There is no stench that is similar to that of a possessive alpha. Minho is quite literally sure of this. They smell different, he swears, and each and every one that he meets has a certain degree of their potency, smearing the air around him with pheromones so thick that he swears they could choke on it themselves if they closed their mouths for one minute.
Possessive alphas just smelled different. He was sure of that. And Minho was sure on a lot of things. On everything, in fact. Maybe, if someone were to ask him if it was going to rain next Tuesday, or which percentage of the brain humans actually used, he wouldn’t be 100% certain of his ability to be confident in his answer. But for the most part, he had sociology and social cues down to a pat.
He knew that the alphas that smelled sharper, hands at the small of people’s backs to push through were the worst kind—argumentative, egotistical, unreasonable. The laugh they gave to disarm others was a passive aggressive tendency to belittle those, run them off of their own course. The charms they used were petty and dismissive and Minho found himself at their throats each and every time when he was younger, unable to stand the scent of an aggressive, possessive alpha. Minho had unusually large canines for an omega and he loved to use them. He loved to assert his physical dominance over them, loved to push them around and belittle them back in humiliating and very public spectacles. He loved to make examples out of alphas.
But Minho was older now—having graduated with a double major degree, bored of pushing around alphas and instead interested in healing his wounds, asserting himself in an assertive manner and no longer competing for places at tables he wasn’t so sure he wanted to sit at in the first place. It was a healing experience, to be taking care of himself and inserting himself in the holistic, healing narrative, in a mature and timely manner. Good for him . . . Not necessarily good for business.
Being an Omega caretaker was a hard career—it involved a lot of hours, a lot of dedication and lifelong bonds that many people often weren’t ready to develop. Minho refused to work for younger alphas or incomplete packs, with the exception of his own addition of course. He couldn’t stand uncertainty, as a professional and as an Omega, and he knew how bad it would be for the pack omegas as well. So, naturally, Minho had very strict guidelines, conditions and contracts. He wouldn’t work for just anyone and he certainly wouldn’t sign for anyone less than a powerful, high ranking and mature alpha.
But the possessiveness . . . Could that truly be fixed? His omega primed at the idea of it but he himself knew he wouldn’t be taken seriously if he ever backed down from a challenge, so he never did. If he got in over his head? He would find a way out, and he would do it with his own interests in mind. It was just the way the world worked, even if he was tired of it. Minho wasn’t getting any younger, though he wasn’t necessarily a ticking time bomb, he was still not interested in jumping from job to job. He wanted something permanent that nurtured his nurturing side, that allowed him to fully engage his omega and allow himself to thrive in that soft, nurturing environment. He wanted a stable, whole pack, a place to belong where he didn’t need to worry about stability or fight for it. And though he didn’t need it, he wanted it. And that was a good summary of his power—he didn’t need one. But he wanted one.
Too bad most alphas were too air-headed and drunk on false power to even perceive the difference between them.
Minho was a force to be reckoned with. He didn’t want to be preened and spoiled and primed to be a new shiny toy for any alpha—he wanted his own omegas to take care of, to watch after, to show the world to and to nurture . He wanted to discipline them and kiss them softly and tuck them away in layers of his nest that no one could penetrate even with his bitterly given consent, pupils a sweet golden bliss, fangs on full display for the rest of the world to catch. Minho was a catch , and he wanted people to know that.
Minho was certified, creative and ready to settle down.
Bang Chan knows that.
Nearly intimidating, freshly scented and especially reserved Bang Chan knows just that.
At least he assumes so, as they stare one another down from across the table of the cute little cafe, Minho sitting up to his full height while Chan slumps down against the chair, trying to give off the appearance of being easy going. His white dress shirt is crisp and clearly ironed, but unbuttoned past his collarbones, and the sleeves are messily rolled up to his elbows at an uneven length that do not match. He might have tried to match them, Minho suspects as he watches him stir his cold mango tea with a straw, the drink entirely unpredictable. His slacks are black and pressed, well fitting, his shoes shine and without much crease in the toes or scuffs, so he either cleans them, gets them shined or doesn’t wear them often. They could also be new as well, but he doesn’t seem the kind of man to buy new shoes just to impress, and Minho appreciates that. He hates alphas who throw money around just to show it off. It’s irresponsible and inconsiderate of their pack and clearly Chan is a good pack alpha, because he’s come to the meeting all alone. He has a neutral wallpaper on his phone and on the display screen as well. He’s private but not secretive. Good. And he’s wearing scent blockers, thick blockers, the oil glistening obviously over his glands. Even better.
They had spoken over a few emails after Minho had been contacted by email on a business website, his profile picture displaying his fake, shiny smile quite well. Bang Chan, the editor in chief of Charismatique fashion magazine, had reached out to him personally in the form of applications, a background check, a credentials check and an entire paragraph of questions he had so gleefully and dutifully answered within the hour, typing as fast as he could while erasing half of his answers and yelling at his voice to text app. He had spoken in such a professional manner that he had stared at himself in the mirror after and wondered if Bang Chan would see right through his bullshit in his first paragraph out of six. Surely, he thought he’d been done for when he hadn’t received a response until the next day, from the man’s secretary, to set up a formal interview, once everything had come back stellar. They had sent one another a few more emails about where and when to meet, Minho stressing that he was free and not playing games with Chan’s time.
He hopes he still gets that point across.
Minho himself is dressed nicely, professionally, but he’s not too masculine nor too feminine. A simple dress shirt and pants, with a brooch just in case any alpha around him gets a little too hands or aggressive. It’s a pretty gold and jade brooch with a long, sharp pin that pops right out in case he needs easy access. It reminds him of the plight of Oedipus Rex, in his monologue of despair, too blind to see the truth , and he can’t help but scoff. He doesn’t go for the eyes when an alpha pisses him off too much, just the hands, fingers.
He’ll stick a crotch if he needs to.
He has his hair brushed back without product, the same as Chan’s, but Chan’s is messier and Minho’s seems more tame in the blasting AC of the cafe, the heat trickling down their skins and cooling as they sip their drinks and chat. Rather, as he sips his hot coffee and Chan looks over his resume and credentials. He sips his tea every so often, stirring it by tipping it side to side, or in a circle by extending his wrist in and out, yo-yo pattern slow and steady as he reads, nodding so often. It’s neutral so Minho doesn’t react, just sips politely every so often and smiles at those who walk by.
Chan huffs a silly little noise and Minho is starting to shape an opinion of him inside his own head, rough fingers stuck into his mental molding clay. Who is Chan and who will he shape him out to be? Will he be correct? Or will he need to pound the hard clay over and over again, fingers dipping into spots of water to smooth over the rough edges of where he needs to be? Can he even meet him there, or will he need to flip and flip? The cafe is their kiln and neither of them are quite ready yet.
“Sorry, I was just finishing up. I was looking at your final credentials, which is quite a lot. Wow. That’s good.”
“I mean, your resume is quite impressive—three pages, too, which is nice. I mean, most employers only ever read the first two but I like to be thorough. I mean . . . You have so much schooling and community work, so it’s hard to have a short resume, but it’s straight to the point and I really admire that. Anyway, uh, you’re not here for a resume review, you’re here for a job!” He laughs as if it’s their little inside joke and Minho can’t help but fake laugh along with an airy pitch, applying a more submissive and light aura to himself.
“Yes, but I do appreciate all the feedback. After all, you’re a very influential figure in your own community as well, being a businessman and the chief editor of an entire company. I’m sure you’re super busy and taking the time to come here and meet with me and set time aside to discuss my resume and background shows that you’re a good employer and a good alpha.”
He can tell that Chan is trying not to let the praise go to his head now. Typical alpha.
“Did you research me?” He asks, pointing a finger from the same hand that holds his drink.
“I did but I didn’t need to do much research, since I do know you and your business, of course.”
“And while being in the spotlight, you have managed to keep your pack members safe and healthy and airtight. I admire that.”
“Thank you. I feel like I’m being interviewed now.”
“Not at all. You see, Mr. Bang, I want to work for someone who I know I can trust as well, who has everyone’s interests in mind as well as their own. That’s the only way healthy relationships and packs function. Though, I can tell you’re well aware of this.”
“Thank you . . . ?”
It’s a compliment but it of course does sound like bait, Minho will give him that.
“You’re very welcome. I double majored in sociology and psychology, with the specific field of pack dynamics, so I believe that I am highly qualified and I know exactly what
I’m talking about. I’m also an omega myself, so I understand a lot of these points from a different perspective and I can help provide different stances when absolutely necessary. I can relate to your pack omegas well, engage with them and even make them feel at ease.”
“Right to the chase,” Chan places the resume down onto the table now, wet fingers staining the edges of it, “so, you seem to be confident that you’re capable. That’s good. As I’m sure you know, I’m sometimes way too busy to be home caring for my omegas the way they need. It’s the same with my other alpha mates, and while having a beta is helpful, I’d really like an actual omega caretaker to help out with the pack.”
“Understandable. It’s something a lot of packs face in our modern society.”
“Unfortunately, yes. Now comes the big question: tell me why I should hire you.”
Because you need me, he almost blurts out in a shadow of his old self, dark and ready to strike where Chan is the weakest, with the hard core truth that very little can stomach, much less sip in small amounts less it intoxicate their soul.
“Well, in order to tell you that, I’d need to most likely know more about your omegas and the way your pack works, but I can say with all certainty”—Chan raises a skeptical eyebrow now and Minho is ready to pull him in, to cut right to the supposed chase that Chan keeps referencing to—“that you need me in your pack.”
“Excuse me?” Chan is not like the others, he doesn’t immediately flare up in a frenzy of fury nor does he melt in a melancholic puddle of mush, but he just gestures for Minho to go on, and so he does.
“You’re looking for a well certified, experienced Omega caretaker that specifies in the field and while I am that, I am also a nurturing omega who can take loads of responsibilities off of not only your shoulders, but the shoulders of your pack mates and omegas as well. Us omegas are prone to stress, just as anyone else is, it just affects us differently. I can guide your omegas in the right direction when it comes to nesting and caring for one another and themselves and help nurture them the way they need individually, whenever they need. Day or night. I’m not someone who makes false promises or talks up a storm. I let my actions speak for themselves and I’m sure that will provide comfort for all of your pack.” Will, not can, it will provide comfort. “And it’s not just about omegas, though that is our man focus. I have worked extensively with alphas as well.”
“I see that.”
“I’ve also worked with betas, and I believe that the person comes before the gender dynamic, of course. We are all wired differently and we all present differently.”
“Good answer,” is all Chan says and Minho buries his confused anger under a soft grin. “I like it.”
“Thank you, but it’s not just a response to your question, but my personal beliefs.”
“Mm,” Chan twirls the straw of his cup, “Minho-ssi, right? Is it okay to call you that?”
“Alright, Minho-ssi. You seem nice, very professional. I am an extremely private person, and even more so when it comes to my pack. I have six pack mates and I cherish them very dearly. Beyond your dreams, even. So, hiring a caretaker for my omegas is a very big and scary move for us, I’m sure you can imagine that.”
“Of course. Especially given your position.”
“Right. And because of that, I am very protective of my packmates, my omegas especially.”
Minho can see where this is going and if Chan threatens to kill him, he’s going to roll his eyes. What a little brat. Is he even that much older than Minho?
“And you are the only person who answered that got past my first few emails of questions. That I deemed worth my time, at least.”
He nods understandingly but he’s not very impressed. He can’t tell if Bang Chan is truly a man who is humble or a man who believes he should play humble. He seems to exhibit two different auras that he can’t quite grasp and it frustrates him to no end. Minho’s entire life is based on reading the people around him and being right —so why is this man so hard to figure out on the first meeting?
“So, I’ll be straightforward with you as you have been with me,” here it comes, here it comes , “I like you, I do. I think you’re smart, mature, capable, well-spoken. But I also need someone who is patient, understanding and playful—all qualities I’m sure you have and can show me when I ask you to come for a half day to meet my pack. Supervised, of course.”
Minho can feel his heart soar through the sky, thank fucking gosh . Finally, an employer with a possible pack placement so that he can finally start to settle down and live his life. With stability.
“That’s amazing, oh my gosh, thank you,” Minho places a hand on his chest just to go the extra mile, to act a little flustered, as if he truly didn’t believe he was fully capable or worthy of working for Mr. Bang Chan . He knows he’s worth it, more so even. And he knows they will know it too, once he’s done with them.
“No, thank you ,” Chan lifts his mango tea up to him but doesn’t pretend to clink glasses, just sets it back down. “So, would you like to hear about them?”
Hear about them, yes. But this is still Bang Chan, so he doesn’t expect to see pictures. It’s a safety precaution, of course. A ‘just in case’ thing. And he knows more than a courtesy, this is going to be a test. Does he expect him to actually test him on his mates’ names and likes or hobbies? No, of course not, but he’s hanging on the edge as if it’s the cliffhanger of his favorite show, knowing he won’t get another shot at this. He needs to remember all of it, everything Chan tells him now about his mates. But he also needs to pretend that he isn’t doing this, just in case he seems too intrigued, over interested , like some sort of journalist or creep. He needs to be attentive, aware and protective now, keeping everything Chan tells him under wraps now. He’s trusting him with this information now, he trusts him now, and he needs to show him that he’s trustworthy, interested, but not craving the information like some sort of paparazzi. He needs to know he and his mates are safe with him.
“I’d love to.”
“Good, good—so, I’ll start off with the fact that I am the pack alpha, of course, surprise surprise!” Does he joke around this much at work? Or is it because he’s out of the office that he’s like this? The word playful re-enters Minho’s head and he breathes a little deeper to settle himself. Chan wants him playful like this, thinks he’s silly, thinks he can act like this and is hiring him because of it. The least he can do is paint the illusion before him in bold colors. “I do have two other alpha mates; Changbin and Jisung. They’re both very respectful of the decisions I make, though Jisung can be a bit . . . Quirky, I suppose? He comes off very strong, but he’s an angel, I promise. Changbin can be a bit quiet at first and intimidating but he’s not, really. They’re the sweetest alphas I’ve ever met.” Chan glows when he talks about his mates, as he should. There was nothing better.
“I bet they are.”
“They also wear scent blockers—we all do, actually, in public spaces. It’s just common decency.”
“Of course,” Minho wears them, too, but more so because his scent is thick and even a little much for his own nostrils.
“You’re also required to wear them in public spaces when we’re together but when you do come for a meeting and if we do decide to hire you, I don’t want you wearing scent blockers for the first few days. I realize that that may sound anxiety provoking but I do want my mates to get used to your scent. Is that okay with you?”
Why is he asking if he’s demanding it? “Of course it is, that’s only natural.”
“And I’ll have them dial down the blockers or not wear them, whatever you’re comfortable with. In order to help you adjust as well.”
That’s quite a courtesy to extend—Minho being able to tell his not-yet-packmates whether or not to wear their blockers. Huh. He likes that.
“Thank you, that’s really courteous.”
“Of course. I’m a two way street kind of guy,” Chan signals it as if Minho doesn’t understand. “Anyway, let’s continue,”
Chan is almost done with his tea, he notes. “Seungminnie is my beta mate, but you would swear he’s an alpha. He’s very level headed and a bit authoritative? It’s just the air around him that he carries, but he’s a sweetheart, wouldn’t hurt a fly. Maybe.”
Is the ‘maybe’ meant to be ominous?
“He’s very protective of his mates as well, especially”—the omega, who would have guessed that one—“our omegas.”
Bingo. He can tell Chan is one of those traditional alphas, with a bit of a modern twist, and he’s not quite sure yet how he feels about it or even what he is or how he feels about such things.
“My youngest is Jeonginnie, he’s just recently presented so he’s curious about a lot of stuff—and he smells things a lot, so if he starts sniffing, just remind him that it’s not polite. Hyunjinnie and Felix are a bit older and they’re very friendly, I’m sure you’ll love them. Felix is very laid back and down to earth. Hyunjin can be a bit . . . Dramatic, though. But he’s not . . . Bad about it, he’s just very sensitive? There’s a word for it I can’t quite grasp.”
Chan twirls a finger around as he tries to recollect the word and Minho is happy to assist, not keen on the word dramatic being used to describe an omega.
“Uh, yes! Thank you!”
“Yes, theatrical people can have quite bright and bold personalities, I’m sure Hyunjin-ssi is a wonderful omega.” He compliments, making sure to specify the name. He feels a bit icky that he’s seemingly rolling over for Chan, trying to show him that he’s good enough, but he’ll deal with it for now.
“He is, they all are. I’m sorry I’m a bit all over the place, I just . . . Love them so much,” he chuckles and Minho decides to go for the kill, placing a hand over Chan’s, the one that lies on the table between them, and smiles.
“Love is the most important thing in the world. You have nothing to apologize for. I could listen to you talk about them all day, you look so happy.”
Happy. That’s what Minho wants, more than anything in the world, but he’ll take stability over anything. And with that gentle hand squeeze and smile, he’s going to get it, he just knows it, he can taste it in the air. He’s going to get that. It’s going to be his place now. Finally.
Merci pour la lecture!
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