Spare rooms to rent? In this economy? Never.
Well maybe not never, not for Higgs. It was actually reality for him right about now.
He had, for possibly about three months now the man didn't keep tabs, a whole little garden cottage free and cleaned out, wasting space in his backyard. Overgrowing with grape-vines and overshadowed on the back by a monstrously large fig tree that would every weekend be heavy with large, luscious and sweet black figs.
Every day the lack of anything within proved for the last few weeks to be quite the sore in his deep blue eyes for unknown reasons. Maybe, it was that he missed the previous tenant and the impact the fellow Alpha made on his daily routine of sticking in his home making homemade pizza. Maybe he wanted to fill the crater her departure left..
Or perhaps he was simply moved by the human desire to have company, after all at the end of the day that was what moved him to open the door to the female Alpha all those months ago and allow her to stay.
His Alpha clock was ticking, had been for since the other Alpha and him got physically engaged, it wanted to breed and create offspring, wanted to nurture and hold whatever came out of their physical connections.
Or! Third option! Higgs just wanted to have some extra fucking cash, after all he was a Capitalist pig that fed off of poor workers, that being the reason where he was today unreasonably rich owning a house with large garden in the middle of Capital Knot City, the largest and most populated city of the UCA.
The cottage within was cozy, had a rustic home vibe to it. Made of Time-fall resistant wood on the outside, insulated to keep the cold out and warmth inside.
It had two relatively small bedrooms compared to the medium sized living room with conjoined kitchen. A bathroom in the back of the hallway that had a shower and bathtub with a small window behind the shower where a large branch of the fig tree waved hello.
The previous tenant left some of her things, though they were dealt with three months ago. Dropped in his main houses its fireplace. One last goodbye, bitch.
Well, that was all for rent. He could get up to 2000 Dollars for something as precious as that, was what the real estate agent said. The fact that rent was so damn high was truly astounding to him, he had to admit he owned a house and the cottage had a whole garden around it, giving it a house vibe. Though 2 grand? For a tiny little bomb bunker sized thing like that? No, in his eyes no more than 200 warm. He may be not affected by things such as housing market average price but he wasn’t detached from reality. He knew the minimum wage was leagues below that and that the housing market it’s prices were always rising and rising and riiising- you get the point. Getting a place to live that wasn't a rats hole was impossible if someone was poor, in short.
A quick paying for an add in the local news paper, and some shady listing on craigslist that he knew nobody would respond to because it sounded like human trafficking due to its too good to be true price and not even an hour later and he received calls. Calls here and there, peppered throughout the Morning of people interested.
A female Alpha- no. He won’t take anymore female Alphas in, not after what happened with the last one.
A male student Beta, young thing barely 18 and already poor as fuck and paying student loans with a job at some fast food dessert chain..did he like the smell of fast food desserts? Yes. Yes he did. The boy’s voice made it clear that he was desperate for the cottage wich made Higgs curious to see how desperate he was. Into the list of people that would be allowed to tour the tiny place he went.
A single male Alpha, asking if dogs were allowed. Short answer: No! Cats? Perhaps. But not dogs, dumb creatures. Not into the list of people that were allowed to tour.
Another Beta, this time a woman with a child. Did he want a little bumbling thing that may or may not break some shit? He was indecisive. The woman sounded sweet, her voice very motherly. Into the list she went as Mama, after all she did not give him a name.
Two more Alphas, not into the list they came.
A pair of young betas looking for a place to live in as they went trough america.
Into the list they did not go.
At around the 10th call, Higgs began to interview the people. It had been a grave mistake to simply not state that he’d give himself the liberty to decline everyone he simply did not like based on small things such as the nasally sound of their voice or just the vibes of monotony he got. Polite he tried to stay as he was asked why they wouldn’t be getting a tour around the place, though at the end every in sweet words wrapped decline boiled down to I dislike your voice or You sound too damn old just some Timefall moistness and you break apart into dust.
“Peter Englert speaking.” Higgs picked up the phone with the same words he’s been uttering for maybe the millionth time this day. Free hand hovering above a tablet, with a quick swipe his fingers opened the note where he’s gathered a bunch of people their names and around the times they would come over to have a look at his home today.
“Hello..I called because of the add for a cottage?” Oh, voice sounded rough. Tired with the slightest hint of sadness around its edge. In the back, the frankly quite adorable sounding whine of a baby chimed followed by the mans heavy sigh. Rustling could be heard through the line till it died down in favour of nervous sounding steps coming in strange, almost pacing intervals.
“Yes, the two bedroom cottage. I’ve gotten quite a lot of interested callers today. Mind if I ask you some questions?”
The first in 19 calls after his decision to interview over phone to not make a stinker about questions. That was a positive. If Higgs were someone to be easily moved, he’d right away mark that stranger as someone allowed to take a look at his cottage. Thank god he wasn't.
“I’ve heard a child over the line, how old is it?”
Sounded like an infant, could be a toddler or even a super bratty older kid. Whatever it was, he’d like to know before he had some up and down jumping snot nosed offspring in his backyard during the potential tour.
“He. A premie, about three months old..” The rough voice faltered ever so slightly, sounding like the topic of his little Son was a sensitive treading field. Subconsciously licking his lips at the deepening sad edge of the man's tone behind the line, Higgs nodded and hummed signaling that he had gotten what he was told.
“Any more children? A partner?”
Silence. Silence that stretched itself out for counted 5 seconds. Higgs liked this for some strange reason. It wasn’t anything new that he had sadistic tendencies but this was low even for himself though there he was loving every second of the silence, the two sensitive spots he hit in a row. Oh man he really needed to get laid, breed that sadism out.
“A job here in Capital Knot?”
“Would you be able to pay the rent on time?”
A stutter! Fuck, Higgs could feel himself taking enjoyment out of this even more. When was the last time he had someone stutter at him? 3 months? Right. 3 whole damn months.
“That didn't sound very confident.” The smirk in Higgs voice was evident, it’s slightly mocking aura painting the words in amusement. It did indeed not sound confident. Almost like the man over the line right now could already barely afford living.
“I can make do. Where I live right now is about 50 dollars above the price of your cottage..”
“Mhm. What is your secondary sex?”
He simply needed to know. His bet was on Beta. But something in him told Alpha. The idea of having gotten an Alpha to stutter was just fantastic, gave him feelings he had not experienced in months, made him want to simply get more.
“I’d like to keep that to myself.”
And the feelings were gone, switched with subtle curiosity. Why the fuck would someone try to keep this from their landlord? Perhaps he had a hormonal imbalance Alpha in his hands. That would explain why he was alone with a child. A premature child as he was told.
Faulty pheromone secretion from an Alpha to their carrying partner could lead to complications during pregnancy. So he learned it many years ago in school, so he was told three months ago in a dark night with only the moon between him and his previous Alpha partner. Either way, a tour would make quick work of that question and he would know what this mans secondary sex was.
“Allright. Then to the last question, what’s your name?”
Ah, a porter. Under what company did he transport packages? Higgs was curious now and really wanted to know who the strange, sad sounding single father was behind the phone.
Tapping down the name he was given on his tablet, Higgs smiled to himself. A bunch of interesting people where right there, on a list, people that could entertain him for various reasons but this one? This one seemed like he could entertain for reasons that Higgs liked especially. He seemed mysterious yet so easily pushed down, already over the phone Higgs could sense the perhaps low hanging posture of a shattered man just barely build up again.
“Would you have time for a tour through the cottage today? Six pm is the last spot I have.”
“Yes!” Sam jumped in. Tone sounding hopeful yet still raspy, still tired and with a heavy audible guard as if trying to keep that hopeful glimmer down in case things did not go in his favour. .
“Wonderfull. The complete address is Crypto-street 5 south of Capital Knot, don’t be late I dislike waiting.”
“Y-yes! Thank you Mr.Englert..”
“Thank me later, when you have the cottage.”
And with that, Higgs hung up.
Turning his phone off, happy with the handful of names he’s gathered, the brown haired man could not wait to see what faces would make it to the tour. Judging from what he’s been able to gather, that Porter guy was definitely going to be there.
“I just moved to Capital Knot for work, Hotel life has been getting a little rough and the housing my job provides is not what I want. Might be too much for my child.” Mama, a woman who turned out to actually regularly go by that nickname, spoke, fingers grazing over the hard wood kitchen counter of the cottages kitchen. Eyes locked on the small space between the fence signaling the end of his property and the start of the street outside through the window, her fingers parted with the counter to point at it.
“Any trouble in the neighbourhood?”
Higgs stopped eyeing the peacefully sleeping baby she had brought with her in innocent curiosity in favour of watching the honestly very attractive woman. Her piercing blue eyes met his, staring him down not unlike an Alpha would do when feeling perhaps a little suspicious. She was seizing him up, clearly trying to assess if he was a danger for her child.
Well, he did not want to make the young mother feel unwell to his surprise. Taking his hands from his sides, he folded them in front of him and straightened up more to signal he was in fact a non threatening Alpha. Not out to harm a Beta mother and her offspring.
“No. This neighbourhood is inhabited by mostly older and well off people. We pay a little money monthly to have Bridges provide us with protection.”
A little, more like 5k each. Not that it bothered him, he liked actually living in a place where the already tiny chances of having some separatist group raiding were exterminated into the below 0’s. He also enjoyed the safety of not having some necrotic body causing trouble because there was always someone on the streets ready to deal with it without stopping traffic and setting things on shut down for complete 48 hours like it happened in the more affordable areas of Capital Knot on the regular. Twice a month, he’s heard though the data showed different numbers ranging from 5 to even 10 times a month compared to the one time every 3 months where he lived.
“Interesting. Have you ever had trouble here?” Mama asked once more, walking to her baby to push the stroller forward towards the conjoined living room couch.
“No. Maybe a complaint or two due to parties I sometimes hold but nothing of serious matter.” Nothing of serious matter he deemed necessary to mention. Like that time his shrink head collection was seized for dumb reasons or that time he had to fight the neighbourhoods community in court because of his tree. Apparently all those old farts did not appreciate the life bearing mammoth of a thing as much as he did. Long story short, he was allowed to keep it if he had it regularly trimmed.
The tour went fast after the first few security questions. Mama seemed to have liked the place, though did not seemed to have enjoyed him. Every movement of his was under strong scrutiny and constant surveillance, even just opening a door for her caught a small, for the fraction of a second lasting snarl of teeth. Feisty. But that wasn’t what Higgs was looking for, he wasn’t out for someone who would just snap his neck if he said as much as something that could be interpreted as him wanting to climb her.
Giving her a dismissive yet still polite promise of coming back at her if she got the cottage and a quick goodbye from her part, only one last name remained.
Right, the man almost forgot about him! Oh, he was excited to see what face would show up. A quick glance at the clock on his wrist, Higgs decided to enjoy a cup of coffee. He had time before six, after all.
Five minutes passed after six, Higgs was not mad, not impatient. Yet, he knew that Sam had a child, Demanding the other to be truly 100% on time was unfair on his part especially with the now strong rain outside.
Ten minutes passed after six. Now, the impatience was starting. Exhaustion gnawed at his being from having all day interacted with people, shown them around the small cottage and engaging in their questions trying to extract as much of their personality as possible to find the perfect tenant for his whims.
As of now only three out of the few people he selected of many many calls were fitting. Maybe four by tomorrow, if in his sleep he decided that Mama was actually what he wanted.
Fifteen minutes. Well, Higgs hated waiting, so he told Sam. He was not going to wait any longe-
The doorbell rang. Wow, so Sam made it. Right at the moment the landlord was about to turn in and have a nap. Well, the Porter definitely had a sense of timing Higgs had to give him that.
Making his way to the front door, Higgs was met with something he could not have ever suspected.
Before him stood an Omega.
A in regular rain drenched Omega with deep, light blue eyes that shone in the grey, natural light of winter sundown.
“Sorry for being late.. Another body was found where I live, they shut the streets down.”
Ah, the raspy, tired and sad voice he’s heard over the phone. So much better in person as the scent of Omega accentuated the melancholic edge of each word making it so much sweeter to hear in person.
Higgs didn't even know he was holding his breath until he once more caught a nose full of Omega pheromones just shamelessly spraying in the air.
He must’ve been subconsciously giving away pheromones of his own because the Omega before him quickly averted his attention at the sound of a tiny wail down to his chest where a tiny little dry looking baby sat strapped inside a water resistant carrier. Humming some familiar sounding song, Sam swayed in place calming the child with another very obviously subconscious release of pheromones of his own.
How did this man not get jumped on his way here? Higgs did not know and did not really care to know. Moving aside so Sam could see inside his home, He smiled.
“Please, come in.”