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here at the end of all things

Chapter Text

Ben likes to think he’s a good person. He tries to be a good person, whether it’s by volunteering or staying late at work or engaging in activism. He does his part to help urge society on toward inclusivity for demi-humans, and he doesn’t resent the Betas.

 “I’m telling you—the best ones come from the States.”

He sits with his two friends at lunch, intently discussing human trafficking, and wonders if he might be a piece of shit, too.

Ben leans back in his chair, eyebrows raised. It’s a nice afternoon in Paris and they were supposed to have a nice lunch that didn’t involve… this. But he supposes all the Alphas are starting to feel the sting of the absent Omegas, suppressants or not.

 “Why are they the best?” Ben asks.

 “Well they’re all feral there since the government collapsed.” Poe sips his tea, all lawyerly, not a hair out of place. “You know that, Solo.”

Hux, another lawyer, is more keen on the idea than Ben is. He clicks his tongue and squints at the Eiffel Tower off in the distance, probably crunching the numbers. Buying an Omega is costly: the woman herself will run €250,000, and that doesn’t include finders and shipping fees.

Ben is lonely and wealthy, but he has no interest in spending that kind of money on a woman who doesn’t want him. A Beta will suffice.

Hux taps a finger on the table. “Is it sight unseen?”

 “No, they bring some over for auctions, but if you wanted something else and pay the right price…”

 “All male?” Hux presses. “Female?”

 “Pretty much all female. They’re Omegas, after all.” Poe reaches in his breast pocket and casts a glance around before offering Hux a business card. “Give Snoke a call. He runs the auctions.”

 “This is inappropriate,” Ben interjects, miffed. He’s drumming his fingers next to his tea cup. “You can’t buy people like slaves.”

Poe launches into a lengthy defense of his actions. They’re feral. They need us as much as we need them.

It’s not civil discussion. Ben politely excuses himself, pays his bill to the nice waiter, and leaves.

—•—

The picturesque Omega, obedient and quiet, gentle and soft, nesting and happily spreading her legs—no longer exists.

Times have changed, and they didn’t change for the better overseas. Where their society collapsed, Europe thrived, and Omegas were set free of their bonds to create their own destiny.

It’s a good thing. People deserve the right to choose; the right to freedom. Living under the thumb of Alphas and the derision of Betas led to insurrections and uprisings until Omegas gained their freedom.

It cost Alphas the ease of finding a mate. Many turned to suppressants to curb their urges but some refused, and crime worsened: forced mating at a higher rate than ever before; pregnant fourteen year olds mated to their fathers. Ben saw quite a bit of it in the courts.

But it’s settled. Nowadays he practices environmental law with Hux and Dameron and stays far away from the grief and misery of demi-human protection.

Ben arrives at the office around mid-afternoon and finds their paralegal, Rose, already typing away on a new case. He smiles and she smiles. It’s thin, tight. She’s an Omega and he’s an Alpha, and no amount of law or social change will undo that fact.

 “How was lunch?” she asks.

 “Nothing to write home about. Poe and Armitage will be along shortly, but I’m going home for the day.”

They exchange more pleasantries before Ben slips out into the warm, sunny afternoon.

His black shoes click on the cobblestone as he makes his way toward the metro, coat draped over his arm. He’s one of the Alphas who refuses to take suppressants, and while he can’t smell Rose through her medication, the temptation is still there.

Ben clenches his jaw, brushing past others on their afternoon commute in his rush to get home. He’s tried and failed to find a mate, even with his relative wealth, and she won’t be what he wants her to be, anyway. She’ll work. She’ll be like Rose.

All the traditional Omegas have their pick and they pick even higher than Ben’s social status.

The train lurches. Ben lifts his head and sees a very pregnant woman stepping onboard, one hand at the small of her back and a wince across her face. He and several others pick up on the soft scent of Omega all at once, but Ben stands first to offer his seat.

 “Thank you so much,” she sighs.

 “No problem.” He supports her arm while she sits and slips away. Her hair is drawn back, nape bitten. Her Alpha won’t be happy if he picks up Ben’s scent. “When are you due?”

She laughs a little as he takes hold of a bar. His mouth waters and he stares at the swell of her stomach under her shirt. Fuck. They’re not even his pu—children. He shouldn’t be staring.

 “Four more weeks,” she says. A small hand rolls over her belly. Her engagement ring is bright and big enough to have its own orbit. “Two boys.”

 “Uh oh.”

They laugh. She tells him she has two other boys as well and as expected, her mate is a Vice President at a pharmaceutical company. They’re well off.

Ben gets off at his stop and pauses for a long minute, hand in his pocket.

He takes out his phone in one sweep. His shoes click while he walks up the steps and clings to the feeling of emptiness that’s been left behind by the Omega. That’s what he wants. Now.

 “Calling to chastise me again, Ben?” Poe drawls.

 “Send me the contact.” Ben emerges into the sunlight again, heart racing. “I want to go to the next auction.”

 “…Seriously?”

 “Yes. Send me in the info.”

He hangs up and casts a guilty glance around. No one is looking at him, but it still feels like all of them are.

—•—

Two weeks pass before Ben is privy to the location of the auction. Hux agrees to visit on the same Friday night and they’re told to bring cash for an entrance fee of five thousand euros. Ben also brings a blanket with his scent.

It’s an old building in Bondy, not too far from where Ben lives in Garches. He’s cleaned out half his savings and flushed the rest of his suppressants down the toilet, fully committing to the evil thing he’s decided to do.

Buying a person. But is she really? She’s an Omega gone feral from her time scavenging the remnants of what was once the United States. She would starve without him—die, maybe. Ben can give her a warm home and plenty of food and drink. She’ll never go without.

A short woman, Fay, leads them through a myriad of heavy doors toward the steady scent of Omega. It smells like fear pheromones; like they’re crying out for help, and Ben realizes a bit too late that he won’t be able to leave without one, even if he wants to. Blood and guts and millions of years of evolution have been turned back on him. Snoke will get his money.

 “We have a dozen right now,” Fay calls over her shoulder, leading them down a dark hallway. “None are on hold so you can purchase whichever one you prefer.”

 “Well that takes all the fun out of the auction,” Hux muses. He nudges Ben in the ribs. “Don’t you think?”

Ben shrugs and nods. He’s gritting his teeth, hands shaking in his pockets. It reeks of anxious Omega and he wishes he had taken a suppressant before coming. He’s getting angry.

They turn down another hallway and Fay opens a door. She ushers Hux and Ben inside, and a light flickers on overhead.

Through a sheet of glass Ben sees a dozen women huddled together in various states of undress and disarray. His stomach turns as he’s offered a chair and sits to observe them, but Hux is against the glass, green eyes hungry. Ben knits his fingers in his laps and breathes hard through his nose. He can’t look.

 “Shit,” Hux breathes. He glances at Ben over his shoulder, smiling, every bit a normal man in his blue sweater. “They’re lovely. Come see.”

 “In a minute,” he rasps. His throat is dry; tight. “Give me a minute.”

Fay seems pleased by their reactions. She lurks around Hux and points out different attributes of the girls: that one likes to cook, and this one is a natural nester. Her blonde hair bobs every time she laughs and nods along with Hux, some Beta bitch looking for her percentage of the profit.

This place is dank and dark and full of frightened Omegas who want nothing to do with Ben. He rubs his face and shudders.

 “Ah, yes. Rey is a bit thin, and she’s a mute as far as we can tell.” Fay leans over to whisper to Hux. “We dispose of the ones that won’t sell well. Dropping the price damages the market, you know?”

Dispose of.

Ben rises from his chair and joins them at the window, wedging himself between Hux and the woman. His gaze drifts across the women and he resists the violent urge to punch through the glass.

 “Which one?” he snaps. “Which one is Rey?”

 “Over there, in the dress.” She calls to Ben as he walks along the window: “Like I said, we can’t give you a discount. She’s still a hundred thousand euros.”

Beyond the huddle of women is one curled in the corner, hazel eyes wide and staring. Her soft growl carries through the glass when she catches Ben studying her, and she wedges herself deeper into the corner, scowling. Her brown dress is torn up on the side and she’s covered in a colorful palette of bruises—and thin. Her bones protrude and it makes his chest hurt.

Maybe she won’t be an ideal mate. His gaze travels down her long limbs to the slight swell of her breasts, right back to her irritated snarl. But she needs him, and more than anything else, Ben wants to be needed.

 “She doesn’t speak.”

He glances down at Fay and grunts. “Fine. I want her.”

 “Would you like to collect her or would you like her delivered? We offer a service to clean them up before—”

 “Give her to me. Now.”

Fay puts up her hands and motions for Ben to follow.

They walk through the maze-like structure to a bigger, heavier door with retina-reading biometric security. Ben’s skin prickles with anticipation as Fay opens the door and escorts him inside, then through another door that leads into the holding chamber.

The smell is overwhelming. None of the Omegas come toward him but shrink away as he strides past toward Rey, wincing under the bright lights, pained by the reek of fear. His shoes click across the linoleum like the hands of a clock counting down to some cataclysm.

Rey stiffens and her eyes widen. She hisses but doesn’t run, yowling, kicking her feet as Ben approaches. If she had ears, they’d be flat to her skull.

 “I know, little one,” he coos. He reaches out and she slaps his hand away, but he seizes her wrist. “Shh, shh. I know.”

It strikes Ben, as he wrestles with his new purchase while Fay counts his money, that she may not be an adult woman. Rey shrieks and snaps at his hands and he pins her to the floor a handful of feet from the other Omegas. Her face is round. Young. He peers down at her and her lower lip quivers.

 “How old is she?” he calls.

 “Mm…” Fay shrugs, leafing through the bills. “Sixteen? Nineteen? A teenager for sure.”

Fuck. A fucking teenager.

Rey’s trembling lip gives way to soft, miserable sobs, then longer mournful wails. Ben purrs as he gathers her in his arms and his blanket, scenting her with his wrists and his chin, murmuring in her ear as he carries her to the door. Her thighs quiver around his hips and she whimpers into his neck. It shouldn’t please him, but it does. He rubs her bony back, tracing her spine.

 “Everything looks good,” Fay says. She smiles as she leads Ben from the holding cell. “That one has never been bred, either.”

Ben grunts.

He leaves Hux behind to continue drooling over the remaining girls, eager to bring Rey home and get her washed up and fed. Fay reminds him to never come back unless he has money before she shuts the main door.

And there he is, standing in broad daylight with a shivering Omega he bought from overseas. Ben swallows, cupping the back of her head to keep her face hidden in the crook of his neck. No one will know. Rey will be well-loved and no one will know the difference between her and a typical mate.

He purrs and purrs, and Rey dozes off by the time they reach the metro. She’s swaddled in the blanket and breathing gently on his throat, and Ben loses himself in the quiet calm, purring, eyes hooded while he smells her hair. She needs a bath but he’s picking out the Omega scent, anyway; half-drunk on it and unsure of how he’s going to pry himself away.

He forgets their stop and they go around again, and he thinks he wouldn’t mind going around forever.

Chapter Text

Rey is still very deeply asleep when Ben arrives home with her. She stirs a bit as he carries her over the threshold with one arm, the other twisting the key in the lock, and he mumbles in her hair; some empty platitude about how happy she’s going to be.

He ignores the lights in favor of bringing her straight to his—their—bedroom. It’s dark but he’s walked the same path through his cavernous home a thousand times before, often coming in late from the office and shuffling directly to bed.

This time he bumps into some of the sparse pieces of furniture, too distracted by the way Rey smells to pay attention to tripping. He catches the edge of the wall before he runs into it, pausing, taking shallow breaths through his mouth. God she smells good.

A soft, pitiful whimper puffs on his neck. She squirms and Ben continues toward the bedroom, running his hand on the cool wall.

 “Shh… It’s going to be okay, little one.” He nudges open the bedroom door and brings her straight into the attached bath. “You’re going to have a nice bath and I’ll bring you to bed.”

Her scent is overwhelming: cloying, untainted by suppressants or the sharp smell of another Alpha. She’s ripe. She’s ready, even if she isn’t in heat.

Ben sets Rey on the floor, leaned against the clawfoot tub. He’s never had much use for it and prefers the small shower in the corner. But she pushes away from him and crawls across the floor to the shower instead, over the rim and past the curtain.

He wants to bathe her himself. But she sniffles and the water starts, and Ben decides it’s best to give her a little space for now. Best no to come on too strong.

Besides, it gives him time to prepare their bedroom. He already has the second room ready for her if she decides to build a nest: it’s small enough to feel secure and tight, maybe the size of a walk-in closet. He’s only ever used it as a study.

Ben picks pajamas for her to wear; nothing revealing or sheer, since she’s going to be shy the first few nights. He peels back the sheets and casts a glance toward the bathroom. Will she cycle soon? She’ll be receptive to him when she starts. She should be, at least, but he’s never been with an Omega in estrous.

He changes into flannel pants and paces in front of the bathroom door while he waits. The shower runs for some time, long enough that he grows impatient and peers inside to check on his new mate.

Steam billows through the crack in the door. Ben frowns at the sound of sobbing and closes the door behind him as he goes to investigate.

 “Dear?” he calls. “Is something wrong?”

He pushes back the curtain and finds Rey curled up on the floor, wedged into the corner with her dress still on. Her eyes widen at the sight of him and she hisses.

Ben clicks his tongue. Poor little thing. She looks so pitiful and small there, wet brown hair plastered to her head, thin arms wrapped around her middle. She glares up at him but her lower lip quivers when he turns off the water.

 “Don’t be afraid,” he coos. “I won’t hurt you.”

Rey freezes, eyes bugging. She doesn’t resist being hoisted from the floor and set on her feet before the counter.

Ben unzips the dress and gently slips her arms free. She shivers terribly during the process, teeth chattering, forearm struggling to conceal her breasts. He tries not to look too much—there will be time to check her after she’s slept and eaten something.

 “Can you tell me how old you are?” he asks, tossing the dress into the garbage.

Rey avoids his eyes, rolling her lips. Her skin smells cleaner with the dirt and sweat washed away but the reek of fear comes back to cover her appealing Omega scent.

Ben dries her as best as he can. She refuses to unfold her arms and drips miserably during the process, twitching when he pats away the water on her nape. Her shoulders are narrow, chest bumpy with bone. He has to feed her before she shrivels.

But he takes care to avoid the bruises and the drying drags on. She’s covered in them and worse, covered in scars that run in knots down her back and arms. It’s frustrating to see; frustrating that anyone would let a perfectly good Omega be damaged.

Maybe she’ll be more comfortable in the nesting room. If she’s feral, she’ll prefer having a space to herself for now, and Ben is sure she’ll join him in bed after they’re mated.

So he carries her to the smaller room and sets her to her feet. It’s full of blankets and pillows, all different textures and fabrics so she can pick what she thinks is best, and he’s scented it all so she can grow accustomed to his presence.

 “You can rearrange things.” Ben watches her turn and tiptoe toward the mattress on the floor. “It’s for you.” He hesitates, then: “For us.”

Rey doesn’t seem to notice. She’s crouched on the mattress, leaning forward to run her thin fingers along a fluffy blanket, and the fearful reek is fading away. Ben leans on the doorframe to watch her, hands in his pockets.

Still naked. If she doesn’t want to wear clothes then he certainly won’t force her to.

 “You like it?” he asks. Her silence makes him uncomfortable down to his bones. “Is there enough room? Enough blankets?”

No response, except a soft chirp. She tugs the blanket until it gives from the pile and her frail body is wrapped up in one slight turn.

But Rey has a small smile when he catches a glimpse of her rolling lengthwise on the mattress. Her chirping intensifies as her long arms reach for more blankets, pulling and rustling them around her like a fortress. She’s happy—comfortable. Good.

Ben leaves her be for the evening. He locks the door from the outside and rests his forehead against it, just listening to her happy chirping.

—•—

Sleep is evasive with a new Omega down the hall.

Ben lies in bed staring at the ceiling for hours. He’s partly afraid Rey will escape through the window and partly tempted to see what she looks like when she’s asleep. Does she snore? Does she talk or walk?

He rubs his mouth and slips out of bed to check. Since he’s already bought her he intends on doing his best to give her space and time to adjust, but one quick peek won’t make or break their long term happiness.

Dark cold meets Ben in the hallway. He palms the key and tries his best to quietly turn it in the lock, but a soft click heralds his arrival, anyway. He drops it in his back pocket, rubbing his bare chest as he looks inside.

Rey has been busy: she’s pushed the mattress into the back corner and covered the window with a blanket to keep the street lights out, pillows piled high like walls. Ben eases into the warm room and stifles a groan into his fist at the soft, enticing scent of her. Fuck.

He closes the door and crouches to inspect the entrance to her burrow. Interesting. It extends from the door back to the wall where he saw the edge of the mattress peeking out. Good. She’s settled.

 “…Rey?” he whispers. He peers into the dark recesses of her burrow. “Little one?”

Like a child with a new pet rabbit, Ben can’t resist the urge to invade her space and stroke her.

He carefully crawls through the blankets and pillows, down a narrow corridor that brings him straight to the bed where his pet is asleep. The darkness is so deep that Ben can’t see her, so he paws along the blankets until he finds a big bump in the covers.

Here it’s easy to pretend and become lost in the scents and textures. He worms into her blankets, seeking whatever warmth she can give him, and presently his greedy hands find the arch of his sleeping Omega’s hip.

Ben pauses. He shuffles closer, nosing her hair as he finds his body curled against hers from behind. His fingers creep along her stomach and he huffs a pleased breath when she shivers. Very warm. She’s getting ready—soon she’ll be in heat, and she’ll bark and whimper and beg for him.

An unhappy Omega won’t enter estrous but Rey is obviously already very happy with her new home. Heat. Soon. She’ll call him like he’s heard in some very expensive porn, and he won’t have to sneak into her burrow in the night.

For now—this is plenty. This is enough. Ben purrs and nuzzles into the crook of her neck, wrapping his arms around her slight middle. As they say: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

—•—

Soft, rapid breaths on Ben’s collarbone wake him in the morning, still cloistered in utter darkness.

His eyes roll open and he yawns, arms tightening around the thin creature wrapped in his arms. She stiffens and he realizes she’s frightened and panting on his skin. Her small hands tremble on his bare chest. He must’ve repositioned her last night.

 “I’m sorry,” Ben mumbles into her hair. He kisses her, sighing. “You’ve done such a lovely job, my sweet little one. I’m sorry for intruding.”

Rey doesn’t move. Her breaths quicken.

He disentangles from her and frees them from the swaddle of blankets. Morning has come but Ben is officially on vacation, government-mandated while his new Omega adjusts and enters her first estrous. When she’s claimed and settled he can return to work—not that he’s in any rush.

No more scouring the Internet for the few mated couples willing to sell pornography of their couplings. No more jealousy of random mated Omegas on the metro, and no more empty gnawing in his gut.

Ben has a mate, and she isn’t going anywhere.

He pushes off the roof of the burrow and winces in the bright afternoon sun. Rey goes limp when she’s lifted from her blankets, shivering in Ben’s arms as he carries her to the kitchen. She needs to eat.

 “Fay didn’t tell me where you’re from,” he says, trying to be conversational. “The States, yes—but whereabouts?”

He sets her in a chair at the table. She hides in the blanket around her shoulders and doesn’t answer.

 “West Coast? East Coast?” Ben opens the fridge and picks out a couple things for breakfast while he talks. “I didn’t have the chance to visit the East Coast before the Collapse but I like California. Saw General Sherman—that big sequoia. I have a little redwood tree growing near the windowsill.”

No answers are forthcoming. He carries on about his trip to the States and makes her something simple: scrambled eggs and toast, so it doesn’t upset her stomach. Rey stays stone still in her chair and stares at the glass of water in front of her.

Ben sits beside her when breakfast is ready. He offers some eggs and she recoils, shaking her head. Well… she has to eat something of substance.

 “Are you allergic?” he asks, raising his eyebrows. She shakes her head as he eats the bite himself. “Then would you like toast instead?”

Rey huddles under her blanket. That’s a no.

It won’t do. He won’t watch his Omega waste away like this.

Ben gently draws her into his lap, purring at her tense response and turning her back to his chest. He wraps an arm around her waist and turns to spear more egg on the fork. She’s going to eat something—now.

 “You need to gain some weight, little one.” He prods her lips. “Come, come. Try a bite.”

But she continues twisting away from the fork. He purrs and murmurs and cajoles until she opens her mouth and eats the eggs, huffing, squirming and pushing back against him. It’s not like he’s feeding her acid. Jesus Christ.

He pats her stomach. “Good girl. Dramatic, but… good.” He spears more egg and worms his hand through the blankets until he brushes her bare belly. Rey shivers. “You’re so thin—I need you to eat up and gain weight or you won’t do well during heat.”

 “…No.”

Her voice comes through, soft and weak, just a simple no. Ben pauses in the middle of scooping more eggs.

He strokes her stomach, absentminded. “No? No what?”

She lapses into sullen silence again. Ben resumes prodding her mouth and purring when she opens up and eats, relieved that she’s decided not to speak.

Rey can’t refuse him—legally or otherwise. He nuzzles her temple, feeding her slow bite by bite, and his fingers wander lower on her stomach. She can’t say no. Why would she want to, anyway: when she has a warm home and soft nest and loving mate?

And he’s being very patient with her. Very gentle. Hux is probably buried inside his Omega right now.

It’s easier if Rey doesn’t make any pretenses about refusing Ben. He won’t take any pleasure in forcing her, but he will if he has to. Alphas are meant to be guiding forces and Omegas are meant to follow them, no matter what the new laws may claim.

So Ben will lead and Rey will follow. He’ll make sure of it.

 “Okay,” he mutters, unnerved by his own thoughts. “Let’s wash up again and get dressed.”

It’s the natural order. He stands, lifting her into his arms again, rubbing her back. Omegas aren’t women—they’re Omegas.

Ben carries Rey down the hall to the bathroom, attuned to the way her heart patters nervously against his chest. His Omega is anxious but she has no reason to be; not after how kind he’s been.

He saved her from certain death, after all: and even at his worst, Ben is sure he can’t be worse than death.

Chapter Text

 “And how did you happen to find this Omega, Mister Solo?”

As with all things, obtaining Rey has not come without a fair share of paperwork. It’s simple enough: the government asks few questions and only requires a blood sample to prove what Rey is, but the invasive nature of it raises Ben’s hackles, even if there is no blood sample at all. Just a ruse.

He chews inside his cheek, tapping a pen on the kitchen table. Poe already greased the wheels but Ben doesn’t appreciate bureaucrats digging around in his business, particularly when possessing Rey is so wildly illegal. Not that anyone will ever know.

 “She’s a tourist,” Ben says, clipped. “One thing led to another.”

 “American?”

 “Yes. I don’t know her age or date of birth.”

The woman on the other end grunts. “It’s fine, I can fill something in. You’ll be given three weeks for bonding at one half your regular salary. If you’d like to petition this decision you can visit our website.”

 “That’s fine. I intend on returning to work soon.”

 “Excellent.” Her computer clicks and she clears her throat. “That should be all. Blood sample looks fine and you’ll start receiving your benefits tomorrow morning. Is there anything else I can help you with, Mister Solo?”

 “That’s all, thank you.”

Ben hangs up and sets his phone on top of the paperwork he’s already printed. He chews his thumbnail, thinking. It’s best to have her registered in the open instead of hiding her like a prisoner—helps keep prying eyes away from his new mate.

All he has to do is lay low until she’s acclimated. When the first heat cycle starts and he takes her, all will be well. She’ll be happy.

He glances down the hallway, where Rey is presumably in her nest reconstructing what he ruined the previous morning. Last night was quiet and still and Ben left her to her own devices, resisting the temptation to invade her space again and impose his will upon her.

But Ben isn’t a bad person. He’s saved her from suffering and given her a safe place to live, plenty of food, and he’ll be a doting mate. Rey needs to comply and they’ll get along just fine.

And she needs to eat.

He rubs his jaw before rising from the table to wrangle her for lunch. The eating isn’t going well—either she’s afraid he’s going to drug her or she’s trying to hunger strike her way out of his home. It won’t work. If she keeps refusing to eat, he has other ways of putting more fat on her frail frame.

Ben shuffles to the second bedroom door and knocks. He’s going to enter either way but is trying his best to give her some degree of privacy.

 “Rey?” he calls. He clicks his tongue on the roof of his mouth. “It’s time for lunch, little one.”

No answer.

He sighs and rolls his eyes. Fine. They can do this the hard way. The doctor already sent him a meal plan he intends on strictly enforcing, even if the actual visit will be about a week. Rey won’t react well to a strange man in a lab coat.

Ben enters the room, suppressing a groan at the thick scent of Omega penetrating the air. He honest to god salivates as he scans the room for any sign of her, smiling slightly when he sees a moving bump in the center. She likes to burrow; it reminds him of a rabbit. Perhaps he’s the fox coming to snap her up.

 “It’s time to eat,” he says, shutting the door behind him. “Come. We’re having vegetables and chicken this afternoon.”

The moving bump stops. Rey is concealed under a heap of multicolored blankets and pillows and Ben is half tempted to destroy the thing completely. Nesting is a good thing—hiring from him is not.

But he decides to respect her hard work and pushes up his sleeves to enter the burrow properly. It’s warmer inside, dark and narrow like she’s trying to keep him out, and Ben follows the soft sound of her rapid breaths. She’s anxious. Unmoving and quiet, but anxious. He isn’t going to hurt her, though.

The main chamber is big enough for Ben to kneel in. He finds Rey curled in the far corner, eyes wide and frightened, and purrs as he crawls to her.

 “It’s time for lunch, dear,” he coos. He reaches out to touch her shoulder and she stiffens. “You must be hungry and thirsty after all this hard work.”

Rey doesn’t budge. Ben trails his hand down her arm to the blankets, shushing her whimpers as he tugs them away, baring her to the dark den. She wears the pajamas he offered but not much else, and he catches a glimpse of her flat belly under the hem of her top. So thin. It’s unacceptable.

It’s not ideal, but he decides to carry her from the room like he did for breakfast the day before. Rey barks in distress when he lifts her and the roof of her den falls to pieces, and it does hurt Ben to upset her. She can fix it, though. The practice is good for when he inevitably impregnates her.

Out in the sunny living room, Ben settles her on the couch in a warm beam of light. He keeps an eye on her while preparing a plate filled with cut up chunks of chicken, green beans, carrots, broccoli, and all other manner of vegetables. Protein has to be a slow introduction as to not upset her stomach.

Eating in the living room should help, too: it will make things less formal and put less pressure on Rey to ‘perform.’ Hopefully she eats well today.

 “Do you like watching television?” Ben asks, ambling out to sit beside her on the couch. He leans over to set the lunch plate on the floor and flicks through channels, squinting. “I’m not a huge fan of it but I don’t mind letting you watch for a bit.”

Rey slithers from the couch to sit on the floor instead. She ignores the plate of food, cocking her head when Ben settles on reruns of an old sitcom.

 “Now not too long,” he says. He follows Rey to the floor, neatly taking the space behind her back, shushing at her soft irritated noises. “I don’t want you to see something frightening or upsetting. You need to focus on gaining some weight and getting rest, not worrying about nightmares.”

Ben leans against the couch and draws Rey between his thighs until she leans on his chest. Even wrapped in her blanket she feels small.

He spears a chunk of chicken and offers it. She turns her head away and shakes it, so Ben coos and persists, but Rey refuses to take a bite. He eats the first piece to make sure it’s cooked properly (it is) and attempts with a smaller bit that’s more her size.

Still nothing. She huffs and shakes her head.

 “You have to eat more, Rey.” Ben pushes a hand under her shirt, squeezing her entire lower belly to prove how thin she is. “Would you rather slowly starve to death?”

A moment passes and she doesn’t reply. No soft refusals or mumbling, just sullen silence. He isn’t going to let her starve to death, so she can forget that means of escape.

Growling, Ben digs his fingertips into her ribs, drawing an irritated growl back from Rey. She yelps when he pinches her, squirming between his thighs but unable to escape, and finally eats the bite of food. She refuses the next offering so he pinches her again, and again, until she eats every bite.

It isn’t ideal. He doesn’t want to hurt her but at least a light pinch is better than feeding tubes or force feeding.

It’s a quiet afternoon otherwise, sunny and still, only the laughter from the sitcom breaking Rey’s irritated mumbles and chewing. Ben strokes her belly while she eats, eyes hooded and watching the television. Nice day. He’s not spending it alone or scouring the Internet for Omega porn, so it’s a better day than most.

His hand pauses along the hem of Rey’s pants, finger tracing the soft fabric. Maybe she won’t enter estrous unless she’s… stimulated. Maybe he should wait until she’s gained weight, but that could take a few months. Could be worse for her in the long run—and interferes with the mating process.

Her stomach is swollen from lunch and it seems she’s dozing off against his chest. It’s a good time to try; she’s relaxed and drowsy and quiet.

 “Do you feel better?” Ben murmurs into her hair. Rey grunts and he smiles, easing his hand between her legs, heart racing. “Good girl. Just relax, okay?”

It isn’t anything terribly invasive—he doesn’t have his entire hand stuffed down her pants, just fingers brushing and touching her through the thin fabric. She squirms, rubbing her bottom into his groin as Ben lightly traces his fingertip along her slit, a gentle reprimand catching in his throat. Don’t move so much. Relax.

Rey squeezes her thighs together and pushes back out, trying to push him away, but Ben isn’t so easily deterred. He smells her hair and the foreign scent of nervous Omega triggers him to purr; it’s like blinking or breathing. Like his heart beating.

 “Shh…” Ben closes his eyes and spreads two fingers to drift along her mound. “You’re safe. I won’t hurt you.”

She must be a reasonable age. He won’t ever know, unless she suddenly decides to start talking.

His fingers worm under the hem of her pants. Another distressed whine comes from Rey but is quickly silenced by Ben’s purring and murmuring in her ear. He stretches his fingers and proceeds with the same gentle exploration, this time finding she isn’t wearing the panties he left her.

The skin is soft, covered in coarse hair—so she must be a woman. Rey jerks at his middle finger pressing along her slit, whimpering, small hands grasping for his wrist. A faint, unmistakeable scent comes, like clean, warm laundry. Omega.

 “You’re so soft,” Ben whispers in her ear. He strokes slowly through her folds with one finger and cups her thigh with his other hand, helping spread her legs. “That’s it. Open up for me, little one.”

His knuckles move under the fabric in a lewd way, straining it between trembling thighs. He teases her entrance, pressing gently with the pad of his finger until she whimpers, then spreading the sticky wetness in a line up to her apex. Ben strokes her thigh with his thumb as he sets to stimulating the small bump there, purring his pleasure at her keening protests.

 “I know,” he murmurs, maybe more condescending than he means to be. “You must be so pent-up without an Alpha, little one.”

He circles the nub and grits his teeth as Rey pushes her behind into his groin again, rubbing along his cock. It would be so easy to bend her over and take her right now. The way she’s squirming is practically begging for it, and he can smell her arousal, and feel the wetness smearing on her pants.

It’s far and beyond better than a Beta or a suppressed Omega. Her scent is clean and fresh like a ripe fruit waiting to be plucked and it seems a waste to leave her rotting on the vine. Because all she’ll do without an Alpha is rot, becoming part of nothing, never achieving what she should be.

Ben teases Rey until she climaxes a handful of minutes later, toes curling, breath catching in a long, tantalizing moan. He’s never been so frenzied before and pushes her forward onto her hands and knees, sucking her essence from his fingers and pawing down her pants. His head spins with fantasies of her mewling and clutching a belly full of pups; his pups, and helping her give birth, and watching her breastfeed them—

 “Please don’t?”

The swirling hunger clears for a moment, scattered by Rey’s soft voice. It strikes through Ben like a lightning bolt, all distressed Omega and fear, and he hesitates with one hand on his belt and the other on the slight swell of her ass. His heart beats in his throat.

Laughter echoes from the television. Ben swallows a lump, staring at the way he has the poor girl bent over like a dog. She’s shuddering from fear and now he can smell it, pungent and thick and utterly unappealing. What the hell is he doing?

Rey twists to hide her face in the carpet. “I want to go home. I want to go home.”

Ben leans against the couch, averting his eyes to the kitchen. His hands tremble as he fixes his belt. She’s talking but she isn’t saying what he was hoping, and now he feels guilty and repulsive all over again.

 “Go to your room,” he manages.

Surprisingly, she obeys—but maybe she just wants a place to hide. Rey sniffles and pulls up her pants, stumbling in her haste to escape, and Ben doesn’t look her way until he hears the door slam shut. He stares down the empty hall, unblinking.

Crocodile tears. It must be crocodile tears.