Editor: Evelet, Shard
Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Author’s note: This is the serialised version of my short story “The Spicy Omega”. Chapter 1 is the original short story, and new content will be added from chapter 2 onwards.
I was an omega, but I didn’t tell people and pretended to be a beta because the world was pretty harsh for omegas and it was a hard place to live as one.
Ordinarily, omegas pretending to be betas would eventually be found out because it was difficult for them to build any muscle and their voices were high-pitched for men. To top it off, they had an estrus once every three months. They could not keep up the facade forever and once they were discovered, everything would go downhill from there.
But for the past 18 years, I had never once been suspected of being an omega. My first estrus came to me when I was in school, and of all times it could have happened, it was right after the entrance ceremony. I was flustered, but even then no one found out. In fact, right at this very moment, in the middle of math class, I was in heat. However, the people around me did not realise it.
“Karasawa, you spilled something again, didn’t you? It’s stinking up the place.”
“Oh… the mustard must have spilled.”
“You really love spicy food, don’t you?”
The alpha on the seat beside me chuckled. I also gave an apologetic smile in response.
My pheromones smell spicy.
△△The Spicy Omega△△
In this world, in addition to the chromosomal difference between males and females, people were further differentiated by their “secondary gender” with the three types being alphas, betas, and omegas. Alphas were the dominant class by birth. Many talented people identified as such, and alphas were an existence blessed with relations, money, and material possessions. Naturally, they were few in number. Betas were the greatest in number, their lives being unremarkable at best and lacklustre at worst. Betas almost always married other betas. Omegas were even fewer in number than alphas and were known as the submissive class. Male omegas could even become pregnant, and because of their estrus, which came once every three months, they were often said to be “only there to produce children”, leading to deep-rooted discrimination.
During their estrous cycle, omegas released pheromones to attract alphas. It was said that the pheromones of an omega who had not taken any inhibitors were so powerful that it was impossible for an alpha to resist their temptation. But once an omega was bonded with an alpha as their “fated pair”, their pheromones would only work on that bonded alpha. Moreover, it was said that alphas and omegas with the greatest genetic compatibility could sense that they were fated to be together… But considering how large the world’s population was, the chances of meeting one’s fated pair were astronomically low, so I didn’t believe in it.
Generally speaking, an omega’s pheromones have a very pleasant sweet smell in order to attract an alpha. However, people have described the smell of my pheromones more along the lines of habanero peppers, chili sauce, mustard, red chili peppers, etc. In short, it didn’t smell like pheromones at all.
Since nobody ever realised when I released my pheromones, I had not once felt any danger to my chastity — something that most omegas, who were at the bottom of the social ladder, experienced regularly. When I was told, “That spicy smell is burning my nose” during my first estrus, I quickly made up the excuse that I had knocked over the chilli sauce bottle I had brought in my bag and everyone believed me. I was fortunate that the characteristics of my pheromones were relatively faint to begin with. After having had a taste of how effective my half-baked excuse worked, I started carrying spicy condiments and seasonings with me on a regular basis. Since I had always liked spicy food and didn’t deny the spicy smell coming off me, people around me got the impression that I just loved spicy food.
However, I needed to keep up the effort or people would find out that I was an omega. I ate a lot of spicy food, studied it and became familiar with it. I actively trained my body to build muscles and exercised so my appearance wouldn’t raise any suspicion. And I studied hard. Unlike the many omegas who self-deprecatingly present themselves as nothing more than vessels for childbirth to seduce alphas, I achieved the status of an unremarkable beta through my good luck and hard work. If I could safely finish my studies, I hoped to find a job where I would have little contact with other people and live a quiet life on my own.
As an ordinary “beta”, I had two people I could call friends. One was Kijima, whom I became friends with in my second year of high school because of the alphabetical order we were seated in. The other was Amami, who had been my classmate since middle school. We only knew each other’s names, but we found out we were going to the same high school and had been in the same class for the past three years, so it was kind of inevitable that we got closer.
Kijima was a cheerful partygoer type who was constantly getting shot down by girls he confessed to. Considering his personality, he should have aimed for cheerful girls just like him, but it was always the cute, quiet, withdrawn girls he fell for. He was a pushy high school boy from another class who those girls didn’t know well, so naturally, his confessions were bound to fail. Kijima publicly identified himself as a beta and always said that his dream was to build a warm, peaceful family with one boy and one girl. I debated if I should joke around that it was a simple dream despite his flamboyant and flirtatious appearance or if I should question why he dressed the way he did if he had such a simple dream. Nevertheless, I liked the straightforward, innocent, parent-like dream that he was working towards. Amami and I had been friends for a long time, yet I felt we didn’t know much about each other. He liked melon bread and cream bread, and I had curry bread for lunch every day. Our tastes contrasted so much that we exchanged what we didn’t like when we went out to eat after school.
Amami didn’t go around publicly announcing his secondary gender, but considering his excellent grades and his exceptional reflexes along with his exquisite features and well-proportioned stature — needless to say, he was an alpha. He was tidy, fond of animals, and looked to be quite popular, but there were no hints of a girlfriend since his freshman year. I tried to make a bet with Kijima on whether he had a long-term partner or not, but the both of us tried to bet that he did so it didn’t work out. That was how alpha-like Amami was.
I was initially worried that it wasn’t smart for an omega like myself to keep a beta like Kijima around me, let alone an alpha like Amami. But even Amami seemed to think that my pheromones were just the smell of the seasonings I kept on me, so I had stopped worrying about it.I hadn’t been found out despite being with them for so long, so I thought that one more year wouldn’t hurt.
“Karasawa~, did you do the classical lit exercises?”
“I did, but you didn’t do them again, Kijima? Your grades are gonna be in trouble!”
“I know~ And I feel like the teach’s gonna call on me today. Let me take a picture later, just this once!”
“And how many times have you said it’s ‘just this once’ this month? Geez…”
We pushed our desks together in a corner of the classroom and ate our lunch during break. Despite being a beta… no, it was because he was a beta that Kijima had absolutely no ambition to earnestly study, leading to his grades to be worse than mine. I wondered if it was fine for him to have such an attitude during exam season, but he always stole my prep notes, saying “I’m gonna find a job after graduation”. I used to complain each time, but I’d given up on him at this point.
On the other hand, Amami was the type of alpha who didn’t need to prepare for any classes because he was just that good at studying, and he watched our exchange with a smile. He was chomping down on a corner of today’s lunch selection: a cream-filled bread that resembled a baguette. I usually never ate sweets so just looking at it gave me heartburn.
“You took a mock test the other day, right, Karasawa? How didja do? ”
“It might be still a little tough getting in my first choice. My other choices would probably be either A or B.”
“Oh~ well, do your best. How about you, Amami? ”
“A is also my first choice, but I cannot afford to slack off at this point.”
“Ugh… damn honour students,” I commented as I squeezed even more mustard on my plain hot dog bun. It was an everyday scene at lunchtime, so neither of the two said anything about my food. Kijima was a caring person who asked me about the results of my mock examinations, even though he was not going to take them. I wondered if he focused more on honing his interpersonal skills instead of studying. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he could get at least one girl to fall in love with him if he showed them this concern, but sadly, he had a habit of flying to my seat during lunch, so the day when Kijima’s caring side was revealed to the girls was unlikely to come.
“That’s right! Karasawa, didn’t you say you wanted to go to the new ramen shop in front of the station the other day?” Amami asked.
“I got a coupon for a free egg topping. Wanna go today?”
“I’ll go!” I replied. “That’s just like you. What about you, Kijima?”
“Ah, talk about bad timing. I got my part-time job! You both enjoy it. If it’s good, I’ll tag along next time.”
Kijima often worked part-time after school because he wanted to buy a motorcycle, which led to Amami and I spending more time together in the last few months, but I never felt uncomfortable. This was because, unlike many alphas, Amami did not take advantage of his status or look down on the other secondary genders. Rather, he had a humble and soft demeanour.The reason why he spent so much time with us — an omega posing as an ordinary beta and a frivolous beta who hated studying — was a mystery, but if Amami also enjoyed our company like we did his, then we were proud and happy to be his friends.
The ramen at the shop in front of the station was delicious. I especially liked the spicy tsukemen on their menu. While I loved spicy food, I was particular about avoiding the “extra spicy” stuff. That was just pain in food form. My food preference, put in curry levels, was medium-spicy and that was exactly what the noodles here were. If it wasn’t spicy enough, I would have unleashed the bottle of shichimi (seven spice) 1 that I carried with me at all times, but I didn’t need to worry about that here.
“You liked it? ”
“It was soooo good! Let’s bring Kijima with us next time.”
“Yeah, we should.”
“I ate too much, so let’s rest a little somewhere.”
“It’s because you were greedy and ordered fried rice…” he said, exasperated, but I couldn’t help myself. The fried rice the old man next to me was eating looked delicious, so I just went for it.
Amami was also smiling because he was satisfied with the delicious ramen. As we walked to the station, I wasn’t imagining the looks we were getting, or more like the smiling handsome guy was getting. Amami was an extremely popular guy, but strangely enough, I had never seen Amami surrounded by girls or being hit on by omegas. Perhaps because I was staring at him, Amami looked back at me suspiciously.
“What? There’s something on my face?”
“Hey, Amami, you’re popular, right?”
“Why are you asking out of the blue?”
The park we arrived at was quiet; it was a complete change from the atmosphere in front of the station. Because of its small size and lack of playground equipment, many people went to the much larger park on the other side of the station. I sat on one of several benches, took a plastic bottle out of my school bag, and drank some water. Spicy food made me thirsty, so I always carried plenty of water. Amami was drinking a canned coffee he had bought earlier on the main street. I hated that about him — casually drinking black coffee at a time like this.
I told him about the bet I tried to make with Kijima that didn’t go through.
“What’s with you two, betting on someone else’s love life?” he asked.
“Because you’re not revealing any sign of your girlfriend, Amami! So, what’s the answer? You got an older, workaholic girlfriend who wears glasses and has big breasts, don’t you?” I replied.
“How did you come up with such a specific image?”
Amami sipped his coffee with a blatantly disgusted look on his face. I thought such topics were basic in conversation between healthy high school boys, but maybe he was not only pure on the outside, but also on the inside? But there was no way he was a virgin, right? Amami let out a deeeep sigh, perhaps because he didn’t like the fact that I was shamelessly eyeing him from head to toe.
“I don’t want to be misunderstood, so I’ll tell you… I have an unrequited love. There’s no big-breasted girlfriend like you think.”
“O-One sided love!?!”
You, an alpha!?! I almost said out loud, but I hurriedly kept my mouth shut. Even if it was obvious just from looking at him, it was against the rules to talk about someone’s secondary gender if they didn’t publicly identify themselves. However, I couldn’t help but dig deeper into what Amami had just said.
“So, uh… is it one-sided because of your social status? Or is it because of your secondary gender…?”
Sad stories of students falling in love with their teacher were common. I thought such romances only existed in comic books and novels, but apparently, it did happen, or perhaps the other person was married. Then it really would stay an unrequited love. There was not much precedent for a love to bloom that went against the nature of secondary genders, like an alpha with an alpha or an omega with an omega, happening after one’s secondary gender was confirmed after a certain age, but that was not to say that it didn’t happen. Amami was an alpha, so he could have fallen in love with an alpha of a higher rank, and if that happened, then his only way of approaching such a person would have to be a political marriage.
“Haha, it’s nothing like that.”
“The other person, you see, is my fated. Have you heard of fated pairs?”
I was truly shocked. Out of Amami’s mouth came words that I could not believe, words that seemed out of a fantasy.
“You mean when alphas and omegas are instinctively attracted to each other? You actually believe in that kind of thing?”
“I was skeptical too until I met them. At first, I thought it was ridiculous to know something like that the moment you meet them. But it was true.”
I had never seen Amami with such a gentle expression on his face, and when his eyes turned toward me, I felt an allure that made me shudder even though I was the same sex. His eyes were gentle and tender yet housed some hidden passion in them — his eyes looked resigned, yet hopeful, like he was on the precipice of some major decision. But Amami said it was a one-sided love, right? Was the complex expression on his face because of the frustration and impatience at the fact that they could not be bonded even though he knew they were his fated pair?
“But it’s still one-sided love? ”
“Yeah. The first time I saw them at the entrance ceremony, I knew at a glance ‘That’s the one’, but the other person didn’t seem to feel it.”
“Entrance ceremony? Was this in middle school or high school? ”
“Huh!? Then this one-sided love has been going on since you were in middle school!? I wonder if I know them too.”
“Of course you know them, Karasawa.”
I imagined the target of Amami’s one sided love, which was now entering its sixth year. The fact that Amami first met them at our entrance ceremony meant that they weren’t an underclassman. I was in the go-home club in middle school, so I didn’t know much about the upperclassmen and Amami’s assertion that I knew them further narrowed down the seniors it could have been. In that case, were they in our grade?
The middle school we had gone to had a good number of students, and although I couldn’t remember the faces of everyone in our grade, I remembered those who stood out, and omegas inevitably stood out. Was it one of the several petite and cute girls, or those beautiful girls who carried themselves with pride and earnesty despite being omegas? Or perhaps the class president, who was unassuming but loved books? Well, if the other person was an omega, it could also be a boy. There were only two male omegas other than me in our class, so I might be able to narrow it down quickly if Amami was in love with a boy. I’ll have a great tale to tell Kijima when I meet him next time, I gloated in my mind.
“When I first heard about fated pairs…”
“I thought it was extremely animalistic and disgusting.”
I listened, looking at Amami’s side profile on one end of the bench. He wasn’t looking back at me, but was staring at the falling leaves dancing in the wind.
“I mean, secondary genders are fundamentally animalistic, aren’t they? They place more importance on the sex one is born with than on individual qualities, categorise them as superior or inferior, and inherently oppress those lower. In addition, the human rights of omegas can be disregarded if an alpha wishes to do so. That’s not what developed, modern societies should do.”
“Ah~ Well, that’s true.”
“That’s why, you see, when I found my fated pair and my body helplessly desired them, I wanted to yell out in disgust. I’m not an animal, but why can’t I even choose who I like?”
I was again taken aback. I never knew that Amami had been thinking so deeply about his secondary gender or was suffering so much. I lamented that I was born an omega, but I hadn’t given up on my freedom. I believed that with enough effort, I could live well, perhaps not as well as an alpha, but at least a beta, not settling for being a victim of oppression. And I was currently able to live that way. However, I never thought that an alpha could have the same kind of struggles. In terms of being governed by instinct, alphas and omegas were the same.
“Amami… I didn’t know you were suffering like this.”
“You’re a beta, so it doesn’t really register, does it, Karasawa?”
“That… is…right… but I do have some knowledge about it, so I understand that you, my kind and diligent friend, are suffering. I can feel it.”
“—Thank you. But it’s not that painful anymore.”
The brooding mood that had been hovering earlier faded, and Amami’s gaze turned to the sky. Looking up in the same direction, I saw the fading vapour trails of aeroplanes stretching across the pale blue sky. Soon, the glow of the arriving sunset would dye the view orange.
“I’m actually happy that they don’t know I’m their fated pair”, he said.
“I can’t help but stare at them when I think of how they are my fated pair… But, if the other person can’t sense me, then I have time to gradually get to know them and like them regardless of our secondary genders before I animalistically make them my mate.”
“I see. That’s one way of looking at it.”
“Yeah. There are plenty of fated pairs that don’t get along because their personalities don’t match, and these six years gave me the chance to cool down my raging instincts towards my fated pair.”
Amami, who had just become a middle school student at that time, must have had to go through a lot of trouble to come to that decision. Meanwhile, I had only thought of Amami as an alpha who stood out and we weren’t friends yet. Imagining a young Amami who couldn’t talk to anyone about his thoughts and worries, I was somewhat irrationally irritated. I was also annoyed at myself for assuming that the dominant alphas could not have their own worries.
“So what do you think about the other person? Did you look at them more objectively, come to hate their personality, and refuse to bond?”
“No, no. When I got to know them better, I fell in love with them even more. I like them so much I want to lock them in a room and never let them out again.”
The hairs on my back stood up in response to the lack of warmth in Amami’s voice when he said that. I looked back at him reflexively, but his gaze was still directed towards the sky.
“But the other person still isn’t aware that I’m their fated pair. I’m not sure if I got close enough with them. If I failed, I could forget about being their boyfriend and dating. I want to get to know him better, let him get to know me better, and hopefully have him fall in love with me. Naturally, regardless of our secondary gender.”
Amami clearly said “him”. His fated pair was male. There were only two male omega classmates I knew from middle school. I heard a rumour on the grapevine that one of them found his fated pair and went abroad instead of going on to high school. I didn’t know how the other one was doing, but I also didn’t know if Amami and that docile-looking male omega had become that close. Was I wrong to think they were close in age and it was actually one of the middle school staff members? A teacher, or perhaps one of the guardians he saw at the entrance ceremony…
But with Amami’s way of talking, it seemed unlikely that he would answer if I asked him directly who the other was. I decided to dig up the albums from our middle school days at home and turned the conversation topic around.
“It’s really amazing how serious you are, Amami. There’s no one out there who would hate being liked by someone like you. It has nothing to do with secondary genders. If you confess to him, I bet he’ll say yes right away.”
“…You think so?”
“Huh? Y-yeah. Well, it might be a bit presumptuous of me to think I know what Amami’s partner might feel since I’m just a beta.”
There was a time when I truly believed I was a beta until I received my secondary gender results. When it turned out that I was, in fact, an omega, my life and how I viewed the world was turned upside down. Fortunately, my parents were very understanding and I didn’t have to deal with any fighting, screaming, or rejection that could lead to my family breaking apart, but I was not without my doubts. That was the day I learnt that I would have problems as an omega that a beta could only imagine and never understand.
I was sure that anyone would have been happy to be loved wholeheartedly like Amami loved. Fate had nothing to do with it. I tried to recall the male student I assumed to be Amami’s pair, but I couldn’t for the life of me recall his face.
“Be confident. Are you still in touch with him? I’m sure you’ll get together and become mates, not because of instinct but love.”
“…Yeah. I’m thinking of confessing my love when I get into my first choice of university. But if you say so, I feel like I can act sooner.”
“Oh, but if you jump straight into it, you’ll get swept off your feet, you know? If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to confess during graduation instead of when they announce the results? ”
“Ahaha, you’re probably right. When we both graduate and the wall is gone… maybe I should kidnap him, lock him up in my room, and make him my mate.”
“Oi, where did that fine upstanding man go!? Why are you suddenly getting extreme!?!”
“Just kidding. I’m just kidding.”
Amami had suddenly said something scary so I overreached to tease him. Amami laughed and denied it, and I laughed too. But my thundering heartbeat showed no sign of calming its palpitation. When Amami said, “I will kidnap him, lock him up in my room, and make him my mate”, his voice was so cold that it didn’t sound like a joke. I thought the two of us were looking up at the sky, but Amami leaned his upper body and brought his lips close to my nape… I knew he was playing around, but a feeling surged up from the pit of my stomach. Something so strong that I felt that my estrus pheromones, which should have been sufficiently suppressed by my medicine, would gush out. I felt something as an omega — an unfamiliar pull like I wanted to be sought after by an alpha.
I tried to naturally change the subject so that the cold atmosphere from before wouldn’t come back. Amami didn’t talk about his fated pair any further.
I could never talk about this to Kijima. I felt guilty for breaching upon that part of Amami that I should not have touched. This was not something he could chat casually about with others.
Amami would naturally graduate from high school and get accepted into his first choice university, so if he obtains his fated pair… our relationship would surely change too. A premonition-like conviction along with a sense of loneliness ran through my body.
“By the way, you smell really good today, Karasawa.”
“Is it really that strong? My bad. I’m always the spicy guy.”
“It’s fine. It’s a really… nice smell.”
Amami finished his canned coffee and had a beautiful smile on his face, so I smiled along with him. There were ten months left till graduation.
Author’s Note: About the word “spicy” in the title:
If you look up the specific word for ‘spicy’ used here in a Japanese dictionary, you will only find the meaning ‘alcohol lover’, but I went with the theory that it was also used to mean ‘spicy food lover’ in pre-war Japan and used the title because this nuance was important. The word itself is never used in the text, so I hope you do not think too much about it.
QC: As mentioned in the Author’s Note in the beginning, this was the original oneshot for the story. However, the story continues but we’ll begin posting those chapters weekly starting March, so stay tuned!