It's not what he expects from a Conservatory, but he doesn't have many expectations other than 'lots of girls' and 'extra uncomfortable classes'.
He's grateful to Stick for tuning up his senses in his short-term tutorial before the designation clusterfuck turned everything upside down again. He doesn't know how much more drama he can take.
Blind at ten, orphaned at eleven, designated at twelve - he's the only male omega in the Northeast region right now and he's blind and property of the state.
"Here we are," Sister Ruth says, stopping at step 28 from the stairs. "It's been years since we had a male omega as a student so you'll have a lot of space. Double doors, only you and the Reverend Mother have a key - hold out your hand."
He accepts the heavy iron key in his palm. Huh.
"Try it out," she urges and he skims his fingertips over the ornate knob and keyhole before turning the key with a thunk. The room seems filled with life - plants - and he inhales deeply despite Stick's training. He's too responsive. It's nice - it's not Hell's Kitchen, it's not home - but it's nice.
"Because of your unique condition, we'll give you some time to get used to the space. Your father left very specific instructions to your care."
"He didn't know," Matt speaks out, breaking his intended silence.
"He left instructions for all cases, Matthew, we're just lucky you manifested early enough to embrace your education."
Yuck. He swings his cane around the room, noting the wooden bookcase and desk - all natural furniture and books too thick to be anything but braille. He pauses to touch the sheets on the oversized bed. Silk.
The Sister chuckles. "I think you'll like it here."
She's not lying and he's slightly disappointed. Does she really think he'll fit in here? Anywhere?
"One of the Sisters will be up later to fetch you for dinner, the other children are having their private lessons but you'll meet them soon."
"It's okay, you'll be good at this just like you are at ballet and languages," Marci whispers reassuringly.
"He's not nervous, you're projecting," Lola sing-songs.
Matt shrugs out of his soft, perfectly broken-in hoodie and carefully folds it on the chair. "I think grooming's a lot to do with how things look so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to learn."
"Well, you're pretty good at braiding hair and you did, like, all the tailoring for Sofia's design project," Marci says.
"Sewing's not like, color matching feathers," Matt corrects her.
"We learn that in other classes, this is different," Lola insists. She's determined to win most-helpful over Marci and Matt's doing his best not to have any swing in the votes in any direction.
"I haven't shown anyone my wings since I got here. Why do I have to show them?" Matt asks. "It seems like an invasion of privacy."
That brings Sofia and Morgan into the conversation, worried they're missing important gossip. "Is someone making you uncomfortable, Matthew? We would never let anyone say anything out of turn about your feathers," Morgan soothes softly, working on her imitation of her mother's patented 'coo'. Matt thinks his Dad liked her movies.
Lola nods vigorously. "We're all still young, most of us still have our down feathers - we won't get colors until way later."
"Oh. Do you have colors?" Marci asks after a long moment. He must've shown something on his face.
"I never saw them, personally," Matt admits. "But the Sisters at the Orphanage said that it's nothing to worry about."
"Maybe you should show them to your best friend first - to prepare yourself. So who do you want to show them to first?" Lola asks, way too eager.
"You're trying too hard. My brother says they call that being 'thirsty'," Sofia warns her.
Maybe they're right - maybe he needs to worry about what the Sisters here will see in his feathers. "Okay, you guys know about the colors and I'll know if you're lying to me."
He doesn't have to close his eyes since he's wearing his glasses but it seems right and he inhales twice and exhales once like the Betas taught him.
"Oh. They're beautiful, Matt. Can I - " Marci hesitates and his feathers flutter under her hovering fingertips.
"They're red, shiny - and dark. Probably because of your dad," Sofia says.
"They're Alpha colors," Marci adds, taking his wings' reaction as permission to touch, delicately smoothing and sorting the feathers. "Crimson and black, red probably when you're mad. The Sisters were probably sneaky about it because you have adult coloring."
"And the fact that it's rare as fuck and all the Alphas are going to want you. I'm surprised they haven't sent military scouts after you yet," Lola says in an awed voice.
Sister Marta's voice startles all of them. "All of our Omegas are protected until the age of eighteen - no scouts or matchmakers are allowed near any of you." She lays her hand gently on his shoulder. "But the girls are right about your plumage, it's very bright for a fledgling - "
"Ew, please don't call us that," Marci pouts.
"So you'll need to be very careful who you share your wings with," Marta finishes. "That goes for all of you for different reasons. Grooming is necessary for your health, not just your marriage prospects or whatever else you're thinking. Out of respect, most Omegas only allow other Omegas or Betas to touch their wings outside of their families - and as adults, it's traditional to limit grooming between life mates."