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Omega's Strength

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Yang grit her teeth and growled, fighting to keep control of her baser instincts. It wasn’t fair, how frustrated she felt, her temperature rising for a reason completely unrelated to the heat of battle or her anger. The latter certainly wasn’t helping, though, because she did feel an unusual amount of animosity for the circumstances, but they couldn’t be helped. For nearly a year, her body had simply been too busy healing, reeling from the loss of her arm and the emotional turmoil of her nightmares to even consider bending to natural inclination. She’d taken it as a sign- a foolish decision, she realized all too late- that she was removing herself from the equation.

Who would want her as a mate, anyway? It would be entirely different if she was an Alpha; she would then have the opportunity to prove herself, show that the loss of a limb didn’t preclude her from being a strong partner. It wouldn’t work on everyone, of course, but she theoretically could do something that would catch another’s interest. Even as a Beta, she had the option; there were some who didn’t favor the natural inclinations of both Alphas or Omegas and sought out Betas specifically. They were few and far between, but they existed.

That wasn’t her fate, though. For all her brash taunting and in-your-face brawling, Yang was an Omega through and through, susceptible to the very displays she so often replicated in a cruel twist of fate. It was easier to avoid while she was in school- Beacon, just like most combat schools, required students to take suppressants during the academic year to prevent any foolish choices- but between the Fall of Beacon and her own injury and recovery, she hadn’t given her heat much thought. Omegas were supposed to be the supportive type, the caring ones, those willing to fight until the bitter end in defense of family. The Omega was the last line of defense, and the most terrifying to face by all accounts, willing to throw themselves headlong into a losing fight for the sake of their offspring, or their mate, or whoever else they deemed worthy. Alphas were as strong as they wanted to be but an Omega’s sheer tenacity would win the day each and every time.

But not her. Not anymore.

The blonde growled again, turning away from the window to go sit in the small bundle of blankets she’d acquired from the airship’s various empty bunks. Her first time aboard an Atlesian military transport- the sort designed to accommodate its crew for months, even years at a time- and she’d learned all the nooks and crannies fairly easily. She hadn’t thought as to why it interested her until she felt the change, the subtle shift in her perception that brought scents to the forefront of her conscious mind more effectively than words. Despite all reason stating otherwise, her body seemed to think she’d recovered enough to weather the effects of her heat, and she’d quickly sought out a rarely used storage compartment on the lower deck to isolate herself from the others.

Why she felt compelled to do so eluded her. Ever since reuniting with her team, they’d been on the run from one battlefield to another, and that didn’t provide much time to make new friends. The stolen aircraft housed no one entirely unfamiliar to her at present, no new faces to believe she could still be an adequate mate despite the hunk of metal now taking the place of her lost arm, and the majority of them clearly had preferences of their own. Ren and Nora were a beta match made in what would be Heaven if not for the circumstances surrounding their meeting. Jaune was an Omega and Ruby her sister, plus a Beta besides, and she wouldn’t be nearly as easily swayed by scent alone as Weiss. However, the Alpha certainly didn’t have eyes for Yang, if those increasing furtive looks directed at Blake were any indication and her fellow Omega seemed rather keen on letting her look, at the very least. There was still mud in the waters, something that made the the Faunus hesitate, but they were spending more and more nights talking quietly on the ship’s bridge while one or the other took a turn at piloting. She was happy for Blake, but also a little jealous.

Aside from her friends and teammates, their allies numbered very few. Their former teachers- Goodwitch, Port, Oobleck- had joined them as well, but the trio had left the airship to meet with General Ironwood in the nearest town while the rest stayed with their transport, hidden among the Atlesian mountains. They’d taken Oscar with them, which was for the best, though he was too young anyway. She still hadn’t entirely accepted the idea that this kid somehow possessed the same… consciousness? Soul? Aura? All of the above?- as their former headmaster, but Ruby vouched for him, and that was all that mattered. 

Then there was Winter, their de facto pilot and Weiss’ older sister. She’d seen the woman, briefly, during the ill fated Vytal festival, but the recent upheaval in Remnant’s power balance had pushed the strict military woman to abandon her post and side with her sister. An Alpha, like Weiss, with sharp blue eyes and a crisp manner of speaking that made the younger one look lax in comparison, but she at least had a soldier’s sense of humor.

The blonde sat down among the blankets, pushing her back against the bulkhead and crossing her arms over her drawn up knees. She cursed herself for perhaps the hundredth time, wishing that they were doing something other than sitting around and waiting, that she could do something at all that wouldn’t immediately compromise half their group’s focus. If Blake had been the first to feel the sway of heat creeping up on her, it would’ve been different; although they didn’t have access to Beacon’s supply of suppressants, the Faunus had brought remedies from Menagerie that served the same purpose and didn’t require planning to stop the natural uptick in hormones. As long as they were taken more than two days before the start of an Omega’s heat, it could be avoided entirely. Yang, on the other hand, just chalked up the increase in her temperature and irritability to a bad night of sleep, not realizing until it was already too late that she was reacting to the scents invading her space. She didn’t want a mate and found herself baring her teeth at even her sister, trying to drive the others away until she retreated herself, not that anyone was even remotely inclined towards her anyway.

Leaning her head back until it hit the metal of the bulkhead with a dull thunk, Yang closed her eyes while her blunt fingernails tried to dig into the metal of her prosthetic. Even in her head, she couldn’t lie to herself like that; she wanted a mate. Not just in heat emphasized desire; she wanted an Alpha, a partner to lean against for support, someone to care- she wanted to feel a little less useless. And it wasn’t like no one had caught her eye…

The sound of the door opening had her jumping up, instantly taking an aggressive stance with her hands up, balled into fists, and baring her teeth, ready to fight. It probably wasn’t warranted- most likely not, really- but she reacted the moment her space was invaded and felt entirely validated when the sting of an Alpha’s scent hit her nose.

“Easy, Yang,” Winter said, her tone measured and even as she took a single step inside the space. Despite being officially declared absent without leave by the Atlesian military, she still wore her uniform, saying something about comfort and ease of movement. However, she had taken to wearing her hair down from its tight bun, perhaps as a sign that she was truly one of the renegades currently doing their best to wage a secret war against Salem and her pawns, but the sight irritated Yang more than she’d care to admit. Not because she didn’t look good without it down, of course; to the contrary, it gave her face just enough softness to compliment the sharp edge in her eyes. “Here.”

The blonde kept her back to the outside wall but caught the bag thrown her way fairly easily. It wasn’t too heavy but she couldn’t quite tell what was in it and didn’t dare look, at least not yet. “What is it?”

“Food, and something to occupy yourself with in the meantime.” If she was offended by Yang’s refusal to lower her guard, she didn’t look it in the slightest. “It’s not much, but our stocks are rather low.”

“It’s fine,” she replied, allowing the bag to drop to the floor. “How’s everyone else?”

“Blake and Jaune have isolated themselves as well.” Winter clasped her hands behind her back, shoulders straight as she spoke- the same posture Weiss used when she was trying to hide her opinion while relaying information, but honed to perfection through military discipline. “Neither have started their cycle nor are they likely to, but they thought it might be for the best.”

It would be, really; to an Omega in heat, others were either threats, unwanted competition, potential mates, or off limits- by bond or otherwise. Very few things could override an Omega’s heat and a claim already staked made weathering their presence markedly more bearable and the duties of caring for Omegas usually fell to those unable to be swayed. Unfortunately, they had no such individuals among their tiny group, save Ruby, and she couldn’t possibly be everywhere at once. “Okay.”

“Ren and Nora have volunteered to keep an eye on Jaune for the next few days; Blake isn’t entirely certain her homeland remedies have no ill effects on humans, so we’re playing it safe.” Yang started to pace, nervous energy motivating her to move around. The Alpha didn’t watch, keeping her eyes trained on some spot in the distance, appearing to look through the window but seeing nothing of the forest and mountains beyond. “Your sister will be staying close to Blake, in case her cycle starts, while Weiss has watch until everything passes.”

“Just leaves you, huh?” She wanted to be angry, furious even that an Alpha could stand in the same room as her and not even look at her, could ignore her so totally, but that was what she wanted, right? That’s why she separated herself in the first place, sought out an isolated location; they were on the run and fighting a relentless enemy, relying on covert operations and subterfuge more than the blonde would ever use herself. Now wasn’t the time to pretend like she could be bonded to a mate, let alone allow such circumstances to arrange themselves, yet here she stood, watching to see if those cold blue eyes would even glance her way.

Who was she kidding?

“I thought it would be prudent,” Winter said, calm as ever. “Out of everyone available, I think I have the most experience fighting you, if it comes down to that.”

The blonde rolled her eyes. In what time they could scrounge up between battles, they trained- all of them. Side-by-side to build cohesion, to find news ways of moving and attacking that Salem’s goons wouldn’t be ready for, but they also faced off against each other when hard light opponents made things too easy. Combat drills brought with them a small amount of fond familiarity as they recalled their brief time at Beacon, becoming teammates, partners, and training for the tournament.

However, it wasn’t like old times. With her prosthetic, her fighting style changed; metal reacted differently to Ember Celica than her aura infused flesh did, and she had to compensate. Relearn a style that seemed ingrained in her very blood, and rather than make her weaker it did the opposite. She could press Goodwitch a fair deal more than she ever imagined possible after seeing the woman in action herself, but the other woman wasn’t wrong. Something about fighting the elder Schnee made landing a solid hit nearly impossible and they’d fought to a stand still more times than anyone could count.

She hadn’t quite decided how to feel about that, yet, but it did make her look forward to their face offs more than anyone else she got pit against. Unfortunately, it all meant nothing in the end.

“No need to worry about me.” She spat out, bitterness coloring her tone. “I know damn well there’s no reason to leave; I’m just not mate material anymore.”

Her gaze fell to her prosthetic for a moment before she turned, the bag in hand and returning to her little nest of blankets. She had the urge to rearrange them, make it more comfortable, but she didn’t care and no one else would. What was the point?

Why am I doing this to myself?

Yang sat down, leaning against the bulkhead again and opening up the bag to see what awful military ration the woman had found for her. The damn things tasted horrible and no amount of water could take away the dryness that settled in her throat whenever she ate them, but at least the bag had four full bottles to try and assuage that. It was a thoughtful gesture, at least, and she glanced towards the door, half surprised to see Winter still standing there. She’d thought the Alpha would take the first sign that she was free to go as a dismissal; even if an Alpha had no interest in an Omega, pheromones were powerful drugs and it would become uncomfortable staying in the presence of an undesirable mate for too long.

But those blue eyes were watching her, finally, cool as ever, and Winter had perhaps the best poker face in all of Remnant, jaw set firmly in either annoyance, determination, anger, or whatever else had hold of the woman. Yang would probably never be privy to exactly what.

“You shouldn’t say that about yourself.” Winter turned, stepping back out of the room briskly. “Lying is not a particularly desirable trait.”

The door closed before the blonde could process the words, her brow furrowing in annoyance.

“Well… who asked you, anyway.” She grumbled, ripping open the freeze dried ration and busying herself with eating.

Time stretched and thinned, minutes passing like hours and chaffing at her patience. Yang had tried busying herself with the handheld game Winter brought- strange, she thought, that the woman even knew she favored such idle distractions, but it was probably Ruby’s suggestion- but found herself stuck between difficulties, finding ‘normal’ to be too easy and 'hard’ too much frustration, so she put it aside and instead turned her attention to the scroll, which had a few files saved to the hard drive. A documentary on the history of Vale, a fanciful tale about a Sheriff facing off against a local crime lord, and a full season of a cartoon show- all of which as far from war and fighting as they were from love and lust, which she appreciated. However, it just soured her mood in the end, because wouldn’t it be nice to have someone so thoughtful who wasn’t doing it out of duty or necessity?

She couldn’t get out of her own head. Yang had spent months confined to a bed, either by injury or lack of motivation to move, and she’d become intimately familiar with the demons lurking just behind her eyelids. Sleep wouldn’t help, food wouldn’t help, distraction wouldn’t help- she needed movement, the dull drone of a battle’s rhythm to drown everything out, but she was hardly in any condition to fight before. Plus, she wasn’t inclined to leave the room, driven by instinct to move things around to make it more comfortable. There was something missing, though, and the name of it eluded her rather well until the pressure in her bladder stole her attention away.

“Fuck,” she said, glaring at the door. She’d picked the storage room because it would keep her away from the others and no one would have an excuse to enter it; she’d considered the practical concerns as secondary interests, considering she could always just use the bathroom down the hall, a short distance away easily covered and no one had an excuse to be in the lower deck long enough for their scent to linger anyway.

Now, however, she had to deal with Winter potentially hovering close by, waiting to be called upon, but perhaps the woman had taken the hint from earlier. Maybe she would just check in on the blonde every now and then, leaving her to her devices for the duration of her heat. Either way, it didn’t matter much; Yang had to leave the room and contend with whatever awaited her just outside the door. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be too aggravating.

Palming the door open, the Omega stepped out into the hall and looked around. The hallway was empty but she caught Winter’s scent lingering, like the sharp bite of fresh snow mixed with the tang of metal on the back of her tongue. Against her better judgement, she stopped and closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. She was a little jealous, really; whichever Omega- or Alpha or Beta, though she didn’t think the woman was so inclined- happened to catch her attention would have a strong mate, one thoroughly dedicated to whichever task she had before her and fully intent on completing it no matter the cost. Aside from her sister, not many Alphas would dare to challenge her, either, too easily cowed by her presence, and it was only her respect for Ruby and Goodwitch that kept Winter from taking charge of their motley crew. If push came to shove, it was more likely they’d all bare their throats to her rather than press an issue, but it hadn’t come to that. Yet.

Shaking her head, the blonde turned to head down the hallway, shoulders rising as the tension in her back started drawing tight. She was heading towards the bathroom with the express intention of utilizing it, but she noticed Winter’s scent getting stronger as she walked. Wherever the Alpha was, she was close or had been recently, and the idea of confronting her again did nothing but agitate Yang even further.

She had her hand on the door pad, ready to key it open when the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, suddenly aware she was being watched closely. Turning her head, the blonde caught sight of the Alpha, sitting at the bottom of a staircase leading up to the next deck. Winter had her arms crossed over her chest, legs crossed at the knee, and those cold blue eyes met hers easily, no discernible change in her expression or posture as they locked gazes, though the scent stinging her nose did intensify.

They didn’t say anything. It occurred to Yang to string some words together, but she couldn’t be sure if they come out as an insult or an invitation, so she kept her jaw clenched to keep either from escaping. The Alpha seemed relaxed- at least, her version of relaxing; the woman hardly ever seemed at ease the way everyone else did, always with a straight back and her chin tilted up- and that should’ve bothered her at least a little, that she could be so composed when in proximity to an Omega about to go into heat.

But she shouldn’t be surprised.

With a frustrated growl, she pushed into the restroom, determined to take care of her business and return to the storage room without sparing the woman another glance. It took a significant amount of will to ignore the niggling thought that, were Winter to follow her, she might be a bit too reluctant at discouraging her to be effective.

Not that she would, of course.

After washing her hands- and splashing cold water on her face to try and bring her temperature down, or at least provide the illusion of comfort- Yang exited and immediately turned away from the stairs, only to be halted by the woman’s voice.

“Wait.” She turned her head enough to look over her shoulder, noting the Alpha still hadn’t moved. “There’s another room that might be more… comfortable for you to use.”

Yang grit her teeth, at once inclined to object on pure principle but reining it in before the words could leave her mouth. The woman hadn’t made any overt attempts to invade her space, so she didn’t have much reason to take the offer as a sign of anything but genuine concern. “What makes it 'comfortable’, exactly?”

“A connected latrine, for one,” Winter said, a touch of amusement in the words. “And a proper bed for another.”

She narrowed her eyes in suspicion; she’d checked every part of the ship several times and hadn’t found a suitable room like that. “Where?”

“Down the hall.” The Alpha tilted her head to the right. “It’s the Chief Engineer’s quarters.”

Part of her objected fiercely- she’d made her choice- but even she had to admit that the promise of both a bathroom that would keep her just that little distance further from anyone else and a real bed might be worth it. Yang reluctantly made a motion with her hand, opting to at least take a look. “Lead the way.”

Lilac eyes watched as the woman stood, the motion only marginally less smooth than usual. It was difficult to discern what caused the tension in her frame, her posture ramrod straight as ever but shoulders raised in an uneven line, not quite a hunch but close. If she felt any discomfort, however, she made no mention of it, striding down the hallway with the blonde following at a slight distance. Getting close would tempt her, persuade her to at least try and catch the Alpha’s attention- a useless endeavor at best. She needed to keep her head clear, pointlessly scrubbing at her nose to dislodge Winter’s scent.

“Here.” The third door down the hall, dead center between the two staircases leading to the upper deck. Now she understood why she hadn’t already checked it; previously, the keypad was locked, barring everyone from entry. However, with a quick press of a button, the door opened without complaint and the woman stepped aside, allowing Yang to look for herself.

It was… sparse. A twin sized bed, a footlocker, a dresser, a desk- standard issue for the Atlesian military, and rather clean despite the disuse. She took a few steps inside and inhaled deeply; Winter’s scent lingered but it wasn’t prevalent enough to put her off the idea. The bathroom off to her right, a small closet to her left, and more than enough room to pace made the quarters a relatively decent alternative to the area she claimed as hers. The only downside being-

“None of the officer quarters have windows,” Winter said, apparently interpreting the blonde’s stare at the far wall correctly. “There are some enlisted quarters that do, and have a bathroom, but they’re on the upper decks. Also, this one locks from the inside.”

Yang wrinkled her nose, letting out a gruff sigh. “Fine. I can move here. I’ll just-”

“Let me grab your things.” The Alpha raised her hands in a placating gesture. “You should start getting comfortable. It’ll only take a few moments.”

She narrowed her eyes, tempted to argue for the sake of conflict, the corners of her mouth preparing to pull into a snarl. The woman was just being pragmatic, picking the route that would have Yang settled in the shortest amount of time, probably so she could relieve herself of babysitting duties and be done with it. The blonde turned her back to the door to hide her scowl. “Whatever.”

That could’ve been a dangerous move, turning her back on an Alpha like that. It would usually be taken as an invitation, or a taunt, but she didn’t think the other woman would take it as such. If she cared enough to register the action at all, Winter would probably take it at face value- her frustration and instincts motivating her to start rearranging the sparse furniture to her liking, since she wouldn’t be leaving the room again. The door sliding closed confirmed that.

She scanned the room, noting that everything seemed… off, compared to all the other ones she’d been inside on the ship. It took her a moment to place it but then it registered; everything had been moved, and fairly recently. Nothing was pushed against the wall except for the bed; everything was just sitting out at odd angles in the middle of the room, though the pattern seemed a bit familiar.

It took until Winter returned, setting the bag and the amassed blankets just inside the door before retreating again, for the reason to strike her- the configuration matched the storage room as it was when the Alpha had checked on her that first time. Maybe a little off, but a damn good replication, all things considered.

Of course, she’d changed everything around at least twenty times since then, so she tried not to think about it too hard as she went about moving everything.

Bedding down in the Chief Engineer quarters took a while and she begrudgingly admitted to herself that she rather liked the distraction. Aside from moving the furniture six more times before being satisfied- how long it would last remained a mystery, but she’d gone a good thirty minutes so far without adjusting anything- the blonde had sat in various spots in the room, idly rubbing her hands along the walls or sprawling across the floor, anything to ensure her scent would linger. She could hardly remember the last time she’d actually gone into heat; usually, the suppressants kept her from feeling anything other than a little spike in her sex drive, and the few times she actually endured the torture were for the learning experience. It would do absolutely no one any favors if the first time she fell under the sway of her natural inclinations also happened to be when she wanted to attract a suitable mate; that screamed 'disaster’ with a bullhorn hooked up to an amp.

First came the nesting, arranging and rearranging until she couldn’t be bothered with it anymore, all while her temperature spiked and she became intensely aware of every other scent hanging in the air. Despite the decks separating them, the entire ship had a centralized temperature control, so while the others’ scents were muted through dispersal, she could still pick them out. Jaune, Ren, and Nora were all faint, and aside from the general sensation of uneasiness, they seemed rather normal. They weren’t reacting to her overtly, at the very least, and she felt the same in kind. Weiss, Ruby, and Blake were slightly stronger, enough for her to pick out her sister’s exasperation and her teammates’ frustration, something else she couldn’t name niggling at the back of her mind. It seemed duty and desire were at war for both of them, each inclined to try mating despite the narrowly avoided heat cycle. She wouldn’t put it past them; those two had always challenged each other, fighting at first out of deep rooted mistrust and then in a series of displays, the smaller of the two trying to assert herself as a capable Alpha while the Faunus proved herself a strong Omega. They could match each other mentally step-for-step and it seemed they were likely to try physically as well, perhaps once this whole Salem business was finished. Ruby, poor kid, seemed to be faced with either standing between them- heat increased the chance of a mating resulting in pregnancy, true, but it wasn’t the only time an Omega could conceive- and letting the two have at it. Any reduction in the sexual tension on their team would be a welcomed relief to the younger woman.

So that only left Winter, whose scent remained strongest, likely due to proximity. Apparently, after hearing the locking mechanism engage- the directions were relayed through the door, for whatever reason, not that she was complaining quite- she hadn’t retreated to the bridge like the blonde thought she would. Instead, the Alpha seemed to be lingering, either in one of the stairwells or somewhere close, still on the lower deck at the very least. In her scent, Yang could taste the tang of frustration, annoyance, and arousal, but very little else. It must be driving her mad, being stuck watching over a pathetic Omega with no hopes of finding a mate now or in the near future. That had to be like guarding a bank with no money- just a waste of time.

She was jolted out of her indulgence by three harsh raps on the door, followed by the woman’s voice. “I brought you a hot meal. Ruby thought it might help.”

That sounded like her sister alright; if cookies couldn’t fix it, a homecooked meal or a well placed round could. Leaving her little nest of blankets, Yang went over to the door and unlocked it, bracing herself for what she would find on the other side. The moment the door opened, Winter’s scent hit her full force, and it took conscious effort not to lean forward.

After all, even if the woman tended to be a bit more strict than Yang would’ve thought she could tolerate, the Alpha could be a very good mate. She was strong, smart, cunning, with a temper just like hers and a bit sharper when it came to bear, and those uniforms certainly didn’t do her figure a disservice. They’d pit their strengths against each other often enough for the blonde to have a pretty good read on the woman; she didn’t take pot shots, didn’t play dirty, but she would use any advantage possible to gain victory. But, she could be caring too, and empathetic, and surprisingly gentle despite the hard look in her eyes, and- she was just digging herself a bigger hole.

Snapping out of her daze, Yang accepted the covered tray the Alpha held, slightly surprised she could stand to be so close. The Omega had to be broadcasting like crazy, a product of her time drawing shorter until her heat started and from drowning the whole room in her scent earlier. Yet, here Winter stood, solid as stone.

“Thanks.” She grumbled, reaching over to engage the lock again.

“Wait.” Reaching into her jacket, the woman produced a chilled can of soda with a small smile. “This one’s your favorite, correct?”

“Uh, yeah…” Licking her lips, Yang reached out and grabbed the offering. “I should probably only drink water, though.”

“A little treat can’t hurt.” A ghost of a smile flickered across Winter’s lips before she became serious once again. “If you require anything, let me know. It… seems like it won’t be much longer now.”

“Right.” Nodding, the Omega backed up a few steps, setting the can down on the relocated dresser before returning to close the door. “Thanks. Again.”

“It’s my honor.”

The door separated them before she could parse the words, brow furrowing in confusion a tad. While the Schnees in general were partial to sarcastic humor and insincere comments, those words seemed entirely genuine.

More to the point, she believed them. The woman could be as quick to anger as Yang and had a silver edged tongue, but her sincerity always stood as a stark contrast to her military demeanor. It came across most evidently in her interactions with Weiss, the two bonding as sisters who’d abandoned their family name, but she’d thought she earned the same treatment a time or two. Winter laughed at her puns and jokes- and not in derision or sarcasm, either- and though she didn’t tell them as often as before, when she was whole, the Omega had fallen into the habit again now that she had an audience who seemed to appreciate her sense of humor. Their battles also served as something to look forward to, watching the Alpha shift from the rapt attentiveness she paid the agreements prior to the start of any bout to razor sharp aggression when she fought and then to earnest concern when they’d called a halt. That last part wasn’t present the first few times, the aloof soldier playing her part out of habit, but she’d adapted quickly to the less formal air that perpetually hung over the majority of the group.

She smiled more often now and Yang had thought, a time or two, that the ones directed at her meant something, just like the one she’d worn when presenting the can of soda. But maybe it was just her imagination or misguided hope.

Either way, she had a plate of Ruby’s cooking and she’d need all her strength to get through the next few days. No point in dwelling on nothing.

With a full belly and a warm nest of blankets, Yang managed to drift off into an uneasy sleep for a few hours. When she awoke, though, it was under the haze of the beginning of her heat, warmth blossoming between her legs as an itch she couldn’t scratch started its assault on her senses. Want and need coursed through her- the former rooted in an innate desire to find a mate, someone she could depend on, and the latter in pure instinct driven lust. She pressed her thighs together and curled into a ball, gritting her teeth as she tried to control her breathing through her mouth and focus on other things. It would only be a few days of enduring it all before it passed but she knew from experience that they would feel like the longest days of her life, least of all because she had the scent of a strong, capable mate stinging at her nose, begging her to try, at least try- but no. She couldn’t, for a myriad of reasons, the top two being their precarious position in the middle of a secret war and the obvious problem of not being desired, but her body didn’t seem to count either as important enough to lessen the urges coursing through her.

She had to be strong, though. The Omega had weathered her heat before and now would be no different; she couldn’t simply bend to the ill begotten logic of her heat addled mind and she wouldn’t. Yang had fought long and hard and, while this battle would be waged a little different, the rules would be the same. Take everything and endure, wait for the right opening and attack, and as long as she kept hold to some semblance of sanity, she would be alright.

But that didn’t stop the whimpers falling from her lips with each hot stab of desire, her entire body making the full conversation to a state of uncontrollable heat. Her nipples felt more sensitive, growing hard beneath her shirt, and she could already feel wetness gathering between her legs, making her undergarments feel highly uncomfortable. That was always how it started, coupled with her rising temperature as a subconscious alert to begin shedding her clothes, but she knew that losing every layer wouldn’t make the sensations abate. It would just be a steady line of increasing aggravation until the last day, when her body would realize she wouldn’t be mating with anyone and give up on driving her insane. Until then, she would have to content herself with her breasts becoming more sensitive, her folds becoming soaked with arousal, and her body yearning for a foreign touch.

Curling tighter around herself, Yang tried to will herself back to sleep, knowing it would be fitful at best and useless at worst.

Still, she tried.

The next time she regained consciousness, it was by snapping awake after a vivid dream. She couldn’t claim to be surprised- with her body in turmoil, of course her subconscious would dredge up something to try and assuage the sensations, give her a taste of what could potentially be reality- but this one had struck a nerve, sending her heart pounding in her chest. Before, she had no idea of what suitable mate would even look like, who would catch her attention in the years to come, and she found any and all dreams to include a partner drenched in shadows with a shifting form, only able to parse the feeling of impending completion that was actually entirely out of her reach.

Now, though, she had a face and a voice to give her fantasy partner, and it made her burn hotter in both desire and anger. What was the point of putting herself through this misery? She wouldn’t be found a suitable mate, yet here her body was trying to convince her otherwise and making a bad situation even worse. With her unfocused mind trying to grasp onto something solid to ease herself, she reacted out of a habit she’d yet to break and made her first mistake. Yang reached down with her right hand, hoping to press against the junction between her legs and give herself some much needed friction. It wouldn’t give her relief, wouldn’t make weathering the sensations any easier, but it would give her an illusion of peace for a time, trick her body into thinking she could reach the plateau of her climax.

However, the metal of her artificial limb didn’t have the same give as flesh and she immediately cried out in surprised agony as she pressed too hard against the stiff bud of her clitoris, pain overriding lust for a brief moment.

“Yang? Are you alright?” Winter’s voice came through the door instantly, sending two distinct messages to her brain: the first being to say no and force the woman to break down the door, see if the Alpha would come in to check on her, and the second reminding her that, even if she did, relief would not be any closer.

“I’m fine.” She growled out, reaching up to the line between flesh and metal to mash on the buttons, releasing her prosthetic from its anchor. Out of pure frustration, she threw it away from herself, both to keep from rolling over onto the blasted thing and out of disgust.

She wasn’t even a whole person anymore, not really, so how could she even begin to compete as a mate? She’d tried defending Blake and proven herself weak, unfit to be a protector of those closest to her. No Alpha would choose her. Especially not a capable one, like the woman standing on the other side of the door and being difficult.

“You don’t sound fine.” Her voice seemed strained, tense, and what a bitter irony that she finally managed to pull a reaction, that maybe her scent was beginning to have an effect. But she knew better; it was just frustration with not knowing what was going on within the room. Winter had put herself in charge of watching over the Omega and she was just as much a perfectionist as her sister. It was more likely that she didn’t appreciate the potential of a failed mission than any susceptibility to Yang’s scent on her part.

“Just leave me alone!” She hated this; it felt like the first time she woke up without her arm all over again. The helplessness, the sense that she would never be whole again, the loss and pain just as fresh as ever, and to top it all off, she had to face the reality: this would be any and all future heats for the rest of her life. Spent alone, lost to the mental and physical anguish of never being enough.

It wasn’t uncommon to cry during heat. The demands of hormones and instincts could be overwhelming for Omegas, especially those in close proximity to others. Previously, she hadn’t succumb to the inclination until the last day, and it usually bled into relief by the time that last barrier broke down.

But that was before, when she at least had a chance. When her future was full of hope. Now, that was dashed entirely, and she felt the tears rolling down her cheeks before she could think to stop them, a sob wrenching from her chest as she curled in on herself again. With her left hand, she made a feeble grab at the blankets, drawing them tighter around herself and trying to ignore all the aches- the emptiness between her legs, the sudden weightlessness on her right shoulder, the pain in her chest from facing facts, but she couldn’t seem to find any sort of respite whatsoever.

“Yang… I can’t pretend I know what you’re going through, but you’ll make it through this.” She heard a thump, like the woman had banged her fist against the door. “You’re strong and this is temporary.”

“No, I’m not,” she said, but the words were soft, buried under the thickness in her voice as the tears continued.

“If there’s anything you want, anything to make this easier for you, please, tell me.”

Turning her head enough so she could speak clearly, she raised her voice. “Just let me sleep.”

Silence followed, then some shuffling and the lessening strength of the woman’s scent. She could taste it on the back of her tongue but didn’t dare breathe it in through her nose; aside from the mucus thankfully blocking her ability to properly smell, she didn’t want to know just how much Winter’s opinion of her had changed.

She was a fool for even entertaining it.

Thankfully, between the crying and the brief panic of hurting herself on accident sapping her strength, she managed to fall back asleep.

It continued like that for a while, a cycle of fitful sleeping and nigh mindless desire. She eventually succumbed to the need for friction again, pressing the fingers of her left hand against the fabric of her pants and grinding against them. It was a poor substitute for proper stimulation but she’d already found out the hard way that touching herself wouldn’t bring the satisfaction she craved. All it would do, in the end, was make her even more desperate, and she felt caught between just giving into a moment’s respite from the ache and staving off to save herself more trouble in the long run. That was when she made her second mistake, somehow thinking that torturing herself further might work as a suitable distraction. She sniffled at first, clearing her sinuses before inhaling deeply through her nose.

Winter’s scent hit her hard. Where before it had seemed like equal parts of frustration and annoyance, now the predominant emotion in her scent seemed to be something akin to… panic, or worry, something intense and distressing that called to the Omega’s base instincts. As a mate, she could soothe her, comfort her, perhaps help- but, no, she couldn’t, she needed to stop thinking about that. Yang grit her teeth but didn’t stop breathing in, trying to discern what else the Alpha was feeling, if there was an obvious cause. The best she could tell, the woman was making a profound statement that other Alphas should avoid her at all cost, that her space was not to be invaded in any way, shape, or form, despite the lack of people who would even be capable or willing to do so aboard the ship. Still, it seemed an odd stance to take and completely unnecessary besides.

All the while, she had to fight down the irrational voice in the back of her mind screaming for her to go to the door, to seek out the Alpha and ensure she was alright. It was just her heat addled mind trying to justify an attempt at courting the woman, trying to entice her with the unrealistic idea that Winter would be so easily swayed.

Yang should’ve known better, should’ve realized after their first sparring match that she was more concerned about proving herself capable than winning. In the end, that’s what it came down to, the innate desire to show that she could be just as strong with the hunk of metal in place of her arm, and it had nothing to do with what should have been the most important thing on her mind- defeating Salem and putting a stop to the impending crisis. She shouldn’t have been so weak as to let idle fantasies distract her, yet, here she was. Suffering through her heat with Winter just down the hall, at her beck and call yet entirely out of reach.

For all her strengths, for all her appeal as a mate, as a person, Yang would never measure up, no matter how badly she wanted to try. It wouldn’t be fair to do that, to put all the responsibility on the Alpha to reject her. True, it would make this whole situation easier to tolerate- being acknowledged as not being worthy would make Winter’s scent less appealing and it might even push the thoughts from her head and the dreams from her subconscious- but it would hurt, too. Hell, even with her arm, she couldn’t be sure the Alpha would consider her; Winter carried herself so purposefully, with each motion accounted for and measured precisely, and she’d spent enough years at Qrow’s throat to likely dismiss Yang out of hand.

So why, why, why was she torturing herself like this? Wanting something impossible, trying to convince herself it could be worth the chance- what would possess a person to be so self destructive?

Then again, she’d never been exactly mindful of her own well being when it really mattered, so she supposed it really was par for the course.

“Yang?” Her eyes flew open, having closed sometime while she was focusing on the woman’s scent. “Can you hear me?”

“Yeah.” She called back, biting back a moan as she rubbed herself through her pants. The room itself had no clocks and she’d purposefully forgone bringing any sort of time keeper with her, because she’d found that the ticking annoyed her more than anything when she was just trying to wait out the uncomfortable sensations, but it had to at least be the next day by now. At least, she hoped so.

“Are you hungry? Do you need more water?”

“No,” she replied, biting her lower lip. She could go to the door, right now, and key it open. Force the woman to look her in the eye, see if it changed anything. It wouldn’t, she knew that, she knew that-

“Have you even drank any water?” A sharpness infected Winter’s tone, her agitation spiking, and Yang could hear the shuffling from the other side of the door to indicate pacing.

This whole ordeal must be driving the Alpha crazy with frustration.

Reluctantly, she pulled her hand away from the apex of her thighs and reached out, grabbing one of the remaining water bottles and downing the contents in a few gulps. “Yeah.”

Her hand clenched into a fist, crumpling the plastic like it was nothing as a powerful wave of want coursed through her. It would’ve made her knees buckle had she been standing and she briefly thanked her foresight to keep the little bag of provisions close to her nest of blankets. Still, she whined, curling in on herself again as the empty ache surged, threatening to break down her self restraint.

Against her better judgement, she let go of the empty bottle and quickly shoved her hand down, beneath the fabric of her pants and panties, delving into the molten heat of her arousal. She couldn’t keep fighting the impulse, especially not with Winter’s scent so strong, making her wish beyond anything that she stood a chance. The very idea of completion standing just outside the room pulled a whine from her throat and she began stroking her fingers between her folds, knowing that simply attacking her clit with reckless abandon or pushing inside of herself would not only bring out a quick release but also prolong the inevitable doubling down on her misery once it became apparent that her self gratification hadn’t worked.

“Yang.” She gasped at hearing her name, spoken just loud enough to be heard, allowing her mind to play tricks on her hearing and fill in the emotions she wished were attached. “Are you listening to me?”

“Uh huh.” The Omega surprised herself, somehow managing to speak despite the increased tempo of her breathing, trying to split her attention between whatever the woman would ask of her next and providing just enough friction against her clitoris to keep the maddening sensations from overwhelming her.

For a moment, she thought Winter had given up, but the next words through the door proved that thought very wrong. “You’re touching yourself, aren’t you?”

She bit back a moaning reply, struggling to sound at least somewhat in control, though that had fled a while ago. Despite her heat increasing her body temperature, the spike of warmth in her cheeks spoke to the embarrassment she felt at being so blatantly caught. She thought herself hardly fitting of blame, all things considered; it wasn’t like she had many options at this point. “Y-yeah.”

“I see.” Two thumps followed, sounding almost like fists hitting the door, but she was immediately distracted from the sounds by Winter’s voice taking on a keen, commanding edge. “Listen to me, Yang. Slow down.” A whine built in her throat as her fingers faltered, torn between obeying the commands of an Alpha and continuing to provide what relief they could. “I said slow down, not stop.”

Yang obeyed, dragging her fingers in a wide circle deliberately, taking her time with each stroke. Considering she hadn’t removed any of her clothing, she really didn’t have much room to work with, yet still she tried, spreading her legs and rolling onto her back to improve her position somewhat. Well, that, and present herself in a way, despite Winter not being able to see her; her head tilted back, exposing her throat to the room, and if she closed her eyes and let her imagination run rampant, she could almost imagine the Alpha was standing just beside the bed, waiting for the moment to claim her.

“Are you rubbing your clitoris?”

“Yes.” She whined, frustrated by her own lack of coordination. Although she’d learned how to get by using only her left hand, she didn’t possess nearly the same degree of dexterity, and the lack of a deft touch at the moment really hurt. On top of that, this was a fruitless endeavor anyway; it would just make things worse for her in the long run but she couldn’t stop, driven by need to sate the uncontrollable hunger.

“Good, but go down. Push one finger inside yourself.” The Omega considered ignoring the order for all of a moment before Winter’s voice called again, an edge to the words. “Do it, Yang.”

Again, she obeyed, some part of her subconscious relishing the orders, willing to believe for a moment that the only reason the Alpha remained outside the room was because the woman couldn’t stop being too damn pragmatic; they were in no position to be mating, especially not when it could result in a pregnancy. Otherwise, she’d be in her, using lithe fingers to slide through her abundant wetness and dip inside, preparing her for something much larger. Her body didn’t seem to care much, though, her inner walls immediately clamping down on the intrusion, and she gasped at the spike of relief and subsequent increase in desire that offering such a small prelude provided. The need to be properly mated, with or without marks, became overpowering and she started thrusting her finger in search of that relief.

“Do you want to finish?” Winter’s voice rang in her ears, seeming louder than before despite the barrier between them.

“Yes,” she replied, slightly breathless.

“Not badly enough.” The Alpha’s growl carried with it a note of frustration. “Go back to rubbing your clit.”

Yang whimpered but did as told, going back to rubbing circles around the stiff bud, her back arching off the bed as she gasped out. Something had changed, her touch now bringing a spark that shot through her body, making the sensation better and worse at the same time. Apparently, retreating from her aching core was sending her into overdrive, as if she was trying hard to lure her mate back to where she needed attention most. Of course, seeing as the touch belonged to her, she could simply fulfill that desire herself, but she didn’t, couldn’t, not until the Alpha told her she could.

“You smell amazing.” She tilted her head back as the woman spoke, baring her throat as she closed her eyes tighter, pretending that Winter was there in the bed with her, that she wasn’t alone in the pursuit of release. “You feel amazing.”

Something in her brain latched onto that phrase, her imagination doing its best to override her conscious mind. Suddenly, the fingers bringing her sweet relief weren’t her own and the clothes she hadn’t bothered to discard weren’t her own- it was Winter pressing down on her, holding her in place, preparing to fuck her, and she couldn’t help the cry that flew from her throat as her body reacted. Pleasure sang along every nerve ending, pressing her closer and closer to climax, and the tempo of the fingers rubbing at her increased to match the thudding of her heart.

“Winter, please!” The Omega begged, completely at the mercy of her chosen mate.

“Now you want it,” the woman said, and in her mind’s eye she could see the little smirk curling those lips. “Very well. Inside, with two.”

She didn’t hesitate, pushing two fingers inside and doing her best to pretend they were Winter’s. Instantly, her muscles clamped down on them, the doubled girth enough to press somewhere deep inside herself. The sensation made her hips buck, grinding her clit against the heel of her palm as she scrambled to reach higher, her orgasm on the cusp of breaking over her. Just a little more stimulation would do, and she thrashed trying to find it, wishing there was a hand groping at her breasts or a hot mouth covering her own, cries spilling forth as she tried to wordlessly beg the Alpha for what she craved.

When Winter’s voice sounded again, it had a rough quality to it, as if she were panting just as hard as the Omega. “Maidens, Yang, you’re perfect.”

That, as it turned out, proved to be enough to push her just that little bit more over into oblivion, her entire body jerking as the force of her amplified climax rippled through her body. She might’ve yelled something but she couldn’t be sure, her mind going blissfully blank as she tried to clench down and lock her imaginary partner in place. By the time she became entirely coherent again, her breathing had calmed some and she could feel the sticky sweat all over her body, hair mussed and bangs plastered to her forehead. With a grimace, she pulled her soaked hand away, flinching at the decidedly unpleasant sensation of losing something that was never there in the first place.

“Yang?” The Alpha called, a thread of nervousness in her tone. “Are you still conscious?”

“Yeah.” She breathed deep, letting it out slowly while sitting up. The powerful release has forced her heat to abate for a time, tricked into thinking she’d actually successfully mated and giving her a small respite to recover. It would eventually bite her in the ass; the next time her heat began to rise, it would be more intense, punishing her for not fulfilling her needs properly. Even with Winter’s voice to help, it would be unlikely her touch alone could bring her another orgasm, and any further trickery would just make the subsequent round of uncontrollable desire that much harder to deal with when it came. But, for now at least, she could think somewhat straight. “Thanks.”

“I’m pleased I could assist.” A frown tugged at her lips as she looked herself over, the sensation of sweat soaked fabric clinging to her skin almost as annoying as the arousal soaking her panties. It didn’t help that her body was still overly sensitive, too. “You should drink some water.”

The reminder that all this- the words and attitude, no matter how forceful and demanding- was purely born from a place of strict dedication to completing the mission set before her soured Yang’s mood further. Winter would’ve done the same for Blake or Jaune, had either been the one to succumb first; it had nothing to do with the Omega in particular.

“Okay,” she said, soft enough maybe it hadn’t been heard through the door as she reluctantly grabbed the last of the water bottles, struggling for a moment to unscrew the cap. Lilac eyes darted to her prosthetic, lying on the ground just beyond the bed, but she dismissed the idea of reattaching it. When the inevitable desire struck again, she would just repeat her previous mistake, and it might not work out as well the second time around.

“I’ll fetch you some food. You need to keep your strength up.”

“I have another ration.” With reluctance, Yang untangled herself from the blankets, intent on two things: refilling the bottles on the table and shedding at least one layer. She’d have enough trouble fighting off dehydration at this rate without the leather jacket and socks. Hell, she should just shuck it all, seeing as she’d locked herself in the room. No one else could come in and no one would be inclined to, so what was the point of keeping it all? She’d already doomed herself to a terrible resurgence in a few hours’ time. Why make it even worse with additional layers?

Honestly, she couldn’t tell if that was her logic talking or just self loathing, seeing as neither would be much help for the next few days.

“I know you don’t like eating those,” Winter said, sounds of shuffling coming from beyond the door before she continued. “You should get as many decent meals as you can. I’ll be back shortly.”

Lilac eyes went to the door, gratitude and curses both sitting on her tongue. As much as she wanted to acknowledge that the Alpha could just as easily leave her to her devices and ignore her presence completely, the pity was almost too much for her to bear. She might not be a worthy Omega anymore but she still had her pride.

In the end, she said nothing, shouldering her way into the attached bathroom with one of the water bottles in hand.