Freedom at a Price
Three months later
“Her mate disappeared months ago, and still she hasn’t found a new one. This harlot shouldn’t be allowed to bring her children here. And this so-called pack they live in doesn’t even have an alpha. We do not want our young to be exposed to such scum.”
“Living with two mated betas, with their rotten litter about to grow even larger-“
“-Have you seen Crowley? He is enormous, so bloated!”
“And who is the little critter to accept them into his pack? He hasn’t even presented yet. He might as well be an omega and then this whole so-called pack would come to nothing-”
“-Unheard off. Scandalous!”
“I bet they will have a red-haired pup in their midst soon.”
That immediately got the whole assembly to fall silent as if they had been struck by lightning. Yet, half a minute after this shocking comment, the uproar started again.
Mary was at parent’s day in the kindergarten, which had been initially planned so that she could put little Sammy’s name on the list of children to be accepted next year and
see what Dean and his group had planned for their field day. When Mary arrived at the kindergarten however, it turned into a lynch mob against herself as soon as she entered the group room.
She was aware that most people shunned her at the supermarket, and they mostly didn’t even speak to her while she did the paperwork at Bobby’s garage. They flinched when she announced when their cars would be ready or when she asked if they also wanted a free oil check while Bobby tightened the screws and bolts of their vehicles.
Yet, this was a new low. She hadn’t yet faced outright hostility such as this, not only involving herself, but also her little Dean who had been gracious enough to accept Bobby and Crowley into their pack because they were as close as family anyways, and with Dean being the eldest male of the pack that Mary still had, it had been his decision alone.
The usual way to accept new members which weren’t linked through blood was for the pack leader to react positively to their scent and to let a familiar bond form. Since Dean already shared this bond with both his adopted uncles, it wasn’t really surprising to the Winchester-Singer household that they woke up and felt a pack bond formed between them all, which however hadn’t even been possible while John was still the alpha of the Winchester pack.
It was highly unusual that the pack leader produced a bond without any selfish interest in the matter. Some alphas went to bigger cities especially with the intent to sniff out and claim interesting smelling omegas into their packs because their first mate started to bore them or was too close to childbirth to take their knot. There had been cases of forced pack adoptions, or forced mating bites and a most unwilling pack link was formed. Omegas, who sported a mating bite, but weren’t with the one who bit them, weren’t accepted in society.
Alphas who forced the mating however, didn’t let their omega prey mutualise the bond bite, because they wanted to stay free, have them take their knot whenever they wanted and sport a physical mark that they had claimed them. There was no case of an alpha having exchanged bond bites with more than one other, and there also hadn’t been a case of a family pack bond forming without any mating involved.
Mary had noticed that her own bond bite, exchanged with John over five years prior, began to fade and the feeling of being mated disappeared gradually. Consequentially it gave those women another cause for gossip about the Winchesters and Singers.
People tend to talk badly about something they haven’t encountered before or have stereotypes against, only to be proven wrong about their assumptions and then to claim they had known about the truth all along, she thought.
Uncle Bobby and Uncle Fergus (which only Dean was allowed to call Crowley, as it was his real name and he loathed it) were family in all but blood and Dean had said, that not only would he be getting a sister soon, but a cousin as well.
They worked quite well together, Mary filling in as secretary and overseer of finances while Crowley was so far advanced and troubled by his pregnancy. So until Mary’s own young would be born, she would fill in and do the bookwork.
They had been able to purchase a crib for Sammy and a small bed for Dean. Everything they owned previously had been lost in the fire. Yet the little ones still slept better with Mary close and most nights Dean scuttled out of his bed, laid down next to her on the mattress and pressed his little hand into the part of her belly where he could feel his little sister kicking their mommy.
These days, Mary was so exhausted that when she came up to the small apartment, she almost fell asleep at the table over the calculus work for the garage. The apartment consisted of just the one bedroom plus kitchen and a minuscule bathroom in which she could hardly turn, now that her belly seriously started to swell. Every evening found Mary and the pups in the kitchen with her eyes drooping over her work. More often then not, Dean had to shake her awake with his little fists balled into her t-shirt to tell her that they should all go to bed now. The small granny-flat was their refuge and they were, for the moment, comfortable enough.
Crowley kept showing her the reigns of the bookwork when he wasn’t too exhausted himself. A pregnancy was hard work for a sturdy, 30-something omega like Mary, yet it was infinitely harder for Crowley, a 40-something beta who had never pupped before.
They would have to see how to make their arrangement work after they both had pupped and what would come next. For the time being, Bobby’s garage kept all of them going, even if he was down a mechanic ever since John had left.
Mary forbid herself to think about John too often, because essentially she had closed the door between them and had made no attempt to contact him. He knew where they lived and could drop by if he was interested in the well-being of his pups at all, and other than that, Mary had no interest in speaking with him again.
John had called her once to let her know his new home number, a Floridian area code, and said he would call with a number to reach him at work as soon as he had found some.
He said she could keep his car, because it had needed a repair when he had left, and he didn’t really care about the ‘67 Chevrolet Impala anyway. The car was already an older model now and he considered it too much work to keep up.
That was all she had heard from him and she really didn’t want to hear any more, but if he would call enquiring about the little ones, she’d gladly talk to him. Little Dean had stopped to ask after his dad sometime during the last month and she wasn’t sure he would ever bring him up again, if John wouldn’t show his face soon. Sammy didn’t even remember John now. However bad things were right now, she would call him and let him know when her little girl was gonna be born.
She had decided to call her Charlotte after the second name of her mother, Deanna Charlotte Campbell.
One day when Dean had desperately tried to help Bobby in the garage but couldn’t even hold the giant wrench he was trying to get to Bobby, she already had heard Bobby call her Charlie.
“Just you wait until your baby sister is born, boy. Charlie won’t let me keep my best mechanic in training, she will want her big brother all to herself.”
Dean had beamed at Bobby at the praise and said that he would still spend time with “Unca Bobby” as often as he could.
All of Mary’s pups had gotten their nicknames from Bobby, nobody called Sammy “Samuel” (after Mary’s father) anymore. There was even a short time when Bobby had taken to calling Dean “Dee”, but it hadn‘t stuck.
They hadn’t known Bobby as well back then and later he had used Dean’s full name so often: “Dean Winchester, get back here!” when the unbelievingly agile pup had done backflips in the garage or: “Dean Winchester, you stop that right now!” when Dean had climbed Bobby like a tree to pull at his beard, that the shortform of his name he tried to call him, soon got lost again.
John had never really taken an interest in how Mary named their pups, and therefore hadn’t objected to their first born being named after an omega mother, who hadn‘t mated a second time and instead raised her daughter independently.
Mary herself was quite certain she wouldn’t mate again either. Not while she lived here would any alpha or beta even come near her. And anyway, she was about to have 3 pups under 5 years of age and two close friends who were also expecting a pup. Her time was limited enough, without factoring a romantical relationship into it.
She therefore was all set to go the way of her mother and stay unmated. She couldn’t find it in herself to see anything frivolous in that. The indignant mothers had really nothing to go on when they judged her because she held herself better than others in her opinion.
She had heard that the same Ruby who had hassled her on the day of the fire actually sold her body to alphas that passed through because her mate, a mean dispirited man named Raphy, drunk them out of house and home and it seemed that the pup that was growing inside her right now, wasn’t a true born of her pack.
Mary had seen her at the infamous heat suppressant and general omega consultation-hour at Doctor Eleanor Visyak’s office in the healing facility, where only the societally fallen would show their face.
The doctor who specialised in omegalogy and midwifery (even for betas or in some truly seldom cases alphas) would rather hand out suppressants even though society shunned them (it was an omega’s role to be taken and bred after all), then having to abort any unwanted children.
Yet, the self-righteous woman who had insulted Mary months ago, had most likely undergone that procedure because while she defiled her to her face again in the group room, her belly didn’t show any signs of swelling anymore.
Mary had dragged Crowley to the consultation hour for pregnant betas and since Crowley was the only beta waiting, they had been on almost immediately. Crowley had decided against birthing in the healing facility because the slander that Mary faced, was just as bad as the things that were thrown at Crowley’s head.
He and Bobby had been mated for almost 15 years now, and since they were both betas, nobody expected them to pup.
It is curious, how people can forget about their own biology sometimes in order to believe that the hurtful things they say are actually true, pondered Mary. Betas were by no means barren, yet it was true that they didn’t have quite the intense sex drive as omegas had. It had to be a hormone thing or something, she didn‘t know for sure.
And yet, a pregnant middle-aged beta being as yet unheard of in these parts, some people had shouted that Crowley was a dirty whore who had gotten some very potent alpha cock into his barren hole repeatedly until he finally pupped.
The hospital directorate led by a man named Azazel, had walked by with suggestive looks and the medical officer Jake, who handed out prescribed medicine at the healing facility, actually palmed his cock and shouted: If Crowley needed any more semen to grow fat with a litter, he would gladly knot him. A hole was a hole after all.
On their next visit, they had thought to be proven correct when Crowley’s belly had swollen beyond all measure. Clearly there must be a super semen charged alpha pup in there to make him grow so big. The insufferable Jake had thrusted his hips at Crowley, and yelled that even though a degenerate like the older beta would obviously have a red-haired pup, he’d still knot him ‘til his hole was raw.
Those snarky remarks all had been uttered when he had visited Doctor Visyak for his first two check-ups and no matter how much Bobby glowered at the people giggling and at Jake who wouldn’t stop imitating ferocious coupling with his hips and however quickly Mary rushed them along, Crowley still heard the most of it.
He hadn’t gone to any check-ups after that, not even to one ultra sound to determine the gender of the baby, and had decided to have his and Bobby’s pup at home while Dr. Visyak agreed to come out to the garage to deliver it herself.
Mary had to agree that ginger pups in their pack were possible. Crowley’s Scottish heritage and the fact that his mother had also had red hair threw some ginger into the genetic pool from which their pup fished. And Mary’s grandmother too had had beautiful red hair, a fact that sometimes when the sun shone onto little Dean’s head, gave his blonde hair a slight copper tone, already now showing that his hair was gonna darken as he got older.
It was common knowledge that the percentage of red-haired omega prostitutes was very high because their hair and complexion were quite unusual and sought after. The brothels loved to get their hands on them as often as they could. On one blonde or brunette hooker came three or more ginger ones. Mary herself had met some omegas who worked as prostitutes but unlike others, she saw them as beautiful and strong characters.
Still, the fact remained. Ginger omegas were twice as likely to get raped openly on the streets. Yet again, just because someone had red hair, didn’t mean they would end up selling their heat to people, and there was no biological defect in red heads, that pre-presumed them to whore themselves out. Red heads didn’t spring forth out of nowhere just to be born into so-called dysfunctional packs to later in life become whores. That was just a completely biased, wrong assumption, Mary was certain of that.
Back in the dayroom of kindergarten, Missouri Moseley, the head kindergarten teacher, brought the assembly to stillness once she entered the group room because she had heard the uproar.
She had been severe with Dean in the past in a stern motherly fashion, but that, as she told Mary in a quiet heart-to-heart, was so that he would learn to stand up for himself, lord knows he would need to in such a society as this.
She started with: “Now, why don’t we all calm down here. Please. Think of the pups, it will be impossible to get them down for naps with all this shouting in here.”
There were heaved breaths but after a minute the assembly was calm on the surface at least.
“Well now, what seems to be the problem here?” asked Missouri with a quiet authority that prevented the group from breaking out into an uproar again.
The group leader, the same short, dark haired woman, that had insulted Mary previously, now answered: “We do not want Mary Winchester or any of her critters in this facility!”
Missouri seemed to boil inertly. “That isn’t your decision to make. I still run this kindergarten and I will not only keep Dean Winchester here, but I will also accept his siblings and the unborn of Bobby Singer’s mate, if they sign in on my list. Everyone who isn’t fine with that, can take their pups out of here this instant, and I wish you good luck in trying to find another kindergarten nearby, or even better, open one yourself. One for just the same upstanding citizens and their offspring that sit in this room today. The sort of omegas who look down on others because they work and don’t depend on their alpha while at the same time they themselves go out, procuring money with their bodies. I guess I won‘t have to tell anyone in here what double standards are, huh?” she ended with a smile that showed no amusement at all.
The ringleader coloured deeply and seemingly found her shoelaces very fascinating now.
“If we’re all finished here now, the pups demand attention. I‘m sure it‘s going to be quiet here now, isn’t it?” and with that Missouri went out of the room to read a story to the youngest pups who would take a nap now.
Mary had thought of quitting Lawrence and was doing so again right now. She had discussed it with Bobby and Crowley, but Bobby had felt like it was laying down arms and wanted to stay on, even though it might have been easier somewhere else. Somewhere close to where Mary came from, but there was the garage to think of and they couldn’t just pack up and open a new one somewhere else, because the coast port’s prices to rent or buy real estate were much higher.
They had to work with what they had, and maybe once the pups were bigger and the money wasn’t as tight, go some place with friendlier waters.
For now though, Mary was immensely grateful for people like Missouri Moseley and Doctor Eleanor Visyak out there, who defied that branch of people from which Ruby sprung. Mary felt that if she grew more like these women, she could take on this world.
She kept a safe distance from the angry crowd, put Sammy’s name on the “To Be Admitted” list and heard that Dean and his group were gonna need some marshmallows on their field day to make s’mores and was assured that they would be closely supervised so they couldn’t hurt themselves.
Then she found Dean, unusually quiet, sitting in a corner, waiting for Mary to pick him up. She knelt down, even though her ankles and belly protested painfully at that.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?”
Dean didn’t answer.
“Wanna go home now?”
Dean didn’t say another word, while walking to the Impala, or while Mary buckled him into his child safety seat, or on the ride home.
Only when they were walking towards Bobby’s house where Crowley played sitter for Sammy, did Dean shove his little sticky palm into his mother’s and said: “Mommy, I don’t want to go on that field day. I want to stay here and make s’mores with you and Uncle Bobby.”
Mary looked down and saw an earnest little scrunched face looking up at her.
“Why don’t you want to? It will be fun.”
“Mommy, those people were so mean to you, I don’t want them to be mean to me too. I want a family day, not a field day.”
Mary sighed. The poor boy must have heard the insults. “Oh, my little angel. Those people just don’t know better. They are mean because they don’t understand difference. You are a wonderful little boy no matter what they say, and I love you very much. We will get through this, won’t we?”
Dean gave an unsure nod, not sure if he believed it or fully understood it yet but wanting to agree with his mother and comfort her.
“Yes, mommy. We have us. That is enough. Can we go and look if Sammy is up? I want to play with him and we have to check if Uncle Fergus is ok.”
Mary gulped and nodded at her boy. She said in a throaty voice: “Yes, let’s check if he has gotten bigger since this morning.”
Finally Dean smiled again and quacked a little boy laughter, showing off his milk teeth.
Of course Crowley hadn’t gotten bigger, his pregnancy was near the end anyway. It could only be a few more days before he gave birth and Bobby had almost wholly abandoned working at the garage. Mary still took on new orders and cars, yet Bobby fiddled about them while checking on his mate every five minutes and really didn’t get very much done.
When they opened the front door, they heard Crowley’s English accent coming from the den, which was mostly used as an office but right now had transformed into a birthing room. He was complaining, like always since he couldn’t see his feet anymore.
“Bobby Singer, take this little rascal away from me, he’s squashing me. Put him into his playpen or somewhere, just get him off me.”
“In a minute, your Highness. I still haven’t finished with your tea.”
“Really, Bobby? How long can it take to brew a cuppa?”
“If it takes too long, you could always make one yourself.”
“Love, wouldn’t that require for me to move? And I can’t have you complaining about having to rub my swollen ankles again, now can I?”
A sigh was heard from the adjourning kitchen. “Spare me. Just stay still. I’ll be done in a minute.”
“But don’t forget to pour milk into it.”
“As if I would.”
Right this second, Dean and Mary rounded the corner.
“Ah, bless it. Mary please take your kid away from me, he is trying to stand up and he can’t very well do that on top of me, I am in agony already.”
Mary chuckled and took Sammy off the afflicted Crowley.
“Uh, aren’t you getting heavy, my love? Soon you’ll be as big as Dean.”
“Nah, he’s gonna be bigger,” announced Bobby when he finally emerged from the kitchen with Crowley’s tea. “No offence, Dean. Your brother is gonna be really tall later, he will be able to spit on your head.”
Dean laughed again, open and unselfconsciously.
“But he does that already, Bobby. His favourite game is ‘Slobber, Slobber‘.”
“Yes, he slobbers all over me and everything else.” Dean laughed again heartily, holding his little belly and rolled around close to Sammy’s playpen. Sammy showed a smile at the capers of his brother and gurgled happily.
The three adults looked at the children with warm smiles and Mary observed again, that whenever there were children in the room, they took in all of the attention and filled you with a quiet bliss at seeing the truly unspoiled fun of youth.
Her smile dripped from her face slowly and she turned earnest again, when she remembered the incident from earlier and thought about how grown up Dean’s face had appeared when he had looked at her. She wished she could protect the innocence of her child, but she also knew that the kind of life they led was very tough and Dean would soon have to get used to being strong when he got treated badly. She noticed Bobby observing her and tried to get the smile back but she didn’t fully succeed.
Then Dean had found some toy blocks and sat down next to Sammy who enthusiastically tried to help him build something, yet never really managed. Consequentially he went back to ‘Slobber, Slobber’ all over the block he held.
While Dean seemed sufficiently busy, Bobby asked her about what had happened and she haltingly told them about Ruby and the rest. About halfway through Bobby had to lay a quieting hand on Crowley’s shoulder and told him to calm down whereas Crowley in turn took his hand and pressed a kiss to the calloused fingers. He remarked then that he‘d “raise some hell if I wouldn‘t fear to simply roll over them on my way.”
When Mary had finished, Crowley had pressed the hand he was holding to his bulky belly and Bobby lazily petted him, brooding. Finally he said: “Mary, right now I wish we could just leave. It would really be easier for all of us to just pack up and get the hell outta Dodge and have those stupid idjits stewing in their own filth, before the little ones get hurt. But with Crowley being so close to his due date, it may just be better if we waited until the pups are here and meanwhile Dean doesn’t go there anymore-”
“No, Bobby.” Dean apparently hadn’t been too busy to listen. “They’re still gonna be mean if I’m not there, and if I let them be mean to me, they will be mean to Sammy and mommy and to you and Uncle Fergus. I don’t want that. I‘m gonna be strong.”
Dean’s words had a sternness to them. If he had been an alpha already his words had the possibility to decide the whole fate of his pack, yet now he was nothing but a small human who would stand his ground and not go out of his way to let others treat people differently because they chose an unusual life style.
Mary thought about it, Crowley creased his brow and Bobby pensively patted his mate again. Dean was right, and whatever happened, they still had the possibility to leave if things really got too bad.
Bobby shrugged visibly and then froze. He looked down at Crowley, carefully clapping his belly again, as if to make certain of what he had felt, and then said to Mary: “Can you maybe come over here and feel Crowley’s belly for a sec?”
“What is this?” breathed Crowley short windedly. “I’m not an exhibit at the local zoo.”
Mary however came over and laid the flat of her hand onto Crowley’s plumb belly. It was hard. “Crowley, how are you feeling?”
“You mean apart from bloated, swollen and having immense back pain?”
“Since when did you have the back pain?”
“Dunno, love. Some hours. Couldn’t even hand Bobby the bloody tire leaver without cracking.”
Bobby looked quizzingly at Mary and she nodded.
“What?” asked Crowley, looking back and forth between them.
“We need to call Dr. Visyak. You’re in labour.”
“Oh bollocks,” deadpanned Crowley.
Mary brought Dean and Sam to bed while Eleanor Visyak was over at the house and delivered Crowley of his pup. She must have fallen asleep while waiting for Bobby to bring over news and only awoke in the morning when Sammy had started to make a fuss and Dean was cranky because he was hungry.
Over breakfast, a teary-eyed from lack of sleep and emotionally touched, Bobby came over and informed them that Crowley had just been delivered of twins.
“Twins?” asked Mary.
“Yes,” said Bobby, his eyes watering. “Two little girls. One with red hair, one with brown hair. Eleanor immediately suspected that it was twins when she saw Crowley again, and said it was only logical that he had been complaining so much. The pups were already in for longer than they should have. If the damned idjit had just gone to an ultrasound, we might have known earlier.”
“But everything went well, did it?”
“Yes, it went fine. But they’re all exhausted of course. Crowley fell asleep immediately and I should get back to Josephine and Jodelia and say goodbye to Eleanor before she leaves.”
“Yes go, Bobby. Enjoy these first hours, and try to get some sleep. And, congratulations.”
“Thanks, Mary.” And Bobby closed the door when he went out again.
Three weeks later, Josie and Jodie were already growing splendidly, Dean had smeared s’mores into the hair of a girl who had called him a freak and Mary was delivered of a pre-mature little girl who was otherwise completely healthy. When she had called John with the good news, he had hung up on her as soon as he heard that the girl had red hair, and he never showed up again.