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The Epic A/B/O List

NOTE: I am updating this only very intermittently, and only when I happen to run across things that seem like they'd fit. New stuff goes in this additional recs section. Same goes for the Epic List of A/B/O Ladies.

Last updated July 31, 2019.

It comes as no surprise to folks on my flist that I am absolutely fascinated by the alpha/beta/omega trope as it’s developed in fandom in the last year and a half or so. For one thing, I like seeing authors explore the specifics of how the founding principles of a/b/o sex and gender work out in practice, and how those differences comment on our own society’s very complicated feelings about gender and sex. For another, I like the frisson of unease that comes of combining the familiar – workplace politics, romance, the college or high school AU – with the alienness of a society running on different reproductive principles and sexual politics than ours. Finally, I’m intrigued by what fandom’s collective fascination with the trope says about fandom as a whole, although I don’t feel qualified to say anything useful about that aspect.

Of course, some folks are just in the trope for the porn, and there’s plenty of it. You’ve got your knotting, you’ve got your mpreg, and you’ve got your explicit and less-explicit D/s overtones. A trifecta of kink! Personally, I’m not nearly so interested in the porn as I am in the worldbuilding, but there's plenty of each to go around.

Here, then, is a collection of a whole bunch of Fics of Interest™ that I’ve collected over the past year or so. They’re collected vaguely by theme. This is by no means exhaustive (lolno), nor is it precisely a recs list. However, I do find all these fics interesting for one reason or another because of how they develop the tropes.

A few notes:
  • The hotbeds of a/b/o and knotting activity seem to be SPN, SPN RPF, Teen Wolf, Sherlock, and Avengers. There also was a fair bit of activity in Inception and XMFC fandoms, although that seems to be declining somewhat as those fandoms become less active. Out of all those, I read widely in SPN and SPN RPF and only occasionally in the others, so this list will definitely be skewed towards the fandoms I know. I'd be very interested to see similar posts from people better versed in the other fandoms!

  • As a personal bias, I am generally least excited about worlds built on gender essentialism and D/s social hierarchies and most excited about fics set in societies that at least aim for equality. Basically, I don’t seek out fic about the possessive dominant alpha and the meek submissive beta, and it's underrepresented here.

  • As another personal bias, I don't get much excited about werewolf AUs, especially if the a/b/o aspects function mainly as a structure on which to hang pack politics. Also, while there's tons of fic – werewolf and not – involving knotting in general, this list is for fics that deal with a/b/o specifically.

  • The a/b/o trope is chock full of consent issues, lack of agency of all kinds, gender essentialism, knotting, and mpreg. Some fics embraces all those elements, while some ignore some elements while subverting others. You should assume all fics listed below have all those elements unless otherwise noted. Heed the warnings of any fic you click on!

  • In case you're unsure where to start, I've marked some personal favorites with asterisks: **. This isn't to say they're the best or explore the issues in the most interesting way or have the hottest porn (really not), but that they make me happy.

  • Where it seemed appropriate, I've included my own stuff. See the disclaimer about how this is less a recs list than it is a list of things that exist. :)

  • I've not yet decided whether or not I'm going to update this list as a I find new things. If I do, I'll put a "updated on" note at the top. EDIT: list is now being updated on a semi-regular basis.

the nonnies made them do it! - an essay by [personal profile] netweight outlining the development of a/b/o in SPN fandom, complete with lots of data and links. Chewy and in-depth; highly recommended.

Slick, by tryfanstone - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
A/b/o and knotting as horror. Despite being quite recent, this fic nicely illustrates the darker/kinkier elements of the trope as it first developed (although without the happy ending many of the early fics arrived at). Heavy emphasis on the dub-con, D/s, and knotting elements of the trope. DARK.

Sure to Lure Someone Bad, by [archiveofourown.org profile] obstinatrix - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
My archetypal a/b/o porn fic. Jensen's in heat and on his way home to take care of that; a stranger on the train offers to help. Also mentions the idea of heat suppressants, which get a lot of play in several fandoms – usually when they fail or run out.

**A Cracked Engine Block (series), by longsufferingly - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
Longsufferingly's a/b/o fics are big on subversion, while also being delightful fluffy rom-commy things. As a/b/o fics go, they're pretty far to the inoffensive end of the "potentially squicky" spectrum, and from them you can get a pretty good sense of the popular a/b/o tropes being subverted without ever reading the unsubverted versions. This particular series neatly turns on their heads the an omega needs an alpha and omegas belong to their alphas tropes. (Note: longsufferingly also appears in this post as [archiveofourown.org profile] Chash.)

The Alexandrian Solution, by [archiveofourown.org profile] bexless - Teen Wolf, Stiles/Derek
Not technically a/b/o, but a great play-by-play of the whole knotting trope. Derek pops a knot for the first time, Stiles is supportive, and there's much exploration of anatomy, with humor.


General Worldbuilding Development
**Wait For It, by concernedlily - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
One of the early fics, I find this (and its sequel, Good Things Come) fascinating because in it, Jensen and Jared are still actors on SPN. Thus not only do the fics explore their relationship as alpha and beta (what most authors now call an omega; this was before the now-common a/b/o three-sex designation was really common), but what it means for both of them to be playing against type as beta!Dean and alpha!Sam, which makes for a fair bit of metafictional exploration. Embraces the gender essentialist aspects of the trope pretty whole-heartedly.

**Not, by tryfanstone - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
An early knotting fic, in which guys with knots are discriminated against by society at large. Doesn't engage with a/b/o tropes otherwise,, but interesting for historical context.

the Tramp!verse, tehdirtiestsock - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
And the third pretty early a/b/o fic in SPN RPF, another one very concerned with social justice issues related to the alpha/omega hierarchy. A possibly-abandoned WIP, but again, interesting for historical context (and also, let's be honest, for activist!Jared with earrings and a motorcycle).

Enlightenment, by janice_lester - SPN RPF, Jared/Misha
Jared's always known he was an alpha, but he never really knew what that meant; now that he's in college with a crush on his omega professor, he's going to have to figure it out. This results in an entire fic of Jared exploring his alpha heritage. This is an ensemble fic, so we meet a decent number of alphas and omegas (which in this fic together make up a very small percent of the overall population, which is mostly betas). This author also uses the idea of alphas getting "alpha stripes" on their faces when upset, which I've seen only very rarely.

Sparks are Whirling Faster, by cherie_morte - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
Jared sneaks into a college party and spontaneously goes into heat; Jensen rescues him from other, less well-meaning alphas, but the experience is traumatic for them both. This is another fic that looks at the way society deals with the basic premise of some of its members going through periods of sexual insatiability.

Scratch That Itch, by tebtosca - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
An example of the high school a/b/o AU, of which there are a fair number of SPN RPF fics. In particular, discusses the social changes as adolescents "peak" and achieve their sexual maturity as alphas or omegas.

Thermodynamics and the Modern Male, by snickfic – SPN RPF, Jared-centric, Jared/Matt Cohen
Another HS AU, also dealing with various kinds of change during puberty, particularly changes in and complication of sexual orientation.

**the Spice 'verse, by [personal profile] ghostfic - SPN RPF, Gen/Misha
And another HS AU, this time in a universe that has only alphas and omegas. Omega!Misha, then, is basically treated as just a flat-chested girl. The fic comes with bonus omega/omega attraction.

As Long As You Are Mine, by [archiveofourown.org profile] challengeaccepted - Sherlock, Jim/Sebastian
Thorough working-out of the trope of omegas having a biological imperative for childbearing and how that might affect social maneuvering and personal decision-making.

Entangled, by antennapedia - BtVS, Buffy/Giles
A fic that spends quite a bit of time exploring specific social institutions and expectations for each of the sexes. In particular, betas in this universe are sterile, but hold most key leaderships positions.

Bring a Towel, by [archiveofourown.org profile] verity - SGA, John/Rodney
Another one that does some interesting things with how its society structures itself around the three sexes. Here, betas are favored in the military, and alpha!John is a soldier on sufferance – conveniently, since the SGA-specific ATA gene doesn't express in betas. In addition to the worldbuilding, omega!Rodney tops in this fic.

The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized, by [archiveofourown.org profile] the_ragnarok - Inception, Arthur/Eames
A fic that looks a fair bit at the socially expected roles of omegas vs. other sexes, but is also interesting as an example of the heat bonding trope, in which a pair bonds physically for the duration of the omega's heat and can't get far from each other without pain. As far as I know, this trope has only ever appeared in Inception fandom.

Mr. Right, by [archiveofourown.org profile] Not_You - Avengers, Darcy/Coulson
Has some interesting stuff about alpha instincts vs. omega instincts, and also suggests some things about how rape is treated in this particular universe.

Eat, Knot, Love by [archiveofourown.org profile] pandabomb - Teen Wolf, Derek/Stiles
Maybe the best look I've ever seen at how non-glamorous heat might be. This backbone of this fic is a sweet HS romance, the consent issues are handled very well IMO, and nobody's particularly angsty about any of the activities, and yet this struck me overwhelmingly as body horror as Stiles in heat goes basically mindless with sexual need for over a week. Some other interesting worldbuilding as well, regarding things like pre-heat calorie intake.

**A Taste of Java by brutti_ma_buoni - SPN RPF, Jared/Gen
Generally in a/b/o, mates are for life, but Jared and Gen have both lost theirs and now choose to find some solace in each other.

Portions of Happiness series by [archiveofourown.org profile] evadne - Sherlock, Molly/Irene, Molly/Sally
Does some neat things with pronouns, the like of which I haven't seen anywhere else. Also just really lovely femslash.

No Limited Dimensions by cleflink - Sherlock, gen
John is knocked out in our world and wakes up in an a/b/o one. A/B/O from the outsider perspective always fascinates me, and John's a great POV character for it. Now has a bang-length sequel which I have not read yet.


Trope Subversion
Mostly presented without discussion. Notice that whereas fics in the previous category dealt largely with the a/b/o trope on a societal scale (albeit via the perspectives of individuals), this category is much more of individuals who don't quite meet those broader social expectations, for whatever reason.

**Friends Helping Friends, by [archiveofourown.org profile] scaramouche - SPN, Dean/Cas
Dean/Cas, Cas is an omega who may be on the asexual spectrum when he's not in heat.

Ineffective Synonyms, by [archiveofourown.org profile] amorremanet - SPN RPF, Misha/Vicki, Misha/various
Omega!Misha is asexual. The series chronicles his initial realization of this in high school (with the help of his then-girlfriend, alpha!Vicki) and looks a little bit at how this affects him later in life.

I Thought You'd Be Taller 'verse, by snickfic – CWRPF, Gen+Danneel
Omega!Danneel is off alphas due to prior trauma, but still manages to make friends with alpha!Gen.

untitled, by longsufferingly - SPN RPF, omega!Gen/omega!Danneel

The True Inverts, by lexicale - SPN RPF, omega!Jared/omega!Jensen

A Different Kind of Alpha, by anon - SPN RPF, alpha!Jared/alpha!Jensen

**Gordian, by [archiveofourown.org profile] fresne - Sherlock, John/Sherlock
John/Sherlock, Sherlock's an adult who's never gotten his second sex (a, b, or o), and so can pass for whichever. Really interesting look at social tensions in this one, and also at the anomalous individual who doesn't sexually mature until later in life.

Late Bloomer, by bewaretheides15 - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
As the title suggests, another fic about an individual who's late maturing. Also, in this universe alphas have knots, betas carry children, and omegas (very rare) are both.

Angry Inches, by [archiveofourown.org profile] ghostyouknow27 – SPN, Dean+Cas
Cas is a trans-alpha.

**saying it out loud is hard (and words are futile devices), by ladyofthelog - Sherlock, Sherlock-centric gen
Sherlock is trans-omega

The BAMF Omega, by putigress2012 - Sherlock, John/Sherlock
John's a very take-charge omega in bed. Pokes at the submissive!omega idea.

This Unacceptable Heat, by [archiveofourown.org profile] lifelesslyndsey - SPN, Sam/Castiel
Another one about a large-and-in-charge omega in heat – Sam, this time.

Jensen and the Terrible, Horrible Ex, by etoile_etiolee - SPN RPF, Jensen/Jared
In which omega!Jensen clocks his ex and then gets to top.

Willing, by anon – SPN RPF, alpha!Jared/alpha!Jensen (have to join blindfold_spn to view.)

narrative of soul against soul, by glycin - Inception, alpha!Arthur/alpha!Eames

Unusual by janice_lester - SPN RPF, alpha!Gen/alpha!Misha

Not Me, by spnmonster - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
Jared's an omega who doesn't want kids.

And You I Crave, by softandwoolen - Sherlock, John/Sherlock
One of the earliest a/b/o fics in Sherlock fandom, and also introduces a trope that seems to be fairly popular in that fandom, that of omegas passing as either alphas or betas. I've mostly seen this presented as being done to avoid social discrimination rather than because of personally identifying as the assumed gender.

The Aristocrat in the Parlour, by berlynnsherlock - Sherlock, John/Sherlock
Another "Omega!Sherlock passes as alpha" fic.

Long Before Dawn by lies_unfurl - SPN, Dean+Cas
HS AU in which omega!Castiel asks his friend alpha!Dean for a ride to the abortion clinic. Abortion is even more rarely discussed in a/b/o fics than in mpreg fics proper, and sexual abuse, as Castiel has suffered here, usually is resolved by someone's healing cock.

Claiming What Isn't Yours by stripytights - SPN, Dean/Victor
While in the process of arresting omega!Dean, alpha!Victor accidentally claims him. The post-claim process does not go the way these things usually go, because Dean is not your usual, docile omega. Very satisfying subversion of gender essentialist attitudes.

Take by [archiveofourown.org profile] snickfic - SPN RPF, Gen/Adrianne
Sometimes, alpha!Adrianne wants to be dominated. Omega!Gen is game for this, if a little intimidated.

In Charge by janice_lester - SPN RPF, Jared/Gen
Another "alpha wants to be dominated" fic - with alpha!Gen and beta!Jared this time.

Dipolar Coupling by [archiveofourown.org profile] fourfreedoms - hockey RPF, alpha!Kane/alpha!Toews
This one really buys into the dominant alpha theme and explores what that could look like in an alpha/alpha relationship.


A/B/O Plus - fics that expands the a/b/o idea beyond the usual or combines it with other fic tropes
**Show Me How You Do That Trick, by deirdre_c - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
The a/b/o high school spies AU.

Homo Homini Lupus Est, by [archiveofourown.org profile] neotoma - SPN, Kali/Gabriel, Sam/Gabriel, Jo/Gabriel
Interesting for its expansion of the basic alpha, beta, and omega sexes; this fic has deltas and gammas as well.

Lost in Translation, by [archiveofourown.org profile] verity - SGA, John/Rodney
Pegasus folks have a/b/o, the Milky Way folks do not.

Rattling Your Locks, by cherie_morte - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
A fic that combines a/b/o with the slavefic trope. Which is to say, lots of consent issues floating around this one, and the author takes great care with them.

These Spooky Old Woods, by snickfic – SPN, Jo/Sam
A universe composed mostly of betas, where alphas and omegas live in secret and are also the only people with an ability for magic.

**It's a Wonderful Life by [archiveofourown.org profile] ghostyouknow - SPN, Meg/Castiel
A/B/O with zombies!

if you got a straight line, this would be a good time by [archiveofourown.org profile] verity - Teen Wolf, Derek/Stiles preslash
A/B/O with psychic wolf companions.

a light-handed approach to regulation by [archiveofourown.org profile] hazel - hockey RPF, Kane/Toews
A/B/O with D/s integrated into it - collars, handfeeding, kneeling, and so on. This flavor of a/b/o is probably the most common kind in hockey fandom; I'm not sure I've ever seen it anywhere else.


Women in A/B/O
UPDATE: the Epic List of A/B/O Ladies has been moved to its own post.


Additional Recs
For further reading, if you decide you like this trope. Some of my other favorites, basically, so they all get stars.

A Hole in the World by [archiveofourown.org profile] AnnelieseMichel - SPN, Dean/Castiel
WIP, non-supernatural AU that uses the a/b/o social issues as a backdrop for the foreground relationship. Long and chewy, and the characterizations are pleasingly complicated.

Hot Shoot by janice_lester - SPN RPF, omega!Jared/alpha!Gen
Basically a sweet little romance piece.

Unexpected and Little Talks by [archiveofourown.org profile] ghostyouknow - SPN, Jo/Castiel leading to Dean/Jo/Castiel
Dean's a beta in an alpha's world, and also his friend Jo is knotting his crush. Nice angst and miscommunication here.

the truth about butts and wolves by [archiveofourown.org profile] verity - Teen Wolf, Derek/Stiles, Stiles+Scott friendship
Kind of ridiculously adorable angst/fluff where Scott's gender and biology changes with his species.

have a mind to just let my whole body go by [archiveofourown.org profile] verity - Teen Wolf, Derek/Stiles
In which Stiles is an omega and a midwife, and Derek is a pregnant omega who walks into Stiles' office one day.

The Modern Way - SPN RPF, Jared/Jensen
Jared is courting Jensen the old-fashioned way, lots of flowers and candlelit dinners, and it's driving Jensen crazy.

Misery I Need by [archiveofourown.org profile] mwestbelle - MCU, Steve/Bucky
Steve may still be an omega, but he's built like an alpha, and sometimes that chafes.

The Ties That Bind by [archiveofourown.org profile] Odsbodkins - MCU, Steve/Bucky
Steve is still coping with the 21st century and grieving his husband Bucky when an assassin named the Winter Soldier comes after him. Really neat worldbuilding in this one.

Contact High by balder12 - SPN, Sam/Kevin
Preslash, where Kevin has a panic attack as soon as he ventured from the bunker, and Sam goes to rescue him while in heat. Just, neat friendship and also a fic dealing with the practical annoyances of heat.

Childbearing Hips by [archiveofourown.org profile] SailorPtah - Fake News, Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert
Stephen, an omega, has always been secure in one thing: he's guaranteed to be loved. Specifically, by the nearest available alpha, once every three months. So even though his parents don't approve of him not settling down, and Jon doesn't want a serious relationship, he gives every appearance of coping just fine.

Blood Sport by [archiveofourown.org profile] downjune - Hockey RPF, omega!Sid/omega!Geno
Geno has an unexpected heat and doesn't have supplies for the post-heat bleed. Sid provides. A neat look at omegas relating to each other and a potential aspect of omega biology I don't see much. This is one of those fics where the character dynamics are really sweet but the backdrop is pretty harsh. Mind the warnings.

Speak Easy, Push Back by [archiveofourown.org profile] bergamotandbone - Hockey RPF, Sid/Geno
PROHIBITION-ERA A/B/O AU. This is such a richly-imagined world, where Geno runs whiskey for Ovechkin and Sid is a veterinarian with a side practice for omegas who need illicit medical help. I lovely the equality between the mains, and I love all the side characters, too. I want so much more in this world.

Dream the Right Dream by [archiveofourown.org profile] Ferritin4 - Hockey RPF, Backstrom/Ovechkin
I've never seen any a/b/o quite like this before - it's got some of the D/s stuff that's standard for hockey a/b/o, but it orients omegas as the heart and ultimate leaders of their teams. I really, really love how it contrasts the perspectives on gender from the different countries - Nicky from Sweden, where omegas are fine going through heats alone; North America, where alphas expect omegas to use them for heats, and Russia, which has yet another view. Just a very interestingly imagined world.

it's not a new wave, it's just you and me by [archiveofourown.org profile] sphesphe - Hockey RPF, Bergeron/Marchand
Another somewhat D/s-flavored fic, this time about Marchand, too mouthy and aggressive to ever be a proper omga. I liked how his sympathetic but ultimately incorrect perspective of his relationship with Bergy screwed them up for a while before they got things all smoothed out.

Hunky Dory (series) by [archiveofourown.org profile] WeagleRock - Hockey RPF, Crosby/Malkin/Ovechkin
A virus sweeps through the human population, turning much of it into something resembling a/b/o. Sid and Geno were already dating, but now omega!Sid is bonded to alpha!Ovi. I love reading stuff where people unused to an a/b/o universe are suddenly stuck in one, and this fills that need nicely. It's horror with heaping helpings of angst, but the ending is hopeful.

5 Times Sid Went Into Heat, and One Time He Didn't by [archiveofourown.org profile] kleinergruenerkaktus - Hockey RPF, Crosby&Malkin
Sid hates his heat, but at least he has Geno around to help him endure it. This has a Sid who's apparently ace and has a lot of body dysphoria; it's kind of a hard read for those reasons but so satisfying. Also has a lot of iddy h/c type stuff.

With Time by [archiveofourown.org profile] annabagnell - John/Sherlock
A/B/O in late middle age. Neat.

Not Since Bonnie & Clyde by [archiveofourown.org profile] Lang - Riverdale, Alice/FP
Alice grew up an alpha on the south side, but she has no intentions of staying there. Character study, soapy to the max, and the best kind of hot mess ship.

can't turn off what turns me on by [archiveofourown.org profile] audreyii_fic - Star Wars, Rey/Kylo Ren
Seattle mechanic omega Rey finds secret virgin alpha Ben Solo on a heat app. Lots of porn and then lots of feels, the translation to modern-day AU was incredibly fun (Ben's an ex-mercenary, Finn escaped from a militia), the supporting cast was fun, it was all great.

with a graveyard tan by [archiveofourown.org profile] 1001cranes - Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa/Max
Furiosa gets gifted the feral omega with the mask on his face, whom she absolutely does not want; they make the best of it. The movie is already so concerned with gender-related power differentials that it can be kind of a touchy thing integrating a/b/o into the mix, but this does such a great job. I love this Furiosa, faced with a different set of hard decisions, and I love the the unspoken trust she and Max slowly develop, under the surface.

honey drip; sweet and easy by [archiveofourown.org profile] goodnightpuckbunny - hockey RPF, Crosby/Malkin
Zhenya goes into heat and asks Sid to help him out. 10k of the hottest heat porn I've ever read, with feelings!

The Biblical Sense by [archiveofourown.org profile] sevenfists - hockey RPF, Crosby/Malkin
Sid needs someone to temporarily bond with, and Geno volunteers. Cue 60k of delicious angst and feelings, yessss.

Give Me Something Good by [archiveofourown.org profile] downjune - hockey RPF, Crosby/Giroux
Claude goes into heat at worlds, and for some reason he wants Sid to help him, even though Sid's a beta and also his rival. Satisfying sort-of forced intimacy, and some neat hints of worldbuilding re: betas.

Artificial Gravity by [archiveofourown.org profile] coffeehousehaunts - Original work, f/f. Ash is an alpha with past sexual trauma who gets paired with omega Riley as part of the breeding program to repopulate humanity. This is mind-meltingly hot f/f heat porn set IN SPACE with enough feelings to make me tear up. And then later, once Riley is pregnant, they have to CUDDLE a lot for REASONS. Tropey and hot as hell.

i can't feel my face when i'm with you by [archiveofourown.org profile] hauntologie - Hockey RPF, Crosby/Malkin
Geno’s ready for his rut. Sid isn’t. A kind of hurt/comfort fic via dubcon sex, with some interesting a/b/o worldbuilding aspects. Good feelings.

all fucked up and no place to go by [archiveofourown.org profile] scioscribe - MCU, Drax/Gamora/Peter Quill.
Peter Quill is the only omega in all of space. It sucks. Uncomfortable bodies and tender h/c via sex. :')

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comments welcome over there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

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