A/N: Hey, this is my second fic. It's a lot nicer than Jail Bird, no surprise rape or anything (not that it was a surprise, I guess). And Ivan is a lot nicer in this one! Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
This includes a lot of (parallel universe equivalent of) sexism, some civil and social issues. But it's not all serious, I promise!
"Bye dad and pop!" Alfred called out his farewell to his parents who were devoutly sitting in their vehicle, waving their child off to his first day of school. Mattie stood by his side, holding his hand with a stern look on his face as his enthusiastic brother bid goodbye to their parents. It was a warm autumn's day, the first day of the new school year, and for the first time Alfred and Matthew would be attending school together. Alfred could feel the excitement boiling in his gut, both thrilled and rather nervous by the intimidation that school had always exuded to his hyperactive mind. He dearly hoped everything lived up to expectations.
Matthew was guarding his brother, keeping his own little quiet vigil. He was nervous about this. He had been attending school for quite a while, but this was Alfred's first day, his first year, his first time every actually attending a private school to gain knowledge. He wanted to have Alfred in all his classes, but he was several classes above him in several subjects. They didn't have a single class together. "Do you think you're going to be okay in your classes?"
"Of course I will!" Alfred responded confidently, tugging on the strings of his backpack and turning around to face the school building now that his parents had driven out of sight. "At least, I sure hope so. I've worked really hard for this...I'm lucky to have this opportunity." He added, the nervousness in his gut bringing him back down to reality. He was several years behind the norm for his age group, but at least he'd made it this far. Far enough to be allowed into the school. He sighed and muttered quietly, "Though I do wish we had a class or two together."
"We have lunch together, that's good enough. And, um...use the unisex bathrooms, okay?" Matthew didn't want his brother to dare come and take step into the Alpha bathroom. Omega bathrooms had yet to be built, and Matthew didn't dare to trust Alfred in either the Beta or the Alpha bathrooms. It was dangerous enough Alfred was even in school, he didn't want him in the bathrooms. "We've got a couple minutes until the bell rings, do you want me to take you around a bit?"
Alfred nodded, obeying his brother's words. He was a little annoyed by Matthew's general attitude towards him being at the school; his parents had congratulated him on his acceptance, why couldn't he? However, he would heed his brother's warning, knowing that Matthew was just trying to look out for him. He continued to fiddle with the backpack straps. "Yeah, Mattie, that'd be great. I've never been in a school before...well, outside of your school events, of course."
Matthew nodded and looked around, already seeing the stares. Everyone else at school was just as aware of the integration that was happening as he was. It wasn't even proper integration, it was just a small trickle. The public education system was going to become a cruel place for Alfred if he wasn't on the lookout. "Come on, I'll show you the flex areas and the atrium, the gyms..."
As soon as Alfred walked through the door, people started to stare at him. Hostilely. Glaring was probably the better term. The boy couldn't say he didn't expect this; he was an omega. Omegas weren't supposed to attend school, that was a privilege reserved for the more dominant of their kind. The alphas and betas who had passed the rigorous requirements. It was revolutionary for an omega to be gaining a solid education; the result of a growingly tolerant world. However, it wasn't going to be done easily. Any doubts of that went out the door once Alfred stepped through it.
Alfred grabbed a firmer hold of Matthew's hand, signalling his growing anxiety. He hoped everything would turn out okay. He hoped he'd make it through the day. Dammit, he didn't want to leave Mattie at all now. But he had to stay strong; it was probably just his mind overreacting to the hostility anyway.
Matthew gave Alfred's hand a squeeze and accompanied Alfred through the hallways as fluidly as he could. He didn't care if they thought less of him for taking his brother through school and guiding him (though they already didn't treat him quite as well as they would an Alpha). "You're gonna be with a bunch of Freshman..." He was worried mostly about that. Freshman were immature. He didn't want Alfred to be talked down to, or harassed.
Alfred nodded as he was lead to his first period room. "Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm with a bunch of fourteen year olds. I wish I could have been placed with kids more my age, but...well, I'm here for an education. At least I'm getting that, yeah?" Alfred smiled, trying to be a bit more optimistic. He kissed his brother's cheek. "Don't worry too much about me. I'm sure it'll be fine."
"Well, if you say so." Matthew nodded and looked into the room, where some students were already seated, chatting it up. "Al, I'm...gad you're getting an education and all..." But he had concerns. Many concerns. And opinions. "Well, I mean. Have a good first few periods, and I'll see you at lunch, okay? I usually sit by the windows."
"Okay! I'll see you then!" Alfred smiled brilliantly, giving Matthew a firm pat on the shoulder before entering the classroom. The room was filled with chatting alphas, loud and obnoxious in their way. A few of them turned to look at Alfred once they picked up his scent, knowing that he didn't belong there. Cold glares were focused on him from the get-go, causing the boy's self-confidence to shrink drastically. Most of the alphas had a hard look on their faces, though more than a couple looked pretty indifferent. Some even looked amused. But none of them looked happy to see him. Not a single one.
As the silence persisted, the Alphas that Alfred was sitting beside were staring at him incredulously, as if absolutely scandalized that an Omega were there, as if Alfred's existence itself, in their privileged classroom, was offending them. They had all heard about a few Omegas being integrated, but they had never actually thought they would be in any classes with them.
Disregarding their blatant, rude stares, Alfred kept his head down and attempted to blend in with the class. He pulled out his books and laid them on his desk, preparing himself for the school day. He tried to avoid eye contact, not wanting the confrontation that it was likely to cause. Hopefully the teacher would arrive soon enough, then maybe all of the attention would be focused on something other than him.
The teacher came in just as the bell rang, shutting the door behind them. He looked over to Alfred and narrowed his eyes. He didn't seem thrilled about the idea of having Omegas in his classes either. But he didn't say a thing. Whatever happened would happen, and as a teacher he would stay neutral. And the students seemed to know that too.
Alfred was grateful when the lessons began, finally able to just dissolve in with the rest of the class. The scratching of pencils scraping against paper filled the room as the students began to take notes, copying everything the teacher wrote up on the board. Alfred tried to keep the pace, though he was unused to doing such a thing. Omegas were generally uneducated, mostly taught only to read and write and some basic arithmetic. The majority of their teachings were related to housework, since they were expected to be the homemaker and take care of the chores and cooking. However, Alfred was lucky. He'd been educated in a variety of things, his own hard work landing him the opportunity to attend a public school. He wasn't quite on the level he was supposed to be; most kids his age were seniors, not freshman. But he'd gotten far enough to be accepted in the integration program, for which he was grateful for. Now he just needed to acclimate to the tasks set for him. Shouldn't be too hard; nothing a week or two of practice wouldn't fix.
The class was generally going along fine, most of the other kids either ignored Alfred or were too busy with their own work to actually pick on him or give him shit. Except for apparently one comedian in the back of the room, who tossed a bundle of pencils, taped together, maybe four or five of them, tossed right at the back of Alfred's head, and a loud exclamation of "Whore!"
The only action the teacher took was to tell everyone to stop laughing and disrupting the class, then continued to teach.
Alfred rubbed the back of his head, a heated pain blooming throughout the back of his skull from the projectile that'd smacked him. He didn't say anything, trying not to make a big deal out of things. Instead, he kept his head low and ducked, scrawling down the notes guardedly, holding the back of his head in a preemptive defense from whatever attack may occur. The teacher hadn't even bothered to give a glance in his direction. If this continued, Alfred predicted that it was going to be a long day.
Matthew was waiting for Alfred when lunch rolled around. And from the look on his face, it hadn't gone well. "Was it really that bad?" But from the tone in Matthew's voice, it seemed like he had been expecting this from the beginning. It had a distinct 'I told you so' tone in it, without actually voicing them directly.
Alfred sat next to his brother, rubbing the corner of his eye with an obvious frown on his face. "Everyone keeps calling me a whore. Or a slut. Or a bitch. Or an 'ignorant fucking omega who should go back to where he came from.' And the teachers don't even say anything! Some kid threw a fucking book at me earlier, and the teacher didn't bother to even stop in his notes to turn around." He ate his food bitterly, pouting at his misfortune. "And don't even get me started on the stupid fuckers who think that since I'm an omega, it's okay for them to touch my ass whenever they damn well please. Alphas keep swatting my ass. I can't tell which is worse: the ass-swatting or the bullying."
Matthew sighed deeply and nodded. "Um...you could go talk to the counselor. She's really nice, she's a Beta, and she's pretty up and up on the civil rights thing. She was pushing for the integration and all." Matthew himself went to her every now and then when he was having problems. "I know it's hard to deal with this, Al, I really do... But I think that you should really think about what you're doing here." Matthew wanted his brother to get an education, and he really did want him to be happy. But he didn't think public school was the place for his brother.
Alfred took slight offense to that last sentence. "What do you mean 'I should think about what I'm doing here'? I'm here to receive an education just like everyone else. I know you're wary about me being here, but dammit, just because I'm an omega doesn't mean I'm incapable in learning in a school environment." Sure, things had gone a little shitty that morning, but he wasn't going to just up and quit at the slightest of inconveniences!
"No, no, Al, I mean. Dammit. You've gotta think about this, is getting educated really worth all the harassment you're going to go through?" Matthew didn't think Omegas didn't deserve an education, of course they did. It was everyone else who didn't think that, and he knew his brother could really come under fire from these ignorant assholes at school. He didn't want to just stand by. "Like, we could look into private schools..." Those were cropping up, specifically for Omegas. They had more or less the same curricular, just without all the problems that Betas and Alphas proposed.
"Yeah, but those cost a lot of money, and the education still isn't as good in private schools as it is here. That's why they began the integration program and...and I kinda want to be a part of it. I want to be a part of something big. I'm not going to just back down because a few assholes try to pick on me. Leaving now would be admitting defeat." Alfred shook his head, confidence becoming him. "I can do this, Mattie. Trust me. Besides, it could be worse. At least I'm strong enough to fend for myself, yeah?" He was a little bit bigger than most Omegas tended to be.
Matthew pursed his lips and sighed, nodding. "Alright, Al. I trust your judgement." He would just have to trust that Alfred could take care of himself. He was right, they didn't have the type of money to send Alfred to a private school, and that wasn't the kind of education Alfred really, really wanted. "Just three more periods left, alright? Then I'll meet you at the round-about and dad and pop will come get us."
Alfred nodded, hurriedly finishing up his meal before the bell could ring. He'd forgotten about the time restraint he had for eating there. Once he'd scarfed everything down, he gave Matthew a hug and a kiss, bid him a good day and headed off to his next class. Time for the torture to continue.
Once Alfred had reached his final period, he'd felt absolutely exhausted. The last two periods had been nothing but hair pulling, name calling, trash throwing bullshit. One of the teachers even participated in calling him a fool. However, Alfred had pushed on, and now he'd finally reached the last period of the day. He dearly wished for a reprieve.
The teacher didn't much show any difference to Alfred. He was the same as any other student, to him. "Good afternoon." He had an Eastern-European accent on the tip of his tongue. "I'm Mr. Braginsky, I'll be teaching you a vast array of literature this year. Why don't we start off class with an ice breaker. Any questions?"
Alfred gazed at his teacher curiously. He wasn't bad looking and appeared to be quite young. If Alfred had the guess, he'd say the man looked to be in his early to mid-thirties. He had thick, silvery hair, a large, firm build that was somewhat typical of alphas, a strong nose, and a strange accent, an accent he couldn't place. It ironically contrasted with his profession, but the boy said nothing of that. Instead, he shot his hand up and waited for the teacher to call on him. He seemed nice enough so far. Unlike all of the other teachers, he hadn't cast him an awfully hostile look.
Sensing the excitement in Alfred's motions, Mr. Braginsky called on him. "Yes, you. Tell me your name and ask me what is on your mind." He was rather interested in Alfred's question, actually. He'd never had an Omega in his class (and he could tell Alfred was an Omega, he could smell it all over him), and he was interested to see how he would act in class. Especially since it was the last class of the day.
Alfred retrieved his hand and opted to fold his hands together, nervously muttering, "Well, my name is Alfred Jones, sir..." He suddenly felt ridiculous for the question he was about to ask. Pink tinted his cheeks. "And I was just..well...wondering where you're from?" He offered a smile, hoping it would ease whatever animosity that may come.
"Hah, wow, what a dumb bitch..." An Alpha from right behind Alfred muttered, but just loud enough for the entire class to hear, and for the entire class to laugh. They just assumed that their teacher would go along with it. Like all the other teachers had
Mr. Braginsky was the first to respond. He snapped the pencil in his hands, and started to emanate a rather dark aura. "I think that you, sir, should think instead about how privileged you are to have had such a good education to know geography well enough to even guess where my place of birth is." He wasn't talking to Alfred, he was talking to the Alpha behind him. He stalked closer, staring over everyone's heads. "And I am going to say right now, if any one of you dare to jive at someone under the thumb of oppression who is fortunate enough to pass under their radar, I will personally make your own lives hell." He pointed as some of the worst offenders, the ones who had snickered the loudest and the one who had made the joke.
He then turned back to Alfred, with a much softer smile. "And to answer your question, Mr. Jones, I am from Russia."
Alfred was just as shocked as all of the other students in the class about Mr. Braginsky's defensive stance. It had been really unexpected. Alfred had given the man benefit of the doubt, but he certainly hadn't thought that the man could have possibly been a great advocator of the integration. It was relieving to know that he had an ally afterall. Though he was glad that Mr. Braginsky had come to his defense, he still smiled awkwardly under the man's pleasant gaze as he asked, "Um...w-where's that?" He'd learned about the country briefly in some of his history studying, but he couldn't point it out on the map.
Mr. Braginsky just laughed lightheartedly and shook his head. "If you really care to know, I will show you after class, Mr. Jones. Anyone else?" Everyone else seemed to just be keeping their hands down, timidity taking over after the man's vicious stance over their raucous teasing of the Omega. It was clear that their teacher wasn't going to take anyone's shit about that sort of thing, and clearly supported the integration.
Alfred didn't ask any more questions, deciding to keep his head low for the rest of the day. Although he was sure Mr. Braginsky would be kind enough to answer whatever he had to ask without tacking on a condescending sneer like so many of his other teachers had, the boy didn't want to be seen as ignorant and stupid. He didn't want to ask dumb questions. He wanted to show up the alphas. To prove that he could do well in school; to prove he could do better.
After their 'ice breaker', Mr. Braginsky went on to talk about the syllabus, about what they would do, and that they were immediately going to be going into the work year the next class period. The Russian Alpha seemed rather passionate about his teaching. And he never once gave Alfred a second thought of special attention, nor did he give him any nasty smiled or glares. Alfred was like any other student to him.
Eventually the final bell rang loud and clear, and the crowd of freshmen bolted for the door, ready to go home. Alfred lingered behind, gathering his books into his book bag before he slung it over his shoulder. He glanced back at his teacher who was behind the desk, sorting through his papers. Alfred decided to approach him. "Hey, Mr. Braginsky? Thanks...you know, for earlier. The majority of the teachers in this school seemed to be just as prejudiced against me as the students, and it just really means a lot to me that there's at least somebody in this school who's on my side."
The Russian couldn't help but manage a smile and look up at Alfred. "Well, I have my reason for being so. Let me just advise you, that you have to fight for what you need. And in this day and age, you need an education. You have more important thing than being a homemaker available to you. Of course, you can also be a homemaker." But Mr. Braginsky didn't think that Alfred had that in his future if he opted into the integration program.
Alfred shook his head. "Nah, that isn't the life for me. I don't want to be confined to the typical roles of a homemaker just because of my social status. I wouldn't have bothered trying to receive a good education if I did. And I do plan to fight for it if it comes to that." Alfred offered a smile, rubbing his neck, "Anyway, you told me you'd show me where Russia is?"
Mr. Braginsky couldn't help but laugh once more, and pulled up his laptop, opening a map of the world up into a search engine, and showed Alfred the map, then pointed to the largest country on the map. "That is where I am from. I was born right there..." He pointed right to a little spot in the Russian countryside. "It's very pretty. But, I digress... Anything else, Mr. Jones?"
Russia was the largest country on the map. Alfred wanted to roll his eyes at his own stupidity. He should have known that one. Instead, he smiled awkwardly at his teacher, shaking his head. "No, that's all thank you. I need to get going...my brother Matthew is probably wondering where the hell I am." He laughed quietly. "Have a nice evening, Mr. Braginsky."
"Oh, Matthew? I had him his freshman year. A very bright young man." Mr. Braginsky nodded and waved Alfred off. "I'll see you tomorrow, Mr. Jones. Stay out of trouble and have a good evening." He smiled after Alfred, seeming amused by his enthusiasm. It was hard to come across that these days.
Alfred nodded, calling back, "Sure thing, Mr. B. Seeya tomorrow!" A small trickle of his typical, confident self reappeared with that last remark as he left the classroom, heading for the atrium to find his twin. Seems like the day hadn't been too bad afterall. If he had Mr. Braginsky there for his last period everyday, Alfred was sure he could survive this.
Matthew was waiting for Alfred, like he had at lunch, but found himself quite a bit easier to meet Alfred now that he was smiling. "Oh, Al... You look excited, did something good finally happen?" He was more than happy to talk about something like that rather than the bad things that happened.
"Fuck yeah, something did. A teacher actually had my back for once! You shoulda been there, he totally obliterated the fucker. And he was super nice too!" Alfred laughed, feeling rather fortunate right then. "In fact, he says he had you as a student freshman year? You know Mr. Braginsky?"
"Oh, yeah, I had him. He was pretty cool. The way he teaches is pretty nice..." Matthew had never pegged him as a civil rights activist of any kind, though. He had always just thought of him as a quirky teacher who knew his stuff. "Well, if he's got your back then I think you'll be fine." In his class, anyway. "He's got a lot of influence over a lot of people." He was a fairly powerful Alpha... He could change people's minds with just a glance.
Alfred nodded, stretching his arms out as they walked toward the exit. "Yeah, I sure hope so. Definitely my favorite part of school so far. He's kinda attractive too, if that's not weird for me to say." Not that Alfred had anything in mind for the man. He was just making an observation of his physical stature.
"Oh...well, I guess so." Matthew had never really paid much attention to any of his teacher's physical attractions, since was more into Omegas himself than Alphas, and that's what most of the teachers were. His brother was an Omega, and Mr. Braginsky was a powerful Alpha, it wasn't that out of the ordinary for him to notice that sort of thing. He got to his feet and started to lead them out to the round-about. "Dad should be here soon to pick us up."
After acknowledging Mattie's statement, Alfred decided to sit on the bench next to the road. Patting at the seat beside him, the boy mumbled, "Hey, Mattie? Don't tell dad and pop about what happened today, okay? If they knew everything, they probably wouldn't allow me to come here anymore. I don't want to worry them."
Matthew didn't like the idea of hiding things from their parents... But he let it go and nodded along. If Alfred didn't want it all to come out, he would let him say what he needed. "Alright. As far as they know from me, your first day was awesome." He looked over at the round-about, seeing their father's little electric car come puttering around to pick them up. "Come on, let's get home."