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Halfway to Nowhere

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If only he were an Alpha. If only he were an Alpha.

 

If only he were an Alpha...

 

Jack found himself thinking that same line, over and over again, nearly every time Mark popped into his head.

 

It was hard not to. After all, he greatly admired his friend, not only as a person, but also as Mark being one of the reasons Jack had decided to start up YouTube in the first place. And Mark had all the qualities that one could hope for in a potential mate; he was strong, kind and caring to boot, and was just an overall genuinely good guy. Being attractive was just a bonus. A really nice bonus.

 

The only problem for Jack (other than the blaringly obvious 8,000+ km distance between them) was the fact that Mark was a Beta. Which wouldn’t have really been a problem, except for the fact that Jack was an Omega, and Betas and Omegas didn’t blend well together.

 

Betas made up most of the population, and were considered the ‘normal dynamic’ due to their vast numbers. And as the remaining smaller populations of Alphas and Omegas nearly always mated to each other, most Betas mated with other Betas. Betas who tried to mate outside their dynamic usually had falling outs within the first few weeks. There were certain qualities and characteristics that Betas both had and lacked that just didn’t click with those outside their dynamic.

 

These were facts that Jack was painfully aware of.

 

Part of him reasoned that it was for the best. After all, the two lived on completely different continents, thousands of kilometers apart. If they were somehow to get together, they would have to find an agreeable place to live under one roof. And while Jack was already deciding on a move, wanting a different change of pace from Ireland and all, LA just wasn’t his style. The city was too big, too busy, too noisy. It just wouldn’t work.

 

And besides, Jack looked up to and respected the Beta as one of his closest friends. In any situation where one party in a friendship wanted more out of the relationship, things could go south real quick. As the lines between ‘friendship’ blur into ‘potential mate’ territory it could lead to awkward encounters and the possibility of ruining the friendship entirely. Jack would never make a romantic move on one of his friends if the status of their relationship was at stake.

 

So maybe it was better this way. Better for Jack to be the pining Omega a great distance away from his friend and crush. And as much as he despised the distance, Jack secretly hoped it would help to quell his crush. The feelings were just getting too awkward to deal with. What kind of Omega was busy trailing after a Beta, anyways?

 

“You know, most Omegas your age have already settled down with their Alphas,” his older sister reminded him none-too-gently over the phone that night.

 

Jack sighed. “I know, Allison. But you also know I’m not looking for an Alpha to take care of me. I’m not ready to quit my job and become a full-time housekeeper with kids.”

 

Allison chuckled at that. “Yeah, you’ve always been pretty assertive. But I worry, ya know? I know ma and pa do, too. They just want to see you happy. We all do.”

 

“I know,” Jack mumbled, guilt leaking into his tone. He knew that his family loved him and wanted what was best for him, and Jack felt horrible for not being able to meet their expectations. He just didn’t want an Alpha the way they wanted one for him. His mind wandered yet again to Mark, and Jack had to physically shake his head to remind himself how impossible it would be for the two of them. “Thanks for always looking after me.”

 

“Of course,” Allison reassured, a chipper edge replacing the sombre tone her voice had taken when talking about their parents. “What kind of older sister would I be otherwise?” There was chatter in the background then, something that sounded like a crash, and was quickly followed by loud cries. “Uh oh. Will just knocked over my vase- dammit I liked that vase. I gotta go. Talk to ya later?”

 

“Sure,” Jack agreed easily. “Take care. Don’t scold Will too much.”

 

Allison huffed out a laugh. “I’ll try. Bye, Seán.”

 

After Jack said his goodbyes, his phone beeped, signalling the end of the call. He sighed again, setting his phone on his bedstand and settling deeper under the covers. As an Alpha, Jack’s sister had found her mate many years ago, and the pair already had four kids. It was another textbook example of Alpha and Omega couples working out as successfully as nature intended.

 

As an Omega himself, Jack was expected to settle down with a nice Alpha and raise lots of kids, as all Omegas were. And the older he got, the more that ideology only increased. Even though he was the baby of the family, Jack was starting to get up there in years. Most Omegas chose their mates around early twenties. Jack was nearly 27.

 

He grumbled to himself, rolling over in bed as he was reminded yet again of his upcoming birthday. The older he got, the more of a hassle it was to deal with people who insisted he hurry up and settle down. Even if they were his family and only meant good, it still bothered Jack to no end. He didn’t want to be some stereotypical Omega who stayed home and cooked and cleaned and tended to the kids before his Alpha mate came home from work. No. That just wasn’t Jack.

 

Jack was still very much invested in YouTube, and intended to keep making content for as long as his fans were willing to watch. He was sure that any Alpha that wanted to bond with him would have him try to quit YouTube and fall into the role of caregiver. That definitely wouldn’t be a thing that happened.

 

A buzzing sound snapped Jack from his reverie, whose hand quickly darted out from under the covers to snatch up his phone. Flicking on the screen, Jack took in the three new Skype messages. He tried to ignore the little flip his stomach did when he saw who they were from.

 

Markibutt: hey wanna skype?

Markibutt: oh shit wait it’s late there isn’t it

Markibutt: stupid time differences dammit

 

Jack chuckled, unlocking his phone and quickly typing out a reply to assure Mark that he was still awake and good for a Skype call. The incoming call barely had a chance to play its tune before Jack was clicking on the little green icon. One short loading screen later and Jack came face to face with his idol and friend. Well, kind of face to face. About as close as he could get.

 

“Hey, Mark,” Jack greeted, unable to stop the smile from forming on his face.

 

“Hey birthday boy!” Mark cheered back with a laugh, and Jack rolled his eyes good naturedly.

 

“Oh stop. That’s not for a couple more days,” Jack scoffed lightly.

 

“Oh, come on,” Mark whined. “You know you’re supposed to celebrate the entire week, right? It’s your birth week, sooo happy birthday!”

 

Jack snorted. “Thanks.” Mark was too ridiculous sometimes. Too cute.

 

“Got any big plans for your big day?” Mark asked, stupid, adorable grin on his face.

 

“Not really,” Jack admitted. “I might go visit my sister and her family, but I’m not sure I want to travel that far.”

 

“Does she live far or something?”

 

“About two hours out with traffic,” Jack sighed. “Probably will just end up staying home.”

 

“Interesting,” Mark mumbled seemingly to himself, looking off to the side in thought. “Very interesting.” Jack was about to ask Mark what the hell was so interesting about staying home alone on his birthday but the Beta quickly continued speaking, this time directing it at Jack. “So you’re finally joining the ranks of us twenty-sevens, how does that feel?”

 

“Like I’m getting fockin’ old,” Jack deadpanned, earning a hearty laugh from Mark.

 

Their banter went on from there, Mark teasing Jack and even going so far as to sing ‘happy birthday’ at the top of his lungs before Ethan ran into Mark’s room to shut him up. Jack laughed so hard he cried at that.

 

Eventually, as most conversations did, the tone changed as things gradually died down.

 

“So, you ready to settle down with a mate yet?” Mark asked, voice oddly strained.

 

“Ugh,” Jack groaned, tossing his head back on the pillows. “Not you too.”

 

Mark raised a brow. “‘Not you too’ what?”

 

“You’re the second person to say that to me tonight,” Jack grumbled. “I was talking to my sister before you. She, uh, basically said the same thing.”

 

“Hm,” Mark hummed, face carefully blank. “And what did you say?”

 

Jack huffed a sigh. “I don’t want to be taken care of by some Alpha like most Omegas do. I– I just don’t want that. I don’t think, anyways.”

 

Mark’s face softened on the screen. “And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

 

Jack’s breath caught in his throat. “Really?”

 

“Of course,” Mark said so casually, as though this topic weren’t something that Jack constantly fretted over in private. “Everyone moves at their own pace and everyone has different wants. We’re not like a hive mind or anything, completely controlled by our biology.”

 

Jack chuckled at Mark’s last comment, which he knew the Beta threw in there to lighten the mood. “Thanks, Mark.” He let out a yawn after that, stretching out tiredly on his many pillows.

 

“No problem, but hey. It’s super late there now, right?” Mark’s voice had taken on an edge of concern, and the Beta’s brows furrowed as Jack nodded blearily. “Then I’ll let you get some sleep. We can talk more later.”

 

Jack wanted to protest, and opened his mouth to reply but was cut off by another yawn of exhaustion. “Mmm, okay,” he mumbled reluctantly.

 

A smirk quickly lit up Mark’s face. “Besides, I’ve still got a few more days to sing you happy birthday annoyingly before the main event!”

 

Jack rolled his eyes but a smile found his lips nonetheless. “Sure, sure. Good night, Mark.”

 

“Night Jack.”

 

With a single tap of the red icon, Mark’s face disappeared from view. Jack whined out loud, immediately being filled with shame for reacting so strongly. Jack had felt relaxed and comfortable with the Beta’s presence, even though Mark hadn’t been physically present for the call. Without him chatting away through Skype, Jack felt his absence like a punch to the gut. Not talking with the Beta hurt.

 

And it shouldn’t, Jack mentally scolded himself, irate. There was no reason to feel so upset over a friend, a friend being all they were. Nothing more.

 

Jack was having a hard time trying to remind himself of that.