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Don't Fight the Tide

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Johnny didn’t know why he let himself be dragged to these college parties. He spent most of the night dreading when the next person would ask him what he was majoring in and he would have to tell them he wasn’t in college. They probably thought nothing of it, but he was embarrassed.

At least Dutch had been there earlier to commiserate, but he had just left with an omega girl in a leather jacket, telling Johnny not to wait up. Please, as if he would have.

So Johnny was kind of aimlessly walking around, looking for anyone he knew, or failing that, anywhere he could sit down. He was exhausted from working at his landscaping gig.

He thought about just going home, but he stopped short when a pair of omegas in the kitchen caught his attention.

The omega boy facing away from Johnny smelled amazing, like a dark amber musk, rich and heady. The pheromones were rolling off him like crazy, but they didn’t seem to have the edge that would signal an omega in heat. Still, all the alphas in the room would be very aware of it.

Johnny could only see the back of his head, but there was something about him, even beyond his scent, maybe the way he moved, that was really doing it for Johnny.

There was something familiar about it, but not anything he could place. Something drew him in.

He decided to make a move. If he could get laid at this party, maybe it wouldn’t be a total bust after all.

He started teeing up some of his usual lines, preparing to not-so-accidentally bump into the magnetic omega and work his magic, but as he approached, Ali’s voice pierced through the noise of the party.

“Johnny! I didn’t think you’d come!” She said, and that’s when the other omega she had been talking to turned to look at him.

No, it couldn’t be.

“LaRusso?” Johnny said in disbelief, instead of responding to Ali like a normal person.

“Oh, I guess you guys probably haven’t seen each other since senior year, huh?” Ali said.

“No, we haven’t.” LaRusso said, guarded but friendly.

“Well, I hope you’re not going to fight.” Ali said.

“Of course we’re not.” Johnny said and meant it. There was no way he would ever fight an omega. His mother taught him to treat omegas with respect. And since when was LaRusso an omega, anyway? He hadn’t presented yet when they were in school.

“Oh, Susan’s here!” Ali said, waving toward the front door, and then she was off without another word, leaving Johnny standing awkwardly in front of LaRusso.

“’re an omega.” Johnny said. Way to not be weird, Johnny.

“Yeah, so?” LaRusso said, his expression wary.

“I just always assumed you were a beta.”

“So did I. I didn’t present until last year. The doctors still don’t know what was wrong with me.” LaRusso said.

Which made sense. Male omegas were pretty rare, and they usually presented early, like alphas did, around age thirteen or fourteen. Betas presented a few years later. If LaRusso had presented a year ago, that meant he would have been twenty at the time. Really late even if he had been a beta, and almost unheard of for an omega.

“Listen, I’m sorry about high school. I never would have knocked you around like that if I had known.” Johnny said. LaRusso rolled his eyes.

“If you’d known I was an omega? It was still fucked up even if I was a beta, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. I know. But it’s different. I would never have hit an omega on purpose.”

“Why would you hit a beta and not an omega?” LaRusso said. Was he being stupid on purpose? Everyone knew alphas shouldn’t hit omegas.

“Well, duh, omegas are, you know, more fragile.” Johnny explained.

“Well, this fragile omega beat you in the All Valley Tournament, so.” LaRusso said. Johnny would have said something about the illegal kick if LaRusso were a beta, but he tried to be nice to omegas.

“Yeah, I guess you did. You were really good for an omega.” Johnny said instead. LaRusso looked annoyed. “What? I admit it. I got beat by an omega.”

“Why is everything suddenly about me being an omega?”

“I’m not making everything about that, it’s just a compliment! Chill out.”

“Some compliment.”

“I’m really not trying to offend you, you know. I was just trying to apologize for high school. I was an asshole. Maybe you can let me buy you a drink sometime to make up for it.” Johnny said, trying to salvage the conversation.

“Unbelievable. You just found out I’m an omega and you’re already trying to fuck me.” He said, shaking his head.

“I’m not trying to fuck you, I just wanted to apologize!”

“Well, apology not accepted, okay?”

“Jesus, never mind then!” Johnny said, throwing up his hands. The people around them were all listening in at this point, so he stormed off and went out to the backyard.

It was relatively quiet out there, and someone had left a cooler that still had a few beers floating around in it. He cracked one open and sat in a deck chair, fuming. LaRusso was visible through the glass door, chatting amiably with a group of omegas.

Fellow omegas. It was so weird he could hardly wrap his head around it. He tried to picture what the little twerp had looked like in high school. He found present day LaRusso extremely pretty, but that must just be hormones talking, because realistically he had always looked something like this.

Johnny felt like there was a weight in the pit of his stomach.

At first, he wasn’t sure why the omega revelation bothered him so much, but as he sat there drinking his beer, his mind brought him back to high school. To knocking LaRusso down on the beach, and to ganging up on him after the Halloween dance. Five alphas hunting down and beating up an omega.

He remembered seeing LaRusso in the locker room before the tournament, so vulnerable, struggling with his gi like he’d never worn one before. And sure, Dutch had teased him about it, just a bit of trash talking before a competition. Not a big deal. But now, all Johnny could see was a group of alphas assaulting a terrified, half-dressed omega.

He thought of his mom and Sid, the frightened look in her eyes whenever he raised his voice, the same look on LaRusso’s face during his stand off with Dutch. He felt sick. His beer was already empty, so he grabbed another. Guilt coiled in his chest.

Johnny would have to apologize again. Make it right this time. Make it clear to LaRusso, to Daniel, that all he wanted was forgiveness, nothing more.

He looked up and found Daniel again through the glass. Daniel was talking to an alpha now, and it looked like he was flirting. Johnny had to tamp down on the unbidden possessive feeling that rose up at the sight, because he had no claim on Daniel.

Pretty much the opposite in fact.

Johnny drank his beer more quickly than the last while he watched them talk, hoping Daniel would send the guy on his way. Only because Johnny needed to talk to him, of course.

But Daniel kept talking to the guy, and talking, and talking, and then they were coming outside. Johnny’s spot was shadowed, so fortunately they didn’t see him when they stepped out. The yard was mostly empty at this point. A couple was making out in the opposite corner. Three people were quietly passing a joint around by the fence. None of them were close enough to listen in on Daniel’s conversation except for Johnny, who suddenly felt creepy for skulking in the shadows of the tree that overhung his deck chair. Daniel was rambling on.

“But then these guys busted up all the bonsai trees and we were out of money, right, and there was this one real bonsai Mr. Miyagi brought from Okinawa, so I—oh!”

The alpha interrupted Daniel with a rather aggressive kiss, pinning him to the wall. Johnny sat up straighter, seeing the way Daniel tried to lean away, but Daniel managed to gently push the guy back in a second.

“Woah, there. I’m sorry if I like, gave you the wrong impression, but I’m not really ready for anything like that right now.” Daniel said.

“Oh I’m not trying to do anything like that, don’t worry.” The guy said with a laugh, kissing him again. Daniel pushed him off a little harder this time.

“No really, I’m not interested. I thought we were just talking.” Daniel said.

“For fuck’s sake, I’ve been listening to this tree shit for twenty minutes and I get nothing?” The guy said. Even from the shadows, Johnny could see the shock on Daniel’s face.

“Come on,” the alpha said, roughly groping at Daniel’s ass and pinning him back against the wall again, grinding against him. Daniel let out a gasp of surprise, hands scrambling for leverage to push against the guy’s shoulders. Johnny was on his feet before he realized it.

“He said he’s not interested.” Johnny said. The other alpha let go of Daniel, whose head whipped around to stare at Johnny.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Well, go find your own omega, this one’s mine.” The other alpha said. Johnny closed the distance between them, drawing himself up to his most intimidating stance.

“Doesn’t sound like he is, so you’d better leave him alone.” Johnny said. The guy looked him up and down, but apparently had the good sense to know he would have lost to Johnny in a fight.

“Whatever, he’s fucking boring anyway. Good luck getting him to put out.” The guy said, turning to go. Johnny grabbed him by the shoulder and delivered him a solid punch to the face. He fell to the ground and scrambled to get back up.

“You need to fix your attitude, man. Now go on and get out of here before I fix it for you.” Johnny said. The guy fled through the gate.

Smirking, Johnny turned back to Daniel, expecting some gratitude maybe. Instead he looked furious.

“Just gotta be the big strong alpha and save the day, huh? Because I’m just a weak fragile omega I can’t possibly defend myself.” Daniel said, shoving Johnny’s chest.

“What? I was just trying to help!” Johnny said.

Daniel shoved him again.

“I know you can defend yourself, okay? But you shouldn’t have to. Was I supposed to just let him attack you?”

“You were supposed to mind your own business, and maybe don’t spy on me in the first place.”

“I wasn’t spying! I was here first.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Daniel said thickly. Johnny suddenly noticed his eyes were wet.

“Are you okay? What’s the matter? Did he hurt you?” Johnny asked.

“No. I just, it sucks man! I can’t even have a fucking conversation anymore. Nobody treats me normal. Ever since I presented it’s like I’m not me anymore, I’m just another omega. But I’m the same person I always was!”

“Oh.” Johnny said.

“Even Mr. Miyagi changed. He pretends he’s not treating me different, but he’s more distant now, and he gives me easier jobs to do at the shop like I can’t handle the same jobs I used to do. I hate being an omega! I hate it!” Daniel said, kicking an empty beer can hard, sending it flying off the deck. The tears had started to fall.

“I’m sorry.” Johnny said. “I didn’t know it was so bad.”

Daniel sighed and wiped some of his tears on his sleeve, but they were still coming. “And now you’re treating me different too, bein’ all nice to me because you don’t want to bully an omega.”

“Yeah. But it’s not just because you’re an omega, it’s because we’re not teenagers anymore. You may be the same person you always were, but I like to think I’ve changed since high school. Grown up a bit. More than you have, even.” Johnny said.

“And if I had a problem with the way people were treating me, I would talk to them about it. And most omegas I know are doing just fine, so maybe you just have to get used to it and stop being such a pussy.”

It was a risky thing to say, but Daniel snorted a laugh and nearly stopped crying.

“Now that’s the Johnny Lawrence I remember.” His voice was congested, but he was smiling, which Johnny figured was a good sign.

“I’ll try to be a dick from now on if it makes you feel better.”

“That might actually help.” Daniel said.

“Okay, in that case, I’ll tell you this. I actually was trying to fuck you before, and I still would if I thought you’d go for it, but you’re probably too chicken.” Johnny said. There was a pause, and for a moment Johnny thought he’d blown it, but then Daniel laughed, shaking his head.

“We’ll see how I feel after you buy me that apology drink, asshole.” He said.

Johnny smirked triumphantly as they left the party together, because apparently the more things stayed the same, the more they changed.