your beauty never ever scared me - Rachet_Wench (2024)

Chapter 1: Prologue: Down the Dark Avenues

Chapter Text

June 12th, 1987

Dean never knew where his father went at night.

He would leave every evening at the same time — tousle Dean's hair, grab his shotgun, and bag full of gear — and be gone, just as the sun disappeared over the horizon.

Sometimes he didn't even say goodbye to Dean. He just up and left, a purpose burning in his eyes and a fire in his step, as though something was biting at his heels — forbidding him to stay in one place too long.

The first time his father did not return, Dean woke up late.

Rolling out of his twin-sized bed with Sam still curled up in it, sucking his thumb, he crossed the small living space of the motel. Empty beer bottles, dirty laundry, and old takeout containers growing colonies of mold from their six-month’s stay littered the floor. Dean walked through the growing piles of trash without taking notice.

Reaching his chubby seven-year-old fingers to the doorknob, he peered into his father's room. Usually in the mornings Dean expected to see his dad sprawled across the mattress, crumpled clothes still on from the night before, evidence of exhaustion claiming him before his head hit the pillow.

But this time, John was nowhere to be seen.

A spike of fear stabbed through Dean's heart.

"Dadda?" Pulse quickening in his ears, Dean called out hopefully into the empty room.

There was no answer.

He didn't understand why his father was gone. Dean had grown used to John's periodic disappearances, but he was always back in the morning. Always.

Dean knew his responsibility was to take care of his little brother Sam. Ever since their mother had died six months ago, this had been his responsibility. He was proud of himself for this. He had figured out how to change diapers, feed Sam when he cried and croon songs to his baby brother to get him asleep. All of this, Dean had figured out by himself.

But he knew he couldn't do it on his own. Not completely at least. He needed his dad to get him the diapers and food for Sam. He needed his father’s reassurance, his occasional warm hugs, his big capable presence.

Dean scrunched up his face, trying not to cry. His dad had always grumbled when he cried and told him to 'man up'. But he couldn't help himself; big fat tears rolled down his cheeks.

He never understood why it was bad to cry, he just knew it. He never saw his dad cry. Even in the months after his wife's death, his dad never cried in front of Dean.

Dean tried to be like his father. He tried to be good just like his father always told him to be. He needed to be good like his father wanted.

Sam's waking voice from the other room called out for Dean, startling him as it pierced through the hollow silence of his father’s bedroom, and he ran to take care of his brother.

After a breakfast of oatmeal (Dean was so sick of oatmeal sometimes he thought he'd throw up) Dean set Sam down in front of the TV for cartoons. Once Sam was settled, Dean walked over to the cabinet of food to take stock.

Sitting inside the pantry, a single box of oatmeal packets lay beside two cans of beans. How long would it take for the food to run out? He glanced over to where Sammy sat gurgling with a plastic car.

Considering his options, he knew in his gut there was only one thing he could do; wait. Wait for his dad's return and ration out the remaining food. Give Sam all the food, if necessary.

Dean knew Sam needed it more anyways.

A whole week went by and Dean wondered if his father would ever return.

When he did, in fact, return, Dean ran sobbing at him asking him ‘why why why’ he had gone. Dirty and exhausted, John Winchester stumbled into the motel room. He barely acknowledged Dean's shouts and tears of relief as he tripped into the door and to his bed.

When John woke up, over breakfast the next morning, Dean begged him to never leave again. His resolution to not cry was forfeit as he sobbed, snot and tears galore, clinging to his father’s knee.

"Dean, boy. Come here" His dad grabbed Dean's small frame roughly into a hug and scented the child's neck. Scenting was a loving sign of family, especially from a pack's alpha.

Before Dean could say anything, his dad pulled him back, gripping his child's shoulder, and stared into his eyes.

"Listen pup, I know you don't like it when I leave. But I have to do it. I have to. You don't understand what's out there. There are bad things out in this world and I'm hunting and killing ‘em sons of bitches."

The fevered look in his dad's bloodshot eyes scared Dean. He had never been scared of his dad before though, so he tried to ignore it. He wasn't sure what his father meant by 'monsters’ but Dean knew for a fact that there was no such thing. His mother would tell him all the time before she died, that there was nothing under the bed and that monsters didn't live in closets.

Confusion welled up in Dean. The dark words didn't sound like the father he knew. Dean shrank back from John's strong grip, tense.

"Them motherf*ckers think they can get away with anything. They think they can kill the wife of John Winchester and get away with it! Them monsters hunt at night Dean. They took my Mary. So, I'm gonna take them. Take ‘em straight down to hell."

John kept ranting about the ‘monsters’ that killed his wife and what he was going to do with the man that did it. John’s grip on his son grew tighter the more he talked. Dean started to shake, shivering in his father’s grip.

He looked up at John and saw the man, who only a couple months ago, had been the center of all Dean's world. The man who would come home, kiss his wife on the cheek and toss Sammy until he screamed with laughter.

And then later, after the fire. After his mother’s death and after the sorrow, the man who had kept on living with a renewed fervor in his eyes, had dropped Sam in his arms and told him "take care of Sam,” giving Dean a purpose.

Dean didn't recognize him.

"Dadda?" Dean hesitantly interrupted the rant. "Sammy and me got real hungry yesterday. Do ya think you could bring us something from the store today?"

"It's Alpha, boy." John corrected. "I think I deserve that much respect from my own pup."

His dad had looked down at his son with a strange look that Dean would become well acquainted with in the future. The look promised displeasure. And displeasure from his dad never meant good things.

But little Dean didn't understand this. He kept asking his dad, calling him 'alpha', to please please please go out and bring Sammy food.

Standing abruptly, and roughly shoving Dean away, his dad walked over to the fridge and pulled out a beer.

"Stop that whining, boy. I was only gone a coupla’ days." Taking a long drawl from his beer, John sighed as he idly observed Dean's startled figure.

Dean had never been shoved by John before. He didn't know what to think. Surely John didn't mean to? Tottering to his feet, he reoriented himself, blinking his eyes in confusion. But before he could process it further, John continued.

"I'll pick y'all up something tomorrow, and if you're good, I'm signing you and Sam up for school."

Dean was even further stupefied. School? Dean wasn't dumb, he knew what school was. He had seen it on the motel TV before, but he didn't really know what that meant for him or Sam. He opened his mouth but thought better of it, as his father stomped away muttering about his "whiney ass pups, almost as bad a damn Omega."

Dean watched his father’s figure disappear into the other room and felt a cold weight sink into his stomach.

Days passed. His dad fell into his normal routine and by default, Dean followed. As he took care of Sammy, all feelings of abandonment had dissipated. He thought that his Dad had understood how frightened Dean had been and that his dad would never do it again.

That is, until two months later, his dad disappeared again.

This time, he returned the afternoon of, and with a repeat of "Sorry pup's" and promises to get them a treat, Dean dismissed his feelings once again.

After all, it hadn't been nearly as long as the first time.

Over the next couple of months, they moved from town to town, from state to state, and motel to motel. Sam's third birthday passed, and Dean cried because he couldn't do anything special for him.

Sometimes his dad would disappear for weeks at a time, but Dean didn't even notice anymore.

He learned how to better care for Sammy. He learned to cook, to scrap together actual meals out of whatever he had available. He even found a scrapbook of old recipes in a motel down in Tennessee and took it with him, ferociously devouring the knowledge from between its pages, determined to never let Sammy go hungry again. He rationed the best way he knew how and went to bed hungry for more days than he could count.

He learned to fight too. John taught him how to shoot as soon as he was able to hold a gun steadily between his scrawny arms. Soon he was able to set his sights down a barrel and fire with an uncanny accuracy for a seven-year-old. His father would take him on his vigilante hunts, preventing crimes before they happened. John didn’t often take him on hunts — citing Dean as Sam’s caretaker — but when he did, Dean loved it.

At home, wherever home happened to be at the time, Dean learned to clean. He became a practical housemaid, picking after John and Sam and himself. As soon as he was old enough to feel the shame of the trash that coated the furniture and floors of wherever they were staying at the time, Dean cleaned, hoping to exert some amount of control in his life.

John’s disappearances were routine now and it definitely didn't bother him as much as the first time. Or the second time.

Maybe it was because he had Sammy to take care of.

Sammy, who Dean had potty trained. Sammy, who had started to speak, gargling out his words and amazing Dean with his calls of “Dee! Dee! Watch me!” or “Dee I’m hungwy!” Sammy, who he would tuck in at night, just like his mother used to do for him. Sammy, who Dean was so proud of.

But maybe, it was the fact that, in the end, there was nothing he could do to make his dad stay.

Chapter 2: Besides All the Stardom, All We Got Was Blues

Summary:

Dean goes to school and the boys meet. Fluff ensues.

Notes:

I wrote this chapter months ago so apologies for sucky writing. just a reminder that this story starts out as a relatively fluffy childhood friends highschool romance but gets darker as it progresses, so stick around for the angst.
Also, work and chapter titles are taken from the song "Mary on a Cross" by Ghost

Chapter Text

September 2nd, 1994: 7 Years Later

Dean was fourteen years old, and he knew one fact with absolute certainty; he hated school.

All Dean had ever known was his dad, his little brother, and the open road. In Dean’s opinion, to be honest, there was little else that mattered. When they hit the road, traveling from town to town, it was like the whole world disappeared behind the car doors of the Impala.And what was out of sight, was out of mind.

It was the times in between their travels that was the worst. The weeks spent in matchstick hotels with broken air conditioning, attending junky schools, lying to the locals that ‘yes, ma’am, we don’t live here alone, my dad’s just ran to the grocery store.’ It was the days that stretched to months living in these places that Dean hated.

When the Winchesters settled down in a decently sized town in Kansas and John registered Sam and Dean at the local middle and high schools, Dean wasn’t expecting this new location to be any different that the last one.

He understood that schooling would be a good thing for Sam, who loved learning and would love the opportunity to soak up new information. But Dean didn’t want that for himself. He would much rather join John’s vigilante hunts. He wanted to help his alpha as he studied urban legends and the occult, used fake badges to frequent crime scenes and gather evidence. He wanted to be a part of aiding his Alpha, to learn how to protect people the way his father did.

But John grouched that ‘no Winchester boy of his was going to be ignorant,’ and Dean knew protesting the move to the new school would be futile. John’s temper seemed to shorten each time Dean opened his mouth to speak.

Good things didn’t happen when John got angry.

And so, unhappily he trudged to the school the next day, clasping little Sam's hand. Little Sam, who was not so little anymore. Dean swore the ten-year-old kid was shooting up like a weed.

Sam was bouncing with every step, and he sang in a sing-songy voice, "I'm going to school with Dee. I'm going to school with Dee." over and over.

"Ugh Sammy, will you stop that? I get it, you're excited for school." Dean said, annoyed. He kicked a loose gravel rock with his foot as he walked, watching it fly, spinning crazily off the pavement and into the grass.

"But Dean." Sam whined. "I can't wait to show the teacher what I'm reading! Last time I showed her what I was reading, she was very i-m-p-r-e-s-s-e-d." He enunciated the last word very carefully, sounding not a little bit smug.

"Oh yeah? And who taught you how to read?" Dean said. Secretly Dean was proud of his brother for being such an advanced reader. Like, what ten-year-old kid reads Tolkein and Heinlein for fun? But Dean would never admit the fond feeling in his chest while listening to Sam’s bragging. Instead, he rolled his eyes.

"You did, Dean! Although when I wanted to show dad, he told me to not bother him..." Sam frowned a little at the end of the sentence. "At least he let us go to school this year. Even though lately he's been such a meany."

"Hey, don't talk about dad like that." Dean said, and out of habit, glanced over his shoulder as though expecting John's alpha voice to boom out how ungrateful they are. Of course, nobody was behind Dean, so he looked back down at Sam worriedly. He didn’t like it when Sam said those things about John.

Sam, being a child wise beyond his years, noticed the look on Dean's face and said nothing. He doesn't want to upset Dean, at least not right now. Not now, while the sun is out and shining, Sam was going to school again, and most importantly; that they were together and away from the apartment. Away from John.

Turning away, Sam began to talk about a book read to his class last time he was in school and described the characters in animated detail.

The rest of the way Sam distracted Dean until they stood in front of the red-bricked middle school already filled to the brim with milling kids.

After helping Sam find his classrooms and promise to pick him up later, Dean walked to the nearby high school. The middle school was only a couple of blocks away and Dean spotted the building in no time. Dread building in his gut with every step he plodded the short distance.

After finding his classes and heading to his first, Dean thought about all of the schools he had attended in his travels over the country. Sometimes he would convince his dad to not sign him up for a new one because they wouldn’t be able to finish the term. But most of the time John did it anyway.

The last school Dean attended was awful. The other kids were all rough and loud. He had learned how to defend himself in such an environment in record time. Dean had no hopes this school would be any better. It did make him feel better to walk Sam to his classroom. Sam's enthusiasm got to him no matter how much he tried not to let it.

Quickly finding an empty seat, Dean sat and looked around the room at all the desks being filled.

Immediately Dean realized that this school is different from his last. The air here is bright and sunshiny, all the classroom supplies are brand new, and the teenagers are all impeccably dressed. They are a mixture of betas and alphas, no omegas in sight, obviously. The hallways were filled with a miasma of differing scents that was almost overpowering in its intensity.

Obviously, this school was attended by dozens of rich and preppy teenagers who go home to their perfect, manicured lawns, white picket fences, and fancy mansions. In summary, they were the upper middle-class incarnate.

Dean did not belong here.

Dean's analysis of the classroom is interrupted by a boy who crossed the room to sit at the desk right next to Dean.

The boy wore the rich preppy clothes typical to the other boys in the classroom, with a head of messy curls and his eyes were a deep, brilliant blue. He was tall and Dean wondered briefly whether the boy had presented or not.

However, it was not the hue of his eyes or the style of his clothes that Dean notices foremost, it was the glint of defiance in his eyes. The defiant way the boy held his head high to pass by the glares from a group of particularly preppy boys that smirked amongst themselves.

Dean was well familiar with groups of boys such as this one, having been the receiving end of bullying as he had in the past. These boys were often an assortment of alphas and betas, but they all acted as though they were high-and-mighty alphas, expecting everyone to fall to their knees and cater to their every need. They would regularly use their status to push around kids who were unpresented or younger than themselves. Dean couldn’t stand them. He knew the look of insecurity and the look of a bully. They weren’t so different.

The blue-eyed boy sat himself to Dean’s right and continued to studiously ignore the glares in his direction from the boys on the other side of the room.

With a call for attention, the teacher started her introduction at the front of the classroom, but Dean was unable to tear his gaze from the boy beside him.

Suddenly the fire in the blue-eyed boy's stare turned to Dean. As their gazes meet, Dean almost shivers, as though he had been physically touched.

The glare softened on the boy's face, and he hesitated, about to turn away.

On impulse, Dean leaned forward and whispered. "What'd they do?" He nodded in the direction of the smirking preppy boys.

The boy's eyes widened, and he glanced up at the teacher who hadn't noticed, still giving her peppy introduction that was slowly merging into a lecture about student conduct.

"Shoved my little sister on the way to school, that's what." He whispered back vehemently, scowling.

Dean felt himself growing furious. He pictured the wannabe alphas pushing Sam on the way to school.

"Those stupid little jerks. If you ever need help teaching them a lesson, you can count on me."

The boy smiled grimly. "Thanks."

"Yeah, it's all cool, man." Dean blushed a little, not knowing how to respond to his advice being taken seriously.

"Hey, listen you’re new here, right?"

Dean nodded, wondering where this was going.

"Ok great. My friends Charlie, Benny, and my sister, and I sit together at lunch—I know you barely know me. And you probably don't want to be lumped together with us losers–”

Dean blinked, taken aback. The boy continued. “--I mean, I've been told we are total nerds. And you're obviously not. Not that that's a bad thing, but I just thought you're more of a sports guy. I mean, look at you, you probably–”

Dean incredulously listened to the boy next to him, and was saved from having to respond to the torrent of words that were rushing from his classmate’s mouth when the teacher, a beta named Ms. Blakly, caught wind of whispering in the back of her classroom.

"You boys in the back, quiet down!" She called out irritably. "Quiet down or you will find yourself with detention on your first day of school!"

She stared at them down her nose for a moment and then continued her lecture.

Chagrined, Dean stared at his grainy wood in his desk. He hated being singled out in class. It reminds him of being yelled at by John.

Glancing up to see how his partner in crime fared, he was met by the dark haired boy's twin half -ashamed grin.

The boy hesitated, glanced at the teacher and then back at Dean.

The other boy leaned forward and whispered. "I'm Castiel. Nice to meet you."

Dean grinned. He liked Castiel's nerve.

"I'm Dean."

Castiel smiled back.

"And Cas?"

Dean swore the boy actually blushes at the shortening of his name.

"Lunch with your friends sounds great."

As Dean turned to face forward, he couldn't help the double skip of his heart beat.

Maybe school wasn’t so bad after all.

At lunch, Dean entered the cafeteria and scanned the room for an empty seat. He felt a twist of uncertainty as he didn't spot Castiel.

Doubt pooled in his stomach. Had the blue-eyed boy lied?

No, Dean shook his head, Castiel's eyes had been filled with sincerity. He couldn't have lied. Castiel was likely just late.Dean refused to stand in the middle of the lunch room forever. He spotted an empty chair and the corner of the room and headed to it.

His eyes caught motion in his peripheral vision. Someone was waving from the back of the busy room and Dean recognized Castiel.

Relief flooded him at the sight of the blue-eyed boy. Dean pushed all his worries to the back of his mind as he approached Castiel's table.

“Dean! Sit over here.”

There were several occupants already at the table and Castiel pushed a girl to his right over to make room.

“Heya Cas.” Dean greeted with a grin and false confidence. He stretched his face and hoped it resembled a co*cky expression that would cover the anxiety of meeting those friends Castiel had spoken of earlier in class.

He swiftly settled beside Castiel at his lunch.

Castiel gestured to the three others at the table, introducing them one by one. He pointed to a cute, red headed, beta girl first and introduced her as Charlie Bradbury. She gave a quick little wave and grinned in a friendly way. The other girl at the table was Anna, Castiel's little alpha sister. Anna was petite for an alpha and had dark auburn hair she let frame her small face as if to hide behind it. She didn't say anything to him, her silence seeming deliberate. She sniffed her nose at Dean.

After introductions were made, conversation was pretty easy with Castiel’s friends. Charlie complimented his band T-shirt he wore under his two sizes, too large, leather jacket — he had thrifted from a little thrift store in Sioux Falls two summers ago. They quickly bonded over their mutual love of rock and it segwayed into enthusiastically ranking Led Zeppelin albums one through ten. It was a tie between Physical Graffiti and Led Zeppelin IV when Dean gathered from the lost expression on both Castiel and Anna’s faces that they didn’t understand a word coming out of his mouth.

Castiel didn’t know a thing about rock and apparently not much about popular music in general. Dean had a feeling that the unpresented boy was very sheltered. From the way the boy spoke; always very politely and formally, to the way he dressed — it was obvious.

Dean thought it was unusual, but it didn’t make him like the boy any less. If anything, it was enticing. It was refreshing to be around someone who cared about the conversation as they were having it, focusing on every word he said and giving thoughtful and honest responses. It made him want to find out more about Castiel.

He certainly wouldn't have to fear rock music ignorance as Charlie and Dean planned to thoroughly educate him on the subject with promises to lend him their Walkman’s. They might have gone too far in their ‘education’ as they recited artist release dates, bibliographical facts, and cultural significance. Dean found himself enjoying himself.

When the lull in the conversation presented itself, he asked a question that had been bugging him.

"So, Cas.” Dean said, aiming for casual. “Speaking of your name…what's up with it? It sure is kinda a mouthful, isn't it? I mean, Castiel, really? Your parents hate you or somthin?" As soon as the words are out of his mouth, Dean regretted them. Why did he have to always come on so strong?

Dean expected Cas to duck his head or even blush a little like he had done back in class as a response to Dean's teasing. But Cas did no such thing.

"It's not the worst name of my family Dean."

He let out a chuckle at Dean's surprised face. "In fact, I'd say I got the better end of the deal than my brother."

Charlie, who was sitting at the table on the other side of Dean, giggled. It must have been a familiar topic among the friend group, judging from the twinkle in her eyes.

"Agreed." She confirmed Cas's statement. "Let's just say that Cas's big bro’s name is actually illegal in some states."

"Damn," Dean grinned. "What awful monstrosity of a name did the couple who thought up 'Castiel' give his brother? What is it? Hubert? Bertha? Bartholomew???”

Cas winced and the Charlie girl let out a shriek of laughter. They answered in unison.

"Worse."

Dean's eyebrows scrunched upward on his head, impressed. "Ok, now I'm intrigued. Nothing is much worse than Bartholomew."

Charlie tried to catch her breath from laughing. "It's so much worse." She gasped.

"Adolph? Egbert? Don't tell me it's Humperdinck?" Dean grinned, enjoying himself. He felt so much more comfortable now that he had gotten the others to laugh.

Charlie smirked. "Adolph is actually close"

They both laughed at Dean's stumped expression.

And Cas, who was still smiling, explained. "My parents, especially my Alpha, have always been very religious. At least, to uphold the family image."

Anna and Castiel exchanged a look. She had a wry little grin on her face. Dean wondered what that meant.

"So they named all of their children after angels. My older brothers' names are; Gabriel, angel of dreams and interpretation, Raphael, angel of Healing, Michael, angel of Protection, and...."

Cas let the suspense build and Dean's eyebrows moved minutely higher on his forehead much to Charlie and Benny's amusem*nt. Anna just watched the others with a small dry grin.

"My eldest brother is named Lucifer. After the angel of light."

"Wow," Dean let out, amused. “That's kind of dark, really. No pun intended.”

The name was unusual, as expected, but something about Cas's faint amusem*nt over his brother's names seemed off. Dean could have sworn he imagined a sorrowful look shade Cas's face when he mentioned Lucifer, and it wasn’t just about the absurd name. Something about his brothers bothered Cas.

“Isn't it?” Charlie agreed. “I thought Castiel was kidding when he told me the first time.”

“It’s not the best, I'll admit.” Anna interjected.

Charlie turned to Anna and asked her about her angel name, but Dean was already tuning the others at the table out, as he watched Cas’s face. Dean didn't like to see the fake smile Castiel was wearing.

“Come with me to grab a water bottle?” Dean asked, trying to distract Castiel from his melancholy.

He looked briefly surprised by the request but quickly nodded assent. “Sure.”

They jumped off their chairs and headed toward the cafeteria lunch line. The line was crowded with students clamoring to fill the lunch trays with meat loaf and whatever god-awful food the school had to serve. They slipped into the back of the line, allowing themselves to follow the jostling flow of push-and-shove of the crowd.

Dean tried to ignore two newly presented alpha seniors who pushed into the line ahead of them. The two alphas were stereotypical, both tall, muscled knotheads reeking of testosterone and alpha dominance pheromones. They both turned instinctively away from the sight. It never did any good to get in the way of alphas. Especially if you were unpresented, like Castiel and Dean were.

Castiel and Dean exchanged a look and Dean rolled his eyes comically. Castiel gave a little amused snort.

The alphas moved away and they moved forward so that they were only a few steps away from the table that was serving the water bottles.

“Hey Cas, can I ask you something?” Dean asked hesitantly after a few moments.

“Yes, of course, Dean.”

“What are you the angel of? What does Castiel mean?”

Castiel sighed, “My name is not as significant as my brothers and sisters… Castiel is known as the angel of Thursday. A not even minor figure in mythology and theology, much overshadowed by the reputations of all the great angels of the Lord.”

Dean feels a sense of foreboding as he realizes that Cas wasn’t just talking about his name in relation to his brother’s.

“This isn’t about those wannabe alphas that bullied Anna this morning, is it?” Dean asked bluntly.

Castiel’s eyes widened and he glanced nervously across the cafeteria at Anna, who was in deep conversation with Charlie.

His expression flickered with hurt and he looked down and away for a moment to hide his face. He choked out. "No, really, Dean. It’s — It’s my fault they bully her." His voice was tight with emotion.

Dean understood the guilt in his classmate's voice. It was the way Dean felt when John didn't come home and the food started to run out, and he wished he could do something — anything, really, to fill Sam's growling stomach.

The blue-eyed boy continued in a hushed tone. As though his words had unlocked a floodgate of emotions, but he still felt the need to keep them concealed under the hustle and murmur of the students around them.

"I'm too old to be here, in some of these classes. I'm sixteen.” Castiel’s eyes found Dean’s, desperation burning in them. “My grades — they aren't too good. And even worse, I'm unpresented at sixteen. Those boys have always made fun of me, and now, they bully my sister.”

Dean nodded his head. Being unpresented at sixteen was unusual. The normal age to do so is usually early teens, usually fourteen or fifteen, at the end of your body's puberty.

Sometimes people present late, however, and no one knows why. Some hormone imbalance or something. Dean knew that he would present sometime this year or the next as he was fourteen years old, but he had never thought that much about it before. Secondary gender presentation had never seemed that important to him before because he spent most of his time on the road with John and Sam dodging in and out of motels and small towns and away from most kids his age. It was strange to think that such outright ostracization at school due to your presentation was as prevalent as it was.

“It's all my fault." Castiel said dejectedly.

Dean didn't understand any of the school's secondary gender discrimination, but he did understand what it is like to be bullied. It wasn’t any fun. "It's not your fault.” Dean said firmly. “Jerks are jerks, no matter what you do. Trust me, I know."

The dark-haired boy smiled a little at that. "That’s true…"

“And besides, Cas. Thursday’s my favorite day of the week.” He smirked infectiously and winked, using his best flirting face.

Castiel blinked in surprise, all sad thoughts flying out of his head. He could feel a hotness spreading across his cheeks at Dean’s attention. Unfortunately for him, however, all other thoughts along with the sad ones also left his head and he stuttered out intelligently. “Uh, uh. Thank you-um, I suppose?”

He flushed harder in embarrassment and Dean grinned. Mission accomplished. Castiel didn't look so down anymore and plus, he could enjoy the older blue-eyed boy’s ridiculous and cute reaction. Dean feels the urge to reach out and tousle his curly hair but before he could, Castiel turned to the table with the water bottles abruptly, his face effectively hidden from view.

Castiel grabbed Dean by the arm and yanked after him in a hurry to return to their table.

Dean wasn’t certain, but there seemed to be a pink heat tinting the back of the other boy’s neck and ears.

Charlie was the first to see them when they returned to the table. Her eyes lit up with mischief when they fell across Castiel’s features.

“Dean! What did you do to poor Cas!” She exclaimed, eager to know what she had missed. “He’s looks as red as a tomato.”

She punched Dean on the arm, playing up the role of the ‘protective best friend.’

“Nothing!” Dean protested, jerking away to avoid Charlie’s assault on his arm. “Please Cas! Help and stop this madwoman!”

Castiel stopped blushing, but he didn't respond to Dean’s calls for help. Instead, he grinned at their playful discourse, secretly enjoying it.

Madwomen!? Excuse me?” Came Charlie’s mock-outraged exclamation. “How dare you?”

Realizing he had only dug his own grave, Dean attempted to take back his statement. “Wait no I didn’t mean-”

The table erupted with laughter and Dean relaxed, smiling. He had a feeling school wouldn’t be so bad, after all.

Chapter 3: We Were Scanning All the Cities

Summary:

Dean meets Castiel's brother. First misunderstandings.

Notes:

As always, unbeta'd and unedited

Chapter Text

September 3rd, 1994

Dean was sitting at lunch with Castiel and his friends when he was interrupted by a voice up and behind his shoulder.

“Hello Castiel.”

Dean didn’t recognize the owner of the voice, but it was cold, and hard, and did not sound the least bit friendly, despite the greeting. It did, however, contain a familiar tone, one he would recognize anywhere; alpha.

It demanded attention and respect and obedience, and Dean was used to hearing it in the timber of John’s voice. Dean straightened his back instantly, alert and tense, his good mood almost physically knocked out of his chest. His chest tightened and he tensed automatically. It felt like an almost primal reaction as his body recognized the tone.

Dean wasn’t even presented yet, couldn’t even sense pheromones but he still felt the presence of the voice’s owner behind him.

He turned to see who it was that had greeted Castiel, along with the rest of the table’s occupants.

They all felt the mood change as they took in the figure beside Castiel’s chair. He was tall, dark-haired, and blue eyed in a very similar way to Castiel that Dean recognized as signs of them being related. He wondered which older brother this one was. Could it be the one so morbidly named after Lucifer?

He sure looked the part. A deep scowl accentuated the displeasure and disgust on his face as he surveyed Castiel’s group of friends. The haughty expression destroyed Dean’s comparison of him and Castiel. Castiel looked incapable of such an expression and Dean was grateful for it. Castiel’s alpha brother turned to face Castiel directly.

“Castiel, what is this?” The alpha’s frown colored his voice as he gestured to the table of teenagers. “I would have expected better from you."

He glanced around the table contemptuously, his gaze skimming over Dean. "Are you still hanging out with these losers? I told Naomi that she should have sent you to that private school Luke recommended, instead of carrying on this stupid tradition. But at least you could have found some decent friends here... Not that it isn't to be expected from you, Castiel, but Anna?” His head turned towards his younger sister in clear disappointment.

Dean hadn’t had a very good impression of Anna, but he hated the way she shrank back in her seat under her brother’s gaze. It wasn’t natural, and he felt his protective instincts flare.

Castiel stood up and greeted his brother. “Michael.” He nodded his head “I’d appreciate it if you didn't insult my friends.”

Ah, so this was Michael, Dean noted. What was he supposed to be the angel of again? Protection? Yeah right. Why was it that every Alpha Dean had ever met was so terrible?

Castiel’s face was stoic. Gone were the adorable blushes and laughs from just a moment ago. His normally cheerful, slightly wistful expression was replaced by a mask. He appeared calm, but in control. Careful deliberate anger wrapped up in his statement.

Dean suddenly found himself wondering if Castiel would present alpha. But that was ridiculous. Not Cas. Sweet, kind Cas whose smile was bright and sudden and—Dean shook his head and focused on the scene unfolding in front of his eyes.

“And Michael, it is none of your concern who I am friends with. I extend the same courtesy to you, and I would expect you to behave likewise.” Castiel said.

Michael only sneered. “It wouldn't be of any consequence. If not for your unforgivable grades. Tell me, Cassie,” Michael used the nickname mockingly, cruelly even. “Do you fail your classes at this disgrace of a school on purpose? That is the only way I could see it possible to fail your algebra class.”

Dean saw the hurt in Castiel’s eyes and hurt for him. Why was his own brother this mean? And why in front of everyone? Dean couldn’t stand this — Castiel didn’t deserve this.

“If this school is such a disgrace, then why do you attend here?” Dean stood up to stand next to Castiel, bristling with anger.

He meet Michael’s scrutiny with a glare, forcing his legs to move under the disdainful weight of Michael’s gaze. It was harder than expected, his legs feeling as though they were moving through glue.

Castiel glanced at Dean, grateful for Dean’s presence by his side.

The silence that followed Dean’s challenge was short but tense.

Michael laughed. “Not for much longer, don’t worry.”

“And as much as I would love to discuss the merits of this school, I really must be going now, lunch period is ending, little brother.” He turned to go with a bemused, “See you later Castiel, Anna.”

Michael left behind a table of shocked teenagers.

Dean could not believe that Castiel had to put up with that total jerk-wad of a brother and wondered if the rest of his family was the same.

Charlie echoed his thoughts out loud to a pale Castiel. “Does he always talk to you like that?” She sounded just as angry as Dean felt.

Castiel didn’t say anything, but neatly packed up his lunch, and practically fled the room and Dean thought he saw Cas’s hands shaking as he did.

This wasn't right — Dean knew he had to make sure Castiel was ok.

“I’m going after him” Dean said to Charlie hurriedly as he ran after Castiel.

When Dean reached the hallway, he quickly spotted Castiel’s retreating form.

He followed led him down the hallway to a empty staircase. Castiel collapsed on one of the steps as though he were thoroughly drained. He looked up at Dean's approach, his face drawn up and tight.

“Hey are you ok?” Dean asked.

Castiel’s eyes adopted a distant look as he looked away. “Yes. My brother can be - ” He paused. “Difficult — to deal with.”

“And that’s the understatement of the century.” Dean muttered resentfully.

Castiel only nodded, looking distantly off down the hallway they had come. His body posture screamed that he was uncomfortable.

“And by that, I mean, he’s a total ass-butt.” Dean finished. “You think he qualifies as one of those little jerks I agreed to help you beat up yesterday?”

Castiel looked up wide-eyed, startled out of his brooding. “Dean. You don't have to say that.”

“What do you mean?” Dean said. Did Castiel not expect Dean to be on his side?

“I- I’m sorry you even had to witness that. I understand. I truly do, I’m sure you’ll be capable of discovering alternate accommodations at lunchtime. I am only sorry that incident even occurred.”

Alternate accommodations? What was Castiel even going on about? “Dude, what? I was just worried about you. That gotta be tough having such a jerk as a brother.”

It was like Castiel hadn’t even listened to him because Castiel only adopted that distant expression once again. “I apologize for inconveniencing you by making you worry.” If anyone else had ever said that to Dean, he would have assumed they were being sarcastic or passive aggressive. Instead, Castiel’s voice was full of genuine regret and apology.

Dean was completely bewildered. “Of course, I would worry Cas!” he burst out. “That’s what friends do, right? Why wouldn't I worry?”

“Huh?” Castiel went deathly still, letting out an equally bewildered response. “Friends? You want- you want to be friends with me?”

“Yes!” Dean said, exasperated. “I thought it was pretty obvious.”

Castiel only stared.

“...Unless you don’t.” Dean added, uncertainly. “I thought, um, because you invited me over to eat lunch-”

“Dean. I would love to be friends with you.” Castiel choked out. “I thought you wouldn't want to! Or- oh, I didn’t know what I thought.”

Castiel brought his hand up and dragged it through his hair, almost pulling at the roots in his distress. The tense lines of his body smoothed out as he let his arms drop to the side and looked up at Dean helplessly. “Oh Dean, I’m such an idiot. I hope you can forgive me for this. And I would very much enjoy getting to know your acquaintance and become your friend.”

Dean grinned; confidence returned. “Great, Cas. I knew you couldn’t resist my charms.” He couldn’t resist a wink.

Castiel only grimaced lightly and groaned. “I feel like such an idiot -"

“Don’t.” Dean interrupted, not baring Castiel blaming himself.

Then he remembered what Castiel had said. Dean’s face crumpled as he felt hilarity bubble up inside. When he burst out laughing, Castiel only looked confused.

“Only, did you say alternate accommodations? I knew you were a total nerd!” Dean’s laughter sounded slightly hysterical in his relief.

Castiel’s face relaxed as he observed the laughing Dean. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Cas.” Dean tried to rein in his chuckling. “You could have just said ‘sit somewhere else at lunch’ or ‘find some new friends’.”

Castiel seemed to find this teasing familiar, and Dean had a feeling that Charlie had brought up his odd formal way of speaking before to Castiel. He laughed lightly and shrugged. “This is just my favored form of vernacular.”

At the word ‘vernacular’ Dean snickered. “Dude. You just proved my point.”

Castiel grinned and Dean felt glad for some reason. “You feel better now that this misunderstanding is all cleared up?”

“Much.” But then, Castiel sighed and went to sit down on the first step of the staircase. He seemed to deflate as he settled down.

“But I’m going to be honest, Dean. My brother–” and Castiel actually raised his hands and made air-quotes. “- Ass-butt that he is –”

Dean snorted.

“Isn’t entirely wrong with the things he said earlier at the table.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but Castiel continued. “And before you say anything, he is completely, and I mean, completely wrong about what he said about my friends.

But, he is right about me. I failed that class. There is really no excuse for that.”

Castiel sighed and buried his head in his hands. “I just can’t find myself about to concentrate on school, on algebra when I hear the same things at school that I do at home. How does school matter when all I hear day in, and day out, is that I'm a failure? That I didn’t make it on any of the sports teams in school, that I’m just a loser nerd kid. I hear it from my brothers, my Alpha, and my Mom every day, so does it even matter anymore if I fail a couple of classes? I’m already a failure, so what does it matter?”

Dean felt taken aback. He had heard those words before. Not from classmates, or from old friends. Dean had heard these words from John. John had told him what he was, over and over before until he had started to believe them.

Unpresented.” Castiel spat suddenly, and Dean felt a bone-deep ache for him. The words were so full of bitterness accumulated from years of mocking words over his status. “I’m unpresented at sixteen and not an alpha. The only Novak boy to ever be like this. Two years late.”

“Not for me.” Dean said.

Castiel lifted his head from his hunched shoulders, curious.

“If you had presented as an alpha, you’d be different…If you were an alpha, you’d act like one. Loud and blustering and entitled because all alphas are the same — Like one of those jerks that bully you and Anna. Who cares that you didn’t make it on the sports teams? If you were an alpha, we wouldn’t have met. We wouldn’t be friends. What I’m trying to say is — I would never want to change you, Castiel.”

Castiel blushed, a shade of pink sliding over his cheeks, and hunched over awkwardly. “No one has ever said that to me before.”

Dean felt the urge reach out and brush the through the dark mess of Castiel’s curls. Instead, he stepped over and settled down next to Castiel on the first stair of the staircase.

They sat there for a moment in silence, just looking ahead down the long sunlight washed hallway. The quiet wasn’t awkward, it was comfortable silence.

The air was calm and soft, and Dean wanted to stay in the moment forever.

But before he could do anything he was hit by a burst of inspiration. “I might have a solution to our problem.”

“Huh?” Castiel turned to look at the green-eyed boy beside him.

“Would you- would you want me to tutor you?” Dean paused, soaking in the realization of his new idea. “I’m actually fairly decent at algebra. And I have experience tutoring from helping Sammy in his schoolwork when he was younger. I know it’s not the perfect solution, but-”

“Are you kidding me Dean?” Castiel exclaimed, looking delighted. “That's perfect! Like, that’s actually great! I could actually concentrate if it was you and that means we could hang out more.”

Dean felt warmth well up in him at Castiel’s words, he was glad Castiel wanted to hang out more, even if it was for the purpose of doing schoolwork together. But he also had to make sure Castiel was serious about this. “Well, mind you Cas, we’d have to put a lot into this. That means, working during lunch, studying every day after class, and meeting up for tutoring at least twice a week.”

Dean pursed his lips sternly. “And no slacking.”

Castiel’s smile lit up his face at Dean’s serious tone. “Yes, sir.” he grinned.

Dean tensed at the words unconsciously. The words Castiel so jokingly uttered caused a turmoil of emotions within Dean, reminding him of the countless times those same words had slipped from Dean’s own lips to his alpha father.

sh*t, What would John say about Dean agreeing to tutor Castiel?

“Where would you want to meet up for tutoring after class?” Castiel asked, only confirming Dean’s fears.

Dean thought frantically, trying to scrounge an answer to Castiel’s question. John didn’t have to know about this, he was gone most of the time anyway. The only thing is, he would have to make sure Sam was okay with it. Sam tended to be more quiet around strangers and they had a standing agreement to never let anyone come to the apartment. Dean wasn’t sure he was comfortable bringing Castiel back to his apartment. “We could stay here, after school?” He finally suggested.

“Yeah that works.” Castiel agreed, nodding his head. And Dean felt a wash of relief over his body. “We could also do my house when my brothers are out of the house. I don’t want you to have to deal with them.”

Castiel was so thoughtful, Dean wanted Castiel to feel the same way about him, to return the favor. Surprising himself, Dean said. “We could do my place? I would need to ask Sam though...” He trailed off, realizing that it would probably sound weird to Castiel that he felt the need to ask his little brother’s permission to invite him over to his apartment.

But Castiel just raised his eyebrows. “Sam?” he just asked, the name unfamiliar on his tongue.

“Yeah, my little brother.” Dean answered, ducking his head. Crap, now Castiel definitely thought he was a total nutcase.

But Castiel didn’t look bothered. “I didn’t know you had a little brother.”

“Yeah, Sammy is a great kid. He is super smart too, like, way smarter than me. I think the kid’s going to be a doctor or a lawyer when he grows up or something like that.”

Castiel’s grin grew as he observed how Dean's eyes lighted up and talked excitedly about his brother. “He sounds great. Just let me know what he says, and we can work it out.”

At this statement Dean's eyes found Castiel’s blue ones. He couldn’t believe how accepting and sweet Castiel was. He felt a strange ache in his chest, but he ignored it as he found solidarity in Castiel’s eyes.

They were so blue. Like the sky on a clear autumn day or the ocean that one time Dean went to the beach in Florida, the water was so clear on the Gulf side that you could see your feet in the sand under the water. But it was the earnest look in his eyes, simple trust bleeding through his gaze, that pulled him under.

His anxious thoughts, which were like the constant roar of the ocean, began to recede into the background. All he could think was that Cas’s lips looked very soft. He wondered what kissing Castiel would feel like. “...Yeah.” He replied non-committedly.

How would Castiel react? When Dean pressed his lips against Castiel’s soft ones, would he let it happen? Dean pictured the way Castiel would shudder lightly under him, breath hitching, and lean into the kiss. The way his eyes would close, allowing that moment of vulnerability, heat rising to his cheeks in a warm flush. Would he reach out and grab the back of Dean’s head, grasping into his hair, to pull him that much closer?

Then Dean remembered himself and leapt off the step, and onto his feet, a blush flushing hot on his cheeks. Where had that thought come from?

“Lunch is almost over, we should go.” He refused to turn and let Castiel see his face.

“Oh yeah, you're right.” Castiel said distractedly. He stood, brushing his pants off. “Dean?”

Dean reluctantly turned, a pink blush still tinting his cheeks.

But all he said was.

“Thanks for this Dean. Seriously. You have no idea how much this means to me.”

Dean felt a warmth rush from his stomach to his chest at the praise. He forced his legs to move and took a few steps before turning and winking over his shoulder. “See you later, Cas.”

Castiel was strangely flushed as he stared up from his perch on the steps.

“Bye, Dean"

Chapter 4: Beside all the glamour

Summary:

Sam and Dean bond over mac and cheese. Dean is quite literally Sam's parent.

Notes:

short chapter

Chapter Text

“Hey dummy? You listening?”

Dean shook his head, trying to clear his mind, and looked down to meet Sam’s reproachful gaze. Huh? Had Dean been zoning out and he hadn’t even noticed?

“Hello? Dean? Are you listening to me speak?” Came Sam’s annoyed voice.

Dean felt bad, he had been only slightly aware of his little brother’s excited narration of his day in school. All of the walk home to the apartment, up the stairs to their room, and while tossing their bags in their rooms. He knew he had been distracted, only nodding occasionally and “uh-huh”ing in appropriate spots in Sam’s rambling.

Sam had a mean evil-eye, his little face scrunched up in an unconscious imitation of John’s scowl. Usually, the expression never failed to irritate Dean, and this time was no exception. “Oh, you were speaking Sammy? All I could hear was the grumbling of that humongous tummy of yours.” Dean smirked. “That thing should pay rent with how much room it takes up.”

It was true, Sam’s appetite had really shot up lately, along with his height. He would eat anything and everything that Dean put on the table in front of him. It had not yet become a financial problem, but Dean knew that he would have to discuss the bills with John sometime soon, as Sam would only eat more as he continued to grow. Dean was not looking forward to that conversation.

Sam adopted an aloof expression. “You're only mad because one day I’m going to out-grow you, and I’ll look down at you and command that you make me food. And because I'll be taller than you, you will have to listen.”

Dean snorted at Sam’s snotty tone. “Is being tall the ‘end all, be all,’ ability to tell others what to do?” He asked sarcastically. “Besides, I make you food anyway, so no need to command. What do ya want for dinner, kid?”

Dean headed toward the kitchen and Sam ran to grab his homework, shouting over his shoulder “Mac and cheese! I want mac and cheese with lots and lots of cheese!”

It was a sort of daily ritual Sam and he had unconsciously developed. Dean would start on dinner and Sam would drag a stool over to the kitchen counter with his homework or whatever he happened to be reading that day. They’d banter and rib each other while going about their respective tasks. Dean held the routine close to his heart, these days, or sometimes weeks of peace, when John wasn't home. Dean felt like a hoarding dragon, and each day a precious jewel of a treasure-trove he held close. Speaking of…

“Sammy, I need to ask you something.” Dean set a pot full of water to boil on the crappy apartment stove and looked up over the counter at Sam, as he settled in his seat.

Sam looked up suspiciously at Dean’s serious tone. Dean was never serious. “Yeah?”

Dean froze up, he didn't know how to go about asking this. I want to invite my crush over to our apartment without introducing him to our crazy freakin lives? Or, Can I have my little brother’s permission to bring home a guy, even though we had both agreed to never let anyone come here? It sounded ridiculous. But if he was truly honest to himself, getting Sam to accept Cas felt important to Dean. Never mind that tutoring Cas would cause all sorts of problems. He sighed, already stressed at the prospect.

“Dean, dude, what’s up? You're freaking me out with that face.” Sam laughed. “Just tell me.”

“Aww shut up Sammy.” Dean replied reflexively. Then paused. “There’s this guy in my class that needs help with some schoolwork, he says he needs me to help tutor him with math…the problem is that he wants to come over and I'm not sure about that-”

What?”

Dean looked up from his task of making dinner, at Sam’s face, startled. Was it that bad of an idea that Sam hated it immediately?

“Dude, he asked you to tutor him?” Sam looked aghast. “You're kidding. You couldn't teach a rocket scientist if you tried.”

Now just growing irritated, Dean replied. “Hey, don’t underestimate me Sam. I taught you how to read, didn't I?”

“Yeah, but still, that was a long time ago.” Sam sputtered. “Like, a really long time ago. I barely remember that. I was literally a baby.”

“Ha! Not that long ago…” Dean muttered as he turned away to continue preparing dinner.

“I heard that!” Sam called indignantly. “I’m not a baby, Dean.”

“Are you sure about that?” Dean said sarcastically. And then, to add insult to injury.

“Sammy.”

Sam practically wailed at that, only adding to the baby allusion. “Don't call me that. I’m not a baby. It’s Sam. Not Sammy!

Dean only snorted. “Sure.” He humored the boy. Despite all of Sam’s maturity and bluster, he sometimes forgot how young his brother really was. It was in moments like these that Sam’s true colors showed as he whined like a normal kid his age would do. “So, you think it would be ok to invite this dude over?”

“Um, yeah?” Sam rolled his eyes. “I don’t care. Just make sure John’s not home when you do.”
Dean nodded as he scooped the instant noodles into their respective bowls. He made sure to give Sam the bigger portion. It had been years since the last time they had been starving, ever since Dean had taken over some of the budgeting of the house, but old habits die hard. He never wanted to see Sam hungry again.

Dean knew Sam knew, of course. He noticed the way Dean always served him first, the unequal portions, the way Dean didn’t eat to save up for Sam’s new shoes for school. But he didn’t say anything. Not anymore at least.

The last time he had, a little under a year ago, they had a shouting match that rivaled that of the arguments with John. Except the ones with John always ended with broken bottles, bruises, and slamming doors. This one had ended with Dean screaming that ‘Sam not f*cking tell him what to do. John did enough of that.’ and that had effectively shut Sam down. It wasn’t quite accusing Sam of being like John, but it was close enough.

Dean and Sam hadn’t spoken to each other for a week after that.

Shaking away the negative memories mentally, Dean took the bowls of mac and cheese over to Sam and sat next to him.

Sam shoved his homework to the side and started shoveling the food into his mouth eagerly. With his mouth half full he paused to ask Dean.

“Hey, Dean? Come look at this! It’s like, majorly awesome. Your gonna f*cking flip.”

Dean sat back at the table with an admonishing look.

“Language, Sam. We’ve talked about this.”

He rolled his eyes in that distinctly Sam way that meant he wasn’t really upset.

You knew when Sam was really upset.

Now, he just shoved his comic book under Dean’s nose, pointing to a particularly violent panel and launching into bloodthirsty raptures over it. The comic was one of the newest installments of a series he and Dean both read.

Sam was overjoyed to have gotten the newest issue from his friends at school and regaled Dean with his plans to lord it over him until he caught up.

Dean didn’t mind in the least bit and feigned interest in the comic, smiling as he caught the genuine excitement in Sam’s voice.

It had been good for him to go to school. He even had a blossoming friend group with the other kids in his classes. Dean was glad they had managed to convince John to keep Sam in school. Sam needed friends, right now.

Dean found himself thinking of Cas.

He couldn’t help the giddy feeling that rose in his chest at the thought. He couldn’t wait to have his first tutoring session with Cas tomorrow.

Chapter 5: We Were Riding High

Notes:

Thank you so much for all the kudos and comments! <3 Each on means everything to me. Whenever I get a notifications, it quite literally makes my day. :))

Tws this chapter for: bullying, abusive language, and violance

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

September 4rth, 1994

“I don’t believe it.” Castiel said, staring at the page of completed math problems.

He finished the page of formulas in under one hour. A feat which he would have considered impossible only hours ago. Either Dean had been helpful or Castiel was a genius — Dean was leaning towards the latter because the dark-haired boy didn’t have trouble, skimming through them like a light and easy breeze.

But here was Castiel looking at Dean wonderingly, his blue eyes wide with admiration.

“Well, you’d better believe it, cause it's staring right back at you.” Dean smirked.

“You’re amazing.” Castiel blurted out. “The way you explained it. It was perfect. Everything was so easy to understand and the real life examples really made it click.

Dean shifted in his seat. “I’m not the one who just ran through those problems like they were nothing.”

“It would not have been possible without you, Dean.” Castiel said.

He blinked. Not just at the words that Castiel said but from the way he was looking at him, like he was something worth admiring.

The look touched something uncomfortable within himself and Dean quickly waved it off. “Nah, I didn’t do anything. You did all the work.”

Castiel looked as though he was going to say something but changed his mind, sighing.

He stood up from his chair to stretch. “Well, it’s been a couple hours, how about we call it a day?”

“Sounds good.” Castiel agreed, nodding. “I’m not sure if Mrs. Blakely will let us use this room for much longer.”

The last class of the day at the high school had ended over an hour ago, but Dean and Castiel received special permission from their teacher to use the Arts and Crafts room. The small workshop was filled to the brim with plastic wrapped tables, buckets of painting supplies, paintbrushes, and half-abandoned art pieces. Due to the crowding, no one ever used the room for anything but art. It was no problem to convince Mrs. Blakely to let them work on their schoolwork together.

The two boys got up and gathered their notebooks and school supplies into their backpacks — Dean cramming everything in a jumbled mess and Castiel neatly stacking his into the bag tomake sure none of the papers would wrinkle.

Surprisingly, there were quite a few students still milling the halls of the school. Castiel and Dean squeezed past them, not bothering to stop their conversation.

He had found over the last few days, that conversation always flowed easily between them. Even though they were very different, Castiel from a wealthy, reserved, and snobby family that only cared for appearance and Dean from his shabby, rough-and-tumble family, they got along surprisingly well, even bickering as they walked, though they had known each other for three years and not three days.

Walking to the end of the sidewalk, Dean wished they had chosen a different route off campus because when he looked up, he recognized Michael Novak, Castiel’s brother, standing with two other alphas he vaguely recognized from around school, at the end of the sidewalk — directly in their path.

The boys slouched against the brick wall, thick puffs of smoke from their cigarettes going up into the sky, their school uniforms slovenly thrown on: the picture of rich delinquents with too much money and too much time on their hands.

Dean hoped they wouldn't notice them but, of course, had no such luck.

Michael was the first to look up and see them, homing in on the two boys with the look of a bird of prey who had just found its newest target. He stamped out the butt of his cigarette and jumped to his feet, running over to the boys.

“Look what we have here.” Michael called out, a nasty smile stretching his face unnaturally. “Little Cassie and his poor, freakish friend.”

Dean tensed, noticing how Castiel turned pale beside him. He emphasized, Castiel couldn’t stand up to his brother like he had done yesterday in the cafeteria. Yesterday, Castiel had the advantage, they had been in a public space with his friends for support. Today, Michael had the advantage, the location secluded and his buddies ready.

Dean couldn’t help but wonder if he had been purposely waiting for them.

“Leave us alone, Michael.” Castiel said, his eyes sliding off his brother uneasily, to the alphas behind him. “We don’t want any trouble.”

The alphas behind Michael perked up at Castiel’s protest, leering after the boys. Guffawing and jeering among themselves, they followed after their leader, converging on either side.

“Where’s your manners, Cassie?” Michael said, slinging an aggressively friendly arm around Castiel’s shoulder.

Castiel was tall, but Michael was an eighteen-year-old fully developed, alpha senior and frankly, dwarfed the other boy. He shrank under the weight of his brother’s arm, curling in on himself.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to him?” Michael said, mocking, and jutted his chin at Dean.

“Please remove your arm from my person.” Castiel protested weakly. “His name’s Dean, and—”

“Oh, is that so?” Michael questioned, his eyes flicking over Dean briefly to assess the younger boy. “Dean… A pretty name for a pretty boy.”

He was entirely too close for comfort, forcing his arm over Castiel in a display of arrogant, alpha dominance. “Is that why you keep him around, dear little brother? Hoping pretty Dean will present something good one day? Can’t blame you on that one.” Michael chuckled. “Though I’ll be surprised if you present anything but omega, yourself.”

Dean felt rage boil up his stomach. He hated the near-panicky look on his friend’s face.

“He said to leave him alone, asshole.” Dean’s eyes flashed, his jaw tightening.

Michael just laughed, throwing a mocking look back at his buddies. They were making similar inappropriate comments about the two boys.

Castiel appeared to come to a decision, taking a step away from Michael in an effort to get away from his brother. He pushed his arm and tried to slide out from under him.

It was the wrong move.

He managed to get away from Michael’s grasp but landed directly in the hands of the other alphas, who roughly grabbed and shoved him around. Laughing, one pinned his arm behind his back, the other shoving his head down and hissed in his ears. “You little freak.”

Dean’s protective instincts flared. He hated the sight before him with every fiber of his being.

Michael advanced on his pinned brother. “You know, Cassie. You're such an embarrassment. I hope you know just how much the family wishes you were never born. I was talking to Mother the other day, and she’s genuinely concerned for you… Just look at yourself, the first Novak boy in three generations whose secondary gender is unpresented by the age of sixteen. Did you know that I presented as an alpha at thirteen. And now, you surround yourself with a bunch of friends who only want you for your money. Just look at him! His shoes are falling apart at the heels. He can’t even afford new shoes.” Michael pointed out Dean’s shabby shoes almost hysterically. “Do you honestly believe that he wants to be your friend for any other reason than money?”

Dean froze, flushing, shame soaking through him at the older boy’s commentary. But Michael wasn’t done.

“When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you genuinely believe you’re worth something? Are you, oh-so proud of the fact that you have our Father’s favor? Have you ever realized that the reason Father gives you so much time and attention is because he feels sorry for you.”

Oh, Dean realized, so that was what this was about.Michael was jealous of Castiel. His head spun, it was ridiculous, really.

“You need to realize what an ungrateful little sh*t you are, Cassie.” Michael spat. “But don’t worry, me and the boys are going to teach you a lesson.”

Michael’s eyes flicked up and down, his hand twitching, as though he was itching to hit Castiel. So much for dear little brother, Dean couldn’t help thinking spitefully.

“You’re nothing but a disappointment.” Michael snarled; his fists raised to strike his brother’s defenseless face.

This had gone on long enough.

“Don’t touch him.” Dean growled, stepping in front of Michael, catching his punch.

Michael's eyes flashed angrily, humiliated that Dean had been able to block his punch.

He surged forward, teeth bared. His punch was clumsy with anger and Dean easily dodged it. Pulse quickening, he ducked under the blow. Tucked his chin behind his fists, he instinctively fell back into a fighting stance, the result of years of training.

He had to admit, there were some advantages to being raised by a delusional man who was attempting to track down his wife’s killer. John had his bad days, but he sure as hell made sure his kids could fight.

“Really Michael? Three against one? Who's the weak one here?”

He threw a counter punch, his arm ratcheting out, lightning fast, to strike the bully on the jaw. Michael stumbled backwards to fall flat on his butt at the impact, eyes widening in shock.

“How the f-” He grasped at his face, confused at how a boy half his size had been able to pack such a powerful punch.

“Aww, what’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” Dean quipped.

But Dean didn’t have the luxury of time to savor the look on Michael’s normally snobby face. Utilizing the advantage of his fighting stance, he turned on the balls of his feet to swiftly face the next opponent.

He was outnumbered by the two alphas that held Castiel hostage, but undaunted by the odds. It was clear that these boys hadn’t been in as many fights as Dean, if they had been in any at all. Rich and spoiled, there may have been more of them and they were bigger. But their moves were clumsy; predictable, compared to Dean’s. He had been trained to fight since he was nine years old, fighting at his old schools, and sparring with John. Compared to his past, this was a walk in the park.

“You little sh*t.” The bigger of the two alphas said, stepping out from behind Castiel and squaring up to face him.

Dean let the bully come to him, his adrenaline pumping through his veins. The muscled alpha threw a clumsy punch that swung wide, and Dean easily dispatched him with two punches and a kick to the groin. The senior boy fell to the ground, squealing.

Using Dean as a distraction, Castiel shoved away from the guy holding him, jerking in a frantic effort to get away. The bully, who Dean had vaguely recognized as being named Isaac, let him go surprisingly easy, focusing on Dean as the main threat.

Isaac was smarter than the other alphas because he held back, attempting a guard of his face, fists raised. He looked as though he was copying something he had seen someone do on TV, his stance unfamiliar and awkward. His punch is surprisingly fast for the weight of his fist through the air. Dean didn’t have the time to dodge it, the punch slamming into his nose.

Agony burst through his nerve endings, his vision turning red.

Instinct kicking in, he recovered quickly. Dean danced back lightly, his guard still up. Sending out a prayer to whoever was listening, Dean hoped the pain bursting across his vision, stinging his eyes, wasn’t evidence of a broken nose. He had no idea what he would do if he had to go to the hospital for this fight. How John would react, seeing the injury. And the way it would an unnecessary siphon on the household’s already diminishing finances.

Although it would have been well worth it. Castiel deserved someone to fight for him. Dean would never regret defending his friend, no matter what John thought about it.

Assessing the damage quickly, Dean breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t a break, but it came close.

A smile, born of relief, played across his lips. “Is that all you got?”

Dean wiped the blood from his nose, smirking, Flying into action, he moved as a blur, ducking under Isaac’s next assault and landing a punch.

He was given no warning for what happened next.

“Look out!” Castiel screamed. “Michael has a knife!”

Startled, Dean was thrown off kilter. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the motion of Michael struggling to his feet and drawing something black and shiny from his pockets. Unable to fully turn and face him, occupied with Isaac, he felt a sinking pit in his stomach, knowing he would be helpless to Michael's attack.

And so would Castiel, Dean realized, cold fear rushing to his head.

A whooshing noise sounded, the familiar sound of steel slicing air. Dean's eyes widened, panic squeezing his heart. He had seen first-hand, growing up, the damage a knife could do. And Michael was unpredictable like this.

Isaac’s eyes narrowed, smiling cruelly, his guard falling nominally as he tracked Micheal’s stabbing motions through the air.

Dean had no time to turn, to dodge, to even react. He squeezed his eyes shut, panic taking over. If he got hurt, who would protect Castiel?

There was the sound of an impact. Michael yelped. The knife skittered across the sidewalk.

Castiel had knocked the blade out of Michael’s hand.

It gave Dean the opportunity he needed to defeat Isaac, swinging a left hook. It landed on the side of his face, slamming into his eye. Momentarily stunned, Isaac fell to his knees — he was going to have a hell of a black eye later.

Dean was across the distance in a minute of seconds, slamming Michael to the concreteunder him. His fist is pounding into his face. Again and again.

Fear feeding the fervor inside of him, the want to protect Castiel from this maniac coalescing into a need.

Fury contorted his features. His anger, tangible, tasted like copper on his tongue.

Castiel hauled him off of Michael. “Dean! Stop! You need to let him go.”

Dean stared, wide-eyed and chest heaving into Castiel’s eyes. He flung himself on the other boy, desperately hugging him. His heart was racing in his chest, panic fogging his head.

He held Castiel tightly, burying his head in the other boy’s sweatshirt. He took shuddering, deep breaths in an effort to calm himself, clinging to the inherent comfort of Castiel’s embrace. His breath began to slow, and he sagged against the older boy’s body.

Castiel let him cling to him for a moment before pulling him back gently but firmly. His blue eyes were wide and searching, brows furrowed, and mouth pinched in concern. “Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” He shook his head, trying to clear the fog. “I didn’t mean to go all berserk like that,” He attempted to joke. “I — Cas, are you ok?”

Castiel let out an exasperated laugh. “Yes. You saved me.”

He brought his hand up to Dean’s face, touching gently at the bruises there. “We need to take care of this, but first, let’s get out of here.”

Looking around at the carnage of three defeated bullies on the ground nursing their wounds and moaning in pain, Dean agreed.

Michael’s swollen eyes fluttered open and he struggled to sit up. “This isn’t over, you freaks!”

Dean was exhausted, no room for anger to crowd into but the alpha’s comment sparked irritation in a back corner. He looked up, surprised to see Castiel set his face firmly. “Give me a second, Dean.”

Stalking over to his brother’s side, Castiel leaned forward to make sure Michael was fully cognizant.

“Let this be a warning to you, Michael. Don’t ever touch me or my friends again. If you do, there will be consequences.”

Notes:

I had so much trouble wrangling this chapter into existence. Who knew writing fight scenes were so hard! I'm not super happy how this chapter turned out while I was going over it trying to edit but I tried my best. Let me know what you guys think!
Also, how do you guys feel about TWs? I was thinking about putting them at the beginnings of every chapter just to remind people to be mindful of their mental health.
Thank you so much to anyone who commented or kudos! You guys are the best! <3

Chapter 6

Summary:

Castiel and Dean are inseparable.

Notes:

This chapter is lovingly titled "the ultimate fluff montage" in my docs.

No Tws that i can think of.

Chapter Text

September 1994.

And for a while, things were good.

Michael stopped bullying Castiel and his friend group, slinking off with his tail between his legs to ransfer schools not long after his defeat at Dean’s hands.

Dean and Castiel hung out after school every day.

At first, Dean tutored Castiel on algebra and in return, Castiel offered to help with Dean’s English and history classes. But Castiel improved in math so rapidly it became apparent that his math skills were not lacking but rather the fact that Castiel had convinced himself that he lacked the capability to perform well in his class. That he was some sort of disappointment because he hadn't immediately completely grasped the concepts.

Once Dean assured him that an incorrect homework problem didn't mean the end of the world and that Dean didn’t think he was a failure, it was easy to teach going.

Almost too easy — the guy was a genius in Dean’s opinion. He was a good listener and extremely logical. With thoughtful eyebrows drawn in a furrow, he would logically reason through whatever he was having trouble with.

It wasn’t hard to help Castiel through formulas as long as he talked him through them with soft assurances.

And truthfully, Dean enjoyed it. He loved his evenings spent with the other boy. They would meet after school in the Arts and Crafts room after school and spend hours there. Dean loved the way Castiel would thoughtfully draw his eyebrows into a furrow while he was reasoning through a problem. He loved the little ‘A-hah’ moments when Castiel solved a problem.

The first time he got an ‘A’ on a test he came running to see Dean as soon as he could, a big goofy grin on his face before he slammed into a hug. Dean tried to wrench himself out of the hug but gave up once it became apparent that he couldn’t. Or Dean tried to tell himself. It definitely wasn’t the appearance of Castiel’s dimples that had his arms wrap loosely around the other boy. Or the way Castiel’s body wrapped around the younger boy, making him feel special.

After all, Dean may feel special when Castiel was clinging to him with an almost fervent devotion, but he wasn’t special to Castiel like that.

Once it was obvious that Castiel didn’t need any more help with schoolwork, they should have stopped meeting.

They should have. But they didn’t.

They kept on hanging out every evening. It became a habit, at this point. And it wasn't long before they were inseparable.

February 1995

The winter of freshman year, Dean got a job.

Sam had a science fair project for school and Dean didn’t have enough money from John to fund the materials that his brother needed. As a result, he had gotten a job at a local five-and-dime store, pretending to be a sixteen-year-old beta.

He told himself he would only work a couple weeks. That as soon as they had the money they needed, he would quit.

But as soon as they had the money for the science fair project, the clothes on Sam’s eleven-year-old body started to look awfully small. After that, it was field trip money. And after that, the expenses just kept piling up.

He missed a normal hang-out evening with Castiel. And then he missed two. He had work every evening and just didn’t have time to see him.

Every time, he saw Castiel in school, it seemed like he never had enough time to sit and chat.

From across the room, he tried to ignore the confused look on Castiel's face.

Two weeks passed. It was the longest time since they met that they didn’t see each other.

One day, John came home drunk out of his mind and Dean stayed up all night making sure his father wasn’t going to die of alcohol poisoning.

The next day, he stumbled to class, dark bags under his eyes, and collapsed into his seat.

He knew he had been overworking himself. But he didn’t know how to stop.

“Dean?”

Dean jerked his head up. He had been nodding off to sleep. The class was over.

Castiel stood in front of him, his arms folded. A stern look furrowed his eyebrows. “You’re sick.”

“Huh?”

His hands brushed the hair out of Dean’s face to rest on his forehead, feeling for his temperature. “You’re burning up.”

Castiel’s hands felt nice on his head. Almost too nice. Dean leaned into the touch. “S’ nice.”

That seemed to trouble the other boy even more. “This cannot go on. What have you been doing to yourself? And why have you been avoiding me?

“I’ve been working. We need it.”

Castiel’s hand fell from his forehead. Dean immediately mourned the absence of his touch. “You’re fourteen. What do you mean you’ve been working? What’s going on?”

Dean didn’t know what to say. He stayed silent.

Castiel sighed. “I don’t like this. I’m worried about you.”

Dean’s instincts kicked in and he glanced away, growing defensive. “It’s not your business, ok? I’m fine. My brother just needed some things. I’ll quit tomorrow, ok?”

“Ok, Dean.” Castiel agreed, dubious. “But I’m taking you to the nurse’s office. You’re skipping your next classes and I’m going to take you straight home to stay with you until you feel better. That’s unnegotiable. And when you get home, you’re taking medicine and going straight to bed. Understood?”

Dean knew most medicine was expensive and didn't want Castiel to pay for something, but the temptation of sleep sounded amazing. He nodded. “Ok Cas, you win.”

June 1995

“Sammy, meet Castiel. Cas, meet my annoying little brother.”

Sam threw Dean a dirty look before quickly smoothing his face out into an innocent, friendly expression.

“It’s Sam, actually.” He winced apologetically “It’s great to finally to meet you, Castiel. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Castiel smiled good-naturedly, enjoying the exchange between the two brothers. “And I, you; Sam Winchester.”

“Are you staying for dinner?” Sam asked.

They both turned to Dean. “That’s the plan. Thought I’d whip up an apple pie for dessert. Make something special.”

“Yes!” Sam yelled, voice squeaking in excitement. “Dean makes the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted, prepare to have your mind blown!”

Castiel laughed and conversation between Dean’s two favorite people in the world flowed easily.

As Dean worked on dinner, watching from the other room as Castiel and Sam geeked out over something entirely too non-fiction to nerd out about, he felt a knot in his chest slowly loosen.

September 1995

“Hey you know what today is?”

“What?”

“Today makes it exactly a year since I meet you.”

June 1996

"This is perfect." Dean sighed, pulling his blanket around him and snuggling closer to Castiel.

Castiel shifted, his arm falling to rest right above Dean's head, not quite reaching around him but close enough. "Yes, it is. We have to make sure to do something extra nice for Charlie."

They weren't cuddling, Dean assured himself. This wasn't cuddling.

This was platonic. Something friends did all the time. Totally, completely platonic.

"Look!" Castiel said suddenly. "I do believe that's Venus in the Eastern skies. Right there above the tree line."

The star, or planet, Castiel pointed out winked at them in from over the edge of the rooftop they were on. It was just one star among the thousands that shattered the darkness of the night. It wasn't the starriest sky Dean had ever seen. Like the time he was down in New Mexico and the milky way had light the road through the desert. But it was a pretty night, nevertheless, not a cloud in sight. Not bad for the sky in Kansas.

He savored the night. He wanted to memorize the exact texture of the mess of blankets that had dragged to their rooftop spot. The pattern of twists and turns of the blanket that hugged the shape of the two boy's bodies, wrapping around them and keeping them warm. The warm summer air that was washed with the early falling dew that fell with eventide. Castiel's hands that gestured to the stars, explaining the different constellations and what they meant to ancient societies.

Dean committed every sensation to memory, hoping to hold onto this night forever.

It wasn't often Dean could afford to relax like this.

But during the summer, in between his job and taking care of Sam and the occasional hunting trip with John, he scarcely had time to hang out with Castiel.

And it wasn't the only problem, they had struggled to find a place to hang out at outside of school.

Castiel had been to Dean's apartment many times during the school year, but it wasn't Dean's favorite place to hang out. He felt uncomfortable that Cas saw the apartment when it was messy. Or when it was clean, to be completely honest with himself.

He knew Castiel was rich. Dean had heard rumors at school that the Novak’s were absolutely loaded, something about their family owning a big name Tech company. He had seen the way Michael acted, walking around school with his posse of alphas as though they owned the place, and with the way some of the teachers turned a blind eye to the bullying, Dean wondered sometimes if the Novak’s did. It wasn't completely unheard of for private schools to accept large sums of bribe money under the cover of "donations."

Whenever the topic of Castiel's house was brought up, the unpresented boy would hastily change the subject or offer an alternative hangout spot. It was obvious that Castiel didn't feel comfortable inviting Dean over.

And so, they tried to find alternative hang-out spots. The summer after graduation, Charlie told them about the spot they were at currently.

And when Sam had begged to sleepover at one of his classmates' houses --- because of course Dean refused to leave him at the apartment alone --- It was the day they had been waiting for.

Setting up the rooftop had been fun. Both Castiel and Dean had micromanaged the construction of their pillow and blanket fort, shaping it into a cozy nest.

After their pillow fight, they settled down breathless and excited to gaze at the stars.

Studying the way the starlight played across Castiel's face and reflected in his eyes, Dean concluded that Castiel was right. They would do something extra special for Charlie when they saw her. Because to Dean's sixteen years of age, there had never been a night such as tonight.

It was perfect.

September 1996

When school started back, two whole years after they meet, they picked up playing the guitar together.

Neither of them wanted to pay for music lessons — Dean for the obvious financial deficiency — and Castiel for some unidentifiable reason, so they practiced together.

They found out there used to be a school band years ago and they raided the old storage closet at school and came up with two, albeit badly out of tune, brand-new acoustic guitars.

“I can’t get this chord progression right.” Dean muttered, pressing the pads of his fingers against the guitar strings until they stung.

“Let me see.” Castiel stuck his head next to Dean’s to get a good look at the sheet music. Dean was working on the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. It was fairly simple. A beginner’s strumming of five separate chords. But to Dean, who had just picked up the guitar last week, it was a challenge.

And although Castiel had started guitar at the same time, he seemed to improve more rapidly — the guy was definitely a genius.

“Oh, I see.” Castiel said. “You have the chord right…All the strings are pressed at the right places, just —”

He brought his arm up behind Dean to adjust the way Dean’s hand grasped the neck of the guitar. “Here. Don’t let your fingers fold inward when you press down. It’s muddling up the sound.”

Dean was keenly aware how close the other boy was pressed against his back. His warm hand clasped over Dean’s, changing his position slightly, but firmly.

Heat furled under Dean’s skin at the touch.

“Better?” Castiel asked, his voice low. “Try it again.”

Dean brought his other hand up to the guitar and strummed the strings.

The sound rang out cold and clear: perfect.

December 1997

Secondary gender presentation was all the talk of the school.

Most kids presented their anywhere under their junior year, which was why Castiel had been so worried about it the previous year. By now, most people had forgotten about Castiel’s lack of presentation, and he stopped being bullied about it so much. Most people just assumed the eighteen-year-old was a beta. Castiel let them.

“Did you hear what happened to that girl in our grade?” Charlie asked, her expression serious for once.

Dean jerked his head away from staring at Castiel from across the classroom. “No, what happened?” It was unusual to hear Charlie so serious. “Is she your crush or something?”

“No.” Charlie said patiently, giving Dean a look. “I actually barely knew her. She was in my Shakespeare class, and I noticed her sometimes. She was pretty quiet.”

“And? Your point?”

“She presented last week. She presented omega.”

That grabbed Dean’s attention. “No way. For real?”

Honestly, presentation didn’t matter unless you were an alpha or an omega. Otherwise, betas were practically the same as the unpresented, but with slightly enhanced senses. If you were an alpha or omega, however, it was a pretty big deal.

Alphas had enhanced hearing, sight, and smell. They also got a lot stronger, physically, gaining Alpha strength. There were some other changes that happened biologically that Dean couldn’t remember but he knew wanted to be an alpha. Everyone did.

“So, what's being an omega like?” Dean asked curiously.

Charlie just stared at him. “You're kidding, right?”

“No, why?”

“All omegas are under government jurisdiction, dude. Don’t you know that?” Charlie said. “She doesn’t go to school anymore.”

“Oh.” Dean said.

“Yeah.” Charlie sounded upset, no matter how she had denied it. Dean concluded that she had a crush on the girl.

“Omegas are submissive. Weak. They can’t survive without an Alpha. That’s why the government lays claim on them as soon as they present. They are to find new homes with Alphas. It’s for their good.” Charlie repeated monotonously. “At least that's what we are taught in school.”

“What do you think I’ll present?” Dean attempted to change the subject. “Alpha, right? With this face and these muscles?”

He flexed a pose and winked.

She rolled her eyes, scoffing. “You wish.”

Her eyes landed on Castiel crossing the room and she perked up, gaining a mischievous look.

“What are you guys talking about?” Castiel asked.

“If I’m going to present alpha or not.” Dean caught him up. “What do you think?”

Castiel nodded and leaned back, looking him over critically.

“Bet Castiel wished you present omega.” Charlie snarked. “So he can have you all to himself.”

“Hey! What's that supposed to mean?” Dean said, aghast.

She just cackled, eyeing the two of them knowingly.

January 1997: 1 Day before Dean’s birthday

“What?” Dean repeated, disbelief coloring his voice. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard.

Castiel stared at his sheet music spread on the desk between them, ears turning pink. They had just finished up working through the chords of Hey Jude, their newest guitar song together.

“I said, um” Castiel appeared to be gathering his courage. His head shot up, determined. “I baked you a cake for your birthday. I’ve been practicing and well I know it's not a pie — but I hope you’ll like it?”

Dean just stared, incredulous. “Practicing? Cas, you’ve been practicing to make me a birthday cake?”

Dean couldn’t believe this. No one had ever done something like that before for him. People didn’t celebrate Dean’s birthday. Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to say that absolutely no one celebrated his birthday. Sam would throw him a ‘happy birthday’ over his shoulder in the morning and maybe make him a hand-crafted card. Dean would add it to his growing collection of colorful birthday cards Sam had been making on every birthday since his little brother was seven and discover that that was something people did.

So, it wouldn’t be fair to say no one celebrated his birthday. But that in general, he didn’t expect it. He was turning seventeen the next day but that didn’t mean anything to him. Not really. It was just another day in Dean’s book. He’d be lucky if John even acknowledged it. Hell, he didn’t even expect that.

So the fact that Castiel remembered? That he had baked a freakin’ cake? And had worried that it wasn’t enough?

Castiel nodded in response. “Yes, is that acceptable?”

Dean laughed, dimples making an appearance. “That’s not acceptable, that's pretty freaking awesome.” His voice was washed with fondness.

Castiel’s eyes softened with relief. He stood a little taller.

“You didn’t have to do that, man.” Dean said, trying to distract from the strange warmth gathering in his chest.

“I wanted to.” Castiel promised him. “So, do you still want to come over to my house and finish watching those Indiana Jones movies?”

Castiel and Dean had watched the first two Indiana Jones movies, but they hadn’t gotten around to watching the third quiet yet. This would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

Dean didn't even bother to point out Castiel’s stupid vocabulary usage. And by stupid, he meant adorable. “We are totally still on. Get ready to watch one of the best movies of the decade, cause the third Indiana Jones is top-notch.”

Castiel nodded wisely. “So you and Charlie have been telling me.”

Dean grinned. Charlie and him had been trying to fill in Castiel’s lack of pop culture knowledge due to his sheltered upbringing. Dean would say they’d been fairly successful as Castiel could now, at least, recognize their favorite movies and franchises by name.

“So, tomorrow? Birthday cake and movies?” Castiel prompted.

“Yup! Guess it’s a date.” Dean said and then immediately blushed, hard. He cursed his choice in words.

He had wondered why Castiel seemed so nervous to ask him to hang out. After all, Castiel was his best friend and it should have been no big deal.

Only…Now, Dean thought he might understand. He tried desperately to avoid Castiel’s gaze.

He adjusted the straps on his shoulder, shifting the weight of his guitar on his back and checked his watch. “Aw, man. I gotta go pick up Sam. It’s pretty late and he will kick my butt if I’m not there to pick him up on time.”

“So, tomorrow?” Dean glanced up, his breath catching as Castiel grinned, dimples creasing his cheeks.

“Tomorrow.” Castiel confirmed.

Chapter 7: All We Got Was Bruised

Notes:

TWs this chapter for: verbal and physical abuse, parent/child abuse, low self esteem.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

January 23rd, 1997: 1 Day before Dean’s Birthday

Life was different when John was home.

Dean walked softer across the creaky floorboards of their apartment and made sure to listen more than he spoke. He made sure to put dinner on the table on time and pick up after Sam and John if they made a mess. He kept the apartment clean and made Sam do his homework. Dean had to be careful when addressing John because anything could set him off. He was always careful — because if he got anything wrong, John would send Sam to his room and whip off his belt. Which would, all around, ruin everyone’s evening.

It didn’t bother Dean, really. That was just how it was.

After all, John was out protecting people with his hunts. He was saving people, improving their lives like an undercover superhero. And he provided for Sam and him; a handful of cash for food and rent every month. That was all that mattered to Dean.

John loved his sons, in his own way. Why else did he provide for them?

It had been two years since they had settled down in Kansas. It was incredibly unusual for their entire family to stay in one place for so long. The last time they had a place to call home was when Mary was alive. They had been traveling ever since Sam was born, it felt like. It was what Dean had gotten used to. It was what he had loved for so long, that feeling of adventure as they traveled on a never-ending road trip.

But not anymore.

Ever since they had moved to this small town, Dean had gone to school and made friends. He had met Castiel. He formed routines, each day an adventure as he went about his life. He wondered sometimes if this was how normal teenagers felt.

Sam and Dean were walking home from school, discussing their days when their apartment came into view.

“Sam,” Dean began, as soon as he saw that John’s car was still in the lot outside their apartment. “Dad’s home. You know what that means.”

Sam groaned. “I don’t understand why we have to put up with Dad acting like a jerk all the time. And he’s only gotten worse lately.”

It was true. John had been especially irate ever since he’d come home last week. And trying to keep the two from coming to blows was getting harder. Ever since Sam had turned thirteen it was like a switch had flipped. He stopped listening to Dean like he used to, becoming irate and arguing with John, ignoring the obvious danger of fighting with their dad.

Dean could only mediate the only way he knew how. Whenever John started picking on Sam especially, he made sure to always divert the alpha’s attention. He would jump between the two, giving John a more willing punching bag. Or even drop a plate on purpose as a diversion, if it was a really bad argument. The one time Dean had tried that it had not ended well, at all.

But it was like two of them couldn’t help butting heads if they were in the same room. Sometimes, it felt like Sam did it on purpose. Like he wanted to irritate John and argue with him. Never mind the consequences of this would be for Dean later.

Dean had no idea an almost thirteen-year-old could be so argumentative. He wanted to argue about everything: the way John left them for weeks, how he didn't leave enough money this or that time for groceries, the way John treated Dean. Dean didn't care about any of it —he wanted him to just stop.

Shut up.” Dean snapped, harsher than he meant to. “I told you to not talk about our Alpha like that. Jeez, how many times do I have to tell you.”

Hurt flashed across Sam's face and Dean felt instant regret for the rebuke.

The only sound was the crunching of their shoes on the pavement.

“Come on, Sammy.” Dean said, changing his tone to pleading. “Please. I’m going to Castiel’s place after school for my birthday tomorrow and I don’t want to be exhausted from trying to keep the two of you apart. Please?”

…Or have to keep hidden any bruises from John’s fists that could cause unwanted attention, Dean added silently.

"He's an asshole. And we shouldn't have to put up with it." Sam said, voice hard.

“Could you just… suck the attitude up around John for one day, at least?”

“Dean–”

“Please. Sam. Please.”

The near desperation in Dean's voice surprised even himself. Sam seemed to understand, or he was just irritated at the conversation because he nodded, setting his jaw angrily, eyes flashing. “Yeah ok. Fine.”

Relief flooded through Dean at Sam's reluctant agreement.

They reached the front door to the apartment, both boys falling silent.

Stepping inside and unloading their bags, Dean spotted John on his way to the kitchen.

“Hey boys.” John called without looking up from where he sat. “How was school?”

“It was good, sir.” Dean nodded, eyes dropping to the floor.

John looked as if he were only a few bottles in. Unusually sober, by Dean’s standards.

“How’d you do on your history test, Sammy?” John granted them a rare smile. He was in a good mood. Dean wondered how long it would last.

Sam looked up, his surprised face blooming into confusion. Dean and Sam both knew the test John was referring to was a chemistry test not history. Not to mention, it had been weeks since Sam had told him about it in the first place, which meant it had been weeks since he had taken it.

“Great, actually.” Sam said, deliberately choosing to ignore John’s slip-up. “I only missed one question. And Mrs. Williams said that she had accidentally put it in the quiz from one of her other classes.” Dean mentally thanked his little brother for listening to him for once and not starting sh*t.

John looked pleased for a moment and then ruined the allusion of the ‘proud father’ charade when he said lightly. “Well, then, next time make sure you get one hundred percent.”

Sam’s eyebrows creased in dismay.

Dean couldn’t help the tangle of annoyance that followed John’s statement. He cut into the conversation, attempting to change the subject before Sam could protest. “How was your trip this time, sir?”

“Went down to Nevada this time.” John answered, content to change the subject. “A buddy of mine got me a tip on one of them human trafficking assholes. Said he heard something about behind-the-scenes trafficking of alphas and betas.”

Dean leaned forward, interested. He always was when it came to John’s vigilante career. Sam discreetly rolled his eyes, pulling schoolbooks out of his bag.

“But it was a bust. The tip was for some stupid abolitionist nonsense.” John growled in disgust. “I spent a week checking it out, it was nothing but omegas. Some abolitionist was trying to get me to help out their futile “omega rights” movement. Can you believe that?” He huffed in exasperation.

He looked up at Dean who was listening closely. “What is it boy? You got a question?”

“Yes, sir.” Dean asked hesitantly. “Why were they trafficking omegas? Can’t you get one from the government centers…?”

John sighed heavily. “Yeah, I mean sure, if you want an omega you are supposed to go to the centers. I mean, that system is already profitable enough, what with the profits from the alphas selling. But the government regulates only one omega per alpha. These guys wanted more of ‘em. Why anyone would want even one worthless omega beats me though.” John laughed. “But I don’t get involved with civil disputes.”

John’s tone turned more sober, his eyes fixed on Dean intently. “You hear that, Dean? Don’t get involved in no civil disputes on a hunt.”

Dean nodded. It had been a while since he’d been on a hunt with John, but he always needed to keep track of all of John’s rules in case he decided to bring Dean along.

“What’s that, boy?” John said, irritated.

“Yes, sir.” Dean hurried to correct himself, giving a verbal response.

He waited to see if John would talk anymore about his trip, but he no longer seemed to be in a talking mood now that Dean had annoyed him. Disappointed, Dean walked over to the fridge, intent on starting up dinner. Maybe that would put his Alpha in a better mood.

Opening the fridge, the door revealed completely empty contents except for a few condiments. Dean stared. He had forgotten that he needed to go grocery shopping today. It was bad luck that he only realized that now.

He hurried to feel for the few bucks he kept hidden on the top of the refrigerator. Usually that was where Dean kept the money he saved for groceries. It was empty space.

Lifting his head up over the side of the refrigerator it became apparent that the grocery money was gone.

Dean slowly turned around. “Dad? Did you take my grocery money?”

The sentence was physically hard for Dean to say. They both knew John had taken the money. He had probably drained his cash gambling in Nevada and needed to pay off debt. It had happened enough in the past when Dean was younger, to know.

Dean would avoid a confrontation with John at all costs. But it needed to be said. Sam needed to eat.

“What do you mean ‘your’?” John snapped.

“It’s our grocery money, Dad.” Dean protested. “We need it.”

“I take care of your sorry ass 24/7, you don’t own sh*t.”

“But—”

“I pay for your schooling and your clothes and this roof over your head! Don’t give me that reaction!” He slammed his hand on the wood loudly, making Dean jump.

It didn’t matter that Dean was right. What Dean had said sounded too much like a challenge to John’s authority. And he had no place to challenge his Alpha.

Dean felt sick. He couldn’t breathe.

He stared at the top of the freshly swept floor. Dean had swept it that very morning. A memory resurfaced of his mother, Mary, keeping their house spotless. God, Dean wished she was here.

"Goddammit! Look at me, boy!" John's voice was hissed through clenched teeth.

Dean tried to look up and meet his glaring eyes. "Why the f*ck are you accusing your Alpha of being a thief?" He says each word with emphasis, like he's stabbing each one into his son.

Dean trembled, memories of previous beatings flashing through his head. He glanced at Sam, who was staring white-faced at the scene in front of him. He needed to get Sam out of the room. It wasn’t like Sam didn’t know how John hit Dean sometimes, it was just Dean usually managed to hide it better.

Dean needed to get Sam out of the room before John did anything. Sam didn’t need to be traumatized like that. He wished he had never asked John about the money in the first place. He so stupid.

He looked up, made eye contact with Sam and told him gruffly. “Sammy. Go to your room. Right. Now.”

Sam's scared eyes widened. He didn’t even open his mouth to protest like he normally would when Dean told him to do something. He took a step back, and then another, and hurried to his room. He had heard the urgency in Dean’s voice. No, the begging in it.

John suddenly stood up and came across the table and grabbed Dean’s wrist in a bruising grip, twisting it, forcing Dean to look back up at him.

“Don't you f*ckin' look away while I'm talking to you, boy! I don’t give a sh*t what happened to the money. What matters is you show me respect.”

Dean stared up at him, his wrist aching horribly, unsure of what to say, so he said the only thing he could.

"Yes, sir." Dean’s voice was just a whisper.

He stared up into his dad’s angry face and was almost like looking in a mirror. They had the same dark brown hair, the same high cheekbones, such similar features, but his are much more masculine while Dean’s were still delicate and fragile looking, like Mary’s were. Their eye color was different too, his is a deep brown while Dean’s are a brighter, brilliant green. He hated looking so much like John, sometimes.

“You’re worthless Dean. Not like that kid, Sam. He’s got a future. A real one, what with his smarts. Your only purpose was to take care of Sammy. But he doesn't need you much anymore, does he?” John’s grip grew tighter, twisting. A jolt of pain shot up Dean’s arm. Dean knew from experience that it was going to leave bruises. He winced, tears stinging the backs of his eyes.

“Sometimes I think you’re an omega with how you fuss and whine like a bitch. You better present alpha or I’m selling you to one of those government centers I was telling you about. At least then you’d be good for something.”

John released Dean’s wrist with a final squeeze, but Dean didn’t even realize it until he crumpled to his knees, John’s voice still ringing in his ears.

Maybe John was right. Maybe Dean was worthless.

After all, he had ruined everyone in the house’s night by making John angry. And he had failed to get back the money they so needed.

John slammed his bedroom door, and the apartment was empty, not even the sound of Dean’s sobbing filled the room.

Notes:

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Chapter 8: I Had to Let You Go

Summary:

Dean goes to Castiel's house for birthday cake and movies. What could go wrong?

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

January 24rth, 1997: (Dean’s birthday)

The next day, Dean woke up early.

Refusing to dwell on the events of last night, he took extra care to look good. He styled his hair with water and a comb and threw on his favorite pair of jeans that made his ass look awesome. With his heavy leather jacket on, the bruises on his wrist from John were concealed and, after a flirtatious wink to himself in the mirror, he could safely say, they were also distracted from.

After a small dab from an Old Spice cologne that he had stolen from a five-in-dime store last summer, Dean pursed his lips at himself and decided he was ready to charm Castiel’s socks off this evening. Castiel’s socks, and maybe his pants too.

Dean hurried to school, anticipation fueling every step. He chatted excitedly with Sam on the way but didn’t hesitate to drop his little brother off at the local middle school. He even found himself humming Led Zeppelin as he stepped under the stone arch over the high school’s brick entrance. When he realized that he was doing, however, he stopped. The teenagers around him didn’t need to know he was a complete dork.

He slid into his first class of the day next to Cas’s seat right on time. And as the grumpy beta teacher sipped on her cup of coffee she looked like she desperately needed, taking attendance; Dean called a “Heya Cas.” out to the boy next to him.

When he was rewarded by a grin and nod followed by a “Hello Dean.” Dean wanted to explode with happiness. Castiel was always so adorably formal and almost solemn with his use of words. Dean felt like his vocabulary was extending just by knowing the boy.

The rest of the day went by in a blur, Dean tried hard to focus on his classes, but he couldn't stop thinking of hanging out with Castiel tonight.

At lunch, he hung out with Castiel and Charlie. Apparently, Anna had taken her alpha brother Michael’s advice and stopped hanging out with the ‘losers,’ and started a new clique. The members of Cas’s table laughed as they watched from across the room, Anna’s bored expression while listening to the apparently inane chatter of a girl beside her.

During P.E. he was able to release his pent-up energy in the laps around the school gymnasium, outstripping every other boy in the gym. Even the alphas lagged behind Dean’s figure around the track, his legs pumping. Dean may have been unpresented, but John had made him run laps for years and his stamina was unmatched by the pampered boys beside him.

He had to admit, there were some advantages to being raised by a delusional man who was attempting to track down his wife’s killer.

Finally, the bell rang, and school was out. Finally.

Dean went to go find Castiel.

The two boys found themselves under the school’s front entrance awning waiting for their ride.

The sky was gray and overcast all day and as they waited, big, fat raindrops started splattering on the concrete around them.

“Sam doesn’t need to be picked up, does he?” Castiel said, staring in dismay at the pouring rain. “I’d hate for him to have to walk home in this.”

“Nah, he’s good. I made sure he got a classmate to take him home today.” Dean said. “Although I’d probably make ‘em walk home anyway, there’s nothing more hilarious than seeing that kid all drenched, long, girly hair plastered to his forehead.”

He snickered at the mental image and Castiel threw an amused look his way, long used to hearing about the Winchester brothers’ bickering rivalry. He shook his head with a sigh. “You’re crazy, Dean.”

Before Dean could protest, a tire cut through a puddle, water spraying, to announce the presence of a large, black car in front of the school. It was a fancy BMW car, the kind Dean had only ever seen in movies before, black with silver grilling. He watched it, curious, as it slowed to a stop in front of them at the school’s sidewalk.

It didn’t immediately register to him that the car was their ride until Castiel’s eyes lit up with recognition and said. “There’s Bal. He’s right on time.” He hoisted his backpack over his shoulder preparing to run to the car.

Who?” Dean shot back, grabbing his bag.

“You’ll see.” Castiel grinned cryptically. “Now come on. Let’s make a run for it.”

Castiel sprinted into the rain. Following suit with a muttered curse, Dean climbed into the car after the other boy, shutting the door behind him. The inside of the car was nice: all sleek and black leather. Castiel slid down the seat to make room for Dean to buckle himself in.

“Hello Castiel, did you have a good day at school?” The driver said, peering at the rear-view mirror at the two teenagers in the back seat of the BMW in a friendly way. The man’s eyes squinted out from a smile-wrinkled face covered by a scruffy beard.

“Yes, I did. Thank you.” Castiel answered, turning halfway in his seat to introduce the two of them. “Dean, this is my family driver, Balthazar. Bal, this is my best friend, Dean.”

Before Dean could register that this was, in fact, Castiel’s family driver. As in, his family didn’t drive themselves anywhere because they had hired a man and afforded him actual wages to drive them because, God forbid, they have to pick their son up from school. It was ridiculous and such a foreign concept to Dean. He could never imagine wanting to hire someone to drive you someplace, not when driving was as fun as it was.

“Hello Dean. It was an honor to meet a friend of Castiel’s.” Balthazar said with a smile, turning halfway in his seat towards the boys but making no attempt to give Dean a handshake.

Dean gave his best winning smile, turning on the charm. It was clear Cas liked Bal from the way he smiled at the man, and he wanted Bal to like him too. “Nice to meet you as well, Sir.”

Balthazar just laughed. “I don’t do that whole ‘sir’ bull crap, you can call me Bal. Or Balthazar if it makes you more comfortable.”

“Yes, s— I mean, Bal.” Dean said.

Balthazar just laughed again, turning to face the steering wheel and calling over his shoulder. “Where to, Castiel?”

As they headed in the direction of Castiel’s house, Dean noticed that as the houses grew sparser as they headed out of the city, they also grew bigger the farther apart they were.

Dean shifted uncomfortably as he realized what type of neighborhood they were heading into, his seat becoming uncomfortable as he watched the nearest mansion fly by outside the window.

It became the least of Dean’s worries when they arrived at their destination. Stationed across a rolling hill of green with a paved private driveway, a fancy house with stone bricking sprawled across the land. The house was in one of those new-age styles, designed with white plaster accents and sand-colored stones, surrounded by a manicured lawn, gardening and outside pool.

“What the hell, Castiel?” Dean used his friend’s whole name for the full outraged effect. “You live here?”

“...Yes?” He answered sheepishly.

“You mean this whole time, we coulda been making out like The Great Gatsbyby the private pool?”

“Uhh…” Castiel began. “I’m unsure what that is a reference to, Dean. But yes, we could have. That is, if it weren’t for my family. My brother— ”

Dean cut him off. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Trust me, I have zero qualms about never seeing Jerk face himself, again.” He grimaced, remembering the fight between the three of them two years ago. And the subsequent bruises.

Michael may have transferred schools, but he would no doubt still be gunning for revenge if he set eyes on Dean again. Especially if it was at his own house. No, Dean didn’t blame Castiel for never inviting him over before. And that didn’t even throw the rest of the Novak family into the equation. Dean had only met one of his brothers out of four.

Castiel lead him into the house, acting as though it were completely normal to come home from school every day and walk through a house with vaulted ceilings, a spiral staircase, and a f*cking butler offering to take your coat at the door.

Dean marveled at the mansion on the inside as the blue-eyed boy led him to the kitchen in the back of the house, staring openly at the inside balcony at the top of a staircase, the velvet drapes on the windows, and all-round splendor that screamed intergenerational wealth. What did the Novak family do again?

Wishing he had paid better attention to the school’s gossip about the Novak family, he wondered if it was really necessary to buy matching sets of furniture in every room when you are rich.

He felt dirtier and dirtier as they walked through the house, feeling more self-conscious more about his ragged leather jacket and thrifted, common, blue jeans than he had ever before in his life.

Passing by a mirror mounted on a wall for decoration, Dean felt a flush of shame at the memory of working so hard this morning to look good for Castiel, using water to comb his hair into shape. But standing here, next to the tailored outfit of the boy next to him, he felt so out of place he couldn’t even summon a single quip.

He stayed silent as he was led into the kitchen, hoping the other boy wouldn’t notice his discomfort. When he gestured to sit on a bar stool by a glistening marble countertop, he went duly. Still trying to register that for Castiel, this was normal.

He struggled to pay attention to what the other boy was saying.

“My mother, Naomi, took my brothers and Anna on a shopping spree by Northlake for the weekend. I was the only one who decided to stay, so we get the house to ourselves. You can even stay the night if you want to?” Castiel glanced shyly at Dean, and he wondered if he had been avoiding looking at him ever since they had entered the house because his expression changed as soon as he saw the uncomfortable look on Dean’s face. He hastily added, stumbling over his words. “That is, if you want to, Dean. No pressure to stay with me – I mean, not with me, but here. At my house.”

He felt a pang at the badly concealed disappointment in Castiel’s eyes and Dean wanted to assure the other boy that he would love to stay, but honestly he just wasn’t sure anymore. The house and everything he had seen in it so far made him feel as though this was a mistake. Dread crept up his spine and he wished he hadn’t come and seen how wealthy Castiel was. It placed an uneasy shade over every memory of the boy eating dinner with Dean and Sam at their apartment, eating instant noodles instead of caviar, or some sh*t like that.

It changed everything. Castiel had a right to be disappointed by Dean. Seeing him now, in his ragged, Goodwill clothes against the backdrop of the mansion. He had to have realized that Dean didn’t belong here.

He swallowed uncomfortably, opening his mouth and—

“So how about that cake you promised me?” Dean’s words surprised even himself, but it made sense. Was natural. He had been promised cake with Castiel for his birthday. He wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass.

Castiel seemed grateful for the change of topic, and he dashed to the massive stainless-steel refrigerator.

“I hope you’ll like it. I baked it myself. It’s the first thing I’ve ever created in the kitchen, but I made certain to carefully measure out the correct allotment of each ingredient.” Castiel called over his shoulder as he grabbed the cake out of the fridge, grabbing plates and utensils.

Dean watched Castiel fondly and promised himself that he wouldn’t make a huge deal about the whole mansion thing until later, at least. He didn’t want to ruin the tasting of Castiel’s first cake, after all.

The cake was surprisingly excellent, and Dean inhaled his entire first slice in zero seconds flat with demands for another, Castiel happily acquiescing.

He found himself forgetting about the uncomfortable surroundings of the mansion as he was drawn into conversation with his friend, feeling as though they were at their lunch table all over again.

When Castiel started to serenade him with an awful rendition of 'happy birthday,' Dean had to yell at him to stop, laughing around his mouth-full of cake. Castiel snarked that Dean try and sing it then, since he could actually sing,if he didn't like Cas's version. To which Dean responded by launching into an awful, nails-across-a-chalkboard rendition of the song. The end of Castiel's first cake taste-testing resulted in smothering, laughter, and cake-throwing.

Castiel showed Dean his room, soon after. A space which was easily the size of Dean’s entire apartment, a king-sized bed occupying one corner of the room and a couch and TV set up in the opposite direction. The room was lined with bookshelves characteristic of Castiel but what surprised Dean the most was the acoustic guitar mounted on the wall.

Now that Dean knew just how rich the other boy was, he stared wonderingly at the guitar. It was one of the two that they had found in a storage room at school, a matching set to the one Dean owned. It wasn’t a super well-made guitar and it stood out from the rest of the furnished room a little but knowing that the blue-eyed boy could probably buy any guitar he wanted in the world but had chosen to put this one on the wall instead, brought a lump to his throat. He had spent many hours with Castiel playing together and he knew the other boy loved to play but seeing it displayed so proudly in the middle of the room like this felt different somehow.

They settled down on the couch in front of the TV to watch Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Castiel bringing fluffy blankets and snacks out of seemingly nowhere to make the experience damn close to perfect. Dean’s only wish being that the other boy settle a little closer on the couch.

As the movie played, Dean found himself watching Castiel more than the TV. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t entertaining — even though of course, he had seen it at least half a dozen times — it was that Castiel was just so damn irresistible. He could be so stupidly oblivious to how hot he was. From the way his blue sweater fit snugly over the firm muscles of his chest, the cobalt fabric bringing out the blue from underneath his dark lashes that fluttered over his cheek when he blinked. To the way his stupid messy curls that demanded to be tousled. The way he watched the movie so seriously, making comments to Dean about the dysfunctional relationship between Indiana and his Dad, his face set and vaguely troubled, made hilarity bubble up inside of him.

And, in a way, it was frustrating, watching Castiel from across the couch like this. It may have been only a cushion’s length apart, but it felt like more. Way more. Dean suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to press closer to the older boy. To jam his head under the crook of Cas's neck, press his nose there and hold on tight, sliding his hands across the other boy's back just to remember the shape of him under his hands.

Castiel wasn’t as oblivious to the staring as Dean thought because he turned his head to the side and their eyes met, blue on green. He lifted an arm hesitatingly, then welcoming, gesturing to Dean that it was ok to get closer.

And he did. Snuggling underneath the older boy’s arm so close to he could feel him breathing, he wrapped a daring arm around him in return. Castiel inhaled sharply at the movement, leaning into the movement so that they rubbed so close their belt loops caught and rubbed against each other.

It was clear neither of them was watching the movie anymore. Snuggling as closely as they were, it was near impossible for Dean to concentrate on anything but his hyper aware fixation on the other boy.

Castiel cleared his throat, lifted the remote off the side table and turned down the volume to the movie, turning halfway to Dean to gently spoon him.

“Dean, I—” Castiel spoke quietly. “I need you to know that this, I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”

His eyes shifted, growing dark and dilated and sliding down his face, hungrily as though he were drinking in Dean —memorizing his features. A slight shift between their bodies and they were facing each other. His heart began to race in his chest at their proximity, Castiel’s dark, sloppy hair begging Dean to grip and pull him closer.

He reached to grab on to the back of Castiel’s head, his heart screaming that this was it.

A jolt shot through his body and Castiel caught his wrist in mid-air, staring at it in horror.

The moment froze, shattering into a million pieces in the air around them.

Dean's long-sleeved shirt had ridden up on his arm, exposing green and blue bruises that indented the skin on his wrist in a ring-like fashion.

“What is this?” Castiel growled, turning to Dean for answers. “Who did this to you?”

Dean’s heart plummeted.

“Cas, I—” Dean’s mind fumbled for a response. An explanation, something to that would distract the other boy. He ran through the usual excuses. ‘I fell on my wrist. I hit it on a door frame. I’m a clumsy guy’ with a self-deprecating grin.

But the bruises on his wrist were in the unmistakable shape of fingerprints. And Castiel was, well, Castiel. Dean didn’t feel like lying anymore, at least, not to him.

“Dean.” Castiel said. It was a demand for an answer. An honest one. “Who did this?”

Hie eyes were dark with concern as though he had realized that something was really wrong. All the times Dean had dismissed Castiel’s concerns as though they were nothing over the years came to mind. Every time a comment about their dad’s absence and the unbalanced responsibility to Sam as his older brother, Dean had dismissed it with a smart-ass remark and a grin or just plain-out ignored the other boy. It had all coalesced into today. Into this moment, right now.

Castiel was asking for an answer, and he wouldn’t accept anything but the truth.

“Just don’t worry about it, Cas. It’s fine, I’m used to it.” Dean said defensively, trying to yank his wrist from his firm but gentle hold. When had Castiel gotten so strong?

Castiel's expression fractured as though he was heartbroken at Dean’s response. “I just want to help you, Dean. I’m worried about you. Friends help, right? They’re always there for each other. That’s what you told me. Does this have to do with your—”

“Fine!” Dean snapped, not baring hearing the words in Castiel’s mouth and frustrated that their moment had been ruined in the worst possible way. “You want to know so bad?"

He hesitated.

"It’s my Dad, Castiel. He hits me and leaves me n’ Sam for days at a time. He’s never been home since I was eight years old and realized it was my responsibility to care for Sam. But trust me on this: He will never hurt Sam and that’s all that matters to me.” Dean grew angrier and angrier as he talked, rage pumping through his veins. “He don’t hurt Sam but he hurts me, ok?”

He couldn’t turn away, his wrist still caught in Castiel’s grip, so he just looked away, trying to hold back tears of shame. “You got me to say it. You happy now?”

“No, Dean.” Castiel breathed. “No, of course not. I just—all these years, I knew but I didn’t know—”

What? How bad it was? How some nights before school I have to peel myself off the bathroom floor after my Dad’s left to put Sam to bed? How I know better than any unpresented teenager my age to use foundation because I had to learn the best way to conceal a bruise?” Dean gave a black laugh, the breath catching in his throat. “I work my ass off at my job to put dinner on the table and this entire time, you’d be sitting in your fancy f*cking mansion eating dinner that your cook made you, whining about your life because it's oh-so terrible.”

Castiel flinched back minutely, his face growing pale. “I’ve tried to help you before. You won’t accept help. Just like now when I’m offering you help.” He took a breath, trying to visibly calm himself. “You know there are people that look after kids in you and Sam’s situation, right Dean?

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dean said quieter now. “Those people don’t give a damn about kids.”

“Yes, they do.” Castiel said. “I’ve read about them. The Child Protective Services look out for kids like you, they’ll take you and Sam into custody, and you’ll be cared for. No one your age should be the sole provider for a family. No one your age should go through what you’ve been through.”

“You don’t think I know that?” Dean retorted. “I know all about CPS, Cas. I’ve been counting on their help for years. Just not yet. Not until I’m eighteen.”

“What?” Castiel furrowed his eyebrows, confused. “Why not now? Why wait? They can help you and Sam now. They’ll take you guys and—”

“And then what?” Dean challenged. “I’ll tell you what happens next. And then, they separate us. Me and Sammy would be separated, Cas. Sam would be sent to a good home, smart kid like him. And me? With my age and my personality, I’d be sent to a group home or juvie or whatever. And I’d lose track of Sammy.” His voice cracked as he pronounced his brother’s nickname, his voice lowering to pronounce the grief of such an occurrence.

“I can't do that, man.” Dean said softly, holding back his tears. “I just can’t. Sam is all I have.”

Castiel instantly softened. “Oh Dean. I am so sorry.”

“I have a year until I'm eighteen. I'm going to get social services involved and get guardianship of Sam.” Dean tried to speak past the lump in his throat. Cursing himself, he tried to hold back the tears stinging his eyes. “I can't separate from Sammy. I can't.”

“I know, I know.” Castiel pulled Dean closer, so his head rested against his chest, running his hand through his hair soothingly. “I’m so sorry.”

He wasn’t sure what Castiel was apologizing for. It could have been any number of things, but he couldn’t help but be calmed by the sound of his voice in that order.

Dean fought his tears until his panic receded, lulled by the soothing scratch of Castiel’s hands through his hair.He pressed his nose against his neck, seeking comfort in the older boy’s scent, normally a clean, bookish smell. Now it felt different to him, but he couldn’t put his finger on why. It was, quite frankly, better. Intoxicating and exciting at the same time. A strange mixture, the undertones almost like gunpowder, wood, vanilla, and almond, but veneered by the wild scent of a summer breeze over the ocean, carrying salt and ozone after a storm.

It was eerily calming, the salt sinking to burn in Dean's veins, igniting an urge to be close to Castiel. Closer than he already was. He shifted further, cuddling until their legs were tangled together. Until he was practically laying on top of Castiel.

He startled, because Castiel was bringing his wrist, which he still hadn't let go of, up and gently, softly pressing his lips against the bruises there. He peppered up his arm with softly pressed kisses, concealing the bruises beneath.

Absurdly, Dean realized the older boy was kissing his ‘boo-boos.’ Like he would have done when Sam was small and fell on the sidewalk. In a sort of abstarct way, he knew he should have felt immature at the realization, like a child. But when Castiel did it, he simply felt secure. Safe. Protected.

“Hey, you're ok.” Castiel said softly. “You're ok.”

And Dean felt just that: ok.He couldn't remember the last time he had felt such a peace. Usually his head was so clouded with thought of protect Sam, obey Dad, do we have enough money, is the rent paid, where's dad, godamnit I have school—until he was as tightly wound up as a spring.

But with this. With Cas. He could just relax. Just be.

He drew back, wiping his tears to meet Castiel’s eyes. He saw so much reassurance there. So much empathy. So much understanding it felt like the tight coil in his chest was loosening. Unraveling. Just a little bit, but enough.

It felt like a revelation. Like a new understanding of a feeling Dean had experienced his entire life. Being with Castiel had created this bond. And Dean could be wrong, but he didn’t think anything, ever would break it.

“You know Cas. I think I really like you.” Dean breathed and Castiel’s eyes lit up like sun itself and he surged forward and then.

And then, they were kissing.

Castiel’s lips pressed searching against Dean's plush ones and at first it was chaste. Short, sweet, and comforting.

But suddenly it wasn't enough.

Arousal spiked through Dean's stomach, and he parted his lips, Castiel mirroring the action to press ever closer. It was a clash of lips and teeth and want.

Castiel shifted on top of him, his body pinning Dean's down, settling into a much larger weight than he remembered him being. Castiel slid his tongue in Dean's mouth and let out what he could only describe as a growl. The sound was like electricity sparking across his body, igniting fire in his veins. He pushed back against Castiel from underneath, his hands buried deeply in Castiel’s dark mess of hair. He had never felt anything like this before. It was like playing with fire. Dangerous but irresistible. And even harder to stop once it had begun.

The air was thick with desire, Dean felt hot all over, the only relief coming from what his world had narrowed down to: Castiel's lips. Their bodies winding around, sliding against each other to better touch, to better claim.

He whimpered into their kiss and Castiel’s eyes flew upon, flashing red, and all Dean could think was holy sh*t.

He drank in the sight, feeling wild and out of control, pressing closer, and—

"What the f*ck is going on in here?"

They flung backwards at the sound, away from each other, landing on opposite ends of the couch.

Heart plummeting, Dean's head shot towards the direction of the now opened door to Castiel’s room, a tall, imposing lady standing in the door frame.

Still panting from the kiss and flushed a beautiful scarlet, Castiel let out a breathless “Naomi?”

Dean instantly recognized the name. It was what Castiel called his mother, yes, the one that was supposed to be out of town right about now. She stood in the doorway in her professionally pressed pantsuit, sensible heels, and perfectly applied lipstick painted onto her pursed lips and thoroughly disgusted expression. She had a matching designer handbag slung over one crossed shoulder. “Castiel.” She pronounced his name like a curse. “What is going on here?”

“Naomi, you— you aren’t—”

She let out a short barking laugh. “Oh. I’m not supposed to be here. Well, maybe unless I catch wind of you inviting some poor little whor* over to our house, I don’t want to be here. You ever think about what I want Cassie?”

A disgusted look passed over her features before settling into cold eyes and an even colder voice. “Castiel. Come here. Now. We need to talk, privately.”

Castiel stood up from the couch stiffly to follow his mother out of the room. Dean let out a “Don’t let her scare you.” As he passed. But the older boy didn’t even acknowledge his words. Dean felt a worried pang as he disappeared after his mother into the other room to talk.

Naomi let Castiel pass, lingering in the doorway to level Dean with a look. “I will address you in a minute.”

A thousand scenarios passed through his mind as he waited. Staring at the wooden panes in the door until they returned, he wondered what it was that they were so in trouble for. Sure, they had been kissing, but it wasn’t like Dean believed Michael or any of the Novak brothers had never been with a beta or an alpha girl before. What made Castiel so special?

Or not, Dean realized. It wasn’t about Castiel being with someone, it was about Castiel being with Dean. He was poor, probably poorer than anyone in Naomi’s tax bracket had had to deal with in a long time. And he had already made enemies with one of his brothers. Of course, she’d hate the sight of him.

Yep, it was not looking good for him.

He uncurled from his place on the couch and settled somewhere in the middle, his stomach starting to feel uneasy. He fidgeting with his hands until the door opened, and his head shot up to see.

He watched, perplexed as Naomi walked into the room, not followed by Castiel.

“You and I are going to have a talk.” She said, standing at the edge of the couch and looking down at him.

“Oh yeah? And I’m guessing the next words are going to be ‘stay away from my son’” Dean lifted his voice high-pitched to imitate her mockingly. “Well, guess what, I don’t think the son you ostracized from his own family is going to listen to you.”

Naomi’s expression tightened and then relaxed slowly, inch by inch into the coldest smile he had ever seen on a living person’s face. “Now Dean, how astute of you. It appears you already have a grasp of the situation we are in. Although I must admit, I won’t have to tell Cassie to do anything. After tonight he’s going to stay away from you long enough on his own. ”

“I don’t believe that.” Dean said flatly.

“Looks like you don’t know Cassie as well as you think you do.” She hissed. “Just look at yourself. In those clothes you look like you found in a bag somewhere. Now look around you. Do you think you belong here?"

Dean stayed silent, knowing she was right. Knowing just how out of place he was in this house ever since he had stepped inside, feeling smaller and smaller the longer he stayed here.

"Do you think Castiel thinks you belong here?" She laughed derisively. "A boy like him that was raised here since he was little, surrounded by his Alpha who is convinced he's special." She grimaced at that but continued. "And siblings who have allowances in the thousands. Do you honestly think that boy would want something like you without noticing just how out of place you are?"

Her eyes narrowed like a snake. "Get your filthy body off my couch and get out of my home.”

Dean stood. But she wasn’t finished. “You must understand this from my perspective, Dean. I can’t have random vagabonds it looks like my son picked off the street into my son’s bed. Especially when they haven’t presented, practically thinking, it’s nothing but a liability.”

She gave a sniff. “Although with the amount of pheromones in the air in here, I’d say you being an omega whor* isn’t far from an accurate summation. If anything, I’d say I’m being generous to you.”

“Oh wow, I guess I must thank you for your amazing generosity and hospitality.” Dean said sarcastically.

“You think you’re so smart, don’t you?” Naomi mocked.

“Actually. I think I’m adorable.” Dean quipped back, smirking as he passed. He was shaking under the fury of her gaze but she couldn’t know that. He wondered where Castiel was. It felt like the whole evening had fallen apart and all he needed was just to see Castiel’s face. To be reassured that everything was ok.

His head was spinning weirdly in the room and he tired to shake it off but as soon as he exited the room and saw Castiel standing in the hallway, his stomach only twisted further with unease. “Castiel?”

He didn’t look at Dean. His face was flushed red, his eyes redder from tears.

“Now get the hell out of my house.” Naomi snarled. “I never want to see your poor, little, whor* self again.”

And Dean could have sworn she added, under her breath. “Although you did serve you’re purpose, I suppose…” But he wasn’t paying attention to her. No, all he was focusing on the blank expression on Castiel’s face.

As Castiel looked up and then away and Dean felt a stab of confusion as he made no attempt to defend him from his mother’s insults. What was going on?

“Cas?” Dean tried again, trying to ignore the feelings of betrayal that stirred in his gut.

Castiel finally lifted his eyes to meet Dean’s, the blue shifting into hurt and confusion before settling into the unmistakable shade of ice. A blue and as cold as his mother’s.

“Just go home, Dean.” Castiel said. “I don’t want to see you anymore.”

And Dean shuddered. Because he knew the sound of Castiel lying. It was an obvious sound. One that screamed lying to Dean as easily as watching Pinocchio’s nose freakishly expand.

And this? This wasn’t it.

Castiel’s voice was filled with carefully thought-out truth. As easily as him stating that a bee was his favorite animal, or he disliked the bullies at school. It slipped out of his lips with natural candor, directed at Dean assiduously.

Dean gasped as though the air had been punched out of him and let his eyes break from the painful sight in front of him.

As if in a daze, he headed toward the general direction of an exit. Head spinning and body hot, he stumbled away, wondering how tonight could simultaneously be one of the best and worst in his entire life.

Dully, he heard Castiel let him know that Balthazar would be taking him home tonight and that he wouldn’t have to worry about the rain pouring steadily just outside. He tuned it out as he walked away.

He guessed Naomi was right. He didn’t know Castiel as well as he thought he did.

Notes:

Sorry for the late update, I've been dealing with a lot of sucky life stuff and I've been struggling to do anything since.
I love seeing you guys comments, it means so much to me and encourages me to keep writing!! <3<3

Chapter 9: When the Wolf Comes Home

Summary:

Sam comes home from school to find that everything has changed.

Notes:

This chapter is the first POV change in the story and its written in Sam's perspective. I thought I'd try something a little different with this chapter, so let me know what you think!!!

Chapter Text

Sam knew John was home the moment he opened the door to the apartment.

Beer bottles littered the path from the front door into the apartment, the tell-tale scene of his presence and proof that he had already been drinking.

Internally, Sam groaned. And he had been having such a good day at school.

Well, except for Dean calling out of school in the morning, whining about his stomachache or something like that. But Sam wasn't really concerned, he knew Dean was probably just skipping as he sometimes did. Granted, he'd been doing it less and less since they had moved to Lawrence, Kansas. Although Sam should say, since Dean had met Castiel.

The two older boys had gotten along suspiciously well from the things Sam had observed.

Sam began to mentally prepare himself for John's short temper. He slung his book-heavy bag to the floor and felt a surge of anger. What would John complain about today? His father seemed to get angrier and yell louder every time he was home, the periods in between his anger-driven rants getting smaller and smaller. And Sam refused to step down from an argument.

If John thought he could neglect his children for weeks and days at a time without repercussions, he was wrong.

A flush of anger filled Sam’s thirteen-year-old body. Sam wouldn't roll over like a kicked puppy for him like Dean did.

Sometimes Sam hated Dean for the way he would go quiet when John entered the room, eyes to the floor, and obey the alpha without question. John had no right to tell Sam or Dean what to do. But wait.

Dean.

Where was Dean?

Sam scanned the cramped apartment. Dean was nowhere to be seen.

Oh sh*t. Sam felt his stomach drop. If John was home and Dean was missing...

Now that Sam started really paying attention to his surroundings, he immediately noticed something was wrong.

The apartment was silent, eerily so, but that wasn't what caught Sam’s attention.

There was a strange haze of familiar pheromones that itched at Sam's nose and got inside his head. He was unpresented, but lately Sam had been gradually gaining more insight into what it meant to mature into a presented alpha. His senses were sharpening, and he was able to smell the shift in the wind and the twist on a friend’s face before they frowned. Another sign Sam had noticed was his strange mood swings, causing him to lash out at Dean or others in aggression. All of these things pointed to a high probability that he was going to be an alpha.

Right now, his instincts were overwhelmed by the strange pheromones in the air. They were urging him to move, to fight, to protect. He had to find Dean. His brother was never safe when John was home.

Sam quickly scanned the apartment desperately hoping to see his brother's figure stretched out on the small, living room couch, relaxing. Or maybe humming Zeppelin in the kitchen while whipping up something delicious for dinner. But there was no sign of him.

Sam hurried to the kitchen and began to feel a low thrum of panic course through his veins.

He was met by the sight of John gulping down a bottle of beer and sitting heavily at the mini dining table, surrounded by bottles of alcohol.

He was drunk, Sam realized. Of course, he was.

John was an absolute wreck. His face was flushed beet red, and his bloodshot eyes were flat with anger, like some vengeful corpse brought to life to terrorize Sam's existence.

He acknowledged Sam's presence with a low growl, an alpha accosting an intruder on his territory, not as an alpha recognizing his son.

Sam felt instant rage at the sound. How dare he? How dare he sit there and growl of all things, at Sam. After he had done who-knows-what with Dean. His brother could have spent the day being beaten black and blue by John while Sam was at school, laughing with his friends.

Red set in on the edges of his vision, clouding his senses with the pure, unadulterated anger. The bastard.

"What did you do?" Sam spat, fury barely contained in his growl. "Where's Dean?"

John’s eyes widened, his expression blossoming with surprise that quickly grew into amusem*nt. "What's this? Alpha rage?" John mocked. "Looks like you're about to go into your first rut, sonny. One of my sons isn't a complete failure after all. Not a filthy, little bitch in heat, like the other.”

Huh? What was John talking about? The anger and undulated pheromones were clouding Sam's brain, making it hard for him to concentrate.

"What do you mean?"

"See for yourself." John said, gesturing to the back of the house. "See what your big brother you're so proud of has become."

He took another swig from his bottle and slammed it on the coffee-stained table. “I always knew that one was a disappointment.”

That's when Sam heard it.

A whimper.

The sound was aching and long, and barely distinguishable. Full of melting longing and pain and it varied in intensity, fading into an aching keen before falling silent again. It sounded almost animalistic in its pain.

What. The. Hell.

Sam knew that voice.

He had listened to it croon Beatles songs as lullabies to him since before he could remember. He had laughed with it until his sides had hurt. He had argued with the familiar timbre of that voice, feeling as though he had never hated someone as much as then.

And he had heard the voice cry before, Dean’s voice cracking as he sobbed on a motel bathroom floor.

But not like this. He had never heard Dean like this.

Images of Dean beaten a kaleidoscope blur of blues and purples in his room flashed through Sam’s head. Images of John whaling on his son, fists flashing with all the guilt of a man who failed fatherhood. And Dean taking it all, hands only wrapped to protect his head, believing he deserved it.

Cuts. Bruises. Blood.

What had John done?

Without hesitation Sam ran to Dean’s door down the hallway, pounding on the locked door for Dean to let him in.

The door didn’t budge.

“Dean! Let me in! Are you okay? What’s wrong? Dean!” Sam screamed, frantic in his need to get inside his brother’s room, reduced to the crying, confused child he felt inside. Dean wasn’t answering or opening the door, but he kept trying. “Dean! Please!”

He slammed his fists against the door, wishing his clenched hands weren’t so small. He pounded on the door, wearing his arms and voice out.

It wasn’t working.

Sam made himself stop, arms falling heavy to his side. He stood and listened, ears straining for more of his older brother.

He heard nothing with his enhanced, almost-presented, alpha senses, but the faint sound of repressed sobbing from the other side of the door.

“I can’t, Sammy. I can’t.” Came Dean’s helpless voice. He sounded out of breath.

Sam still wanted to yell and scream but forced himself to stop and think. He wondered if this had to do with something John said. Had John told Dean not to open the door?

But that didn’t feel quite right…John had said something about Sam about to present as an alpha, but also another comment about Dean. A terrible, disgusting comment.

Sam struggled to connect what was happening with what John had said, but a haze of newly discovered urges seemed to beat inside Sam’s head, making it hard for him to think.

The strangely thick pheromones that Sam had noticed on entering the apartment were suffocating now, a strangely sweet combination of spices; cinnamon and sugar and honey. The combination was a thick miasma of scents that grated on Sam’s nerves and sank into his blood with electrifying energy, connecting with something very primal within.

Sam suddenly felt very overwhelmed.

He sank to his knees in front of Dean’s door. His body physically weighed down, as dread made heavy every limb in his body.

Sam knew.

He knew what was wrong with Dean. Why he wouldn’t open the door. Why John was angry.

It was obvious, plain as day, as obvious as Dean’s genuine care for Sam since he was a baby.

Dean had presented as an omega. He was in heat.

Sam hadn’t taken A/B/O biology at school, he was only eleven, and not quite a fully presented Alpha. But he knew what the pheromones Dean was exuding from his room were. There was no mistaking the smell that had engulfed him — connecting to Sam’s inner alpha with a cry to protect his family. Somehow energizing and terrifying at the same time.

Sam had never been this close to an omega in heat before, but he just knew that this was it. Something deep and primal growling at the scent alone — cinnamon sugar, honey, and freshly baked pies from the distant haze of his early childhood.

And he knew, child as he was, that being an omega was not a good thing.

He barely saw them in public. On the rare occasion he did, the omegas were always wearing something strange and skimpy, following after an alpha like some dejected dog. Sam always felt uncomfortable at the sight. If he asked his dad about them, John would dismiss his concerns, saying that omegas were useless and ‘nothing without an alpha’.

Sam agreed. If omegas could be self-sufficient, if they could live without an alpha, why didn’t they? Why wouldn’t the omegas run away? Why did they look up at their alpha like they couldn’t survive without one?

If they wanted change, they’d go out without their alphas and make the change. Right?

But they clearly didn’t.

Sam wasn’t sure what to think anymore.

His head was reeling with the implications of what this meant for his brother. Questions whirled in and out of his head. He didn’t know what to think, his newly developed instincts warring with his brain. Conflicting emotions of sorrow, anger, and disgust at a strange juxtaposition within.

He let his head rest against the grainy wood of Dean’s door, just listening. Trying to block out the questions in his head that were going to change his life as he knew it.

A bottle of beer crashed to the floor in the other room. John, still drunk on his disappointment at his oldest son.

Sam didn’t know what to think. But he knew, deep within, there was something that both his head and his heart agreed upon. He would protect Dean from John, no matter what.

Sam settled in front of his brother’s room, refusing to move from it, as he felt the surge of protectiveness.

He was going to stay here and guard Dean until his heat was over. Anything else could wait.

He owed that to his brother. No matter what Dean was now. No matter if Dean was an omega, beta, or even f*cking alpha. If his brother was hurting and in pain, he owed it to Dean to offer what little protection he could. He owed his brother so much and if he could show Dean even a splinter of the same protection and security that Dean had provided Sam growing up, he would. No questions asked.

Hours passed. Sam didn’t leave his post even when his stomach rumbled, or his legs grew tired. His mind switches into autopilot, some instinct from his roaring, new-born, inner alpha turning him into the perfect guard-dog for his brother.

The light in the hallway faded as the sun set, a curtain of dusty blue drawing the world into night.

After a little bit, Sam heard John talking on the phone to someone, some sort of business transaction, as evidenced by his familiar wheedling tone. Sam swears he hears the words 'male omega' more than once in the voice he used when trying to get something from someone, like information for his next hunt. Quick and greedy.

A little more time passed, and Sam heard John leave the apartment. Slamming the front door without an acknowledgement, leaving his omega son in heat and his early-presenting little alpha by themselves, alone.

As Dean and Sam had spent the days of their childhood and as they would always and inevitably end up.

The two brothers.

Alone.

Together.

One last time. Although Sam didn’t know that yet.

Chapter 10: Through All the Sorrow

Notes:

This chapter is the last one of this timeline. After this, there is the eight year time skip and updates will most likely be a lot slower because I need to do a TON of editing on what little I already have written and write some more than I have planned. Just a extra warning that this chapter is a lot darker than anything in this story so check tags and TWs.
TWs for: Verbal abuse, graphic depictions of violence, low self-esteem and allusions to non-con. (let me know if I missed one.)

Chapter Text

January 25th, 1997

Dean couldn’t have predicted it.

He never would have imagined that he would present as an omega.

Twenty-four hours ago, Dean had been lying in his bed at home, miserable and heartbroken. Secondary gender presentation had been the least of his problems, as he was consumed by his thoughts. Going over everything that had happened at Cas’s house the previous day. The movies. The bruises. The kisses.

The way Naomi had found them cuddling on the couch. Her icy glares and the way she had screamed at Castiel. And then when her cold eyes had turned to Dean. The awful things she had said.

Worse, Castiel’s words before he kicked Dean out of his house, replaying themselves over and over in Dean’s head. The way Castiel looked at Dean, blue eyes once warm, cold, and icy as his mother’s. The way he had told Dean to ‘just go home’.

Dean still couldn’t believe that it had happened.

The way Castiel had seen his bruises and kissed them gently, holding Dean in his arms with steadfast compassion. Had it all been a lie? The time they had spent together, the promises they had made to one another — the relationship they had begun to forge?

Dean felt vaguely nauseous one moment.

The next, he was in his first, full-blown heat.

Dean’s entire life, he had assumed he would present as an alpha or beta. Omega had never crossed his mind.

Omega just wasn't an option.

But then his body ached, right down to his bones. He heated up to a sweltering fever and his hole began to slick, yearning to be filled. The remnants of Castiel’s scent that still lingered on his clothes flared into something indescribably desirable, condensing into a tight point within. Flashes of heat accompanied every memory of tongue, and sensual touch of Castiel’s lips and skin. The heat gathered, burning low and hot in his stomach.

He panted and masturbat*d desperately, humping into his sweat-soaked sheets, and ultimately—when it still wasn’t enough. Dean knew. And the sharp turn in his scent had only confirmed it.

He was in heat.

Dean didn’t remember much after he heard Sam get home from school. He tried to tell Sam to leave him. To get out of there, so like the many times he was forced to protect his brother in the past, stepping between John’s fist and his little brother. But it was so hard to talk with agony wrecking his insides, turning it to mush.

Sweat ran down his skin in rivulets and the warmth became unbearable, searing into white agony. Nothing was enough to soothe the heat boiling inside.

Hours passed and he fell into a raging fever, too delirious with fever to register what happened next.

Dean was helpless against the men that had taken him.

It was a blur. Pressure on his neck, on his omega scent gland, rendered him paralyzed. His vision cloudy and his limbs heavy, he realized distantly that he had never been so helpless before the feeling of his newfound omega status was taken advantage of.

He remembered voices. His father’s, as he filled the papers for Dean’s sale. Dean bet he was pleased about the whole situation. Not only had John succeeded in getting rid of his worthless son, but he had also managed to make a profit from it.

His brother’s, screaming in helpless, raging protest — still no match for the full-grown alphas that were taking him. Shame curled in Dean’s stomach at the sound. Sam didn’t need to see what a failure Dean had become.

And the alphas’, who grunted as they had dragged him out of the safety of his warm, familiar nest out into the cold, bleak world.

Dean couldn't see. A bag had been thrown over his head, plunging his vision into darkness. He didn't know where they were taking them.

The van’s bumps and shakes were the only clue that they were even moving. For Dean, the ride was slow agony.

He dug the fingers of his handcuffed hands into the material of his slick-soaked sweatpants.

His bared skin numbed in the air-conditioning of the transport.The weight at his wrists and ankles rubbing and chaffing whenever Dean shifted.

Two men on either side of them were silent. Frustratingly so. Their only comments had been threats of violence if Dean did not behave. They stayed silent, and he wondered if it was on purpose. It was one more thing to make Dean disoriented. As though his own father negotiating his selling price and being tossed into a van by two grunts blindfolded wasn't enough to make Dean feel as though his life had ended.

He knew that was exactly what they wanted him to feel.

The initiation process for newly-presented omegas into the government-run Omega Services centers could only be described as psychological torture. It was designed to disorient, isolate, and crush the omega's spirit. They would take him away from his family, his home, and everyone he had ever known, if necessary.

The government-run omega center would ensure he was trained and then sold to the highest bidder. No chance of family buying him back.

The system was cruel but it persevered. Too many men in high places made a profit from the omega trade.Dean knew that option was impossible for him anyway. John would never buy him back. He had made it abundantly clear Dean was no longer his son. Just a useless omega.

Dean had failed at the one task John had given him: to take care of Sam.

A worthless omega had no place in Sam's life; Dean couldn't protect his little brother anymore, he couldn't cook for Sam, or give him advice, or tease him. No matter what Sam presented, whether alpha or beta, he had a great bright future ahead of him that his freak, omega brother had no role in. Just like John had always said.

Maybe Dean was always destined to present omega. He was always a little too good at taking orders. He always obeyed John unquestioningly his whole life. Even when John had dragged Sam and Dean across the country on a road trip that would never end. Searching elusively for some freak serial killer that had vanished more than a decade ago. Even when this meant Sam would never have a chance of a normal life. Would never have a chance to get the steady education Sam so deserved.

All the while, Dean had nodded his head, eyes to the floor, and scurried to fetch John another beer. All the while, Dean had called John his hero.

In a way, it made sense. The universe always had a place for things, and Dean's was to be useless. To be an omega.

Dean still felt his heat, although it had much diminished, the fire burning low in his stomach. An omega’s first heat would only last no more than twenty-four hours, anyway. And the fear of being taken from the safe warm space in his nest had thrown his inner omega into a panic, diminishing the earlier sexual urges. Dean knew that the rest of the symptoms would fade quickly. Dean was grateful for that at least.

Dean didn’t know how many hours had passed when he felt the van under him turn, shudder and then come to a complete stop. The engine was cut off.

The next moment, Dean was hoisted to his feet by his handcuffed arms by the two guards.

The doors to the van were thrown open and Dean saw the shift in light through the threads of the sack.

Dean was dragged, not very gently by the two men. He could only hazard a guess that they had arrived at the Omega Control Services center. Dean had only seen the large cement Omega Services building from the Impala window once before, while John had driven by on one of their travels across the country. Out of curiosity he’d read an article about the omega correction centers, praising the government for finding such a smart way to deal with omegas who, of course, could not be left on their own. Dean was skeptical, to say the least. The omegas at the centers were no better than slaves who had to earn their food and accommodation through hard labor, and “corrections” were achieved through strict rules and daily punishment.

And that was where Dean was going now.

It's sort of funny to think how a person's life can change so completely in a couple hours.

He was unceremoniously dumped to his knees on concrete flooring and the insufferable bag — thankfully, was yanked off his head.

It was only his guard's hand on the nape of his neck that kept him upright after the initial knee rattling impact.

The room reminded Dean of a hospital. It was clinically sterile with stark white, concrete flooring and walls. Dean had a limited view because of the guards that held him on either side, but he could see cheap upholstered chairs and a desk occupied by an alpha, similar to that of a head doctor’s office.

The alpha sitting behind the desk was clearly in charge, dressed in a suit and quickly making notes on a tablet he clutched to his chest. He was balding with hard lines across his forehead from years of stress.

“Mr. Crowley, we have the newest arrival here for you, sir.” One of the guards said in a bored tone.

When the alpha — presumably named Crowley, looked up, Dean could see the man had beady snake-like eyes that gleamed with keen intelligence.

The alpha stood and strode over to Dean's kneeling figure, still clutching the tablet.

"Let's see what we have here." Crowley examined Dean carefully.

The man in the suit eyed Dean, top to bottom. Dean felt measured and found himself uncertain of the result. He was wearing his nightshirt and wet, slicked sweatpants from his fast-fading heat. Dean knew he wasn't slim, submissive, and fragile like an omega should be. He didn't look like the stereotype in the least bit. His broad shoulders and well-muscled body were unusual for an omega. But nevertheless, the picture he must present now was pitiful, pulled as he had been from sleep in the middle of the night.

Dean pulled his lower lip between his teeth and summoned what defiance he held, pulling himself upright. He thought of home. Of Castiel and Sam. And good days together. Dean didn’t know what this unknown alpha wanted from him. But whatever it was, Dean refused to give it.

It was the alpha in the suit who crouched before him, leaving Dean stock-still in surprise.

Crowley examined Dean's legs, and then lifted his eyes speculatively to the cuffs on his wrists. Dean saw him consider his release, the long moment of churning thought behind dark eyes. He lifted his gaze to Dean's.

"Eyes to the floor, Omega.”

"I have a name, asshat." Dean spat. He didn’t like the way the man was looking at him, like Dean was meat on a stick.

Crowley examined the something on the tablet in his hands. "Not anymore, you don't."

At Dean’s raised eyebrows, he sighed wearily. "It's not always easy for you new Omegas to understand. You all have these ideas about independence and escaping…. So let me help you — I'll explain things carefully to you.”

The condescending tone in Crowley’s voice as though he were talking to a toddler infuriated Dean. It reminded him of the way Naomi had spoken to him — right before Castiel had kicked Dean out of his house. But no, Dean didn’t want to think about what had happened — that was in the past. He forced himself to listen to what the alpha in front of him was saying.

“The moment you presented, you know? Went into heat like a little bitch? You ceased being a person.” Crowley said. “You are now registered officially as government property. You are a ward to the state. To be registered with legal guardianship to an Alpha as soon as possible. And you will be legally bound to that alpha for the remainder of your life. Unless you die first, of course. Or he tires of you, whichever comes first.” Crowley smirked. “In which case, you will be returned to Omega Services. To be reassigned to your next Alpha.

You must understand, Omega, in the eyes of the government, you are an asset. And in the eyes of the alpha who claims you, or any alpha, you are not a person.”

Dean listened to his entire being: his life, his mind, and his body reduced to his gender and its respective role in society in a few sentences by the alpha before him.

He paused. "My advice? whoever you were before this; your name, age, family, or goddamn favorite color: forget it all. It will only hinder you where you are going. Do you understand?"

Dean clenched his jaw, staying silent. It all sounded like a lot of bullsh*t to him. Some stupid initiation to the Omega Center. He didn’t want to believe it. He refused to believe it.

"I said, do you understand, Omega."

"My name is Dean Winchester, f*ckhead." Dean growled and summoned what saliva he could and spat into the alpha’s face.

It was disgusting, he knew. But Dean enjoyed how the alpha flinched in disgust. He had to fight back somehow.

Crowley's face went blank as he wiped it off with a curt motion.

And then promptly backhanded Dean across the face.

Dean didn't expect the stinging slap and he flew to the side, to the ground. He didn't know if it was alpha strength or what, but he hadn't expected a slap from Crowley to contain that much force.

Crowley wiped his hands off on his suit pants and nodded to the guards.

“Go on, boys. Get it out of your system.” Crowley gestured to Dean.

The two alpha guards surged forward with excited growls to kick him where he lay.

Their boots slammed in his ribs as Dean blindly struggled to scramble away. He didn’t have a chance to fight back. Their faces were twisted into masks of cruelty as they brutalized the man below them. He felt bruises blossoming under the kicks. The blows continued, falling on his unprotected head, his arms and his legs as the two alphas continued their mindless litany of dominance. As they continued the onslaught, Dean curled into a fetal position, just hoping that the beating was going to end soon.

‘Get it in your head, Omega. You don’t talk back to an Alpha.’

‘Go on, cry, little bitch.’

‘Learn respect for your Alphas.’

On and on it went as he writhed on the ground, trying in vain to escape the blows.

It was the worst beating he had ever had, even out of all the ones John gave him when he was younger. They continued until, gradually, mercifully, he fell still, semi-conscious. They each hit him a few more times, then stopped.

Dean drew in one giant shuddering breath of fresh air. He ached and hurt viciously in every part of his body.

He was immediately jerked to his knees again by the guards, his head still ringing.

When his vision cleared, Dean could see what amenity in Crowley's expression had disappeared. "Strip him."

They tore the clothes off his body, scraping his skin as they did so, ignoring Dean's futile struggles. The strips of his shirt and pants landed beside him on the cold floor.

Dean couldn’t even manage to throw a punch as he was, once again, forced by heavy hands to kneel before Crowley. The alpha behind him tangled his hands in his hair and yanked it down with a snarl. Humiliation flared hot and heavy under Crowley's gaze. It probably looked like some scene from a p*rno: an unruly male omega forced into submission to kneel before the alpha he was to ‘service.’

Goosebumps raised on his bare skin, and he placed his hands in front of his private parts, trying to maintain some modicum of modesty. He felt so completely exposed, every shred of dignity gone before the alphas before him.

"Let's ask again." Crowley dangerously polite. "What do you say?"

Dean gritted his teeth. Terror, unlike he had ever felt, was beginning to set in, along with the reality of what was now happening.

Grinding his teeth, he decided on the best way to deal with this. He knew what he had to do. He had to let the alpha win. At least, for now. Dean had been taught that lesson far too many times to ignore the fact that Crowley was no different from John or Michael or any other person who has ever bullied Dean before in his life. They were always bigger and stronger than him and would always find a way to dominate him. They would always find a way to stand over him, beaten and bloody, with their pristine, douchebag suits and gloat that they had been born stronger and better than him.

It didn’t mean Dean was giving up. No, far from it. He was going to fight any alpha that thought they could own him until the fight left his body. But in order to win the war, a battle must be lost.

He hated it. He hated it with a burning intensity that tasted like bitter copper and ash on his tongue. Because he knew that for now, he had to give in.

“I understand.” He said, voice escaping from his cracked and bloody lips.

Dean's head snapped to the side as he was hit again. It hurt twice as bad as the first time because the guards held him still the entire time, forcing him to take the punch without recoil.

"You will address me properly this time. You are to call me ‘Alpha’."

Dean's body ached. "I understand, Alpha."

"Good enough." Crowley nodded. “You have much to learn, Omega. I suppose you're not a completely helpless case after all — Most alphas don't mind an omega with a little fire in them, anyway."

Dean chose to stay silent, sickening as the man's words were.

"However, no defiance from an omega here goes unpunished."

Dean felt a dread pit in his stomach. It seemed since he had discovered his second gender his life had been hell. Already punishment enough. ‘Punishment’ and ‘Omega’ were synonymous to society. What now? What new horror would he face because of biology?

Dean glared. The alpha looked pleased.

"Soon you will learn your place.” With a dismissive nod from Crowley, Dean was roughly pulled away, the guards practically dragging him away and down a hallway.

Dean fought as he was dragged violently. He didn’t expect to break the holds the guards had on him. It was immensely clear that he had no chance against them.

But the fight was the only thing he had. The only thing left inside him. Everything else was gone. His brother was gone. His father had sold him. And his best friend had left him.

A door was opened, and he was tossed inside. The door slammed behind him, leaving him in complete darkness.

The cold ground shocked his already numbed feet, the shackles catching at his sore wrists when he hugged his arms to himself for warmth.

His body ached from where he had been beaten. He groaned softly, longing for the release of unconsciousness, wanting to let himself sink into its dark, welcoming arms in order for the pain to go away, at least for a while.

Crowley’s words replayed in Dean’s head.

"Soon you will learn your place."

A shiver went down Dean's spine. It sounded like a promise.

Chapter 11: You go down, just like Holy Mary

Summary:

Castiel is a changed man.
Dean is struggling to stay alive as Alistair's omega eight years after his presentation.

Notes:

So sorry for the crappy writing in this chapter and any typos I missed. I'm posting this chapter unedited on 3 hours of sleep but i promised it would be up today so gosh darn it, it is going to be!!

Tws for: sexual violence, dissociation, verbal and physical abuse

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

July 2005: Eight years later

“Mr. Novak, the representative from the management department is here to see you."

Castiel sighed. The overt enthusiasm in the voice piping from his desk intercom never failed to make him nauseous. His secretary, Hannah, always held a particularly chipper attitude that grated on his nerves in the mornings. Nevertheless, he would never rid himself of the secretary as Hannah was too damn good at her job.

"Thank you, Hannah, you can send him in."

It wasn't just Hannah's cheery attitude that had Castiel itching in his chair this morning. Any sort of interaction with Castiel's brother would usually have this effect.

Michael and Castiel had their disagreements when it came to the company policies. Ever since their father's will at been instated and Castiel had become the working CEO of their family company, Michael made it a point to disagree with Castiel on every little change in company administration. Although Castiel knew it was only because it was his ability to protest that Castiel had gotten the position Michael had craved his entire life. A fact that, had he had to guess, was the very reason Michael hadn't gotten the position on the occasion of their father's death.

But still, any revision in company labor policies had Michael screaming and crying, kicking a fit like a toddler.Making none of the changes Castiel sought to make easy.

Repercussions had come in the form of Michael’s legal team. The team was composed of a group of multi-million dollar, leach-sucking attorneys that had been hired to, in short, go over the changes Novak Tech had implemented as well as the government policies and decide whether it was within the company’s right to make the changes they had, and propose an alternative solution to Castiel and the fellow head management department.

Castiel was not looking forward to meeting whatever smarmy talking man Michael had sent to gripe and snivel over every word in the contract that he had recently concocted. It was going to be one long headache.

He sat up, stress adjusting his tie, and hoping to God he looked presentable.

He wasn’t sure what this new proposal would be specifically targeted at but had a pretty good idea the negotiations Michael was going for were bound to possibly take days, weeks even. Which meant Castiel would have to force himself to be hospitable and polite to whoever Michael sent. Interpersonal communications had never been his forte. He had just never seen the aim of the whole ‘Hi! How are you doing? Isn’t the weather wonderful today?’ charade. Because what was the point?

But God damn it, he was going to succeed today. Change was needed in the company. Desperately.Things had been far too stagnant in the company, all in the name of tradition, in the name of seniority, allowing funds to be siphoned off into charity causes that were really only lining the pockets of the company's personnel.

A firm knock on Castiel's office doors alerted him to Michael’s chosen legal representative’s presence.

“Come in.” Castiel called out.

The man that walked through the door was almost exactly what he had been expecting.

Keen crafty eyes peered out of a face, set stern and cold, like a suit-wearing corpse already in rigor mortis. The man was all carefully constructed polish as he stepped across the office, his gray hair slipped against his head and perfectly tailored suit. But underneath it all, there was a predatory look. The man was certainly everything a successful alpha was supposed to embody. Castiel tried to tamp down the spring of long-buried insecurity that thought roused.

“Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Novak.” The man said. “I'm Alistair Masters.

Castiel stood from his seat to shake Alistair's hand from across the desk.

“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Masters.” Castiel said. It really wasn't.

Itching to wipe his hands on his suit pants, Castiel gestured toward the well upholstered chair opposite him. “Take a seat.”

Now that Castiel was close enough he could scent Alistair, he assessed the alpha across from him subtly.

The first hints of his scent threw Castiel off. Alistair smelled unlike any alpha Castiel had ever scented before. He smelled of arsenic and steel with an all-encapsulating tangy iron lacing the aroma. Blood, Castiel realized. The alpha across from him smelled like blood.

But underneath all of the red there was something strangely familiar. In strange juxtaposition to Alistair’s jarring scent was a cinnamony sweetness. It couldn’t have been Alistair's. Maybe someone close to him, such as an intimate partner, mate, or wife? Whoever they were, he felt sorry for them.

Alistair was also scenting the air, although not as subtly. He looked mildly perplexed as he did so. Castiel couldn’t help but wonder why. His office was extremely clean, the air practically immaculate as he had made sure ultra strong scientifically engineered pheromone blockers were implemented.

Ignoring the movement, Castiel went for casual.

“Would you care for some coffee?”

“I take my coffee black, thank you.” Alistair said.

Castiel pressed the button on his desk intercom to connect to Hannah's desk outside. “Hannah, could you bring two coffees for Mr. Masters and I? My usual, and a black drip for him.”

“Yes, sir. Right away.” Hannah's voice crackled back immediately.

“I noticed you use blockers in the airspace of not just your office, but the entire building.” Alistair noted.

Castiel narrowed his eyes, wondering what ploy Alistair was aiming for. Nothing the man across from him could be taken at face value, not even small talk.

“Yes, I'm used to them. Growing up, I used them regularly. I believe it adds to the workplace and gives a clean, professional environment in which to work.”

“But it does lack familiarity.” Alistair asserted. “The workplace should feel like a second home, shouldn't it? For example, my Omega has just the scent…”

So that's what the wonderful cinnamon sugar scent clinging to the other alpha was. It was Alistair’s omega.

“I have found that a good Omega can be a very useful resource at home, or in the workplace.”

Castiel felt even more sorry for the poor omega that had Alistair as an alpha. Alistair’s tone was light, pleasant and conversational, his undertones arrogant. He was probing Castiel, to see what exactly he was dealing with while simultaneously making, what he believes, is an effective point about omegas and their place in society. Castiel did not intend to let Alistair’s point stand.

“Mr. Masters, the place most Alphas believe an Omega should have in the workplace, does by no means convey ‘at homeness.’ Or their safe well-being, for that matter.” Castiel watched Alister's reaction carefully. The other alpha merely sat back, a strange aura of confidence falling on him, as though Castiel had just said the opening lines to a game Allister had played a thousand times.

Castiel had a pretty good idea of the angle the other alpha was going for, now.

The door opened quietly and Hannah clicked across the floor in her heels, two cups of coffee in her hand. The secretary handed the beverages to the two alphas with a polite ‘excuse me Sir’s’ and she slipped out just as unobtrusively.

Taking a sip of his coffee, Castiel unfolded the documents before him. They held the contract his legal advisor and he had drawn up.

“Now Mr. Masters, now that the pleasantries are over, let us get down to business.”

Alistair only smiled, all teeth. A shark’s smile.

Dean jerked awake, breathless.

His eyes shot open, scanning the room in panic. He instantly knew something was wrong. He racked his brain, straining to remember what was wrong — what he had done wrong.

His head jerked up from where he lay on the floor to see the clock: It read 05:06 am.

f*ck. He had overslept. Dean should have been awake at least an hour ago.

Terror shot through his body, sending his eyes desperately scanning the room for the second time.

Oh God, no. Please let his Alpha be asleep.

His heart pounded in his chest; he craned his neck to see. Dean’s eyes landed on the figure on the king-sized bed. It was motionless, a thick comforter blanket draped over the man.

The Alpha was still sleeping, thank God.

He breathed a sigh of relief, exhaustion slamming into his body now that the panic had died down a little.

He was thankful that the alpha wasn’t awake yet, but it still wasn’t good news. Dean was late starting his work this morning. And if he didn’t hurry to get all of his work down, his Alpha could find out. He would find out. His alpha – Alistair, he hadn’t thought of that name in a long time — always had a way to find out.

Dread set a low simmer in his stomach, threatening to boil over.He mentally calculated the most pressing chores that needed to be done first, concluding that laundry, food, cleaning had the top priority of the morning.

Reaching up to rub at the grit in his eyes, he tried to blearily banish the ever-present exhaustion that lay behind his eyeballs. He had only gotten four hours of sleep. Well, four hours and thirteen minutes to be exact.

He couldn’t remember the last time he had gotten proper rest. His Alpha took his pleasure from Dean whenever he felt like it, anytime from evening till morning, his erratic horniness leaving Dean with fewer hours to rest. After Dean served his use, his Alpha shoved him out of bed to the cold floor to deal with the aftermath, letting the cold sem*n dry between his thighs. His Alpha didn’t care if being roused of his little nest on the floor in the middle of the night meant that Dean lost sleep as long as he got a good f*ck.

Either way, Dean was expected to be ready to get up the next morning and perform his duties.

It was hard to get out of his nest sometimes knowing he would only have to repeat the day before. That he’d have to repeat the same monotony as the day before. The same grueling housework, starvation, and games of fear his Alpha so liked, the cycle of submission and punishment.

Dean didn’t dare to groan as he slowly uncurled himself, muscles protesting, from the position he slept in. He couldn’t shift around during the night as any sounds could irritate his Alpha, and it made for stiff muscles on a body already littered with bruises.

Pulling himself to his feet, he held the worn blanket that made up his nest, to his chest, scenting it lightly for comfort. It wasn’t much of a nest, he knew that, just a ratty old plaid quilt with a red and indigo pattern that had since faded the red squares pink. But Dean treasured it. Taking careful attention to keep it clean, washed, and carefully folded away out of sight of his master when not in use.

It was his only possession. Not really, of course, since omegas didn’t, couldn’t own things. But he liked to think it that way since Alistair had handed it to him in the second year of his time with his master.

It was a token of approval from the early days when Dean had really started to crack. Not break — crack, like fine vein-blue splinters on a windowpane or the first, slimy, yolked breaks in an egg. Because Dean knew what it was to be broken now. To feel those splinters branch into irreparable shards that burst out to shatter into a million pieces, skittering across the floor to rest in unknown places, integral parts of him — parts of Dean, with all his Deanness --- were lost.

Yes, Dean loved his blanket. Loved what it represented because the day he had cracked, after days in the Dark, his master had opened the door and he had said ‘yes.’ Yes, to anything, everything. His voice, hoarse from screaming for hours into the emptiness, licking and sucking enthusiastically at his master’s co*ck.

Alistair smiled, pleased, really pleased for the first time. Dean remembered the gut-curdling shiver that ran through him at the sight.

And to this very day, as Dean held the worn blanket to his chest, breathing deeply to fully scent it before folding it and placing it under his master’s bed. Dean remembered what being a well-trained omega meant. And he remembered that there was no feeling quite as sweet as pleasing his Alpha.

There was always more to do than the day before. Work piled on work indefinitely. Only broken by interludes of a new game his Alpha had found to torture him with.

He tip-toed across the room — careful as to not wake Alpha — and down the stairs, ready to start the day’s chores.

First, he would prepare Alistair clothes. Dean knew his Alpha’s schedule like the back of his hand — he had to learn it or be beaten — and knew the appropriate outfits to lay out for the day. Alistair’s taste in clothing was only for the best and most expensive, usually Stuart-Hughs or Brioni.

Dean crept silently through the penthouse apartment, a ghost in his own home. He pulled out items, a fold-out iron-board, a cup of water, and an old-fashioned iron — Alistair didn’t trust the new ones — and carefully selected from the closet one of Alistair’s pitch black, sleek, three-piece suits.

Carrying the expensive fabric away from himself, Dean caught a glimpse of the floor-length mirror which haunted the one end of the ridiculously huge walk-in closet.

He froze and stared.

He couldn’t help it. It was a shock seeing himself.

Usually, he was too bone-dead fatigued or preoccupied by bigger problems than to look at himself in any mirrors. What little he saw of himself, caught in reflective pots and pans while making dinner or the window in the office where he waited for his master to conclude his paperwork, made him avoid mirrors like the plague. He had no desire to see the way the last eight years had changed him and left its twisted claws-marks on his body.

But now, trapped as he was under the twin eyes of his reflection, frozen in time, he found it impossible to look away.

For one thing, his reflection was small. Smaller than he remembered being, back before. That shouldn’t have been the case, of course. His twenty-six-year-old, mature, grown-ass self should have easily dwarfed his seventeen-year-old body. But here he was, without his classic Henley layered flannel, dark wash jeans, heavy boots and trademark worn leather jacket. Standing there, only a long thin ratty tee-shirt, thrown over his scrawny hips, a thin ownership collar around his neck, he looked small. It wasn’t that he had changed when he had presented omega -- all that stuff about omega’s being teeny-tiny and weak was bullsh*t -- which meant he should have matured the same. Should have grown just as large as he would have if he had not presented omega. But it did mean that the picture in front of him lacked something. Something he had seen in himself eight years ago. An air of confidence, perhaps.

He blinked, tired of what he was seeing but was only left with the sad afterimage of himself burned to the back of his eyelids. The awkward stance, carefully holding the cloth worth more than his life, aloft. Then his face, delicately sculpted features garnished by wide shell-shocked eyes that stared into nothing. Black collar claiming his throat. Bare feet resting on cold wood panels.

When he opened them again, he was far from the closet. Finishing his ironing, setting the freshly pressed suit in its rightful place, a clothes-hanger stand by the closet, easily accessible for Alistair to get his suit when he woke up.

Starting on the next thing, the next task in his morning routine, all while keeping an eye on the clock. He did that sometimes — slipped away. Dissociated. Put up a vacant sign in his own mind and sometimes forgot to take it down. It was a habit he picked up over the years, during his sessions at the center and later, during retraining. Dean had learned it could be a useful skill, especially in his time spent with Alistair playing his ‘special games.’

But it was times like now, the precious little time he had to himself, that it bothered him when his mind went away.

Pushing down his thoughts, he told himself it didn’t matter. That he didn’t care. That he didn’t even care that he didn’t care. He couldn’t do anything about it anyway.

Shaking his head to himself, he hurried to complete his morning routine.

As always, his timing was perfect.Alistair had just pulled his chair up to the table, when Dean trotted out with the breakfast tray, placing it neatly in front of his alpha and removing the silver lid with a flourish — standing neatly next to his alpha’s chair as his efforts were inspected for imperfections.

It was a tense moment, almost as though Dean was standing on the edge of a cliff face, wondering if the bungee rope attached to him would work or fail.

The toast was a perfect golden brown with the butter spread evenly into every corner and cut into two perfect triangles. The bacon had all its fat removed and just the right side of being crisp, but not burnt, and the eggs were the right shape and colour.

Alistair loaded his fork, took a bite and thoughtfully chewed. Dean's heart was pounding in his throat, waiting, hoping, praying that he liked it.

The answer was in the second bite. Alistair didn't acknowledge Dean, say thank you, or compliment him at all. But the second bite told Dean it was acceptable, and that he may consider allowing the omega to sit and eat his own small bowl of oatmeal.

Just like his hair and clothes, it was Alistair's choice what went into his mouth nourishment wise and he liked Dean to be more omega-like. To be small and delicate.Dean himself missed the days when he didn't have to deny himself something as simple as a slice of toast, just to make sure that he would always fit into the image of what was acceptable as an omega to look.

Cautiously, Dean backed away slowly, standing by the doorframe. Alistair settled down to eat and turned on the wall-mounted television just like he did every morning. He was glad Alistair was ignoring him today. Hopefully, he would head to work without putting Dean to use.

But Dean had no such luck.

“Wait.”

The word froze Dean instantly. His eyes shot to the floor, nervousness releasing into the air. Alistair didn’t often address the omega in the mornings, treating him as though he were an object. A doormat. Something easily forgettable that served its practical purpose. In the evenings, after Alistair came home from work it was a different story altogether. After work, Alistair was ready to vent his frustrations. Of course, there was always an exception to the norm when it came to Alistair.

“Come here.” Alistair snapped his finger and pointed downward, calling for Dean.

He jerked from his place by the door and hurried to sink to his knees beside the table leg.

His alpha continued steadily chewing on his breakfast, unbothered by the embarrassing sounds of Dean’s stomach growling. The scent of breakfast was tantalizing to him, forcing his mouth to water.

He clamped his teeth down tightly as he felt Alistair’s idle hand slowly caress over the sensitive skin of his neck and drift over the rough, worn leather of his collar.

The touch evoked memories of the hundreds of other times when Alistair touched him. Touched him and ripped into him with knives, digging in while he f*cked deep and hard, snarling his pleasure—

Dean tuned into the newsreel on the wall-mounted television, trying to distract from the memories that clamored for his attention in his mind.

‘The multi-billion-dollar software and electronics corporation Novak Precision Technologies is receiving back-lash due to drastic changes in company policies. Labor unions boycott Novak Tech in response to the changes brought on earlier this year…’

The low, sour scent of alpha anger started to cloud the room. Dean shifted nervously, looking at Alistair. He didn’t see what was particularly angering about the droning news reporter. But he didn’t claim to know Alistair’s mind.

Dean couldn’t fully see the TV from his place on the floor, obscured by Alistair’s arm and the table, so he shifted as minutely as he could to see the way the screen changed, showing a camera pan a shot over a skyscraper building embellished by a companies logo. Novak Tech, he assumed.

But still, there wasn’t anything particularly angering about it. His confusion started to cloud the air, despite Dean’s efforts to tamp it down.

‘…Rising omega death rates reach new soaring highs. New Novak CEO is quoted saying “The new changes to policies are a non-legal issue. The omegas employed by the company have been bought and paid for. However the Novak Tech uses these said omegas after the initial purchase is, to put it bluntly, none of the government’s business.” Many believe…’

Dean was instantly on alert as Alistair’s body froze, tightening in the familiar coil of anger.

Dean’s body started to shake as his alpha’s drifting touch tightened over his collar, twisting to squeeze his throat.

Dean forced his body against every instinct to run to stay still and let himself be choked. It was one of the basic rules for survival as an omega: stay still and accept the punishment or else it would be much worse.

He didn’t know why he was being punished and the sheer terror of being punished for an unknown reason had his brain whirling for an answer. He had tried so hard this morning. He had tried so hard to be good.

He floundered blindly to escape the choking hold involuntarily. The pressure was cutting off his ability to breath and panic was setting in. Fuzziness shrouded his vision and he hoped to God this wasn’t how he died, choked to death by his alpha’s inexplicable display of anger on the breakfast room floor like a dog.

Dean could feel his throat turning in on itself, collapsing under the cutting weight of the leather.

The release was sudden, instantaneous. Dean fell to the floor, prostate and focused on gulping down precious gallons of oxygen.

When he caught his breath, he turned shuddering on his stomach to angle a look of what he knew was betrayal to his alpha.

Alistair let out a cough of a laugh at the look. He reached and turned off the TV with a press of a button and settled back in his chair.

Dean knew better than to accuse his alpha with his gaze. He knew better than to look at his alpha at all. He didn’t even understand why he felt betrayal, of all things. Alistair had the right to do anything with his omega. It wasn’t Dean’s place to question. Much less to accuse. Or feel betrayed.

He could always count on Alistair to be unpredictable.

He pulled himself to his kneeling stance quietly like he was trained to do. He numbed his feelings and told himself to stop being such a whiney bitch.

Alistair just watched him.

“Look at me.”

Dean’s eyes went to rest level with his chin. “Good.”

There was silence, then.

“Waiting kneel.” His owner’s voice guided him to a higher kneel stance, his weight no longer resting on his calves. “Present.” And Dean slide instantly down, head to the floor, back arched on reflex. And on Alistair went, droning out various positions and forms Dean was drilled in at the centers.

His alpha didn’t even bother using his Alpha voice as he twisted and contorted Dean, as easily and flippantly as a dancing puppet on a string. Dean’s mind zoned out, as it usually did while going though the motions, until—

“Stop.”

Dean was on his knees again, in his ‘wait’ posture. Alistair's thin, reedy voice rang out like a whip-crack. “Look at me.”

Dean did so.

“Look at you…” His voice changed, pouring out like acid from a vat. “So eager. So well-trained. You are so happy like this, aren’t you?”

It felt like cold fingers of unease were creeping up his spine but he couldn’t let it show so he said. “Yes, master.”

Omegas were generally not required to call their alpha ‘master’ but Dean knew Alistair required the title so he used it.

“I thought so. No thoughts, no worries. All you have in that empty little skull is orders. And sweetheart, you obey them so beautifully.” Alistair took a thin, shuddering inhale of Dean’s fearscent, his arousal waving in the air. “Omegas are made for this.”

He lowered his voice conspiratorially. “There’s been talk of unfair omega treatment in the courtrooms lately. Them idiots that advocate don’t know what having a kept omega is really like, what it feels like.”

Dean noticed the last sentence was pointed. Deliberate. He wondered if, somehow, Alisatir knew the people who were advocating for omegas. It seemed likely, the alpha was an extremely well-networked lawyer who knew a lot of the bigwigs in the political world. Although Dean had to agree with Alistair on this one — whoever advocated for an omega was an idiot.

“I’ve started a new case.” Alistair said, noticing the curiosity lighting the omega’s eyes and confirming Dean’s suspicions. “And I must say, it’s become rather personal to me.”

Alistair didn’t say anything more about it but Dean could feel his eyes on him until he left. Studying him like he hadn’t in a long time. Since at least the first three years of Dean’s time with Alistair. Like he was imagining all the different and complex ways he could tear Dean apart at the seams and leave his straw-stuffing innards to rest, plastic and nylon, under an exposed sky.

Notes:

I really struggled to get this chapter up but you guys comments give me the motivation to keep writing so thank you so much for each and every comment, they mean so much to me. <3<3

Chapter 12: The Truth of the Matter Is...

Summary:

Dean is forced to relive some the darkest memories of his time with Alistair.
Castiel makes unfortunate dinner plans.

Notes:

This is probably the darkest/most graphic chapter I've written for this story so far, so please mind the TWs and take care of yourself.

Graphic depictions of rape in italics so you can skip over those parts easily.

TWs: rape, torture, abuse, flashbacks, PTSD, panic attacks

Chapter Text

“No. I refuse to. It is out of the question.” Castiel stated firmly, adjusting the phone against his ear.

“Come on, little bro. It’s just one evening. Not even more than four hours.” Gabriel’s voice whined back at him over the phone. “Think of it like a spy movie. You’ll be in and out of there with no problems, the metaphorical golden goose safely clutched between your arms.”

“Alistair is the most…” Castiel frowned, trying to think of a particularly apt word to fully describe the deeply uneasy feeling the man gave him. “The most…egregious man I have ever had the displeasure of meeting.”

“Oh wow, I have no idea what that word means.” Gabriel said glibly, snorting in amusem*nt.

“It means, I cannot possibly spend an evening, a dinner, a less-then-four hours treating the man politely.” Castiel said exasperated. “If the dinner is so important, why don’t you go instead?”

“Cassie, he invited you. Not poor, little, ‘ol greasy administration department me. You, the friggin CEO of Novak Tech.” Gabriel’s voice turned unusually serious. “If we want to resolve this legal uproar about the company’s treatment of omegas, we need to make friends with Michael and his legal team. Ok?”

“Gabriel, I need your help with this.” Castiel winced at the admission. Winced at how tired he sounded. He couldn’t remember the last time he had gotten proper rest. “I can’t let any of this stuff get news coverage. That stuff that the press got their hands on recently was bad enough. I mean, omega death rates at Novak Tech, seriously? They care about omegas now, Really? Nobody cares about omegas.”

“Yeah, I know.” Castiel could practically hear Gabriel roll his eyes over the phone. “It’s a big, fat joke. Omega care…yeah right.”

Castiel had to agree with him. Novak Tech had bought and paid for the omega laborers that worked for the company. It was the government’s job to oversee the sells, not micro-manage alpha’s private use of them. It only seemed fair that after the company’s purchase, they could treat their labors however they wanted.

It wasn’t like Novak Tech was killing the omegas wholesale. Far from it.

“So, the dinner? You’ll do it?” Gabriel asked

It was Castiel’s turn to roll his eyes. “We’ll see.”

After Alistair went to work, Dean fell on the familiar routine of his duties with a fervor. He had served his purpose this morning and there were more things that needed to be done.

Obsessive organization was something that had become natural to Dean.A slip of the mind was not worth it if Alistair opened it up and found the contents in disarray. Any small mistake could be seized upon and punished. Was it so bad that Dean tried as hard as he could to minimize them?

For the rest of the day, while he was washing up the dirty dishes, while he did the laundry, while he made the bed, everything took ten times longer than it should have, because he kept checking, then double checking that it had been completed to a standard that Alistair would be pleased with. That meant no water marks on the china, no creases on the bedsheets, that he used just the right amount of fabric softener in the wash.

While he was cleaning the kitchen surfaces for the third time that same day, a sudden thought struck him, rushing to the cupboard that housed their stockpile of food cans, seasonings and condiments, quickly neatening the contents so that all the labels were facing outwards, and every item was placed within the right food group and neat and tidy.

Obsessive organization was a distraction. And distraction was all the defense Dean had against the knowledge that today was the day he needed to clean the room.

It needed to be done at least once a week. As with every room in the massive million dollar apartment, the many steel and glass surfaces seemed to collect dirt and dust on purpose. Dean would hate to have seen the cleaning bill of the apartment before he had come to reside on its premises.

Dean could feel his heartbeat jump-start in his chest at the thought of entering the room. It was where Alistair kept his tools. Where the alpha used to hold his sessions with Dean, training the omega on all the rules and expectations he had that the Omega Services centers did not cover.

It was the back of the house, up the floating steel and wire stair-case — that looked more like one of those abstract modernistic works of art than an actual flight of stairs — and down the end of the hallway, past Alistair’s master bedroom.

Dean avoided it at all costs, leaving the cleaning of it to the last minute every week. A fact that may not have actually helped to minimize the anxiety of the whole affair as the room always seemed to be there, waiting for him.

But he had cleaned every other room in the house, and nothing was left but the room at the end of the upstairs hallway. He couldn’t avoid it any longer.

Dean could feel the heavy gaze of Alistair’s cameras on his back as he gathered his spray bottle, duster, rag and the rest of his supplies and started the lengthy climb up the stairs to the room.

The room itself was simple. Much simpler than any of the other, ridiculous, abstractly designed rooms in the penthouse, with harsh lines and rounded curves that fit as neatly together as mismatching puzzle pieces.

It was just a bedroom, albeit a large one. A king-sized mattress on one side of the room, shelves and racks on the other that left Alistair’s arsenal of tools on proud display, black leather, whips and crops hanging in their places. In the center of the room was the rack. It was a black table, similar to a doctor’s examination table except that it rotated vertically and had thick, mustard yellow leather straps that hung like tangled ivy on either side of the table. They only had to be looped up and around to hold their victims down for easier access.

Chains attached on the walls adjacent to the rack, mean-locking hooks waiting to sink into flesh and hoist their victims up by their arms or legs. A table to the left boasted a selection of razors, wrenches, and blades, both serrated and not.

The purpose of the rack was torture, Dean knew, but he preferred to call it a punishment. Punishment he understood, he deserved. Punishment had a purpose, a use and corrective direction, a way of correcting him when he was bad. Torture felt too meaningless a word to describe what happened here.

Because what happened here was pain. And in the windowless and dark room, Dean could feel the echoes of his pain stored here, fermenting like aged wine.

Staring into the dark room, Dean could feel his heartbeat ratcheting in his chest, a thin sheen of sweat breaking out on his skin. He tried to ignore it, stepping into the room and forcing his legs which had gone numb to keep moving. Forcing his foot in front of the other, he tried to ignore how much he felt like he was in a horror movie, an unknowing actor heading into a haunted mansion. Except Dean wasn’t unknowing in the least — he knew far more intimately about that room than any living being ever should.

Dean thanked God that the room hadn’t been in use for a while, at least a month. It was always so much worse when Dean was assaulted by the sights and smells of his punishments the day after he received them. Wiping his own blood off the crops that lined the wall, scrubbing at the stains on the floor that Dean had left that he couldn’t quite get off even with his strongest cleaners, he was forced to relive his punishments. Sometimes, while he was scrubbing at the stains on the floor, his own back in agony, Dean thought that was why Alistair had installed the cameras that littered the house. Not just so that he could keep and eye on his omega but so that he could enjoy the full effects of a punishment on Dean, savoring every one of his whimpers and cries even from his work.

Going first to the shelves of knives on display, Dean started on polishing, pushing past the memories of a time when he had known, guided by his rough hands of his father, to weild and throw such weapons.

Something dark and oily roiled in his stomach as he stepped up to the endless chains that hung like so many dirty strands of hair from the ceiling, the silver links gleaming in the dark. He reached to touch one.

A violent shiver ran through his body, his breath freezing in throat.

His wrists hung from the ceiling; blood long drained from them more than an hour ago. He hung suspended by them, his toes only barely resting against the cold cement of the floor.

Alistair was behind him. He could feel his long body pressed against Dean’s helpless body and he could feel something hard pressing on his thighs, right below his ass. Hot, wet breath pooled like liquid against the back of his neck.

“I want you to count. Count each lash or else you will receive double.” Alistair’s words cut through the air, stinging like the small cuts that he left littering Dean’s thighs. He felt the alpha draw back, listened to him select a flogger of his choosing from the stand.

He clenched his eyes shut and felt his stomach cave in with dread. sh*t, sometimes the wait was as bad as the punishment. Get the f*ck on with it already, Dean fumed silently. “f*ck you, Alistair.” He whispered. The omega center had tried to beat the fight out of him, and they had failed. Alistair would fail too. “f*ck. You.”

The whip cut through the haze and sliced into his flesh. His back ignited with pain. He arched his back, a scream ripping out of his throat. Alistair laughed. “Better start counting.”

And then agony curled up from the base of his spin to the crevice of his neck, nestling there to stay.

Dean jerked from the memories, forcing himself to slow down his breathing. He counted to ten and tried to sync his breathing with each number in an effort to think of anything else but the memories that threatened to pour into his head.

He managed to start on the floor, sweeping and moping the polished cement to a sheen. He couldn’t help but contemplate on what kind of sicko had a perfectly good upstairs bedroom converted into cement cell/torture room. He snorted at the thought and then prompty shut it down. It was never a good idea to mock an alpha, even in one’s own head.

The striping of the sheets down from the bed for the laundry and switching them for fresh ones was probably the worst experience for Dean in the room. Especially with the small shelf of omega collars to the left of the bed. He had nothing but bad experiences associated with those two things. Alistair liked to experiment with the use of different collars in bed. One of his favorites was the prong collar, a collar made of a length of metal that stabbed spikes into Dean’s neck whenever Alistair pulled on it. Making it an easy and efficient way to submit the omega, bonus points if the spikes were angled over his omega scent gland.

Dean winced, reaching to caress the space under his collar, hoping to sooth the imaginary pain there. He knew he shouldn’t protest the right of the alpha to discipline him but sometimes it was impossible to believe his own thoughts.

Suddenly it was too much for Dean. To be standing by the bed where Alistair would —

Dean hadn’t been loosened enough by the anal plug when Alistair shoved in. His muscles gave way under Alistair. No gentleness in the gesture at all, just a quick and hard, harsh filling of Dean's ass with his co*ck before he started to pump, thrusting in and out hard. Whimpering, Dean felt a surge of panic when he realized he simply wasn’t aroused enough to self-lubricate.

"Mmm... you’re tight." Alistair crowed, pressing Dean’s head into the mattress as he rocked his hips, each movement bumping uncomfortably against him. Dean bit his lip, trying desperately not to make a sound. Omegas weren’t supposed to make noises during sex.

Alistair sucked in air between his teeth, "So good." The alpha’s hands ran over his body, mapping him out, learning every area, feeling muscles tense and bulge as he struggled, only making the older man moan louder, thrust harder. "So good, omega, Mmm..." Alistair panted out, face pressed against the hunter's throat.

“You know what would make this even better.” Alistair asked rhetorically and grabbed the remote to Dean’s shock collar, pressing down on it.

Instantly, Dean felt the collar erupt with electricity. It felt like fire was racing from his fingertips to his toes. His body seized and he collapsed onto the mattress unable to support himself anymore. He could feel the currents running through his body and Alistair was still rocking, still moaning. “Love how you tighten under me when I press this button. You get so tight. Feels so good, omega.”

And the collar, Dean hated the collar. The collar tightened and loosened and itched depending on Alistair’s mood. It dug its claws into his brain because it meant something terrible.

It meant owned.

It means trapped.

Dean found himself rocking on the floor by the bed, taking shuddering, painful breaths. When he reached up to his face, his hands came away wet. He stared at his shaking damp hands and stared at the lines that wound through, wondering if they could give him and answer to this madness.

He leapt to his feet, grabbed his supplies, ignored the panic simmering under his skin, and fled the room.

When it was time for Alistair to be home, Dean went to his usual spot by the front door and fell to his knees to wait. This was one of Alistair’s favorite rules he followed. He insisted on having his omega wait for him by the front door every day when he got home from work. If Dean wasn’t there, he would be punished. No matter how long Dean was forced to wait.

Today, it seemed Alistair was late. Dean watched the clock in the foray’s hour hand creep by the time Alistair should have been home. He ignored his growing anxiety and settled down to wait. He wondered, suddenly, if something happened to his alpha.

It was nearly a quarter and two hours past the alpha’s normal arrival time when Dean heard the sound of the elevator whirring to the top floor and let out its familiar ring that announced its arrival.

Dean stiffened, carefully straightening his posture.

The doors to the elevator opened and Alistair stormed out.

Dean knew instantly that he was in a bad mood. And ‘bad mood’ didn’t even seem to fully cover the extent of it. His alpha pheromones were clouding the air

“f*ck.” Alistair growled, passing Dean without a side-ways glance. Dean curled in on himself reflexively, trying to make himself appear smaller. “f*ck that stupid bastard. How dare he?”

He tossed his jacket to the floor and paced to the bar in the living room to pour himself a drink. Dean could hear him cursing to himself as he poured a drink. After a sputtering gulp of the strong stuff, he seemed to remember Dean and called out a sing-songy “Pet. Get in here now before I think of something particularly nasty we can try out later together.”

Dean jolted to his feet before he even knew it and scrambled to the living room, tripping over his own legs in his haste. The harried move to get to the alpha was met with a mocking laugh and he sank to his knees, feeling a humiliated heat rise to his cheeks. “Looksy-there. So eager.” Alistair mocked, but Dean knew his master well enough to know there was still anger bleeding through every syllable. He shuddered.

“What is it?” Alistair’s voice was flat, void of emotion. “I know you have something to say, Pet.”

Dean tried not to let his surprise show on his face. It wasn’t often Alistair asked him for his thoughts “Y-yes, Master. I— um, only wondered what happened at work today?”

Alistair didn’t seem irritated at the question. His master had really softened the last year or so. Back in the old days, a question, a word of any kind that wasn’t ‘yes, master’ was instantly met with lashes.

“You know, Pet, more than half the work a lawyer does for a case is done outside the courtroom." Alistair said thoughtfully, introspective. "The work done outside the courtroom is often either preparatory or persuasive. My role, as of now in my current case, is purely persuasive. To be the voice of reason — the little shoulder angel, or devil, if you will — on a man.”

Alistair watched Dean, his gray eyes dull, almost dead. “And would you believe it, I have to persuade a little alpha bastard of a CEO who is being particularly stubborn. And in need of some strong persuasion."

Dean couldn't help but wonder if this was the same alpha CEO who had been on TV this morning, right before Alistair had gotten so angry and turned the television set off.

“You know, I am thinking I’m going to try something different. Something…extra persuasive.” Dean didn’t like the way Alistair’s eyes began to roam his body, following the gentle, boyish curves of his body. “I heard he likes omegas. Maybe I should give him an omega.”

Dean tried not to let his fear bleed through his expression. He knew what that meant. Alistair didn’t often share Dean but it wasn’t exactly uncommon.

“Yes, I am liking that idea.” Alistair continued. “I am having the CEO over for dinner tomorrow evening. See that you prepare an exquisite dinner for him. And I will see about his other tastes.”

The alpha set his glass down on the bar countertop. “And Pet? See to it that you do not mess up the dinner tomorrow, understood?” Alistair’s voice was cold.

“Yes, Master.” Dean said, already dreading the next day. He already had a bad feeling about the whole ordeal.

Alistair stood abruptly and walked a few steps to settle into an uncomfortable, modernistic armchair in the living room, motioning for Dean to grab his glass of alcohol from the bar. “Fetch my drink for me, Pet.”

Dean stood and hurried the few steps to grab the glass on the bar. The drink clutched firmly in his grasp; he headed back towards the alpha. But the glass was wet, condensation on the outside causing the drink to be slippery.

It slid out of Dean’s grasp, and he could only watch as if in slo-mo the way the glass fell, shining in the air for a moment like a diamond and crashed to the floor into a million pieces.

The moment was charged with what was left unsaid.

Dean only stared at the shards of glass at his feet, frozen.

"Dean. Come here." Alistair’s voice was low and carefully controlled.

This was bad, Dean knew. Alistair only ever called Dean by his name when he was truly furious.

Dean knew better to keep his master waiting. He forced himself to rise out of his kneeling stance and go to Alistair.

Alistair stood expectantly and watched Dean's movements with an unencryptable intensity.

When Dean stood in front of Alistair, his arms carefully held behind himself in the perfect 'standing' stance, and his head down, Dean wondered why the floor in front of his eyes was shaking. His vision was shivering, warping the gray tiles beneath his master's imperceptibly shined shoes. Abruptly, Dean realized he was trembling.

He forces himself to stop the involuntary movement. He felt like prey beneath Alistair's predatory gaze. Dean wondered what type of punishment he would have today, for dropping the plate.

The air shivered in between the two men. Alistair reached out slowly to set his hand to Dean's neck. The movement vaguely resembled a caress and Dean relaxed minutely. It had been so long since someone had touched him without the intent to punish. It had been before Alistair. Before his training. Back when he had been a person and had a family and a brot — Dean stopped himself there.

He wished this soft parody of a soft touch would stay forever. But it was not so for the omega.

Alistair's hand drifted further up Dean's neck, and back — to his scent gland. His pressure point. His built in 'off’ button. Dean hadn’t felt an alpha’s ruthless grip there since his time in the center. Dean widened his eyes in realization.

He found himself acting before he could realize what he was doing. Dean jerked his head backwards, to avoid Alistair's invasive groping.

But it was too late.

Alistair was able to slam his fingers down into the uniquely omega spot on his neck, immediately shutting Dean down, along with any escape attempts he might have had.

Dean legs buckled beneath him at the pressure. His body began shutting down, his omega hindbrain only reverting to its primal state as a built-in defense mechanism. The use of the unnatural submission forcing Dean to pump out strained 'terror' and 'present' scents. The submission allowed the alpha, who had demanded it of his omega, the absolute power to calm and protect his omega. This ensured him the ability to reach into the omegas very core and instill feelings of complete safety and shelter. However, like most, Alistair was not an alpha who cared about the feelings of his omega.

So as Dean fell to his knees, drugged and subdued by the alpha pheromones in the air. Alistair began his punishment.

Alistair's jaw clenched in his rage as he let his fist fly, slamming into the defenseless body below him. Again. And again.

Alistair usually preferred to exact his anger on the rack, through surgically careful slices of his carving of Dean Winchester. But sometimes, like today, Alistair would take his anger out on Dean like an alpha and that sometimes meant just beating the sh*t out of the nearest, breathing omega.

Alistair took his anger from the stress of his day on the man in front of him. Fists reigning down and slamming brutally downwards until they ached.Dean curled into the fetal position, body jerking away from the movements but was powerless to stop his alphas brutal judgment.

Pheromones clouded the air. Alpha anger swirling along with the omega hind brains version of 'sorry, alpha,' and bewilderment.

Alistair beat Dean in a blind rage until the wetness on his fists alerted him to stop. He had felt several somethings snap under his fists before then.

Alistair felt a deep satisfaction as he stepped away from the curled up figure on the floor, panting with exhaustion.

His face was red and his forehead damp with sweat.

"f*ck."

Alistair grunted as he noticed blood on his white cuffs of his suit. The word was tangled with alleviation. "f*ck, my cuffs are ruined. Look what you did."

With barely a glance at the broken body he left behind, Alistair headed to his shower, intending to shed his ruined suit and relax, feeling much better after he had relieved his tension.

Chapter 13: I Will Never Let You Go

Summary:

Dean's pov of the dinner

Notes:

TWs for disassociation, vomiting, mentions of sexual assault.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

The fear he knew should have jumpstarted his heart from not knowing what time it was or where Alistair was this morning, was slow to come. The fever, perhaps, slowing his reaction time.

Dean knew he was sick. Sicker than he had been in a long time.Chills skittered over the base of his spine sending small, unpleasant electric shocks that raked up his back.

He woke in the kitchen, in the same place he had been beaten into the floor the previous night. His ribs ached with vicious intensity and a film of sickness hazed his eyes, making the sharp, angular lines of his world swim crazily through his vision. It was disorienting waking up on the tiles, his eyes opening to a smear of red on the floor.

But the fear came, nonetheless. His body throbbing all over, he hoisted himself to his knees, and promptly vomited all over the floor.

After he had cleaned what little contents his stomach held, his mind began to register the faint light that poured in from behind the shades in the window above the sink. It was still early morning which meant his body must have woken him at the usual time. He wondered if it was too much to ask, to ever know what it was like to sleep in again. Someday, perhaps.

The ache of his sore throat was persistent and wouldn’t go away even after his first glass of water. In an effort to at the very least clear his sinuses, Dean gulped down two glasses of water and blew his nose. It helped, but not much. Dean was still feverish, and he knew what he needed the most of all was rest. He thought longingly of his nest; the quilted blanket which was undoubtedly still folded and put away in Alistair’s bedroom.

But Dean couldn’t afford that option, so he would try everything else he could.

Sitting down on the floor, Dean pressed his knees to his chest and tried to evaluate the contents of the day ahead of him. He needed to be prepared if he was going to survive.

It wasn’t like Dean hadn’t gotten sick before, during his stay with Alistair. Like the times when his heat struck or like today, when the combination of lack of sleep, a punishment, or starvation caught up to him.

During these times when his physical health declined, he was expected to work like normal and keep up with his duties. It was only once in his memory of all his time with Alistair had the alpha ever allowed Dean rest and medicine. It was a bad time and Dean only remembered flashes of it. Ever since then, however, he was allowed two meals a day two meals of the usual omega faire, but Dean wasn’t complaining. It was a happy memory, as far as he was concerned, and the extra meals were undoubtedly generous.

When his heats came, it was a different matter completely. Alistair just locked him in the room until what he called ‘the omega symptoms’ ceased. Dean wasn’t mad about this, only ashamed of what a needy, stereotypical omega he turned into during his heats. Begging to be touched and coddled.

But today was different. Because tonight was that important alpha CEO was expected over for dinner and he knew better to ask for medicine or rest and bring his disgusting neediness to Alistair.

Dean sighed and hugged himself tighter.

He was lightheaded from the constant pounding of his headache and his low fever progressively got worse all afternoon as he prepared dinner for Alistair and the guest.

He scurried through his duties in a feverish fog, every movement cracking across his body in lightning tendrils of pain. One of his ribs felt broken, he swore he had felt something snap the night before when Alistair beat him. He could only pray to whatever gods might be listening that the broken rib didn’t puncture a lung. It had been such a long time since Alistair had beaten him so badly, not since he had first been bought by Alistair had he undergone such serious punishment.

He had been allowed nothing to eat as he worked. Alistair spoke to him briefly, just enough to let him know he was still being punished for the previous night. His hunger faded to a hollow throb in his stomach, making it almost 24 hours since he had been fed something solid. The smell of the food as he prepared the dinner for Alistair’s meeting had been torture. The aroma of savory meat sizzling under his capable hands made him feral with hunger, saliva gathering in his mouth, salivating for it. He didn’t dare touch any of it though. Alistair always had ways of noticing if Dean took anything for himself.

As Dean set the last dish of an elaborate dinner onto the dining room table two hours ago, his vision had shuddered, turning white.

He fell to the floor, close to blacking out. The world spun around him crazily, vertigo tingling through his limbs.

His body was shutting down.

Stumbling to the corner of the living room where Alistair expected to go when guests arrived — out of sight, out of mind to his master — he sank to his knees gratefully.

Dean knelt on the floor, struggling to keep himself upright. His legs were quivering under his weight, the indentions of the bare wood floor long indented into the skin of his kneecaps.

He knew he had reached his limits, the pain reaching all-consuming heights. He tried to remember what it felt like to not be in pain and realized he couldn’t.

It had been so long; the last time must have been close to eight years ago. Before he presented as an omega.

He took a shuddering breath, trying to steady his weak, quivering body. He sucked air through his cracked lips from where Alistair’s fist had broken the skin. Alistair didn’t usually hit his face. He didn’t like to damage the resale value of the goods more than necessary for punishment. But Dean knew he had been especially bad this time, so he deserved it.

He needed to make sure his posture was perfect. He straightened his spine, ignoring the way his ribs sent pain signals tingling down to his feet at the movement. Dean stared at the swirling patterns of the wood below his pale knobby knees, struggling to focus.

Alistair had stressed the importance of his dinner tonight with the Novak Tech CEO for the last 24 hours to Dean. He needed to be good today. He needed to be ready to serve Alistair and his guest sexually tonight. And even through the thought of trying to give a strange alpha a blow-job with his sore throat and blocked nose sent a surge of panic through his body, he ignored it.

God, he needed to be good. Nothing mattered as much as that.

He knew he had to be good, he knew that. But no matter how much repeated it to himself, it didn’t change the fact that he was dreading tonight with every fiber of his being. He didn’t want to be touched by a stranger. He didn’t want to be groped, and degraded, and told to stay still, told to suck, told what a pretty little bitch he was, what a stupid slu*t, that took it so good.

The words rang in Dean’s head from the countless times words like that and countless others had shown him his place. Reminding him of what a worthless whor* he was. Born to take an alpha’s knot like a good omega.

The elevator door rang out into the still apartment. Dean snapped to attention, every sense straining past his sickness and nausea to the mysterious guest his master had invited over.

With a ting, the elevator doors slid open and the familiar sound of his master’s shoes across the floor reached his ears. A low murmur of conversation wafted in from the other room as Alistair greeted his guest with the usual pleasantries.

The guest who Dean knew was the Novak CEO was undoubtedly an Alpha evidenced by the answering low gravel of his voice.Of course, he was, it was rare for a beta to be in that high of a position.

The buzz of voices receded as they walked into the dining room, to where the meal Dean had prepared lay spread on the table. He couldn't help but feel proud of it. Cooking had always been a talent of his and he was glad that his Alpha didn’t have to order out or hire a chief. He wasn’t sure why. It must have been some omega sense thing. Like, it was instinct for him to be a good cook or something.

The two alphas were too far from Dean for his senses to pick up on what they were saying. Anxiety crept quietly through his brain at the stillness in the corner of the room he occupied.

Silence had never meant good things for Dean. Sure, it gave him a reprieve. But it also meant he didn’t know what was coming. And if he didn’t know what was coming, he didn’t know how to prepare himself for it.

Training at the center and years with his Alpha had taught him that no matter how much preparation he had gathering his thoughts in dark corners of rooms, it was never enough. It would never fully equip him enough to face their endless and creative cruelty.

The minutes flew by as Dean struggled to stay awake and aware on the floor. His knees had lost all feeling in them. The blood wasn’t circulating the way it should, it was stopping at his knees, turning them white.

His mind fell blank, a white fog blanketed his mind. He felt very far away from his body, like the world was far, far away from him. Disconnected from his body, he watched it and the apartment around him stretch weirdly, getting smaller and smaller. He wondered why his hands looked so far away. There was nothing but numbness for miles, like an open road from Dean’s childhood, a small line on a great, wide plain, leading nowhere.

His mind was jerked from the clouds as he heard his Alpha and guest finish their dinner and step into the living room, Alistair’s familiar acrid bloody scent fermenting the air.

Dean felt dizzy for a moment as he came crashing back into his body. He knew he had been dissociating — he often fell into the state when the fear or pain became too much. It helped sometimes, to be able to escape from his body during punishments or when his Master put him to use at night. But it was not a long time fix.

His master’s scent pulled him out of dissociation, his body’s way of telling him he needed to be there, to be present, to be in control in case of danger.

The strange alpha stepped into the room alongside Alistair, his scent growing stronger in intensity as he stepped forward. He smelled of the ocean, like salt on the carried on the wind. A typical masculine alpha smell. Although there was a strange undertone, like a campfire or fireworks on a late, summer night but somehow wilder; ozone, he realized.

It was a strange scent, familiar almost. Although Dean couldn’t remember the last time he was allowed outside to experience those scents of nature.

“I admit, Mr. Novak, I have indeed misjudged you." Alistair was saying, in a delighted tone. “Turns out you're more of an alpha after my own heart than I thought. This conversation has been very enlightening… I'm looking forward to future interactions now that we have come to an understanding."

“Of course.” The strange alpha smoothly responded. His voice was rough and low, an inherent commanding tone to it.

“I have something to show you. I hope you will take it as a gesture of good will?” Alistair offered, leading to the bar in the living room.

Dean’s gut clenched, instantly knowing where this was going. Alistair didn’t always let just anyone f*ck his omega. If he did, it was for a reason. Just part of the exchange between one businessman and another. A way to make the other alpha feel satisfied with minimal effort on his master’s part.

“…as I am hoping we can become good friends.” Alistair continued. “My Omega is currently serving in the living room. I am hoping we can enjoy all he has to offer?"

Dread steadily built through Dean, swelling in his gut. He knew it.

But despite the time he had to mentally prepare, Dean felt even more sick than before.

He couldn’t do this. He didn’t want to.

His throat was sore, every swallow painful. He didn’t want to give an alpha a blow j*b like this. His nose was stopped up. How would he breathe?

He knew it was his place to take what his master gave him; to serve the alpha if his master commanded it, but he just. Didn’t. Want. It.

Dangerous thoughts, Dean was aware. But then again, he had never been the perfect omega they all wanted. He had always had too much fight in him.

Alistair led into a momentary segway on his favorite vintages for a few minutes when he said something that caught Dean’s attention. “Although, I’d much rather continue our rapturous dinner conversation. You were mentioning statistics about the omega laborers’ productivity, could you tell me a bit more about that?”

Huh? Omegas? Dean was under the impression that the dinner conversation was extremely important to his Master. Some integral lawsuit over Novak Tech. What did omegas have to with it?

“Uh, yes, I’d love to.” The CEO responded, sounding slightly distracted. He cleared his throat and his voice grew more confident as he continued. “Um — As I previously stated, the omegas making up Novak Tech's workforce have seen a correlating spike in workplace productivity in the major Novak plant that recently reinstated the omega slaves. The overwhelming census indicates that the new measures Novak Tech has implemented more than doubles out-put. Overall, the company omega programs seem to be a powerful motivator that far-exceeds the techniques used by the old management.”

f*ck, what? Dean listened with dawning horror. The omega laborers of the country were one of the worst jobs an omega could be sold into after the training period in the centers. And this alpha, this CEO, was doing God knows what with them to improve production out-put. Manipulating them to his advantage. Despite the voice in Dean’s head that claimed that it didn’t matter, that he didn’t — couldn’t care, a hot flush of indignation burned through him.

He smothered it immediately. Omegas couldn’t afford to be angry.

Dean tried to focus his attention elsewhere but the alpha trailed off, his litany of omega oppression abandoned in favor to scent the air. He had caught something in the air. His nostrils flared slightly as he scented, drawing in the air desperately as though he had sensed something delightful.

Something like Dean.

The alpha noticed him.

His arousal slammed into the air in a rush.

Dean was terrified.Panic flooded his nerve endings, spreading them raw and exposed. It flooded the air around him, his omega sending out help signals through his pheromones. If this were ancient times, this scent would summon any nearby packmates to aid the omega. If mated, the omega’s mate would be driven insane trying to protect it.

Unfortunately for Dean, it was not the ancient times. If anything, his fear scent would only entice Alistair. And the strange alpha too, judging by the explosion of his arousal scent in the air.

Alistair appeared to like the fear that Dean let into the air, as he had known he would, and Dean could hear the smugness visibly in his voice. “I see you like what you smell…you and I must be more similar than you give us credit for. We have the same tastes.”

Alistair gestured for Dean to stand. He did, rising to his feet automatically.

“Isn’t he pretty?” Alistair gestured in the direction of all of him. “I’ve had my little Pet for around eight years. He used to be a little fighter, but don’t worry. I broke him of that soon enough. He’s perfectly complacent these days. Although, I would say, perhaps a little too complacent.” Dean could hear the grimace in his voice. It was true. Dean hadn’t been in the room in many months. Which meant his alpha was getting bored of him. At the small creep of shame that curled in the back of his throat, he wondered what the strange alpha thought of his inability to please his alpha.

He didn’t dare lift his gaze from the wood grains beneath his feet to see what the strange alpha’s expression was.

“I do love a challenge. And Pet hasn’t been one in oh, so long… I was thinking about buying another omega soon.” Alistair said thoughtfully. “Perhaps if you take a liking you might want to have him for more than a night?”

What? Alistair wanted to get rid of him?

Dean knew things had not been the same lately. He knew that. But get rid of him?

His world was spinning again. Everything was shaking, the apartment quaking underneath his feet.

“Come here, pet.” Alistair snapped at the omega, calling for him. His tone shifted when he turned to address Castiel, as smoothly as a snake shedding its skin.

No, nothing was shaking. The world was still and quiet. As it had always been. Standing by silently as he suffered. Dean was the one who had begun to tremble.

He tried to still himself, sliding to his knees on the floor next to Alistair, falling into the familier routine and wondering if it would be the last time.

Alistair reached his hand up to caress his face, a thumb snagging on his plush lips.

“Mr. Novak, meet my omega.”

Dean, and he was sure, Alistair, couldn’t have predicted what happened next.

A growl ripped from the strange alpha. A surge of something purely Alpha hit the air.

Chills rose on Dean’s skin, and he felt Alistair’s hand minutely flinch against his face.

“Get your hands off of him.” The strange alpha growled out, a promise of violence.

Dean’s brain was struggling to keep up with what was happening. The combination of fever, fear and forced submission instincts that were flooding his brain from the strange, angry alpha was making it hard to think.

He flinched away from the angry alpha, cowering against Alistair’s chair.

The strange alpha had decided he wanted Dean and had growled out a challenge to Alistair. It was a gesture that reached back to ancient times, simpler times when an alpha wanted an omega, he would challenge another alpha to get one. It was a primal gesture, primitive, stupid, and terrifying.

Because Dean couldn’t do a thing to protect himself.

If the alpha succeeded in his challenge, Dean was in for a rough f*cking. The way alpha’s typically held down an omega and made them take it when they were angry, brutalizing him in order to get their frustrations out.

He felt trapped between the two alphas.

Alistair blinked, swiftly recovering from the other alpha’s outburst. A fake smile slid onto his face. “Uh-oh,” He chuckled nervously. “Looks like your Alpha found something it really likes. Don't worry, I had a similar reaction when I first met little Pet here."

“My little pretty Pet is afriad but very obedient. You could tell it to get down on its pretty little knees right now, if you want." Alistair offered helpfully, trying to placate the angry alpha by offering Dean to him.

He twisted Dean's face toward alpha, his finger already on the verge of his mouth sinking past his lips, to part them slightly in a tempting gesture. Dean felt a bit like a sacrifice, a pig on a stick, being presented as a peace-offering to the angry alpha.

He knew Alistair intended it as such. His owner was in very real danger here, faced as he was by a furious, powerful, opposing alpha and would very much rather give up Dean that fight said angry alpha. His hand stretched Dean’s mouth, emphasizing the goods.

It was a wrong move.

Alistair had miscalculated because it only made the alpha angrier. He let out another blood-curdling growl.

He rose slowly from his chair, seeming to absorb all the darkness in the room.

Dean’s back crawled with standing hairs and he sank farther down and away from the alpha, whose eyes, he swore, were flaring f*cking red.

Alistair seemed to realize how deeply he had f*cked up by laying his hands on Dean where the alpha could see. Sticking his hands into the omega’s mouth that he had claimed. It was a stupid mistake, only inciting the alpha’s possessiveness. But Alistair was far too used to laying his hands on Dean whenever he wanted.

It appeared, finally, that this would be his undoing.

He jerked back away from Dean, scrambling to get away from the man.

Unfortunately, it was the only support holding Dean up. He didn’t realize how weak he had grown until Alistair’s hands were removed and his knees buckled beneath him.

The fever was finally catching up to him. He felt a flash of heat seer through him.

White consumed his vision and he collapsed, unconscious.

Notes:

I know its a Monday which is not when I usually update but college classes started for me and I am about to be swapped with work so I knew I needed to update before then. I'm still planning on updating on Friday because I have that chapter written already and it's going to be Castiel's POV of the dinner.

Have I mentioned lately how much a love hearing from you guys? You guys comments seriously make my day :)) It makes me so unbelievably happy. <3<3

Chapter 14: I Never Let You Go

Summary:

Castiel's pov of the dinner

Notes:

usual TWs

Chapter Text

Castiel was more uncomfortable than he had ever been in his life.

Alistair Masters had, somehow, succeeded in wrangling Castiel over for dinner at his house.

Castiel recognized it as a maneuver to get closer to him, even just for appearances sake. Becoming cohorts with Castiel would be something Alistair, and ultimately Michael would utilize in their schemes as the supposed camaraderie of dinner with the Novak Tech CEO would definitely benefit Alistair, whether or not they actually were friends.

The saying, “keep your enemies closer” came to mind.

Alistair's residence was exactly the image of what a successful businessman’s home should look like. It was a luxury penthouse several floors at the top of a building. The building is tall enough to have an excellent view of the city’s iconic skyline. Castiel had seen enough of the affluents’ taste in architecture, having grown up among them, to know the appropriate reaction to such a special location and picturesque view would be to be awestruck.

It loomed over Castiel, casting a dark shadow, as he drove to the front doors of the lobby in his fancy, European-brand car, having elected to drive himself, leaving his driver, Balthazar, at home.

Castiel thought of his own rustic home with garden surrounded patios and floor to ceiling windows, and realized his own fondness for it. It was nothing like this ridiculous, idiosyncratic display of wealth.

A valet took his car to be parked at the front door and Castiel crossed the smooth marble tiled lobby to the elevator. He barely had to wait, as the door promptly opened, revealing the interior of the top floor and Alistair’s self-satisfied grin as he crossed the room.

"Welcome Mr. Novak." Alistair exclaimed, reaching to shake Castiel's hand. "How are you?"

Castiel greeted Alistair formally and followed him into the interiors of the penthouse. Idly listening to Alistair's usual pleasantries, he examined his surroundings.

The building was just as overbearingly opulent on the inside as the outside. Perhaps more so. Made of steel and glass, the penthouse opened up into a lounge divided by parts. One side was decorated with stiff modernistic furniture that resembled flat planes and lines, near a lifeless fireplace. A baby grand piano decorated another side of the room, and a long fully-stocked bar on the other. The city skyline was visible through the ceiling to floor windows.

Despite all the tasteful decorations, the house felt dead to Castiel. The stiff furniture looked like it had never been sat upon, the pillows, untousled. Even the piano keys lay untouched. Not even a fine layering of dust lay upon the dusky wood of the mantle. It was unlived in and eerily sterile.

"You have a very fine home." Castiel observed.

"Thank you, I am rather fond of it myself. And of course, my Omega takes excellent care of my home." Alistair continued, gesturing at the immaculate room.

Alistair spoke of the omega in the same tone as he mentioned his other property. Castiel knew many alphas regarded omegas as such, after all, it was a commonplace occurrence. But it was different witnessing it firsthand. Sickening, was the word he would use.

"Of course." Castiel forced himself to respond, hoping his tone was natural.

"Speaking of my Omega," Alistair checked his watch. "Dinner should be served now."

"This way." Alistair led Castiel to the adjourned dining room.

Neatly served dishes were steaming lightly on the large, metal table lit up by candles of all sizes. Steak flambé, Plum lamb stew, and some type of creamy pasta that looked positively mouth watering adorned the table among several other dishes and entrees that made a ridiculously large dinner for only the two men. There was no sign of the omega that had made the dishes. Castiel decided not to comment.

Alistair and Castiel seated themselves at the table, swiftly settling down to eat their fill. The food was surprisingly amazing, despite the company. Castiel found himself savoring every bit of the steak, which was cooked to a medium rare—as most Alphas preferred it.

The food was lavish, and it would be so easy to relax and enjoy it at face value. He was not that trusting, though. Especially after all he knew of the man sitting across from him, so he kept his senses attuned for anything that might tip Alistair’s hand.

Casual conversation flowed between the two alphas, as they dined, interspersed by the sounds of chewing and the clatter of fork-on-plate filling the air.

Alistair carefully chewed his meat before setting his fork down, his eyes growing calculating. “You know, Castiel. You are a curious man.”

“And why is that?” He asked, bemused.

“I don’t understand your obsession with those omegas at the workplace—”

Castiel opened his mouth to say something, but Alistair waved his hand to stop him.

“—No, let me finish. I’m going to speak honestly because what I'm trying to get at is a genuine question that has been bothering me.” Alistair’s eyes developed a faintly curious glint in its cold gray depths.

Castiel felt dread pit in his stomach. Was this the reason Alistair had been so insistent on Castiel dining at his house? He mentally calculated how long it would take for him to grab his phone and contact Gabriel before the creepy alpha across from him could do anything.

“What is it, Castiel, that has you, oh-so interested in saving those factory omegas? —And don't give me any bullsh*t excuse about omega equality. You and I both know this isn’t about the omegas’ awful working conditions, God knows, they have always been f*cking terrible.”

Alistair leaned forward as he spoke, his pale eyes growing wild as he spoke with growing passion, his sudden crude language shocking Castiel for a moment.

But the question hung, unanswered, in the air.

Castiel hesitated.

What was the reason Castiel had advocated so hard for the treatment of the omegas?

He cast his mind back to his discovery of the omega abuse at the company.

It was before his father, Chuck Novak’s death. Castiel had been going over some budget spending at the company, when he had noticed a management branch which had a null wage budget for its employees. Underage employees, at that, some as young as ten years old.

Shocked, Castiel had looked further into it. Even going so far as a personal inspection of the Novak workers that were not receiving payment.

Back in those days, Castiel had been young and naive. Fresh out of college, omega slavery was, of course, morally wrong in his book. But he had never seen it so up close and personal until the day that he had flown out to the warehouses where the omegas worked and lived. The things he saw that day enlightened and changed his perspective drastically.

It wasn’t until after his father’s death and with it his dying wishes for Castiel to inherit his position as CEO of the company, had Castiel been able to make the much needed changes to the omega laborers.

And that was just it. Castiel had seen an injustice and done his hardest to fix it. No matter if the whole world had accepted the cruelty as normal.

Was that so hard to believe?

Yes, it was , Castiel realized. The man across from would never accept simple morality as a reason to do anything. The thought had probably never crossed Alistair's mind before in his career.

And he would expect a man of Castiel’s status to be the same.

He would continue to badger Castiel with mandates, arguments, and legal contracts over and over. Arguing with a man with set expectations was as futile as attempting to light a match in the rain.

The last ten days of arguing over legal negotiations, attorneys and his brothers had only left him with one conclusion. One way to save the omegas slaves.

Castiel decided to give Alistair the type of answer he wanted.

“Have you ever f*cked a willing omega?” Castiel asked bluntly, letting his polite mask fall to pieces at his feet. Another slowly sliding into place.

The moment was charged. The glint of curiosity in Alistair’s eyes grew.

“I mean, one who likes it. Who begs for it. Not just pretends to, for fear of punishment.”

Castiel had never been much of a liar. A childhood friend had once told him his lies were so awkward that they were the equivalent of Pinocchio’s nose freakishly expanding. And his blushing, stuttering habits hadn’t helped either.

But Castiel put his everything into his acting. He needed Alistair to believe him. Or, at the very least, believe in the man Castiel should have been, if his mother had had her way. Castiel figured he would have learned the art of manipulation well enough from her example.

“I see your point.” Alistair said hesitantly. “And I admit, I have never done so.”

Despite his determination to manipulate Alistair, Castiel almost took the statement back at the pondering look on Alistair’s face, as though he were considering new ways to make his sick love-life more interesting.

The fog on Alister's face cleared, skepticism bleeding through every word. “You expect me to believe you altered multi-million dollar administration policies to better get your rocks off?”

“You didn’t like my previous statements about ‘omega equality.’” Castiel shrugged. He shifted himself down more comfortably in his chair in a display of confidant, if not arrogant, alpha.

“Because they were foolish lies—” Alistair interjected scornfully.

“No — Because they were not the whole truth.” Castiel finished. “It doesn't matter if omegas are entirely unequal or just fundamentally different, they are humans.

Alistair quirked an eyebrow. The statement was eerily similar to what Castiel had said before in response to Alistair, when he had been defending the omega laborers at his company. But what Castiel was about to say now was nothing like his previous declarations of omega equality. And he was sure Alistair had noticed the shift in tone.

“And humans." Castiel paused, for dramatic effect. "Work more and are abundantly more productive when certain needs and conditions are met. Proper nutrition, specified hours of sleep, and a sense of community brings out the best in humans.”

Castiel watched Alistair’s reaction carefully. He seemed to be listening intently to Castiel's apparent change of heart. A shade of disbelief at what he was hearing began to color his face, as he started to realize the point Castiel was making.

"And…?" He asked expectantly.

"The omegas under Novak Tech's care are receiving correct healthcare, diets and rest, for the first time in — in some cases, decades. We are also seeing a tremendous spike in workplace productivity in the major Novak plant that recently reinstated the omega slaves." Castiel said. "It is hard to not see a correlation."

Castiel hated the words that were slipping so deftly from his lips. Jo and Ellen Harvelle didn't deserve this. Their entire life of absolute suffering reduced to a few statistics about work productivity. It was unfair that now they were finally receiving the care they so deserved, they were still forced back into the grueling work they had spent their life doing. Castiel wished he could create a better place for them, an entirely different world where their work at the company wasn’t still required by the government, if he needed to. One where omegas were not treated with such abject cruelty. But he couldn’t. Not yet.

All of the omegas would have to wait. They would have to continue to work at the company until Castiel could carve out a place in the real world, and hollow it out to create a space where things were different.

Alistair’s eyebrows raised, inquiring. "And if the company omegas are treated so well…What is to prevent, say, an uprising?"

Castiel nodded, fork scraping his plate. "That brings me to my earlier point: the grateful omega. They will be so busy being grateful to the corporation for their few amenities and so fearful that it will be taken away, to think of such things as uprisings. They know the system. Hell, they know it best. They will stay in their places."

Alistair once again seemed contemplative, if not pleasantly surprised as he considered the new angle Castiel had presented. "Enough fear to keep them obedient, and enough hope to keep them productive…"

Alistair let a grin split his face. "I like it."

Castiel felt an unpleasant thrill at a man like Alistair's praise.

"I admit, Mr. Novak, I have indeed misjudged you." Alistair seemed surprised at himself. "Turns out you're more of an alpha after my own heart. This conversation has been very enlightening…"

It did not escape Castiel’s notice that it was the first time the older alpha had acknowledged him.

He stared at Castiel. "I'm looking forward to future interactions now that we have come to an understanding."

Castiel forced himself to give a smile. "Looking forward to it, Mr. Masters."

A part of him wondered if this was really going to work.

Alistair appeared to be finished with his dinner as he slid his plate away from him and pushed his chair back to stand. "Come. Let us move to the living room to continue this conversation."

Castiel moved to join him. "Of course."

"I have something to show you. I hope you will take it as a gesture of good will as I am hoping we can become good friends. My Omega is currently serving in the living room. I am hoping we can enjoy all he has to offer?"

Shock froze Castiel.

It felt like icy fingers were crawling up the inside of his chest to squeeze his heart — Everything had been going so well. Alistair was eating up Castiel’s twisted words like his favorite flavor of ice cream.

But it appeared that he was too much of a crafty son of a bitch.

He was expecting to see Castiel’s words backed up by actions. Of course, he was.

Alistair didn’t believe Castiel’s complete about face. Not completely, at least.

Castiel knew the exact type of ‘action’ Alistair wanted. He could very well understand the innuendoes in the other alpha’s offer.He was offering to let Castiel have sex with his omega. A common practice, Castiel knew, for alphas to share an omega by lending them out for a night to a friend.

This would prove to Alistair that Castiel was the type of alpha he had claimed to be.

The breath froze in his chest. Coming here tonight had been a mistake. He wished he had avoided coming to this dinner at all costs. That he had come up with an excuse: faked being sick or had Gabriel cover for him. But it was too late.

Swallowing nervously, he followed Alistair to the modern style living room blindly, a frozen grin on his face. His brain was whirling in panic, searching for an appropriate excuse to give the alpha as to why he didn’t want to have sex with his omega.Rape him, that was the more appropriate word. The omega couldn’t consent.

He was grateful Alistair’s back was still turned. It gave Castiel a few seconds to throw together an excuse.

He couldn't say it was because he didn’t want to touch the omega due to unhygienic sex or disease. Omega’s that alphas shared, or offered to service another alpha, were certain to be clean. Omegas like that were trained to have impeccable hygiene and regular health checkups. There would be consequences for them otherwise. Castiel couldn’t say it was because he didn’t prefer omegas, either, as he had already lied to Alistair that he had had intercourse with them, consenting or not.

His mind blank, he sat on a stiff-backed armchair when Alistair motioned to.

Moving automatically, he accepted the drink Alistair offered him, the ice tinkling in the brownish liquid that swished in his glass.

His heart was pounding in his chest, adrenaline rushing with nowhere to go. Alistair settled across from him on a similar chair, a low strangely shaped coffee table Castiel’s brain mutely recognized as an irregular heptagon stretched between them.

Unaware of the crises happening in Castiel’s mind, Alistair poured some more alcohol in his own glass and leaned back in his seat luxuriously, his unpleasant smile and wide eyes coldly lit by the penthouse wall lighting and the thousands of city lights outside the massive windows that spanned the floor.

Castiel didn’t know what to do. He struggled to listen to Alistair through the ringing in his ears.

He slowly became aware that Alistair was speaking. “...I could go on about the drink, of course, but who wants to hear me ramble on about vintages? I’d much rather continue our rapturous dinner conversation.”

Castiel didn’t recover enough to respond vocally, but Alistair didn’t notice, continuing. “You were mentioning statistics about the omega laborers’ productivity, could you tell me a bit more about that?”

Opening his mouth, he responded numbly, his tongue apparently knowing what to say. Castiel knew numbers. Numbers were easy. It gave him something to say. They came naturally to him. He could recite statistics all day, even in his sleep. He hadn’t always been good at math, but ever since high school tutoring—

Castiel gathered his thoughts as he talked omega productivity, calming himself with the comfortable numbers and taking even breaths as he repeated the facts he knew.

Facts about omegas who had suffered terribly at the hands of their oppressors. The familiar faces flashed through his mind as he thought of the people he fought for. Joe. Ellen. Garth. Their suspicious eyes that had softened into reluctant trust. They needed Castiel. They needed his protection until they were able to stand on their own two feet and no longer needed it. And they were counting on Castiel at this very moment.

He set his jaw, confidence restored at the reminder of who he was fighting for. This wasn’t about himit wasn’t about Alistair or his poor, obviously abused omega either, for that matter.

He couldn’t afford to have a panic attack when there were bigger stakes here.

His hands steadied and he grasped his glass firmly. He knew what he had to do.

That was when he noticed.

The omega was in the room with them.

Castiel could smell his intoxicating scent: A mixture of cinnamon, spice, and sweet vanilla that rang all the bells in Castiel’s head for childhood nostalgia. It was heady and exciting and so omega.

It drifted from the corner of the room beside the entranceway, where he must be kneeling on the floor. It rushed to Castiel’s head, a primitive craving reaching to his core.

There was something so achingly familiar about the scent. Castiel couldn’t put his finger on it. Something primal awoke in him at it, all of his senses becoming instantly attuned to it. Chills broke out across his skin, shivering up his spine in instant arousal.

His inner alpha growled, wanting to take this feeling and bottle it up. To take this omega and claim them. To mate them. To take them and sink his fangs into soft flesh, staking his claim.

His alpha arousal scent flooded the room, screaming mine, mine, mine. He had found his omega.

Alistair noticed Castiel straining for a hint of the Omega and grinned. “I see you like what you smell…you and I must be more similar than you give us credit for. We have the same tastes.”

Maybe it wasn’t so bad that Alistair had offered to share. It had been months since Castiel had last had a worthy lay. And this omega smelled like heaven to Castiel.

Surely it wouldn’t hurt to go along with Alistair. After all, it was of utmost importance that Alistair believed Castiel’s charade.

Surely it wouldn’t hurt…

Then Castiel felt his inner alpha stir uneasily. The scent was perfect. Except for one thing: the fear.

Terror was tinting the aroma, turning it sour.

The fear stench jerked Castiel to his senses. What the f*ck was that? Confusion flooded his senses. He wasn't like that.

He wasn't a knothead toward omegas. Omegas weren't objects. They weren't a phone, or an expensive car, or a cup of coffee. You didn't own them.

Alistair didn’t notice, too busy reminiscing over his omega. “Isn’t he pretty? I’ve had my little Pet for around eight years. He used to be a little fighter, but don’t worry,” Alistair said. “I broke him of that soon enough. He’s perfectly complacent these days. Although, I would say, perhaps a little too complacent.”

He felt physically ill at the words spewing from the alpha’s mouth. Castiel wasn't like that. He didn’t know why he had felt that disgusting urge. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t.

“I do love a challenge. And Pet hasn’t been one in oh, so long… I was thinking about buying another omega soon.” Alistair said thoughtfully. “Perhaps if you take a liking you might want to have him for more than a night?”

The older alpha turned toward the direction the omega’s scent was exuding from.

“Come here, pet.” Alistair snapped at the omega, calling for him. His tone shifted when he turned to address Castiel, as smoothly as a snake shedding its skin.

“Mr. Novak, meet my omega.”

The omega walked smoothly across the room to sink to his knees at Alistair’s feet. The movement was graceful, proof of years doing just that. His posture when kneeling was perfect, spine straight, head down, and knees spread perfectly on the bare floor.

It had to be uncomfortable but there was no sign of discomfort visible as he kept his head lowered to the ground, face hidden by tufts of sandy dark blonde hair. The omega had clearly been trained extremely well. The unbearably silent approach and perfect posture spoke of a life of torture, Castiel knew.

He was naked except for small shorts that clung to the shape of his ass. He was bigger than most omegas, lengthwise he must have been around six feet tall, but he was so skinny it was impossible to describe him as anything but slight. His bones jutted out under his skin, unhealthy under pale skin.

Dark wine colored bruises blossomed into shades of green and blue on his ribs and arms, telling the story of a brutal beating and then bondage for what must have been an excessive amount of time, considering how dark the bruises were on his wrists.

The omega looked sick. Perspiration dotted his skin and he was flushed unnaturally, sweat trickling down his exposed flesh. Castiel heard low languid pants coming from the omega on his knees.

He felt his stomach clench at the inhuman sight before him. He knew that whatever slave Alistair had would be treated terribly —But this? This wasn't right.

Alistair brought his cruel hands to the pallid man's face and grasped his chin, jerking his face upwards.

The omega let out a spike of fear scent and Castiel got his first good look at the omega's face.

No.

No .

It couldn't be.

"Oh my god." Castiel breathed blankly, quiet disbelief ringing in his voice. He has never been stunned motionless the way he was now in his entire life. His vision shuddered.

It was his childhood friend. Crush. Sweetheart.

The first person in his life to care about Castiel. The person who took Castiel at sixteen-years-old and picked him up and turned him upside down and inside out. Who showed Castiel how to stand up to his brother. Who showed him what it was like to love. Who helped him when no one else would. Who believed in him when no one else did.

Back then the other boy had seemed the strongest, coolest guy in school, with his too large leather jacket, his all-knowing knowledge about the world, and his mysterious past that he never would quite let Castiel in on. Back when Castiel was an unpresented loser in high school and had no way to prevent his mother from sending him abroad for school.

Separating them.

He was also the first person in his life to teach him about loss.

But here he was.

Broken and abused a foot away from him.

It was Dean Winchester.

Holy sh*t.

Dean.

Chapter 15: Chapter 15

Summary:

Cas to the rescue.

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Dean.

It was Dean.

Castiel’s mind whirred, trying to process what was happening.

Dean was an omega.

He looked terrible. Sick and exhausted on his knees and judging from the shivers that shuddered over his flushed skin every once in a while, he had a fever. But the most disturbing thing was his eyes. His green eyes framed by long eyelashes, the ones Castiel remembered as being so bright and full of life were now eerily hollow, a blankness glazing them as he lowered his eyes submissively to the two alphas above him.

Dean didn't recognize Castiel.

It was clear in the way he stared at the floor, expressionless, and then when his eyes fluttered up to study — what was no doubt, a strange alpha — across from him, it was with a blank assessing stare. As though he was wondering what horrible things were going to be done to him later tonight, but just didn’t care anymore to show fear.

Castiel felt like he was choking on the surge of rage that rushed through him, a frenzy of outrage that shocked his system. He wanted to yank Dean away from Alistair’s filthy clutches. He wanted to know how this had ever happened. He wanted to take the man across from him and yank him off his boney knees and wrap him in a warm blanket and protect him forever.

He felt a feral growl rip out of him from behind his bared teeth.

Protectiveness coursed through him, he needed to take Dean home.

He needed to protect him. He needed to do something. Anything.

“Get your hands off of him.” The words fell from his lips effortlessly, like they were a promise of violence he had been waiting to make his whole life.

Alistair laughed nervously, jerking away at the sound. "Uh-Oh, looks like your Alpha found something it really likes." He mistook his growl of protectiveness for the possessiveness of an alpha posturing.

He was still grasping Dean's face between his fingers. "Don't worry, I had a similar reaction when I first met little Pet here."

Castiel seriously doubted it. The rage inside him had taken up a steady rhythm. He imagined what Alistair would look like, his throat ripped out, across that ridiculously shaped coffee table, blood pooling out from underneath him.

"Didn't I? Pet?" Alistair asked, caressing Dean's cheeks lightly. The omega was shaking, Castiel realized.

He was making little helpless jerking motions away from the direction of the angry alpha pheromones.

He was afraid of Castiel, he realized, horrified. His alpha pheromones were pumping out into the air, his aggression and possessiveness swamping the poor frightened omega’s senses.

Dean was obviously not in a place to distinguish the subtle intricacies of anger on behalf of, as versus, to directed at. To Dean, Castiel’s scent was an active perpetrator, attacking and violating him like every alpha that came before.

Castiel immediately started to suppress his anger scent.

Trying to put a leash on it proved harder than expected but Castiel hadn't been this angry in a long time. He wrestled with his Alpha, telling it to shut its endless chant of protectprotectprotect for one goddamn second. So that he could think. So that he could actually do something and not feel so bloody useless all the time.

"My little pretty Pet is so afraid. And yet…so obedient. You could tell it to get down on its pretty little knees right now, if you want." Alistair offered, twisting Dean's face toward Castiel, one thumb snagging on his plump lips and dragging down.

As Castiel attempted to throw a leash on his emotions he wasn't prepared for the overconsuming rage that burned through him, burning like a comet seared through the clouds in its descent to earth.

Castiel could not possibly describe the anger that rushed through him in the moment, only that it was anger that he had never felt the likes of before, not in arguments with Naomi, fights with Micheal, or even after his father’s death. It felt like a potent, coursing tide that flooded through him to the beat of war drums, pounding in his ears and in his chest. He had heard the phrase “seeing red” before and had dismissed it with derision, assuming the phrase to be purely metaphorical, if not rather dramatic. That is, until he saw Dean — on his knees, with Alistair’s hand brushing his face.

A little of the feeling was spurred on by fear, he realized. Fear of those unknown horrors that Dean faced every day.

When Dean’s eyes rolled back into his head, his body slumped, the thick weight of unconsciousness pulling him to the floor — Castiel reacted.

It was instinctive, his inner alpha reacting before his conscious brain. He seized Dean out of Alistair’s clutches, gripped Dean tight by the shoulders and pulled him — Raised him. Into his arms.

Dean’s body was light, too light. And there were many things wrong with that but Castiel couldn’t think about it then, his attention snapping to Alistair once more, focusing on the threat in the room.

He gauged the other alpha’s expression kneeling on the floor, aware this was the moment on the precipice.

“I want the omega.” Castiel stated, knowing that his pheromones were pumping out increased aggression by the minute.

He could tell Alistair was trying not to reveal his surprise at Castiel’s sudden aggression. But he had a slightly taken-aback look on his face he failed to completely conceal.

sh*t, Castiel needed to sell this.

“It triggered my rut.” Castiel lied, forcing an arrogant tone into his voice, perhaps reminiscent of Micheal’s tone of voice from their childhood, when he found a toy he took a particular liking to. He internally wincing at calling Dean an ‘it.’ “You know what that means.”

He should, most alphas that experienced ruts did, anyway. The alpha would typically experience the rut for a period of two to seven days, each of which were spent with a partner, beta, omega, or even multiple omegas, having sex until worn out. Alphas could always take off time for ruts, as most people realized the importance of keeping your inner alpha healthy and satisfied. It also helped that most of those rules were made by other alphas, anyway.

“I could find another omega to use, of course.” Castiel said, trying to get a grip on his emotions. “One from the labor forces, even.”

Alistair laughed again at the reference to their earlier conversation. It hung in the air, superficial.

“It is your omega, your ‘Pet,’ after all.” Castiel said, pretending to concede, knowing that the alpha before him would not be fooled. Castiel was clearly staking a claim on the omega in his arms. If Alistair opposed him, they would fight. If he chose not to, everything else was pleasantries. One does not mess with an angry, rutting alpha lightly.

Alistair looked disturbed but waved his hand at the other alpha, allowing Castiel to claim the omega. “No need for that. Pet here did seem to trigger —” The pause was brief. “—Something. So it should be his job to absolve the situation. I did offer his use to you anyway.”

“Pity, he’s unconscious.” Castiel said, itching to fully scoop Dean off the floor and away from this dreadful place.

“Take him home with you.” Alistair offered magnanimously, a slightly gleeful look sliding across his eyes at the turn of events, no doubt glad that Castiel had accepted his offer of using the omega. “Ride out your rut, f*ck him all you want. And when you get tired of him, bring him back.”

Castiel’s heart leapt for joy when he took that as his que to collect Dean off the floor, standing with Dean, his lanky body folded in half and his head tucked under his chin, secure in his arms. His inner alpha purred as he felt the omega’s touch. He knew his eyes were flashing red again.

He tried to tamp down his possessiveness that was practically crawling out of his insides.

“I’m quite sorry to cut this meeting short but I must be going now. If you will excuse me—”

“Yes, yes, go enjoy Pet and we will talk at a later point.” Alistair said and he rose from his chair, eyes watching Castiel carefully, to make sure that the rut-driven alpha wasn’t still a threat.

Castiel could feel his eerie eyes lingering on the gentleness of his hold on the sick omega, and he made a point — silently apologizing to Dean — to jostle him as he walked out. He itched to breeze past the lawyer and sprint to his car.

“Mr. Novak? I will consider the things we talked about tonight and relay it to Miachel. I’m sure your brother will be understanding. And, who knows? We may find ourselves working more closely together in the future.”

He could still feel Alistair’s eyes burning a hole through his back when the doors of the elevator shut.

Castiel breathed a quick sigh of relief and felt a sense of victory wash over him. He had done it. He had gotten Dean out.

His focus quickly shifted, feeling the unconscious man everywhere, checking his body; arms, ribs, and fingers for injuries. When nothing immediately screamed ‘broken,’ he felt strained relief, knowing that the omega was still far from okay. He briefly considered calling Balthazar, his driver, to come pick him up so that Castiel could keep his attention on Dean in the back seat, but he decided not to. It would take too long for him to drive to Alistair’s apartment and then home again, at least a forty-minute drive altogether.

Castiel wanted to sit with the Dean in the backseat, but it looked like he’d have to drive both of them out of there — he cursed himself, wondering why he’d chosen to drive himself in the first place.

As he crossed the lobby of the building, a few odd glances, side-eyeing the carefully cradled omega in his arms, were cast in his direction. It was completely dark outside now, the lobby lit up with scurrying nightlife of the rich betas and alphas who lived there.

The valet drove his car around to the front of the building and handed him his keys with a polite, “Sir.” His eyes widened at the sight of the nearly naked and bruised omega.

Castiel’s inner monologue was shutting down, feeding into the sole need to get as far as possible as he could from Alistair’s apartment building. He refused to let himself feel anything, focusing on opening the door to his car and lowering Dean’s limp body with shaking hands, into the passenger side of the car, reclining the seat to give the man more space.

The evening air was getting colder, the frigid, northern air dropping to freezing temperatures after dark and he grabbed a blanket he kept in the truck of his car for emergencies and tucked it around the omega. Dean’s eyelashes fluttered in unrest as he reached across his chest and buckled his seatbelt. His mind was carefully blank as he observed the subconscious shrinking away that was Dean’s reaction to Castiel’s touch.

With the omega carefully secured, he climbed into the driver’s seat and began to drive. Gripping the wheel, he tried to focus on the road, on following the rules of traffic, and not thinking about the fact that he had Dean next to him.

Oh god, he couldn’t believe his own senses despite the living proof beside him. Because he did have proof, with every press of Dean’s soft skin and broken hitch of breath in the silence of the car, every second he felt the man in his arms, the rise and fall of his chest. But he still couldn’t believe it.

It felt like this entire evening was some strange fever dream. He’d seen plenty of omegas that were the personal companions of wealthy alphas, has walked through the Novak Tech omega clinic and seen the laborers' scars but… Dean. Seeing him in that place, in this state, shocked Castiel in a way he couldn’t articulate.

It had been years since he had last seen Dean. He’d always imagined that at the very least the man was safe, moved on from their badly ended high school romance. Probably a mechanic, had helped his brother through college, was married and had a little one on the way.

What the hell happened? He wanted to shake Dean awake and demand answers, but he took a breath and got control over his words, biting back anguish.

Castiel could smell layers of fear, sour and old on the omega’s skin, the heat blowing out of the vents filling the car up with the emotion so often felt that it was now a permanent stain on Dean’s scent.

f*ck. Tears pricked Castiel’s eyes as he replayed in his head their interactions. Dean, small and thin and terrified and bruised, being groped at by that disgusting alpha, being offered up to a strange alpha for sex. And then he thought, it wasn’t the first time. Dean, on his knees, Alistair selling him for sex to perverts to use him and discard him and God knows what else. It was almost unbearable to picture, and Castiel swallowed back the tightness in his throat.

He’d seem so tired, so exhausted and so utterly used to it. Castiel had just reacted, pure instinct had ripped that sound out of his chest. He had never growled before, never felt that furious. It had felt alien to himself. But in the moment, it had felt right.

He was lucky Alistair had taken his behavior as an alpha’s posturing possessiveness and not the murderous anger it was, or he might not have been able to take Dean home with him at all. Alistair could have seen how much Castiel cared…and that could have ended very badly.

Anxiety culminated and he dug his phone out of his suit pocket and hit the contact at the top of the list.

The phone rang once and was picked up. Extremely unusual by Gabrial’s standards at this time of night as the man was usually partying, sleeping, or doing unspeakable things with that alpha girlfriend of his, Castiel shuddered to think about.

But Gabriel must have had the foresight to know that the dinner wouldn’t go smoothly, and he answered the phone with a, “Well? Did you f*ck it up?”

Castiel ignored his sarcasm. “Gabriel? I need you to call a doctor to my house.”

He could practically hear his brother’s jaw hit the floor. “Oh, sh*t. That is so much worse than I was expecting, Cassie.”

“I don’t care what type of doctor or how expensive, as long as he can get there within the hour and—”

“God, Cassie, what is going on? Please tell me your not bleeding out in the car. Are you ok?”

“I’m not hurt Gabriel.” Castiel said impatiently. “The doctor is not for me.”

Silence. Then. “That’s actually worse. You attacked Michael's lawyer with a steak knife, didn’t you? He said something about omegas, and you just had to take out the—”

“Listen to me. I don’t have time for this. I have an injured omega in the seat beside me and I need a doctor willing to treat him.” Castiel glanced to see Dean shifting in his seat and he watched as his eyelashes blinked open and he let out a weak moan.

He grasped the blanket around him more tightly then settled down again. This time, he let out a slight snore and Castiel knew the man was sinking into a true sleep this time.

“I’ll tell you the whole story later. For now, I need that doctor and you to cover for me at work for the next five to seven days. I’m taking my rut-leave early and won’t be in.”

“Wha—” Gabriel stopped himself from asking more questions. Castiel knew his older brother was beginning to understand the seriousness of the situation. “I can do that. I, —um, know a guy. One of the doctors who is in charge of the clinic where we house the Novak omegas.”

“Perfect. Send him over as fast as he can get here. I have to go.”

“Cassie, wait.” Gabriel grasped at straws, trying to figure out what was happening. “I hope you know what you are doing.”

“I’ll call you.” Castiel promised, and then hung up.

He had been driving for half an hour now and was close to his house, situated farther out of town where the houses were huge and separated from one another. Castiel’s was tucked out of sight from the road, concealed by a deciduous wood that shielded it from any potential on-lookers.

As he pulled up at the gate, it began to snow. Great, white flurries drifting down in the dark. Castiel quickly entered the code, the gates unlocking and pulling open on a smooth glide. He accelerated up his long, paved driveway quicker than he thinks he ever had before, pulling up to his front door, instead of round to the garage house.

After turning the car off and gathering Dean into the blanket, he carried him to his front door, bridal carry. It was a bit of a struggle at the door, Castiel fumbling his keys at the door around his armful, but with a click, the doors opened, and the light flooded out into the walkway. He was home.

Notes:

So sorry for the late update, life has been crazy lately. I'm not giving up on this story but updates are probably going to come at a very slow pace. Thank so much for your patience, you guys are the best!! :))

Chapter 16: Sick

Summary:

Hopefully, a little comfort in the angst <3

Notes:

TWs: mentions of blood, death of a family member (minor character), injuries, sickness, and panic attack.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Castiel remembered the first time he used the striped white and red first-aid kit stuffed in the back of his linen closet.

Gabriel had gotten it for him as a joke years ago, citing, with his usual snark, Castiel’s habitual clumsiness as the reason for the gift. It hadn’t fooled him, the joke had Gabriel’s signature underlying streak of overprotectiveness written all over it. His facade of caring but not enough to say it to your face. Sometimes, Gabriel’s very own brand of caring, with gifts like the first-aid kit, grew tiresome. Because really? Castiel didn’t expect to ever use it. Why should he? Beside his daily gym routine, Castiel didn’t perform exceptionally physically demanding work. At least, nothing that could cause him to be injured on the job and would demand the use of at-home medical remedies.

So why a first aid kit?

The first time he had cause to use the first-aid kit, he had been at home, making himself lunch and accidentally slid his knife over his pointer finger. The cut had scared him at the time. Frozen, he watched the red bead of blood drip slow and thick off his fingertips and onto the green vegetables he had been slicing.

Then, jerking into action, he ripped off a paper towel, applied pressure to the cut, and fetched Gabriel’s gift to put it to good use. It was like his self-preservation instinct had kicked in after that initial moment of shock, his mind acting on automation to neatly bandage the cut.

And that was the key word — instinct.

Leaning over Dean’s shivering form swaddled in blankets, it was like that instinct had kicked in once again. This time fueled by the need of Castiel’s inner alpha to protect his omega. Akin to self-preservation, the need ran deep and vital, his nerves firing without conscious thought. His body only reacting to the spiking scents of his omega in turn.

He felt a bit like a madman as he carried Dean out of the cold into his house, the breaths of frigid air clinging to their clothes like frost. He most definitely looked a bit like a madman, as he rushed about the house, wild hair tousled and sticking wet to his forehead, gathering his first-aid supplies, blankets, and water for Dean.

He set Dean down on a couch in his living room, a broad space that was central to the house and would prevent Castiel from being too far away from his omega at any time. He banked up his gas fireplace, instantly feeling the difference the cheery flames of the hearth made in the room.

He needed to get Dean out of his thin shorts and into something substantial that would help maintain his body temperature. A quick search on the internet told him what to start with and he gathered his supplies, stripping Dean’s body with medical efficiency and cleaning him with wet strips of cloth to rid his body of sweat and lower his body temperature which was sky-rocketing. It was a tad awkward for Castiel to strip the clothing off of an unconscious Dean’s body but he didn’t see it as anything sexual. The omega was hurt and Castiel’s inner alpha didn’t let him sit still or even think of anything else until he was better

Dean woke several times throughout the process, mumbling nonsense, shivering, and thrashing weakly about. Each time, Castiel called out his name gently. “Dean? You’re okay, you’re okay. Just trying to get you warmed up. ”

But Dean would just settle down again, falling into his heavy sick sleep.

He bandaged the cuts and bruises that were small enough he felt confident handling them but didn’t touch Dean’s chest area. Looking at them made his stomach feel queasy so he left them alone, waiting for the doctor to arrive and treat them. Instead, he clothed Dean, choosing a comfortable pair of his boxers and setting aside one of his casual shirts for after the doctor arrived and ‘okayed’ it.

Just as he tucked a blanket underneath Dean’s chin, the doorbell rang and he breathed a sigh of relief; The doctor had made it despite the weather.

Blessing Gabriel silently, he opened the door to the doctor, taking note that the snow was still falling outside in the dark, covering the gray tiles of his portico with whiteness, like finely tossed powdered sugar across a countertop.

A tall man in the unmistakable white garb of a doctor greeted him at the door and introduced himself with a cautious handshake, “I’m Dr. Wyatt, you must be Mr. Novak.”

“Oh, yes, that’s me.” Castiel said, trying to hide his surprise when a young woman stepped up on the portico beside the doctor, carrying a medical bag.

“This is Ms. Moore, she is interning with me at the moment and will be shadowing me over the course of this visit, if that is perfectly ok with you, Mr. Novak?”

“Yes, of course.” Castiel said, “Nice to meet you, Ms. Moore.”

“Call me Jessica.” She smiled charmingly, and Castiel was quick to invite them out of the cold.

“Both of you come on in, it’s far too cold to be standing in the snow.”

They stepped in after him, the doctor hanging his coat on the rack and the girl pulling off her wet beanie to release long blonde hair that fell over her back like a cape. Castiel noted that they were both betas, their scents leaking through the fading scent blockers that must have started to wear off due to how late in the day it was. He supposed that any medical staff working in the Novak Tech. omega clinic would have to be betas because blockers weren’t always perfect. And alphas…well, needless to say, weren’t reliable caretakers.

It was a fact that usually invoked feelings of shame, aware of his own designation, but the strange tight feeling in his chest Castiel called his inner alpha rejoiced at the two medical professional’s scents — which was…different?

Inhaling to check again, Castiel realized he felt vicious gladness that the two people there for his omega were only betas, not alphas, and therefore wouldn't present as much of a threat. Castiel was aware that his inner monologue was starting to sound a bit cave-man-ish but decided he’d analyze it later.

“Gabriel Novak said we’d be seeing an omega, is that correct?” The doctor prompted as Castiel led them into the house, curious as to what the mysterious Novak Tech. CEO could be calling an omega doctor in the middle of the night.

“That is correct.” Castiel didn’t pause to let the young blonde woman gawk at the entrance hall’s grand staircase and lead them straight to Dean, eager for the doctor to treat him. “He’s had a fever since early this evening and it seems to only be getting worse.”

The visit itself was short, the doctor listened to Dean’s breathing and surveying Castiel’s efforts to keep the omega warm but not-overheated, giving a low impressed “hmm.” He warned Castiel to keep track of the omega’s temperature and call him immediately if it reached over 103F. He administered pain meds and acetaminophen to reduce the fever, warning him that it could be a while before the omega woke. Jessica jumped in and offered advice on how to regulate Dean’s temperature, telling him to keep the omega hydrated and warm but not too hot.

Dr. Wyatt delivered the entire spiel methodically, and Castiel appreciated his professionalism and Jessica’s friendly helpfulness until they took a look under Dean’s blankets and saw the wine-purple bruises that spilled across his chest like a rotten barrel of grapes.

The doctor’s mask cracked and Castiel could see the plain horror in his eyes for a moment, shock overcoming professionalism. Jessica’s eyes darted up at Castiel and back down again at the abused omega in the hasty assurance of already drawn conclusions. Her face hardened, professionalism slamming down, re-doubled, covering up her slip by asking Castiel to bring her a rag and bowl of warm water to keep the fever down.

Castiel didn’t intend to leave Dean alone in the room with the two medical professionals anytime throughout the visit but he knew that the horror in their eyes couldn’t be faked. They clearly cared about omegas and were abhorred to see one treated so poorly.

Hurrying to the kitchen to fulfill her request, Castiel wondered what words were exchanged when he wasn’t present.

From there, the doctor and his assistant worked efficiently, albeit much quieter and Castiel wondered if they worked faster in order to leave his house as soon as possible. He watched carefully as Dr. Wyatt wrapped Dean’s chest wounds, so that he could do it himself without having to call the doctor again. He noted how Dr. Wyatt left the wrapping around Dean’s chest loose, ensuring that Dean’s breathing was not inhibited but tight enough that the brutal bruising and skin contusions on his chest were cleaned and wrapped.

“He should wake soon. When he does, give him the medicine and see if he can keep a broth down. He might wake up with delirium, just to make sure he knows he’s sa— Where he is. And keep changing out the cooling towels.” Dr. Wyatt changed his wording and Castiel might not have noticed if he didn’t already know what he had seen.

He tried not to let it bother him, it was understandable, of course, that betas would think he was the one abusing the omega. It was common enough after all, but for someone willing to treat omegas, both medical professionals must be decent human beings and seeing an omega as badly treated as Dean was deeply troubling.

They made no comment however, and Castiel didn’t offer the story behind Dean’s injuries.

Dr. Wyatt offered a few extra words of advice before having Jessica pack up their supplies. By the time she was done, Castiel walked them to the door, glad to see them off.

Shutting the door behind them, he breathed a sigh of relief. Both medical professional’s quiet but judgemental stares were beginning to get to him.

Back in the other room Castiel heard a muffled cry.

Running quickly back to Dean, he realized the man was sitting up in his seat, shivering violently and speaking to himself rapidly, the syllables stumbling over themselves and getting tangled on their way out.

“Sammy? Sam?” Dean said and Castiel felt a shiver go down his spine. Dean’s voice was laced with congestion, softening his consonants when he tried to speak. His voice was hoarse, throat raw with sickness.

Dean was delirious, Castiel realized. He was afraid this would happen.

Castiel gently guided Dean back down on the couch with gentle movement which the man didn’t seem to feel. He continued to cry out for his little brother, making ‘Sammy’ sound more like ‘sabby’ with his congestion.

“Dno go, don’t leave me, Sammy.” Dean cried out. “M’cold. And Dad won’t turn on the heating.”

Castiel swaddled Dean in blankets that he had dug out from his linen closet and propped up his head on several pillows, doing everything he could to ensure that the omega was comfortable on the wide couch.

“C’mon Dean, you're okay. You're okay.” Castiel crooned as he tilted his head with the palm of his hand to the glass of water in his other hand. He knew how important it was to keep Dean hydrated while he was sick but he feared the other man wasn’t going to accept the foreign intrusion that was the glass of water to his lips. “C’mon, ‘mega, drink. You need to drink.”

Dean’s eyes opened suddenly, revealing his red-rimmed eyes, green like moss, and as familiar as Castiel’s own dreams. They were just as beautiful as he remembered.

Startled at the motion, Castiel blinked. He offered the water again and some instinct in Dean’s head must have kicked in because he was lapping at the water, allowing it to pass his parched lips.

He breathed a sigh of relief as the omegas gulped down the contents of the cup. He seemed to have enough and the alpha quickly withdrew the glass, setting it on the lamp-stand beside the couch. Attention quickly returning to Dean, he watched as shades of awareness dawned on his face before clouding into helpless confusion, his red and wet lips sticking out in pout.

His eyes meet Castiel’s.

“Dean…” Catiel said gently, wonderingly — almost to himself — but wondering if Dean could understand him. “Oh my god, you’re here, you’re really here.”

After all these years, the life he’s lived alone, staying away from relationships, staying away from people, wondering what happened to that boy he cared so much about.

“Castiel… ” Dean managed to whisper, breath catching in his throat. Castiel inhaled sharply at his name on Dean’s lips.

He leaned forward, nodding in encouragement. It was too good to be true. Dean recognized him. A thrill of warmth spread out from his chest and he hoped to catch every word on his old friend’s breathy whispers.

“My Castiel?” Dean asks softly in wonderment and Castiel nods again, a small smile forming on his lips. The omega’s eyes were strange and black, dilated from the drugs and fever.

Dean reached out with a trembling hand, small fingers reaching for Castiel’s face but let it drop before making contact. His eyes shift, like he was no longer looking at Castiel, but rather, looking through him. “They’re pretty. And Soft. I knew it.”

For a brief moment, the room floods with the softest hints of the omega’s aroma — only this time it isn’t so very heartbreaking but instead reminds Castiel of better times; warm cinnamon spice and bright blue autumn skies. The alpha could get high off the scent and wished he could get the omega to smell like it all the time.

“What?” Castiel can’t help but ask. “What’s soft?”

“Your wings, s’course,” Dean said back, as simply as if it were fact. “That’s how y’get here in my dreams.”

“Huh? Dean, what?” Castiel said, confused. He realized that Dean was hallucinating but he didn’t realize that he would be this out of it. He wondered if the heavy pain meds Dr. Wyatt had administered factored into this.

But Dean wasn’t listening to him anymore. A great shiver wrecked through his body and the moment of peace was disturbed. Confusion swept over his face as he struggled to concentrate on what was happening around him, head turning back and forth.

“Hey, hey, hey, Dean, stop. You’ll hurt yourself.” Castiel caught Dean’s thrashing movements until he stopped making them.

Dean’s eyelids started to look heavy and then he slumped back into the pillow, asleep.

The omega’s sleep was off and on until all hours, obviously exhausted.

Castiel watched him sleep. It sounded creepy when he put it like that, but it was comforting to watch the rise and fall of his chest under the cover of Castiel’s blankets, to hear the soft breaths of a relaxed rest that contrasted so painfully with the stark terror of the waking hours.

Castiel didn’t sleep much, himself — couldn’t. Too busy thinking. Too busy panicking internally at the fact that he had somehow stolen the leading legal expert from Micheal’s team’s omega. That this omega was sick and abused, and, oh yes, Castiel’s best friend from his teen years.

He couldn’t ponder on what would have happened to Dean if he left him. And it was – well, selfishly, Castiel felt a little overwhelmed at the prospect of living with a terrified omega who might, more than likely, despise alphas, okay? He had been around scared omegas before. But never lived with one as deeply hurt as this one was, who practically breathed hurt.

Now it’ll be all he can think about 24/7. Every time the omega flinched or jumped, every time he looked down at his feet instead of making eye contact like omegas were trained. It would be a reminder of everything his family has done over the years to omegas, the way his father treated them, all the regrets from years of Castiel standing on the sidelines, naive and unaware. It's not Dean’s fault, of course not, but — sh*t. It was a lot to think about.

Castiel stayed by Dean’s side all night, checking his temperature and changing out the sick man’s towels every half-hour. The flickering flame from the gas fireplace cast shadows on the angles of Dean’s face, dancing across the hollows of his high cheekbones which had become so much more pronounced since he was sixteen years old. In his sleep he seemed peaceful. He would thrash out in his sleep every so often, but it was nothing like the stark terror in his eyes when Alistair had offered him to Castiel.

He continued to monitor Dean's fitful sleep, his own weariness forgotten in favor of caring for the omega and wondering what it was he should expect when Dean became conscious for real this time.

Occasionally, he’d find himself dozing and he’d jerk awake, chastising himself and forcing his legs into restless pacing across the length of the room. As the night wore on, he found himself on his knees on the floor, leaning against the couch and watching over Dean. He remembered to check his phone at around two in the morning and saw he had notifications.

3 new messages from Gabriel.

He slid the phone back into his suit’s pocket, unanswered.

Then, at around 4:00 am, in the quiet before dawn, a subtle change occurred. The fever that had gripped Dean's body began to relent. Castiel checked his temperature and saw the numbers plunge, noting the gradual easing of Dean's shivers and the diminishing flush on his fevered face.

The fever broke finally and he doesn’t remember much after that, sinking into an exhausted fatigue by Dean’s side.

The box was designed for alphas. Designed to make them feel big and the omegas look small.

The box was positioned at the highest point of the factory’s ceiling, allowing the guest observers to view the omegas scurry, Tiny and Unimportant like ants on the factory floor. And Tiny and Unimportant they seemed, when seen from below the greatness of the glass observing room.

Castiel had no words. The floor was gray cement. There were long metal chains at each workstation for securing the workers. He could see the bedding of the ‘omega sleeping quarters’ from where he stood. Sorrow like long cracks in stone or rivers pouring out to the ocean on the surface of the planet, stretched in this place, its roots long buried here.

He was twenty-two or twenty-three years old, freshly inaugurated into his family’s company as a top resource director. The end of a long line of prosperous Novak alphas, Castiel was expected to meet expectations. Not to exceed them, no, Castiel had his oldest brother Michael for that. Michaelwas the picture of the perfect alpha that would lead the family into yet another era of success and wealth once their father retired. Nothing special was required of Castiel since mostly the family had been relieved that he had even presented alpha in his teenage years. His purpose was to simply dump his head full of dreams into the graveyard the Novak children had propagated and follow the heavily trod path Naomi had planned for him; go to college and work for the tech company. All without a single voiced complaint.

And without complaint he had been. Miserable and bored, yes, his job was mostly checking behind his older brothers’ sloppy reports, checking numbers, and searching for discrepancies. There were very few, of course. Companies like Novak Tech could more than afford hundreds of people who could outperform Castiel any day. Castiel’s job was more of a performance, much like his brothers and sisters at the company, but unlike them, he was actually interested in it.

What was the most interesting thing, however, was the amount of money being siphoned off into a *large* workforce department but without any of the usual indicators that the workforce was being paid, compensated, or hell — hired by Novak Tech.

It wasn’t mentioned by any of the people who worked below Castiel. Countless competent betas and alphas handled the paperwork, signed off on it and stamped it as ‘approved.’ Lucifer, or Luke as he preferred to be called these days, Micheal, Anna, Raphael, didn’t call his findings unusual.

Mystified — Castiel had to conclude he was crazy.

Until he wasn’t.

He called his father, scheduled a meeting, and booked a flight. And found himself in this white box above a room full of people that were unaware he existed, as he had been unaware they existed his entire life.

His father left his bodyguards outside the box when he came inside to chat. It was one of the last times Castiel saw the man alive. He learned weeks later his father had been struggling with a sickness for the last several years of his life privately and succumbed to it. He couldn’t remember what type of cancer it had been — he didn’t care to. He had barely known the man in life except what he learned from the day in the glass observation booth above the factory.

His father’s dying wish was that Castiel become the new CEO of the company, that Michaeland his other brother’s birthrights were skipped. The Board conceded to his dying wish and will and unanimously elected him.

In his dreams, his father stood next to him in the booth and looked down at the suffering he had caused and said, “Castiel, son, do you know why your mother and I are so devout?”

“Why?”

“Because every day we ask for forgiveness for those who cannot ask it for themselves.”

Castiel watched the faceless workers continue their mind-numbing tasks. “But these men and women didn’t do anything wrong. They have never hurt anyone.”

“They were born, weren’t they? To be human is to sin.” Chuck answered simply.

“At least here, in this warehouse, they won’t be treated as roughly as so many omegas are out there in this harsh world. At least here, they are safe.”

“You think you’re protecting them???” Castiel accused. “Just look at them, look how afraid they are of us.”

His father turned his head and Castiel could see that his eyes were blood-shot from stress, the focus of his gaze worn with age. The lines on his brow made him seem very tired. “I’ve learned there is very little difference between fear and love.”

Castiel’s response was immediate. “Love doesn’t hurt.”

“No?” Chuck smiled.

“Let’s test that, shall we?”

Castile noticed that Chuck’s eyes were starting to bleed in the corners, rivulets of blood seeping down his face. And his hair was falling out. And suddenly, as these things tend to happen in dreams, they were in the hospital and his father was in bed. He was cold and still and dying. The blood on his cheeks smeared onto his hands when he dragged them through the tear tracks. The 'beep', 'beep' of the machine beside his bed was slowing and Castiel hadn't been here when his father died. Hadn't even stepped foot in the hospital his father would take his last breath in. And here, in his dreams he witness his father flatline, body tense and convulse - and then, lay still.

No one else stood around his bed so Castiel took a step back, ready to call for help. But he stopped when he saw Chuck move. He looked him directly in the face and mouthed two words.

“Wake up, son.”

Castiel woke slowly.

Becoming aware of the strange position of his body over anything else, he noticed that he must be waking in the same position he had fallen asleep in last night, causing his limbs to be stiff and unwieldy. His spine was curved over the hard edge of something, his sore knees resting on the hard line of the floor and strangest of all, his head was rising and falling in place. The motion was unexpected, but welcome. Like the rocking of a boat drifting down a stream, it was oddly therapeutic.

Dismissing the oddness of the motion, Castiel was on the brink of falling into a deeper slumber when the steady ‘rising and falling’ motion of his head stopped, waking Castiel.

His eyes shot open and he jerked up from where his head had been, putting a steadying hand on the edge of the couch. He abruptly realized that not only had he fallen asleep on the edge of Dean’s couch but that his head had been nestled quite comfortably on Dean’s chest.

And Dean was awake.

He could tell Dean wasn’t breathing, his breath caught in his throat in shock, which explained what woke Castiel up. He was looking directly at Castiel, his green eyes wide and haunted and his mouth hung slightly agape.

Castiel exhaled, feeling his air brush the top of his mouth. “Dean… It’s — it’s me.”

“Castiel?” Dean said, the word escaping his lips both a statement and a confused breath of a question.

Their eyes met in the early morning light of the room. Green on blue. Recognition flared between the two like a beacon guiding a lost ship home.

But then, Dean cringed back, eyes dropping to where his blanket was drawn up under his arms. His hands rested there too, impotent and empty. “N-No, it can’t be. It can't be. Please, no. Not this.”

Castiel struggled to make out the omega’s quiet mumbling under his breath. He forged ahead, sure his old friend just needed some reassurance.

“God, Dean, It’s — it’s me. Don’t worry any more. I’ve got you. You’re safe.” Castiel said, his words tumbled clumsily out of his mouth, dropping to the floor like a child’s building blocks. “Are you okay?”

He fumbled off the edge of the couch to stand awkwardly above Dean. He felt a bit like he was looming but refused to move.

Dean needed space. He had clearly been through something horrible, the last thing he needed was an alpha up in his space.

Dean didn’t answer him. He was still edging as far as he could get from Castiel on the small confines of the couch, mumbling to himself. He could only hear a little of what he was saying, assumedly to himself. “This isn’t real. It’s — It’s not. It’s just another dream. That isn’t Cas. It isn’t. It isn’t. Please.”

“I —I promise I’m real.” Castiel offered himself for inspection. “Dean, just look at me.”

Castiel was all arms and legs tonight. All left-footedness. All wrong moves. He felt like a beginner thrust into a prima ballerina’s dance class, expected to perform effortless fouettés. He was expected to know what to do, what the rules were but instead he was abandoned on the dance floor.

Because Dean flinched from his words, the blood seeping out of him until he was as pale as a corpse. He obeyed Castiel, his head came up so fast that he feared the omega would have whiplash. Only it wasn’t quite right because he was looking up but not directly at Castiel, more in the general vicinity of his left shoulder. It was irritating and frustrating because it was how high-class omegas were trained to look at their alphas without actually looking at them. Like how Jo and Ellen had looked at him when he had first met them.

Except he had been kinder to the omega laborers than he was now to Dean. And that was all wrong because it wasn’t supposed to be like this. Dean wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Castiel wasn’t sure what he was expecting when Dean finally woke and recognized him, but this wasn’t it.

Because Dean did recognize him. The thrum of recognition was palpable. Their scents had been filling the room together for hours, like complimenting flavors that mixed together.

But there was no rush to embrace one another. No joyful tears of reunion. No yells of delight. No slow-mo montage. Castiel knew there was no script to a moment like this.

Dean’s gruff voice was low, submissive when he answered. “Y-yes, Cas— Master.”

Castiel felt sick.

“No, Dean. You don’t need to do that. I — just.”

He took a deep breath, attempting to keep a lid on the simmering pot of panic Castiel was trying very hard not to be.

“Your injuries. I took care of them while you were asleep. I had a doctor help too. Nothing too intrusive, I promise.” He added hastily. “But you were really sick there for a while, some sort of combination from exhaustion and a mild infection from some of the lacerations on the bruises on your chest. And I couldn’t risk disturbing your rest to ask if I could — um, remove your vestiture. I mean, clothes. I’m sorry about that.”

Castiel peeked at Dean. He was still staring to the left of him, a shade of bewildered crossing his face.

“Um, what else… I got you some of my clothes to wear. You can have them for now but I will definitely get you something else to wear. Oh, and the doctor administered some pain meds and vitamins for you to keep taking. Are you in any pain right now?

The direct question froze the expression on Dean’s face.

“Hey, don’t worry. It’s not a trick. I promise you can answer that question. Or not. Whichever you want to do. I just want to know if you are alright.” Castiel tried to say gently.

“I — I’m fine?” Dean said, as though he were questioning it. He noted the way the omega’s hands subconsciously brushed against the softness of the blankets, almost wonderingly. “I don’t need anything, Mast — sir?

It wasn’t a very reassuring response but Castiel decided to let it pass. Dean was clearly scared right now and didn’t trust him.

“Okay. But if that changes, let me know. I promise nothing bad will happen.”

Dean nodded, schooling his face blank. “Yes, sir.”

Castiel didn’t like the title but felt compelled not to comment.

“Can I, um, please, sir, can I ask you a question?” The omega’s voice was small.

“Of course, Dean.”

“Are you — real?”

Castiel blinked, not expecting it. “Yes? I mean, you can pinch me if you need some reassurance.”

Dean’s eyes flitted around the room taking in his surroundings. The piles of blankets that were flung over the edge of the long couch like a mother bird’s protective nest. The dark wood bookshelves filled with first editions of his favorite books. The long windows that peered out over the expanse of the garden and let in the morning sunlight. Enough sunlight to warm the dark wood of his floors and high loft ceilings.

He took the reality of his situation and his head bowed again to look at his hands. His next words were even quieter. Castiel had to lean slightly forward to catch them. “Your scent. I knew I recognized it back then.”

“At Alistair's?” Castiel had wondered the same last night.

He nodded. “He gave me to you to use. I remember now. I – I’m better now. Just tell me how you want me.”

Dean tried to move, wincing as he shifted some of the ridiculously fluffy blankets off his lap. He was shaking again, old sick scent wafting off him in waves. “We can do it here or we can move it to the bedroom. It will be better if we take it there — I mean, not that I have a say, the floor works but you might be uncomfortable.”

Horror reared its ugly head again. “What?

Dean flinched again, as though he had been slapped and he was on the floor before Castiel could stop him — could react, apologize, or soothe the omega.

“Master gave me to you to use. You can knot me or use my mouth, my Alpha doesn’t mind when he shares me.”

“God, Dean, no, no. You know me, you recognize me, don’t you? Why would I want something like that?”

Dean was on his knees, shame flushing his face. “You’re an alpha.”

Like it was an explanation.

Castiel didn’t control his reaction. “No.”

The word grated out in his Alpha voice. His scent swirled out around him in aggression, the alpha parts in him straining to hunt down and kill any alphas that had ever hurt Dean.

“No, omega. Not me. Not anyone. You understand?”

Castiel cursed his biology. Cursed the rage that ran through his blood on Dean’s behalf and manifested in a form that could only scare the omega more.

"Never again."

Dean sank into a full kneel. He was shaking from fear, now. “I’m s-sorry, Alpha.”

“Hey, no, sweetie. No need to apologize. Especially not to me.” He tried to gentle out his voice, force it from up from the low register.

He slowly knelt onto the floor next to Dean and placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and slowly started to rub it up and down, in a soothing manner, hoping to untense the muscles there. “C’mon, omega, let’s get you up off the floor and onto the couch. You don’t need to be moving while your injured.”

Dean went with him, tense as a board but willing to be moved by the alpha. Castiel wondered if he should have left him on the floor – wondered if he’d be more comfortable that way. But he’d rather not see Dean like that. He just seemed so resigned to his fate, that even though Castiel was someone from his past, he accepted that, of course, Castiel would want to use him like that. Like so many had before.

“I’m sorry, m— f-f*ck, I mean Cas -sorry.” Dean was saying, and it broke his heart. “I’ll do what you want — just please. Don’t tell him that you know me. I know I’m not the same from when we were kids but I can be good. You can use me. You should use me.”

And Castiel could feel it. As he pulled Dean onto the couch, he didn’t try to get away from him. Instead he clung to Castiel shirt, head turned into the neck of his collar, a wet seeping through the cloth as he cried. And he could feel each hitching wet breath.

Castiel felt a choking sob rise in his throat. He gently cradled the omega to his chest. He wasn’t sure that Dean was aware of the monument of what he was doing when he clung to the other man. But Castiel keenly aware – Dean was scenting him. Seeking comfort in what was deeply familiar. Castiel couldn't help but indulge himself for a moment, taking a breath of Dean's scent. It wasn't sweet but it wasn't as afraid as it had been and that slight lessoning of fear was driving his alpha crazy.

“You are good, Dean.”

The omega didn’t hear him.

“I know I’m not like I was before. But I can be useful.”

"Shh, no, 'mega. You're okay. You're good. You're so good."

Castiel looked at the omega in his arms. Scented the fear, the need, the vulnerability leaking through as raw as an open wound. Remembered what it used to smell like. How happy he had been.

Castiel had hoped Dean wasn’t beyond repair, but this was so much worse than anything he’s seen. He didn't know if you could fix this, If there was even a way to see the Dean under the hurt he now carried.

Despite the similarities, this wasn’t the Dean he knew.

He was changed, that could not be denied. Dean wasn't going to magically leap off the couch, dry his own tears, and start chatting up about beer and cars and Die Hard. He had undergone so much that Castiel didn't - couldn't understand. Sure, he was the same fabric but he was a different cut, altogether. He was practically a stranger. But if Dean was a stranger, that meant that Castiel would just have to meet him again.

Castiel liked to believe it was going to be okay. He had to, despite everything.

Notes:

I'm so sorry for the sh*tty writing but I wrote this chapter really quickly and hated it and then re-wrote it THREE separate times and have forced myself not to touch it anymore before I scrap the whole thing and throw it in the trash.
But I promised you guys I wouldn't do that, so here we are :)

EDIT 4/7/24:
I have finally admitted to myself that I will not be getting out another chapter of this story out until summer when I can give it the focus it deserves without college work in the way. I want to thank every single one of you that leaves such incredible comments, it really does make my day. <3 I can't wait to keep working on this story!!!

Chapter 17: Lull in the Storm

Summary:

His duty was to his Master, as his legal owner. Cas— the Alpha came second.

He wasn’t even sure that the Alpha understood that. He had wrapped him up in blankets after the attempted seduction this morning and let Dean cry his heart out against his chest. He hadn’t even hit the omega for asking stupid questions or panicking. Instead, he’d offered to let Dean take a nap. On his couch. In the middle of the day.

It went without saying — the Alpha was out of touch, unpredictable, and most importantly, not to be trusted.

Notes:

I am SO SORRY for the late update. It was never supposed to take this long to get this chapter up, in lieu of more apologies, please enjoy this extra long chapter (its almost 10k) :))

No Tws for this chapter that i can think about other than Dean's low self-esteem.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Castiel didn’t know how much time had passed with Dean curled up in his arms. Dean’s sobs had lessoned, wracking breaths hitching into soft sniffles. He remained curled into Castiel, his huffing and panicked breaths growing slow, deep, and even. Castiel unconsciously took up a soothing stroking pattern along Dean’s back, massaging him over his oversized shirt that the alpha had lent him.

Dean relaxed under the touch and when he stopped crying, Castiel continued rubbing his back gently.

He wasn’t sure where to go from there. There was so much he needed to discuss with Dean and so much that he needed to do to ensure that Dean was safe and healthy.

The light of the mid-morning sun began to lazily brighten the room, the light slicing a divide along the mahogany shelves crammed with books; one side burnished orange and the other a deep chocolate. Castiel watched the way it caught the top of Dean’s head and gilded the spiked ends of his hair gold.

Castiel paused in his thoughtless stroking, enraptured by the sight and the quiet sense of peace it brought him. Their scents curled in the air, Castiel’s relief and Dean’s exhaustion twining themselves around each other like wisps of intangible smoke above a campfire.

He hated to break the moment of peace, but he decided the best thing he could do at that moment was to start with the basic needs and then move from there.

“Dean?” Castiel spoke softly, hoping not to spook the omega again.

He shifted back in his lap, answering the alpha’s call for his attention. When Dean’s face came into view, he was flushed red, and his eyes were puffy from crying.

“Hey, Buddy.” Castiel smiled down at him. He wasn’t sure why he said it, but it seemed like the right thing to do. He didn’t want to scare the omega by calling him some god-awful pet name but using his legal name felt wrong. He felt an acute urge of affection toward the other man, and he just wanted to soothe the omega, care for his needs, give him anything as long as it made him happy–

Dean’s reception to the name seemed positive. Or at least, it wasn’t bad. He took it as a good sign when Dean didn’t immediately shrink into himself and force his gaze over Castiel’s right shoulder.

Castiel hated to break this moment of calm— it had felt like the only lull in the storm in almost twelve hours— but he knew it was necessary. Castiel needed to get a handle on the situation.

He gently stroked Dean’s back and shifted him to the side so that he could see the younger man’s downcast face better.

His eyes were sober and bloodshot, lashes clinging to each other. Castiel couldn’t seem to drag his eyes from the sight.

He forced himself to focus.

“We need to talk.” Castiel stated firmly, carefully surveying the omega for a reaction.

Dean nodded immediately, calmer than before but his voice still filled with an eagerness to please his alpha. “Yes, sir.”

“You don’t have to call me that, you know.” Castiel shut down the part of him that yearned to hear the simply uttered “Cas” nickname on Dean’s lips once more. “I’m quite content with Castiel.”

There was an advantage to having such close proximity to the omega on the couch. He could feel the level of fear the other was at. When he felt the omega stiffen, he knew he had gotten it wrong again.

“However, if it makes you more comfortable, please call me whatever you like…”

That wasn’t quite true. There was a pool of uneasiness that he associated with a certain title. It was something Castiel knew he could not bear to hear.

“Except please refrain from calling me…” Castiel winced. “...Master.”

Dean’s reaction was quick, his eyes going wide and scared.

“I’m not exactly familiar with many Alphas using that title. And to me, it is beyond abnormal.” He hurried to add, “But if you call me it, please don’t fear punishment. Far from it.”

He feared his statement was too harsh and he looked uneasily at Dean, who watched him with wide eyes clouded with confusion and not a little suspicion.

“I understand. Alpha.” Alpha was tacked on to the end of the sentence awkwardly. A poor substitute for master. “I did not mean to call you that earlier. All I can say is that it was not meant for you.”

Dean spoke the word that quickly as if eager to get it over with. With dawning horror, Castiel realized Alistair had ordered the omega to call him by the title. And in his moment of panic, Dean had called the nearest threatening alpha presence, which of course, happened to be Castiel.

“You mean— Alistair.” He started.

The name hung in the air.

Dean looked warily up, his scent flashing spicy cinnamon. “Yes, Master trained me to address him as such.”

Castiel nodded, once. His suspicions confirmed, he tapped down his disgust at the other alpha.

“It’s important that I know some things.” Castiel began slowly. “About what happened earlier. About Alistair and where I found you.”

Again, Dean stiffened, eyes flying to the floor. Castiel noticed it was one of his nervous tics— automatic submission as a defense mechanism.

“However, the most important thing is that you are safe here. And you need time to recover from your fever. Anything else can wait.”

Dean’s voice was washed with barely suppressed relief. “Yes, Alpha. I understand. I will try my best to get better so that I can be useful.”

Castiel frowned at the statement but decided not to comment. He didn’t want to distress the omega anymore. Especially not after the rough night they’d had, and Dean’s panic attack this morning that had ended with Dean sobbing in his lap. It was all so new, so different now. Dean would need time to adjust.

He gently stroked Dean’s back and shifted him to the side so that the omega was curled up beside him, allowing Castiel to stand up from the couch.

“How does some breakfast sound to you?” Castiel asked lightly.

Dean’s eyes flashed with confusion before lowering his head. “Yes, Alpha.”

He got to his feet and tucked a loose blanket around Dean’s upright figure on the couch. He looked a bit like a cozy caterpillar, all wrapped up in blankets. The omega barely reacted to the maneuvering and Castiel could recognize exhaustion when he saw it. With the raging fever the night before and the lacerations on his bruises, Dean was bound to be quite bed-ridden the next couple days.

“Feel free to take a nap or snag a book off the shelves while I prepare breakfast. Oh, and the controller for the TV is over there on the side table.”

Dean eyed him dubiously.

“I’m not much of a cook, when compared to my wonderful housekeeper, but I promise I can make a mean cinnamon toast.” Castiel tried to joke.

When Dean continued to stare at him wide-eyed, he sighed and turned to go.

In the kitchen, Castiel clattered around and managed to find the pots and pans and ingredients he would need. These days, he hardly stepped into his own kitchen at all. His housekeeper, handy-woman, and chef extraordinaire, Ms. Ward, would whip something up for him in the evenings or he would eat at work, between looking through status reports and paperwork. He was certainly not as familiar as most people were with their own kitchens.

He was surprised to find his fridge and walk-in pantry fully stocked with ingredients. Certainly, this work could be attributed to Ms. Ward’s handiwork and Castiel was grateful for it. It made this whole process easier, and he was determined to cook Dean up something nice.

His thoughts revolved around Dean’s panic attack in the morning, and he felt his heart breaking all over again. He resolved to make the omega happy, no matter what it took. He wanted to scent the soft tang of comfort in the omega’s scent again. Dean was his responsibility now and he wanted the omega safe and happy. He’d gut anyone who got in his way.

He decided that a chicken soup would be on the menu for breakfast this morning. He couldn’t be too sure of when the last time Dean had been able to eat something and knew it was important that Dean could get proper nutrition and hydration that he had clearly been denied in the past. When he dressed Dean the night before, his ribs had been prominent under his bruises. Dr. Wyatt had said he didn’t look too bad, nutritious wise, and he was far from starving, but that it would undoubtedly be wise to ease into eating solids. That had done little to reassure Castiel in the overwhelming face of Dean’s neglected needs and at his behest, the doctor recommended foods that were easy on the stomach such as yogurts, smoothies, light toasts, bananas, and soups. Certainly, chicken soup was notorious for being a comfort food that was capable of nursing any sick individual back to health. Plus, Castiel doubted that he would manage to screw up that easy of a dish. Of course, anything is possible, but Castiel was attempting to be optimistic, and so he brushed his doubts aside. If worse came to worse, he’d call up Ms. Ward and get her to guide him through the steps of the recipe.

He managed to locate and assemble the chicken, spices, onion, garlic, and celery that he would need from his pantry and fridge, laying it out on the counter space for easy access. From there, the process was self-explanatory, and 20 minutes later, under Castiel’s careful stirring the ingredients came together to create a smooth and creamy amalgamation. Castiel breathed in its heavenly scent and concluded that it was ready.

He pulled out the bread from the oven and assembled a tray until it met his approval.

Dean’s hand brushed across the soft blanket, feeling the downy cotton shift under his touch. He tried hard to tamp down the rabbiting of his heart and the fear pooling in his chest.

Cas— the Alpha, had wrapped him in it, just before he had stood from the couch and left Dean all alone in the room. The fabric was folded neatly over his lap, tucked in under his hip and out-stretched legs. The precise folds of the blanket were undoubtedly the enterprises of someone with a keen eye for detail and careful touch intended to keep the occupant of the couch safe and warm. The blanket was just one, among a myriad, that twisted and curved over the cushions and the bed-pillows that crowded the much too wide couch.

Dean concentrated on the sensation, trying hard not to think of anything else. Not the strange but also deeply familiar Alpha. Not Alistair. Not the memories that clung to the edge of his consciousness. Just the individual fibers and the colors of the material. Blue, green, gray, white, and ochre.

Omegas were supposed to be especially responsive to different fabrics and materials. Their tactility was a biological factor that evolved from the urgency of an omega finding the optimal place to nest. Usually somewhere safe and sheltered from predators and hazardous weather. Usually, Dean hated it. But today, he coped, using it to his advantage even.

He had not felt a blanket this soft against his skin in a long time. Before, the blankets were not for him to touch. They were to be cleaned, folded, or admired from afar. The cushions were certainly not for him either. During heats, Alistair would toss him and his one modge-podge, plaid quilt into a room to ride it out alone, far from the space and materials he would need to build his own nest.

The exhaustion of his now defunct fever made concentrating hard, and the memories of the morning kept flashing through his head. The nightmare of a melt-down. The panic and the begging.

And then there was this overwhelming feeling that the reality around him was a joke. That it was all one great horrifying joke the universe decided to play on him, because God knows, Dean Winchester needed one more thing to screw him over.

Because Castiel Novak was an alpha and Dean was an omega.

And everyone knows what that means.

Dean winced at the memory of his pitiful attempt at seduction— the pathetic begging after it had failed— and the way he had just given up, collapsing into the Alpha’s arms.

The shame of the memory was what made Dean so determined to focus on anything else. To concentrate on the softness of the blankets beneath his touch and let the rest of the world die away.

He tried not to think about what would happen when the Alpha returned.

The Alpha had every right to take Dean. Alistair had given him to the Alpha specifically to use so it would be only fair to say that Dean had no right to hesitate — to be afraid. His duty was to his Master, as his legal owner. Cas— the Alpha came second.

He wasn’t even sure that the Alpha understood that. He had wrapped him up in blankets after the attempted seduction this morning and let Dean cry his heart out against his chest. He hadn’t even hit the omega for asking stupid questions or panicking. Instead, he’d offered to let Dean take a nap. On his couch. In the middle of the day.

It went without saying — the Alpha was out of touch, unpredictable, and most importantly, not to be trusted.

He pulled the ochre-dyed wool blanket up to his chin, took a calming breath, and hardened his resolve. He could not afford to think of the Alpha as a childhood friend. He could not afford to dwell on the cruelties of the universe, bringing together Dean and his childhood friend in this way. His job at the moment was to recover from his sickness with the Alpha’s help so that he could return to his duties — and with any luck, return to Alistair within the week.

He imagined Alistair would not appreciate the delay. He would be especially displeased to hear that Dean had gotten sick or had been allowed unearned rest. But there was little Dean could do about that. There was only so much an omega could do to seduce an unwilling alpha. He would have to try again when he wasn’t feeling so exhausted. But when all was said and done, Dean would take his punishment without complaint.

He brushed the soft faux fur of one of the blankets down the opposite direction of its pattern and decided that if he was going to be here for a while, he might as well figure out as much as he could about what sort of man was visiting. His preferences, tics, and habits — And whether or not he had an omega. That way he could better establish his position in the hierarchy of the household. Or perhaps, if he had multiple omegas, he could blend in better. Of course, the Omega Center did not permit alphas to own multiple omegas, but Dean knew in reality that wasn’t always the case. Some of Alistair’s friends were proof enough of that.

Dean focused his attention on the room around him, hoping to learn more about the Alpha by the decor and setting of the space. The room was large, and the ceiling was vaulted with long reddish-brown beams of oak that stretched overhead. A large fireplace was cozily centered in the large room and flames flickered merrily in its hearth. A fuzzy memory of the night before came to the forefront of his mind, though his feverish haze, he remembered the dark shape of the Alpha’s back as he had banked up the fire, ensuring that the room was flooded with a warmth from heath.

The couch he occupied was positioned close enough to feel the heat radiating from the hearth but also far enough to be able to watch television on the massive screen mounted on the rough-hewn rocks of the hearthplace. The couch was massive and curved around the room, centered around a warm wood coffee-table.

Bookshelves lined the walls, bursting with all sorts of books, from non-fictions about astronomy, sociology, medical journals and herbalism to Romantic poetry compilations, ancient mythology, fantasy, and even, to Dean’s interest, a shelf filled with vintage comic books. Peculiarly, a risqué romance collection featuring a shirtless alpha grasping a wind-swept omega maiden on its cover was prominently displayed between two bookends on the closet bookshelf to him.

Dean was caught off guard at the sight of the bodice-ripper and its prominent location on display and nearly snorted in amusem*nt. It was certainly not what he was expecting from an alpha.

But before he could analyze it further, the sounds of footsteps down from the short hallway from the kitchen sounded and he quickly jerked his head down so as not to appear as though he were openly staring at the Alpha’s other belongings.

Out of Dean’s peripherals, he watched the Alpha walk into the room, carrying a tray of something. The Alpha paused at the side table by Dean’s head and set a drink down, and then turned to him.

Dean forced his gaze down submissively despite his uneasiness at having the Alpha so close.

He jolted as he felt a sudden weight on top of him. It took him a moment to realize that the Alpha had deposited his tray across the thick blankets on his lap.

“Hhm. Let’s see.” The Alpha adjusted the tray further, taking some of the weight off of Dean. “I hope that’s more comfortable.”

Head still downcast, the tray was pushed into Dean’s immediate view. He felt his scent spike with uncertainty as he registered what was laid out across the surface of the board. A rich, steaming bowl of chicken soup. A plate laid with toasted breads of a various assortment: glazed strawberry jam, sprinkled cinnamon toast, buttered garlic bread. And on one side, a glass of orange juice and a glass of water. All of it was adorned with appropriate silverware and a tidily creased napkin.

It was surely not meant for him. It couldn’t possibly be. But Dean could not fathom why it had been placed in front of him.

And then the scent hit him, and his jaws ached as his mouth started to water furiously. Ah, perhaps that was why it had been set before him. A new torture, of sorts, intended to teach the borrowed omega his place. It was what Alistair would have done. He often came up with different games he would play with Dean, different ways to train him into a better omega. Dean didn’t know what other alphas did with new omegas because he had only ever had one alpha as his master, but he was sure that the procedures were not any different.

Dean set his jaw resolutely and bowed his head further, determined to showcase his compliance to the Alpha.

The scent of burnt ozone reached his nostrils before the Alpha spoke. “There’s no need for that. You need to recover your strength and eating is the best way to do so.”

Dean hesitated, wondering if it was an order. It had the sound of one, but it was not clearly defined enough for Dean to be certain it was okay to start eating. And there was also that clear alpha irritation bleeding through the older man’s scent. If he started eating before the Alpha’s official behest, Dean could be punished for his greedy insubordination.

And yet, if it was an order, Dean not eating would be a sign of defiance.

Again, it brought to mind Alistair and his mind games. The way he’d suggest an action or make an idle observation outloud, and then sit back to watch the omega squirm. The result of such a game inevitably ended in a punishment. Every time, no matter what Dean’s choice.

Dean held his breath in his throat, attempting not to breathe in the delicious smell of the breakfast and hoped he wouldn’t have to wait long for the Alpha to make a move.

“Wait a moment.” The Alpha said sharply — thankfully — ending the moment of silence.

Dean froze.

“I’ll be right back.” He called over his shoulder, stepping quickly back across the room towards the kitchen. “I’ll just be a moment.”

It seemed like Dean had the right idea, then. He let out a breath of relief, glad that he had not taken a bite of the meal. He listened to the Alpha’s footsteps recede in the attached room.

The Alpha came back a moment later, a small bowl in one hand.

“My apologies. I realized I had not turned off the stove.” The Alpha gave a small smile, proffering his bowl. “And remembered to grab myself a bite to eat.”

He walked over towards the couch, making Dean clench up, in preparation for what, he had no idea. But the Alpha never made it so far, instead pausing at the coffee table and setting his bowl down on it before sinking to the floor to sit crisscross.

Dean couldn’t help but flinch at the sight of an Alpha sitting on the floor. And to make it worse, he was sitting high up on a couch, with an enormous breakfast spread across his lap. Almost as though Dean were the master and the Alpha was, well — an omega.

“Okay, now we can eat breakfast.” The Alpha said with a satisfied sigh, scooping soup into his spoon out of the tiny bowl.

A bubble of incredulousness expanded in Dean’s chest, and he knew the moment his emotion flooded his scent because the Alpha’s head jerked up from where he was devouring his soup to look at Dean. His eyes widened, taking in Dean’s untouched tray.

The Alpha’s scent went soft, and he gestured with his spoon in an aborted movement.

“Go on, Dean.” The Alpha swallowed, his scent going solemn. “You have permission to eat now. And for that matter, you need not wait for my permission to eat at all. You may eat any time.”

It was as clear enough an order as any.

“Yes, Alpha. Thank you, Alpha.” Dean hastened to say, true gratefulness at the order bleeding through every word.

The Alpha let out a burnt ozone scent once more but nodded and Dean hastened to comply.

The first crisp crunch of the toast in his mouth and burst of warm strawberry jam across Dean’s tongue made him wonder if he’d died and gone to heaven. It reminded him of early mornings years before, when Dean would make breakfast for his brother before school and they’d cram the last bits of the toast in their mouths as soon as they spotted the bus from their apartment window.

On some days, if John was gone and they’d planned it out in advance, Cas would be there too when he’d stayed the night. Cas, Sammy, and Dean would wake up too late, have to break down their pillow fort of the night before, throw clothes on and run out the door. Dean would point out that Castiel had his shirt on all wrong and Cas would do the same and amid a fit of giggles, they’d hurry to correct it on the bus ride to school. Later, Cas would buy Dean breakfast from a snack dispenser and Dean would let him just the once, because other boy had kept him up the night before binging Buffy.

Between another bite, Dean glanced at the Alpha absorbed in his own meal. He couldn’t help wondering, did the Alpha remember the same things from their childhood?

He just couldn’t seem to make the mental connection that this intimidating Alpha was his Castiel. His thoughts had circled back to earlier, he needed to get to know as much as he could about this Alpha because there was no telling how much his old friend had changed.

Back then, Castiel had been nothing like his family. But if Castiel really was the head of his family’s company, Novak Tech, like Alistair said, who knew what else had changed?

Dean shut down that thought process and focused on his food. The breakfast was delicious, much better than anything he’d had in years. He had no plans to sour it with bitter thoughts.

“It’s…uh, been a while since I’ve used the kitchen to cook anything. Is the soup any good?” The Alpha asked, a tang of concern in his scent.

Dean nodded quickly, eager to show his appreciation. “Yes, Alpha. It’s good.” And since that wasn’t enough, he added, “Really good.”

“Oh, good.” The Alpha blinked. “I’m very happy that you enjoyed it, Dean.”

Dean bit the inside of his mouth instantly because the serious tone and the strange awkwardness of the Alpha repeating good back to the omega was just like Cas

“Did you have a chance to browse any of the books or pull up a show while I was in the kitchen?” The Alpha asked. “I am sorry, I know I was gone for quite a while.”

Dean’s eyes widened at the question. Surely, the Alpha was not serious. Dean would never touch an alpha’s things without permission, especially if it was not to clean or organize.

He had looked for an awful long time, though. And for that, Dean felt a guilt rise in his throat – It was not an omega’s place to covetously gawk at an alpha’s belongings. Much less to almost laugh at them. He couldn’t help the guilty glance in the direction of the bookshelves where the awful romance series lay in plain view.

Hoping the Alpha did not notice the look, Dean jerked his gaze back down to his half-eaten breakfast.

“Oh, the bookshelves?” The Alpha said, certainly misunderstanding Dean’s glance. “Did you see anything you like?”

“No, Alpha. I promise I won't touch anything of yours.” Dean assured him. “I know such things are not meant for an omega.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.” The Alpha sounded almost…disappointed. He perked up. “But I do have more books – shelves in the library. You might see something you like there. I’ll show you them. As soon as you finish your breakfast, of course.”

Dean couldn’t believe his luck at the Alpha’s promise to let him finish his breakfast. “Yes, Alpha.”

He started to quickly eat what was left in his bowel, lifting the bowl to drink the rest of the delicious broth.

“I believe this will be a good time for a tour of the house anyways. That way, you will be able to find your way around and I can show you where you’ll be staying. You need something proper, not a couch in the living room.” The Alpha chuckled a little.

Dean nodded his head, disguising his disappointment. Of course the Alpha would not let Dean stay on his couch and on the furniture for much longer. His position in the living room was a temporary one and Dean wondered if the Alpha would have an omega room specifically for him or perhaps do as Alistair had done and keep him at the foot of his bed for easy access.

With a pang of regret at the impending loss of the beautiful blankets wrapped around him, Dean brushed his hands across the soft material, committing the sensation to memory.

“But I– I don’t mean to assume anything.” The Alpha added after a moment, his excitement dampened. “It’s most important to me that you are feeling comfortable and safe. So, let me ask, would you like to see the house? It is perfectly okay if you decide that you do not want to.”

“Yes, Alpha. I think – I think I’d like to.” Dean said, quickly. The Alpha’s constant hesitation to give orders and to state them firmly was confusing. But undeniably, he’d seemed so excited to show his new omega around and Dean thought he might feel guilty at being the reason the Alpha is disappointed.

“Great. I’m glad” The Alpha smiled, a happy scent flooding the air. Dean found that he didn’t hate it. Usually, Alphas were not so easy to please and it was a welcome break.

“I am done, Alpha.” He said, setting down his spoon. He had eaten everything that he could scrap from the bottom and felt thoroughly satisfied with his belly full.

“Ah, perfect. Then we will begin our tour in the kitchen.” The Alpha perked up, standing and grabbing his dishes as well as the empty tray.

Dean tried hard not to think of the strangeness of an Alpha waiting on an omega, picking up his dishes. It was unbearable, the idea of the older man offering a tour and cleaning after him, as though he were a guest and not some borrowed f*cktoy. He hoped desperately that it was only because he had been sick and that he could prove his worth to the Alpha as soon as possible.

“Do you need any help with standing?” The Alpha offered one sturdy arm for the omega to grasp, the other balancing the dishes.

Dean flushed, hurrying to unwrap himself from the folds of blankets. He painstakingly got his legs underneath him and stood. He expected to find his legs in the familiar nude but was surprised to find himself wearing boxer shorts and a large T-shirt that practically engulfed his frame. They were warm and soft and smelled wonderful, like a warm breeze in summertime.

He did find that he felt a little weak, but it was manageable. His head ached as he stood, head going dizzy for a moment, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for Dean.

He stared at the Alpha’s arm and wondered if he should take it.

His question was answered for him when the Alpha smiled at his standing and stepped back. “I am so pleased that you are feeling better. Come on, let’s go.”

The older man headed towards the kitchen and Dean followed quickly. The hall to the kitchen was short, little more than a foyer and so Dean gasped when it opened up into the kitchen.

The room was beautiful. It was a wide-open space, the kitchen conjoined with a dining room space and made even larger by massive ceiling-to floor windows. Some of the windows were doors that could be opened to a balcony overlooking the gardens and yards. Dean could see that they were two stories up and that the drop from the balcony was rather sharp, overlooking a concrete patio.

Snow blanketed the landscape outside, turning it into a world of white. Dean stood frozen for a moment at the sight. It was disconcerting, seeing the outside world. He’d been at Alistair’s for a long time, and sure, they’d travel to other alpha’s houses every once in a while, and even that one vacation trip Alistair had brought him along with years ago, but somehow…it didn’t compare to this view.

Dean felt strange for a moment looking outside and hurried to look at the rest of the room. It did not disappoint.

The room was practically Dean’s dream kitchen. Dean couldn’t help staring wide-eyed at the space. His expression made the Alpha laugh, and he invited the omega to take a closer look, opening doors and drawers to show him the location of the plates, glasses, cutlery, fancy platters, wine rack, and even a walk-in closet pantry.

Next, the two walked past the dining area into an official ‘dining room.’ Dean almost rolled his eyes at the Alpha’s serious explanation as to why there were two separate dining areas because apparently rich alphas needed a separate room to eat breakfast and dinner. He didn’t say anything about it, didn’t even make an expression, but the Alpha seemed to be able to read his mind because he wondered out loud if he should utilize the space in another way, perhaps as an arts and crafts room. Dean actually did grimace at that but all the Alpha did was laugh.

After that, they passed the butler’s closet and the Alpha lead him past what he called a “sun room,” which just turned out to be just a smaller living room, and then, into the library the Alpha had wanted to show him.

The room was like a bigger and better version of the living room. There were shelves and shelves of books lining the room, round and round the circular room. There was even slidable ladders that Dean had only ever seen in movies before so that readers could reach the top shelves.

But honestly, Dean’s favorite part was a built-in alcove with a window nestled between the shelves. The area was like a cushioned nest with a view of the snow-covered gardens on one side and the cozy comfort of the library on the other.

Drawn to it, he stepped forward.

“Ah, you like the window-seat?” Castiel asked, looking between the omega and the alcove.

Dean bobbed his head, stepping back behind the Alpha, where he belonged. “Yes, Alpha. It’s— very nice.”

The Alpha’s scent flooded with something indistinguishable: like warm campfires on a cold night or the rain-washed air after a summer storm.

Next, on the tour they stopped in front of a closed door.

“This room is my personal work office. I would prefer if you didn’t go in there.” The Alpha said, his voice going alpha and serious.

Dean flinched, fear rising to his throat. “Y – Yes, Alpha. I promise I won’t.”

He furiously nodded his head and hoped he didn’t look like an idiot.

“No – no, don’t—” The Alpha reached out a hand that Dean instantly shrank from. He immediately mentally chastised himself for the reaction and stood still, body tense and ready for the Alpha. “I meant, I also ask my housekeeper to stay out of the room, nothing against you at all. The room is just untidy and filled with boring but important work documents that I would prefer not be moved.”

He shrugged, and Dean felt bad for his strong reaction. He was acting skittish like an untrained omega. Alistair had long since trained such behavior out of him and he should have known better than to try and escape an alpha’s grasp. The omega opened his mouth, hoping to rectify his mistake. “I really won’t, Alpha. I promise, I’ll be good.”

This didn’t seem to console the Alpha one bit because he just closed his eyes momentarily and then suggested they go upstairs.

The two climbed the stairs to the next floor and Dean was out of breath at the top. He felt his fatigue begin to catch up with him and felt disappointed. How had he become winded from simply climbing a staircase?

The Alpha lead him past another loving area on the third floor and down a hallway lined with doors.

“At the end of the hallway, there’s my bedroom.” The Alpha said and Dean filed away its location in his brain. It seemed the likely place where Dean would be spending most of his time.

They didn’t head toward it, though and Dean concluded that the Alpha intended to leave him in an omega room. A standard omega room was either around the size of a closet, a space where an omega could easily build themselves a small nesting area without using up too much space or a large room where many omegas could bunk. It just depended on the alphas' preferences.

“And here – is your room.” The Alpha opened the door with a flourish and Dean expected to see a standard omega closet, but it was not that at all.

Not it at all — because the room was exquisite. The queen-size sleigh bed frame was adorned with a sage green comforter set, complete with matching pillows. Matching long, gauzy curtains framed the window, offering a stunning view of the frozen garden and the snow-covered woods beyond. A tall wood vaulted ceiling offered a cozy feel to the space.

The room was beautiful. Too beautiful to possibly be Dean’s. It was a beta or an alpha guests’ living quarters. It was for real people. People with interests and personalities that could display them on the blank walls and empty shelves. It was for people that would make the space their own.

It wasn’t meant for a borrowed piece of property like an omega. Like Dean.

He had stepped into the room at the Alpha’s gesture but now he stood frozen.

He turned to look at the Alpha. To express his confusion, ask for clarification of the misunderstanding or beg but— the Alpha wasn’t there.

Turning, he realized the Alpha was still standing in the hallway at the door frame.

“No one has stayed in the room since the house was furnished but the sheets and all the bedding should be fresh. My housekeeper kind of has this thing about every room in the house being ‘presentable.’” The Alpha seemed slightly bemused at that and shook his head slightly. “The room should have everything it needs but if you see anything out of place, please tell me and I’ll get on it.”

Dean shook his head; his confusion wasn’t helping his headache and it started to pound at his temples.

The feeling manifested in a fierce impulse.

“What?” Dean said sharply, the sound piercing his headache. “I mean—”

The Alpha looked back at him from his stance at the door frame in surprise.

He didn’t mean to sound like that, but it was all getting to be too much. The fine food, the massive house, the bedroom that this Alpha was saying was his— as though an omega could own something,

“I’m sorry Alpha,” Dean said, “Just, is this where you want me to stay?”

It was a dumb question. So dumb it almost sounded like a challenge to the alpha, suggesting that the older man’s very clear, very explicit orders were wrong somehow. Or, worse, that the omega hadn’t been listening. Either way, it was too late to take it back now.

The Alpha didn’t look displeased standing as nonchalantly as he was, arms loosely hanging by his side, but perhaps he was just good at hiding it.

“Um, yes, but you are free to check out any of the other rooms down the hallway if you like those better, excluding my own of course.” The Alpha said, absolutely unperturbed.

Dean’s brain started to blank out. But what would happen when the alpha decided to use him? What then? Would Dean be expected to enter the other man’s room? When was he to know when he was expected to? Or would the Alpha simply enter this room?

Perhaps, because the Alpha intending to keep the omega out of his bedroom, this was where they would be having sex. The older man could just prefer to keep that away from his sleeping area.

“I understand,” He lied. He wasn’t sure how to go about asking when the Alpha planned on f*cking him. “And you will spend time in here with me often?”

“No, I intend to do the opposite, in fact.” The Alpha said firmly and then a little more thoughtfully. “I was thinking about this, and I believe it would be a great thing to have your own space, away from alphas, myself included, and the rest of the house. Omegas need their own space to nest, anyways. And this way, you can come to your room and feel safe.”

Dean only then noticed the deliberate way the Alpha was standing outside the door frame, shoes not even toeing the line of the threshold.

“You have my word on this.” The Alpha swore. “I will not enter the room until you, Dean Winchester, feels otherwise.”

The dark-haired man smiled a little, a crooked little thing, and Dean felt a sudden rush at hearing his name— his full name — for the first time in years. Not omega, not boy, not the ever-hateful Pet.

It almost made him feel bad for refusing to refer to the other man as his own name, even in his thoughts. For Dean, not calling the Alpha by his name mentally separated his childhood friend from the man before him. And yet, in that moment, it almost made him want to smile back at him and feel the bite of the word, the name Castiel in his mouth once more.

He couldn't manage to express what it meant to him to hear those words, couldn’t force his frozen throat to speak. But he did raise his eyes to meet the Alpha’s and nodded back at the other man just a little bit in acknowledgement of the alpha’s words. He still didn’t fully understand it. But if the man was to be believed, Dean would be safe a little longer.

He knew it wasn’t his place to question a master but this man’s orders went against everything he had been trained. The idea of an Alpha waiting for an omega’s permission was preposterous.

But no matter the temporary safety the Alpha gave Dean by not entering his room, it’s not like Dean would ever refuse to let the Alpha enter his room if the older man wanted to. He’d never refuse an Alpha.

A loud sound startled Dean out of his thoughts and it took a moment to realize it was the sound of a phone ringing. The Alpha fumbled around in his pockets for a moment before withdrawing a phone, a flat screen smart-phone that Dean knew was what phones looked like in the present.

The ring tone was loud and obnoxious but the Alpha stared at the phone’s face for a few seconds before wincing and looking back at Dean apologetically, “Sorry, I’ve got to take this, it could be really important.”

Instantly Dean felt that strange rush of bravery gush out of him, bringing him back to the reality of being this Alpha’s borrowed omega and ducked his head and lowered his eyes to the floor.

The ringtone cut off and Dean presumed the Alpha answered it until he said, “It will just be a minute, I need to see what Gab needs. But I’ll be back and I promise we will continue this conversation.”

The Alpha’s footsteps recede down the hall and he must have called whoever Gab was again because the omega heard a muffled “hello” and the sound of a conversation beginning from the other room.

Dean shuffled his feet and began to feel light headed as his headache continued to pound like persistent drums inside his temple.

He must have taken a real blow to his health, worse than he realized. He’d passed out on the floor at Alistair’s and wasn’t sure how long he’d been unconscious. No doubt, Alistair would be furious at him for his indecent collapse even though Dean knew he couldn’t have helped it. The collapse was the product of months of over-exertion coupled with the viscous beating his master had dolled out the night before.

He still felt weak, the muscles up and down his legs aching with his recent movements. He felt a pang of disgust at himself. He had walked around a house and climbed one flight of stairs, not run a marathon. He had no right to feel this way.

Nevertheless, he did. His headache was starting to make his head spin. The bedroom shifted nauseatingly around him.

He heard the Alpha’s voice raise in anger in the other room and shivered. He couldn’t make out words but the tone was clear. Whoever he was talking to on the phone in the other room seemed to be pissing the alpha off and Dean felt the urge to drop to his knees.

He locked his knees in order to avoid collapsing again. It would be ridiculous if he did so.

The Alpha’s voice rose sharply and then fell, modulated into a carefully controlled tone.

Dean took a step toward the doorframe, eager to have something to hold onto. The touch of the wood frame steadied him, but only a little bit.

The room was beginning to tilt alarmingly when the Alpha came back. He rounded the corner and immediately, the Alpha’s eyes went wide with shock.

sh*t, sh*t. You look like you’re about to collapse.” The Alpha immediately laid supporting hands on Dean’s shoulders. “Come on, buddy, let’s get you back downstairs.”

The Alpha looped Dean’s arm around his shoulder and half-walked/half-carried Dean down the stairs and into the living room to settle him comfortably back on the blanketed couch.

The Alpha tucked him back in and brought him two full glasses of water and told him to drink all of it. Next, he gave him some painkillers and then grabbed the remote to the television and turned it on.

“Pick something to watch.” The Alpha ordered him, handing him the remote.

Dean received it automatically when the Alpha pressed it into his hands. His hand hung there, limply holding the remote.

“I have to get some work done and call back Gab. I am technically on ‘rut leave’ but Gab could use my help in running some things.” The Alpha explained. “I won’t be back for a while.”

Dean nodded his head mutely as the alpha left. He would have liked to protest being left on the couch like an invalid but his short-winded tour was proving the Alpha’s treatment of the omega as necessary.

Releasing a breath, he turned to face the TV. The Alpha had ordered him to watch something but a pit of anxiety was already pooling in his stomach.

The contents of the screen wasn’t anything like he was used to, the ‘home’ screen uncharted territory. He recalled seeing Alistair operate the remote for long enough to know about ‘streaming services’ but he usually was positioned at his master’s feet or occupied otherwise when Alistair chose something to watch. He decided to just go with his gut instinct and select a red icon on-screen. He found himself looking through a library of movies and shows. Some, he recognized, but most were things he’d never even heard of.

He recognized a few old horror flicks that he’d seen as a kid but hesitated before clicking on them. The Alpha had ordered him to watch something but he had a feeling the Alpha would not approve of the gory movie.

It wasn’t very…omega-like to watch a horror movie. But the temptation was there.

Dean glanced over towards the entrance and listened for the Alpha’s footsteps.

He heard no head nor tail of the Alpha but still sat paused, his hand still hovering over the remote.

Just in case the alpha decided to come back anytime soon, Dean scrolled further until he found a medical drama focused on the romantic involvements of a beta protagonist and alpha love interest. It felt more appropriate although it was less interesting to Dean.

It was just overall something an omega would be more likely to pick. Omega’s were supposed to like romances, right? Or anyways, omegas were expected to like anything about pleasing an alpha or serving them. And there were none of those things in a chainsaw flick.

He clicked on the romance show and settled back in his blankets to watch.

Nearly three episodes in, Dean found himself, surprisingly, but utterly, engrossed.

The show was romance, yes, but it was also so much more. It was about a massive web of medical professional’s interpersonal lives and the history of their formed and broken connections. The show rarely depicts any omegas in uncomfortable or compromising ways which Dean appreciates and mostly depicted betas and Alphas. Dean never thought he’d think about any alpha that way but the show's main male character, Dr. Sexy, was charismatic, kind, intelligent, and unreservedly gorgeous.

Dean startles out of his rapt attentiveness when the Alpha enters the room. He startled and fumbled for the remote, hurrying to pause the show.

To his surprise, the Alpha brought him lunch on a tray much like in the morning and refilled his water glasses. The lunch is some sort of fancy sandwich with tooth-picks stuck in them to hold them together.

The Alpha glances at the TV but doesn’t make any judgments. He just orders that Dean eat and then unobtrusively leaves the room.

After Dean has lunch, he feels himself grow drowsy before slipping into sleep. The ever-lurking exhaustion in Dean’s bones eases his mind under, the sound of the TV lulling his mind to rest. Just as he was about to go under, he swore he felt hands secure the remote hanging from his hand and neatly tucked his blankets around him.

Dean woke gently, this time.

His eyes fluttered open, taking in his surroundings and processing any threats or potential dangers.

The room was empty meaning that the coast was clear and he took a deep shuddering breath. He stretched his limbs and felt them twang in discomfort where his bruises from his beating still lingered. On the bright side, his headache had dissipated and his head felt clearer than it had in ages. It must have been all that water the Alpha had given him.

He sat up slowly, drawing the blankets off his chest and was surprised when nothing hurt. He’d been so used to ignoring his body; from the way it looked, to the constant pain that emanated from it. It seemed a luxury to now feel nothing.

“Oh, good, you’re up.”

Dean looked sharply up at the Alpha’s voice, instinctual fear shooting through his heart at being so unaware. And then he was left blinking, staring.

The Alpha, in question, was currently hefting a large basket of laundry onto his hip, casually going about his task. His shirt cuffs were rolled up to his elbow to reveal firm muscles that flexes with strength. His dark hair was wild and tousled, as though he hadn’t looked in the mirror once.

And he was doing laundry.

As if that didn’t blow Dean’s mind already, the Alpha asked, “Hey you doing okay?”

“Yes, sir.” Dean said, an unavoidably bewildered tone to his voice.

“I’m glad you were able to get some sleep. It’s important that you get as much rest as possible the next couple days after your sickness.”

“Yes, Alpha, I understand.” Dean knew he had to rectify this situation before the Alpha got angry. An omega sleeping while the his master did all the work. It was unbelievable. “Would it be— acceptable, if I were to help you in any way?”

“No need, I got this.” The Alpha hefted the basket for influence. “And your supposed to be resting.”

Dean flinched at the emphasis. The Alpha had repeated it over and over as his orders. Dean knew that no one had unlimited patience. Surely, the Alpha would punish him now.

He slid to the floor from off the couch and onto his knees. “S– sorry, Alpha. I have forgotten my place. I am ready for your punishment.”

That strange ozone scent flooded the room once more and Dean realized that it was the scent of anger. It was unmistakable.

He had no clue how he had missed it before when touring the house. He had been off his game all day, walking around with the alpha and touring the house and watching TV. None of these things were his purpose.

It made him feel disgusting, the knowledge of his uselessness weighing heavily across his shoulders.

“Please punish me as you see fit, Alpha.” Dean’s eyes squeezed shut in anticipation.

“Dean.” The Alpha called out. “Dean, look at me.”

Dean did and was met by the sight of the Alpha's sorrowful eyes.

“There will be no punishment, understand?” The ALpha spoke firmly, leaving no room for excuses. “I want you to go upstairs to your bedroom’s ensuite and take a shower. And then, I want you to come back downstairs and eat dinner with me. We are going to have a nice evening. There will be no punishments in this house. Nothing you can do is going to change that.”

Dean trembled in disbelief. “Y– Yes, Alpha.”

“Alright, I’m going to finish up here and then I’m going to start on dinner. I’ll see you in a few.”

Taking it as the clear dismissal it was, Dean rose to his feet and hurried out of the room. He remembered the vague direction of the stairs and hurried up them and to the room that the Alpha called “his.”

He was still trembling when he stepped inside the bathroom.

Taking in the layout of the bathroom, Dean noticed that it was fully stocked and very nice. It was a wide space, room enough for a walk in shower and a large bathtub separate from the shower.

He quickly strips, folding his clothes onto a chair and steps into the shower, hitting the button on the side, realizing that it's some sort of fancy panel that is asking for temperature and water pressure. He blinks a few times, surprised, then sets it on the high for both and exhales, a small, relieved sound.

Everything was confusing here: The Alpha, the rules, and even the damn shower.

It made Dean wish that he could just disappear. That he could just go back to Alistair’s where he knew the rules and things were familiar.

He doesn’t understand the Alpha, at all. He seemed so kind that afternoon, showing him about the house and making him food. But honestly, that’s what’s made it worse. No Alpha does those things without a secret motive. No alpha doesn’t want sex nor to punish an omega. No Alpha is like that—

Dean turns the shower temperature hotter, feeling satisfaction as his skin turns redder under the heat.

He grasps the unscented soap from the tray and washes his body, hands harshly rubbing his skin in brusque movements.

Castiel wasn’t like that, either. He never wanted to hurt Dean. He never wanted to humiliate him or mock him or any of those things.

The thought came unbidden.

Dean scrubbed his hair furiously with the soap, uncaring if any got in his eyes.

When he’d done, he dresses quickly in the clothes he was given, trying not to think of dressing in a similar boy’s clothes in high school after a sleepover.

When Dean entered the kitchen, damp hair, and feeling fresher than he has in a while, the Alpha was sitting at the head of the ‘breakfast room’ table.

“Are you hungry?” The Alpha asked at his reappearance.

To his surprise, Dean is, even though he feels as though he just ate. He glanced out the windows and was surprised to see that it was dark outside, the sun having completely gone down.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” The Alpha chuckled at his surprise. “The days are actually getting longer this time of winter, but today’s gone by pretty fast.”

Dean nodded his agreement and went to the Alpha, sliding to the floor into a kneel gracefully beside his chair. He kept his head down, determined to act perfectly. Dean knew Alistair liked this position because he could feed the omega scraps from his meal.

“It’s – uhhh, it’s not–” The Alpha’s chair scooted backwards away from Dean. “Let’s not do that.”

Dean felt unsure suddenly. So certain he’d been doing the right thing, only to get this reaction.

“Dean,” The Alpha’s voice was measured, forcibly calm, even. “It’s awfully chilly this evening. Let’s go grab some blankets and watch a movie while we eat…sounds good?”

As though Dean had any say in what they did, he nodded his head agreeably.

The Alpha rose stiffly and gathered his dishes. Dean rose quickly and gathered the rest of them even though he hadn’t been told to do so. When the Alpha’s scent didn’t spike with ozone, he supposed he was okay, taking measured steps behind him.

He peeked at the Alpha’s expression as they walked into the living room. His face was worried, drawn, the crow’s feet around his eyes raised. Dean blinked, watching them and wondering. He didn’t used to have those…

Blinking back to the present, Dean noticed that his sleeping couch had been cleared off and the couch had been ‘made,’ pillows back in their places.

The Alpha and him set their dishes on the coffee table and Dean kneeled before it. Determined to get it right, he went over his posture in his head. Back straight, head down, knees folded neatly under him. This time, surely, the Alpha would not be displeased with him.

“Better?” The Alpha asked, and then settled down, right beside him. On the floor.

Dean’s head shot up and he stared at the Alpha. The Alpha smiled back.

“You don’t have to do this,” Dean said after a moment, words coming unbidden. “It was… nice of you to let me sleep and rest for a while but I promise, Alpha, I’m ready for normal duties.” The end of his sentence went up in tone, pleading.

“Dean,” he says quietly, “I don’t need…that from you. I just want you to be here and safe and comfortable and be able to recover from your sickness in peace. I – I want to help you.”

“But why?” Dean’s voice was low, almost hoarse. “Why?”

And really, the question ran much deeper than the alpha sitting on the floor, the permissions, the training, the roles and places of alphas and omegas: It asked the question of why Dean, and why now and why —

Why did Castiel still care about Dean?

“I’m different.” He added unnecessarily, knowing from the moment Castiel had seen him he had known. He had seen Dean bruised and trembling, nearly bare-naked on the floor at his Master’s feet, he had seen him panic and cry his eyes out in his lap, he had seen him offer him sex like a desperate whor*. He had seen Dean’s worst bits and honestly, it had still only scratched the surface of where Dean’s been these past years and, God, what he’s done. “I’m not what you remember. I’m different.”

“I know.” Castiel’s voice was low, confessional. “And so am I.”

Dean startled, looking up into the Alpha’s face, into his sorrowful eyes.

“I’ve changed too. But, I still care about you. Things change all the time, everyday. People, too. But deep down, we are all looking for the same things as when we were children. We all want some place to belong. A home, if you will. And Dean — for the longest time, you were that for me.”

Dean was speechless. He shut his eyes briefly, taking a deep shuddering breath.

“I don’t need you to do anything. Or to change for me. I just wanna be able to help you. Is that — is that okay?” The Alpha asked, almost pitifully, looking at the omega for an answer.

Dean is a whirlwind of confusion and helplessness. He’s never experienced this from an Alpha before. No Alpha has ever been this gentle, this earnest, – this kind before. Even as a way to make Dean let down his guard. He didn’t have a response to this. He didn’t even know what the Alpha was expecting or what he wanted from Dean. Only, he couldn’t help the thought that, of course, Castiel would react like that to seeing Dean like this.

Of course, he would pity Dean.

All that came out of his mouth was a quiet, defeated, “Okay — yes, okay, Alpha.”

Notes:

Yalls encouragement means so much to me...thank you to everyone who checked up on this story and left comments on the last chapter! :))

your beauty never ever scared me - Rachet_Wench (2024)
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