Chapter 1: Prologue
The two cryo chambers hissed in unison, alpha and omega, meeting at last. Alexander Pierce was present, having planned this for the last decade. The perfect mating couple to bring forth the new evolution of HYDRA, if Project Insight proved a failure. There was always a backup plan, and it was finally time to get more use out of their asset than a few assassinations a decade.
The Asset was the ultimate alpha killing machine, and Mother Superior had been, and continued to be acknowledged in the secret organization, as the only enhanced omega in history, put on ice by Hydra in 1958. They paired well enough on paper, both evenly matched in regards to strength and stamina. Pierce had invested a lot into subconsciously prepping the frozen nun into the perfect mate, the ultimate breeder for the new generation of HYDRA. There was a lot riding on this encounter.
Before Pierce had discovered her resting place, an abandoned, offshoot facility crumbling at the foundation in Wales, HYDRA had never found a reason to thaw - or utilize - the nun, having vivisected her, experimented on her, and then put her on ice when she had been on the brink of her very first heat. She was designated omega, what chaos and destruction could she possibly rain down on humanity to bend people to HYDRA’s will? She had literally been tracked down and extracted from an extremely poor district of London, working as a midwife, and living as a nun. Pierce had seen the intake photos. She had worn the habit and everything, and the storage bins still held her original nurse satchel, with the utensils and everything else, all in pristine condition.
And when Pierce had unearthed her files a few years ago, it changed everything.
The Asset, having killed every single omega presented to him during the few ruts he had gone into during the infrequent times out of cryo sleep, needed something more to ground him. It was becoming more and more difficult to reprogram him, and have it stick long enough to complete a mission that only lasted a few hours, let alone a few days or weeks. It would soon be time to retire him from active combat, and give him a new purpose. Raising child soldiers on HYDRA’s ideals would be far more easier and long lasting, than to scramble the Asset’s brain to the point of no return.
Pierce was playing a long game.
The doctors and scientists, all betas, as the Asset took exception to any alpha in his proximity when he came out of cryo, worked tirelessly, inserting IVs into thawing veins and starting the warm saline treatment to bring both of the assets out of their comas. The Asset woke first, straining against his restraints, disoriented, and the machines spiking, alluding to a potential rut, or extreme agitation. Either way, the right omega would level him out.
Then Mother Superior woke with a long, whimpering moan. Temperature gradually rising, she was still in the clutch of a virgin heat, more so the transitional stage before true heat. The pre-heat phase would last longer than the usual omega, perhaps a week or longer, or so the scientists theorized. They also calculated that a full heat in correlation with her uniqueness could last longer than the usual three days.
Again, the scientists suspected, due to her rare genetic makeup, and the fact that she had presented late for an omega.
Mother Superior was, by far, the perfect specimen to pair with the Asset...
And the Asset caught her scent immediately.
In fact, everyone in the sealed basement levels could smell her, that welcoming rush of omega, arousal, slick, and ripeness. He could tell by the way the locked out alphas on the security feed stopped in their tracks to sniff, and then followed the scent to the vault door, while the betas gagged, covering their mouths and noses to block out the smell. Even in a highly ventilated viewing room, Alexander Pierce could smell her, and it took everything in him not to mount her right then. Her scent was strong, overwhelming.
It was sweet, the scent of virgin omega. She smelled like warm apple pie and summer, pure and warm, untouched. She reeked of fond memories and sweet treats, and it was no wonder the Asset was fighting against the thick metal restraints holding him down. Who wouldn’t want to claim such a pure omega? They were a rare commodity these days, especially after the laws changed, forbidding omega virgins from being mated, rutted, or otherwise knotted until they were of legal age, and only with an alpha, or beta, of their choosing. Which is why presenting omegas were isolated and homeschooled, or sent to highly insulated and protected schools, until they were at least 20 years of age.
Apparently consent was important.
And late presenters? They were incredibly rare. Omegas presented normally between the ages of 10 and 13, untouchable now. The ratio of omegas presenting between ages 17-19? One in 3 trillion in the last century. The nun had presented at an unheard of age of 23, and had not experienced a heat until HYDRA had finished examining her, freezing her in the beginning stages of her first heat, just to be cruel. That, or they simply did not care. She had been of no use, they had better trained omegas in cells to take care of alpha needs. Perhaps, in that time, it seemed ultimately wrong to violate a woman of Christ?
Who could really know in this modern era.
Maybe it was simply a line no one wished to cross, no matter the view of omegas before 1985. Before then, omegas were homeschooled and prepared for their role in the household. They had no actual rights in those days. An omega could inherit a monetary dowry, but they could not retain control of their finances, nor could they vote, or hold property. They were breeders, and more suited to family life, a domestic life. And then some radical groups started the omega riots, and the laws started changing. Omegas had the vote, they could hold property, and work. Rape legislation had grown tremendously in those early years of the 1980s, and omegas were protected, like an endangered species with rights and liberties. It was a modern age that Alexander Pierce was disgusted by, that was for sure.
No longer lobbed as homemakers, with the obvious exception of religious life, omegas now overpowered betas in the medical field, as doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and NICU aides. They owned businesses, like daycares for old and young, bakeries, and thrift stores. They were artists, authors, poets and non-violent activists. They were veterinarians, pharmaceutical reps, shelter operators. Compassionate care and the arts had become their realm, and they were slowly trying to overturn laws to open up government to them, corporations, and the military, but it would never happen. Not for another fifty years or more.
Alexander Pierce wished for the old days, and if this new phase of HYDRA worked, it would definitely mean the end of omega rights, if he had anything to say about it.
Over the intercom, Pierce put the plan into place, “Take her to the cell first. Sedate the Asset for easy handling.”
The nun was unshackled, the beta aides, not having an aversion to omega scent, but more easily able to control themselves, carried her off to the specially designed cell, as the doctor stayed behind to tranquilize the Asset before he hurt himself, or others. There had been an undercurrent of distress coming off of the omega, when she became aware of her surroundings, and the metal cuffs keeping her trapped on a table. That subtle undertone had driven the Asset mad, driving him to reach for her.
It was obvious that, without reprogramming, the Asset was more than an assassin. He wanted the omega, yes, but there was something in the way he looked at her, like he wanted to protect her, scent her, and that was what Pierce had been hoping for, in the end. It would make for an easy bond, and once they mated, bonding would happen quite smoothly. A bond would mean they accepted each other, and if the nun submitted, there was nothing preventing the next stage in Pierce’s plan.
Beside him, Rumlow bristled, a low growl reverberating through his chest. Next to the Asset, Brock Rumlow was the best alpha Pierce had in his possession; loyal, ruthless, but also obedient, enough. He knew his orders, and he obeyed, despite his ingrained need to dominate.
“Must be killing you to let him have her,” Pierce chuckled, tapping on the main screen to release soothing pheromones through the vents, to get his agents back to work. “Stop posturing, Agent. If this fails, you’ll have your chance. Just keep your eye on Captain Rogers, and report back. The Asset still has one last mission before Project Insight launches in a few weeks, and then the next chapter begins.”
“As you say, sir,” Rumlow grunted, eyes lingering on the screen showing Mother Superior writhing in her cell, feverish and glistening with beaded sweat. The Asset was dragged in, half unconscious, and left on the floor to watch through the impenetrable barrier, complete with microscopic holes, to better allow the Asset to be the only one to take in the sweet aroma of omega heat. “Maybe we should rename her the Midwife. Less taboo than Mother Superior.”
The rest of the cell was sealed, with a neutralizing agent in the corridors to eliminate her scent. It was a necessary measure that Pierce had put in place. He couldn’t have any alpha agents going into rut all at once, because of one little omega. She was for the Asset, for now.
Pierce laughed, and Rumlow fell in step behind his commander, as they entered the sterilization chamber and worked their way up to the upper levels of the Triskelion.
“The Midwife,” Pierce chuckled, low in his chest, eyes twinkling. “I like it.”
Rumlow grinned evilly behind him, a plan of his own already in place.
Chapter 2: Chapter One
Marble Collegiate Church.
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire, and lighten with celestial fire…
In the back of the church, on the second level, the omegas, female and male alike, sang along with the choir, hymn books open in front of them, same as the rest of the church. The church was sanctuary for all, but it harkened back to the old days, the ingrained class system that alphas came first, then betas, and, lastly, omegas, high above the crowds, protected and separate. Of course, decades ago, omegas had never really been allowed to venture out, not without chaperones. Nuns and midwives had been one thing. They were specialized, off limits, doing God’s work. They were an essential part of the church, permitted more freedom than omegas outside of the religious life.
Thou the anointing Spirit art, who dost thy seven-fold gifts impart.
Now, there were protections, rights, a respectable workforce.
Things had changed drastically for omegas in the last sixty years. There had apparently been strides in the medical field benefiting omegas: masking lotions and perfumes, heat suppressants, specifically designed birth control and family planning resources, and specialized schooling programs. Yet, there was still prejudice, still black market trade, still danger.
Despite the laws, it was obvious that most of the population still believed that omegas had been allowed too much, and the rights they had fought and won should be scaled back. There was talk about restructuring the laws about education, hiring, career fields; limiting what they could do, where they could do it, and with whom. Marriage, bonding, children, healthcare, it was all being scrutinized, but not as closely as the strides already made, the rights previously established. The government was even discussing a registry, as female omegas had continued to make up less than 15% of the world population. And male omegas? They made up a small 8% of the world population, and much like betas, never experienced a rut, or heat like females in their class, but unlike betas, they were unable to procreate. They were, though, the only ones able to assist a female alpha in rut.
Thy blessed unction from above is comfort, life, and fire of love…
Still, church was a sanctuary, and the grounding stone of new life decades after being kidnapped by HYDRA. Faith and prayer had helped soothe frayed nerves, the confusion, and the fear experienced as the Triskelion had fallen. Buried under several hundred metric tons of rubble in the grip of a virgin heat would traumatize any omega, let alone an imprisoned one with no concept of what HYDRA had done in that time, nor how much time had truly passed. It had taken an iron will, and deeply buried strength, to overcome the haze and terror of the memories coming back, and dig through enough concrete and steel until people began to notice the scent, the distress and panic.
HYDRA and SHIELD had both crumbled that day, and every file, from both organizations, had been opened to the public, which meant the sole survivor from the underground levels could be identified. A week passed in quarantine when the files were discovered, and a missing person’s case from the 1950s had been solved.
Jennifer Leigh Parker, 23 years old, midwife and nun,as well as a late presenting omega female. HYDRA had kidnapped her on the 13th of July in 1958, and put her in a cryo chamber for decades. She still had no idea if she had any living relations in the present day, and the nuns of St. Raymond Nonnatus were no longer relevant. The order had been closed, apparently, in 1973, as hospital births had grown increasingly more popular, and birth control had decreased the need for midwives. The nuns had been dispersed, taking on new roles, and there was no one left to inform of her discovery. She was a woman lost in time.
Enable with perpetual light the dullness of our mortal sight...
The doctors had injected her with suppressants to ease the pain of pre-heat and end it quickly, so the necessary officials could begin their interrogations. For her cooperation, and compliance, she had been granted permanent citizenship, or so she had been told. She had told them everything she could remember, and the faces she remembered, what little she had overheard, and was presenting her arm for blood samples when a man named Tony Stark had shown up, documents and warrants forcing the officials about to draw blood to stop what they were doing and turn her over into Avengers custody. At the time, she had no idea who the Avengers were, or why they were able to shut down a government questioning.
Teach us to know the Father, Son, and thee, of both, to be but one…
She remembered Howard Stark from her time, quite controversial, but the epitome of beta intellect. From the scent wafting off of Mr. Stark upon his pushing in and stopping whatever the government officials had secretly been up to, it had been evident he was an alpha, refusing to stand down, entitled to the command of a room.
Everything had been explained on the flight to New York, and it had become quite clear to Jenny what the US government had planned to do with her and her blood samples. If the Avengers Initiative had not stepped in, she would have spent the rest of her life as a test subject. For an alpha, Tony Stark was actually quite funny, not domineering or controlling, and she appreciated his transparency. He wanted to help her understand what she was, why HYDRA had kept her, thought her valuable, and why she had been thawed after so long on ice. It would all become clear once they arrived at Avengers Tower, promising it was the safest place on US soil, untouchable by the government and military.
That through the ages all along this may be our endless song…
There had been requirements, though, of which she readily agreed to abide and undergo. Testing and scans were performed by Dr. Bruce Banner, a very shy and intelligent beta, who sometimes smelled like an alpha, but it would be rude to ask why. No one else was allowed into the specialized lab, except Dr. Banner and Mr. Stark, until their findings proved she had not been programmed by HYDRA. There had even been a younger woman from the nation of Wakanda; a playful, confident beta named Shuri, who had been smuggled in to perform the last scans and deem Jenny as a non-threat to the Avengers or national security.
Shuri had stayed on for a week to help them run the other tests, to confirm what HYDRA had already documented. They had even ran her blood samples against another set from someone else, not telling her who, until the results were checked and final. To distract her, Dr. Banner asked her questions, non-invasive, as he explained, to know more about her life from before HYDRA, as Tony had her run on what was called a treadmill, punch things connected to sensors, and scanned her thermal readings.
They took their time, and then they asked what HYDRA had done to get such well detailed data in an era of lesser technology. That had been the most difficult to discuss, or even explain. Midwifery, taking the habit as a nun at a time when omegas were mostly required to stay in the home, had been easy to talk about, as it was pleasant enough, and she had such fond memories of all the babies and mothers, no matter how filthy their living conditions, or how difficult the birth. After HYDRA had kidnapped her became a different story, and parts of it had continued to cause distress.
Praise to thine eternal merit, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…
The finer details had been glossed over, as Jenny could not speak of the vivisection and experiments in full without shaking, or crying, or both. She was still a newly presented omega, unable to control her pheromones and the emotions that rolled off of her in waves. Tony Stark, the only mated alpha, had been the one to take her hand and rub circles over her thumb joint, in order to calm her down, ground and soothe her enough to get through the whole sordid tale.
It did not pass her by the look the three of them shared when she discussed the thawing, the cell, the alpha soldier with the metal arm. They all listened intently as she described being separated in a plastic cell, neither able to talk, and the pain as she began to transition into full heat. She talked about how the people called him the Asset, and that he had sad eyes. How he had stayed pressed against the barrier, growling low and gentle, like a purring sound, trying to calm her fraying nerves. And then he was gone, and she never saw him again.
She told them everything, from the first tremors, to the building collapsing and burying her alive. She told them about clawing her way out enough to be found, the doctors who suppressed her heat, stopping it in the beginning stages, the officials who interrogated her.
In the end, they explained that she had been born enhanced, a dormant genetic mutation called the x-gene, which must have been active during her life, but was triggered after being abducted by HYDRA. It explained why she had never been sick as a child, that was all she could say, until they explained further.
They had run her blood samples against those of Captain America, who she remembered from posters during World War II, and also samples from Bucky Barnes, who, they explained, had been the man with the metal arm - the Asset. She vaguely recognized the name, James Buchanan Barnes, childhood friend to Captain America, and second-in-command among the Howling Commandos. She barely remembered the old footage, but she did remember the man with the metal arm and the sad eyes and how he smelled familiar, like… home, or family.
She had deferred asking how they managed to get samples from HYDRA’s asset, as he had disappeared after the destruction of the Triskelion.
As far as she understood it, and she had actually kept up fairly well, considering her outdated nursing background, that none of her genetic markers matched for the super soldier serum, therefore she had simply been a mutant, all her life, and had simply never known.
The other tests showed she did not possess super human strength, or anything resembling Captain America. She had increased levels of stamina, body capable of healing itself more quickly than the Captain, and her senses were heightened. Nothing else could be confirmed outside of that. Her baseline had been run against Captain America and the Winter Soldier, as they were the ultimate alphas, and she was the ultimate omega.
A mutant omega.
That had been three years ago, and since then she had remained in the tower for less than a year, long enough to be brought up to date and educated on the new technologies. Then she was allowed to start a new life for herself, as long as she checked in with Tony Stark’s head of security, Happy Hogan, once a day. Sundays were the exception, as Happy accompanied her to morning mass, and prayed with her until she was ready to leave, being a Catholic himself, but in America, it was all relative. She was raised in the Church of England, but the foundations were the same.
After, she would have lunch with Tony, and then spend the rest of the day on her own, none of the Avengers in the tower knew who she was, nor that she was even there. It was Tony’s weekly secret, and Pepper enjoyed it, as well.
In fact, Jenny adored the rare occasions Pepper joined them for Sunday luncheon. She liked the beta woman. Quite a lot, actually. Pepper was at ease with the presence of an omega in her living space, and not at all threatened of Jenny’s closeness to Tony. For a bonded beta, Pepper was very comfortable in her own relationship. And Jenny had to admit, they did make a very united and solid couple. It gave her hope for a future in such a modernized era, and she was slowly gaining ground on solidifying herself in the 21st century.
Jenny had managed to scrape a passing score to get into college. Thanks to Tony and Pepper, she was a full-time nursing student, working off her debt to them as a part-time nurse for Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. She lived in a cramped, but cozy loft in Queens, and she had made a few beta and omega friends in the building, whom she invited over for dinner and cocktails quite frequently. She went to morning mass on Sundays every week with Happy, and volunteered at the local hospital nurseries in her free time. She was leading a fulfilling life, and after three years of looking over her shoulder, she was finally in a place where she felt safe.
As morning service ended, Jenny met Happy at the car, like always. He was, surprisingly, a beta, despite his alpha mannerisms and personality, and therefore sat at in the pews behind the alpha attendees. In no way, even in this day and age, were omegas allowed to intermingle with other designations in a house of God. There were some habits she was unable to fully turn her back on. She was raised in an alpha-omega household, and she had been taught, at a very early age, how to behave as a lady, and as either a beta or omega, depending on how she presented. That training had been instilled in her all through her formative adolescence, as well, and by an upper middle class, aristocratic family, intent on their omega daughter marrying very well.
How disappointed they had been.
“Enjoy the service, Ms. Parker?” asked Happy, opening the front passenger door, as was their routine. She absolutely despised sitting in the back seat as she tried to hold a conversation. “No confessions and silent prayer today. I think there’s a wedding scheduled for this afternoon.”
Jenny smiled, settling into the front passenger seat, and answered when Mr. Hogan buckled up and started the car, “I believe you are correct, Mr. Hogan. The service was a bit rushed, they must have something scheduled. I like the idea that they’re celebrating love and happiness before Christmas, though. Makes the world more cheerful.”
“You’re an old school romantic, Ms. Parker,” Happy chuckled, maneuvering through traffic. “Don’t ever change that about yourself.”
“Jenny, please,” she scolded playfully, taking notice of people, here and there, who didn’t quite blend in, or looked familiar. It put her on edge, the way they all would glance at the car, at her, and then walk off with a phone to their ear. It raised the hairs on her neck, and Happy began coughing, overwhelmed by the rising scent of distress. “I’m probably being paranoid, but I think we’re being followed...”
“Not paranoid,” Happy confirmed, checking the rearview every few seconds, lips pressed in a tight line, as waves of aggravation and worry rolled off of him. “Two SUVs have been following us a few cars back since we left the -”
It happened in an instant, the explosion.
They had been barely a block away from the tower, and Jenny’s fear spiked as the loudness deafened her, the glass shards slicing up her face, embedding into her arm and chest. It reminded her of the same kind of terror everyone experienced in World War II, during the Blitz. Except this time, there was no heightened sense of awareness. Within seconds, she was barely conscious, bleeding, and being dragged out of the damaged car by a pair of aggressive alpha hands, the smell making Jenny sick. It only served to increase the levels of distress she was projecting, and it proved to arouse the alpha dragging her away even more.
She recognized his essence from somewhere - somehow.
Fight or flight for an omega was said to be a myth, that an omega could never fight back when in the presence of an overly aggressive, aroused alpha, but that was a lie. Jenny fought, snarled, scratched, and even bit her kidnapper, long enough to slow him down. She even managed to kick him in the groin, but it barely stopped him from grabbing the base of her neck, pressing his fingers harshly into her neck glands, partially immobilizing her and releasing more of her scent. It was an old move alphas were taught young to put omega wives in their place, and force them into compliance.
It was also extremely inappropriate between unmated designations...
“I don’t work like that anymore,” he chuckled, deep and low in his chest, stopping to take a long sniff behind her ear, groaning at her scent, and then snarled through his blurry mask, unable to rub his cheek against her neck in order to mark her. A saving grace, if there ever was one, but no less horrifying, “But I’m gonna show you a good time, sweetheart.”
The tone he took, and the meaning behind his words, spurred her on to not give up. She still fought, despite the lethargy that the pressure at the base of her neck was causing, and the roiling disgust to twist her stomach. Elbowing and kicking, Jenny screamed and shrieked, and eventually managed to wrench herself from the alpha’s grip. It pulled her shoulder out of the socket, but she still managed it, and shoved him hard enough that he stumbled backwards. It was enough for her to get a head start, and she took it.
She would need to remember to thank Wade for the self-defense lessons later.
Despite the concussion she almost certainly had causing blurred vision, and the injuries she had sustained thus far, she felt none of it as she ran. The seams of her vintage church dress ripped out, and she had lost her heels in the struggle. She raced back to Happy, who was stumbling out of the car, and firing off at the main kidnapper, while on the phone with someone. He was bleeding from the head, but still able to aim and fire with some form of accuracy.
“Stay by me!” Happy yelled, and she obeyed, sticking to his side. He whirled around, firing at the increasingly aggressive alphas approaching from all sides. Happy was still shouting into the phone, and Jenny was curled against his side, turning around with him, so afraid that a bitter scent was rolling off of her in harsh waves. “There’s gotta be at least thirty! I can’t protect her on my -”
Jenny had no idea why he stopped talking, but when he collapsed on top of her, and she felt the wet warmth leaking through his suit and her dress, smelled the copper tang of blood wafting onto the back of her tongue, she knew he had been shot. He was in pain, breathing hard, and his own fear was choking her, just as hers was most likely choking him. Yet, he still managed to roll them under a nearby delivery truck, covering her with his own large body. Bullets were raining down on them, and a ricochet managed to lodge itself in her hip, another hitting Happy in the gut and leg. The tires on the truck were pierced, the undercarriage pressing Happy down on her further, and it was difficult for both of them to breathe. They were both terrified, in pain, and her dislocated arm was laying at a wrong angle underneath her, but as Happy continued to choke out, help was coming.
The ringing in her ears became too loud, too deafening, and without the ability to breathe decently, Happy and Jenny both started to drift out of consciousness, barely registering the clanking metal, the explosions going on around them, and the silence that followed...
Chapter 3: Chapter Two
Jenny wakes up, and she's not going to be happy about it.
Buckle up for a few bumpy chapters ahead.
“I don’t work like that anymore, but I’m gonna show you a good time, sweetheart…”
Jenny woke with a start, to beeping machines, the familiar scent of Dr. Banner, and the stirring pains of transition. Skin itchy and warm, she groaned at the uncomfortableness of it. The machines picked up her distress before her scent reached Dr. Banner. The calm he wrapped himself in usually relaxed her instantly, and instilled in her that she was safe, but the knowledge of impending heat, something she had not experienced fully, put the fear of God in her that she had not felt in years.
She was in the Tower. No one could touch her here, and HYDRA had not succeeded in taking her again. Though, the thought of leaving was enough to set her in a panic. And she was already in the grips of panic.
Then she remembered Happy.
“Oh, God...Jenny, it’s okay,” said Dr. Banner, catching her wrists and pushing her gently back down onto the bed. She had been trying to rip out the IVs and stand, looking panicked as she searched the room for Happy, whimpering at the pangs of twinges in her limbs. Dr. Banner was already choking on the faint aroma of her coming heat and her increasing franticness, the pungent scent of distress. “You’re safe. Calm, deep breaths. You’re safe.”
“Happy,” she rasped. “What happened to him?”
“He’s fine,” Dr. Banner answered, covering his face with his shirt to stifle the combating scents rolling off of her, as he tucked her back in. “He needed surgery, but once he’s stable, he’ll be transferred here. Please, settle. The smell...”
“Is he safe? Is he protected?” asked Jenny, wincing at the soreness in her bones, but the dull ache of her injuries could not mask the roiling fever simmering under the surface, nor the terror of what was coming. “Where’s my phone? I need my phone-”
“Tony’s with him. Please, try and take a deep breath. It’s too much for me,” said Dr. Banner, upping the dose on her sedation drip, emerald green flickering in his eyes. He was coughing, his voice strained. He was fighting tooth and nail against the Hulk inside of him. “I can’t...I need to leave. I’ll call Darcy, maybe Barnes and Steve...”
The large dose of sedative began to make her head fuzzy, her body dull and limp. She couldn’t feel anything as the heady haze of calm and sensation of floating dulled her awareness. Dr. Banner disappeared in a hurry, the faint whiff of agitated alpha trailing behind, and then she was pulled under, if only for a short while, blissfully ignorant as she slept.
“Please,” she cried, the fever becoming a searing heat in her veins. “Kill me, please.”
Skin too sensitive to touch, she couldn’t stop sweating, nor could she ignore the unbearable throbbing in her skull. It was all too much, and her heat hadn’t even begun. She was still in transition, and she had no idea what was happening to her, if it was normal, or where she was being held. She knew nothing...
The walls were cold, the floor, as well, and she was naked. The cramps came every few minutes, intense, like labor pains, the kind that seized the lungs and brought a woman to her knees. She barely registered the alpha on the other side of the barrier, too confused and scared.
It went on and on for hours, until the smell reached her - his scent. It was comforting, in a way, like nutmeg and eggnog, wood burning on the fire. It reminded her of winter holidays in Oxfordshire.
Then the tapping, and the low, purring growl, over and over, like a song.
He was trying to distract her, lying on his side at the barrier, watching. He was trying to soothe her fraying edges, calm her down, take her mind away from the fear and pain.
Finally, when she curled up on the ground, facing the alpha on the other side of the barrier glass, he placed his flesh hand against the clear surface and she did the same, a barely noticeable, extremely sad smile tugging at the corner of his lips. He hummed something familiar all night, but she was too far gone to identify the tune. He did it to help her, and eventually, as the next day passed, she slept.
He had cared for her, when he didn’t even know her, and in the only way he could, or knew how...
It was hot. It was uncomfortably hot. That was the first thing Jenny noticed as the wonderful peace faded away. Then the sweat drenched sheets, and the irritating sensation of damp hair sticking to her face. She let out a long, agonized whimper, trying to push off the harsh, starched sheets that were irritating her skin.
It was painful, everything hurt.
“I can’t help it, Darcy,” someone growled, the vague whiff of strong alpha tickling her nose. His scent was alluring, intriguing, and it settled on her skin like a balm. She felt safe in his presence. She wanted to bury her face against his neck and take in that heady fragrance. “It’s strong. I’ve never had an issue like this before.”
“Well, you better start helping it, Steve,” a strange female voice filtered through the settling delirium. An omega, with a reassuring aroma that made Jenny less anxious, but she desperately wanted the alpha, certain he would make the searing, painful heat under her skin go away. “She’s waking up, so either control your soldier like a gentleman, or leave.”
Everything faded in and out for a long time, the sweating getting worse, the fever dreams setting in, and every so often a snippet of conversation drew her to the surface, if only for a little while.
“I found cooling blankets, Darce,” came another voice, male again, but different. His essence was familiar, but she couldn’t pin it down. It confused Jenny, and she twisted in the hospital gown as her panic started to rise. Why could she not move her limbs? “Steve still trying to prove he’s impervious?”
“It’s getting pretty embarrassing,” the omega, Darcy, replied with a sigh. “He’ll go into full blown rut if he doesn’t admit defeat and leave.”
“Sorry for not being bonded,” snarled Steve, the alpha with the heady scent - the scent that she wanted to wrap herself in completely. Jenny could tell he was close, could feel the strain he was putting on the railing at the end of the bed, the cracking of thick plastic. She wanted to reach for him, but her limbs were heavy, tied down. Everything was too abstract. “Not everyone is lucky enough to imprint.”
“Alpha,” breathed Jenny, feeling the cold space next to her and whimpering. “ Alpha... ”
There was an audible crack, and Jenny flinched, the bed giving a sharp jerk. There was beeping, high and quick, and then she was floating again, drifting as gentle waves took her away. Peaceful, serene.
Again, she surfaced and then was carried away on a current of exhaustion and sedatives. It was so difficult to form words, to formulate any kind of response, or a plea. Delirious and disconnected from reality, oblivious. The higher the fever rose, and the longer it lasted, the more desperate her sounds became, shrill whines and guttural sobs.
She was extremely out of it when she rose to the surface for the umpteenth time. Whimpering for help, for the alpha, for anything to make it stop, barely coherent in her state, fell on baffled ears. Two alphas with enhanced senses, and pristine hearing, understood none of it, but the mated omega by the bedside, as blurry as she was in Jenny’s vision, needed no help understanding what she was crying out for, mumbling and praying in broken sentences and words. Darcy knew, Jenny remembered her name vaguely, but it was a knowledge deep in her bones. Through the haze, she could sense it, that Darcy knew exactly what she was going through, because she had suffered through a virgin heat before, as well.
Just never so prolonged, or so intense.
They were whispering, again. Darcy and her mate, the one that smelled familiar, but not the alpha Jenny wanted. He was too far away, a faint whiff here and there. She wanted to call to him. She wanted to be enveloped by his scent, to rub her face into his neck - his glands - and revel in the safety he represented. Why was he not by her side? Could he not tell how much she needed him right now? Could he not sense how much pain she was in?
“Her temp is hitting 120 degrees with cooling blankets,” Darcy said. “It’s been four days. She should be in active heat now, and Steve’s hit rut, because he’s refusing to leave.”
“I can hear you,” growled Steve from far across the lab, far away.
One word escaped Jenny’s cracked, parched lips, “Alpha…”
As Jenny groaned, the faint smell of alpha grew heavy and thick in an instant. A large, firm hand took her own small, dainty one, and she nuzzled the inside of his wrist with her nose. His scent was steadying, and in that moment, she could have screamed for joy as the pain started to subside and the cloudiness in her head started to clear.
The hand started to pull away, thinking she was drifting off again, and, on instinct, Jenny tightened her grip, ignoring the deep rumble from the alpha. Steve . It mattered not, because she turned over on the bed, his arm clutched to her chest, wrist close to her nose, and brought him with her, with hardly any resistance. It took him by surprise, if the masculine yelp was anything to go by, but she refused to let go. She felt safe, clear headed, and calmer than she had felt in days, if Darcy’s comment was anything to take to heart.
“You smell like...summer,” purred Jenny, rubbing her cheek against his hand, inhaling deeply of his overpowering fragrance. “Home…”
Steve stiffened against her back, erection large and throbbing against her bottom, and there was a low, animalistic rumble emanating from his chest, vibrating against her shoulders, but she paid none of it any mind at all. She was too comfortable, too at peace. Her pain was almost gone, and she already felt the fever fading. His scent was everywhere, all encompassing, and she didn’t want it to disappear.
Eventually, he relaxed against her, clenched fist opening to cup her cheek and let her nuzzle more thoroughly against it. His other arm wrapped around her waist, tentatively, and his body molded against her body, perfectly. She fit, like a puzzle piece snapping into place, and she snuggled backwards against him, as close as possible.
They remained like that for several long minutes, and the minutes slipped into hours, and suddenly it was just them, alone and sleeping soundly.
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
Avengers POV monitoring Jenny via JARVIS ...
Darcy was sipping her usual large coffee, curled up in her favorite chair in the shared communal space, reading a book as the live feed of the sealed off section of the medbay protecting Jenny and Steve ran around the clock. That was how Tony found her, anyway, when he finally returned from the hospital, Happy being set up for recovery in his suite by Banner and Dr. Cho.
Collapsing on the couch, Tony set his feet up on the coffee table and pulled out a thin tablet, running the data Jarvis had been collecting since the day Jenny had almost been abducted.
After awhile, Barton and Romanov appeared, settling in next to Tony on the couch, and then Wanda and Vision, and then Banner and Bucky, the latter taking up residence as close to his mate as possible. Everyone was worried about Steve, and curious about Jenny. It wouldn’t have been an understatement that Tony had received quite a tongue lashing from Natasha and Barton about keeping Jenny a secret, leaving her defenseless, while allowing her to live out in the open. Banner had attempted to come to Tony’s defense, stating it had been Jenny’s request, wanting to start a new life.
That hadn’t gone over very well, either.
In the end, the Avengers had agreed that Jenny could no longer risk living outside of the Tower. Rumlow had almost succeeded in taking her. For what, they still had no idea. And with the development relating to Steve, well, there was no telling what the future would hold.
“What is she doing?” asked Vision, confused by the slight omega kneeling on the floor, hands clasped before her in quiet reverence.
“Praying,” Darcy answered, sipping her coffee. “Off and on for hours.”
“Not surprising, since she used to be a nun,” said Tony, nonchalant, as he continued to work through almost two weeks of data and readings. Then he stopped, eyes wide, and looked around in shock, “I didn’t tell you that part, did I?”
Romanov gave him a look that could make a viper think twice, to say the least. “No, Tony. You didn’t tell us that part. What else have you not told us?”
Shrinking a bit, Tony went back to his work, looking quite like a chastised child, “Nothing.”
“It’s not his story to tell,” gruffed Barnes, fingers embedded in Darcy’s hair and watching the screen intently. She leaned into the touch, enjoying the feel of his fingertips running over her scalp with practiced ease. “And it’s not Dr. Banner’s, either. Allow her to keep some things to herself until she’s ready. She deserves that much, considering.”
“No, her legs,” Vision clarified, pointing to the screen. “What is she doing with her legs?”
It became evident, then, the reason behind the praying. Jenny, still weak and thinner than before, was rubbing her thighs together in a way that displayed she had finally entered active heat. By the way that Cap was stirring on the bed, erection tenting the blanket, muscles tensing and face strained, Jenny had been experiencing the ruthless arousal for quite some time. Darcy wouldn’t be surprised if she had been producing copious amounts of slick as she prayed. It was probably why she seemed so agitated, jittery and tense.
The screen went black, and everyone glared at Tony, but to hell with it, he wasn’t all that comfortable with this kind of voyeurism, no matter what anyone else thought. Darcy was well aware that Tony Stark actually did possess a moral compass, whether anyone else believed it or not. Bucky had been right, despite his reluctance to confide in her about his reasoning, or what he knew of the omega. Jenny deserved to keep certain things private, and this situation, these coming hours and days, should be just that, kept private.
Of course, JARVIS was still running in the background, taking readings and uploading the data for constant minute by minute analysis.
Without the live feed, people began to disperse, or start conversations, and Tony took that time to retreat to his lab with Banner and Cho, to bounce ideas and run the data for answers. Darcy, as the resident lab assistant, as well as the only omega with security clearance relating to the Avengers, followed. Three geniuses running theories, and they only came up with barely a handful of answers. The entire situation of the last week had been an absolute clusterfuck, and nothing made sense.
Happy being in critical condition for days, Jenny in the midst of a stress induced heat, Banner unable to be in the Tower until extra precautions were taken and the ventilation systems cleared out the all encompassing aroma of omega, because, to quote, “ Hulk has a thing for her ,” whatever that was supposed to mean. Then there had been Darcy, Tony’s favorite addition, like a sister, who had kept Tony updated with a flurry of emails and texts stressing over Jenny, or Steve, or both. Steve, too honorable for his own good, had stayed, despite the torture of fighting off rut, growling and snapping about the whole damn inconvenience, but unable to pull away from the omega, not even for an hour. And Bucky, her sweet alpha, had been far too accommodating as Darcy’s shadow.
Yet, still, a huge clusterfuck.
What really irked Tony - as Darcy understood it - was how Steve, on the brink of an end-all rut, kept his distance, without walking away, to respect Jenny’s space. So considerate and long suffering for the cause, he had ended up being the reason for the prolonged transition, and also the solution when the situation proved dire. It was a relief in regards to the fact that Jenny had stabilized enough to transition into the fledgling stages of active heat for the first time, but it was also worrying to all doctorates involved, how long the second stage of heat would last.
Darcy had an idea, but she wasn’t paid the big bucks to make bets on another omega’s biology.
Dr. Cho had a theory, which was all they could work with at that moment, that due to the fact that Jenny had not gone through heat after being recovered from the rubble of the Triskelion three years ago, could be considered a variable in play. Banner chimed in with how Jenny remained on an extremely high dose of suppressants ever since, refusing to stop them for at least a few months. Despite the complications of staying on the suppressants for longer than a year, she had been adamant and extremely reluctant - stubborn - about going through at least one heat, even isolated.
They were good theories, yes. Darcy listened as Tony even agreed with them, but something didn’t sit quite right about it at all. He was suspecting it had something to do with her physiology, along with everything else. Darcy was beginning to agree. Jenny had the markers of a mutant, and everything that came with it, but it also meant that her physiology was different as well. If she had more than Cap’s usual stamina, didn’t that mean her heats would last longer, as well? It was worth switching her suppressants with placebos to see if he was right.
Steve had experienced six ruts since Tony had met him, and each one had lasted longer than normal. Darcy knew that for Bucky it had been around the same number, before he had imprinted on her, before they sealed the bond between them. All any of them could do was wait and see, and let this first heat play out without interference.
No one could figure out what it was about Jenny, but she sure had burrowed under Tony’s skin and made herself at home. From what Darcy had managed to needle out of her boss, the docile alpha felt much the same for Jenny as he did for her, yet slightly different. Jenny was a gentle soul, a vision of the past, traditional, but adaptable and determined. That was what Tony had told Darcy earlier that morning. What little information Darcy had of the new omega, it made sense that Steve would be drawn to her immediately. It wasn’t just omega pheromones, but strange all the same, as neither alpha, nor omega, had ever met. According to Tony, Jenny had a peculiar way of drawing people in with her unassuming presence of warmth and welcome.
For now, Darcy and Tony needed to go down to the medbay and speak with Jenny and Steve about what to do next. They didn’t want to leave Jenny locked up with an alpha in rut, no matter how in control the man was of his faculties. They owed it to Jenny, and to Steve, to make certain everything was consensual. If Steve needed to leave, Tony was the only one with the access code to let him out.
Tony could at least do that for them both, for now, and Darcy could be there for Jenny as a substitute for Steve...
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
The sweet scent of baked honeyed apples and a soft voice deep in prayer drew Steve from sleep. The dainty omega - Jenny - was in full heat, while he was in full blown rut, and beyond desperate need for release. The air was thick with the aroma of growing arousal and slick, and it only proved to make his already painful erection throb viciously, as well as his instincts claw at his insides to take her, claim her . His skin was sticky with sweat, his temperature was rising, and he knew that as much as he could fight his biology, the mounting need to fuck , there was no way he would allow his alpha nature force a vulnerable omega.
A deep rumble brewed in his chest, laying on his back and rubbing the exhaustion from his face. His erection tented the sheets, and, at that point, he was beyond caring, but he did feel a tinge of embarrassment. He could probably assume that the omega was in the same boat, sort of, with the way she was attempting to stifle her whimpers and moans.
God, what had he been thinking?
Rut had crept up on him, and Steve understood on a foundational level that his scent was one of the few things that could help the unknown woman through the fever, but only if they were compatible. Pheromones differed between alphas, the same as they differed between omegas. If they were not destined mates, the scents would be unappealing, bitter. There had been nothing pungent about Jenny’s scent, not for Steve, at least. There had been the strong emotions of fear and pain, which did taste bitter on the back of the tongue, but overall her scent had struck him instantly, like a punch to the gut. He had caught faint whiffs of that specific scent in the Tower before, but he had never been able to properly dissect the layers, or identify who the scent belonged to. It caught him by surprise over the years, yet he had never actively chased down the dissipating fragrance. Now he knew who it belonged to, and wanted to beat his head against a wall for not retreating from the medbay sooner.
He was putting the woman in danger by staying, especially as an alpha, and more importantly, an alpha in rut. There was no telling how long he could hold out, force down the animalistic instincts screaming at him to mate with her. The thought was disgusting to him. That was not how Steve had been raised, and he refused to force any woman, no matter what state she was in, or what state he was in. It simply wasn’t a valid excuse. It wasn’t right, and he was stronger than his own biological imperatives.
They did not know each other. There was no telling if Jenny would want anything to do with him after her heat. He had no idea if he was even open to the idea of courting her, either. Steve had always imagined his life with Peggy Carter, and was only just accepting that the life he had imagined could no longer be achieved. It was all too confusing, in that moment. Decisions could not be made under the influence of pheromones.
It was evident that they were drawn to each other’s scent. Steve had made mention to Bucky, only once, that he had never experienced so strong a pull to anyone. Not even Peggy, may she forever rest in peace. There had been no reply from his long lost friend. Bucky had simply nodded, as if he had suspected all along, but refrained from agitating an already on edge alpha. He just remained tight lipped about it.
Jenny was a mystery, though. There was only so much someone could gleam through scent alone, or word of mouth from people who were reticent to divulge any information whatsoever.
Ever since he had walked into the medbay, her scent invading her olfactory senses, before he ever laid eyes on her, Steve had experienced an intense desire to remain close. Tossing and turning, drenched in sweat, and crying out in pain, there had been no turning back for him. It had been difficult agreeing to Banner’s request, but hearing the whimpers, inhaling her scent fully…
It had been the right thing to do, at the time. That was how he reasoned his belligerence to not remove himself from the sealed off section of the lab. If Bucky and Darce needed help, or if any one of them had to dash off for something - the excuses lacked conviction, he knew. Steve truthfully hadn’t wanted to leave the smell of warm, buttery apples, brown sugar and cinnamon, vanilla. Hot from the oven, freshly baked apple pie - from scratch. There were also subtle floral undertones that weaved through the vanilla, and hints of balmy summer afternoons outside. To be honest, Steve had never experienced anything like it. Every omega he had ever come into contact with - his entire life - their scent had offended his olfactory system. His mother’s scent had always been comforting, maternal. Jenny’s scent was different, all consuming. It struck a chord deep within him, like a warmth spreading through his very soul.
Steve was angry that Tony had kept her a secret from everyone, but that discussion would come later. He could count on Natasha, at the very least, of having already ripped into Stark for such a monumental misjudgment in security.
A hint of distress caught Steve’s attention, pulling his focus back to the omega in the little chamber, and in an instant he was at Jenny’s side. Exuding a calm demeanor, with a comforting hand on her shoulder, he knelt down next to her and waited. She was praying, breathing shallow and quick, but her body almost spasmed under his gentle touch, like a shudder. At least she didn’t look to be in pain. Worried, yes, but not in pain. If anything, it looked as though one well placed touch would have her panting and presenting to him on the floor.
If Steve were a less honorable man, he might have tried it, but even the thought was repulsive.
Instead, Steve remained kneeling next to Jenny, and clasped his hands together. He recognized the prayer from his childhood. Sunday morning mass with his mother, listening to the priest, while he fidgeted on his knees in the pew. Of course, Steve was no longer that small, sickly, anxious child, and if she was able to find distraction and strength in simple prayer, then perhaps he could, as well. For him, it was a way to find common ground, an insight into an aspect of who this woman was, her identity as an individual, outside of her gender and designation. Despite the mounting desire to knot her immediately, Steve’s instincts also drove him to please her, this unfamiliar omega. Take care of her, protect, comfort. As an alpha, it was in his nature for any designation aside from another alpha, but Jenny had amplified the need tenfold. Underneath the agonizing desire to rut, the drive to ease her discomfort and make her happy had become overwhelming.
That was what he wanted more than anything, to make her happy.
“O’Lord, help me know your will for me,” Jenny prayed, loudly enough for Steve to follow along, removing one hand from her rosary beads to rest on Steve’s clasped hands. It was incredibly intimate, so much so that the simple touch could have knocked him clear across the room. “Let your light shine in the depths of my heart, that I may know what you want me to do with my life.”
“Help me believe that you have a special plan for me,” continued Steve, taking the sharp pain of her nails digging into his knuckles, as another heavy and sweet wave of slick filled the room. He took it in stride, grateful for the distraction from his own suffocating arousal. “Lord, I know I pass through this life only once; help me decide how you want me to make a difference...”
A smile tugged at the corner of her plump mouth, and Steve caught it out of the corner of his eye. The sight of that little smile caused him to settle at that small victory.
“Like our Blessed Mother, give me the wisdom to hear your voice, and the courage to answer your call,” Jenny finished the prayer, a calm settling around her like a mist. She tilted her head up, ever so slightly, and breathed. “Above all, give me peace of mind and heart. I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord… Amen.”
Even with her eyes closed she looked full enraptured, as if she were finding that clarity and peace in the act of prayer. Something wrenched deep inside Steve, like determination, to one day see her look at him with such reverence and wonder.
“Amen,” Steve breathed, struck by the rich whiskey color of her eyes when she opened them, turning her head to meet his gaze. Her eyes were glassy, but he could still make out the different shades of brown surrounding the dilating pupils in the center. “Uhh… Uhm…”
Jenny had turned to look at him, a small, warm smile on her stunning face, and the moment their eyes met, Steve had felt a sharp jerk as everything seemed to spin out of control. It was like falling through the stars, the planets whizzing by in a spiral, so fast it was dizzying, and with no end in sight. It was almost as if gravity had taken over, throwing them together, and all they could perceive was each other.
Steve had never experienced anything like it, not in his entire life, and nothing so intense that his soul exploded with thousands upon thousands of emotions he never knew existed. It was like finding his place in this new world, of having that one, infinite thing to anchor him for the rest of his life. And it was as if, in some strange, unknown way, he knew what she was feeling, too.
“Home,” breathed Jenny, her voice still harsh, more of a rasp, but no less gentle and sweet, with a noticeable English accent. “Feels just like… home …”
A small, delicate hand with soft, slender fingers touched his face, hesitantly. Steve almost flinched away, but the warmth in those fingertips pulled him in, and he leaned into that soft touch, as Jenny traced the lines of his face. She was looking at him in awe, teary eyed and startled, yet she didn’t seem to be present, as if lost in a world of her own.
That one word threatened to shatter Steve’s resolve.
It would take less than a second to close the short distance between them. He could kiss her, touch her, and she would welcome it. Steve wanted to do it. His instincts were screaming at him to do it. His mind was full of images of what it would be like to press his lips against her own, cup her face and marvel how perfectly she fit into the curve of his palms. He could almost feel how wonderfully soft her mouth would be, so warm against him. His animalistic instincts roared in his ears, slamming through him, wanting to know if Jenny would respond with the same fervor.
Simple fantasies and rut were close to swallowing him whole, and pull his reasoning and sense of propriety down with him until he was drowning under the surface of a turbulent sea of desire and need...
“Hey!” A voice barked through the intercom system, followed by a thundering boom of fists pounding on the containment barriers. “Rogers!”
The suddenness startled Jenny, and Steve almost growled at the instant loss of her fingers touching his face. He wanted to ignore Tony Stark. He wanted to scoop Jenny up in his arms, lay her down on the rumpled medbay bed, and get too lost in each other to bother with the outside world. He had noticed how she had tilted her head to the side, almost baring her neck to him in submission, revealing her mating gland to him for bonding. It hadn’t been permission, though. As much as his alpha nature wanted it to be, Steve was present enough to understand that nothing said in that situation could be taken as consent. And for his thoughts to fall so deep into alpha desire, to have thought about essentially taking her against her will, disgusted Steve more than anyone could ever fully know.
He was utterly disgusted by his own mind.
It happened quickly, and without warning. A metal hand grabbed Steve by his upper arm, incredibly gentle, at first, as a grounding reminder that Alpha and Omega could no longer remain in each other’s presence. Of course, Steve recognized Bucky’s scent, another alpha invading the sphere of Jenny’s sweet fragrance, and as agitated as Steve had become at the sudden break in connection with the omega, his alpha nature did not appreciate the interruption. He lashed out before he realized what he was doing, and the mild grip on the back of his neck increased to a bruising, crushing pinch as the metal hand cinched down more tightly. He was dragged out, snapping and snarling, away from Jenny.
Sweet, gentle Jenny.
She was fighting Tony and Sam to reach Steve, shaking and trembling like a leaf, shrieking and flinching away from the smell of Sam, an unfamiliar alpha in a previously considered safe space. It was causing her a great deal of distress, and in her state, Steve wanted to rip the medbay apart to get back to her, be that calming balm in a violent storm of confusion and fear. He wanted to protect her, isolate her away from everyone, because he considered her as his .
Jenny was his home…
“SAM!” bellowed Steve, a harsh snarl escaping, warning the other alpha to back down, step away. “Stark!
Bucky had him by the throat instantly, slamming him into a wall and pinning him, the metal arm immovable, and Steve was fighting tooth and nail to rip it apart in order to get to his omega, his Jenny. No matter how strong he was, how hard he fought, Bucky was just as strong, like a vibranium wall, and also eerily calm. He was unshakeable, while Sam guarded the containment door. Darcy had entered, and Jenny curled into the chest of the mated omega, reaching out over her shoulder for Steve to come back, to make everything better. She was distraught, the sour smell of it permeating the sugary spiced apples in the air.
“Take a breath, Steve,” warned Bucky, clenching cold metal fingers around his friend’s throat to cut off part of the oxygen supply. He couldn’t fight so hard if he was lightheaded and struggling for a breath. “Don’t make me knock you out. Think this through.”
Tony was in the room, as well, helping Darcy get Jenny to her feet. The omega buried her face in the crook of Darcy’s neck, whimpering, but cajoled enough to cease her attempts to push through the growing crowd of people to get to Steve. It was awful, just watching, unable to do anything. Jenny had no way of processing the situation, and the combatting smells were only causing her pain.
Yet, all Steve could do was watch, turning his conflict inward to fight his own instincts.
When Jenny’s scent had faded to a faint note amidst two alphas and another omega, JARVIS finally chimed overhead, advising Bucky, ‘Ms. Parker is being settled into a secure set of rooms for the remainder of her cycle…’
Only then did Bucky release Steve, blocking the punch he knew would be thrown and slamming his metal fist against Steve’s head in retaliation. It was like a recalibration, as well as putting Steve in his place. It gave him the chance to gain some control, as well as some much needed perspective. Unfortunately, Steve was still suffering the clouded judgment of rut, and blinded by the first phase of imprinting.
The two alphas destroyed the medbay, and part of the connected lab, in the ensuing tussle. Steve’s instincts were pulling him in different directions, desperate to sniff out where Jenny had been taken, but also enraged that Bucky had dragged him out by the scruff of his neck, like some green alpha pup with no self-control. Bucky took Steve’s blows in stride, the hard kicks with grace, and the hurtful comments with a grain of salt and tremendous understanding. It pissed Steve off more, unable to get a rise out of his friend, even as he broke a desk over Bucky’s back. Even then, his friend retained that overwhelmingly irritating sense of calm, which caused the irrational part of Steve’s mind to push further in an attempt to escape and find Jenny.
It all came to a head in a matter of minutes, and Bucky had been forced to resort to cold, calculating violence - the Winter Soldier’s training - to subdue a raging Steve.
Steve was pinned on the floor in the span of seconds, Bucky’s metal hand clenched around his windpipe to keep him on the ground. It was embarrassing, and Steve struggled, but a vibranium arm was incapable of breaking like flesh and bone. Bucky growled and snarled commands into his friend’s face in the hope that Steve would recognize centuries of hierarchy through the fury of his own rut. Mated alphas were superior to unbonded ones, and, finally, Steve reacted to it.
“If any of them marks her, so help me, Buck -”
Flesh and bone fist collided with Steve’s face, a warning growl lancing through the tension in the air, “No one is going to hurt her, Steve. Get your head out of your ass.”
The power of Bucky’s alpha made Steve’s own shrink back, and for the moment, he surfaced from the maelstrom of the last hour.
With Steve still silent, Bucky continued, “Jenny has no idea what she’s agreeing to right now. Both of you need clarity. You need to consider the consequences, and she needs to be able to decide without your damn pheromones influencing her!”
Steve knew this already. When Tony’s voice has burst through the intercom into the containment cell surrounding Jenny’s medbay bed, Steve had recognized the selfish, domineering, abusive thoughts. He had recognized how disgusting his mind could be, and he had been revolted for mere seconds before he was dragged away. Literal seconds of shame, and then his alpha nature had been triggered to fight for his omega. He had behaved reprehensibly. He prided himself in being above an uncontrolled alpha, and there he had been, considering ungodly acts on a vulnerable woman.
What the hell had he almost done?
Steve had never lost control before. Never . Bucky was right, and Steve felt thoroughly ashamed. Jenny deserved better. Any omega, male or female, in that same situation, deserved better. She needed an explanation on Virgin Heat, be allowed a discussion with someone safe, experienced, about what had just happened, or almost happened. She deserved the choice, without influence. Darcy could be that guide for Jenny, and Tony would be able to provide the terrified omega with a listening ear, as well as a secure place to go through her heat alone.
Taking a deep breath, Steve nodded his understanding, and Bucky released him. Still under the influence of his own hormones, Steve had more control over himself, relatively speaking. With Jenny gone, his head was clear and his judgement was becoming less clouded. He could finally smell himself, and the days of ignoring basic hygiene stung sharply in his nostrils. How long had it been since he last showered? Three or four days? It had all been a haze, a blur of one moment to the next, indecipherable, since Banner’s frantic call after the attack.
The next hour was spent in Steve’s own suite, locked in with Bucky, while he gained a bit more clarity.
A cold shower, first, to cut through his rut. Full stop. Twenty minutes of frigid, painful spray pounding against his feverish flesh, and Steve finally began to feel the roiling disgust twisting deep and low in his stomach. Then forty minutes under scalding hot water, scrubbing the scent of Jenny and his own body odor from his skin. Over and over. He lathered, scrubbed, rinsed off, and then repeated the cycle until there was no trace of omega.
Ridding himself of all scents, save his own, did nothing for the uncomfortable fever, or his painful erection. During rut, there was no refractory periods, nor were there any reprieves from the agonizing arousal until the cycle ran its course. It was embarrassing, but there was no helping the physical evidence of his own biology at work. The constant erection would abate when his rut was at its end. At least he didn’t have to face Jenny, or Darcy, until he was cleared to leave his rooms.
Turning off the shower, Steve pressed his forehead against the wet tiles and released a harsh breath. He understood that Bucky and Tony had been right to separate him from Jenny, recognizing that the two had imprinted, and were most likely seconds away from scenting each other. It would have devolved into a spiral of unforgivable decisions, and Steve could never live with himself if they had been allowed to go further than Jenny’s gentle touch to his face. Steve was grateful for the interruption, in retrospect.
Showered and dressed in a clean set of sweatpants, foregoing the shirt as his skin was itching and too hot, Steve took a seat on the couch. His stomach rumbled loudly, lower abdomen clenching through another contraction of painful desire unanswered, and he wasn’t sure if he could eat with how sickened he was by his own behavior. Even as Bucky laid out two pizzas from the oven onto the coffee table, Steve could only take the bottle of water offered. He was too ill to even try to eat.
Of course, shame was no reason to starve himself, and Bucky smacked him in the side of head with a sharp growl in warning, “You haven’t eaten in days, Steve. Stop being an idiot.”
It took a few more smacks before Steve, bristling, gave in. They ate in silence, but every bite was rotting and sour on Steve’s tongue.
Three refills of water in the same bottle, and half a pizza, Steve settled against the back of the couch, clutching a large pillow over his lap to hide the tent his erection was making from his friend. After a while, Bucky turned on the television, and tossed Steve the remote. At least he didn’t want to talk about what happened, because Steve wasn’t ready to delve into that can of worms just then. He was still ashamed, and the food he had managed to eat was turning in his stomach unpleasantly. He just wanted his rut to be over, wishing he could forget ever meeting Jenny, the sweet smelling omega with the warm brown eyes…
Chapter 6: Chapter Five
Jenny suffers until some friends arrive...
A/N: I highly recommend established readers of this fic to go back to read from the beginning. This story has received a major overhaul, and issues previously noticed have been corrected. In the beginning, it is just a bit of tweaking, but by Chapter 3, there are some major changes.
Also, thank you to the invaluable ATB209 for working as a beta on this chapter and helping me with the overhaul of the previous chapter! Thank you so much for sacrificing your time to help me!
That was the only apt description of what Jenny felt. Utter agony.
Alpha, alpha, alpha…
Steve is Alpha…
Alpha would keep me safe. Mate. Make me feel better. Make it stop. Alpha would be good to me.
Jenny’s mind was a constant inner dialogue of Steve and his intoxicating presence. Alpha this, Steve that. It was a sharp throbbing cycle of thoughts twisting through her head, while her lower half cramped painfully and her body grew hot, fever rising exponentially since being separated from the alpha, from Steve. Her skin was itching something terrible, sticky with sweat, but the contractions and cramps of her heat were the most unbearable aspect of her heat.
Another wave of nausea crashed over her, and Jenny lurched forward away from Darcy’s gentle hands rubbing circles over her back, emptying her stomach into a commode. Doubled over, she clutched the cool porcelain, uncaring if locks of her knotted hair got in the way. She hated it - everything to do with being an omega. She absolutely hated it.
“Alpha,” Jenny whimpered, almost pleading pathetically to Darcy and Tony between gulps of breath and vomiting. “Please, I can’t take it… I can’t stand it. Please! ”
“You’re not exactly in the right state of mind, Jenny,” offered Tony from his seat on the ledge of the large bathtub. “You feel this way now, but what about afterwards? It’s not something you can take back.”
He was being cautious, and she could understand on some level why, but Jenny was not fully capable of comprehending the reasons behind keeping her isolated. His presence was not as comforting, more agitating when compared to her vague memory of Steve, yet it was welcomed gesture. Tony genuinely cared about her well-being, able to remain in control of his faculties due to his bond with Pepper. She knew there was nothing sexual in the way he was treating her in that moment. He wasn’t attempting to take advantage. He simply wanted to make certain she was alright, taken care of in light of everything that had happened. It didn’t stop her from bristling every so often, her omega nature desperately whining for her alpha, for Steve.
Alpha, alpha, alpha…
Darcy was at her back, again, pressing a cold flannel to the base of her neck without any pressure against her mating gland. Everything was inflamed, swollen, aching - scent glands, mating gland, joints, limbs. Everything hurt, and she despised being in a constant state of discomfort.
“Jenny,” coaxed Darcy, dabbing the folded flannel across her forehead next. “Bruce said you’d been on suppressants since D.C…”
“I’d rather not discuss it,” snapped Jenny, resting against the lip of the toilet as another cramp worked its way through her womb. “I just want… I want my alpha.”
“Suppressants aren’t supposed to be taken for so long, though,” advised Darcy, as gently as possible. “It takes such a toll on an omega’s body, preventing a heat cycle for so long.”
Jenny shook her head, flinching away from the omega’s soft touch, “I want my alpha!”
“I’m sorry, Jenny, but the answer is no,” said Tony, tone authoritative, final. “I can call someone else, a friend, but I’m not allowing you in the same room as Rogers right now. Neither of you can consent -”
“I don’t care! Please!” begged Jenny, cringing as she threw up once more. The suddenness of it taking her by surprise, but she still managed to whine and whimper between heaves. “Please!”
“Sorry, but no,” Tony stated again, unmoved by her tears. “Beta friend, omega friend - Darcy has offered to stay, too - but no alpha, no Rogers.”
Jenny wanted to rage and scream. Tony didn’t understand. She needed the alpha, her alpha . How could he claim to care, yet deny her the one person who would make her heat minutely bearable? Why couldn’t anyone understand that she wasn’t going to survive her first heat without Steve? Were they enjoying her pain? Did they delight in the anguish and torment they were inflicting on her by keeping alpha and omega separated?
It wasn’t fair. None of it was fair.
“Nessa would understand,” cried Jenny, knuckles white from her grip on the toilet. “Vanessa would never be so cruel.”
Tony scoffed at her, but took note, as well, “Then I’ll call Vanessa for you, but you’ll still be barred from leaving until this heat is over.”
He left quite abruptly after that, leaving the washroom door open, but she could hear the bedroom door slam harshly behind him, and she flinched at the sound. He was angry. She could smell it rolling off of him, turning his familiar scent bitter. Vaguely, Jenny wondered if she had offended him in some way by continuing to demand her alpha. Darcy didn’t smell angry. Indeed, the omega smelled faintly stressed, but she remained comforting, understanding.
Jenny continued to wail, sobbing through the intense cramps and violent nausea. Sweat beaded on her skin, hair clinging to her forehead and neck, creating a sticky, tacky sensation as her odd hospital gown grew damp. She wanted to claw at her own flesh until the itching ceased, and submerge herself in a frigid bath until the fever broke. She wanted a bloody knot to ease the pain between her legs. She wanted her alpha’s knot. Steve’s knot.
Alpha would take care of me, give me his knot, was one of the many thoughts turning over in her mind as she gagged, heaving into the commode for the hundredth time. Steve. Alpha. Want alpha. Need alpha.
Time was irrelevant in that overly spacious washroom, while Darcy held Jenny from behind, holding the feverish omega’s untamed hair as she vomited in intervals and wailed, crying out for her alpha. Jenny had no grasp of how long they were on the tiled floor, bones still aching from the attack days prior that seemed to pause in healing due to her triggered heat. Every so often, Darcy would hold a bottle of water to her lips, and Jenny would sip, but she felt there was no point in even trying - what little she took in came right back up in a matter of seconds.
“Hey, Jenny Bean,” came Vanessa’s soft voice from the doorway. “Biology finally get you?”
Jenny could only sob harder, eyes closed against the sting of the artificial light. Darcy was the one to answer, still rubbing calming circles between the omega’s shoulder blades. It was soothing, but also embarrassing to be cared for and treated like a sick, petulant child.
“It’s going to be a really difficult first heat, I’m afraid,” said Darcy, tone sympathetic and voice quiet. “Jenny imprinted on one of the unmated alphas in the Tower. Neither of them are in the right state of mind to consent to anyth-”
“I want my alpha!” wailed Jenny, face covered in tears, snot, and spittle. “Steve! I need Steve! ALPHA!”
“Mr. Stark mentioned something about an alpha,” Vanessa answered Darcy, ignoring Jenny’s sobbing for the moment. “Let’s get her cleaned up, first. Wade? Jack?”
“Yeah!” called the two men from far away, most likely the sitting area. “What do you need?”
There was a muffled rustle of a sweater being removed, and the sound of Vanessa retreating from the washroom, while Darcy called out for JARVIS to start the shower, tepid temperature and all. There was movement, and the sound of doors being opened, stuff being shuffled around. Everything was out of focus, abstract as Jenny rested her forehead on the cold porcelain seat of the commode, eyes still closed.
“Shhh,” Darcy cooed, smoothing Jenny’s damp hair off her forehead. “It’s gonna be okay, Jenny. Your friend is here, and I’ll stay if you want.”
Still the distressed omega wailed, sobbing and crying out for her alpha, for the pain to go away, for everything to go back to how it was before. It was wrong, all wrong. Her body felt wrong. Her mind felt wrong. Everything was out of sorts, and she didn’t know how to make it stop on her own.
Jenny could smell them, her friends.
Vanessa with her subtle omega scent, more soothing than Tony’s alpha scent and Darcy’s comforting pheromones. Vanessa always smelled of spiced cider and gingerbread. Then there was Wade, Vanessa’s mate. An alpha, but his scent wasn’t overwhelming. He had a mild temperment where his mate, an omega, had the more dominant personality. Cranberries and mulled wine would forever be synonymous with Wade, in Jenny’s mind.
Fresh linen and lemongrass filtered through the mated essence of Wade and Vanessa, and Jenny recognized Jack. Everyone called him Weasel, or Weas, but he would always be Jack to her, an awkward beta that always offered her a stiff drink and a kind ear when she was having a rather difficult week. She always offered him a cup of tea and home cooked meal if he was experiencing the same.
They were all family, in a way. Closer than simply friends. Pack .
Darcy helped Vanessa get Jenny to her feet, sliding the hospital gown off until the trembling omega was stark naked. There was discussion about something as Jack and Wade took Jenny between them, shuffling together into the shower stall until all three were under the wide downpour from the ceiling fixture. She couldn’t understand what Vanessa was talking about with Darcy and Tony, but she assumed the omega would join them in the shower eventually.
Wet skin slid against wet skin, and Jenny realized that both men had stripped down before taking over from the omegas in the washroom. Wade cradled the back of Jenny’s head, leaning forward to tuck her face against the scent gland at the juncture where his neck met his shoulder on one side. Despite the water, she could smell the subtle tang of cranberries and earthy mulled wine mingling with the distinct hint of alpha. Mated alpha, but familiar, welcome alpha, all the same. He wasn’t the alpha she wanted, or needed, but his scent was enough to quell the turmoil of her mind, and soothe the worst of the nausea still roiling in her stomach.
At her back, Jack washed her gently with a soft flannel lathered with unscented soap. In the background, Vanessa was still holding a quiet conversation, but even pressed between two men with evident erections, Jenny was whimpering for her female friend, having forgotten about Steve for the moment.
Wade did his best, though. He didn’t even attempt a dry comment or crack a joke. He simply held her close, let her inhale his calming alpha pheromones, while Weasel - Jack - washed away the days of fever sweat and slick that had turned tacky on her thighs. He took care to not irritate her swollen glands, being as gentle as possible to not cause her any further discomfort. Her skin was overly sensitive, and even the softest flannel seemed to grate against her like sandpaper.
Gingerbread permeated through the water, relaxing the stressed omega further.
Vanessa would understand. Vanessa would know what to do, how to make her feel better, make the pain go away. Vanessa would make everyone see sense that she needed her alpha, needed his knot.
“It’s okay, Jenny Bean,” cooed Vanessa, pressing against Jenny’s side. “We’ll take care of you.”
The warm scent of fellow omega lulled Jenny into a state of drowsy compliance. Through heavy lids and thick lashes, she could make out the distorted sight of Vanessa’s dark brown eyes and reassuring smile. It was the most relaxed Jenny had felt in days, but she was still suffering the constant cramping and incessant biological need to take a knot, mate, procreate. She failed to understand how any omega could welcome sex when they were in such pain. There was arousal, little myopic bursts peppered through the cramps and contractions in her lower half, but overall it was just utterly, agonizing pain.
Of course, Jenny was proven wrong when Vanessa pressed against the scent glands on each side of her throat. It took her by surprise, the release of pressure, and she gasped, pulling in Wade’s pheromones in one large gulp. Paired with alpha scent and that instantaneous burst of pleasure, it became quite clear to Jenny that textbooks and resource material could not match learned experience. She knew nothing about her own biology when it mattered. Nothing.
Time passed without notice, environments changed, but it all registered as basic instinct. Fingers working more unscented shampoo through her hair, then conditioner. A flannel rubbing soft circles over her face. More water washing away the suds until she was clean, fresh, new. Then a kiss punctuated by spiced cider and gingerbread - Vanessa . Hands everywhere. Everyone touching everyone. A whimper when the physical contact stopped. A cry when a towel patted her down. Then sheets and pillows.
Nest. Nest. Make good nest. Alpha come back if I make a good nest…
The pack retreated. Where, she didn’t know. The stacks of blankets and soft sheets proved too distracting to ignore. Overstuffed duvets were fluffed and rumpled, spread over the carpeted floor. Then her focus was drawn to the different blankets, her fingers running over the varied fabrics until she found the perfect ones. Soft and supple cashmere, shaggy synthetic fur, downy knits. The pillows created the perimeter, angled and piled here and there as her instincts guided her. It had to be a good nest, the best. It had to be perfect.
Jenny worked on her nest until her pack returned with food and water, and she smelled an alpha among them. Wade . He wasn’t her alpha, but he would appreciate her nest. It was a good nest. It was a comfortable nest. Her pack would like it, they had to, or else it wouldn’t be as perfect as she believed it to be. And if they said it was perfect, then maybe her alpha would return?
“What a wonderful nest you made, Jenny Bean,” murmured Vanessa, combing her fingernails through Jenny’s damp hair. “Isn’t it the best nest you’ve ever seen, Alpha?”
Wade. Alpha. Not my alpha. Need my alpha.
“It’s perfect,” was Wade’s reply. His voice was a mild rumble in his chest, almost a pur, as he pressed against Jenny’s back, nuzzling the scent glands on each side of her neck. “You did such a good job, Jenny Bean. You’re such a good omega.”
“So comfy,” breathed Weasel - Jack - from a particularly plump pile of pillows. “Mmm.”
Jenny preened, unable to stop the mewling sound from escaping her lips. Pressed between Vanessa and Wade, she vaguely felt slick flow down her thighs and a pulse of arousal that radiated through her belly from a focal point between her legs. It was enough to ease the pain from before, calm her down, and soon Jenny was eating a simple sandwich, while also drinking as much water as she could stomach, until Alpha and Omega were satisfied, pleased.
More touching, and her body hummed in delight. Vanessa’s soft, warm lips against her own. Wade’s tongue licking at her glands. Jack pressing from the side, fingers stroking through her sex. It was all too much, but everything she hadn’t known she needed. Taste and touch, that was what it all boiled down to, and Jenny let her pack - her closest friends - maneuver her around, knowing it was for her benefit.
They took care of her...
Chapter 7: Chapter Six
Flashback / Memory chapter.
Jenny's first interaction with Deadpool and the people of Sister Margaret's...
I really don't have any notes for this chapter, except that the song, "Auld Lang Syne," is not of my own creation. It was written by Robert Burns in 1788 as a poem set to a folk tune. What I used in this chapter is the English translation. It's become somewhat of a holiday tune. I don't own the rights. I was just using one of my favorite holiday songs for folksy effect.
Jenny stumbled across Sister Margaret’s by accident, honestly believing it to be a boarding house for wayward girls. The idea of volunteering in any capacity during the holiday season intrigued her, considering she still had far too much time on her hands. The therapist Mr. Stark had paid for continuously advised Jenny that she was no longer a victim of HYDRA. She shouldn’t live like one, or linger over the memories of Agent Rumlow leering at her through the barrier of her cell, or before that, when she was newly abducted and the men…
She couldn’t even think on it without feeling the rise of bile at the back of her throat.
The therapist was right, of course. It was all in the past, and she was more than some obedient little woman. She was able to do more than hide behind the protection of a habit, reside in the safety of a convent. She was no longer in the past, and she had to look to the future. She had the right to be daring, and she was enjoying the freedoms allowed in the modern age, one step at a time.
Unfortunately, the idea of filling any extra time with troubled young women was effectively null and void when Jenny opened the door and walked over the threshold.
It was a bar.
A very dank, very dangerous bar, it seemed.
Looking around, it was obviously a place for people who did not want to be bothered, found, or known. Yet, Jenny, unable to explain how or why, immediately felt at ease. Despite the silence that fell over the dimly lit tavern, and the intense gazes as she strolled between the tables, she wasn’t nervous in the least. Her omega scent wafted like a breeze through the bar, barely obscured by the thick winter coat she wore. The skirt of her dress swished about her legs, and her heels clicked and crunched against the floor, which was covered in peanut shells and broken glass.
The scents in the air were layered, but decipherable enough to notice designation. Alpha, Beta, and one omega, which was hidden subtly underneath all the musk and sweat. The atmosphere, as well as the taboo of being unchaperoned in such a place, thoroughly thrilled Jenny.
No one spoke, simply staring, while some sniffed the air. The bartender stood behind the counter, stock still and eyes wide in disbelief, when Jenny perched on a stool directly in front of him. Slipping off her coat revealed a vintage, pale blue dress to match her short heels and curled hair pinned back from her face. Another glance around at the rough-looking collection of people, men and women alike - mostly men - Jenny offered a warm smile and a small wave before returning her gaze to the scruffy bartender. He looked close to apoplectic, as if he had never seen anyone like Jenny in the bar before, or simply had never seen someone like Jenny, at all.
“Hello,” she said, extending a hand in greeting. He merely look at her slender fingers, and then back up, meeting her gaze. “I’m Jenny.”
“Huh… I,” said the man, unable to form multiple syllables at that moment. “Uhm…”
A delightful scent permeated Jenny’s olfactory system, overwhelming her nose and leaving a warm taste of gingerbread on the back of her tongue. Omega. She was very pretty, and very friendly, by the way she was touching Jenny without either of them knowing each other. An alpha with scarred flesh slid onto the stool to her right, one on each side, both offering her a silent welcome, while also waiting for the bartender to snap out of it.
The poor man, a weak and nervous beta from the smell of it, with thick framed glasses, seemed to be dumbstruck by her mere presence. Every attempt to reply to her was choked by nerves and the inability to form words. Jenny was flattered, a blush creeping into her cheeks as she smiled at him, which proved enough to cause him to faint.
“Well, that was disappointing,” remarked the scarred alpha, eyes glittering with glee, or amusement. In the fraction of a second, his attention was focused on Jenny again, hand out in an offered greeting. “Wade Wilson.”
Jenny shook it, unabashed by his condition. It was interesting, being around mutants and humans, between her time in among normal people and her time spent with the students of Xavier. She could identify the signifying undertones between the two. The man, Wade, was obviously a mutant. His scent held an underlying hint of familiarity that denoted someone like her, someone evolved. Her smile never faltered, not even when the omega to her left offered a hand in greeting, as well.
“Vanessa,” the omega said, and Jenny could immediately tell that the woman was bonded to Wade. Their scents complimented each other, combined as one cohesive unit. It was wonderfully reassuring, even as she also found the bar to be comfortably accommodating. “Are you lost?”
Jenny shook her head, noticing how the bartender suddenly popped up, glasses askey, but otherwise back to normal, somewhat.
“Hi, Weasel, my name is Jenny,” he said, a little dazed. He shook his head, then; embarrassed, and then he sighed, “No, that’s not it.”
“Jenny, Weasel. Weasel, this is Jenny,” interjected Vanessa, motioning between the two. Jenny extended her hand in greeting again, only for the bartender - Weasel, she reminded herself, but found it an odd and offensive name - to faint, again. “Aw, he’s smitten.”
Vanessa was smiling, a light, effervescent laugh escaping her, which sounded to Jenny like the happiest of family dinners. They way the omega’s mate looked at her when she did so, laughing so freely, was something that warmed Jenny’s heart. It was pure love, hard earned and true, pure. Nothing could break that bond.
Of course, she was concerned about the bartender obtaining a concussion if he continued with the fainting. It was dangerous, considering how hard he was collapsing against the floors.
“Does he always do that? The fainting?” asked Jenny, peeking over the bar to check on the man. He was already awake, groaning, and attempting to right his glasses again as he pushed himself up to his feet. “Oh, hello, again. Are you alright?”
“Wait for it,” said Wade, a little too full of mirth. He was even counting down on one hand, but the scruffy blonde beta was already pulling himself up to his feet, swaying a bit, but grounded. Wade snapped his fingers, disappointed, “Damn it. I was so sure.”
Weasel, the bartender, focused on Jenny, once more, as if she weren’t real at all. Perhaps a hallucination? Then, as she smiled warmly at him, concerned for his well-being, the man turned away with a high-pitched yell, “Kelly! Take over! I need to lie down!”
The woman at the other end of the counter strutted over, a smirk tugging at her lips as Weasel went into the backroom to hide, “What can I do for you, hon?”
Jenny considered the situation for a moment, uncertain. She had never imbibed more than half a glass of wine with dinner during her formative years, and then she had become a nurse, a midwife - eventually, a nun. There hadn’t been any allowances for alcohol, and she hadn’t touched a drop of it since being discovered in Washington, D.C. Perhaps this was an experience her therapist would approve of? Drinking in a bar during the day? Maybe she would even make a few new friends? Vanessa and Wade, and even Weasel, seemed like a decent lot.
“Well, I’ve never been drunk before,” Jenny started, still considering the odd opportunity. If she was going to commit to this experience, the least she could do was be generous. “I believe I would like to try it, and make some bad decisions.”
The little omega answered the rather unenthused female bartender, an alpha, a little too cheerfully to be acceptable in such a dim place as Sister Margaret’s, and yet the entire bar erupted into a roar of approval. Especially after Jenny pulled out several hundred dollars to start a tab - most of her savings for Christmas. “And drinks for my new friends.”
Kelly the female alpha was never given the chance to process the request, over the cacophony of applause and rambunctious cheers, as well as the swift return of Weasel, who took a bottle of something off the import shelf as he burst out of the backroom. He shooed his employee away, mixing a drink with a combination of fruit juice and saccharine syrup, setting it down in front of Jenny with a rejuvenated sense of mischief, as well as the ability to speak.
“Nice to meet you, Jenny. I am a horrible decision.”
Jenny laughed, delighted in his renewed self-confidence, “Oh, you are terribly funny! Bravo!”
Downing the tall glass in one gulp, she hissed as the overly sweet drink burned the back of her throat. The bar settled into a low hum that Jenny considered to be background noise, as Vanessa, Wade, and Weasel delved into conversation with her. The topics flitted to and fro, back and forth, while Weasel mixed glass after glass for Jenny and his friends personally, leaving Kelly to handle the orders for everyone else taking advantage of Jenny’s generosity.
After the fourth tequila based concoction - she had imbibed a total of twelve drinks, thus far - Jenny began to feel a slight tingle under her skin. A vague haze, somewhat fuzzy and dark around the edges of her vision, spread through her head, like a cloud. At some point, as she answered question after question, not tipsy enough to let pertinent information slip, she decided she quite liked the alpha-omega couple, and Weasel, the beta with a dry sense of humor. They were all so nice and humorous, like a family, or a pack.
The hours passed in a haze of smoke and booze, the conversation never lacking.
“Is that a piano in the corner?” asked Jenny after taking a moment to memorize the dark wood of the walls, the mismatched tables, the odd posters and photographs on the walls. The piano caught her interest immediately, and being almost ten bottles of high-proof liquor in the bag, she decided it was the most brilliant of ideas to play a little tune for her new friends. “I haven’t played in years!”
Sliding off her stool, Jenny stumbled in her heels, having forgotten how to use her legs, but managed to make it to the far corner to the piano as gracefully as possible. She used the skirt of her dress to wipe away a thick layer of dust from the keys before testing the sound, and the bar fell silent, all attention on her. It didn’t even bother her, at all. She was whisked away on a wave of nostalgia, remembering all the sunny afternoons of her childhood missed playing in favor of practicing her scales for hours. The memories of the pieces came back as if she had played them just the day before, as if the passing of time were irrelevant.
Oh, the memories…
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?” Jenny sang, while her fingers worked the ivory keys with ease. She was a touch too tipsy to remember the Scots’ version, but the tune came out as clear and soft and sweet as when she sang it for Yule as a young woman. “For auld lang syne, my dear. For auld lang syne. We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”
As she sang the melody, old Christmastime tune drifted through the bar on an attentive audience. Her voice was a gentle caress that enveloped each soul in safety and warmth of the holidays. Not a single person moved, so enraptured by the rare beauty, the wonder of the holiday spirit. She could sense it, in some way. She was like a dazzling ray of sunshine brightening their day, soothing the anger in their hearts, and dispersing the misery of their lives. She drew them in like a gravitational force, and they revolved around every sweet note, the happy crinkle at the corners of her eyes, the ease of her smile.
“And surely you’ll buy your pint cup, and surely I’ll buy mine,” Jenny continued. “And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne…
“We two have run about the slopes,
And picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
Since auld lang syne…”
Song after song, Jenny continued until her lips dried and her voice grew tired. It was Vanessa who told them all to, impolitely, “Fuck off,” and Weasel who convinced her to leave the piano alone for just a little while. They helped her back to her stool at the bar where Wade sat protecting the three drinks already lined up for her to try, while the bar announced last call.
Vanessa, Wade, and Weasel were the only people left after the bar was closed for the night. Jenny was surprised, having lost track of time, but could not wrap her head around it already turning to two o’clock in the morning. Of course, the shock about the time faded when she received the difference from her tab earlier in the day. Kelly had handed Jenny less than five dollars with change, and her clouded mind could not rectify the accurate math to calculate how much she had drank that day, as well as how much other people had indulged on her behalf. Out of five-hundred dollars, only three individual bills rested in her hand.
It was all forgotten in a matter of seconds when Weasel treated them all to a round of Guinness that no one else ever ordered, on the house.
After another hour, Weasel was offering to let Jenny sleep on his couch, but Vanessa grabbed the little omega’s coat first. Jenny didn’t remember much of that night, save for the embarrassingly sloppy kiss she gave Weasel, while Vanessa tucked her into her wool coat, and then leaning on the omega as she and her mate took their new friend home with them. The rest of the night was a smattering of sensations, Jenny exhausted, but less drunk than she had been during her Yuletide concert, impromptu as it had been.
They had all been well and thoroughly pissed up a wall, or, “Drunk as fuck,” according to Wade.
Still, Jenny did remember enjoying the calming essence of gingerbread and spiced apple cider wafting from Vanessa’s scent glands. Something had urged her on to kiss the omega, and then the woman’s mate, the alpha, Wade. The rest was a blur of exploration and pleasure.
Jenny woke suddenly in the bright afternoon light the following day, snuggled up against Vanessa’s soft back, uncertain of how much debauchery she had participated in during the early hours of the morning...
Chapter 8: Chapter Seven
Steve's POV post-Rut cycle...
No notes for today, I think.
A week passed before Steve was cleared to leave the isolation of his suite, his rut cycle fully complete and out of his system.
With a clean bill of health and sanity, Steve actively sought out Bucky and Darcy to apologize for his behavior. He would need to do the same with Tony and Sam, but he preferred to start with the ones he had hurt and offended the most. He had been an enormous ass to his best friend and his mate. He had insulted Bucky and Darcy, both, snapping and snarling, unable to release any of his aggression in a healthy way, because Tony had banned punching bags in the apartments after Steve had decimated one so badly it soared across the living room and destroyed a wall. There had been sand everywhere.
Of course Steve would find the mated pair in the communal space, watching some film of Darcy’s preference, and eating large bowls of cereal containing mostly marshmallows.
“Are you going to apologize for being the world’s biggest asshole?” snipped Darcy, having eyed him lingering in the doorway. She had been out of sorts since Jenny’s friends arrived, but she had refused to elaborate on what had happened. As Steve’s rut cycle amped up, he hadn’t been too inclined to be kind to her about it. “Or are you just going to stand there acting like a kicked puppy?”
Steve knew Darcy wasn’t going to make it easy. He knew it was going to be hard, considering the horrible things he’d said to her, to Bucky, to the both of them. He had been such a miserable jerk, bristling and lashing out for no reason. He was lucky they were even acknowledging him, at all.
Running a hand through his hair, Steve sat across from them in the sitting area. Leaning forward, forearms resting on the tops of his thighs, he let his hands hang limp between his knees, hunched over like the weight of regret was crushing him. Darcy watched him out of the corner of her eye, cold and sharp, despite her usually joyful nature. Bucky just examined him with a considerate gaze, as if gauging how ashamed Steve really was at that moment. He just didn’t say anything.
“I’m really sorry for how I acted,” blurted Steve, unable to come up with a more meaningful way of relaying how truly sorry he was for everything. “I had no right to say… Everything that I said. It was uncalled for, and neither of you deserved it.”
Darcy turned narrowed eyes on him, and he felt even more ashamed under her gaze, but she gave him one curt nod before speaking, “Acceptable start. Continue.”
With a sigh, Steve looked away, but he understood that he owed Darcy more than just a pitiful, ‘I’m sorry.’
“There is no excuse for how I treated you, Darce,” admitted Steve, wringing his hands in anxiety. “I’ve always been in control, and Jenny… It’s just - There is no excuse. I can’t even bring myself to repeat what I said -”
“It was disgusting, Steve,” Darcy snapped, setting down her bowl of cereal without draining the milk. That was his first clue that she was pissed. The second was how bitter her scent had become. It stung his nose, and turned sour at the back of his mouth, on his tongue. “The things you said were absolutely disgusting! I am not just some warm omega cunt that Bucky slid into!”
“You’re his mate,” he conceded, flinching away from her harsh tone. “I crossed a line. I said things that I can’t take back. I just want you to know that I do respect you, and your relationship with Bucky. I am really sorry, Darce.”
For an omega, Darcy could be very aggressive, and extremely sharp in how she admonished people who made her angry, or offended her in some way. She never took a lick without returning it ten times more devastating. Being an omega was just one aspect of her whole self, and didn’t mean she couldn’t reach high, or make something of herself. She wouldn’t allow it to hold her back. Steve had always admired that about her, and he could see why Darcy was the perfect match to Bucky. They balanced each other out.
Maybe Steve was a bit jealous of what they had? That Bucky and Darcy had found each other, and he had always been sort of a third-wheel, again? It always grated against him, just a little, when Buck would set up double dates, and Steve’s companion would abandon him for someone taller, better looking. After Dr. Erskine’s serum, he didn’t have that issue, but there had never really been that one person like Peggy. They hadn’t been mates, but it wasn’t unheard of for two alphas to fall for each other and live a good life.
Then Jenny happened…
“Okay,” said Darcy, suddenly, after weighing him for quite a long time. It snapped Steve out of the spiral of his thoughts, but he sighed heavily in relief. “I forgive you, Steve. But I haven’t forgotten.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, quick to take what he was given and not push for more. He wouldn’t expect Darcy to forget, or let it go so easily. “Understood.”
“Yeah, well,” she said, taking up her bowl and preparing herself for the draining of sugary milk. “You still need to remove your head from your ass. And don’t expect me to help you woo Jenny.”
Before Steve could question the remark, Bucky had handed off his bowl of cereal to Darcy and jerked his head for his friend to follow. Steve wasn’t going to dig his feet in on the matter. Buck obviously had some insight, but Steve knew he had a lot to apologize for when it came to his friend.
Bucky took him down two floors to the gym. It was a good thing Steve was already wearing a fresh set of activewear. The disappointment and rage that started rolling off Buck the moment they entered the elevator was starting to make Steve sweat. He could tell that he was in for a beating. Two alphas couldn’t exist so close together without some form of outlet, and Bucky was obviously holding back as much as he could until they were in a safe environment before he unleashed it. He was going to put Steve in his place, or at least try. They were both strong alpha males. The most they could do was come to an understanding.
It wouldn’t stop Bucky from laying Steve out time and time again until he was satisfied. The least Steve could do was let him. After all, Steve had insulted the man’s mate.
“Hey, Steve,” called Natasha, getting up from the mat. It looked like Barton and she had been training, and the archer hadn’t been able to get the upper hand. “Feeling better?”
That was an overstatement.
“Might want to clear out,” said Buck, grabbing a couple rolls of tape and tossing one to Steve. “Don’t want anyone getting hurt when this punk goes flying.”
It was astounding how no one argued with him. Natasha usually had a smart remark, or a pithy quip on hand, but she just nodded and pulled Barton to his feet. Both of them retreated to a far wall to watch, but they didn’t leave. They were far enough away to move if something got tossed, or someone, but close enough to step in if they needed to break the two men up. Steve could already tell they were betting who won by the smirk on Nat’s face and Barton’s smug grin.
Taping his hands, Steve continued to bite his tongue. Keeping silent was better until Buck initiated a conversation. He wasn’t going to needle an already angry bear. Steve was a lot of things, but he wasn’t stupid.
Before Steve even had his hands up to block, Bucky landed a harsh punch to his jaw.
“You know, Steve,” Buck snarled, a sharp sound that raised Steve’s hackles. “It’s about time you stop throwing pity parties, and start doing something about your life.”
Another punch, but Steve blocked it in time. He didn’t move out of the way before Bucky kicked his legs out from under him. Steve landed flat on his face, groaning, but relatively uninjured. With a growl rumbling in his chest, Steve jumped up and started to make Bucky work for any hits he managed to land.
It was always an intense workout going against his friend. The Winter Soldier had been trained in a different style of combat than Steve, but both had grown up in Brooklyn. They learned to box in the same local ring as kids. Of course, seventy years in the future, they weren’t those same burrough kids. War and trauma had a way of changing a person. It made it more difficult to win, for either one of them, because they didn’t fight the same, think the same. Not anymore.
“I know you want something more than just another mission,” grunted Buck, grabbing Steve by the scruff and slamming his face into a well placed knee. “But you’re not going to get it if you’re sitting around, waiting for it.”
Punching the mat, Steve pushed up to his feet again, spitting out some blood with a growl, “I know!”
“Then do something about it!” yelled his friend, kicking the aggravated alpha in the stomach and sending him flying backwards against a reinforced wall. “Stop moping around and lashing out at everyone else!”
They collided in a tangle of swinging fists and quick feet. Bucky laid him out, again and again, but Steve still got to his feet and tried to land a few blows to even them out. He was growing more and more angry the longer Bucky beat him, and so soon after a rut cycle, Steve was starting to be less inclined to let his old friend keep that upper hand. It also irked him that Buck was right.
“I’m sorry for what I said about Darce,” growled Steve, again. “I’m sorry for being a complete ass. You were just trying to help.”
“She’s my mate,” Buck barked, lunging into another series of ingrained moves. “You don’t understand a damn thing about it! You don’t know anything!”
As Buck unleashed the full strength of his rage on Steve, it became apparent that there was more to the situation than just Steve offending Darcy and telling his old friend to, “ Get the fuck out!” There was something Steve was missing, and it gave Buck leverage, as the metal-armed alpha beat him down into the mat viciously. There was really nothing Steve could say, or do, to make it better. Not until Buck tired himself out.
“You had no right!” the man snapped, punching Steve only once in the face. “Darce was already upset, and you can’t even pull your head out of your ass to be a decent person!”
Saying sorry wasn’t going to cut it. Steve knew that. He didn’t need to see the accusation and disappointment in Bucky’s eyes to drive the point home.
Bringing his knees up between Bucky and himself, Steve planted the flats of his feet against the assassin’s abdomen and launched him several yards across the training mat. Already out of breath, Steve tried to shake off the sensation of being half-aware that seemed to have crawled under his skin, refusing to leave. Ever since meeting Jenny’s gaze in the medbay, when everything seemed to spin out of control. That feeling of fall through the universe at lightspeed, or however someone more versed in that subject could describe, had never really left him.
Steve was off-center. He had been since Buck dragged him out of that sealed part of the medbay, through his rut cycle, and even after being cleared. He was not fully committed to anything, because half of him was still searching for that missing piece. He didn’t like feeling like that, helpless and looking back at something he couldn’t comprehend. It was dangerous.
What would happen on the next mission if he was too preoccupied with someone he didn’t even know ?
“You’re right,” he said, pushing himself up onto his knees with a sigh, “I don’t know.”
“What else?” pushed Buck, closing the distance and crossing his arms over his broad chest.
Head hanging down, Steve forced himself to look up at his old friend with an open expression of shame, “I’m an idiot.”
“I’ll never speak to Darcy like that ever again,” answered Steve, still winded despite his enhanced physiology. “I’ll never treat either of you like that again. I’m sorry.”
Bucky gave him one curt nod before helping him to his feet, “Punching bags, punk.”
God help him, Steve had a feeling there was more...
Chapter 9: Chapter Eight
Jenny POV post-heat, and more...
“Rise and shine, Jenny Bean,” Vanessa sang into her shoulder, nose grazing over the scent gland at her neck. “Congratulations. You’re officially through your first heat.”
Jenny groaned, wiggling back against Vanessa’s naked chest and readjusting her leg over Jack’s hip, while trying desperately to ignore the soft, feminine hand sliding over her ribcage to cup one of her breasts. Delicate fingers rolled Jenny’s nipple, and all the omega wanted to do was sleep just a little while longer. She was so tired, and there was an ache between her legs.
Stretching, she took inventory and whimpered as a cramp worked its way through her lower region. Her thighs were tacky, but not with slick. There was a copper tang in the air, mingling with the smell of sex and sweat. She had started her menstrual cycle following her heat. Every omega was different, she knew that. She had simply hoped that the sudden heat wouldn’t alter that cycle. It was always such a miserable experience, and she was always so emotional during those bloody four days.
The silver lining was that she no longer had the fever. Her skin didn’t itch, and she had no desperate need for release controlling her. Her mind was clear, if not a touch exhausted from the incessant mantra of, ‘ Alpha, Alpha, Alpha .’
I almost mated with a complete stranger , thought Jenny, cringing internally. Her stomach was threatening to twist about and empty itself in the sweaty pile of sheets on the floor. A stranger I can’t even remember...
“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” Jenny groaned again, tears pricking the corners of her eyes. “ Bloody hell. ”
A gasp came from behind Vanessa, and then Wade’s disfigured, scarred face appeared above the woman’s shoulder, dramatic in his shock and covering his own ears, “Jenny! Language! There are ladies present!”
Vanessa laughed, Jack stirred with a groan of his own, and Jenny whimpered as another cramp ripped through her uterus. It was different from the heat cramps that signalled intense need for release, preparation for sex and conception. It was as if her body was punishing her for not conceiving. Uterine cramps were far different from the stabbing arousal had not felt very arousing at the time - not until Vanessa had massaged the pressure building up in Jenny’s scent glands. That one act had triggered a burst of pleasure throughout her entire body, and every touch had been intoxicating.
Of course, Jenny’s virgin heat had finally ended, and she was suffering for not putting her reproductive system to use.
The eternal curse of being a woman, as her mother used to say.
Jack and Wade disappeared soon after, showering and leaving to go back to their lives, while Vanessa stayed with Jenny. The men couldn’t handle the blood, despite Wade’s profession dealing with more of it than a woman in her entire life. He was Deadpool. He was the Merc with a Mouth. He dismembered people for a living . Jack facilitated the jobs through his bar, Sister Margaret’s.
Of course, they were men.
Wade could handle Vanessa’s flow. He would stay with her and provide her with what she needed. He would comfort her, cuddle with her, commiserate. He loved her. He was invested in their relationship and future. It was an entirely different situation to stay with the person you cherished most in the world, and stay with a very close friend. The same for Jack. Weasel. The scruffy bartender was a part of their pseudo-family unit, a makeshift pack. He was not romantically inclined towards Jenny after learning bits and pieces of her past, of her mutant gene. He saw that there would never be a future with Jenny, because there was a high probability that she would never age. She possessed the same abilities that Wade did, except she did not look like an avocado buggered a burn victim. Neither of them could die, or would die.
There was also the simple fact that Jenny was an omega, and Jack was a beta. Their scents were comforting to each other, but there was no allure. He had helped her during her first heat, letting her use him to dampen the burning fire urging her on, and he was fine with it. He had told her during a semi-lucid period, she remembered it.
‘It’s alright, Jen,’ he had said. ‘Whatever you need…’
Vanessa had tagged Jack out when he grew too exhausted to keep going, chafing from condom after condom. Used to Wade’s stamina, with a libido to match, Vanessa lasted longer. She also had brought useful toys to simulate an alpha’s knot, strapping one or another on. The omega had practice, having talked Wade into what she called, “pegging,” on more than one occasion. The upside for Wade had been that he could continue to thrust himself into Vanessa while she tended to Jenny, unable to fully withstand the smell of omega heat.
The only line that had remained uncrossed had been Jenny and Wade. Touching was one thing, but shagging was something that no one could comprehend. Wade was mated to Vanessa, and his biological imperative what tied to his mate. It was an unspoken agreement that neither could go against, despite Jenny’s heat. No matter how deep into her omega nature she fell, Jenny cringed away from the thought of sex with Wade.
It took eight days before Jenny’s courses ended. Eight days of clawing pain, emotional highs and lows, and avoiding as many people as possible. Tony had fled the moment Vanessa opened the door and he caught the scent of menstrual blood wafting out into the corridor. Pepper had brought a few trays of triple chocolate brownies and a heating pad, unable to stay for long due to her own responsibilities related to Stark Industries. Bruce wore a suppression mask when he arrived for a visit, handing over two boxes of hot cocoa mix before performing some blood draws on Jenny, ending with a quick check up to make certain she was in “working order.”
Once her heat had finished, Jenny’s accelerated healing had snapped back quickly. It was strange for her body to stop it’s usual level of instantaneous healing, but Bruce explained it must have been due to the amount of effort her body was putting into her heat, or something of that nature. Jenny had been too busy crying after watching a commercial about animal abuse and the local New York City shelters needing assistance. Vanessa had listened intently, promising Bruce that she would relay the information to Jenny when the omega was less… emotional .
Eventually, after those eight horrendous days, Jenny was unofficially cleared by Vanessa, and officially cleared by Bruce, to integrate back into society. She felt less inclined to weep all the time, and more like herself.
Two days after that, Jenny had gathered enough courage to actually leave the apartment in Stark Tower to meet with Pepper and Tony. She had remained isolated for those prior two days cleaning every inch of the place until it no longer reeked of sex and blood. The smell had been off-putting, and Jenny hadn’t wanted to leave it for someone else to clean. The thought alone was far too mortifying.
Lunch with Pepper and Tony was a relatively awkward affair, as if the two were reluctant to tell her something she may take particular offense with. The food was comforting, and far more balanced and healthy than hot cocoa and brownies. Pepper kept Jenny distracted enough with small talk, answering questions the omega had regarding the attack, Happy’s recovery, and her time in the medbay, before she was relocated to her old rooms and security measures put in place.
Of course, the topic of the alpha stranger Jenny almost mated with was glossed over, mostly ignored on everyone’s part. Pepper expertly changed the subject and Jenny never noticed. Tony provided input when necessary, but he was less at ease, more prone to fidgeting. It reached a point, as Jenny stirred sugar into a cup of tea, that the bitter undertone in Tony’s scent caused her suspicion. It must have been evident by the way she narrowed her eyes contemplatively at the alpha, because Pepper sighed and confessed, as if she knew the jig was up.
“I’m so sorry to have to say this, Jenny,” Pepper said to soften the blow, and the omega tensed in preparation for whatever the woman had to say. “But, due to recent events, and the fact that Rumlow is still at large, Tony and I… as well as the rest of the team… Feel that it would be better for you to remain here. In the Tower.”
“Remain here?” asked Jenny, anxiety spiking. “The rest of the team? What team?”
Tony cleared his throat, appearing genuinely apologetic, “Bruce and I couldn’t keep it from the others, the Avengers. It’s become a security issue, as well as a... Keep you out of government hands… sort of issue.”
“But,” Jenny started, pausing when she lost her train of thought. She simply kept returning to the fact that the Avengers knew about her - outside of Bruce, Happy, Pepper and Tony. She was supposed to be living a normal life, forgetting about the trauma and violence under HYDRA, and coming to terms with her new existence. “What about schooling? My position at Xavier’s? My friends…”
Another pause, while Jenny pulled in a deep, shuddering breath, wiping away the tears escaping down her pale cheeks. She knew it was selfish to even think it, but she wanted to whine about how unfair the entire situation was becoming. It could be worse, but she did not enjoy the idea of being trapped in the Tower, unable to lead a normal life. Yet, the fact that she could very well end up in HYDRA’s hands again was enough to stop her from refusing the sanctuary being provided.
She already owed Tony and Pepper so much already for their generosity over the years. Three years of financial assistance and paying for her to obtain her nursing degree (again), and she would never be able to pay them back for what they had done for her, nor what they were willing to do for her now. It was quite a lot to take in.
“I apologize for putting you in this situation,” Jenny tried again, releasing the breath she had been holding. “I understand that remaining here is best, for everyone, but what of my friends? Besides the both of you, and Happy, they’re the only family I have left. What if Rumlow targets them? What if HYDRA takes them?”
“That’s a valid concern, Tony,” said Pepper, looking at her mate.
Tony nodded in response, running a hand over his face, “We have space, but if it’d be better… They can stay with you in the Tower. I’m really sorry, Jenny. If I could have kept it from the others, I would have, but -”
“It isn’t your fault, Tony,” Jenny interjected, trying to ease his sense of guilt. It was unfair of him to blame himself for something that was out of everyone’s control. “I appreciate all that you do for me, I truly do. I won’t argue with the security measures. I’m simply afraid of anyone else getting hurt because of me.”
Pepper reached out and took Jenny’s hand, giving the petite omega’s fingers a gentle squeeze, while Tony considered whatever it was next he had to say. It didn’t sit well with Jenny how even more nervous he seemed, and Pepper had to nudge him from under the table to get him to say it.
Another moment as Tony cleared his throat again, looking sheepish, and slightly petulant for Pepper forcing him to admit something further, “Talking about family, sort of…”
“Tony,” urged Pepper, giving him a warning look to get it over with.
“I may have tracked down a few blood relatives,” Tony said quickly, the words running together without spacing. “In Queens, actually… and in the Tower…”
“How?” asked Jenny, processing the information. “I have… I already have a family, though. I assumed I was - Why?”
“You know that the Tower houses the Avengers - Avenger’s Tower,” Pepper interceded, capable of handling difficult conversations more delicately than Tony, who tended to be more blunt, sarcastic, or simply tried to escape uncomfortable situations, if possible. “One of our residents happens to have been with you in HYDRA.”
“The Asset,” Jenny said, nodding. She thought of him occasionally, mind always curious as to why he had smelled so familial. “Barnes.”
“Yes, Bucky Barnes,” Pepper nodded, as well. “His mate is Darcy Lewis. She works as a public relations specialist for the Avengers, but also assists Bruce and Tony, as well as Dr. Foster. They were both watching over you in the medbay, while you were struggling through the first phase of heat? Do you remember anything about that? I know it was a stressful time, and you weren’t entirely present.”
Jenny thought for a moment, piecing together the bits she could remember from before her heat fully set in. There had been an unfamiliar omega with a comforting smell and warm presence, and the mated alpha, the Asset. She could remember their scents, snippets of conversation, but most of her memories revolved around the unmated alpha with the intoxicating scent. That was what she registered during the time, in retrospect. Scents.
“Vanilla,” Jenny murmured, after trying to pinpoint the omega’s scent. Sweet, but flowery. “Vanilla, Darcy. Nutmeg, familiar, Barnes… There was another alpha… He smelled like… summer. Grass in the sun -”
The alpha she would have let claim her, had been separated from before anything untoward could happen - the one she had cried out for as she emptied her stomach in violent heaves into a toilet.
“Steve,” offered Tony, looking more uncomfortable as the minutes ticked by. “Steve Rogers.”
Steve , Jenny considered the name. Steve… Alpha …
The name rang familiar, and she remembered a brief snippet of hearing Darcy and Barnes speaking about him, or to him. She remembered blue eyes and dark blonde hair, but she couldn’t remember anything else. Nothing of his face, or what he sounded like. Just his scent, and that he had blue eyes and dark blonde hair, like honey in the sun.
Honey and grass…
“Bucky requested Bruce and Tony run his blood samples against yours,” Pepper said, and Jenny realized the sweet woman had been explaining the reasoning behind the sudden discovery of her blood relatives. “Something about your scent being familiar, but, anyway… The results showed a familial connection, so Tony did some research. Apparently, Bucky had an older sister, Rebecca, who married a man named -”
“Peter Benjamin Parker. My father,” Jenny finished for the red-head, teary eyed and with a small smile. “I knew my parents met while Papa was on holiday in America. My grandparents were none too pleased that he brought home an American woman with no money and no title. They almost disinherited him over it.”
“They lived a relatively quiet life after you disappeared, and your brother, Benjamin, immigrated to the US in 1978,” offered Pepper, softly. “And a few years later, your brother married and had two children, Benjamin Parker II, and Randall Parker.”
“Is he still alive? My brother?” asked Jenny, attempting to not be hopeful, but it was there, a spark.
Pepper shook her head sadly, “I’m sorry, Jenny. He passed away in 1997, cancer.”
Sniffing, Jenny wiped away a lone tear and nodded, “What about his family? His children?”
“Randall married and had a son, but he and his wife passed a few years ago,” explained the red-head, apologetic and comforting in light of the sad news. “Ben Parker married, as well, but he and his wife, May, never had children of their own. They did take in the baby, a little boy named Peter. Ben passed a few years ago, as well, but May and Peter still reside in Queens. It seems the young man has… interesting abilities, as well.”
“Peter,” the omega repeated, blinking away tears to no avail. “Abilities? Like a mutant?”
“Our friendly, neighborhood Spider-man,” quipped Tony. “I’ve met him a few times. He’s a good kid.”
Jenny snapped her attention to him, instantly suspicious of how and why he had met the boy, “You’ve met him?”
“Oh, only a few times,” Tony shrugged it off, hiding behind a tumbler of scotch. “Nothing serious or important… Scholarship… grants…”
“Tony flew him out to Germany to fight Cap,” said Pepper, blunt and almost cutting, as if relaying she had not agreed with the decision or Tony’s reasoning on the matter. “Peter is… He’s an unofficial member of the Avengers.”
“Unofficial member of the Avengers?” questioned Jenny; surprised, shocked, and appalled. “He can’t be older than… I don’t even know how old he is, but he can’t be old enough !”
“He’s sixteen,” answered Pepper, quietly and still sending Tony unapproving looks. “I didn’t know about it, at the time.”
It was a difficult conversation to have, but Tony sat and took Jenny’s admonishment with little rebuttal. He looked extremely uncomfortable, as if he would give anything to be anywhere other than right there. Most likely, he was wishing to escape to his lab, or workshop. The petite omega could not believe that Tony Stark had recruited a - at the time of the Sokovia Accords and Captain America’s refusal to sign, as well as the whole to-do about the Winter Soldier, et al - fifteen year old to help fight against trained, experienced superbeings… She couldn’t wrap her head around it, other than Tony’s incessant need to be right.
Then there was the question of her nephew, or grandnephew, being a mutant, but not actually a mutant, that caused Jenny’s head to spin in an attempt to grasp the science of it.
Bit by a radioactive spider.
Bit by a radioactive spider!
How could the boy even have come into contact with such a thing?
Apparently, his mutant gene was triggered by the bite, and the venom fused with his genetics, giving him strength to rival Captain America, as well as heightened senses, much like Jenny. Similar, but not fully. And he was swinging through Queens, fighting ordinary, every day criminals, when Tony wasn’t recruiting him into - basically - wars!
Jenny had always been a soft spoken young englishwoman, always a rare occasion that she ever raised her voice. Her bedside manner reflected her aristocratic, gentle upbringing. Genial, polite, and winsome. She had been raised to be an obedient wife to whomever her parents decided she would marry. Preferably an alpha with station, and money. It had been a grave disappointment to her family that she had chosen to pursue nursing, a working life, instead of domesticated, married life. Then she had taken her vows, became a nun, and she never heard from her family, again. Not even her brother, but he had been young, then. Ben had been no more than ten years old when she had joined the convent.
Of course, in that moment, Jenny was no longer a proper englishwoman with an agreeable nature. She was astounded by Tony’s lapse in respectable judgment, and she let him know it. Holding in her temper, to a degree, she chided him, properly.
It almost slipped her mind that they had discovered the Asset had been her uncle the entire time.
“I believe you’ve listened to me berate you long enough, Mr. Stark,” concluded Jenny, dabbing the corners of her lips with a cloth napkin before rising primly from her chair. “I would very much like to meet my grandnephew, if possible. I appreciate your generosity, and bid you farewell for now.”
With that said, Jenny leaned over to offer Pepper a decorous peck on the cheek before taking her leave…
Chapter 10: Chapter Nine
Bucky and Jenny awkwardly connect. Darcy is just there for the cookies.
In the days following Jenny’s unpleasant discussion with Pepper and Tony, her friends had begrudgingly relocated in the Tower, for the time being.
Jack took the spare room in her apartment, while Wade and Vanessa were provided the set of rooms across the corridor. The guilt weighed heavily on Jenny’s mind, knowing that none of them could leave the building without a chaperone.
Jack was running the bar from his mobile device, relying on his most responsible employee, Kelly, to take care of everything, as well as the bids for mercenaries. Wade was able to come and go, mostly as he pleased, due to his skills and incapability to actually die. He could escort Vanessa to her place of employment, which allowed the other omega to get out, but Wade had to remain at the club throughout his mate’s shift in order to protect her during their return to Stark Towers.
Jenny was not so lucky.
Unable to leave under any circumstances, Jenny spent her time in the Tower puttering about, as she avoided Tony, still uncertain in regards to him. Jack wasn’t much of a bother. He tidied up after himself, for the most part, and usually shooed Jenny out of the kitchen after lunch and dinner, washing whatever dishes she hadn’t managed to get to before he noticed her scrubbing away. He said it was the least he could do, and she was inclined to let him after a few minutes of arguing that she was perfectly fine to do the washing herself.
When Jenny wasn’t baking and cooking in her own kitchen, she was in Happy’s rooms doing much the same. She acted as his own personal nurse, as well as making certain he was fed and comfortable. He called it mothering, but she paid him no mind. He secretly enjoyed being cared for, she suspected. Her afternoons were spent sitting by his bedside, knitting while she kept him company. She had fallen behind in her Christmas knitting due to the attack, her heat, and her menses.
At least the people who had brought her things and unpacked had left her knitting on the sitting room table for her to find.
Christmas cheer was in a steady decline for Jenny, as the day itself loomed ever closer. It was easy enough for her friends to notice the solemnity that seemed to surround her, despite her attempts to mask it with a smile and platters of holiday treats. Without school or work with the students of Xavier’s, she was struggling to distract herself fully from the knowledge of her family, and that Rumlow was still out in the world, waiting to strike again.
Also, she had yet to seek out the Asset, since finding out about their family connection. She was conflicted, and didn’t know what to say to the man. He was her uncle, but she had never known him in such a capacity. Not in her childhood, at least. She also felt a smidgen of guilt for how she had treated his mate, Darcy. The buxom omega had been kind, and Jenny realized, looking back, that she hadn’t treated the woman’s compassion with much appreciation.
Then there was the alpha, Steve. Steve Rogers, who she had been avoiding as much as Tony Stark, the last few days. They hadn’t been acquainted since being pulled away from each other in the containment room erected in the medbay. She didn’t even remember his face, hadn’t remembered his name until Pepper and Tony had reminded her of it during that horrid conversation. She didn’t speak of him to anyone, uncertain of how she felt about the situation they had both found themselves in due to the events that seemed to have thrown them together.
She was grateful to all involved for imposing separation and isolation, truly. It wouldn’t have been right, or decent, to allow anything inappropriate to occur while they were both under the influence of their respective hormones. Biological imperative had a way of overwhelming omegas, making it impossible to consent. And she had triggered the poor man’s rut cycle, to boot. Her pheromones would have been influencing him, as well.
It was all just a very unfortunate way to meet, all things considered.
Four days before Christmas, Jenny sat cross-legged on one of the loveseats in the sitting room, clad in flannel jammies of holiday green decorated in colorful gift prints. Surrounded by balls of soft, downy yarn in various shades of blue and pink, while knitting on a patterned blanket, Jenny hummed to herself and enjoyed having the sitting area of her quarters to herself for the morning. It was quiet without the telly on, and she appreciated the floor to ceiling windows that allowed her to watch the snowfall outside during a pause in her work.
Jack always slept until close to noon, unable to break his routine set up around the bar. It was one thing to take off the time to spend a heat with Jenny, but it was another thing to be cooped up for an indefinite amount of time due to someone else’s crisis. It wasn’t entirely fair to Jack, who had no one to protect him en route to and from work on a daily basis. He was directing the day-to-day business from his smartphone, but video games and Game of Thrones could not distract him for long. He would begin to resent their shared quarters soon enough.
She almost jumped out of her skin when a series of knocks pierced the quiet reprieve, jabbing one of the knitting needles into the pad of a finger with a hiss.
Sucking the bead of blood from her finger, Jenny set her project aside to ask JARVIS who was at her door so early in the morning. It was nine-thirty, but no one ever dropped in before noon tea. The deep prick from the sharp point of her bamboo knitting needle was completely healed before she reached the door, already aware of who was waiting on the other side, thanks to JARVIS.
“Mr. and Mrs. Barnes,” greeted Jenny, attempting a cheerful smile, but struggling to hide her unease and solemn disposition. “Please, do come in.”
Showing them to the settee, Jenny busied herself in the kitchen making a pot of tea and putting together a plate of semi-sweet biscuits and other treats. She apologized for the mess in the sitting room, puttering about until the kettle began to whistle. Within minutes, she was carrying a wooden tray to the coffee table laden with dishes of cream, sugar, teapot and snacks.
“If I had known you were coming, I would have dressed more appropriately,” said Jenny, setting out teacups.
“You’re fine,” replied Mr. Barnes, seemingly on edge, but taking the cup of steaming tea she offered with a tight smile. “We’re sorry for intruding so early.”
Jenny shook her head, offering a cup to Darcy next and setting out the cream and sugar with the delicate little spoons, “No need to bother being sorry. I’ve been up quite some time now finishing up a few projects. In all the kerfuffle, I fell behind.”
Darcy forced a smile, loading up her tea with more than the recommended amount of sugar, nodding to the half finished blanket on the loveseat, “Would that be the project?”
“Hm?” intoned Jenny, following the buxom omega’s gaze to her knitting. She smiled and nodded, “Yes, that should be the last of them until the summer. Although, if I’m unable to return to university for the spring term, I assume I will have the next twenty or so blankets done before it even feels warm outside.”
“You’re in college?” asked Darcy, a little surprised, but her dark eyes gleamed with interest. “What are you studying?”
Fixing up her own cuppa, Jenny glanced towards Mr. Barnes only to notice how tense he was, but engaged in the conversation. She returned her attention to Darcy with a small, warm smile, “Nursing and midwifery, same as before...Well, it’s a constant. Once a nurse, always a nurse.”
They all shared a rather uncomfortable laugh before settling into the silence, sipping their respective cups of tea, while Darcy nibbled on a shortbread biscuit. The atmosphere was tense, and Jenny wished she wasn’t dressed in her pajamas with her hair up in curlers, but there was nothing for it now. She simply perched on the loveseat, legs slanted to the side with her ankles daintily crossed, surrounded by balls and baskets of yarn. She held the tea cup with a steady hand, prim and proper as always, unable to break the lessons her grandmother had drilled into her as a child.
It seemed they were all at a loss of how to progress in the conversation, drowning in the tense silence until neither Darcy, nor Jenny, could withstand the subtle chinking of bone china trembling against Mr. Barnes’ vibranium hand. It was obvious how nervous he was, considering how in control he had seemed during that one shared moment in HYDRA’s clutches. Darcy seemed to have lost steam early in the conversation, as well.
Clearing her throat, Jenny placed her cup and the matching saucer on the table, folding her hands demurely in her lap, “I have been meaning to speak with you, Darcy. I believe apologies are in order.”
“Oh?” questioned the woman, eyebrow quirked.
Jenny nodded, wringing her hands in her lap, “I am at a loss in remembering everything that happened during my cycle, but I believe I was rather harsh with you. Dismissive. There was no obligation to help me, and, yet, you did so without complaint, and so kindly. I would very much like to get to know you, if possible. I am terribly sorry for any offense my behavior or attitude may have caused.”
Another bout of silence stretched on, while Darcy and her mate stared at Jenny in either disbelief, or surprise. Perhaps they had simply never been properly apologized to before? The British way and the American way were two entirely different things, as she had come to find out. It could simply be that Jenny relied on her traditional upbringing, and the way of things had changed universally since she was thawed out in the future.
Seeing as how no one was able to form a response, Jenny turned her attention to her supposed relative, “Mr. Barnes -”
“Bucky,” the man interrupted, blurting out his reply before he could stop himself. Shaking his head, shoulder length hair swinging to and fro against his ears, he corrected himself, “Or uncle… or - Yeah, Bucky. Bucky is fine.”
“Bucky,” Jenny reiterated softly, offering him a gentle hand, which he shook politely. “I’m Jenny.”
Bucky nodded, some of the tension leaving him in a short sigh, while a wry sort of smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, “I, uh… I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I wanted to give you enough space, get settled back in, before talking about… Everything.”
“Thank you,” replied Jenny, fighting to not bite her lip out of habit. “Pepper and Tony have always been more than generous to me, and I owe them so much, but… I also owe you my gratitude, as well. You weren’t yourself, but you recognized me, somehow. You helped me through the pain, watched over me through the barrier. I never got the chance to thank you properly for trying to distract me, but now I can… So, thank you.”
“It was nothing,” he replied, shaking his head. “I’m just glad they didn’t have the opportunity to drug us both and force anything.”
Jenny shivered, sipping more of the hot tea to quell the chill creeping up her spine, “Thanks be to God. I believe we suffered enough trauma under HYDRA… Apologies, again, Darcy. I didn’t mean to exclude you from the conversation.”
“Oh, no,” the omega waved off, reaching for another shortbread biscuit. “I’m here for support. Leave me with the cookies, and I’ll be fine.”
“It is quite awkward, isn’t it? Considering the circumstances of our introductions,” Jenny reasoned, getting up to retrieve more biscuits. She set down a small plate just for Darcy, before settling back on the loveseat. “Until recently, the only family I’ve belonged to is one of my own making. It was surprising to learn that I had more family than I previously believed.”
“Well, I’m all for a big family,” quipped Darcy around a mouthful of biscuit. “Especially if that family includes Deadpool.”
“Darce,” warned Bucky, looking up from her side, still hunched over with his arms resting on the tops of his thighs. “We’ve talked about this.”
“What?” exclaimed the omega, draining the last of her tea and swallowing her chewed cookie loudly. “I didn’t get a chance to actually meet him before -”
“He’s not in, at the moment,” Jenny interjected, hopefully putting out the building argument that was about to spark between the couple. “I could properly introduce you to him, though. I believe he returns from Japan tomorrow. I could cook us all a nice dinner, and we could get to know each other better?”
Darcy’s eyes widened, as if they would bulge out of her head at any second, but she was extremely excited, almost bouncing where she sat. Bucky shook his head, trying to stifle a chuckle, but his mate’s reaction was too much for him not to react. He placed a loving hand on the omega’s leg, rubbing up and down the length of her thigh before giving her knee a squeeze. His shoulders shook with laughter, and Jenny joined in, relaxing as the tension broke and the lingering sadness began to fade from her chest.
It became easier to speak, after that.
Bucky and Darcy stayed for another hour, and the conversation touched on several topics, most of them light and cheerful, with only a minute twinge of sadness. They shared childhood stories; how they were raised, fond memories and witty anecdotes. Bucky told Jenny about her mother, his sister Rebecca, as a child and all the trouble they got up to in Brooklyn. Darcy shared how she had been an only child, raised by her grandparents after a car crash took her parents when she was a baby, but she had many hilarious and provocative stories to tell of herself as an adolescent.
Jenny answered any questions that Bucky and Darcy had regarding her family, especially her mother. As Bucky’s sister, Jenny’s mother remained a focal point of discussion. He admitted that he hadn’t written to her as much after she jetted off with her future husband, and regretted it deeply. She comforted him with stories of Rebecca Barnes-Parker. She told him how beautiful her mother had been, always put together and proper when they had guests, but how open and warm and loving she had been to her husband and children when it was just them, the family. She told him how her mother would tell Benji and Jenny all about her younger brother and his friend, Steve - a scrawny little boy who always managed to end up in some fight or another. It seemed to ease the guilt twisted inside of him, hearing about his sister - how happy she had been, and how much she had loved her children.
Eventually, Darcy’s mobile device began to chime, and the young woman gasped at the time, “I’m late to a meeting with Bruce. It was great seeing you, Jenny. I’m glad you’re doing better. Here’s my number - Text me about that dinner. Oh! Don’t worry about the… Whatever. We’re good!”
Grabbing up her tablet and key card, Darcy kissed Bucky farewell with a rushed, “Love you,” and then she was gone.
“Sorry about Darce,” said Bucky, after a minute or two of uncomfortable silence. Always with the awkward silences, but they never lasted very long. “She’s… enthusiastic.”
“She’s charming,” replied Jenny, pouring out another cup of tea for herself after he declined a refill. “You’re well suited for each other. Mummy would be happy for you, I’m certain.”
“You look like her when you smile,” he admitted, biting a sliver of banana bread from the serving tray. “It takes me back.”
“I miss her, too,” said the omega, stirring in a spoon of sugar to sweeten the tepid tea. “When I decided to train as a nurse, she was the only one who supported my decision. The rows she would have with Grandmother over how to raise us children… I’ve always regretted leaving her to pick up the pieces after I took my vows. I never got the chance to apologize to her for it, or thank her for everything she did.”
“I feel the same way,” agreed Bucky with a heavy sigh. “It’s like being robbed, but you don’t even know it until it’s too late.”
Jenny sympathized, because it was true. That was exactly how she felt. Robbed.
“How is your friend?” asked Jenny, looking down into her teacup after yet another long silence, unable to meet Bucky’s gaze. “Steve, I believe? How is he doing after the… event?”
The mated alpha, with all his bulk and muscle, snorted in laughter, covering his mouth to stifle the embarrassing sound. He shook his head, again, and grinned at her, after a time. “Steve had to be isolated, too. He got over it a lot faster than you did, but he’s doing better now. He still feels guilty about what almost happened. I think that’s why he’s been avoiding stopping by to check on you.”
Jenny shook her head, unable to stop the blush spreading through her face, “Oh, that’s quite alright. I’m sure he has enough to do without being bothered over me. Such a terrible ordeal, all things considered. I feel terribly guilty for causing him any undue duress.”
“Don’t feel bad for him,” was Bucky’s answer, mouth quirked in a lopsided smirk. “It’s about time someone turned his head. I don’t know how I feel about my niece imprinting with my best friend, or… My best friend imprinting on my niece?”
“Imprinting?” asked the omega, leaning back against the loveseat cushions and tucking her legs underneath her. “There’s been flashes of memories, bits and bobs, but nothing substantial, and nothing to do with imprinting. It’s mostly… a scent. Little details. Blues eyes, blondish hair. I remember wailing about my alpha, as if I had one, which… I don’t. And I was very sick, because everything was spinning, like a record on a turntable, constant.”
He had a knowing look, as if he were a doctor listening to a patient describe symptoms of a particular affliction, “That would be imprinting. I experienced the same thing after setting eyes on Darcy for the first time.”
“Hm,” she intoned, glancing out the window to the flurry of snowflakes outside. “I do hope it hasn’t caused him any sort of further inconvenience. I doubt that’s what he needs - a complication in his life.”
“Not a complication,” Bucky smirked, again. “More like a much needed change. And as much as I feel like I need to protect you, or warn him off… I don’t know. You both deserve to be happy, and I think you could be really good for one another.”
Jenny considered what he was saying, taking in the twitches in his jaw and the minute changes around his eyes. He was speaking from the heart, as if he knew the universal truth that was escaping her in that moment, but she trusted that he would not lie to her about something of such a personal nature. His expression was open, honest, and sincere. It was almost as if her brother were speaking to her. Bucky had the same eyes, same cheekbones. How bizarre to be noticing those things at that moment.
It had been so long since she had been involved with another person. Thoughts of an older man in a tweed jacket blooming in her mind, and just the memory was enough to bring back the sharp pain of heartbreak. She had been ruined, taking convent vows to save her family of a larger scandal, and hid away from that sort of intimacy. It had hurt. It had been devastating. All because she had fallen in love with the wrong man.
Of course, what she took away from Bucky’s stories about the man in question - about Steve - was that he was a good man. She couldn’t cringe away from all men based on just one painful experience. There had to be a reason she was so drawn to Steve, despite the amount of sedative in her bloodstream. His scent, and presence, had been…
Clearing her throat, Jenny nodded in understanding, on the bring of shaking with nerves, “To be honest, I… I think I may be a touch out of my depth.”
Bucky stared at her with an odd expression for a long time, before barking with laughter. Guffaw after guffaw, but Jenny couldn’t fathom what was so humorous, until he finally began to simmer down and managed a snort with a shake of his head, “Steve is, too!”
Chapter 11: Chapter Ten
As promised, when Wade returned from one of his Deadpool trips, Jenny cooked a roast with gravy and mashed potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts and fresh bread with sweet cream butter. She was quite proud of how the roast turned out, as she had always struggled with temperatures in correlation with time, having burned quite a few in her adolescence as her mother taught her how to keep house, cook, and all that came with caring for a family. The roast was a point of contention, but as Jack, Wade and Vanessa set the table, Jenny beamed at each perfectly cooked medium rare slice as she carved it.
Setting down the last serving dish of mash on an extendable table draped in a mistletoe runner, Jenny had to fight the swell of pride at how lovely it all looked. A bowl of dried apples, cinnamon sticks and shiny Christmas baubles sat in the middle as the centerpiece, as well as a holiday-esque bit of potpourri. There were two serving dishes of everything, two baskets of warm slices of bread, two platters of carved roast surrounded by garnish. It was enough to feed a small militia, but Jenny was well aware of Jack and Wade’s eating habits, and she wanted everyone to be able to go for seconds, or thirds, if they so desired.
Bucky and Darcy arrived shortly thereafter, while Jenny had excused herself to the bedroom to change. It wouldn’t do to entertain in denim trousers and a jumper. Her hair had already been curled and pinned, just as she had always done since she was a young woman. She simply spritzed it with a touch of hair lacquer, and applied a minimal amount of mascara to her lashes, as well as a nostalgic shade of red to her lips. A little powder was pressed onto her face to banish the shine from several hours in a warm kitchen, a subtle swipe of freesia perfume behind each ear, and Jenny was ready to slip on her dress for the evening.
A simple cocktail dress of rich evergreen chiffon, it fit like a glove and cinched at the waist with a deep red sash, flaring out into a full skirt that ended below her knees. Paired with Christmas bow earrings that matched the color of her dress and short, crimson heels that shone in the artificial light, Jenny examined herself in the full length mirror on the back of the washroom door to make certain nothing was out of place. She even twirled to feel how the underskirt swished about her legs, full of nerves.
“Jenny Bean,” called Vanessa, knocking on the door. “Are you dressed? Your guests are here.”
“Coming,” she answered, gaze lingering on how long her hair had gotten since D.C. To herself, she muttered, “I really do need to cut this hair.”
Exiting her bedroom, Jenny’s smile fell as the excited shrieks and shouts from moments before made sense. She had assumed Darcy would be vocal about meeting Wade properly for the first time, especially since he had donned the red and black mask for the evening. Vanessa swore that it had been cleaned so there was no lingering odor of blood, sweat, or cocaine. It made Wade feel less judged, and it made everyone else more at ease. Not everyone was accepting of his physical appearance. Even Jack had trouble, at times, if Wade caught him off guard. It had taken time to get used to the change. Vanessa had been the same. Jenny had simply taken it in stride. It had never really bothered her from the start.
What Jenny had not been prepared for was the sight that met her once she crossed the sitting area.
Not only had Darcy been overwhelmed with meeting Wade, Deadpool mask and all, but Wade had been overwhelmed with coming face to face with his idol, the Winter Soldier. The witty Merc with a Mouth had fallen to his knees at Bucky’s feet, repeatedly bowing to the bewildered man - according to Vanessa - and had, since, progressed to hugging his legs, while rubbing his face against the pressed denim. Darcy had thus conformed herself to Wade’s back, to add a cherry on top. It was all very inappropriate, not to mention Bucky looked extremely uncomfortable, as well as embarrassed.
“Bad! Bad Wade! We do not do that to strangers!”
Bless Jack, who had stepped in to try and diffuse the situation, while Vanessa tried to hold back her own scream at Jenny’s side. She hadn’t noticed before, but Tony and Pepper were trapped in the doorway in shock at what the were witnessing, behind a very confused man that seemed familiar to Jenny -
“Oh, God! I wish I were an omega!” exclaimed Wade, rubbing his face up the length of Bucky’s thighs to the man’s stomach. He only clung more tightly when Bucky jerked at the sensation of the man rubbing his face dangerously close to a very private region. “Why? Why couldn’t I have been born an omega?!”
“Captain America,” Vanessa whispered excitedly into her ear. “It’s fucking Captain America!”
That was enough to snap Jenny out her of her own shock, “What the devil is going on?”
Vanessa was still bouncing in her heels, biting her lip to keep from squealing, but the sharp tone of Jenny’s voice pierced through the chaos and commotion to cause everyone to still and look at her. Paying the bystanders no mind, the bristling brunette storming over to the shameful display, heels clicking against the pale hardwood floors.
“Darcy, this is very undignified,” Jenny chided, helping the woman stand before turning her focus onto Wade. With a crack of her hands together, a thunderous sound when she clapped by Wade’s ear, “Good behavior! This is not good behavior! I am very disappointed in you!”
“Damn it,” Wade cursed under his breath, releasing Bucky’s midsection and standing with plenty of space between the two alphas. He hung his head, as if thoroughly reprimanded, “I’ll go to my room and think about what I’ve done.”
“No, you’ll sit at the table and control yourself,” admonished Jenny, huffing and smoothing out the skirts of her dress. “Now, apologize to Bucky - with a handshake, Wade. No more inappropriate touching. We’ve been through this.”
“You are no fun, Jenny Bean. No fun!” grumbled Wade, holding out his scarred hand to a very unnerved Bucky. “I am very sorry, Mr. Winter Soldier, sir. Please forgive me.”
Bucky shook the man’s hand quickly to retreat, “It’s alright. I… Uh… I’m good.”
He took hold of Darcy’s hand and tugged her along towards the dinner table, the omega looking over her shoulder longingly at Wade. Such an unfortunate beginning to what she had hoped would be a seemingly lovely dinner seemed to leave Jenny off-kilter. There was a sourness in the air due to the debacle, and all Jenny wanted to do was hide in her bedroom. She wasn’t embarrassed by her friends. She loved them and their quirks. She found Wade to be refreshingly cynical and funny, Vanessa the joy of their little pack, and Jack had always been incredibly reassuring.
After everything that had just happened, Jenny felt very much like a mother punishing her rowdy children in the middle of a grocer.
“I’m so glad we were invited,” said Tony, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Pepper seemed to agree, eyes brimming with glee as she bit her lip to fight from laughing. “This is high quality entertainment.”
Jenny groaned, but Bucky piped up with his own response, “I’m never going to hear the end of this, am I?”
Tony grinned mischievously, holding up his smartphone, “JARVIS recorded everything.”
“Why don’t we get through introductions and then we can eat?” offered Jenny, fidgeting with a gold band on her left pointer finger, having moved it over from her ring finger years before. “Uhm…”
“Wade Wilson,” called the alpha, raising his hand, despite everyone already knowing him by his mask alone.
Vanessa waved to everyone, “Vanessa.”
“Jack Hammer,” greeted the beta with glasses, respectfully shaking people’s hands. “Most people call me Weasel.”
“Jack Hammer?” asked Tony, incredulously, one eyebrow reaching up his forehead. “Jack Hammer? That’s your literal name? Jack. Hammer.”
“Yes?” answer Jack, tilting his head as if to question his own response. “But… most people just call me… Weasel.”
“Okay, Tony,” huffed Pepper amusedly, guiding him away. “Let’s just sit down.”
Introductions were daunting, but everyone managed without another incident.
That is, until she was face to face with the giant, muscular wall of a man that had arrived between Bucky and Tony. He wasn’t brutish, not at all. He was actually stunningly handsome, breathtaking - like Adonis sculpted from golden flesh. Jenny had always been petite, especially compared to the one amazonian midwife who had also come from a titled family. Still, she was inches shorter than the man straining to appear friendly and nonchalant, congenial , but there was a glint in his eyes, something almost primal that pulled at her strongly.
Blue eyes, dark blonde hair, summer, grass in the sun, sweat…
Broad shoulders, wide and strong. Arms the size of one of her thighs, slightly tanned and sparsely dotted with veins twining around to large, brawny hands. Legs the size of tree trunks, and she suspected just as solid. Dark, honey blonde hair was combed back away from his face, still damp from a recent shower. He had a beard, short and well-maintained, that didn’t entirely match the color of his hair. It was a mild brown, darker than his honey tinged locks. It suited him, Jenny realized. It made him look more grizzled, and less chiseled; earthy, masculine, alpha.
Then there were his eyes. Those blue eyes that glinted and sparkled, like the sun reflecting off a passive sea; blue flecked with green, aquamarine splashed through cerulean and jade, like turquoise. The dress shirt he wore matched well with the color of his eyes, the material taut over him, and the sleeves rolled up to just before his elbows. His arms had a dusting of blonde hairs, as well.
Jenny smiled, offering him a delicate hand, “I do believe we’ve not properly introduced ourselves before. Jenny… Jenny Parker.”
“Steve Rogers,” the man replied, flashing a set of white teeth as one hand engulfed her smaller one. He looked nervous, crinkles around his eyes too tight to be natural, as if he was holding himself back. Bucky had mentioned he felt guilty, something about moping, or wallowing. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Jenny - without… Outside of what happened. I feel terrible about it. I should have never forced you into that sort of situation.”
It was as if the very air in her lungs was forced out in an instant, like a blow to the chest, the moment their hands touched. She could see it in his eyes, as well. It took her by surprise, as it twisted and shifted through her - like he was being branded onto her soul. Jenny had to shake herself from collapsing to the floor, knees weak with the rightness of it all. Clearing her throat, as demurely as possible, she nodded with a blush burning in her cheeks, “I feel terrible, as well. Biology is fickle. Pheromones, and all that.”
“Yeah,” Steve replied, thumb still stroking over the slope of her thumb. “Pheromones.”
“I,” Jenny started, almost taking a step to be closer, but stopping herself. She settled for giving his fingers a gentle squeeze, lashes batting away as she searched for the words that seemed to elude her in that moment. “I… I would like to apologize for the imposition of my… It’s all rather indelicate, isn’t it? I’m seem lost for words - Apologies, I’m all twisted about the tongue. I seem to be lost for words.”
Steve smiled again, returning that subtle squeeze with a huff of a chuckle, “There’s nothing for you to apologize for, Jenny. I was the one out of line, and for that, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let it go so far. I shouldn’t have stayed so long. It put you at risk.”
“I believe we will simply need to agree to disagree,” replied Jenny, pouty lips pressed plumply in a teasing smirk. “The circumstances were unique, to say the least. Still, I am also terribly sorry for the inconvenience it must have caused you.”
“Agree to disagree, it is,” he chuckled, and she wanted to melt just listening to the sound of it. Then his stomach grumbled, and they shared in the humor, hands slipping from each other’s grasp. “Sorry. The food smells amazing. Do you need help with anything?”
Jenny felt the loss of his touch like a sharp pain in her stomach, but she took a breath and smiled through it, “I do believe we are missing wine glasses and something to drink. I can have Vanessa help me, though. You’re a guest. You should sit and relax.”
“What kind of man would I be if I didn’t help?” joked Steve, following her to the kitchen. “You cooked. Fair is fair.”
“Fair is fair,” repeated Jenny with an effervescent laugh, stopping to retrieve chilled bottles of Bordeaux, as well as a box of bottled ales. “You are quite the honorable sort, aren’t you, Mr. Rogers.”
“Oh, please,” Steve chuckled, that grassy, masculine scent tainted with nerves. “Just Steve.”
“Very well, Just Steve,” quipped Jenny, standing up straight to hand off two bottles of wine and the large case of ale. “I believe I will put you to work.”
Pulling two more bottles of the same Bordeaux, as well as three bottles of sweet moscato for dessert. She handed off a corkscrew to Steve, glancing at the way his forearms flexed when he easily opened the Bordeauxs to breathe, before moving on to the Moscato. She had to press her lips together to keep from biting her lip. Being so close to him, seeing the passive strength in his arms alone -
Jenny was growing a touch warm, and it wasn’t due to the fact that she was standing near the oven.
Steve helped carry wine and ale glasses to the table, Jenny directing everyone for maximum comfort in dining companions. With his help, those who preferred wine and those that preferred beer received the correct glassware. While full bottles of wine and beer were poured, Jenny ordered everyone to get a start on loading their plates, plucking off the aluminum covering keeping the sliced beef roast hot.
With relative order restored, Jenny played hostess and showed Steve to his seat to the right of the head of the table next to Bucky, across from Tony and Pepper. Jack was at the other end of the table, while Vanessa and Wade were split across the table - Wade next to Darcy, across from Vanessa, while his mate sat next to Pepper.
When everyone had full plates, Jenny began putting together her own, listening to the conversations and falling back on her education as a respectable hostess from when she was becoming a woman under the sharp eye of her harsh grandmother...