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73.91% Candle In The Wind / Chapter 17: Chapter 17

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Chapter 17: Chapter 17

Asami ended his day early because he agreed to meet Akihito's friends. Kou and Takato agreed to meet Akihito and his mysterious fated mate at a lodging of Asami's choice so it was only right for Asami to play the part of a responsible host. They were nervous and excited when Asami sent someone to fetch them to a classy Ryokan. They were led to a VVIP private room and served appetisers while they waited for Akihito to arrive with his mysterious and surprisingly rich mate.

"Why are you so surprised?" Takato asked Kou who was still slightly disoriented from what just occurred. Firstly, they were ushered into a freaking limousine and then led to a VVIP room in the most reputable and impossible to reserve Ryokan. Reservations were always scheduled a year in advance and even then, it wasn't set in stone. How did Akihito's mate manage all these?

"B-but Takato... it's a freaking limousine! What kind of fate has enabled our Akihito who loved sleeping in the streets and wearing tatty jeans to meet this filthy rich alpha?"

Takato had a few answers in mind but he wasn't about to tell his dim-witted best friend anything. Kou wasn't the sharpest pencil back in their school days, he certainly wasn't the sharpest now. The man was over honest and didn't have a brain to mouth filter. It was always Takato who had to apologise for both his friends and play the role of a mother in their group.

Akihito was running late but neither of them was concerned. Akihito was probably in some sort of trouble again. The last time they decided to meet up for a drink at Kou's place, Akihito was nearly two hours late. His excuse? He was chased by yakuza and had to fly across a few rooftops before he could lose them. To make add to his misery, the photographer lost his wallet and had to walk over. Akihito always kept his promises so they weren't worried. He took the saying 'better late than never' to a whole new level and as his best friends, they learnt to get used to it.

It didn't take very long for Akihito to appear with his mate. Kou took a while to match the face to a name but Takato recognised Akihito's filthy rich mate almost immediately. Akihito was nervous. He didn't know how his best friends would react upon finding out that he was fated to be the mate of Japan's most dangerous man.

"Asami Ryuichi?!" Kou spluttered and choked on the tea he'd been drinking. Takato smacked Kou's back hard, trying to help his friend to breathe. Akihito facepalmed and turned his head to the other side. Asami didn't seem to mind Kou's outburst. In fact, the bastard seemed amused.

After Kou could breathe again, Takato bowed slightly towards Asami and calmly introduced them to the crime lord.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet Akihito's friends. I'm assuming he hasn't spoken much about me judging from your reactions."

Kou deadpanned. "No shit Sherlock. Aki, why didn't you tell us? I'm so hurt that you didn't honour the bros before hoes code!"

Asami raised a brow in amusement while Akihito groaned. Takato elbowed his loud-mouthed friend before apologising. Kou was walking on very thin ice that separated life and death by insinuating that Asami was Akihito's 'hoe' and Takato hoped that the dangerous looking alpha wouldn't secretly plot murder after that insensitive comment.

"Kitten, you have very interesting friends...."

Akihito hissed at the pet name. "Shut up old man! You have boring friends."

Takato watched Akihito's interaction with interest. Back when the blond was living with them, Akihito was always very polite and tried his best to not cause trouble. He had that wall between himself and the Takatos no matter how hard they tried to remind Akihito that they were a family. Takato often worried about the strong-headed omega when he left to live on his own. Now, he could relax a little kowing that there was someone watching out for the reckless blond.

He smiled as Akihito hissed at the smirking alpha. Food arrived quickly and Takato didn't know if he should be amused or embarrassed at his friends' behaviour. Kou and Akihito were too busy moaning at the expertly prepared sushi to make any form of conversation apart from the occasional glare when food was sneakily snatched from unattended plates. Takato scolded them in hopes that they would be more civilised but Asami could see how it was a lost cause. In fact, Asmai seemed amused. It was highly entertaining to watch how they reacted to everything. Before they knew it, Akihito and Kou turned it into a competition of who could snatch the last piece of sushi off each plate first. Takato shook his head at his two friends' childish behaviour and opted for enjoying his bottle of sake. There was no stopping them now.

Asami let his lover do as he pleased. So far, Akihito was winning with a record of nineteen plates to sixteen. Kou appeared to be slightly green and nearing his limits. On the other hand, Akihito continued to inhale his food with gusto. Asami wondered where how his kitten managed to put all those extra plates of sushi away. Akihito wasn't skinny but he didn't seem like someone who could stomach nineteen plates of sushi, two bowls of rice, one grilled mackerel and four sticks of dango. There had to be a black hole in there.

Takato frowned when Kou who lost the competition and decided to hold a drinking competition instead. Takato knew how both his firends were light-weights. It would only bring trouble if they started drinking and he would like to avoid that as much as possible. Dealing with one drunk was difficult enough. Dealing with two drunks was something Takato didn't enjoy.

"I think you've both had enough fun," he tried to reason but Kou was stubborn. The sake was brought out and with bravado, Akihito accepted the challenge.

Within five minutes, both men were knocked unconscious. Kou was sprawled on his back and snoring while Akihito slumped on the table, drooling. Takato groaned at the aftermath of the drinking competition. He knew that this would happen.

Asami didn't seem all that surprised. He simply draped his suit jacket over Akihito and Takato threw his sweater over Kou who snored away.

There was a stifling silence while Takato continued to drink with Asami who had lit a cigarette casually. It was obvious that the golden-eyed man had questions but Takato wasn't sure if he wanted to answer them. From what he saw, Asami wasn't treating Akihito poorly. He genuinely cared for Akihito and Takato knew that the alpha would be good for the reckless omega.

"So," Asami began and Takato stiffened a little. The man was dangerous without a doubt. Takato wasn't a fool. There would be no smoke without fire. Asami was definitely involved with the underground somehow but he decided to keep that to himself.

"Could you tell me more about Akihito? I heard that you were more like brothers than friends. How did he escape the omega organisations?"

Takato chuckled fondly at that question. Those were some good old memories and seeing how Asami was genuinely curious about Akihito's past, Takato decided to indulge the businessman for a bit.

"I'm sure you've done some basic background checks on Aki here. He doesn't have the best records... my parents had to bail him out of prison a few times. I don't know how Aki did it but I know he has a fake identity card. Also, don't underestimate this blond. He can be pretty smart at times. If you give him an electronic gadget that can connect to the internet, Aki transforms into a demi-god."

Asami raised a brow. He knew that his omega was hiding certain things from him. For example, Akihito would go silent whenever Asami probed about his past and how he got into criminal photography. Akihito didn't disclose his sources for the fake identity cards or passports. Asami had Kirishima look into all possible sources but found none. The illegal heat drug dealer wasn't involved in Akihito's other information network. This made Asami wonder how his extensive criminal network wasn't able to trace anything. Kirishima had been pulling his hair out trying to dig up more than one page of information about the blond back than without much success. Akihito did a great job covering his trials.

Now that Takato has given him a hint, Asami needed to uncover what other secrets his mate was hiding. Hacking and online criminal activities were far out of Asami's reach but with a little bit of money and connections, it wouldn't be difficult to engage a professional.

"Is there anything else that I should know about him?"

Takato took a sip from his cup and thought for a while. "It shouldn't be anything that would surprise you but I'm still going to give you a few words of caution. Aki is very capable at playing the hide and seek game. If he doesn't want to be found, he wouldn't be found. Don't cage him and clip his wings but don't let him fly too high or far. He's got a nose for trouble and a very curious nature, the worst combination one could possibly ask for. Never lie to him because he's very good at digging for information. Watch for signs. Aki is surprisingly easy to read. Don't ever let him deal with his demons alone, he's been diagnosed with chronic depression and could relapse at any moment. You won't find this anywhere but Aki has tried several times to take his life."

Asami was surprised. His kitten was a very strong person. What could possibly make him succumb to depression?

As if sensing the question, Takato grimaced. "The death of the Takabas is more than an accident. He's been trying for years but whoever did it covered their trial very well. Aki could only grasp at straws. Even after moving in with us, he wouldn't tell us anything. I wouldn't put it past Aki to continue working on that case behind the scenes."

The alpha nodded. "Thank you. It means a lot to me that you will confide in me. I swear that I will care for Akihito. No harm shall befall on him as long as I am still alive."

Takato nodded. "Don't forget to watch your own back. I see that mark on his shoulder. If anything happens to you, Akihito will not live through it either."

The golden-eyed alpha chuckled. It couldn't be truer. Both of them were walking on thin ice that could break at any time. Given Akihito's personality and Asami's lifestyle, it would be a miracle if they could live past the age of forty.

"Don't," Takato told Asami. "If Aki hasn't given up, you shouldn't concede so easily. As much as Aki is a troublemaker, he has the luck of a devil. A cat always lands on its feet and Aki has never once failed to escape the worst situations in the most ridiculous manner. You should have more faith in your fated mate. If you are darkness, he will be your light. Just... be there for him when he falls."

Asami bowed and Takato sighed. He had mixed feelings about this. While Akihito and Asami were a perfect match, it only increased the danger to both men. Without further ado, Asami carried Akihito and excused himself. The drunk blond snuggled into those strong arms. Takato chuckled at how accurate Asami's pet name for his adopted brother was. At the same time, he sighed at Kou who was snoring without care.

"Kirishima, arrange a ride to send them back. Thank you, Takato-san. Aki and I will visit your family when we are ready to announce the wedding date."

Takato grinned. "Aki has a sweet tooth. It's easy to surprise him if you keep him occupied."

"Noted," Asami smirked and left. He'd learnt a lot about his beautiful omega tonight and was glad that neither of Akihito's friends was against their relationship. He'd hate to stage their deaths after all.

***

After meeting Akihito's friends, Asami did some secret digging into Akihito's past. So far, Kirishima and the hired pro-hacker weren't able to obtain anything useful. Akihito continued to show no signs of getting back into the business. Instead, Ishida reported that Akihito was seeking out shady deals again.

That was a huge headache for Asami who couldn't convince his lover to stay home. Sudo was acting weirdly lately and according to his spies, the blond met up with both Sakazaki and Mikhail. Asami was on high alert when he caught wind of Mikhail's arrival in Japan a few days back. He didn't think that Mikhail was targeting his territory since the Russian hasn't made his move. That also meant that Asami couldn't simply chase him away.

Sudo, on the other hand, was an annoyance. If it weren't for his capabilities, Asami would have gotten rid of the pest. Dracaena's profits were good and nobody had any concrete evidence that Sudo was betraying Asami yet. Kirishima kept tabs on all activities that were potentially suspicious but hasn't found any solid evidence. Even the investigators Suoh hired to tail Sudo came back empty-handed.

"Kitten, must you really go?"

Akihito rolled his eyes. Ever since their meeting with Kou and Takato, Asami became five times clingier. He'd increased the number of guards secretly following them, increased the number of surveillance in their building and demanded that he attended Suoh's private self-defence training lessons.

Kirishima wanted to teach him how to fire a gun but Akihito threw a tantrum so they called it off. That didn't explain Asami's sudden change in behaviour and his criminal photographer senses tingled. After their love-making sessions, Asami would often make a call to ask about club Dracaena and a manager named Sudo when Asami thought Akihito was asleep.

Naturally, the blond omega would take the initiative to do some digging on the club manager. So far, Sudo Shuu was someone Akihito didn't think would prove to be a huge threat. Other than his tendency to want to get into Asami's pants, there was nothing that screamed dangerous to Akihito. Yes, Akihito may be slightly jealous whenever he thought about someone else pawing at Asami but the ache in his lower half and mark on his shoulder reminded him of who Asami was crazy for. That

doused the fire of jealousy effectively every single time.

On Wednesday night, Asami received a phone call. Akihito was doing the dishes and Asami had yet to shower. They just finished dinner so it was concerning when Asami's tone quickly changed from one of casual to tense. He listened for a minute before ending the call curtly.

"Kitten, something urgent has come up. I'll be away for a while, go to bed without me."

Akihito was worried but he couldn't bring himself to ask what was wrong. Instead, they shared a quick kiss before Asami slammed the front door shut. Through the mating mark, Akihito could feel the anxiousness Asami felt. Akihito tried to convey his reassurance to his mate through the mark and felt Asami's anxiety ease a little.

Staying at home in a safe place while his mate was faced with trouble didn't feel right to Akihito. Hence, the photographer changed into something easy to move in and packed a laptop. He told Ishida that he wanted to go to a cafe for a change of pace so the guard went to grab the car. It's been some time since Akihito was last involved in that world. He sighed at the things he would do for his mate. Akihito took some time to compose himself. Going back to that world meant reliving those painful memories and throwing himself back into the abyss.

The abyss was a network of skilful hackers that Akihito co-founded when he was younger. It consisted of masters from all walks of life. Akihito used it back when he was still in school, trying to uncover the mastermind who tried to silence his father and killed his mother. He'd gotten so close to the answer before hitting a wall. You could hack the government's database, the military's top-secret files and the Interpol's records but you can't hack something that isn't in the digital archive. That piece of reality hit Akihito hard, causing him to fall into depression.

They arrived at Akihito's usual cafe quickly and Akihito cleared his mind. That was a thing of the past. For now, there was something more important at stake. Ishida had the guards secure the cafe's perimeter and sat down opposite the omega. Yukimura, a rookie guard, quickly ordered Akihito's iced latte while the blond set up his work station.

It wasn't difficult to access Sion's network or tap into their penthouse's security line. Akihito knew that Asami added a bug in his phone but didn't remove it. In fact, he'd done the same to Asami's phones. Yes, even though Asami hadn't mentioned it or showed him before, Akihito knew that his mate used three phones. One for the legal business, one for the politicians and one for his illegal dealings.

According to the tracker, Asami was at Sion's HQ. Using the phone, Akihito tapped into Sion's files very quickly and planted a virus for his immediate access in future. The first thing Akihito did was search through Dracaena's files and Sudo Shuu's information.

The iced latte arrived and Akihito took a sip. His digital assistant didn't find anything of use and Akihito bit his bottom lip. Everything was too clean and it screamed suspicious. Luckily, Dracaena's security feed shared the same server as Sion's. Akihito wormed his way into the records and dug out the club's security footage. Sudo Shuu looked like your typical omegan beauty and Akihito raised a brow. The club manager was an efficient leader and worked without cutting corners. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Could he be wrong?

Suddenly, Ishida stood up and a gun readied. Akihito was so startled that he nearly knocked over his iced drink.

"Put that away, I'm not here to cause trouble. Asami knows that I'm here. You can call him to confirm that Fei Long has an appointment with his mate."

Ishida didn't put the gun away immediately. He hid it better, holding it low against the long-haired man and motioned for Yukimura to make the call. The call was brief but Akihito didn't need to know what his lover told the rookie guard to make the poor man shiver.

Fei Long smirked and took a seat when Yukimura passed the word to Ishida. Reluctantly, the guard put his gun away but remained vigilant. He took a seat beside Akihito while Fei Long and Yukimura sat on the opposite side of the table. Yukimura looked highly uncomfortable seating beside the Triad leader but all Akihito could think of was how cramped their table has become all of a sudden. He looked around trying to find a more accommodating table and was surprised to find that they were the only customers present.

"Where did everybody else go?"

Fei Long chuckled. "I had them leave to give us some privacy."

Akihito looked out the window and deadpanned. The sight of suspicious looking men in suits stood with their backs facing the cafe on the pavement. Surely the owners of the establishment had something to say about it. Then again, there was nobody at the counter. Akihito started to feel nervous. He wanted to call Asami about the strange man before him but decided not to bother his busy lover.

"Do I know you?"

Fei Long smiled mysteriously. "Depends on what Asami has decided to tell you... then again, it might be difficult to explain our relationship."

Akihito froze. He knew that the effeminate man before him was only saying this to rile him up. Sadly, it worked. His omegan instincts went wild with jealousy and Akihito began to growl subconsciously.

Fei Long hid a smile. Asami's mate was simply too adorable. The triad leader wondered how he would react if he found out that Fei Long was also an omega. Seeing how easy it was to rile up the blond, Fei Long decided to tease him a little more.

"Oh yes, did I mention that Asami and I go way back even before he ruled Japan's underground?"

Akihito saw red. Ishida was prepared to stop the photographer who looked like he was ready to rip Fei Long's throat out at a drop of the hat.

Unable to hold back his laughter, Fei Long let it out and chortled at Akihito's confused expression. Seriously, if Fei Long wasn't an omega, he might have taken Takaba as his mate.

"Don't look so serious, I'm here as an ally. I won't steal him away from you, I have a fated mate too."

That sentence worked like magic. All of Akihito's insecurity melted away. "Fated mate? That's really rare. How did you meet?"

"I bought him from a slave trader and shot the trader to death,"{ the triad leader waved nonchalantly.

"What?!"

Fei Long smiled. "Enough about me, I'm curious about you. Asami Ryuichi isn't a man who believed in fated mates. He never wanted a mate or a family. How did both of you meet and what made him change his mind?"

Akihito blinked. Asami had never told him anything about this. "Asami didn't want a mate or a family?"

It was Fei Long's turn to be surprised. "He never told you or showed any signs of rejection before you mated?"

"Uh... not really. He's been very possessive and clingy ever since we met. I was kidnapped by his goons trying to get dirt on him then went into heat when he showed up in person at the warehouse. We've come a long way since..."

Fei Long hummed. It was unbelievable that Asami never once tried to reject Akihito. Maybe it was a fated mate thing? If it weren't for Tao, Fei Long would have mated with Asami. Regardless, it was a good thing. Fei Long was happy for Asami. The man deserved some happiness in his dark and cold world.

"I can see why now. I couldn't believe that he called me for advice about how to salvage his broken relationship when you tried to run away from him after he forcefully tried to make you move in with him. With all his prestige and intelligence, you would think that he had better sense than to do something so dumb. Sadly, that idiot has no common sense. I'm really glad that you're there to ground him to reality."

Akihito chuckled. That sounded just like Asami. The two eased into a friendly conversation and Ishida relaxed a little. Yukimura called for the cafe staff to order Akihito another iced latte and Fei Long a cappuccino.

"The head of Baishe wouldn't go all out just to chat about Asami's love life, right? So tell me, what brings you here?"

Fei Long liked Akihito. The photographer had a good head on his shoulder and was easy to talk to. "Of course. I might have been a little curious about the person who was Asami's fated partner but I came here for official business. Asami gave me his permission to get acquainted with his mate, I'm assuming he wants me to watch over you just in case you get into anything funny with everything that's happening on his turf now. On the other hand, as a fellow omega, I know how difficult it is to sit still and be unable to do anything for your alpha while he fights the war without you. Hence, I'm here with some information."

Akihito perked up. Fei Long was an omega too? However, his heart hammered at the idea of getting involved with Asami's business. Asami would be pissed if he knew and there was no doubt about Ishida and Yukimura reporting back. The blond swallowed. How was he going to ask Fei Long to tell him without alerting Asami?

He looked at his laptop that was still tracking Sudo's location and had an idea.

"I'm afraid I'll have to decline. As much as I am curious, I can't betray Asami like this. However, if it isn't too much trouble, could we meet up to talk again? I've never had any omega friends..."

Fei Long smiled and gave Akihito his name card. "Text me and I'll drop by again. I'll be in Japan for a while so it would be great if you could show me around."

Akihito grinned. Part one of his plan was complete. They exchanged numbers and said their goodbyes. The laptop battery was low and his digging hasn't proven useful so Akihito decided to head back for the night.

Ishida narrowed his eyes at Akihito's strange expression. He knew that the blond was up to something but had no evidence to back it. Nevertheless, he decided to include it in his report to Kirishima and Asami while Yukimura drove them back. It hasn't been long since he worked with his boss' mate but Ishida was starting to get the hang of it.

Asami fished out his phone to read Ishida's report with a smirk. His kitten was finally up to something again. It didn't matter though. The sooner Asami took care of the problem, the faster he could dish out punishment for the disobedient kitten waiting in his penthouse. The smirk grew as he plotted the kind of pleasures he would introduce to his kitten.


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