A/N: Thank you for all the reviews, follows, etc.! It's so much fun to read them :) I apologize in advance for the long note.
I'm not sure what's considered best to do regarding questions in reviews. I figure if it's something relevant, I should answer it here. I haven't really tried private messaging, but if someone wants a quick answer, they could try that. I'm a bit slow with posting new chapters, but I have a lot of free time on my hands right now, so...
GabbyKat13: Thank you for the review and to answer your questions...well, there are other fics about omegas, although I'm not sure how many would be similar to mine. I can recommend some if you'd like. Background on the story: I really wanted to try my hand at an Omega story. I wanted a plot, which the majority of omega stories don't have. And I thought, I really like the stories where John tries to hide what he is, and I really like stories where they're younger. And what if John really couldn't hide himself, if there were physical attributes that eventually couldn't be hidden, or at great cost? And why does Harry drink? How can Clara be more involved? I admit I have a general idea of where I want the story to go, but it hasn't all been sorted out in my head yet.
Clara was not picking up. Harry wasn't answering, but that was to be expected since it was the weekend and she was usually out bingeing about now.
"Fuck." John bit his lip and thought it over. Tried to be sensible, like everyone expected him to be. Dependable. But really he felt like throwing and breaking things on the floor, starting with the two plates he owned and ending with the silverware, which wouldn't really break, but he'd throw it anyway. And then stamp on it. That'd do the trick.
Or he could put on some sunglasses - convincing all passersby that he was hungover, since this was foggy London - and try to find contacts at the chemist. Yes. Just the way he wanted to spend his afternoon. He pulled a t-shirt on over his head, pulled on his pants and trousers, running one hand through his hair before heading out the door.
By the time he'd returned - after visiting several chemists - he felt drained, completely wonked, and he slumped down on the ratty sofa in a complete daze. He'd forgotten that he still wasn't completely recovered from the past week. And coffee wouldn't help, he was that far gone. Unless it was some ridiculous triple shot espresso that would get him jittery for about an hour before he fell back into the same state again. So he clambered over to his bed and promptly fell asleep.
And woke up to someone banging on his front door.
"Mmm?" John rubbed his eyes, grumbled some more, and looked at his alarm clock. 10:17. He looked blearily around. Meanwhile, the knocking continued.
He considered ignoring it. Surely it would stop soon, and then he could go back to sleep. His stomach grumbled. Or maybe get something to eat. He thought there might still be some cereal left in the cupboard, though he wasn't sure about the milk.
But the knocking was giving him a headache, so he opened it with a bang.
"What is it?!"
"Geez, you look terrible. I forgot my key, alright?" Mike gave him a frown before heading into the kitchen.
"Sorry Mike, I just haven't gotten much sleep lately." John tried to clear his throat, since every word was coming out hoarse and scratchy.
"S'okay. I told you that camping trip wasn't a good idea. Nature and all that...gives me the creeps."
John snorted. "You're such a pansy. A spider freaks you out, yet you're fine with the cadavers."
"It's the fact that everything is sterilized. And there's gloves."
"If only all the girls knew how you really were."
Now Mike snorted. "It's all about how you spin it. I'd come across as a sensitive scientist, I'll have you know." He sniffed the milk, frowned for a moment, and then chugged it anyway.
"Hey! Leave some for my cereal!" John grabbed the carton away, already feeling how much lighter it was. "I'm going to have to buy milk - again."
Mike laughed, and then squinted at him thoughtfully. "You look different. Get a tan while you were camping or something?" He leaned closer, and John glared at him. "Your eyes -"
"Shit!" John realized it in a moment and dashed for the bathroom.
"John, are you alright?"
Shitshitshit. John scrambled for the contacts before he realized it just wasn't going to happen, his fingers were trembling too much. He leaned over the sink and took a few deep breaths. A light tap sounded at the door.
"John, can I come in?"
"Give me a minute, Mike." He fumbled with the contacts, realizing this might take ages since he'd never used contacts before. They fell to the ground and John cursed under his breath as he crouched down.
"John, seriously, let me help you."
A hand gripped his shoulder, and he jerked away, still remaining huddled on the ground. He didn't want to turn around, to look him in the face. The hand held onto his shoulder again, and John shuddered, but remained still.
"It's alright, John. I already knew."
"Knew what?" John hunched over, his forehead resting against the sink cabinet, waiting to hear what Mike had to say.
"Don't play dumb; I knew you were an Omega last year."
John remained silent, although the tensing of his shoulders had probably already betrayed him.
"Look, it's admirable that you've managed to get by without anyone knowing -" John scowled, knowing that Mike couldn't see his face. "- but you don't have to worry about me telling anyone. Seriously! We're mates, right?"
John picked up the contacts, stood up and turned to face him.
"Whoa, man!" Mike leaned in and looked closely at John's eyes. "That's wild! It's too bad you can't leave them like that, chicks would dig them."
John sighed. "You wear contacts sometimes. Help me put them in."
"Okay, let me see them."
It took them the next 20 minutes to put the contacts in, and John kept blinking and feeling pretty uncomfortable about the whole thing. Mike had reassured him that he wouldn't be able to feel them after a while, but that didn't reassure him much.
On the other hand, when he looked at his phone later that day, he had two text messages.
10:00 tomorrow. Cafe across from your flat. -MH
The lab at your school is tolerable. -SH
John considered not showing up the next morning. In fact, he considered several things. Namely, how had either of them gotten his number? Not to mention, it was somewhat creepy that they knew both where he lived and where he went to school. John was a pretty common name, not like Sherlock or Mycroft. And dammit, now that he was thinking about it, he could have looked up either of them and had some sort of information about them. Sure, he didn't know their last names, but what kind of bloke has a name like Sherlock?
Those were his thoughts as the bell rang on the cafe door as he stepped inside. He could see Mycroft sitting in the back corner, and no one else sat nearby. There was a couple at the front table, but overall the cafe was less busy than he'd usually seen it. He walked towards the back, wondering how he could dissuade Mycroft from the offer he'd told John that past week.
John watched carefully as Mycroft took a sip of his tea before delicately setting it down. Mycroft frowned at him. "Please sit."
"You know I haven't agreed to anything yet."
"Yet. But we both know you will. Sit."
John sat, and leaned forward, face earnest. "I don't want anyone else to know what I am, I admit that. But there's no fucking way I can do what you're asking."
Mycroft tilted his head slightly to the side and smiled. It didn't look pleasant. "You will have to call in a favor before long. Maybe not now, but eventually, people will realize what you are."
"I've done fine this past year."
"I know you must be getting...help from someone. Someone who can't be trusted."
"How would you know!" John spat back. How could he say something like that? Especially about Clara! He stood up to go and Mycroft grabbed his wrist.
"Even you should realize that you only have a few more years at best. If you've read anything at all."
"I don't care! I only have one more year left of school; I'm not planning on abandoning that!" He heard whispering and flushed. He'd forgotten that he was in a public place. Here he was saying that he could go on being unnoticed, and he was shouting at a local cafe. He pressed his lips firmly together and sat back down, refusing to look around. He lowered his voice. "Look. I think I can manage quite fine on my own."
Mycroft sighed and took another sip of his tea while looking at him contemplatively. John shifted in his seat.
"If that is how you truly feel...well, it's all really your choice."
His eyes narrowed as he took in Mycroft's words. Was it really that easy? He startled as a waiter set a steaming mug of coffee in front of him.
"Please. Take it. At least sit and have some for your troubles." John considered it, and then shrugged and took a sip. It was free coffee. And he was a student who had very little money to spend until he got a job.
Mycroft nodded and took another sip of his tea. They sat in if not companionable silence, at least silence, which was better than anything Mycroft had to say. Unfortunately, that only lasted a few moments.
John looked up.
"Mummy will be so displeased."
John frowned, but said nothing. And took another gulp of coffee. He should just finish it off quickly and leave. His throat burned.
"I'd mentioned that Sherlock had made a friend."
John took another gulp.
"She'd thought it lovely that Sherlock had finally made a friend. Too bad."
John couldn't help it. "Sherlock has nothing to do with this."
Mycroft's eyes slid over him, expressionless. And then he leaned in to whisper. "But you do. And you know nothing about the way this world operates. The way that Alphas and Omegas interact. What can Betas know? What can books know?" He leaned back, his eyes still expressionless, but his voice now filling with smug satisfaction. "Clara knows. But she hasn't told you much, has she?"
John froze, shocked.
"How do you know about Clara?"
"Does it matter?" Mycroft rolled his eyes. "If you'd just go along with the original idea, I wouldn't need to do this."
"No. Maybe you should ask her yourself. Although, I doubt she'll say anything." Mycroft chuckled and leaned back again. "You had a bit of a crush on her, didn't you?"
"No! - I mean, I didn't think of her that way."
"John, if you want to escape notice in this world, you need my help. You won't last past your next heat. How do you think Sherlock found you? You don't really believe it was just coincidence, do you?"
John bit his lip, troubled. Mycroft was right that he didn't know much about Alphas and Omegas. He'd lived with Betas his whole life. He knew that he could trust Clara though, no matter what Mycroft was implying. Without Clara, he'd have been discovered that first day, no questions. But. He'd known that first day he'd met Clara that there were problems in her life.
Was there a way to work Mycroft's offer to his advantage?
"If I were to agree to this...deal, I would need insurance against anything going wrong."
"No one bonds with me. Not you. Not anyone."
Mycroft sighed. "No matter how appealing Omegas may seem, I am in no way interested in them, you can rest assured. And if you knew more, you'd realize that it's not as simple to bond as you think."
"You'll tell me how you know Clara."
"Maybe. After you come to the first event. Saturday at 14:00. I'll text you the address." Mycroft stood up and headed for the door.
"And say hello to Sherlock for me."
John drank the dregs of his coffee and rubbed his forehead briefly. And then he stood up. He knew where Sherlock would probably be. And he had questions.