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But still, like dust, I'll rise

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You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.

 

 

One day, when he was twelve and living in Los Angeles, he came home from a street-basketball game to find his alpha father and alpha younger brother on the sofa, waiting for him.

“Tatsuya,” his father greeted him, squinting at his sweaty appearance and tousled hair, “where have you been?”

The boy shifted on his feet while Taiga stood from the sofa to help him with his gym bag. Tatsuya didn’t need nor want his help. The bag contained his ball and a pair of sneakers, it wasn’t heavy and he was capable of carrying his own things.

“Out playing basketball,” he replied, letting Taiga take his bag with a blank expression that didn’t convey his irritation. His mother had taught him it was not proper for omegas to show their emotions freely – no one wanted a whiny, bratty, moody child.

His father nodded and concealed his grimace as best as he could, but Tatsuya saw it anyway. “I wish you’d take Taiga with you when you go to these games.”

Taiga didn’t meet his eyes but handed him a sports drink before going to his bedroom to place his bag and wait for him to finish arguing with his father.

He uncorked the bottle his brother gave him and took a sip to hide his face. He couldn’t let his father see it, the way it wanted to frown and his eyes wanted to clench. It would have made him look ugly.

He came to sit beside his father on the sofa, “Taiga doesn’t always take me with him when he goes out to play.” He argued calmly.

“I just don’t like the thought of you playing alone with these kids.” Came the reply.

“We play basketball, Dad, what do you think it’s going to happen?” he laughed delicately, like his father’s concern was sweet but unnecessary, holding the bottle tightly to his chest.

“You could get hurt. That’s what could happen.” His father levelled him with a serious look.

Tatsuya shook his head, he knew what his father was getting at, but he wanted him to say it out loud, “The worst that could happened is me getting my knees scrapped.” He smiled, “It’s ok, everyone does.”

Taiga stood on the threshold of his bedroom, listening to their conversation but not stepping in yet. He didn’t like what Tatsuya’s father was saying either.

Himuro Daichi tsked at him, running a hand through his hair, “They can get their knees scrapped and teeth broken, but you can’t. What if some day they throw the ball at you and you get your nose broken? Your lip split? What am I going to tell your mother then?”

He almost winced – he knew what his mother would say to that – how displeased she would be but not sad, never crying, her beautiful face unshaken as she expressed her disappointment in him. The face that I have given you, she’d muse, and you ruined it.

Tatsuya’s lips trembled as he laughed once again, “Dad, that’s not going to happen, don’t be so gloom.”

But his father was hesitant to let it go, “Do you really need to play with them? They are all so much bigger and taller than you.”

It felt like his father had punched him in the face. It wasn’t true. Tatsuya was tall for his age – tall for an omega – and he was really good at the game. He wasn’t, as his father implied, weak.

Apparently Taiga couldn’t stay silent any longer and he gasped, running out of Tatsuya’s bedroom to stand in front of the two. “Himuro-san! Tatsuya is really good at basketball, and strong! He’s better than some of our older friends! Please let him keep on playing.” He yelled, “I’ll go with him and make sure he doesn’t get hurt.” He promised, remembering only a second too late that he was supposed to bow to his elder when asking something of him.

Tatsuya stiffened at the poor showing, his adopted younger brother lacked a sense of decorum and could easily make things worse for him while trying to help him.

His father raised his eyebrows at the boy before turning to his son, “Is that true? You will go with Taiga?”

Tatsuya was silent for a second, staring at his father, before nodding, “Of course, Dad.” He lied.

His father sighed, “Very well.” He kissed his eyebrow gently, as if Tatsuya were pretty porcelain doll. “You will keep up your ballet lessons, won’t you? You’re so good, just like your mother.”

 

 

.

 

Later Taiga would ask him why his father didn’t want him to play basketball and Tatsuya would smile prettily, “Because I’m an omega.”

 

.

 

It wasn’t like his father didn’t love him – he did. He just didn’t believe in him.

How could omega Himuro Tatsuya stand among his alpha peers as their equal? Yes, he could play with them and yes, he was good, but it was unthinkable for his father that his son could be as good as them.

His family as a whole was quite conservative and narrow-minded. Originally from the Japanese middle class, they retained their antiquated views on the difference between the sexes even on the other side of the world.

Omegas were not made to sweat and gasp on a playground, they weren’t team-orientated and lacked the stamina necessary for long-timed games.

Omegas were beautiful and graceful, some could also be quite smart and funny but they were supposed to be above the common plethora of alphas’ display of emotions. Logical, lovely and loyal, the three characteristics his family praised in an omega. The ones omegas were allowed to have.

Music was the right environment for omegas, whether they played an instrument or sang or danced – omegas were music, manipulating energy through composition.

Every omega in his family was in the field – his parents had met at one of his mother’s performances, when she was first ballerina at the National Theater in Tokyo.

Had he been an alpha no one would have argued about his desire to play basketball.

But he was an omega and omegas were supposed to fall in line and respect the family legacy.

Alas, Himuro Tatsuya was a rebel with a cause.

.

Tatsuya never stopped playing basketball, juggling his time between practice and his dancing lessons.

When he turned fourteen and entered the stage of sexual maturity, he went into heat during the first week of spring with most part of the northerner hemisphere’s omega population.

When he came out from this week of seclusion, he found his omega grandfather waiting for him. A former singer, he had a warm and kind voice but his words were not gentle when he explained him one of the truths of this world. He knew he could not persuade his grandson to quit his beloved sport and plainly didn’t care as long as Tatsuya continued to excel in his schooling and dancing. He didn’t care for sports but he did care about the family’s reputation.

But he made it clear that there was no future possible in which his father would accept his innocent omega child playing such a sport.

“You think it’s unfair? When I was your age my alpha father retired me from school as soon as I had my first heat. In his opinion it was inappropriate for an omega to stand among unrelated alphas when sexual mature. I would have been a distraction for them. Obviously their education was more important than mine.”

Tatsuya felt like he was going to throw up. His grandfather was smiling – the same way Tatsuya did. Prettily, lovely. Empty.

“Your father is never going to believe in you. No alpha is ever going to believe in you. Not unless you are really, really lucky and find yourself a companion that will respect you. I hope I don’t have to explain how rare that would be.” the older omega pointed out matter-of-factly. “How does that make you feel? Despaired? Frustrated? Furious?”

Yes, furious was the right word, he thought as his eyes burned with unshed tears.

His grandfather nodded and took his hand between his, closing it in a fist, “Then take this rage and go and take your place in this world. Don’t be like me.”

Don’t bow, don’t bend. You are unbroken.

 

.

 

In the end, his grandfather was right about alphas not believing in him – they looked at him and they wanted to protect him, they thought him fragile and delicate.

Even Taiga. He went as far as downplaying his abilities just to spare his feelings.

He saw red and punched him in the face.

.

An year later a purple-haired, seven-feet-tall alpha who had looked at him like he was imagining doing unspeakably lewd things to him right there in front of his new teammates, suddenly seems to change attitude as soon as he steps foot on the court.

Every time Tatsuya tries to hit the basket, his huge hands smack the ball out of the way with impressive strength and speed, with a blank expression Tatsuya wants to tear off his face. He was so much more expressive when they were being introduced, doing nothing to hide his attraction to him.

So why isn’t he going easy on him?

Throughout the game he never does. He smacks away every ball he throws at him and doesn’t look sorry, just faintly bored, impatient to get this over with. 

Tatsuya is forced to use his Mirage Shot even if he has promised himself he would only use it in official games.

Murasakibara Atsushi, the alpha he just beat, has to look at him then. He's wearing an intense expression once again, one that makes Tatsuya shiver for some reason. The alpha sighs, annoyed but at the same time a flash of respect pass through his eyes.

Tatsuya’s eyes widen as his careful mask slips – Oh, he thinks, I found you.