It’s Rose who sends her the ad.
A screenshot via WhatsApp, with the caption <In case you’ve changed your mind about dating> followed by a laughing emoji, the one with the spilling tears that is rotated to a forty-five degree angle. It takes Rey two reads to realize why.
34 [M4F] New York - Alpha M looking for Omega F in her early 20s. Athletic build, small breasts, straight brown hair, and a light complexion are a must. Freckles and British accent are a plus. Willing to do as she’s told. Not looking for commitment. Contact for more information.
Rey huffs out a laugh and mutes her TV, right as Liz Lemon begins to sing about her night cheese.
Rey: <fits me to a t>
Rey: <except i’m not willing to do what this dude wants, ofc>
Rey: <i almost feel flattered…>
Rose: <you totally should. you’re someone’s fetish or something>
Rey: <would be the first time>
Rey: <where is this even from?>
Rose: <Reddit. Personals.>
Rey: <not sure I want to ask but what were you doing there?>
Rose: <you know Finn and I are looking for a third>
Rey: <oh, yeah! how’s that going?>
Rose: <chatting with a guy named Poe now>
Rose: <he’s a Beta, like us>
Rose: <seems promising. keep you updated>
Rey lets herself ponder the intricacies of three-way Beta sex for what she considers a reasonable, non-creepy amount of time, and then unmutes the telly.
She takes a sip from her water bottle.
She fluffs her pillow.
She eyes the pistachio Oreos on the coffee table (and ultimately decides against eating a couple, not worth the hassle of having to brush her teeth again).
She fluffs her pillow again, settling back more comfortably to finish watching this episode of 30 Rock for the nineteenth time.
And then, after all of that, she reaches for her phone and pulls up Rose’s messages once more.
She doesn’t even have to make an account.
She already has a Reddit username, from back when she was in her cross-country skiing phase and couldn’t figure out what gear to buy and where the best spots in her area were. It’s not her real name, and it’s not connected to her work email, which means that it’s anonymous enough, signing in and browsing the Personals by keyword; looking for the post Rose took a screenshot of. It’s—it’s that easy, apparently.
Rey has no idea what she’s doing. And whatever that is, it sure doesn’t seem like a good idea. So she sets her phone on the coffee table, screen down and facing the chipped wood, and tries to focus on Tracy Jordan and the tantrum he’s throwing. While biting off the little cuticles around her nails.
It’s not the “Willing to do as she’s told” bit that has her mull it over as she prepares her overnight oats. Probably.
It’s just—being an Omega, it can be so bloody confusing. On the one hand, there is her education, and her common sense, and the stupid stereotypes she wants to fight against—decades of gender studies scholarship and the First and Second Wave Omega Movement and heaps of Instagram influencers who make a living by being inspiring and talking about their experiences as Omegas finally in charge of their own minds and bodies.
On other other hand... on the other, there’s a whole lot of pesky little issues. Like the fact that the other day her new, very detestable Alpha boss randomly ordered her to prepare a report on the most recent infrastructure projects carried out by Resistance, and the next thing she knew so much slick was running down her thigh, under her very professional pencil skirt bought on sale from Kohl's, that she had to run to the ladies' room to cover her scent with coarse toilet paper and liquid hand soap.
So. Yeah. Confusing.
But it’s not the tough guy attitude in the post that has her impressed. Alpha posturing is just that—posturing. It’s possibly the fact that this specific Alpha (34, M) is looking for someone who looks and sounds exactly like Rey and granted, Omegas tend to be light and slender and of average height, not to mention that British people are a dime a dozen in New York and freckles are technically a skin disease, but—
No one ever likes Rey. Or—some do, of course, but never to the point where they’d rather be with someone who looks like her than with anyone else.
Not Alphas, anyway, and not in the way the ad seems to imply.
She’s still not sure how she feels about the “Willing to do as she’s told” bit. Even though, just a few seconds before falling asleep, it occurs to her that she might be a little curious. To find out exactly what it is that this Alpha would tell her.
She doesn’t do anything about the ad for a day. Then two. Then four.
Then she forgets all about it, because apparently working for a company that was the recent target of a successful hostile takeover is a time and energy consuming experience for all employees—made appreciably more unpleasant by the weird family ties between several of the players involved.
She is definitely not thinking about the ad anymore the following week, when the CEO of the acquirer company, First Order, and his in-house legal team visit Resistance for what feels like the tenth time this month and erase every trace of the previous owners, who have been nothing but lovely to Rey since she graduated from college. Rey would quit in solidarity, really, but she has very little money, no citizenship, and she’s an Omega to boot. People who say that designation doesn’t make a difference in whatever workplace—hell, in whatever moment of a person’s life—are either liars or fools.
At least, she gets to be icy-cold and borderline contemptuous towards the new CEO—the very asshole who triggered a small lake of slick from her and reminded her that she really is an Omega after all. When she pretends not to see his hand to avoid shaking it and his jaw tightens and rolls, Rey savors a moment of glee. When he asks for a meeting with her to discuss the task-management in her division, it feels good to send Snap in her stead. Yes, maybe she needs another brief trip to the restroom and more of that liquid soap, but she does it while gloating in vengeance a little. Take that, you Alpha shithead. This is for taking your parents’ company away from them.
So, yeah. Rey doesn’t think about the ad for two whole weeks. And probably never would have again, if it hadn’t been for Rose’s texts.
Rose: <he is the one.>
Rey: <what? who?>
Rose: <Poe. Poe’s the one.>
Poe. Poe? It takes Rey a couple of seconds to place him.
Rey: <wait. Reddit guy?>
Rose: <yep. we hung out last night. smart and funny and decent and all that>
Rose: <i loved him, Finn loved him.>
Rose: <we both loved him>
Rose: <his dick. fuck Rey, it’s alpha-sized>
Rey buries her head in her hands, because—no, she didn’t particularly want to know. And then she takes a deep breath and powers through, because—yes, that’s what friends are for. Apparently.
Rey: <i’m so happy for you>
Rose: <thanks me toooo>
Rose: <we’re gonna take it slowly, but…>
Rose: <btw, this was all me. Finn was all like ‘Reddit sucks, no decent human being answers personals on Reddit, he’s gonna disembowel us and eat our gallbladders with garlic salt and cash in our 401ks' and i am an amazing girlfriend, because i didn’t say ‘i told you so’ even once while Poe was sucking his spine out of his dick last night >
Oh, God. Oh, God, God, God. So. Much. Information.
Rey: <that’s so kind of you>
Rose: <right? but pls, 3 months from now when you’re helping us move Poe’s credenza into our apartment do tell Finn something like ‘thank god for Reddit and thank god for Rose’>
Rose: <it’s what he deserves>
Rey: <will do.>
Rey will do no such thing. Ever. Since she mostly agrees with Finn, and considers Reddit the harbinger of the apocalypse, the black hole from which all chaos originates, the dumpster fire of the internet. But hearing that not everyone who hangs out in the Personals forums is a weirdo… well.
<Hi :) >, she starts.
And then hides her face in the Nicolas Cage sequin pillow on her couch because—Hi?! Who is this lame? No one. Just Rey. In the entire damn world. God.
Sunshine94: <I have never really answered a post on Reddit before>
Sunshine94: <Or online>
Sunshine94: <Or anywhere, really>
Sunshine94: <But… I do fit your description. Physically, I mean. I even have freckles—everywhere, really, it’s kind of a curse—and a British accent. I’m 5’7’’. Hair is brown, and a little longer than shoulder-length. Omega, too.>
Sunshine94: <So I thought I’d try and see if you were still interested. I know it’s been a while since you posted.>
She grimaces, and holds tight onto the pillow.
Sunshine94: <But I might be screwing this up big time.>
Sunshine94: <I’m not sure what else I should tell you.>
Three dots appear at the bottom of the screen, and Rey's heart speeds up in her chest.
K_Ren: <It’s okay.>
K_Ren: <I’ve never posted an ad, either. We’re on even footing>
K_Ren: <And you sound perfect, Omega.>
Sunshine94: <Can I ask you a couple of questions?>
She is not blushing. She is not.
K_Ren: <Of course>
The thing is, Rey has no idea where to start. There are so many things she wants to know. So many things she should know, if she’s even considering this.
Sunshine94: <What do you look like?>
K_Ren: <Nothing special. Pretty much typical Alpha. Tall, the usual build, dark hair. Not particularly handsome. Would you like me to send a picture?>
Sunshine94: <No. No, I don’t think it’s necessary.>
Sunshine94: <What is it precisely that you’re looking for?>
It takes a few seconds for the answer to come. A few seconds, in which Rey reminds herself about eighty times that she is crazy—completely insane, a total lunatic for even thinking about—
K_Ren: <I am looking for an Omega who fits the description you read, and I want to have sex with her.>
K_Ren: <And I want to call the shots.>
Sunshine94: <Call the shots?>
Sunshine94: <Are you, like… into bdsm? Ropes? Safe words, and stuff?>
K_Ren: <Well, maybe. I don’t know much about it. What I want, though, is a mutual understanding that I’ll be in charge, and an Omega who doesn’t mind doing what she’s told for a couple of hours. With my guarantee that at any point, if you tell me no, I’ll stop doing whatever you don’t want me to do. No questions asked.>
Sunshine94: <And… what is it, that you’d like to do?>
K_Ren: <Nothing unusual. Fuck you, mostly.>
K_Ren: <We could talk about it more in detail in person, when we meet. At a place of your choosing, where you can feel safe.>
Reasonable. This sounds reasonable. They could meet in a public place, and she could figure out whether she wants to go through with it and actually have sex with him—Let him fuck you, whether you want to let him fuck you, the Omega voice in her head provides—and it would be okay. It would all be okay.
She has to be crazy. Crazy to even consider this.
Sunshine94: <Okay. I think… I’d like to try.>
Sunshine94: <Try to meet, I mean. And then see what happens.>
K_Ren: <Is there anything in particular I should do for you? Any wishes?>
Sunshine94: <I don’t believe so, no.>
Except that maybe she should mention that…. Rey taps her fingers against the back of her couch, and hesitates for a few moments before adding:
Sunshine94: <Actually, could you go slow with me? I haven’t been with anyone in a while.>
Sunshine94: <And never with an Alpha.>
If he is surprised, he doesn’t let it show. He just types, <Of course. I will take care of you.> and Rey—is that a whimper?
He seems… gentle. Nice. Sane. Not Reddit-like at all. More like a Bumble, eharmony type of guy, and Rey can’t help but wonder why an Alpha who clearly knows how to use punctuation as well as basic etiquette in passing social interactions is putting ridiculously specific ads on the worst website in the world.
Then again: Rey is the one who’s answering said ad.
Sunshine94: <Are you on blockers?>
K_Ren: <I just had to up my dose to the highest it’s ever been. Are you on suppressants?>
Sunshine94: <Yes, but on an average dosage.>
Sunshine94: <Is that going to be a problem?>
I don’t usually smell irresistible to anyone, anyway, she doesn’t add. It feels like it probably wouldn’t help her cause.
Sunshine94: <Are you sure?>
Sunshine94: <Because I could double my dose for a couple of days.>
K_Ren: <It’s okay. I’m usually not sensitive to Omega scents at all. With one single exception. You can up your dose if you want, but you’ll be safe no matter what.>
Sunshine94: <Okay, then.>
Sunshine94: <Where should we meet? I have no preferences, really.>
K_Ren: <We can meet on neutral ground. A bar, or something like that. I’ll also book a hotel room in case we want to use it, and get back to you.>
Sunshine94: <Okay. Would you like to know my name?>
Rey blinks at her screen, wondering if he is joking, and then realizing that he probably isn’t, since her exchanges with this Alpha haven’t exactly been humorous, so far.
Wow. Maybe he’s not so nice or sane, after all? She just stares at the chat, too surprised to know what to say, until he adds:
K_Ren: <Sorry—it’s not personal. I don’t mean to be offensive.>
K_Ren: <And I’ll try not to, but there is a fair chance that if we do end up having sex, I will call you by someone else’s name.>
K_Ren: <You should know, in case it’s a dealbreaker.>
It dawns on her right then, what the description in the post is all about. Not about someone fetishizing the way Rey looks or sounds, not at all. Something completely different, actually: this nice, sane, gentle Alpha, who seems so out of place on Reddit, is clearly—he is just in love with someone else. Someone who Rey just happens to resemble. Just her luck.
She wonders who it is, this other Omega who looks so much like her. If it’s an ex-girlfriend whom he’s trying to fuck out of his system, or someone who rejected him; maybe the spouse of a friend or relative, who is totally off limits.
And then she wonders whether being someone’s obvious stand-in is a dealbreaker for her.
It probably should be. Rey should have more self respect than going for an internet hookup with an Alpha who clearly would rather be with someone else. And if she’d known this from the start, maybe she wouldn’t have reached out at all.
It’s just—it’s been so long, since anyone has liked her. And talking to him on this stupid chat app is the most sexually adventurous thing she has done in years, and he’s being—at least he’s being upfront about this, which is something that Rey can appreciate. And in the end—maybe, maybe it’s possible that if she gets laid once, even just once, she won’t have to bring a change of panties into work from now on, for whenever her new asshole of an Alpha boss asks her to make copies of blueprints or something equally annoying.
Which is why what she answers is:
Sunshine94: <It’s not a dealbreaker.>
He messages her to tell her to meet him on Saturday afternoon in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt (<It’s a public place. Will that make you feel safe?>); and then he texts her again about one hour before their meeting, explaining that he’ll be wearing jeans and a blue Henley. When she asks, <What kind of blue?> he answers, <I’m not sure. Blue blue.>
Rey chuckles, pushing her phone down the pocket of her shorts as she steps on the subway.
She should probably be more anxious than this. Not that she isn’t nervous—it took her three tries to apply her liquid eyeliner straight—but her body feels strangely light as she walks towards the hotel. Maybe it’s because this is her own thing: if she decides to go upstairs with the Alpha she’ll text Rose, but for now no one knows that Rey is doing this—not her friends, not her colleagues, and not her elderly neighbor who insists on telling her that she’d be so much prettier, if she only smiled a little more frequently and maybe dyed her hair blond.
It’s probably dangerous and slightly reckless, but it just feels freeing. And her skin is hot, her panties are damp, rubbing against swollen, freshly shaven flesh, and her glands are itching—yes, even that one. Alpha? her nerve endings are wondering, timid and hopeful. Alpha. Rey doesn’t silence them like she usually does, and they seem to thank her by vibrating under her skin.
<It’s black shorts for me,> she messages him when she’s ten minutes out. <And a red shirt with white polka dots, tucked in. Though I guess you’ll recognize me from the freckles.>
The dots bounce at the bottom of the chat, and immediately disappear. Rey wonders what it is that he almost texted her and then decided not to type. She wonders if he’ll be disappointed, or put off by her scent, or if he’ll lose interest as soon as he sees her. And then she tightens her hand on the shoulder strap of her purse and walks faster.
It’ll be fine. She has the accent, and the build, and she’s an Omega. It’ll be fine.
The lobby is AC-cold, and just crowded enough to make Rey feel safe but not overwhelmed. Rey looks around the wide room, her gaze skimming over exotic-looking plants and marble floors and tourists carrying large suitcases. She takes a deep breath and heads for the hotel bar. She is barely halfway across the room when she notices him, and her stomach sinks.
Her boss. Her stupid ass of a boss is here. How is this even possible?
He’s facing the main entrance of the hotel, but his profile is as distinctive as they come, and his height would give him away anyway, even if he were wearing a ski mask. Not to mention his stupidly good smell, which always makes her dizzy and lightheaded and sets her on edge.
Rey grimaces as she stares at him, wondering why the hell he has to be right here, and right now, when she is trying to do something fun for once. Is this the hotel he’s staying at? Though—First Order is based in New York, too, which means that he should have his own apartment—not hanging out where Rey is supposed to be meeting her hookup.
Not that it’s a big deal. He probably won’t even recognize her, not out of the Resistance headquarters and wearing something that is a far cry from her usual work outfits. They’ve only met a couple of times, anyway, and he’s way too above her to—
Ben Solo turns around, and Rey’s brain—it stutters, and freezes, and then it finally catches up. Or maybe it just begins to work properly for the first time in days.
Her eyes lock with Solo’s, and—he must definitely recognize her, because he seems… surprised, to see her. And also something else. His nostrils flare and his shoulders tighten, and it’s quick, touch and go, but Rey notices anyway.
And then she notices something else: the color of his shirt. She notices the clothes he’s wearing, and her stomach plummets, cold and laden and—
Rey takes a few retreating steps, uncaring of the Beta whose toes she’s stepping on. Her gaze holds Solo's for a too-long second, and then—
Then she spins around, and runs out of the lobby as fast as she can.