Honestly, Veronica didn’t mind being an omega. Sure, heats were intense and uncomfortable, and the unwanted attention from alphas sucked, but there were ways of making both of those things less bothersome. Suppressants helped keep her heats under control, and kept them from becoming overwhelming when they did happen, and scent blockers made pretty much everyone identify her as a beta. She really didn’t mind it. Being an omega was pretty alright.
Before they had presented, she, Betty, and Martha had already formed their own little pack. Nobody else seemed to want them, so they decided to be unwanted together
Veronica had expected them to argue over who would get to lead because, at the time, they had been convinced that a pack needed a leader. She’d been surprised when they both picked her to lead them. Still, she accepted, and did her best to make sure her packmates were taken care of.
Then Martha had presented.
They hadn’t known why at the time, but the first time Martha went into heat, she cried. Veronica and Betty’s instincts went into overdrive, and they immediately tracked down all the soft things they could find to help make a nest. They’d even helped Martha put it together. Then they did their best to make sure Martha ate, drank, and slept regularly.
Once it was over, they started building pack nests so they could all be in the same space together, and Veronica and Betty kept small amounts of Martha’s suppressants in their medicine cabinets just in case she forgot to take them. And for a while, they had everything under control.
Then Betty and Veronica presented.
Veronica didn’t remember much of her first heat. According to her parents, her fever was much higher than was normal for an omega’s heat, and she had become delirious at one point. All she could remember is that she was so warm, and that everything hurt, and by the end of it she felt more tired than she could remember ever feeling before.
Betty’s first rut sounded like a breeze by comparison. There was some pain as her body got used to the changes, but other than that, it seemed like a walk in the park when she told Veronica about it. Adding the fact that she had been fully aware the entire time and not in a state of fever-induced delirium, Veronica was honestly kind of jealous. But her parents got her on suppressants and scent blockers, and soon enough everything was manageable again.
She learned to indulge her instincts from time to time, since pushing them down only made them stronger, so she built nests and cuddled with Betty and Martha and hoarded blankets and pillows and snacks. Betty suggested that she continue to be the pack’s leader, since she had practice and was, in Betty’s opinion, much more level-headed. Betty insisted on being allowed to protect her and Martha though.
“It’s what an alpha’s supposed to do,” she had said.
Veronica hadn’t cared to argue, so Betty became their unofficial bodyguard, although once Veronica turned 14 she hit a rather impressive growth spurt and ended up being taller than any omega she’d ever met, and even taller than some alphas (including Betty,) which, in combination with her scent blockers, tended to keep her from getting too much unwanted attention. Martha, on the other hand, stayed just as small and sweet as ever, which meant that Betty and Veronica had to keep her safe from any unsolicited advances from creepy alphas.
That was another thing that kept people from bothering Veronica. She didn’t act like a stereotypical omega. Sure she nested and went through heats and was generally more gentle than the standard alpha stereotype, but she wasn’t as submissive or shy as omegas were expected to be. Nobody would have expected her to be an omega unless they knew her well.
That’s why, when she started hanging out with the Heathers, she didn’t correct them when they assumed that she was a beta. She didn’t like lying, but being the only omega in a pack with three alphas she didn’t even know was definitely not ideal.
The first time they hung out at her house, she’d moved her nest to the guest room before they arrived, along with anything that carried Betty and Martha’s scents, to make sure it stayed secret. She wasn’t sure why she was going to so much trouble to keep her dynamic hidden, but she wasn’t about to ignore her instincts. Besides, it was probably normal to be a bit wary of her new packmates. She’d known Betty and Martha for years, and had built a healthy foundation of trust and mutual support with both of them. By comparison, the Heathers were practically strangers. It made sense to her that she didn’t fully trust them yet.
They sat on her bed, marveling at the softness of the blankets, and Veronica had been a bit puzzled by that. Chandler and Mac were much more wealthy than she was, so they’d be able to get much softer bedding, wouldn’t they? Then they had taken in the soothing cool colors of the room, the coziness of it, the little trinkets and bits of clutter that made it look like home, and Chandler had declared that they would be hanging out at Veronica’s house from then on.
“Your room’s a lot more comfortable,” Chandler insisted, “I guess it figures. You’re a beta, so you’re obviously going to be softer than we are. It makes sense that you’d have tons of pillows and stuff.”
Veronica had shrugged at that. “I mean, sure, you’re alphas, but don’t you get to be the ones to decide what that means?”
Chandler looked surprised for a moment, before schooling her face into an expression of nonchalance and changing the subject.
Duke and Mac had followed her lead, but it was obvious that they were still in awe of how comfortable everything was, as evidenced by how Duke kept running her hands along the soft surface of the fluffy blue rug in the middle of Veronica’s floor, or how Mac all but melted into the office chair sitting behind Veronica’s desk, rubbing her face against the blanket draped across the back of it.
Veronica resisted the urge to say something. Mac’s scent would be all over it once she left, but Veronica could easily wash it out if it started to bother her.
By the time the Heathers left, they all looked much more relaxed than when they’d arrived, with Duke sprawled across the circular rug, Mac nearly boneless in the office chair, and Chandler looking close to dozing off in Veronica’s bed. Veronica had said goodbye to them at the door, and once they were out of sight, she went back upstairs to assess just how much of her stuff she needed to wash.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be part of their pack. She just thought it was a little rude to scent someone else’s belongings without even asking first. Especially if you had only known them for a week.
She closed the door behind her as she stepped into her room before first making her way to the desk chair, sniffing at the blanket and picking up Mac’s scent. It was likely all over the chair after the way she seemed to almost roll around in it. Still… it wasn’t unpleasant. Veronica decided to leave it for the time being. The rug could stay, too. After all, it wasn’t like Veronica’s nose would be close enough to it for Duke’s scent to bother her. That just left the bed. As Veronica suspected, Chandler’s scent was all over the pillow and the parts of the blanket she’d been lying on. She mulled it over and decided not to wash the blanket. None of the Heathers’ scents were bothering her, so she decided it would be fine to just let them fade on their own. The pillow, however, would have to go. Or at the very least, the pillowcase. She stripped the pillowcase from the pillow and left the room, intending to put it in the washing machine. As she passed the guest room, however, she stopped.
It wouldn’t hurt to have her new pack’s scents in her nest, would it?
It seemed that, even if she didn’t quite trust the Heathers enough to let them into her nest, or even to let them see it yet, she wasn’t against having their scents in it. With her mind made up, she went into the guest room and tucked the pillowcase into her nest. Now she’d just need something with Duke and Mac’s scents. She briefly considered taking the blanket from the back of her chair, but decided against it. It wouldn’t be as comfortable without it. She’d just wait for the two of them to scent something smaller or something. With any luck, she wouldn’t have to wait long.
“God, her room was so much more comfortable than mine,” Chandler groaned, “Where’d she even find such soft blankets?”
Mac sighed, looking out the passenger window, a far off look in her eyes. “I dunno, but I want to go back. I could have slept in that office chair.”
Chandler nodded in agreement. “Heather looked pretty comfortable on that rug, too. I can’t really blame her, though. If I had something that soft in my room, I’d probably sleep there instead of in my actual bed.”
Mac giggled at the mental image, before frowning. “I think I might have accidentally scented her blanket. I hope she doesn’t get mad.”
Chandler scoffed. “We’re a pack now. If she’s bothered by it, then that’s her problem.”
Mac didn’t look convinced. “Still,” she said, “She’s been in a pack with Betty and Martha for so long now. It might be kind of weird for her.”
Chandler spared her a curious glance before turning her gaze back to the road. “Weird how?”
Mac shrugged. “She’s probably used to their scents. It might take some getting used to for her to be okay with having our scents on her things. She’s new to our pack, so our scents are new, too. We should probably ease her into it. Just to make sure we don’t stress her out.”
Chandler seemed to think about Mac’s words for a moment. “Fine,” she sighed, “I’ll let Heather know to ask before she decides to scent any of Veronica’s stuff, just to make sure she’s okay with it. We’re not going to coddle her, though. She’s not some omega that needs her hand held for every little thing.”
Mac bit the inside of her cheek and nodded.
Veronica groaned and stretched as she woke up, savoring the warmth and security of the nest of pillows and blankets, the whole thing decorated with little things that carried her pack’s scents. A sweater from Martha, a couple t-shirts from Betty, and the pillowcase that Chandler had scented were all woven into the nest just so. Sunlight streamed in through the curtains as she groped blindly for her glasses. Once she was able to see, she left the guest room to get ready for school.
Before anything else, she took her suppressants and her scent blockers. She didn’t want to accidentally miss a day and risk anyone finding out about her. Then, she showered to get any lingering scents from the nest off of her. Once she was clean and dry, she went back to her room and got dressed in her Heathers-approved outfit and did her makeup the way they’d shown her. She really didn’t like the last part. The makeup felt heavy on her skin, and she was sure she’d have to be even more thorough in her skincare routine because of it. Still, she supposed it was a fair trade for the protection of the three most powerful alphas in school, even if it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world.
Speaking of which, she’d need to talk to Martha about modifying or even replacing the outfit the Heathers gave her. It was clear they didn’t know what textures she liked. The blazer was scratchy, and the shirt was too stiff, and the socks were thick wool that, while warm, itched and prickled against her legs. The shoes rubbed painfully against the backs of her heels, and she was sure that she’d have blisters if she didn’t find something to cushion them.
She sighed as she went downstairs. Betty and Martha would have at least tried to make the outfit comfortable enough for her to wear.
Her parents weren’t in the kitchen when she arrived, which was a little odd, until she found the note taped to the fridge letting her know that they went to work early. There was coffee in the coffee maker and a serving of breakfast in the microwave, and she smiled at the sweet gesture before heating up her food and pouring the remaining coffee into a travel mug, making sure to add some cream and plenty of sugar. Breakfast passed quickly without the morning chatter and easy conversation from her parents, and she felt a brief pang of loneliness from the absence of their voices. Once she finished her food, she washed her dishes and left them on the drying rack before grabbing her bag from its spot by the front door and going outside to wait on the porch for Chandler to arrive. The sound of her car horn was irritating, and Veronica decided to do her best to avoid it if she could.
Chandler showed up on schedule, and Veronica gave Mac a sympathetic look as she got out of the passenger’s seat and went to sit in the back. Veronica slid into the newly vacated seat next to Chandler and buckled her seatbelt, mentally preparing herself for another long day at school. Part of her just wanted to go back to her nest and cuddle up in the warmth and the comfort of her packmates’ scents. It would be so easy to just claim she didn’t feel well and spend the day curled up among the pillows and soft things. She decided against it though, figuring that she could at least look forward to returning to it later.
“Hey,” Chandler muttered, starting the car and pulling out of the driveway.
“Sorry about yesterday,” Mac mumbled, “If we accidentally scented your stuff and made you uncomfortable, just let us know and we’ll tone it down.”
Veronica blinked a few times in surprise, before smiling widely. “It’s no problem! You did scent my chair and the blanket on it, but I’m not upset. And it was pretty simple to remove the pillowcase Heather scented when she was on my bed, so no harm done.”
Chandler frowned at that. “What about the blanket? Did you wash that too?”
“Wash it?” Veronica tilted her head in confusion. “I left it on the chair. And I didn’t wash the pillowcase. I added it to my-”
Chandler turned her gaze to Veronica, who looked stiff and tense in her seat. “Your what?”
“My uh…” Veronica scratched the back of her neck nervously. “My nest. Martha taught me how to make them, and it’s nice to have my pack’s scents around me sometimes.”
Chandler snorted. “That explains why you’re so soft. Being around her growing up made you a wimp.”
Veronica huffed indignantly. “Whatever. You didn’t seem to have a problem when you were rubbing your face against my pillows like a pup.”
Chandler growled at that, straightening up and squaring her shoulders to make herself look bigger as she glared up at Veronica.
Veronica was unimpressed.
They arrived at school without further incident, although Chandler was still on edge.
Veronica got out of the car a few seconds before Chandler, and took those seconds as an opportunity to walk around to the driver’s side.
Chandler glowered up at her. “What the fuck are you-”
Veronica wasn’t sure how Chandler would react, but she didn’t want her going into school with a foul mood and taking it out on innocent bystanders, so she leaned down to Chandler’s level and pressed her face to Chandler’s neck the way she did with Betty when she got upset. She didn’t have a strong enough scent while she was on scent blockers for it to actually be noticeable, but she hoped the gesture by itself would be enough.
“Relax,” Veronica muttered, rubbing her chin against Chandler’s neck. “I was just teasing you. I’m sorry if I hit a nerve. I’m still learning where the lines are.” She stood up straight then, And met Chandler’s bewildered gaze. “Can you forgive me?”
Chandler held a hand up to her neck, looking puzzled and surprised, before returning to her general look of cool disinterest. “Fine, whatever. You’re forgiven.”
Veronica smiled. “Good. It wouldn’t do to put you in a bad mood so early in the morning.”
Chandler hummed absently, still holding her hand against the spot Veronica had just marked with her scent.
Mac grinned, looking like she was trying hard to suppress giggles. “Did Martha teach you that, too?”
Veronica shrugged. “Sort of? It’s just something the three of us do for each other when one of us is upset. It usually helps.”
Chandler still had a far off look in her eyes when Veronica turned back to her.
“You alright?” Veronica asked, lightly tapping Chandler’s shoulder.
Chandler jolted as though someone had just poured a bucket of ice water over her in her sleep, before shaking her head. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just give me a little warning before you do that again.”
Veronica nodded. “Alright. I’ll give you a couple seconds next time.”
Chandler wasn’t sure why Veronica’s touch had soothed her so easily. She was a beta, for god’s sake! They weren’t supposed to be able to do that!
As they walked across the parking lot to the entrance, she decided to put it out of her mind. It was probably just because she wasn’t expecting it.
Duke frowned as Mac relayed the events of the morning back to her.
“So then, get this, Veronica bends down and scent marks Heather!” Mac was all but vibrating with excitement as the spoke. “And Heather just goes still as a statue! And then when Veronica’s done, Heather’s totally calm. I couldn’t even detect the tiniest trace of anger in her scent!”
Duke mulled over her words for a moment. “You know what this means, right?”
Mac grinned conspiratorially. “We’ve got a new way to keep Heather from blowing up at people?”
“No,” Duke said, “Well, actually yes, but that’s not what I meant. It means Veronica’s an omega.”
Mac shrugged. “Well, yeah. If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck…”
“Why wouldn’t she say anything though?”
Mac’s brow furrowed. “I mean, you know as well as I do that Heather’s more… traditional, than we are. Maybe she doesn’t want Heather treating her differently.”
Duke nodded. “Makes sense. Do you think maybe she doesn’t trust us? She did just join our pack a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t blame her if she wanted to wait a while to tell us.”
“It must be kind of scary being the only omega,” Mac mused, “And we’re all alphas, so she might not feel completely safe with us yet.”
“So what do we do?”
“Only one thing to do, I guess,” Mac sighed, “We wait, and we try to show her that we’re not going to treat her differently. Maybe she’ll come around on her own.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“Then she doesn’t,” Mac shrugged, “We’ve just gotta accept that maybe she won’t want to tell us, and if that happens, then we’ll just continue to be there for her.”
Duke nodded hesitantly. “What about Heather?”
Mac snorted. “Heather still believes Veronica’s a beta. As long as she continues to believe that, Veronica won’t have to worry. Heather will keep her from getting bullied, and we’ll keep her from being targeted by any creepy alphas.”
Duke groaned. “God, I hope nobody tries to do anything creepy.”
Veronica had the sneaking suspicion that she was being watched.
Being an Omega, she’d learned to be watchful, and to pay close attention to her surroundings without being obvious about it, so she knew when she was being watched.
It was odd though. Whoever was keeping such a close eye on her was strangely good at hiding it. She passed through the lunch line without trouble, but always with a pricking feeling at the back of her neck. She took notes in all of her classes, but she was on edge the entire time. The constant need to be vigilant was starting to wear on her.
Duke took notice and pulled her aside at one point.
“Are you alright?” she asked, her voice soft and posture non-threatening, “You seem stressed.”
Veronica ran a hand through her hair and sighed. “I’ve just had this weird feeling all day, like I’m being watched. I think I’m just a little on edge.”
Strangely, following that talk, she’d noticed Mac and Duke talking quietly amongst themselves, and the feeling mostly went away.
The obvious answer was that Mac and Duke were watching her, but Veronica couldn’t figure out why.
That is, until she found herself cornered by an alpha that seemed hellbent on getting her to go out with him and completely uninterested in considering her own wishes on the matter.
“Back off, asshole,” Duke snapped, jumping in between Veronica and the alpha and snarling at him, “She said no. If you’re such a good alpha, you’ll learn to listen when someone says they aren’t interested. As it stands now, you aren’t worth her time, so beat it.”
While Duke verbally tore the alpha a new one, Mac snuck up next to Veronica and pulled her away so that she wouldn’t be backed into a corner.
“Thanks,” Veronica sighed, “He seemed… really adamant about going out with me.”
“More like pushy,” Duke huffed, “I can’t believe he had the nerve to box you in like that. That’s just downright predatory. What self-respecting omega would want to go out with him, of all people?”
“...Omega?” Veronica’s eyes widened, “You knew?”
Duke cursed under her breath. “We were gonna wait until you felt safe enough to tell us yourself,” she admitted, “Heather and I figured it out when she told me about what happened between you and Heather this morning.”
Veronica relaxed slightly. “Does Heather-”
“Not to our knowledge, no,” Duke said, “And we won’t tell her unless we absolutely have to.”
Mac nodded in agreement. “Heather kind of listens to her dad a lot on certain matters. We’re… honestly not sure what would happen if she knew, but we’re not going to risk your safety to find out.”
Veronica smiled gratefully. “Thanks.”
Mac grinned. “Don’t mention it. We’re happy to help if anyone starts being creepy.”
Duke nodded, crossing her arms and glaring in the direction the other alpha had run off in. “Alphas like that give the rest of us a bad reputation. You’re safe with me and Heather, though.”
“Cool,” Veronica said, “So I can trust three alphas. You, Heather, and Betty.”
Duke grinned proudly, standing taller and puffing out her chest. “It’s our job to take care of our packmates, isn’t it?”
Veronica giggled at the display. “Yeah, I guess it is. That probably makes you two pretty great alphas, doesn’t it?”
Mac blushed. “I mean, I don’t know if I’d say great… ”
Duke shoved Mac’s shoulder playfully. “Take the compliment, Heather.”
Mac hunched her shoulders up nervously. “I dunno. I mean, if it’s just what we’re supposed to do, then why is it worth a compliment?”
“Because,” Veronica said, “If you call attention to it, then other alphas will follow your example instead of being raging dumpster fires. Sure, it might be how you’re supposed to treat your packmates, but that doesn’t mean a lot of alphas actually do it.”
Mac still seemed unsure, but was thankfully looking less nervous. “That makes sense, I guess.”
Veronica grinned, leaning down and quickly scenting Mac and Duke before standing up straight again. “Thanks for looking out for me.”
Mac and Duke nodded slowly, both taken aback by the gesture.
Veronica snickered as they followed her to the exit. They really had no idea what to do around her, did they?
That would make things interesting, at least.
“So,” Duke drawled, “How do you manage to smell like a beta?”
Duke and Mac had taken to hanging out at Veronica’s house whenever they didn’t have to go anywhere with Chandler. Veronica didn’t mind. They usually sat on the bed and talked, or piled on the couch in the living room and watched TV. She hadn’t shown them her nest yet, but they were more than happy to be patient once she explained that allowing packmates into one’s nest was an important thing, and not to be taken lightly.
A lot of the time, they’d hang out and Duke would ask Veronica different questions about what it was like to be an omega.
This was one of those times.
“I take scent blockers,” Veronica explained, “They don’t block my scent completely, but it’s a lot more subdued than if I wasn’t on them. They basically work to block enough of my scent that it’s not obvious that I’m an omega.”
“Why do you take scent blockers?”
Veronica shrugged. “You chased off an alpha who was trying to get me to go out with him. You already kind of got to see what I have to deal with. And he thinks I’m a beta! If I wasn’t on blockers, and people knew I’m an omega, it’d be so much worse.”
Duke hummed thoughtfully. “Alright, next question. What’s heat like?”
“Awful,” Veronica groaned, “I hate it. I’m uncomfortably hot and sweaty, even in the middle of winter, and sometimes the fever gets so high that I-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait,” Mac said, “Fever?”
“Yeah. You didn’t think it was called heat for nothing, did you?” Veronica shrugged, “I guess it makes sense that you didn’t know. They didn’t cover that part in sex ed. Basically my internal body temperature rises during my heat, and depending on the omega, it can go high enough to be worrying. Before I started suppressants, it used to be much worse, but even now, my fevers frequently get so high that I become delirious. I’ve had fever hallucinations a couple times.”
Duke and Mac stared at her in silent horror.
“That sounds dangerous,” Duke said.
“It can be,” Veronica agreed, “Plus when I’m preoccupied with my heat I forget to eat and bathe. It’s part of why a lot of omegas hoard snacks in our nests. I keep protein bars, water bottles, cookies, juice, trail mix, and a lot of other stuff to help me regain my energy and keep me healthy until it’s over.”
“That makes sense, I guess.” Duke frowned as she thought about Veronica’s words. “Where is your nest, anyway? Not because I want to snoop or anything! I just… I thought omegas liked to keep their nests somewhere that they could get to them easily.”
“Oh, yeah, I moved it to the guest room before you visited for the first time.” Veronica shrugged and waved a hand dismissively. “I was still kind of worried about being the only omega in the pack, so I decided to keep it out of sight until I was sure I could trust you.”
Duke and Mac nodded in understanding.
“Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask you something!” Veronica bolted out of bed and ran to the closet.
Duke and Mac shared a confused look, but waited for her to return. A moment later, Veronica reappeared, her arms full of sweaters and scarves and hoodies.
“I uh, wanted something with your scents,” she explained, cheeks reddening slightly from embarrassment, “For the nest. I… I want it to smell like my pack.”
Duke froze, eyes widening to the size of saucers, while Mac reached out hesitantly for a scarf.
Veronica beamed, and Mac blushed before rubbing her face against the soft fabric of the scarf, marking it with her scent.
Duke waited a moment before grabbing a hoodie and pulling it on, nearly forgetting what was going on as she found herself surrounded by Veronica’s subtle scent. She pulled the collar of it over her nose and inhaled deeply, breathing it in. She relaxed slightly as she inhaled the omega’s scent despite the fact that her scent blockers dulled the smell significantly. She idly wondered how much better it would be if she was off her scent blockers.
Veronica cleared her throat nervously, and Duke met her eyes, face reddening in mortification as she came back to herself.
“I’m so sorry!” Duke hurriedly pulled the hoodie off, shoving it into Veronica’s arms. “I don’t know what came over me!”
Veronica blinked, her own face an unfairly pretty shade of pink. “It’s alright,” she squeaked, “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
Duke averted her gaze, briefly growling at Mac, who was grinning smugly down at her. She hadn’t noticed that Veronica had moved until she felt another hoodie being pushed into her hands.
“Here, keep this one,” Veronica grinned, “Since I apparently smell so nice.”
Duke stammered awkwardly, but held the hoodie close all the same, rubbing her cheek against the hood to mark it.
“I’ll return it once it stops smelling like you.”
Veronica snorted. “You better. I can use it to line my nest once your scent is all over it.”
Mac pouted. “What about me? Don’t I get something that smells like you?”
Veronica giggled. “Yeah, sure. Hold on.” She went to the dresser in the corner of her room and dug around a bit before reemerging with a triumphant look on her face.
“I wear this all the time as pajamas,” she explained, handing Mac a tank top, “It’s clean, but it should smell like me. And I think it might fit you, so you could probably wear it sometimes if you wanted.”
Mac all but shoved her face into the fabric, the action followed a moment later by a muffled “I love it!”
Veronica snickered. “Just give it back once it smells like you so I’ve got something with your scent on it.”
Mac nodded, finally extracting her face from the soft tank top and grinning widely. “If we’d known that having an omega in our pack would be this nice, you would have been part of our pack way sooner.”
Chandler scoffed as Mac opened the passenger door to her car and sat down.
“Took you long enough,” she remarked.
“Sorry,” Mac said, buckling her seatbelt and slumping against the backrest, “I didn’t want to get out of bed.”
Chandler rolled her eyes as she drove off towards Veronica’s house. “What could be so good about your bed that would make you not want to leave it?”
“Veronica gave me something soft to use to help me sleep,” Mac said.
Chandler narrowed her eyes, peering at Mac curiously from her periphery. “When was this?”
“Yesterday,” Mac yawned, looking like she was still half asleep, “Heather and I went to hang out with her some more. She asked us to scent some stuff for her nest, and then she let us each have something with her scent on it.”
Chandler had to suppress a growl. “Really, now?”
Mac nodded, smiling sleepily. “Heather got a hoodie, and I got a tank top Veronica wears as pajamas. We promised to return them once they stop smelling like her so she can line her nest with them.”
Chandler’s expression turned stormy, silver eyes gleaming with anger. “How cute, ” she hissed, voice dripping with venom.
That scared Mac awake in less than a second. “We didn’t mean for you to get excluded,” she lied, “But you had a date and the rest of us were free, so we decided to get to know her a little better. To make sure she was a good fit for the pack, y’know?”
“I’m the one who decides who’s good for the pack, Heather,” Chandler growled.
“Right,” Mac whimpered.
Chandler pouted the rest of the way to Veronica’s house. Her mood only soured further when Veronica slid into the backseat before Mac could trade spots with her.
“Morning, Heather! Good morning, Heather!” she chirped, buckling up and leaning forward in her seat.
Mac turned to Veronica and smiled nervously. “Morning! How’d you sleep?”
Veronica grinned, “Much better now that my whole pack’s scents are in my nest. I’ll have to get you to mark some other stuff for me to use as nest lining.”
“Always happy to help!” Mac gave Veronica a thumbs up, even as Chandler continued to seethe in the driver’s seat.
Veronica read the atmosphere and gestured to Chandler worriedly. “Is she okay?”
Mac shrugged. “I think she’s jealous because we were hanging out without her? Probably also because she didn’t get anything with your scent on it.”
Veronica’s eyes widened slightly as she reached for her bag. “Thanks for reminding me! I figure the scent on my pillowcase will wear off soon, so feel free to wear this,” she tossed a sweatshirt onto Chandler’s lap, “When it stops smelling like me, you can give it back and I’ll find you something else.”
Chandler wanted to continue being angry, but found it difficult when Veronica had taken the time to think of her even when she wasn’t around.
“Thanks,” she mumbled.
Veronica beamed, and Chandler forced herself to focus solely on the road for the entire ride to school.
Chandler wasn’t used to scenting.
Her parents had never scented her. Her father was an old, traditional alpha who thought that an alpha who needed a packmate’s scent was weak and pathetic, so he had never been affectionate with anyone except her mother, and even that seemed rare. Her mother wasn’t outwardly hostile, but the older omega tended to follow her father’s lead. She didn’t offer comfort when Chandler had needed it, and so she had learned not to need it.
But the first time Veronica had scented her felt nicer than she could put into words.
She’d always thought that scenting was something only done between mates, but the way Veronica would scent her so casually following the first time had her wondering if it was something packs did regularly. If it was, then was she strange for not reciprocating? What was the etiquette for scent marking? She had no idea what to do in this situation. All she wanted to do was go to Veronica and let her mark her with her scent until Chandler couldn’t smell anything except Veronica.
That was another odd thing. Veronica smelled amazing. Her scent was so warm and sweet and calming that Chandler just wanted to sink into it. She’d all but melted into Veronica’s bedspread the first time she’d been in her room because of the softness and the smell. She hadn’t wanted to leave. She wanted to stay right there and bask in the welcoming warmth of Veronica’s scent.
Now, as she lay in bed wearing Veronica’s sweatshirt, she found herself relaxing more than usual. The soft fabric was more comfortable than any of Chandler’s own clothes, and if she focused, she could almost pretend that she was back in Veronica’s room, nestled under those soft blankets with her nose pressed into the pillows, practically drowning in comfortable fabric. She fell asleep much easier than usual. As she dozed off, she imagined herself wrapped protectively around-
Veronica winced at the sound of Chandler’s car horn. With a sigh, she said goodbye to her parents and ran out the door to Chandler’s car.
“Took you long enough,” Chandler huffed.
Veronica rolled her eyes as she slid into the back seat. “Sorry,” she muttered, leaning forward and pressing her face to Chandler’s neck before scenting her, “I haven’t had a lot of time to talk to my parents lately. They wanted to know how I’m doing.”
Chandler hummed dismissively as she drove off, hoping her foundation concealed the fact that her cheeks were likely burning bright pink.
Mac looked between Veronica and Chandler, a wry grin spreading across her face, much to Chandler’s annoyance.
“What?” Chandler snapped.
Mac squeaked, letting out a sharp “Nothing!” before resolutely turning her gaze to the window.
She didn’t look anywhere else for the rest of the drive.
Chandler wasn’t sure what Duke and Mac were whispering about, but she didn’t like it. She never liked it when they schemed without letting her in on it. It meant that somehow she was going to be the target of whatever plot they were hatching.
Finally, they seemed to reach an agreement, because they nodded determinedly to one another before running off somewhere.
She sighed and turned to walk to class, yelping when she ran into Veronica.
“Whoa!” Veronica said, grabbing Chandler’s arms to keep her from falling over. “You alright? Sorry if I startled you.”
“You’re fine,” Chandler muttered, averting her gaze, “You just caught me off guard, is all.”
Veronica looked at her curiously. “Are you sure? You seem a little out of it. You’ve been acting weird since you came over to pick me up, actually.”
Chandler shrugged. “It’s just been a weird day so far, I guess.”
“Is it the scenting thing?” Veronica asked, “Because if it’s making you uncomfortable then I can dial it back a bit or something.”
“No!” she snapped, much too quickly.
Veronica raised an eyebrow in question.
Chandler groaned. “I don’t want you to stop or anything,” she sighed, “I don’t… really know how this works.”
“How what works?”
“The whole scenting thing!” Chandler said, gesturing wildly with her hands, “Do I do it back? Am I weird for not scenting you? What are the rules for this?!”
Veronica’s eyes widened in understanding. “Wait. Hasn’t anyone ever scented you before?”
“No!” Chandler ran a hand through her hair and growled. “My father says an alpha’s better than that. That any alpha who needs to be scented and coddled like a pup doesn’t deserve to call themself an alpha.”
Veronica snorted. “No offense, but your dad’s full of shit.”
Chandler scoffed. “What would you know about it? You’re not an alpha.”
“No, but Betty is, and if Martha and I don’t scent her from time to time, she gets irritable and twitchy, and it’s just a bad time for all of us.”
“Isn’t that just how alphas are?” Chandler asked.
Veronica scoffed. “ God, no! Mom says a lot of alphas are just socialized to be super aggressive. If you teach them to repress their instinct to nest or scent their packmates, then they’ll get defensive, because they’ll be stressed all the time and they won’t feel safe enough to calm themselves down.”
Chandler blinked. “Alphas nest?”
“Yup!” Veronica chirped, “Apparently it’s universal. We all like having our own little spaces that make us feel safe and secure. It’s just that alphas are taught to push all of that down until they can’t relax. It’s kind of a bummer.”
“Huh.” Chandler looked up at her. “So… about the scent marking thing…”
“Oh! Yeah! You can scent me if you want! I really don’t mind. It’s honestly nice to have my pack’s scents on me. Martha and Betty scent me all the time.”
Chandler suppressed the urge to growl at the mention of Betty and Martha. “So, should I…?”
Veronica shrugged and bent down at the waist, tilting her head to one side and exposing her neck. “You don’t have to,” she said, “But you can.”
Chandler hesitantly leaned forward until her nose was pressed to Veronica’s pulse point, nuzzling up against it and marking her with her scent. Their mingled scents met her nose a moment later, and Chandler purred. Wait. Purred? She didn’t know she could do that. She pulled Veronica closer by the shoulders, scenting her more aggressively and sniffing at her throat, drinking in the smell of their combined scents. Veronica’s own scent was weak, but it wasn’t drowned out by Chandler’s. In fact, it seemed to become stronger in response to her scent, almost like she was subconsciously trying to pull her in.
Veronica pulled back a bit, and Chandler growled and nipped at her throat in response, only coming back to herself when Veronica pushed her back and held her at arm’s length.
“That was…” Veronica’s face was flushed, and she seemed to be panting. “That was a little too intense.”
Chandler hummed, pushing against Veronica’s hands, but the beta wouldn’t budge.
Chandler blinked, slowly pulling herself out of the fog swirling around her brain. “What? Shit! I didn’t mean to do that!”
Veronica sighed. “It’s okay. Just don’t get carried away like that again. People might think we’re mates or something. You might take a blow to your reputation for something like that.”
Chandler nodded. Everything was still a little fuzzy around the edges. “Right. Won’t happen again.”
Veronica frowned. “I don’t want you to be afraid to scent me, though. Just… not so much, okay?”
Veronica smiled and let go of Chandler’s shoulders. “C’mon. We need to get to class.”
Chandler followed wordlessly, allowing Veronica to lead the way. She felt like she was in a daze, everything blurring together. She could hardly string together a coherent thought as the scent lingered in her nose, so vivid she could practically taste it on her tongue.
What the fuck was that?
Mac liked to consider herself a good alpha. She never took advantage of an omega during their heat, always listened when they said they weren’t interested, and never treated a beta or omega like they were worth less than she was.
But when she caught Chandler’s scent clinging to Veronica’s skin, she felt a surge of something powerful and possessive and angry swell up in her chest.
She knew she shouldn’t be thinking like that. Veronica didn’t belong to her. Would never belong to anyone. Omega or not, she was her own person, and Mac wasn’t going to try to take that from her. Still, the thought that Chandler might try to claim Veronica before Mac could made her so irrationally territorial that she had to remind herself not to growl whenever she was in the pack alpha’s presence.
Duke noticed. Of course she noticed. She likely had the exact same thoughts swirling around in her head, if the way her brow furrowed and her scent took on a threatening edge as soon as she smelled Veronica was any indication. They both wanted her. It wasn’t clear yet if it was because they actually wanted to court her or if it was just because they knew she was an omega, but they wanted her. Mac wasn’t sure exactly what Duke was thinking, but she could guess that they both felt the need to snarl and growl and claim what was theirs, even if it wasn’t theirs in the first place.
They had talked about it earlier, after Mac had caught Chandler making heart eyes at Veronica in the car. They knew this was a possibility.
“I think Heather wants Veronica,” Mac said, her voice low as she glanced around, looking for any trace of the alpha and omega in question.
“Maybe,” Duke muttered, “What do we do about it?”
“Nothing. Who courts Veronica is nobody’s decision except her own.” As she said it, though, she couldn’t help the bitter part of her that insisted that she should be the one to court Veronica. She wanted to shower the omega with gifts, wanted to present her with countless pillows and blankets and trinkets to line her nest with and keep close to her, wanted to cuddle and scent and mark the omega as hers, no matter how selfish the thought was.
Duke growled low in her throat, and Mac knew she wanted the same thing.
“Fine,” Duke snapped, “We’ll let her choose.”
Mac nodded resolutely, though her heart ached at the notion.
“But,” Duke added, “I’m not just gonna let her win. I’m throwing my hat in the ring, too. It’s Veronica’s choice, sure, but I’m gonna do what I can to improve my chances.”
Mac’s eyes widened. She honestly hadn’t thought of that. She grinned and held her hand out to Duke, who looked at it in confusion.
“Good luck,” Mac said, smiling politely, “But don’t think I’m going to make it easy for either of you to win.”
Duke growled, though her grin told Mac that she looked forward to the challenge.
“May the best alpha win,” Duke said, taking Mac’s hand.
“Oh, don’t worry. I will.”
That had been this morning, and now they both sat across from Veronica and Chandler at lunch, quietly seething as the combination of Chandler and Veronica’s scents met their noses. Mac had never considered herself to be a violent alpha, but in this moment, she wanted nothing more than to bare her teeth and challenge Chandler for the omega they both wanted to claim.
Why would Veronica even choose Chandler, of all the available alphas? She was probably one of those traditional jerks who thought omegas should be totally subservient to their alphas, or that they weren’t good for anything except raising pups! Veronica would be much better off with an alpha who respected her.
Wait. Fuck. She was starting to sound like those alphas that kept insisting they were nice and getting all pissy when omegas wouldn’t respond to their attempts to court them.
She immediately abandoned that train of thought. If Veronica wanted Chandler to court her, then Mac wasn’t going to stop her from having the alpha she wanted. All she could do is try and show Veronica that she was a good choice for a potential mate and hope that she picked her over Chandler or Duke.
Still, some selfish, greedy part of her itched, roared, to take and mark and claim before her opposition could steal her desired mate from her.
She pushed it down as it reared its ugly head and swore she wouldn’t let it control her.
Easier said than done, honestly.
Lunch eventually ended, and they spent a few minutes in the bathroom touching up their makeup and talking before the inevitable return to their classes. This time, however, Mac felt bold. Whether it was from jealousy or a sudden surge of bravery, she wasn’t sure, but she found herself moving in close to Veronica and standing up on her toes to try and reach her neck.
Veronica chuckled and stooped down a little bit, baring her neck and allowing Mac to scent her.
She resisted the urge to snarl as Chandler’s scent met her nose, nuzzling Veronica’s throat and spreading her own scent over her skin, purring with contentment when she smelled her own scent mingling with Veronica’s. She had to remind herself to be respectful and not get too into it, but she managed to scent Veronica without turning it into something inappropriate, though something in her chest ached at the loss of contact.
Veronica scented her in return, and Mac felt herself relax into it, feeling happy and safe with her pack omega’s scent on her. She wondered if this was how Veronica felt. If it was, Mac wanted to scent her more often, so she could feel like this all the time. It was a wonderful feeling of security, of warmth. She couldn’t believe she’d been missing out on it this whole time.
Duke left the stall a few moments later, shooting her a dirty look before all but pulling Veronica down to her level to scent her, nosing insistently at Veronica’s scent glands and grinning with satisfaction when she pulled away.
Mac could smell Duke’s scent as well as her own clinging to Veronica’s skin, and surprisingly, she didn’t feel the jealousy surging up and clawing at her chest. Maybe she just wanted to be on equal footing with their pack alpha, to scent their omega and make her feel like one of their pack. Maybe that’s all she or Duke wanted.
Nah, she definitely still wanted to court Veronica.
Veronica purred as she flopped backwards onto her bed, tugging the collar of her blazer up and over her nose. The Heathers’ scents were still there, and likely wouldn’t be gone for a while. It was nice to have them all scenting her like part of the pack.
Chandler’s scenting must have made them want to do it. Or it at least showed them that it was okay to scent her. She was glad. She was used to Betty and Martha scenting her a lot, and not having that had been taking a toll on her.
She curled up in the bed, pulling the covers over herself. She was relaxed and happy and warm and safe. Her pack was figuring out how to take care of an omega, and she was actually starting to enjoy being around all of them.
They were all still learning how to act around one another, but so far things seemed to be going well. Being the only omega in the pack was still a little odd, but she was getting the hang of things.
She had to resist the urge to tuck her blazer into her nest with the other things the Heathers had scented. It smelled amazing, but she needed to wear it for school. At least that would probably keep other alphas away from her. Even when they thought she was a beta, they had a tendency to be kind of creepy and pushy. She hoped she wouldn’t have to deal with it while the Heathers’ scents were on her.
“Veronica!” Her mother’s voice made her jump a bit. “Dinner will be ready soon!”
“Alright! I’ll be right down!” Veronica slid off the bed and pulled the blazer a bit tighter around her, before going downstairs to the kitchen.
Her dad was standing in front of the stove, and he smiled as she walked in. “Hey there, pup. We’re having spaghetti tonight.”
“Lots of oregano?”
He chuckled. “As always.”
Veronica grinned. “Do you want any help?”
“If you could help your mother set the table, that would be great,” he said, “Other than that, I think I’ve got everything handled.”
Veronica nodded and left to see how her mother was doing in the dining room.
“Dad said you might want a hand,” she said.
“Oh! That would be wonderful, dear,” her mother smiled as they set the table together, making sure everything looked just right. “How are things with your new pack?”
“They’re going well. The Heathers are kind of clueless about omegas, but they’re figuring it out.”
Her mother nodded approvingly. “Just make sure they don’t try to push you into letting them court you.”
“Mom!” Veronica felt her face warm. “They’re just friends!”
Her mother chuckled. “I could smell your jacket from here as soon as you set foot in the kitchen. An alpha doesn’t get that enthusiastic about scenting an omega unless they intend to court them.”
Veronica huffed. “I really think they’re just clueless. Heather said she can’t even remember the last time someone scented her.”
“Nobody’s scented her before?” Her father walked into the room and wrapped his arms around her mother’s waist. “That’s just terrible.”
Veronica shrugged. “Apparently her dad has a few ideas about how alphas should be.”
Her mother rolled her eyes disapprovingly. “It’s traditionalists like that that used to think betas and omegas shouldn’t be allowed to marry each other.”
“Lucky for us, those kinds of alphas don’t get to tell us what to do,” her dad grinned, kissing her mother’s cheek.
“Mom, Dad. PDA.”
Her dad laughed. “We’re in our own home, pup. There’s nothing public about it.”
“There is when it’s in the communal spaces,” Veronica said.
“She has a point, dear,” her mother said, gently freeing herself from his hold, “Come on. Let’s eat. We can talk more over dinner.”
Her dad ruffled her hair playfully as he went back into the kitchen, and Veronica purred a little in contentment.
Her parents were sweet, to her and to each other, and they made sure she knew that being an omega would never make her any less than anyone else. Her mother, an omega, taught her how to build nests when she was younger, and encouraged her to build them if she needed a place to decompress. Her father, a kind, even-tempered beta, taught her how to keep herself calm in the event that she couldn’t build a nest or have her packmates scent her. They made sure she was safe and happy without coddling her, and she appreciated their guidance.
Her mother enrolled her in self-defense classes after she presented.
“I hate that you need to know this,” she’d said, “But there are a lot of alphas out there that won’t listen if you tell them no, and you need to be able to keep yourself safe.”
Veronica agreed that the system was fucked up, but she was also glad for the lessons. She felt more confident knowing that she could protect herself and her packmates if anything happened.
Still, her father taught her not to rush into confrontations, so she did her best not to escalate a situation to that point.
Now, she was a proud, confident omega, and she knew that her parents were proud of the person she was becoming. They trusted her judgement, and they listened to her.
She couldn’t even begin to imagine what her life would have been like if she’d been raised in a traditionalist household.
Dinner was filled with easy chatter and light conversation. Neither of her parents said anything more about the Heathers, for which Veronica was grateful. She’d only known them for a few weeks, after all. It seemed a little too soon for her to be thinking about whether or not she wanted them courting her.
She was washing dishes with her mother when the subject was brought up again.
“If those alphas do end up courting you,” she said, “Just remember to use protection.”
“Oh my god, mom!”
Chandler sighed with relief as she pulled into her driveway and noticed the absence of her father’s car.
“Must be working late,” she muttered as she killed the engine.
She made her way up to the front porch, unlocking the door and taking her heels off as soon as she was inside.
“I’m home!” she called, not expecting an answer. Her parents were distant at the best of times.
Today, though, her mother came rushing up to her, eyes wide in alarm.
“You need to wash that off.”
Her mother put her hands on her shoulders. “If your father comes home and smells you, he’s going to have something to say about it, and I don’t know how much of his lectures you believe, but I’d rather not have to hear him talk about what he thinks of omegas if he gets back and you still smell like one.”
Heather had absolutely no idea what her mother was talking about. “Omega? I haven’t even talked to any omegas today.”
Her mother stared at her for a long moment, before sighing heavily. “Right. Well, you should still wash that smell off before he gets home. You know what he thinks about alphas having their pack’s scents on them.”
Heather rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I remember.”
Veronica scrolled through her phone’s contacts, wondering whether it would be a good idea to text the Heathers. Mac was the most outwardly affectionate, but Duke would probably be content to keep her company while they each did their own thing, and Chandler was obviously touch-starved. Any of them would likely be okay with coming over. Still, inviting anyone into her nest was a big show of trust. She knew Mac and Duke wouldn’t take it lightly, but she still had no idea how much Chandler knew about pack etiquette, especially in regards to a nest.
She was probably overthinking it, she decided. With that, she opened a new message and added all three of the Heathers to it.
Anyone wanna come over and hang out?
That was casual enough, right? She didn’t give herself time to dwell on it as she hit the send key.
Duke bolted upright in her bed at the sound of her phone buzzing. She rolled over onto her side and grabbed it from her nightstand, her book momentarily forgotten.
Duke typed out a quick reply and jumped out of bed.
Getting in the car now.
On her way out the door, she sent a quick text to Mac asking if she needed a ride, and as soon as she accepted the offer, Duke started the drive to Mac’s house.
Mac was bouncing on the balls of her feet in anticipation as she waited for Duke to arrive, excited to be around Veronica for a while.
In the right pocket of her blazer was a small box wrapped in blue paper. A trinket to offer the omega. More than that, though, it was a declaration of intent.
She hoped Veronica would accept it.
Chandler was the first to arrive, with an overnight bag in her car just in case, although she didn’t want to be presumptuous.
It’s just good to be prepared, she told herself.
Still, a part of her hoped Veronica would invite her to stay.
Veronica led her into the living room, gesturing for her to sit down on the couch. A bit odd, considering they usually stayed in Veronica’s bedroom, but Chandler found herself unwilling to argue and risk being kicked out.
Not that that had ever stopped her before.
Why was she acting so weird?
Mac and Duke arrived together, and once the three of them were all gathered, Veronica led them upstairs.
“Now,” Veronica said, her voice high and posture tense, “I kind of wanted to show you all something.”
The Heathers were already intrigued.
“Right. So…” Veronica cleared her throat and the door swung open.
Chandler had never seen another person’s nest before. Her eyes widened at the sight of the clothes Veronica had given them to scent, each tucked into the nest just so. It looked cozy. Big enough for more than one person, but soft and warm and perfect for cuddling up to one another.
Duke and Mac stood in a similar state of shock, eyes flicking back and forth between Veronica and the nest on the floor.
“I thought you said you kept your nest in the guest room,” Duke murmured.
Veronica nodded. “I did, but I wanted to show it to you.”
“Can I?” Mac took a tentative step forward. At Veronica’s encouraging nod, she moved in closer, kneeling down once she was right next to it, running her hands along the soft blankets and cushions. “It’s soft.”
“You can get in, if you want.”
Mac looked up at her, blinking owlishly, before crawling cautiously into the nest, careful not to dislodge anything.
Duke followed, getting into the nest with the same reverence as Mac.
Chandler was confused. “Why are you being so careful? It’s not like you’re gonna break anything.”
Duke huffed. “Being invited into someone else’s nest is a big deal, Heather.”
Mac nodded. “It’s a big show of trust. The fact that Veronica’s even letting us see her nest means a lot.”
Veronica stood stiffly at Chandler’s side, wringing her hands. “I just... since you all started scenting me, I’ve been feeling more like a part of the pack, and I figured this would be a good way to show you that I consider you all to be part of my pack now.”
Chandler felt her heart squeeze at the pensive look on Veronica’s face. Nodding to herself, she stepped forward, picking out a spot near the center of the nest before climbing in and settling down.
Veronica beamed, crawling in with the Heathers and settling between Chandler and Mac. She twisted around a few times, trying to find a comfortable position, before letting out a huff and reaching over Chandler to tug Duke on top of her.
“There,” she said, “Now I’m close to all of you.”
Duke gave a purr in response, tucking her face into the crook of Veronica’s shoulder. Mac slung an arm over the pair, scooting closer until her face was pressed up against Veronica’s cheek.
At the sound of her packmates’ purring, Chandler felt her entire body go lax. She grabbed hold of Veronica’s arm and moved as close as she could, nosing at the other side of Veronica’s throat and letting out a purr of her own, the pack’s mingling scents causing her to drift off almost immediately. It was a safe, warm feeling, and Chandler savored every second before she fell asleep.
Veronica smiled as the alphas’ purrs gave way to soft snores, with little whines peppered in whenever they would accidentally disengage from the cuddle pile.
They’d have to have these group cuddle sessions often, she decided. It’d be good for all of them, having a safe place to just be close to one another. Omegas were known for needing a lot of affection from their packmates, but she had a feeling the alphas needed a little bit of tenderness, too.
Yeah, she’d definitely have to do this with them again soon.
Chandler gets... territorial, after Veronica's scent blockers wear off.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Chandler yawned and stretched, not daring to open her eyes and ruin her own contentment. With a sigh, she cuddled closer to her pack, nuzzling her face in Veronica’s neck and inhaling deeply, allowing the smell of the happy omega to settle around her in the nest.
That couldn’t be right. Except…
Except she knew what an omega smelled like, and she knew what Veronica smelled like, and Veronica was very clearly an omega.
So why hadn’t she known until now?
Frowning, she opened her eyes, squinting against the sunlight streaming in from the windows. Duke was still on top of Veronica, splayed out with her arms tossed over Chandler and Mac, her head tucked under Veronica’s chin as she snored softly, looking more peaceful than Chandler had ever seen her.
Mac was curled protectively around both of them, a leg slung over Veronica’s calf, her arm across Duke’s shoulders and her chin resting on Veronica’s hair, humming on every exhale.
Veronica seemed to have gone completely boneless at the center of their cuddle pile, surrounded by the three alphas. One hand fisted in Mac’s blazer, keeping her close, while the other held Chandler’s own hand securely.
Chandler felt a blush rise to her cheeks as she took in the scene. She’d never shared such an intimate moment with her pack before, but something about the nest just pushed all her worries away, leaving nothing but a pleasant fog settling over her mind.
No, she thought, It was something about Veronica. It was Chandler’s instincts reacting to being in close proximity to an omega. It was Veronica’s scent urging her into a sense of calm.
It felt amazing. She wanted to hold onto this feeling.
In order to do that, she had to hold onto Veronica.
With that, she returned her attention to the cuddle pile, growling when she realized that Duke and Mac weren’t just her packmates anymore. No, now they were competition. Competition for her omega. Her lip curled upwards in a snarl, and she felt the sudden impulse to scare them off so she could be alone with the omega.
Before she could move, however, Veronica’s expression changed in a way that made her look like she’d just sucked on a lemon. She opened her eyes, blinking rapidly and squinting, before locking eyes with Chandler.
“Stop that,” she mumbled.
Veronica groaned. “Stop getting all territorial. It’s making you smell.”
Chandler puffed up in indignation. “Excuse me?”
Veronica huffed, fixing her with an unamused stare. “Your scent changes with your emotions. I have a sensitive nose. Your aggression stinks. Fix your attitude before I kick you out of my house.”
Chandler scoffed. “Like an omega’s going to tell me what to do.”
Veronica’s eyes widened in shock, and with her stronger scent, Chandler began to understand what Veronica meant when she said that she smelled different when her emotions changed.
Veronica smelled like fear.
Chandler hated it.
“My scent blockers,” Veronica whispered, eyes darting to the bathroom door where the aforementioned blockers sat.
Chandler frowned. “Why are you so freaked out?”
“Because I’m an omega! ” Veronica hissed, “And I’m surrounded by alphas! I feel like I have a right to freak out!”
Chandler growled. “What does us being alphas have to do with anything?”
“ Literally everything.” Veronica ran a hand through her hair, taking deep, shuddering breaths. “I’m on the floor in my room with three alphas, and I’ve taken self-defense classes, but it’s not like I’m really in a position where I can fight.”
Chandler didn’t like what Veronica was insinuating. “You don’t actually think any of us would try anything, do you?”
“I have no way of knowing whether you would or not, so it’s better to prepare myself for the possibility that you might,” Veronica said, then, “I sort of trust Heather and Heather, but…”
“But you don’t trust me.”
“It’s not like that,” Veronica insisted.
“The hell it’s not!”
Veronica growled low in her throat. “I wouldn’t have invited you into my nest if I didn’t trust you. My nest is where I feel safest, and I wouldn’t let you anywhere near it if I felt threatened by you.”
“Then why are you so fucking scared of me?”
“Because if I trust the wrong kind of alphas, then someone's gonna get hurt, and that someone is pretty fucking likely to be me!”
Chandler reeled back, eyes wide.
Veronica grimaced. “I’m… I’m just not safe around alphas. Like, in general. And Heather and Heather can say that they’re different, and you can say that you’re different, but what happens if my heat starts? Will you be different then? Or if you decide to court me, and I refuse. Will you still be different? Anyone can promise that I’m safe around them, but I can’t afford to believe them all.”
Chandler felt a sharp spike of guilt course through her. “I…”
Veronica sighed, “Look, just… I need you to prove to me that I can trust you, okay? I can’t just take your word for it. I’m part of your pack, you’re in my nest, I’m in a very vulnerable position right now. Show me that I won’t regret making myself vulnerable around you.”
“And between you and me,” Veronica smirked, “You can start by not getting all jealous when Heather and Heather are close to me.”
Chandler glared down at her, before letting out a huff and lying back down. “I’ll try,” she muttered, “But don’t expect results overnight.”
“‘Course not,” Veronica murmured, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.”
Chandler inched closer to Veronica, tentatively reaching out to rejoin the pile.
Veronica rolled her eyes and took Chandler’s hand, tugging her closer. “Come here.”
Chandler followed, eager to be close to Veronica again, and eager to prove that she was different. That she could be trusted.
It was likely to be a difficult process, but whatever. Chandler liked a challenge.
And she liked Veronica.
She really liked Veronica.
She’d have to prove herself before Heather or Heather decided to try and court her.
How did Duke and Mac not wake up during that whole exchange? The world may never know.
Y'all asked for pack interactions with Betty and Martha, and now here it is!
Veronica sighed as she sprawled out in the middle of the bed, sinking into the blankets and allowing herself to let out a content purr.
“So,” Betty started, laying across Veronica’s back, “Why’d you want to talk to us? Do we need to rescue you from the Heathers?”
At the mention of her other pack, Veronica tensed, all previous thoughts of relaxation forgotten.
“Did something happen?” Martha asked, wiggling into place next to her.
Veronica reached into her pocket and pulled out a simple silver chain necklace with a bright blue sapphire pendant. Both the chain and the charm shimmered in the light.
Betty frowned, “And that is…”
“A courting gift,” Veronica mumbled, “From Heather McNamara.”
Martha gasped. “Oh. My. Gosh.”
“When did this happen?”
Veronica whined. “Yesterday.”
Getting the Heathers to finally leave her nest and her house so she could have some time alone was a feat in itself. They’d all been especially clingy since they first caught a whiff of her scent without the blockers she took, and it was beginning to get a bit suffocating.
She had finally managed to get them all out the door, at least. Chandler and Duke were on their way to their respective cars when Mac turned back to face her.
“Before I go, I wanted to…” Mac trailed off, jamming her hands into her blazer pockets and averting her gaze.
Veronica gave her an encouraging smile. “Whatever it is, you don’t have to be scared of telling me.”
Mac nodded, steeling herself, before pulling a small rectangular box out of her pocket and pressing it into Veronica’s hand.
“You don’t have to accept,” Mac said, “But… I’d like you to keep the present, even if you’re not interested in… y’know. I just. I don’t want you to think that you have to let me court you, but like, I’d like to.”
Veronica stared down at the box in her hands, eyes wide. “I don’t… really know…”
“You don’t have to say anything yet,” Mac said, “It’s totally fine if you don’t have an answer. Think about it, though?”
Veronica nodded, still not quite comprehending what was happening, and Mac trotted over to Chandler’s car, waving at her as the car pulled out of the driveway, almost as though the whole exchange hadn’t even happened.
Veronica turned around and went back inside, closing the front door and leaning back against it before carefully unwrapping and opening the box and seeing the elegant silver chain, and everything began to suddenly fall into place in her mind.
“So what are you gonna do about it?” Betty asked.
Veronica groaned. “I don’t know. If I wear it to school tomorrow, then it’s as good as accepting her offer, but if I don’t, then it’ll look like a refusal, and I don’t want to hurt her, but… I don’t know, y’know?”
“Well, it’s something you like, at least,” Martha said, “You love silver. And the blue would go with your outfit.”
“Yeah, but did she pick it because she knows I like it, or just because she wants to see me wearing it?”
Betty snorted. “If an alpha gives someone a courting gift and they don’t like it, that’s already grounds for a refusal. If she wants to court you, she doesn’t really have any other choice than to consider what you’d like.”
“I guess…” Veronica rolled onto her back. “But I’m not sure if I really want to be an omega stereotype, y’know? Being courted by an alpha and all that.”
Betty rolled her eyes. “So what if you let an alpha court you? That doesn’t mean you’re some submissive omega stereotype that can’t do anything for themself. You know that you don’t need an alpha, and that’s really all that matters. Anyone who thinks otherwise can go fuck themselves.”
Veronica chuckled. “Yeah.”
“Plus, who’s to say you couldn’t defy a few stereotypes while you’re being courted?” Martha asked, “Heather McNamara’s an alpha, sure, but everyone likes a little TLC from time to time, and there’s nothing that says courting is a one way street. You can shower her in gifts and make her feel special, too.”
Veronica nodded thoughtfully.
“And none of that stuff you’ve told us even really matters in the grand scheme of things,” Betty said, “All that matters is what you want. So, do you want to accept her offer?”
The decision was surprisingly easy to make when put in Betty’s terms.
“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”
The alpha smiled proudly. “Then you’ve got your answer.”
Martha squealed giddily, the smaller omega pulling Veronica into her arms. “I’m so happy for you!”
“Wonder if the other Heathers plan to try and court you,” Betty mused, “If they do, there might be some infighting in the pack.”
“Veronica’s poly though,” Martha pointed out, “She could just let them all court her.”
Betty laughed. “Now there’s an idea. An omega with a bunch of alphas.”
“Better than an alpha with a bunch of omegas,” Veronica quipped.
“Ugh,” Betty rolled her eyes, “Imagine being that stereotype.”
Veronica’s nose wrinkled. “I’d rather not, thanks.”
Martha shuddered. “Can we not talk about that sort of thing in the cuddle pile?”
“Yeah, no worries.” Betty nuzzled her face into Martha’s neck, scenting her and purring.
Veronica relaxed again, happy to push her worries from her mind and just be with her pack.
Tomorrow will bring what it brings, she thought, No use stressing myself out about it.
The necklace in her pocket seemed a lot lighter now that the anxious thoughts attached to it weren’t weighing her down anymore.
Some courting, some exposition, and Veronica's dad being awesome.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Veronica woke up Monday morning practically vibrating with excitement, snatching up the necklace from her nightstand before she’d even put on her glasses. Once she’d taken her suppressants and scent blockers, put her contacts in, and her appearance was deemed acceptable, she ran downstairs and ate breakfast with her parents, half eagerly anticipating and half dreading the moment that Chandler’s car horn pierced the quiet atmosphere of the morning.
Except… that didn’t end up happening.
Instead, the doorbell rang, followed quickly by a polite knock at the front door.
“Who could that be this early?” Mr. Sawyer asked.
“I got it,” Veronica said, standing up and making her way to the door.
The door opened, and Veronica’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline at the sight of Heather Chandler standing outside.
“Well color me surprised,” Veronica quipped, “You do know how to knock.”
Chandler scoffed, but didn’t offer her own biting retort. “C’mon, we don’t want to be late,” she said instead.
Veronica went back to the dining room to say goodbye to her parents and grab her bag, before leaving the house with Chandler in tow. Strange, she thought. The alpha never walked behind anyone.
“Where’s Heather?” she asked, “You usually pick her up before me.”
“She got a ride with Heather today for some reason,” Chandler shrugged.
Veronica hummed. “Hey, do you know what kinds of things would make a good gift for her?”
“No real reason,” she said, “But like, I’d like to be able to get her something nice for her birthday when it comes up.” As she spoke, she recalled her conversation with Betty and Martha the day before. I could court them all if I wanted, couldn’t I? “Actually, isn’t your birthday coming up soon?”
Another shrug. “Yeah.”
“Anything specific you’d like?” Veronica pried as she buckled her seatbelt, “Or maybe just some things that you like that I might be able to get?”
Chandler seemed to mull it over for a while as she started the car and began the drive to school. “Pink.”
“Pink. It’s my favorite color.”
Not much to go on, but Veronica supposed she’d be able to make do. “Alright. What about Heather and Heather?”
Chandler seemed to consider her words very carefully, before letting out a sigh. “Heather likes red, which is kind of dumb, because it clashes with her outfit so much, but if it’s something small, then it shouldn’t be that bad. And Heather obviously likes yellow, and she’s kind of into bugs or whatever. It’s honestly kind of weird.”
Veronica could feel an idea taking shape in her mind. “Cool, thanks for the help!” she chirped.
Chandler smiled. “It’s nothing.”
“No, it’s not,” Veronica insisted, “Seriously, you have no idea how helpful you’ve been already.” Despite being incredibly vague.
Veronica walked into the school building with her head held high and the necklace Mac had given her catching the light as she walked through the hall to the bathroom the Heathers had claimed, smiling at Duke and Mac and grinning wider when she noticed how Mac’s gaze flicked down to the pendant sitting against her chest.
“Morning,” she sang, leaning nonchalantly against the counter.
“You’re awfully chipper this morning,” Duke observed.
“For good reason,” she said, “I haven’t gotten to cuddle with my pack like that in weeks and it’s been seriously messing with me.”
“Why’s that?” Chandler asked, leaning close to the mirror to touch up her lipstick.
Veronica rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “Everyone needs quality time with their packs,” she said, “But omegas tend to feel it a lot more. We need to feel safe, and hanging out with our packs makes us feel safe, so if we go too long without plenty of quality time and physical affection, we can get jumpy and skittish, and, worst case scenario, some omegas go feral because their instincts tell them they’re not safe and they kind of lose themselves.
The Heathers’ eyes were all on her.
“But it’s fine!” she insisted, “I started to notice that I was feeling a little defensive, but our pack cuddle session fixed that right up!”
That seemed to calm them down.
“Well,” Mac said, “Next time, let us know if you need pack time. If it’s good for you, then we’re more than happy to do it.”
“Thanks,” Veronica said, “But you know it’s good for alphas too, right? Alphas don’t talk about it, but they can suffer just as much as omegas when they don’t get enough pack bonding time.”
Mac grinned. “Guess we’ll just have to have more pack bonding sessions then, huh, Heather?”
Chandler blinked. “Y-yeah. I guess so.”
Veronica waved at Chandler as she pulled out of the driveway, waiting until the car disappeared from the neighborhood before going inside and making her way to her father’s study.
“Hey dad,” she called, “I need your help with something.”
“Sure thing, kiddo!” He smiled warmly at her, pushing the papers on his desk to the side. He was probably grateful for the distraction. “What do you need help with?”
“I need to find courting gifts for the three alphas in my new pack,” she explained, toying with her new pendant as she spoke, “One of them already gave me a courting gift, but I still want to get her something, just to show her that that part of the relationship isn’t gonna be totally one-sided.”
His eyes widened in surprise, before a conspiratorial grin settled across his face. “What did you have in mind?”
Feel free to take a guess as to what kind of courting gift Veronica's gonna get each of them :3c
It took a while to get her hands on a courting gift for Mac, but she eventually managed to find what she was looking for. For Duke, it was easy enough to gather the materials and make the gift herself. Her dad was more than happy to help her with both, and two weeks later, she had their gifts.
Unfortunately, she still hadn’t figured out what to give Chandler.
“Seriously,” she huffed, pacing the length of her room while Betty and Martha watched from the bed, “The only hint she gave me is the fact that she likes the color pink! What am I supposed to do with that?!”
“Maybe nothing,” Betty suggested, “Maybe it’s a red herring. Considering her whole general aesthetic, it’d be appropriate.”
Martha snorted. “Maybe do something similar to what you did for one of the others? It couldn’t hurt anything.”
“Yes it could!” Veronica insisted, “I’ve got to get her something she’ll definitely like so she knows I’m serious about wanting to court her!”
Betty snickered. “Maybe the big, strong alpha feels threatened by the idea of an omega making the first move.”
Veronica glared at a spot on the wall. “If she feels like less of an alpha just because she didn’t ask to court me before I asked her, then she can forget about me wanting to court her at all until she grows the hell up.”
Martha and Betty nodded in agreement.
“Still,” Betty said, “I think you’re stressing a bit too much. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You could just go off your scent blockers for a day and she’d be wrapped around your little finger.”
Veronica shot her an unimpressed look. “I think I’m above using my pheromones to seduce her, Betty.”
“I know, I know,” Betty muttered, “But you have to admit, having the kind of scent that would make an alpha bend over backwards to please you just for the chance to smell it is a pretty great tool to have at your disposal.”
“Do you know of anything else she’d like?” Martha asked.
“Sadly no,” Veronica sighed, running a hand through her hair, “She’s a closed book in pretty much every way.”
“So you’ve got one clue and four days until her birthday,” Betty mused, “Sounds like you’re right between a rock and a hard place.”
Martha hummed thoughtfully, before perking up, grinning excitedly at Veronica. “She likes fashion, right? You could get her clothes! I’ll even make the gift if you want!”
Veronica shook her head. “I want it to be something I made. Or at least something I got with her in mind.”
She found her inspiration, surprisingly, with Duke.
“Hey, I was wondering if you could tell me what Heather might like for her birthday,” she said, trying to sound casual.
Duke barely looked up from her book. “Her favorite color is pink, she likes musicals, and she’s like, unfairly good at art.”
Veronica blinked. “What kind of art?”
Duke shrugged. “Y’know. Painting, drawing, sculpting, that kind of stuff. You should see her sketchbook. Some of those drawings are ridiculously detailed.”
Veronica grinned. “Thanks! I really appreciate it!”
One rather expensive online purchase later, Veronica had managed to find courting gifts for all of the Heathers, along with an actual birthday present for Chandler.
“Don’t you think it’s kind of redundant to give Heather McNamara a courting gift though?” Betty asked, “I mean, she did already give you one, and you accepted.”
“I told you already,” Veronica said, “I want her to know that our relationship isn’t going to be one-sided. Besides, it’s like Martha said. She may be an alpha, but she probably still wants to feel special sometimes.”
“So, when are you giving them their gifts?” Martha asked.
“Well, Heather’s birthday present is first, obviously, and then I’m thinking of waiting about a week to give them the courting gifts.”
“All at once?” Betty asked.
“Why not? That way none of them will feel less important than the others.”
Betty nodded in understanding. “Tell us how it goes so we know whether to celebrate or throw a pity party.”
Veronica snorted. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“Happy birthday,” Veronica said, sliding into the passenger’s seat of chandler’s car and depositing a wrapped box on her lap.
Chandler blinked, before picking up the box to examine it. It was a tin box, and it rattled a bit when she shook it. “What is it?”
“A gift,” Veronica replied.
“Thanks captain obvious,” Chandler quipped, “But what’s in it?”
Veronica smiled innocently, pinching her pointer finger and thumb together and moving them across her lips as though she was pulling a zipper.
Chandler snorted. “Fine. Don’t tell me. I’ll just go ahead and open it.”
“Fine by me.”
With that, Chandler ripped away the wrapping paper, eyes widening at the brand name written across the lid.
“Do you have any idea how expensive these charcoals are?!” she gasped.
Veronica shrugged. “Heather said you’re, and I quote, unfairly good at art, so I figured art supplies would be appropriate. Besides, only the best for you, right?”
Chandler stared at her for a long moment, before sliding the tin box carefully into her bag.
“That must have cost you a lot of money.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Veronica said, “I mean, for twenty-four pencils the price seems a bit steep, but I wasn’t about to get you a set of cheap charcoals.”
Chandler chuckled as she started the car and backed out of Veronica’s driveway. “You’re something else, you know that, Sawyer?”
Veronica grinned, and the rest of the ride passed in comfortable silence.
“Okay,” Veronica muttered, “The gifts are all in my bag, and I know what I’m gonna say. I’ve got this. I can do this. Just give them the gifts and ask to court them. No biggie.”
Duke’s gift had given her some trouble with how long it took to make, but all in all, she was satisfied with it, and Mac and Chandler’s gifts were easy enough to get ahold of, if a little on the expensive side, and she was sure she’d done well enough that they’d like the gifts.
If they didn’t, she’d definitely be calling Betty and Martha for a pity party later.
She finished her breakfast in record time, and ended up pacing around the living room as she waited for Chandler to arrive to pick her up. Finally, there was a knock at the door. Veronica still wasn’t used to Chandler being polite. She opened the door and followed the alpha to the car, twisting the shoulder strap of her bag nervously.
“Is everything alright?” Chandler asked.
Veronica felt her shoulders tense before she could stop herself. “Yeah. Why do you ask?”
“You seem kind of jumpy.”
“Just… there’s something I need to do today and it’s making me kind of nervous,” she said.
Chandler nodded. “I’m all ears if you want to talk about it.”
“Thanks,” Veronica murmured, “Really. It means a lot.”
Chandler smiled as the car pulled into the student parking lot. “Don’t worry about it.”
Veronica felt her cheeks flush as she followed Chandler through the halls to the bathroom, where Mac and Duke were waiting.
“Morning!” Mac chirped, grinning up at Veronica.
Veronica offered a shaky grin in return.
Mac frowned. “Veronica? Are you alright?”
Veronica bit her lip, shifting her weight from foot to foot as the Heathers all focused on her.
“Actually,” she squeaked, “I had something I wanted to talk to the three of you about.”
“What is it?” Duke asked.
“It’s uh…” Veronica grabbed her bag and started rooting through it, “It’s actually better if I show you, I think.”
One by one, she gathered the courting gifts, handing Mac a box not much larger than the one Mac had given her, before handing Chandler another wrapped box, remarkably similar to the one with the charcoals, and Duke an envelope.
“I uh, hope you like them,” she said.
“Veronica,” Mac said, “What’s this?”
“They’re courting gifts,” Veronica muttered, “I want to court the three of you. And I know you already gave me a gift, and I accepted, but I wanted to give you something too, because I figured you deserve to feel special too, y’know?”
Mac beamed, tearing through the wrapping paper and lifting the lid off of the jewelry box to reveal a shimmery gold dragonfly pendant on a black braided cord.
“What do you think?”
Mac grinned. “It’s beautiful.”
Chandler stared in disbelief at the box of colored pencils. “First charcoals and now these?”
Veronica shrugged. “I wanted you to have high quality art supplies. It’s just another set of twenty-four, but I hope you like them.”
“Veronica, this is…” Chandler gestured wildly with the hand that wasn’t holding the tin. “I didn’t expect you to ask to court me in the first place, but… this is… I don’t know how to respond to this.”
“I mean… would you like me to court you?”
“Yes. Absolutely. You don’t even need to ask me.” Chandler grabbed Veronica’s wrist with her free hand, tugging her close and scenting her. “I never even saw this coming.”
Duke, who had been watching the scene unfold, finally took the opportunity to open the envelope. Inside was-
Veronica nodded. “I wanted to give you something you’d be able to use. I made it myself.”
Duke turned it over in her hands, examining the pressed flowers suspended between what she assumed were laminate sheets. Next to a few of the blooms were small slips of paper with Veronica’s own elegant handwriting on them in blue ink.
Holding the bookmark up to her face, Duke read the words aloud.
“Clematis: Mental Beauty. Fern: Fascination. Ranunculus: You are rich in attractions. Honeysuckle: Generous and devoted affection.” Duke’s face turned a pretty shade of pink, and she looked up to lock eyes with Veronica. “You really think all that stuff about me?”
Veronica smiled. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have put them in the bookmark.”
Duke huffed. “Well fuck. I’m never going to be able to get ahold of a courting gift that tops this.”
“Does that mean you accept?”
Duke snorted. “Between this and the fact that I was trying to figure out how to ask you to let me court you, it’d be pretty impossible for me to refuse.”
Veronica couldn’t have contained her smile if she had wanted to.
Chandler's possessive, and other alphas are creeps.
If one were to ask the Heathers how they felt after Veronica asked to court them, “lighter than air” would be an accurate way to describe it.
Chandler in particular had been in an extra good mood for a little over a week as the four of them started planning out how best to share Veronica’s time without overwhelming any of them.
Today, though, as Veronica sat down next to her at the lunch table, Chandler caught the faintest whiff of agitation in Veronica’s scent.
“Something wrong?” Duke asked, slipping her bookmark between the pages of her book and putting it down to offer her full attention.
Veronica shrugged. “Just more alphas and betas trying to hit on me. I’ll live.”
That sent a spike of red hot anger through Chandler’s veins.
“Give me their names and I’ll make sure they never even look at you funny again,” she growled.
Veronica rolled her eyes at the show of aggression. “It’s fine. They’re just pushy sometimes. Especially Kurt and Ram,” she snorted, “God, it’d probably be even worse if people knew I’m an omega.”
Chandler snarled at the thought of anyone, alpha or otherwise, trying to take her omega away.
Mac frowned. “Heather, cut it out. You’re not intimidating anyone, and you’re definitely not impressing Veronica.”
Chandler huffed, still quietly growling, but managed to relax her posture into something that wasn’t inherently threatening.
“You can’t tell me you’re not upset about that, too,” Chandler said.
“Well, of course I am,” Mac said, “But it’s more that I hate that she has to feel so uncomfortable all the time, instead of just feeling like someone else is trying to step on my turf. We don’t own her, you know. We may be courting her, but that doesn’t change the fact that she belongs to herself.”
Duke nodded. “Honesty, it bothers us just as much as it bothers you, if not more so, but for us…”
“It’s about her safety,” Mac said, “She’s…” she scanned the area around them, making sure nobody was within earshot, before dropping her voice to a low whisper, “She’s an omega, Heather. If someone was… sufficiently motivated, they could really hurt her.”
Chandler’s eyes went wide with fear and protective rage. “I…”
Duke sighed. “Look, none of us know what she goes through. We’ll likely never have to deal with what she deals with, but we can do our best to be aware of what could happen, and help when she needs us. We’re courting her, and she’s part of our pack, which means we all need to step up and be there for her. Your possessive alpha bullshit won’t help anything.”
Veronica groaned. “Can we not talk about this right now? It’s fucking with my head and I kinda hate talking about it.”
The Heathers offered no argument, and the topics of conversation stayed light throughout lunch.
Chandler found herself racing to the bathroom that she and the other Heathers used as their regular meeting spot, having been unable to get their earlier conversation out of her head, anxious to make sure Veronica was safe. When she opened the door, she noted with no small measure of relief that Veronica was there with the others, smiling brightly as she listened to Duke talk about the book she was reading for English. Mac was standing behind her, arms wrapped snugly around her waist, and Chandler could hear her purring from the doorway.
“Am I interrupting something?” she asked, smirking in satisfaction at the way Duke and Mac jumped slightly when they heard her voice.
Veronica shrugged. “Not really. Heather was telling me about her day, but other than that, there’s nothing to interrupt.”
Mac nuzzled her head in between Veronica’s shoulder blades, purring even louder now as she scented the tall omega.
Chandler felt a surge of pride at the pack she had. The lack of jealousy was a bit puzzling, as she had assumed she’d feel territorial over Veronica for at least a few weeks, but none of that instinct to keep Veronica away from the others was there.
Veronica’s purring soothed her, and she could tell from the others’ relaxed posture that they were feeling its effects, too.
Chandler wanted nothing more than to wrap herself in the mixing scents of her packmates, letting it all wash over her, but her father’s lessons held her back.
“C’mon,” she said, straightening her posture and gesturing towards the door, “We’ve gotta go.”
Mac whined, but released Veronica from her hold, who just laughed and grabbed Mac’s hand, nuzzling against her palm and pressing a quick kiss there.
The four were walking together down the hallway towards the exit when Veronica was accosted by some alpha whose name Chandler hadn’t cared to remember.
“Hello there, beautiful,” he purred, the sound setting off something angry and territorial in Chandler.
Veronica huffed. “Is there a reason you stopped me on my way out, or can I go?”
His smile dropped slightly, but he continued undeterred. “Come on, sweetheart, don’t be like that. I just wanted to talk for a bit.”
Veronica arched a brow, and Chandler was almost proud of how unimpressed Veronica managed to look.
“First of all,” she said, “Unless you’re courting me, you don’t get to call me ‘sweetheart.’ Second, I don’t really care that you just wanna talk, I’m trying to go home and you’re keeping me here, of all places.”
He leered at her now, his gaze becoming something noticeably predatory. “Well then, why not let me court you? I’d treat a pretty thing like you right. ”
“ Sure, you would,” Veronica scoffed, “You and every other alpha who’s just looking for somewhere to stick their knot. The least you could do is come up with some new material instead of using the same old lines.”
The idiot actually growled for a moment, before schooling his face back into that sickeningly sweet smirk. “How’s this for new material, honey?” he demanded, his hand coming up to grab her waist.
At that moment, Chandler could almost feel her frayed patience snapping as she grabbed Veronica’s arm and pulled her down to her level, scenting her almost aggressively, marking her with intent, and staring down the other alpha with a look that told him that she was seconds away from castrating him with her bare hands.
“Fuck off,” Chandler growled, “ I’m courting her already, and since you obviously don’t know how to listen when people give you signals that they’re not interested, I’ll spell it out for you. She has standards, and you don’t meet them, so take your disgusting filth elsewhere and don’t bother her again. ”
The speed with which the other alpha’s expression shifted between stubbornly creepy and outright scared was almost unreal. He stumbled back and stammered out an apology before scurrying off with his tail between his legs.
Chandler scoffed. “Yeah, he’d better fucking run.”
Veronica sighed. “Part of me feels like I should be mad at you for that, but honestly that guy was creepy as hell, so thanks.”
Chandler nodded. “I can’t stand people who can’t just fucking take a hint.”
“You and me both,” Veronica groaned, “I especially hate people who don’t back off unless I tell them I’m seeing someone already.”
“Ugh, those kinds of alphas are the worst,” Mac griped, “Like they don’t respect betas or omegas as much as they respect their partners.”
Duke cleared her throat apprehensively. “Am I a terrible person for being sort of glad for the excuse to scent Veronica whenever I can?”
Veronica giggled. “Honestly, I was probably gonna ask you to eventually, so I won’t hold it against you.”
Chandler chuckled. “Alright, c’mon, let’s get going. Don’t want your parents to think we kidnapped you or something.”
Traditionalist alphas are assholes.
Ever since Chandler had started courting Veronica, she would freely admit that she hadn’t been acting at all like the kind of alpha her father wanted her to be, and she was more than fine with that.
Veronica had been showing her how to embrace her “less acceptable” instincts, allowing herself to indulge just a bit more often in things that would make her father scoff and frown. In the few weeks they’d been courting, Chandler had built her first nest, participated in at least a dozen cuddle piles with her pack, and gone home near every day with their scents clinging to her.
She felt guilty for still not having finished the courting gift she planned to give Veronica. It had to be perfect before she was going to even consider handing it to the omega, and in order to finish it, she had to work in secret to keep her pack and her parents from finding it. She was proud of her progress, and at this point, she was reasonably certain that Veronica would like it, but it still wasn’t ready, and she shuddered at the thought of her father finding it and scolding her for putting so much effort into a courting gift.
His lectures were legendary. She’d once stood in the living room for hours while he lectured her about what alphas can and can’t do, and had finally been allowed to leave only to discover that there were imprints of her feet in the carpet where she had been standing. The week she had been grounded just for seeking comfort from her mother was less effective than the lecture she’d had to endure for it.
Veronica had taken all of his lessons and poked holes in them until they no longer held together, shredded his reasoning to bits and shown Chandler that she was the only one who got to decide what kind of alpha she was going to be. It was still difficult to indulge when her instincts leaned to the softer side of things, but she was learning.
She’d nearly finished her courting gift, and had just arrived home to work on it some more when she noticed her father’s car in the driveway. She cursed under her breath. He was almost never home this early. She’d have to be quick getting in if she wanted to avoid hearing him gripe about the combined smells of her packmates that still stuck to her skin.
She got out of her car, closing the door as softly as she could, before creeping up to the front door. It was probably futile, she thought. There was no way he wouldn’t be waiting nearby, even if he didn’t really care all that much about what she did. Still, she unlocked the door as quietly as she was able.
He was waiting just a few feet from the door, a bundle of fabric in his hands that Chandler immediately recognized. Her heart sank at his expression, her blood chilling as his nose wrinkled in distaste a moment after he saw her.
“Heather,” he said slowly, “What is this?”
Beside him stood her mother, frowning apologetically in a way that Chandler could tell meant that she’d tried to keep him from snooping. She was grateful, but a part of her thought her mother should have stayed out of it if she hadn’t wanted to be lectured as well.
“It’s a sweatshirt,” Chandler answered.
“I can see that,” he said, his voice taking on an edge that showed that he was already losing his patience, “Where did it come from?”
Chandler weighed her options. On the one hand, he might be more lenient if she told the truth. On the other, she was already in deep shit, so it didn’t really matter whether she lied or not.
“The omega I’m courting,” she confessed, “She gave it to me to scent so she can put it in her nest.”
“I see,” he replied, “And you are aware that a proper alpha doesn’t bathe themselves in their pack’s scents unless they’re an absolute weakling, are you not?”
Chandler knew what was coming. “It's for the omega’s benefit. She gets jumpy and anxious if the rest of the pack doesn’t scent her often.” It was only part of the truth, but it might be enough to save her ass.
“So your omega must be coddled?”
“No!” Chandler bit back a growl. “She’s not coddled. She’s just used to really affectionate packmates. We’re easing her into things.”
He hummed thoughtfully, considering her. “You will not indulge such behavior anymore, am I understood?”
This time, Chandler did growl. “How I take care of the omega I’m courting is my business.”
He sneered. “And what is it about this omega that makes her so worth this treatment?”
“She…” Chandler knew that the true answer and the answer that he would accept were probably totally different things, but at the moment, she didn’t much care. “She doesn’t need me.”
“She doesn’t need me. Or any alpha, for that matter. But she wants to be with me, and I want to be with her, and if I can’t be vulnerable around someone that might be my mate at some point, then why should I court anyone in the first place?” she steeled herself for his inevitable judgement before continuing, “I want to be the kind of alpha she’s proud to be with, and I want to be the kind of alpha that I can be proud of.”
He huffed. “You won’t be swayed on this, will you?”
He sighed and tossed the sweatshirt in her direction. “I’m not happy with this.”
“I don’t expect you to be. But I’m my own alpha. I get to decide what that means.”
Chandler couldn’t help the surge of joy that ran through her when she locked eyes with her mother and saw the pride there.
She darted upstairs without another word to her parents.
She had a courting gift to finish.