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86.95% Candle In The Wind / Chapter 20: Chapter 20

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Chapter 20: Chapter 20

Over the next few days, Akihito found himself often in the company of Fei Long who demanded that he wanted to be taken to see the sights of Japan. Asami didn't protest and the omega found it suspicious. Something big was definitely happening. He could feel it from his mark. Asami was a fool if he thought Akihito bought it.

On the other hand, the photographer didn't mind. It was his first time hanging out with a fellow omega. Kou and Takato were great but he couldn't exactly share omega problems. They couldn't relate. Fei Long brought Akihito out for sushi and they had fun people watching, or more accurately, Alpha grading. Akihito had fun gossiping with Fei Long and both omegas decided to hit the recreational gym reserved for omegas to burn off the extra calories.

It was a fairly upper-class and the best part was how none of Asami's pesky goons could enter. Fei Long grinned and gave Akihito a thumbs up while they relaxed without the stifling security team hovering around them.

The photographer proved to be athletic and Fei Long decided that they have a short sparring session to review what Akihito remembered from Suoh's self-defence classes. In fact, the Chinese man was so impressed by Akihito's reflex and wits that he decided to teach the younger omega a few tricks to get out of sticky situations.

"How acquainted are you with ropes?"

Akihito gave Fei Long a disgusted face. "You're a great buddy, no offence. However, that's more of Asami's thing than mine."

The crime lord rolled his eyes. "Not that kind of rope... the kind that your mate restrained you with when you first met him."

Akihito turned scarlet when he realised that his mind was on the wrong page. Fei Long secretly took a photo of Akihito's endearing expression before forwarding the image to Asami.

"I suppose it's a sufficient start. This is just in case Sudo or anybody decides to pull shit on you. If you can undo the restraints, you can buy time, devise a strategy and possibly escape."

The next hour was spent with Fei Long teaching Akihito how to break out of ropes and handcuffs as Akihito struggling against his restraints. The triad leader was merciless and Akihito groaned at the thought of Asami seeing those marks. Then again, perhaps he could cover it with makeup before he got home.

Fei Long grinned at Akihito's troubled expression. It was late so they decided to shower and leave the gym.

Ishida waited dutifully outside the entire time and bowed when Akihito exited the premise with Fei Long. Before parting, Fei Long gave Akihito a gift. It was a small pocket knife with the Baishe's emblem.

"If you get into any trouble when you come to Hong Kong or if Asami is out of contact, use this. I have men in any Chinatown. This emblem is hidden in the shops but you can find it easily if you know where to look."

Akihito was slightly sad. Fei Long had business for a while and this would be the last time they would see each other for a while, a very long while. It was the first time he had so much fun with another omega. Akihito didn't really want the day to end. They shared a hug and parted ways with Yukimura waiting for Akihito and Ishida in a car.

Fei Long watched the car drive off and the gentle expression hardened. "Tail them," he told Yoh who nodded and left. According to Mikhail, Sudo was commencing operation tonight. After Sakazaki's disappearance and Asami's crackdown on Tokyo University for the scientist mastermind, the club manager had gotten impatient.

Dr Kurihara was a scientist of Tokyo University who was obsessed with manipulating the second gender after his wife left him because she found her fated mate. Fei Long didn't know how Sudo managed to convince the man to create such a drug but that wasn't his concern. Asami was responsible for dealing with it since it happened on his territory.

Naturally, after Sakazaki's disappearance, Dr Kurihara went into hiding. Nobody knew where he was but it didn't really matter. After Mikhail passed the sample to Asami, Dr Mashiro successfully created a counter to the drug. If they got to Akihito on time, the photographer wouldn't be in danger.

They were ready for Sudo. The only thing left to do was to wait for Sudo to make his first move.

***

Akihito was tinkering on his phone again and Ishida couldn't understand anything. The photographer was so busy working on something lately and it was weirder that Asami didn't want him to find out more. Akihito's actions were getting more unpredictable too. He didn't ditch them but he often went to dangerous places to collect discarded envelopes.

Asami called off the number of extra guards tailing Akihito yesterday. They had a strong lead on Dr Kurihara's location and all available manpower were deployed to capture that scientist. This made Ishida and Yukimura very nervous. Both guards were twice as vigilant. Something big was going to happen.

Just when Akihito was about to put his phone away, it beeped. The photographer checked his mail, expecting his information network to provide something useful when he paled.

[If you want your friends back, come to club Dracaena. The password is New Life. If I don't see you in two hours, you will find their body parts shipped to you one by one every hour.]

Akihito's heart raced. In the picture, Kou and Takato were detained in a VVIP room similar to club Sion's. They were unconscious but unharmed and Akihito's digital assistant did not detect any traces of editing in the photo sent. It was real. Sudo had finally made a move but his friends were now in danger.

What to do now? Inform Asami? It might help but there was no guarantee about his friends' safety. Confront Sudo alone? Heroic but dumb. He glanced over to Ishida and an idea came to mind.

"Ishida, I'm going to Club Dracaena. Turn the car around."

Ishida nodded and Akihito knew that Asami would definitely be informed about his location. Next, he texted Fei Long a picture of the gift he sent. Akihito wasn't stupid enough to think that Kou and Takato were still in club Dracaena. Sudo would most probably move them elsewhere. He forwarded the picture of his friends to the triad leader and hoped that Fei Long would get the message. After that, Akihito accessed Sion's network and replaced the security feed of Sion's cameras to those of Dracaena's when they got close to the club. Surely with this, Sudo wouldn't get away. Just as a precaution, Akihito hacked all the surrounding cameras in the area and loaded it to Asami's computer. The man was still in a meeting from how Akihito hadn't received a response but Akihito had faith in his alpha.

"Ishida, Yukimura... thank you for everything up till now. I'm grateful that you put up with my whims."

Ishida had a bad feeling about it but didn't manage to say anything before Akihito opened the door and ran out. The two guards quickly lost sight of the photographer and decided to call Suoh to report.

When the head of security received the news, he scowled. Kirishima heard the news and immediately called for reinforcements. They'd gone through the plan but didn't think Akihito would stir trouble at the last minute. Dr Kurihara was secured and the extra guards were called off to make Sudo relax his guard. They didn't expect Akihito to take matters into his own hands to find the troublemaker.

"Asami-sama, there is some complication in the plan. Takaba-sama has given Ishida the slip, presumably to find Sudo on his own."

Asami smirked. He knew his lover would do something like this and had taken precautions. "Pull up the cameras. He said he was going to Dracaena. Don't lose sight of Sudo."

Asami pulled out his secret Takaba tracker app and frowned. There was something wrong about his lover's information and location. His lover was moving on a highway even when he was meant to be at Dracaena about ten minutes ago.

"Asami-sama, Sion's security has been compromised but the hacker hasn't stolen anything. In fact, we have feed about Takaba's kidnapping ten minutes ago."

Asami watched the playback silently. His eyes were hard and his lips unsmiling. Kirishima gulped.

Akihito was seen dashing out of the car into a small alley and parkour all the way up to the roof of the short building while Ishida and Yukimura tried to find him. He gave them the slip when Ishida was reporting and entered Dracaena through the back door.

About five minutes later, reinforcements arrived but Akihito wasn't seen exiting the building. On the inside of Dracaena, the cameras were downed and replaced with fake feeds from the day before. Sudo knew the system and Asami felt disheartened until he went to his computer and was amazed by what he found. Akihito decided to leave him a gift of the secretly backed up live copy of the security footage every minute inside the club and even hacked the cameras outside the club. That gave Asami a very clear idea of how they got away.

"Kirishima, track down this van's number. Also, get our man ready to leave. We are heading to the docks. One more thing, pass Fei Long this coordinate. Akihito's words."

The secretary nodded and barked out orders. Suoh handed Asami a gun and the mob boss took it wordlessly. Sudo was a dead man walking and Tokyo will hear his warning loud and clear before tonight ends. If Asami had to paint his city red to remind people what it was like to mess with him and his mate, he would do so over and over again without hesitation.

***

Akihito's pulse and mind were racing. It was a poorly put together plan but it worked. Who knew Fei Long's lessons would be so useful this soon. The ropes weren't tight and Akihito knew that he could get out of them easily, just not yet. Sudo was watching him like a hawk with apparent disgust. He hasn't done anything to Akihito yet but the photographer didn't doubt that the manager was out to kill him.

"What does Asami see in you?"

Akihito wasn't in the mood to make small talk with the person who kidnapped his friends. "What did you do to Kou and Takato?"

Sudo smiled sweetly and Akihito felt the hair on his arms stand. "I merely sent them an invitation to Tokyo's most prestigious club."

Akihito wasn't very surprised. Kou was a gullible person and Takato was merely swept along by that idiot's persuasion. He needed to discuss certain things with his friends after he got out of this.

"You think that threatening them would make me yield?"

Sudo rolled his eyes. "Oh please. You're only here because of it. Don't think for a moment that Asami would send his men over to rescue you just because he fucked you. He slept with many people and you're no different. Once this baby here is in your blood, you won't be any different from the dirt beneath his shoes."

"Are you talking about yourself? Because as far as I remember, he marked me and not you."

Sudo's eyes lit with anger and he smacked Akihito hard across his face. The photographer felt the pain but didn't back down. As Asami's queen, he couldn't let this bitch continue to yap and demean his mate. Asami wasn't a thing on display, he was a person with the right to decide what he wanted. He certainly did not choose Sudo and Akihito was going to make it clear.

On the other hand, Sudo had to hold himself back. The slut talked as if he knew everything about Asami even though he spent way lesser time with the alpha. Sudo worked with Asami for years, he knew the man much better.

"Who cares if you have the mark. Alphas can mark more than one omega. It's nothing special. However, omegas are worthless to alphas if they are unable to conceive. Nobody wants a broken omega, not even Asami. Say what you want but when tonight is over, Asami won't be looking in your direction."

Akihito shook his head. Sudo could bark all he wanted. He wasn't interested. All he needed to do was buy time for Fei Long to rescue his friends before he broke out. He'd programmed his phone earlier to give a certain ringtone once Fei Long has successfully rescued his friends.

"Don't believe me? I guess I need to be more convincing. Do you know what this is?"

Akihito raised a brow at the syringe in Sudo's hand. It clearly was a drug and Akihito didn't know what it was.

"So you're going to kill me using some kind of poison? I thought you were the kind who preferred to physically torture a person to death."

Sudo smirked. "That's true. I like torturing people to death. However, this baby here isn't going to kill you. Like I said, an omega is only worth if they can bear children. This drug is fairly new and not in the market yet so I don't blame your ignorance. It's called New Life. Can you guess what it does?"

Akihito was a smart person and immediately knew what Sudo was talking about. Dr Mashiro mentioned that the chances of him being able to bear children were very low due to his consumption of cheap heat control drugs. However, he was able to recover with proper care in a few years. That hope was taken away quickly with the new drug in Sudo's hands. He couldn't afford another tragedy, he just barely survived one. What would Asami think if he was permanently unable to bear children?

"Imagine it, Takaba Akihito the criminal photographer without a second gender. With this kind of defect, what would society say? Better still, why don't you become a test subject for our illegal experiments? At least you wouldn't die. Dr Kurihara loves young able-bodied men. I'm sure he is more befitting for you than Asami-sama."

Sudo laughed and Akihito started sweating in fear. He did everything he could and hoped that both Fei Long and Asami would make it.

***

"ETA?"

"Three minutes, Asami-sama," Kirishima reported and Suoh ignored another red light.

Asami was nervous. He kept feeling the waves of fear from his lover. Fei Long wasn't replying either and it was worrying. Mikhail had gotten hold of the scientist so at least that was one matter he could take his mind off. The Russian mob boss took the initiative to give Dr Mashiro a ride to their location. They were slower by ten minutes but it should be more than enough time for Asami to settle everything.

The plan was relatively simple. Asami will be the bait and distraction. Sudo wouldn't kill him. Hurt him a little, yes... but not kill. Suoh will coordinate the attack and Kirishima will focus on the rescue with the counter drug at hand.

One minute before they reached the docks, Fei Long called.

"How are they?"

"Knocked out with chloroform but they'll be fine. Aki worries about them so let him know that when you rescue him."

"Thanks, I will."

The car came to a stop and Kirishima announced that they had arrived. They were two blocks away from where Sudo was and Asami gave the command to start the operation.

As they got nearer, they could hear screams and Sudo's shouting. Akihito must be up to something. Taking advantage of the mess in the warehouse, Suoh got all the men in position. Kirishima assisted by taking stealthy shots at the men closest to the entrances.

Sudo heard the silenced gunshots but couldn't identify where it was coming from. He grabbed Akihito from behind and pointed the syringe at the hissing omega. Akihito tensed and stopped causing trouble. With two of Sudo's men dead, Akihito was certain that Asami was here.

Better still, the phone in Akihito's back pocket beeped and Akihito smiled. He might be in a dangerous situation but he could make do with what he had. He'd been through worse after all.

With Fei Long's words in his head, Akihito slipped out of the ropes and grabbed the syringe with one hand before headbutting Sudo. Unfortunately, Sudo didn't let the syringe go and pulled Akihito down with him. The two omegas grappled on the ground, ignoring the gunshots surrounding them. Akihito was on the upper hand with his more athletic build. However, Sudo hadn't forgotten the syringe and pushed it into Akihito's grip.

The syringe hit bone and Akihito yelped in pain. With a malicious grin, Sudo pushed the edge of the syringe, trying to get as much of the drug into Akihito's system. Sensing that it wasn't good, Akihito pulled back, the syringe was yanked out at a horrible angle, causing the blond to groan in pain. For better or for worse, the syringe wasn't empty. There was a good half still in it and Akihito prayed that he still had a chance of keeping the omega status that he once hated so much.

Sudo charged towards Akihito who was beginning to feel the effects of New Life in his blood. The excruciating pain in his lower abdomen made Akihito unable to stand. The club manager took advantage of it and charged with the syringe in his hand.

There was an unmistakable sound of a gun firing and Sudo dropped the syringe. Blood flowed endlessly at his wrist. He dropped to his knees in pain and shock as Asami approached closer with a gun still in hand. That gun was pointed to Sudo and that distraction gave Kirishima enough time to reach Akihito.

"You've disappointed me, Sudo."

The expression on Asami's face gave made Sudo realise that he was going to die. He realised his mistake all too late and now he would pay the price for trying to take away Asami's happiness. Still, the hate for Akihito never went away. Why couldn't it be him?

"Why?" Asami chuckled. "Because unlike him, you do not know how to love. Akihito is selflessly kind to everyone. He doesn't pretend to be who he isn't and demands nothing materialistic for his efforts. You'll never be in the same league as Akihito because you and I are the same. Unfortunately for you, I'm always ahead. If you want to blame something, blame it on your lack of ability to understand this before you decided to hurt my mate."

Having said that, Asami pulled the trigger putting everything to an end.

Dr Mashiro arrived on the scene like clockwork and Mikhail sauntering into the warehouse as if he owned it. The good doctor praised Kirishima for his fast action and continued to provide first aid to Akihito.

***

"Where is Aki?"

"Still resting. Mashiro was furious when he heard from Akihito how he got that deep wound in his hand. If I knew how effective it was, I would have asked Mashiro to ground him more."

"Nothing scarier than the wrath of a mother and a doctor," Mikhail laughed. Asami wasn't amused and Fei Long smacked the Russian mob boss lightly.

"Enough with the jokes, let's get down to business," Asami said. Kirishima came forward with two envelopes. He passed one to Fei Long and the other to Mikhail.

Fei Long whistled and smirked. The land he wanted in Shinjuku was finally his. He couldn't wait to oversee the building construction and have an excuse to visit Akihito more frequently in future. On the other side of the table, Mikhail grinned. The person who gained the most out of this ordeal and did the least was definitely him. Not only did Fei Long agree to arrange contacts for firearms in Hong Kong, Asami was also generous enough to offer a cover for his illegal earnings using his newly established insurance companies in Japan.

Mikhail left quickly, eager to look through his goodies. Neither men stopped him. When it was finally quiet again, Asami bowed to Fei Long, startling the triad leader.

"Did you eat something wrong? Wait, did you die and have a doppelganger replace you? Why the hell are you bowing to me?!"

Asami was slightly annoyed at Fei Long's comments but let it slide. Without him, he wouldn't be able to enjoy this bittersweet happiness with his mate.

"Please continue to be friends with Akihito. I know that they say fated mates will die together. I intended to leave my empire in Akihito's hands but that's kind of impossible with our situation hence I want to put your name in my will. Kirishima and Suoh will assist you should I die."

Fei Long was speechless for a moment. He didn't think that Asami would ever have this talk with him. He thought it was simply an idiot's apology for lacking common sense and nearly screwing his lifetime's worth of happiness but he was wrong.

"Don't. I don't wish to hear it."

Asami straightened again but didn't back off. "Fei Long. You and I have known each other for a very long time. You're one of the closest people I trust. I know how Akihito and I are like. It would be a miracle to live happily till old age. Our lives are like candles in the wind, extinguishable at any moment. Sudo targeted Akihito this time. Someone else could do so the next time. There are many people waiting to get a shot at me, anything can happen."

Fei Long didn't meet Asami's eyes. He knew that Asami was right but the thought of losing both his closest friend and his ex-lover pained him.

"You're a jerk."

Asami smiled. "Thank you, Fei Long."

The triad leader didn't want to continue the conversation. He got up and gave Asami a look before leaving. Deep down, they both knew that it was a very real possibility. The world they lived in wasn't kind. But ever so often, the world throws them a small and fragile ray of hope. For Fei Long, it was Tao. For Asami, if was Akihito. God forbid anyone from trying to take their light away. Hell would beg for mercy if anything happened to their mates. Fei Long and Asami would see to it.


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