Arthur had sworn he would never drink again.
It hadn't been too difficult, indeed, as his job as an accountant required an amount of focus he could only hold sober. Thus, there was Peter. From the moment his son was born, Arthur just knew he wouldn't be able to keep on with his habits anymore, especially as he was in an already difficult position to start with. Not that he was discontent with the idea of stopping such a shameful addiction, nonetheless. But tonight, after the series of incidents that cause such a pitiful scene, Arthur didn't find any kind of strength in denying himself a bottle of rum.
Arthur drank the whole liquor, mostly just for the sake of it. It wasn't as good as he remembered, and it burned his throat. Besides, the omega was sure the shots were giving him a horrendous breath. Arthur couldn't care less about that, but it still seemed worth mentioning.
A knock on the door disturbed his broken peace. Arthur tilted his head up, eyes full of hope while stumbling across the dinner room until opening the front door, a shaky smile on his face.
However, what stood on the porch of his house didn't ease Arthur's mind. Not one bit.
Instead, his smile froze in both incredulity and embarrassment. Arthur tightened his knuckles until he swore they became white, in a copying manner. On the other side of the door, the sight of a blond, blue-eyed alpha Arthur had once known too well was leaning against the porch wall.
Arthur blinked. It had been so long since he last saw that scenery. Probably a couple of years, though he wasn't quite sure. Normally, regarding Peter's matters, they would speak on the phone, and Peter was old enough to get the bus and go to his father's house at the highlighted weekends.
Well, Arthur thought bitterly, it used to be that way, at least. Even though, he didn't know how the arrangements would be made from now on, or even if there were any arrangements to make at all. Peter was an alpha now, as so he had a larger spectrum of rights on that kind of topic Arthur wouldn't even dare to dream about. Especially, as they lived in such a small town.
As Alfred didn't attempt to start a conversation, Arthur simply guided him into the house, gesturing the alpha to close the door behind him. Once they were inside and fully warm, Arthur stared at Alfred, determined on demanding an explanation of some sort.
"What are you doing here?" the words came softer than he expected them to, and Arthur tilted his eyes, avoiding the larger man's gaze.
Alfred giggled nervously.
"Thank you for letting me in," Alfred said, with an unsure smile on his face. "The house is lovely; you did a great job with the decoration. Oh, and don't make me talk about the flowers in the garden—"
"Alfred," if one thing, Arthur hated being bothered. Besides, Alfred appeared to have interrupted his night for no logical reason. Arthur needed to rest, and he knew that surely wouldn't be happening with his ex-husband under the same roof as him. Alfred seemed to have deciphered his expression, as the American sighed.
"For what?" Arthur snapped. Maybe the alcohol did have an effect on him, after all. After some seconds, Arthur sighed, softening again. Dear Lord, was he tired. "It's not your fault. And I don't need your pity," he said, pride conquering his persona for an instant. Arthur cursed himself then, as he felt warm tears fall from his eyes. He sighed and felt swallowed in embarrassment. As if the sight couldn't be more pathetic.
Alfred bit his lip, probably having a debate with himself about what should he do next. At the end, Alfred spoke, with a soft voice, almost as he was afraid to scare the omega off.
"Arthur, listen to me, all right? Peter's a teen, he's supposed to put up a fight every now and then. We all did stupid things when we were young. But that doesn't mean he was serious about anything at all," Alfred licked his lips. Arthur wanted to laugh at him. There he was, the Mighty Alfred, always wanting to help people. Always trying to be the hero, to save the damsel in distress. It really was ironic, if one put it that way. "Besides, you've been his age, too. You know how kids at high school can be when they see something that's not the usual. There's social pressure and all that crap," he paused for a second, running his calloused fingers through his hair of honey. "Hear me on this: Peter didn't know what he was saying."
"So? If he truly wanted to come back, Peter would come himself. I understand what you're saying, Alfred, but Peter is mature to deal with his choices. And he chose you," the venomous words fell from Arthur's mouth. "Do you think I have not suffered, too? Everyone in town staring at me, everywhere I went, wondering just how bad of a mate I had been for prince charming to dump me," Arthur bit his inner cheek until he felt the blood start to emerge. "And yet, I stayed. You had your perfect job and your perfect life here, and Peter had his friends, and I couldn't bear my son to stay so far away from his father.
So I resigned myself because I love him. And you, too, for a long time," Arthur took a deep breath, and shrugged his shoulders, as if it wasn't an embarrassing confession anyhow. "But what does it matter? What does it matter when your own son says he's unhappy because he must live with you, a disastrous omega no one can possibly want as a mate, and decides to go with his father, the golden boy of town, the hero everyone adores; and his beautiful, kind, and pure omega? Wasn't all this time Peter's wish to be part of the happy, idealistic family model the school has taught over and over as the only path to achieve true happiness? That wasn't some kind of teenager impulsive desires, Alfred. That was merely the truth. Do you know what he told me before he left? 'I'm sure you just tricked daddy into being your mate. No wonder he abandoned you. I would've left, too, I hadn't been a child.'" Arthur couldn't stop himself from sobbing this time. "No matter if it was you who left me, or if we both had a commitment, oh no. It's my fault. Why? Because I'm an omega. The omegas are created to be protected by alphas. To be flawless and sensitive, and submissive. And if you, alphas, wrong me, it's still my fault. After all, I should know my place. A good omega must know how to put their partner's satisfaction before their pride. Or before themselves, as a matter of fact," Arthur laughed that time, though his chest hurt. "It would be easy to believe that was just some kind of misunderstanding, Alfred, but it's impossible to lie to oneself in a matter of that sort. I can't force my children to love me. And I certainly can't force others to understand my reasons, my circumstances. So please, please, leave. I'll survive, I'll get over it. As if I'm the first single omega to be rejected for a reason like that," he teased, although they both knew it hadn't been a joke at all.
Alfred remained silent, even after Arthur ended his speech. Arthur figured the alpha hadn't expected such a degree of bitterness by Arthur's part. On the other hand, Arthur felt slightly better. Even though the Englishman lived as a hermit, he did enjoy to talk to others from time to time. And now, after having shared his feelings, Arthur felt as if he had removed a great weight from his shoulders.
Nevertheless, Alfred had to leave now. There was absolutely nothing else he could do that would help Arthur heal faster, the alpha had to know that. And, as much of a stooge Alfred had been in the past, the man wasn't a sadist.
Alfred took a step closer to the omega.
"I… I don't know what to say," he confessed. "I'm sorry, Arthur. I'm so—"
"Shush, have you not been listening? I said I don't want your pity," Arthur dismissed the alpha's apology. "If you may, tell Peter my intentions were always the best for him. I hope he's happy now," Arthur murmured to himself. Then, he looked at Alfred's figure. "I wish you the best, too. Please, send my regards to Sunny, would you?" Arthur hadn't even met Alfred's wife, although he had a pretty vivid image of the omega. Arthur wondered briefly if she would cook better than him.
Stupid, of course she would. Everyone cooks better than you, he thought.
Alfred left a few minutes later. He told Arthur he would always be welcome in their home, and that, if Arthur ever wanted to talk, the alpha would listen. They even hugged before Alfred left, but it was a static, rigid, gesture.
In the end, Alfred told Arthur he'd wished everything wouldn't have to be that way. Arthur didn't question it, and instead agreed in silence.
When he was alone again, Arthur cried. He sat on the floor, hugging his knees, and sobbed until Arthur was sure his face was as red as a rose.
Arthur felt disgusted. He wondered why'd he turn out to be an omega, and what would've happened if he had been an alpha instead. Certainly, Arthur's salary would be higher, the omega thought sourly. And betas and omegas wouldn't dare to mock him. Alphas, maybe, but who cared? That would've been an improvement on the current situation he was living.
But he wasn't an alpha. Arthur would never be an alpha. He had carried an alpha son, which usually was a pride to families, but said son had despised Arthur. He had mated, true, but said mate had abandoned him for someone else, to whom he was married now.
In addition, now that Alfred wouldn't have to pay for Peter's maintenance, Arthur would surely have to say goodbye to his house. He knew that, if asked, the alpha would offer to keep paying, but Arthur's situation was already so despicable he wouldn't dare to make it worse for his own dignity.
So Arthur cried more, wondering when did everything start to twist. He wondered, as Alfred had said, why did everything had to be that way, and then arrived to the conclusion the problem wasn't on others, but on himself. Arthur had been the strange one, the different one. And the world didn't appreciate people being different. Sure, occasionally they would blabber about the importance of being oneself, but they'd often only refer to the spectrum that was socially acceptable.
His attention span soon focused on one of the metal bars that consisted the curtain pole of the dinner room. Arthur stared at it, with an almost child-like curiosity, as realization invaded him.
With dizziness keeping him from thinking properly, Arthur tried to remember where he had left the belt he'd often use when the company he worked on demanded a formal attire.
And so, he walked through the house, like an animal searching for water. Like a flower searching for the last rays of sunshine.
And then, Arthur saw the stars.
He recoiled, shame running through his spine, while staring fully on those bright entities that had witnessed his desires in a laconic manner. The stars started to leave a hypnotic effect on Arthur, who seemed to have sobered up.
He couldn't do it. Arthur was miserable, indeed, but he had born the same way every other villager in town. They all had the same right to living, so interrupting his existence because of them appeared to be a rather abominable death.
Instead, he went to his room, leaving the scene with a smile on his face. Arthur wasn't happy but, somehow, his emerging nervousness gave him a feeling of comfort, just aware of the myriad of possibilities life had yet to offer him.
When lying on his bed, Arthur caressed his cheek, as a mechanism of reassurance. The tears were starting to dry. He hugged the closest pillow. The nest was fluffy and warm, making him feel as in some kind of palace, away from all those unfavorable events.
Arthur wasn't one to run away. He knew it, and he wasn't planning on doing it so. Arthur would, finally, start to cherish life, while stop caring about what he, omega or not, was supposed to do in eyes of others.
And, if no one would love him because of that, it wouldn't matter, thought the broken omega; he'd just have to start loving himself. And, as difficult as that task appeared to be, Arthur just knew that'd be an effort he was willing to take