I unironically love A/B/O, and to explain why is really easy--it's goddamn hot. Also, and this may be something that's just me, I appreciate the potential of a world built on the idea that talking is bullshit, let's get down and scent-related. Fuck bars, clubs, and talking to people shit--that crap gets you making out with two people you're not sure are attractive in an egg-shaped chair when you swore you just asked for a drink--not that I'm complaining, but still. Talking, bullshit: everything's in the scent. No awkward, weird conversation, your One True Mate knows the same time you do, and yes, free will, but eh.
I don't generally even gravitate to the deconstruction of the tropes one, mostly because they either go fifties housewife deconstruction route or some kind of feminism or queer rights route which I don't mind most of the time, but come on, something new--you're an omega and you can make an alpha lose his mind by being within ten feet of you--why the fuck aren't you using this for evil? Which no one does, and I don't get this.
Alphas lose their minds, omegas get scared, no--alphas lose their minds, omegas say "There's a country I'd like to have conquered in my name, whose knot is big enough to do it?" Why is no one doing this?. You get all the D/s awesome alpha/omega sex, plus the omega gets to rule a country as a bride gift.
(Imagine rewriting Helen of Troy under A/B/O principles; suddenly, the siege of Troy takes on whole new dimensions of interesting.)
Don't get me wrong, I hate the hypertraditional fifties bullshit--I read one more of those I will cry--and I do like taking apart the idea, just I want something that isn't re-treading the same ground. I just don't get why something so biologically overwhelming--that everyone knows is basically mindless, inevitable, and powerful--this being heat--is always so heavily weighted in the alpha's favor when it shouldn't be; that's just logic. The sex is one thing, but up until the knotting in the sweaty sheets, omegas have a period of time where they are quite literally the only thing in the word an alpha cares about, and I'd kill for one story where this was actually acknowledged as a thing that could be both awesome and used for deeply sketchy purposes.
Omega goes into heat unexpectedly in the street--there should be rioting so the omega can pick the strongest, sure there's social controls for this but it's not like the omegas fault, everyone knows that, alphas are like this, no control. An omega can't be held responsible for what happens during heat, everyone knows that, if an alpha they don't like gets too close, there's no penalty for getting rid of them in any way they can--alphas are like this, no control. There should be courtships is what I'm saying, echoing our primitive ancestors of yore, where entire tribes would fight to the death when an omega went into heat, and this is modern days, so we built a society around that, that very specific way an omega is powerful that can't be denied, only very carefully channeled. Because everyone knows an omega isn't responsible for what happens during heat, how could they be, and alphas have no control at all.
I mean, at least a five course meal from an expensive restaurant first, come on. Alphas gotta knot, omegas gotta be well-hydrated and fed.
This is a writing exercise. I think I spellchecked.
Notes: post-season sevenish. A writing exercise, if you would.
Later, Dean will admit that the entire sequence of events could have easily been predicted if anyone had actually sat down to consider the potential side effects of an angel spending any amount of time in a de-mojo'ed, mostly human body. The mojo returned--and with a vengeance--but the humanity? Interesting story about that. It's not like this shit didn't have historical precedent, is what Dean's saying. Maybe a celestial war, even.
Honestly, when Dean thinks about it, this is entirely Sam's fault. Sam should have seen this coming.
The first indication of things going in a newer-than-usual weirder direction was dinner.
Dean and Sam both stare at the suddenly physics-defying larger kitchenette table piled with what appeared to be some fairly classy looking dishes (Dean knows this because it costs a lot to get china that level of breakable). The silverware alone could wipe out a pack of werewolves with some to spare for the soup course.
There's a soup course. That's just--something.
As one, they turn to look at Cas, who looks a really hilarious combination of determined, confused, and defiant, with a dash of something Dean thinks might be 'wtf' but since it's Cas, it's a holier version, same meaning, probably with no acronym but more words. It's weird, is what it is, but on the other hand, food.
"Your nutritional requirements," Cas says to Dean with a kind of fragile seriousness, almost like he's grabbing any excuse that comes his way, "are not served by diner food."
Sam is poking under a silver mesh cover. "I don't even know what this is," Sam says a little helplessly.
The thing is, there's just not enough weird in their lives that contributes food. Grabbing a chair, Dean pulls himself to the table and begins a flavor-based inquiry of--holy shit, that is the most epic pie he has ever seen.
From the corner of his eye, he sees Cas relax at the first bite, but whatever, food.
This doesn't stop happening, by the way.
Dean kind of half puts it up to Cas being--well, weird, but that's Cas--but also the effects of having been given the angelic equivalent of superpowers and being exposed to Gabriel. Food appears on demand--sometimes literally--and no motel television they meet is other than crystal-clear with access to every channel that exists (and some, from the look of them, may not exist in this time period yet; the entire infomercial on gardening on Mars told him everything he didn't really need to know about how to grow blue tomatoes in substandard gravity). The beds are bigger and more comfortable and smell less of bleach and dead rodents; Dean realizes he's identified myrrh by smell and hates himself just a little. The water pressure is fantastic, and there's also cold and hot water, which is so uniquely awesome that Dean would hug Cas if they were the hugging type, but a few well-placed shoulder-punches hopefully conveys his gratitude for the wonder that is indoor plumbing that works.
The lightbulbs always work, which in any world is just freaky, but again, Cas is weird, and also, who complains when the lights actually work?
That the air conditioning and heating now respond to Dean's thoughts, however; okay, yeah, that's when this needs handling. But after the fucking Mississippi heatwave ends.
"Okay," Dean says, trying not to think too hard about the fact that he hadn't actually said he wanted beer but Cas provided anyway, and very few of those labels are in English, or even in a human-compliant language of this time period (Dean had no idea you got beer in Sanskrit; the more you know). "What the hell?"
(It's fucking amazing beer, so Dean actually doesn't care all that much. It’s the principle of the thing. Jesus, this is good.)
"You no longer enjoy beer?" Cas says from his rigidly correct seat on the other chair, because yeah, Cas, that’s the point of this conversation. Dean determinedly does not notice the subtle addition of several pies of untyped (delicious) flavors and the table gaining another foot on the left side. Gravity should be kicking in on that, but Dean will honestly be surprised if even gravity knows enough about what's going on to deal with this. "I can--"
"Don't even. I mean--" Dean waves an arm (the one not concerned with beer-bottle retention) at the warm, comfortable room whose carpet is not plush olive green anymore and smells vaguely of spices and vanilla. "Dude, come on. What. The. Fuck?"
Cas looks like he's going to approach the subject with weaponized obliviousness (rate of success: near one hundred percent), then abruptly deflates. "I'm not entirely sure."
"Don't--" Dean finishes his beer and gets another; they're here, after all. "So you aren't doing this?"
"Of course I’m doing this!" Cas says in a flash of--anger? Huh. "I just--"
Dean leans forward, waiting for it.
"--don't know why."
Dean nearly unbalances himself, jerking back into the chair in time to finish the second bottle, which impossibly is better than the first, and strangely now possibly, Egyptian in origin, circa Some Ptolemy (Sam would know this; Dean is just guessing from the hieroglyphs).
"What?" Really, what else has he got to go with here. Besides Martian beer. (He's not sure, but this looks like the words in the infomercial, so.)
"It just--" Cas pauses, and Dean thinks he could be seeing a truly monumental event; Cas utterly at a loss. "I want you to be….comfortable."
Dean takes half a (delicious) Martian beer to think how to frame an objection to that (he doesn't have one).
"Proper rest and nutrition," Cas continues, watching Dean carefully to check for believability, "are essential for hunting."
This is, Dean admits reluctantly, probably true. And the mattresses these days are like, holy shit, who the hell knew. "Huh."
"So I thought I would--assist you." Cas looks--well, expressionless, but happy now that he's on solid caring-for-human-charges ground. "Do you have any objections?"
For the life of him, Dean can't think how the fuck you object to any of it. He's trying and it's just not happening. Also, there's a beer that looks distinctly delicious and possibly Babylonian, and he's not an idiot.
"Nope." Dean reaches for it while nudging one in Cas' direction to prove he's fine with--whatever this is. "Go for it."
Later, Dean will think; I really said that. That's a fucking quote. Jesus Christ.
To explain how this all goes wrong, the fact is, Dean's gone into heat several times but only two were unplanned (that's two times); the first time involved locking the fucking door and dragging out the sex toys. It's not that he looks forward to the joy and rapture and hideous unending arousal of heat without suppressants, it's that the second time had been post-resurrection and Dean had barely been in his skin for long enough to remember to eat regularly before it hit him out of nowhere. The second time had been the proof of the ninety-nine point nine success rate in the point one failure rate, and anyway, he can be excused on once-in-a-forever kind of event considering who his partner was.
Cas was clinically curious about the entirety of humanity's utter weirdness in procreation and Dean--stupidly, so stupidly--tried to explain without leaving that shit to Sam, which meant it took a while before Cas actually understood both a.) the point, and b.) well, the rest of the point.
"So I should protect you from alphas," Cas said carefully, testing the idea, watching Dean, which was--okay, Dean admits it, fucking adorable. He was just so fucking earnest about it.
"Nah, I got it covered." Dean thinks of himself as a very effective lesson in what not to do when an omega says no, and unsurprisingly, while heat doesn't affect his aim, it does affect what he considers a non-vital spot to hit. Scars, he thinks philosophically, are really good teaching devices. "It happens, we don't talk about it, we done yet?"
"I see," Cas said, and later, Dean watched proudly as Sam took it from there. It was all very dry and theoretical and honestly, Dean hadn't really thought about it much after that.
If he had, he would have realized that from a certain point of view, Sam's instruction on the history of human sexuality as it applies to the alpha/beta/omega dynamic might look a lot like an instruction manual. If you were the type that would actually follow one of those to the letter.
"Jesus, we need some rain," Dean says finally, staring out the window at the endless Mississippi sunshine and watches, incredulous, as it starts to rain like Noah's building an ark.
Turning around, he looks at Cas, who's frowning at the ceiling, and thinks--maybe--he should think about this. Then he opens the window and forgets that shit at the feel of sweet, sweet air cutting through the heavy heat like a knife through butter.
Maybe, just maybe, it's a little his fault.
Dean's aware that his definition of personal space has either changed under the unrelenting pressure of Cas's lack of comprehension of such, or something is going strange. In that way where he should care and doesn't to the point of actively denying he's ever had personal space at all.
Denial never ends well, he gets that, but he also gets commercial-free radio so crystal clear it's like the band's in the car, and pie as far as the motel wall can stretch (which he gets it shouldn't be able to do, but Jesus, who turns down Martian apple pie? No one, that's who. It's fucking amazing, that's what it is, and the saddest part it's like, three hundred years before anyone else gets to eat it. Wait, that's the best part).
Finishing his pie, he rolls on his back to stare in utter contentment at the motel ceiling as the plate vanishes, crumbs and all, and thinks seriously about the future of space travel in its value to the food pyramid.
"Dean?" Sam asks politely from his spot at the tiny (very very large, there are fifty pies there, weird how that works) kitchenette table, and Dean tunes back in, trying to remember the subject: werefoxes. Why not?
"Yeah?" Turning his head, he brings Sam into view, happy at the manifestation of a pillow to help that along. Pie lethargy: it's a thing. Sam's gaze narrows before darting abruptly sideways, and following his gaze, Dean takes in the semi-slouched angel beside him, and twisting the edge of his trenchcoat idly, he thinks he could really use something to drink.
"Uh." Sam leans back in his chair and stares at them for a while. It's not an unfamiliar look, which means it's break time and thank God, Dean thinks, extending a hand automatically for a soda that materializes on demand; nice, he thinks contentedly. Sam makes a weird sound, like-- "Dean."
Dean half sits up to take a drink and glare at Sam; this had totally been breaktime. And Sam's just staring at him like--Dean just has no idea. "Dean," Sam says in a weird voice, kicking out another chair from the table, "you wanna sit over here?"
The sheer inanity silences Dean's ability to process. What. The. Hell?
"Dean," Sam says, staring at him, "come over here."
Before Dean can ask, Cas's hand brushes against his hip; it's barely even a touch, settling on the mattress, fingers just brushing the denim of his jeans, but that part, Dean barely notices; what he notices is that Cas is suddenly way too focused on Sam in a way that's a flash from the past of evil demony abomination godhood shit (so Cas has had some weird phases in his life on earth. Personal growth can be like that. It happens). And Sam is--looking at Cas. "Uh."
He really doesn't want to move, is the thing. He likes where he is.
"I see no reason for Dean to move," Cas says, calm with homicidal intent, and vaguely, Dean thinks that maybe he should handle this.
"Dean does not wish to move," Cas repeats, upping the homicidal to imminent.
"I want him to. Dean," Sam says flatly, "come here."
"No," Cas says, and other hand comes up in a really terrifyingly, Gabriel-kind (or Cas explodying people-kind) of familiar way.
Sam suddenly seems to realize what he's looking at, because he says, holding up both hands, "No, Cas, wait. Look--" but Dean takes the easy route and lunges, straddling Cas's lap and grabbing his wrist before anyone can snap a smiting on anyone, which is weirdly working and--angelic strength? What?--but whatever, what the hell is going on?
"What the fuck?" Dean says, staring at Cas, who blinks at him like he's not sure what just happened, then at Sam, who sits back in his chair and looks both relieved to be alive and also kinda smugly pleased.
"You," Dean says, pointing the can at Sam. "What. The. Hell?"
"My apologies," Cas says, letting his hand drop into Dean's lap and staring down at it--and Deans' continued grip--with utter bewilderment. "I have no idea what--"
"Not your fault," Sam says, waving a hand, and Dean just gives up on everyone, because was Cas just going to--. "I forgot you were all--" he gestures vaguely, "--powerful and everything. It's fine. Dean, let him go; that was my fault. I was just checking."
"Are you going to say anything that makes sense?" Dean demands, because he kind of wants to know. Sam frowns at him, like he should know--something. "What? Checking--"
"Uh, Dean, you can get off his lap now."
Dean blinks, about to say that he's not, but as it turns out, he kind of mostly is, and Cas looks some completely wrong combination of freaked out and contentedly relaxed, with the hand Dean was holding now curling its fingers through his ow--oh, fuck. Dean is also completely unmotivated to move. Sam's expression combined with the lack of personal space is like a goddamn neon sign. "No fucking way."
"You didn't even notice?" Sam blinks between them for a second. "How could you miss--"
"Suppressants!" Dean says, gesturing with his can-hand, then with a force of will, pushing off to sit on the bed. Cas doesn't let go and the freaked-out becomes a lot more prominent, staring at his own hand as if he's never seen it before today. "There's no fucking way--"
Except yeah, this is actually pretty familiar, now that he's thinking about it. Half-turning, he stares at Cas. "Okay," he says, glancing from Cas's still not-moved hand to Sam, "we missed this?"
"No, pretty sure this is new," Sam says, leaning forward. "Cas. Uh. When did this happen?"
Cas looks blank and utterly terrified, and Dean flashes back to the brothel and holy fuck; Chastity had been a fucking alpha. No fucking wonder that had gone wrong. "What do you mean?" Cas says with fragile calm, like at any second something will need to be smited just on principle. "I don't--"
"Dude," Dean says urgently to Sam, "Novak was not. I would have noticed that shit."
"Dude, he was just de-vesseled or whatever." Sam's expression doesn't change. "Maybe that did something. Or--" He waves a hand; right, everything else that Cas's vessel-body-whatever's gone through. "But Anna was. And you were on suppressants then, too."
Which--is true, Dean thinks. And now that he's paying attention, oh, what a not-coincidence this shit is. "Holy shit."
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Cas says, eyes huge. "I don't understand--"
"So what, you think it's the angel thing?" Dean asks Sam, closing a hand over Cas's wrist for a secondary check; there we go, Cas almost visibly relaxes, even if his expression takes freaked out up a notch into a word that hasn't been invented yet. "Dude, what the fuck?"
"No idea." Sam's eyes flash to Cas, looking worried. "Cas, look, it's not a big deal. I guess--exposure? It's normal, don't worry about it. Dean, how long--?"
"Uh, like I know?" Dean turns to Cas and realizes he's gone. "Fuck."
"Sam," Dean says, trying to sound confident, "it's not that big a deal. We just--"
"It's like you're not even listening to me," Sam observes, leaning back in his chair and so fucking smug Dean could kill him. "Dude, between the two of us, I think I'd know better than you do--"
"Hello, omega here, this is my heat."
"Alpha," Sam enunciates in dialect of Stanford-dick. "This part, I got down. Dean, come on, you never fucked around with alphas when you went into heat."
Dean frowns, but it's true. "Fine. It can't be that different--"
"Oh boy," Sam groans, covering his face. "Yes, yes it is, Dean. Just--trust me, it's--"
Dean actually does know. He just can't even imagine explaining to Sam why it was always a terrible idea; fortunately, he already knows. "Fine, I know, it's more complicated."
"That's a word for it," Sam agrees. "Except not, because I don't know if you noticed this--"
"They're clingy," Dean says, hoping to piss Sam off enough so he drops it. "They stick around, they get--weird." They come bearing gifts to prove they're good providers; flowers and chocolate and--multicourse dinners and pie and Martian beer and weather adjustment, oh God.
"We'll talk about your commitment issues later," Sam says, eyes narrowing as he deliberately ignores the bait. "What I'm saying is--"
"We'll do it and forget about it," Dean says confidently, when he's not sure of that at all. Saying it, however, sends a spark of heat straight through him, and oh God, Dean thinks depressingly, so this is how it's going to be. "Or I'll handle it and Cas stays in Heaven--"
"Dean," Sam says slowly, "you really need to listen to what I'm saying. The least of--he's not just any alpha who's going to be stalking you, since he doesn't need to, he's here all the time anyway. He's--"
"He's not going to hurt me!" Dean yells, because this he knows, and Jesus, Sammy.
"Of course he won't! I'm more worried how he'll react the next time a demon attacks you or someone gets your order wrong at Taco Bell!" Sam shouts back, face red, and oh, Dean gets it. "Normal alpha just makes vague, useless threats and everyone blows it off because whatever, an omega in heat fucks them up; you get grumpy with a waitress, he might level the fucking diner without even noticing!"
Dean kind of can't breathe. That shouldn't be hot Fuck his life.
"Your bad day," Sam says inexorably, "is everyone's bad day. Or the end of the world or something. I'm not saying you can't handle him. But it'll help if you actually believe you're going to have to. This won't be easy; Jess's sister went into heat for the first time when she was visiting and we almost had a riot in the dorms: we're talking duels to the death and offerings of rival internal organs here."
"Holy shit," Dean says, startled. "Hearts on a plate or their cocks on--?"
"I--" Sam rubs his face, looking at him patiently. "It wasn't a big deal, protocol covered it, but that shit does not cover someone like this."
Dean swallows. "Huh."
"This isn't like the betas you fuck around with, or other omegas," Sam continues, because he likes talking about this sort of shit. "We don't--" Sam pauses, looking uncomfortable. "Everything in the world is about--well, for me, it was Jess. Nothing else even penetrated unless it was about her. The last week leading up was--" Sam shifts, looking really uncomfortable now. "Dude, I barely remember eating, okay? But I remember her breaking a nail and feeling homicidal for a while there against like, furniture, it's so stupid. But it happens."
"That's because you were bonding," Dean says weakly, not feeling hopeful about this at all now.
"How long do you have?"
Dean shifts uncomfortably. "A week."
"This started two weeks ago," Sam says quietly. "Five days would be a warning sign. He picked this up two weeks ago? That's a fucking marriage in progress. Dean, you gotta handle this, but whether you fuck him or not, you have to be sure of what you're doing. If you don't know, he won't either. That's how it works."
"I can't believe this is happening," Dean says, dropping back on the bed and staring at the ceiling. "Like, I should have fucking noticed, right?"
"Dean," Sam says slowly, "do you want him?"
Dean pauses, thinking about it, knowing what the actual question is. "When he got back this last time," Dean says slowly, working it out, "I noticed him."
"Right." Sam knows the significance of that. "And?"
"He's around a lot more than he used to be," Dean adds carefully, putting it together.
"This is like pulling teeth."
"I really notice when he's not here," Dean adds, giving Sam a dirty look. "And it pisses me off."
"Whoa." Sam licks his lips. "Right now?"
"I already thought of how much I want him to beg to come back before I let him because I didn't want him to leave," Dean admits, lifting his head for a glare. "Fuck you."
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