|What's Love Got To Do With It? (I think it's a 'verse or something)
||[Jul. 9th, 2012|08:23 pm]
So yeah, remember how I mentioned that I was getting kind of into the whole omega!verse thing? ... yeah, I think we all saw this coming.
This is the beginning of my own little White Collar Alpha/beta/omega 'verse. It is my own complicated reaction to finding something both super problematic and super sexy. We'll see how it goes; I have ideas for future parts and am open to suggestions.
Title: What's Love Got To Do With It?
Fandom: White Collar
Pairings: Peter/Elizabeth, Neal/Kate, Neal/Peter (future Neal/Peter/Elizabeth foreshadowed)
Rating: R for non-explicit sexual content
Warnings: mentions of prison violence, alpha/beta/omega dynamics, references to consent issues, abandonment/betrayal, messing with tropes, Infinitely Patient Elizabeth
Summary: beta!Elizabeth isn't going to let a little chemical reaction interfere with her marriage. omega!Neal isn't going to let anyone send him back to prison unclaimed. Alpha!Peter is definitely not in charge here.
AN: Okay I have a lot of feelings about the tropes I'm playing with here, and if you want to bear with me as I tease a whole storyline out of this, you will probably become very much acquainted with those feelings. Suffice to say, please feel free to discuss the problematic aspects of these tropes with me in the comments, because I will very likely agree with you. (special niche warning: if A/b/o fics are your uncritical idfic happy comfort place, I am cool with that, and you might actually enjoy this fic, which is not even really a deconstruction, just a slightly different angle. But you might want to avoid the comments section because critical stuff might happen there.)
The only place where I'm dramatically veering away from the trope is that I'm not using knotting. Not because it isn't hot -- it so is -- but because I can't figure out how to incorporate sex scenes with female Alpha characters while still making knotting a big deal. My failure of imagination there.
Elizabeth knows exactly what's going on; she's known for a long time now. She hasn't wanted to bring it up because it seems... indelicate, maybe. Like mentioning someone's rude bodily functions. Which usually wouldn't be a problem between her and Peter after six years of marriage and blaming plenty of things on Satchmo, but this subject, she knows, is particularly delicate.
But when she comes downstairs at 3 a.m. to find him still hunched over the coffee table going over case files that he's already been over dozens of times, he looks up at her with that guilty look that he's been flashing more and more often lately, and she knows that the conversation is going to happen whether they like it or not.
"El... we need to talk."
"I know," she says patiently. She isn't worried. She was, at first, a little. But she got over it. She knows Peter.
"It's about that suspect I've been chasing. Neal Caffrey."
Elizabeth sighs. Peter tries so hard to communicate, but sometimes he really does seem like he's going to keel over if she doesn't push things along a little bit.
"I know he's an omega."
Peter's eyes about popped out of his head. "You do?"
"Yes, sweetie. I know I'm not an expert on these things, but I can see what he's doing to you. And I know you can't help it."
He sighed with relief, then stopped himself short, as if he still wasn't out of the woods. "And you're not mad?"
El finally walked over and sat down in the other chair, and placed her hand gently on his wrist, pulling it away from the manila folder he was still holding.
"I'm not mad, honey. I'm not going to lie to you, I was a little jealous when I first realized what was going on, and I wish you would have talked to me about it sooner. But I know it's just a chemical reaction, right? Pheromones? And I know that no matter how this guy makes you feel, he's a suspect you're trying to catch, and you're not going to let the whole Alpha thing " -- she waved her free hand in the air to encompass a large and complicated situation -- "get in the way of that."
She could see him relax, like he was letting go of a heavy burden. "Thanks, El. And I'm sorry, I should've told you. I've let this whole thing get to me way too much."
"Yeah, you did," she replied, smiling to let him know that she meant it gently. "I do remember what we talked about back when we got engaged. As far as I'm concerned, it still stands."
The conversation El was referring to had been another late-night one, in the bedroom of their pre-marriage Manhattan apartment. That time, it had been her who couldn't sleep.
The thing is, for a beta (which is to say, the vast majority of the population), dating an Alpha is basically like dating a rock star. At first, everyone you know is impressed. Your status goes up overnight; people flirt with you who never looked twice at you before, and ask for your advice about things they probably never considered you an expert on. You get better seats in restaurants. It's surreal. But that's only at first. Once you start to show signs of getting serious, of potentially losing your heart, you start to get the concerned faces and the for-your-own-good talks. How can you be sure he'll be faithful? Don't you know they can't help themselves? It's, like, pheromones. Hormones. Whatever. Why would he marry a beta when he could claim an omega all for himself? And you know they're all bisexual or something anyway. I'm sorry, I'm telling you this for your own good.
Elizabeth had been pretty sure it was mostly BS, of course. Sure, Alphas often experienced some intense hormonal drives, but so did most people at one time or another. She had pointed out to her well-meaning friends and family members that it wasn't like betas were all perfectly suited to problem-free monogamy. She'd seen it in plenty of relationships among friends, colleagues, clients, and even her parents -- you come to a point where you can choose to fight off the temptation, to cut your losses and split up, or to just agree to look the other way every so often. Besides, she'd always thought of hormonal orientation as kind of like astrology -- it's a matter of opinion how much it really influences who a person is. Peter's personal gravity, his air of leadership, was one of the things that attracted her to him, and it was certainly a stereotypical Alpha trait. But who was to say that was or wasn't anything more than a coincidence?
Still, she was only human (and so was he, she reminded herself tenaciously), and she couldn't help letting some of the paranoia get to her. So she'd woken him up and asked him what they would do if he ever met someone who, well, set him off. He'd assured her that he could resist the temptation with for the sake of their marriage; that the way he felt about this beautiful, brilliant, elegant, enormous-hearted woman he intended to marry was a thousand times more important than some primal rush of brain chemicals. It wasn't like the sex could possibly be better than it was with her, anyway.
And that made her feel a little better. But, she'd been thinking about this, and she needed to put it out there. She'd seen couples torn apart by temptation and suspicion and all of that before, and she didn't want it to happen to them, especially for something that they both knew was shallow and meaningless but understood was incredibly difficult to resist. So, she'd said, if he ever felt the need to go all Alpha on someone, they could talk about it, and she'd understand if it led to a bit of a fling. And, she added, the same would have to go for her -- if she was ever really really tempted, she'd raise the issue herself. After all, she was a beta, not a nun.
And then they'd curled up in each other's arms and finally gone to sleep.
The Central Casting stereotype of an Alpha was someone big and butch, but that didn't exactly hold true in real life. Especially in the case of Kate. When Neal had first met her at Adler's office, he'd wanted to drop to his knees right then and there. It was in the way she stood with her wait impatiently shifting between her elegant hips, the slight uptick of her perfectly painted mouth, and of course, in her scent, rich and heavy like jasmine and sandalwood. She was all Alpha, and she was exquisite. He wanted to follow her home.
Another stereotype was that the last thing anyone would want to be was an Omega in prison. It was a pretty common punchline, really. But the truth was, for Neal, it wasn't that bad. He had the luxury of being claimed, being bound to a strong, young, beautiful Alpha who wasn't afraid to let everyone know that he was under her protection. When his time came every season, she came to share a trailer with him and enthusiastically threw him down on the hard little cot, pinning his hips to the mattress and riding him hard as he whimpered shamelessly for her.
Neal knew that a lot of omegas -- to the extent that there were a lot of omegas -- found heat to be embarrassing. Not him. He was pretty sure it was a good look on him.
But after his four years were almost up, a few weeks before his heat was due to start, everything changed with no warning. "Adios, it's been real," she said. And she released him from their bond. Maybe she had a good reason; maybe he really meant something to her after all. But it didn't really matter now. He was on his own, unclaimed, up for grabs, and he could feel the hormones starting to drive him in the direction of the edge, the little twitch in his fingers, the vivid dreams that always came before all hell started to break loose. Something was going to have to give. He knew it wasn't going to be him.
Peter mostly called El because he needed an excuse to get out of the empty apartment he'd been sharing with the escaped con he'd been chasing all day. One more second in that room, breathing in that perfumed air, and he was pretty sure he was going to lose it in one big tangle of frustrated emotions and conflicting impulses.
"Yeah, we found Caffrey. Sure didn't get too far."
"Is he okay?" asked El, oddly. Something about Caffrey seemed to bring out a protective streak in her since their first talk about him.
"Yeah, except... he's unclaimed. She left him."
"Oh my god."
"Yeah. We're going to have to take the poor kid back to prison like this."
"Well, you have to claim him."
Irrationally, Peter pressed his phone more firmly against his ear, as if he could listen more closely and hear that his wife was really saying the exact opposite of what he thought she was saying. "El, I can't just --"
"Sure you can. I mean, don't, you know. Have sex with him. He's in no place to give consent. But you can protect him. For the time being, anyway."
"This is crazy. I'm married to a beautiful woman, he's still mooning over his ex, not to mention he's an internationally wanted felon who just escaped from high-security prison --"
"Do you have any better ideas?"
Peter just made a sound, a groan like an old house settling. It was the sound he made when he had no idea what he was going to do with the woman he'd taken it into his head to marry.
"I didn't think so."