Louis was an alpha.
Even before their secondary gender results came back in elementary school he'd known. Maybe he'd earned it with the starting cards life had given him. Gotten it between the bars of his childhood, staring carnivores in the eyes like they weren't anything special. Earned it when he'd gotten a second chance at life because he'd had that extra bit of authority. He wasn't surprised when he looked down at the piece of paper and it had a clear, red 'A' stamped onto it. He'd known it from the start.
That sorted out, all Louis had to do was wait until the government sent him a letter with the name of the partner they'd chosen for him. It would probably be another herbivore. An omega. That was just the way things went.
The deciding papers came in the summer before Louis entered high school, arriving in the mail with a heavy red stamp stuck to the outside.
He knew something was wrong when his dad huffed out a short, humorless laugh when he looked at the results. Louis' dad never laughed. Not ever. Something about that made Louis' fur stand on-end and his heckles rise so he snatched the results back for reasons even he couldn't really explain.
"All yours," was the dry response, his dad going back to reading the newspaper in his lap. Louis was too nervous to look at the paper after that. He tucked it into his desk drawer and decided it was best to wait until he met them at the ceremony. Give his soulmate the chance to make the first impression, not some paper or his dad's strange reaction.
Louis didn't have a lot of requirements. He didn't care about their gender or species or really even if they were an omega. He could even make it work with a beta if push came to shove, he was pretty sure. Louis just wanted someone who would depend on him and trust him and look at him like he was actually worth something. Someone he could love and protect.
All those things alphas were supposed to do, he was going to do perfectly.
"His name is Legosi. He's waiting inside for you."
Louis stood in the small, white meeting room and stared at the boy in front of him. The wolf standing in front of him was looking at him like he was the things stars were made of. The kind of look Louis had always dreamed his omega would look at him with. Like he'd been catapulted from the moon and was now standing in front of him in full celestial beauty. Legosi's eyes were a bit too sunken for their young age but filled with so much hope behind them that it was almost overpowering. Just like everything else about him.
Because he was a wolf.
Wolves were never omegas. That was a truth. A no-brainer. Lions, tigers, wolves were never omegas. In some rare cases they could be betas if they were meant to to bond with another alpha of their species but they were never omegas. That's why all Louis could think of while staring at the young wolf in front of him was there must be some mistake. Something twisted in his stomach.
It was unfair. Cruel, even. A cosmic fuck you in less words and a lot more tense staring. Maybe Louis would have found it funny if it didn't take everything that he had based his future around and thrown it right in his face. Now he understood why his dad had made that almost-laugh sound. The whole situation was a joke.
Louis had spent his entire childhood—almost every thinking minute of his free life—working to become a good alpha for his future partner. He was the best alpha a herbivore could have asked for. Hell, maybe even a good alpha to some smaller carnivore and omnivore betas. He'd been certain of that. But he couldn't be a good alpha to the animal in front of him. Not to a wolf.
Sure, at the moment the wolf in front of him—his partner, Louis refused to think—was around the same height as him. In a couple of years though that equality would be a thing of the past. The wolf would shoot in size, leaving Louis behind in the way only a carnivore could do to a herbivore. He couldn't protect someone who was stronger than him; he didn't even know where to start. Couldn't hold him, couldn't know if the wolf would eat him or not. Couldn't.
So he didn't.
He turned around—ignoring the distinctly hurt scrunch of Legosi's nose—and walked out of the room. It was running away, sure, but that wasn't his omega. That wasn't his future. If anything, that was a government mistake that would be sorted out in a few days. He'd get a letter in the mail telling him his real partner was another deer or a cat or something tiny; something possible. An alpha herbivore and an omega carnivore was a joke at best and could really only be taken as such. Even Alphas carnivores rarely got omega herbivores since the relationships were so dangerous. The reverse was impossible.
He didn't say anything to his dad when he got into the car. He didn't need to.
Back in his room he didn't think about the soft fur, the softer looking eyes of the wolf. What kind of carnivore stood like that anyways? Looking collapsed on themselves. Maybe he'd been trying to make himself look smaller. Making himself more manageable for him. Louis didn't know what to think about that. He didn't know what to think about the whole situation, much less his supposed omega. Wolves weren't supposed to look small (or soft to the touch).
It wasn't like the government forced animals to get with their selected mate. Usually animals had no problem with the partner they'd been given. In 99.99% of cases the government really did pair together animals who worked personality, sub-gender, species, and temperament-wise perfectly. Their pairings were practically the backbone of civilized animal society. They kept rutting alphas from forcing themselves on defenseless, herbivore omegas because they were unmated. They made sure omegas didn't have to go through painful heats without the protection and relief of an alpha.
No new letter came in the mail.
As the days dragged by he came to the practical conclusion that this was how they'd wanted it. Somehow they had decided that a wolf was the best possible partner for him. Despite his past, despite-
Louis didn't want to be scared of his omega. That was the last thing an alpha should be when it came to their omega.
But he was.
Louis' first rut started a week after the meeting and he didn't have to think long about what had set it off. Even if every part of his rational mind had rejected the wolf, his body obviously hadn't. In fact, every part of his body was on fire with the need for his omega.
He lay in bed—staring at the dark ceiling—as sweat pooled in the dip of his collar bone and rolled off his skin with a musky, alpha smell. His dad disappeared for those few days and Louis was grateful not to have the scent of another alpha bouncing around the house. His own scent alone made him feel sick. Irritable. Made him want to tear off his own skin just to get rid of the shuddery, hot feeling.
His pants strained, looking for relief. Looking for a soft omega to hold down and pleasure and take.
In the exhausted moments where he wasn't touching himself, he thought about things he didn't want to think about. Like how Legosi—his omega, he didn't think—was probably going through his heat. Alone. In pain because Louis wasn't there to take care of him. Going through things tenfold worse because omegas just drew that unfortunate straw.
And it was Louis' fault.
Maybe it was because his dad had never given him "The Talk", but Louis' first rut was a complete failure and the deer started taking suppressants the next day. Louis didn't do things that made him feel out of control. That made him feel weak.
He might have been a herbivore, but he was also an alpha.
To him that was important.
The suppressants worked for the rest of the summer, fending off any more sweaty, frustrating nights of being caged in his room.
Instead, he spent his days in the house gym, feeling his blood rush under his skin. While lifting he'd stare at himself in the full-length mirror and see his own insecurities looking back. His inadequacies. The muscles in his arms were harder than any other herbivore's but they were small, so small, when compared to those of grown wolves. Even if he trained every day for the rest of his life he wouldn't be able to keep his omega safe from another large carnivore. Wouldn't be able to lay claim what was his.
In short: he was a bad alpha.
And Louis didn't know how to live with that. Didn't think he could ever look Legosi in the eyes with how weak he was. No carnivore wanted a herbivore mate, much less an alpha herbivore mate. Someone physically and societally weaker than them.
His omega obviously wouldn't want him, so Louis had turned away before having to hear it himself. That was easiest for the both of them.
On his first day of high school he caught eyes with the wolf from across the gym hall.
Somehow his eyes had instantly found the shock of gray fur, the tired but oh-so-emotive eyes instantly. They'd already been looking at him, not at all subtle. A full, longing type of stare. Louis didn't show anything on his face, just quickly dragged his eyes up and down the omega's body. Everything looked like how it had when they'd first met, only the wolf was slightly taller. Had slightly more muscle.
Louis turned his head away and looked back up at the podium. From the side of his eye he saw a golden retriever whisper something into the wolf's ear. Beta better not be trying anything, Louis' mind instantly lashed out. He pushed the thoughts aside, even as his hands curled into fists at his side.
It wasn't his problem.
They weren't even bonded.
Louis continued looking over at them for the rest of the period.
Legosi smelled amazing.
Musky but fresh like damp air at night. That's what it felt like too. When the wolf was near, Louis' mind went decidedly calm, like he was out on his balcony with nothing but the moon and trees in sight.
It wasn't what omegas usually smelled like. Most omegas smelled like fruit—sweet—or warm and comforting like cinnamon. Legosi smelled like rain.
He caught whiffs of him sometimes when he entered their club room, in the hallway leading to the cafeteria, even in the dirt outside of the herbivore dorms. Louis wondered what he'd been doing there.
He'd probably stood there, looked up at the windows, and wondered why his alpha didn't care.
They hadn't spoken since the day they met—Louis couldn't remember him talking even then—but Legosi seemed to be a quiet animal anyway. He didn't speak in drama club, only nodding his head in agreement when spoken to. He had a servile air about him and seemed happy to help herbivores move boxes and fix high-up lights. Surprisingly, by the end of the first month, the herbivores in the club had seemed to take him in as one of their own. Maybe that was the power of an omega carnivore.
Meanwhile Louis looked on from the center of everyone, feeling strangely like he was the one standing on the sidelines.
Louis was chosen for the lead role in their first production, beating out the carnivore competition with a practiced ease that had come from beating carnivores for years. With the confidence that came with knowing he was better than them. The confidence an alpha should have.
He could smell the cloying pheromones the omegas gave off when he gave his performance. Sticky-sweet and neigh suffocating in intensity. Without consciously thinking about it, he looked up to where the light crew sat. The blinding rays hid the animals but somehow Louis knew exactly where the wolf was sitting.
A faint smell hit him, like the dampness of a rainy day. Calm and cool. When he focused on that scent it overpowered everything else despite being so delicate, so subtle.
The show ended in deafening applause. All the lights snapped on.
He didn't meet the wolf's eyes. He didn't need to, to know that he was staring. Eyes open and longing, like Louis was still the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. It was a look Louis had gotten used to seeing by then, but that didn't mean the alpha inside didn't still lap it up, happy and sated at the attention from his omega.
They didn't even need to talk for Legosi to soothe him.
Louis still couldn't do anything in return.
Louis was in the middle of a test when he first smelled it. He turned to the window, confused when he saw it wasn't raining. It smelled like rain in the classroom. The way air did before a thunderstorm.
He swallowed and risked looking away from his paper to the other side of the room where the wolf was pressed against the wall opposite, looking miserable. His fur looked like it was damp—probably from heatfever—and his paw was shaking around his pen, like he'd crush it. Despite obviously being on the edge of his heat, the wolf was still staring resolutely at the test, circling answers with a strange kind of determination.
The scent of rain poured around him.
Sudden heat flooded Louis' body. He noticed a few of the other alphas in the room raise their heads and look around too. The pen fell from his fingers and onto the floor as he stood up. He hardly processed what he was doing before he found himself in front of the wolf's desk, leaning over him, a growl on his lips. Louis startled at his presence, eyes large as he looked up at him. Instead of looking scared or ducking his head, Legosi only looked at him the way he always did.
Louis was starting to hate that look. I love it when omega looks at me. Love it, love it. Only me. Make him look only at me all the time.
"Get the fuck out." Louis all but snarled, alpha instincts bashing against his common sense. Winning.
The rest of the class held their breath. The omegas and betas in the class flinched at the command, heads snapping down in instinctive submission. Even though he was a herbivore, even the carnivore betas saw him as an alpha.
Louis' fingers clenched the edge of Legosi's desk, knuckles going white with the strain of not dragging the wolf out by his uniform tie himself. Of not biting him right there. Claim him. Claim your omega.
Nobody moved until the beta teacher seemed to understand what was happening, omega scent filling the air to the point where even she could sense it. She ran between them, pushing herself between Legosi and Louis in a move that could really only be seen as foolheartedly brave. Betas didn't get between alphas and omegas. For a moment she seemed to be confused about which one of them was the omega because her gaze flicked between them. Then she decided. Louis snarled, his fingers wrenching off the the desk with a sick screech of nails as she pushed him aside firmly.
"Legosi, I'll escort you to the infirmary."
The wolf didn't look at her, he looked at Louis like he was the only thing he could see. He hadn't flinched at Louis' earlier command; instead Louis could only remember the wolf looking more like that. More hungry. Heat had clouded his eyes but the intent was clear.
Louis broke their eye contact with a last breathy growl. He forced himself to take one step and then another and somehow made it back to his desk through sheer force of will. Without him there the teacher finally managed to drag Legosi out of his seat and into the hall.
"Everyone else stay quiet and don't share answers," she uttered distractedly as she put a steadying arm around the the wolf and led him away, leaving the class alone. Two of the alphas in class stood up to open the windows, sticking their heads out to breathe in fresh air. The omegas and betas started to quietly mumble things to each other.
He could still feel the thrum of need in his blood, pounding at his head, and Louis knew that this had already triggered a rut. He took pills for this, dammit. A week of rut with just a dormitory between him and his omega was going to be torture. Frustration was already sinking to his stomach.
With a steady motion that revealed nothing of his alpha neediness, he picked up his pen and turned his attention back to the test paper, ignoring the eyes of at least a dozen creatures on his back.
He circled a B.
The omegas in class didn't leave him alone all day after that, acting almost like they wanted him to lose control of his alpha instincts for them. Wanted him to trip up and claim them on an animalistic whim. Some unclaimed omegas could be crafty and get the alphas they wanted by provoking them before or during ruts.
If any of them thought that he was going to lose his composure again then they were sorely mistaken.
"You're not bonded yet?" A feminine, cheery voice asked from above where he'd sought reprieve after two classes of unwanted advances. She had clear eyes and white fur that looked soft and dewy like a newborn's. A rabbit. Though the word "bunny" seemed like it fit her better. When he didn't answer she jumped down the stairs like she was made of air.
As she drew close he could catch the sweet scent of lilies. Roses. Violets. All at once, all around her. Hung around her shoulders like an everlasting summer. It was refreshing, unlike the heady omega scents in the classroom.
"I'm a beta," she smiled, a playful look in her eyes, "I just tend to the garden on the roof. That's why I smell like this."
She pulled at her uniform collar and Louis looked away stiffly when the motion showed off the top of a white, lace bra. A metal choker was also clasped around her neck, he noted briefly. The teasing look in her eyes intensified. Louis didn't really know what to say to that, or to the fact that she'd caught him smelling her. Her being a beta did make sense though as he could only smell the faintest scent of warm tea when she got closer to him. Earl grey. Something comforting, simple, and soft; safe even when her intentions seemed less than pure.
Her tiny fingers pressed against his chest and the alpha inside of him clenched at how small she was. At how easy she'd be to scoop into his arms; to protect and care for. Her body screamed omega and Louis wasn't sure if it was the rut talking or true. His thoughts were muddled with omega pheromones and his own rut hormones coursing through his body.
"What are you after?" He asked cooly, pushing himself backwards against the wall to give himself space.
She hummed thoughtfully, "going through ruts alone is hard, isn't it? For alphas. I'm a beta so I wouldn't know about heats or ruts but-" she got on her tiptoes and pressed the back of her hand to Louis' face like they actually knew each other. He didn't even know her name.
"You look like you're in pain."
"I have. An omega." Somehow he could admit it like this, under these conditions. Even if it wasn't completely true. He wasn't bonded.
She gave him a knowing look, "where are they then? Even omegas are too possessive to let their bonded one get scented by a pack of thirsty omegas like that."
Louis felt another rush of heat course through his body like her words had turned his blood to molten basalt. His omega would be possessive of him? Want him? Want- A growled breath left his mouth before he could stop it and the rabbit in front of him all but purred as she pushed closer to him, into the heat of his body.
"I love alpha smell," she sighed contently, breathing him in, and Louis was at a loss. Betas didn't usually like alpha musk. Betas didn't usually wear metal collars around their necks like they expected to be with an alpha. Expected to have to ward off bites on the back of their throats. This girl was dangerous and yet her presence was the opposite of that. She was so tiny and soft and she touched him like he was someone powerful.
She wasn't an omega, but she was what he'd always expected an omega to feel like. Flowery and so small he could pick her up with one arm. To her he was tall and probably looked safe and strong. Like an alpha. It's what movies and novels and society showed off as perfect time and time again.
And Louis was perfect, right? Had to be be.
Had to, because otherwise why had he deserved to live when so many others just like him had died? What made him survive, unless he was just somehow better? He'd deserved it. It wasn't just some sick luck- Wasn't-
His thoughts ground to a stop when she pulled herself up with his tie, reaching for him on the tips of her shoes. She looked unblemished in the dusty sunlight, gold reflecting off her fur. Her lips felt like the rest of her. But the pressure and fervour she kissed him with was the opposite of how she looked.
She toppled them both back into the concrete wall and he almost felt wild with the feeling of another animal touching him. He caught her, holding her up, as she pressed kisses against his mouth, hand pushing under his shirt like it was there to be moved. Her knee pressed between his legs in a demanding way that made him wonder if maybe she wasn't an alpha instead.
"We can do it while you rut, every time. Fuck you're huge. No bond. You don't need the pills-"
Louis snapped his mind back to the present at the mention of suppressants and he grabbed her hand, stopping its way up his chest. The alpha inside clawed at his skin, didn't want the touching to stop.
"What do you get out of this. Letting me-" Louis tried to find the right word but they all sounded to rude, crass, indecent against his tongue.
"I get to be fucked like I'm an omega. It feels the best, with an alpha. When they use you like-" She said the words breathlessly—shamelessly—and pushed back into his mouth. Like what? The next few minutes were blurs of heat, feeding his rut in a way that made it crash into him more like a bus than a steady descent.
This was okay. Wasn't scary. She was so small.
She grabbed his hand and pulled him up the stairs. He was panting at the top but tried not to show it, tried to suppress everything happening that very second. They pushed up against the wooded door of a shed on the roof and he nearly fell when she turned the knob behind him and the door creaked open. Instead, he caught them both and snarled as he tossed her onto the bed. He straddled her small form on the sparse mattress that had no pillow or blankets.
She responded enthusiastically, grabbing his back and ass, pulling him to her. His nose pressed into her shoulder as her hand trailed down to the front of his tight pants and-
Louis scrunched his nose as the scent registered. The mattress smelled like the scents of at least a dozen animals—omegas, betas, and alphas—but the heaviest scent of all was the damp, slightly musky scent of rain. He knew that scent too well; would have recognized it if it were even a tenth as strong.
Louis sat up. The rabbit slid off his chest and onto the mattress at the sudden movement, confusion evident on her face. "Legos-"
Legosi had been on the mattress. His scent practically rolled off of it in waves, clogged his brain. He must have been there a lot for there to be so much of the smell. Scented- Something possessive and sick wrenched through his body, vision going red with the thoughts of someone else touching his omega, making him come-
The rabbit reached out to touch his shoulder and he actually growled, low and real as he tackled her down onto her back, nails digging into her shoulders. She made an uncomfortable, pained sound but didn't move. Maybe she knew that struggling would only lead to more pain.
"Why was he here." Louis demanded, voice dripping with command and anger. Two things alphas were good at. Her body shook under him like she'd been slapped at the tone and she swallowed stiffly, eyes watering, "I- what."
His grip hardened, "I can smell him. It practically reeks of him in here. What did you do. Omega-"
The rabbit's eyes widened and for the first time he saw fear in them. Recognition. It lit something under Louis' skin on fire that this nobody lowly beta knew something about his omega that he didn't.
"You're Legosi's alpha." She stuttered the words out, voice sounding shaky like she didn't quite believe it. Louis couldn't think, couldn't speak. He only let another sharp sound vibrate from back of his throat. An obvious order to continue.
"He. I-" The rabbit's jaw was shaking so bad that she couldn't get the words out. She took in a shuddering breath and then gripped his arm as if it would somehow steady her. "You're an asshole."
Louis snapped his eyes to hers and she flinched again but kept glaring at him.
"His partner didn't want h-him, he said. His heats were bad because of it," her words seemed to jump, scared and uneven, but it was Louis who pulled back as if burned. She swallowed thickly and wrapped a hand around her bruised wrist. "He couldn't walk for days after them because he would tear up his skin. Ble-"
Louis' body reacted before his brain did, hand slapping across her mouth. Clamping it shut. Shutting out the words. His hand was trembling now, a cold, sick feeling traveling down his chest. The sheer wrongness of the feeling snapped his rut back—triggering some kind of fight-or-flight response—leaving his mind gut-wrenchingly lucid.
"Don't-" he said thickly, voice rough from the growling. It sounded small though, tired. Free from the possessive, haughty alpha tone. He felt her lips move against his palm and he pushed against her mouth harder for a second before letting his hand drop with fatigued resignation, "don't. Please."
Numb. After the rut peeled back that was all that was left. A numb emptiness.
Without thinking about it, he let his body fall onto the mattress, curling into the scent of rain. He pushed his palms into the rough fabric like it would somehow bring the scent closer, make it more real. Like it'd be warm and beating with the life it'd come from.
Rain. Cold and sharp. Like taking a step into a puddle just a little too deep, shoes and socks soaked through to the bone.
"Why?" Her voice was a lot more steady.
Louis didn't say anything, couldn't.
The rabbit pushed herself onto her knees and scooted closer to him warily like he was some kind of carnivore. Dangerous. Maybe he was.
"You're a coward."
The words stung but he didn't rebuff them. He knew that already. The smell of rain seeped into his wrist where he pressed it against the mattress.
"I'm a beta and I took better care of your omega than you did. I helped him through all his heats this year and you just did nothing even though you're. Right. Here."
Louis felt another sickening wave of nausea.
"Did you- Is he- Are you bonded?" His voice sounded so broken but he didn't have the energy anymore. He'd been broken from the start so why did it only show in his voice then.
"No. Legosi is my friend."
Relief made him boneless, vision blurry with guilt. Why does it matter to you? You never claimed him. He's not your omega.
"Are you-" He heard the rabbit take in a shocked breath and then there were a cold, tense couple of minutes where they both said nothing. Louis stared at where his hand rested on the bed and watched as the image blurred into a watery mosaic of colors. He thought he'd be used to the feeling by then: the feeling of being useless, disappointing his omega, letting down his father and the other deer in the back-alley cages, being himself. Instead they all wound up inside of him like claws around his throat.
He jolted away when a soft paw pressed to his arm.
"Tell me why. He deserves to know and," she paused, not looking at his face even though he knew she'd already seen the tears, "you seem to have a reason."
A sob ripped its way out of his throat when he opened his mouth and he seethed. He was an alpha. Alphas weren't pathetic and they certainly didn't cry. Everything he'd been schooling himself in feeling, in doing, seemed to be thrown out the window. If he wasn't a good alpha than what was he? Just a weak herbivore with no prospects, no past, no memories of a better time, no talents besides acting like he was better than he was, no real family, no nothing.
"Because I'm this." And there was really nothing to say after that, right? She saw what he was like, how pathetic-
"He wouldn't want-" Louis gestured tiredly to himself, wanting the world to just shut off, leave him in the blissful dark, "this. herbivore, weak, got nothing to offer him. Can't even keep a beta herbivore off him."
"You didn't even try." The rabbit said tersely and then stared at his back when he didn't continue.
"He wants you, you know. He knows you're a herbivore and he still wants you." Louis could have told her that much. He'd seen Legosi's burning looks. The wolf's lingering scent in every place Louis occupied, like he'd wanted to scent him from afar. Remind him.
"You're scared. You don't care if he loves you because you can't get past the thought that you don't deserve it. That you can't handle it."
Louis turned around, stared at the rabbit, took in how the shadows played off her fur, ears rimmed by a ring of golden sunset in front of the window. Took in the determined, strong look in her misleadingly innocent eyes. Louis knew that betas were known to be level-headed but he wondered if all of them were this brave too.
"What's your name?"
Louis took it in. Haru. Like summer. Haru with skin that smelled like flowers not because of her secondary gender but because she was a gentle animal who loved raising seeds into grown blossoms.
"You're a better part-"
"Shut up. He needs you." She rubbed her arm with short, clipped nails, "begs for you non-stop seven days a month. Hates the toys-"
Louis had the urge to push her mouth shut again but instead just cut her off with a hard, "ok."
"Okay. I hope you understand now."
Louis stood up from the mattress and wiped his face against the inside of his elbow.
"Thank you, Haru."
"Wasn't for you, but okay." She smiled and Louis wondered what having friends felt like. He was glad Legosi had this one.
Louis stayed locked up in his room for four days, riding out his rut. He stayed in bed, sweaty and sick, with hormones and arousal sunk around him like shackles.
When it finally cleared, he took a shower that lasted over an hour. He felt like death, looked like it. He scrubbed off the scent of rut. The grime of it. Working at his skin like he was peeling off an old version of himself. Washing it away down the drain like the rest of the dirt.
When he looked in the mirror afterwards he breathed in the damp air, feeling a small flicker of hope in his throat.
Legosi came back to class a day after Louis did, looking normal aside for some patches of missing fur on his arm and white scratch marks that ran up from his shoulder to his throat. More scratches raked up the back of his neck like he'd been clawing there. Like he'd been imitating teeth.
The bell rang above them and chairs began to get pushed aside.
Louis felt something fragile crack inside his chest and he forced himself to calm down and focus and think of a way to fix all of this. He was good at making plans. Good at keeping things the way they should be. He'd need to talk to the wolf, tell Legosi about what a failure of an alpha he was and-
No. That would only make him a worse alpha for worrying his omega. For making him care and love him when he was broken and-
"You really want to get bonded that bad, huh?" The sneered words were enough to bring Louis back to the classroom. On the other side of the room a tiger stood over Legosi's desk, a clawed paw on the wolf's papers. Holding them down. An alpha.
"Didn't think wolves could even be omegas. You're really one of a kind." The words didn't sound flattering. Instead, they sounded downright taunting. Despite the mean words, the tiger was still looming too close to the omega, looking down on him the way alphas did when they wanted an animal to submit to them. Knew they would. It set Louis' teeth on edge.
Legosi didn't flatten his ears. Didn't even look down when the tiger let out a low kind of growl that should have made any omega snap their eyes down in submission. He just stared and then looked like he was being mildly inconvenienced when the three of them were the last ones left in the classroom.
Louis stood up at the same time the tiger tore the papers off the wolf's desk and flung the shredded homework to the floor.
"You think you can just look at alphas like that? Thought you were an alpha but you're just a needy bitch. Bet you were gagging for an alpha yesterday, would have loved taking my knot. Bet no alpha wan-"
"Getting off on bullying omegas is for pups." Louis growled cooly, pushing a desk across the room with his foot so it crashed into the tiger. The tiger seethed and shoved the desk off his side.
"Oh, the herbivore alpha is stepping in now. Freaks got a thing for other freaks?"
"Maybe I have a thing for you shutting up." Louis stepped forward, baring his teeth at the tiger as they stepped into each other's zones. The heavy, bitter scent of another alpha made Louis want to gag but he didn't show it as he stood chest-to-chest with him. The tiger snarled and after a tense second of staring at each other, he lunged for Louis. Louis rolled to the side just in time for the claws to miss his ribs and he grabbed a pen from the desk next to him and stabbed it into the tiger's back before he could turn around. There was a wet, sick sound as it found purchase in muscle and the other alpha whirled around, eyes bulging with bloodlust.
The tiger seemed committed to murdering him now, that much was certain. Louis didn't feel anything other than his alpha inside snarling protect omega, protect, protect, protect.
The tiger pounced onto one of the desks, tail twitching behind him, waiting for the perfect moment to jump on him. Tigers were fast. The alphas of alphas. Strong and agile.
"I'll tear the meat off your bones," the tiger snarled, looking like he enjoyed the thought, "and after I'll claim that omega and teach him his place-"
The tiger pushed himself off the desk with his hind legs and catapulted himself at Louis. Louis felt a sick feeling of déjà vu, vaulting the desk beneath him up into the tiger's face as he scrambled to the right. The tiger's head met the desk with a dull thud. He could outsmart the tiger a couple times but not forever. When it came down to strength he was- He was weak. He didn't have a gun or a knife. He didn't have claws or sharp canines designed to tear through flesh.
The tiger dragged himself upright and sprinted back towards him, claws unsheathed all the way, mouth watering. Louis sucked in a breath and grasped for a compass that had rolled onto the floor, prepared to stab it though the tiger's throat when he came down. He didn't let himself flinch or look away from his target. The white fur at the tiger's throat. He stared and stared but the tiger never fell onto him. He just stayed above him, suspended.
Louis tore his eyes away from the alpha's throat and saw that Legosi's paw was wrapped around the alpha's head, claws digging into the tiger's skull. Blood dripped down the wolf's fingers as he hauled the alpha's limp body to the ground. Undeniably strong.
The feline spit blood, baring his teeth, "What the fuck. Get out of my way, omega bitch. I'll-" There was a sickening crunch as Legosi stepped on the tiger's head, pushing him into the tiles. The hissing sounds stopped and Louis stared wide-eyed at the body on the ground. Is he dead? Louis didn't think so but he couldn't be sure.
"Sorry," Legosi said quietly to the tiger but the words sounded hollow, almost taunting.
He stood up and walked cautiously over to Louis like he didn't want to scare him off. He lingered at his desk, looking at his alpha. Those eyes. Louis closed his mouth and grunted as he pushed himself off the ground. He cast another glance towards the tiger, making sure he was really out, before making his way over to Legosi.
Louis wasn't sure if he'd been more nervous during the fight or right then. He'd just watched the omega toss an alpha tiger to the ground like he was nothing and Louis was still walking up to him. Still thinking that he had a chance. They stared at each other and Louis never realized that the wolf's eyes were grey, almost an icy blue. It was a cold, beautiful color, but Louis found himself thinking that unlike Haru, Legosi's face made him look a lot less kind than he was. He almost laughed at himself for that thought, eyes catching on the blood dripping off Legosi's claws. His muscles made the school uniform stretch over his arms stiffly.
"Where did you learn to do that?" Why are you so built?
"Back-alley market," Legosi replied and Louis' eyes snapped to him, eyes hard. "My teacher lives in the area. I don't do anything with the businesses there. Well, I get in fights with them sometimes."
Louis liked Legosi's voice. It was as calm and level as his scent. He took another step closer.
"You're stronger than me, even though I'm your alpha." Louis took a deep breath, wondering if Legosi even still considered him his alpha. Probably not, probably hadn't since the day Louis had turned his back. Probably wouldn't even if he hadn't. When he'd learned how weak Louis really was.
"I don't need an alpha," Legosi said softly but firmly and it was surprising how such gentle words seemed to break Louis' heart into a million pieces. He tried not to let it show, to hide the wince his face made. He deserved this. Louis nodded jaggedly and felt his feet slow to a stop. Felt his insides cool with rejection. He turned around to walk away, to find someplace dark and alone so he could cry and forget that he was.
A warm paw caught his wrist with strength that seemed to be doing its hardest to not come across as strong. Strong paws that were doing their best to be gentle. He was turned around again to face Legosi.
"I don't need an alpha," the wolf reiterated and Louis nodded. He understood, okay. The tears were welling up in his eyes before he could push them back. He hadn't cried since he was in the cell and now all of a sudden they were coming back. Legosi could make him a mess with just a couple of words when a tiger trying to murder him had hardly broken past the numb edges of his awareness.
"But I want you."
Louis looked up at Legosi's grey eyes, breath catching in his throat.
"Why would you." The words were out of his mouth before he could salvage them. Raw and monotone and self-deprecating. He hated that it didn't even sound like a question. Just a statement. Legosi was still there looking like he cared and it twisted Louis' heart with a rush of love and guilt. The wolf's paw slipped from Louis's wrist to his hand, warm and sturdy, so much larger than Louis'.
"I've liked you since I first saw you in the meeting room. Loved you. I knew you were the one for me. But I also knew you wouldn't like me," the wolf said, voice firm and warm and it was only when he paused that it went low, quiet. "I read the letter the government sent before meeting you. It was in your description. The number. The carnivores that-"
Louis really couldn't swallow then. Couldn't breathe. He couldn't do anything, but stand in spot as Legosi told him his darkest secret. A chill ran down his spine and he almost felt the phantom leers of alpha carnivores and the infected sting of the tattoo on his foot. More than anything he remembered the suffocating fear, the way they'd held him down and-
He was an alpha.
That's what he was.
So then why-
Legosi said something but Louis didn't hear him, panic rising in his chest as everything else went fuzzy around him. It was just his lungs, refusing to work, and him trapped inside.
"Louis." His name and Legosi's hand on his shoulder jolted him back into the present. He stared at the wolf through tears he knew were obvious and the wolf looked back like he was on the verge of crying too. Then Legosi hugged him.
He murmured "I'm sorry" into Louis' shoulder over and over.
Louis almost wanted to laugh because that was his line but instead he shoved his face up into his omega's shoulder and held on.
They held each other for a couple of minutes, Legosi's paw safe and heavy on his back. Just like an alpha's, Louis thought and it almost made him vomit but he pressed his nose against the back of the wolf's neck, drinking in the calming omega scent from the gland. It was so strong there, like drinking from a clear riverbed.
He leaned into his omega's touch, wrapping his arms around him tightly. Legosi's paw rubbed circles on his back and Louis wondered why he'd ever tried to be anything different—tried to be a real alpha—when it was obvious that they'd been right; that he was just a submissive bi-
Louis didn't let himself end the thought. He shook his head and wrenched himself out of Legosi's arms, stumbling against one of the desks.
"I can't. Can't. Sorry. I'm sorry for being a bad alpha."
Legosi lowered his paws and there was such a sad look in his eyes that Louis couldn't look at him.
"You're not a bad alpha."
"I-" He didn't know what to say.
"You're not a bad alpha because of what they did. They're bad animals for what they did." Legosi sat down on the floor, letting Louis stand. Louis wondered if that made him feel better. He didn't know. All he knew was that his body was torn between wanting to bury his face against Legosi—his omega—and screaming at him to stay away from the carnivore. All of the excuses from over the years lay around him in a confusing collage of truths and shields.
I'm broken, Louis wanted to say but Legosi already knew that, didn't he? Had known it since the start. So then why did he look at Louis like that. Like he was something special? Like he loved him.
Louis took in a deep breath and held out his hand.
Legosi looked at it and his nose scrunched as he slowly put his paw into Louis' hand. His eyes looked about as wet as Louis was sure his looked.
Louis didn't think he'd ever see such a beautiful smile.
Haru glared at him in the hallway and Louis raised an eyebrow, "did I do something?"
"Yeah," the rabbit said grumpily as she slammed her locker shut, "where am I going to find a replacement for Legosi? Do you know how difficult it is to find an alpha dick that's attached to an animal that doesn't want to bite my face off?"
"Legosi's an omega-"
"Not down there he's not."
Louis felt a hot flush creep up under his collar and a confusing wave of arousal and jealousy.
Haru looked at his face and laughed.
Even though Legosi didn't need an alpha to keep him safe, that didn't mean Louis' alpha urges just went away.
He was still possessive, territorial, and sometimes commanding without really having a say in it. His body just did it and his brain had to run to catch up.
It didn't help that an alpha wolf joined their drama class and all but drooled over Legosi every time he walked by. She and Louis got into typical alpha standoffs, growling at each other until someone pulled them apart. Maybe it was slightly feral behaviour but Louis couldn't help it when someone was looking at his omega.
Legosi didn't talk about the flights but sometimes Louis thought maybe Legosi looked a little happy that his alpha was standing up for him like an alpha was expected to. Despite his size, despite him being stronger than any alpha in the school.
Louis knew that Juno couldn't lay a single claw on his omega but it didn't matter. He wouldn't stand for her leaning too close to him, acting like she could if she wanted to.
That all came to a stop one day during drama class when one of their usual stand-offs turned dangerous. Juno lunged on him and pushed him roughly to the ground of the stage in front of the rest of the shocked drama club members. They hadn't expected her to be so aggressive, not when she was the picture of a docile alpha usually. She growled low in his ear and Louis smelled rut scent flowing off her. Heady arousal, thick and bitter. He scrambled in her grip, clawing at her arms, but she was immoveable and already licking up his neck, tongue rough against his fur. Her jaw opened, flashing white teeth, aimed at the back of his neck.
Like she wanted to bond with him-
Even though they were both alphas. Even though a bite like that wouldn't even leave a bond. Why-
Louis scrunched his eyes and prepared for the sharp pain but before she could bite down he heard claws against the wooden floor and the possessive growl of a third animal. Legosi. His omega pushed himself over Louis like he was guarding him and spun to face Juno's shocked, feral face.
"Mine." The omega wolf spat, eyes hard and cold like an alpha's. He and Juno stared at each other for a few tense seconds. Low growls rumbled in both of their throats, before Juno looked away, tail dropping between her legs. She slipped off the stage and out of the room.
The rest of the members stared at the scene like they couldn't believe it had really happened.
An omega had stood up to an alpha.
Louis looked up at his omega and before he could say anything—think of anything to even say after that—he felt the sink of Legosi's teeth against the back of his throat. The shock of it almost outweighed the actual pain, and Louis could only stay still and flush as his omega bit him. Marked him. The alpha in him keened in confusion. The Louis in him could only blush and wrap his hand around Legosi's wrist, holding it close.
Louis' head pressed up against Legosi's shoulder as they watched the clouds float by above them.
"I lied when I said I didn't need you."
Louis turned his head up to look at him, enjoying the view of his omega's eyes and soft ears and lovely face.
"I mean I don't need an alpha to keep me safe. But I need you. I've needed you for years." Legosi looked back up at the clouds, trying to distract from the flustered way his fur puffed up.
Louis felt a smile fall onto his lips like it was easy. Like he hadn't spent the last ten years feeling numb. He was going to make up for those years. The bite mark on the back of his neck stung in a warm, present way. His fingertips traced over his own blunter teeth marks on the back of Legosi's neck.
"Need you too, Legosi."
And he didn't care if it wasn't an alpha thing to think.