“Do you really believe ... that everything historians tell us about alphas – or about omegas – is actually true? You ought to consider the fact that these histories have been written by alphas, who never tell the truth except by accident.”
Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Omegas: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed their Nobility and Their Superiority to Alphas
Yuri has always hated alphas and their smell, although he’s willing to admit to some bias. If you grow up around alphas, train for much of your young life with alphas, enter high-level competitive figure skating with alphas, you’re bound to work up a distaste for them at the very least.
“All right, are we rolling? We’re rolling.”
The interviewer, sunny blond beta that she is, turns to Yuri with a smile outshone only by her perfectly coiffed bob.
“Great,” Yuri says, doing his honest best not to sound like he would rather stab himself in the eye than do this interview. He hates interviews almost as much as he hates the smell of alpha.
“Nervous?” the interviewer asks brightly. Yuri doesn’t know if this footage will be used, but either way, he says—
She laughs like he’d made a joke. Yuri resists the temptation to roll his eyes and pull out his phone to catch up on Instagram, which he’s sure would be a much more worthwhile endeavor than this.
“So, Yuri Plisetsky, three-time junior Grand Prix champion, three-time junior World champion – you come into your senior debut with quite a pedigree.”
“So they tell me.”
“Still, this is what they call the big leagues. You’re going up against some of the most accomplished skaters in the world, and even a few record-holders. How do you handle the pressure as a skater? As a beta amongst so many alphas?”
He hates alphas, and this is why.
Yuri sighs, folds his arms over his chest.
“As a skater, I thrive on the pressure,” he says. It’s true, but he’s said it so many times that it doesn’t feel true anymore. “As a beta, I look forward to holding my own against a bunch of knotheads and then skating them into the ground.”
The reporter laughs nervously. “Ah, well – that’s – do you mind doing that take one more time, without the vulgar language?”
“Whatever,” Yuri grumbles.
He hates alphas, but more than that, Yuri hates the concept of alphas. He hates how so much of his life as a professional athlete hinges around alphas – alphas and their natural athleticism, the way they are always a presumed threat to him.
And if there is a part of him that is more than a little upset that he never presented as one himself, he’s buried it deep by now.
Yuri answers the question a second time, swapping out “knotheads” with “jerks.” The reporter seems pleased.
“We’d all look forward to that, I think,” she laughs, the condescending sort of laugh that tells Yuri she considers the mere concept of any alpha actually losing to a beta hilarious, despite the fact that it has happened, thank-you-very-much, there are more than a few beta record-holders in plenty of sports. Yuri fights the urge to snarl. “Do you think you have a shot at World?”
“I will once I take gold here,” Yuri answers without missing a beat.
“Well, I admire your ambition.”
Yuri is about to say that she can take his ambition and cram it right up her ass with her journalistic integrity, but she wraps up the interview in a practiced way and ushers in the next skater waiting for the presser.
If there’s anything worse than an alpha, it’s two alphas in snuggly, mushy love.
It’s not that Yuri’s a homophobe – far from it, he’ll be the first to start swinging if anyone around him starts spewing that backwards bullshit – it’s just that Victor and Katsudon are so gross about it. Yuri can barely deal when betas get all cuddly in public, how is he supposed to tolerate it when two foul-smelling alphas start getting their nasty pheromones all over each other?
“You two are in public,” Yuri reminds them. “For God’s sake, show some restraint.”
Victor is the first to pull away from where he’d been stroking Katsudon’s hand, giggling like the school girl he most decidedly is not. “Sorry, Yurio.”
“And stop calling me Yurio.”
At least Katsudon looks appropriately embarrassed. He’s always been a little more reserved, comparatively speaking, and Yuri’s pretty sure it’s to do with his being Japanese and their thing with public displays of affection. It doesn’t get much more public than a cafe right down the street from where the Grand Prix Final will be taking place. “Sorry,” he says, “I know you’re sensitive to alpha pheromones.”
Sensitive is certainly a kinder way to describe it. Yuri feigns gagging around his English muffin to illustrate just how sensitive he is.
“Let’s change the subject,” Katsudon says when Victor squeals about how cute his sweet darling is about caring for Yuri’s needs. “How’s that quad loop coming for your free skate?”
“It’s better than it was,” he says, “but I’m still barley landing it half the time, even in practice. I might have to switch it to a triple if I don’t start progressing faster.”
“You can borrow Victor for a little while if you want,” he says. “Quad loops are his specialty.”
Victor preens, and Yuri feigns gagging again.
“Pass,” he says.
“Ooh,” Victor interjects, “you know who’s very good with quad loops? The Kazakh. What’s his name? Oh, I feel awful for not remembering…”
“Altin,” Katsudon supplies.
“Altin, that’s it! I saw him in Four Continents last year. A little artistically underwhelming, but he had one hell of a quad loop.”
“Never heard of him,” Yuri says.
“Yuri, you shared a barre with him for over a year!”
He narrows his eyes. “I did?”
“Boot camp, don’t you remember?”
Yuri does not, and Victor must see it on his face. He sighs dramatically and props his head up on one hand.
“Honestly, Yurio, it’s a miracle you memorized your short program.”
“Well, I doubt he’d want to help some kid from however many years ago that he can’t even remember anyway.”
“I seem to recall him taking quite a shine to you,” Victor says, but Yuri’s not listening anymore. He drains the rest of his tea – or what Spain calls tea, in any case – and drops the plate that at one point had his English muffin onto the cart of a passing busboy.
“I’ll manage,” Yuri says. “And by that, I mean I’ll grind you into the ice with or without the quad, Katsudon.”
“Looking forward to it,” Katsudon says with a smile that’s so frustratingly sincere that Yuri can’t even be mad at him anymore. “Just don’t expect a pushover.”
“My darling Yuri is so chivalrous!” Victor gushes, and goes right back to nuzzling Katsudon’s hand.
“Ugh,” Yuri says as the pheromones thicken up again. “You two are gross. I’m leaving.”
“Remember, dinner tonight!” Victor calls after him.
“Whatever,” Yuri answers, not the least bit interested in having dinner with other skaters three days before the Grand Prix final starts.
Well, except maybe one.
Which is strange, because Yuri can tell right away that he’s an alpha, and Yuri has not stopped hating alphas between the time he has breakfast with Victor and the time he sees this strange alpha flatly reject JJ in the hotel lobby. But while so many alphas shout their secondary sex from the rooftops with forced swagger and holier-than-thou attitudes, his is effortless. He wears his pheromones like an expensive cologne: subtle but unmistakable, accenting his natural poise and strength without compensating for them.
Yuri calls him an asshole, mostly out of force of habit, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. There in the hotel lobby they stand staring at each other for a few brief seconds that drag on for what must be hours, and when he leaves JJ huffing and pouting in the lobby, Yuri finds himself just a little bit itchy and wanting to go after him.
And this is all to say nothing of his motorcycle that turns up later that afternoon. Yuri does his best not to feel like a damsel in distress being whisked away from danger by a prince on his steed, but it’s a hard parallel not to draw.
He wonders idly as Barcelona passes in a blur why the entire concept doesn’t annoy him as much as it should. The idea of being rescued by anyone, an alpha especially, should make him shudder in revulsion. Instead, he feels oddly at peace.
“Yuri Plisetsky had the unforgettable eyes of a soldier,” he says.
“Soldier?” Yuri echoes. “Me?”
They’re high over Barcelona, and the sun is setting, washing the city golden. The wind is strong this far up, and it blows Yuri’s hair across his eyes.
“I was struck the moment I saw you in that class,” he continues. “I felt almost off-balance. You had so much grace, but also strength and determination. I wanted to talk to you but I couldn’t work up the nerve.”
Yuri frowns, not sure what to say. He seems to be hesitating on the very edge of a point.
Then, “There’s an old wives’ tale in Kazakhstan, about the last person you meet before you present. They say that person is a part of your destiny.”
“You think I’m a part of your destiny?” Yuri asks incredulously.
“I don’t know,” he answers. “All I know is that I couldn’t get your eyes out of my head for the rest of the day, and the next morning I had a knot.”
Yuri blushes furiously. He probably shouldn’t be so bothered by images of his knotted cock that suddenly surface in his mind, but then, he also probably shouldn’t have climbed onto the back of his motorcycle. He probably shouldn’t be here.
But he is.
“Well, I’m glad you got your destiny worked out, but I don’t think I ever actually met you that year.”
“Well,” he says, “now you are.”
Then he holds out his hand.
“So are we going to be friends or not?”
His name is Otabek Altin, and Yuri spends one incredibly long, surprisingly delightful evening with him before the thought of quad loops even reenters his brain.
Once they start talking, Yuri feels like they never stop. He’s never met anyone so easy to talk to in his life. They talk about skating, about Kazakhstan, about the mosque his mother took him to when he was a child, about his enduring love of gardening. They talk about Yuri’s grandfather, about his first pair of skates, about each of the three bones he’s broken and how he managed them. They talk about Barcelona and the Grand Prix, about coffee and art and their unexpectedly shared love of Rachmaninoff and Star Wars.
Then some annoying bullshit happens and suddenly their cozy little cafe conversation is intruded upon by a thoroughly unwelcome group of skaters. Yuri spends the rest of the conversation fuming. As soon as there’s a lull, Yuri pulls Otabek out by the wrist.
“Sorry about my stupid friends,” he says once they’re outside.
“I don’t mind,” Otabek answers. “I like your friends.”
“That makes one of us.”
It’s dark now, so dark that neither one of them can justify staying out any longer. Yuri sighs, feeling like he was just robbed of two more hours with his new friend.
“Let me give you my number,” Otabek says. “I’d like to keep talking.”
Yuri unlocks his phone and brings up a new contact screen for Otabek to enter the information. When he hands it back, Yuri is amused to see that even the field for nickname is filled out.
“Beka?” Yuri repeats.
“My sister came up with it,” Otabek says, smiling. “She was four at the time, but still, it stuck.”
“That is the cutest shit I’ve ever heard,” Yuri says, and Otabek laughs. “Beka it is.”
He fires off a text to send his own contact information back in turn. Within a few seconds, there’s a jingle from the pocket of Otabek’s leather jacket, but he doesn’t bother pulling it out. “Do you want a ride back to the hotel?”
“Thanks, but I have to pick up a present for my grandpa while I’m out here anyway. Thank God for Christmas hours.” He shoves his phone away. “But if I can’t find anything good, I’ll commandeer your bike tomorrow to keep looking.”
He grins at Yuri, and Yuri feels a flutter of something – more like a churning, really – low in his gut. He has never felt it before. It’s not quite an emotional reaction, nor quite a visceral one. It’s some combination of both, and it makes Yuri feel a little lightheaded.
He wonders, with a distant, creeping dread, if this is what attraction feels like.
Yuri watches as Otabek swings onto his bike, and wow, Yuri hadn’t noticed it, but Otabek’s jeans are very fitted, and the way his smell mixes with engine grease is a little bit intoxicating, and he’s got just the barest hint of stubble along the crux of his jaw.
“Looking forward to it,” he says, pulling his helmet on. “See you later, Yuri.”
“Bye,” Yuri says breathlessly, seconds before he starts up the engine and rattles off, “Beka.”
The churning gets a little stronger. Yuri’s never been attracted to alphas before, though granted he’s never really been attracted to anyone before. Not that he’s even sure this is for sure attraction. It also feels suspiciously like seasickness.
He wets his lips and looks down at his phone. Then, a moment later, he fires off a second text.
What starts as some inscrutable middle between attraction and seasickness quickly devolves.
Yuri gets sicker and sicker as the night goes on. More than once, he runs to the toilet feeling like he might vomit. He racks his mind for what he ate that day, but there wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary, at least not for a professional athlete’s diet.
He goes to bed around four in the morning nauseous and in agony.
He wakes up twelve hours later even worse, to the sound of his phone ringing on the table next to his bed.
Yuri feels like hot, wet garbage left to ferment in the sun. His entire body aches from the inside out, and the worst of it is in his pelvis.
He tries to roll over to get his phone, which is a mistake, because it sends whole new waves of pain radiating in every direction. He chokes on his own tongue in the process of groaning in pain, and feels something hot and slick along his thigh. He is too overwhelmed to think it through.
He grabs the phone and squints at the screen. It’s too bright in the darkness of the room, and Yuri can barely read the name on the screen – “YAKOV.”
He taps the green button to answer and, instead of saying anything, groans in the general direction of phone.
“Yuri, where the hell are you? You’re an hour late for practice.”
“Yakov,” he groans.
“Are you hung over? I told you not to drink! Just because it’s legal in Barcelona—”
“Yakov,” he says again, more urgently. “I think I’m dying.”
“It’s called a hangover, you little punk,” Yakov growls, “and if it’s kept you in bed until four o’clock in the afternoon, I assure you, you deserve it.”
“Well, I hope you’re happy about missing rink time the day before the Grand Prix starts, shit-for-brains,” Yakov says. “Drink some water and get down here. At the very least you’re doing stretches.”
Yakov hangs up before Yuri can answer, so when he shouts, “You’re a fucking asshole!” it’s at a screen that says nothing but “CALL ENDED.”
There is absolutely no way Yuri can leave this bed. Every single part of him hurts, and he’s drenched with – what is it, sweat? He reaches under the tangled sheets and presses two fingers into his thigh—
His entire leg jerks at the touch, little sparks of electricity racing up and down his thigh. His skin is hot to the touch, and the sweat—
Blood pounds along his femoral artery, through to his cock. And for a moment, he cannot even imagine—
Until he can.
Realization hits him like a truck. His entire body starts to shake. He slides his fingers down around the inside of his thighs, ignoring the surging electricity. Slick. Wet. Hot.
Heat. He’s in heat. Jesus Christ, he’s gone into heat.
“Shit,” he pants. “Shit. Fuck, shit, shit, shit, fuck.”
On the one hand, he needs to grab his phone again. He needs to call Yakov back, or at least Google what the fuck you’re supposed to do for heat because Yuri sure as shit doesn’t know, he’s never even met an omega before.
On the other hand, now that his skin is alive with electricity and his cock is filling with blood, everything that’s not being fucked by anything at all, right now seems wholly unimportant.
God, Yuri thinks without meaning to, this building is crawling with alphas, why can’t just one of them be in this room?
“Siri,” Yuri croaks. When there’s no answer, he throws his hand out and gropes for his phone. “Siri, you bitch!”
Eventually, it chimes twice in response. Yuri manages to grab it and picks it up.
“Siri, Google what do I do when I’ve gone into heat,” he croaks, and it takes a few seconds for his browser to pop up. The first link that pops up is on Yahoo! Answers, and he taps it with shaking fingers.
His fingers tighten around the phone. Fear and shame and anger all rise up in his chest at once, almost drowning out the pain. He navigates back a page before he lets him think about it too much.
Halfway down the first page of search results, there’s a link to a website called Omegist Now, with a page titled “Prothestrus and How to Survive It.” He’s never heard of Omegist Now, nor indeed is he familiar with the term prothestrus, but he knows enough Greek to put it together. He opens up the page.
Step one: don’t panic!
Odds are you and the world has known since your mother’s first ultrasound that you were an omega, but even if you didn’t, prothestrus – and the overall process of living a life as an omega at the stage of sexual maturity – is not nearly so harrowing and alarming as it seems right now. So the author duly reiterates to you step one: DON’T PANIC!
It’s way too late for step one – Yuri feels like he’s going to drop dead or catch fire any minute – so he calls it a loss and scrolls down to step two.
Step two: call a family member or friend!
Heats can last between 36 and 48 hours, depending on your own personal body chemistry. During this period, your body will be spending a lot of energy preparing itself for conception. Our omega ancestors largely relied on alphas to forage for their food for them during lapses in the heat, but in the modern world, there’s no reason to put any alpha in that position if you don’t want to. Call a friend (preferably beta and/or a family member, as they will be largely immune to the pheromones your body is emitting) and ask them to bring you some simple, easy-to-eat food and lots of water. Preferred foods include whole fruits, deli meats, nuts, cheese and crackers, granola bars, and sweets. Once you’re used to your own rhythm, you can prepare on your own!
Shit. How many other betas does he even know that can bring him food? The world of competitive sports is so dominated by alphas—
Wait, what about Phichit? Phichit is a beta, isn’t he? Yuri doesn’t know him very well, but they’re mutuals on Instagram and they’ve always been very cordial when texting.
He flips over to his contact screen and scrolls. His vision is blurry, but he taps a name that he’s pretty sure is Phichit’s and hurriedly fires off a text message (”Phichit pls come room 729 please this is an emergency”), then quickly sends it and goes right back to the article.
Step three: relax!
Generally speaking, there’s no way to preemptively end or prevent a heat cycle without drugs. Once your heat starts, it’s better to resign yourself to riding it out. Despite the panic all omegas feel on their first cycle, you CAN survive. You can even enjoy yourself!
Your body will be craving sexual stimulation, so don’t be afraid or ashamed to indulge. Orgasm will often provide lapses that will allow you gain much of your senses back, letting you think clearly and maybe even take a bath. Be kind to yourself, especially during prothestrus. Call out of work or school. You’ll be right as rain in a few days. This is not the end of the world!
Yuri swallows hard.
He’s not even sure he could masturbate if he wanted to. He’s way too nervous, tightly wound up, vibrating with ten thousand new thoughts and feelings and not to mention covered from the waist-fucking-down in slick. And call out of work? God, Yuri realizes, he’ll have to drop out of the Grand Prix!
Yuri drops his phone onto the bed and covers his face with both hands, as though hands might be able to somehow stopper the hyperventilating or the slowly spreading wave of terror. This is his worst fucking nightmare. Why didn’t he ever get the stupid blood test? Why didn’t his stupid dead mother ever get an ultrasound? It’s 2016, how is it possible he managed to stumble into his first heat completely fucking blind, never mind how it may have irreparably ruined his figure skating career, because omegas aren’t professional athletes, they just aren’t and never have been, how the fuck is he ever supposed to—
Three hard knocks on the door. The voice on the other side is muffled, but he can make out, “Yuri? Are you okay?”
Thank God. “Phichit,” he croaks. “Phichit, I need help.”
The door handle jiggles. Fuck, stupid fucking shitty electronic card locks. The same voice comes again, too muffled for him to make out. It takes everything in Yuri to pull himself out of bed. He tugs the sheet tightly around his shoulders, because he’s only in a t-shirt and boxer-briefs and he’d rather avoid showing the slick running down his legs, and he stumbles for the door.
“Phichit,” he says, collapsing against the wall near the door and pulling it open, “I—”
It’s not Phichit.
The letter P, Yuri will remember several hours later, is right next to the letter O.
And Otabek Altin is staring at him with two wide, rapidly-dilating brown eyes.
His pheromones hit Yuri all at once. If there was ever a time when they were anything less than absolutely fucking delicious, Yuri doesn’t remember it. Otabek smells perfect. He smells like sex and ash and coriander and raw alpha energy. He smells so good that Yuri’s knees actually get weak.
“Oh, God,” Yuri croaks.
Otabek stumbles back several feet, until his shoulders thump against the opposite side of the hallway.
“I have to…”
All Yuri can think about is Otabek. All he can think about is his cock, his knot, his teeth on his neck, his hands on his back. Yuri starts trembling.
“Otabek, please,” he whispers.
“No,” Otabek answers, voice cracking. “No, I – I have to – this isn’t—”
Yuri watches helplessly as he stumbles away. Yuri’s instinct is to go after him, but his arms are so weak that they can’t pull the door open any further, and his legs are shaking so badly that they give out on him and he collapses onto the floor. The door falls shut with a heavy sound.
There’s no way he can follow him. Instead he stumbles back to his bed, frantic, and grabs his phone off the bedside table.