Chapter 1: hemophilia
Life is one long gossip chain about designations, and as a Beta, it’s fucking exhausting.
I’m over it by senior year of high school, when everyone is going through the big change at the same time. Poe Dameron turns Alpha over winter break and comes back with a swagger in his step that somehow makes him even more insufferable. He triggers another guy who triggers an Omega.
Then we move on to the same freshman year of community college and it just keeps going.
And everyone laughs and chats and tries to guess who will be next. I try tuning it out and stick to the art room where I spend most of my days, anyway, and I’m in no danger of running across an Alpha.
They’re all those big burly jock guys like Poe. Athleticism and stuff is written in their blood, and there’s nothing they can do about it. It must suck to have so much of your destiny determined by a flip of the coin.
“I heard he’s gay.”
“Kaydel! Just because he’s an O doesn’t mean he’s gay.”
It’s a quiet lunch outside and I’m eavesdropping like I always do. I frown, distracted by the chatter about our new calculus professor and football coach. An Omega? And a man? Huh.
It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does they usually end up in psych wards.
Poe trots across the grass to Kaydel and Bazine where they’re sitting on a ledge. Kaydel is still Beta and brags loudly about having sex with an Alpha, which I guess is a big achievement for a Beta. I don’t want the knot thing in my body. Health class said it can cause ‘irreparable damage.’
I turn back to the math homework I didn’t bother doing over the weekend. Whump. Maybe the new professor will give me an extension.
Lunch ends and I text my (sick) friend Rose about the new professor. She’s out from heat sickness and I try keeping her up-to-date, especially about other demi-humans and our Beta athlete friend Finn. He’s nice. He and Rose kind of have a thing but it’s hard now that’s she’s presented.
Things don’t… work.
But they still like each other and Finn’s adoptive parents said his dad was Alpha. It can take a long time before the genes shift the right way.
It’s easy to blend in in the sea of Alphas and Omegas. Well, not a sea, but it seems like there’s a lot of them floating around the campus. I keep to the edges and try not to attract the wandering, aggressive eyes of an Alpha with too much energy to burn. They’re awful: mean, aggressive, misogynistic.
Omegas just whine. They like being coddled and I’m always thinking, ‘grow up.’ Bazine drapes herself all over Aaron Hurley even though she’s on suppressants and she makes that creepy chirping sound like a bird with a broken wing.
That won’t be me. I’ll keep being normal and as bland as possible, just skating by the skin of my teeth. I’ll be an accountant when I graduate and move somewhere sunny. I like the ocean.
We all pour into the math hall and take our usual seats. I’m right up front where I don’t want to be and shift a little to hide further in the corner. Our old calculus teacher was a half-blind ninety year old woman with a lisp; maybe we’ll get that again.
The door opens and Kaydel actually gasps.
It’s not gasping material. He’s young and tall and broad, more like a linebacker than a math teacher, and he has black hair looped back in a bun. He does have some gnarly black tattoos coming out underneath his rolled back sleeves—and he has an equally gnarly black brand on the side of his neck.
I blink. It’s an Omega symbol.
He drops a messenger bag on the desk and doesn’t turn, but starts talking.
“I’m Kylo.” Couple pens. Calculus book. A registration bracelet clicks on his wrist. “Professor Ren to you. I’m not gasping material and if you ask about the brand I’ll break your legs.”
Everyone falls silent. Professor Ren hangs his bag over the back of the chair and takes a drink from his travel mug, probably coffee but maybe whiskey, and I can’t help but stare. He’s an Omega? But how is he so big? And the tattoos? And a man?
There’s no mating bite, just the big brand. I read that it used to be done in some parts of the country because ‘aberrant’ presentations were so unpredictable. That’s why he has a registration bracelet, too. They get followed around.
He scratches stubble on his chin and dark eyes flicker up, brow furrowing—then snap straight to me.
I stiffen. What’s he looking at? What’s his problem? I’m minding my own business and staring just as much as everyone else is.
Professor Ren narrows his eyes. I’m afraid he’s going to fucking punch me.
“Sir, do we have practice today?”
Poe attracts his attention and I’m set free. I redden and look down at my notebook and old iPad I bought off Craigslist. Holy shit. He can’t be an Omega.
Professor Ren goes to the white board. “Yes, Dameron. Come by my office after class.”
“Well—I’m an Alpha, y’know.”
Kaydel groans and slaps Poe’s arm. I watch from the corner of my eye as Professor Ren slowly turns to stare at Poe, still holding a red marker in his thick fingers. He raises his eyebrows.
Poe laughs uncomfortably. “I’m just saying. Since you’ve got that brand—”
The marker sails across the room and hits Poe right between the eyes. He yelps and scrambles for the door when Professor Ren hurls a green marker next. Kaydel turns to watch him leave and giggles with Bazine. I blink at the scene and when I turn, find my math professor glaring at me again.
Jesus. What did I do?
He pushes up his gray sweater sleeves again and turns to the white board.
“Miss Elms is dead. Open to page sixty.”
I’m determined to keep blending in, so I move to the back of the classroom the next day.
There are extra seats and no one notices or cares. It gives me a great spot to avoid Professor Ren’s penetrating stare, but I figure he’ll move on to harassing Poe, anyway. Since Poe is an ass.
Our professor is already at the head of the classroom sitting at the desk. He doesn’t look up, too busy looking at something on his tablet, but I can tell he’s tired. His hair is messier today and his tie is loose.
Everyone shuffles in and sits. I give the room a glance and open up my book.
I’m suddenly the center of attention. Bodies shift and dozens of eyes stare at me, curious to why Professor Ren is calling my name. My heart pounds and I get a strange prickling sensation down my nape.
“…Yes?” I rasp. Clear my throat. “Yes?”
“Come here, please.”
Giggles wash through the room. I slowly get to my feet and wish I wore a nicer outfit to be stared at in. It’s just the same sweater I’ve had since high school and old tennis sneakers. I usually look like I just rolled out of bed.
Professor Ren’s dark eyes flicker to mine as I come to stop a couple feet away. He smells nice, like laundry; it’s the same way Rose sometimes smells during heat. But there’s an undercurrent of woodsy… something. It’s relaxing. Where does he get his cologne?
He picks up my assignment and I see it’s covered in red marks. My cheeks burn as he offers it to me, and I and try to hide the failing grade. He just leans back in his chair and gives me the same cold glare.
The prickling gets worse. My throat itches, which I figure is because I want to cry. People are staring. Why would he embarrass me like this? I haven’t done anything to him—I didn’t make offensive comments or ask stupid questions.
“You should find a tutor,” Professor Ren says, still staring at me. He points to the front corner desk. “Please return to your assigned seat, Miss Niima. It seems you need the extra attention.”
Humiliated, I scurry to the back and bring my stuff up to the front. People stare. I’m on the verge of tears.
He stands, red marker clenched in his fist. I don’t look up or directly at him for the rest of class, determined not to cry, but I still feel him eyeing me. I’ve never annoyed anyone in my entire life and this guy hates me after one day and one bad grade.
The lecture starts. I doodle a little to keep myself occupied, at an odd mix of angry and mortified and not sure how to deal with it. I’m not angry a lot. I usually go with the flow so everyone will like me, but this guy is getting on my nerves.
What an asshole. I’ve never met an Omega who was such an asshole. They’re usually sweet and gentle and I have no problems—
“What did you find for question six, Miss Niima?”
My gaze snaps up at his voice and I find I’m being stared at again, faced with an unfamiliar proof on the white board. Shit.
I scramble. “Uh—I think I got it wrong.”
People laugh softly as I scan my homework. Question six: yes, got it wrong. I’m not very good at math. Or anything else, really.
My professor ambles to my desk, pushing and closing the marker cap with his thumb. I clench my jaw as he pushes aside my homework, which flutters to the floor, and turns my notebook around to face him. The classroom falls silent.
Long, calloused fingers flip through pages upon pages of random doodles. I like drawing, even if I’m not very good at it. Eyes, shapes, hands. I don’t draw cohesive things; I’m more of a small picture type of person. Here and now has been the only thing I’ve ever had control over.
I stare at the notebook until he stops. He lifts it to close the front and takes the entire thing away, turning back to the whiteboard. Before I can ask, he answers the question.
Mortified, furious, I grab my backpack and stuff my iPad inside. Poe laughs and Professor Ren snaps at him to get out, too, but I’m already halfway down the stairs before we can meet each other.
What a fucking asshole. Fuck him.
Chapter 2: thrombocytopenia
i spent a very long time editing the email part of this
“He’s such a fucking asshole!”
Rose is draped over her bed with a lollipop hanging out of her mouth. She nods along while I vent about my nasty new professor, texting Finn in the meantime about some mixer his frat is having for Halloween.
I’m mad. I want my notebook back and I want him to apologize for being so rude to me and embarrassing me like that. I’m eighteen years old; I’m not some little high school kid he can insult. I won’t stand for it. I’ve never gotten into an argument with an authority figure but I’ll ream his ass out.
Rose snickers. “What’s got you so pissed off, Rey? He’s just overcompensating for being a freak. You should feel bad for him, honestly.”
“Well it’s not my problem he was born—like that.” I sit on my bed and cross my arms. “You’re an Omega. Isn’t he supposed to be nice like you always are?”
“I dunno. He’s a dude. He shouldn’t even be an O.”
Exactly. That’s why he’s such an insufferable asshole; because he’s all genetically messed up and thinks it’s everyone else’s fault.
I don’t know. I flop on my back and rub my face, groaning. I’m not being very fair and I need to get that notebook back sooner or later. I’ll try harder on the next homework assignment and pay closer attention during lecture, even if Professor Ren is a dick.
Rose taps my knee. She’s almost done with the heat sickness from changing meds and our dorm room smells nice, like clean linen and cucumber body spray. She tidies up during the change and thankfully goes to Finn’s apartment for the rest.
“Wanna see an Omega dick?” she asks.
“You sure?” She laughs and taps harder. “Then you’ll get what he’s so pissed off about.”
“Saw that shit in health and never want to see it again.”
Rose laughs and laughs and sends a picture anyway. I’ve seen it all: Alpha dick, Omega dick, Omega vagina, Alpha vagina. They’re all weird in their own way and I’m not compatible with any of them.
But thinking about Kylo in particular makes me especially irritated. I don’t know why. It’s the kind of thing I’d usually let go, maybe show up with my tail between my legs to apologize: but thinking of his smug smile that I’ve never even seen—
I’m so angry that I can barely think straight. I delete the picture without looking and storm out to take a walk, leaving Rose calling after me to calm down.
It ends up taking my entire weekend, but I do manage to calm down. The itching goes away and I save myself an expensive visit to the doctor and only go through one blister pack of Zyrtec.
I’m fine. I’ll be reasonable when I see Professor Ren Monday morning to ask for my notebook back. I sent a polite email asking about his availability and everything. Maybe we just got off on the wrong foot—he’ll get that I’m not a math geek.
He doesn’t answer until Monday night. Peeved, I glare at his snippy response to check the syllabus, and snippily remind him that it’s in my fucking notebook.
That’s in my notebook. That you have.
Oct 11, 8:24 PM EST
It takes a few minutes for him to answer. I tap my fingers on my iPad.
7am tomorrow, 10/12/19
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 11, 8:30 PM EST
Wow, good for him getting so many stupid degrees. Glad he types that all out in his emails.
But it’s a little sad and weird that the signature has the Omega male thing tacked on. I stare at it for a few minutes before I decide not to send a snotty email back. I feel bad for him. Poor guy.
Rose is still dead asleep when I slip out of our dorm room the next morning. It’s six thirty or so and I’m ready to flop back in bed but hope Professor Ren will appreciate my attempt to be punctual.
I’m punctual. Sometimes.
I wander through the quiet hallways past torturous early lectures until I find his office. It’s down a deserted hallway, around a corner, then down another deserted hallway. I get the feeling the school wanted him as far away as possible.
It’s 6:50 but I knock anyway. If I get this over with by 7:15 I can take a nap before my 8:00 biology lecture.
The blind rattles on the door window as I open it, peering inside the small office.
Kylo is sitting behind a big desk and has his laptop open. There are a couple books neatly piled on the corner and some books stowed on a bookshelf, all organized, nothing out of place. It’s cold, but smells nice, like clean laundry. Nothing hangs on the walls and he has the small window behind him closed.
I close the door behind me and shuffle to the small chair in front of his desk. It creaks a little and I feel the cold bite of metal through my leggings.
He’s reading on his laptop and doesn’t acknowledge me. I try not to stare at the strange tattoos on his forearms underneath another thick sweater; maroon today. His hair is down and brushes his shoulders.
Professor Ren touches his glasses and opens a desk drawer, still not looking at me. He drops my notebook so it slaps on the desk and the drawer rolls shut.
“Don’t dick around in a class you’re failing,” he says.
“I’m not failing. I have a C.”
“…Right. Aim high.” He sets a paper with a bunch of names on top of my notebook. “Here’s a list of tutors. I suggest you pick one before your low C becomes a D.”
Miss Elms was never rude to me like this. I snatch the list, glaring at him.
“Why don’t you tutor me?”
“I’m an assistant professor at MIT, not a TA at a community college.” Kylo waves his hand in a vague circle. “Go find a community college TA.”
“Oh really? Thanks for clearing that up. Your email signature wasn’t comprehensive.”
That earns me the icy glare I’ve been striving for. Dark eyes flicker to mine and he raises his eyebrows, at which point I realize I’m poking an already irritated bear. He’s a prick. He’ll make snotty comments to me but I’m not allowed to throw it back at him.
I take my notebook. Whatever. I don’t feel like finding a stupid tutor. Finn is good at math; I’ll just ask him for help or pay someone to do it.
“Is that all?” I ask.
Itchy tingling creeps down my throat and I scratch my neck, wincing. Don’t tell me I’m getting sick again. Must be hay fever—or I’m allergic to my asshole calculus professor.
Professor Ren eyes my hand. He’s resting his palm on the side of his throat and twists his neck like there’s a kink in it. His Adam’s Apple bobs.
“Yes,” he replies, clipped. He looks at his laptop, ignoring me again. “Email me if you have any other questions.”
I leave without another word, and leave the pleasant smell of his office behind me. I’m anxious and itchy and I think I might hate him.
Finn does his best to help me. It’s all I’ve got, since the other tutors are full up with math-failing students already and most have their own coursework.
He leans back in Rose’s chair, chewing a pen and still sweaty from football practice. She’s rearranging all the pillows and blankets in her bed, mumbling, because she needs her meds upped. I can smell it.
“Ren is a dick,” Finn says. He glances at Rose and pats her foot. “I know, baby. Want to go back to my place and—”
“I hate him,” I snap.
He shrugs. “He’s a hard ass coach, too. Smart, I guess; helped write a textbook or two.” His attention is totally on Rose, half out of genuine concern and half out of wanting to get laid. “Go tell him you’ve exhausted all your options.”
“I don’t know. Something about him makes me itch—must be that cologne he wears.”
“Maybe you’re an Alpha, Rey.” Finn bursts out laughing and slaps my knee. “Can you imagine?”
No. I watch Rose as she rolls over and cries and let Finn handle it, because I’ve learned I’m not what she needs. It’s scary watching her suffer the way she does, and I don’t want any part of it.
He takes her to his apartment and I’m left alone in the dorm room like usual. I struggle through the first half of my homework before I email Kylo.
SUBJECT: CALC200 Homework
I need help with the homework from Friday, if you have some time. Please.
Oct 13, 11:18 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
tutor—also shouldn’t be doing your homework two hours before it’s due
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 13, 11:23 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
I already cold called all of them and asked my friend Finn for help. He’s a quarterback. You might know him. I spent all day yesterday on it and want to make sure it’s right.
Oct 13, 11:25 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
I know finn’s handwriting
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 13, 11:29 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
Good for you. I’m just asking for help.
Oct 13, 11:32 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
we’ll see in class in two hours
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 13, 11:46 AM EST
The prospect of being embarrassed in front of everyone again makes me want to cry. I chuck my iPad aside and curl up under the covers instead of continuing to agonize over my stupid homework. Why do I even need fucking calculus?
But 1:30 rolls around and I can’t hide anymore. I collect my things and head out, past people hanging up Halloween decorations on their doors and laughing and planning what parties they’re going to.
It’s up in the air with how sick Rose has been. I’m coming down with some upper respiratory shit and she can’t find a suppressant that works. We’re both messed up for our first year of college and I’m this close to dropping out. It kind of sucks.
I text Finn to see how Rose is feeling as I amble to the lecture hall for Wednesday. The classroom is only on Friday; here I can hide a little better.
But my thoughts of hiding go out the window when I walk in and find Professor Ren somehow already staring at me. He’s leaning on the lectern, tattooed arms on either side, and points with his marker to the chair dead center up front.
“Son of a bitch,” I mutter.
I’m marked for death now.
On my trudge down the stairs, Kaydel whispers my name. She’s giggling with Bazine and Poe.
“Rey,” she says, “Rey—does he have, like…” She laughs and looks back at the other two. “Does he have like, that Omega dick?”
“Since he’s super into you,” Bazine adds.
I redden and hurry to my seat without saying a word. They keep laughing.
Professor Ren locks the door right when 2:00 hits. It’s probably a fire hazard and I consider sending him another terse email about it.
He comes down the steps and brings up a PowerPoint about limits and derivatives. It’s the next thing we’re moving on to after logs, and I’m barely holding on. I squint at the whiteboard and flip to a clean page in my notebook, ready to pay attention and not doodle.
Oddly, the smell of his cologne distracts me again: soft and delicate like laundry and cucumbers. It’s nice, even if he annoys the shit out of me, and I relax a little. My lips part slightly and I take a shallow breath, even though I’m not sure why.
The roof of my mouth tingles and then it itches. I grimace and run my tongue along it while Professor Ren starts his lecture, and hand in my homework with everyone else’s. What the fuck? What kind of cologne does he wear?
Omegas smell nice, yeah; Rose always smells clean and fresh, but it’s never bothered me. Maybe it has to do with him being a man. It’s unnatural, after all.
I look up and realize I zoned out obsessing over the way Professor Ren smells. He’s glaring at me again and I feel… awful. Sick awful.
Sweat beads on the back of my neck. My mouth is so full of spit that I’m almost drooling on myself and I hurriedly swallow before it spills out. What the hell…
“Sorry—” I try to be friendly. “Sorry, what was the question?”
“Do you know the natural log?”
Shivering, I nod and flip through my notebook. Natural log, natural log… I know that. I remember writing it down while I was doing my homework.
Apparently I’m not fast enough.
Kylo saunters to the counter and stops my flipping with a palm on my notebook. His registration bracelet clinks lightly: RENKYL11031986Ω♂. What? What the fuck does he want now?
He goes back a page and points. “Natural log.”
“Sorry,” I mumble. I’m the center of attention again and I fucking hate it. “Sorry.”
The bracelet jangles as he taps the log and he speaks again in a softer, deeper tone.
“Are you sorry?”
I nod, gritting my teeth. Don’t make me hurt you. You can’t talk to me this way, fucking Omega—
His attention shifts. “Dameron. Since you’re having such a lively conversation with Miss Netal, why don’t you share your answer?”
Professor Ren moves away and I catch an odd shift of his wrist as he passes my backpack. I shudder and wipe off the sweat, relieved that he’s found another victim. For now.
But I’m picked out again after class. He lets everyone else go but tells me to stay, even though I’m about to pass out or throw up. I’m not even hungry for dinner and that’s the most concerning thing.
He sits at the lectern and I stand beside it, waiting, hoping he’ll set me free soon. My homework is out and has significantly less red marks but still a lot.
“Better.” Professor Ren is half-turned toward me, one broad forearm on his thigh and the other pointing to questions. He rubs his brand. “You weren’t able to find a tutor? Lily Potter is usually available on Tuesdays.”
“She said she doesn’t have time.”
“Ah. As you know—from my email—I’m from MIT, so I don’t know any of the TAs here very well.”
“I’ll just ask Finn,” I snap.
Fuck. I rub the back of my neck as Professor Ren lifts his eyebrows, more amused than annoyed, and I itch my throat and mutter an apology. I’m so agitated. Why am I so agitated? I’m never like this.
He taps his pen on the paper. “Fine. Email me if you need help.”
“Fine.” I snatch my homework when he offers it. “Not Finn’s handwriting, is it?”
“No—his is neater.”
Irritated, I snatch my homework and storm from the lecture hall. I can feel eyes on my back.
Chapter 3: von willebrand
this is very slow
SUBJECT: CALC200 Homework
I need help with a question. Please.
Oct 15, 8:14 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
please traditionally comes before the request is made
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 15, 8:18 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
May I please get some help on question seven?
Oct 15, 8:19 AM EST
RE: CALC200 Homework
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 15, 8:31 AM EST
My lower eyelid twitches. No. How can he say no? He doesn’t have tenure, right?
I’m only left a minute to be pissed off before he sends another email to clarify the staunch, snotty refusal.
RE: CALC200 Homework
see me after class
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 15, 8:32 AM EST
I roll over and scream into my pillow, iPad forgotten at the end of my bed.
Rose is still gone and Finn says she might be all weekend. He’s busy with her and football and his own homework so he doesn’t have much time to help me with mine. I’m lonely without my two friends around and I miss Rose even more than usual.
At least I feel better: no fever or itching; less irritated. Good thing, because I don’t have the money right now for a sick visit, and I’m not interested in picking up more hours at my part time job.
I should. I’ll have more money and it will distract me from my asshole professor and his rude emails. It’s not hard, either, just cashiering at a drug store. Maybe I can get full time and they’ll give me the health insurance I desperately need.
I slip my iPad into my backpack next to the head of my bed, then draw up my blanket to take a nap. I’ve been sleeping a lot the past two days.
Rose calls me on my way to class. She sounds better. She’s on new meds and says they’re working great.
“I’ll be back tonight for that party—are you up for it? Halloween is in another week but I need to unwind.”
I dodge a pack of frat guys in the hall, peering over my shoulder at them. Finn is in a frat; Rose went to a couple parties but it’s not really my thing. It should be. I need to start living life instead of standing on the sidelines all the time.
“Maybe,” I say.
“Come on, we both just escaped death!” She laughs and I hear a laugh track in the background. “Then you don’t need to think about that douchebag professor.”
Yeah… that’s true.
“Okay.” I hesitate outside the classroom. “But you’re sure you’re up to it? There’re no unmedicated Alphas around there, right?”
“No, they’re all cool. Lots of Os go to those parties and Finn told me the athletes have to have their hormones checked anyway. It doesn’t turn into like Caligula or anything.”
“No orgies?! That’s the only reason I’d go, Rose!”
We laugh and laugh and I turn and see my worst nightmare about to open the door.
Professor Ren raises his eyebrows and I realize he’s been staring at me. He offers an uncomfortable half-wave and I give him an equally uncomfortable smile as he walks into the classroom.
I stare after him for a long minute and groan, covering my face while Rose keeps cackling on the other end of the phone. I mutter ‘gotta go’ before I hang up, swearing. Son of a bitch; now he thinks I’m a fucking sexual deviant on top of sucking at math.
I hurry to my desk front and center and try not to meet his eyes. His cologne is muted today, thankfully, so I don’t get itchy like usual, and he’s wearing a slouchy dark blue turtleneck sweater. His hair is half-up and the rest covers his ears.
He looks nice. I mean, he usually always looks nice, but he looks extra nice today.
“Your first test is next Friday, the twenty second,” Professor Ren calls. Everyone is still settling in but that’s never stopped him. “Logs and functions mostly. Limits and derivatives will be on the next test.”
“Next week?!” Poe complains from somewhere behind me. “That’s like… way too soon!”
“Can we have index cards for the formulas?”
“Miss Elms said we’d be able to write out index cards, Professor.”
Like with all tests, it turns into a lot of whining and pleading. Professor Ren ignores them and starts up PowerPoint, so I get my homework out and smooth it on my notebook. It’s nice and neat, just to spite his comment about my messy handwriting.
He pushes up his sleeves and rises from his chair. I don’t look up as he saunters to me first, shoes clicking on the floor, and he holds out his hand with the bracelet. The complaining has turned to muttering and groans but I stay quiet and hand him my work.
He ambles along. “Ninety percent of learning math is memorizing the formulas. So memorize them.” There’s a short pause. “Maybe refrain from any activities planned for the weekend and study instead.”
I shrink down in my seat and cover my face. Oh god.
Thankfully he doesn’t call me out during class. We take notes and I answer a question right, much to my shock, and between the problems I see Professor Ren correcting our homework.
But he’s gazing off into the distance, chin resting in his hand like he’s in a daydream. I watch as his fingers wander to his neck and rub through his collar, and I know he’s touching the brand.
I stare. My mouth waters and my jaw aches, and it feels like I’m watching something private. But I keep staring, chewing the cap of my pen. Omegas have glands on the back of their necks, I think, but males have them under their jaw.
I think. I’m too busy staring at him to remember correctly but I do know Alphas have no glands at all. Nothing to bite. They do the biting.
“Uh… Professor, can we go?”
We snap out of our daze. Kylo checks the time and nods, calling out the homework assignment as everyone packs up.
I pick up on laughter behind me and turn. Poe is pointing to his neck, obviously making a comment about Professor Ren staring off into space—and I’m suddenly, inexplicably angry.
Irritated, I glance back at the sound of Professor Ren’s voice. He’s sitting at the desk watching me and I see a slight smile touch the edges of his lips, but it’s gone so fast that I can’t be sure it’s real. What’s he doing calling me like I’m a fucking dog on a leash?
I mutter as I get up to see how bad I did on my assignment this time. He leans back and motions for me to come closer, snapping and crooking a finger.
“Better,” he says. He points to question 7 with his red pen. “The problem is with derivatives. Has Finn been helping you?”
“No, he’s busy. My friend has heat sickness.” I shift, folding my arms. “His girlfriend. My friend.”
Professor Ren glances up at me. “Oh. Sorry to hear that.” His eyebrows raise and I realize maybe I’m being a little possessive of Rose, and maybe it’s weird to say around an Omega. “I’m sure she’ll feel better soon. Omegas are very independent. Resilient.”
“Yeah. Sorry, I don’t mean—I’m not trying to say she’s helpless or anything. We’ve known each other for a long time and I worry.”
He looks down at my homework again. “What a good friend you are. I’m sure she appreciates having someone watching her every step. So, I’ll be available for tutoring on Monday morning if you’d like to stop by my office… around seven.”
Seven AM on a Monday? Is he insane?
I’m not in a position to say no so I just shrug and nod. He continues marking things off and I awkwardly fidget while I wait, thoughts wandering to his comment about me and Rose.
I don’t watch her every step. It’s a dangerous world for an Omega and I let Finn take care of her all the time. Before—yeah, I kept an eye out. So what?
My cheeks burn. Oh my god. How could I forget my orgy comment right before class? Oh my god. I want to die. Is he thinking about it? Why am I thinking about it? He must’ve forgotten.
Professor Ren stands as he hands me my homework. He towers over me and he’s big but I don’t want to back away. He smells nice. Clean. Warm.
“Come see me Monday if you’d like more help.” His dark eyes linger on mine. “Unless you have other plans.”
“Nope. Nope.” I take my homework and laugh nervously, shrinking under his judgmental gaze. Jesus. “Rose and I were just kidding around. I don’t…” I set my backpack on the edge of the desk to file away the paper. “It’s just a mixer. Not… I don’t—I don’t go to things like that.”
“Ah. Too busy babysitting your friend, I presume?”
“I don’t babysit her. I’m only making sure she’s safe. Alphas are gross.”
Shit. I freeze, then try to backtrack, and it becomes garbled nonsense. Professor Ren nods along and reaches past my backpack for something but doesn’t look directly at me. Oh god.
Fresh dried sheets. That’s what he smells like: when they’re right out of the dryer and you just want to wrap yourself up in them and never get out of bed.
I blink, swaying back a step. What the… fuck? My train of thought is all over the place; I can’t even keep up with myself. What do I care about how my professor smells? He’s in his thirties and not at all my type. Not ugly but nothing to write home about.
“Gross?” Professor Ren echoes.
“Well—I guess that’s not fair, but every Alpha I’ve known has been a creep. Not Omegas though. You guys are always so nice.” Except you.
“You think so?”
“…Yes?” I hesitate, wracking my brain, weirdly invested in getting him to like me. “Smart, too. Rose is smart. Bazine is an O but she’s—I mean, she’s nice, but a little vapid. You know? Not mean, though; I think it’s just… I don’t know. Heat thing?”
Professor Ren snaps his messenger bag closed. I’m staring at his neck again, mesmerized. He smells nice. Like home. But his about-face to a new topic tells me he’s annoyed and I don’t know why. I said Omegas are all nice. I’m trying to be nice.
Why isn’t he receptive? He should be. He’s being fucking rude and ignoring my compliment. Heat makes Os act crazy; Rose gets annoying when she’s around her cycle. Big deal. Sucks to be him. But he should like me. I’m a very non-abrasive person.
“My number is in the staff directory,” Professor Ren says. “Give me a call Monday morning so I know you’re coming.” He slips the messenger bag over his shoulder and pats the top of my backpack as he walks past it. “Enjoy your weekend, Miss Niima. Don’t drink and drive.”
Then he walks past me and out of the classroom. I’m left staring at the door, and take a small involuntary step after him like the desperate orphan I am.
I grit my teeth, shaking my head as I pack up my stuff. What an asshole.
Chapter 4: sickle cell
i'm too lazy to answer comments today so have another chapter!!!!
The party is Saturday night instead of Friday, so I spend all of my free time Googling facts about male Omegas. Purely research.
I sit propped up in bed while The Great British Bake Off loops on the TV. Rose is staying with Finn again and I have our dorm room all to myself. Typical Friday: I’m wrapped up in a baggy hoodie and leggings, chewing my nails while I read.
THE MALE OMEGA & FEMALE ALPHA: QUANDARIES OF THE BIZARRE DEMI-HUMAN WORLD
The habits and biology of traditional demi-humans are well-studied and well understood. However, in very rare situations, this traditional presentation can flip, resulting in Omega males and Alpha females.
Ugh, boring science article shit. I scroll down to the biological descriptions, leaning in closer.
Various physical attributes have been found in male Omegas (OM). The mating gland of an Omega female (OF) is always located on the nape, while it is more commonly found under the jaw in OMs. It can be located on the nape as well and has been discovered near the clavicle.
These glands are Alpha-receptive in either gender to either Alpha gender. OMs can be mated, but their relationship to their Alpha counterparts is highly complex and not well understood.
Like an Omega man, I’ve never seen an Alpha woman. They have a hard time fitting in, I think, and usually don’t. I’ve heard the talk of how they end up in group homes or psych wards.
The author says these ‘aberrants’ are less than one percent of the demi-human population—combined. No wonder I’ve never seen one before.
I scroll down and almost throw my iPad when I see a picture of a dick. Hesitant, I look around my room before I scroll a couple inches until I can see it. Research. Purely research.
Normal dick, except it has some bumpy things near the base where a knot would be. I squint and zoom in to see the nubs better but they’re not that interesting. The caption says it’s a ‘typical’ Omega penis. It’s circumcised and looks like a dick.
The ‘barbs’ of an Omega penis are analogous to those found in some felines. However, in OMs these are understood not to cause pain, and function to:
- Stimulate ovulation
- Prevent the female Alpha from fleeing
- Provide lubrication
OM barbs do not ‘lock’ in the way a knot does, but early removal can be painful. The female Alpha (AF) exhibits aggressive, sometimes vicious behavior to avoid mating, making offspring from this pairing extremely rare.
Also of note: female Alphas have an analogous knotting capability like their male counterparts. Like a knot, it relies upon orgasm to occur, and causes the vaginal muscles to swell, ‘locking’ together the two partners. OM orgasm is protracted during this phase and the AF redirects her aggression to anyone who comes too close.
As with male Alphas (AM), females (AF) are triggered into rut by the presence of an Omega. While this presents as a dramatic event in males it is typically more subdued in AFs, occurring over a length of time. It may not occur at all if the AF does not encounter an OM. It can sometimes be triggered by the presence of an OF.
“That’s gross,” I mutter, lingering on ‘keep the Alpha female from fleeing.’ It must be terrifying to be physically bound to someone like that.
The article goes on to say that female Alphas have no ‘heat cycles’ like female Omegas and stop having periods when they present. Male Omegas cycle if they’re unmedicated and seek out FAs during each of their three cycles throughout the year. They’re usually not successful.
It’s weird and gross. I shudder as I lean over to put my iPad away, too creeped out to read any more tonight. The image of the Omega dick is seared behind my eyelids and I’ll never be able to unsee it.
Rose and Finn pick me up Saturday night around eight, even though Rose knows my bedtime is a strict ten PM. She’s excited and asks Finn all kinds of questions during the drive over to the frat.
“Is Poe going to be there?” she asks. She shakes her head, eyes rolling. “He’s such a douche. I don’t know why Kaydel is still dating him.”
“Yeah, he’s gonna be there.” Finn glances back at me in the rear view and grins. “Poe told me Ren likes you, Rey. You getting on that for the A in calc?”
I redden. “No! And he hates me!”
Rose puts on some pink lip gloss. She looks nice in a pink dress and I look… okay in a skirt and blouse. It’s too cold for either.
“Love looks a lot like hate sometimes,” she says.
There are already a bunch of people out on the lawn when we arrive. Finn parks near the sidewalk and leads Rose and I down to the gate, then he’s pulled away by some guy in a wife beater before anyone can blink. It’s late October and chilly, but I guess you don’t notice when you’re drunk.
Rose brings me in through two white doors to utter chaos. The music is so loud it thumps through the floor into my flats and I pick up on all kinds of odd jumbled smells that make me dizzy. People are close. I need a football field of space.
It smells like booze and sweat and everyone is so damn loud that I can’t hear myself think. Rose pulls but I pull back, scowling, eyeing the throng of people.
“We should find Finn,” I call over the music.
“It’s fine; I’ve been here before!” Rose points to where Poe Dameron is playing pong with some other guys. “He’s a dick, but he’s strict about what happens here! We’ll be fine, Rey!”
She pries her arm free and I grab her again. This time she shoots me an acidic glare and I quickly let go. Okay. Maybe I do hover too much.
Rose wanders off to Kaydel, so I try to occupy myself somewhere else. I’m having a hard time letting go of her and finding new friends, and I do worry, because people are mean to Omegas. It’s normal to worry about a friend. Professor Ren is just a dick.
But I don’t stay away for long. I find the snack table and help myself to chips and dip before gravitating back to where Rose is playing pong. What? I gave her space. Maybe Finn should pay more attention.
I’m happy with my chips and leaning on the wall watching her failing spectacularly. I smile a little while I eat, scanning the room, and notice Finn making his way over to us. Good. He needs to watch his fucking girlfriend. He should know how tempting she is.
I stop chewing. Tempting. That’s a weird word.
“Rey, come play!”
Rose is sagging against Finn and motioning for me to come over. At first I wave her off but I see Poe Dameron bouncing the ping pong ball and smirking at me, and it triggers my latent competitive side. Fine. He wants to lose, then he can lose.
His eyes are glassy, tracking me to the other end of the table. I’ve had beer plenty of times before, mostly from raiding my foster dad’s fridge and pounding them out of boredom. I’ll kick his ass. It takes at least six beers for me to get drunk.
Poe bounces the ball to me. “Go for it, champ.”
I bounce it once to myself before flicking it across the table, straight into a cup in the back corner.
Finn bursts out laughing and claps me on the back. Some other muffled laughter follows. Poe huffs and drinks, squints, and aims for one of mine up front.
It lands, so I drink. They must be expecting me to take sips but I’m so intent on beating Poe that I chug it and chug another just to show him I can. I cough and bounce the ball on my own side again, studying the cups, and land it in the one in the other corner.
In middle school I played basketball for a bit—until it got too competitive. I hate competition because I hate setting myself up to lose, but I’ve missed that frustrated expression people get when they’re losing. Especially people I don’t like.
I’ll put ‘good at pong’ on my resume. That’ll really tighten things up.
“You’re so good at this!”
Soon I’m a couple drinks deep of my own volition, just spiked tea and stuff to spite Poe. Rose is hanging out next to me and really psyched about my hand-eye coordination, and I have to admit I don’t hate it.
More people gather to watch and they cheer or laugh when I hit a cup. I’m not missing any. Poe is, but I drink when he misses, and I see it slowly pissing him off. I bounce the ball to myself and smile at him across the table. Vague dislike has become hatred.
He rubs his mouth, swaying. “Getting extra help for that calc test, Rey?”
“Dude,” Finn interjects, hasty. “Don’t.”
“Hey, if she likes Omega dicks, that’s totally fine. I’d suck his dick for an A, too.”
Rose grabs my arm but I yank away from her. I’m hazy, delirious, and I fucking hate Poe Dameron.
“Fuck you!” I snap. I slam my hands on the table and Rose jumps. “You want to take this outside?! I’ll kick your fucking ass!”
Everyone laughs except me, Rose, and Finn. Poe won’t fight a woman, Beta or not, but I’ll fight him. I bet I’ll win; wipe that smug smile off his face.
I jerk toward him but this time Finn helps Rose hold me back, and Poe walks off with his friends. I know I’m unreasonably angry but I feel like I can’t control it. I feel like I have to punch Poe before it kills me.
Rose guides me to a couch. “Relax, Rey. He’s just drunk and stupid.”
Finn has chips. I stuff my face and feel a little better with Rose next to me, where I know she’s safe and not being attacked or anything. The room swims and I take out my phone to scroll through Facebook, looking up random people from school to add.
“You know what would be—hilarious?” Rose giggles.
“What?” I grumble, pawing for pretzels. I shovel them in my mouth and raise my eyebrows to Finn and Rose. “Me decking Poe?”
“That would be fucking hilarious,” Finn says.
Rose glares and he sighs, then gets up for more snacks. I chew with my mouth open and stare at Rose when she looks back at me. She smells weird. Bad. The alcohol messes with the Omega smell.
She shows me her phone. “Check it out: Professor Ren is in the directory—you should call and leave a message.” She elbows me, laughing harder. “Tell him… tell him you defended his dick!”
“He should know,” I agree.
“Definitely. Definitely. He should know.”
We huddle together, laughing, and I type out the number on my phone. Finn comes back and groans when Rose swats him away. It rings and rings and we hold our breath while we wait.
A generic voicemail clicks. Please leave a message.
Rose grabs my arm. “Hey! Be nice to Rey!”
I push her and try to hold back more hyena laughs, whispering for her to shut up. Finn asks who we’re calling with all the concern of a single parent.
“Poe Dameron said stuff about your dick,” I slur. Finn tries snatching my phone. “Was gonna fight ‘em—Finn Raynalbeads wouldn’t let me. Also you should be nice to me.” I shove Finn, laughing again. “Good luck with your dick, sir.”
It’s not the entire voicemail. I carry my phone around for a while, supplementing with random conversations and requests for pizza rolls, until it finally clicks off and ends. Finn tells me I’m an idiot so I call Professor Ren twice more with increasingly hysterical voicemails as I get drunker.
I sit under the snack table, buried in popcorn, crying my eyes out and eating so fast I can’t breathe.
“I’m very nice to you!” I sob. “You send me mean emails and I’m a very nice person! I even looked up Omega dicks and I don’t think they’re gross!” My lower lip quivers and I cry harder. “I’m a very nice person! You’re mean to me!”
Then I leave my third of fourth voicemail apologizing for the last two. I think it catches a conversation I have with one of the guys about where the bathroom is. It’s too long of a conversation.
I sway down the hall, sniffling. “I grew up in foster care, y’know. I had a very hard life and I’m a very nice person. You have—” I run smack into the door and groan, stumbling, then open it. “Shit. Fuckin’… doors. Should leave them all fuckin’ open.”
“You have eight degrees and you’re very mean to me. I’m sorry I yelled. But you’re very mean.” I lock the door and paw at my skirt. “Hang on, gotta pee.”
Then I hang up. I manage to pee but don’t call Professor Ren’s voicemail again because I wind up puking my fucking brains out instead.
Rose and Finn bring me back to the dorm, only leaving when they’re sure I’m not going to aspirate. I take a shower before they go and Rose keeps hesitating until Finn drags her out. I’ll be fine. I’m already sobering up from vomiting up the gallons of alcohol.
I pass out for a bit—and wake up in a weird state. Itchy. Confused.
“Is that what you want, Miss Niima?”
The last bits of a dream fade away into a muddled haze. I’m lost for a minute as I try to bring it back, clawing for the strings slipping from my fingers, when I realize I have a hand down my pants.
I rip my hand free and glance at Rose’s bed, relieved to see it’s empty. It clicks that the voice I heard was Professor Ren’s. I was having a sex dream about him and apparently I was very into it.
“Jesus,” I hiss. I throw back the sheets and get out of bed to wash my hands. “Jesus Christ, Rey!”
I’m frustrated but there’s no way in hell I’m getting off to him. It’s bad enough that I have to look him in his eyes Monday morning, like I wasn’t masturbating in my sleep from dreaming about him, and he has those eyes that make you think he can see right through you. He’ll know.
I crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. Why him? Why me?
I roll over on my side and shudder. The dream is there in the back of my head and I don’t know how I’ll ever look Professor Ren in the freaking eyes again.
Chapter 5: envenomation
Sunday is so full of suffering that I don’t even think about the voicemails. Rose brings Gatorade that I don’t even sit up to drink: I lean over the edge of my bed and sip through a straw, watching The Office, praying for the sweet release of death.
Rose complains that the room smells like Alpha and spends her Sunday washing everything. I watch, bored, in and out of naps and snacks.
“It’s fucking Poe,” she mutters. She slaps my calf. “Up! Washing time!”
“You’re hungover, Rey; now get up.”
Annoyed, I roll out of bed to lie on the floor instead, stretched out on my blanket. Rose peels my sheets and hisses so loud that my head snaps up.
She’s wincing, shaking her head. “Did you have a guy over?! This can’t just be from Poe. This smells like unmedicated Alpha.”
“Well I don’t hang around Alphas, Rose.”
“I know, but this can’t be from just… brushing by one. It’s a lot of pheromones. Can’t you smell them?”
I shrug. “No.”
“Ugh.” Rose shudders and backs away from the bed. “I might stay with Finn. This is going to trigger me again and I have midterms coming up in a few weeks. You know this can trigger me, right?”
“I wouldn’t bring that around if I could help it. It must be from the party.”
“That’s way too much to be…”
Rose trails off. I peer up and see her staring at me, eyes wide. She’s a mess in a sloppy ponytail and old pajamas but she smells nice again.
I raise my eyebrows. “To be what?”
She grabs my pillow and smells it, which gives me the heebie jeebies, but then she proceeds to smell more of my stuff. I watch without commenting until she comes around and grabs my wrist to smell it.
It irritates me more than it should. I rip my hand away and scowl, squirming under my sheets left on the floor. What’s her problem?
Rose keeps staring at me.
“Rey… how long have you been sick?”
“I’m not an Alpha,” I snap. I roll into a ball and bury my face in the blanket. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“You fucking reek. You need to go see the nurse and get medicated.”
“I’m not an Alpha. Go get your fucking head checked—and your meds.”
Rose guffaws. She puts her hands on her hips and shakes her head, glaring at me, then turns away. I glare while she packs a bag. Awful rude to just accuse someone of being a demi-human like it’s no big deal. She’s been so crazy lately. Maybe she should be in a psych ward.
She talks with her back to me. “You need to go see a doctor, Rey. I can’t stay here if you’re an A and unmedicated, and you’re going to get sick.” Her hangers rattle as she pulls down clothes. “You’re making me sick. This is your fault.”
“My fault?! How is it my fault that you can’t handle being within fifteen feet of an Alpha, and none of the pills work?! How is that my fault?”
“Because you’re ignoring the obvious and it’s making me fucking sick, Rey, and I’m exhausted and I don’t want to go back to the hospital!” Her voice lifts like she’s going to cry. “I can’t do this. I’m so tired, and—you don’t give a shit.”
“You’re being crazy, Rose,” I say, rolling my eyes. “Go take a nap or something.”
Me, an Alpha. That’s absolute nonsense.
She stomps around filling her duffel bag and calls Finn to come get her. Rose leaves in tears and I stare after her, dumbfounded. What did I do?
“She just doesn’t feel well, Rey.”
Finn calls me back Monday morning while I’m getting ready to see Professor Ren. Rose won’t text me so I’m going through Finn to make sure she’s okay.
I brush my hair into a ponytail, running my tongue along my fresh brushed teeth.
“She needs to go see—”
“Who? Who is she supposed to go see?”
I scowl. “I don’t know, Finn. I’m a Beta, but I recognize a sick person when I see one.”
“There are only so many doctors and so many meds.” He pauses, then sighs. “She’s staying with me for the time being. I’ll stop by to get her stuff later.”
It stings, but I just mutter in agreement and hang up.
The hallways are empty, with it being quarter to seven on a Monday. I shuffle along to the quiet corner where Professor Ren’s office is, somehow still nauseous from Saturday night, and rub my face before I knock on the door. I’m so exhausted.
He calls for me to come in. As I’m opening the door and happen to meet his dark eyes, I remember.
Professor Ren is reclined in his chair with his hands folded in his lap, and doesn’t look angry or annoyed. He gestures to the chair before his desk and I shut the door before I sit, looking literally anywhere except at him. Shit. Dream. Voicemails. Shit.
His black hair hangs down to his shoulders and he’s wearing a charcoal gray dress shirt that puts the brand on full display. He taps his pen on the desk and stares pointedly at me while I look around.
“…You should get a plant,” I suggest. I wring my hands in my lap, literally sweating. “Would be nice.”
Professor Ren doesn’t reply. He keeps staring at me and tapping his pen on the desk. Tap… tap… tap…
We lapse into increasingly awkward silence, clock ticking the minutes by on the wall. It’s too early for this shit. I should be sleeping or checking on Rose but here I am embarrassing myself half to death instead.
“Did you enjoy your weekend, Miss Niima?”
I don’t look, just nod. His voice is that odd soft tone like when he asked if I was sorry in the lecture hall.
He reaches for his staff phone. I examine my hands as he turns it and presses buttons. Oh god. Someone please kill me. Strike me down with a bolt of lightning.
“On Sundays I like to come in to work on research,” he says. “It’s quiet here, of course, and there are no distractions; no nonsense.” Buttons beep. “And I take the opportunity to check my voicemails.”
I cover my face with both hands as my own laughter echoes in the small office. Professor Ren leans back in his chair, long fingers woven together, and resumes staring at me. I catch a glimpse through my fingers.
“Kelly—Kelly! Hey, Kelly!” Muffled laughter. “Kelly, you bitch, get over here! No, here! Tell Finn I need more pretzels and—well, I’m busy leaving messages for Mister Ren so someone else has to feed me!”
It goes on like that for a bit. He doesn’t blink or look away from me as it rolls into the next voicemail, in which I’m crying hysterically.
“You’re very mean to me and—and I’m very nice to you! I’m a very nice person! I’m sorry. You’re not mean. Rose gets emotional during her time of the month, too.”
“Jesus,” I mumble.
“You have a very weird dick but I defended… defended it, even though Poe said I’m blowing you. I’d never put my mouth on that. No offense. I’m sure you have a very nice penis.”
Jesus. I risk a peek and see Professor Ren still watching me, resting his temple on a fist, relaxed in his chair. He raises his eyebrows and meets my gaze until I blush and look away again. I don’t want to think about what his dick looks like.
He lets the voicemail peter out before lifting the phone and hanging up. His chair creaks as he shifts his weight, now sitting with his ring finger curled over his mouth and two fingers resting near his temple. Thankfully he seems more amused than pissed off.
I clear my throat. “So, I found a couple problems I need help—”
“Say you’re sorry.”
I pause, glancing up at him. Professor Ren nods, imploring me to continue, and I grit my teeth. Can’t we just move on? It’s not like I shot his dog.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“Look at me.” He snaps his fingers, drawing my attention from my lap. I glare at his chest. “Tell me exactly what you’re sorry for.”
“…For leaving stupid voicemails.”
He stares at me, unyielding. “Now string that together into an apology, Miss Niima.”
“…I’m sorry that I left stupid voicemails on your machine, Professor.” I pause. “But I was drunk.”
“No—apologies don’t have addendums. Commit to apologizing for your actions, or don’t do it at all and face the consequences.”
Commit to my actions. I hate commitment.
Professor Ren has me squirming and he knows it. I mumble the same apology without adding on the important note that I was very drunk, and he seems satisfied. He shakes his head as he pushes the phone back to the corner.
“You should exercise more caution when you drink,” he says. “Underage.”
“The drinking age is twenty-one last I checked.”
“Who cares? It’s three years.”
He rolls his eyes, thumping the heavy calc book on the desk, and puts his glasses on. I’m less embarrassed and more annoyed now. Like he didn’t drink underage. Everyone does.
“It’s bad for your brain,” Professor Ren says. He opens to the exact page and takes out of piece of paper. “And while I don’t think you’ll be solving a Millennium Problem, you’ve shown improvement over the last week that will be dampened by binge drinking.”
“Don’t you go out with your friends?”
I frown, cogs turning in my head. No? Why not? Is it just because he doesn’t have any, because he’s such an insufferable asshole?
So I ask. “Why not?”
Professor Ren turns the book toward me. He offers a pencil and I have a realization as I examine the problem on the page. Oh. Right. Omega.
“But you’re a man,” I say to the unspoken reply.
“Let me know when you finish that problem and we’ll move on to the next section.”
I’m not going to push, even if I’m confused. Professor Ren is about twice my size and three times the size of Poe Dameron. Omega or not, he’s big, and I wouldn’t mess with him if he’s had a few beers. Or otherwise.
I scribble for a minute or two before he reaches over and turns on the voicemails again. When I look at him he just shrugs and continues reading his book.
“You left twelve. I’ve listened to nine so far.”
God. I shrink down, looping an arm over my head while I write. My shrieking laughter fills the small office once again.
Rose is doing okay staying with Finn so I try to give her space. I clean our dorm room and wash all the sheets twice until the Omega smell is gone, hoping it will entice her to come back. I miss her. We’re never apart like this.
Maybe I need to find new friends. Maybe I should. I can’t move in with her and Finn. Right?
All the alone time gives me too much time to think about Professor Ren. I drift around aimlessly until Wednesday before class, caught up in his weird sad side note that he doesn’t go out drinking with his friends. It shouldn’t bother me so much.
I scan my homework but stare right through it. He’s an Omega but he’s still a man, and most Alphas are men. They wouldn’t want anything to do with him. He’s being dramatic; trying to make me feel bad for him. I don’t. He’s a grown man.
Curious as I am clueless, I send him an email.
Can I ask a question before class? It’s easier in person.
Oct 20, 12:07 PM EST
No one else knows the ins and outs of male Omegas like a male Omega. I’ll just ask.
His response takes a bit.
no i’m busy you may ask after class
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 20, 12:49 PM EST
Oct 20, 12:58 PM EST
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 20, 1:00 PM EST
Suddenly his lack of friends doesn’t seem so shocking. He’s covering it up, I bet. He doesn’t go out ever, and it’s not because he’s afraid of Alphas.
I pack up my things and head to lecture around quarter to two. Don’t want to be late but I don’t want to risk being early, either.
The lecture hall is almost full when I pop in. I slink down the steps to my desk, half hiding my face behind my hood, and avoid Poe Dameron attempting to meet my eyes. Not today, Satan. Not today.
He glares at the back of my head—I can feel it, and it annoys the shit out of me, but I ignore it. I shuffle my books on the counter as Professor Ren strides down to the lectern, determined not to let Poe get to me. I have enough problems.
Kylo looks tired today: tapered sweatpants, slouchy hoodie pulled over his head. Dark circles ring his eyes and my scalp prickles as I pick up on his cologne, stronger than usual, so pungent that my mouth waters. I’m fine. Sick again.
He sits and draws the strings to tighten his hood until only his nose and mouth stick out. We all wait in silence.
“Just test prep today.” His voice is raspy, soft. “If you’re ready then you can head out.”
That clears out half the class immediately. I turn and watch them go, narrowing my eyes at Poe, who glares back at me. He wraps an arm around Kaydel as they leave with Bazine, and a couple people come down the steps to ask Professor Ren questions.
But they leave soon, too. We’re left alone in the lecture hall and I’m itchy.
He folds his arms over his M.I.T. hoodie. “So what’s your question?”
Somehow I know he’s sick, beyond the obvious signs, and I’m betting it has something to do with heat. That’s not a subject I want to broach. I don’t even like broaching that subject with Rose.
“Nothing important,” I reply. “I’ll go study.”
“Then why did you email me?”
“I thought it was important but it isn’t.”
“Then don’t email me.”
Jesus Christ. I glower at his half-hidden face and sling my backpack over my shoulder.
Professor Ren doesn’t say anything until I get to the top of the stairs. He clears his throat, and I almost don’t turn to look, but something compels me to.
His hood is down and his long, pale face is gaunt and tired, all dark circles and down turned mouth. He rubs his throat and studies me with red eyes. It looks like he got hit by a fucking truck.
“I’ll be out until next Wednesday,” he croaks. His fingers keep rubbing under his hood, across where the brand is. “So refrain from stupid emails.”
“Fine. Hope you enjoyed my voicemails.”
He turns slowly in his chair to face the wall. What a drama queen. Am I supposed to feel bad for him?
Because I do. Guess it’s working, or I’m just weak; might have something to do with the watery puppy dog eyes and raspy voice. And he smells nice. It’s literally making my mouth water, which is a confusing mixture of emotions and pointing toward Rose being right about me.
But she can’t be right. No fucking way.
“The last one was a bit sad.”
He shrugs and keeps staring at the wall. It’s weird and sad and I get a tight sensation in my chest, like a compulsion that I need to go… hug him?
“I don’t discuss my personal life with students,” Professor Ren calls, raspy and soft. He turns from side to side. “Voicemails are personal.”
“…Fine. Feel better.”
I pause with my hand on the door. “I’m not sick.”
Kylo slowly pivots to face me, face hidden again in his hood, and it’s a little eerie.
“You will be.”
Nope. No. I’m fine.
I tear open the door and hurry out. God he’s weird.
Chapter 6: shock
The test comes Friday morning and is just as hard as I thought it would be. Finn has been too busy with Rose to be of much help and I’m afraid to email Professor Ren for help, too. He’s super sick. He’ll just be snotty and rude.
Our sub is a short old woman who doesn’t notice Poe and Bazine cheating and laughing about it. I’m tempted to take out my phone and do the same but figure I’ll really be screwed if I get caught.
So I suffer in silence, poring over the complicated equations and graphs, ready to drive my pencil through my eyeball. Math sucks. Why am I even going to college? I should drop out and sign up for a sugar baby website instead. Much easier.
Eventually I give up. I’m sort of satisfied with my work and hand it in to the sub, then walk past the small desk where Poe is cheating off Bazine.
I glance back. Poe is glaring up at me and raises his eyebrows. Bazine and Kaydel stare at me, too, backing up their ring leader. Creepy.
“Take a shower,” he whispers. “You reek.”
The two girls giggle and Poe smirks at my scowl. I know what he means—that I smell like an Alpha. He’s just being a douchebag. Who gets this annoyed when they lose at pong? Is he twelve?
Out in the hallway I have to take a minute to catch my breath. It’s like I just got punched in the gut, and all I want to do is charge back into the classroom and deck Poe. You reek. Fuck you. Don’t talk to me like that. You can’t talk to me like that.
I pace in a wide circle before shaking my head and storming off down the hall. Calm down, Rey. One asshole’s shattered nose isn’t worth all that tuition.
But when I get back to my dorm room and find a note slipped under my door, I reconsider that.
I KNOW WHAT U ARE. ALPHA SKANK.
Livid, I shred up the scrap of paper and slam my door shut. I have to get a grip. I cannot punch Poe Dameron. The handwriting looks like a girl’s so it could’ve been anyone who sent it; could’ve even been Professor Ren. Rose. No, Rose wouldn’t do that. Or would she? How can I be sure?
“You are not an Alpha,” I mutter, rubbing my temples. I drop my backpack on the bed. “You are not an Alpha. That’s insane. You’re a Beta.”
I close the blinds and climb into bed for a nap. My backpack smells like cologne and laundry and I’m compelled to wrap my arms around it like I sometimes do with a pillow. It smells nice. Couldn’t have been from Professor Ren touching it.
Annoyed, I shove the thing to the floor and turn to face the wall, arms crossed. I glare at the chipped beige paint for all of two minutes before a weird guilt settles in the back of my head, like what I’d feel when I threw away a stuffed animal. It’s a backpack. It doesn’t have feelings or nerve endings.
I close my eyes. You are not an Alpha, Rey. You are not an Alpha. You are not an Alpha.
But I have another horrifying graphic dream about Professor Ren during my nap and wake up with a hand down my pants like I did the week before. I consider burning the backpack while I wash my hands and pace and panic, embarrassed by my weird somnolent horniness.
I’m not an Alpha. That’s impossible.
Over the weekend I have nothing to do, what with Rose being mad at me and Finn apparently ignoring me in solidarity. I eat a lot of ramen and watch a lot of Cheers for some reason, pretending I don’t notice the ache in my muscles that goes down to the bone. Sweating comes and goes. Normal.
I take the opportunity to research more about male Omegas and Alpha females while slurping enough MSG to kill a lesser woman. They’re just as rare as I thought but a couple groups exist on Tumblr and Twitter, usually talking about their rights and shit like that. Nothing exciting. No weird dick pics.
The longer I browse, the more stories I read that make me sad and anxious. Apparently a lot of male Omegas don’t like going out alone, and female Alphas get better support in pursuing what they want to do. Girl power and stuff. But they both suffer at the hands of male Alphas in particular, who don’t like the challenge to the status quo.
Weird stuff. Complicated and sad and I want absolutely nothing to do with any of it.
But it makes me feel bad for Professor Ren, strange as he is. Alpha males have a history of attacking male Omegas and female Alphas and part of the reason they’re tracked is to ensure they don’t disappear. It must be hard being him.
On Monday morning, I get an email.
your test is graded. see me.
i’m available today until 3
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 25, 9:34 AM EST
Oh fuck. I groan and stare at the email for five minutes before answering. Isn’t he supposed to be out until Wednesday?
Okay, I can come around noon.
Oct 25, 9:41 AM EST
No answer comes after that, so I assume it’s okay. Maybe not, knowing how obnoxious he is.
I take a shower before I leave, still a little sweaty and achey from my mystery illness, and run into Bazine on my way back from the bathroom. She makes a face, scrunching up her nose and shaking her head as we pass each other. I feel like she’s just fucking with me. Poe is a big fucking baby.
Maybe I’ll suck it up and go to the doctor. Rose still won’t answer my texts and Finn is mad at me, too. It sucks. I miss them like crazy.
Whatever. I get dressed and take the route around the building outside to get some sun on the walk to Professor Ren’s office, trying to distract myself from how anxious I’m going to be when I see him. Life has never been such a pain in the ass: annoying professor, my friends dumped me, and I’ve attracted the ire of an Alpha quarterback.
It’s a nice day, at least. I close my eyes and take a deep breath of the cold air, shivering in my sweater and ambling for the far door. I’ll be fine. I always make it one way or another.
Back inside, I amble down the empty hallway to Professor Ren’s office. It’s closed so I knock once, hoping he might not answer—but a raspy ‘come in’ floats through and beckons me in.
He’s sitting at his desk of course but I barely notice before I’m practically slapped in the face by an awful chemically smell that burns my nose. I cringe and hesitate in the doorway, suddenly angry, suddenly anxious. It’s like bleach. Did he murder someone?
“Please close the door,” he rasps.
Maybe: he’s wearing the M.I.T. hoodie from a couple days ago and his black hair is hanging in a tangle down to his shoulders, clean, but unkempt. He doesn’t look when I shut the door with a trembling hand and force my ass into the seat at his desk. My skin prickles. I’m really agitated.
I swallow, throat dry. “Can you—Can you open the window, please?”
Jesus Christ. I’m about to rip off his glasses and snap them in two.
“Please open the window,” I snap.
Professor Ren’s penetrating dark eyes flicker to mine before he obliges. A rush of cool air helps clear some of the chemical smell and I take a deep breath, heart pounding. Okay, just get this over with. Try not to think about the two sex dreams—
He looks me directly in the eyes at the moment like he can sense my thoughts. I blink back at him and clench my jaw, quickly averting to the desk. Oh no.
“You passed. Barely.”
I nod. “Cool. Good to know.”
“I’ll be back to teaching Wednesday and we can resume tutoring, but I assumed you’d like to know beforehand.”
“Can I see the test?” I pause. “Please?”
“Not before the other students.”
Then why the hell did he call me here? My pulse quickens at the possibilities I try to ignore and pretend are utterly repulsive.
Then Professor Ren opens a drawer. “Would you like a mint?”
At first I shake my head. I’m happy that I passed but weirded out by literally everything else. And now apparently my breath smells.
Something clatters across the desk and comes to rest right in front of me. I wring my hands in my lap and go to pick up the mint, his friendly suggestion that I learn how to brush my teeth, when I notice it doesn’t look at all like a mint. It’s oblong and pink, stamped SA-88. It’s a drug.
I blink and look up. Professor Ren is typing away on his laptop like I’m not even there, ignoring that he just casually offered me drugs.
I’m too stunned and confused to accuse him of anything, but I do snatch the pill and race from the office. He still doesn’t say a word, even though I have evidence that can maybe ruin his entire career. Is he propositioning me? Is it a threat?
Heart pounding, I rush back to my dorm room with the pill. I slam the door shut and Google it, ready to call whoever I have to and make a big stink. He’s insane. Why would he ever think… the audacity. Do I look like an idiot? I’m a freshman and yeah, usually an idiot, but not that big of an idiot.
Creepy fucking Omega. I read the men can be sexual predators even worse than Alphas—
Generic Name: altorgestrel
Pill with imprint SA-88 is pink, capsule shape, and has been identified as Supralpha 100mg. It is supplied by Nova Pharmaceuticals.
Supralpha is used to suppress female Alpha hormone cycling and belongs to the drug class of female hormones. FDA has indicated high risk when used during pregnancy. Supralpha is a controlled substance (Schedule IV) under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
What the… fuck?
I read down further, wondering if he maybe made a mistake, but the website reaffirms that it’s a controlled substance and a suppressant just like what Rose takes. There’s more stuff about side effects and interactions with other drugs but I don’t care to read it. Did Professor Ren mean to give me something else? Why would he…
Then our odd parting conversation from Wednesday comes back to me, when he told me to feel better and I said I wasn’t sick. He said I would be.
Part of me wants to charge back to his office and throw the pill in his face. I’m mad that he made such a bold assumption, just like Rose and Finn, but I also can’t keep denying what’s right in front of my face.
I sit on the edge of my bed, staring at the pill in my palm for a while. I should go see the doctor and pay for the blood work—make sure it’s really hormonal changes and I’m going down the path everyone says. They could be wrong.
Instead I take the pill and send an email.
Thanks for your help.
Oct 25, 4:21 PM EST
I lie down and stare at the ceiling, waiting for the medication to kick in. Hopefully it doesn’t. Hopefully I’m just as sweaty and angry as I have been for the past couple weeks and it proves everyone is wrong about me. Life will stay the same.
But when I wake up, I find I was as wrong as ever.
Chapter 7: disseminate
Taking the medication makes me quickly realize how desperately I’ve needed it. At first I’m annoyed by it and lie in bed glaring at the ceiling even as the sweating and mindless irritation fade—just because I hate being wrong. Hate it.
But Professor Ren and Rose were right, and that means I have a serious problem on my hands. Beyond being an Alpha and facing registration and becoming a social pariah, I need more of the suppressants if I want to function at all, and they aren’t cheap.
I chew my lower lip. I could probably hide it from everyone: just need more Supralpha. I’ll hold off on telling Rose or anyone else for now if there’s a chance I can avoid registering with the federal government, too. Maybe there’s a way I can fly under the radar.
…But I need the medication, and I only know one person who can get it for me.
It’s Tuesday morning now and I only have a couple hours until the Supralpha starts wearing off. I forgo the email, because I know he’s always sitting around his office doing nothing, anyway.
As I shower and brush my teeth, it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m an Alpha. I shouldn’t be, because women aren’t meant to be Alphas, but I am. If anyone finds out that means my life is over, so I have to do whatever I can to keep it from Rose and everyone else.
Unless I want to register. Become a prisoner of the state. Be followed everywhere I go.
Nope. Not gonna happen.
I leave for Professor Ren’s office around noon, infinitely less pissed off by all the people around me. My chest isn’t so tight and my skin doesn’t prickle. I take a deep breath and don’t pick up those subtle hints of Omega that linger in the hallways—and I realize I can barely smell Rose anymore. That’s good. Maybe she can move back in with me.
…Maybe. Maybe that isn’t a good idea.
I round the corner for his office and pass a couple walking to their class. As expected, the light is on inside and the door is shut, so I knock once.
It’s quiet. Things shuffle around and a chair scrapes on the floor. Footsteps click closer, a lock turns, and the door pulls open.
Professor Ren looks much better than he did last week—hell, it’s even an improvement from yesterday. He pushes his glasses up his nose and gives me an expectant raise of his eyebrows, which reduces me to a stuttering mess. How do I ask for more? Just come right out and say it?
“I—” My voice catches and I cough. “Uh… mint?”
He leans out to look down the hall both ways. I blink and he grabs my jaw in one hand, turning to expose my throat, so rough and abrupt that I jerk back. What the fuck—he can’t just put his hands on me!
But Professor Ren doesn’t seem to care. He impatiently seizes my arm and yanks me into his office, yanking the door shut behind us. I’m pushed into the closed door and he invades my space, dipping his mouth to my throat and inhaling deep. It’s scenting. It’s supposed to be rude.
My pulse flutters as he draws back. His hand squeezes my arm before it slides away, and he strides to his desk, opening a drawer. I rub my neck, blushing furiously. Jesus Christ.
“No more drinking this weekend, I see,” he says.
“I told you I don’t drink a lot.” I cross my arms, still shivering from his touch. “Rose is mad at me, anyway. I’m living alone in my dorm.”
Professor Ren finds an orange bottle of pills without a label. He shakes out a pink pill and holds it out on his palm, so I shuffle over to take it. I swallow it dry.
“I’m sure she’ll come around.” It’s not comforting.
I fold my arms over my chest once more and another shudder passes through me. He stashes the bottle in his drawer so I assume I’m not going to just get them for being me. Does he expect… something? This would be a truly awful way to lose my virginity.
Professor Ren sits in his chair and motions for me to sit in the one across from him. I do, anxiety rising in my stomach. What does he want? Do I have to blow him? Doesn’t his dick have bumps and other weird shit on it? Will he knot in my mouth?
We’re quiet for a long minute. He stares at me, leaned back and tapping his pen on the desk, and I do my best not to look him in the eyes. If I’m going to give him sexual favors then he’s going to have to ask outright. I’m not volunteering—
“I haven’t told anyone, Miss Niima.”
I blink. Wring my hands in my lap. That’s good, because it means I won’t have to register, but it feels like he’s not telling me that to be nice.
“Okay,” I reply, slowly. My palms are sweating, ears ringing. I know what comes next.
“…There is one thing I would like in return. For the medication and my discretion.”
Oh god. My heart pounds so hard I can’t breathe and I just nod, relegated to my fate. All my Alpha bravery is suppressed under the medication and I’m heading into my fate of being bent over a desk and fucked by my professor.
His chair creaks as he turns to pick something up. I squeeze my eyes shut, expecting a maid outfit or something. Sex dungeon stuff.
But it’s not that: it’s a fluffy blue blanket.
Professor Ren hands it to me. It’s heavy as hell and thick with the scent of Omega—him. He’s different than Rose, more like warm laundry and fresh baked cookies than flowers and detergent. He smells amazing, if I’m being honest, and I can even pick him up through the Supralpha dulling my senses.
I resist the urge to bury my face into the blanket, lower eyelid twitching. I want to. I want to rub it under my jaw and bite it.
Kylo opens his laptop, pointedly ignoring me. “Sleep with it for a few days, then bring it back. That’s all.”
Sleep with it?
I stare at him, heat creeping up the back of my neck. He still doesn’t look at me.
“…Sleep with it?” I echo.
“Yes.” He clicks along the keyboard. “Then return it.” His dark eyes flicker to mine, unyielding. “That’s all.”
The look alone tells me it’s time to leave. I nod, getting to my feet with the blanket draped over my arm, relieved that he’s not going to make me fuck him. Not that he’s ugly. He isn’t.
But he’s terrifying in a subtle, strange way. It’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s an Alpha thing; maybe because my brain knows that I should be avoiding him at all costs. That’s what the articles said: that I naturally will want to get the hell away from him.
I hurry from his office and back to my dorm room. Maybe smearing my scent all over a blanket is weirder than just sucking his dick.
I’m indebted to him now. I’m almost entirely at his mercy, because I’m fucked if anyone finds out I’m an unregistered female Alpha. I hug the blanket and lean on my door, exhaling a shaky breath. He hates me and my life is in his hands. This is bad. I hate feeling so helpless and pathetic.
“Fucking Omegas,” I mutter.
I wander to my bed with the blanket and lay it out to check for weird stains. He better not be jerking off with it or anything gross like that.
My fingertips brush across the soft fabric and squeeze the beads inside that give it the strange, suffocating weight. Does he like this? It seems like it would be suffocating and claustrophobic to sleep under a heavy blanket, but from the strong scent, he must carry the thing everywhere with him.
I chew inside my cheek. Everywhere. Professor Ren must be terribly lonely.
My phone rings. I pick it up without checking the name, now fanning my fingers through the fluffy center of the blanket. My chest feels warm.
“Rey? Are you purring?”
I blink, snapping out of my daze, and stumble back from the blanket like it bit me. Finn is laughing on the other line and I snap at him to shut up.
“Dude, you’re purring. Holy shit.”
“I’m not purring!” I retort. “It was—I’m microwaving mac and cheese!”
“Alright, well…” He snickers. “I have a game Friday night and wanted to invite you. Rose is feeling better. She wants to see you.”
Oh shit. I nod, running a hand through my hair.
“Sure, I’ll go. Thanks, Finn.”
“For sure.” He’s quiet for a second, then: “I’m not gonna ask a question that might get you in trouble, but… are you…?”
“I’m safe to be around her. I got… mints.”
“No shit? Well, great. That’s great, Rey. I’ll let her know—she’s been really worried.”
I hover in the middle of my empty dorm room, eyeing Rose’s empty bed. My throat constricts.
“Tell her I’m sorry?” I croak.
“She knows. She’ll just be glad you’re okay.”
We hang up after a quick goodbye. I pace my room and rub my chest trying to stave off the tears, but they come anyway, in torrents like a waterfall. Pitiful. I have no reason to cry. I’m the asshole.
I change into pajamas, ready to do research and watch something on Netflix. I’m an asshole but I’m a terrified asshole, and I feel like I have nowhere to turn. Rose and Finn don’t get it, and if we’re too chatty it could get me into serious trouble. All I can do is Google and try to piece my new life together myself, the same way I always have.
My sobbing reduces to sniffles as I curl up under the blanket. The weight is surprisingly comforting, and I hardly have my laptop open before I’m dozing off. It’s nice: the smell, and the weight, and the warmth. It feels like I’m being hugged.
I have so many questions about what life is going to be like now. It hasn’t sunk in and I’m not sure when it will, but things are going to be different. Harder.
…But it can wait. I close my eyes and heave a sigh. I’m too tired to worry.
When I wake up, my phone is vibrating.
I’m stiff as hell and extremely groggy, disoriented like I’ve never been before. Groaning, I paw around my bed for the phone and squint at the screen.
It’s four PM—on Wednesday.
“Shit!” I hiss. I scramble upright, clutching my head when a migraine pulses through. I’ve been asleep for almost an entire fucking day?!
I stumble out of bed and down the hallway to the bathroom to pee and take a shower. I’m dizzy as fuck and still don’t understand how I managed to sleep an entire day without realizing it. Holy shit. I missed all my classes and my only excuse is that I got really comfy sleeping under my professor’s scented blanket.
There are a couple other girls in the bathroom when I emerge from my shower stall: namely, Bazine and Kaydel. Just what I needed. They’re busy talking near the mirrors but pause when they catch sight of me.
“Skipping class, Rey?” Bazine asks.
“Good thing,” Kaydel adds, rolling her eyes. “Stinks up the whole fucking room.”
God. What the fuck ever. I rub my face as I walk past in my flip flops.
“So who tops, Rey: you, or Kylo?”
I stop dead at the door. I’m not sure why the mention of him makes me so angry, but I pivot hard, prickling with rage. They exchange a glance and laugh.
My jaw twitches. “Shut up.”
“Why? You’re both freaks.” Bazine rolls her lip gloss on and drops it in a bag Kaydel is holding. “Does he like pegging? Bet you like pegging.”
“So disgusting,” Kaydel groans. “I don’t even want to imagine it.”
“Then don’t,” I snap. “Mind your own business and leave him alone.”
“Oh my god, why are you getting so emotional, Rey? We’re just asking questions about your alternative lifestyle. Don’t you want to educate us about fucking Professor Ren up his butt?”
They burst out laughing. I drop my shower caddy, balling my fists, and I’m propelled forward by something I can’t entirely control.
I grab Bazine by the back of her shirt and throw her across the bathroom floor. Kaydel screams like I just stabbed her and shoves me away, rushing over to help her friend back to her feet. My blood boils. Omegas shouldn’t talk to me like that. Bazine needs to learn her fucking place.
But there are a couple other girls in the bathroom and I know I’m outnumbered. I grab my caddy and storm back to my dorm room, furious, and slam the door shut behind me. Don’t go punch her, Rey. You’ll be in serious trouble if you go punching people.
“I top!” I hiss, pacing my room. “Like I’d ever let him fuck me!”
Fucking ridiculous. I’d never let an Omega—
My phone vibrates, snapping me out of my rage spiral. I pick it up and see I have five emails, all from him, all demanding to know why I missed class.
explain your absence
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 27, 3:03 PM EST
SUBJECT: absence 2
this is my second attempt to contact you.
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 27, 3:17 PM EST
SUBJECT: absence 3
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Oct 27, 3:59 PM EST
The last two are the exact same. I glare at them for a second before I throw down my phone and get dressed. I’ll fucking tell him why I was absent.
I storm from my room and straight past Kaydel and Bazine in the hallway. They gasp as I push by and I consider throwing Bazine across the floor again—but I have more important things to do.
When I get to the office I pound on the door with my fist instead of politely knocking. I set my hands on my hips, jaw clenched, anger still so high I can barely breathe. I’m sick of these fucking Omegas telling me what to do. I’m going to burn his stupid blanket.
There’s some shuffling inside before the door opens and I’m face-to-face with Professor Ren.
He stares down at me and my fury fizzles. I shrink back for a second, swallowing a lump in my throat. Okay. Well. He’s bigger than I remembered.
“Can I help you?” he drawls.
“I… I…” Shit. Shit. Why is he so tall?
He raises his eyebrows and takes off his glasses, hooking them over his breast pocket. I take a step back as he steps forward, glaring down at me like I just bitchslapped him.
“You missed class today, Miss Niima. Didn’t come collect your mint. Were you busy?”
“No… I mean—well, I fell asleep.” Fuck. I am not the top. I should be. I’m a fucking Alpha for Christ’s sakes.
Professor Ren keeps glowering as he reaches in his breast pocket again. He takes out a Tic-Tac container filled with pink pills and shakes two out.
“I’ll collect your assignment Friday. I have a game to coach, so come by around three thirty. Don’t be late.”
I nod quickly and take the two pills, popping one in my mouth. He puts the container away and I realize he’s going to keep me at the end of a leash with it. He’ll never just give me the container so I’m free of him. He wants me to keep coming back.
It irritates me. Who does he think he is? I’m the Alpha. I’m an Alpha.
“I’m the top!” I blurt, more accusatory than I want to be. I wince as soon as it comes out of my mouth. “I’m—I’m the top.”
A beat of awkward silence follows. Kylo stares at me as I mumble an apology and cover my eyes. Holy shit. Oh my god, Rey. Oh my god.
“Sorry.” I shake my head, looking anywhere but at him. “Sorry. I have to go. I have to… uh… eat.”
I try to run away but a strong hand seizes my forearm. My breath catches as Professor Ren yanks me back a step, looming over me like a storm cloud. Not amused. One hundred percent not amused.
His dark eyes search my face for a moment. It’s quiet, and he smells nice, and I kind of want to die.
His jaw shifts from side to side, muscles jumping in his cheeks. “Don’t speak to me that way, Miss Niima.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
His grip tightens and he tugs me another teetering step closer. I stare up at him, afraid he’s about to punch me. It looks like he might. I couldn’t blame him if he did.
But Professor Ren just gives me another hide-melting glare and lets go. He disappears inside his office and slams the door shut behind him, and I run back to my dorm room. I am absolutely not the top. I’m the most pathetic Alpha on the fucking planet.
Chapter 8: hemorrhagic diathesis
the slowest of burns
Fortunately, I bounce right back once I have some space from Professor Ren.
Fuck him. I pace my dorm, hands on my hips, glaring at his blue blanket. I should burn it. Send a message. He can’t tell me what to do: I’m an Alpha. I… I demand respect, and authority, and he’s supposed to give it to me, not glare and grab my arm and demand I sleep with his weird blanket.
…Maybe burning the blanket is a little too far, but I know how else I can send a message. I’ll skip class Friday, since it apparently makes him so mad, and go to Finn’s game. I’ll have a good time. Then Professor Ren will understand that I won’t be ordered around.
I nod to myself. Perfect. That’ll work. This whole thing is his fault, anyway—because of the evil blanket making me sleep for an entire day.
Doesn’t even make sense. Is that supposed to happen? It’s warm and the weight is nice but I’m not usually such a heavy sleeper. Maybe the pills he’s giving me are cut with something. Maybe he’s poisoning me. He obviously hates my fucking guts and just wants the Alpha pheromones or whatever.
Someone knocks hard on my door. I stop pacing, bristling at the intrusion. Who the fuck is that? If it’s Professor Ren—
I open up and am immediately nose-to-nose with Poe Dameron. He leans closer and I shove him back with two hands to his chest, taking a sharp step into the hallway. He’s sweaty from practice, curly black hair plastered to his forehead, fists clenched. He wants a fight and I’m happy to give it to him.
“Heard you put your hands on Bazine,” he snaps. “What’s your problem, Rey? Don’t you have any fucking manners?”
“Your side piece should keep her mouth shut.” I resist the urge to bare my teeth. That won’t help. “And so should you.”
Poe starts toward me but he’s stopped by Kaydel, who I happen to notice off to his left. A few people stop in the hall and watch, holding their books and whispering. I’m not going to fight Poe. That won’t end well for either of us.
He clenches his jaw and points at me. “You better fucking watch it. You shouldn’t be attacking Omegas—it’s not cool.”
“Okay, Poe. Go fuck yourself.”
Another irritated scowl passes over his features but he turns and leaves, Kaydel clicking behind him in heeled black boots. One of them must’ve slipped the note under my door—they know I’m an Alpha, even if they haven’t outright said it.
I glance at the small crowd staring at me before retreating to my dorm. They can’t go around accusing random people of being unregistered abnormal demi-humans but it’s only a matter of time before someone with authority figures it out. They’ll report me and I’ll be subjected to the same shit Professor Ren deals with: the bracelet, the whispers, the government tracking me to the ends of the fucking earth.
Fear seeps into my palms in clammy cold sweat. I rub my chest and head straight for the blue blanket on my bed, trembling as I crawl underneath it and roll myself into it like a burrito.
I’m going to be outed one way or another—I’ll have to get a bracelet and people will notice me the way I really don’t want them to. No Beta will want to go out with me. I’ll probably die alone with a herd of cats.
I close my eyes, burying my face in the fuzzy underside of the blanket. The weight of it almost seems to hold me in an embrace and it smells like campfire and laundry detergent, and I take a deep, long breath of it. Smells good.
Shivering, I nuzzle in deeper, desperate to get closer to the soft, woodsy scent. Muscles unwind and a buzz drifts across my mind like I just drank a glass of wine. I’ll be okay. It’s gonna be fine. If I just relax here and take a nap, it’s all going to be okay.
“Okay,” I mumble. I can’t hear anyone but the scent triggers something in my brain that responds to an invisible cue. Pheromones.
The spell comes over me like it did Tuesday afternoon, gently drawing me into a torpor from which I think there is no escape. Warmth swells in my chest up my throat and I realize I’m purring, and that I can’t entirely control it, and that letting it reverberate in my head feels really nice.
It’s all going to be okay. My Omega says so.
This time my alarm wakes me up before I accidentally sleep for an entire day. I’m sore and it’s eleven in the morning on Friday, giving me plenty of time to get ready for the rude handoff of Professor Ren’s blanket. And my demanding the Supralpha.
I’m almost late on my dose for today and it shows, but could easily be from interrupting the fucking hibernation I go into under the blanket. I irately fling the thing off and stumble out of bed for a shower and a microwaved bowl of oatmeal. Got stuff to do. Harassment. Infuriating my professor.
First I wander down the hall to wash up, where I don’t see Kaydel or Bazine, much to my relief. I shuffle to a stall in my blue flip flops and do one more quick turn around the bathroom to make sure they’re not waiting to jump me or anything. Great. It’s always good not to get jumped in my owl-print bathrobe. Rose got it for me for Christmas last year and I would probably murder anyone who ruined it.
After I’m clean I get dressed and wait around my dorm room, wolfing down two bowls of oatmeal while Buzzfeed Unsolved plays on my laptop. I drum my plastic spoon on the edge of the dish to keep myself distracted. No big deal. People skip class all the time. I’ll bring him his stupid blanket before the game—late, again—and we’ll have a better understanding.
Should work. It’ll be fine. What’s the worst that can happen? He hates me more?
Staying cooped up in my dorm isn’t helping. I slip on a faded old hoodie and moccasins and head out for the library to do some research and be amongst other people. Fresh air and such. It’s good for you.
Cold winter air nips at the tip of my nose as I emerge from the cramped dorm hall into the overcast afternoon. I close my eyes and take a deep breath of the breeze, all crisp and cool and refreshing, like splashing my face with ice water. People bustle past in and out of the hall but I barely notice them.
I blink and see Rose standing a handful of steps away, done up in a thick coat that looks like it belongs to Finn, bundled up to her eyeballs in a scarf and hat. She hesitates before waving a thick mitten.
I try to restrain my excitement. “Uh—hey! Wow. Good to see you!” Relax. Relax. “Were you coming in for something? I can go open up.”
She shakes her head, dodging someone walking by, and shuffles to where I’m hanging near the edge of the sidewalk. It’s good to see her. Surprising.
“Poe won’t shut up about you,” Rose says, lowering her voice. She tugs me toward a bench. “He’s really mad about you grabbing Bazine.”
“Oh.” I press my lips in a tight line. “She was being rude. She had it coming.”
“Well, Poe is pissed.”
She sits on the freezing cold steel bench and I sit, wincing at the temperature through my leggings. Rose looks around once before she keeps talking.
“I wanted to warn you before you go to class—he thinks you’re an Alpha and wants to prove it, so he’s going to start a fight.” She pauses and her brows draw together. “…Have you been hanging around an Omega? You kind of reek.”
“Wait: Poe is going to fight me? Are we back in high school?”
“It’s an Alpha thing, Rey. You don’t go pushing around Omegas and expect to get away with it.”
“Her being an Omega is beside the point!” I insist. “She’s just a bitch and she’s spreading rumors—”
Rose seizes my arm tight and I can’t help the thought that flits through my mind: get your hands off me, Omega.
“That’s not how they see it,” Rose hisses. “You’re in a different world now and you have to learn how to play by their rules. You’re lucky no one reported you yet—probably because they need more proof. Don’t give them any proof. Don’t pick fights, don’t walk around smelling like an O, and keep your hands off Poe Dameron’s side piece.”
I nod, ashamed of my anger and the thoughts wandering through my head. Rose is my best friend. She’s just trying to help.
She exhales and nods before letting my arm go. A second passes and she throws her arms around my neck in a hug, squeezing fiercely, and I eagerly hug her back. She feels thinner than usual.
“Have you been eating?” I ask, as natural as blinking.
Rose groans as she withdraws, rolling her eyes. “Yes, mom. Three square meals a day, plus snacks.” She shivers and rubs her mittens together. “How about you? How’ve things been?”
We should eat. We can chat over lunch and it will distract me from skipping class.
Rose is happy to come along and links her arm through mine. We walk across the crunchy frozen grass toward the parking lot and I try to focus on how things were before our designations started fucking it all up. She’s my best friend—my sister. I’ll always respect her, no matter what.
We have lunch at a Wendy’s because Rose is craving a Frosty. It hasn’t been long since I saw her last but I feel like so much has changed—and I guess it has.
“Finn is playing tonight,” she says, beaming, spooning her ice cream. “He’s excited. Coach moved him up over Poe and Poe is pissed, which just makes it even better. He hates Poe.”
“Who doesn’t? He’s a dick.”
She shrugs and nods and we laugh.
There’s a lot I want to tell her: about the Supralpha and the voicemails and the weighted blanket. But I just got Rose back and I’m not willing to risk losing her again, enduring weeks of radio silence and pestering Finn to tell me how she’s feeling.
She’ll worry, too; if she knows how I’m getting the suppressants. I don’t want her to have to worry about me anymore. It isn’t right.
By two o’ clock I haven’t received a single email from Professor Ren. I wander out of Wendy’s behind Rose, frowning as I scroll through my messages. Huh. Class was this morning and it’s the small room, not the lecture hall, so he would’ve noticed me missing.
Unnerved, I follow Rose to Finn’s car with a sinking feeling in my gut. This seems bad.
She drops me off at the dorm hall and I wait around until three-thirty before heading out with the blanket. I’ll be on time for it. My empty inbox is concerning and I don’t want to drive him to commit murder.
But when I walk down the empty hallways to his office, I find the door closed and locked. I try the handle a couple times and knock and call his name, and there’s no response. Also weird. He has no life. He’s always in his stupid office.
It’s rude to leave the blanket sitting out on the floor so I bring it back to my room and fold it neatly.
Rose picks me up again a couple hours later but the nagging concern keeps turning in the back of my head. Professor Ren always emails me. He’s the king of fucking emails. He’ll probably send an email when he’s on his death bed.
I shoot out an email while I follow Rose across campus to the football field.
Just wanted to say I was absent due to a protracted illness. I’ll be in class next week.
Oct 29, 6:33 PM EST
That should work. I’ll get out ahead of him.
Bright lights have the field lit up like the surface of the fucking sun, so it’s not hard to find in the semi-darkness. It’s packed like games tend to be and I can barely hear Rose over all the commotion. Outdoor sporting events aren’t really my thing but I guess I can tolerate it to spend some time with her.
Should’ve brought my notebook to doodle in. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had any time to draw.
Rose leads me to a spot near the edge of the bleachers and we settle in to watch. She offers me a thermos with hot chocolate and I settle in to watch dudes knock each other over for a couple hours.
“Finn is out,” Rose says, pointing a gloved finger. “And your favorite calc professor is right over there near the bench. See him?”
Yup. Impossible to miss.
Professor Ren is pacing the sideline with another man, clearly much older than him. He looks as pissed as he always does and has his arms folded over his chest, glaring across the field at the players with bizarre intensity—like he’s mad at them. He’s wearing a half-zip sweater that doesn’t look warm enough and I see his breath when he leans in to talk to the coach. Guess he’s the assistant coach.
Douche. Even wearing a douchey headset, chewing gum like a douche, now turning, and now—
Our eyes meet. A cold brick drops in my gut and I blink rapidly, recoiling, almost spilling my hot chocolate in my haste to escape his venomous glare. He doesn’t have the same response: he slowly stops pacing, and I can’t make out his expression well but I’m sure it’s nothing good. He definitely isn’t breaking eye contact. He’s straight up glaring at me.
Okay—don’t run. Stay put and watch the game. He can’t do anything.
Most of my bravado wilts under the caustic look I’m getting from the other side of the field, though. Rose is happy watching Finn and I’m happy hanging out with her watching Finn, but I can feel dark eyes drilling holes into the side of my head. This seemed like a good idea Wednesday, when Alpha Rey wasn’t pleased about being loomed over and intimidated.
The game carries on and I pretend I understand it. I’m dreading the end. I’ll have to run. Change my identity. Cauterize my fingerprints.
At halftime I have to pee but refuse to get up and risk running into Professor Ren. I fold my hands between my knees and bounce them lightly when Rose goes to the bathroom: then I chase after her because I don’t want her going alone. Whatever. Sue me.
We walk through the crowd and I keep a tight grip on her wrist. I’m more than happy to push people out of the way once we’re inside, and I wait for her near the sinks, hyper vigilant in the thick group of people. Someone could snatch her. She’s short, even if she can scream like a banshee.
I would know. She’s yelled at me enough times.
Her voice drifts to me from outside. Somehow she snuck by, and it makes my heart skip a beat.
“Rose?” I call. I push aside a couple people and squeeze through the door. “Hey, I’m over—”
Someone grabs my forearm hard. I’m swung around the side of the restroom building and roughly pushed into the cold brick on the dark side, aggressive enough to take my breath for a second.
Then a much bigger person steps in close, not quite touching but enough that I’m trapped there. Warm, minty breath tickles my cheek.
“Bring the blanket to my office after the game.” He lowers his voice to a deep growl that makes me bristle. “Don’t be late.”
Ears ringing, blood pounding, I shove him back and almost bare my teeth. I can make out the contours of his long face in the shadows and he’s scowling, headset hanging around his neck, breath curling in the air. Professor Ren’s eyes search mine for a second before he stalks off, leaving me alone against the wall.
And a crazy, insane, stupid urge overtakes me: to chase him down tackle him. I’m not sure what I want to do after that, but it’s somewhere between ripping his throat out and fucking him. I’m sure I’ll figure it out after I have him knocked over on the ground.
He can’t talk to me like that. Defective. Needs a mate. Needs to be put in his place.
I take a couple steps in his direction, skin prickling, inhaling through my mouth like a crazy person. That unique scent of clean laundry and campfire tickles my palate and I think if I find him I’ll sink my teeth into him. Right under his jaw.
“Hey—Rey! Over here!”
Rose is calling me: I blink and see her waving from near the edge of the bleachers, putting her arms up like she’s confused. Huh. How’d she get over there?
Shame washes out the intrusive violent thoughts and leaves raw gouges behind; things I don’t think are just going to go away. I stare through the crowd toward the bright field lights illuminating the field, oddly nauseated by the claws digging into my brain. What’s happening to me? Is this supposed to happen? Is it natural for me to think of Omegas like this?
I think I need space. I need to sort this out—I can’t stand being around Rose and having these thoughts.
She’s disappointed when I tell her I need to go lie down but still smiles and says she’s proud of me. I want to do the right thing. I don’t want to hurt anyone or make a fuss or have to pummel Poe Dameron until I break his face.
So I ignore the aching in my gut telling me not to leave Rose unattended, even though it stings. I trudge back to my dorm and tell myself that it’s not right to hover and lead her around like she’s on a leash, even if it’s what feels natural. It’s disrespectful. She isn’t some newborn fawn struggling to stand up and follow me. If anything, I’m the fawn, and I’m missing a leg.
The cold fades once I’m in my room. I lean on the door and stare out my window for a long minute as the warmth and pheromones from the blanket gently envelop me. It muddles my thoughts but that’s really what I need right now. I’m going to think myself straight out of my head.
I shuffle to my bed and crawl in. I don’t know how to explain to Professor Ren that I considered assaulting him and should probably keep my distance, so I just wrap myself in his blanket and decide I’m going to forget about it. I’ll sleep for a while. Everything is gonna be okay—it all works out sooner or later.
—Then pounding drags me straight out of my nap.
My eyes pop open in the darkness. I sit up quickly and hang the blanket around my shoulders as I scurry to the door, worried it might be Poe coming to start something again. When I turn the lock and crack the door, it’s rudely shoved open.
Professor Ren puts his hands on either side of the door frame, dark eyes glowing like coals, and he’s about ready to snap at me. I’m not sure why he would risk coming to the dorms, though everyone is probably still out partying after the game. He must really want the blanket.
His jaw shifts as he takes me in. I’m too tired to have a staring contest and shrink back.
“Sorry,” I whisper, worried someone will see him. I shrug the blanket off and hastily try to fold it. “I’m sorry. I fell asleep.”
He watches me for a minute, but doesn’t take the blanket when I offer it. His gaze wanders over my head into my room, sweeping slowly, like he’s a computer scanning something into his memory. A muscle jumps in his jaw and he leans in a little but keeps his hands firm on the door frame.
Then Professor Ren pushes back. He straightens and takes the Tic-Tac container from his pocket to shake out two pills. He hesitates, then shakes out a couple more. Looks like seven.
“You need to take this at the same time every day. It doesn’t work if you don’t.” He hands me the Supralpha and nods. “You have a scarf or something?”
I scurry into my room and paw through my dresser. He hovers near the door with his hands in his pockets and looks down the hallway, otherwise motionless. His eyes roam my dorm room like it’s the most interesting thing he’s ever seen.
“Here—” I find an old pink one, dropping off the pills on my desk before returning to Professor Ren with it. “I have this.”
“Rub it on your nape.”
I’m so relieved that he hasn’t punched me that I do what he says. Fingertips brush a spot I wasn’t aware of and it sends shivers down my spine—not quite sexual but not entirely innocent sensations, either. He averts his eyes while I do it.
When I’m done the scarf is snatched from my hands. Professor Ren glares at me as he wraps it around his neck and he leaves without another word.
I lean out of my room to watch him go. He shoves open the emergency exit with a rough shoulder, and it hasn’t finished closing when he doubles back.
Oh shit. I retreat past the silvery tiles into my room and flinch as he comes to stop right in front of me. He takes out a phone and doesn’t bother looking into my eyes or acknowledging my existence. The pink looks nice on him. Frilly pink.
“Give me your number,” he demands.
“My… like my phone number?”
I’m given a trademark glare. I hurriedly tell him my phone number, even though I have no clue why the hell he wants it. How quickly I’ve fallen from almost attacking him in public a couple hours ago.
Be the top. Yeah right. Only when I’m at my least coherent.
Professor Ren types in my number. I bounce on my tiptoes, arms crossed over my chest. I have to say something. I should say something.
“You don’t have to be—be so rude,” I blurt, stumbling mid-sentence. He pauses, eyes flickering to mine. “Being nice goes a long way.”
Nice. Nailed it.
He narrows his eyes and puts his phone in his pocket. I stiffen my upper lip, refusing to be intimidated. Something about him makes me nervous. Maybe it’s Alpha brain thinking he’s defective. Maybe it’s just his general thunderhead of a personality.
Professor Ren glances down the hallway once more. His mouth works like he’s swallowing words before he finally speaks.
“Not everyone is as lucky as you are, Miss Niima. Some of us can’t afford to be ‘nice.’”
Then he leaves again, this time for good. I watch the emergency exit door for a while before I slip back to my room, and crawl under the blanket.
Everyone can be nice. He’s such a douche.
Chapter 9: hypothermia
so much formatting
Halloween comes around Sunday, but I skip the parties to make sure I don’t run into Poe. Rose isn’t going, either; she’s staying home to watch scary movies with Finn. I’m invited over but decide to give them space. I think I need space, too.
There aren’t a lot of support groups for people like me and my anxiety just keeps growing: what if something happens? What if I hurt Rose? How do I control these weird, aggressive thoughts? No amount of Googling can answer my questions and I only know one other ‘aberrant,’ who’s an Omega with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas.
And the more I go looking for help, the bigger a target I’ll become. Asking for help is almost as dangerous as going it alone, even if all the ads and websites insist I won’t be in trouble if I do go looking for help.
I decide to go for that trip to the library on Sunday afternoon that was interrupted Friday when I ran into Rose. It’s raining heavily and quiet on campus, as pretty much everyone is out at a party or home for the weekend visiting high school friends. Library is open until six so I have a few hours that I’m sure will be entirely to myself.
My phone vibrates on the way there. I pause under the eave outside, rain drumming on the metal and splashing in a huge puddle I narrowly avoid.
(413) 988-2101 >
Today 1:31 PM
It’s a link. I frown at it for a second, wondering who the hell is texting me—then I remember when Professor Ren very rudely demanded my number Friday night. Dick.
I ignore it, heading into the warm library and greeting the librarian up front. She waves and checks my student ID, then I’m free to wander the vast two stories. I pass a couple empty tables to go upstairs into the demi-human section, where there are research articles and some non-fiction books.
It smells nice in here. Massachusetts Community College gets a lot of grants for accepting demi-humans and the library must be on the receiving end of some of that money. The carpet is new, the shelves look new and have that fresh wood scent to them, and our computers are updated, too. Fancy. There’s even a spot with bean bag chairs.
I wander down an aisle of reference books, wishing I brought my sketchbook to draw some while I read. Doodles are great for distraction—plus, I’ve been meaning to practice and sort of wondering if it could go anywhere or lead to a career or—
“You didn’t answer me.”
A shriek comes before I can stop it. I quickly cover my mouth and look up to find Professor Ren standing not six feet away, scanning the books with his glasses on.
Holy shit—he’s right there: carrying a few books in the crook of his arm. He’s wearing a thick black fisherman’s sweater and has his hair up and the scarf around his neck, tucked up near his chin. It’s ridiculous. He smells nice. Why does he always smell nice? Does he know he smells nice?
I blink, fumbling. “Uh—wh—I—”
“I hope you know how to read.” Professor Ren peers at me over the rim of his glasses with thinly-veiled disdain. “Since math clearly isn’t your strong suit.”
Jesus Christ, I just came here for research and he’s here, ornery as always. I clench my jaw.
“I can read,” I snip. “And my grade in calc is improving.” I sniff, turning to examine the books. Demi-Humans: A History. Snore. “You should take… niceness lessons. If they exist.”
“They’re called etiquette classes.” He picks another book. “If I’m hearing certain things correctly, then you need to learn how to treat Omegas, Miss Niima. Or do you think we’re all available for you to abuse and stalk as you see fit?”
He pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose, ignoring me for a minute. Who have I ab—oh. Right. I did kind of throw Bazine.
But I don’t stalk anyone. He knows I take care of Rose and I’m trying to back off and give her space. Stalking is a strong word to describe it.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone,” I mutter, properly shamed. “And Bazine—”
“I’m less concerned about Miss Netal’s rumors and more concerned about your friend. Girlfriend.” His jaw noticeably shifts. “Dameron has a loud mouth.”
I laugh a little, waving my hands and peering over my shoulder. “Oh, no. Rose and I aren’t together. She’s still dating Finn and she’s like a sister to me.”
“Pheromones have an interesting way of twisting the bonds between people.”
“Oh,” he says, pressing his lips in a tight line. He keeps scanning the shelf. “She’s unattached to an Alpha, and you watch her closely. I can smell her on you, even from a couple feet away—maybe things are changing and you’re unaware of it.”
“She just about moved in with Finn so… I don’t think so.”
Professor Ren nods, and we lapse into silence. He’s carrying a bunch of books about aberrant designations and I wonder if he can read me as well as Rose can. Did he know I would be here?
I fold my arms over my chest and chew my lower lip. Come on, Rey. He knows what it’s like. He’s even sneaking you free suppressants. Just ask if you can pick his brain.
“Alphas have a very strict set of social rules,” he says before I can speak. Professor Ren offers me the books he’s holding. “You should learn them.”
Oh. Okay. I check the bindings on the books, happy to have something pointing me in the right direction. This will work in lieu of support groups and doctors.
I shift the books onto my hip. “Thanks.”
“The link I sent you is to a female Alpha forum. They can answer your questions and direct you to resources, but it’s best to avoid clinics or hospitals. They’re legally obligated to report unregistered aberrants, which will result in a stay at an education seminar.”
He pauses. I watch as Professor Ren reaches up to touch the left side of his neck where the black brand is, bracelet shifting on his wrist. My stomach turns.
“Yes,” he mutters. His fingertips slip through the scarf. “And you aren’t permitted to sign yourself out and leave until they’re satisfied.” He blinks and glances down at me, clearing his throat, pretending the motion was just to scratch an itch. “That’s all I can do for you.”
“Thank you, sir.” I bow at the waist and when I straighten, he’s staring at me, eyebrows raised. “Thanks. Thank you.”
“Yes. Fine.” His expression gets tight and irritated like usual and he points at my face as he walks past me. He stops, looming, and I press into the stiff bindings of the books on the shelf. “Don’t…” He hesitates. “Don’t pollute the blanket with other scents. Female Omegas smell. Horrid.”
I nod quickly, blinking up at him. Message received. I won’t let Rose, apparently my girlfriend, touch it.
Professor Ren’s gaze sweeps down my throat but snaps back to my eyes again so fast that it doesn’t feel lascivious or anything. He drums his fingers on his thigh and nods, then stalks off, leaving me alone and a little shaken again.
Okay. Guess I’ll do a little light reading. I check out the books and head back to my dorm.
The books have a lot of dry information, so I sign up for the Alpha forum despite the very real possibility that Professor Ren will be snooping on me. I’m sure his link wasn’t sent entirely out of the goodness of his heart, just like the pills aren’t just for kicks.
There are a couple golden rules I come across: don’t touch someone else’s Omega—ever, under any circumstances. Don’t hurt an Omega—ever, under any circumstances. That’s apparently a huge no-no, even when they’re snotty assholes like Bazine. Sucks. I’d like the opportunity to punch her.
I’m concerned about being watched so I just peruse the forum instead of posting a question. There’s a big section with FAQs, like how periods work, and I click through that for a while. Some women say they stop and only start when an unmedicated Omega is around, but some say they still have them every month like usual. Weird.
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at 12:18 AM
yah still have mine, even tho the books said it would stop. betas are dumb.
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at 12:55 AM
Really? Same here. Though I’ve heard different things about actually getting pregnant.
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at 1:08 AM
it’s fucking impossible lmao
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at 1:27 AM
HAVE THREE KIDS. NOT IMPOSSIBLE. TRUST IN GOD, LADIES.
Jesus. I roll my eyes and go back to the books, hoping the facts will paint a better picture.
…But it’s not great.
PREGNANCY IN ALPHA FEMALES
While rare, pregnancy does occur in female Alphas. Ovulation is stimulated during intercourse with a male Omega specifically. Only the penile spines of a male Omega can trigger ovulation, and due to the rarity of a female Alpha encountering a male Omega, pregnancies involving them remain rare.
Menstruation typically continues as usual in Alpha females. Fertility is poor. There is improvement when stimulated by a male Omega—pregnancy rates are very high, almost guaranteed. Menstruation sometimes ceases in some female Alphas and never resumes.
Alpha Female Pregnancy
• Dangerous—high risk
• Account for less than 1% of worldwide pregnancies carried to term each year
Fertility in the Alpha Female
Menstruation in female Alphas almost always stops completely, resulting in low pregnancy rates. They can be stimulated to ovulation by the presence of any Omega, whether cycling or not, though the highest likelihood of pregnancy is when breeding with a male Omega.
Alpha females have poor maternal instincts and are ill-suited for motherhood.
“Ill-suited—” I gawk at the page and slam the book shut. “Fuck you, J.J. Aalto. Asshole.”
That’s ridiculous. How can someone make assumptions—it’s so rude! I could be a good mother. Probably. After I get past the weird faces babies make. And how they’re always sticky. Always.
I chew my nails and stare at the open book. Having kids is way down the line, anyway. I’m still a virgin. I’ve kissed like three people; I’m not at any risk of getting pregnant, so it shouldn’t matter.
My mind wanders to Professor Ren. Has he ever met another female Alpha? Does he want kids? Has he had sex?
Saliva floods my mouth and I cough, reddening, hurrying over to my sink. Oh god. That’s embarrassing—I’m like a fucking bloodhound. Maybe I’m turning into a vampire.
“Don’t think about him,” I mutter to my reflection. I close my eyes. “Don’t think about him.”
My phone vibrates on the bed. I keep my eyes squeezed shut. It can’t possibly be him.
But it is.
Today 6:17 PM
you still never answered me.
God. Dammit. What does he want? Does he want me? Then why is he so fucking rude?
I’m busy. Researching. Sorry.
did you sign up for the forum?
Yes. Just reading the FAQs.
good. a lot of information.
keep these conversations private, please.
Okay—thanks for the help today. Hope the scarf is working okay. Thanks for leaving the blanket.
“Sure,” I mock, tossing my phone. I huff and glare at the wall. “Jerk.”
But is he? No. He hooked me up with suppressants, offered me resources, and tutored me in calc. He’s just a little rude sometimes, and I guess he has every right to be rude. I guess.
Maybe I should talk to him. Maybe. When my mouth does fill with spit thinking about whether or not he’s had sex.
I glare at the blue blanket on my bed, arms crossed, tapping my fingers on my biceps. I sniff and huff before I shuffle over to my bed and crawl underneath the heavy blanket for a nap. Fine. Sometimes he’s nice, but he’s mostly a prick.
Chapter 10: hyperfibrinolysis
Things are quiet the next couple days. I pick up a shift at work for some extra money and Rose calls to invite me out for drinks at the end of the week. There are no snotty emails or texts, and Professor Ren barely acknowledges me in class.
He’s been uncharacteristically quiet since the weekend and I’ve been doing my best not to be intrusive. He’s like a cat—the more I pretend I don’t like him, the more he’ll meander over to brush me with his tail. Reading the textbooks only gets me so far with the demi-human stuff, and I’m hoping he’ll clue me in on a couple things in person.
I take my pills and avoid looking Poe Dameron in the eyes, trying to blend in with the Alphas as best I can. I don’t want to register or go to an education seminar: which is just a fancy word for being brainwashed by the federal government.
On Wednesday night I’m working on a paper for biology and listening to music when I finally get a text from Professor Ren. My heart skips a beat and I look around my empty dorm room like someone might catch me texting him.
As always, he’s ornery.
Today 7:17 PM
you still need tutoring
I’m taking three other classes that I also can’t fail. And I just passed my test with flying colors.
one lucky break doesn’t make you einstein
“Lucky break?!” I hiss. I slap my iPad shut.
Are you calling me stupid?
i’m not calling you smart
How about I come to your office and show you how smart I am?
are you propositioning me?
I almost throw my phone. Propositioning—my cheeks burn and I drop my phone twice before I manage to respond.
No!!! 😡 I’m SAYING I’m going to come kick your ass!!!
why? don’t like when omegas talk back?
That has nothing to do with it!!! You just called me STUPID, STUPID.
now I’m stupid? because I won’t obey you?
I’m going to kill him, even if it’s against the Alpha rules. This is like having an argument on fucking Twitter, and it’s much easier if I show up in person and tell him off. The anger feels good; powerful and intense, like I’m invincible.
I get my jeans and sweater on and I’m about to head out when I pause. Some reason trickles through the red hot wall of Alpha fury, making me realize that he’s probably testing me and poking the bear to see if it roars. He’s fucking with me.
I clench my jaw and take out my phone to tell him I’m onto his mind games and trickery. Asshole. I’m perfectly in control of my anger, and I won’t let some Omega—
so testy. typical.
I’m out the door so fast that it bangs against the wall.
It’s a quick walk to Professor Ren’s office and I knock hard on the door when I get there. I set my hands on my hips, straightening, lifting my nose. I’ll show him. He can’t talk to me that way. I’m not stupid—he’s stupid. If he wants a fight I’ll give it to him, regardless of what the dumb books say.
Professor Ren opens up. He raises his eyebrows, casually taking his glasses off and hooking them over the breast pocket of his blue dress shirt. He doesn’t seem shocked to see me and is unruffled as usual. Be strong, Rey. Be strong. But be firm. Maybe a little mean. Put him in his place.
I point at his smug face. “You—I’m sick of you!”
“You are?” he echoes, glancing at his watch.
“Yes! You’re so… you’re so snotty and rude, and you always talk down to me!” I wiggle my nose to hold back angry tears. “I’m already having a hard enough time without you telling me I’m stupid!”
“I can see that you’re very upset about this, Rey.”
Anger boils up higher in my stomach at his impassive stare. I hate him. I’m going to punch him.
I clench my fists at my sides and glower and debate the consequences of punching a professor who happens to be an Omega. He’s my only line to suppressants and the only other aberrant person I know, but he’s so fucking rude and always talks out of his place, and I can’t let that go.
I’m going to punch him.
Professor Ren is about as fast as I assumed he would be and catches my fist before it connects with his face. His jaw tightens and he slowly squeezes my fist in the palm of his enormous hand. He’s glaring, lower eyelid twitching. Furious.
He drags me into his office with no warning. I’m shoved into the closed door and the little blind rattles on the window. I try ripping my hand free, hissing and flying into a weird hysterical rage that’s completely unlike me. I don’t actually think he’s going to hurt me but something deep in my brain is worried he’s going to fuck me—like that’s worse.
His big body crowds around mine. I suck in an irritated hiss and twist my neck, agitated. Back up back up back up.
“You need to get a grip,” Professor Ren growls. He pushes my hand into the door and I feel his warm breath on my temple. “Stop flying off the handle at every perceived slight—” He wrestles my hand down again when I push up. “And learn how to control your fucking temper.”
I press my head back into the door, clenching my jaw. He smells good and warm and clean and I’m fucking furious but he still scares me on a very primal level.
“I don’t have a temper,” I grit out.
“You do. And you need to learn to control it before Poe Dameron goads you into exposing yourself.”
Someone laughs in the hallway as they walk past chatting with another person. I swallow a mouthful of spit. He really does smell nice. I can’t quite see over his shoulder but I’m close to the brand on the side of his neck, and I’m seized by an impulse to lick it.
Can’t do that. Nope. He won’t like that. I close my eyes, breathing hard through my nose so the scent doesn’t brush the roof of my mouth. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t. Do. It.
But it’s like a magnet and I can’t resist.
Professor Ren stiffens, jumping a little when I lean in to inhale the scent under his jaw. It’s mottled by the brand, unpleasant in a way that makes me unreasonably angry all over again. Sad. Frustrated. This Omega is damaged but I think I can fix him.
Long fingers curl around the back of my neck. I’m dazed by the scent of him and anger is quickly spiraling off into an overwhelming desire to bite him and fuck him—then his hand squeezes, and all the intense emotion recedes in an abrupt, painful wave.
I wince, recoiling. Don’t like that. Nope. Don’t like that at all. Don’t like him grabbing me like a dog.
“Let go,” I snap.
“What you just did was extremely rude.” He eases back, still holding my neck. I meet his dark eyes and feel the familiar flush of embarrassment. “So I’m returning the gesture.”
The mating gland is on my nape and I figure that’s most of the reason why I hate his hand being there. I grimace and shake my head and he lets go.
Trembling, I rub the back of my neck. “I can’t help it. I’m sorry.”
Professor Ren rolls his eyes. He walks to his desk and I fantasize about tackling him to the floor and licking the brand until it smells the way it should. I think the gland there is scarred.
“You’re not a wild animal,” he says as he sits. He puts on his glasses. “Haven’t you been asking the other Alphas for their help?”
“…No.” I shake my head and brush my hair back. I want to cry. I just completely lost control of myself and I’m humiliated.
His dark eyes flicker up to me. He pauses, searching my face over the rim of his glasses, and I roll my lips to keep from sobbing. That’s just going to make it worse. He’ll probably kick me out.
Maybe this is the time to be honest and tell someone that I’m terrified and don’t know where to turn. My calc professor is a bad place to start but no one else understands. He knows what’s at risk and how it feels to be marginalized by the entire community: the anxiety that Poe is going to turn me in and I’ll be dragged off for ‘education.’
I lick my lips. Now or never I guess.
Professor Ren takes off his glasses and abruptly stands up, waving a hand. “Don’t—don’t cry. Don’t tell me anything, either.”
“I don’t have any insurance!” I blurt, bawling. “I don’t have anyone else to talk to!”
He flinches. “Miss Niima, I’ve already overstepped a professional boundary in my attempts to help you, and I have very little to offer… emotionally. There are—There are clinics and forums and books available to help you—”
I cry harder. Why not?
Professor Ren jumps a little like a startled rabbit. His jaw clenches and he turns to close the curtain over his desk, then disconnects his phone from the jack. He brushes past me to lock the door and peers through the blind. This way no one will ever know that he punched me for crying in his office.
He takes an awkward step toward me, kind of lurching then teetering back. His hands flex at his sides and I see him take a deep breath.
I sniffle pitifully, wiping my cheeks with the back of my hand. “S-Sorry. I’ll go.”
“You can do it again,” he snaps. He motions to the side of his neck. “But don’t touch me.”
I’m tempted. It’s a relaxing smell and would help me calm down, or maybe get me amped up and insane again. I don’t understand my body anymore.
I shake my head. “It’s fine. I don’t want to be intrusive.” I look down at my hands and tears burn in my eyes all over again. “I’m just not sure what to do. I don’t know how long I can keep—”
Professor Ren seizes my wrist and yanks me into his chest. I trip a little over my sneakers and bump into the shiny end of his dress shoe, instinctively grabbing the front of his shirt to keep my balance. Long fingers thread through my hair and urge me up toward the gland on the unbranded side of his neck.
I’ve never tried heroin, but I think the way he smells is the closest I’ll ever get. My grip weakens on his shirt and fingers slide down to his belt, limp as the intense scent of him trickles into the animal part of my brain. It’s like all those vague hints of him dialed up and blended and it’s so warm and inviting and he really does smell just like clean laundry.
My lips part and I take in a deep breath. It brushes my palate, drawing a satisfied shiver that makes my toes curl. Wanna lick. Have to lick him.
Fear washes out and I’m left dizzy and relaxed and tempted to lick my professor like a lollipop. I slump a bit and he tightens his fingers in my hair, but doesn’t make me take my hands off his belt.
“Just relax.” His voice is different: soft, gravelly. Fingertips brush my elbow.
My jaw aches. I want to open wide and bite. I want to possess this sweet-smelling damaged Omega and drag him back to my cramped dorm room.
But I fight the powerful urge and steadily regain my common sense, still relaxed by the pheromones. Professor Ren gently loosens his hold on my hair until his fingers slip free, and as he leans away, I follow and whimper under my breath.
I’m still dizzy when his big hands grasp my forearms. I watch blankly as he unhooks my fingers from his belt and gingerly returns them to my side.
“You should go rest, Miss Niima,” Professor Ren suggests, raspy.
I nod, and wander past him in a daze. He unlocks the office door and steps out into the hall to watch me head back the way I came with the scent of him in my nose and on my clothes. My legs feel like jelly. Did he drug me?
He’s gone when I look over my shoulder. I lick my lips and carry on back to my dorm. I can still feel the weight of his hands on my forearms and his fingers twisted in my hair, and I don’t think those impressions will ever fade away.
Chapter 11: acidosis
well I asked u guys to bump a fic up to 1k kudos and u did so here u gooooo
Some very drowsy Googling and research explains that Professor Ren did not, in fact, drug me, but Omega pheromones come pretty close to it. Like everything else with demi-humans, it’s complicated and highly unique to the individual, and some are more sensitive to pheromones than others.
Obviously going by my years of smelling Rose, I’m kind of sensitive.
I take a shower and almost doze off standing up. Bazine and Kaydel are in the bathroom but I ignore them glaring at me without a single flicker of annoyance. All I can think about is going back to Professor Ren’s office and burying my face in his neck; all the other stuff happening around me is like water under a very important bridge.
It’s the most relaxed I’ve been in weeks, even when I’m taking the suppressants. It’s nine at night and I figure he’s gone back home but I want to shuffle down to his office just to check if he’s available for another awkward smelling session. His gland is like the blanket on steroids and now that I’ve had the pheromones from the source, that’s all I want.
But I should give him space. I climb into bed, hauling the weighted blanket over my head, and start purring as my eyes flutter shut. It’s ridiculous. And relaxing, like stretching after sitting in a cramped car too long.
I think I have bio lab in the morning. Oh well.
“So write down the phases each cell is in on each slide, and when you’re done you can leave for the day.”
Biology is almost as easy as it was in high school, so I’m done with my cell slides in about ten minutes. I write down my answers and glance at the clock—Rose wants to go out later and Finn found a guy named Hux who makes fake IDs.
I hand in my work and glance at Poe as I pass him. He’s crouched over his sheet with Bazine resting her head on his arm and gives me the same dirty look he usually does nowadays. I don’t smile, don’t scowl back, just blankly leave the bio lab and head back to my dorm. Whatever. Not worth fighting.
Something is bugging me. I amble along the wall and take out my phone to text the gnat in my ear.
Today 10:20 AM
You said it’s rude to smell people but you smelled me when I came to ask for more pills.
Kicking things off with a bang this morning. I remember very clearly when Professor Ren smelled my neck after my first day on the suppressants, no warning or permission granted.
He answers me when I’m unlocking my dorm room. I pause, leaning on the wall.
that was different
Uh huh. Knew you’d say that.
come to my office. i have more *mints* and will be leaving right after class tomorrow.
I’m immediately demanding to know where he’s going before I can control myself.
“Shit,” I hiss. “Sorry—my bad.”
Sorry. My bad. I can come down now.
It’s confusing how natural it is to be overbearing and controlling. I only know I’m being rude because of what Professor Ren and the books have said.
The office is empty when I arrive, but I hear heavy footsteps a minute or two later. Professor Ren jangles his keys and I scurry out of the way so he can open the door, then he shuffles in with an armful of books and his laptop. He drops the keys on his desk.
“Call them mints, Miss Niima,” he snaps once I close the door.
I nod. Whoops.
He’s wearing a black sweater with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, registration bracelet on display. And tattoos. One arm has what looks like a forest emerging from under his sleeve but it’s hard to tell without getting dangerously close to him.
Professor Ren opens his desk drawer and shakes out seven more suppressants. I mumble a thank you and add them to my baggie with the others.
“We’re going over derivatives again tomorrow,” he says. “I’m available Monday if you need help.”
“Okay. Thanks.” I stuff my pills in my back pocket. “I hope you have fun tomorrow. I’m going out with Rose and Finn later tonight. I’m getting better with giving her space, so—”
“Are you drinking?”
He rolls his eyes and closes the desk drawer. What?! I’m eighteen and I’m in college; of course I’m going to get drunk with my friends.
I cross my arms, defensive. “We’re just going to the bar. It’s safe.”
“I’m more concerned about you misbehaving than anyone else.” Professor Ren taps his phone and I redden. “You don’t hold your liquor very well.”
“That was one time, and Rose dared me!”
“Do you want to continue risking exposing yourself?”
“I’m not going to be a shut-in like you and hide from everything,” I retort.
The words take a second to land. Professor Ren blinks, then slips into a deep scowl. Whoops. That was really mean, and I don’t know him at all.
He runs a hand through his hair that’s grown long enough to brush his shoulders. Shaking his head, he rubs his mouth. I try to apologize and he cuts me off.
“You’re spoiled—you’re lazy and entitled. The same irritated, bratty Alphas I grew up with.”
He glares at me, clenching his jaw. “Don’t offer me another one of your disingenuous apologies, Miss Niima. You’re not sorry. You’re never sorry.” His hands plant on his desk and he leans over. “I know what runs through the back of your head every time you apologize. I know what you really think of me.”
My heart races. It’s happening now. I’m annoyed that he won’t just shut up and accept my apology the way an Omega should, and I don’t see anything wrong with criticizing his lifestyle. He should shut up.
“I can’t help it,” I croak.
“You can, but you’re too much of a lazy brat to put in the work.” He raises his eyebrows. “You want to coast through life with as little effort as possible, so you’re going to insist you can’t control yourself, and blame your behavior on others at every opportunity. You’re a selfish, spoiled Alpha.”
“I’m not spoiled! I grew up poor—and I didn’t have anyone—”
He slams a fist on his desk and I jump.
“You’re an Alpha,” Professor Ren hisses. “And the privilege you have is truly boundless.”
Privilege? How is any of this a privilege?
I’m so angry that I can’t see straight. I press my lips into a tight line and avert my eyes to the floor, struggling not to look at him directly. Privilege—I don’t have fucking privilege. In my voicemails I told him about how I grew up in foster care and I don’t think that offers any kind of privilege.
Humiliated, I turn to leave. When I get the door open it’s slammed shut over my head.
“I’m sorry,” he mutters.
I glare at the handle my fingers are trembling on. I don’t care if he’s sorry. I’m sick of him projecting all his bitterness on to me.
“You’re a mean person,” I manage without crying.
“I know. I’m projecting.”
We stay there for a minute, unmoving. I’m trying to keep my anger under control because I really want to turn around and punch him in the throat. Surely that’s normal after being insulted by someone.
His breath is on my temple. “You can punch me for that.” Holy shit, he can read my mind.
“No I can’t,” I sniffle. “It’s against the rules.”
Professor Ren is so close behind me that I can feel his chest against my back. His hand slides from the door as he shifts closer, and I get a nervous tingle down my spine when I realize he’s smelling my hair. Fingertips brush my hand on the doorknob.
“You’re right, Miss Niima.” He gently pries my hand from the knob and curls it into a fist that fits inside his palm. Holy shit, his hands are huge. “But I think we can make an exception in private.” His voice lowers, right in my ear. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”
It’s an odd thing being cajoled into punching someone. I swallow, anger twisting into excited flutters and nervousness as he squeezes my fist. His grip loosens, fingertips skating up my arm across goosebumps, cresting on my shoulder so lightly that I’m not sure he’s even touching me.
But I feel him creep toward the nape of my neck. He nuzzles the side of my head when I stiffen—and I do, instantly seized by the primal need to get him away from the vulnerable part of my body.
I growl. Literally growl. It comes rumbling out of my throat and I bare my teeth, trembling, confused and upset by the mixed signals my own body is sending me. I want him but I don’t; I’m threatened by his proximity but still want him to come even closer.
But the growl seems to break the spell. Professor Ren takes an abrupt step back and I flee his office, too embarrassed to gauge his expression over my shoulder. Jesus Christ. My sex dreams about him are going to get a lot more graphic.
“Oh yeah, you have privilege.”
A couple hours later and I’m sitting in a bar with Rose and Finn, still hung up on Professor Ren telling me I have ‘privilege’. I start to argue with Rose but she holds up a hand and narrows her eyes. Okay. Fair enough, but I just don’t think it makes sense.
It’s an okay place—busy, but not dirty or overwhelming. Smells like beer and Lysol and that’s a rough combination. I’m relieved to see Rose again, even if I’m already annoying the shit out of her.
“I was poor!” I insist. “I’m still poor!”
“It’s not a contest.” She eats a nacho, shrugging and exchanging a glance with Finn. “I think I win if it’s a contest, though?”
“Yeah, you win, babe.”
I huff, pouting on my side of the table and ignoring my margarita. I’m too fucking guilty to drink it, like I’ll disappoint my stupid, asshole, privileged professor.
Rose leans into Finn’s side. “Even if you have to register, you’re still an Alpha, Rey. Alphas get whatever they want, and Omegas always draw the short straw. You just don’t see it because you didn’t grow up with it like Kylo did.”
“He has rich parents,” Finn adds. He breaks out into a smile and laughs. “Kinda funny how you two are polar opposites, huh?”
“Yeah, fucking hilarious.” I take an angry sip of my marg. “I just don’t get who he thinks he is.”
“Oh my god, Rey,” Rose sighs, groaning. “I just told you where he’s coming from. It’s hard being an Omega no matter who you are or what background you have. Those stigmas run deep.” She picks another nacho and feeds it to Finn. “I mean, I still win—but being a male Omega is really hard.”
“Like it’s not hard for me being…” I pause, glancing around, then lean in and whisper. “What I am?”
Finn snorts into his beer. Rose takes a long drink of her own beer like it’s keeping her from telling me to shut the fuck up. I probably should.
She sets it down and pats Finn’s thigh. “You’re right. She’s hopeless.”
Then she gets up for more nachos and I’m left stewing with my margarita. I’m not privileged. Maybe a little—I am white and straight—but Professor Ren and I are even in being outcasts from demi-human society. He’s so full of shit. I hate him, and the stupid way he smells, and his stupid emails, and his stupid lips that I have never in my life stared at.
Finn raises his eyebrows, one arm stretched over Rose’s empty chair. “I see you’re really wrestling with this, Rey. Gonna write all about it on Tumblr?”
I throw my lime at him and he laughs. Dick.
Chapter 12: hemorrhage
another gift for being kind enough to boost my 19th fic over 1k kudos!! Y’all rock
also I want to say: going forward, when these two do finally bang, Rey is going to have conflicting feelings about it. it’s going to be fully consensual but her instinct will be to escape, and his is to chase her. they’re both going to WANT to and Rey will express that, as will Kylo, but... i just want to make it clear that it won’t be noncon, and they’re both willing participants
There is only one possible way to assess the degree of privilege Professor Ren has, I decide: and that is to follow him to wherever he’s going and assess it with my own two eyes.
One of my worst ideas, and I’ve had plenty of bad ideas. Rose has typically been an active participant in said bad ideas but she’s busy with Finn tonight, so I’m on my own tracking my crabby professor on his outing. How else will I learn what I want to know about him? He isn’t going to tell me much.
So I spend most of my Friday morning class plotting out how I’ll follow him when he has a car and I don’t, then I consider how much he won’t like it if I follow him. I frown at the derivative on the SmartBoard, chewing the end of my pen. Maybe that’s stalking. But I’m only doing it to gather intel. I’m not like… checking up on him.
Professor Ren is sitting on the edge of his desk, arms folded over his chest. He raises his eyebrows when I sit up abruptly and hastily spit out the answer to the problem, one of the many I’ve been practicing the past couple of weeks. I live in constant fear of him catching me daydreaming or doodling; it pays to be over prepared.
He eyes me. He’s wearing a dark gray dress shirt and his biceps are straining to escape the rolled sleeves, not that I’m staring.
“…Good,” he says tersely. His dark eyes wander to his next victim, heralded by a jerk of his chin. “Dameron. Do the next one.”
What am I thinking—I’m not going to fucking stalk him. I slump in my seat and cover my face, ashamed of even considering it. He doesn’t owe me anything. He’s already helping me out a lot and he did apologize after his weird outburst yesterday. And let me smell him. And made a thinly-veiled pass at me.
A burn runs up to the tip of my ears. He wasn’t making a pass at you, idiot. Nope. Not possible. Stop that train of thought before it pulls out of the station and ends up in a fireball at the bottom of a ravine. Screaming pedestrians. Carnage.
Class comes to an end and I hurry to get my things together. I’m happy I recognized the strange Alpha-track thought before it got me in a disguise following Professor Ren to the movie theater or something. I’ll do more research tonight and see if Rose wants to hang out tomorrow; keep my wandering mind occupied so it doesn’t land me on Dateline.
He’s still leaning on the edge of his desk, now popping the cap of his marker with his thumb and pushing it back on. I’m not given anything except a mildly annoyed twist of his lips when I look at him.
Professor Ren keeps up fiddling with his marker until the last student leaves. He slowly snaps it shut and rolls his tongue inside his cheek, eyes wandering away from me to the door. Is he mad? He’s hard to read.
“I know a female Alpha you can meet,” he says.
“Really?!” I blurt. I almost drop the three textbooks I’m carrying. “When?! Where?!”
Another woman like me? When and where? Really—when and where? I needed to meet her yesterday.
He turns slightly to set his marker down. “We’re having dinner tonight at D’Raymond’s around seven. I can pick you up from the gas station down the block so there’s less of a chance of us being seen together.”
Makes sense, even if it stings. We can’t be seen together. D’Raymonds is about forty-five minutes away and probably too fancy for anyone who would rat us out, and I become a different woman when I put on makeup and do my hair.
I’m willing to risk it. I’m so excited that it hardly registers I’m going out to dinner with Professor Ren.
“Okay!” I agree, beaming. “I’ll find something nice.”
“Send me pictures of whatever you have and I’ll choose.” He pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Snooty. I still catch a faint blush in his cheeks. “Just the clothes themselves. Not you.”
“…Okay,” I mutter. “Who is she?”
The ensuing grimace tells me without a word being spoken. That’s the face of a man who doesn’t get along with his mother. I wonder how that was: Alpha mom and Omega son. Lots of fights, I bet.
“My mother,” he confirms in a strained tone. “And there’s one thing I need from you during dinner.”
“Sure!” I smile and shift my books on my hip.
Professor Ren drums his fingers on his biceps and keeps looking past me. He heaves a frustrated sigh, and shakes his head as he reaches up to rub his face. Spit it out. Had no problem doing that yesterday.
“She’s under the impression that we’re…” He waves his hand, eyes rolling. “Together.”
My smile fades a little. Oh.
“It was the only way I could get her to give me the… mints,” he adds quickly. “If I told her they were for a student, she wouldn’t have been so accommodating. Hard to get your hands on controlled substances when you’re an Omega.”
“Yeah.” Holy shit.
“I was very vague—we can go over what name I gave her and the other details before dinner, and you can fill the rest in. But she’s aware that you’re just beginning to transition and knows things are being kept under wraps, so you can count on her discretion.”
I’m surprised by how annoyed it makes me that he told someone what I am without asking permission. It was in the effort of getting me suppressants but still leaves a weird bitter sense of betrayal.
But I swallow that down and just nod, too shocked and nervous to meet his eyes. That’s fine. I’ll just go pick through my three nice dresses and try to find one appropriate for meeting his Alpha mother, who thinks we’re dating, and pray I don’t slip up while I’m quizzing her on what my life is going to become.
Professor Ren clears his throat, straightening up. “Good. Send me pictures of your outfits and I’ll let you know which one she’ll like. I told her your name is Kira and you’re in grad school, but the rest of that equation is up to you.” He gesticulates and I see he’s actually turning red. “And you’re twenty-six.”
Great. How old is he? Thirty?
I leave the classroom and rush back to my dorm to start getting ready, head spinning. Lots of stuff to get done. I have an entire new personality to create.
By four o’ clock I have my new persona ready: Kira, twenty-six, still a foster kid not originally from the States, becoming an art teacher. It works. I’m not well-versed in much but I can probably bullshit for a while about art.
I send it to Kylo and pick through my dresser for the three dresses I own. None of them are really appropriate for a nice dinner but one will have to do. I can’t go to Rose or she’ll want to know all about what’s going on, which would be… bad.
I’m taking a picture of one black dress when my professor texts me back.
Today 4:35 PM
Give me a second, jeez. I’ve been busy.
forgive me: clearly your baggy hoodies and leggings are indicative of how fashion-forward you are and not a cause for concern
Ha ha. 🙄 Hysterical.
Everybody dresses frumpy when they go to class. I bet even he did when he was in college.
I take the pictures and send them and he deliberates for ten minutes before picking the black one. He sends me a link to a Cosmo article about achieving ‘natural looks’ with makeup and I decide I’ve had enough of him for the time being. I hook my phone up to charge and set on getting dressed.
It takes me an hour to get everything the way I want it: simple makeup, as commanded, hair lightly curled, dress on with Rose’s shrug, and boots to help hide that I’m not wearing tights. It’s acceptable for dinner. I think. I’ve been to only a handful of fancy events in my life so I’m flying blind.
I cock my head, studying my reflection in the closet door mirror. I’ve never been on a real date. Has he? Can he be tolerable for an entire dinner?
Unexpected butterflies flutter in my stomach and I hurriedly close the closet door. This isn’t even a date—the important thing is meeting his mother and picking her brain about what it’s like to be a female Alpha. I can’t get distracted or it’s back to poring over bland books that all tell conflicting ‘facts.’
This will be fine. Maybe.
What’s your mom’s name?
Leia. She’s a lawyer.
Okay, good to know. Is she married?
divorced. my father is a colonel in the Air Force
Do you have any siblings? I’m just asking so I’m better prepared.
Read 5:45 PM
Professor Ren takes a while to answer. At first I think I hit a nerve but he says he’s an only child.
We agree to meet in half an hour at the 7/11 down the street. I finish some last minute touches and dig my clutch out of the closet before I head out for the short, cold walk down the street.
I’m picked up around the side of the store at precisely 6:15pm. He drives a black Jeep and looks around furtively as I clamber into the thing.
“Were you followed?” he demands once I’m seated.
“No?” I click my seatbelt and look over my shoulder. “Don’t think the paparazzi were interested.”
Professor Ren is wearing sunglasses at night, which just serves to make him look extra suspicious. He takes them off as he shifts into reverse and gives my outfit a quick, judgmental look. He smells like regular cologne and something that makes my mouth burn. Maybe it’s to cover up the pheromones.
“That will do,” he mutters. “I told her we’ve been together for three months, and you live with a roommate who doesn’t like guests.”
He pulls out of the parking lot, knuckles tight on the steering wheel. “If I told her you were a student, she wouldn’t have agreed to her the suppressants.” He hesitates and I see his Adam’s apple bob. “I didn’t have any ulterior motives.”
I nod. I’m examining my hands, more nervous than I thought I’d be. At least there’s a third person at dinner to make it feel less like a date. I don’t have to impress him. I don’t even want to.
We spend a good portion of the ride in tense silence. Professor Ren keeps his eyes trained on the road and I resist the urge to text Rose and tell her the bizarre situation I’m in. Out on a fake date with my Omega professor who hates me as much as I hate him—and sometimes we smell each other. Not weird.
He’s wearing the pink scarf around his neck. Didn’t notice it when I got in but he’s wearing it, and I’m satisfied by the sight of it. It’s for the ruse, I’m sure.
“Do you have any hobbies?” I venture.
Lights pass through the car. We roll to a slow stop at a sign and he looks both ways.
“I like working,” he replies tersely.
“Do you… watch movies? TV? Crochet?”
Yes… to all three? Somehow I can’t imagine him crocheting with his gigantic hands but it does fit the bill of being an Omega.
“I can knit,” I say, pretty much just chatting with myself. “I think it’s easier. Not very good at it.”
“Both have their uses. I don’t have much time for either.”
This is like pulling teeth. “How long have you been doing it?”
Professor Ren pushes his tongue into his cheek. Shadows play across the contours of his face.
“It was imposed upon me in one of the many seminars I attended.”
“Oh—I’m sorry.” Fuck. “Sorry.”
He shrugs. “Not something you would know. I learned quite a few ‘traditional’ things there, repeated so many times that I’ve become more skilled than I’d like to be.” His dark eyes seem distant. I’m perturbed. “Never learned how to fish.”
“I can show you,” I blurt. He glances at me. “One of my foster families was super outdoorsy. I’m pretty good. I know how to hunt but I don’t really like shooting animals—but fishing is fun.”
The next red light illuminates his face and he slows to a stop, still watching me with his brow furrowed. I smile weakly.
Professor Ren looks away again. “What hobbies do you have, Miss Niima?”
“Um… not much. I just like to draw.”
“Yes, I’m well aware of that.” He smiles a little to himself but it’s gone in the blink of an eye. “You and I seem to be two very half-made people.”
“Guess so,” I mumble.
I feel very half-made. Incomplete. It’s probably normal for someone my age but it’s like wandering around missing something I’ve never had but know I need—like being born blind. I’m not sure what to make of it.
We pull up to the restaurant five minutes early. It’s pretty busy and Kylo does a quick look around before he comes back to get me from the car.
Inside it’s warm and softly lit, cramped but not claustrophobic. Strings of lights run along the windows and ceilings and frame the booths where people are laughing and chatting, which I’m led past on our way to a table toward the back.
Leia stands when she sees us and hugs her son first. She’s a bit shorter than me and has gray hair drawn into an elaborate braid, which draws my eye to a silver necklace she’s wearing. It’s a registration bracelet. She’s wearing it as a necklace?
“Ben!” she exclaims, holding him at arm’s length. She smiles and picks lint off the front of his sweater. “Don’t you look nice?”
“Mother.” He opens an arm to guide me in for introductions and his fingers brush the small of my back. “This is Kira. Kira, Leia.”
I’m swept into a hug and she kisses my cheeks. Leia is definitely an Alpha: I pick up on her scent hidden beneath layers of perfume and suppressants, powerful and penetrating. Even my instinct wanes, unnerved by her presence. I think she can kick my ass.
“What a beautiful girl!” Leia gasps, giving me a once-over. She motions for us to sit. “I’m so glad you two found each other. Ben tells me you’re in grad school, Kira. That must be exciting.”
I nod as I take my seat beside Professor Ren in the booth. Ben? What the fuck?
“It’s great,” I lie.
“Kira has some questions for you, mother,” he interjects.
Leia doesn’t care. She asks me about school and I lie like a rug, especially about wanting to teach kids. I’m completely lost on why she’s calling her son the wrong name, and I want to ask about that, but Leia is a whirlwind and drags me in whatever direction she wants. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise.
“I always told him he would find someone,” she says, sipping a glass of Pinot. “You should’ve heard the way he carried on when he was a teenager, dragging around those little care boxes he loved making.”
“Mother,” Professor Ren snaps. “Let’s save them humiliating stories for our next lovely get-together, and spend more time answering Kira’s questions.”
He gets up after muttering about the bar and Leia rolls her eyes, shaking her head. I can see why Alpha women might not make great mothers.
“He changed his name after the last stint in a seminar.” Her hazy eyes wander, sort of sad. “I named him after one of my dearest friends…”
“He’s gone more than once?” I ask.
“Oh, yes. Dozens.” Leia peers in his direction and leans in a bit. Pretty sure she’s drunk. “Well, lots of Omega boys go through precocious puberty, so he was sent away after the first time when he was… oh, about eight?”
Eight? Holy shit.
“Is that how he got…?” I motion to my neck.
“He has them all over—brands were punishment for trying to escape. That’s where he gets all those hideous tattoos. Trying to cover them up.” She shrugs, casual. “You know how men complain when they’re made to suffer even a modicum of what women go through. He’s always been that way.”
“Are the seminars for Alpha women the same?”
“Of course. Everything is fair and equal, Ben is just on a constant search for attention.”
Professor Ren returns with wine for himself and me. Glad I got that fake ID.
We chat about other things for a while and I do get to pick Leia’s brain. She had very few issues getting pregnant and tells her son and I that we should try ‘rear mounting’ when we want to have kids, which makes him choke on his salmon. I pat him on the back and try not to laugh.
She isn’t a warm person, but she has some stories about fighting for the rights of Alpha women that are interesting.
“I cut my bracelet off thirty years ago,” she says, touching the necklace. “You can do the same, Kira. As a form of protest.”
“And you didn’t get in trouble?” I ask. I’m mystified. She’s such a bad ass.
“Some, but nothing intolerable. You’ll go to a seminar and spend the week learning how to become a leader or some other nonsense.” Leia reaches across the table to touch Kylo’s hand. “Ben always liked the homemaking classes. He’d come home and knit for hours. I have all kinds of knickknacks from those days.”
My wine glass is half full but Professor Ren reaches over and downs it in one gulp. He gets up and heads to the bar again without a word.
I look over my shoulder until I hear Leia sigh. She’s into her third glass and it shows.
“Make sure you take those suppressants,” she warns. “One hint of Alpha and he’ll be in heat. Sensitive.”
Oh… no. I redden. That’s probably why he gave me a death glare the first day we met.
Professor Ren returns with our wine and I only have a few sips before he drinks mine again, this time when his mother starts telling me about how odd Omega penile spines feel. He calls the waiter over and asks for a bottle, waving him off to pour himself a heaping glass of it.
“It’s the most lovey thing,” Leia continues, “but you’re going to want to escape.” She shivers, eyes fluttering shut. “There’s something so… enticing about a man who can bring you to heel.”
Kylo guzzles his glass. I glance between the two of them and try to steer the conversation.
“Ben is so smart!” I blurt. “So… so smart.” I fake a smile and awkwardly hug his bicep. “So smart.”
“Well you’re not with him because of his looks.” Leia snorts and laughs. “I’m just teasing, dear. But—well, you know Kira is a bit too pretty for you.”
“I think he’s hot,” I offer, not entirely lying. “Cute. Attractive.”
Leia raises her eyebrows. “Of course. Ben knows I’m just teasing him. Don’t you, dear?”
He nods. I’m concerned about the amount of wine he’s drinking but so far he isn’t acting drunk at all. Please don’t get drunk.
But he just gets quieter the more he drinks, until dinner is over and we’re all hugging goodbye. Leia heads off to her Porsche and I’m left standing by the door with her brick house of a son, who is finally showing some signs of drinking an entire bottle of wine.
He staggers a step, slowly fumbling with his keys. “Necklace is neat, huh?”
I hesitantly follow him. “No offense but—I’ll take those.” I hold out a hand for his keys.
Professor Ren huffs and slaps them in my palm. He stumbles toward his Jeep and falls silent again.
We’re like that for most of the drive back. He dozes off and I realize I’m in a pickle: I can’t drop him off and walk home and I don’t have money for a cab. Do I bring him back to my dorm or try to sleep on his couch? Which one is less suspicious?
“Y’know how I got this?”
He’s awake, dark eyes doleful and watching me. He’s pointing at the brand on the side of his neck.
I swallow. “Uh… escaping a seminar?”
“Nope.” Professor Ren shakes his head limply from side to side and his eyes wander off. “I cut off my first bracelet when I was a kid ‘cause I wanted to be just like my mom—so they did this.” His hand falls to his lap, head lolling. “And she wears hers like a piece of jewelry ‘cause she’s got girl power.”
My stomach turns. I don’t know what to say but it doesn’t matter because he passes out again, leaving me with no other choice but to bring him to my dorm. He can sneak out tomorrow night.
The thought of dropping him off alone is too terrible to even consider. I’ll find sheets from Rose’s bed. He shouldn’t be left alone.
Chapter 13: polycythemia vera
did something different w this. i liked the imagery of Rey being the predator and something analogous to getting an erection so here we are
Being a Friday night, pretty much everyone is out at the frats or sororities getting drunk. The parking lot around the dorms is empty when I pull up in Professor Ren’s black Jeep, trying my best to find a spot on the edge of the lot that won’t attract a lot of attention.
I’m trying to figure out the logistics of hauling him into the dorm when I hear a phone ringing. First I’m panicked, because who the hell could that be?—then I decide to check his phone, which is conveniently accessible in his breast pocket. It’s kind of an invasion of privacy but I’m not sure what to do with him and I hope whoever is calling can help.
“Ren?” snaps a man.
“Uh—this is Rey?” I glance at my unconscious professor. “I’m—a friend of Kylo’s. Professor Ren.”
He snorts. “Friend? He doesn’t have friends. Where are you?”
“Just… out. He’s had a lot to drink, and I’m not sure where he lives.”
The strange man hisses a curse. There’s some quiet, then he speaks in a lower tone.
“Who are you?”
“…Rey. I’m just a friend.”
“Fine. Whatever. Bring him home: he lives in the apartment complex on Maple Street in Tewksbury. I’ll meet you in the parking lot and help you bring him inside, but try not to make it obvious that he’s drunk.”
Then the stranger hangs up. I blink at the phone and see his name is Hux—same person who made the fake IDs. Huh.
After typing ‘Maple Street apartments Tewksbury’ into Google Maps, I head out once more with my professor passed out in the passenger seat. It’s about an hour away—long drive for a commute. I want to check the actual address but I’m afraid of picking around his pants for his wallet. Feels creepy.
Besides, the place is obvious when I get there: a sign sunk into the ground outside reads Organa Apartments and has some graffiti on the back, with small print underneath that says ABERRANT HOUSING. My spine prickles but I pull in and weave through tight parking lots toward a building in the back. A man is standing outside smoking under a yellow street lamp.
He waves. Tall, redhead. Has a beard. I notice a silver bracelet glinting around his wrist.
“Rey?” he calls when I get out.
I nod. He exhales a stream of silvery smoke and drops his cigarette, then ambles toward the Jeep.
He’s tall like Professor Ren, but slighter, and maybe a little younger. Finn knows him through Poe: his name is Armitage Hux and he makes fake IDs, though I wasn’t sure he was an Omega until just now.
Hux opens the passenger door. “You must be the Alpha he’s been bitching about.”
“Wh—me?!” I scoff, crossing my arms. “Don’t be—that’s preposterous!”
He leans in and hefts Professor Ren from the passenger seat, one arm looped around his waist for support. Hux is definitely an Omega: I can smell it, even though it’s faint, and get a glimpse of the symbol on his bracelet. His neck is branded, too.
“I’m not one for outing people,” Hux says, huffing from the weight of Kylo. “I’ll help bring him up to his apartment but you’ll need to do the rest of the babysitting. Lucky he missed the drug test a couple hours ago.”
He nods as he shuts the door. “To make sure we aren’t ‘putting ourselves at risk.’ Anyway, thanks for bringing him back. He always drinks when he sees his mother, so I feared the worst.”
Hux seems to know my mysterious professor pretty well. This complex is only half an hour from campus and there are quite a few cars parked in the lots, so there must be a big concentration of aberrant designations here. What does Hux do? How long has he known Kylo?
I’m not able to ask. Hux lugs Professor Ren upstairs and I unlock apartment 20A, on the corner of a landing, then I’m trying to get a hold of myself when I walk inside behind them.
Smells good. It isn’t overwhelming and I don’t think I’m going to attack anyone, but I start feeling drunk within a couple seconds of being inside. His living room is off to the right, very neat and orderly with matching furniture, and straight past it is a kitchen, then a narrow hallway off to the left.
Hux leads me down the hall past a bathroom to a big bedroom. I hover near the doorway and watch him drop Professor Ren on a king-sized bed.
“Good,” Hux sighs, setting his hands on his hips. He looks over his shoulder at me. “Thanks for bringing him. You look familiar.”
“…My friend might’ve asked you to make us fake IDs.”
He smirks. “Yeah, that’s it. Then you’re definitely the Alpha Ren wanted suppressants for.”
I frown, cocking my head. “Doesn’t his mom get them?”
“Leia? No, no.” Hux laughs, shaking his head. “No, no. I get them.” His green eyes rake down my outfit. “Didn’t know you’d be so young, though. You should really go through an initial rut before you start popping those things.”
What?! Leia isn’t even getting the pills?! Then why would—why did he tell me—?!
Hux leaves, patting me on the shoulder and recommending I supervise for at least a day. I keep staring at Professor Ren after the door shuts and wonder why he’s going to so much trouble to help me. Is it just because I’m the right piece to his puzzle, being a female Alpha? Is he grooming me?
I hover in his bedroom doorway. Something screams at me to stay in the bedroom, even though it’s a total invasion of privacy and a little weird with him fast asleep in bed.
Everything matches: he has dark furniture, just a nightstand, dresser, and his bed, all arranged just so. There isn’t a stray sock in sight or a random pair of underwear. His curtains are dark brown and drawn to block out the street lights and I can hear traffic from down the road. Beige carpet. Walls are white. Not much for trinkets or pictures hanging on the wall, and I begin to feel like I’m in a hotel room. He hasn’t, for lack of a better word, nested.
It makes me sad, and I’m compelled to do some rearranging for him.
Head buzzing, I take off my shoes and check Professor Ren’s closet first. It’s filled with neatly-folded blankets of varying colors and sizes and the scent of him increases tenfold, making me take a pause to catch my breath. The roof of my mouth tingles and I rub my tongue along it before reaching in to grab the top blanket: green, fuzzy, and overwhelmingly scented.
I literally push my face in it and take a deep breath. Tingles run down my jaw and I’m salivating like a dog, aching to bite—so I decide to bite the blanket to take off the edge. Can’t bite him.
…I could, though.
I turn and peer over my shoulder. He’s slumped on his side facing the wall, unblemished mark exposed, and I imagine sinking my teeth into it. I’m not sure how it’s going to feel but something tells me it’s gonna be great, and he won’t mind if I do it. He’ll be grateful.
The tingling roams down my arms and reverberates in my head, urging me toward my unsuspecting professor. I absentmindedly rub the blanket under my jaw and around my nape as I meander to his bedside, staring at the exposed part of his neck. The bedroom is dark and quiet and cold; I’m positive he’ll accept me and get right to work making it more hospitable.
Pressure releases in my mouth, like a muscle relaxing. It’s such a weird sensation that I blink out of my reverie and reach up to touch my lips.
Sharp pain, like a needle, and I taste blood. Shocked, I take a step back and blink at bleeding fingertip, then race to the bathroom to see what the hell is happening.
I flick on the lights and shriek.
Two fangs hang from the top of my mouth. They’re not particularly long but I can’t close my mouth completely without them overlapping my lower lip. I’m a vampire. Half a vampire. I don’t have fangs on my lower jaw but—I have fangs and no one ever told me I’d have fucking fangs.
Panicked, I bring up Google and search ‘alpha female fangs’. There are a few research articles and the Wikipedia page offhandedly mentions that fangs are a vestigial organ like an appendix, and there’s no need for them anymore, and they can be removed. They’re like a sheath—they’ll glide back into the roof of my mouth once I calm down and get the fuck out of here. Most women never get them. Some do.
That’s why my fucking mouth keeps tingling when I smell him. None of the textbooks mentioned this shit! What the f—
I glance over and see Professor Ren standing outside the bathroom, sleepily rubbing his eyes. Has he ever called me by my first name? He’s definitely drunk. He squints and takes a stumbling step into the bathroom. I cower and cover my mouth.
“Uh—hey.” Hard to talk. “Thorry. Juth… having a cwithith.”
Beyond a crisis. I have fangs.
He grunts, grabbing my arm and tugging. I stagger forward as he pulls me out of the bathroom into the hall and turns back.
“Gotta pee,” he mutters. “Go lay down.”
“Uh… thir, I think I’ll jutht—”
I’m offered a stern glare over his shoulder. His upper lip twitches like he’s going to snarl but he lifts a hand and points instead.
“Go lay down.”
Then he closes the bathroom door.
Seems like a bad idea, so I wander out to the living room to keep Googling ‘alpha female fangs.’ Doesn’t happen in males, one of those uncommon traits like being double-jointed or having attached earlobes, and makes it easier to take ‘multiple mates’. The tingling mouth is a telltale sign they’re going to ‘drop.’ I’m horrified. None of the books mentioned this could happen. Multiple mates? Since when?
Female Alpha anatomy is a big mystery to a lot of people, I guess. Do they just do shoddy research? Are we unwilling participants? Could Leia have perhaps hinted that I may become fanged?
I’m pacing the living room on the verge of tears. Why is this so hard? So weird? Why can’t I be like the normal demi-humans who bond and mate and don’t have to hide what they are? How am I supposed to make the things go away? How much is the surgery to have them taken out? Will I be found out if I get the surgery without registering?
Can’t even chew my nails. I look up from my phone and see Professor Ren watching me from the hallway, shirt untucked and unbuttoned about halfway. I’m crying but I manage to get a grip for a couple seconds, sniffling, and hurriedly reach up to cover my mouth. Then I burst into tears all over again and shake my head, turning away.
“I’m a monthter,” I wail. “I look like a fucking thwamp monthter! With a lithp!”
The worst part is that my teeth still ache, eager to bite into him, and I would’ve done it if they hadn’t shocked me so much. I’m not sure I like how the pheromones make me feel: crazed and hungry and desperate. If I didn’t have the suppressants…
I sense Professor Ren walk up behind me and take a meandering step forward, sniffling. He grabs my upper arm and yanks me back.
A big hand cups my far cheek and guides me to look up at him, firm when I don’t give in at first. Hooded dark eyes lazily roam across my face to my mouth, and he presses his thumb on one of the fangs, careless. His palm is rough and hot on my skin, and it tenses when his thumb is pricked.
“Ow,” he mutters.
I wince, expecting him to be mad. He idly traces the seam of my lips with the tip of his thumb and I’m compelled to lick it and fix it—so I lick the tip. Metallic blood stings my tongue. I’m not sure how I know, but it tastes like pain.
Professor Ren teases my lower lip and stares at me as he gently rolls it outward. He pushes back, worming his fingertip half an inch deeper. Fingers press into the back of my head and my thoughts scatter, leaving me scrambling to get a hold of myself and this before it goes somewhere it can’t come back from. We’re on the precipice and I would very much like to hurl myself off.
He realizes it as well as I do. His thumb draws back, edge of his nail tracing my upper lip before he drops his hand to his side. He flexes his longer fingers impatiently.
“Fuck,” he grumbles.
Then he leaves, the bedroom door shuts, and I’m alone in the living room where I should be. For both of our sakes.
Chapter 14: antithrombin
the plot thickens
I’m woken out of a dead sleep by someone mumbling my name. Disoriented, squinting, I roll over on the couch and blink up at the person looming over me in the darkness. My fangs are still out, much to my chagrin, and I try to roll my lips to hide them.
Professor Ren has changed into a black henley and his hair is damp—he must’ve taken a shower while I was asleep. He stares down at me and I stare back up at him, confused, half-asleep. Headlights pass through one of the windows and illuminate his pale face, expression blank like he’s hypnotized.
I watch him circle the couch. It’s unnerving, triggering that instinct in my lizard brain to run. He keeps staring at me as he leans over.
A low growl comes out before I can stop it. He hooks one arm under my knees and the other around my back and picks me up like I weigh three pounds, blanket and all. Emotions swirl: it’s ridiculously hot that he can scoop me up like a sack of feathers but I’m immediately suspicious about his intent and the blank look on his face.
Professor Ren doesn’t seem to care. He carries me down the hall to his bedroom and the anxiety really ticks up a notch.
“Thir,” I squeak. The scent of him gets stronger as we cross the threshold and my throat is suddenly dry. “Thir, I can thleep—”
I’m not brought to his bed like I feared, but dumped unceremoniously into his closet. Huffing, I roll on my back and paw my hair from my face, but he’s already closing the door. It’s soft and warm here; he must’ve rearranged the blankets. But I’m not really keen on the idea of sleeping in a closet.
I get to my knees and pull the door open.
He’s on his knees right outside. Dark eyes meet mine and I shrink a little, shamed being caught trying to flee my weird soft prison. There’s a sleeping bag and more blankets, and he has my pink scarf in his hands. Is he going to sleep on the floor? Why?
“I can thleep on the thofa?” I ask instead of insist.
No response. Professor Ren glares daggers at me until I reluctantly recoil to my cell. Okay. Guess I’m sleeping in a closet.
I leave the door open an inch but he aggressively shuts it all the way. I’m plunged into darkness, now about bathing in his scent and pawing blindly over different textured blankets. There are pillows lining the edge of the closet and I realize with a mix of satisfaction and fear that it’s a nest. Nesting. It’s a thing Omegas do—Rose used to out of habit, and she loved it. As always, Kylo seems mad about it.
Alpha brain is pleased, even if it’s the weirdest, creepiest thing I’ve ever experienced. Goosebumps bloom up my arms and I shiver from the sheer pleasure of the softness and the smells: he always smells like clean laundry, different than Rose and way more appealing. I’m supposed to compliment him but that’s so intimate that I decide to keep my mouth shut and try to sleep instead.
“Thith ith fine,” I mutter to myself. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. “Thith ith fine.”
When I wake up and pull the closet door open, I find Professor Ren still fast asleep on the floor. Unfortunately for him, I have to pee. I gently open the door enough so I can slip out and use the toilet.
Just as I step over him, he grabs my ankle.
One rough tug sends me to the floor. I roll on my back, heart pounding as he drags me back a foot or two so I’m partially underneath his giant body. He has bedhead, black hair a mess that he casually brushes to the side, and his dark eyes are only half open. The look he gives me is demanding and annoyed.
“Where are you going?” he grunts, voice still rough with sleep, kind of vulnerable.
“Bathroom,” I breathe. Hit my shoulder on the way down. Ow. “Just… going to the bathroom.”
Professor Ren grunts again and I’m set free. He watches me scurry from the bedroom.
I do my business and pick through his medicine cabinet for toothpaste, scrubbing my teeth with a finger just for the morning breath. He has things like Advil and aspirin but there are also labeled medications that I know are none of my business. Probably suppressants and stuff.
…But I’m nosy.
I spit out a mouthful of water and read the labels. Supromega, the stuff Rose takes now, plus Effexor, Remeron, and Xanax. Ambien. Something else in a small bottle labeled ‘LEUPROLIDE’.
Jesus. He has a pharmacy. I’m familiar with everything except the last one. I’ll have to Google it.
Professor Ren is waiting outside the bathroom when I open up. His eyes are still hooded and distant and the stare he gives me makes my stomach flip. He doesn’t say anything, just walks past and shuts the door behind him. Okie dokie then.
About a minute later there’s a knock on the door. Curious, I check, and see the Hux guy standing outside, hands in his pockets. Is he allowed inside?
He waltzes in as soon as I open the door, then immediately shakes his head and backs out. I’m still in my dress from dinner with Leia but Hux hurriedly motions for me to come outside. I look so suspicious. This looks really bad.
“You should give him some space,” Hux whispers. He’s in a blue tracksuit and has a garish gold chain around his neck. “Seriously. He takes the leu at eight, and it takes a little bit to work.”
“Leuprolide? I take it, too—part of the cocktail.”
“Uh… okay. Where should I go?”
Hux grins and gestures for me to follow him. “We can go pick up breakfast. But seriously—seriously, we should leave.” The toilet flushes and he gets weirder. “Uh, we should go right now before he sees us.”
Too late. I’m uncomfortable going out with a stranger and hesitate just long enough for Professor Ren to catch sight of us at the door. His eyes widen.
Hux laughs, nervous. “Hey, Kylo. Just talking to your friend. We’re gonna go get food—”
He crosses the room in record time. I’m taken aback and stumble a step, giving Hux the chance to pull me out onto the porch and behind his back. My typically cold, impassive professor bares his teeth and makes a bizarre snarling sound that doesn’t seem humanly possible. It makes my bones tremble.
Hux braces a hand on Professor Ren’s chest that’s slapped away, but he does it again and pushes him. I peek over Hux’s narrow shoulder.
“Hey—hey.” Hux gives him a light slap on the cheek and Professor Ren snarls. “Stop. Open a window and take your meds before you do something stupid.”
“Give her back.”
The tone makes me want to run, but the expression on his face is the real icing on the cake. Maybe it was hard to tell in the dark apartment, but Professor Ren looks a little crazed. It sends a shiver down my spine.
Hux pushes him inside. He shifts a step, edging us toward the stairs, and I take the opportunity to run.
I dart down the steps before I realize I don’t know where I am or where to go. When I look back I see my professor is staring at me over Hux’s head, pupils dilated so far that his eyes look black. He tries pushing Hux aside and gets rewarded with another slap.
“You want to go back to that place?” Hux snaps. He shoves Professor Ren roughly and points in his face. “Lose your job? They won’t let you teach if you touch her—you’ll go to prison if you bite her. Go open some windows and take your meds, Ren.”
He groans, leading into a rumbling, frustrated noise and something like a whimper. It makes my mouth prickle.
Hux pushes him into the apartment by his chest. “I know. She smells nice.”
“Like cake,” Professor Ren adds, then groans again. I can’t see him anymore. “It’s all over my apartment.”
“Use that pheromone spray from your mother. Soaks it all up.”
They talk in hushed tones after that. I fold my arms, on high alert and ready to make a break for it, but the door closes and Hux trots down the creaky blue steps.
He raises his eyebrows, whistling. “Yikes. We should give him an hour or so before we come back.”
“Is he okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, he’s fine.” Hux takes out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and laughs. “You shouldn’t run, by the way. We’re pretty hardwired to chase.”
I blush, trying not to imagine it, but my Alpha brain is intrigued. Excited. Creepy.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“No big deal, he just needs to clear his head. But really. Don’t run. I can try to reason with him but I can’t pry him off you.” Hux lights up, motioning toward the sky. “See how big he is? Like a sexually repressed freight train.”
“Don’t you think so? He’s been on those pills for so long and he’s never fucked anyone. Ticking time bomb.”
The shock must show on my face because Hux laughs and nods. I barely even notice how fucking cold it is.
“Never?” I echo.
“Nope.” Hux shakes his head and unzips his jacket, offering it to me. He plucks his cigarette from his lips as I put it on, and exhales smoke the other direction. “He’s already a miserable son of a bitch, so being an O only makes it that much harder. I told him to just fuck a guy but he has to be Mister Choosy.”
“Isn’t he… isn’t he thirty?”
“Thirty-two. Let’s go before you freeze your toes off.”
We walk to an old SUV a couple spots over from Professor Ren’s car, and I’m still in shock. He’s never had sex? He seems so imposing and dominant that I can’t imagine he hasn’t ever slept with anyone. But men wouldn’t be inclined to lie about that.
I click my seatbelt and nudge aside some empty water bottles on the floor. “So… do you have anyone?”
Hux turns the key in the ignition and nods, then hesitates and shrugs. He rolls his window down.
“Alpha kid at your college. He’s a douchebag.”
“Not Poe Dameron.” Hux nods and I burst out laughing. “Seriously?! Bazine and Kaydel are always hanging all over him!”
“Yup. He’s gay—or maybe not. Pheromones twist up your sexuality, but I can confidently say he likes having a dick in his ass.” He shifts into reverse, peering over his shoulder. “That’s why he hasn’t outed you. Ren asked me to blackmail him, and I do love blackmailing Alpha men.”
Well… that explains a lot. Professor Ren is getting me suppressants under the table and calling in favors to blackmail the only threat to my remaining hidden. Maybe he doesn’t hate me as much as I assumed.
I have so many questions for Hux that I don’t know where to start. We roll out of the aberrant complex and onto the busy street.
“Have you known him for a long time?” I ask.
“Yeah, since we were kids. Our moms were both lawyers, and we grew up next door to each other. He presented really, really early.”
“His mom said that.”
“Good ol’ Leia. Always a delight.” Hux shakes his head. “She’s only tolerable when you’re as drunk as she usually is. I knew he’d drink, but he didn’t tell me he was bringing you along.”
“I’m not even sure why he did? He said his mom has been getting me suppressants but obviously...”
Hux snorts, flicking ashes out his window. “No, he was just showing you off. She’s always criticizing him about settling down and how he can ‘improve’ so he saw a chance to shut her up—but he forgot that she’ll never shut up.”
“…Oh.” I examine my hands in my lap. “Sometimes I feel like he’s… using me?”
“Aren’t you using him?”
I look up and Hux raises his eyebrows, expectant. No. I don’t use people.
“He’s grooming me,” I blurt.
“That’s a strong word. Kind of offensive.”
“Sorry. I don’t think he’s like a sex predator or anything.”
“You do,” Hux says, shrugging. “Everyone does, and when we do things like chasing women running away from us, what else are you supposed to think?” He drops his cigarette out the window, green eyes distant. “We’re hardwired to prey upon other people—manipulate. Just the way it is.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. He hasn’t like… done anything.”
“You like it, too.”
A sly smile touches his lips when I huff and cross my arms. No. No. That’s ridiculous. Why would I like that? It’s illogical and stupid and creepy.
Hux sighs, smirking out the windshield. “Alpha women love being chased.”
“I don’t want him to gro—manipulate me! That’s terrible!”
“I’m just saying, it’s all part of the dance. Didn’t say it wasn’t fucked up and weird.”
Annoyed, I glare out the window and don’t say anything more. Whatever.
Chapter 15: vitamin k
also the idea of a “box” gifted to the mate is from the fic “desperate times” by kylosbrickhousebody and I highly recommend it
We pick up breakfast from a crowded diner about twenty minutes from Professor Ren’s apartment. Hux seems to know everyone there and I hang back while he gets our food from behind the counter in two greasy paper bags. He kisses a girl on the cheek on his way out, and hands me a tray of coffees.
It’s a quiet drive back. I’m stewing over his assertion that I like being groomed. That’s not how it works. I’m the vulnerable one: I’m eighteen, and a ‘baby’ Alpha, and his student. I’m a victim. I don’t like the way Professor Ren treats me. I think he’s a prick, and he just resents every Alpha he comes across, and I’m an easy victim to take his anger out on.
But I know he’s lonely, too, and trying to manipulate me to become what he wants; put me at ease with his kind gestures just to turn around and pull the rug out from under me. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know what he’s doing and I find it offensive and stupid, and any physical reaction I have is not a reflection of what my rational non-demi brain thinks.
I grit my teeth as we pull into the aberrant housing complex. This is so infuriating. I want to go back to coasting by under the radar.
It’s busier this morning: some people are out heating up their cars or smoking or talking, and a couple wave to Hux as we drive through. I watch a little girl run up to a woman and tug her coat, and see a horrid black alpha symbol branded on the side of her thin neck. She can’t be more than seven years old.
My stomach turns. I look back until I can’t see her anymore.
“I thought branding stopped?” I rub my neck, shuddering. “Isn’t that illegal?”
“That’s horrible. She’s just a little kid.”
“Doesn’t matter to them.” Hux smiles and waves to someone else. “They want all of us branded, Rey. Easier targets.”
“But why would they do that to a little kid? What could she have possibly done?”
It makes my heart hurt thinking about it. I rub my face and try not to, but the image of a bright orange brand permanently disfiguring a little kid sticks behind my eyelids. Who could do something like that?
Hux clicks his tongue as he exhales. “Uh… I think she stole something from a Walmart once or twice.”
“I used to steal all the time and no one did that to me.”
“Yeah? They don’t brand Betas.” His smile widens as he parks, twisting into a smirk. “What’d you steal?”
I don’t look at him. “Food. Clothes if I could hide them but they’d usually catch me.”
I shrug. All I did was take what I needed to survive when Unkar wouldn’t provide it. What else was I supposed to do? Starve? Subsist on beer and Lays until I died? Kylo might think I have privilege but reflecting back on the heart-stopping fear of being caught stealing an apple because I hadn’t had food in days—I’m mad all over again.
Bet he didn’t steal to survive. He thinks his mother not hugging him enough makes his past as hard as mine; like his mommy issues are on par with me hiding in the Price Chopper bathroom figuring out where best to hide a box of mac and cheese.
And if I had been an Alpha, I’d have a brand just like that poor little girl: permanently disfigured for being a hungry kid.
The door is unlocked when Hux and I make our way up to Professor Ren’s apartment. He has all his windows open despite the cold and I take a couple short breaths to test the air—doesn’t taste like him or me anymore. Thank god.
I close the door and see him coming down the hall from his bedroom, wearing jeans and a thick maroon turtleneck sweater. Thank god. Less temptation to bite.
He pushes his glasses up his nose, glaring at me as he takes the bags from Hux. “Nice jacket.”
For a second I’m confused, then remember I’m wearing Hux’s jacket. I quickly peel it off and hand it back to him, and he shakes his head as he folds it over his arm, smirking.
“I could sell this,” he drawls. “Only other female Alpha in the complex is Kaila, and she’s eight.”
“Phasma,” Professor Ren calls over his shoulder.
“Phasma has a mate; she doesn’t count.” Hux motions near his mid-chest. “Short little guy. Mitaka. Makes for an interesting pair.”
“Phasma is—she’s a female Alpha?” I ask. “Could I talk to her sometime?”
Hux opens his mouth to respond but there’s a loud sound in the kitchen. Professor Ren slams a plate down on the table and glares at me.
“Phasma is a bad influence and hardly what any woman should try to be.” His jaw shifts from side to side and he starts unpacking one of the bags. “Inappropriate to discuss with a student. Hux will bring you home after we eat breakfast and you can direct as your questions to my mother.”
I’m tempted to make a comment. His mother was drunk our entire dinner and far from a good influence, but I’ll just follow up on this Phasma woman with Hux later.
We finish setting up for breakfast and I eat most of my bagel sandwich. Professor Ren looks mad the entire time and Hux scrolls through Twitter, impervious to the awkward tension between me and my professor. He’s probably used to how intense Kylo is. Constantly. It’s exhausting.
I sip my coffee. “So, how old is Phasma?”
“Early thirties. She’s been with Mitaka for about a year?” Hux scratches his stubble, lips puckered in thought. “I’ll text her and see when she’s around.”
“No,” Professor Ren snaps, “you won’t.”
“Cool, thanks,” I say, ignoring him. I take another sip. “What’s she like?”
“Intense. Tall. She was a loose cannon when we were younger in college; too much even for Ren.” Hux laughs and I see Professor Ren turn bright red. “Not that he didn’t try. She’s too much like his mother.”
My professor shoves away from the table, stiffly getting to his feet. He storms to his bedroom and Hux shakes his head, still laughing.
I peer back. “Yeah? Is she really Alpha-like?”
“Yeah—they fight whenever they see each other. Like vinegar and water. Coke and Mentos.” Hux takes a bite of his bagel and motions toward me. “You’re way more his speed.”
That makes me turn red. “Why? Because I’m a pushover?”
“Not a pushover,” Hux replies, “just not a raging bitch with a chip on your shoulder like most Alpha women. No offense. Ren is a less prototypical Omega man—wait ‘til you meet Mitaka—so it balances out with you two. Harmonizes, I guess. He’s afraid she’ll turn you to the cause and you’ll want to peg him or something.”
“What is with everyone and pegging? Bazine said that, too! Is that a thing?”
He snorts, nodding. “Ask Phasma. She’ll give you all the gory details.”
Jesus Christ. I don’t think I want to fuck anybody’s butt. Am I supposed to want to?
Professor Ren comes back from his bedroom with a folded set of clothes that he offers out to me at arm’s length. I take them and mutter a thanks. Black dress shirt, sweatpants; two things that will be way too big on me. Better than the dress, I guess.
“She’s gonna be around tomorrow, Rey,” Hux says offhandedly. “Want to hang out ‘til then?”
“Uh…” I glance up at my professor. “I can ask Finn to bring me back.”
“Nah, you can hang out.” Hux grins, now chewing gum, ignoring the acidic glare from Kylo. “Wanna go out to the Target to get something clean to wear that isn’t huge on you?”
“I’ll go,” Professor Ren interrupts. He points at Hux’s face, an inch away. “You are coming with me. Rey shouldn’t be out in public where we might be seen together, and I don’t trust you, Armitage.”
He raises his hands innocently as he stands like he’s being taken to prison. Um… well…
I clear my throat. “I don’t have any… money? With me? Also… maybe I should pick my own… undergarments?”
“Hux is gay; he’ll pick them,” Professor Ren snaps.
“That’s a little offensive, but okay.” Hux shrugs into his jacket and gives me a sideways glance. “Y’know, I doubt anyone around here will recognize her, Ren. And if she stays here then your apartment will smell all over again. That’s not what you want, right?”
Professor Ren grabs him by the front of his shirt and drags him toward the door. Hux just laughs—I can see why he gets along with Poe—and stumbles after him. I have a couple issues with what’s happening and start to protest again, one finger in the air. Be the Alpha. Be the Alpha.
“Excuse me,” I squeak, “but I have a couple issues—”
“Close the windows,” barks my professor. “Don’t let anyone in and don’t go anywhere.”
Then they leave, and I’m alone at the table.
It takes me a couple minutes to get up. I clear the table and wash the few dishes before ambling down the hallway to change in the bathroom. I’ll shower tonight if it’s permitted.
There’s a sharps container under the sink. Must be for the leuprolide. I stare at it for a minute before I shut the cabinet and turn off the lights.
Professor Ren texts me within a couple minutes of leaving to ask what size I wear, and I snidely respond with ‘small, obviously.’ He doesn’t answer after that and I walk around his apartment closing the windows, shivering from the cold. All that work to get the smell of me out and he’s trapping me here again. I wish he wasn’t so contradicting and exhausting.
The last window I close is in his bedroom. I linger when it’s shut, looking across his stark, plain furniture and the closed closet. I’m sure he folded the blankets and put them back the way they were.
His sheets are slate gray, bed neatly made. I wander to his nightstand and look around before opening up the top drawer. Nothing except a bottle of melatonin that rattles to the front.
I close the nightstand and drop to my knees to search under his bed instead. There’s a box, which reminds me an Leia’s passing comment about Kylo making some kind of box when he was a kid. I stretch underneath to pull it out and find it’s made of wicker, but the handle has a lock on it.
Lucky for me, I know how to pick a cheap lock.
I find a paper clip on his desk and set to work. It takes a while but I finally break the thing open, again checking over my shoulder to make sure I won’t get caught. I set the lock aside and peek inside.
There are a lot of small pieces of fabric scented so heavily that I see double for a couple seconds. My mouth tingles and I groan as the fangs drop. Fuck. What the fuck. The difference in scent is subtle, maybe from different ages or attached to different emotion, but it’s so overwhelming that I can’t pick out exactly what.
I find a sealed letter that I’m too chickenshit to open and two broken registration bracelets. One has his old name and looks newer but the other is small, obviously meant for a little kid.
I hesitantly pick it up. It’s heavy and dull from age, clipped in the middle of the band where a very young Professor Ren must’ve decided to go at it with pliers. I rub my thumb on the numbers and I’m suddenly overtaken by anger that turns the silver band deep red. Who would hurt a little kid? How is that legal? Why are people punished for just existing?
Anger melts into overwhelming grief before I realize what’s happening, and I break down into tears. This is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life. This is it. And I feel so bad for him and the weight of what he is and what they did to him when he was just a scared kid, and what it turned him into as an adult. He’s traumatized and I don’t think that’s something I’m equipped to handle.
“Did you open the letter?”
I stiffen. I didn’t hear him come in. His voice is calm but has an edge to it, and it makes me shiver.
I shake my head and wipe my eyes, piling the box full again. “No—no.” I hold it up before I put it back. “I’m thorry. I thouldn’t have looked.”
“I don’t need your sympathy.”
Ugh. Annoyed, I lock the box and shove it under his bed before I turn to tell him off.
Professor Ren is holding a Target bag tight in his fist, enough to make his knuckles white. His jaw is equally tight but his eyes betray him: he’s on the verge of tears, and I realize I made a big mistake.
“I’m thorry,” I repeat.
“Your fangs are out,” he spits, voice cracking. He pauses to collect himself. “Did you find the contents of that box arousing?”
“No—no!” I shake my head and stand, covering my mouth in horror. “No, no! I can’t help it—it jutht happenth—”
“Get out.” He points to the bedroom door. His arm trembles and so does his lower lip. “Now.”
Ashamed, I bow my head and hurry to walk past him. Oh my god.
Professor Ren seizes my arm just as I enter the hallway, and I stagger back a foot when he pulls. What the hell is he doing?!
“Let go!” I hiss. I’m crying again and it’s humiliating and gross and I feel like a pervert. “Let me go!”
I slap him off but only make it a couple more steps before he grabs me. It triggers something latent in my Alpha brain and I round on him, teeth bared, fisting the front of his shirt and yanking him in. Let me go or I’m going to fucking hurt you.
His dark eyes are close and wide and all dilated pupils. He licks his lips.
A growl rumbles up my throat when he leans in to kiss the tip of my nose. He kisses my forehead next and the growl twists into a furious hiss, and I jerk against his grip, instinct screaming at me to run away. He chirps like I’ve heard Bazine do, ingratiating—and I’m not at all pleased with it.
I fight again, struggling to pry my arm from his hand, and Professor Ren promptly shoves me against the wall. Fear buzzes up and further muddles my thoughts; spins wild irrational terror that he’s about to hurt me. I know he won’t. But do I?
“Shh…” He kisses my cheek and chirps a couple times in quick succession. His hand wraps around the back of my neck and I go very still. “I’m sorry.”
An agitated huff tumbles out, but my muscles slacken a bit. Fine.
Lips wander down my cheek to my jaw. I give him a warning growl but he only chirps to placate me and keeps going. His tongue traces a tendon in my neck and I squirm and feel a blush burning up my cheeks, conflicting the Alpha instinct to escape. He’s warm. He smells nice. I don’t hate what he’s doing.
Professor Ren is kissing me. I’m more nervous and excited as his mouth finds my shoulder, and he shushes me when I fidget, which is ridiculously hot. His tongue brushes wherever he kisses me and little hot sparks jolt straight down to my stomach, steadily winding into a frenetic ball. Are we gonna have sex? I wouldn’t hate that.
My breathing quickens as his lips trail up my cheek. The fangs are out but it doesn’t stop him from kissing the corner of my mouth, and my legs quiver into jelly but I don’t dare move an inch and shatter the fragile moment. Stay still. Don’t ruin it.
Professor Ren presses his thumb to my fang, breaths mingling with mine. He pushes until his skin breaks and I taste a trickle of blood, and my pulse roars in my ears. Please kiss me. Please kiss me.
“I think I like the way you hurt me,” he murmurs.
He kisses my lower lip and gently rolls it through his teeth, nicking my inner lip on my fangs when he lets go. I lean in, head spinning with want, and winds his hand around to grasp my jaw and stop me.
The spell is broken and Alpha brain comes roaring back.
I shove him hard into the wall and make a break for it—to where, I don’t know, but I have to get away from him. Professor Ren catches me around the waist before I get to the door and spins me the other way, limbs flailing. Let me go let me go let me go—
He wraps an arm around my middle, stumbling forward when I scramble to escape. It feels like an iron bar and sweeps me up into a panic.
“Let go!” I snarl.
“I can’t—I don’t want to.” He drags me in, my chest against his back, lips at my ear. “Don’t leave. You can’t leave.”
I’m not sure which of my volatile emotions are really mine but I do know that I want him to let go of me. Hissing, I squirm and kick until I wriggle free of his arms, teetering toward the hallway. I whip around to confront Professor Ren, backpedaling as he advances. His pupils are dilated—he looks like a hungry shark.
“You can’t leave,” he repeats, breathless.
I keep backing up and bare my teeth. If I had fur, it would be bristling. He follows me another couple steps before he stops, staring as I make it to his bedroom and slam the door shut.
I turn the lock with trembling fingers and fall on my butt. My skin still prickles where he kissed me and I can taste him in my mouth, and I’m equal parts aroused and furious.
Maybe I’ll stay in here for a while. It’s less confusing than whatever the fuck we’re doing out there.
Chapter 16: ecchymosis
Well. What the fuck am I supposed to do now?
Overwhelmed and dizzy, I throw open the bedroom window to let in the frigid November air, hoping it will clear my head of all the fucked up stuff bouncing around inside it. I close my eyes and breathe in through my mouth. I don’t want him to grab me and fuck me. I don’t want him to bust the door down. That’s fucked up. Abnormal. Not romantic.
Maybe I’ll just climb out and call Rose. I haven’t told her about any of this stuff with Professor Ren and I don’t want to. She’ll moralize it and tell me to report him or something, and even though he annoys the shit out of me, I really don’t want to do that.
I want him to break down the door and kiss me again and throw me down on his bed. Shivering, I inhale deep and exhale through my nose. No I don’t. That’s gross and wrong. Get a grip, Rey—get a grip and get out of here.
The forgotten Target bag has a couple things: leggings, a sweater, and a multipack of panties. Blushing furiously, I quickly change out of my dress and stash my old clothes in the bag once I’m done, then grab my phone to text Rose for help. Finn has a car. Maybe he can come get me.
I already have a text from Professor Ren, and 20% battery left.
what size clothes
Read 9:05 AM
hux will bring you home
Going home is the smart thing to do, but I want to meet Phasma tomorrow.
But—I don’t know how I’ll survive an entire day alone with Professor Ren in his apartment. Not without something happening.
You could just talk to me directly.
there are extra supralpha under the sink if you want one before you leave.
I sit on the edge of his bed and chew inside my cheek. He probably thinks I’m mad.
I’m not mad
I’m just confused
which is why you need to leave
That doesn’t make sense.
you’re too young and naïve and there is a very glaring power imbalance at play here.
is that direct enough?
Too direct. His speciality.
Frustrated, I snatch my Target bag from the floor and find the Supralpha under the sink. I glare at my reflection when I swallow the pill and within a couple seconds, my fangs recede, back to my gums or wherever the fuck they come from.
The windows are open again and the apartment is freezing cold but doesn’t reek of Omega anymore. I shuffle down the hallway and find him standing next to one of the open windows, arms folded over his chest. He shivers, eyes flickering to the kitchen, clearly intent on avoiding an awkward conversation.
“He’ll be here shortly,” Professor Ren says tersely.
I nod and sit on the couch. Fine. I’ll just sit here in silence. Stewing. Not saying what I feel.
No I won’t.
“I’m not naïve,” I snap, glowering at the door. I cross my arms. “That’s an unfair thing to say.”
I glance over and find him resting his head on the beige wall, eyes closed. His jaw is tight.
“You don’t know the first thing about me,” I retort.
“I know you’re transitioning into aberrancy at a delicate age.” He cracks an eye open. “And you were seventeen only a handful of months ago. This is your first semester of college—you’ve never even worked a full time job—and I’m almost twice your age.”
“Age has nothing to do with maturity.”
“You have no life experience and no understanding of yourself or other people.”
“I think I understand people much better than you do,” I retort.
“Regardless, I won’t be responsible for you or put myself in a compromising position. It’s immoral. You’re still practically a child.”
That’s maybe the meanest thing he’s ever said to me. I’m not a child. Why is he reducing me to some confused, naïve little kid?
I stand up, bristling. “You kissed me!”
His other eye opens and red creeps up in his pale cheeks. He huffs, rolling his eyes, and stalks off toward the kitchen without answering.
Pissed and humiliated, I storm after him. My fists are clenched and I can’t help but think he’s a real prick of an Omega—but that has nothing to do with it. He’s just an asshole with a chip on his shoulder.
“That—that makes you a pedophile!” I blurt. I cross my arms and hesitate when he spins around, eyebrows raised. “If you see me as some… some kid, then I guess you’re a pedophile!”
Professor Ren doesn’t blink for an uncomfortable minute. He stares at me and I nod, deciding I’m going to stick with calling him a pedophile, like a mature woman would do. If he’s rejecting me then I might as well double down on the insults.
He sets his hands on his hips. Rolls his lips. Guilt twangs in my chest.
“Sorry,” I mutter. The discomfort in my chest crawls up in my throat and squeezes and oh my god please don’t cry, Rey. “You’re being mean.”
“I’m being realistic and admitting scruples about our relationship. I can’t afford to daydream like you can.”
The knife twists in my chest and I avoid his eyes. I’ve never been rejected before, but I’ve never tried before, either. This is the closest I’ve come in a long time and once again, I’m not worth it.
I manage to hold back my tears. It’s fine. He’s right. I can’t take it personally when he’s so hellbent on being a fucking martyr.
“I’m not naïve,” I repeat, voice wavering.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are.”
Anger jolts me into action. I’m on him before I realize it and pin him against the edge of the kitchen counter, baring my teeth. His hands clutch the counter and he recoils as far back as he can, dark eyes flickering with fear before returning to the same annoyed, narrow glare.
He’s warm—smells like cologne, not Omega. His belt buckle presses into my stomach.
“I told you to control your temper,” he hisses.
We glower at each other for another long beat. Professor Ren’s gaze roams down to my lips and lingers there, so I arch on my tiptoes and kiss his cheek, too shy to go for his mouth. He makes a pained groan and sets his huge hands on his hips like he’s going to push me away.
But he doesn’t. I’m dizzy with excitement as I kiss down to his jaw and press in closer, fingers clenched on the front of his sweater, his heart bounding underneath. His fingertips press into my hips and squeeze.
“Miss Niima…” he breathes, leading into a sentence he never finishes.
The scarred gland is finally close enough to lick; I can finally try to fix it. My mouth waters as I kiss a trail down his neck, purring, rolling his skin through my teeth. He tastes nice but it grows more and more bitter and burnt the closer I get to the brand. My Omega gives a bit of resistance, squirming and breathing quicker.
It’s okay. My lips part, fangs popping and scraping the low bump of his mating gland. He’ll feel better when I’m done with him.
The front door opens. “Hey, sorry it took so long—”
I’m shoved away as Hux ambles to the kitchen. He raises his eyebrows, looking between the two of us obviously ruffled and flustered, then he slowly smiles.
“Am I interrupting something?” he asks innocently.
“No,” Professor Ren snaps, adjusting his shirt. He casts me a sideways glance before he strides past Hux. “Take her home and leave me alone.”
We watch him circle into the hall and hear his bedroom door slam shut. Hux looks down at me and offers the same eerie smirk as I grab my Target bag and avoid meeting his eyes. I really do need to get the fuck out of here.
“He was born miserable, Rey. You can’t take it personally.”
Back in my dorm, freshly showered, I’m sitting on my bed talking to Hux, who has helped himself to Rose’s side of the room. He winces at her smell and flips the mattress before sitting on it. It’s nice to have someone around who’s also aberrant, even if he’s on the other end of the spectrum.
I cross my arms over my chest and huff. “Whatever.”
“He’s been dealing with the stigma for his whole life. And, I mean…” Hux shrugs. “You are really young.”
“I’m still an adult.”
“Technically. I don’t blame him for feeling like he’s taking advantage of you. Maybe in a couple years when you’re older you’ll link up again.”
In a couple years—where will I be in a couple years? Massachusetts? California? Will I be the same person I am now? I’m not used to looking ahead; to looking beyond what I immediately need, like food and water and shelter. I’ve never been able to project my life into years from now and it makes me anxious.
I check my phone while Hux raids my plastic bin of expired snacks. Professor Ren doesn’t live in the here and now. He’s always three steps ahead because he has to be ready for anything. It must be exhausting staying so vigilant all the time.
Someone knocks hard on my door. Sighing, I slide off my bed and pad over to answer it.
Poe stands there, one hand on either side of my doorway. He breaks into a grin when I glare at him, because I’m really not in the mood—then his eyes flicker up and the grin fades.
Hux walks up behind me with a box of Cheez-Its under his arm. He stands at my side and raises his eyebrows at Poe, now retreating a step.
“What’s up, Dameron?” Hux drawls.
“What are you—?!” Poe checks the hallway before he continues. “What are you doing here?!”
Hux shrugs. “Stuff. How about you?”
I step out into the hallway, pushing Poe back another step. He stumbles and scowls and starts to open his stupid mouth.
“Get lost,” I snap. “We’re busy.”
“He’s taken, you know.” Poe checks the hallway again, and folds his arms. “Keep your mitts off my Omegas, Rey.”
Irritated, I turn and deliberately rub my hands all over Hux’s upper arm while making eye contact with Poe. His face turns bright red and Hux laughs and keeps popping Cheez-Its in his mouth, sarcastically chirping like he loves it. I’ve about had it with Poe Dameron.
“Fine!” he hisses. “I hope you enjoy your seminar.”
Hux pushes the Cheez-Its into my arms and seizes Poe by the collar of his shirt. He shoves him into the wall, and I catch Poe’s eyes wide and more frightened than I’ve ever seen before. I eat a Cheez-It.
“Now, now,” Hux murmurs, resting his forehead against Poe’s, “maybe you’ve forgotten our arrangement, Poe.” He kisses the tip of his nose and lowers his voice. “Don’t threaten my friend Rey, or I’m going to tell Bazine and Kaydel where you really are on weekends. One more threat or sideways glance—” He pushes Poe further up the wall. “And you’re going to pay for it.”
Hux releases, gently grasping Poe’s jaw to kiss his lips before turning away. He takes his Cheez-Its back and wanders into my dorm room without another word.
Poe is beet red. I laugh a little at the sight of him flustered and embarrassed before I follow Hux in, shutting the door behind me. Day made.
Chapter 17: resuscitation
chaotic making out
On Monday I get an unexpected email from Professor Ren. But really—I knew he wouldn’t stay away.
please come to my office to arrange tutoring.
Kylo Ren, Ω♂
PhD, MSE/MBA, MS, MEd
Nov 9, 11:18 AM EST
I’m busy doing homework and trying to arrange hours for work. I glare at the email and delete it. Rose texted me about hanging out this coming weekend and going shopping, so I really need to pick up some hours. It’s good. It’ll distract me from my stupid professor being a fucking asshole.
A couple more minutes go by and a similar email comes in. I delete that and after a half hour, my phone vibrates.
Today 11:52 AM
i’ve emailed you twice.
come to my office.
Read 11:55 AM
Nope. I ignore his message and go back to polishing my western civ paper. I’m not going to go running down there just for him to piss me off and push me away. Done with that. No thanks.
Another half hour goes by. I’m slightly disappointed that he gave up so quickly but as always, Professor Ren finds a way to piss me off.
i’ll flush the pills down the toilet.
Don’t fall for it. He won’t. I clench my jaw and resist the urge to text him back and call him an asshole. He’s just trying to get me to run down to his fucking office like I always do and I’m not falling for it.
Hux sends me a funny meme and that distracts me from my homework for about fifteen minutes. I laugh and spend another ten trying to find one to send back, but he’s seen most of them. He’s pretty cool. Poe hasn’t bugged me since he shoved him into the wall, and Bazine and Kaydel have been keeping their distance, too.
Around two I head to western civ for my hour lecture during which I’ll doze off a couple times. I resist the urge to storm down to Professor Ren’s office and tell him off. That’s just giving him what he wants. Attention. He just wants attention.
I’m almost to the classroom when he texts me again. Annoyed, I don’t even bother checking it before I go in. Dick. Call me a child. You’re a child. Big… baby man. Man baby.
Instead of sleeping, I spend class doodling, too pissed off to fall asleep. I hand in my paper that I normally would’ve begged for an extension on and spend class drawing more disembodied hands and eyes. Don’t think about him. You can do better. He’s a big man baby with serious intimacy issues.
And I can’t deal with that. I can barely deal with myself and the Alpha stuff.
Still, I check my phone after class because I’m just as stupid as he is.
come to my office
Read 3:15 PM
I stick my phone in my back pocket and head to my dorm to do more homework. It vibrates.
i’ll fail you on your last test
I stop dead in the middle of the hallway. Anger heats up the back of my neck and I grit my teeth. Fine. I’ll give him what he wants. I wouldn’t put it past him to actually fail me and now I have proof I was being blackmailed if he does it.
Be the Alpha. Be the Alpha. I repeat my useless mantra as I storm my way to his office for what I swear will be the last time.
A small group of people pass me as I turn down the hallway and let myself into his office without knocking. I slam the door shut behind me and ignore the overwhelming scent of Omega. Be the Alpha.
Professor Ren is sitting in his chair with his temple resting on his fist, wearing the stupid pink scarf. His eyes narrow when I point an accusing finger at his face and I falter. His tie is loose and he seems really tired—but I can taste something else in the air, and it makes me hesitate.
He glares. “You’re a very difficult woman to find, Miss Niima.”
My mouth waters. What is that?
“What—” I swallow, blinking hard. “What is that?”
“I haven’t taken the leuprolide since Saturday—since you’re so keen on being taken advantage of.” He rubs his stubbly jaw and keeps glowering at me. “And I’m still giving serious thought to failing you.”
I’m so stunned by the pheromones that I can’t spit out a snarky retort. He keeps rubbing his mouth and suddenly gets up, chair rolling into the wall, ignoring my feeble warning growl as he stalks over to me.
He grabs my jaw and squeezes, tilting my head back so I have to look up at him. I’m pushing myself into the door and my head is spinning between running away and dragging him in closer.
“You don’t want to fail calculus.” Professor Ren raises his eyebrows. “Do you?”
I stare into his deep dark eyes and slowly shake my head, dazed, and he shakes his head, too. My heart thumps and turns to goop as he searches my face like he’s contemplating what he wants to do with me. Do whatever you want.
He eyes my mouth. “That’s what I thought.”
Then he kisses me, hard enough to bump my head off the door. It’s only a matter of time before the fangs fuck it up but he doesn’t seem worried about it and his tongue is in my mouth, minty, and he grabs my face in both huge hands. I yank on his tie and pull at his shirt then feel the roof of my mouth tingle and switch to desperate pushing. No no no—
He seizes my jaw again and pulls away just when the fangs snap down. His pupils are dilated and his lips are red and he presses his thumb to one of my fangs.
“Are you going to be a good girl and come when you’re told?” I take a couple shallow, nervous breaths and shake my head. He smiles as he pricks himself on the end of my fang. “Good.”
I taste his blood and it triggers some anxiety but his mouth wanders down to my neck and it’s quickly forgotten. It shouldn’t be so hot that he’s threatening to fail me but it is and I just want to climb him like a fucking tree. Have to—get the scarf off and bite him. Now. Gotta bite.
Crazed, I yank at the scarf, growling lightly when he puts up some resistance. His fingers wrap around my nape and like a switch, I stop. My fangs even recede into my aching mouth. I whimper, frustrated.
“I know.” Professor Ren rolls my skin through his teeth and I shiver. “I know.”
His mouth comes back to mine but there’s no threat of my fangs ripping his lips off this time. My fingers tremble as I fist his blue dress shirt and pull him closer, struggling to get my leg up on his hip. He grabs my calf and keeps kissing me as he hitches it up near his belt, shoving me into the door and quickly reaching down to get my other leg around his waist.
Someone could definitely hear us. The low, rumbling groan Professor Ren makes as he pushes between my legs has to carry through the door. I feel it in my bones and a crazed urge to sink my teeth into him. He’s hard. Obviously.
He tugs my lower lip between his teeth, huffing. “Is this what you want?”
He rolls his hips to illustrate his question and I’m so glad I wore leggings. I nod fast and dig my heels into the backs of his thighs to push him in. Yes yes yes.
But the door makes an incriminating thump and his next groan is more pained and frustrated. He kisses across my cheek to my ear.
“I want to scent your dorm,” he whispers. “Is anyone there?”
I shake my head, digging my nails into his abs. Nope. Go for it.
He nips my earlobe. “Good. There better not be.”
I’m let down from the door and almost fall on my ass, knees wobbling. Professor Ren gives me a split second to get my bearings before he grabs my face in both hands again and kisses me, making a bolt of terror strike right into my stomach. Don’t run. You don’t want to run.
It’s harder without him touching my nape. Fear mixes in with excitement as he closes his laptop and pulls on a hoodie, then his coat over it.
“Leave your door unlocked.” He tugs the strings to hide most of his face. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
I nod but don’t move. He raises his eyebrows and I remember I need to walk, but only manage an awkward scramble for the door. Jesus. Okay. Are we—I don’t know if I’m ready for sex. I guess I can do it? I’m eighteen, right? I should.
The hallway is empty when I walk out, quickly fixing my hair and adjusting my sweater. Act natural. You have the easy part: just walk back to your room.
I’m unsteady and still dizzy and a couple people cast me sideways glances, but I somehow make it back. I close the door behind me and leave it unlocked, trembling and cold and more anxious than I thought I’d be. I like him. A lot. I’ve even had dreams about fucking him. Why am I so anxious?
A couple quiet minutes pass where I consider running or calling Rose to tell her everything. I’m chewing my nails when the door suddenly opens, and Professor Ren slips inside without a word.
He turns the lock. “Very bad security.” As he turns he pulls down his hood and I get that weird vulnerable sensation under his penetrating dark eyes. “Hux was here?”
I nod, lips glued together. He nods and casts a glance around, shrugging out of his coat.
“Miss Tico seems to have faded somewhat.”
“She’s pretty much living with Finn now. Hoping he turns Alpha.”
Professor Ren keeps nodding but is more distracted. He takes off the hoodie and throws it on my bed with his coat, then casually takes a condom from his breast pocket and chucks it on my bed, too.
I stare at it with wide eyes until he gently cups my cheek to turn my face toward his. He cradles my face in his bear paw hands and kisses me, softer than before, and lets his fingertips brush the itchy spot on the nape of my neck. The tension wanes but that makes me even more nervous—how can he can control me so easily? Does he practice?
A minute later he kisses my lower lip and wanders to my closet, opening it without asking. I watch him take down a sweater and push it up to his face, inhaling.
“So… you stopped taking that stuff?” I ask, raspy.
Professor Ren nods and rubs the sweater against his throat. “Leuprolide is chemical castration. I’ve been taking it for almost two decades.”
“Trying to escape seminars.” He hangs the sweater up and takes down a hoodie. “I was worried there would be permanent damage but—” His hazy dark eyes watch me as he breathes in the scent of my hoodie and it makes my stomach flip. “There doesn’t seem to be an issue.”
Nope. Definitely felt that.
He ritualistically goes through my tops and soon he’s chirping while he rubs his scent all over them. It won’t be noticeable to Betas but another demi-human would be able to pick up on it and wonder why I smell like my calc professor.
It’s reckless, really, and wildly out of character for him. I glance at the condom and anxiety creeps higher.
“Um…” My voice cracks and I clear my throat. “What are we… going to do?”
Professor Ren doesn’t look at me or acknowledge my question. He opens a dresser drawer and stares into it for a full thirty seconds before he takes a shaky breath. It’s my panties. Not breathtaking.
Still, he grabs a handful, dark eyes wide, hand quivering like he’s picking up some priceless artifact. My spine prickles. Maybe he should’ve titrated off that stuff instead of just stopping it cold turkey.
His hungry gaze wanders to me. We stare at each other and I get the feeling that something very bad will happen if I move.
His lower eyelid twitches. “What color are you wearing?”
My cheeks burn. I shrug.
Professor Ren drops the handful of underwear and comes up to me so fast that I take a hasty step back. He seizes my forearm.
“I want them,” he whispers. He yanks. “Take them off.”
“What are you—” I pry my arm free and bare my teeth. “Cut it out!”
He whines like a dog and I slap his wrist when he tries grabbing me again. He turns away, sweating across his forehead and throat, running both hands through his thick black hair. Well. This is bad.
“I want it,” Professor Ren mumbles. “I want it. I want it. I want it.” He goes back to my dresser and hisses, making an about face. “Fuck!”
I jump at the loud curse but try not to move otherwise. They chase you if you make sudden movements, and with how wide his pupils are, I feel very much like a fish in a bucket with a shark.
He squeezes his eyes shut and lapses into tense silence. I wait.
“I’m sorry,” he grits out after a pause. “I’m very overwhelmed. I shouldn’t have… come here.”
Professor Ren sucks in a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling, hands on his hips. He closes his eyes again and his throat bobs.
“It’s not. I’m sorry.” He twists his neck and swallows hard again. “I’m an overeager son of a bitch. I’ll leave in a second.”
“Well… someone might see you.”
“That’s fine. I don’t want to hurt you.”
I glance over my shoulder at the window and shuffle back two steps to open it. A cold breeze comes in and washes out all the confusing pheromones, bringing things down to a more tolerable level. He’s not going to hurt me. I think the more he runs away and avoids it, the more it’s going to reinforce his fear.
He’s watching me when I look back at him. Tense. He’s always tense.
“You won’t,” I say as firmly as I can manage.
“I appreciate your faith in my self-control, but—”
“You won’t.” I shiver from the cold and maybe the way he’s staring at me. Be the Alpha. “Sit. You just have to get used to being off the medication.”
My command is sharper this time and comes from an unfamiliar place. Professor Ren hesitates for a second but goes to Rose’s abandoned bed and sits on the edge of it, hands clasped in his lap.
It satisfies me in that same unfamiliar place my command came from. I hop up on my own bed and grab my iPad to do some homework. Good. Sit.
He’s quiet for a long time and neither of us speaks. My fangs don’t come out even though the scents and proximity are making my insides scream. Sometimes he twitches or heaves a sigh. But after an hour, my Omega lies back, then curls up on the bed and falls asleep.
I watch him for a couple minutes before I get up and put a blanket on him, then close the window. I go back to doing homework.
Chapter 18: hemostasis
here’s ur porn kids
It’s dark when I wake up. Cold. I’m covered in a blanket, a hoodie, and a coat, and I think some of my own clothes are piled on. It’s not doing a lot to insulate me—my toes are freezing and curling into a tighter ball doesn’t help. Window must be open.
Shivering, I lift my head and squint. I’m drowsy and disoriented and the stranger standing in front of my window doesn’t register for a minute.
Then it does in a split second, like a thunderclap, and I go very still. Oh. Right.
Professor Ren is leaning on the windowsill smoking a cigarette, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hair is up in a messy bun and he’s just as bedraggled as he was when I fell asleep earlier doing homework, and I didn’t know he smoked but I guess it makes sense.
He peers over his shoulder at me. The tip of the cigarette glows red and he just stares for a long couple seconds as he inhales. My mouth feels dry. Right. He’s still here. Not that I want him to leave.
Then he looks out the window again, exhaling a column of smoke. Don’t tell him he’s not supposed to smoke in here. Don’t tell him he’s not supposed to smoke in here.
“You’re not supposed to smoke in here,” I blurt.
He’s quiet for a minute and doesn’t acknowledge me. Then he straightens up and takes another drag before he puts the cigarette out over the edge of the window. He throws the extinguished butt in my trash can. Oh good. At least he’s not a litterbug.
Professor Ren roughly yanks my window shut. “Is that right?”
“Someone will complain. I don’t want the RA to catch us.” And my RA is an annoying fuck.
Our pheromones hang heavier in the air than the faint smell of cigarettes, cloying and thick like cheap perfume. But it’s still the best thing I’ve ever tasted, even if it makes me anxious and my muscles coil to run. I’m not going to run. Don’t run.
Up close I get a better look at his tattoos: a clock and a compass and an animal twisted somewhere within; something with scales. All black. Not a bit of color. His tie is off, discarded on Rose’s mattress with the blanket I covered him with. He rubs his forehead with the back of his hand and I notice he’s still sweating just as bad as he was earlier. That doesn’t seem good.
Professor Ren stares at me, throat bobbing. “I’ve had some very bad thoughts for the past couple hours.”
I don’t say anything. What am I supposed to do, ask for an itemized list?
He sits on the edge of my desk and crosses his arms. His jaw tightens, dark eyes studying me, and he drums his fingers on his biceps. Maybe he’s gonna eat me. I’ve been predicting it for a while.
We’re both quiet for a couple minutes. I consider asking for a sampling of his bad thoughts so I can also consider phoning a friend. Are these homicidal bad thoughts? Suicidal? Is it rude to ask?
I go for it. “What are you thinking about?”
His lower eyelid twitches. He keeps staring at me.
“You,” he says, and doesn’t offer anything else.
“…Oh.” Well, I don’t hate that. “Great.”
Professor Ren’s jaw shifts from side to side. He taps his biceps quicker.
“I haven’t been allowed to think these things—”
His voice catches and he redirects his glare to the window. Muscles jump in his cheek but he doesn’t say anything else. Snapping shut again.
“Do you want to write it down?” I ask. I sit up search the blankets for my iPad. “Journaling helps me.”
“I’ve had my fill of journals and diaries read against my will.”
I huff, plucking it out from under a pair of jeans. “Well no one is going through my iPad and you can password protect it so even I can’t see it.”
He’s watching me when I offer it, guarded. It’s true. There are plenty of journal apps with passwords and I really don’t need to know every sexually charged, problematic thought that goes through his head. Not like he’s going to see a therapist anytime soon.
Professor Ren steps away from my desk and ambles over to my bed, arms still crossed. Okay. Okay. I hastily scoot toward the wall to make room and my heart flutters as my giant professor climbs into my bed. Be cool, Rey.
Something snaps through my mind, possessive and sharp. Mine. It rattles down to my bones and up to my fingertips as Professor Ren kisses me and I grasp the front of his shirt in both hands. Mine.
Music plays loud down the hall but my pulse thunders in my ears and drowns it out. He’s lying next to me, then rolling his weight and settling on top of me between my thighs instead. My bed groans and it mingles with a low moan from me that isn’t quite lost in Professor Ren’s mouth. I wrap my legs around his, straining us together. He’s hard.
He cups my cheek, kissing me feverishly, grabbing my entire jaw in his hand instead. Fingertips dig in and hold me in place like he’s afraid I’m going to up and leave. It seems like he could break my jaw with his one hand. Strangely hot.
And he’s heavy and it’s makes anxiety prickle up my spine. I’m pinned. Trapped. Stuck.
I huff, nervous despite how much I don’t want to be. I grab his belt and squeeze the cold leather and Professor Ren rolls his hips in a small circle, gently grinding his cock against me. Warmth pools in my stomach and I pull on his belt. Yes yes yes.
He breaks our kiss and breathes in my ear. “I want to be inside you, Miss Niima.”
Jesus. I nod quickly in agreement, squirming underneath his weight in excitement. It reminds me that I’m pinned and an accidental growl comes out.
“Shh… shh…” Professor Ren kisses my cheek and… chirps. Quietly. “Doesn’t this feel nice?”
Yes. Yes. I nod, fingers trembling on his belt from weird emotions I can’t quite sort out, but I know him rubbing against me feels much better than ‘nice.’ His lips languidly trail down my throat, gentle kisses that don’t linger, tickling my skin. Feels good.
He hums in agreement. My bed is making incriminating rhythmic creaks when he rolls his hips but I honestly don’t care who hears it. He traces his tongue along the edge of my jaw and shushes me when I moan a little too loud; more of a whine. Tension is coiling inside me but he needs to move faster if I’m going to—finish.
“What’s wrong?” he whispers. He kisses my temple, lips moving against my skin. “Are you close?”
I nod, gritting my teeth. No fangs. Please no fangs.
Professor Ren chirps. He’s kissing my neck again, one hand grabbing the edge of my bed and the other threading through my hair. He pulls, gently, and I arch up against him, whimpering. I’m drowsy from the kisses and soft way he’s talking but the slight pain of having my hair pulled starts bringing me out of my reverie. No no no—I like being relaxed—I like how calm I feel.
“Beg me,” he breathes against my throat. His huge body shudders right after like he just said something unthinkable.
Alpha brain is solidly checked out but the idea of begging an Omega irritates her to some degree. I lick my lips and rasp a ‘please’ as quick as I can. My cheeks burn. Sounds… whore-ish. Awkward.
But my Omega isn’t bothered like I am. He kisses the corner of my mouth, mumbling.
“That’s it. Keep going.”
“…Please,” I mumble, less a question and more a statement.
Professor Ren kisses my lower lip and tugs it between his teeth. I meet his hooded dark eyes and my heart leaps in my throat.
“Again,” he coos.
His deep voice rumbles through me and I whine a little this time, genuinely frustrated, genuinely nervous. The tension is unbearable and the way he’s slowly rotating his hips is even more unbearable.
“Good girl. Very good.” His fingers slip around my jaw once more and squeeze, eyes searching mine. “You’re a good little Alpha, aren’t you?”
I just nod and so does he, smiling faintly. God, I want to touch his hair. He’s dry humping me so—hair-touching must be ok, right?
Professor Ren picks up the pace and buries his face in my neck so I go for it. I tangle my fingers in his hair and find it’s as ridiculously soft as it looks, and he doesn’t say anything when I tug out the stupid bun. His breathing quickens into hot puffs at the crook of my neck, and teeth graze my shoulder.
My own teeth are temptingly close to his neck, too. I give a couple curious nibbles, not as hysterical as I thought I’d be, but I’m on the side with the brand so the taste isn’t quite as alluring.
“Fuck,” he groans.
He gives a couple rougher thrusts and takes a sharp, panicked breath. It takes me a couple seconds to realize he’s coming—and he whimpers and nuzzles into my hair, somehow getting more tense. His cock twitches when he slows down, until he stops. He’s trembling. Breathing fast.
“Fuck!” he snaps.
Professor Ren starts to get up but I push him back down, fixated on the brand again. Now no one can stop me. He can’t.
He’s agitated. “Sorry—it’s been—long time.”
I don’t really care. I tug his hair to tilt his jaw out of my way and trace the tip of my tongue along the gland that’s still under his skin, but badly damaged. I’ll work on this, I think.
In one fluid motion I have him pinned underneath me. He blinks in surprise, then bares his teeth. Yeah right. I straddle his hips and growl and show him my teeth, and he flinches.
“I’m sorry,” he repeats. He cringes as I lie down. “It’s been a long time.”
Still don’t care. I rearrange the blanket around us and kiss my Omega’s jaw, making him stiffen and grab my hips to push me off. But I purr, like I did a few weeks ago, and his grip loosens a little and his head rolls to let me close to his throat. Good.
Professor Ren shivers as I lick the burned gland. I keep licking, purring, and his hands on my hips gradually stop trembling. He relaxes and arches his jaw when I kiss a trail along his chin to lick the other gland, too. Tastes better. Sweet. But I need to do something about the other one.
So after a bit I go back to fruitlessly licking his neck, hypnotized, and I think he’s in the same boat. Then he coughs.
“Miss Niima—if I could—change my pants?”
I don’t answer, which is the closest he’ll get to a no. I’m warm and comfortable and cleaning my mate. Nothing else seems important.
He sighs, and after a couple minutes he’s fast asleep again, broad chest rising and falling slowly under my hands. Good. He needs to rest.
Chapter 19: plasmin
There’s no way it’s morning. I swat blindly at the voice, waving my hand until I find a face to push it against. Long fingers grasp my wrist.
“I know.” Lips tickle my palm and I frown. “I should go before anyone wakes up.”
My frown deepens as I open my eyes and find myself resting against Professor Ren’s chest. His chin is on top of my head and we’re tangled together under my sheets, and his heart is beating under my ear. I’m warm and comfortable and don’t feel like moving—and it’s still dark so it must be the middle of the night.
He kisses my wrist, lingering, brushing his lips on the thin skin. His voice is low and rough.
“Do you want to come with me?”
I hesitate. Don’t have class tomorrow—today, Tuesday—but… maybe going over there is too risky. He did have a crisis earlier and I’m afraid of how things will escalate when we’re totally alone.
“Maybe we should wait?” I suggest, raspy. “Since you just stopped taking that stuff.”
“…Maybe.” He presses my palm to his stubbly cheek. “I was going to take a shower and bring you somewhere to eat. Since we missed dinner.”
Food—my one true weakness. I pucker my lips in thought and he resumes languidly kissing my palm, quiet for a minute, then chirping so soft that I barely hear it. I guess I could go. Free food, and if we’re in public we can talk without going at each other like wild animals.
“What kind of food?” I ask.
“There’s a twenty four hour diner near my apartment. Or I can make you something.”
“We can go out.” I’m unsettled by the thought of my professor making me food. Already something creeps up my spine telling me to flee. “Fresh air.”
He hums in agreement and gently extricates himself from me. It’s chilly in my dorm and I consider just blowing him off and going back to sleep, but his hooded dark eyes look so vulnerable that I’m compelled to get up. Professor Ren runs a hand through his bedhead, smiling more than I think I’ve seen in the handful of months I’ve known him. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he’s drunk.
Maybe he is. In a way. I’m not sure how leuprolide works but this is a complete one-eighty.
He cups my jaw and kisses me. “I’ll go out the back. Meet me near the back of the gym.”
“Okay,” I mumble, lips moving against his.
I’m given one more kiss before he puts on his sneakin’ around outfit and leaves.
For a minute I stand there in silence, letting everything sink in. It’s quiet, what with it being the middle of the night, so I casually grab my pillow and scream into it. This is crazy. Ridiculous. I can’t wait to go. When should I tell Rose? Are we dating? He doesn’t want to date me. Yes he does. Why wouldn’t he? I’m great.
I rush down the hall to take a quick shower and thankfully don’t run into anyone. He’s already texted me when I get back to my dorm.
Monday 12:25 PM
i’ll flush the pills down the toilet.
Today 2:22 AM
do you want me to leave?
No I’m just getting dressed!! Jeez hang on a second.
Read 2:24 AM
Jesus Christ. I throw on leggings and a Yankees sweatshirt before I leave, making sure to keep a window open so the pheromones can flush out. Nothing personal, but if someone links his scent to my dorm… we might have an issue.
Professor Ren is parked suspiciously behind the gym as promised. He raises his eyebrows at my sweatshirt.
“What?” I snip. “Fuck the Red Sox.”
“You’re half an hour outside of Boston, you know.”
“I fear no Southie. Fuck the Red Sox.”
He smiles a little and shrugs. “Your funeral.”
We drive back to his apartment first so he can shower. I’m not as apprehensive as I thought I’d be but get progressively more antsy as he unlocks the door, and I’m ready to bolt when he motions for me to go inside. I hesitate, even though it’s freezing cold and I could go for an omelet.
Professor Ren tilts his head. “Do you feel like you need to run?”
“I’m sorry,” I blurt, “it’s nothing personal.”
He shrugs. I look into his dark apartment again and my ears ring as I step up and I inside, fighting the urge to run the other way. It’s a hard emotion to place; hard to control. Something—maybe dormant instincts now coming to life—tells me he’s a threat. I know he isn’t. I want to be here.
I flinch when he closes and locks the door behind us. Lights come on, illuminating the small living room along the white walls and that couch I slept on, out to the threshold of his kitchen where I pinned him against the counter. It’s too small for him. Or maybe not. I think Omegas like tight spaces.
“I have a class on nonlinear dynamics and chaos to teach at ten.” Professor Ren strides past me and I follow. He runs a hand through his hair. “Introductory chaos theory at noon. Should be fun without any sleep.”
He looks over his shoulder and smiles. “Nothing you’ll see in calc.”
“Oh thank god. Barely hanging on there.”
Then he laughs, shaking his head. It’s weird seeing him so relaxed and if I fuck this up and hurt him, I don’t think he’s ever going to recover. Pressure. Pressure. I don’t like having responsibility.
In his bedroom I hover near the door while he finds clean clothes. It’s clean as always, nothing out of place, just like it was when I came the first time. He rummages and tosses me a Red Sox shirt that I huff and puff about before I put it on over my Yankees shirt. It’s huge. Comes down to my thighs. It smells like him.
Professor Ren goes to shower and I’m left in his bedroom alone. I cross my arms and look around, inevitably drawn to the closet.
He’s been… nesting, which is still a weird word for me to turn over in my head. Lots of blankets and pillows scattered around and the scent of him is really strong inside. I lean in despite myself, inhaling through my mouth so it brushes my palate. He smells nice. This looks nice. He worked hard on it.
I kneel and crawl inside. The pheromones make my mouth water and I’m hardly given a second to realize it before the fangs drop, skin tingling with excitement over the nest I’ve found. It’s good. I don’t know how I know it’s good—couldn’t begin to rationalize that. But it’s good. I could probably sleep here. I could at the very least take him here; make this mine so no one else comes and takes him.
“Do you like it?”
Professor Ren stands in the open doorframe, watching me. His wet black hair makes him look every bit like a sad kicked puppy I want to squeeze. I blink at him, overwhelmed by the compulsion to do just that even though my rational brain says it’s rude and invasive. I’m not sure which side to shut off. Do they shut off? Or will it always be a struggle?
I manage to nod. He nods and his dark eyes roam the closet for a minute.
“As much as I’d like to join you—we should go eat something.”
“…Okay,” I rasp. I look around the closet once more and blinks harder. “Thorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize.” He rubs his neck, turning away as he speaks. “It’s obviously for you, anyway.”
The diner is empty save for a couple teenagers in the back. Our waiter thankfully puts us very far away from them in a green booth with menus the size of my biology textbook, and leaves to grab us waters. Three AM is a bad time for coffee but I’m tempted. Fangs are gone and I’m ready for food.
Professor Ren’s hair has dried some and is almost the fluffy soft mess I remember. No gel, but he must use it. Wish my hair looked that good.
He pushes up his sweater sleeves and opens the menu. “My mother wants to see you again. Kira. Maybe after the semester is over.”
“Are you going to drink an entire bottle of wine again?”
“How else will I get through the evening?”
“Yeah, she was… interesting.” I flip through the menu and shrug. “I have no embarrassing parents for you to meet, but you knew that already.”
“Did you ever know them?”
No. I shake my head, avoiding his eyes. I wish I did. I wish I had an embarrassing mom and dad. They came to the States when I was a baby and up and died on me. Assholes.
Professor Ren—Kylo, I guess, at this point—nods.
“You told me in one of your voicemails last month.”
“Oh, ha ha.”
“You did. Amidst other incoherent nonsense.” He shrugs and raises his eyebrows. “Quite a few comments about my penis, too.”
My cheeks immediately burn and I raise the menu to hide my face. Thanks for reminding me, dick.
His long index finger hooks over the top and brings it down. He’s smiling at me, far too smug about my interest in his penis, and I huff and scowl and hope I’m not blushing. I don’t care about his dumb penis.
“It isn’t the Eldritch abomination your friends say it is. You’ll like it.”
“They didn’t say it was an abomination,” I grumble.
“Mhm.” Kylo releases, leaning back in his seat. “I know what people say, and soon you’ll be hearing the same things. My cock is weird, your vagina is weird, the way we behave is weird. Even in in the fringe society of demi-humans, we’re not wanted.”
“What—what about my vagina?!”
Our waiter comes back at that moment with water. He looks rightly confused but takes our orders for omelets and raises his eyebrows as he leaves.
Kylo clasps his hands on the table, tilting his head. “Haven’t you done any reading?”
“Yeah, but… my parts don’t do anything out of the ordinary.”
“Well—if you ever sleep with a Beta, you might kill him if you knot.”
Somehow, I blush harder. “Excuse me?”
“Not by snapping his cock in half or anything like that.” He laughs to himself, sipping his water. “But you’ll try to kill him.”
“You’re making that up.”
Professor Ren shakes his head and beckons me to come around and sit with him. I do, because that sounds fucking fake, and he looks it up on his phone. Sure enough: the parts don’t work the way they should, and only an Omega can calm down a disgruntled post-orgasm female Alpha. Male Alphas don’t have the issue of wanting to kill the person they’re fucking. Of course.
I groan and lean on him and he keeps laughing. He smells nice and he’s warm and I’m suddenly overtaken by the need to stick my face in his neck.
So I do. I grab his thigh and smell his neck like a normal person would, and Professor Ren stiffens. I’m just beginning to lick his gland when he gently extricates himself from me, lips at my ear.
“We don’t want to attract attention,” he murmurs. His big hand squeezes my thigh up high and I squirm. “Be a good girl and go back to your seat.”
“Sorry.” I say it but don’t move.
“You never have to apologize to me for being what you are, Rey. Even on the days when you try my patience—which we both know you will, and I’ll try yours—you don’t have to apologize.” His voice is low and gentle and makes my stomach flip. I want to climb in his lap. “I have prejudices and problems to unlearn. I don’t want to turn them on you.”
Me too, I think. Like the little voice telling me that his refusal doesn’t matter, and growling when I return to my side of the booth. I wonder if he has the same voice or if his is my reflection like everything else: maybe it tells him to shut up and do what I say, and he has to resist it, too. Or be a doormat.
I shiver and try to smile. “No more snotty comments about Alphas? Bummer.”
“Disappointing, I know.” He strokes his index finger along his lower lip, studying me, and smiles faintly. “But I’ve spent most of my life apologizing for parts of myself I can’t control—things I was born with—and since I’m already taking advantage of you, I suppose the least I could do is give you the support I needed. Isn’t that generous of me?”
I snort and roll my eyes. Don’t like this emotional stuff.
“You’re buying, right?” I ask, hoping to change the subject.
“You did give me my first orgasm in a handful of years. The least I can do is buy you an omelet.”
He laughs again when I cover my face and reaches across the table to pry my hands away. I keep my eyes squeezed shut even when he kisses me. My fingers twitch. Want to grab him.
“This weekend,” Professor Ren mumbles, kissing me again, languid, “you’re going to stay in my apartment and overcome some of that shyness.”
“I’m not shy.” I kiss him back and linger for a couple seconds. “The leu was really keeping a lid on you, huh?”
He pauses, then kisses me once more and leans back. He rests an arm along the back of the booth and nods, searching my face like he’s looking at a painting. Searching isn’t the right word. Admiring. Though I guess I could be reading him wrong like I usually do.
“I haven’t felt this way in a long time,” he says. There’s another pause, but it isn’t pensive. He’s still smiling. “I’ll tell you more someday. For now: tell me more about yourself, Miss Niima.”
And I do.
Chapter 20: heparin
it’s 12:30AM so if the formatting is wrong idk lmfao
I’m woken up early again, and fifty times more agitated than before. Let me fucking sleep. Stop waking me—
“I’m going to work.” The back of my head is kissed. “I’ll be home by four.”
My eyes flutter open and I whine a little. We’re in the closet, where we passed out around six or seven, and he’s crouched over me saying his goodbyes. Professor Ren. Kylo. Holy shit, I’m in his apartment and his closet and he’s going to let me stay here while he’s gone. What if I steal everything? I won’t. Now I’m tempted. Maybe I’ll steal his spoons.
He kisses my cheek and I can feel him smiling. “I know. I’ll bring home something for dinner.”
I turn a little, pawing blindly for his shirt to tug him closer, and he catches my hands and kisses them. Don’t go. All the plants will die.
“Can’t you go later?” I mumble.
“It’s already quarter after nine.” He presses my hands to my chest and kisses my forehead. “Sleep. I’ll be back before you know it.”
Don’t want to. Wanna smell him some more. Make out for a while.
But Kylo gently pulls away from me and I’m left whining in the closet. How dare he abandon me here to sleep for the entire day? What a dick.
I roll over when the door shuts and snuggle into the blankets. Sleep it is.
Around two PM I wake up to pee and brush my teeth. I’m too lazy to shower—plus, I just did last night—so I skip it and wander around the apartment in search of something to do.
I don’t have to look far. I’ve got a couple texts from Rose and Kylo to keep me occupied, so I flop down on the couch, changed into a T-shirt of his that drapes down past my hips. I’m exhausted. Who knew sleeping all day would take so much out of me?
Today 11:04 AM
i know you’re still asleep but wanted to let you know i should be home early. also don’t know what kind of pizza you want. didn’t come up this morning.
Read 2:07 PM
I chew my lower lip.
I’ll eat literally anything.
anchovies it is
too late sorry
“Dick,” I laugh, shaking my head. I check the text from Rose and answer her—just wants to know what I’m up to this weekend. “Busy… with… a guy.”
She texts me back in the blink of an eye demanding to know who it is and I try to fend her off. Can’t say, don’t want to scare him off, it’s nothing serious. She’s fucking relentless and by 2:30 I’m getting annoyed trying to repel her questions.
Kylo texts me and I decide to leave Rose’s badgering for a while. She told me to grow up, right? Jesus.
sorry I’m kidding I’ll get pepperoni
No no it’s okay—Rose is DEMANDING to know who I’m seeing and I’m trying to fend her off 🙄
Yeah, my friend Rose. You know her.
Read 2:39 PM
yes i know
she’s just a friend, right?
I burst out laughing. Not this again.
Yes, she’s just a friend lol. She’s nosy. She worries.
Read 2:43 PM
After that I don’t hear a peep for a long time. I groan, cupping my face in my hands. I don’t know why he’s suddenly being so jealous and weird again. Rose doesn’t want to fuck me. She wants to fuck Finn, and is crossing her fingers he’s going to turn Alpha. I can’t deal with Kylo constantly questioning her just being her and asking harmless questions.
Can’t spend my entire life reassuring him. That’s ridiculous. Exhausting.
My phone vibrates around 3:30 and I check it. Maybe I’ll go take another nap. Awful drowsy today.
pheromones make people behave irrationally
Yeah, I know. You’re being irrational right now.
if finn doesn’t turn—it isn’t terribly uncommon for couples to ask a third person compatible with the demi to scent things. takes off the edge. I’ve been asked and declined
What the fuck? I grimace at the thought of that: smearing my scent everywhere so it’s easier for Rose and Finn to fuck. Ewww. Like an aphrodisiac.
You know the *weirdest* shit.
Read 3:35 PM
comes with the territory
i don’t mind if you do it once or twice but i don’t want to share you with anyone else—pheromones included
Why? Do you own my pheromones?
would you want me scenting someone else?
Hasn’t crossed my mind, but when he presents it, I get a distinct, agitated tightness in my chest. Absolutely not. I’d be fucking furious.
i don’t mean to upset you, Rey, but i know how these things often happen. Pheromones are powerful and ours are unique. People will try to use you
I don’t think Rose will but thanks.
Annoyed, I toss the phone on the coffee table. Just because he hasn’t know a lot of nice people doesn’t mean my friends are weird assholes.
I’m only alone for about fifteen more minutes before Kylo comes home with the pizza. He must be wearing something to neutralize his pheromones because I don’t pick up anything when I get up to help him. There’s spray and stuff you can buy but I didn’t know he had any. Feels weird not smelling anything except his actual cologne.
“I’m just trying to warn you,” he says as soon as he shuts the door. His hand goes straight up to loosen his tie. “Nothing personal.”
“You’re so jealous,” I call over my shoulder.
“It’s fine.” I set the pizza on the kitchen table, shrugging. “I’ll just take it as a compliment.”
Kylo raises his eyebrows as he drops his messenger bag on the chair. I raise my eyebrows back and my stomach flips when he ambles toward me. Can’t lie: he looks pretty hot with his tie loose around his neck and sleeves rolled back. Yep.
“And what have you been up to all day, Miss Niima?”
“Oh…” I set my hands on my hips and let them fall, then awkwardly cross my arms. “Little bit of this. Little bit of that.”
“I think you’ve been sleeping all day.”
“Don’t change the subject—”
He snags my waist and kisses me hard, stumbling forward a step before he runs his hands up my back. Fingers tangle in my hair as he bends me a little at the waist, tightening his grip to tug our mouths apart. I cling to the front of his shirt, breathless.
“I’ve spent my day thinking about you,” he murmurs. His dark eyes search my face and he kisses my forehead. His fingers are still wound in my hair, other hand resting on the small of my back. “And trying not to think about your friend.”
“You’re probably the only man who doesn’t want to think about two women together.”
I smile a little and play with his tie, running my thumbs down the middle. I’ve actually never touched one before. Weird texture.
“Deranged,” I sigh.
“We haven’t even had sex yet, Rey.” Kylo hand slips from my hair and joins the other on the small of my back, gently pulling my body against his. Lips wander along my jaw. “This is just a taste of how deranged I am.”
“You seem like you have a foot fetish.”
He laughs lightly and it makes warmth swell in my chest. It’s a nice sound.
“I have some preferences.” He pauses, fingertips pressing into my skin in a nervous way. “Not that I’ve ever been able to try them.”
“No? At all?”
“No. Was either in a seminar or too afraid.”
I nod, somewhat relieved that he’s as inexperienced as I am—not that he really projects inexperience—and it’s satisfying on a more primal level that I’ll be the only one to ever have him. Mine, mine, mine.
I gently cup his face in my hands and gaze at him for a minute, smoothing my thumbs across his cheeks. His features aren’t completely symmetrical and he has beauty marks that I’ve never noticed before: he’s beautiful, I think. Could just be Alpha stuff. Pheromones. I’ve never found a man ‘beautiful.’
He tilts his cheek into my palm, closing his eyes. “If you tell anyone I’m a virgin, I’ll be very upset.”
I frown. “I won’t. Though Hux told me like two weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if I believed him.”
“Did he?” Kylo raises his brows but doesn’t open his eyes. “Of course he did.”
We laugh and I arch on my tiptoes to kiss him. He hugs me tighter and sighs when he lets go, passing a hand through his hair.
“Anyway—let’s eat. I’m sure that’s all you’ve been thinking about.”
I snort and insist it isn’t, but it really is.
Yesterday 7:20 PM
sorry—I’m fucking exhausted
Omg it’s okay; we were up all night 😂 See you tomorrow in class, prof
Today 2:02 PM
I’m in the most BORING class
Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting in the front row of calculus like usual, this time not scared out of my fucking mind. I’m done with the practice problem on the board and feel like bugging my new… boyfriend? I don’t know what I call him. ‘Boyfriend’ sounds weird.
Kylo looks bored reading something on his laptop. He nudges his glasses up the bridge of his nose and checks his phone. Looks nice today: another tie and a dress shirt, and he put product in his hair to make it extra voluminous and shiny. I picked through his bathroom and teased him about it.
He doesn’t look at me while he texts me back. I smirk while I wait.
you failed your quiz
who’s laughing now?
Read 2:09 PM
I look up and he’s smirking at me. He shrugs. Fine. I can play games.
Isn’t there anything I can do? 🥺
get a tutor
stop texting boys during class
Can’t you tutor me?
“Mister Ren, it seems like Rey needs her phone taken away.”
Poe is sitting in his usual spot a few rows behind me. I turn and shoot him a poisonous glare that even makes Bazine and Kaydel avert their eyes. I’ll end you. Don’t interrupt my flirting.
But Kylo heaves a dramatic sigh and I hear him get up. He meanders over to my desk and holds out a big hand, registration bracelet jingling.
“If you would be so kind, Miss Niima.”
He smells like laundry detergent—cucumbers. It’s subtle but more intense coming from his outstretched wrist and I think he knows that. I glower as I hand him my phone and pretend to be pissed off when he brings it back to his desk. Poe snickers from behind me but I really don’t care. Loser.
Kylo closes his laptop.
“Mister Dameron—what was your answer for the first problem?”
After class I make a beeline for Kylo’s office. My heart pounds with excitement because we’re probably going to fool around—I hope we’re going to fool around—and the risk of getting caught makes it that much hotter.
I flex my hands a few times outside the door before I knock. When I do, he calls for me to come in, and it feels like that first day all over again.
Professor Ren is sitting in his chair with his hands folded in his lap, and tilts his head when I come in. I shut the door and lean against it, watching him and waiting, blood thickening. Feels like I might suffocate, but if there’s a good way to suffocate I think this is it.
My phone is sitting next to his on the desk. He studies me for a minute, rolling his tongue inside his cheek.
“It seems you’ve been misbehaving in class, Miss Niima.” He steeples his fingers and raises his eyebrows. “Again.”
“Sorry,” I blurt.
“Are you sorry?”
I nod quickly. No.
Kylo nods, too. He taps his fingertips together, leveling me with a hard stare through his glasses. Can he tie my wrists with the tie? Do people do that?
“Lock the door.”
I scramble to lock it, so frantic that I have to turn around to make sure I did it right. When I turn back he’s still staring at me in the way that makes my insides clench and my stomach flip. Why am I so nervous? Feel like I need to get out of here. I don’t want to—I don’t think I want to.
He beckons me with his long index finger, silent. I hesitate, and he clicks his tongue.
“Don’t you want your phone, Miss Niima? So you can keep texting boys?”
I nod, Kylo nods. My legs are heavy but I shuffle across the office to his desk, and around the side as he turns his chair.
He offers me a hand and I take it—then I’m turned quick and pulled into his lap, so fast that it makes all kinds of alarm bells go off in my head. I take a sharp breath like an anxious bark and squirm but he swiftly has me rolled under his desk and I’m trapped. Trapped. Trapped. I’m trapped.
“Shh, shh, shh.” A long arm loops around my waist and I feel his breath in my hair. “It’s okay. I’m just going to give you that tutoring you keep pestering me about.”
I’m breaking out in an strange cold sweat as he pushes aside our phones and opens the calculus textbook. My fingers tremble on the edge of the desk and I stare wide-eyed as he flips to the page with the homework for tonight. This seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
He opens a drawer, still holding me firm around my middle, and sets out paper and a pencil. I’m offered the pencil, which I tentatively take. What—?
Kylo draws his fingertips up my thigh and I stiffen, squeezing the pencil in my fist. His lips are at my ear and he shushes my surprised whimper as his touch wanders inward. Holy shit holy shit—
“What’s wrong?” he whispers. He grazes between my legs and I bite my lower lip hard. “Didn’t you want private tutoring?”
“Shh…” He gently nips my earlobe. “We don’t want anyone hearing your private lessons.”
My pulse races: he’s touching me, two fingers lightly stroking me through my leggings, and I can’t think straight. The calculus problems swim in front of me and I shiver, shifting my hips seeking more pressure; hungry to stymie the ridiculous tension that’s been coiling in my lower belly. Professor Ren is touching me. Oh my god.
He holds my knee with his free hand to help keep my legs spread. I don’t really need the encouragement but I do like how his hot palm feels touching me. His thumb idly rubs in circles while he runs his middle finger along my slit and back up again.
“Do you need help already?” he asks. I manage to shake my head. My hand is trembling. “Then why don’t you get started?”
It’s hard to think of math right now. I try focusing on the problem but he’s circling my clit with two fingers again and it’s light enough to be pure fucking torture. I whine, maybe a little too loud, and sag over the desk. What the fuck? How am I supposed to—I can’t, not with him touching me.
Kylo sighs and withdraws his hands. I bark my distress again, an embarrassing sound that comes out before I can stop it.
“I told you to keep your voice down, Alpha.” Fabric hisses and rustles. “Open your mouth.”
I growl and squirm in his lap but obediently open my mouth when something presses against my lips. It takes me a second to realize he’s looping his tie through my teeth like a gag, and that sparks a whole new whirlwind of emotion. Do I like it? Do I hate it?
His fingers return, greedily worming under the hem of my leggings and panties. My eyes roll when Kylo’s rough fingertips stroke through my folds, and he huffs a quick, satisfied breath on my nape that makes my spine prickle.
“Fuck,” he breathes.
His hand shakes and the way he touches me is curious and excited, not aggressively trying to get me off. He twists his wrist in my leggings and gently traces my slit from my clit to my entrance. He prods a little but with the way I’m bent over it’s an awkward angle—so he pulls me back so I’m leaning on his chest, immediately blushing when I see his hand down my pants. God his hands are big. What the fuck.
Kylo slips his hand free and sucks a finger in his mouth. He groans, free hand sliding under my shirt to hold me in place. Almost touching my boob.
“Good girl.” His voice is strained as he sticks his hand down my pants again. He kisses the side of my head. “Nice and quiet.”
The textbook is forgotten—I think he’s too distracted now—and he focuses instead on teasing my clit. I gnaw on his tie and grab his hand, smoothing my fingers along his to show him what I like, and Kylo shivers and buries his face in my neck. His knuckles undulate under my palm and I squirm in his lap, breaths coming quicker and eyes fluttering. I don’t even feel like I need to run.
He hugs me tighter and talks in a low, husky voice. “That’s it—you’re almost there. Almost there.”
His gentle encouragement is enough. I dig my nails into his hand when I come, writhing in his lap and trying not to make too much noise. Kylo helps keep me still so I don’t fall on the floor like a fucking moron and I keep my obnoxious moans to myself as best I can. Muscles tighten inside me almost painfully, looking for something to lock around, and I can’t help but wince and shake my head. Ow—ow—
“I know, I know.” Kylo shushes my irritated whine as he slowly pushes two fingers inside me. “It’s okay. Just relax—just relax.”
It isn’t quite right but his fingers are thick enough to be squeezed, and it eases some of the discomfort. I’ve never felt this before and I’m anxious and confused, shaking and sweaty and suddenly agitated. He’s kissing me—I think I want him to get the fuck away from me. I need space. Lots of space.
I squirm and chew the tie and try to bark again, skin aching. Don’t touch me. Get away from me.
“It’s okay,” Kylo repeats in the same soothing tone. He chirps and nuzzles my neck. “It’s just me, Rey. I know you feel anxious, but try to take a few—fuck, hang on.”
He frees me from the gag and I’m free to make as many soft pitiful barks as I want. I’m too noisy because he tries to cover my mouth and I whine and squirm in protest. I’m so fucking irritated. I’m gonna break his fucking face as soon as I can reach it.
He eases his fingers out a bit and I panic when I realize they won’t go any further. I’m knotting him—this is bad, this is bad.
“Deep breaths.” Kylo’s voice is in my ear, still soft. “Should only be a few minutes.”
All I can do is take deep breaths in through my nose. I close my eyes and try to loosen up my muscles but every time I feel my cunt flutter along his fingers it makes me anxious all over again. What the hell is this? Isn’t my body fucked up enough?
But a couple minutes pass and the hysteria gradually fades. I’m limp in his lap and drowsy when the knot weakens and he can slip his fingers free. Feel like I got hit by a truck.
Kylo exhales like he’s been holding his breath. He opens a drawer with his clean hand and, of course, offers me a package of wet wipes. I don’t move because I feel like jello so he sets it down and takes one out to wipe off his hands.
“Are you okay?”
I shrug, languid. I dunno.
“Are you in any pain?”
Shake my head. I’m a little sore but it’s like period cramps and that’s not worth reporting.
Kylo throws away the wipes and gently adjusts me in his lap. He brushes my hair back from my face and kisses my cheek. He smells nice.
“Do you want to go home and take a nap?”
I nod, eyes fluttering shut. Nap sounds good.
“Mm. I bet you do.” He hugs me, so tight it forces a gasp from my lungs. “You’ll have to stay conscious for a few more minutes so I can get you to my car. You can sleep in the nest and I’ll make us something for dinner. Does that sound good?”
Kylo is quiet for a second before he kisses my temple, lingering, pressing hard.
“Did you want to punch me?” he mumbles against my skin.
I nod and he laughs and gives me one more kiss. Sure did. Now that he’s keeping me awake, I really want to.
But he can’t exactly carry me out of here without raising a few eyebrows. I unwillingly get to my feet like the zombie I am and notice my legs trembling. I’m not upset. Confused, maybe—the way my instincts overwhelm me is exhausting and confusing.
I yawn, and Kylo touches my chin to tilt it up and kiss me. He tastes like me. Good.
“I know what you need,” he murmurs, lips brushing mine. “Don’t I?”
I nod. He nods, smiling, and I’m kissed again before he starts getting his stuff together. He’s a fucking expert on keeping me awake when I don’t want to be.
Chapter 21: embolism
“Rey—it’s happening—it’s happening!”
Friday afternoon rolls around and I’m texting Hux about him coming over to the apartment to hang over. Rose calls with exciting news while I’m packing a bag and I have to hold the phone a couple inches from my ear. Jesus.
I put her on speaker and raise my eyebrows. “What? Scholarship?”
“Oh.” I keep folding for a second, then it kind of hits me. “Oh!”
“Yeah!” Rose squeals and laughs. “We’re going away for a week or two. I don’t know if we’ll make things official but it’s healthier for him to go through at least one cycle before he starts meds. I’m so relieved. We were gonna ask—”
She stops. I narrow my eyes.
“Ask what?” I prompt.
“…Nothing. It doesn’t matter.” She claps and squeals some more. “Finn is an Alpha!”
Ugh. Another thing Kylo was probably right about. I’m not telling him. He gets smug when he’s right.
I squeal with her for a while the way friends do before she has to go to start packing herself. It’s great news. Takes a lot of pressure off both of them and now they’re… compatible. It’s easier.
I make sure I bring a dozen pairs of panties like I always do when I’m going away, and pack some other odds and ends like deodorant and my phone charger. Hux texts me back to say Kylo probably won’t want him coming over while I’m around and—wouldn’t you know it—Kylo texts me a minute after to say no, he does not want Hux around.
Today 2:08 PM
we haven’t seen each other since Wednesday—and you slept as soon as I brought you home
Well that’s your fault. From the fondling.
please don’t call it fondling
f o n d l i n g
Read 2:10 PM
you’re the worst person I’ve ever met
fine he can come over for an hour
then he leaves so I can f o n d l e my girlfriend
I smile a little. Girlfriend. Cute. Gonna torment him about it.
Awwww who’s your girlfriend?
Is she pretty
I burst out laughing, as tickled as ever by his blunt reply. Hard to believe I was so scared of him last month. Last week. He’s actually still pretty intimidating.
Hux swings by to pick me up early—Kylo won’t be home for another couple hours and I want to buy some snacks before he gets home. I meet him out in the parking lot and withhold a laugh at his green tracksuit and gold chain. Really mixing it up.
“Poe told me the Finn kid is presenting,” Hux says as I put on my seatbelt.
“Yeah! Rose is super excited. I hope it goes well.”
“I’m sure it will. Then Kylo will stop fucking bitching about her, too.”
We exchange a glance and laugh. No he won’t.
It’s a short ride to the grocery store near campus and we grab whatever sugary, high calorie snacks we can find: soda, a cookie cake (why not?), couple bags of chips, brownie mix, and ice cream. I’m more excited about the food than the sex I’m probably going to have.
It’s nerve wracking but exciting nonetheless: sex is the next logical step and we’re going to be alone the entire weekend. I chew my cheek while I think about it in line to check out, mind wandering to the endless possibilities. I’d rather do it in the bed the first time. The closet is so cramped—after the first time is over I won’t care so much.
I shiver thinking about it. It’ll be good. Fun. Scary. But fun and good.
On the way to the apartment I send Kylo a list of our snacks and he switches to bitching about how unhealthy it all is. I roll my eyes and help Hux bring the food up to the apartment. Omegas really are dramatic, aren’t they?
“I’m going to take a shower,” Hux calls from the door as I’m putting the food away. “I’ll be back over around five when Kylo gets home.”
“Cool, I’ll see you then!”
The door shuts, and I wave goodbye through the window. I don’t want to be one of those people who never sees anyone outside their relationship. Plus, Hux and Kylo are good friends, even if they don’t want to admit it. They should hang out.
I’m just finishing putting things away when the doorbell rings. I turn and frown—who the hell is visiting? His mother?
Phasma flickers through my brain and I’m irritated by the intrusive thought. Yeah right. She rejected him before and she has someone. Don’t be dumb, Rey.
I walk over to check, not bothering to look through the peephole before I open the door.
A tall, willowy man stands there, wearing a garish golden suit that hangs from his frame. I have to bite back a shocked gasp: his features are twisted like half his face got blown off and hastily sewed back together. He’s bald, and his eyes are blue. I’m immediately on edge.
He smiles, and his knot of a mouth turns.
“Hello. I was looking for Kylo Ren.”
His breath curls into wispy gray fog in the cold. I’m hardly aware of it, too stunned by him, nervous for some reason. He’s so… creepy.
“He’s at work,” I say after a pause. “Is something wrong?”
“Oh no. Nothing serious.” He studies me, still smiling. “Just stopping by for a visit. Do you mind letting him know?”
I shrug and nod, clinging to the edge of the door. Sure. Whatever. Go away.
“Name?” I ask.
He plucks a business card from his breast pocket and hands it to me. I frown as I read the shiny name: it’s literally just SNOKE in big black letters. On the back I find a phone number and DIRECTOR OF ABERRANT AFFAIRS, STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS. He works for the government?
My frown deepens. Did Kylo do something wrong? Is he in trouble?
“You look very young.”
I glance up. Snoke is watching me, head tilted. He’s pretty tall, even if he’s really thin.
I narrow my eyes. “I’m eighteen. I go to—college.”
“Oh. How nice.” His gaze sweeps down my outfit like a computer calculating. “I didn’t think Kylo would find an Alpha companion.”
“I’m not an Alpha,” I correct swiftly.
Snoke meets my eyes and stares and stares and my insides turn to ice. He smiles again in a knowing way and I get the feeling that I’m in fucking trouble.
“Forgive me,” he murmurs. “If you were, I’m sure you would have obeyed the law and visited your local registration office. I sometimes say silly things.”
Then he tips his hat and hobbles off down the steps. I wait until he gets into his Mercedes before I slam the door shut and turn the lock.
That wasn’t good. Not good.
I text Kylo to let him know because it seems like the Director Of Aberrant Affairs doesn’t often make house calls. After that I text Hux to ask if he knows anything, and they both try to call at the same time.
“Did you give him your blood?” Kylo snaps.
“Jesus Christ, no?!” I set a hand on my hip and peer through the window. “Why? Who is he?”
“My parole officer, for lack of a better word. He tests my blood to make sure I’m taking the fucking drugs—he’s been dragging me to seminars since I first presented.”
Oh no. I was right. Bad.
Kylo’s breathing picks up on the other end and it makes me even more anxious. If they test his blood they’ll know he stopped taking the leuprolide and he’ll be in big fucking trouble. Will he have to go to another seminar?
I swallow and try to get a grip. He’s obviously scared and I need to not be. I don’t think Snoke can take my blood without a good reason.
“It’s okay,” I manage, lamely. “Just come home.”
“I can’t go back.” His voice cracks like he’s about to cry. “I can’t go back.”
“I know—it’s okay. Just leave now before he goes over there and finds you.”
Anger burns up the back of my neck. Maybe I’ll go find this guy and kick his ass. I think I will go find this guy and kick his ass. He’s upsetting my Omega. A good ass-kicking should set him straight.
Kylo is quiet for a long minute. He exhales a long breath.
“…I’ll be there soon.”
Then he hangs up.
Chapter 22: cruor
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The doorbell ringing wakes me up.
It’s morning and I’m curled up on the couch with a blanket. Sunny. I blink hard, pushing myself upright and frowning—I don’t remember Kylo coming in last night. He would’ve woken me up, right?
Confused, I stumble to my feet, rubbing my eyes and groaning. Something feels weird. My mouth is watering, throat itchy; it’s like I’m coming down with a virus. I wince and twist my neck, hissing at the doorbell insistently ringing. Fuck. Who the fuck—
“Kylo?” I call feebly. My head swims. “Hello?”
Someone knocks. I clutch my forehead and bare my teeth at it before stumbling my way down the hall to the bedroom. Anxiety swells: why didn’t he wake me up? Didn’t he come home last night?
I wipe sweat off my forehead as I stagger into the bedroom, and it feels like someone rakes their nails up my throat. Breath is taken; dizziness gets worse. All I taste is cookies. Everything tastes like cookies, the fresh baked ones I used to make with Rose, and I don’t know why. Kylo never smells or tastes like them. It’s always detergent or campfire or—
His voice makes me hackles raise. Exhaustion forgotten, my senses sharpen at the weak, frightened sound, and I find him sitting in the closet.
Kylo is leaned on the wall, glistening with sweat, breathing hard enough to make his broad chest heave. I’ve been taking my suppressants but my mouth lights up anyway at the overwhelming flush of pheromones, muddling my thoughts and drawing my eyes to his throat. He’s naked down to his underwear, and I tilt my head. The doorbell rings.
His dark eyes roll. “Went to the bar—someone drugged me. He’s trying to catch me… catch me cycling. So I can’t come back.” His hands are cupped over his crotch, and I just stare. “Please—”
Don’t need to be told twice.
I’ve never been so intent. Focused. I close the closet door and stiffly make my way to the front door, flexing my fists at my sides. They’re disturbing my Omega during his heat and that isn’t something I can forget or ignore. The details sweep over, lost in the singular mission to make whoever is upsetting him go away and never come back.
The bell rings just as I yank it open and I find Snoke standing outside. He smiles but it disappears when I step out on the deck, crowding him away from the door. My blood feels hot; it’s boiling in my veins.
“Hello, Rey,” he says, even though I never told him my name. “Is Ben home?”
It takes a second for me to realize he’s talking about Kylo. I’m too busy herding him away from the door.
“No,” I reply, coldly, “Kylo isn’t home.”
“You seem very agitated. Is something wrong?”
My eye twitches as I resist the urge to bare my teeth. I’m so beside myself that I just notice my fangs have dropped and, even weirder, no slur.
Snoke backs up but he’s still smiling. “His car is here.”
“Miss Niima—Ben is a very sick man. I’d appreciate your cooperation—”
My lips peel back before I can stop myself and I ball my fists. It doesn’t hit me that I’m giving away what I am until Snoke’s smile widens.
Cold hits me in the gut like a brick. I stare at his beady eyes, bright and excited and sadistic, and realize I’ve made a huge fucking mistake.
He holds up a gnarled finger. “Hold that thought, Miss Niima. I’ll be right back.”
Snoke heads off down the stairs, and a brief, insane thought passes through my head: kill him. No one in the complex will care. He’s their enemy; they’ll probably be relieved he’s dead.
I watch him go to his car before going inside again, heart pounding in my throat. I’m so screwed. I’m so fucking screwed. He’s going to come back and drag me away, too, all because I couldn’t resist baring my teeth like a wild animal. Holy shit.
Panicked, I turn the lock and draw the curtains and blinds. I’m torn between the tempting taste of my professor and the sheer terror of being dragged off to be registered and branded—he needs me but I can’t go there; I can’t go to that place. Maybe I should run. I should run. He’ll understand if I do.
But something new hisses at the thought of abandoning him, nauseated to even consider it. I can’t leave him. I can taste the desperation in the air, sour and pungent and—
I turn quickly, all on edge, confused and agitated. Kylo stands at the end of the hall, watching me through hooded, disoriented dark eyes. He sags against the wall and I start towards him, stepping without a second thought—but I pause at the edge of the couch as instinct catches up with the rest of my brain. It’s dizzying; conflicting. I don’t want to go but I feel like I have to.
His eyes flutter and he turns to slide down the wall and sit on the floor. I’m barely holding on, which I think is because of my suppressants.
“He must’ve followed me,” Kylo groans, resting his head back against the wall. His eyes close. “I’ll be in for years now, just like he wants.”
I swallow, trying to steady my voice.
“When will… when will he come back?”
“Within an hour I assume. His office isn’t far—probably getting back up.” Kylo opens his eyes and looks up at me. His breaths are ragged. “We can run, but there’s nowhere to hide.”
My blood is like syrup, thick and hot, turning my skin so sensitive that my T-shirt hurts. I stare down at Kylo and tentatively touch the nape of my neck, wincing. There’s a big swollen spot that must be my mating gland, which means I’m screwed just like he is, and we’re both going away.
Well: there is one solution.
Kylo is there before me, Adam’s apple bobbing. His lower lip trembles and I’m guilty all of a sudden, because I know what he’s going to suggest.
“We can both do it,” I blurt. My jaw aches.
“No. You’re too young.” He shakes his head and props himself up, shaking violently. “If I do it it’s permanent but if you do, you’re still free to… meet other people.”
“I don’t want to. It’s not fair.”
“I know. None of it is fair.”
It makes me more emotional than I thought. Tears come, and I bite my nails to keep from crying. It’s not fair if it’s one-sided. I’m overwhelmed; I don’t know where to bite or how to bite and I’m afraid I’ll hurt him, and he’s been hurt enough.
Kylo reaches out. “I know. It’s okay. This way neither of us has to go, and they’ll just make you register.”
“We can both do it,” I insist as his long fingers loop around my wrist.
He tugs me closer and I don’t resist. All kinds of alarms are ringing in my ears but the suppressants are like a pair of headphones keeping me from going crazy listening to it. I nibble my nails with the edge of my fang as Kylo sets his hands on my hips.
“I’ll come with you,” he promises, raspy, guiding me down into his lap. He’s hard, even though I’m sure he’s about as turned on as I am right now. “We can go to the office together.”
“I don’t want to,” I repeat, even as my eyes zero in on his gland under his jaw. My mouth tingles.
“Can’t make either of us go if—”
It happens in the blink of an eye. I grab his hair to tilt his jaw up and before I can wring my hands any more or cry or wonder about how to do it right, I bite.
Kylo stiffens, fingers digging into my hips as he lets out a pained, guttural groan. He squirms a little underneath me and I tighten my fingers in his hair to stop him, biting down harder, tasting blood. I’m so dizzy with satisfaction that I don’t think much about it or care to—no thinking, just biting.
It’s done in a few seconds. I’m not sure how I know but my teeth sting and I gently release him, fangs receding. My lips are wet and warm. I lick them, then set to licking the spot I just bit, purring and pleased that it tastes like me. It’s done. I bit him. He’s mine.
His hands are shaking on my hips but slowly move up my back so he can hug me. I keep licking and purring and taste salt mingled with blood. Something cold solidifies in my chest, like fear, but I’m not afraid.
Kylo’s embrace tightens when someone rings the doorbell. I’m too busy cleaning to care about it.
“It’s going to be okay,” he mutters. “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.” He exhales a shaky breath and the cold twists in my gut when the doorbell rings again. “It’s going to be okay.”
They pull me off Kylo and separate us almost immediately. I’m not sure where he’s taken but I bark in distress and the cold in my stomach coils so tight it feels like it’s suffocating me.
I’m dragged to a black van, slightly hysterical. No one is outside. I’m sure they’re all hiding.
“Where is he?” I demand for the fiftieth time as I’m loaded into the back of the van, nauseous and frightened. “I wasn’t done—I wasn’t done yet!”
They ignore me. About half a dozen men show up to the apartment and comb through it while I’m handcuffed and dragged away, and none of them acknowledge me begging to know where Kylo is. It’s physically painful being away from him and I’m realizing that the cold in my gut is him. Knowing he’s scared makes everything even worse.
I’m driven to an office building with blacked-out windows, still mumbling about Kylo when I’m brought inside. It’s cold. The floors are white and so are the walls and my ears ring, vision swimming. Fear spikes and burns through my ribs. Maybe it’s pain. I can’t tell. I’m so confused—
They sit me in a chair in a white room, still handcuffed, mouth still smeared with blood. The lights are bright.
“Miss Niima, do you realize what you’ve done?”
Voices filter in and out and I struggle to keep my eyes open. I shake my head, moaning and sagging forward. I think someone drugged me but I don’t remember it.
“Mister Solo has been to multiple seminars and is a notorious sexual predator. To protect the community at large, we need you to consent to his permanent incarceration.”
“No… no…” I shake my head, blinking hard. It’s so fucking bright.
“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice in the matter.”
Sexual predator—since when is Kylo a sexual predator? I try to stand but I’m pushed into the chair again. I’m not signing anything. I need to see him. I wasn’t done.
“I need to see him,” I mumble.
“You can after you sign the paperwork, Miss Niima.”
No, no, no, I need to see him right now. Frustrated, I try to get up again and hiss when I’m pushed back into the chair. I’m dizzy and angry and I snap that I need to see him because I can feel anxiety curling in my stomach that buzzes with burning hot zaps of pain. Something is wrong. I have to get out of here.
I make out the hazy outline of a woman sitting across from me. She’s tapping a pen to the paper on the metal desk.
“You’ve been tricked,” she says. “Manipulated. Mister Solo is an unrepentant predator.”
“No he’s not!” I snap.
“He’s just using you to avoid treatment for his condition, and now he’s selfishly dragged you into his… alternative lifestyle.” Her eyes are piercing bright blue and she’s offering me a pen. “He’s just keeping you on the end of a leash. You’re nothing to him but a get out of jail card.”
I’m staring at her when a door opens somewhere behind me. Her blue eyes flicker to it and her expression hardens as she gets to her feet. I don’t turn to look, too upset and overwhelmed. He’s not using me. Right?
Heels click. “You! What have you done?!”
Cool hands touch my arm then cup my cheek, and I recognize Leia, scowling and wiping my face with a cloth. I cough and recoil but she holds firm.
“Where is my son?!” Leia demands, roughly cleaning the blood off my mouth. She looks at someone who doesn’t answer and throws the cloth on the floor. “I meant now!”
“…Mister Ren is being held elsewhere for observation. He violated the conditions of his parole.”
“Do you often separate newly mated pairs, Miss Daniels, or were you just hoping to torment Miss Niima until she gave in to your demands?” Leia cups my jaw and turns my head. Snaps her fingers, making me groan. “Did you give my son leuprolide?”
“He was aggressive,” Miss Daniels retorts.
Leia makes a sound not unlike a snarling cat. I’m even dizzier now, black spots swelling on my periphery.
“This is heinous!” she snaps. “Egregious! Doesn’t your staff physician know the effects will bleed over to the Alpha, or does the staff physician at the Aberrant Affairs Office know nothing about female Alphas?!”
“Bring my son here immediately before I call the police. Immediately.”
Bright lights spin and turn black. I manage to sink down to the table before I pass out.
Chapter 23: thrombus
please be aware there is a mention of a suicide attempt in this chap
also check out my carrd in my profile about sneak peeks and deleted content!! i’ll stop posting about it NEVER
“Well the girl was the aggressor, so I don’t see what all the hand-wringing is about.”
I’m woken by a splitting headache at what I think is the tail-end of a dream. Wincing, I reach up to cup my face and rub the sleepiness from my eyes, and something cold brushing my skin stops me in my tracks.
My heart skips a beat. I don’t want to look. I think I know what it is and I don’t want to look.
I’m so stunned and scared that I hadn’t noticed the warm body lying behind mine, nor the arm draped over my waist. I’m facing a wall I think, huddled within the very generous confines of Kylo’s embrace, and he’s breathing even and deep in my hair. Sleeping. The cold ache in my chest is dampened to a peaceful hum, and I purr before I can stop myself.
It doesn’t make me feel any better about the cold steel around my wrist. I swallow and open one eye, squinting, and almost burst into tears. They must’ve put it on me while I was asleep.
It’s a registration bracelet just like Kylo’s: NIIREY05042000α♀. It’s horrible. I can’t believe they didn’t wait until I woke up.
I roll my lips to keep from crying and slowly turn my trembling wrist in the fluorescent light. I’m pretty sure my life is over now. I don’t think it can get any worse. Now everyone at school will know and I’ll have the same steady miserable descent that happened to Kylo and Hux and Phasma, and I’ll never get a job—
Terror jolts through my chest. Holy shit. What if we’re at a seminar right now? Maybe I signed the papers; maybe I’m in a jail cell waiting to have my neck burned. Oh no. No, no, no.
I try to turn over to look but can’t squirm the right way being pinned so tightly against Kylo. Anxious, I shove my butt into his groin, pushing on the white cement wall with my bare feet so gain some leverage. At least we’re together. I guess that’s good—we don’t have to be alone in this terrible place.
All my moving wakes Kylo up. I think. The humming cuts off and swirls in my chest and up my back of my neck, fluttering and breathless and excited. Maybe that means he’s awake. I’m not sure. It’s very confusing and actually makes me nervous.
“Kylo?” I whisper. “Are you awake?” I glance at my bracelet and want to cry all over again. “Where are we? Did they bring us to… to…”
He groans in my hair. More fluttering ensues, then it melts away. My chest gets warm. What the fuck.
His long fingers close around my hip experimentally, flexing and squeezing like he’s testing I’m real, then his weight pushes against my back. I brace my feet on the wall so he can’t roll us over and he groans again, fading into a breathy laugh.
“Why’re you… not movin’?” he mumbles. He gives another push and laughs when I push back. “Well that’s a lil’ rude.”
“Where are we?” I repeat, hissing.
Kylo shimmies up the bed and my eyes widen when I feel his dick against my ass. Well—that’s—
“I’m so hard,” he whispers in my ear. He giggles and gently nips my earlobe. “I’m so fucking hard.”
“Yeah, I can see that.” I twist in his embrace but he’s holding firm so I can’t turn over. “I think I heard someone talking to your mother so maybe we should go check that out.”
He giggles again, which is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard. Downright disturbing.
“Rey? Are you awake?”
I nod, turning, and this time Kylo rolls out of my way. We’re in a cell and that makes my stomach drop but Leia is standing outside next to a very angry-looking woman in heels, so I hope it’s not all bad. They’re all dressed up. So maybe it’s bad.
Kylo’s dark eyes are hooded and distant, and it’s immediately obvious that he’s high as hell. I sit up, staring at him staring at me, quickly realizing that the weird sensations are coming from him. Weird. Am I going to feel all his feelings forever? Is he going to be okay with that?
He’s wearing the same bloodstained clothes from when I bit him. I feel bad. I stare at him and the bite on his neck and a tidal wave of guilt slams into me. He only has two glands that can be bitten: one is branded and useless and I took the other one. I took it from him; why did I take it from him—
I tear my eyes away from Kylo’s throat and look at his mother. My chest hurts. I can’t believe I bit him.
Leia smiles, but it’s thin. “Kylo is still recovering from the medication but you seem to be handling it well. You’re going to meet with a counselor before you’re sent home, and I’ll handle the rest.”
I nod woodenly and risk a peek down at Kylo still lying on his back. He smiles and reaches for my chest, but I gently bat his hand away. His neck is bright red where I bit him and I’m worried it hurts or I did it wrong, or that he’s going to be fucking furious when the drugs fade. Please don’t hate me.
The cell door opens and we’re escorted out in to the hall. Kylo limps somewhat and puts an arm around my shoulders to support himself, swaying and burying his face in my hair. Leia takes the opportunity to lift up the hem of his shirt and he weakly swats at her hand.
“I see some bruising,” she snaps. “You’ll be seeing that in the lawsuit as well, Petra.”
“Mister Ren resisted arrest—”
They start bickering. A tall guard in a green uniform motions to another hallway and I follow, pausing every few steps to readjust Kylo or tell him to stop trying to kiss my neck. I know what he’s trying to do and he’s too out of his mind to realize it.
We come down the white tile floors to an old thin door with a man sitting at a metal desk inside. He’s short and balding and doesn’t seem pleased to see me and Kylo, who bumps into a potted plant on a bookshelf. It’s cramped in here. Musty. The windows are closed.
“Mister Phillips, please stay during our visit,” the man says. “Mister Ren is clearly having difficulties.”
I sit in a chair and Kylo tries to sit in my lap. He whines when I guide him to the other chair, mumbling apologies and thoroughly embarrassed.
I’m promptly yanked into his lap before I can escape. My first instinct it to dig my nails into Kylo’s forearms but I don’t want the man already glaring at us to be offended, so I shut my mouth and try to ignore the erection shoved against my ass. This is horrible. Couldn’t they have given him something to—
“Each time you take an Omega, you are required to submit paperwork,” the man says in a clipped tone. Okay. No name. “You are legally required to track and maintain your harem—”
“Harem?” I echo.
“Yes. Harem.” He rolls his eyes—his name plate on his desk says BILL JENKINS. “Each mate you take will be attached to your registration bracelet, so in the event you are arrested or misplaced, those dependent on you can be accounted for.”
“Didn’t you read the laws, Miss Niima?”
I wriggle free from Kylo and he grabs my shirt, huffing when I slap his hand away. Bill scowls. He doesn’t like my standing over him.
“What do you mean, dependent?” I sit in the chair next to Kylo. “I don’t… I don’t even have a full time job. I work per diem. What do you mean dependent?”
“Perhaps you should be more responsible with your fangs in the future. All Alphas are legally required to care for their mates, whether it is in a traditional pairing or otherwise, and you are no exception to the law. Mister Ren is your responsibility.”
“What does that mean?” I snap.
Kylo grasps the arm of my chair and slowly drags me over to him. I keep glaring at the counselor until I feel my new mate’s breath on my neck—then something sort of snaps.
I round on him with my teeth bared and an angry hiss in my throat. Kylo recoils, cowering in his chair, dark eyes wider than I’ve ever seen them. He looks scared. I am awash in another tidal wave of guilt, drawing back and covering my mouth.
“I am only legal counsel, Miss Niima—but I recommend you seek a pair counselor as well. Before you hurt someone.”
The guard shifts behind us. I nod, still covering my mouth and unable to look Kylo in the eyes. What is wrong with me?
Bill goes over the procedure for submitting ‘additions’ and I feel nauseous the entire time. I’m not sure how anyone can have more than one Omega, since I can feel Kylo’s prickling anxiety over irritating me and it’s making me so guilty I want to cry. I sign some things with a trembling hand and tears drip on a sheet.
Bill sighs and rips it up. “Let’s try that again.”
I don’t read much of what I’m signing but it all seems ominous and permanent and terrifying. Health insurance. Debt collection. If he has debt it passes to me automatically. Please don’t have debt.
“You are required to live within one hundred miles of your Omegas.”
“You are required to track and control each Omega’s heat cycle, or ensure they medicate.”
“You are required to house, clothe, and feed each Omega you take. If you fail to do so, your wages will be garnished from the state welfare system.”
I’m dizzy. Sick. I nod because I don’t know what else to do, numb and overwhelmed. I can’t believe I bit him. What the fuck were we thinking?
I risk a glance and find Kylo gazing at me with the same drunk smile on his face. My chest gets warm when our eyes meet and he tentatively creeps his fingers along the edge of the armrest until he brushes my arm. He’s tired. We’ve escaped going to a seminar but I don’t know if even he realized what the alternative would be.
What if he meets someone else? What if I do? This is going to be so much worse if either of us does.
“Mister Ren has a history of escaping seminars, and some occasional run-ins with the law. Common in male Omegas but something to watch for.”
I roll my lips to keep from crying and clear my throat. Kylo is carefully edging closer to me again.
“Law?” I croak.
Bill nods, flipping through a binder full of papers and clippings. All of it has REN, KYLO or SOLO, BENJAMIN written at the top.
“Petty larceny at fourteen.” He runs his knobby finger down a page, squinting. “All the others appear to be charges for failing to take one of his medications. Leuprolide. Non-compliance typically results in registration as a sex offender, but he was a juvenile and complied after turning eighteen.”
“Can you see what he stole?”
“Looks like…” He pauses. “Lime sulphur and hydrochloric acid.” Before I can even consider why, Bill fills in the blank. “Likely a suicide attempt. He has several of those as well.”
I stand up quickly, shaking my head. No. No, no. I don’t want to hear anything else.
“We’ll go,” I say, hauling Kylo to his feet. “Is that it? Anything else to sign?”
“That’s all. Keep an eye on him.”
I nod tersely and rush from the room before I can be regaled with any more horrible information. That stuff is none of my business but now I know and I’m horrified and scared shitless and I can’t believe I fucking bit him. Bill talks about it like Omegas are cattle. Fucked up.
Leia is waiting for us at the end of the hall and waves off the person she’s talking to. I’m struggling not to cry and she cocks her head, frowning.
“Everything okay?” she asks.
“No. No.” I shake my head and cross my arms, avoiding her eyes. “That guy just told me a bunch of shit I don’t understand, and all these horrible things I never wanted to know—and I snapped at Kylo! Like a dog.” I rub my face, shaking. “And I could feel how scared and upset he was, and it hurts so much.”
Two people walk past us, heading down another hall. The ceilings are low and claustrophobic here. I hate it.
Leia sighs and pats my arm.
“Come. Let’s go get lunch. I brought both of you clean clothes if you’d like to change first.”
I sniffle. Kylo is shoving his face in my hair but I’m too guilty to tell him to cut it out. Leia glances at him and rolls her eyes, motioning for me to follow.
“He’ll be fine. Probably pass out on the table and give us some time to talk.” She makes a dismissive gesture, already walking away. “And don’t feel bad when you put them in their place, dear. Omegas need structure.”
I look up at Kylo and find him already staring down at me. He doesn’t smile this time, just stares, and heat crawls up my neck and down into my stomach. It’s different than before, and I shiver. He licks his lips. My heart skips a beat. Maybe he’s going to say something romantic. That’s how it feels.
He leans down and whispers:
“I’m still hard.”
I scowl and he bursts out laughing. Blushing, I grab his hand and drag him down the hall. God I can’t wait for him to be an ornery asshole again.
Chapter 24: aspirin
i hesitated on publishing this because i don’t want people to get mad they didn’t do it but it doesn’t make sense for them to in this chap and i’m not gonna shoe horn it in
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Leia brings us to the same diner where I went with Hux to get breakfast. It feels like it’s been ages, even if it’s really only been maybe a couple weeks.
“We can bring it back to his apartment,” she says when she parks out front. Her eyebrows raise judgmentally. “I suppose.”
“We can get changed,” I offer.
“No, no. You two have had a long night and you should be home bonding. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
She leaves me in the back seat of her enormous Lexus with her half-conscious son, who is now mumbling, slumped on my shoulder. It mingles with soft erratic chirps. I’m not sure if he’s awake.
I study my hands in my lap. I’m afraid of going back to his apartment. I’d rather stay in public for a while so I don’t have to admit what’s happening and take responsibility for it. Kylo is a full grown adult man; I’m not going to baby him. He didn’t mention that was a caveat of the whole mating thing.
But I was scared of going to a seminar; I would’ve done it no matter what. It’s not like I detest him, but I barely know him. It’s a weird, uncomfortable thing being privy to all his random emotions when I only met him a month or so ago. I’m intruding, no matter how much I like him and he likes me.
I’m guilty and overwhelmed and him not being his usual self isn’t helping. I preferred being a Beta and skating by the skin of my teeth. Blending in.
I glance at my registration bracelet. No blending in now. No escaping; no running away. People will always know what I am.
Leia comes back a couple minutes later with two bags of food and a tray of drinks. I try to hop out to help her but Kylo wraps and arm around my hips and buries his face in my neck. His lips roam along my throat, wet and hungry, and I redden.
Water spritzes on my neck. Leia is in the drivers seat, leaning into the back and spraying her son in the face with a water bottle. He recoils, hissing and curling into the corner. He glares at her through hooded eyes and gives another feeble growl.
She sighs, taking her seat. “Not sure what they gave him, but I’m assuming it wasn’t just leuprolide. I had a friend draw blood for testing.”
“Will he be okay?” I ask.
“Yes, he just needs to eat something and go to sleep.” She looks at me through the rear view mirror. “And so do you, Kira.”
I smile sheepishly. Whoops.
Leia laughs and shrugs, pulling out of the parking lot. Kylo tentatively returns to my side and pushes his face in the crook of my neck again, grabbing my hip like he wants to pull himself into my lap.
“As if I wouldn’t look you up immediately,” she says. “He thinks I don’t care, but I do, even if I enjoy indulging in a bottle of wine every now and again.”
“We weren’t like… dating then.” Also, you were a little beyond ‘indulging.’
“Yes, I assumed.” She adjusts the bags in the passenger seat with a ring-adorned hand. “He’s had a very hard go of it in any case. I wasn’t going to let someone else hurt him and I wanted you to understand what you were getting in to—but I see it didn’t deter you.”
Kylo breathes even and soft on my neck. He’s asleep. All the odd sensations have quieted down.
I twist my bracelet and find another link with Kylo’s name and date of birth on it. I always wanted a charm bracelet when I was a little kid, but…
“His career isn’t in any danger, either.”
I nod. Phew. He’d be furious.
“Am I… in trouble?” I ask meekly.
“No, you should be fine. These things happen and the university isn’t going to risk invoking my wrath over it. He’ll go back to MIT when this semester is over: no harm, no foul.”
“He was only a visiting professor this semester, dear. It won’t have any long-lasting effects.”
I’m not really convinced.
We pull up to Kylo’s apartment around late afternoon. It’s cold out and neither of us is dressed for the weather, so I hurry upstairs with him and Leia says she’ll be along in a minute. People watch from their windows and porches. It must’ve been a big scene the other day.
Some things are turned over inside but there isn’t blood everywhere like I assumed. I pick things up, like a lamp and a picture frame, and Kylo wanders on his own down the hallway to his bedroom, silent. He’s been quiet ever since informing me of his boner, and I thought he might just be tired.
But my throat is tight and I know I’m all cried out. I realize it must be him as I’m rearranging the end table, and knowing he’s upset makes me upset.
The shower starts when Leia comes in and she sets up the food on the dining room table. I get changed in Kylo’s bedroom just to get out of my bloody clothes before I can shower, and I wash my face in the kitchen sink. It helps.
“He’s going to be angry,” Leia says conversationally, sitting at the table.
“He told me to do it.” I sit in my chair and look over my shoulder at the hall, anxious. He’s definitely going to be mad. “I wouldn’t have if I knew all of this stuff. Or if he told me not to.”
“You would have regardless of what he said. It’s in your blood.”
“Nothing is ‘in my blood,’” I snap.
Leia just shrugs.
I wait for Kylo to come join us but he never does. The bathroom door opens and I hear another door shut. He’s hiding in his bedroom.
I stare at my egg sandwich, knitting my sweaty fingers together. Should I give him space or go talk to him? When I first bit him I couldn’t bear being pulled away but now I’m afraid to go look him in the eye. He’s going to be so fucking pissed. He’ll probably blame me for all of it and this entire thing will collapse.
Leia claps her hands and sighs. “Well, I’m going to head home. I’ll leave you a number for a counselor.”
“You’re leaving?” I bleat, more pathetic than I should be.
She pats my hand when she stands up and offers a business card: AMILYN HOLDO, MD. Beta.
“You two should talk and be alone for a while,” Leia says gently. “My being here will only make him more tense, unfortunately.”
“But you’re his mother—and you’re an Alpha.”
Leia makes her way to the door and I stand fast, hoping I can convince her to stay. I don’t know what to say to him. He’s going to be mad.
“I was too busy protecting everyone else to be much of a mother to him.” Her back is to me and she’s playing with her keys. “Always pulled in so many directions. He won’t want to hear what I have to say.”
Before I can plead any more she’s gone, door shut, and I’m alone at the table.
I don’t move for a full five minutes. My hands shake as I push in my chair and her chair and I try not to cry, gathering a sandwich and orange juice for Kylo as a peace offering. Please don’t be mad. I don’t know what I’ll do if he’s mad. Jesus Christ.
Once again I am being the worst Alpha possible, trembling walking down the hall to see an Omega. My Omega. It’s a fucked-up concept that anyone belongs to me but my brain supplies the possessive without missing a beat; like blinking, like a heartbeat. Mine.
Kylo won’t like that. I’m sure he’s furious at the prospect of being owned and controlled by an Alpha, since he resents us, and now he can never have anyone except me. It’s not like a tattoo that can be removed or covered up. I’m just a couple months past eighteen and he has multiple degrees and…
I’m not really good enough.
Still, I knock on the door. There’s no answer so I clear my throat and call his name, raspy.
“Kylo?” I hesitate. “I brought you food. You should eat something.” Backtrack, backtrack— “If you want. You don’t have to. I can just leave it—”
His door swings open and I jump back, startled. His eyes are red but his face is otherwise blank, and he’s wearing a black T-shirt and sweatpants instead of his usual clothes. His wet hair hangs past his ears but they poke out.
I offer the food, trying not to look at the bite on his neck. “Sorry. I know you’re probably mad—”
“I’m not mad.” He rolls his tongue inside his cheek and studies me. “Aren’t you angry?”
“…No? I mean, I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m a little—well, really fucking stressed out, but…” I frown. “Why would I be angry?”
Kylo searches my face for another minute like he doesn’t believe me. I slowly raise my eyebrows. I’m waiting.
“I knew what would happen,” he admits after a short pause. He doesn’t look away. “I knew about all the legal ramifications.”
“Well… we didn’t have much of a choice with Snoke seeing my fangs.”
“I knew the consequences of stopping the leuprolide but I did it anyway because I was afraid you’d get away from me.”
I blink. Oh. Get away.
Kylo finally averts his eyes, nodding. “I’ve known you were an Alpha since the day we met, and I was afraid someone else would take you if I didn’t. Or you’d be taken away permanently. I knew all these things and planned all these things, and now it’s come to fruition so I can only assume that you’re angry.”
“But… you gave me the suppressants.”
“Only so you had to come to me for them. So I could keep a closer eye on you.” He rubs his new bite absentmindedly, staring out the window. “I thought I could stop the leu and still function well enough to have a normal relationship with my eighteen year old student. But I knew deep down that I wouldn’t last.”
“But it was going fine,” I insist. “You were drugged into starting your heat.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does,” I snap. “So what; you didn’t want to take the drug that made you miserable and you didn’t want me to go. Big deal. It’s not like you’re fucking Casanova. You annoyed the shit out of me, and I still stuck around. I had nowhere else to get the suppressants, anyway; except from your miserable ass.”
Kylo blinks at me, owlish. I huff and shove the food in his arms, annoyed by his weird need to self-flagellate, and mutter that I’m going to take a shower.
Washing my hair makes me feel a lot better, and I scrub my skin with Kylo’s body wash to get the weird smell of the facility off. I wring out my hair after, brush my teeth, and get dressed in my change of clothes from Leia: T-shirt, jeans; nothing interesting. I’m not even sure where she got it from.
But it’s nice to be clean. I wash my face once more because my eyes are still puffy from crying but it doesn’t do much. Oh well. Kylo looks like shit, too, so at least I’m not going to fit in.
He’s leaning on the wall outside the bathroom door when I come out, hands clasped behind his back. I give him a sideways glance but nothing else.
“So you’re not angry,” he says.
“No. Just stressed.” I cross my arms, hesitating. “All the legal stuff is overwhelming. And confusing. I didn’t realize it would be like that.”
“Well you certainly don’t need to worry about me quitting my job.”
“I know. It’s just a lot.”
Lots of legally responsible makes me want to run and hide. Responsibility is my least favorite thing.
Kylo nods. I don’t sense his emotions quite like I could before but I’m not trying, either. It’s invasive. He’s a private guy and I’m sure he doesn’t want me essentially reading his mind.
“I don’t mind if you take other Omegas,” he blurts. His eyes flicker to mine and quickly away. “I don’t want to meet them, if it’s possible.”
“What about you? I bit the only gland you had left.”
He shrugs, tapping his foot and avoiding my eyes. Yeah, I’m sure that’s not lost on him.
But I don’t want anyone else. Just him. I’m afraid I’m not going to be enough in the long run and he’s going to regret it, and me, and everything.
I rub my thumb along the face of my bracelet. “I don’t want anyone else.”
“Neither do I.”
My heart pounds and I nod and don’t look him in the eye. Cool. That’s nice to know. And I’m pretty sure he’s telling the truth because I get the same awkward warmth in my stomach that crawls down my thighs and up into my chest, and I think it’s affection or something. I’m not sure yet.
Kylo reaches for my bracelet, turning it so he can see the second smaller plaque with his name.
“We should go to sleep,” he murmurs. He runs his finger along the engraving. “Even if it’s a terrible waste of a Saturday afternoon.”
It is, but I’m fucking exhausted. I nod, and he kisses the top of my head before leading me to the bedroom.
Chapter 25: streptokinase
u didn't think i'd have their first time be typical ....................
Laughter wakes me alone in Kylo’s bed, prone, drooling and delirious. I’ve been sleeping for a long time. Long time.
Squinting, I rub my eyes and flop over on my back. It’s him talking to… Hux, I think, so it doesn’t set off any alarms. I’m not used to hearing Kylo laugh, though—that gets me to sit up quicker than anything else, wiping the spit off my mouth. Something is afoot.
I step out of bed, wobbly and blinking blearily. They’re chatting out in the living room so I shuffle to the bathroom first to brush my teeth and wash my face. Don’t want to look like a total cave beast.
Once I’m done I wander out to the living room, arms crossed, shivering in the cold. Can he move out of this dump now that we’re mates? I hope so.
Kylo is sitting on the couch and Hux is across from him in the chair. The latter is wearing a garish orange tracksuit and gold chain that he has hooked over his chin, and Kylo is fully dressed like he’s about to go to work. His arms are stretched over the back of the couch and he turns to look at me when Hux waves.
Kylo smiles, dark eyes wandering down my pajamas. I just took one of his T-shirts and a pair of basketball shorts. They’re both enormous.
“Look who’s finally awake,” he says, beckoning me with a lazy roll of his wrist. “Do you want something for breakfast?”
I shrug and shake my head. Too tired. Need a few more minutes to actually wake up.
Kylo lifts his arm so I can wedge myself under it, on the side where I bit him, and wedge myself I do. I’m cold and annoyed he didn’t wake me up but he was probably just trying to be nice. I wriggle as close to his ribs as I can, legs curled up under myself. I’d climb in his lap if Hux wasn’t here.
He wraps an arm around my waist to hold me there and without thinking, like blinking, I start nibbling at his neck. It feels like the right thing to do. It gives me a satisfied rush; scratching an itch, and Kylo’s hand wanders down to squeeze my ass.
Hux clicks his tongue. “Well, as much as I’d like to watch you two paw at each other like wild animals—I’m going to see what Phasma is up to today.”
“She’s just saying hello,” Kylo murmurs, throat vibrating under my lips. His hand slides up to cup the back of my head. “Aren’t you, Rey?”
Hux sighs and I glimpse him shaking his head as he gets up and leaves. He tells Kylo he’ll call later and as soon as the door shuts, I’m pulled into Kylo’s lap.
He grabs my face in his huge hands, searching my eyes briefly before he leans in and kisses me. I roll his lower lip through my teeth and pull at his shirt, shifting in his lap to get closer. He tastes like coffee—more vaguely of cigarettes. Really needs to stop smoking.
Kylo keeps kissing me as he bunches the hem of my shirt in his fists and starts pulling up. I’m cupping his face in my hands, roughly kissing him back, and he grunts, breaking away and kissing the corner of my mouth. He tugs my shirt.
“Arms up,” he says raggedly.
Oh. Oops. I’m over eager and jerk back so fast that I almost fall off his lap, but he catches me, and we laugh a little. He buries his face in my neck and kisses there, groaning and pushing his hands up the front of my shirt. I cling to his biceps, shuddering when he gently cups my breasts. His skin is warm and rough—feels good. Feels nice.
Then his hands slide away and he impatiently pulls the shirt off, dropping it carelessly somewhere over the side of the couch. I’m somewhat self-conscious but don’t have much time to be: he dips forward, licking my nipple then sucking it in his wet mouth. Fuck. I tangle my fingers in his thick hair and exhale in a super shaky, embarrassing way.
He sucks rhythmically, circling with his tongue and pressing the flat of it along my nipple, and he pushes on my hips. I realize I’m frozen clinging to him so I roll my hips when he pushes and pulls, grinding on his cock, and he huffs a satisfied breath.
“Good girl,” he rumbles. He slaps my ass and squeezes it in both hands. “Just like that.”
I brace myself on his chest and keep going, rotating in circles and back and forth, but he gets impatient again and divests me of my shorts, too. They’re thrown aside and Kylo leans back, licking his lips, dark eyes raking down my body. He’s still fully dressed, shoes and all. That seems unfair.
“Go ahead,” he coos. His fingers are limp on my hips, thumbs tracing circles on my skin, eyes hooded. Hungry. “I want to watch.”
I’m nervous but mostly horny, so it’s not super embarrassing rubbing myself against the obscene bulge in his pants. My toes curl and breaths quicken, nails digging into his chest, and I let my head loll back a little so he gets a better view. I’m not tense and ready to run like I usually am when we fool around, and my terrifying vampire teeth are safely away. It’s nice being able to relax.
And being so relaxed, I reach my climax pretty quickly. My muscles tighten up a little and I whimper and try to avoid looking Kylo in the eyes, because that would be weird, but he thankfully hugs me to his chest so I don’t have to worry about it. He squeezes, groaning when I mouth at his gland. It smells nice—I suck harder when I come, bucking and squirming in his lap, and my eyes flutter shut. Fuck.
I slacken as it ebbs away, panting hard against his neck. My legs are trembling. That’s dramatic.
Kylo slaps my ass again—he’s really into that today—and roughly kisses the side of my head. I’m weirdly exhausted. I don’t know if I have more dry humping in me. Might be humped out for the day.
“Rey,” he growls, teasing. “You just slept for fourteen hours.”
He kisses my cheek and his hands go to his belt. I perk up a little. I still haven’t actually seen his cock and I’m very, very curious about it.
“I want to feel you.” His belt makes that sound that gets my pulse up. His breath is warm on my scalp and he nudges, kissing my temple again. “You’re going to be a good girl and let me.”
I nod and so does he, kissing my neck a bit more aggressively as he unzips his pants. My sated Alpha brain is only mildly concerned about it and I stay slumped against his chest.
Then he bites the crook of my neck.
I stiffen, curling my lip and giving him a low warning growl in the blink of an eye. Kylo holds firm; it’s not enough to draw blood and it’s not a mating bite but it’s definitely a domination thing, and it makes me bristle. I squirm in his lap and rub against his knuckles wrapped around his cock.
His hand draws away, and his length is pushed between my legs, hot and hard and… bumpy? I’m only wearing my panties so I can feel it much better than normal. I frown, forgetting my irritation. Huh.
“Good girl,” he praises in his ridiculously hot, rough, deep voice. He slides his fingers under the hem of my panties and twists them around his fist. “You like my cock, don’t you?”
I nod, flinching when he tears my underwear at the hip. He has to do the same on the other side to get them off and I nervously bury my face in his neck, blushing. This is fine.
Kylo noses my hair, grasping my hips and tugging until we’re touching, warm skin to skin. It’s thicker than I thought and somewhat bumpy.
He huffs a staggered breath. His hands are on my hips but wind back to my ass like there’s a fucking magnet in them, and he gives me a rough tug, shifting me up in his lap. I’m wetter than I thought and he almost slips right inside me, cock catching my entrance, and we both stop breathing at the same second.
My mind races. Kylo pushes my hips a little, prodding but not quite pushing in. Testing.
“You’re so warm,” he whispers. His fingers press into my skin, pushing, but not quite.
I nod a little, nervous. Can’t I get pregnant from the precum? But Alpha women are usually subfertile, right?
His throat bobs near my face and he just squeezes my hips, not readjusting his cock but not really pushing in any deeper. My thoughts are racing, mingling with the sheer anxiety of having sex for the first time—shouldn’t we be in a bed? Isn’t it supposed to be romantic and stuff? Am I overthinking it because I’m nervous?
Kylo swallows. He exerts more pressure on my hips and I don’t stop him, heart pounding. Maybe I’ll stop overthinking everything. I like what’s happening. I don’t need to ruin the moment.
I tentatively wriggle my hips to help him along, unsure. He sucks in a sharp breath and gently shrugs his shoulder so I sit more upright in his lap, hands on his chest. I’m dizzy when he kisses me, now rolling his hips to push deeper inside me; it’s happening quickly and it’s exhilarating and terrifying. When does it count as having sex? If it’s the tip, I’m just about not a virgin anymore.
“Fuck,” Kylo breathes, trailing off into a stifled groan. He kisses me and takes another sharp breath but doesn’t get another word out.
I’m in the same state, eyes closed, clenching his shirt so tight it’s getting hot in my fists. It doesn’t hurt like everyone says it does—it’s pressure, and stretching, but it doesn’t hurt. It feels good, actually. I rotate my hips, getting used to the strange sensation of him inside me, and Kylo gives a sharp thrust.
I’m suddenly full of him, gasping, butterflies in my throat. He curses and his hands slide up to my waist, squeezing hard and moving like he can’t decide where he wants to put them, and he buries his face in my neck. His cock twitches inside me and it strikes me that he’s inside me, and I’m a nervous wreck.
I’m hot and tingling and holy shit it feels good—he’s thrusting a little, testing it out just as much as I am, and the bumps along his shaft are quickly bringing me to the brink again. He puffs on my neck and bites lightly, and I give him a soft breathless warning growl.
“Oh god—oh god—” He rolls my skin through his teeth, which is definitely going to give me a hickey. His hands are trembling on my thighs. “Good girl—you’re so… fucking tight.” Kylo bites another spot and takes a couple hard breaths. His voice drops, deep and sharp. “Be a good girl, Miss Niima.”
I get a shiver down my spine, pleased that he can’t talk straight, aroused as always by the authority in his voice. My thoughts race: I want to test him; make him work for it. I want him to pin me down on the bedroom floor and tell me to be a good girl and fuck me even when I growl and snap my teeth at him. Wrap his huge hand around my throat. Bend me over his desk.
Maybe now isn’t the best time to do that. Next time. Definitely.
Kylo slaps my ass. “I’m going to come inside you. You’re going to be a good girl…” He drifts off for a second to catch his breath, then nudges my jaw. “You’re going to be a good girl and let me. Aren’t you?”
“Yes,” I rasp, nodding. I swallow. “Yes, sir.”
“You’re going to let me come inside you whenever I want.” He holds me in place, slowly pulling out, dragging along my walls, and I whimper. “Because you’re mine. Aren’t you?”
I nod faster and he growls and nips at my jaw. It’s making something prickle at the base of my skull—my lip curls slightly, agitation clouding arousal. But Kylo piles back inside me at the same torturous slow pace and it’s all forgotten because I’m suddenly—
“Oh my god,” I breathe, “oh my god—”
I’m coming, but it’s different; more intense. I’m hardly in control of myself, bouncing in his lap and babbling his name. I feel my muscles tighten around his cock and realize belatedly what’s happening: I’m knotting him, which means he’s going to finish inside me and we’re going to be bound together. Alpha brain thinks it’s hot but I do not want to get pregnant.
Kylo bites me, harder this time, tugging even though he’s firmly locked inside me. His cock throbs and he shivers, but I’m panting, whimpering. I feel vulnerable—it stirs up anxiety again.
He kisses up my neck to my lips, whispering. “Shh, shh… it’s okay, little one. It’s okay.” His hand curls around my nape and my jaw clenches. “It’s okay.”
I nip at his lower lip and he tightens his hand around my neck, tugging back before I can bite. I squirm in his lap and glare down at him. His dark eyes are hooded and he’s smiling drowsily, clicking his tongue and shushing me when I growl.
“It’s okay,” Kylo soothes. His middle finger arches and presses on my gland at my nape. “You’re safe.”
Calm oozes through my muscles, thick and syrupy and cloying. I grunt, still slightly annoyed but slumping forward onto his warm chest. He didn’t come, I don’t think. Maybe he can’t if I do first.
I smile a little at the irony and my eyes gradually close. Ha. That’s funny.
Chapter 26: kallikrein
🥺 sorry this took so long I hit a deer Friday and was too sad to write porn
Rustling wakes me—then something falls. I sit up, instantly wide awake, sheets falling away. Naked. I’m in Kylo’s bed alone but I hear him rummaging in the closet, muttering a curse as he drops something else. What the fuck is he doing?
The alarm on the bedside table says it’s only noon. Thank god I didn’t waste the whole day sleeping again. I rub my face and quickly tug the comforter up to hide my nakedness. Like it matters. He’s been there, done that.
“Kylo?” I rasp. Fuck. I sound like I smoke three packs a day. “Everything okay?”
I’m relieved he’s not draped all over me and extra relieved I didn’t wake up straddling his lap. Awkward. Just thinking about it makes my calves tighten up like I’ve got to run. I’m fine. I don’t want to run. I’m happy—nervous-ish but that’s probably normal after having sex for the first time. With your professor.
He peeks his head out, eyebrows raised, one hand on the edge of the closet. Is he not wearing a shirt? I think he isn’t wearing a shirt.
“Just looking for something,” he says. “Hungry?”
“Uh… yeah, I guess.” I shrug halfheartedly. “Sorry I fell asleep again.”
Kylo mirrors my shrug. He’s definitely not wearing a shirt. My thoughts wind toward us having sex and warmth creeps into my neck and cheeks. This isn’t awkward. It’s sex. Biting him was way more awkward than fucking him. I’m an adult; an Alpha. I can look him in the eye.
But my gaze wanders slightly to the left instead. I climbed him like a tree. He called me a ‘good girl’ a lot, I made a lot of weird noises. That’s embarrassing. Maybe I’ll just… hide under the bed.
“You seem nervous, Miss Niima.”
I shake my head, staring at the ceiling now. “Nope. Doing great.”
Kylo hums in that ‘I’m not convinced’ way and meanders over to join me in the bed. He sits next to me—I’m on the inside close to the wall, hastily pulling up the comforter to shield myself from him. Why am I so nervous? Must I be so frantic and awkward?
His arm plants behind me so he can lean in and kiss my shoulder. His other hand settles on my knee.
“I was looking for an old blanket that might help,” he murmurs between soft kisses. “It’s been a long time since I’ve scented anything.”
I swallow, but I’m still raspy. “Except my dorm.”
That earns a light laugh. I smile, watching his thumb rub slow circles around my knee through the comforter.
I’m expecting him to escalate—I mean, the dam has been thoroughly broken—and blood pounds in my ears. I’m hot and anxious and my hands tremble clenching the comforter. No big deal. I had no problem earlier. Just have to relax.
But Kylo languidly carries on kissing me, dipping into my neck and working his way up my jaw. His hand slides up my thigh and rests near my hip.
“Do you want me to give you some space?” he asks.
“No… it’s okay.” I swallow, trying to ignore the pins and needles where his lips brush. “Anxious. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. I assumed you would be.” He squeezes my hip, exhaling on my throat. I squirm. “I can go start lunch if you need space.”
“I’m fine. I know, uh… I know you didn’t… uh…”
Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around: he finishes, I don’t, I silently stew and resent him? That’s how it always is in the movies.
Kylo nuzzles the crook of my neck, humming. His hand skirts between my legs to settle on my stomach and a nervous jolt passes through me. Eek.
“I did promise I would come inside you,” he muses. His thumb winds in lazy circles that give me more little excited shivers. “But I don’t think right now is the time. We should eat something—and I need to find something scented to help you relax.”
Yeah. That sounds good.
Kylo heaves a sigh as he hauls himself out of bed and walks to his dresser. I stare at his broad back lined with scars while he rummages through drawers until he finds me a gray T-shirt and basketball shorts.
“Wearing my clothes might help.” He shrugs and shuts the drawer. “I’m not sure. I’ve never been around an female Alpha this long.”
I nod quickly and he hands them over to me. He kisses my forehead before he leaves the room and I finally let out the shaky breath I’ve been holding. Okay. I’m fine. This is fine. I’ll eat something and everything will be fine. I don’t really want to run away.
But it’s hard to ignore the vague sense of unease while I get dressed. It’s uncomfortable and it isn’t going away, even when I push my face in his shirt and take a deep breath. This is absurd. I don’t want to leave. I’m more than the sum of my instincts and urges. Shouldn’t the suppressants help with this?
I blink. Oh shit. I haven’t had anything since an injection at the compound.
I tie the shorts tighter and hurry a little quicker than necessary to the kitchen to ask Kylo for the pills. He’s still wandering around without a shirt on and before he can turn to look at me, I see the pink pill and a cup of water on the table. Thank god.
“That doesn’t function as birth control.”
Kylo’s back is turned to me. He looks over his shoulder when I don’t respond.
“…Oh.” I frown and pick up the pill. “Well that sucks.”
“Pregnancy is rare in Alpha women—sex triggers ovulation but there’s a slim chance of anything happening.” His eyes wander down my body before he turns back to the stove. “You can take hormonal birth control, too. Up to you.”
“Well I definitely don’t want to get pregnant. No offense.”
“No? Right after graduating high school with your professor you’ve know for two months is supposed to be the perfect time.”
He laughs at himself, shaking his head. I’m not sure what he’s cooking. I’m afraid to get closer.
I take my pill and guzzle the water. I’m dizzy for some reason—must be hunger. Or it’s from sleeping half my life away this weekend.
Another weird impulse to flee; another stroke of nauseating anxiety pulses through me. I cough, rubbing my chest and wincing. No—no. Everything is fine. I like Kylo. I’m happy being here.
He’s staring at me again when I glance up, and I do a double-take. Really staring.
Something sizzles. He absentmindedly pokes at it with his spatula and a violent impulse to bolt nearly gets me running. No, no. I stare back at him.
“I really…” My chest gets tight admitting it. “I really want to… go?”
“I know. I really want you to try.”
Fear somehow twists into excitement, which is pretty fucked up I think. I rub my thumb on the back of the chair I’m clinging to for dear life. None of my emotions make sense and it hurts resisting them, but I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t. I would really like him to bend me over the couch, but the instinct to run confuses me.
Kylo peels his eyes away and takes a shuddering breath. Tension hovers in the air.
“I’m making grilled cheese,” he says roughly. He clears his throat. “Sit.”
I sit. I’m shaking but manage to hide it when he brings over the food and another glass of water. Kylo sits across from me and eats, avoiding my eyes, brow drawn. I’m not sure if he’s learning how to shut me out but I can’t pick up his emotions like I could two days ago. Now they’re vague flashes too brief to be interpreted.
We eat in silence. I drink my water and clasp my hands in my lap when I’m through.
“Thanks,” I say.
Kylo collects our plates and goes to the sink. I fidget in my chair, eyeing his back. I don’t know what’s wrong. Is this normal? Is it fucked up to want him to…?
I keep watching him as I slowly push my chair out from the table. He pauses but doesn’t look back at me. It’s exciting—I don’t know why, but I do know if I get up and move he’s going to chase me. Should that be exciting?
He clears his throat. “I know you’re probably confused—suppressants aside, the emotions can be difficult to sort through. If you’d like to sit and talk I can invite Hux over, or we can—”
I’m on my feet in a split second and he whips around just as fast, jaw tight and pupils dilated. My heart flutters at the sight and I tense up, coiled to run. Shouldn’t be hot. I think. We should probably sit and talk about our feelings. I think. But I’d rather he just fuck me again.
Kylo’s lower eyelid twitches. His fingers flex and curl and unfurl again.
I’m not sure what possesses me, but the tension in my legs snaps like a rubber band. I bolt for the door.
He chases me like I knew he would—catches me around the waist and we tumble to the floor so hard the coffee table rattles. Kylo grunts a curse while I wriggle and kick and make a low, involuntary hiss just like an angry cat, resisting being rolled over on my stomach. He’s strong. Really strong. I always forget how strong he is until I’m at his mercy.
My cheek pushes into the carpet as he bears his weight on my back to keep me pinned. I’m being crushed. I growl and wriggle and Kylo pushes his groin against my ass, clicking his tongue. He’s heavy and huge and his hand is already pawing at my shorts.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he coos. His breath catches when I squirm. “You didn’t get very far, did you?”
“I want to,” I pant, even though I’m shaking. “Have sex.”
“I know. That’s why you’re running away from me.”
Kylo leans away to pull my shorts down and I twist my hips, wriggling out from under him. He lets me slip free, watching on his knees as I circle the couch.
“Sorry,” I blurt. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” He grasps the coffee table and gets to his feet, staring at me, pupils dilated. Looks like a hungry shark. “Do you want to stop?
“No—no. No. It’s just… kind of fucked up. Right?”
He shakes his head. Oh. Okay. Good. That’s good. I’m not totally fucked up.
Kylo doesn’t move when I stop on the far edge of the couch. His chest rises and falls rapidly and a muscle jumps in his cheek, eye twitching. He’s hard—his sweatpants don’t leave much to the imagination.
“Do you want me to stop?” he asks again, roughly.
“…No. Do you… want to stop?”
“No.” He keeps shaking his head as he edges around the coffee table. “I want you.”
This time I’m a little quicker when he moves, but I’m snagged by the hallway and dragged back to the living room. My pulse thrums as Kylo bends me over the arm of the couch and pushes his cock against my ass, suppressing my hissing and squirming. His mouth brushes my nape and he very gently grasps my skin in his teeth—firm, but not rough.
I shiver. My lower back arches and he gives a low, satisfied grunt. His fingers pull at my shorts, trembling a little as he pulls them down and lets them fall to the floor. He grasps my hips and tugs and makes a few soft chirps that give me another excited shiver.
He releases my skin for a second, panting, guiding my hips. “Good girl. Good girl.” His lips wander along my nape hungrily and he lapses into a low groan. “I have to—go get a condom.”
I whine. Does he? Aren’t the odds of pregnancy super low?
Kylo breathes in my hair. He’s still wearing his sweatpants and rubbing circles into my skin with his thumbs, draped across my back. Heavy.
“What?” he whispers. He kisses my nape. “Do you want me to come inside you, Miss Niima?”
I nod a little. Yes. Is that weird?
His hands slide away from my hips. I hear rustling then feel his warm skin against mine and my fingers hook over the couch cushion. Yes, yes. Yes.
“I shouldn’t. I really shouldn’t.” Kylo adjusts his hips so his length presses along my entrance and he takes a shaky breath, moving slowly. “We shouldn’t. Very… very bad idea.”
With a slight wriggle and curve of my spine the head of his cock catches, hot and blunt and thick and Kylo pushes without missing a beat. He breathes hard through his nose and swears and stifles a groan. I don’t know what to say—my eyes roll back and I whimper.
“God—god—” His groan mixes with mine as he slowly eases inside me, fingers tight on my hips. “I want to—fuck, I want to come inside you. So—so fucking much. You feel so fucking good.”
The ridges or bumps or whatever the hell they are on his cock and the tight squeeze have me already squirming and fighting not to come. I bite my knuckles as he kisses around to my nape and bites again, holding my skin as he sets to eagerly fucking me. Every time he withdraws the bumps drag and it sends a tingle all the way to the tips of my toes. Heat coils in my belly and I bite harder. Don’t come. Don’t come.
Kylo runs his hands down my ribs to my breasts. He teases my nipples and that just makes it even harder not to climax, forcing me to think about random shit so I don’t. I don’t want to do that to him again. Can’t—can’t—
My eyes pop wide open. I lift on my tiptoes, barely managing to tell him ‘I’m coming’ before it’s happening, abrupt, so intense I can’t get any words out at all except an embarrassing whine.
But this time I don’t tighten up—Kylo keeps fucking me, quicker now and panting hard on my neck. Our bodies come together in lewd wet squelches, and I realize my body is still gently pulsing around his cock even after the orgasm has faded away. It’s alien and strange but he seems to like it.
“Rey,” he groans. “Oh god—I’m going to—”
There’s a subtle twitch followed by a strong throb. Kylo bites my nape hard as he comes, holding my hips firm—his cum is warm and the moment I feel it, my muscles tighten up like they did earlier. He chirps a bunch of times, still thrusting during the handful of seconds it takes for it to become too tight for him to move at all.
I’m drowsy. Again. My eyes flutter while Kylo gently sucks on the dormant gland in my nape, and I purr a little to match his chirping and humming. Relaxed. It feels nice having his body pressed against mine.
Muscles twitch, entirely involuntary, and he releases my gland to moan. His hips jerk.
“You want more?” he breathes.
Kylo laughs a little. He brushes my hair from my face and kisses my cheek. He’s stuck inside me but still trying to move in time with the odd rhythmic squeezing from my muscles. They’re getting stronger.
He swallows and kisses my cheek again. “I never thought…” He pauses and clears his throat. “I never thought anyone would understand me. Until I met you.”
“Me neither,” I mumble.
“Rey. Are you falling asleep again?”
I shrug limply. Yup.
Kylo sighs, then shudders. I’m tired. Sex is a lot of work, even though I just kinda lay there.
“I’m—” He huffs. “I’m going to… come again.”
“I can’t stop until the… you loosen up. I don’t want to while you’re asleep.”
Ugh. I groan and he groans but his is because he’s coming, mouthing at my jaw and pushing hard and throbbing inside me. Kylo puffs and shudders, burying his face in the crook of my neck.
He slumps, panting. “Holy… shit.” Wet, hungry kisses trail up my throat as he catches his weight on his forearm. He’s literally shaking and it stirs me a little. “Rey… Rey…”
I’m exhausted and my limbs feel like jelly but his tone is odd. Nervous. I purr, maybe my least favorite aspect of the Alpha thing next to the fucking fangs, and Kylo nuzzles into my neck again. He hugs me tight and I taste something unpleasant—I think it’s him; I think it’s anxiety.
It skitters along our bond like a spider and I blink, fully awake. I haven’t felt anything in a while, even through sex, so I assume this is a pretty strong emotion.
I pat the couch. “Let’s… let’s lay down.”
Kylo manages to lift me up and we collapse on the couch, laughing at how awkward it is. He pulls the blanket off the back of the couch and we settle there. His heart pounds against my back, then he’s burrowed into my neck again, arms wrapped around my middle. Muscles are moving. I can’t stop it.
I touch his forearm. “You okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Anxiety cracks through and oozes in. I’m just making it worse. I should talk to him after. He won’t be super pleased about me snooping.
“No reason,” I say quickly. “Lots of emotions, right?”
“…Yes.” Kylo squeezes and lets out a shaky breath. “This won’t work with condoms.”
“I can take birth control since it’s just you I’m ever going to be sleeping with.”
He’s quiet for a second. Some of the anxiety eases, but I don’t know why he’s worried about it. I already said he’s the only one I want.
“Just me?” Kylo mumbles.
Don’t be exasperated. He’s used to people leaving him. Be patient. Alphas are patient and comforting when Omegas are unsure. Don’t be a rude bitch, Rey. You bit him.
“Just you,” I say, shrugging, then stopping when I realize it feels dismissive. “I mean, we could make it permanent. If you want. No pressure. I don’t mind. I mean—I would like it, not that I just—”
“Yeah. Y’know.” I shrug more, fucking moron I am. “Why not?”
Kylo hugs me so hard I wheeze. I wait for an answer but nothing comes. Maybe he’s overwhelmed. I’m not going to take it personally.
I lie there and gently graze his forearm with my fingernails, purring when he climaxes again. His mouth wanders to my nape and while he’s gently sucking and embracing me, my plans of clearing out the shelf of Plan B at CVS sort of drift away.
I dunno. He’d make a good father, I think. Helicopter parent for sure—but he would look hilarious with a tiny, confused baby strapped to his broad chest. I can see it now: him showing up to every PTO meeting with a binder of demands, passive aggressive enough to contend with any pain-in-the-ass soccer mom. Aggressively affectionate to his unruly teenagers.
I laugh a little and feel Kylo smile against my skin.
“What?” he murmurs.
“Nothing. Nothing.” I shake my head and turn my head a little to kiss his lips. “Just happy.”
Chapter 27: batroxobin
trying to wind down here so i can move on to other things but want to make sure there’s a satisfying ending so I’m in no rush
On Monday morning Kylo drops me off at the dorms so I can get my stuff together before classes start. I consider inviting him in for a while but he has things to do, too. Real life still exists, even though it hasn’t felt like it in weeks.
I head up to my dorm and get a text from Rose asking what I’ve been doing all weekend. The college knows Kylo and I are mates—at least, technically—but I don’t know if I can tell anyone else. Leia smoothed most of it out already so we can finish the semester, and by ‘smoothed it out’ I mean she threatened to sue them for discrimination.
Rose is my best friend and I want to tell her but I’m not sure it’s a good idea. The more people that know, the more obnoxious they’ll be about it.
I glance at my registration bracelet as I walk into my dorm. People are going to be obnoxious either way once it gets around that I’m an Alpha. It’s scary, kinda, but I feel better knowing I have Kylo and Hux and Rose, too—and Leia to threaten to sue everyone. I’ll be fine.
Thankfully Rose is too busy with Finn to talk on the phone. They’ve been on their trip for a couple days. Left the day before Snoke came to Kylo’s apartment and we were whisked away on our own nightmarish vacation. She’s off her meds and they’re going to make it official, which is great.
I sit on the edge of my bed and play with my shiny bracelet. I’ll tell her when she gets back. I don’t want to ruin her trip.
Classes are okay. I don’t have calculus until Wednesday but I have western civ and biology and English. I’m hyper aware of my bracelet but don’t bother trying to cover it up. I don’t really care if people know or stare.
Some do. I can feel eyes while I walk through the halls and my biology professor hesitates when she hands me back homework from the week before, eyes widening a little. She smiles awkwardly and the person to my right whispers to the person on their right. No more blending in now.
I text Kylo around lunch to see how he’s doing so far. Probably fine. He’s been dealing with it for his entire life.
Today 11:47 AM
Hey how are you?
grading homework so not great
how has today been? any issues?
People are def looking but no one has said anything. 🤷🏻♀️ Doing fine.
Read 11:50 AM
good. want to get lunch
Can’t. Broke because I’ve been spending all my free time w some guy
really? what a dick
Yeah …… I’ll just starve 😔
why don’t you come by my office and we’ll see if we can figure something out
I smile a little, glancing up as I respond. People drift past. My bracelet clinks while I type.
What ever do you mean, sir?
come find out, Miss Niima
We’ve already fooled around in his office and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I could be convinced, especially if there’s free food involved.
So I make my way to Kylo’s office, reflecting on all the times I went there feeling dread and terror. Good times. Loved being in denial.
He calls for me to come in when I knock on the door. I lock it behind me and lean against it, hands pressed to the cool wood. He’s sitting in his chair with his hands clasped in his lap and his glasses on. Wearing a black tie and gray shirt, too. Damn. That look is really coming for me.
Kylo raises his eyebrows. It’s tolerable in here; not saturated with Omega scent. He’s back on suppressants but not the leuprolide. No fangs, no urge to flee when I’m in his vicinity. I think it’s because he’s mine now.
It gives me a satisfied thrill seeing the small bite mark on his neck. He’s not hiding it or anything. I thought he might. I’m sure he thought I’d hide my bracelet.
“Hi,” I say stupidly.
He only smiles faintly and beckons me with his index finger. I shuffle across the small office to his desk, and his smile widens as he beckons me to come around the side. I do, and he slowly turns his chair to face me. He leans an elbow on the armrest and rubs his jaw, eyes lingering as they wander down my body.
“What would you like for lunch?” he asks.
“Something expensive.” I actually don’t care but—when in Rome.
“Is that right?”
I nod, biting my lip to keep from smirking. Yep.
Kylo nods in return. He heaves a sigh like I’m really inconveniencing him then snaps his fingers, motioning toward the desk.
I’m wearing leggings and a hoodie but I wish I wore a dress and braved the cold. That would be super hot. I’ll have to remember it for next time, I think, as I hurry to do what he says.
Kylo steps behind me and sweeps some papers and shit straight off his desk. He grabs my hips, yanking me out and propping me up on my tiptoes, then his weight drapes across my back. My heart pounds, fingers stretching for the other edge of the desk. I love that he doesn’t hesitate or wring his hands and treat me like I’m made of glass.
I get a quick jolt of anxiety when he kisses my neck and I push back into his groin. Kylo grinds his cock against my ass, puffing a sharp breath.
“Good girl,” he mumbles. A hand reaches up somewhere behind me. “Open your mouth a little.”
I do what I’m told and—holy shit—he loops his tie between my teeth. He ties it to keep it secure, not super tight but it’s definitely not moving, and I feel his fingers hook over the hem of my leggings. He yanks them down and they fall around my ankles. Probably not a good idea to get totally naked here.
I’m into it. I arch higher on my tiptoes when I hear him unbuckling his belt. The door is locked but someone could totally hear us if we’re not careful and that would be very bad.
Kylo kisses my neck again, biting and sucking roughly, breaths hot and fast. He crooks his arm under my neck and pins my arms with it—doesn’t squeeze or choke me but I suddenly feel helpless and small and it gives me another excited thrill. I squirm, swallowing but still drooling a little.
“I’ll give you whatever you want.” His voice is low and rough in my ear and I whimper when he presses the head of his cock against my entrance. He strokes it slowly up and down before pushing a little again. “You just have to give me something nice in exchange, Miss Niima. Doesn’t that sound fair?”
I bite down on the tie when he eases in another inch, just squeezing the head of his cock inside me. I’m not quite ready but I’m too into what’s happening to worry about it. Kylo slips his hand away and cages both arms around me, resting most of his chest along my back, nuzzling into the crook of my neck. My eyes roll back when he pushes in further, then he keeps pushing, and I moan through my teeth. Fuck it feels good—lots of pressure but it doesn’t hurt.
He covers my mouth, shushing me but hitching his breaths as he slowly bottoms out. My calves ache from being on tiptoes but I barely notice: I’m processing the rest of it, from Kylo’s warm palm on my mouth to his harsh breaths against my neck to the satisfying sensation of being full.
His long arm stretches past mine to grab the edge of the desk, then he’s fucking me, still making incriminating slapping sounds when his hips meet my ass. His breaths get quicker and shallower and he occasionally shushes my moans or whines but doesn’t say anything else. I relax off my tiptoes and close my eyes. I don’t know why he’s so insecure about his dick. The nubs drag along my walls every time he thrusts and it heightens the sensations and quickly brings me close to climax, like always, so I don’t get how that’s a flaw.
Kylo slides his hand down to cup my jaw, pausing on the next stroke with his cock buried inside me. He rolls his hips in a tight circle and I take a sharp breath. Jesus Christ.
“I want to come inside you,” he whispers. There’s an audible swallow and his voice rasps. “I’ve been thinking about it all day—I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about how much I lo—”
Ice shoots into my veins and I quickly turn my head to look at the door. Kylo likewise freezes mid-sentence and mid-stroke; still draped over me, still buried inside me up to the hilt. Neither of us speaks for a full minute until there’s a gentle knock on the door. Holy shit there’s someone here—
Kylo covers my mouth again and I can’t say I blame him. I blink rapidly, eyes flickering up even though I can’t see his face. He swallows hard and clears his throat but still sounds winded.
“It’s Hanna, from the intro to chaos theory class? I had a question about the homework.”
Kylo rests his forehead on the back of my head. My heart races, eyes wide. Did she hear us? Uh oh. Not good if she heard us.
“I’m a… a bit busy,” he calls. His hips shift, drawing his cock an inch or so back. “If you could come back later.”
“Oh… sure. Sorry. The syllabus just said you’re available right now.”
I’m expecting him to pull out since he’s talking to his student but blink hard when he eases inside me again. I squirm, confused and surprised and turned on, and he slowly withdraws just to my entrance. Kylo clears his throat again as he buries himself inside me.
“I’ll be available—later. Five.” I shake my head and he quickly corrects himself. “Ah—three. Can’t stay until five.”
“Okay, I can come back! Thank you, sir.”
“Mhm. See you then.”
I’m not sure she leaves—I think I hear her footsteps wander away but there’s no way to tell. Kylo isn’t as hesitant and waits another handful of seconds before he’s fucking me again, this time suppressing his breaths and groans a little better. Almost being caught seems to be doing it for both of us, and I come right after he does, shivering and riding his twitching cock as he spills inside me. He yanks my sleeve down to bite me shoulder and shudders and grunts, jerking roughly, desk scraping the floor.
This time there isn’t any swelling and Kylo isn’t stuck inside me. Even with him panting in my hair and hugging me and pinning me to the desk, I don’t feel the usual deep discomfort and anxiety that only eases when he rubs the gland. It’s good. I can just relax. Seems like things are smoothing over.
Kylo heaves a deep sigh. He kisses my cheek and I turn my head enough to kiss his lips.
“For that,” he murmurs, “you can get dessert, too.”
“Oh, so generous,” I mumble back, eyes closed, raising my brows.
“Sky’s the limit, Rey: Taco Bell, McDonald’s.” Lips wander along my jawline. “Plus dessert.”
“There’s no way you’ve ever put a Taco Bell taco in your mouth.”
“…Be that as it may—”
I gasp, twisting a little to look at him. His eyes are hooded and he looks tired but he mirrors my shocked expression with a sarcastic gasp.
“You have to have one,” I say. “It’s required eating.”
“I’m old, Rey; my intestines can’t handle Taco Bell.”
We keep going back and forth as we straighten and he gives me a napkin from his desk to clean up a little. I roll my eyes when he insists he’s too old for fast food and inform he it’s actually because he’s too snotty to try it, which segways into how he’s always had a sensitive stomach.
“My grandfather had a sensitive stomach,” he snips, buckling his belt.
“Uh huh. I think you’re just a baby.”
Kylo scowls and huffs and keeps insisting he has a ‘family history’ and I just kiss his cheek while he blusters and gets his stuff together.
Yeah, he’s sensitive alright.
Chapter 28: propranolol
sorry this took literally forever
Waiting for the weekend is hard. I’m really looking forward to winter break more than anything—just about another month until then—but for now I have to settle for weekends and the slips of time Kylo has elsewhere. It doesn’t amount to much.
But it doesn’t seem so bad when I wake up next to him early Saturday morning. He’s asleep on his back, bathed in a moonbeam that highlights his long face, and I just lay there on my side and watch him for a while. He snores sometimes. Mumbles. Moves around a lot when he sleeps—almost pushed me off the bed.
I squirm closer in the darkness, nestling under his arm, craning to kiss his warm neck. My hand slides across his bare stomach and I lightly drag my nails along his skin. His muscles tighten, throat bobbing, and he exhales a soft breath. He’s pretty tired. We only just stopped pawing at each other a handful of hours ago.
I keep kissing his neck, drawing my nails down lower between his hip bones. I should wake him up before I touch his dick. Right?
“Kylo,” I mumble. He grunts. “Well, hmph to you, too.”
My fingers skim across the bulge in his briefs. He shifts, grunting a little louder. His hair is still damp from his shower, skin tangy from his body wash. I trace his gland with the tip of my tongue and that gets him awake, stifling a deep groan.
His cock throbs against my palm. I smooth my fingers over it, wrapping them around his length and squeezing through his underwear. His hips twitch, hand groping along my back, rubbing until he settles for grabbing my ass and pushing me closer. I hook my thigh over his, mouthing at his gland as I skate my nails up his stomach and slip my hand in his underwear. Still haven’t actually touched him.
It’s warm, hard and soft at the same time. Kylo doesn’t manage to stifle his next groan as I curl my fingers around him—the bumps rub my palm, slightly sticky, and it makes my insides tighten. I haven’t had any fang issues for a while now and I would like to go down on him, but I don’t want to accidentally castrate him. That would be poor form.
And this seems to be doing it for him. He’s rolling his hips a little quicker; I’m not even moving my hand. I start to and his moan goes up and octave into a warbling chirp.
“Shut up,” he breathes preemptively, somehow sensing I’m going to laugh. He slaps my ass. “Can’t—can’t help it.”
“I didn’t say anything.” I roll my lips and nuzzle into his neck, smiling.
Kylo growls and rolls over on top of me. I shriek, laughing at his ticklish kisses on my neck, twisting onto my stomach and locking my arms to my sides. Can’t get me this way.
He pulls down my bottoms, mouth at my ear. “I must have fucked you a dozen times by now, Miss Niima. Are you ever satisfied?”
I shake my head, face buried in the pillow, blushing at the way the word ‘fucked’ in his rough deep voice. Damn. Good stuff.
My pants come off and rustle to the floor. I arch my lower back a little and he slaps my ass, open-palm, hard enough to make me squeak. Damn. Really good. Somehow I keep forgetting how gigantic his hands are. Bear paws.
“Do you expect me to fuck you whenever you feel like it?” Kylo asks. I nod and he gasps lightly, sarcastic. “The nerve. The audacity.”
“The gall,” I add, voice muffled in the pillow.
We laugh a little but it’s swept up when he rolls me over on my back and kisses me. I think, vaguely, that maybe we should use condoms or I should get birth control, as I’ve often been thinking vaguely right before he’s inside me. Pregnancy is rare in Alpha women, and there aren’t many condoms designed for Omega men.
And—I would miss this. Skin to skin. But I should probably get birth control as a fail safe.
“I should get birth control,” I breathe out unnecessarily as Kylo eases in.
He doesn’t really hesitate but I get a sense of unease through our bond. Lips roam along my neck and he slowly rolls his hips, reaching up to push on the headboard when it creaks in rhythm with his thrusts. I told him to just put a pillow there. Simple fix. He never goes for the simple fix, though.
“Was it something I said?” Kylo mumbles against my skin.
“No—no.” I shake my head, running my nails down his ribs. “Just—thinking out loud.”
He stills, quiet, then exhales on my shoulder. I’m kind of worried I killed the mood and reach up to run my fingers through his hair. It’s nice, though—lying here like this, fitting together like two puzzle pieces.
Kylo nuzzles into the crook of my neck. His nose brushes the edge of my jaw and he heaves another sigh. I feel like it’s a overreaction.
“You’re right. Even if it disappoints me a bit.”
“Disappoints?” I echo. My voice cracks.
Teeth graze my neck, drawing a shiver up my spine. Disappoints. I’m turned on—maybe I shouldn’t be. Turned on, but there’s also that part of me that recoils at the thought of… that.
“I have irrational urges.” His kisses turn more insistent, hips pressing closer. I squirm. “Very irrational.”
I’m still dwelling on it after we have sex. Kylo is asleep beside me, curled tightly around my side while I run my fingers through his hair. I study the ceiling and think about how he’s never wanted anything irrational from me or anyone else.
But—I can’t say the same about his timing.
I close my eyes and turn over to face him. His lips are parted and I feel a faint dreamy vibration through our bond that makes my stomach syrupy and hot. I can’t imagine ever wanting anyone else.
Kylo stirs when I kiss his neck, chirping softly when I mouth at his gland. It still makes me smile.
We manage to peel away from each other long enough to grab lunch with Hux and wash the sheets. He complains about being the third wheel but gives Kylo a lingering hug when we drop him off before a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond. They’re both teary-eyed and do that weird nodding muttering thing men do when they’re avoiding their feelings.
Now Kylo is free to move wherever he wants and that’s probably going to be back to Cambridge and MIT. I’m not sure. I haven’t pressed him because I don’t want to be clingy, but…
I kind of need to know. Since we’re legally required to live near each other. Or together.
We stroll down the towel aisle, Kylo leaning on the cart while I run my hands along the folded multicolor stacks. Cash registers beep. Soft music plays. This should not be a difficult conversation.
“I don’t have to go back to MIT, Rey.”
I glance up from a green checkered bath towel I’m mindlessly fondling. Kylo is distracted by two that are light blue and light yellow, much more focused on the texture than I am. It makes my belly clench. Should it be hot that he’s doing that? I guess it makes sense. Nesting-type thing.
He doesn’t look at me. He neatly folds one of the towels and puts it back, then takes down a fluffier one for another comparison.
“Of course you do,” I say. “You worked hard—you have like eight hundred degrees.”
“…Sure, somewhere in that ballpark.”
“Come on. I know you have to go back.”
Kylo makes a repulsed face at the new towel and swiftly returns it to the shelf. He’s not impressed with his yellow one but holds it to his chest while he scans for his next sample.
“You have friends here,” he says, distractedly. He puckers his lips and arches up to grab a towel high up. It makes him smile. “We should stay.”
“I have roots here,” he interjects. He’s quiet for a minute, squeezing the new towel. “And I get the pleasure of continuing to torment my vastly inferior colleagues.”
“Nice. That’s nice.”
Kylo smiles up at me. His fingers are rhythmically squeezing the towel, dark eyes hazy. Oh my god. I can’t believe how much he likes towels.
I huff, averting my eyes. “Well—okay. If it’s okay with you.”
“Sure. You’d never get into MIT anyway.”
I throw a towel at his face but he catches it and is immediately fascinated by it again. Note to self: do not bring an Omega to Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Kylo manages to pry himself away from the towels but unfortunately we move into the sheets and comforters and it’s somehow worse. I sit on a display table, watching him rub them between his fingertips and frown like he’s sampling expensive wine. They’re sheets. Just buy them.
I bob my foot. “Where are you thinking of moving?”
“I haven’t looked.” He turns away as he puts a set of sheets back on the shelf. “I thought we should look together.”
Be cool. Be cool. Be the Alpha.
“Neat,” I say.
Kylo glances at me over his shoulder, breaking into a smile at my awful poker face. I’ve never seen him happier than he is in this weird, absurdly large home goods store, and I get the warm syrupy weirdness in my stomach and think it’s really nice to see him so happy.
I bluster and huff again and look down. I think I love this weirdo, even if he said I can’t get into MIT.
“Don’t be shy,” he says in that amused voice I used to think I hated. “I’m going to make it very comfortable for my little Alpha.”
I cover my face, blushing. “You’re so weird.”
Hands cup my knees and I peek through my fingers. He’s standing between them, eyebrows raised, and he laughs when I dip my head into his chest. I’m so goopy inside. Make it stop. He smells nice, though. Silver linings.
Kylo gently takes my face in his very large hands, tilting so I’m looking up at him. He studies me, not analyzing, but… something different. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I blink owlishly until he leans down and kisses me, lingering there while he speaks.
“…I’m glad I can be my weirdest self with you, Rey.” His lips brush mine, and he kisses my Cupid’s bow. “Especially when it flusters you.”
“‘M not flustered,” I mumble. I think I’m grabbing his belt.
He makes a vague surprised hm and we kiss again, featherlight, then I give his belt a not so gentle tug. I’m ready. Take me on this display table of hand towels.
I blink, surprised—then violently angry at the intrusion. My mouth prickles and a low hiss comes out as I start to whip around. It’s knee-jerk. I don’t think a second has even passed.
Kylo sweeps me up in a casual, extremely tight hug. He laughs while I whine and snarl and paw at his chest, struggling to escape and burn off the unexpected rage. Let go let go let go—
“Sorry,” Kylo calls. “Apologies.”
A woman scoffs. “Go to Hooters if you want to do that.”
“That’s a restaurant but thank you for the helpful suggestion, ma’am.”
She doesn’t reply, but I hear a cart roll away. I’m still squirming and grunting for a couple seconds before he sweeps me off the table and sets me to my feet, wedged in a corner, looming over me.
“Shh, shh, shh,” he whispers, tutting in quick succession. His finger finds my nape, and I gulp, maybe too dramatic. “There we go. Just relax—relax.”
The rage is drowned out by pleasant calm, and soon I have control of myself again. I swallow, just as nervous as I always am when I have violent mood swings. Okay. Not good.
Kylo tilts his head, searching my face, analyzing again.
“Better?” he asks.
“Y-Yeah. Yeah.” I nod, even though my heart is still pounding. I don’t want to ruin the trip, especially when he’s having a good time. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” His hand slides up to cup the back of my head and he kisses my forehead. “Maybe it’s the suppressant. I’ll bring you to see someone.”
I nod and smile. Kylo smiles back and returns to his sheet extravaganza. I’m hoping he didn’t notice that my hands are still shaking.
Chapter 29: dobutamine
fight fight fight
A clinic out by Boston pencils me in to see a doctor in two weeks. It seems like a long wait but I’m grateful for the free healthcare—perks of being a demi-human, I guess. Can’t imagine what it would cost if I had to pay out of pocket.
I’m okay. Irritable. That’s not a life-threatening situation.
Wednesday I wake up late and miss my morning class, but I manage to shower and get dressed for calculus. Kylo has texted me a couple times and I ignore it, agitated by his concerned messages. Jesus Christ, he’s so fucking clingy all of a sudden. Doesn’t he have anything better to do?
I text him back, skin prickling. I’m itchy. Everything is sensitive and my clothes are tight. And I’m hot.
Today 6:16 AM
good morning 🌞 this is the first time I’ve used my emoji keyboard 🎹
you up for bio? 🦠
hey, it’s almost noon so just checking on you again. feeling okay?
What??? What do you want???
Read 12:49 PM
Kylo doesn’t respond. Fine by me.
I’m a little sweaty by the time I get to the lecture hall and a foul smell makes me stop dead in my tracks. I take a sharp breath through my mouth despite myself and am struck by a violent impulse to hit something.
I don’t hit things. I’m not a violent person. I blink, backing up a step as people pass me to enter the lecture hall. What the fuck?
It takes me a full minute to get a hold of myself with a couple deep breaths. Okay. Weird.
The hall is almost full and Kylo is sitting down at his desk. I hurry to my seat up front and take out my books and homework that he helped me with Sunday night. Awkward. I feel bad for snapping at him—I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
I text him right before class starts but he doesn’t check his phone. He avoids my eyes, rising and pushing his glasses up his nose, and I feel more and more guilty. I should see the doctor sooner. Something isn’t right. I’m not like this.
“Final review starts next week,” Kylo says. He rubs the back of his neck, studying his open binder. “Then you’ll all be free of me.”
There’s mixed laughter. I smile and tap my pen on the counter.
“Almost all of us. Right, Prof?”
Poe’s voice wipes the smile off my face. Heat crawls up my nape into my scalp and slithers into my throat, and I stiffen slowly. Red bleeds into my periphery.
Kylo rolls his eyes and doesn’t respond. He flips to another page in his binder, doing what he does best and ignoring an asshole, but my anger swells. It’s hot in here. I don’t think I like Poe being in the same room as my Omega.
“Feel free to write down any questions—” Kylo starts.
“So does Rey get an automatic A?”
I grit my teeth. Kylo glances up, first at me and then at Poe. He raises his eyebrows in his ‘shut the fuck up’ way and doesn’t answer, and Poe laughs somewhere behind me.
“What?” he taunts. “It’s a fair question. She owns you, right? Aren’t you on her charm bracelet?”
I’m almost out of my seat. I realize I’m grabbing the edge of the counter so hard it’s cutting into my palms, and my jaw is clenched so tight my ears ring. Say one more thing. Say one more thing.
Kylo eyes Poe but his expression doesn’t change. He’s calm, unaffected by the taunting; I guess he’s used to hearing offensive stupid shit.
He flips a page, bracelet jangling. “…So if anyone has questions they can bring them to the final review.”
“I’m talking to you, Omega.”
My anger ignites.
I push out of my seat and lunge for Poe across the two counters between us, somehow pushing myself off at just the right angle to tackle him to the floor. There isn’t a lot of room but I’m so furious that I can ignore the bumps and bruises and his hands grabbing and pushing at my arms.
People shriek and move out of the way as I roll Poe on his back and seize his throat. We’re snarling and snapping like dogs; rage courses through my veins like a drug and all I want to do is beat the shit out of him.
I’m on fire—I feel like a meteor; I feel like something cosmic and powerful and full of righteous anger. I punch Poe and he tries to punch me but I’m a little quicker and I dodge them. He lands a hard punch on my ribs and I grapple at his throat, squeezing and baring my teeth as he bares his all stained with blood—this feels fucking amazing.
Someone grabs my shoulder. I whip around, fangs out, low hiss in my throat like a viper.
Kylo flinches but doesn’t recoil. He quickly bear hugs me to drag me off Poe, snarling and shrieking like a wild animal, and Poe makes the same sounds as he’s pulled up the steps. Blood trails down his face, now smattered with bruises and cuts. Good.
I struggle against Kylo’s embrace until I wriggle free. He swears and chases me up a couple steps as I crawl towards Poe on all fours, then he’s on me, pinning me down so hard it takes my breath.
“Please take Mister Dameron outside!” Kylo shouts. He slaps my hand down when I reach out again. “Class—is canceled—!”
I’m furious. I think I’m going to beat Poe to death if I can get away from Kylo, but he grabs the back of my neck and presses his thumb against my gland.
Usually it calms me down instantly but I’m so angry that it takes a couple seconds to trickle through my veins. People stare as they filter out of the lecture hall until I’m left alone with Kylo, still trying to paw my way up the next step. My eyes get heavy.
I whimper as I go slack. I’m sore suddenly—exhausted. Emotional.
I cry on my next breath, and Kylo shushes me as he pulls me into his lap. He leans against the wall on the platform between sets of stairs, whispering and gathering me up by my knees. I’m trembling as I curl under his chin and he slides his arm around my back from my neck to keep me in place.
“It’s okay,” he murmurs. He kisses the top of my head. “Just try to relax, Rey.”
It’s easier said than done. I cry for a while, pitiful sobs echoing through the empty lecture hall, and when the next professor peeks in Kylo brusquely tells him to get out. I feel terrible. Heavy and exhausted and spent, like I just gave in to something awful.
I’m still miserable when he gets his things and carries me from the lecture hall back to my dorm. He sets me down to find my key in my bag and I shuffle past the mirror and cry all over again. I’m bruised, too. Poe must’ve gotten a couple hits in.
Kylo closes the door behind him. “You should lie down. I’ll get ice.”
“I can’t believe I d-did that,” I manage without bawling. Then I bawl. “What’s wrong with me?”
“I’ll bring you to the clinic this weekend—let the school know you’re having some difficulties.” He touches the small of my back to guide me to my bed. “I hope I didn’t hurt you. I thought you were ready to kill him.”
He’s smiling, but it fades when I don’t smile back. He kisses my forehead and slips out to get the ice, leaving me to change into more comfortable clothes.
I don’t bother. When Kylo returns I ask to go to his apartment instead and he eagerly agrees and packs me a bag.
I wash my face in the sink, still trembling. Maybe I’m in worse shape than I thought.
I’m given the rest of the week off from classes and on Friday afternoon I leave for my clinic visit with Kylo. Boston is a bit of a drive so we’re intending on staying two nights, and I insisted on using my meager savings to pay for food, since he’s paying for the hotel.
It sucks to be taking our first trip together for such a shitty reason. I’m not in the mood for sex or much of anything, swinging into a weird depressed state as the weekend approaches and fully depressed by Friday night. This sucks. I wanted to kill someone—I was going to. I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore. What I am.
But I’m hopeful when we get to the clinic Saturday afternoon. Maybe someone has answers.
Kylo reads over my shoulder while we sit in the waiting room filling out paperwork. I’m agitated again—I growl, curling my lip, another involuntary thing. Shame just makes it worse and I have to fight not to break down into tears.
It’s nice here. The walls are light blue and there are only a couple other demi-humans sitting in plush blue chairs. The receptionist is named Dana and she smiled when she greeted me and didn’t stare or anything. It’s nice being treated like a human being again.
“Don’t forget to check off fever.”
I clench my jaw. Fine. Fever.
“Night sweats.” Kylo pauses. “Mood swings.”
“I know!” I snap.
Eyes wander to us. I’m baring my fangs again, and remember the warning from the facility where we were dragged after I bit Kylo. I’m not violent. I’m not going to hurt him or anyone else. Poe deserved it.
Kylo looks down at his hands in his lap. He’s tapping his foot on the light brown laminate flooring.
“Sorry,” I mutter. I check off night sweats and mood swings.
We’re called in five minutes after our appointment time. Kylo grasps the back of my shirt between two knuckles as we’re led down the hall to an exam room.
A nurse checks my vital signs. She raises her eyebrows at my blood pressure.
“Blood pressure is high,” she says. She squints at her screen. “One-forty over one-hundred. Do you take a suppressant?”
“Supralpha,” Kylo supplies before I can speak.
“…Oh.” The nurse frowns. “That’s a last resort medication. Didn’t your doctor try anything else?”
“Last resort?” I echo.
“It can cause all kinds of side effects: high blood pressure, anxiety, agitation. Not really a good one for an Alpha who has never been through rut, either.”
I’m immediately mad. Great. Thanks, Kylo.
“I get it from a friend,” I say icily.
“Oh. Well, I’m sure Doctor Tano can find you something more suitable.”
The nurse takes my blood to check my hormone levels and some other stuff. I’m annoyed and barely listening and I glare down at Kylo once she leaves.
“Last resort?” I snap.
“You were afraid of going into a cycle, Rey. Supralpha is strong enough to stop it.”
“…Be that as it may, I didn’t know about the awful side effects.”
“Neither did I. It’s supposed to be perfectly safe.” Kylo shifts his jaw, expression hardening. “I should know better than to trust the inserts.”
I’m pissed, but the doctor comes in the next minute and I don’t want her to think I’m some pissy, moody Alpha, so I plant a smile on my face.
She’s young and wearing a white lab coat down to her knees. Her headscarf is a pretty mix of purple and white and she smiles at me and Kylo as she sets her laptop down. I trust her. One of those really professional-looking doctors.
“Hello, Rey,” she says. “Mister Ren. I’m Ahsoka Tano.” She shakes our hands. “The nurse tells me you’re having quite a few issues, Rey.”
I just nod. I hate this. I don’t want to admit how irritated I’ve been, and the snapping at Kylo and attacking Poe. It’s embarrassing. Pathetic.
Dr. Tano leans on the counter. She doesn’t seem hurried and casts a glance at Kylo.
“New bond?” she asks. I hesitate before nodding. “Congratulations to you both—it’s very exciting. Very emotional, too.”
Dr. Tano pushes back her sleeve to show us her own bracelet, adorned with a couple different name charms, and my eyes widen. Holy shit. So she’s an Alpha woman and became a doctor?
She smiles as she lets her sleeve down again. “I know exactly how you’re feeling, Rey. It’s very overwhelming for both of you, but I think the Supralpha isn’t helping things.”
“I gave it to her,” Kylo interjects. He presses his lips in a tight line and studies his hands. “I shouldn’t have.”
Dr. Tano shrugs.
“Unfortunately the science of Alpha female rut is imperfect and vague. Supralpha has worked fine in the past for plenty of women, but it simply isn’t the best medication for Rey.” She looks at me, brows raised. “You continue to have very high concentrations of Alpha hormone in your blood despite treatment, Rey.”
I swallow, palms sweating. That sounds bad.
“What does that mean?” I ask weakly.
“Well—the Supralpha is failing. It’s fairly common for Alpha females to experience rejection, but I’m afraid you’ve rejected the strongest suppressant I have available.”
Oh no. Oh no.
Dr. Tano motions toward Kylo. “I suspect your new bond has resulted in the hormone influx. It’s very difficult to control and causes many of your symptoms: irritability, sweating, nervousness, fevers, et cetera. You likely were experiencing rejection before but were able to tolerate it.”
“So what does that mean?” Kylo asks for me. He’s looking at me. “What do we do?”
“Well…” Dr. Tano clicks her tongue, heaving a long breath. “Sometimes cycling through rut a handful of times can help stabilize the hormones. There’s also the option of increasing your harem but I worry you’ll wind up aggressively attacking other competing Alphas who come too close to your Omegas. Uncontrolled, sustained high levels of hormones will cause soaring blood pressure that can be fatal. Eventually.”
Fatal. Holy shit. I don’t know what to say. I lower my gaze to my lap and stare, terrified. Fatal.
“Is this because of the Supralpha?” Kylo asks.
“No, no. It’s certainly not helping but even without the medication, Rey’s hormones will continue to spiral out of control. They are remarkably high.”
“But if she cycles a few times—she’ll be okay?”
“Oh, sure.” Dr. Tano nods and shifts her stance. “The other obvious fix is completing your bond, but I know most Alpha women are resistant to that idea. It will keep her hormones permanently stable.”
Neither of us responds to that. Dr. Tano lingers for a few minutes and offers to answer questions but I’m too shocked and upset to think of anything. She leaves us alone for a couple minutes to talk, but I still can’t bring myself to say a word.
Kylo doesn’t say a word either.
Chapter 30: salve
she’s all done ☑️
Kylo brings me to a diner after the clinic visit. Neither of us says anything on the drive over, opting instead to ignore the elephant in the room like we usually do. Easier that way.
We’re seated in a red booth near the back next to a window and quietly browse our menus. Plates and cutlery clink, appliances beep, but I’m too tuned into Kylo’s breathing and movements to really notice. What’s he thinking? Is he as terrified as I am?
I set my menu down and pull the container of sugar packets over to sort it. I’ll just have pancakes. I’m in a pancake for lunch type of mood.
Kylo doesn’t give much away while he reads his menu. Our waiter stops by to take our orders and I glance at Kylo after, hoping he’ll say something first. He’s hard to read. Sometimes. Depends on the variety of scowl he has.
He rubs his mouth, heaving a sigh through his fingers. He avoids my eyes.
“Well.” He slides his hand down to his jaw. “I suppose you’re pretty angry with me, Rey.”
“…Aren’t you angry with me?”
“Why would I be angry with you?”
“Uh…” I laugh uncomfortably. “I’ve been snapping at you a lot lately and we might have to make this thing permanent? I mean—we don’t have it if you don’t want to. We can do whatever.”
Kylo raises his eyebrows. Our waiter stops by with our coffees and I’m surprised when Kylo dumps an absurd amount of creamer and sugar in his. I put a packet of sugar in mine and take a sip.
“You know I want this to be permanent,” he says tersely. He peels open his third packet of sugar. “And I don’t mind your mood swings.”
“Because I love you.”
Oh Jesus—the goops are back. I try not to look shocked and excited but I stutter like an idiot anyway, because it’s crazy, because it’s too soon and neither of us should feel that way. I do too. He’s still such a mystery to me but I don’t think anyone else understands me the way he does.
Kylo rolls his empty sugar packets into tight cylinders and packs them into his empty creamer cups. I cling to my boiling hot cup of coffee and blush and feel like an asshole for not saying it back fast enough. It’s so weird to declare in a diner.
“Same,” I say.
“Oh, the passion is palpable.”
He laughs when I stutter more, so I huff and scowl and glare down at my coffee. Fine. He’s going to kill me with all this weird emotional stuff.
Our waiter brings us toast, thank god. Kylo folds his napkin in his lap so I follow suit, still fluttery from the confession; still nervous. This is so weird. I hated him a couple months ago. I’m not really a person worth expending energy on. Doesn’t make sense.
I’m barely done chewing when I open my mouth.
“I don’t get it,” I blurt. I’m waving my hands a little. “I’m not smart like you—I’m impatient and rude and selfish. I don’t get it. This being permanent would be a big inconvenience for you.”
“Loving you isn’t an inconvenience.” Kylo sips his coffee. “Usually.”
“I don’t want you to feel like you have to settle.”
“Loving you isn’t settling.”
My face burns. Jeez. Well—
He studies me while he sips and breaks into one of his slim smiles. Kylo sets his coffee down and watches it for a minute, rubbing his thumb on the handle. I’m so nervous. I don’t want to push him away but I also don’t want him to feel obligated to stay with me. I think he’s been through enough in life.
His tongue pushes inside his cheek.
“It’s… it’s, uh…” He swallows, still staring at his mug. “It’s a true pleasure being able to be myself with you. I’ve spent most of my life suppressing my emotions and avoiding—” He gestures vaguely and rubs his mouth. “These things. But you accept me despite our differences—and despite our similarities.”
I squirm, smiling faintly, trying to lighten the intense mood. “And your rude emails.”
Kylo rolls his eyes, still smiling even though they’re watery. I move to his side of the table and snake my arms around his middle, burying my face in his chest as he turns to return my embrace. He squeezes hard, nuzzling my hair. It’s intimate for a restaurant but I don’t give a shit.
He exhales shakily. His hands rub up and down my back and he hugs me tighter.
“I wasn’t rude,” he mutters.
“You were so rude. All the time.”
“That doesn’t sound like me.”
I pull away, incredulous, and he just laughs. I roll my eyes and turn just in time to see our food coming to the table. Yum.
We stay on the same side while we eat, feeding each other every couple bites like we’re in some weird romcom movie. People look every so often and I stare back aggressively until they turn around, which Kylo notices on my third venomous stare. He kisses my temple and wraps his arm around my waist.
“I wasn’t planning anything nefarious with the Supralpha,” he says. He shrugs after a pause, spearing some egg. “I wasn’t sure how else to keep you around, but I didn’t intend on harming you.”
“I know.” I narrow my eyes at a blonde lady and she frowns, so I curl my lip. She turns away. “You’re not a criminal mastermind, you’re just rude and awkward.”
I look up at him, smirking, and he shakes his head and laughs. I’m done eating but I have a weird urge to watch the restaurant—can’t really relax—so after he kisses me I resume my guard. I hate when people stare. Get a life.
“We could do this over winter break, Rey. If you wanted to.”
I nod, trying to play it cool while I scowl at people innocently eating lunch.
“Sure,” I say.
“The bond is unbreakable and you’re very young, so I think you should think about it for a few weeks.”
“Okay. Makes sense.”
Think about it; what’s there to think about? It’s not like I don’t know what I’m signing up for. I’ve seen him at his worst and his best and I know all about his checkered past. Don’t care. He’s going to be mine and I don’t want anyone else.
Kylo finishes his breakfast-lunch and stacks our plates neatly. Our waiter comes by with the check and I pay it before Kylo can start insisting on paying.
We’re quiet again for a minute. Kylo rests his cheek on top of my head and I close my eyes, leaning into his ribs. I turn my head a little to nudge his jaw and he tilts to let me lick his gland.
I think we’re there for a long time. I don’t really care.
After breakfast-lunch (I don’t know, didn’t feel quite like brunch to me) Kylo brings me to a terrifying storage container in Boston. He keeps a lot of his old belongings there but once we pull up the old building I’m thinking he’s just looking to murder me.
“Looks great,” I say sarcastically as I get out of his car.
He locks the doors and snaps his fingers, absentmindedly offering his hand toward me. I roll my eyes as I take his hand. See? Rude.
“I put a lot of my things here while I went to MIT,” he says. “Didn’t want to commit to moving them to my temporary job.”
“Aren’t I supposed to be the one fearing commitment?”
Kylo gives me a Look. I smile back at him anyway.
We walk into the crumbling building and up some stairs to the second floor. It’s lined with orange rolling doors and the lighting sucks so I hurry along behind Kylo, prickly with anxiety. Yikes.
He stops at a door with a peeling ‘706’ and gets his keys. I wait.
“This may be a little overwhelming,” he says. “I haven’t opened it in a couple years.”
I shrug. Whatever. I’ll be fine. I’m way better with the scent of Omegas than I used to be. He crouches to unlock the door and slowly brings it up until it rolls into the ceiling.
I’m assailed by a slightly different scent of him—it’s still him but lighter and sweeter. The room is crammed full of boxes that are mostly overturned or have their insides pulled out and strewn on the floor: blankets, pillows, stuffed animals. I’m staying still and digging my nails into my palms, and Kylo walks in.
I’m assuming it isn’t supposed to be a mess, because he gets stiff in the shoulders and rubs his mouth. He looks around with one hand on his hip, quiet. There’s another scent here that makes my mouth burn. Alpha, maybe. One that just visited and left.
Kylo still doesn’t speak. His hand combs through his hair and rubs his nape as he surveys the room.
I flex my fingers, watching him.
“We can clean up,” I offer.
He nods. His back is facing me so I can’t begin to read him, and I take an unsure step closer. I don’t want to intrude on his space or turn into a crazed beast but I don’t want to silently stare at the back of his head, either. I can help.
I sidle up to him, bending over to pick up a stuffed giraffe. I’m smiling when I look up at him but his jaw is set and his dark eyes are distant and watery and angry. He doesn’t look back at me, and his throat bobs. I think he’s about to cry.
Kylo wriggles his jaw from side to side and swallows again.
“I kept… everything here.” He raises his eyebrows, rubbing his nape. “Organized. Hoping—” He inhales sharply. “I would be able to share it with someone.”
“We can clean up,” I repeat, wrapping my arm around his. “I can even roll around on stuff. Point and I roll.”
He glances down at me and smiles a little, coughing a half sob, half laugh. I nod and gesture widely to the chaos, tugging him by the arm.
“We can do it,” I say.
“It’s going to take the entire weekend.”
“That’s fine.” I shrug and smile up at him and his smile comes back again, kind of weak. “I want to see all your stuff anyway. I’ve been needing a new blanket or two and I think you sewed about six hundred of them.”
He groans and rolls his eyes as tears slide down his cheeks. I snatch up a pink blanket to wipe them away but he actually breaks down into tears.
“They take—everything from me, Rey—every little thing I have—”
I thought a grown man crying would make me uncomfortable but I’m surprised it doesn’t. Crying is good for everyone, and I’m glad he drops to his knees so I can really get my arms around him.
Kylo takes a little bit to calm down. He’s nuzzled under my chin, curled up as small as a redwood tree like him can be.
“I’m sorry,” I say after another pause. I hug him tighter. “We can move it all out—bring it back home? Then you know it’s safe.”
“I don’t want to be one of those Omegas that hoards.”
“It’s not hoarding. You’re an Omega—these things make you happy and comfortable. You should have them at home instead of sitting in some creepy serial killer storage unit.”
He makes another laughing sob. Lips brush my neck like he’s giving me a grateful kiss and it kind of fans the flames for me. Don’t be a creep, Rey.
“I can get rid of some of it,” he says. He sits up, wiping his eyes and looking around. “Some of this is from seminars—I should let those things go.”
“That sounds like a good idea to me.”
Kylo nods. He rubs his face with both hands and exhales through his fingers.
“Sorry,” he says, muffled.
“You don’t have to be sorry for being upset. It’s a total violation of your privacy.”
Another nod. Kylo sits like that for a minute before leaning forward to draw me into a hug up on my knees. I wrap my arms loosely around his neck and bury my face in his hair.
“Thank you,” he mumbles. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
It comes out easy this time and makes my heart skip a beat. He releases and gestures to the chaos.
“There’s something for you in here.”
“Really?!” I clap excitedly. “Presents!”
“Yes—you had me spinning for a handful of weeks.” Kylo shakes his head, passing a hand through his hair again. “Made four or five blankets. It was completely ridiculous.”
“Well our first order of business is to find my present.”
He motions as if to say ‘be my guest,’ and I begin eagerly picking through the mess. Everything I pick up has a story attached to it, and Kylo seems content to sit and watch and tell me about all his things.
It’s the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.
On Monday I find out I’m suspended from attending classes on campus for a week thanks to beating the shit out of Poe. It’s just as well—I hate going to class, and now most of them are final exam prep.
Kylo reads the email over my shoulder while he’s getting ready to leave. He huffs.
“Discrimination,” he says.
“Yeah… no.” I shake my head, turning to look at him over the back of the couch. “I think the punishment fits the crime here.”
He huffs again, rolling his eyes. Rose is still staying with Finn and will be the foreseeable future, so I’m happy to not be wallowing alone in my dorm. I can do some cleaning—we brought back a couple of Kylo’s favorite possessions. Doesn’t make since to get everything right now when he plans of moving.
I nestle into my pink blanket, my present from his storage room. Had to really dive for it. He has a lot of blankets.
“I’ll study while you’re gone,” I lie.
Damn. I smile a little, peeking out as he rounds the couch, and he tries not to smile back. I mean, I will study. It’s not like I want to fail.
Kylo sighs, bending to kiss my forehead. “What am I going to do with you?”
I bat my eyelashes and pucker my lips and get another kiss. He smells nice—we don’t plan on stopping our suppressants until next week but pheromones aside, I like his cologne. Cottony. Fresh.
“Hux and I are dropping off some stuff at the shelter,” I call as Kylo is leaving. “You’re sure it’s okay to give away the stuff in the black bags, right?”
“Yes, it’s fine. I have plenty more to replace it all.”
Good. He really does. We threw some stuff away and piled all the clean blankets into bags to be donated. The scent is great for Alphas who are unmedicated, or they can wash them and give them to Omegas. Better than collecting dust somewhere.
Kylo looks back at me and I blow him a sarcastic kiss. He pretends to catch it, smiling, then immediately frowns and points a long finger at me.
“Study,” he calls as he walks out the door.
Mm. Maybe. I wriggle under my blanket, yawning. I’m kinda busy today.
On the day of my last final, I skip my Supralpha.
Kylo offers it to me in the morning—now I usually sleep over so we’ve fallen into a rhythm with it—and he raises his eyebrows when I shake my head. He’s half-asleep and his hair is all tousled and I have to remind myself that I’ll fail calculus if I miss the final by staying home to fuck him.
And he’ll probably get in trouble, too.
I’m busy putting my hair in three buns and pretend not to notice him staring at me. I catch his blank expression in the bathroom mirror though and smile awkwardly, raising my eyebrows.
“What?” I ask.
“…Are you sure?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’re eighteen.” He rolls the pink pill in his palm, gazing right through me. “It’s a permanent commitment.”
I roll my eyes. Well I already bit him and that was a permanent commitment, too.
“Well—” I shrug, busying myself with wiping out the sink. “I know what I want.”
I’m expecting more pushback from him, about how I need to think about it longer and how I don’t know what I want. But when I risk a peek he’s just watching me quietly, head tilted. He’s wearing an old Grand Canyon t-shirt with some small holes in it and boxers. Somehow he still looks hot.
Kylo throws my pill in the trash.
We finish getting ready, both quiet and wrapped up in our thoughts. He skips his suppressant, too, and watches me while we eat breakfast. I keep pretending not to notice, slowly stuffing my face with waffles.
He taps his plate with his fork. I think it’s to catch my attention but I’m determined not to keep talking about this whole thing. He doesn’t have to make it weird. We already discussed it a few weeks ago.
But he doesn’t speak. He keeps tapping, only letting up when I’m done and take his plate. That’s enough of that.
“I’m concerned you don’t understand that this is permanent,” he says to the back of my head.
“Well, I’m conscious and I speak English, so I think I get the gist of it.”
“…You’re right.” His chair drags on the floor; I think he’s standing. “I don’t mean to patronize.”
I get a kiss on my temple and a light pat on my butt and he wanders off to finish getting ready. Yes—thank you. I know what I want. I’m well aware of what this means for the rest of our lives. It’s still what I want, and he doesn’t need to check up on me.
It’s a quiet drive to the campus and we’re quiet on our way inside. It’s fully frigid now and Kylo is bundled in his black coat and the pink scarf, freshly layered with my pheromones and wrapped around half his face. He hates the cold—he gets cold easily and complains until he’s swaddled like the baby he is.
Unfortunately we aren’t going to be in the same exam room: I’m given a different proctor and a different exam, just so the school knows I’m not cheating—as if Kylo would ever let me cheat.
My proctor meets us near the doors to the lecture hall. She’s nice and gives me a second to kiss Kylo goodbye like he’s going off to war. It’s only an hour and a half long. After this I’m hoping we’ll go straight home and take a nap.
I kiss my bite on his throat. “See you soon.”
“Mm,” he mumbles distractedly. He tilts his chin a little, relaxing into the nibbles like usual, then the proctor clears her throat. “Ah—sorry, Miss Helm.”
We part ways. I take a deep breath and follow Miss Helm down the hall to my exam room, and Kylo steps into the lecture hall.
Hux invites us to lunch after the exam is over. Apparently Phasma is in town with one of her Omegas, Mitaka; the one she’s permanently bonded to. She has others, though. I wonder how that works.
I’m excited and nervous once we’re seated in our booth waiting for her. Hux is on one side of me, Kylo on the other, and Kylo is scowling.
He pushes his glasses up his nose. “Always late.”
“Oh, relax,” Hux says. He’s browsing his menu, whistling a tune. “Not like you two have anywhere to be, and Rey should meet another Alpha woman.”
I should, yes. So far it’s Leia and Ahsoka and I was too freaked out to ask either of them much.
Kylo keeps his hand planted firmly on my thigh while we wait, and he squeezes hard when a tall blonde woman comes in the front door. A short man with dark hair follows close behind her, kinda scurrying like a mouse in her wake. It’s… weird.
Phasma brightens when she sees us and waves. She’s pretty, with a round face and big blue eyes, and her registration bracelet has four or five tags dangling from it. She hugs Hux and ignores Kylo, then reaches out to shake my hand. Strong grip.
“So nice to see you all!” she says. “And so nice to meet you, Rey. I’ve heard so much.”
She’s wearing a nice blue sweater dress and some silver jewelry, and I can’t help but notice Mitaka looks a little raggedy in comparison. He’s clean, but he doesn’t introduce himself and keeps his eyes on the floor. Phasma casually hands him her coat and he scurries away to hang it up.
“Peavey is whining at me to come home,” she says, rolling her eyes as she sits. “He’s been so misbehaved lately—I told him he’ll need to find a shelter if he can’t learn how to watch his mouth.”
There isn’t a bite mark on her neck. I thought she and Mitaka were permanently mated, but I get a crawling sensation as I realize I must be mistaken. Weird.
He comes back and doesn’t sit until she gestures for him to. She continues to ignore him while she chats with Hux, and Kylo gently presses his weight to my side. Mitaka definitely has a big bite on the side of his neck, so I’m guessing Phasma keeps a harem.
“Don’t speak to him,” Kylo mutters in my ear. “Phasma hasn’t given permission. It’s why she hasn’t spoken to me, either.”
“Aren’t you two friends?”
“Hardly, but friendship is secondary to our hierarchy.”
Increasingly creeped out, I clear my throat.
“Kylo told me a lot about you, Phasma,” I say. I glance back at him and he sarcastically raises his eyebrows, pressing his lips together. “And a little about Mitaka.”
“Oh, my little Dopheld?” Phasma smiles and finally acknowledges his presence, and Mitaka smiles faintly. “He’s one of five. I also have Peavey, Snap, Jessika, and Thanisson all waiting for me at home.”
Jesus. I nod, trying to smile politely. Five Omegas. Kylo can be sort of exhausting sometimes. I can’t imagine having or wanting five more of him.
Phasma runs her hand through Mitaka’s hair. “Dopheld was my first, though. I found him around the time Ren was pestering me to take him instead.”
“As if I wanted to be one of your servants for the rest of my life,” Kylo snaps.
Clearly he’s been waiting for an excuse to argue. Hux laughs nervously as a lull settles in the conversation, Phasma’s smile turning tight, and Mitaka examines his hands. Her fingers are still idly moving in his hair.
“You’re still such an unpleasant Omega.” Phasma glances at me. “Don’t you find him irksome and difficult, Rey? I know a very nice young male in Connecticut around your age—he’s very sweet. This one should be retired to a shelter. Wouldn’t want to pass on his foul attitude to your offspring.”
I’m floored by her callous attitude. I don’t respond for a couple seconds, shocked that she would encourage me to dump her friend at a shelter because he isn’t my personal servant like her harem is to her. I’m afraid all the female Alphas are like this, and suddenly acutely aware that I might never fit in with my kind.
I don’t really know what to say. I’m not interested in a public fight, and I don’t think I have anything to gain from speaking to her any longer.
Kylo is stiff and angry when I turn and kiss his brand. His throat bobs under my lips but he doesn’t relax.
“Rey and Kylo are going to make things permanent,” Hux says. “Right, guys?”
I nod but don’t reply. I think Hux is trying to salvage the lunch but that’s not going to happen. I pat Kylo’s thigh and motion for him to get up.
“Let’s go home,” I say.
He stands, so agitated that I feel it hot and thrumming across our bond. Phasma groans as I grab our coats and help Kylo into his.
“Always so dramatic,” she complains. “Rey, don’t waste yourself on this one. Look how absurd and childish he is—isn’t he, Hux?”
“Come on, Phasma; why do you always start on him…”
They start arguing just as we’re leaving, and I’m happy not to have to listen to it.
Traffic rolls by slowly outside, and Kylo stops at the edge of the sidewalk, tapping a brown ball of slush with his boot. His hands are in his pockets and he doesn’t look back at me for a minute, breath curling gray in the cold air.
He looks down, then glances over his shoulder at me. It’s quick so I don’t see his expression well.
I’m saddened again. That doesn’t seem like a life anyone would want, and it makes me sad that Kylo was willing to settle for it.
The door chime jingles behind me and I edge forward a couple steps to get out of the way. I shiver, meandering to Kylo’s side to watch the traffic with him. We’re quiet for a minute.
“Mitaka creeps me out,” I confess. Kylo looks down at me and I laugh, shaking my head. “I’m sorry, but what kind of Twilight Zone shit was that?”
That draws a slim smile. He nods, scanning the road again. “It’s a little unsettling.”
I loop my arm through Kylo’s, gently steering him along the sidewalk towards his car. There are plenty of other diners for us to visit.
“Their kids would be like those twins from The Shining,” I add.
He laughs, shaking his head. I keep listing off all the horror movie similarities I can think of while we stroll down the sidewalk, and soon he rests his cheek on top of my head.
Three days after we stop our suppressants, I wake to chirping. It’s the middle of the night, and I’m confused by the empty spot beside me in bed. I yawn as I sit up, wincing at a strange ache in my jaw.
“Kylo?” I rasp. I rub my eyes. “You there?”
Rustling follows but he doesn’t answer. My eyes adjust to the darkness, and I notice the closet door is open with a couple blankets spilling out on the floor.
My heart skips a beat when I see his hands emerge from the recesses of the closet, smoothing the blanket out on the floor. We’ve been very lucid since stopping our medication and I’ve been wondering which of us would start cycling first.
Kylo chirps again, lilting into a purr that’s alien and strange and makes my spine prickle. It’s odd watching a grown man making a nest of blankets in his closet, but it still arouses me. It’s been weird getting used to that being hot. Very weird.
I slip out of bed to get a glass of water, tiptoeing past the closet so I don’t disturb him. We’re starting to pack stuff for our move to the new place but it’s best to wait until the cycling and mating and stuff is over. We’re trying to avoid even going outside until it’s all done. Risky stuff.
But it’s exciting. I’m really excited. I bounce on my toes while I drink my water, listening for the sound of Kylo moving around in the bedroom. I can’t wait. I know I’ll be thinking differently when I’m in rut and he’s pinning me down but that’s all hormones. I know what I want.
I rinse out my glass and turn.
Kylo is there, looming in the doorframe. I squeak in surprise and jerk back into the counter, and he takes a sharp step forward. He’s only wearing briefs and another old T-shirt and his hair is damp. Must’ve showered.
I laugh, breathless. “Sorry—you scared me. You’re really quiet when you want to be.”
He doesn’t answer. He stares, and it gives me that excited, nervous tingle in my stomach. He’s in it now. I don’t think he can bite me until I’m in it, too.
Kylo shuffles a couple steps closer. His hesitance keeps my alarm bells from going off and I’m only a bit apprehensive by the time he gently wraps his arms around my middle, dipping his mouth to my neck. He chirps until he’s too busy kissing me to keep going.
The second I feel his teeth, I hiss. It’s involuntary and loud and he tightens his embrace, softening his kisses and resuming chirping. The flash of irritation fades and I relax into his arms while he kisses along my throat and up to my jaw. It’s nice. Feels like a massage.
He leans down to scoop me up, and I’m agitated again, growling and squirming in his arms. The kisses only keep me placated until we reach the bedroom, where he sets me on my feet and closes the door. I’m bristling even though I have no reason to be, and I bare my teeth when he turns to look at me.
“Everything is all ready.” His voice is rough from disuse and he absentmindedly rubs his bite mark, gazing at me. “Just need you.”
My growl rises a pitch as he starts toward me. He chirps, moving slowly—but I bolt for the window anyway.
He catches me around the waist. He’s strong, but I knew that already. I’m dragged back a couple feet until I manage to knock him over, sending us spilling to the floor.
Kylo rolls over on top of me before I can scramble away, grunting when I flail my legs and hiss and snarl. He pins me on my stomach, and a cold lump settles in my stomach but it’s exhilarating and hot, and I pant heavily into the carpet. My heart races, blood pounding in my ears. I love this part.
He drags me into the closet. It’s filled with soft stuff that I kick at as I roll on my back, struggling against him. Kylo prowls on top of me, teeth bared, growling the way I am. It makes my belly clench.
“Behave, Miss Niima,” he says in a low, firm tone.
His fingers wrap around my neck, hesitant like he’s waiting for me to freak out. I close my eyes instead, loving it for the same reason I love him chasing me around and pinning me down, and he tightens his grip until my head swims. Good, good. Now he doesn’t remind me to tell him if I don’t like something—he knows I’ll just tell him. I don’t need prompting. I’m not a moron.
But Kylo loosens his grip, sliding his hands down to pull my pants off. I twist over on my stomach when he pulls the buttons free on my shirt and tosses it aside, too, and he rolls me on back again. He hovers over me, one hand on either side of my head, and smiles.
“Are you going to be a good girl for me, Rey?” I shake my head and his smile widens. “Good.”
He leans back on his knees to take his shirt off, then his briefs come off, too. I growl as he grasps my hip to turn me on my stomach and drag my butt up off the blankets. I struggle against him for a minute, and he locks his long forearm around my hips to pull me up where he wants me.
Kylo sinks inside my body in one smooth stroke. I whimper, eyes rolling back as he draws back, dragging along my walls before he pushes in again.
“All mine,” he breathes.
His hand slips between my legs and I buck against his fingers, already panting. I’m less attuned to him biting me and more concerned with coming, thighs trembling as he quickly brings me to that brink, and I tumble over. It smells nice in here; warm and safe. Soon I’m delirious from the soft scent of Kylo and the sheer pleasure of his rough fingers touching me. Orgasms aside—this is blissful.
My body tightens around him, and I feel his warm breath on my neck a handful of times. He lies beside me when we’re too spent to stay up on our knees and gathers a couple blankets over us. I’m drowsy and sated and can feel him gently moving inside me, one hand cupping my breast.
“I missed this,” he mumbles in my hair. His thumb languidly circles my nipple, and he sighs sleepily. “You make me very happy, Rey. I love you.”
I grunt. “Love you too.”
His cock twitches and he exhales on my nape, slowly rolling his hips. Pleasant warmth wanders along our bond up into the nape of my neck, and teeth graze the thin skin there. I shift, frowning, but too tired to bother growling or anything. I want him to—I definitely want him to—but it’s so nerve-wracking.
“Just relax,” Kylo whispers. Teeth graze once more and another tingle slithers down my spine. “Shh… shh…”
He bites, and the world tilts on its axis.
I’m alone in the bed when I wake up.
It’s warm and smells like heaven, and I’m pretty sure Kylo cleaned me up while I was asleep. I huff, squeezing my eyes tightly shut, kinda disappointed that he isn’t around. Where could he have gone? Kind of rude to leave me alone like this.
I start to sit up, wincing at how stiff my neck is. When I rub my nape I feel the indentations from Kylo’s teeth and it gives me another wave of anxiety. It’s done. I mean, it’s what I wanted, but it’s done, and I’m not used to committing like this—and I’m sobbing before I can help myself. Uh oh. Oh no—oh no—
There are quick footsteps in the hallway. I try to get a hold of myself before Kylo reaches the door but he does, wearing a pink apron with his black hair tied back, and the sight of him makes me burst out laughing.
He smiles only faintly in return as he comes over to me, peeling the thing off. I sway back into sobs again and reach out—I don’t know for what—and he picks me up like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
“It’s okay,” he whispers. He’s carrying me to the closet, and I’m not seized by my usual apprehension. “I cleaned the nest out and thought I would have breakfast done before you woke up—I’m sorry, Rey.”
I’m deposited in a large pile of blankets, and Kylo sets a pillow behind my head. He wraps me in them and I’m surprised and a little freaked out at how quickly it calms me. I sniffle as he tucks a blanket under my chin, again with casual ease like he’s done it before. Like instinct. Did he know I’d wake up like this?
He kisses my forehead, cupping my cheek. I gaze up at him and can’t seem to find any words. Warmth creeps over my brain—it’s him. It’s the bond and holy shit does it feel different.
Kylo kisses me again. “Better?” I nod, sniffling. “Good. I washed your favorite blanket and scented it again. Do you want that while you wait for breakfast?”
I nod. He smiles and leaves me to get it, and a cold sensation trails from the left side of my chest. I bark in distress, squirming in my blankets, and I’m relieved that he quickly returns with the pink blanket.
He kneels, shushing me. “Shh, shh—just relax, Rey. I know it’s very overwhelming.” He fans the blanket across me. “I’m going to go finish cooking, okay? I won’t be far if you need me.”
“Don’t go,” I rasp. “Don’t go.”
“You should eat something. We had a very long night.”
Probably, but the thought of him leaving again gives me unspeakable anxiety. I stare at him with my watery eyes until he groans.
“Let me turn off the stove,” he says.
I watch him go, and the icy sensation yanks at my chest again. It crawls into my arms and up my throat and I feel like I’m suffocating, so I bury my face in the blankets and take a deep breath. It helps, somewhat. I can’t believe how much it hurts—did he feel this way when we were apart after I bit him?
Kylo returns and closes the closet door a bit behind him. He joins me in my blanket fort and I’m suffused in warmth and calm once he wraps his arms around me. I nuzzle under his chin, shivering. He’s going to have to carry me everywhere like a baby koala. I don’t think I can tolerate being apart.
“Sorry,” I whisper.
“Don’t be sorry.” He kisses my hair, sighing and hugging me. “This is like my catnip.”
We doze off after a few minutes, and my stomach grumbles.
The next time I wake, I’m alone in the closet.
I’m not gripped with mortal terror like I was earlier. I slowly sit up, clutching my pink blanket, and notice Kylo left me a bottle of water. I take a sip, which turns into guzzling the entire thing. He also left me a piece of chocolate and I nibble on that.
I smell something cooking down the hall and my stomach grumbles. Trembling, I get to my feet, still clinging to my blanket, and follow the knot in my heart down the hall to the kitchen. I’m very hungry. Shaky. But I don’t feel like I’m on the verge of tears.
Kylo is standing at the stove moving something around in a pan with a spatula. He’s wearing his apron again, and looks up and smiles at me. I smile back.
He gestures to the kitchen table. “Should be ready soon, if you want to sit?”
I sit. He keeps smiling at me but eventually peels his eyes away to focus on cooking.
Kylo prepares me a plate of bacon and eggs and toast, and gives me a glass of orange juice—with pulp. I thank him as he settles my blanket around my shoulders, but frown when he sits across from me.
“Pulp?” I ask.
He cocks his head, fanning his napkin on his lap. “Don’t you like it?”
“…Yeah. But how’d you know?”
Kylo doesn’t answer for a minute. He hesitates, and avoids my eyes when he speaks.
“Whenever we get breakfast you feel vaguely disappointed with the orange juice.” He clears his throat. “I know you’re not picky enough to pay attention to the brand, so I assumed you liked the pulp.” He raises his eyebrows, muttering. “Repulsive as that may be.”
…Oh. I nod, watching him dump sugar and milk into his coffee like he always does. Right.
“Thank you,” I say.
“Sure.” Kylo shrugs. “I’m finely attuned to these things. I like learning your preferences. Even when they’re repulsive.”
He sips his coffee and I stare at him for another minute.
I push out from the table and he glances up, grunting when I hug him around the neck. There’s a flicker of surprise followed by a swell of warmth.
“I love you,” I mumble.
“I love you, too.”
We’re quiet. I don’t really want to move. I’m overwhelmed by how much I love him and how happy he makes me, and how nice it is feeling him like this.
Kylo pats my butt lightly. “You need to eat.”
“Oh—right.” I straighten and rub my eyes before the tears come. “Sorry.”
He smiles at me when I’m seated again, and I smile back at him before I start eating.
I’ve never been certain of anything in my life, but I’m certain that I love him more than anything.