoon since we were in the academy, when we were all but five, and says it is destiny. An absolute weasel of a man.”

Jeonghan answered. He shifted his eyes to Soonyoung who was intently listening, “I heard from father that the King of Gyeongsang-do tried to insist that it was a good pairing and pressured her to reciprocate the interests of Kang Insoo. But the Prince has rejected him. He is totally disinterested.” 

“Who would want to be interested in a pedophile? Who on earth would keep an eye on a small child and say it is destiny?” Junhui chuckled, at the same time disgust was evident in his face.

“Maybe that is why he became like that,” Soonyoung said out of nowhere. 

“Like what, like a bitch?” Mingyu pouted. He even added, “He could use a little kindness on me, at least. I am not the one he is marrying, why hate me?”

Jihoon is a beloved Prince of Gyeongsang-do. He was kind and humble. Their father even said at one time that he will be a beloved consort here in Gyeonggi-do because he is smart, and he knows how to make people love him. And that, being unrivalled in archery and fencing, he can literally kill anyone in real combat. Very ruler material, except he is an omega. The prince still qualifies as the perfect mate, though, a partner even on war.

But the thing is, Jihoon has been hostile to them ever since the first encounter. He was only polite to the King and Queen of Gyeonggi-do and Jeonghan. Mingyu has been the most terrified of the iron omega. Jihoon does not smile at them. He was pretty, but in a defiant way. 

Seungcheol then laughed and replied to Mingyu, “Maybe he hates you because you are too tall.”

They all chuckled at that. His height should not be laughed at, they know that. Because his presence and personality makes up for what he lacked. Jeonghan assures, “He is not that bad, to be honest. He is just really a serious person.”

Soonyoung just listened as his brothers talked. He has been in deep thoughts after learning this. He was thinking whether this is the reason why he can see anguish in his eyes. Maybe Jihoon built up walls to hide himself away in fear of being attacked, figuratively.

His mind was shrouded by the mysteries of his eyes. The thoughts were suppressed, and his actions were always entangled in capriciousness that often left him bewildered. Jihoon is of abstruse ashes and those were the walls that built Soonyoung fascination towards him. And with that, he just convinced himself more that he was ready to hunt all the puzzle pieces to unveil Jihoon’s fairytale. Soonyoung was willing to lose himself if it was the fare in his labyrinth.

Chapter Text

Jihoon was clenching his muscles. He was like an animal caught in a trap, ready to dash looking for escape routes. There are many doors in the hall house but he was not trying to escape, not one bit. He knows well that it is his duty to be married off to an alpha. But the discussions about him not having a final say nor any choice on who to unite with is aggravating. Seeing lords and princes talk about the highland games with his hand to marriage as a trophy feels like an insult. 

He can feel Soonyoung arrive. He was like an ache in his gut, a sweet burn, and he cannot help but look up to see the most favored candidate. Soonyoung had a sharp expression and Jihoon cannot tell if he was mad. Junhui was coming after him. The thing is, he only challenged him to call him by his name. But this stupid Crown Prince asked his father about the highland games and challenged the other alphas. And of course, Kang Insoo is also joining the competition.

“Your Highness,” the highest council advisor of Gyeongsang-do sitting beside the King, stood. He bowed, “His Highness the King has been waiting for you. You must have prepared well?”

“Of course,” Soonyoung looks at Jihoon. He says with a firm tone, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort. I’m earning the privilege to marry my betrothed… at all costs.”

At all costs, the words pounded in Jihoon. Soonyoung does stare, indeed, but he has the grace to politely look away before Jihoon can glare at him. The King stares too. But unlike the others, he does not try to be inconspicuous about what is going on. He knows his omega son is testing the Crown Prince. 

“Do you think you can do it? Do not over aim, yeah?” Junhui reminds him. He then tells him, “Remember all the things I taught you. Let the sight pin float while focusing on the spot you want to hit.” 

Soonyoung is suddenly pulled back from his antsy thoughts and he can only stare at his brother in the most betrayed expression he can muster, and then at Jihoon, who blinks. It is clear that Soonyoung was undependable in archery. Jihoon found out that he was not really good at any games despite the fact that he looks fit and athletic. Soonyoung is too annoyed at his brother for telling him that when he just swanked that he can do it. He was looking forward to an afternoon spent with his betrothed after winning.

And then, someone spoke from behind, “May I have a moment with you, Your Highness? If it is not too much of a bother?”

They all turned around to see Kang Insoo. He was standing straight like a gentleman. But his smile says otherwise. And yet Soonyoung cannot help but feel a wave of frustration when Jihoon nods and puts on an unsure smile. Soonyoung looks at the King, who in turn looks at him.

“Do you mind if I let my son Seokmin and Prince Soonyoung join your walk, Kang Insoo-ssi?” the King asks. No one can say no to an envoy from the King, especially not when he is just a Lord, and Soonyoung is the Crown Prince of Gyeonggi-do.

“Of course, Your Majesty. It would be an honor if His Majesty the Crown prince joined us,” Kang Insoo smiles as amiable as he can. And Jihoon knows it was fake. At the same time, he cannot help but get relieved at that. He hates Soonyoung, but he hates Insoo more than him.

Soonyoung has lowkey secured his spot to the King for the hand of the omega prince. And despite the stupid idea of conducting the highland games to compete for his betrothed, he cannot leave him alone with an unmated alpha. Not even with two to three royal guards with them. 

“Fret not, Your Majesty. My hyung can kick his ass. Have faith in him,” Seokmin tells him. 

Soonyoung hesitates for a bit. It is not the first time he has met Seokmin, but it is the first time he gets to talk to him this close. And man, was he talkative. On top of that, he keeps telling him things about his brother. Not that he does not like it but just, well… awkward?

But he likes this dongsaeng. He has a silly humor, he has a good voice, and he is really kind. Soonyoung thinks, if only Jihoon was a little more like him.

“It is not your brother that I do not trust,” Soonyoung exhales. He offers his arm for Seokmin to link into. He needs to build as much relation with his future kindred, “I suppose you watched him prowl around your brother growing up?”

Seokmin nods. Of course he does, he is Jihoon’s favorite brother—which Chan, the youngest, must not know although it already is obvious. The two had always been closer not only because they are omegas, but because they like music very much. But Seokmin shakes his head lightly, “I told you to fret not, Your Highness. As much as hyung hates you, you are the only prospect he has told the King about.”

“Really now?” Soonyoung asks with a smile forming in his lips.

Seokmin cannot help but smile when he sees the expression on the face of the Crown Prince. He fights the urge to laugh, “Yes, because he says you do not talk much.”

Soonyoung was about to ask what he meant when Jihoon’s scent shifts. But it was so subtle in a way that neither Seokmin nor Kang Insoo noticed. It was a weird scent of fear, but he can clearly smell it from a meter of distance behind him. Another problem is that as Soonyoung notices, he jerks back, and his ears get sensitive. He hears a low voice, “I bet you’d be very hot in the suit I am gifting you, Your Highness.”

He felt another hand on his arm. Seokmin senses what is going on, and Soonyoung slaps his hands away, stopping him from challenging that shameless, arrogant pig. He tries to be calm. But he sees Kang Insoo trying to take Jihoon’s hand. Now it was too much. On all accounts. And Soonyoung growls low on his throat.

“Your Highness,” Seokmin runs behind his brother. He tells him, “I think… I think we should head back now, right?”

“That is ideal, Prince Seokmin. We should go back,” Soonyoung pauses. His eyes change and looks at Kang Insoo before continuing to say, “Before I start a war.”

Ye?” Seokmin blinks, receiving a confused face and a half grimace.

“Oh, I almost did not see you there, Your Highness. From all the time you have linked arms with Prince Seokmin there, I could almost think that he is your betrothed instead of our lovely Prince Jihoon here,” Kang Insoo says.

The eyes of the man kindle with interest as his mouth opens up in a smug, arrogant smile. Thou crusty batch of nature, thinks Soonyoung, he looks like one of the giant bigfoot monsters that hunted children down, big, hideous beast penchant for flesh. Kang Insoo is a pervert.

“You are a debauched man, are you not?” Soonyoung hisses.

“Enough, Your Majesty,” Jihoon says. But he finds himself taking a step back despite speaking for himself. He looks at Seokmin and says, “Seokmin, would you take Lord Kang back to the palace?”

When Seokmin nods, he politely bows and asks to usher Kang Insoo. To which, the man bows back to the prince. He tells Jihoon, “I will be walking you again some other time, Your Highness.”

“My apologies, Lord Kang. I do not think there would be another time,” Jihoon says, with an air of finality that makes the man wince.

Jihoon seemed done and scared at the same time. But he has been on the other side of the particular tone of Soonyoung a few times not to realize how angry the alpha really is. He finds himself gathering his hands together when Soonyoung walks toward him. And as he was expecting him to come to him, Soonyoung is actually going to Kang Insoo.

He was approaching him with flares in his eyes. And although Jihoon knows that he was not fully angry just yet, he thought of the gauge that the Crown Prince must have to see him explode. 

“Do not call my betrothed ‘hot’ ever again, you hear me?” Soonyoung had a stern look. He was furious on hearing such immoral sentiment a while ago, “The Prince is more than just an appealing being, he is not a cup of tea.”

Jihoon was smiling, but it was imperceptible in a way because he was amused at the words of the Crown Prince. Kang Insoo bows again and follows Seokmin on the cobblestone road that will take them back to the palace. 

The wind blows, sweeping the flowers around them and raising a whirlwind of golden petals. Soonyoung looks at Jihoon, shining under the sun, with golden flowers in his hair and pink flushing his cheeks, the hint of a pout on his face now that his morning has been ruined.

“We should head back too, sire,” Jihoon whispers, carding his fingers through his hair to pin a rebel strand on his forehead. The wind blows again, a mischievous, playful wind, thwarting all his efforts. Soonyoung just stands there, and looks into a distance to see alphas shooting arrows before the start of the highland games start. Jihoon calls again, “Your Majesty, shouldn’t we go? You shall prepare as well.”

Jihoon waits for his response. Instead, Soonyoung replies with a sentiment out of context for him, while still looking at a distance, “Each and every one of them is really desperate to have you.”

The omega looks at the direction he was looking. At times like this, Jihoon could have normally argued or grunted at him for being annoying. But he stayed quiet, standing beside him. It must be the flowers that must have put him in a good mood, because when the wind blows, the atmosphere is fragrant and fresh, spiked with happiness and wonder. He asks, “Pardon, Your Majesty?”

Soonyoung looks at him, and he just smiles for a bit. The Crown Prince thinks everyone wants to be around him because he is always the one to defy gravity and become the center of things. Everyone wants to walk in the sun with him. But Soonyoung also thinks, could he be willing to run to him if he would dance in the rain with him?

The people of Gyeongsang-do wonder which brazen man shall rise to such a challenge, for this competition is well underway. If it were not for an overzealous alpha at each corner, this time of year in the city would not be dreadful. Jihoon tells him, “These bloody alphas simply want the same thing as you do, Your Majesty.”

“For them to marry you?” Soonyoung asks in a low voice.

That sentiment almost made Jihoon choke on his own saliva. He does not know if the Crown Prince was too shallow, bluffing, even just plain stupid. Everyone knows all these alphas want Jihoon for a taste. Yet, Soonyoung is here, wondering about endearment with him.

In all honesty, he almost blushed. It was the first time someone has told him that. As he always thinks, all alphas think with their penises first. Soonyoung is the first one to think about affection with him. But then again, he is Lee Jihoon, who should not be interested in being attached for reasons only he knows. He composes himself and exhales deeply.

“For them to claim me, Kwon,” he hissed through gritted teeth. Jihoon looks at him and smirks, “But I’m not making an exception for you. You have to earn the privilege, Your Majesty.”

Soonyoung is so used to smelling reticence on him, and belligerence, and frustration and stubbornness, all coiled tightly in his chest. Sometimes Soonyoung thinks he wants to ruin him out of his obstinateness. But no, he does not believe in fighting fire with fire. He is not an arsonist. Anger breeds more anger, and he does not want them to burn like that. 

The scent Jihoon was giving off was thick and alluring, like he was fighting his inner alpha and omega instincts at the same time. It was extremely refreshing, pure, and clean in the way that the Crown Prince thinks this is how the battlefield of a boy. Soonyoung has the inexplicable urge to reach out and take his hand, but he is too afraid to ruin the moment if he does. 

Jihoon looked at the alpha straight into his eyes. Jihoon inched his face a little too close, and Soonyoung swears that if he was an asshole, he could have bit his neck and claimed him then and there. But the omega smelled too sweet for him to be aggressive—balck sugar, fresh mint, and bare vanilla on ice.

Jihoon had a low voice, challenging, when he whispered in his ear, “Win me.”

Chapter Text

Soonyoung turned towards the target, loading his bow and taking aim towards the center. He took a breath, released, and heard Junhui gasp when he saw how close it got to bullseye. Soonyoung, however, was not as satisfied with the results as his brother was. There were a few more minutes before his turn on the actual target.

It was the first time he used his new weapon. And he believed that despite a week of dreading practice, he had no aim for them. He only has one chance. Soonyoung literally had to make it, or else it would be a day or two’s worth of talk in the kingdom that the alpha could not get above his omega. It was okay though, since it was Jihoon, considering the fact that he is a really good archer. But it was not for his ego. He could be whipped, but it is a big jab on his alpha gender.

Jihoon looked at him warily. Soonyoung has been doing well since the high jump and fencing, but it all comes down to archery. The omega could actually ask the games to be stopped now. He did not want to see the defeat Soonyoung will have because even if he loses, they are still promised. It will be an embarrassment that his future alpha mate is deficient in his omega.

At the same time, though, Jihoon wanted a challenge. His pride would never get the better of him. But he would admit to himself. Soonyoung has done well beyond what was expected. He was sitting along with his father and mother, and brothers on the podium which was located on the first tier on the northernmost side of the upper bailey of the castle. Jihoon could clearly see how he practiced on the side.

Soonyoung watched as the arrows rained down upon the targets earlier. He could smell victory, because all the nervousness he was feeling was all for nothing, finding out that these alphas are as bad as him. Some even did not continue with the games because he trampled them all to the ground during fencing. Others did their best to ignore the arrow shafts on the grass, the misses, and rummaged under the tent in shame.

“Nasty knotheads,” Jihoon mutters under his breath. He looked to see if his father or youngest alpha brother Chan was listening, in case they got offended. 

These alphas who have come to the highland games are a bunch of little runts. Aren’t alphas supposed to be good at games and combat? If this is how most alphas are in Gyeongsang-do at the moment, then all the packs and clans would be incapable. It just reminds Jihoon how much revisions and changes he must tell Chan in the constitution if he becomes King in the near future about mandatory grounding especially for alphas.

Seokmin nudges him, making him look in his direction. The younger one says, “I think I am getting why you are always hesitant about marrying, hyung. Are alphas always bad at archery?”

“No,” he replied quickly. His jaw hardens around annoyingly. He raises an eyebrow and crosses his arms, “They should not be.”

“Then why are there just two more competing from twenty?” Seokmin chuckles. Soonyoung was left with Kang Insoo for archery, and this was the reason why he was wary. He also says, “Honestly though, you have nothing to worry about. Aren’t you promised to the Crown Prince? And this highland game is just for a genial challenge?”

Jihoon looked at his brother and glared instinctively. He then gazes back at Soonyoung who stood tall, a relaxed expression evident despite the scent Jihoon can smell from a distance. He can smell flint and rosin, the kind that was dull, and the alpha must be very nervous. Jihoon cannot pinpoint on how he manages to smell him from a distance. But whatever sorcery it is, Soonyoung must win it. 

Not because he wants to end up with him primarily, but he was a better choice than Kang Insoo. He hardly judged anyone by appearance, but even on bearing, at least Soonyoung would make attractive pups.

Wait, did he just think about having his pups?

“But still,” says Jihoon firmly, shaking off the thoughts about his last idea. He launches a disdainful look, “If Kwon Soonyoung wants it, he must work for it.”

Kang Insoo is a threat. Soonyoung does not know if it was because of his experience—he was technically older—that he was able to ace through three targets. He heard the quiet sound of impact from the target, bullseye.

His turn was last. Soonyoung was brittle. He did not even realize that Kang Insoo almost made him trip on his way to the marking. 

“You good?” Junhui asks him as he briefly stands with him before his turn.

“Do I look like I am good?” he snapped back quietly, annoyed. He had a poker face. 

Junhui just smirked at his brother. He informed him, “Just wanted to remind you about why you’re doing this, brother. You’re earning the privilege to marry your betrothed, at all costs.”

Soonyoung irritably tells him, “Shut it, ‘Hui. I do not bloody care, I don’t think I can hit a bullseye.” 

“Yeah, you should not really care,” that was when the elder smirked even wider. He stood straight and and said, “After all, you are still marrying Lee Jihoon even if you lose your stupid challenge, right? All thanks to his father… and his label on you as a ‘good enough’ prospect… yeah, you should not care.”

Junhui just knows how to hit his brother. Because when Soonyoung tried to shove off his words from his mind, Jihoon’s voice echoed in his mind. It was crystal clear, win me.

For the first time in his life, Soonyoung had something to fight for in his life. All his life, he just waited for everything. The title, the material things, the privilege, all of it. But it was when he saw him for the first time. It was when he first heard his voice, or when he thought about the words Jihoon told him, that he found himself no longer able to breathe. Though he was fine. He will be fine. Because the only thing he needed to inhale was him. Jihoon was a poison—he knows that—a luscious one. Just looking at him, the toxic inundated his blood and remedy is needed. Withal was addicting and Soonyoung cannot help but vie for a taste.

Jihoon was also the antidote, and he got himself patronizing him. He was bewitched by his euphonious voice, trapped in the crooked nightmare, stuck in an endless voyage of fantasy. And he knows he was going mad in his eccentric catastrophe, but just the mere thought of the omega puts his demons to sleep. 

Soonyoung proceeds to stand on the marking. The Crown Prince took a deep breath, shutting out anything and everything around him. He would endure the fear if that is the only way to see him dance with his angel.

Closing his eyes for a moment, he pictured the arrow going straight into bullseye. Soonyoung let his instincts take over, and felt his entire body buzz as he snapped his eyes open, swiftly releasing the string. The arrow had just swished through the nocking point, and heard a thud coming from the hit target. 

He was looking down after the shot. Everything was quiet. But there was a small smack from somewhere. Soonyoung wiped the sweat that broke on his forehead, and he looked for the faint result of his shot. 

The arrow landed on the black target face, he lost.

Chapter Text

Soonyoung only knew right then that blue is a lucky color when his mother asked him to wear a dark royal blue suit today. It is the day of his affinity rites with Jihoon. It is a pre-wedding custom that serves as the formal engagement and announcement. The crown on his head has never been lighter and has never felt heavier.

 

 

The betrothal ceremony started with the Royal Highness the King of Gyeongsang-do welcoming him—the groom—during the entourage. After, he came in with the box of corsage followed by his family.

The ceremonial table for the gifts is covered with a gold satin cloth, with the gifts placed on top. It was said that gifts play an important role. Not only they shall come in pairs for the double fortune, but each has a specific meaning. The noodles symbolize longevity, round fruits for prosperity, eggs for fertility, cakes for a sweet and rich life, and jewelry as a dowry.

It is only now that he realizes that Jihoon is wearing an elegant dark red velvet suit, and he cannot help but keep looking at his alluring figure. But to avoid negative energy, he—the bridegroom—enters the room walking backward and is then turned three times clockwise by the person leading him, Her Majesty the Queen of Gyeongsang-do, that symbolizes everything the bridegroom wants to be as a married omega. 

 

 

Both have not seen each other ever since the highland games. Yet, Jihoon does not want to look at Soonyoung. He does not know if it was the subtle fear of finding him suddenly attractive, but he wanted to draw a fine line as early as now. Having to stare in the eyes of the person who will stand next to you for the rest of your life and finding nothing there is a heavy burden to carry.

Another is the fact that Jihoon did not want to be reminded of the failure and defeat during the weekend of highland games. He was not exactly mad. But he was disappointed.

Also, it is not as if they can at least meet at each other’s end before this. They have to marry anyway. An alliance is the least painful, the fastest, truly, the only way to prevent a war. At least he knew what to adjust and to find even a small solace in this relationship.

Jihoon refuses to look at him until the engagement starts. His voice was still full of conviction as he pronounced his vows. He looked at Junhui and Mingyu who had frustrated faces, who must be thinking about the insincerity in his voice.

Nothing was wrong with it, though. Soonyoung finds his voice assuring. Some people refuse to accept the words of a person just because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.

“Crown Prince of Gyeonggi-do Kwon Soonyoung, and Prince of Gyeongsang-do Lee Jihoon, may now have the exchange of rings,” he heard the announcement.

Their hands brush slightly as Soonyoung first puts the ring on Jihoon, and he does the same with him. Jihoon’s fingers were hot and clammy, Soonyoung’s was cold and nervous. To which, Soonyoung’s parents thankfully stepped in between them for his mother to put the gold bangle on wrist, and his father the gold watch and medallion for the bridegroom.

In return, Jihoon’s father puts the gold necklace on, and his mother for the gold watch on Soonyoung’s wrist.

A tea ceremony is then held wherein the bridegroom serves tea to each of the groom’s family. Afterwards, the bridegroom’s family drinks and eats tea and noodles to wish the couple luck. The groom will then take one of the cakes and drive it around the venue to further bring luck to the relationship. Then to end the ceremony, a feast is served.

It is now the time that both of them must address each other’s parents as theirs. But as there are still two days before the wedding, the bridegroom remains as the Prince of Gyeongsang-do before he becomes the King Consort of Gyeonggi-do.

Later, when Soonyoung finally had the chance to be with his brothers to drink after the feast, he was barraged with questions about why he and his bridegroom did not hold hands when their photo was taken.

“The Crown Prince does not even know how to kiss a girl, let alone holding hands? And on an omega?” Hansol laughed.

“How is he supposed to hold his hand? Man is under his iron omega,” Seungcheol stated the obvious.

Junhui is the only one who defended his brother, “Lee Jihoon will warm up with Soonyoung in time. He is just really not into this agreement.”

“I wonder why, though. Soonyoung hyung has always been the best looking along with me,” Mingyu stated as a matter of fact. He even added, “He shall be happy that he's marrying him, not Junhui hyung.”

All of the Kwon-Choi men laughed at that. Junhui smacked the back of the head of their youngest, “Ya, ya! What do you mean by that?”

The six of them have always been the liveliest when they are all together. Their laughs were loud enough for the guests to hear, and everybody adored them. But Jihoon was not moved at the sight.

Ever since he was younger, their clan has been known to be the ‘kings’ of everything. Looks, sports, talent, leadership, especially bloodline. They were all alphas except Prince Jeonghan who has always been predicted to be an omega.

Omegas were willing to open their legs for these men. When Jihoon was a teenager, he heard a rumor about a group of omegas, especially girls, willing to be pregnant just to conceive a good-looking child, or even to have some part or connection with their clan, if ever these princes would not marry them.

Despite the fact that their clan only ruled over smaller kingdoms, some teachers and prophets have predicted that they would take over the country as a whole.

And that is what is driving him insane right now. All his life, Jihoon has prepared to rule the greatest kingdom in Daehan Jeguk right now. He has defied all the degradation and stereotypes to an omega growing up. He had learned the ways of how greatly his father had led Gyeongsang-do and heightened its name. Only for his own self be given away without the freedom to refuse.

His father must have been thinking that this is the easiest way to join the pack. He probably expects that he can manipulate the smaller kingdoms with a passive-agressive attitude.

Poignant, he muttered to himself.

Jihoon has always looked up to his father. But right now, he swore he hates him more than the Kwons and the Chois. The king retracting the declaration of war just because the other king has proposed an alliance through marriage is rubbish.

On the other hand, in between the banters thrown at Soonyoung, his eyes would frequently glance at his bridegroom. Jihoon was alone, observing the people from the grand staircase earlier. But now, he headed to mingle with his relatives in his relief.

Truthfully, Soonyoung would have liked to try holding his hand. There was nothing Soonyoung wanted more than to try, even just to put this omega–particularly a man —in his place. He shall start being a little submissive, even act, gradually for their sake. But judging from Jihoon’s murderous expression, he was not sure he would still have his fingers unharmed, had he really tried.

Soonyoung sighs. He speaks and asks the maknae to give him some wine. Mingyu only raises an eyebrow.

“You’re not supposed to drink,” he said. But he leaves to do that anyway. Because this might be the last night his brother will be a bachelor.

The wine is warm, just taken from the fire, and after the first strong taste of alcohol burning his throat it leaves behind an aftertaste of honey and flowers. Soonyoung meets Jihoon's eyes on the other side of the room and before someone, anyone, can stop him. He boldly marches towards his bridegroom, standing in front of him.

Jihoon is now alone. His only alpha younger brother, His Majesty the Crown Prince of Gyeongsang-do Lee Chan—who is now the next to the throne—is drinking somewhere with his relatives from Gyeongsangbuk-do. Their parents are making small chat with the duke that controls the coastal line in front of their kingdom. Even Seungkwan, his closest cousin and friend, is nowhere to be found.

Yet, Jihoon does not seem out of place. Soonyoung would look awkward, sitting there with nothing to do, almost forgotten. But Jihoon just looks intimidating and too royal to mingle.

“Aren't you lonely, my grace?” he asks. He looks at him thoughtfully and softly asks, “Shall I accompany you now until the ball ends?”

His hair has softened. He must have run his hand through it one time too many. He looks soft in a fragile way, unkempt, like a crumpled petal ready to fall on the ground at the first murmur of summer rain.

“You think I'm lonely being left alone?” he asks. He then added, “And do you think people will let us be and call it a night if we stick together?”

“I suppose you were,” Soonyoung answered. And this time he cannot stop himself. The words tumble down from his mouth like a ravine, propelled down by the fact that he gets chilly whenever he is unable to talk back.

Jihoon smirks, “Then you are wrong, Your Majesty. If you have not met an omega who is subordinate to his alpha, then nice to meet you. I am not a—”

“You are,” he cuts him off. He says calmly, “You will be my mate, and you will act accordingly in front of all the people here.”

He deflates for a moment. Indeed, there are a lot of people. Traders, nobles, and diplomats from other countries are among the visitors. The young Crown Prince of the North Republic is even here to see how powerful this alliance is in the event of a potential conflict.

All these elites are only pretending to mind their own businesses, but they are all eyes on the couple. They are critically waiting for the dam to burst, for a slip, or a split.

Soonyoung and Jihoon knew the atmosphere very well. And they knew that they had to be unbreakable, to look like it at least. They must look indestructible, even unconquerable together. And he knows the price of power.

So he touches his lips, leans back and laughs, then playfully hits Soonyoung’s chest. Yet, the myrth never meets his gaze. Soonyoung follows along and drapes an arm around his shoulders briefly. His smile purposely reached his eyes before wandering his pupils and chuckling loudly.

They stood together in silence. Soonyoung can only blame himself for the awkward tension. He does not regret what he said, though. Jihoon deserved it after all, but Jihoon still reclaims his back and stands straight.

“You should follow me to our table,” Soonyoung says. And then he adds, “It will make the act easier that way.”

“I would like some fresh air for now, so I will excuse myself,” Jihoon smiles widely. And it was obviously fake.

“As you wish, darling,” he smirks in return. He bows before his groom and gracefully turns around to walk away.

Soonyoung watched as his bridegroom strided towards the grand staircase on his way to the balcony. He thought, so feisty.

He got along well with his youngest brother, Chan, who was the definition of the monster alpha leader. He is a hardworking young man that has so much passion just like his hyung ... except the elder is not quite fond of him.

As far as Soonyoung can remember, the Lees were one of the families they were once close with in his childhood. Once he remembers taking Chan to see an opera or ballet. Nothing has changed much, and he was still very much a child. The weird part is that he never really remembers even the slightest encounter with Jihoon before.

The only memory of him that he has—that he can recall from the back of his mind—was his name being popular among alphas in their teenage years.

So many stories about this fair man with charming, sharp slit eyes, his soft hair, and his figure were to die for. Soonyoung was not the one to thirst after omegas, but his brothers Seungcheol and Mingyu, have liked him.

Soonyoung had some sense of triumph thinking about this. Although his brother-in-law and dongsaeng is fond of other omegas now, Jihoon is still one of the omegas in the heart of other alpha princes and dukes. And to prove it, most bachelors have been eyeing his bridegroom despite him being—almost—his already.

He did not know what he was going to do with him. He does not know how to hate someone he just met, even hate someone he will have for the rest of his life. He cannot imagine how hard it is to not be able to at least genuinely smile to his other half.

But he does know what it is like to open his heart to someone he just met. He knows how to keep showing nothing but love to another, even learn to romantically and unconditionally love someone he is given for the rest of his life.

Soonyoung knows very well how hard it will be to melt the ice, and he believes he needs more of it. So he is more than willing to burn a part of himself to make Jihoon warm.

Chapter Text

Jihoon went out of the balcony to see the stars. His aesthetic has always been the glow in the luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. Night, moonlit sky, hovering above him. The comforting silence all around was a relief.

The prince spent several minutes, an hour, he did not know. Until suddenly, a man came out onto the balcony. It must be Soonyoung. He is the only person who watched him come upstairs, and he must be calling him to come down. But when he turned around, someone unexpected had been there for him.

“I had almost believed... that your affections were already engaged, Your Highness,” the man bowed respectfully, but smiled smugly at him.

“I am not entirely sure the matter in which we discussed, Kang Insoo-ssi,” was all he said, his eyes not even landing on his face when he realized who he was talking to.

The man had walked towards him and leaned by the stone rails to look at him, “I know very well that this is all a show, Your Highness. And I know very well that you’d only open your heart for The Crown Prince of Gyeonggi-do, over your dead body.”

“I realized it may be unfashionable, but,” he stood straight. And spoke, “I would never tone my colors down just because I will be tied down with a knot.”

“You have always amused me, Your Highness. Ever since we were academy kids,” the man chuckled with a snort. 

“Perhaps, Lord Kang,” he now looked at him. He hissed, “It would be better if you refrained from thinking about me at all.”

“Still hellfire and holy water at the same time? Make me believe you are in love with His Majesty,” the man snorted once more.

Ye fat gut, Jihoon cursed under his breath.

Be it seduction or smear, there is but one thing that humbles even the most highly-regarded members of the dear ton—scandal. One fall of a former diamond from grace might turn out to be the most damning scandal of all... otherwise, a ponder that could potentially stain the reputation of the royal family.

Back in his primary years, Jihoon was raised to respect people and treat how they want to be treated, and respected others’ views and opinions. However, when he met this creep, he realized that it is okay to have limits and set balances, too. Jihoon learned later in life, as a teenager, that he need not to accept any bull crap from any toxic people.

Eighteen year-old Jihoon learned from his own mistakes. He learned to move on and lead a positive mindset. He found out that he does not need to be fumed with toxicity rather than being sorry for himself. Although he did not end up making friends, he has learned to be authentic. He kept it real. Due to the self-discovery, he knew that being an omega in this society does not equate to owing any entitled people anything.

But this entitled creepy brat will legitimately stalk him, his dongsaeng Seokmin, and cousin Seungkwan. Kang Insoo will tail them, rudely interrupt their conversations, and will even use him as a target on in-class pairings. He has reported him so many times, but being in the royal family is holding him back from kicking his stinky balls and misaligning his nose.

Again, Jihoon was instilled with respect to others. But it was not the face of Kang Insoo alone. His attitude is also of a toad’s, ugly and venomous.

“My fiancé must be summoning me by now,” he told him. The fact that he just referred to Kwon Soonyoung as ‘my fiancé’ turned his intestines upside down. This creep should have not been here, “Adieu.”

Jihoon walked fast past him but he managed to pull him by the elbow. This monster is purely a moronic asshole. And the suit he was wearing was making it hard for him to twist his arm to harm him. 

Out of annoyance he huffed, “Ya, Kang Insoo.”

Ya?” the man chuckled. He asked, “Are we to drop the honorific so soon? I suppose as your husband—”

“You will never be my husband. Indecorous for you to say to an engaged man,” he scoffed at him, while eyeing him disgustingly from head to toe.

That was when his grip had more pressure. This fucking suit is damn infuriating. Kang Insoo looked him in the eyes, “Do you think yourself better than me?”

What was this creep even saying? Of course he was better. He is a royalty. But when he was about to counter him, Kang Insoo just blurted the most disgusting words.

“You are still an omega, and you do not have any choices to refute any alpha—”

Fabric ripped through. His knuckles had landed straight to his nose, and his body was down in a flash. It was also as if on cue that Kwon Soonyoung had gasped witnessing the scene.

Jihoon widened his eyes. Even him cannot believe what he had just done. But at the same time, he knew it was coming. All of the years he stopped himself from balling his fist was worth it. Although he was still in shock, “Your grace, I had no intention—”

“Of knocking the climp flat out?” he cut him off. Soonyoung almost stifled a laugh when he just heard his bridegroom speak in a formally respective tone. Well, it was the first sincere one since he landed his eyes on him today. Jihoon was rubbing his knuckles in guilt. And Soonyoung just looks at Kang Insoo on the ground, “You never fail to stir me with your talents, Your Highness.”

Soonyoung walked over and checked if the man was still breathing. Jihoon asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I was looking for you, darling,” he recovered his index from checking the breathing of this creep, looking up to see Jihoon.

“I suppose if someone were to find me here with two men, then I would be branded as a shame,” he told him. Jihoon reminded his groom, “We are not yet officially married, Your Majesty.”

“Why is this asshole even lurking around you?” Soonyoung says, ignoring Jihoon’s words. He even crossed his arms and continued looking at the man on the ground, “He just clearly attended our betrothed rites.” 

“The pig has stalked me as far as I can remember. And I am unable to deceit him my whole life. He is even doubting about this fucking marriage!” the omega fumed. Jihoon then took an inch close to him, “Unlike you, I cannot simply curse alphas as a royalty, and because of my gender.”

Soonyoung furrowed his eyebrows, as if accusing him, “But you were gutty just an hour ago. And why are you worrying? We are engaged, are we not?”

“Do not worry, Your Majesty. I believe such an attitude will be promptly forfeited, indeed,” Jihoon told Soonyoung firmly, looking at him honestly. He adds, “I suppose if someone has to find me here then there would be no other alternative but to be affectionate to you.”

Jihoon was dreading the idea. Omegas, especially royalties, do not have such privilege to declare who to marry. And with everyone knowing that he is not as fond of his betrothed, rumors about him being entangled with Kang Insoo. No one shall find out where he was right now, left with two unmated alphas. 

In addition to this, in his last sentence, there is no way he could be affectionate to Kwon Soonyoung… who was now looking at him and said, “Then what is stopping you from being affectionate to me, my dear?”

“You would not want to know, sire,” was all he could say, avoiding the alpha’s eyes.

But the Crown Prince had something in mind. And Jihoon has sensed this. Just off the edge, where the sky shines bright but dark blue, the queen-of-the-night cactus had bloomed. Dreams were starting to burst to become true.

The screams of Jihoon’s abyss become a voice talking back. The attacks were turning him soft, and Soonyoung looking at him felt like he was squeezing him. The alpha thinks that it could be a cycle of disaster and consequences may follow. 

There is too much risk in loving, they said. But Soonyoung believes otherwise. There is too much risk in not. Because in all the twists and unexpected surprises of this world, there is no more desperate creature than a human being who longs to love.

“Do you not want to eschew this cream faced loon? And do you not want people to stop slinking over your relationships? Even not want other alphas to keep sidling over to claim you?” Soonyoung asks simply, looking down on the man Jihoon just flat out screwed. He then looks at him, “With you on my arm, everyone will leave you alone. And it will be easier for other elites to seek a confederation.”

“And you are presuming that this hypothesis will bear such outturns?” Jihoon asks, only to receive a grin from the alpha.

Before Soonyoung could say any further more, he saw from the corner of his eyes that a servitor was coming in the balcony. He hurriedly takes his betrothed, pulls him to his side, and says, “Take the lord, he harassed His Highness.”

Jihoon holds his gaze a beat. He looks down at Kang Insoo, fast asleep on the ground. Just as they hear the whistle of an approaching firework in the distance, Soonyoung puts his hand out for him to take.

He said, “We must come down now. The guests, and our fathers have been looking for us.”

“It is an absurd plan, Your Majesty,” Jihoon tells him.

“Really? Well, I find it quite brilliant,” Soonyoung continued whispering, in any case that footmen who were taking Kang Insoo may hear. He continues, “Provided you do not wish to romance me, what ever should you have to lose? Besides Kang Insoo, of course.”

Soonyoung looks at Jihoon. With the scent the omega is giving off, he knew that there were things going on in that mind of his. But he could not identify what. He felt like a thin sheet of ice broke, at the same time bricks have gone higher. 

Jihoon knew deep down that he felt nothing. But there was a feeling he did not know, and every time he came close like this, there was an unknown feeling. It was not of longing, though. As he has never been associated with him. Of that, he was quite sure. Perhaps it was something clicking off personally with him. A desire to soar.

It was not long when the both of them had gone down through the grand staircase. With Jihoon clinging on his arm, every presumptuous nobleman cannot believe their eyes, and every guest is looking at them. The couple has been walking down, hand in hand.

“You must know that anyone who has the least will always have the most to say,” Soonyoung softly told him. He then added, “Everyone is always interested in fascinating things, especially those that involve a hint of risqué.”

With the last word, they had reached the floor, and the Crown Prince had pulled him close to put his hand by the omega’s waist. Jihoon was appalled by this, and so was everyone. It is the first time that an actual alpha has touched Lee Jihoon—the ultimate, alpha-like, iron omega—like this.

“You presume these elitists and social-climbers would—”

“Of course, any type of skinship is risqué... and scandalous, in this conservative country,” Soonyoung smriked and looked at him. He then put his hand out to majestically wave at the people as they cheered for the couple, “They will deem us to be what we are. Us, both unavailable of affairs and desirable together.”

Both of them had walked towards the dance hall. The Crown Prince, ushering him to bow, so did he. The alpha has put his hand out for him to take, to which Soonyoung had used as an advantage to pull Jihoon closer.

Jihoon just eyed him, “I do not think this is going to go well.”

“If this is to work, we must appear madly in love,” was all he said.

Soonyoung had his eyes remain on his, and he just realized how captivating Jihoon’s eyes were. It might be one of the reasons why his appeal could be so alluring.

The omega’s eyes are beautiful. It was lovely. The kind of you get lost in, the kind of eyes that are burning with passion and softness at the same time. So he stopped, because despite the comfort, it seemed dangerous. Jihoon’s eyes were dangerous for his poor soul. But truth to be told, when he was looking in his eyes, it was almost as if he was asking for help. Even inviting him to get lost with him.

This just has been the most remarkable coup of the season. It appears that the eldest alpha-like omega Prince of Gyeongsang-do, Lee Jihoon, had put his guard down for his fiancé, The Crown Prince of Gyeonggi-do, Kwon Soonyoung. How the iron omega had chastened for his groom is yet to be determined.

Yet, if anyone shall reveal the circumstances of the unimaginable, they shall vanish. What was between them shall be kept within themselves alone.

Chapter Text

The time for the wedding came even as Jihoon hoped it would not. He was escorted to the ceremony by a pair of footmen, as though His Majesty the King worried he would try to run away. The castle was slightly less scary in the light of day, but the silence through it was still too much for Jihoon.

The wedding guests must have been told to stay quiet, because his mind wandered to imagine how many people would be there to witness the matrimonial ceremony. As worried and scared as he was, he still wanted people to believe he was happy to become the consort of the Crown Prince, even if he was not. Jihoon wanted to make other lords jealous of his groom’s sheer dumb luck.

Jihoon is good at the whole consort thing, better than Soonyoung expected him to be. He looks regal and unattainable on his feet in front of the lords, dukes, noblemen, the commoners of the kingdom of Gyeonggi-do, and other guests. Jihoon looked warm and familiar in front of the crowd, waving prettily at children and bowing at old people and smiling wide and smug every time a girl screams his name.

It was a ceremony under maximum security. Royal guards were everywhere in the kingdom. The surroundings of the cathedral were completely locked for anyone without an invitation. Any incident would be a catastrophe, especially considering the number of eminent guests attending from all corners of Asia. The palace and the whole kingdom were seething with excitement. Servants were all whispering about the famous guests and their costumes. It was a feast for the eyes to see foreign royalties.

The bridegroom was brought to a high, blue and golden-ceilinged room filled with purple columns and an intricately designed floor. When the large cathedral doors swung open, the orchestra started playing. At the other end of the room were two thrones where both Kings of Gyeonggi-do and Gyeongsang-do sat together.

His heart sank. There were so many guests at the wedding. This was not how he had imagined his marriage would go. His hopes and dreams of an intimate banquet, of celebrating their union privately, were all gone. It was true, the rumours that the King of Gyeonggi-do had invited a ton to show off the unification of his—newly appointed—Crown Prince son. Jihoon could not even bring himself to think that he is not ending a chapter of his life in the place he was born.

Jihoon swallowed and let out a yelp when one of the footmen gave him a light push forward. He began walking across the aisle, his footsteps echoing around the hall. As he neared the altar and throne, Jihoon had her first look at his groom when his mother had taken his arm to walk with him.

Soonyoung had delicate features and eyes as warm as the rays of sunlight peeking through the windows. He smiled, glad to see his bridegroom showing up on their matrimony. He had thoughts that his beautiful bridegroom would run away this morning.

“Smile at them, my love,” the Queen says to him when he sees his son frown. She whispers beside him, “Your matrimony is lovely. Their people and our people love you and him.”

They have every reason to. Jihoon rides to town every fortnight, to visit the charity hospices and the schools of the temple, where the poorest children of the kingdom learn to write and count. He hands out bread and sits kids with dirty knees on his lap and he holds their hands, he laughs with them, and he sings them songs.

All he really saw was Soonyoung’s face. It filled his vision and overwhelmed his mind. His perfect face was almost severe with the depth of his emotion. And then, as Jihoon met his awed gaze, he broke into a breathtaking smile of exultation.

The march was too slow as he struggled to pace my steps to its rhythm. Mercifully, the aisle was very short. And then, at last… at last, he was there. Soonyoung held out his hand. His mother took his hand and, in a symbol as old as the world, placed it in Soonyoung’s.

Jihoon’s vow was the simple, traditional words that had been spoken a million times, though never by a royalty quite like him. Soonyoung had especially asked the council to make only one small change. He obligingly changed the last line to which he finished ‘for all the days of my life.’

“I knew from the very moment I laid eyes on you that you were different. I knew it would be hard to fall in love with you. Someway, somehow, I was determined to make you believe and feel the same…” Soonyoung started his vow. He continued, “And although I can already see how strenuous our relationship would be, I promise to always remember that you are indeed human. That you may sometimes make questionable decisions, decisions I don't agree with, and the like.

“But what I love about you is I know that you do these things because you are a genuine person. You are true to yourself, you have your own values, and you care so deeply about those who are close to you and are considerate despite the tough love. You were not the person I imagined to tie the knot with right now, but I cannot imagine anyone standing before me today other than you.

“Today, I promise to show that same care and consideration for you for the rest of my life. Right now, it is the easiest to say this, but even when things are difficult and it gets hard to do and our relationship gets deeper, complacent and timeworn, I will always show that same care and consideration for you... I will show nothing but love, and I will love you, for all the days of my life.”

At that moment, as the minister said his part, Jihoon’s world, which had been in its high for so long now, seemed to settle down. He saw just how silly he had been for fearing this—as if it were an unwanted birthday gift or an embarrassing exhibition, like the prom. Soonyoung was just as good as he intended to make this work.

Jihoon looked into Soonyoung’s shining, triumphant eyes and knew that he was winning, too. Because nothing else mattered but that they could make everyone believe. But Jihoon did not realize that Soonyoung was crying until it was time to say the binding words.

“I do,” he managed to choke out in a nearly unintelligible whisper, blinking his eyes clear so he could see Jihoon’s face.

When it was Jihoon’s turn to speak, he remembered the words ring clear and victorious. This will remain for the rest of his life. And there was no turning back.

Jihoon was bound for something greater than this. He had always been thrown to the wolves and came back leading the pack. Marriage is a choice, not a necessity. And he had never seen himself to where he is right now. But why does he feel indifferent about this? Like he had been preparing for this deep down?

Because when he looked into his eyes, he felt delicate. And suddenly all the pride did not matter because he remembered his role. His voice was flimsy, barely managing to say softly, “I do.”

The cardinal declared them husbands alpha and omega. And then Soonyoung’s hands reached up to cradle his face, carefully, as if it were as delicate as the white petals swaying above their heads.

Jihoon tried to comprehend, through the cheers of the people, the surreal fact that this man is his husband. His eyes looked as if they would have tears, if such a thing were not impossible. The alpha bent his head toward his, and Jihoon gulped when Soonyoung bent his head deep enough for his head to cover the omega’s face.

Soonyoung kissed him tenderly a few inches away from his lips. And he forgot how they had talked to do it. Jihoon forgot the crowd, the place, the time, the reason… only remembering Soonyoung’s eyes and the words he had vowed before him, that he was his from now on.

The alpha had to pull away so that Jihoon could cling to him, ignoring the titters and the cheers in the audience. Finally, on the surface his sudden smile was amused, almost a smirk. But underneath his momentary entertainment at their public exhibition was a deep joy that echoed his own. They got through it.

The crowd erupted into applause, and Soonyoung turned their bodies to face their friends and family. There was something indescribable. Jihoon could not look away from his face to see them.

Soonyoung’s mother’s arms were the first to find Jihoon, her tear-streaked face the first thing he saw when he finally tore his eyes unwillingly from Soonyoung. And then he was handed through the crowd, passed from embrace to embrace, only vaguely aware of who held him. His attention centered on Soonyoung’s hand clenched tightly on his own. Jihoon did recognize the difference between the soft, warm hugs of his friends and the gentle, foreign embraces of his new family.

The wedding flowed into the reception party smoothly. It was just twilight over the Gyeonggi-do palace. The ceremony had lasted exactly the right amount of time, allowing the sun to set behind the trees. The lights in the trees glimmered as Soonyoung led his husband through the glass back doors, making the white flowers glow. There were another ten thousand flowers out there, serving as a fragrant over the dance hall.

Things slowed down, relaxed as the mellow August evening surrounded the feast. The crowd spread out under the soft shine of the twinkle lights, and they were greeted again by the friends they had just embraced. There was time to talk now, to relaxedly move.

Behind his new brothers-in-law, the Kwon-Choi clan, was Soonyoung’s eldest brother. Jihoon realized how he was holding his breath when Kwon Jeonghan, the Duke Consort of Daegu-si and husband of His Highness the Prince Choi Seungcheol, reached out to embrace Soonyoung.

Jeonghan stared at Jihoon with open curiosity. He had a hint of an olive tone to his chalky complexion. The eldest Kwon was so beautiful that it made Jihoon’s head hurt. Sure, he was the most beautiful Lee and almighty iron omega of Gyeongsang-do, but he never had confidence with his physical appearance. Jeonghan was still holding Soonyoung.

“Ah, Soonyoung-ah,” he said. And then smiled, “I didn’t get to see your last day as a bachelor.”

“You are calling me by my name only now? Where did ‘nae agi’ go?” Soonyoung chuckled and deftly maneuvered out of the hug. He placed his hand lightly on the elder’s shoulder and stepped back, as if to get a better look at Jeonghan, “You look well, hyung-ah.”

“I’ve been advised to get a lot of rest these days, I’m sorry… and so do you,” he replied.

“Let me introduce you to my husband,” he says. It was the first time Soonyoung had said that word since it was officially true. He seemed like he would explode with satisfaction saying it. He is really good at this now. His clan all laughed lightly in response, “Hyung, this is my Jihoonie.”

Jeonghan was every bit as lovely as his worst nightmares had predicted. The elder had eyed him with a look that was much more speculative than it was resigned, and then reached out to take his hand. Jihoon was intimidated at first, but he realized that this one is not just another sit-still-look-pretty.

“Welcome to the family, Jihoon,” he smiled. 

There weren’t many deep talks that were exchanged. Because Jeonghan had to entertain other guests of less priority in stand of Soonyoung as the eldest Kwon. He was also keeping an eye on the feast and ensuring that everything goes as planned. 

All the standard traditions were kept. Jihoon was blinded by flashbulbs as they held the knife over a spectacular cake—too grand. Both took turns shoving cake in each other’s faces. Soonyoung manfully swallowed his portion as Jihoon watched in disbelief. He also threw his bouquet with atypical skill, right into Seungkwan’s surprised hands.

Junhui and Mingyu howled with laughter at his blush while Soonyoung removed his borrowed garter—which he had shimmied down nearly to his ankle—very carefully with his teeth. With a quick wink at Jihoon, he looked straight and glared into Kang Insoo with a smirk.

And when the music started, Soonyoung pulled the omega into his arms for the customary first dance. Jihoon went willingly, despite his fear of dancing—especially dancing in front of an audience—just going along to have Soonyoung holding him. He never danced, because he always trained with swords and bows. Soonyoung did all the work, and he twirled effortlessly under the glow of a canopy of lights and the cheers from the guests.

“Enjoying the party, my darling?” he whispered in the omega’s ear.

Jihoon tittered, “That will take a while to get used to.”

“We have a while,” he reminded him, his voice exultant. And Soonyoung leaned down to kiss the back of his hand while they danced. Guests, especially women squealed feverishly.

As the alpha wrapped his arms around his omega, Jihoon was able to put his walls up, the certainty that everything in his life was going spiral in a different place tonight. But all eyes were on them, so Jihoon managed to smile and lay his head against the alpha’s chest. His arms tightened.

Soonyoung has cupped his face. Jihoon’s heart broke into a sprint and his palms were slick against his marble neck. His face was too close to the omega, and the alpha was still leaning in. Just as Jihoon closed his eyes to wait for it, he felt his lips on his forehead.

Everyone applauded when Soonyoung rested his forehead on his. Then he rushed him to the table as a petal storm started. Most of it went wide, but someone, probably Junhui, threw it with uncanny precision, and Jihoon caught a lot of the ricochets off Soonyoung’s hair.

But he was still tense despite the feast almost coming to a close. This is what Soonyoung sensed when he touched the back of his husband. And in the same way he was caught like an animal caught in a trap, he felt ready to dash. He wanted to escape, but there are not any escape routes in life.

And despite the urge to protect the omega, he will not let him go. Soonyoung is not to give Jihoon an escape route. Soonyoung is kind but not stupid like that. The omega grew up to be a conqueror, he grew up to be a ruler—a strong independent king. But so did he. And Jihoon is his husband now, and submitted omega to him.

And he could be egoistic by saying it. Jihoon still has to abide by society and royalty. That was the only thing he could also get against above him.

Chapter Text

Soonyoung has already seen the true face of his husband with only a week in. If he was a rose that unification day—beautiful and delicate—he was a fly trap in reality. Jihoon does not have any thorns that cause you to bleed if you touch him, because he would eat you alive. Jihoon is a single-bladed sword with no hilt. When you wield it, it will cut your side, exchanging your blood for the blood of your foes, a starving, majestic, exquisite sword. The only one capable of leading you to victory.

Junhui takes a seat next to him and pours himself a glass of Hwanghae lemon beer, which is pungent and fragrant. He wonders whether Jihoon would like a drink or if he even had a meal at noon. But Soonyoung scratches the idea since he is assuming he would just consider it an insult, as Jihoon normally does when it comes to him.

His brain throbs with pain as a result of being separated from his husband for the whole day. Soonyoung dismisses Junhui and rests his head on the table, attempting to ignore the migraine that is beating his temples.

“They wonder, you know? Why have you not bedded him yet,” Junhui tells him. The elder adds, “It has been a week and two days, and everyone is wondering. The excuse of you two being unfamiliar with each other is going to grow old fast.”

“We are truly unfamiliar with each other, though,” he simply says to him.

“Kwon Soonyoung,” Junhui could only click his tongue. He knew very well that his brother does not need him to say any more reprimands. He probably does not have any answers, and he still feels a little guilty for his decision—the root of all of these—despite the younger assuring that it was not the issue at all.

The alpha is the one who is refusing to do his job. Jihoon would be willing despite his reluctancy. Unwilling but willing. He once told him to just get it over with. As if bearing a pup is easy. And that is what is making him insane. Because his husband seems to be clueless, as omegas were conservatively taught about sexuality. And he probably spent his coming of age training with swordsmen and warriors.

Oh, how much he stops himself with the inappropriate thoughts. They are wedded, for goodness’ sake. But Jihoon calls him ‘Your Majesty’, ‘Your Highness’, ‘Your Grace’, not even by his name. And he avoids their bedchamber when he can and sometimes even when he cannot.

People are whispering and wondering why the royal couple is not close. The Crown Prince Consort is lovely, so why does the Crown Prince not like him?

Soonyoung does not need people to tell him that Jihoon is lovely. He can see it by himself. He hears him laugh when he talks to Jeonghan and Junhui, and to his mother at breakfast. Jihoon has even started talking to Mingyu. He sees him smile at the servants around the palace, and the guards at the gate. He hears him sing to the children during duties.

Jihoon is the new beloved succeeding consort. He is practical, humble, kind, and empowering. Just the mere thought of the ultimate iron omega of Gyeongsang-do sacrificing his dignified image to fulfill his duty as a member of the royal family, a son, and an omega is enough for him to be adored.

The young girls of Gyeonggi-do have taken him as a role model already. In the same way Soonyoung has seen the true face of his husband, the wit and manly personality he possesses somehow fascinated the people. He is unrivalled in historical European martial arts, fencing, kendo, especially archery. Jihoon even had the guts to look good when jousting, then remain radiant even when he lost one time. It is just as easy to love him as he is despite his extraordinary personality.

Yet, it is very difficult for Soonyoung. Jihoon does not smile at him, he does not laugh, he never sings when he thinks Soonyoung is paying attention. Jihoon just looks pretty, in a tragic, defiant way whenever he is around.

Jihoon smells like ruin—his own ruin. Because the day Soonyoung gets to put his hand on him, he will have to ruin him for any other, to make up for all the distance he keeps putting between him and Soonyoung.

On the other hand, Jihoon was downstairs in the basement. He had especially asked the Prince and Duke of Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeon Wonwoo, to come and visit him when he found out that his dearest friend and cousin Boo Seungkwan had gone to an Oceania Country for duty.

Jihoon exhales and grunts, taking the fist. Wonwoo landed his left fist as a follow up on his straight. He asked him, “Did you truly agree to the marriage? I cannot fucking believe you are married now.”

The Prince Consort growls, and flies his elbow to take a hit. To which the other omega had managed to avoid, “Remind me again why you were the first person I asked to visit me?”

“Admit it, friend,” he tells him as he holds his elbow. He twists it and pushes him away, “You missed me.”

Jihoon grunts again, gasping on his breath with a smirk as the sting on his arm burns. They had been sparring for almost an hour now. And the bruises started to appear lightly. They were not bad, they only looked as if because of his pale skin.

It was not long when the door creaked open. It was Soonyoung, furious at the sight when a servant told him about the whereabouts of his omega. He told him, “Might I have a word?”

“Have as many as you like, Your Majesty,” Jihoon simply said. He did not even bother to give his husband a look, still in his stance.

Wonwoo hated this, but he was more uncomfortable right now to hear his friend talk to the Crown Prince. He has heard enough stuff about him, but he is still higher in the royal hierarchy. So he stood away and said, “My fists have taken enough pounding from your chin today, Your Highness.”

Jihoon chuckles, bumping his fist with his. And before Wonwoo could even step out of the ring, Soonyoung had already gone in to hold his hand and hand Jihoon to his personal servant that followed him.

“Six balls no more. I must have you at eight,” Soonyoung tells him. The servant started to unwrap the cloth on Jihoon’s fists as he continued, “Along with dinner tonight.”

“Dinner?” he looked at him.

“I am afraid we are required to fan the flames of our charade,” he blurts out. Jihoon shoots a look at his servant, then to him. To which Soonyoung immediately defends, “Father required us to be there, to meet the royal dukedom family of Incheon as they are visiting.”

“We must then enjoy ourselves, dear husband. I will see you after I prepare,” Jihoon flashed a polite smile and inclined his head slightly before leaving with his servant.

There is an art to these kinds of dinners. Junhui taught Soonyoung, when their father started delegating and inviting other royalties for building diplomatic relations. Soonyoung is sure of the talk about the trade with United Colonies, probably even mutual defense treaty as the North Country has been aggressive these days.

Soonyoung does not need to turn, because he always knows when Jihoon is around. He could close his eyes and feel the clicking of his shoes, the scent of his perfume, his skin glowing red and soft from the hot water. He knows it is him wearing burgundy and he knows it looks amazing on him, and he would pluck the eyes out of all the people in the room because they know it too.

The room explodes in an indistinct chattering of dragged chairs, small talk and gossips. But Soonyoung does not hear anything. The entire world reduced to the pressure of Jihoon’s hands on his shoulders.

His warmth seeped through his suit, through his skin, through his bones, through his heart. He is smiling at the maknaedeul, inclining his head to the King and Queen of Gyeonggi-do, and the eldest Jeonghan and Junhui. Jihoon bows at the lords whenever they meet his eyes, and Soonyoung wonders how many of the alphas would like to be greeted by his husband. Jihoon might have something in mind, and he is laying out the foundation for it. A keen one, indeed.

“You could have asked for me to wait for you, so that all eyes were on us as we entered,” Soonyoung says lowly, enough for the omega to hear alone.

“Well, I wanted them to slobber over the fact that I have dressed very nicely for my husband alone,” he explained. And so he urged him, “Quick, plant a kiss on my hand and I will lean close to you.”

If Jihoon had high confidence for tonight, Soonyoung would have been sweating nervously for this dinner. His gaze shifted to a familiar figure, then away when he knew that she was going to look at him. So he obeyed his husband and unnecessarily exaggerated after saying, “Make sure you smile like a teenage girl in love for the first time.”

Jihoon is good at so many things, too many things, and yet he has never learnt when to stop provoking. Soonyoung never learnt it either. They are the same, though, both of them. In moments like these, Soonyoung wants nothing more than to keep having guests so Jihoon can just keep being a submitted omega, even if it is just an act.

Another thing they shared in common despite the protestations he had about their relationship is the talking. While Soonyoung likes talking about himself, his family, his duties, his interests, and even the small details about him, Jihoon would rant at everything and complain.

Although they do not really talk normally, Soonyoung liked it. He was also the one to talk about social climbers and elitists. He was the kindest then Junhui, but he just cannot contain whe has had enough of shams and humbugs.

Their little act must have been seen by most of the people in the room. Because Her Majesty the Queen of Gyeonggi-do was thrilled to see her son and—her new—son-in-law being romantic.

Jihoon hooked his arms on the alpha. He rested his head on his chest for a bit. He whispered, “They so fucking believe this shit.”

Soonyoung leaned down to whisper back to him, “They truly do. Is there anything you cannot do? Other than being a decent person to me?”

He smirked at him and nudged his chest for a bit. Soonyoung secretly grunted at that. Jihoon had intended to hurt him at his remark, but he was shocked to feel the rock hard chest of his. Jihoon quickly shook off the thought. He secretly snickered back, “You do not want to agitate me, Your Majesty.”

Jihoon gave a smile to the other noblemen whenever he met their eyes. He remained holding the arm of his husband, who told him quietly, “Fret not, my dear. I will not let you go tonight, I will be needing a lot of help.”

“And what would you want me to do?” the omega asked him.

Soonyoung has helped him fold the napkin in half, and on his lap. It was uncalled for, but Jihoon has taken this as his manner. He did not seem as if acting as well, because Soonyoung did it naturally.

There was Spinach and Zucchini Stuffed Dover Sole, and traditional roast dinner with Yorkshire Pudding. As the King had started eating his meal, everyone had followed. Soonyoung sliced a piece of his food while muttering to his husband, “You see the woman by the left, across you?”

“Uh huh, why? She is the duchess of Incheon, right?” Jihoon paused before taking a bite of his steak. He asked, “What about her?”

“We must make Duchess Hyojeong believe that we are madly in love, so she will leave me alone,” Soonyoung explains in a low voice.

Jihoon looks at his husband, “She seems like a nice person to me. Has she ever done you wrong?”

Soonyoung rolls his eyes and then speaks after swallowing his food, “Goodness, my dearest. The duchess is hardly a saint. She is a full-blown sociopath.”

“Is not that supposed to be flattering to you, Your Majesty?” he sipped on his beverage. Jihoon smirked, “Don't alphas like it when omegas submit to them? Except it is only a shame that you unfortunately got married to me… my alpha, am I supposed to feel fortunate?”

Ya, you should be happier you got married to me than my elder brother,” he told him. To which he just scoffed at his antics, “I am better looking, can you not see?”

When Soonyoung had looked at him to show his face, he could not help but laugh at that for a bit. Jihoon nodded slowly, “You know, it is a good thing that we share the same abominations, at least.”

“I know, and hilarity too,” Soonyoung only says.

Actually, he hesitated agreeing about that concept. He wanted to have more similarity with him. Soonyoung meant it when he vowed that he will keep showing him nothing but love. Because he really wants to make this marriage work. But maybe this will be a really tough one—Jihoon might like shiny things, but he for sure married him with a paper ring.

Maybe he was stupid about leading him on to this act. It may or may not further distance his light, only continuing to show his darkness. Or it may or may not help him open up to let him in the walls of his heart. And it was messing up his brain.

It is often said that those who marry in haste must repent at leisure. A sentiment that is clearly shared by the Crown Prince of Gyeonggi-do Kwon Soonyoung, who is apparently problematic about the next step of tying the knot. Aside from the question of his elder brother this morning, a couple guests have been asking about an offspring.

He looks at Jihoon—who has been talking with Junhui and Mingyu after dinner. Soonyoung especially asked his brothers to look after his husband, to not let anyone close as he needs time for himself after entertaining some of their guests. To which, he met eyes with him at the mere thought of Jihoon.

Jihoon has the laugh of an angel and the smile of the devil. He makes him want to sin, and every time he knocks, he is always tempted to let him in. At the same time, it was funny because he was very innocent. The omega thinks giving their parents an heir is as easy as marrying.

Chapter Text

Soonyoung has been looking for his husband through the crowd. After he had pulled him for a show—a light hug, he carried on to talk to the Duke of Incheon as the dukedom is under the kingdom of Gyeonggi-do. But right now, Jihoon is nowhere to be found. And he has been sweating about the tendencies about his whereabouts. Jihoon shall not meet Hyojeong.

Now he realized that he should have not told Jihoon about the duchess. When Soonyoung was younger, Hyojeong was one of the girls that admired her. She was very open about her love for the Prince. And while Soonyoung was kind and gentleman as a teenager, he was flattered at this. He even thought about considering her as a lover by the time he has to choose. Not until her aggressive behavior started showing.

Another instance that he remembered in his teenage years was the one when he almost got in a scandal. His parents were furious when they heard such a story that he was thirsting after the duchess. To which, was entirely impossible because he only had his sexual awakening in his twenties, in all honesty. He almost got in trouble for that and it took so much convincing to his parents, even meetings with the council.

Before he could head out to find Jihoon, his mother had pulled his hand. She had fumes in her eyes but she calmly said, “You know very well that the duchess is here, why are you wandering alone and leaving your husband?”

“I was about to look for him. Have you seen him?” his mother had looked at the corner of the room, where Jihoon had been standing, his face malevolent at the sight of the duchess.

On the other hand, Jihoon is fed up with the continued bogarting of the duchess about his husband. He has tried to dispatch her earlier because he promised him to spare his aggression for once—and he never breaks promises. But this woman better stop, or else he would actually cut a slit on her throat.

“If I were you, I would flock off,” Jihoon simply told her with a smile.

“But you do not need him. You are already a prince,” she firmly replied. The duchess then continued, “You already have the money, and the connections, and the standing. Heck, you are even about to be the ruler of your kingdom!”

Jihoon was starting to get angry. Not because of the continuous provoking of the duchess, but because of the words that were shooting bullseye in his heart. She was right about not needing him. And he was vexed at the realization that he had a ring on his hand. Jihoon was made to be the ruler, the King of Gyeongsang-do, but here he is as a consort to the Crown Prince of Gyeonggi-do.

Clenching his jaw, he turned around and calmly responded, “I need him.”

Jihoon was meant to lead a pack, so he does not need him. Jihoon can stand up for himself, defend himself, and take care of himself. Jihoon can rule by himself and live by himself. The duchess was right. He did not need Soonyoung at all.

He did not need Soonyoung. Because he wants him. He wants him to be able to have a place in this prejudiced society—and to gratify his family.

“Why, then, has he not claimed you if you are so fond of him, and he, so smitten with you?” the duchess pushes him more. The duchess added, “Unless you have lost your virginity to another man?”

Jihoon was about to say something when someone stepped in front of him, “Enough of your nonsense, Kim Hyojeong-ssi. I shall not have you question my husband’s unimpeachable honor again... an honor, that even you do not have.”

A Crown Prince needs to be patient. It is crucial for a future king to be able to weigh his choices before making an action. This is what his mother instilled in him as a short-tempered, spoiled boy. He has learned to count to ten before flaring. He was not sure if he was rational to grasp the arm of his husband, pull him away, or even shout at the duchess right then and there.

Soonyoung tries to count to ten. He gets to six before he realized he was dashing through the other side of the room where his omega was—his mind storming, hands tightening into fists the same way they would close around the hilt of his sword in battle.

Jihoon squints at the words of his husband. That was when he had pulled him away and out of the hall. He grips on his sleeve and starts walking faster. Jihoon was hoping to leave before more whispers scattered. There were too many people that would listen to their conversation. And no one else needs to hear what Jihoon wants to tell Soonyoung right now.

The omega pulls on his white regent tailoring. Soonyoung had thunder in his eyes, but he is still too surprised to even yelp when Jihoon pins him against the wall. He believed them when they said that Jihoon was just unimaginable for an omega. But he can confirm on his own that his husband is just extraordinary—anyone definitely does not want to mess with him. But right now, he forgets all of that.

“What is your problem?” Jihoon asks, almost growls. He can feel that he was restraining him with his whole body to prevent him from fighting back.

And Soonyoung does fight back. He was taller than him, and Soonyoung had the advantage of having him right where he wanted the omega. This is not even harsh at all, because he knew very well that Jihoon can turn this stunt around.

“What is your problem?” spits back Soonyoung. He tells him, “I had to say something right there! I was trying to help!”

“Well, you did not! All you did was underestimate the title and regality of the duchess,” Jihoon says through gritted teeth. He also says, “Not to mention, people are watching.”

“I did not like the way her words sounded about you,” was the only thing the alpha replied.

“And I know that you know very well that I am capable of speaking for myself. You just had no right,” Jihoon irritably huffs.

Soonyoung is married to an iron omega indeed. And he dominates, because he slams Soonyoung back against the wall with his weight. Jihoon would feel like a bully for doing that to literally anyone else, but Soonyoung just discriminated against the duchess. She could be loathsome, but she is still a woman, a person.

“People are starting to murmur,” Soonyoung whispers instead, his hold tightening on Jihoon’s wrists.

“And whose fault is that? I’m not the one who’s refusing to do my duty,” Jihoon says as a matter of fact. Now he is slowly getting to the root of the alpha’s madness. Soonyoung must have been triggered by that, so he says, “I am starting to think there is something wrong with you down there, Your Majesty.”

This is the closest they have been since their matrimony. Actually, this is the closest they have been their whole life with the opposite secondary gender. And Jihoon must be out of her mind. Because Soonyoung hardens at the thought he just brought up. But this is also not the right time to talk about it.

“And what did you want me to do?” he says. He adds, “Do you really think that bearing a pup is as easy as hitting a bullseye for you? Should I have claimed you without knowing anything? So that you could hate all of it?”

“Hating it is one thing but it is a duty,” Jihoon only tells him. He reminds him, “It is my duty… our duty, and I will need to carry it out because I do not have choices. Unlike you, why do you care so much about me hating it?”

Jihoon’s eyes are shining, his chest heaving as he struggles to flare at him despite being out of breath. Jihoon looks beautiful despite the distress. In a way that makes Soonyoung feel like they should be out there as he makes him laugh because they share the same humor. Jihoon would look so much prettier if he smiled.

“Because I do not want you to hate it!” Soonyoung finally blares. He was exasperated and angry. And he regrets it immediately. Not because of the confession, but he promised himself to keep showing him love. Not like this, a ravine of frustration. He could only say, “Is it that hard for you to believe that I do not want you to hate me?”

Jihoon freezes. And Soonyoung hopes, really hopes, that this time he got it. He could have tried to pry the doors of his heart open, but this is what he can offer—trying to kick his walls.

But then he smiles. And it was the same smile he smiled at Junhui and Mingyu a little earlier. The smile he smiled when he decided to believe and follow his lead. It was that smile, except it was fragile.

The grip of the omega on him loosened, “We must promenade past the guests invited by your father.”

“I think you shall take air tonight,” he said, but Jihoon raised his hand for him to stop talking.

“My cuff, button it,” says Jihoon as he pulls him towards the hall for the last time tonight.

“I beg your pardon?” Soonyoung followed him, buttoning his cuff on instinct.

Jihoon continued walking, his pace just the same as Soonyoung’s, “Even if you believe the duchess is taken care of, our ruse is not finished. We are husbands, alpha and omega in the eyes of all."

One step forward, two steps back. Let it be known that if this bizarre behavior portends yet another scandal, then be sure that they shall bury it. For there is nothing worse than like an excursion into nature to lift the spirits and loosen the tongue. 

The Queen, his mother, has taught him to believe that marriage is the best that life has to offer, and that remains true. But it is not simply a partner that marriage provides. He will have comfort and a home to tend, and most importantly, children.

Soonyoung was not entirely sure of this. But he has never given up, he was only starting. He was willing to throw himself into raising this family, and to find much joy. Soonyoung is determined to break down the walls of Jihoon’s frigid heart. If no one thinks that Jihoon will change, he knows he can. He will do it with love—he is certain.

Chapter Text

The King had his hand on his forehead when Soonyoung entered the casemate room. There was no herald that announced his arrival. There was no hierarchy except for the King in the vaulted chamber underneath the rampart. Soonyoung is just like any other troops of his father in the casemate. The general nods and looks down the map again. 

Soonyoung wanted to ask his father for advice. At the same time, he regrets coming at the wrong time. But he is too wary of coming back into his chamber—his and Jihoon’s room. Because if he waits tomorrow, he might now have another chance. 

“Not now, Soonyoung,” the King tells him. 

“Are there any problems beyond our walls?” Soonyoung tries to ask, redirecting the fact that he came to ask about their political duties. 

“When are we not having any problems? There have been a few incidents of raiding in a few villages, and do you not think there are scouts in our kingdom? It is your husband who has raised the events,” the King asks for his opinion.

“There might indeed be. And we shall not let it happen,” he answers. And then he asks, “Have you tried to ask the Prince Consort about this? Did he say anything more? Aside from reporting it to you?”

The King sighs and stands up straight from bending down on the map, “As the Crown Prince and the husband, you shall be the one asking your mate about it.”

There was a hint of disappointment in the King’s voice. It suddenly felt like it was his fault for not being in proper talking terms with his husband since that dinner. The thing is, he was never a problematic son and prince. But these days, despite being the better warrior than his brothers, the King has been thinking twice about him succeeding the throne. Soonyoung cannot make his husband submit nor coordinate with him in duties, how on earth will he be able to lead the whole kingdom?

When Soonyoung was nineteen, he led the attack against the invaders of the kingdom. He stayed at the walls of the kingdom for months to keep their kingdom away from the enemies. The Prince has threatened any great opposing soldiers to prevent them landing on their territory. He even married an iron omega to save his kingdom because his brother had stepped down from his duties, which was more than just a sacrifice for a lifetime.

And yet, the greatest duty to breed his husband, to produce another heir of alpha, to seal the alliance of their kingdoms with a bond seemed too hard for him. When in fact, he could just fuck Jihoon whether he liked it or not. Even his omega has been asking him about it. God, if they only knew how badly he wants to claim his husband.

He scoffs at the idea whenever he remembers it. Jihoon thinks bonding and mating is easy. If he was an asshole, he could have claimed it even before their unification. But he was not. He does not want to claim him without strings attached.

Soonyoung wants to know how many scars he has and memorize the shape of his tongue. He wants to climb the curve of his lower back and count his vertebrae, his ribs, his fingers, his goosebumps. He wants to chart the topography of his anatomy and be fluent in his body language. Soonyoung wants Jihoon, entirely. 

Therefore, if he wanted all of him, he needed to pay close attention to what was indignating him. He needs to listen for the words that lingered in his silence. He needed to look at where his eyes were when he caught him smiling. Jihoon is not simply a carrier of his heir and an adjutant of his duty. He wants him to be his mate, the actual love of his life, and the very reason as to why he must remain and continue living as a good person on earth. And he is trying, but Jihoon is just… so, so difficult. 

“So you heard?” Soonyoung asks, his voice low, almost ashamed. His father looks at him with a stern face. He never had been disappointed by him, so it was sort of uncanny for the King to handle such an account.

“I think it is very obvious how the omega Prince had differed since your matrimony. And that, he has become unenthusiastic with your presence around,” the King notes.

“Gossip travels really fast, doesn't it?” Soonyoung sighs.

All of the nuisance that Soonyoung has been giving his father these days were all related to Jihoon. There was the dinner, the words to the duchess of Incheon, their absence in the presentation of the royal family last week, and the detained claiming of Soonyoung of his omega. Although the King was not furious, Soonyoung knew that all of these matters were a disappointment.

If it was not for Jihoon, whose skin was soft and white as milk, his fluffy hair that shined in the sunlight, his commanding words, and the way he sometimes masks his true self, things would not be so hard. Soonyoung tried to open his mouth to justify himself and his husband, but the King did not let him talk.

His father tells him, “You should just apologize to him. Omegas like it when their alphas ardor them.”

The Crown Prince scoffs again, inwardly chuckling. He asks, “What if he was just overreacting, and I do not have anything to apologize for?”

The King looks at him and gives him the look, “Then you still apologize, anyway. No one cares whether who is right or wrong. You apologize if it could mean you can get him underneath. Your mother has been pestering me to ask you for an heir.”

Soonyoung was only imagining it, yet he could literally feel the ‘no’ in his system, making him shiver in his posture. The mere thought of Jihoon raising an eyebrow at him makes him deflate. He was thinking about it, and he can see Jihoon only getting more angry. He asks, “And if he does not accept my apology?”

For the last time, the King gives him a deep breath, “Often I think Jihoon is the alpha… you are the alpha, are you not? Fawn a little, Kwon Soonyoung.”

His father stressed their family name. It was easier said than done. Jihoon is not just any omega. He is not like any others who gives in to the bribe of flowery words, the sweetness of romantic apologies, nor the tingles of material peace offering to be able to make him submit. And if ever he bows down to him to fawn like his father had said, there are tendencies that the omega could even run a sword and draw blood on his exposed neck. 

There are so many words he wished he could say. And yet he maintains far from him despite being close, never knowing how to open his mouth, even if he is worthy to speak to the omega. Because Jihoon is a flower, but he is not soft. For when his petals fall, they would hit like bullets.

Chapter Text

Jihoon stared at the woman in the tight dress. His eyes pierced the woman whose hair was up and she appeared jittering and nervous. But none of that mattered. All that Jihoon could pay attention to was that whoever this woman was, she had danced twice with Kwon Soonyoung this evening.

“Who is that?” Jihoon asks Seokmin and Chan. His brothers have accompanied him on the ball tonight. The Kwon men have been socializing with their extended fellows. 

He felt the taste of bile grow in his mouth as he watched this woman place her hands on Soonyoung, on his chest, as she leaned in close to him and whispered something that made him giggle.

Chan eyes the direction to where his eldest brother was looking, “I believe that is Choi Yuna-ssi, the Duchess of Goyang-si.”

The duchess of Goyang-si, meaning, he belongs under the kingdom of his huband—Gyeonggi-do. Once more, none of these mattered to Jihoon. He was a prince for goodness’ sake, and they were married. Soonyoung made it abundantly clear that he does not want anyone but him. The voice of the alpha ringed in his mind, I cannot imagine anyone standing before me today other than you.

In addition to this, they were married. Soonyoung knows that the most important thing in his mind at the moment is to prove to people that they are both in love. Jihoon also knows that the alpha is smitten to him. He could be enclosed in his walls, but he is not dumb to not know that the alpha has feelings for him. 

He still could not pinpoint when exactly Soonyoung had fallen in love with him, but it was clear as day to him that his heart wanted no one other than Lee Jihoon. Yet, the omega prince does not have any plans of returning the foolish fondness. But here he was, waiting for his husband to take his hand to dance. Jihoon straightened his back as the song ended and made his way past to where the pair was perched talking.

Jihoon moves round and round the room. Eyeing his prey who just so happens to be his childhood friend, the only alpha who has never got on his nerves. The only alpha to have ever made him wish to stop his ways. But he is also the guy who is always out to remind him that he is bound to be great, General Kang Euigeon.

Here they are, standing opposite each other in a ballroom full of people none the wiser, daring each other to make the first move. The moment Jihoon makes one step forward, he follows. The moment Jihoon goes sideways, he follows. They tango around each other while ever slowly growing closer and closer, never breaking eye contact. They are pulled towards each other but no one dares make the first official move. They cannot. It is forbidden. They are both dark and bad for each other and most importantly, despite being a grand officer of his father, the man was still a commoner.

“Fancy a dance, Your Highness?” came a deep, rumbling voice. A dazzling smile painted his lips. 

Jihoon was ready to deny the offer, yet the breath got stuck in his throat as he came to touch the hand of the man proposing. A charming smile showed his pearly white teeth and his ocean eyes were far too familiar. Not a single person in the empire had eyes like those. Dark depths of the ocean, stored into the irises of the devil. His dark hair was cropped, a black suit adorning his well sculpted body. He did not wait for Jihoon’s response as he took his hand, whisking him to the centre of the dance floor. 

“I know what you are trying to do,” Jihoon’s breath brushed against his ear. He was the one to speak, but Euigeon’s chuckle made all the hair at the back of his neck stand on edge. His eyes filled with shock hardened in an instant and he met his.

“I am not sure what you are talking about,” the general responds and Jihoon scoffs. One of his hands gripped the omega’s and the other positioned itself down to grip his waist. They moved in sync, flowing coherently like they were one. The crowd slowly parted for them. 

“Oh, please. My father must have sent you to keep him posted. You are his most loyal dog,” Jihoon remarks. Euigeon smirks at him, clever little prince.

“I expected you to be alone,” the alpha general told him lowly. His voice sent shivers down his spine and the omega’s eyes focused on his husband who is now watching them from afar, gazing down at them. He seems to be agitated, vexed rather. As the general dipped him, his eyes snapped back to him, “You have not changed one bit.”

When Jihoon crashed against his chest again, he took a moment to admire his beauty for a moment. If he actually liked him, he might have even kissed him, but he was sure the omega would not think twice about snatching a table knife and on his gut for it. Jihoon says, “You know well I am not the one for attachment.”

Euigeon did not respond this time. His eyes wandered off when Jihoon tried to get away but his grip was strong. He grinned, pulling him back. Jihoon flared at him, his eyes looking at his husband. Every time Jihoon would take a step towards him, he would pull them three steps away, making the omega’s frustration slowly begin to rise. Jihoon could hear the song begin to end and as a last resort he bolted from him, but he was too swift. 

The general smiled, “Worry not about your hopeless romantic husband. Better take advantage of him being head over heels for you.”

Soonyoung has seen Jihoon dance with plenty of other men before, but there was something different about tonight. He has only seen the General of Gyeongsang-do a few times. And he could tell which of his omega’s smiles were genuine, and so far tonight, this man his husband was dancing with felt like trouble. 

He made it across the ballroom in five impressively long strides, and before even glancing at Jihoon, he gripped the grand officer’s hand and firmly but subtly tugged him away from Jihoon. 

“General, I believe you have exceeded your time with my husband here,” Soonyoung began. A lilt in his voice that combined resolve with cowardice, “We would not want anyone thinking you are not a respectable gentleman by taking up all of my omega’s time and space, am I right?”

This was what Jihoon had been waiting for. The reason he danced with Euigeon is to make him stop playing with the little damsel and get him. It worked, except the alpha took up too much time than actually making a move.

The grand officer bowed and walked away, still with a smirk on his face, and landed one last look on the omega prince. 

Jihoon then faced him, ready for Soonyoung to lead him tonight. He grunted at him, “You could have been earlier, and a little more rude. You are an alpha… my alpha, are you not?”

Soonyoung’s eyes twinkled back in equal layers of frustration. Jihoon was really good at this act. Or maybe he was starting to feel the same way? Could he be wanting him to be selfish about him?

The music picked up once more and he held out a hand, nodding slowly at the omega. He danced with ease and grace and confidence as he smirked, he found Jihoon’s annoyance amusing. The chocolate brown eyes of the omega sharpened with mischief once Soonyoung leans towards and whispers, “Careful, darling. If you continue looking at me like that, people will only take your hatred for me with passion.”

Jihoon would not hesitate to rip his heart out and use his dropping blood as war paint. Because he was forged in fire and raised from the ashes. People like Soonyoung have been ground to dust and he built his temple upon their ruins. But he has found it easier to hold hands with him, share jests, spill tattles, and act with him. 

Maybe it was for the duty. But the reason why is because Soonyoung had already seen his cruelty, and yet he accepted him despite his stubbornness and fiend. He still deals with him for who he is. He even swore to keep showing him light. When others only focused on his carnal goodness. 

Soonyoung makes him feel that he did not have to be perfect, that he did not have to be goody-two shoes when it is just the two of them. It felt like he had the world at his feet, and he could sort of explore. He felt freedom and felt him wanting more. Therefore, Jihoon would rather fight with Soonyoung, than love anybody else.

“The only emotion that I feel whenever you are around is hate,” Jihoon told him while looking into his eyes. Soonyoung pulled him closer as he touched his arm, “Anger.”

“And you think looking straight into my eyes convinces me, myne owne hertis rote?” Soonyoung asks him, his lips smirking as he spun him around.

Myne owne hertis rote, Soonyoung spoke with all honesty. Jihoon does not know it, but he planted a seed in an empty field—his heart—not expecting even a sprout to show. But to his surprise, a short while later, a beautiful bud started to grow. He does not know it, but he threw seeds all over his ground. 

And Soonyoung chooses to give the bud a chance to grow more. To make them bloom, soak up all the sunlight, and let it take shape to form a garden. 

Jihoon immediately spins himself around and puts his hand back on his shoulder and arm. They continued to dance, “Do not call me that.”

“Why not?” Soonyoung asked again.

“I am not your dearly loved person, not the very center of your heart. I am not yours,” Jihoon simply answers.

“Oh, but look at all the people around. They are all watching us, darling. And why, what are you so afraid of?” Soonyoung challenged him. He continues to tease him, “Afraid you might start to like me?”

Soonyoung had one hand that rested on the waist of the omega traveling up his back. He caressed Jihoon so gently, as light as a feather, tingling through. The omega asks, “Are you flirting or starting a fight?”

The alpha would always be the one to laugh first at his own silly jokes. And his laugh would make Jihoon laugh, which would make Soonyoung laugh even more. And then they would both be laughing at Soonyoung’s silly joke. And then Jihoon would shake his head and laugh even more.

It is moments like this that Soonyoung really cherishes. Not because he can take advantage of their ruse and Jihoon cannot fume at him, but because he becomes genuine. Who knows what comes tomorrow? Maybe he can make him smile tonight and laugh, then the next day they can never work again. 

Jihoon starts, “You know, my mother told me the other day that one should marry a dearest friend.”

“Are you suggesting that I marry my brothers?” Soonyoung chuckles. He tells him, “They are my only friends.”

The omega chuckles at his continuous silliness, “I am just wondering… if friendship, is that what truly marriage is all about? Isn’t it a battlefield? I am quite sure that it is not a bed of roses… you know, just like ours.”

“Married people both have great times and bad times. And that is what makes it worth it,” Soonyoung starts. He says, “The experiences and challenges bring mates closer together.”

“Doesn’t it get tiring, always fighting and making up? Going in circles?” Jihoon asks again.

“There is always more to a marriage, dear. There are physical and intangible affairs that go on in a relationship,” Soonyoung says. 

To which, Jihoon immediately counters to ask. His curiosity growing, “There is both? But how? Physical and intangible cannot exactly go together when they are quite the opposite, can it?”

Soonyoung smiles and chuckles at him. Jihoon always felt like he would taste like mud, but hearing his words, he is actually sweeter than cherry. He was the loveliest shade of rose. And the alpha thought, what a rogue with delicate innocence.

He was always so strong and fierce, only for Soonyoung to find out that a space in his system remains pure and celibate. He looks away from his eyes, “Never mind.”

Jihoon could not comprehend. He asks, “How dare you laugh?”

“I am not laughing at you, darling. I am laughing at the incongruity of how little you know about it,” he informs. He then says, “I cannot be the one to tell you, though.”

“Why not?” Jihoon asks.

“It would be immoral for my values to tell my omega about it. It shall happen naturally. Besides, I have not even claimed you yet,” Soonyoung tells him carefully.

“But you are the one to not do the duty! So how am I to do my part if I do not even know what I shall?” Jihoon grumbles, getting impatient.

“You will know when you know,” Soonyoung only utters.

Jihoon finally sighs. He uses the tone and calls him, “Alpha.” 

They always told him to take a chance on him. To keep an open mind for him. But the constant worry held him back from what the omega needed to know. If anything, Soonyoung wants it to be natural. Jihoon might not feel the same way, but he feels things for him. All the wanting that he has, he wants it to be out of passion, at least. 

Anything that would happen involving the anatomy, he wants it to be urged with consent and deed. For Soonyoung, it goes more than just a duty. The definition, the consent, the intent, and the purpose matters. 

“Tell me, alpha,” Jihoon murmurs, his eyes staring up straight in his. If only Jihoon could see how delicate he is right now, Soonyoung could only mentally grit. He tried his best to stop himself. But Jihoon using that tone made it hard for him. He looked lovely. And those eyes, oh those eyes. It was drawing him in. The omega whispers, “Tell me.”

His eyes drew him in, then slowly let him go, even if he did not want to go. Eventually, Soonyoung gives in, “What happens between bonded mates is both paradise and war… during the night, when their hearts are swooning.”

Jihoon looks at him, “What happens during the night? When mates are lying together? When they are sleeping?”

“Not when you are sleeping,” Soonyoung exhales deeply. He gazes off of him, then back at his eyes. He carefully says, “When you… touch, yourself.”

“Touching… thyself?” Jihoon asks. His eyes wandered, looking for answers in the face of the alpha. 

 “Slowly, sensually… you can touch yourself, anywhere on your body…” Soonyoung trails off. And maybe the alpha does not notice, but his hands have become gentle on his back, yet Jihoon can feel his fingers burn beyond the fabric of his suit. Soonyoung’s touch felt like a small flame on his skin, “Anywhere that gives you pleasure, but especially… in between, your legs.

“Try to reach and play through your skin… until you find a feeling you are particularly high… carry on with that. Until the feeling grows and grows… and you will reach the peak, a pinnacle… for you to release.

Jihoon breathes in. There was a blank stare in his eyes. He knows next to nothing. But for some reason, he wants to feel the words he was saying, “And you should not hold it, when it comes .”

Soonyoung looks at him. He could not grasp him. Jihoon was like the stars, gentle and beautiful. But when he tries to get closer, to get to know him, he learns that he is exactly like it. Because he could not reach him. He could not feel him—but only admire him.

He wondered how his soft lips felt. To lose in his soft hair. To absorb his pain and make it go away. To reach his lungs and breathe the same air. To touch his heart. To feel him inside. And for them, to never fall apart. Jihoon was so creeping inside of him so much, that he has no idea how he makes him feel.

Jihoon will only see him in a way he will never know, he supposes. His busy mind, his quiet lips. He never shared too much of what it is about him that keeps him near. But he hopes he feels even the tiny bit of aching like he does. Because only for so long he can hold, it might burst.

Chapter Text

Soonyoung can smell Jihoon in the air so much. He smelled like wildflowers, and it was so strong that the corridor of their chambers could not contain it. The alpha has ordered the omega servants to fire the scent neutralizing units. The plethora of sweetness Jihoon has been releasing since this morning is trapped in the air, and Soonyoung does not want it lingering with other alphas in the palace. Be it a possessive move or not, he does not care.

Their chamber is new. And they have imprinted their smells on it to make it less obvious for everyone that they are not getting into terms. For him, though, it has become hard to be sterile. It triggered his system, and he has been trying his best to overcome it. Soonyoung reminds himself, not tonight.

The alpha senses that his husband has been waiting for him. Soonyoung does not want to get in, for who knows what could be waiting for him?

The atmosphere just outside their shared space is enough for him to know that the warm and wet feeling conquered the atmosphere. The scent of Jihoon now is giving off crept up like honey, thick, sticky, and sweet. But he can also smell fear. 

Jihoon, on the other hand, opens the egress and shrouds himself. Soonyoung walks inside and closes the door, without breaking eye contact. He can still smell the fear, but Jihoon wears it like a crown, showing determination and defiance. 

Soonyoung wanted to look away, but he could not. There is just so much to look at. His collarbones, his neck, his shoulders, his plunging cloth, and what could have been beyond it. 

“Are you just going to stare? Do you not want to take what is yours, Your Majesty?” Jihoon beckons. 

The alpha knows it even if his husband does not tell him. It was his preceding heat talking and reacting. Simply nature, nothing more and nothing less. Jihoon could be trying to be wrecked tonight, even to be gently touched, but no. He did not even think about it even if his father had pestered him. Soonyoung would not force things even if he begs for it. They may be husbands, but it does not mean they are already mates. They do not even own each other’s heart and soul, what could be more about their bodies?

Each and every corner of their chamber was hazy with the scent of Jihoon. Or maybe it was the mind of Soonyoung that was hazy. One thing is for sure, though, the alpha was trying his best to focus. The next thing Soonyoung knows, Jihoon pushes him on the slumber chair, and walks to spread himself on the bed. There was a change in the atmosphere in the room, “I shall not be joining you tonight here, dear.”

Jihoon pulls his silk robe slowly, his eyes shooting into Soonyoung’s as his bare body comes into display in a matter of seconds. He does not break eye contact too, reaching for himself slowly as he spasms, “What do you mean?” 

Soonyoung does not hear the sigh trapped on his throat, but he sees as his chest heaves, his face flush, and his hand slips behind him. Jihoon flutters his eyes shut for a moment at the feeling. He bites his lower lip and breathes through his nose, before slowly opening his eyes again to look straight into the alpha.

Now, the alpha does not know if Jihoon was begging for him or challenging him. It was for twice or thrice more, before Soonyoung realized that Jihoon was slowly driving his fingers inside him. He remained calm, “Is it not obvious? Or are you playing games with me?”

“A-Apparently… no-not,” Jihoon whimpers out. He was soaked, and he snapped his legs open, and then plunging another finger. He barely even managed to suppress the shriek, but all Jihoon can think about was his digits sinking on his own. He breathes out, trying to keep his eyes open to talk to his alpha, “I re—shit—require y-your… further elaboration—fuck, Y-Your… Majesty.”

“You are not going to spend your cycle with me, Your Highness,” Soonyoung tells him. Jihoon’s eyes snap open at his words. He planned this, he wanted to manipulate him in the tendencies that his alpha would give in. But is it manipulation if Soonyoung knows he is being manipulated? If he willfully allows himself to be led insane by the sweet tasting pheromones?

“Is this because of—agh—” Jihoon moans. He does not stop moving his fingers, he shuts his eyes again, carefully slowing down to be able to speak properly. He was very flushed, “Because of… the duchess, the other day?”

“No,” Soonyoung immediately answers. He then takes a moment to linger his gaze at how glorious Jihoon looked. Soonyoung wonders how it would be to touch his smooth skin… but no, not now. He says, “It is your heat acting up. I do not want to corrupt you.”

“But am I not an omega? Your omega?” Jihoon retrieves his hand, bringing it up to his body to caress his skin. He looks at Soonyoung ravishingly, at the same time innocently, if he was not acting. He asks, “Am I not for your convenience? A diversion, a pretty one, and nothing more? I believe there could be nor more ridiculous notion.”

The alpha sighs. Hearing those words felt like there was another person in the room. He did not know if it was the heat talking, but whatever it is, he does not want to hear it again. Jihoon telling him that made him feel like his chest tightened. His inner alpha was raging, but his heart was more furious. He was triggered. Soonyoung does not want Jihoon like this. 

Looking into his eyes is a gift, touching his skin is a gift, tasting him is a gift. And most especially, being inside him as he claims him is the greatest one of them all. But Soonyoung would like to believe that it is a sacred act. He wants to make deep, passionate, love to him in complete bliss. Without fanfare, without pretensions, and without any conditions. And if Jihoon is to give himself completely, he wants it openly with mutual anticipation. 

He wants to make him feel the pulse, the warmth, the breathing and incredibly, the pleasure almost as much as his own. Soonyoung wants to feel their bodies synchronize and merge with each other. He wants to do it with passion for each other. Not because it is a duty.

Soonyoung takes a moment to think about it as he locks the door before walking towards the edge of the bed. Jihoon spreads his behind open when he feels the mattress dip under the weight. And although he was scared that Soonyoung would grab him, just the thought of the alpha biting down on him made him tillitated. He was so hot and aroused. It was very not him, because he was very inflamed and amorous, but at the same time he wanted the duty.

“Is it your first time doing this?” the alpha asks with yet another sigh. Jihoon shivers when he knows his alpha is close. He informs him, “I would have smelled it if you had done this before.”

Jihoon sits on the side of the alpha, his legs separate as he rests his hands down in the middle. He was very aroused, and his voice was softer than usual. It was like syrup, sugar melted slowly in fire, “I did it last night when you were asleep. And when you woke up early this morning…”

Soonyoung spikes his own scent at the thought of Jihoon squeezing his digits inside him for the first time. The blood in his system rushed up either to his chest or his own manhood. And Jihoon smells it too, the alpha tensing up in a way that he imagines his own fingers sinking inside him. But no, once again, not like this. Soonyoung will not be giving in for this. This is not what he wants. This is not what Jihoon would want.

“You touched yourself twice?” he asks the omega carefully.

“Even before you came too,” Jihoon confesses. He looks at him with sharp eyes. And Soonyoung swears, he saw fire in his eyes. Jihoon gazed at him like enticingly, “My husband does not touch me, is why.”

“I am not repeating myself, dear. You are not going to spend your heat with me,” he tells him again. And then with a stern voice, “You are not going to like it.”

“Why? Because you are going to wreck me so hard? That you are afraid I am going to break?” Jihoon smirks, flushed at the thought of Soonyoung ruining him. 

Soonyoung exhales a deep breath for the last time. Jihoon turns around and unhesitantly slips two of his digits in him again. Soonyoung grips on his wrist gently, and Jihoon was about to speak because of the touch when suddenly, the alpha drives his wrist for him to push his fingers in him deeper.

Jihoon was not expecting that. He wanted Soonyoung to use his own fingers instead, but knowing that it was the alpha controlling him was enough for now. Also, omegas do not talk back. But he bared his teeth and hissed when Soonyoung circled his wrist for his fingers to follow direction, “You are such a dick.”

The omega sighs. His quiet whimpers are becoming hard to contain. Jihoon grips on the hem of his disheveled robe as Soonyoung pushes his wrist deeper. It hit a spot. And then suddenly the alpha lets go after saying with a chuckle, “But you want this dick.”

He allowed Jihoon to do it alone again. Soonyoung just watched as the omega did his best to press his fingers inside him, as if trying to match the same depth he did. 

Jihoon is a moaning mess. His legs fall open and he shifts, probably trying to reach better, to find the angle he needs to get himself off. Soonyoung wonders how much of this apparent docility is due to the pheromones hanging heavy in the air and how much is the frustration and desire to come for Jihoon. It must hurt to not be touched. It was hurting him, he admits, but he will not do it. He just cannot imagine how much it must hurt for the omega.

“Does it even matter? My husband would not give it to me, not even touch me,” Jihoon winces. Soonyoung did not think that Jihoon would be so pliant in bed. The omega was so tender that he put up a show for him to give in. But then again, he is still the iron omega, “You are such an obstinate alpha who does not take care of his omega’s needs! You would even let me go through my heat alone than—fucking—”

Soonyoung drives the hand of the omega. It was a hard one, and it felt too deep that he sobbed at the feeling inside him. Jihoon wanted to see the face of the alpha while doing it. He wonders if he was also touching himself, if he was in pleasure at the sight of him, or if he was still trying his best to remain calm. At the same time though, Soonyoung wonders what Jihoon was feeling. He wonders if he was indulging it, if he was secretly hating it, or if he was plotting to kill him when his heat passes already. Because Jihoon being powerless right now for him and his touch is… more than a lifetime’s worth of concession. 

The alpha gently helps him sink another digit, careful to not touch other parts of his body but the hand and wrist. He asks, “Do you think you deserve it?” 

“Do you think you deserve it?” Jihoon shoots back. And as if like a green signal, Soonyoung was pulled back on earth when he heard his husband snicker. This is Jihoon, the Jihoon he fell for. Fierce, undomesticated, and competitive.

Because of it, Soonyoung guides his hand for the omega to slip his fingers harder in retaliation, faster, rougher, the way he wanted to be touched. Jihoon’s mouth falls open but no sound comes out. His eyes just remain shut as he pushes back, as if it helps to feel more digits deeper. 

Soonyoung can actually kiss him right now and Jihoon will not say no. Pinning him down on the bed and doing more than just this would be his last wish though, because Jihoon will for sure murder him and make sure he does not wake up the morning his heat passes. There is no even snug feeling on the bed, even when Jihoon quivers at what Soonyoung was doing. 

The omega’s muscle tightens as the—not so foreign anymore—feeling starts racing. Soonyoung is not even receiving anything, not even touching, nor directly doing anything. But it was as if a wave of release was also rushing into him. 

Jihoon lets out a wail as he feels it. His back stretches like a cat as he feels it drip down, his fingers naturally knackered from the activity. If earlier, Jihoon smelled so sweet, he now was like the sea—deep, velvety, and salty. Soonyoung made a low inarticulate sound before standing up to say, “I do not deserve it yet, darling. But one day when I think I do, the entire kingdom will hear you cry.”

His pants were delicate and quiet. Jihoon slumped down on the bed like a flower petal falling during spring. He shivers when Soonyoung puts his coat on him, as well as a few more of his clothes from yesterday. It was stupid, though. No one will believe that they just mated. Jihoon was still reeking on his own, and Soonyoung had no plans to scent him.

The omega scoffs, and pushes all of his clothes away from him. He winces and looks at Soonyoung in a way he always does. Annoyed, “Do I actually disgust you?”

“Huh?” Soonyoung registers, he was confused. He tried to cover him with his clothes again, only for Jihoon to hold his hand. He was aching for contact. And Jihoon felt like any kind of touch will make him burst.

“Do I disgust you that you do not want to touch me?” Jihoon asks him. He shoots him a stern look, and just lets the alpha cover him up. He tells him, “You should be the one who ought to need this, not I. I should not even beg for it nor for any attention from you.”

Like you ever begged for anything, Soonyoung notes. Jihoon was annoyed, but at the same time he sounded really tired. The omega even tightened his hold on his hand. Now, Jihoon had a storm in his eyes. There was a hurricane, with thousand crashing waves, but with the silent beauty of rain. It felt like he was going to break down any second.

What must I do with you, Soonyoung muses. Looking at Jihoon being like this, and hearing his words made him feel like a coward. It was as if he was charging into a feeble kingdom with his greatest troops, yet this impotent realm seeks for combat. 

You take my breath away, Soonyoung reveries. Jihoon was too easy to annihilate right now. He just needs to lift one finger and Jihoon will come crashing down on him.

But would it be worth it? Would it be his victory? Or would it be his defeat when Jihoon is left with nothing but remains? He could only, carefully say, “I’m sorry.”

“Forswear not to me, Your Majesty,” Jihoon had a tear fall from his eyes. He furiously tells him, “You made me come, without even giving the grace to use your own fingers on me! Do you have any idea how much it is hurting me to be constantly rejected by you? Why did you even marry me? I am an omega, and it is hurting me.”

“I… I do not know, darling—”

“Of course, you do not!” Jihoon cried. This is bad, very bad. Even his emotions are getting the best of him. He looked sat up and looked at Soonyoung, “You do not have any idea what it is to be an omega, what it might be like to have one’s entire life reduced to fucking duty!

“I know very well how much you want to hurt me. I know you want to punish me. For me to submit to you… because I have always been a vile omega, am I not to you? I have been keeping you under me.

“And if you are not going to fulfill your duty, even punish me, does that just mean that you do not like me? You do not like me,” Jihoon finishes as he wipes his tears away. There was fire in his eyes, and his thoughts were twisted. 

Soonyoung could not believe what he was hearing. He did not know if it was his words bleeding out from his heart and mind, or just mind, or just even his heat. But it felt good because Jihoon liked the stars. And if only he could hear them talk, they would know of his fondness of him. Oh, how much his heart ached for him. If only the stars could speak, they would tell him how Soonyoung likes him—heck, maybe he already even loves him. They would ask Jihoon to love him back.

“What?” was all that he could utter. Jihoon was both bashful and brave for telling those things. But his eyes started to well up once more.

“Am I not pretty enough for you, Your Grace?” he asked softly.

The alpha looks down. Jihoon was red and hot, still delirious from his release not too long ago. His lips were in moue and moist from trying to stop the sounds coming from his mouth, and his hair unkempt from the glaze. Soonyoung tried so hard to stop himself from pulling his face for a kiss, because his scent tickled his nose sweetly. The atmosphere smelled like secret fantasies as Jihoon’s pheromones intensified. 

He needs to get out of there. Or else who knows what Soonyoung could do to Jihoon right then and there. It felt like being out in combat, shot in the middle of nowhere and slowly falling to bite the dust.

“You are bewitchingly beautiful,” Soonyoung mutters, his eyes remaining on him. Until Jihoon’s eyes softened at the same time he stopped breathing, he had to mentally curse himself for the raw choice of words. He said, “But you are always indignant to me, darling. I would never want to claim you out of anger, not even duty.”

Jihoon looked at the alpha. He swore, he was like the moon and he, the ocean. Jihoon was pulling him in with such a gravity that was making him make waves, churning into storms and tsunamis. And tonight he wanted to hold their gazes, but he knew better. Because only until the morning light comes, they will break.

“It is a pity that you are very sentimental, Your Majesty,” the omega lours once more, and he pulls the clothes of the alpha to his body. He softly says, “You are wasting your devotion on someone like me. Because after all, we… we are never going to fall in love, you and I…”

Soonyoung has run out of metaphors about Jihoon. But tonight, he felt like peeling a fruit. There was just his husband, spread on the bed, like a bowl of peaches for his imagination. He can see all of it in his mind. Their warm bodies together in the darkness, as their hands move to the center of the flesh, and their skins tremble in happiness as their souls intertwine.

He wants to make love to him in the same way his feelings continue to grow passionately. He wants to hold him tightly and kiss him madly. Soonyoung wants to love him forever, with a passion that will never burn out. But for now, he will need to warm him up and light a flame in his heart.