Chapter 1: 1
“Am I going to regret this?” John asks, leaning over the railing and staring down at Sherlock.
“John,” Sherlock starts, and thinks about it. “Not as much as you regret passing over the chance to be a fully-fledged omega when you were thirteen.” The silence is long and loud, and John thinks it might be one of those ‘Pinter pause’ things his university girlfriend had ranted on about. (Mike had given him advice when they first entered Uni. Rule one of being a med student: Don’t date a theatre student. Seriously, don’t. John had disregarded this rule in his first year and suffered through three months of dramatic readings, dramatic sex, and loud Shakespearean language whenever he neglected to do the dishes.)
“Is this really the right time to bring this up?” John asks, a little breathless from the way Sherlock’s eyes skim over him rather calculatingly. That, and the dizzy drop from the fiftieth floor all the way to the ground unless one could try to land squarely on the forty-ninth floor’s tiny balcony.
Which was what Sherlock had done.
“Apparently. You have been distracted this whole case by the client’s children. I didn’t see the need for you to pretend to be the man from Blues’ Clues just to get them to stop crying whenever I deduced them.” John holds up a hand warningly.
“After the case,” he says, and screws up his eyes briefly before leaping down, wide-eyed, and landing on the balcony with his knees shaking. Sherlock’s hand steadies him and for a moment, John wishes he wasn't so transparent. But Sherlock looks oddly at him and turns away, already pulling his gloves on to get ready to enter the apartment.
“Mrs Watson, you understand, don’t you?” The doctor graced John’s mum with a smile and continued.
“John is a rather fertile beta. We think that he would make a great omega.” John’s mum placed a hand on his shoulder and bent down a little.
“What do you think, Johnny? Would you like to be an omega?” John looked at his mum’s trusting face, and squeezed her hand a little hesitantly.
“I’d like to think this over,” he said, blushing, and the doctor nodded.
“Of course. But you only have till the end of this month, John." Mum walked him home even though she had to drop by the grocery shop to buy sugar and onions, and she told him that sugar and onions could wait.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay a beta, John. Lots of people stay betas instead of being sorted into alphas and omegas. Look at your daddy and I.” That was true. Children were betas, until they reached thirteen and were assessed physically before they were deemed virile or fertile, and given the option to be an alpha (virile) or an omega (fertile). Betas were hermaphroditic, with penises and a womb tucked along the inside of the body, the entrance a little way in from the rectum. It was sealed most of the time with a constrictor muscle to prevent infection but opened up when the person was aroused. John’s mum was a fertile beta that had said no to the omega route, and John’s dad was a virile beta from a poor family that didn’t have the money to convert him to an alpha. It was a sign of wealth, allowing your children to be either omegas or alphas. It was all the rage with rich people, showing off the fact that they could enhance their child’s natural fertility or virility to ensure that their line could be carried on.
“The treatment is simple,” John’s mum said. “They just take you away for a year and keep you with the omegas. When your hormones seal your sexuality, they’ll matchmake you with alphas. Probably the rich ones. I guess you don’t want that, Johnny?” He shook his head emphatically. He wasn't like Harry, who jumped at the chance to be an alpha. The process of becoming an alpha was different- they couldn't use the same method they did with the omegas, as too many alphas in one place was just a powder keg waiting to explode.
Despite the fact that Harry was just like him, omega-leaning, she'd shaken off the thought of being one and immediately told the doctor that she wanted to be an alpha. Harry had gotten three hormone injections (where regular betas would've gotten just one) that the doctor said would 'enhance virility' while at the same time lowered the chance of her being able to bear children.
"I'm a 'he' now, John," Harry had said, puffing out her chest. "Not any old beta who wants to pass as an alpha, a real-fucking-alpha!" This was the age where the children learnt properly who was 'he' and who was a 'she'- omegas were 'she', and alphas were 'he', and betas could identify with either as long as they were still considered 'betas' in the eyes of the law. Some betas went wild and grew long hair and bought the omega uniform (regular uniform, except with skirts instead of trousers) while the conservative ones, like John, kept to their pants.
Omegas weren't some rare commodity- yes, admittedly, the thought of going into heat is rather titillating, and the subject of many porn videos, but John is glad that his thirteen-year old self has the sense to choose to stay a beta. No one went wild for omegas unless they were in heat. They were just there: the three genders of the world.
"I don't want a sandwich, sandwiches are painfully mediocre!" Sherlock bellows from his room and rolls over to face the wall. John comes in anyway with a plate, and Sherlock can smell bacon fried in butter and toasted bread just the way he likes it, and there's a hint of mayonnaise and the obligatory lonely leaf of lettuce judging by the way it sounds when John holds up the sandwich.
"Fine," Sherlock grumbles as he accepts the food. John's eyes rake over the bandages on Sherlock's side. Apparently, cornered Russian spies are quite handy with shivs. Who knew?
"Does it hurt?" John asks neutrally. Sherlock's finished wolfing down the sandwich and he pushes the plate right into John's hands, flopping back down onto the bed.
"Perhaps it does," Sherlock replies. "Omega-leaning Betas can't go into heat, can they?"
"Not unless they take medication or they spend prolonged amounts of time with an alpha. Which, by the way, doesn't always guarantee that heat comes on. I'm not going to ensnare you just because I nearly became an omega when I was thirteen."
"That was not what I meant, John. When I was thirteen, I chose to be an alpha because Mycroft told me that alphas were well-liked. Where I went to school, this appeared to be true and therefore I took that route as well. However, when I returned, I was made fun of because regular alphas were supposed to spend their time sexually harassing omegas and bullying betas. Not lock themselves up in a lab like any old beta would." Sherlock turns over to face him, face blank as he recounts his experience. John places a comforting hand on Sherlock's shoulder, taking a shallow breath.
"Look, I'm sorry I said that. But it's fine that you know, not that I was trying to hide it or anything. Get some rest, Sherlock." Sherlock closes his eyes and pulls the blanket over his head. John stands up and leaves the room, shutting the door behind him.
Chapter 2: 2
"John, I used up all the meat in the fridge," Sherlock announces as John comes back in the afternoon. "And there might be a congealed brain in the crisper." John pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales.
"Seriously? Sherlock, you know our agreement. Brains in the freezer or not at all."
"I required a different temperature. That, and I used the freezer exclusively when the agreement was made only because the body was found in a cryogenic lab. You know that not all murderers have access to cryogenic labs.” Sherlock looks earnest and scornful at the same time- how the hell does anyone do that? John makes a dismissive gesture and walks over to the electric kettle to boil water for tea.
“Fine, as long as it doesn’t touch the lettuce.” Sherlock makes a noise from behind him that could be translated into why would brains even want to touch the lettuce and John gets the packet of tea out.
“I’m going out tonight, anyway,” John tells him. “So, you know, go crazy. On hindsight, please don’t. The last time I went out was too long ago. I need to unwind.”
“There’s no need to explain yourself to me,” Sherlock says, looking at him strangely. John catches himself in time.
“Right. Right. Yeah. Sorry. I’m babbling.”
“I know.” John crosses his arms and the kettle starts whistling, and they’re thankful for the silence that splits them for the moment. John crams a small handful of PG Tips into a teapot, before deciding not to wait in the kitchen.
“Right. I’ll come back later.” He dashes up the stairs, taking two at a time. Sherlock puts his pipette down and walks over to the living room, looking up the stairs forlornly. It’s a foreign feeling. Ever since he exposed John as a half-omega, it’s as if his body had started to sit up and take notice. Sherlock can smell the omega lingering between the particles of John’s natural beta scent, and even the way John smells more like an omega and Sherlock than his natural beta state after spending the day with him. Sherlock retrieves his own laptop- wouldn’t want John to know what he was Googling, after all- and starts doing research on pheromones.
John puts on a cardigan and stares at himself in a mirror. He looks the same as always, no big change. He runs a careful hand along his hairline and stands up straighter before leaving the room, shutting the door behind him.
“John,” Sherlock says as he reaches the bottom step. John is coming down the stairs in a dark cardigan, looking unobtrusive and understated, and Sherlock’s alpha side makes a pleased sound, hoping no one will notice John the way he does, that no one will see John in the brief moments he’s worried about getting older and he wants children and the fact that John, at this moment, is standing before him, nostrils flared just the tiniest bit and Sherlock just knows that John is taking in his smell subconsciously. That John wants him.
Obviously, Sherlock’s skills of observation have deteriorated. He’s going to have to exercise them more if he hasn’t noticed how John’s been interested in him all this time. John smiles at him and the alpha inside is gratified, almost triumphant.
"Wouldn't you rather stay at home?" Sherlock asks hopefully. This would be the perfect time to observe. More data! More John! No more blasted girlfriends!
"I've already texted Greg to meet me at the pub, sorry." John says. "Sherlock, you're blocking me." Sherlock moves aside, mind whirring. Lestrade- beta, just like John, but alpha-leaning, enough alpha pheromones to sway Donovan at times, even. Admittedly, Lestrade isn't bad-looking, but he's not got much interest in having more children. And he's divorced. He notices that John grabs his second-best jacket, and something clicks.
"You're not interested in Lestrade, are you?" Sherlock says petulantly, loping down the stairs after John. They can hear Mrs Hudson singing Engelbert Humperdinck hits in her flat and the sound of rattling china as she shifts tea sets so she can dust below them. "He doesn't want more children."
"Sherlock, not all omegas think of having children with every alpha they meet."
"So, some alphas, then," Sherlock continues, determined. John throws up his hands in surrender.
"Would it be so bad if I said I was gagging for Greg's knot, then? He's not half bad as they come." Sherlock stares at him, eyes wide with disbelief. John sighs.
"Right, okay. It's nothing. I'm just testy. Nothing. I'm going to go now. Forget what I said." He gives Sherlock a half-hearted wave over his shoulder as he opens the front door, coughs, and leaves.
A little filler chapter to let you all know that I do plan on continuing this- I'm just a little caught up in RL and new fandom stuff right now.
John, despite being omega-leaning, has always identified with 'he'. A matter of peer pressure, he supposes, and it made things loads easier in the army to fit in and conform. The pub is crowded- is there a game on tonight?- and John can barely catch a flash of silver hair at the bar.
"Oi, here!" Lestrade shouts and John waves, grinning and weaving through the crowd.
"It's bleeding cold out," Lestrade grumbles, and shoves a pint at him. "Come on, sit down. You're late."
"Sherlock was acting up," John offers, and Lestrade tilts his head in sympathy. They drain their glasses and Lestrade pulls out a napkin from his pocket to show John. It's slightly damp, with smudged numbers and a smeared lipstick kiss on it.
"Scored a number before you arrived, mate." Lestrade tells him, smiling broadly. "The omegas can't resist the ol' silver fox look, eh?" John chuckles and bats away the offending object.
"Yeah, right. How drunk did she look?" Lestrade considers this and turns the napkin over in his hand.
"Pretty pissed, I'd say." There's a beat and they both start laughing, and Lestrade crams the napkin back into his pocket. "Well, I've got one up over you tonight, at any rate. How'd it go with the last one?" John shakes his head and draws a line across his throat.
"Let me guess. Sherlock?" John makes a noise of agreement and Lestrade calls for two more pints of bitter.
"He's just being a tosser," John tells Lestrade. "It's not a real problem." Lestrade idly spins a peanut on the countertop and crushes it. The bartender slides their drinks to them and they clink the glasses together sadly before downing the beer.
"Look, mate. You and him. It's been going on for ages. I'd say we're running a pool at the Yard, but we're law enforcement officers and my superiors would fuck me up the arse. So instead I'd say there are a lot of individuals interested in seeing the outcome of your friendship. Especially if there were fucking up the arse."
"He's just naffing about," John deflects. "It's the bloody hormones. For someone so uninterested in sex, he pumps out alpha pheromones like nobody's bloody business. How about you and Mycroft, then? That'd shock Sherlock."
"Yeah," Lestrade agrees. "One day if he goes overboard at a crime scene I'm just going to bring up what his brother's like in bed."