Chapter 1: Oh How Changable the World
Stiles always wondered at how changeable the world was. It always amazed him how in a single night, in a single moment everything can change.
One moment he has a family, a fun, loving and, crazy family. A mother, who sang like an angel and, whose acting would transport you to a new and wondrous world. A father, who gave the best advice, and better hugs, who could play any instrument.
But they’re gone now, leaving Stiles alone with his little brother, Isaac. And no one to go to for advice when he’s confused. No one to sing him songs when he’s sad. No one to give hugs that make him feel safe from the world’s cruel nature.
No now he has to be the one. The one to sing for his brother when he cries, and cries because mummy and daddy aren’t coming home. He has to give his brother advice when he isn’t sure what to do about trouble with kids on the playground. He has to give his brother hugs when he scared of the dark to try and, make him feel safe, And how can Stiles help his brother feel safe when he himself is terrified of what blow the will come next.
It does come, and it is a harsh one. The state is taking away Isaac, his brother. His sweet, innocent brother who has never had a harsh word in his life must go to an orphanage. The world has decided that a single omega cannot take care of a child.
And Stiles is an omega. Even worse he is a single omega with no alpha, no money, and no prospects. His parents were actors, and performers. And they trained Stiles to be one as well. He can sing, he can act, he can dance, he can play almost any instrument, and he can even compose little tunes. But the world has decided that being a performer is a disreputable job only held by disreputable people. And that since Stiles is one and an omega to boot he must be nothing more than a whore.
This means that Stiles can’t hook a respectable alpha, he can’t get a respectable job as a shop assistant or a secretary. The only so called respectable job he can get is that of drudge work. Stiles has no hope of getting custody for Isaac back. This almost breaks him.
But Stiles gets lucky, the orphanage that his brother is going to is willing to hire him in the kitchens. Stiles won’t be separated from his brother and he swears on his parent’s grave that nothing ever will. He doubts he will be able to give Isaac advice as good, songs as sweet, or hugs as protective as his parents could, but what he can give him he will.
When Stiles first arrives at the orphanage, almost two months after Isaac, and three after losing his parents. He finds his brother much subdued. Isaac comes from the world of the performer, a world full of light and colour, a world of smiles and laughter. Where his humour, his playfulness and his silliness had been encouraged. When his parents had still been alive Isaac’s world had been filled with music, singing and dancing. But here in the orphanage such behaviour isn’t encouraged, it is met with a harsh rebuke and punishment. This has dimmed his brothers light, and Isaac is quiet now. It breaks Stiles heart. Isaac had been a natural performer. He was born to be a star and perform. To see the light almost destroyed in the short months they had been separated makes Stiles all the more determined to never be separated from Isaac again.
It takes Stiles a week to get Isaac to smile again. His efforts are aided by the fact that he was able to convince the two matrons of orphanage, two older beta women, to keep the pony and duck that their parents had bought and trained as pets for the children. He was only able to do this after showing just how well trained the two animals were, and he suspected that Ms. Yukimura, the younger of the two, had a soft spot for animals.
Two weeks after the first smile Stiles convinces Isaac to sing one of his little ditty’s for the other children while he plays an old dusty piano that is slightly out of tune. When this gets a few hesitant smiles from the other children Isaac lights up and starts reciting poems and teaching the other children how to tap dance. Stiles is so happy that he lose track of time and has to rush back to the kitchen.
Three weeks later Stiles and Isaac are caught sing and dancing for the other children by Ms. McCall, the head of the orphanage. She is not amused. She summons Stiles and Isaac into her office to lecture and scold them on the evils of what they were doing, on how their parents were corrupted and were corrupting them, and that it was the orphanages job to save Isaac from the evils of his past and to turn out a proper person.
After she finishes she sends Isaac out to think about his actions. She keeps Stiles. Once Isaac has left she tells Stiles she says she won’t have Stiles corrupting the orphans. Putting sinful ideas in their heads. She reminds Stiles about how the orphanage is being charitable towards him, how they could turn Stiles out on his ear, but they were being good Christian folk gave him a place to stay. She calls Stiles a slag. Stiles clenches his fists in anger at this women who looks like she never smiled a day in her life, never knew any happiness. At how she talks about his parents. He wonders why society seems to think it’s so evil to smile and to make others smile. He wonders why doing so makes Stiles a whore.
When he is released from Ms. McCall’s office to go back to his work he finds Isaac cowering outside the office. Isaac runs and clings to Stiles leg. Stiles gives him a hug, he gives him a hug like his father use to hug him. Afterwards Isaac won’t let go, he follows Stiles around the rest of that day and the next. The third day Stiles convinces him to go play with the other children. Eventually his brother starts smiling again. And so begins the pattern.
Stiles will come up with new fun little ditties for Isaac to perform for the other children. On his few breaks he will play the old piano or sing and dance with Isaac to keep his brother happy and make the other children smile and laugh. Ms. McCall will catch them and scold them for their wild ways. Isaac will retreat into himself for a little while, until Stiles draws him out again. Then it will all repeat, sometimes Ms. McCall will catch just Isaac, sometimes just Stiles, but it’s always the same result. It feels like an uphill battle to keep his brother happy and smiling, but it’s a battle Stiles will never give up. So it goes until one day it seems to go a little too far.
Chapter 2: A storm, A Pony, and Curly Top
The storm that had been threatening all day finally broke right before supper time. And with all the mud being tracked in, Stiles was busy with scrubbing the floors and didn’t have time to go and tell his brother good night. Perhaps if Stiles had gone to tuck Isaac in, he would have been able to reassure Isaac, he would have been able to listen to Isaac’s concerns and make sure he knew he didn’t have to worry.
The storm billowed around the orphanage, shaking the glass in the window panes. A chill wind seemed to find every crack and crevice, till the orphanage was filled with cold drafts. Making the small children huddle together as they were marched up to the dormitories in pairs by Ms. McCall. The dorms themselves were so cold, that the only difference between the interior of the dormitories and the outside was that it was dry.
The children scurried to their bedsides once they entered their dorm. Taking quick little steps across the cold linoleum floors causing Ms. McCall to purse her lips. When the children had all gotten to their bedsides and knelt down Ms. McCall nodded her head.
“Begin.” She commanded.
The children began to recite their evening prayer under her watchful eye.
“Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake I pray the lord my soul to take. God bless Ms. McCall, God bless. Ms. Yukimura, and God Bless the board of trustees. And please make us good children forever, and ever amen.”
As soon as they had finished the children began to fidget. Ms. McCall strode over and pulled the cord ringing a bell, and the children jumped into bed huddling under the too thin blankets.
“Good night children.” Ms. McCall said as she stood in the door way.
“Good night Ms. McCall.” The little voices rose up in a subdued course.
Ms. McCall smiled with satisfaction and strode out of the room.
“Goodnight Children, sweet dreams.” Ms. Yukimura cooed softly at the children.
“Good night Ms. Yukimura” The children called in a much more lively and cheerful response.
Ms. Yukimura smiled, switched off the light, and shut the door behind her. The moment the door clicked shut Isaac’s curly head popped up from one of the beds. Looking around, making sure that the coast is clear before he rolled out of bed. Isaac got down on his knees and put his hands together to finish praying.
“And god bless my brother Stiles,” He began to climb back into bed before he remembered another thing to include in his prayers. “And please take very good care of my duck and my pony. Please see that they don’t catch pneumonia.”
With that taken care of Isaac bounced back into bed and under the thin blankets that provided him with little warmth.
It was a little later in the night after the matrons, and all the staff had gone to bed. When a particularly bright bit of lightning, followed by a loud crash of thunder that shook the glass in the windows so hard that several of the smallest children popped up out of bed, and began to wail in fright. Their sobbing woke up the rest of the children. Some of the older children scurried over to quite them lest Ms. McCall should hear, and come in to scold them for making a racket.
Just as the youngsters were begging to quiet down Isaac heard a neigh from outside his window. Toppling out of bed he scurried over to the window, and pressed his nose to it. As Isaac pressed his nose to the cold glass he felt a couple of the other children press up behind him. Isaac squinted through the rain and saw that his little black pony, Spunky, had been left out in his small paddock just under the dorms windows.
Tapping the window to get the pony’s attention he waved to it. After a couple moments the small beast moved away from the fence and to the gate. Where he tripped the latch, and trotted towards the door that let out to the small barn, and paddock that housed his pony, and duck, along with a tired old milk cow that belonged to the orphanage.
Isaac leapt away from the window, pushed between the children who had crowed behind him and scurried out the room, and down the stairs to meet his pony at the door. When he got to the bottom of the stairs he strutted towards the door to the side entrance where the stables were. Putting on a show for the other children, who lined the stairs watching him. When Isaac got to the door he opened it up, and there stood Spunky dripping wet.
The small pony only came to approximately Isaac’s shoulder. So it was easy for him to take the pony’s halter and lead him indoors. As soon as the door was closed, Spunky shook himself spraying Isaac with droplets of water, and surprising muffled titters from their young audience. Isaac gave Spunky the stink eye and waggled a finger at him. The pony snorted in response.
This was a mistake because a light came on behind Ms. Yukimura’s door, whose room was located at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the dormitories. At the flicker of a shadow behind the door the children all ran back upstairs. Except for Isaac, who holding a finger to his lips quickly led Spunky under the stairs. He had just gotten Spunky into the small space when he heard the creak of the matron’s door opening, and light flooded into the hall.
Isaac watched as her shadow moved around a bit as she looked to see what had made the noise. After a couple moments, and with not seeing any of the children out of bed she retreated back into her room. Isaac waited and listened. He herd the click of her door shutting, he saw her shadow move, saw the light click off. But he still waited. He waited till he had counted to 45 twice, which was the highest number he could count to. Before leading Spunky out from behind the stairs and up into the dormitories.
When he had finally made it back safely, and closed the door, he found excited boys and girls sitting up in their beds watching him and his pony. Isaac strutted proudly to his bed with Spunky following behind him with no urging. Once he got to his bed which was the about half way down the row, he picked up his towel and began wiping Spunky down. Many of the other children popped out of bed to come and pat Spunky as he worked.
“Spunky,” Isaac asked, all seriousness. “Do you like Ms. McCall.”
The little black pony shook his head. Some of the children giggled.
“Do you like Ms. Yukimura?” He asked next.
This time the pony nodded to the titters of the other children around them.
“Do you like the board of trustees?”
The pony shook his head harder than he had the first time. To outright laughs this time.
“Do you like me?” Isaac questioned next leaning up near his pony’s head.
For a moment all Spunky did was cock his head, a couple children tittered. Then he nodded vigorously. Everyone laughed this time. Isaac asked a few more questions before yawning and then climbing into bed. The rest of the children, and spunky following his example.