She hopes there isn’t a tremor in her voice as she approaches the counter. She’s never felt this nervous in her entire goddamned life—although that interview for her first job was certainly something.
She steels herself amid cold feet and shaking fingers: she’s done this before, it’s just one Caramel Coffee Jelly order, no big deal.
Kaydel, who she always sees and talks to in the morning when she comes here, gives her a happy wave and a sweet smile. That helps her. Kaydel knows her order by heart and will have it ready in no time.
Although she still needs to come up to the counter and pay up, and he’s the wall she wishes did not exist there. Maybe it’s because she feels like she’s walking in water or he can still just smell her, knows her scent so that when he looks up, she pretends that maybe he does.
Kaydel is busy in the background, everyone is busy in the background, and as he squints at her, she’s seeing him as the boy she once knew and she wonders if he remembers that, too.
Being poor is hard: this, Rey realizes as she stares at the weird blue of the linoleum floors of Brendol & Sons Partner Office for Alpha and Omega Protection. When she saw it in the newspaper this morning, she’d spat out her drink while reading the description.
Offering pre-rut guidance for Alphas through omega partnership.
She nearly tore the paper down the middle and called it a day when the promised pay caught her attention. And pretty soon she was thinking about finally having enough money to afford a washing machine, perhaps, so she won’t have to hand wash all her clothes in the tub. Or how extremely helpful that money would be in her transportation needs. She always commutes and she always runs late and Plutt always wants to take it out of her salary.
As she sits here now, though, she thinks about the name of this “company”, quite a mouthful for something that obviously might have started off as a scam. She asked around about it, though, in that stinking omega group sessions Finn makes her sit through. Beta as he was, he wants to get to know the omega world a little better, and the sit downs are helping him understand her bodily reactions during heats, that’s for sure, but for Rey, the sweet gesture has just grown frustrating.
She doesn’t have the heart to tell him that, though, so she just took advantage of what she had. She asked everyone in the session: from Linda, the wizened old lady that leads the group, to even fucking Nancy who liked to overshare so much that the group had deliberately tried to switch the meetings on days Nancy “entertained” Alphas.
She came away with her queries feeling a little more relieved when two members said they’d worked under the company for a short time. Maybe the place isn’t as fancy as she thought it might be, but perhaps this could still be helpful in her situation.
The heaters aren’t working properly, though, and her feet seem to feel like they’re either damp or frozen. She gets the feeling it’s probably both.
Here there’s no receptionist; she just saw a door on the address indicated, watching as a curly-haired dude looked her up and down, asked her designation, and told her to take a seat. True to his words, the guy let her inside an office shortly after, a much more sterile one. It gave off distinct vibes of a pet grooming area, but Rey was at least relieved there were certificates on the pale yellow walls on her right. She just wishes they weren’t fake.
A red-haired man comes out from an adjacent room only a second later after she entered the room and it throws her off only slightly enough that she was able to control the surprise. The man looks at her the way older people would do when they’re judging you. Rey wishes she can feel uncomfortable, but at this point, pickiness was not an option.
Straightening up, the man rounds his table and hands his hand out for her to shake. So, she does.
“Are you sure this is not illegal?” She can’t help but ask. “Sorry, it’s just... unheard of, I guess.”
“Ah,” he responds like he’s heard that before. His relaxed face tells her he probably has. “We get that a lot. Dameron and I try to keep our operations open to the public, but when they climb those stairs, they assume we’re going to sell them some cocaine.”
The man looks into her eyes, and it’s the only indication that Rey needs to know what this guy’s designation is. She backs down only biologically, but her brain tells her not to. Thankfully, though, the man does nothing more beyond staring her blankly for her weird joke and then turns back around to situate himself behind his desk.
He gestures for her to take a seat. “Welcome to Brendol & Sons, how can we help you?”
“I saw your ad and decided it might be good to manipulate my biology to my own way of living.”
“Alright,” he seems to think, answering in that crisp British accent that she’s always found safe with. As she sounds the same.
“But will this be a consultation, or have you been here before?”
“No. Totally new here. You’ve got pretty wonky decor, by the way. But anyway, yeah. Consultation.”
“Are you aware of what we offer?”
“Alpha and Omega partnership services?”
“Yes. Do you understand what that means, miss...”
“Rey. Just Rey.”
“Shall I elucidate this partnership program?”
“Please.” She replies, suddenly feeling a little insecure now that the man knows her name.
“We provide Alphas with guidance from omegas through both pre-ruts, and preliminary ruts that they would otherwise not understand themselves– “
So much for Alphas and Omegas.
“Some of our clients bring in Alphas who also just presented. And who might need to know what to do in order to make it in the Alpha world.”
“The Alpha world?”
The man blinks at her once with that Alpha stare again. She bristles and fights the urge to cower under that tense glare. Stupid omega genes. Thankfully, he seems to understand the reaction he produces in her and sighs quietly so that Rey can only see his shoulders rise and fall ever so slightly.
“Why are you here?”
Rey hesitates. “I need money.”
“Despite what many call our operations, we are far from a prostitution service for Alphas. The government provides us with the adequate funds we need to run the business because, though experimental, Brendol & Sons have reduced the incidence of Alphas... going out of control.”
“Out of control?”
“I presume you were too young to remember the Chandrila Hotel incident?”
A shadow chases the light out of the man’s eyes and he clears his throat like it’s physically taxing to recount something like this to, Rey’s sure, is not the first omega that has come through this door.
“An omega sought entrance in the Chandrila Hotel after she was physically assaulted by the Alpha that was supposed to be her mate. She fought biology to get inside the hotel and was assisted by the beta receptionists and fixed with a temporary solution—they doused her with insecticide to try and dampen her scent. Both from her being able to smell herself, as well as Alphas who might be able to smell herself. As this was 2002, suppressants were still highly experimental and were not given the go signal to hit the market.
“The owner, himself also a beta, gave her a room with the condition that she stay only for 24 hours. She obliged. But another Alpha guest got to her before daybreak, mating her so violently that she died beaten and bloodied.”
Rey feels herself blink, gulp, and rethink her decisions. Both for coming here and for how she perceived the office’s services. The man sensed her unease after the story, and Rey can smell understanding from the Alpha dancing around in her otherwise suppressant-clogged olfactory senses. In her mind, she thanks him silently.
“We were originally created through the need of the current society to protect omegas while also employing them. Suppressants were introduced later in 2005, two years after we were given the mandate to start this business in 2003. But our operations soldiered on, although quite non-existent now. We mostly link omegas to Alphas who live in poverty and have not the resources to buy the suppressants they need or the know-how to deal with their ruts. From then, we expanded to provide free suppressants for both Alphas and omegas in impoverished areas.”
“So,” Rey tries. “Not really a prostitution service for Alphas?”
“I can’t convince you any more than I have,” he smoothly ignores her jibe. “You are certainly free to leave through that door if you do not believe me. Or if you would rather back out from this consultation.”
“You say you give free suppressants?”
“That is correct.”
Rey inhales through her nose. “What papers do you need to see?”
The rules of engagement were easy enough. Meet the Alpha client twice a week for the first month. Talk over the stuff that will come up during the possible pre-rut and actual rut sessions. The Alphas—some as young as 18 sometimes—were encouraged to be candid but not disrespectful. Brendol & Sons were strict with that. Once an omega is unduly disrespected or harassed, it will lead to immediate termination of the Alpha client.
Rey had sighed in relief after reading that one.
The meetings were set in places close to the living quarters or at least in the general city of the Minder, an agent from the company that tags along with the omega worker on the first month of contact, making sure everything was smooth sailing.
After the first month, the Minder will continue to be in contact with the omega as well as the Alpha, keeping track of the progress to ascertain when it was time to pull out the omega partner should the Alpha show signs of readiness. This took the burden off of omegas who some Alpha clients may be too attracted to, still, even after the guidance period.
The Alphas must also not be in rut or about to go to rut when meeting the omegas, and must at least begin the suppressants so that they are both in a safe head space. The omegas, too, should be on suppressants on the meetings and get off of them a week before an Alpha client’s rut—if they are hired to accompany the Alpha’s rut.
All of this follows the first-month rule.
If the Alpha or his family were not made aware of the oncoming rut, they will still be able to avail services but will be put on Pending so as to protect the omegas who may be sexually assaulted and forced into a Heat without their consent. The company advises the families to put Alphas on suppressants immediately when the signs of rut peek through and let it wind down before seeking Brendol & Sons’ services.
Brendol &Sons will also be following the age of consent in certain areas of the country when taking in and matching omegas with their Alpha clients so as to assure every party involved that there will be no laws broken during the process.
Age of consent? Rey thinks. That’s probably something that both applies to the Alpha and the omega. Theirs is a relatively muted operation, after all, that tidbit about the age of consent was the right call.
Coruscant’s age of consent was 18. She’s already way past that at 20, and is actually, stupidly, heavily considering taking the job. Finn wasn’t too convinced, though, but those classes for omegas had made him realize that he will never truly be able to erase the fact that omegas were made for Alphas.
She picks apart another conversation she had with Armitage Hux --the man’s name, she now knows -- about the information she needed to provide the company in order to get certified:
Designation Certificate: where official records state one’s designation.
A blood test: to check for any sexually transmitted diseases.
Heat charts: providing rough estimates of the times during which an omega goes through his or her Heat. For a better estimation, the company requires Heat periods to be illustrated how they would normally occur within a three-month period.
Heat suppressants: omegas are required to include the name of their suppressants so that the company can either provide them with stronger, safer ones, or more mild ones. Something that the company will be able to tell once the blood tests are submitted.
Contraceptive methods: the company is entitled to know what contraceptive methods is being or will be used by the omegas who choose to assist an Alpha going into rut. Those with weak contraceptive methods will be fixed with better ones, and those with too strong or even potentially dangerous contraceptive methods will be fixed with other methods that will not endanger their health.
In exchange, Hux had said that the company will provide omegas who complete these requirements with health benefits which include regular blood testings, suppressant supplication, free check-ups, and free abortion services in the event that a contraceptive method fails.
The company will also be starting off an omega’s pay at a fixed price but could change depending on the Alpha client’s generosity or need to provide. Regardless of the Alpha’s stature, though, the company will pay the omega the fixed price split during a halved month—the first salary day being in the middle of the month and the second one at the end of the month.
So no matter what Rey is getting her money from the company. The only difference is, if the Alpha clients “feel generous”, she can squeeze in a little more smooching if it means she can make the most out of this job.