Mating season generally begins in early March and stretches through sometime in mid-May, depending on the strength of the winter and the number of alphas and omegas in the mating group. It need not be stressful if it is thought of as simply the culmination of several years of getting to know your peers.
For alphas and omegas claiming is never incorrect as it is guided by instincts. That this knowledge has simmered below the threshold of conscious thought does not mean that it is not rational. Let yourself to be guided by those instincts and your heightened sense of smell during your rut or heat; do not allow your rational mind to overrule what feels right to you. Also remember to be kind to your beta friends, who may be envious of the ease with which you find a lifetime mate.
Betas should make the most of their opportunity to observe this ritual. Note the complimentary characteristics and shared world view that your alpha and omega friends find in each other. While the immediate sexual response is often remarked upon, if you ask your friends they will tell you that the connection runs much deeper. Even though you will not have instinct to guide you, having these things in mind will assist you as you seek your own mate among the betas you meet in the future.
—Mating: A Classroom Guide for Teens of All Designations
Erica didn't even have the will to lift her head off her arms. "Ugh, I can't."
Stiles sighed next to her. "It's like a meat market."
"Dude!" Jackson said. "Totally old-fashioned attitude. It's mutual."
Erica rested chin on her hands just in time to see Jackson take Lydia's hand to prove his point, and only just kept herself from rolling her eyes. He'd been a complete dick to Lydia the year before, when he wasn't accepting his omega designation. But ever since he'd proven to himself that an omega could also be a lacrosse hero, he'd calmed down and started behaving as though he was going to claim her instead of the other way around. Lydia seemed to like it, at least.
"Mutual, sure," Stiles was saying, "but we're still the ones who have to stand there in the middle of the cafeteria, in heat, and hope that some alpha kisses us."
Lydia gave him her best "I'm disappointed in how stupid you are" look. "In the history of Beacon Hills High, not a single omega has gone into heat and not claimed their alpha."
"Well, there's a first time for everything," Erica replied.
Scott cocked his head. "I'm sure that—"
"No!" Stiles interrupted. "You two don't get to say a single word."
Scott and Allison looked at each other, trying not to smile. They were betas, but so clearly had claimed each other at such a young age that people sometimes mistook them for an alpha-omega pair. It was seriously unfair.
"Sorry," Allison said.
There was a stir, and Erica looked up to see Diana Sturges walking in to the cafeteria, her eyes glassy.
"Here we go," Isaac said. "First one."
Diana paused in the middle of the room as Jamie Preston walked up to her. He put a hand on her cheek, she on his, and they leaned in to kiss each other, enacting the traditional claiming ritual.
Over the general applause Stiles leaned over to Erica and said, "Two down, fifty-nine to go."
Erica sighed. It was going to be a long spring.
The policy at Beacon Hills High School is for all juniors to spend their spring term on three intensive independent study projects. This minimizes the necessary disruption of mating season while still guiding all of our students toward academic excellence. In addition, our juniors will begin the term by writing a research paper on an aspect of the mating season that interests them. We have found that this encourages students to find the answers to questions that they might not be comfortable asking directly to the trusted adults in their lives, minimizes the anxiety that many alpha and omega students understandably experience, and allows our beta students to feel more connected to the ritual.
The claiming will take place in the cafeteria, where teachers and counselors will be present to manage behavior and ensure a safe environment. As omegas in particular are rarely able to drive immediately after claiming, transportation can be provided. We request that parents of omegas use the form enclosed to let us know the location of your designated mating site. All parents will be notified immediately once claiming has occurred, and a clerk from the courthouse will be on site to enter the mated pair into the county record.
—A Note to Parents of Juniors, from the faculty and staff of Beacon Hills High School
Jackson went into heat in early March. As he walked into the center of the cafeteria, Erica took Stiles's hand. He knew what was going to happen—everyone did—but he'd been in love with Lydia for approximately ever. At least in a few minutes the deed would be done and they could all move on.
Then … it didn't happen. Lydia walked to the edge of the open circle, and stopped. They just stood and stared at each other.
"What's happening?" Allison asked.
"Nothing," Scott replied.
Danny tapped Jackson on the shoulder, and he turned. As they kissed, Lydia walked out of the cafeteria.
Stiles hopped up to follow her, dragging Erica along with him into the bathroom where Lydia had fled.
"Are you okay?" he asked, crouching down in front of where she sat on a bench in the corner. "What am I saying? Of course you're not okay. Do you want to talk about it?"
"I just—" Lydia began, then cleared her throat. "I just thought—"
"Everyone thought," Erica said, reaching her hand out to Lydia, who took it. Lydia's hand was like ice, so Erica rubbed her thumb slowly over the back of it.
"It was the strangest thing," Lydia said, turning to Erica. "I walked up to him and then when I could smell him, it just smelled wrong—nothing like before. He was looking at me and he was surprised, too, and then—"
"And then Danny," Erica said gently.
"At least it was only humiliating for one of us," Lydia said. "There'll be someone else for me."
"Definitely," Stiles said. "Absolutely. No question."
"No question," Erica said, and squeezed Lydia's hand. Lydia looked at her, blinking, but she didn't pull her hand away.
Then the door opened behind them.
"Come on, Lydia," Allison said. "I'll take you home."
Lydia nodded, and patted Stiles and Erica each on the cheek before she walked out of the room.
Scott ducked his head in a second later. "Dude, you all right?"
"Yeah," Stiles said. "Sure, of course."
"Nope, not me. Not gonna do that." He circled his face with his finger. "This is what Stiles Stilinski not getting his hopes up looks like."
"Okay … " Scott said, raising an eyebrow to Erica, who agreed.
Boyd and Isaac were leaning up against the lockers in the hall.
"Gotta say, Isaac, you don't look all that surprised," Stiles said.
"You are?" Isaac asked. "When I went out with Danny over the summer I never felt like I had his full attention. You dated him all fall, and you never noticed?"
Stiles shrugged. "To be fair, he didn't have my full attention either."
Boyd shook his head. "So you two sat around making out and staring at Jackson and Lydia making out?"
"Well it sounds pathetic when you put it that way," Stiles replied.
"Mom said that mating gets really ugly in the middle," Erica said, "but it's okay by the end."
"And hey, we're not at the end yet, right?" Scott said.
"Yep, two more months of this!" Stiles said. "Can't wait!"
Years ago, when designations were referred to as "statuses" and had much greater real-world implications, omegas lived together for a period of one to three years before mating season. They might interact with the alphas at mealtimes or other general gatherings that were carefully monitored by betas and older mated pairs. But by living and working together, omegas were able to form a community that served as a source of support and comfort not only during the stressful mating season, but also during pregnancy and childbirth. It is unfortunate that this sense of community has been lost along with the more harmful aspects of status discrimination.
—"Status Segregation and What We Have Lost" by Isaac Lahey
Isaac went into heat less than a week later; Jackson and Danny weren't even back in school yet. He took Erica aside before lunch.
"I just want you to know, I'm sorry," he said.
"For what?" she asked.
He glanced over at Boyd, already sitting at their table.
Erica took a deep breath, her heart sinking. "You think so?" she asked.
"I'm pretty sure," he said, nodding.
She redid her ponytail nervously. "It's fine," said. "It's okay." Because even if it wasn't, it had to be. Everyone knew that what happened before mating didn't really matter. Isaac and Stiles had known with Danny and she'd known with Boyd. She totally had.
But Boyd was funny and protective without crossing boundaries and he was a really good kisser, so she just kinda forgot, sometimes.
Isaac kissed her cheek and then they made their way into the cafeteria. While he walked into the middle of the room she made a beeline for Stiles, taking his hand and sitting next to him, more glad than over that they'd become pals in the past year when designations had suddenly become more urgent than when they were kids.
"What?" Stiles said, looking at her but not taking his hand away. "Oh, hey, it's Isaac today."
"Yeah," she said.
"Why is he looking at us?" asked Lydia, who sat on Erica's other side.
Erica felt hands on her shoulders—Boyd's hands of course—and when she tipped her head back, as she had so many times for him, he kissed her forehead. Then he walked over to Isaac and they claimed each other.
"Ohhhhh," Stiles said, letting her hand go in favor of putting his arm around her. She lay her head on his shoulder, but she still managed to applaud along with everyone else. Boyd and Isaac were her friends, who'd gone out of their way to make her feel better, and they deserved it.
"Stiles," Lydia said, "why not be useful and drive us to the mall?"
"I … okay?" he said.
"Come with?" Lydia asked Allison, who sat across the table with Scott.
"Sure," Allison said.
Erica didn't really want to get up or go any place. Stiles's arm was comforting, and she felt warm and safe despite his being an omega. She'd even had a crush on him back before she realized how hopeless the omega-omega thing was. Or how hopeless his thing for Lydia was, which meant that when she said jump he said how high—and that meant that as cozy as she'd felt, she was soon in the back of his jeep with Lydia, headed to the mall.
"A new dress always makes me feel better after a social disaster," Lydia said. "Though, I don't think I've ever seen you in one."
"I'm not good at being girly," Erica admitted. "The things I'd like to wear—I don't know if I could pull them off."
Lydia looked Erica up and down, assessing, and Erica shivered. It was always a little overwhelming, being the center of an alpha's attention.
"You can wear whatever you want, Erica," she said, and Lydia didn't say things just to be nice.
Allison, who'd turned around in her seat, smiled and nodded. "I agree. Don't you, Stiles?"
"What?" asked Stiles, who'd been sneaking glances at Lydia in the rearview mirror. But now he looked at Erica. "Oh, yes, definitely. Absolutely."
"Good," Lydia said, as though the matter were settled. "We'll start with getting you a better bra."
"B-bras?" Stiles asked. "Not sure I signed up for that."
"You can go look at the nursing bras," Lydia said brightly, "since you'll need one someday."
"My dad told me all about them, thanks," Stiles replied.
Allison said, "I'm sure they've changed in the last sixteen years, Stiles."
"Fine!" Stiles said, rolling his eyes, and the girls laughed.
While Erica was being measured and fitted, Lydia asked her, "So how do you want to look?"
Erica couldn't quite look her in the eye. "Oh, rocker girl, you know, black leather and dark jeans and boots."
Lydia put a hand under Erica's chin and turned her so they were face to face. "We can do that, easy."
Erica's face felt hot—she was blushing, great—but she managed to say, "Cool." After all, if this new bra, which was giving her cleavage she hadn't realized she had, made her feel this good, maybe she could look a little more in person like she did in her head.
Erica had seen Lydia in all her alpha glory before, of course, but she'd never been at the center of it. Not that Lydia didn't consult her about the clothes they were buying, but Erica only had to say a few words for Lydia to know exactly what she meant and how to make it happen. Lydia pulled from the racks, with Allison's help, and she could tell immediately from Erica's expression if the item was a keeper even before Erica was sure herself. They bought t-shirts a size smaller than Erica usually wore, which with the new bra looked even tighter. They found jeans that hugged her ass in ways she hadn't known was possible. They spotted the perfect black boots, a leather jacket, and even the short leather skirt Erica had always wanted. Stiles's job was mainly to hold the clothes and tell Erica she looked good, which he performed admirably.
Erica anticipated that he'd be bored once they got to the MAC makeup counter, but it turned out that he knew nearly everyone working that day.
"Danny liked to go clubbing," Stiles said, shrugging.
He stood behind Erica with his hands on her shoulders, much as Boyd had always done, and she felt sad for a moment, missing him.
Stiles was talking over her head to one of the make up people. "Joey, she wants, uh …" he paused, then said, "you know, red lips and black eyeliner?"
"Come here, I got you," Joey said with a warm smile. "But I don't work with an audience, so you two ladies run along."
"We have to go," Lydia said, eyes wide, "but Stiles can stay?"
"Yes," Joey said.
Lydia rolled her eyes and huffed, but walked away.
"I'll text you!" Stiles called after her. He sat down backwards in one of the chairs.
"Stay there and you'll get paint on your face," Joey warned, but Stiles just shrugged. Joey handed Erica a few packets. "Swab your face with these while I gather some things up."
"Okay," she said. "I've never seen anyone order Lydia around like that before," she said.
Joey laughed. "She knows an alpha when she sees one," he said. "I thought that might be Lydia, the way Stiles was looking at her." He shook his head.
"What?" Stiles asked.
"What about your man?" Joey asked.
"Danny?" Stiles asked. "He claimed someone else. They're probably still mating; they haven't been back to school yet."
"No, I meant the other one."
"What other one?" Stiles said, laughing a little nervously. "There's no other one! Who could that be?"
Erica blinked at Stiles, because she couldn't imagine who that could be either; the only alpha males Stiles was close to were Boyd and Danny.
"All right, all right," Joey said, "I guess I was just confused. But for that, Sarah gets to practice glam on you."
"Fine," Stiles said, rolling his eyes and taking the extra wipes from Erica.
"Now, tell me what has happened, since neither of you have claimed yet."
"Danny claimed Lydia's boyfriend," Erica said as Joey covered a blemish. "Or ex, I guess. But Stiles isn't getting his hopes up."
"Mmm-hmm," Joey said. "And who left you behind hard enough that you want a makeover?"
She sighed. "Boyd," she said. "Boyd and our friend Isaac."
"Oh, is that the third of your little omega trio?" he asked, because obviously Stiles had been talking to him, too.
"Yeah," she said. "Now it's just us."
"And Lydia," said Stiles, who was in the middle of getting purple glitter brushed across his brow bone.
"It's not the same for her," Erica said.
"It's not the same," Joey said, "but that doesn't mean it isn't just as tough for alphas. At least you know on your day. Every day of mating season we have to be ready, wondering. Have to trust an instinct we've never used before."
Erica remembered the lost, confused look on Lydia's face after she'd failed to claim Jackson. "I suppose."
He nodded. "Now, watch me do one side, and you can do the other."
The conversation stayed on makeup after that, Erica learning the ins and outs of liquid eyeliner, the smoky eye technique, that Spice lip pencil would become her standby, and the perfection of MAC Red lipstick.
Then, after Stiles texted Lydia, Joey leaned over and said to Erica, "You're gonna get a lot of attention. Are you ready for that?"
Erica looked across the sales floor at Lydia and Allison walking toward them, turning heads as they went.
"I am now," she replied.
"You know your alpha isn't going to give a good goddamn about any of this, right?" Joey asked.
"I know," she said. "I just—I always wanted to. Didn't think I could until today."
They went to the car after that, Stiles carrying all the bags. Lydia and Allison had gotten rollers and gels and styling creams and were talking about how Erica might do her hair.
"Stiles, drop us off at Erica's," Lydia said. "Scott is bringing over Allison's car, so you can take him away to do boy things."
Erica, who'd gotten into the front seat, turned. She felt emboldened, not just by her self-directed makeover but also by what Joey had said. "You know, you could ask."
"What?" Lydia said.
"I know he just does whatever you tell him—"
"And I don't mind!" Stiles squeaked.
"—But you could ask him. I'm an omega, too, but you don't order me around."
"That's different," Lydia replied.
Erica cocked her head.
Lydia sighed, then smiled sweetly. "Stiles, could you please take us to Erica's? You can meet up with Scott there."
"Sure thing," Stiles said.
"Was that satisfactory?" Lydia asked.
"Yes, thank you," Erica said, turning back around.
Allison raised her eyebrows, then changed the subject. "Stiles, you might want to wash your face before you and Scott go out."
"I dunno," Stiles said, admiring himself in the side mirror. "I kinda like it."
In some instances, the to-be-mated pair have imprinted on each other at an earlier age but are not in the same age-year. When this occurs, the older of the pair goes into a modified heat or rut, where they are sexually mature but not yet available for mating, and do not claim a mate with the rest of their age-year. Instead, they await the younger of the pair coming into maturity. In the interim period, the pair often dream of each other, and may be drawn to comfort each other in times of great stress or trouble, but may not know why they are experiencing these urges. The younger of the pair in particular, as they have not reached sexual maturity, may have no realization that they have already, in a sense, been claimed.
—"The Effect of Age Differences on Mating" by Stiles Stilinski
April was uneventful. Danny and Jackson, and later Boyd and Isaac, came back to school after a week or so, a little smug for having mated though they still weren't as annoying as Scott and Allison. Even the stir caused by Erica's new look had died down, though she still felt a little rush walking down the hall with Allison and Lydia. It was fun to hang around with them, to not have Jackson as a barrier between everyone else and Lydia. Boyd and Isaac loved Erica's new style, and it seemed that as soon as she claimed, things between the three of them could go right back to what they had been.
Then one day, near the end of the month, Danny sat down at their table and said, "Did you hear Derek Hale's back in town?"
Jackson groaned. "No wonder all the unmated omegas are cooing."
"Who's Derek Hale?" Allison asked.
Scott looked at Stiles, who was finding his mac and cheese suddenly very interesting.
"He's an alpha who used to go here," Erica said, since no one else was answering. "But his house burned down and most of his family was killed, fall of his junior year. Arson, I guess? Some beta woman who lived in town, I think she's locked up now."
"Oh, yeah," Allison said, looking away. "I—heard about that."
"So anyway," Erica continued, "his older sister and her mate took him to Brooklyn, and he finished up high school there, went to college and stuff, but he never claimed. Supposedly he imprinted on someone here in town and he's just waiting for them to go into heat. So every year during mating season people wonder if it will be that year, and young omegas get weird crushes on him and put his Facebook picture in their locker. Can't blame them too much. He's pretty hot."
"It's so dumb," Jackson said. "He's not a rock star. He's just some scowly dude with a lot of eyebrows."
"Oh, I've seen those pictures," Allison said. "That's who that is?"
"Omegas act like he's Prince Charming and they're Cinderella," Lydia said. "He does come back to town once a year or so, and the Dereksters get very excited about it."
Stiles rolled his eyes. "If only they knew how wrong they were."
"You know Derek Hale?" Erica asked him.
"He's, uh, he's a family friend," Stiles said. "My parents took him in for a little while after the fire, until his sister could get things ready in Brooklyn. I was like, ten? I don't remember it very well."
"And he came back for your mother's funeral," Scott said.
"Yeah," Stiles said. "Anyway he comes back to visit sometimes. It's not that unusual."
"But he's never come back during mating season," Isaac said. "That's what's got everyone so worked up."
"Well," Erica said, "good luck to them."
The next morning Erica got a phone call from Stiles. "What's up?"
"So, can you drive me to school today?" he asked.
Erica's eyes widened. "Oh my god, Stiles!"
"Yep," he said. "My turn for abject humiliation. Yay."
When she arrived his father had a packed bag at his feet. "Erica, come in, come in," he said. "You're an omega too; you may as well hear this."
"Please, share in my embarrassment," Stiles said.
The sheriff looked at Stiles. "Son, I've been where you are, you know that."
"I know, Dad."
"Literally standing in that same cafeteria, hoping your mom would stand up with me, and she did. And I think I know who's going to come get you today, and so do you."
Stiles looked up at him, and his eyes were shiny, though Erica couldn't tell if it was tears or his heat. "Maybe," he said. "Maybe. I don't know."
His father sighed. "Okay, well, just know that I'm going to love your alpha no matter who they are, because they love you. Got it?"
"Yeah, I got it. Thanks."
"Now, you've been taking your pills?"
"Yep," he said. "No actual baby-making will occur."
"Good. I'll be at the McCalls' until you're done. There's plenty of food in the fridge and the freezer and the pantry. Drink lots of water, and for heaven's sake take a shower once in a while. It'll cool you down. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to change the sheets once a day at least."
"Oh my god, okay," Stiles said. "I can't believe we're having this conversation."
"All right, all right, let's go," he said, herding them both out the door.
In the car, Stiles said, "Sorry about that. My dad can get really sentimental."
Erica shrugged. "My dad's the same way. I guess it's an omega thing."
Stiles grinned. "Statusist!" he said.
"Shut up," Erica said, laughing. "Oh my god, I still can't believe Jackson wrote his paper on your dad."
"I know," Stiles said. "It's super weird. He's an omega sheriff, no big deal. We can do whatever we want."
"I want see the world." She sighed. "It's so much easier for betas. They don't have to worry about anyone else."
"Lonelier too, though," Stiles said. "I know you did your paper on this but plenty of omegas leave home. Just because our parents didn't doesn't mean you can't."
"Will you?" she asked. "Do you want to?"
He shrugged. "For college, obviously," he replied. "After that, I dunno. I guess it's partially up to whatever random person is hopefully going to swoop in and kiss me at lunch today."
She glanced over at him. "Nervous?" she asked.
"Can we hide out under the bleachers all morning?" he asked. "I really don't want to see anyone"
"Isaac?" she asked.
"Yeah, but not Boyd," he said. "I already told Scott not to expect to see me until the claiming."
"You'll be fine," Erica said.
"I hope so," Stiles replied.
Erica texted Isaac when they get to school and after checking in with their advisors they hid out under the bleachers. It was a mild day, nice for sitting in the shade and talking about bullshit, and before long they were joined by Scott because he was texting Stiles so much that Stiles relented.
"But you can't sit there and look at me all worried, dude," he told him.
"Dude, I won't! Honest!" Scott said, and then proceeded to do just that.
Around noon Allison came by to gather them, and the three omegas walked into the cafeteria together, before letting Stiles walk into the middle of the room. He stood there for a moment, nothing happening, and then his cell phone went off. He looked at the text, scowled, and then walked out of the room, shouting, "You couldn't even come into the building?"
Erica and Scott looked at each other, then grabbed Stiles's backpack and went after him, Isaac on their heels.
They burst through the front door, just behind Stiles, and there was Derek Hale, leaning against a black Camaro, arms and legs crossed. He was surrounded by a crowd of admiring omegas, but his eyes were on Stiles.
"Get in the car," he said.
"What?" Stiles asked. "Why?"
"You know why. Get in the car."
"You mean those dreams were real?"
"Of course they were real," Derek said, rolling his eyes.
"Don't look at me like that! You don't know how people talk about you. It's like you're a rock star or something. Look at this crowd!"
"But you actually know me."
Derek scowled, suddenly looking a lot more like his pin-up pictures. "Look, are you going to get in the car or do I have to put you in the car?"
"You know," Stiles said, "just because you're older and this sort of happened a long time ago doesn't mean you don't have to claim me. You could have come inside like a normal person and not fucking texted me."
"Okay," Derek said. "That's fair. I'm sorry."
"And—and just because you're my alpha doesn't mean you can order me around. This is the twenty-first century, if you haven't noticed."
"So I'm your alpha?" he asked, smiling, and the omegas around him started to swoon.
Stiles sighed. "You know what I mean."
Derek pushed off the car and walked up the stairs to Stiles, and placed his hand on Stiles's cheek. Stiles did the same, and they kissed.
"Okay?" Derek asked.
"Okay," Stiles said, finally smiling.
"Would you come in the car with me now?"
"Yes, since you asked nicely."
Erica poked Stiles. "Your bag?"
"Oh, yeah, thanks! Um, Derek, this is Erica, my omega buddy, and this is Isaac, my other omega buddy, and you remember Scott."
Derek smiled politely, nodding at each of them. "Thanks for taking care of him for me," he said. "Now which one's Lydia?"
"I am," she said, from just over Scott's shoulder.
Derek looked her up and down, his smile turning feral. "I'd say I was sorry for taking him away from you," he said, "but I'm not."
"Whoa, hey, alphas, right? Sorry Lydia, haha," Stiles said, putting himself between them. "How about getting into the car now, Derek?"
"Okay," Derek said, turning and walking Stiles down the steps and opening the door for him.
Then, just before he got into the car himself Derek turned back and said, "Don't people usually clap for this part?"
Erica could see Stiles burying his head in his hands in embarrassment, but she clapped and cheered as loudly as anyone else as they drove away.
Stiles was back at school a little over a week later. "Yeah, so that happened," he said, walking up to where Erica and Allison stood.
"You're the one who should have gotten the rock star makeover," Erica said.
"I will never live that down," Stiles said.
"So are you going to move to Brooklyn?" Allison asked.
"Maybe, eventually," Stiles said. "I'll spend this summer there, anyway, and look at colleges. Derek's going to come back and stay with us until graduation, help Dad out with stuff I guess. Maybe even deal with the old Hale house. And then I'll probably go to school in New York but Derek says he'll go wherever I want."
"That's great, Stiles," Erica said.
"Yeah, I mean, I know it started out like some ridiculous romance novel or something. But it feels really normal, like it's always been true? Anyway, I was thinking about you, Erica."
"Why?" she asked.
"What you said about travel. I don't think you have to worry about it. All those things adults told us about mating and instinct and you get what you're supposed to, they were right. It's hard to explain, but they were."
"Maybe," Erica said. "Anyway, even if your alpha isn't making you stay at home he's certainly the jealous type."
Stiles winced. "Oh man, I should go find Lydia and apologize."
"Nah," she said. "I like Lydia, but it was kind of awesome."
"Was she mad?"
"Mad enough to refuse to talk about it," Allison said, and they laughed.
"I think it's good for her," Erica said. "Get what you want all the time and you can get a little lazy."
Allison cocked her head. "You're not going to let your alpha get away with anything, are you?"
"Not one thing," Erica said, grinning.
Because traditionally they mated early and were farmers rather than laborers or merchants, alphas and omegas tended to settle near their hometowns. Small towns are still largely alphas and omegas, while cities attract the more mobile betas, who often need to leave their hometowns in order to find their mates. Both roles are important, allowing for stability in rural communities and a constant flow of new young people in urban areas. With the lessening of legal and cultural restrictions in the mid-twentieth century, more alphas and omegas, as mated pairs, began moving into the cities and traveling around the world. But their numbers are no where near as numerous as the numbers of betas who travel, because of the need for mated pairs to make these decisions together. Because they mate later, betas have a period of independence that alphas and omegas do not, though this is balanced by the companionship that alphas and omegas find in each other.
—"The Migratory Patterns of Omegas" by Erica Reyes.
Erica went into heat a few days after Stiles returned to school. Even after her shower she was so hot she didn't even want to put on any clothes, and between her legs it was like a fountain. She had no idea how Isaac and Stiles had managed the morning. She had some products to use, to protect her clothes, but this was ridiculous. And all she could think about was how much she needed something inside her; it was all she could do not to just lay down on the bed and masturbate all day. But that was silly; if she could just get herself to school, she'd be coming home to something much better than her fingers being thrust inside her.
She stared at her closet, remembering what Joey had said about her alpha wanting her no matter how she looked. Part of her wanted to go back to wearing a messy ponytail, slouchy trousers and a loose t-shirt just to prove to herself that her alpha did like her, but that hadn't really been her. In her boots and skirts and tight shirts and black eyeliner she felt more like her insides matched her outsides, these days.
So she called Lydia. Lydia would have advice.
Lydia arrived twenty minutes later, looking flawless as usual, and immediately assessed the situation. "I want you to put on your hottest outfit," she said. "I want you to feel as fierce as possible. Don't you? I mean, you're going to be standing there in the middle of the caf with everyone staring at you. Make all those other alphas wish they'd claimed you."
"Okay," she said. "You're right." She reached into her closet and pulled out a red dress she hadn't worn yet, though she didn't know what she'd been saving it for, and slipped it on, along with her favorite boots and her leather jacket.
Luckily Erica's dad wasn't interested in giving her the same kind of weirdly embarrassing talk that Stiles's dad had. He just hugged her and told her how proud he was of the young lady she was becoming, the usual stuff, and sent her on her way.
As she and Lydia walked into the school she could feel it, all the envy and the staring and she loved it, loved being the center of all that attention, loved being with Lydia and pretending that she could be queen of the school, too. She saw Stiles and Isaac in the library and sat down with them.
"Damn," Stiles said, "someone's in heat!"
"And doesn't give a fuck," Isaac said, holding up his hand for a high-five.
"It's my day," she said, propping up her feet on the chair next to her. "I'm not going to cower in the middle of the caf. Neither of you did."
"Well, I kinda did," Stiles said, "before I got mad about it."
"Yeah, but then you went out like a star, so whatever," Isaac said.
And because it was her day, she actually got work done—she wrote half of one of her papers, off the notes she'd been taking all week. And when the time came, she walked into the caf with Stiles and Isaac, the last of the three of them to do so, and she was feeling amazing.
Until she got into the middle of the room. And then, for a second, she suddenly wasn't so sure.
She smelled Lydia, heady and amazing, just before she heard her voice. "See, I wanted you to look super hot," she said, "so we could look super hot together when we did this."
Erica grinned, slow and sexy. "Good plan," she said.
"I thought so," Lydia said. "Because they need to know who's going to be ruling the school next year."
"The two of us?" Erica asked, making sure.
"The two of us," Lydia said, putting her hand on Erica's cheek. Erica did the same, and when they kissed it was like nothing else, like the world was coming into focus and all the worries she'd had were falling away, and she was left with being absolutely sure that this was the alpha she was going to spend the rest of her life with.
Which, with someone like Lydia, was bound to be a roller coaster, but she was up for it.
Lydia was smiling. "Shall we?" she asked. "Because I can't wait to fuck you."
Erica's knees went a little weak then, but she thought it was probably okay to be all omega now. "I can't wait, either. Take me home."
She didn't even hear the applause as they left the room, but Stiles told her later that it was thunderous.
The car ride home was torture, trying not to squirm or rub her legs together or just hump Lydia's car seat. It smelled so strongly of her that Erica was tempted to take off her seat belt and rub it between her legs.
"Nothing's going to help you, sweetie," Lydia said, putting a hand on her thigh. But the odd thing was, her touch took the edge off, made Erica feel just a little cooler, less frantic.
"Lydia," she said.
"Don't talk like that," Lydia said. "I have to drive. I can't even look at you, god." She took a deep breath and then, calmer, said, "We're almost there. See, this is your street."
Erica stared out the window, counting the houses until Lydia turned into her driveway. She was out of the car like a shot, unlocking the front door and running into her bedroom, unzipping her dress as she went. Jacket and dress and panties were flung onto the floor as she headed to her turned down bed and its cool, cool sheets. She knelt on the mattress and tried to get her bra off, but her fingers were shaking.
"Let me," Lydia said, taking over with the clasps, and Erica wasn't sure when she'd come into the room but she was glad for it, the smell and touch of Lydia making her spread her knees wider. "Okay, sit down, lean against the pillows."
She did and watched as Lydia deliberately and frustratingly slowly took off her clothes, laying them neatly on the back of a chair. "Lydia," she moaned, spreading her legs wantonly, but resting her hands on her thighs, somehow feeling that she shouldn't touch herself.
"Did you notice that I've worn skirts since the day we went shopping?" she asked, slipping off her jewelry and putting it into her bag. "While you were getting your makeup done—and don't bite all that lipstick off your lips, sweetie; I want to get it all over me—" she grinned and Erica gasped, thinking about Lydia thinking about her—"Allison and I went back to the lingerie section." She pulled off her top and when she bent over to unfasten her shoes her breasts spilled out over the top of her bra. "I've been in rut since January—Jackson even got my ovi to come out; I think that's why we thought we were going to claim—but that day was the first time it came out when I wasn't fooling around with anyone." Her bra came off next. "So I had to go get some alpha panties." She dropped her skirt, and yes, those were alpha panties—lacy, in a pale green, but with a fly-front. And yes, that was her ovipositor, bulging in the pouch. "Do you like them?"
Erica nodded, because speech was a bit beyond her now; she was doing all she could not to rub herself all over the sheets.
"I've had to wear them every day since we went shopping," Lydia said, slipping them off. Her ovi was dark pink, thick and tapered slightly at the tip, and it wavered in the air like it was reaching out to Erica.
Erica sighed and thrust her hips; she wanted that ovi inside her, now. "Please," she said, because if Lydia didn't touch her soon she wasn't sure how she'd be able to stand it.
But her alpha was done teasing her, and knelt on the bed between Erica's spread legs. "Do you want to touch it first?" Lydia asked, draping one hand over Erica's thigh.
Lydia's touch calmed Erica, just as it had in the car. She blinked and sat up, trying to compose herself. She'd never touched an ovi before, just seen them in pictures. It wasn't rigid, like Boyd's or Isaac's cocks, but firm and silky-wet to the touch, which made sense as it came out of Lydia's vagina. It curved around Erica's hand, like a giant tongue or a tail or the tentacle on an octopus. "You're moving it like that?" she asked.
"Feels good," Lydia said, her eyes at half mast. "Imagine it moving inside you."
Erica immediately dropped back against the pillows. "Now," she said.
"Demanding," Lydia said, but she couldn't fool Erica; she needed this just as much. She moved forward, her hips between Erica's spread legs, and let her ovi seek out Erica's wet heat almost on its own. And then finally, finally, Erica felt the fullness her body had been demanding since she woke up that morning. The ovi was moving inside her, thrusting but also wiggling back and forth, achingly good and right. She and Lydia moved together, kissing but also just breathing each other's air and staring at each other all they wanted now that they were claimed.
It still didn't feel quite real to her, that she'd claimed and been claimed, but it felt so good that if it was a dream she'd be really pissed if she woke up from it. Lydia was so beautiful, her lips so soft to kiss and lick. Erica had one hand buried in Lydia's hair and the other around her waist, holding her in place. Their breasts and stomachs rubbed against each other, and Lydia's smell was all around her now. She was less desperate now, but also more impatient.
"Are you ready?" Lydia asked between kisses. "Been taking your pills?"
"Yes, yes," Erica said. "Do it, come on."
Erica looked down as Lydia pulled her ovi out of Erica, and frowned in concentration as she twisted it around itself, this way and that, until she got it right, making a loop and pushing through it so the ovi had knotted itself at its base.
"They say if I practice," Lydia said, "I'll be able to do it inside you, without even pulling out."
Erica thought of the ovi moving around inside her like that and shuddered. "I can help you practice later," she said, "if you fuck me now."
Lydia smiled at her, and then she was thrusting forward again, making the knot at the base of her ovi rub against Erica's clit in the loveliest way.
Erica spread her legs, trying to relax her muscles, because her body wanted that knot, was moving up against it hungrily. "Come on, knot me," Erica said. "Do it." She dug her heels into Lydia's back.
Lydia gave one last strong thrust forward and her knot pushed into Erica. She thought she'd felt full before but it was nothing like this, like being fused together, the wetness that had been gushing out of her all day stopped up. The knot went from rubbing against her clit to pushing on her g-spot and she shuddered, an orgasm like none she'd ever felt rippling through her body, making her shake and cling even more to Lydia at the same time. Lydia must have been coming, too, because Erica could feel the ovi going rigid inside her, though with all the wetness of her heat she couldn't feel the actual come that was filling her up, pouring into her, kept from leaking out by the very knot that had made her come.
Lydia slumped down against her, panting, and Erica wasn't sure how long they lay there before they started coming back to the present.
"Wow," Lydia said.
"Yeah," Erica said. "That was—"
"Yeah," Lydia said. "We should roll over on our sides, I think."
"Okay," Erica said, because she wasn't completely comfortable—Lydia's weight was right on top of Erica's chest—but she wasn't sure that she could move.
Lydia slung her arm more firmly around Erica and rolled backwards, so it wasn't just the knot fusing them together that pulled Erica sideways with her, and yes, this was better. Now they could both have a pillow. Lydia was smiling, and pushed the hair back from Erica's face.
"So beautiful," she said, and Erica leaned into her touch.
"You really think so?" she asked.
"Of course," Lydia said, like it was an obvious fact.
"You too," Erica mumbled, and her eyelids felt heavy.
"Sh," Lydia said. "Sleep now, talk later."
They didn't talk for a while. They fucked.
They woke up and fucked in the bed.
They took a shower and fucked in the bathroom.
They ate but that turned into feeding each other which turned into fucking against the kitchen counter.
They were washing some sheets on the third day and Erica made the mistake of sitting atop the washing machine and Lydia fucked her there, too.
They took a bubble bath and washed each other's hair and something about the warm water made them lethargic and relaxed enough to not paw at each other like wildcats, though maybe it was because it was the sixth and Erica's heat was winding down.
Also Erica thought maybe she was the one who had to bring it up, so she said, "Are you going to take me out of this town, or what?"
"Of course I am," Lydia replied, as though Erica was asking a deeply stupid question. "You think I want to spend my life here?"
"No, but alphas and omegas generally—"
Lydia held up a finger, and Erica stopped talking. "We're not the average alpha and omega, are we?"
Erica shook her head.
"So this is what's going to happen," Lydia said, in her bossiest tone. "We're going to college, where I'm going to study mathematics, and then I'll pursue my PhD, though I can't guarantee we'll be in an interesting location. But we will travel as much as we can every summer. Your choice, you plan, I'll go where you like. Then after one or two post-doc fellowships I'll get a tenure track job, probably in some godforsaken college town, though once I get tenure I promise I will accept as many visiting professorships as I possibly can. Meanwhile we will, or won't, have as many children as you would like to have." She cocked her head. "You might want to study languages. You like them, don't you? It's such a bore to travel and not know at least a common language."
"I do like languages," Erica said slowly, still processing Lydia's speech. "And, two."
Lydia blinked. "Two languages?"
"Children," she replied. "After you get your tenure-track job."
"Two is a good number," Lydia replied. "One each to take on trips."
"That's what I was thinking," Erica said, and suddenly it was settled. She felt good about it—brave somehow, though she wasn't sure why.
So she decided to change the mood, and pushed her foot forward, between Lydia's legs, searching out her ovi.
"You're insatiable," Lydia said, but she was grinning.
By the time they got back to school the last omega had claimed, and it was all over. Once everyone was back there would be a celebratory dance, but for now it just felt anti-climactic. They still didn't have classes, still were just in study halls working on their independent studies, but there was no sense of anticipation, of something happening. Just contentment, and work.
Erica met with her advisor to switch her humanities paper (which, to be honest, she hadn't even thought about yet) from English literature to French, and that plus a note from her parents saying that it wasn't too racy meant that she was spending her time sitting in the library reading Colette, who'd also been an unusual kind of alpha. It made her a little horny, but now that they were claimed Lydia was more than happy to take care of that particular side-effect.
They'd also all been social enough, now that they were in their mated pairs, that whatever weird rivalry had been going on among the alphas—which Erica had been entirely ignorant of but which Allison filled her in on later—was over with. Lydia went out of her way to make connections with Derek, Boyd and Danny. It was as though the little omega group that had formed before claiming now had its counterpart in the alphas, and while they weren't so old-fashioned as to entirely separate into designation-based social groups it definitely made things easier.
"So now that we're all claimed and you two are going to be queens of the school or whatever," Stiles said one day at lunch.
"Three," Lydia said. "Allison too. Alpha, beta, omega; that's why we'll be unstoppable."
"Oh, thank you, Lydia," Allison said.
"Of course we need you," Erica replied.
"Hey," Scott said, "does that make me, like, Prince Consort?"
Allison smiled at him. "Absolutely."
Boyd shook his head. "I don't wanna be prince of anything," he said, "but I'd be a duke."
"I wanna be a duke, too," said Jackson.
"Oh my god," Lydia said, "we are not giving everyone titles."
"Anyway like I was saying," Stiles went on, "are you still going to like, hang out?"
"Of course we are, Stiles," Lydia said, tousling his non-existent hair. "Someone has to look out for you when Derek isn't here. You can be our pet omega."
He rolled his eyes. "Okay now I'm sorry I said anything."
"In fact," Lydia said, and looked at Erica, who was sitting on the other side of Stiles.
"Makeover?" Erica asked.
"Absolutely," Lydia said, getting out her phone.
"Who are you calling?" Stiles said. "And I don't need to be made over."
"You should really start showing off those shoulders," Erica said. "I've leaned on them enough to know that they are substantial. And you'll need a new suit for the dance, anyway."
Lydia placed her call. "Hello, Derek? Lydia. Are you free this afternoon? Can you meet us at the mall? We're going to be getting some new clothes for Stiles."
"What? What?" Stiles said, leaning over to shout into her phone. "No! Derek, don't let them do this!"
"Mm-hmm," Lydia was saying, as if Stiles hadn't moved. "Fitted, absolutely. Great, see you later!"
"Why are you asking my alpha?" Stiles asked. "Isn't that old-fashioned? No one had to approve of Erica's makeover."
"That's because Erica can dress herself," Lydia said, "whereas you obviously cannot."
"Are you going to let them do this?" Stiles asked Scott.
He shrugged. "I'm a beta, dude," he said. "I don't get a say."
"Oh my god," Stiles said, slumping down in his seat, his head in his hands. "I've been abandoned."
Erica rubbed his back, soothingly and looked over at Lydia, who winked. She smiled back, feeling warm and in exactly the right place.