So here’s the A/B/O Thing I’m Not Actually Writing, starring Gen and other familiar faces. No spoilers past "Jus in Bello." :D
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When the other woman burst into the bathroom and Gen smelled alpha, she smiled, because unlike popular rag-mags, Gen did not believe that every other alfemale was out to steal her (hypothetical) omega, and in fact, she was pretty sure that ladies who were considered freaks of nature in large swathes of the country should look out for each other.
So she smiled politely, in the spirit of sisterhood and what-have-you, and that would have been the end of it if the other woman hadn’t stopped short and looked at her like she was the anti-Christ.
Gen stared at the other alpha staring at her. “What?” she said, succinctly.
“Is this the ladies’ room?” The woman- British, Gen noted, judging by her accent- looked at the urinal as though she’d never seen one before.
Gen arched an eyebrow, half-inclined to be insulted. “Ye-es.” Do I look like a man?
“But- but you have a-” The woman skittered forward, only to backpedal just as suddenly. With a jolt, Gen realized she’d been planning to look over the urinal.
It was a good thing she’d rethought that, or Gen would have had to rethink the whole sisterhood thing.
“Have a-?” Gen mimicked her shrill tone, which perhaps wasn’t polite, but then, neither was trying to look at Genevieve Junior uninvited.
Honestly, what was wrong with the woman? The DC area had its share of alfemale-phobes just like any other metropolitan area, but she hadn’t expected to run into one in the bathroom of a Borders in the suburbs. Especially not a British one.
Especially not another alfemale.
Oh lord, the ones in the pocket were always the worst.
Very deliberately, she tucked and zipped and then turned to face the other alpha head-on, arms akimbo. She had four or five inches on Gen’s 5’4”, but Gen was pretty sure in a fight she’d be able to take her, especially with an attitude like that. She wasn’t even wearing the right clothes, Gen realized, eying the slight bulge in the other woman’s dress. It looked like she’d tried to hide it by tying her leather jacket around her waist, but that hadn’t accomplished much. It was obvious that she didn’t know the first thing about dressing her junk. If it weren’t for her equally obvious horror at, apparently, Gen, Gen would have felt sorry for her.
As it was, Gen challenged, “Have what?”
The other woman blinked. “A-” She swallowed and straightened. Despite her obvious agitation, her voice steadied in a way Gen had to admire. “A cock?”
“Yes, I have a dick,” said Gen. “So do you.”
Several seconds ticked by, and the alpha looked more terrified with each passing one, as though her worst fears had been confirmed.
Without a word, she fled past Gen into the nearest stall.
Guilt flashed through Gen, and for a moment she considered knocking on the stall door. She squashed the impulse, though. What was she supposed to do? Apologize for stating the obvious? Point her in the direction of the self-help section for books on genital dysmorphia?
Still, when she exited the bathroom she couldn’t keep from slowing. Instead of going to the children’s section to pick up board books for Liane’s baby shower, she stepped into the row nearest the restrooms. It couldn’t hurt to at least wait around a few minutes to make sure the woman came out all right.
Her lurking spot was the Bargains section, which gave her an eclectic choice of books to peruse, but she chose to hide behind a predictable Pride and Prejudice. Opening it at random bought her to the part where Darcy told Elizabeth he could never be with her because she was an alpha, which needless to say, had never been her favorite chapter.
While flipping pages she snuck peeks around, already paranoid that someone had caught her spying. Her lone companion in the Bargain aisle was a middle-aged woman engrossed in the discounted cookbooks, though, and through a gap in the shelving, she could see that the only nearby people on the other side of the shelving unit were two men standing in front of the Local section, mere feet from the restroom.
Mm, hello, they were cute.
Gen pushed aside a stack of Tom Sawyers so she could see them better without having to peer around the end cap like a creeper. Well, like an obvious creeper.
They both wore denim jackets and had an all American jock vibe, but that was where the similarities ended. One looked like a quarterback type, and the other was more of a lanky basketball star.
Okay, maybe she was stereotyping because he was tall. Like, really tall. Misha would have rolled his eyes and said that most people seemed tall compared to Gen, but then he’d have to eat his words, because this guy was fucking Sasquatch.
She liked him better, Gen decided. His floppy hair was nice.
She sniffed hopefully, only to pout. Sasquatch didn’t smell like anything, so unless he was taking really strong suppressants, he was a beta. Not that that was a deal-breaker, necessarily, but…well…knotting just wasn’t the same as with an omega, and in her experience, most betas weren’t game for it anyway.
Football dude was an omega, though. There was potential there.
She’d been so absorbed in sizing up Abercrombie and Fitch that it wasn’t until she started debating whether to “bump” into them and introduce herself that she realized what was weird about them: they weren’t looking at books either.
Well, Sasquatch was holding a tour guide of D.C., but it was quickly apparent that his browsing was as phony as hers. His eyes roved between the other man and the restrooms rather than the pages, and his lips had narrowed to a tight, thin grimace that so did not belong on his underwear model face.
Quarterback was even more transparent; he was pacing up and down the open area in front of the bathrooms like was trying to see how fast he could wear a hole in the carpet. His face was also getting markedly more scowly, which omega or not (knot, hee, where was Misha when she needed him to snicker at her terrible puns), was losing him points, as far as Gen was concerned.
They were very clearly waiting for something. Gen eyed the door to the ladies’ room. Or someone. The other alpha had been the only other person in there with her.
Maybe they were waiting for someone in the men’s room?
“How can it be taking her this long to piss?” growled Quarterback. He stopped pacing and glared at the ladies’ room. “Do you think there are windows in there? Maybe she’s escaping.”
Gen froze, barely holding in a gasp.
“No, I don’t think she could,” began Sasquatch, but he trailed off, face uncertain.
The men stared at each other.
“I’m going in,” decided Quarterback. “To hell with this. She’s not getting away again.”
He strode toward the bathroom.
“Dean, wait!” Sasquatch easily caught up and grabbed his shoulder. “You can’t go in there! A) there might be other people in there, and (b)-” He glanced around and leaned closer to the other man. Gen strained to hear.
“If there aren’t, she might shoot you.”
Had he really just said- no, she must have misheard.
“Not if I shoot her first,” said Dean, not loudly but loud enough for Gen to stop breathing. He reached into his jacket. Gen had a split second to panic over whether she should scream ‘gun’ before he swore so violently that she jumped. Even the cookbook lady glanced up, frowning.
“Goddamn Henriksen! Goddamn-” He raised a fist as though to hit the nearest shelf, wavered, and then spun around, hands clasping behind his head. “Bela.” The way he said the name, it might as well have been a curse, too.
Bela. Was that the alpha?
Dean blew out a short, aggravated breath. “I’m going in.”
“Dean! She could-”
“She said the Colt was in her car, so she’s not armed either.”
“She could have her own on her.”
“I’ll take my chances!”
Sasquatch grabbed him again. Dean pulled, but Bigfoot’s height won out. He spoke so softly now that before she could think about it- and how very not a good idea it might be- Gen stepped out of the aisle and pretended to examine the endcap.
“She didn’t escape. Public restrooms don’t have windows. We can ask another woman to go in there and check on our friend. We don’t want a scene.”
Well, he didn’t want a scene, that was painfully obvious. Dean looked like he was past the point of caring.
For a few seconds there was silence. It was all Gen could do to keep from turning and looking straight at them because she knew- she knew- that now that she was in the open, they were looking at her. Holding her breath, she grabbed a random book from the endcap and slid back into the aisle. Only when she knew they could no longer see her did she exhale in a gasp. If they wanted to ask her, a conveniently nearby woman, to check on their “friend,” they’d have to come to her.
Or maybe they hadn’t been staring at her because she happened to also be female. Maybe they were staring because they’d realized she was spying.
Her coffee table copy of Exotic Birds and Where To Find Them was shaking, Gen noted distantly. No wait, that would be her hands.
Should she walk away? Or go into the bathroom on her own to warn the alpha about these two psychos- no wait, she was possibly a psycho, too.
Should she get a manager? Or skip management and call the cops? Maybe these guys were undercover cops, and that’s why they were talking about weapons so casually? Her gut said they weren’t, but her gut was also doing flip-flops, which was stupid because she was alpha.
She wasn’t scared of two dumb jocks. Although two dumb criminal jocks…
Gen whirled, only just remembering to look surprised instead of nervous. And then she was facing Sasquatch head-on for the first time, and it was easy to look surprised because his smile was so polite and friendly it was like he was a different person. And in other circumstances, this one would have taken her breath away.
“Y-yes?” she stuttered. Gods, he was even taller up close. She almost had to tip her head back to look at him.
“This is going to sound odd,” said Sasquatch, with a self-deprecating, even more charming smile. “My brother and I have a friend in the ladies’ room and she’s been in there a long time. We’re getting a little worried about her and-”
Sasquatch jerked backward into sight of the restrooms, and for an instant the calculating criminal or undercover cop or whatever he was- a hunter scenting his prey, Gen realized- was back. Then he was all smiles again, apologetic this time.
“Never mind, she’s out. I’m sorry to have bothered you.” He strode back to his brother without a second glance. Gen dashed back to her peephole in the shelf.
The alpha- Bela- had finally emerged. She had swiveled her jacket around her waist so the long part hung in front, covering her bulge completely. Gen was shocked at how composed she looked; you would never be able to guess that ten minutes ago she’d been on the verge of a panic attack.
“Could you have taken any longer?” Dean demanded. “What’d you do, plan out five ways to screw us over next instead of one?”
“Seven actually,” said Bela. “And then I devised a cunning way to get back to the Midwest without my car, money, phone, or weapons. I’m clearly an evil genius.”
Dean fish-mouthed at her for a moment before saying contemptuously, “What’s that, a new fashion choice?” He gestured at her strangely worn jacket.
Gen frowned. He wasn’t one to talk about fashion; not that his plaid flannel was bad or anything, but he clearly couldn’t care less. The alpha’s blouse and slacks were actually very pretty, not to mention expensive looking. Just…poorly fitted.
“I spilled water on myself in a rather inconvenient place,” said Bela. “What, in addition to being the FBI’s most wanted, you’re the fashion police now?”
Even in the midst of a mental tizzy, as Misha would call it, over “FBI’s most wanted,” Gen had to admire the way Bela didn’t miss a beat in her lie.
Absurdly, both men had the gall to look offended.
“We are not the FBI’s most wanted!” said Dean.
“I believe Special Agent Henriksen would disagree with you.”
“So we’re on their list. We didn’t murder anyone, and you know it,” said Sam vehemently.
Relief rushed through Gen so palpably that she clutched the shelf for support.
“Well-” Dean looked toward his brother. The peephole wasn’t big enough to see both their faces at once, but she saw Sam’s torso move in what looked like a shrug. Dean wore a little smirk. “No one that didn’t have it coming anyway.”
FML, Misha would have added. Actually, for all his whimsy, Misha probably would have had the good sense by now to call the cops and skedaddle. Julie certainly would have; maybe even Rachel. Gen slid her hand into her pocket to cup her iPhone.
“Yeah, and conveniently, monsters don’t actually count, legally speaking,” said Sam, almost conversationally.
Monsters? Murder victims who had it coming? Oh jeez, when they were watching Dexter hadn’t anyone warned them not to try this at home?
She shifted to see Sam’s face as he continued, “See, the definition of murder is when a human kills another human.” He looked weirdly calm speaking of people he had killed, and there was a glint in his eyes that she recognized from college; it was the one some of her classmates- usually the other pre-law ones- had when they were smugly pulling out random factoids that they knew would win their argument.
Or maybe that glint also came with being a sociopath.
Although he was correct, actually. Gen remembered reading that definition in one of her textbooks. Not that that added a whole lot of sense to anything she was hearing. She pulled out her phone, fingers poised to unlock it.
“And I’m sure in your very admirable and not a little sociopathic monster-hunting, you’ve broken a few laws the courts would recognize along the way,” said Bela. “Breaking and entering, perhaps, hmm? But that’s beside the point-”
“You’re going to lecture us on breaking and entering?” said Dean, so loudly that Sam smacked his arm. He lowered his voice to a hiss that Gen could barely hear. “The cat burglar? Oh, that’s rich. And you know what, at least when we B&E, we’re doing it to solve a case and gank a bad guy and help people-”
“Oh, sing a different tune already,” snapped Bela, finally letting some annoyance slip. “I’m tired of that one. Look, I didn’t mean to start comparing rack sheets. We have a serious problem, and we’re going to have to set aside our differences and work together-”
Dean snorted. “Would you listen to that, Sam? Now that all her fancy resources are gone and it’s two against one, she wants to work together.”
“That is weird,” said Sam, and Gen could hear his smirk, even though she was back to looking at Dean. “I don’t know about you, Dean, but I don’t think we need a third partner.”
“It’s always been two against one, and I don’t need any resources to make you look like fools,” Bela snapped. “You don’t need my help for that in the first place!”
Gen couldn’t keep from grinning. Cat burglar or not- and cat burglar was way better than murderer- she kind of liked this alpha.
“But this is more important than our past- differences.”
“Has either of you noticed anything-”
Dean interrupted her with a huge sniff. “Did you spill soap in there, too?”
It was random enough to distract Bela. She blinked. “W-what?”
Dean sniffed again. “You smell weird. Did you put on perfume or something?”
Wow, even without murderer on his resume, this omega wouldn’t be winning any Guy of the Year awards.
“Did I- I do not smell!” Gen didn’t know whether she should be amused or worried that Bela looked more offended by this than anything else they’d accused her of.
“I didn’t say you smelled bad,” said Dean. He shrugged. “Okay, I said weird, but I mean strong.” He sniffed yet again, his expression turning insultingly surprised. “It’s actually kind of good.”
Sam sniffed, too, and frowned. “I don’t smell anything.”
“Really? How can you not smell that?”
“I do not smell. I did not spill soap, and I haven’t put on perfume in hours.” She sniffed now, and her nose wrinkled. “You’re the one that smells.”
“We do not smell!” Despite his sharp tone, Dean looked incredulous rather than offended.
“Not Sam.” Bela actually jabbed a finger at him. “You.”
Now he looked offended. “I don’t smell. You smell!”
Sam took a huge, dog-like whiff. “Neither of you smells!”
In point of fact, they both smelled. And of course Sam didn’t, because he was a beta. Duh. This was alpha/beta/omega biology 101. No, this was sex ed for fifth graders.
It was becoming so farcical that Gen would have been tempted to laugh, if not for the oddest sense of déjà vu creeping over her. But for the life of her, she couldn’t think what the déjà to this vu was.
“Fine, whatever,” Bela snapped.
This is a woman running out of fucks to give, Misha would have said, and Gen would have had to concur.
She sniffed again as something about the omega’s scent occurred to her. He was turned on. Despite all their bickering. Or- maybe because of it?
“Has either of you noticed anything odd since we…got here?” Bela tried again.
Dean’s eyebrows rose. “You mean odder than the fact that twenty minutes ago we were on the other side of the country?”
It was worrisome how in the grand scheme of things, that barely pinged on Gen’s weirdness radar.
Bela looked like she was counting to ten before answering; it wouldn’t have surprised Gen if people had to do that often with these two. “Yes. You haven’t noticed anything strange about your-” She bit hard on her lip and took a deep breath. Eying them, she said very slowly, “I think it might be helpful if you went to the lavatory.”
The boys stared at her like she had grown an extra head. Gen couldn’t really blame them.
“That’s the best you’ve got?” said Dean finally. “Your cunning plan to fly the coop is to tell us to use the bathroom?”
“Feeling a little uncreative today, Bela?” A nasty little smirk had spread across Sam’s face.
“Well, I don’t know about you, Sam, but I’m convinced! Let’s go to the lavatory and let her escape again!”
“For the love of-” After breaking off shrilly, Bela’s voice lowered, most inconveniently. “I am not trying to escape! And if I wanted to, I’d like to see you try to stop me.”
Dean opened his mouth, but Bela didn’t waste a second. “Look, I know it doesn’t seem obvious, but there’s something different about this place. I think we’re in a…an alternate universe.”
That sounded like something one of Misha's comic book friends would say.
Oh. Oh oh oh oh-
That explained everything. These people must be- what was the word- cosplaying? Gen tended to tune Misha out when he started rambling about the new heights of geekery he had reached, but she was pretty sure that was a term he'd used.
Well, that was a relief- they were just cosplaying; judging from their "criminal" activities, they were probably antiheroes from some dark, broody saga that Gen wouldn't read if you paid her.
“Alternate...universe?” said Dean, and something in his tone gave Gen pause. He snorted. “I'm sure being this close to so many politicians gives the area its own special flavor of evil, but don't you think calling it an 'alternate universe' is taking things a little far?”
His sneering disbelief was just a tad too genuine for Gen's comfort. Maybe they were just really, really good cosplayers?
“I'm not being facetious,” snapped Bela. “Look. There's something very different about this place. I- I have-“ She flushed, inexplicably. “In the loo, there was a woman with a…”
Gen’s heart skipped a beat.
Bela inhaled fast. “A cock.”
Dean stared at her. “You mean a-?”
“Yes,” said Bela.
In the brief silence that followed, as the boys stared at Bela like she was certifiable, Gen felt her face flame red. Despite everything she had seen of them, despite the fact that this had to be pretend, she couldn’t keep from hoping one of the men would do the right thing and call the alpha out on her bigotry-
“You imagined it,” said Dean.
Sam shrugged. “Or more likely, you’re lying.”
A lump formed rapidly in Gen’s throat. It’s not worth being offended. It’s not worth being offended. Not when this was just an elaborate, stupid game, not by assholes whose opinions didn’t matter…
“I didn’t imagine it!”
Despite the other’s alpha’s matching level of indignation, Gen felt no kinship at this juncture.
Dean rolled his eyes. “Okay, fine. You saw a woman with a dick.” He didn’t go so far as to make air quotes, but Gen distinctly disliked the tone in which he said ‘woman.’ “That’s a, that’s a thing, right?” He looked at Sam.
“Yeah,” said Sam. “It’s a thing. Why, Bela, I’m surprised. Burglary and bigotry?”
Seeing as the words were coated in sarcasm thick enough to roll in, Gen was not the least bit appeased.
“I do not mean a transgendered woman,” Bela practically snarled. “I mean a woman who was born a woman but who has male genitalia.”
“Of course you saw a chick with a dick,” said Dean. “And I’m a pregnant man. And pigs fly. And any second Professor X will roll through the front doors to tell us all about this alternate universe we’ve fallen into.” He turned to his brother. “So what do you think? Find a payphone and call Bobby?”
Gen squinted at Dean, unable to tell if he was being ironic in his role; if he was actually knocked up, he had to be really early, because he wasn’t showing at all.
Her ogling of his stomach was interrupted by Bela crowding right up in their faces. Gen couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen someone so livid.
“Let me put this in a way your simple little American minds might be able to understand, you little pricks. We are not in Kansas anymore.”
Despite the insult, despite everything else, Gen had to cover her mouth to stifle a snicker. The British woman might not want to be an alpha, but it definitely came naturally to her.
Although strangely, she didn’t seem to be having much effect on the men. Most omegas and probably some betas would have been cringing now, but not these two cretins. To the contrary, the omega was still turned on. Not that you’d be able to tell from his stony-faced, constipated expression, but the nose didn’t lie.
Maybe they were together in real life, outside of the game?
She sniffed again to see if the alpha reciprocated, but the only thing radiating from her was anger. Gen made a face. Couple or not, hadn’t the dumbass omega heard of deodorant? Rude. Although not surprising, given what else she’d seen of him.
“We are not in another world,” said Dean, with so much condescension that if Gen were his girlfriend, she would have made him pay for it later, game or not. “We’ve just been…” He waved a hand. “Transported halfway across the country. No big. Might as well make the most of it. Hey.” He turned to Sam. “We never did those capitol trips in school. We can see the monuments and shit before we leave.” His humor vanished as he turned back to Bela. “Bottom line is, you take us to the Colt, and we all go home happy. Play nice, and we won’t even report to you the authorities and get your ass deported. Cause I seriously doubt you have a real passport, Bela Talbot Lugosi…”
Bela bristled. “Like you would recognize a legitimate form of ID if it hit you in the face.”
She looked like she might say something more, but then her eyes abruptly widened, the ire vanishing from her face. She swiveled to stare at the surrounding shelves, craning her neck up to look at the second level, like she had never seen any of it before.
“We’re in a bookstore.”
Again, Gen couldn’t really blame the men for the look they gave her.
“No shit, Sherlock.” Dean’s face reached new heights of incredulity as he turned to Sam. “How did she ever one up us? No really, I’m embarrassed.”
Without a word, Bela strode past them, out of Gen’s line of sight.
“Hey!” Dean did a double take. “What are y- hey, get back here!”
A second later he and Sam were tripping over each other to follow her.
Gen didn’t hesitate. As she raced to the end of the aisle she could hear Misha in her head: “Are we playing Nancy Drew today? Oh goody. Hmm. I think today is a Bess day.”
Her girl detective skills clearly needed some work, though, because she forgot to peek around the corner before skidding around it. Fortunately, all their backs were to her. Unfortunately, that made it harder to hear what Bela was saying to the employee she had just accosted.
“What?” she heard Dean bark, but then Bela was off again, leaving two irate brothers and one very bewildered sales associate in her wake.
Gen stayed put in the Bargain section, where she had a clear view of Bela hurrying up the stairwell in the middle of the store. With their longer legs, the brothers easily caught up to her, whereupon they hissed furiously over her shoulder, reminding Gen of nothing so much as pecking hens. Sensibly, Gen thought, Bela ignored them.
The second floor had a glass wall, giving Gen all she needed in way of a trail. As soon as Bela turned right, away from the movies and music and toward the various non-fiction sub-genres, Gen was off, climbing the stairs as fast as she could without attracting attention.
The store was neither huge nor crowded, and even if there had been, Sasquatch was kind of hard to miss, so it took only seconds to spot the misfits. They were gathered in the row between the Psychology & Self-Help and Philosophy sections, which was…
Okay, given Bela’s preoccupation with her genitalia, Gen probably should have seen that coming.
Instead of heading straight for Psychology & Self-Help, where they might see her coming in their peripheral vision, she cut a diagonal to Health & Fitness in the back corner and crept her way to Psych via the Religion wall.
Unfortunately, unlike Bargains, where the shelving was metal and plastic, these shelves were wooden and had no slats through which to spy. Fortunately, there was no one else in the row right behind theirs to see her stick her ear as close to the shelving as she could. Also fortunately, in this isolated corner of the store, they weren’t even pretending to keep their voices down.
“-why we’re in the porno section of a bookstore instead of getting back to the Colt?”
Well, Dean wasn’t, anyway, but maybe that wasn’t so much of a difference.
Even holding her breath, Gen heard no response. Was Bela ignoring him again or was she just speaking too quietly-
“You know, I don’t think we’ve reached that point in our relationship where I’m comfortable sharing this sort of thing. I usually save that for the third date. And people I like.”
Ignoring him, then. Damn, she wished she could see their faces.
“Seriously. Put the porn down. We’re leaving. Now. Right now. C’mon, put the- Sam? Sam? Oh, for the love of…
“Fine, quick porn break all around, then we go call Bobby. Where’s Playboy…”
In Magazines, dumbass. Along with Playgirl, Omegagirl, and Gen’s personal favorite, Alphagirl, for all your omega ogling needs.
“Kama Sutra, heh heh… What the hell? Sam, look at this. Doesn’t that look like a chick with a…
“Dean, look at this.”
“‘This is not the Kama Sutra. I’ve read the Kama Sutra, and it does not have-
“What? What’s that? Knotting for Dummies? Shouldn’t that be in the sailing section?”
Gen rolled her eyes. Did he really think that was funny? She didn’t have to work hard to picture what Sam was perusing. She still remembered the hours she’d spent pouring obsessively through her own copy when puberty started. After the intro was the section on alpha biology, followed by the omega chapters, and then came knotting, complete with diagrams, and rounding out the guide was a cursory overview of beta biology that Gen remembered being much bored by at the time.
Sam read aloud, “While puberty universally commences in the late preteen or early teenage years, its duration varies by breed. Unlike betas, alphas and omegas do not reach sexual maturity in early adolescence, even as they undergo many of the same physical changes, such as increased body hair, lower voice registers in males, and breast development in females. Their senses of smell also heighten enough to distinguish between breeds. However, omegas do not begin their heating cycles and alphas do not develop knots during intercourse until their late teenage years, usually between 17-20. This is also the timeframe when alpha females’ clitorises grow in length to resemble penises.”
In the silence that followed, it was all Gen could do not to leap around the bookcase to see their faces.
“What the hell?” said Dean finally.
Gen frowned. He actually sounded…for the first time he sounded legitimately freaked out.
“What the hell is that? Is that some kind of joke?”
“I don’t know! It doesn’t look like a joke! It’s a-” She heard the sound of pages flipping, and Sam’s voice rose. “It’s a real book!”
It hit her, all of a sudden, where the déjà vu feeling came from: years ago, when she’d been home with the flu, she’d read one of the sci-fi mass markets Misha had lying around. It had been one of those stories where people landed on a different world after being in cryogenic sleep for ages, like in Planet of the Apes or Alien. But instead of apes or killer aliens, the world in this book was populated with only betas. These people here were reacting a lot like the alien betas had, like they had never heard of aphas or omegas before.
“What are you reading?” asked Sam.
Bela didn’t answer.
“Ladies: How to Love your Dick,” said Dean. “What the f-”
“Bela?” said Sam. “Are you…are you all right? You look like you’re going to throw up.”
“Uh, since when do we care if she’s-”
“Do you think you should go to the bath- oh! You- oh my god.”
And Gen knew, from the tone of Sam’s voice alone, that he had figured it out.
“What?” said Dean. “Oh my god what?”
“Bela, do you. Do you have a…”
“What? Does she have a what?” A minute passed, and then Gen heard a sharp intake of breath. “Wait, are you saying- no freaking way.”
“When you were talking about using the bathrooms before,” Sam began, haltingly.
“You have a dick?”
There was more silence, and Gen couldn’t help herself any longer.
She stepped out of her aisle and into plain sight of theirs. All three jerked toward her. Dean looked horrified. Sam looked utterly bewildered. And Bela’s eyes were too big with fear for her face.
Thanks to the Marks, Gen had seen her fair share of plays, and either these three were future Oscar winners or…or they really had no idea what was what.
She could still walk away; pretend she was just looking for a book.
But she wasn’t going to. She didn’t know what this was, if it was a twisted game or something a lot more dangerous, but she was too curious to walk away now. And besides, her job was helping people, omegas and beta women. She didn’t have to stop now just because she wasn’t at the clinic, just because this woman was an alpha and this omega was an ass.
Gen stepped toward them and took a deep breath. “Hi. My name’s Gen. Do you need help?”
* * *