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From Grace and Uniform

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Every time Dean Winchester walks into work, he wonders if today will be the day. The day that someone catches a whiff of omega under scent blockers too hastily applied somewhere between rolling out of bed and fleeing out through the front door of his apartment. The day someone finds the box of emergency suppressants he keeps shoved in the back of his filing cabinet. The day someone looks at him and doesn’t see Dean Winchester, beta, FBI agent, but sees omega.

Will today be that day?

As he breezes past his colleagues, distributing coffees and casual greetings until he’s left at his desk, clutching his own paper cup and tossing the cardboard tray into the bin, he figures that no, today is probably not that day.

So he puts his head down and gets to work. His coffee disappears quickly, and he tosses the empty cup into the trash can wedged into the corner by the door of his shoebox-sized office. No longer able to sip at it to occupy his mind, he ends up grinding the end of a pencil between his teeth as he tries to make sense of his most recent case. With nothing to go on and no signs of any new leads or evidence on the irregular and seemingly unconnected murders, it’s little more than an exercise in frustration. Not long into the day, there’s a migraine already forming between his eyes. Dean leans back in his chair and groans, putting his computer on sleep mode and rubbing a hand over his face.

A quick, double-knock on his door is all the warning he gets before Gordon appears, leaning into Dean’s office with a smarmy grin and jabbing a finger toward him. “Adler wants to see you,” his partner barks. “Stat.”

Dean groans, but Gordon is already gone. Which means, no excuses or escaping his fate. Damnit.

Steeling himself, Dean pushes up out of his chair, straightens his coat and tie, and sets off toward his boss’s office. Three minutes and one elevator ride later has him knocking on the worst door in the building. He manages to straighten his tie one last time before a voice calls out for him to enter, and then he’s striding into the bureau’s own, personal hell pit.

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Winchester, thanks for coming.” Adler makes a sweeping gesture, then shoves his hands into his pockets and leans against the front side of his desk, just beside the nameplate that reads Assis. Dir. Zachariah Adler. “Take a seat.”

Dean approaches cautiously, hands folded behind his back. “I’d… rather remain standing, if you don’t mind. I would like to get back to work as quickly as possible.”

Adler smiles. Dean ignores the way it makes his skin crawl. “I respect that, Dean. But don’t worry, I don’t plan on taking up much of your time. Just got a couple of quick question for you, kid.” The aging alpha leans forward, his expression somehow becoming even greasier. “Records gave me a call. Care to tell me why you requested the full file and autopsy report of one Sandra Wilson?”

Dean stiffens, shoulders automatically going straight. “No, sir.” Which—wrong answer. He can see it in Adler’s eyes as soon as it’s been said, and immediately backtracks, “I mean to say, it was an avenue that didn’t pan out. Complete dead end. Nothing worth reporting, sir.”

“Oh?” Adler purses his lips. “Interesting. Because from what I was able to glean, this victim of an unsolved murder that you plucked out of thin air, has some… personal ties, if you would.” The alpha’s lips pull back in a faint snarl. “Now tell me why you really pulled that file.”

Dean lets out a breath, his shoulders slumping just slightly. Fucking fuck. “I got a tip. Sandra Wilson seems to have been killed by the same person who was responsible for a string of other unsolved murders in the early 90s—”

“Your mother’s murder being included in that,” Adler interjects, and Dean grits his teeth.

“—and if it was the same person, then that shows that the timeline we currently have for Yellow Eyes is skewed. Wilson was murdered in 2000, later than any other we currently have in our file.”

Adler makes a face, but doesn’t comment on the latter part of Dean’s argument. He asks instead, “Who was your tip from?”

“Ava Wilson. The victim’s daughter.”

The alpha scoffs. “Hardly seems like a reputable source. Too close, if you’d ask me. Of course she’d want her case to be looked at by someone in the big leagues.”

Dean doesn’t fail to clue in on what Adler is actually trying to say with that. It only serves to irritate him more, and his molars begin to grind. “She’s a homicide detective in Manhattan, sir. I would trust her judgement, and consider her to be a reputable source.

A beat passes in silence, then Adler takes a long breath, and lets it back out in an explosive sigh. “Be that as it may,” he says, voice dripping with disdain, “this case is not your concern. In fact, you have been explicitly ordered not to look at this case, considering it’s been declared cold, and your time is far more valuable elsewhere.”

His time is currently being wasted on nonexistent leads, and asking for victim files that never turn up anything useful, if there’s any information available there to be read in the first place. But Dean’s not about to point that out to his boss—especially when Adler just continues to talk over him.

“Keep working on the Ghost case, Winchester. That’s what you’ve been assigned, not these conspiracy theory connections you keep making on an unsolvable case. Try it again, and I’ll bury you so deep in paperwork that you won’t see the sun for a month. Understood?”

Dean swallows back a growl, and forces himself to duck his head in deferment. He hates having to do it, but he knows it’s the only way to avoid pissing the old alpha off even more. “Understood, sir.”

“Dismissed, Winchester. And find me a new lead on the Ghost, stat. Walker already doesn’t like being your second, don’t give me a reason to give him full control.”

Biting his tongue to hold back a scathing retort, Dean simply nods, and retreats from the office.

His colleagues don’t need to be able to scent him as he stalks back to his office; Dean’s anger and frustration is more than evident in his expression and the stiff set of his shoulders. Some people recognize that he’s coming from the direction of Adler’s office and give him sympathetic looks, but mostly he’s left alone to seethe, and thank god for that.

Fucking Adler. It’s like the guy gets off on ordering people around all day and never lifting a single finger to do anything to help out. He’s devoid of compassion and a lazy piece of shit to boot, and Dean has no idea how such a scumbag made it to assistant director.

Dean took this job to make a difference, damn it, not sit around with his thumb up his ass doing nothing. The prospect of another sedentary day makes him want to scream, and he dreads returning to the confines of his office.

When he does, there’s a text message waiting for him on his phone.

Even stewing over Adler as he is, his first reaction to the notification on his phone is excitement, even a touch of relief. Very few people text him during the work day, and he’s been anticipating hearing from Sam for weeks, since the last he heard, his brother was buried in case work for some big, hush-hush corporate job—except, once he actually looks at the banner across his screen, he realizes that it definitely does not read Sammy.

The label of Blocked that’s printed in the place of his brother’s name is more than enough to set an alarm blaring in the back of his mind.

Still, curiosity gets the better of him, and he swipes the message open.

 

Hello, Dean.

 

Dean frowns down at the screen. Blocked number, knows him, being friendly. Not a great start. He taps out a quick response, running his tongue along the edge of his teeth while he assesses the situation.

 

Who is this? How did you get my number?

 

The reply comes nearly immediately.

 

Consider me a friend you haven’t made yet.

How is your case going?

 

Dean narrows his eyes. He isn’t stupid; he’s not going to disclose classified information—especially not to a stranger. He’s even warier than before, now, a frown creasing his brow as he responds.

 

I’m not going to talk about my case with a complete stranger.

I’m not a stranger.

Then who the fuck are you? Tell me or leave me alone. I have work to do.

I told you, Dean. I’m a friend. Or, I will be soon enough.

If you don’t want to tell me about the case, how about a trade? Information for information.

What information could you possibly have? And how the hell could you know all this about me?

I know you only work on it on the side, when you have the time, but tell me, Dean. Have you come any closer to finding your mother’s killer?

 

He physically flinches back from his phone at that. His head comes up immediately to check that no one was walking by the open door of his office when he reacted—thankfully, no one is in sight, so he quickly stands and pushes the door shut to eliminate the possibility, then crowds back in against his desk, shoulders hunched while he furiously types out a reply.

 

You bastard.

What? It’s an honest question. I’m curious as to what sort of progress you’ve made. I know your superiors disapprove of your investigation.

No. I haven’t made any progress recently. I’ve been busy.

With this newer case, yes. How is it?

Fine.

Challenging, though, yes? I would assume so, at any rate. But if anyone can figure it out, it would be you. You’re a very capable omega.

 

He nearly drops his phone, and fear spikes through his scent. He fumbles it with shaking fingers, managing to catch it only just just before it hits the surface of the desk. His hands tremble as he tries to figure out what to say, and eventually he attempts to brush the accusation off.

 

What?

What?

I’m not an omega.

Yes, you are.

I’m not. Your information is wrong.

Dean. Betas don’t have to purchase suppressants and scent-blockers.

 

Caught. Fuck. Dean sucks in a sharp breath.

 

Fuck.

It’s alright, I’ve taken measures to hide your purchase history a bit better. Even if someone else decides to look into it, they shouldn’t be able to see anything is amiss.

You… did that? How? Why?

You want to hide, do you not? It was simple enough for me to do it, should I not have?

Yeah, thank you, but… Why would you do that?

Why wouldn’t I? I could, so I did. I only want to help.

I don’t even know you.

Not yet.

Why do you keep saying that? Who are you?

I know who killed your mother.

 

At this point, Dean wouldn’t have thought that anything his mystery texter could tell him would surprise him. And yet at this newest revelation, he gasps aloud, and truly does drop his phone. It clatters obnoxiously to his desk, but he hardly hears it over the ringing in his ears.

Yellow Eyes.

Dean has always been headstrong, and not even Adler’s threat of a month’s work of paperwork could keep him from this. Not when he’s been trying for a breakthrough for years with no luck. The call from Ava Wilson had been the most he’s found in over a year, and even that just left him feeling like he was pulling out his own hair, more than anything else. So if this person is serious… It could be too good an opportunity to pass up.

He takes a deep breath to steady himself, rubs a hand down his face, then reaches for the phone.

Adler can get fucked.

 

You do?

Yes. Would you like to know?

Yes.

I cannot tell you here, not like this. This isn’t secure enough.

Where?

Maine. If I give you an address, will you be able to get there?

Alone.

Yes. I’m not leaving my weapons behind, though.

I would never ask you to.

Tell me about your case.

 

Dean scrubs a hand over his face and leans back in his chair. This fucking case—he’s a damn good investigator, but this case is slowly driving him insane. The victims are mostly alphas and some betas, but with no other obvious connections. They were each killed simply and with precision: a single stab through the heart with a weapon no one can identify. They’ve found pins stuck into the clothes, sometimes with little scraps of paper attached, but whatever message had been left on the body is always long gone by the time the FBI shows up.

It has Dean stumped—and it doesn’t help that he’s tried time and time again to dig into the backgrounds and history of these people, always coming up with nothing.

 

The guy’s a serial killer. Psycho. There’s no discernible reasoning behind how he chooses his victims.

You haven’t been able to link any of them? What of the victims themselves, have you looked into their pasts?

Not back very far. There’s a whole bunch of red tape I can’t get past.

Why? Where does the red tape come from?

Higher levels.

I don’t know, I just can’t get through.

Hm.

Hm?

It’s interesting. Don’t you think?

 

He snorts. Interesting. That’s one word for it.

 

Yeah. Tell me about it. I’ve worked so fucking hard on this case, and I’m still three steps behind.

Well. Maybe a break will do you some good, then. Your superiors don’t deserve to have a hard worker such as yourself under their employment if they’re only going to waste you.

A break? I’m not taking a break. I have to solve this.

You'd rather stay where you are, swathed in red tape, then pursue a lead on the murderer of Mary Winchester?

Depends how good your lead is.

I have a dossier. I'm sure you'd find it very interesting.

I'll be the judge of that.

Why are you so interested?

I found the man responsible for many murders. He killed innocents, your mother included. Does she not deserve justice? Don't they all?

 

Dean sucks in a breath between his teeth, weighing up the situation. He probably can’t trust this person, but he’s a well trained agent who can handle himself in a crisis. Even if it is a trap, hopefully he’ll be able to escape it, and the prospect of getting a lead on his mother’s murderer is too tempting. His shoulders slump, and he relents.

 

They do. Give me the address. I'll meet you.

I will be here for the next two days. No longer.

 

There’s an address attached to the message. A quick search shows that it’s in Maine, a cabin on an isolated stretch of road.

It's not ideal, but he doesn't really have another choice.  

 

I'll be able to get there in a few hours.

Wonderful. Share that location with no one. I will see you soon.

~

It doesn’t take Dean long to negotiate for a few days off work, his phone almost burning a hole through his pocket as he goes back to speak with his boss. He claims the need for a clear mind and fresh attitude in dealing with the Ghost’s case, and although Adler isn’t thrilled about it, since it means progression on tracking down the Ghost will temporarily be at a standstill (because they both know Walker is incompetent), he ultimately agrees that there will be more progress if Dean can reboot, and get his head on straight. Between that and all of the vacation time he has accrued over the years, it’s almost too easy.

There’s a grin on Dean’s face that hasn’t come so naturally in months as he heads up the highway toward Maine, a packed duffel in the backseat, Zeppelin blasting out of the speakers, and much more of a skip in his step than there’s been in a long time.

Who knew going after anonymous leads and defying his boss would be such a thrill?

Eventually, his GPS has him driving along a single, winding track through what can only be described as no-man’s land. It dulls his high somewhat, reminds him that he should be nervous about what he’s getting himself into. His fingers drum anxiously against the steering wheel, barely to the beat of the song that’s playing as he catches a sight of a lone cabin, perched on the raised hill overlooking the sea.

The only light for miles around comes from his headlights, and the yellow glow emanating from the windows of the cabin itself. It’s decidedly eerie, and Dean has watched too many horror movies—hell, seen too many grisly cases—to blindly trust this situation.

He’s wary as he cuts the engine and steps out of the car, his gaze sweeping the perimeter and hand resting on the gun holstered by his hip as he makes his way up towards the cabin. As he moves, Dean realizes that he can scent himself— really scent himself. In all his haste, he’d forgotten to grab any of his scent blockers, and only noticed when the scent of omega began to replace beta as he crossed the border into Maine. He’d figured it was too late to stop by that point, and it isn’t like the person he’s meeting doesn’t know he’s an omega. He doesn’t need them--not like he needs the weekly suppressants that are still sitting at home, though he doubts he’ll be away long enough to need to buy more.

Still, Dean feels oddly defenseless as he raises a cautious hand to knock on the door. It opens only a few seconds later, and warm light spills onto the porch, along with the aroma of cooking food. Dean’s mouth waters—not only at the food, but at the enticing rain and pine scent of the alpha standing in front of him.

It takes a few moments for Dean’s eyes to adjust to the sudden abundance of light, but when his gaze fixes on the alpha, he swallows. The man looks tousled and welcoming, shirtsleeves rolled up and dark hair a mess—likely from slaving away over a stove. His eyes are so blue and his smile so wide, and when he speaks, his voice is deep and rough and warms Dean to his core.

“Dean. Thank you for coming. Come in, will you?”

The alpha is friendly and accommodating and not at all what Dean expected to find in a desolate cabin on the shoreline of Maine, and it throws him for a loop. His reply is decidedly ineloquent.

“Hi. Smells great.”

He kicks himself mentally—he may be an omega, but he’s highly capable and trained.

The alpha simply gives him an amused smile; it widens as Dean adds, “What do I call you?” as the steps through the door. The man doesn’t seem to take offence at the way Dean scents the air suspiciously or keeps a hand on his gun. He simply waits for Dean to finish his quick assessment before speaking again.

“You may call me Cas. I apologize for the imbalance of not being able to give you my full name, but… I’m sure you can understand.”

Dean’s gaze is resting on the pot on the stove, the source of the fantastic smell, and so he misses the appraising onceover that the alpha gives him before he speaks again in a deep rumble.

“I just finished making dinner, if you wouldn’t mind joining me.”

Dean turns back, watching him now, and while the quick grin he receives is disarming, he remains wary, drawing himself up to his full height as he reaches out to take the alpha’s proffered hand. The alpha’s scent floods Dean’s nose with how close he is, and the omega suddenly feels giddy, his mind reeling. He gives a curt nod, letting his hand fall back to his side and putting some distance between them; he needs to clear his head.

“Pleasure to meet you, Cas,” Dean murmurs, and pushes his hands into his pockets now that he no longer feels that he must have one resting on his gun. “Food would be awesome; I’ve been in the car for a while.” His voice is steely, confident—he’s not going to let the alpha take control of the situation, and needs to make sure that he’s understood. “After dinner, though, we’ll have to talk business. I’m driving home through the night, and I don’t want this taking too long.” He would rather not stay here with a strange alpha for too long—though he doesn’t voice that thought.

Even so, the corners of Cas’s mouth pull down at Dean’s declaration, and his brows crease into a frown. “You’re going home so soon?” he asks, a note of genuine surprise in his voice. Dean isn’t sure why the alpha thought he’d agree to stay so readily—even now, he’s wary and on edge, made even more so by the way his body is so easily responding to the scent of the blue-eyed man.

Oblivious to Dean’s inner emotional turmoil, Cas continues, his head tilted slightly to the side as he regards the omega. “Dean, perhaps I wasn’t clear with this, but… The information I have on your mother’s killer will not hold. Every so often he moves, changes identities. He knows people will likely be after him. The only reason I have him now is because of his daughter, he—” Cas cuts himself off and shakes his head, turning away to serve them and leaving Dean staring, bewildered, at his back.

What had he meant to say? But Dean can’t dwell too much on it, because of the sheer amount of information he’s currently trying to absorb, and has to let it go. Cas continues to speak even with his back turned, serving their dinner with steady hands.

“I know his location for exactly three more days. When that window closes, he will be gone forever.”

Well, if that isn’t encouraging.

Dean rakes a hand through his hair, trying to think on his feet and mentally mapping out his trajectory. He hums as he reaches a quick decision. “In that case, I’ll be driving through the night to chase down the lead,” he counters, even as he takes a seat at the small, roughly hewn table. The dinner smells delicious, so he’s at least staying around for that, but he doesn’t want to stay longer than he has to. Something here makes him feel unsettled. The alpha's scent is everywhere, heightened by the absence of Dean's scent blockers, and something just feels... off.

Cas doesn’t try to argue with him, though, simply nods as he sets out the steaming bowls of what smells like clam chowder. Dean groans softly—after his long drive, a warm meal is just what he needs. “That would be the wiser decision,” the alpha muses, though he still seems distracted as he removes two bottles of beer from the fridge and sets them on the table. He takes a seat opposite Dean.

Dean eyes him, betting from his cagey and absent behaviour that there is something on his mind. His suspicions are confirmed when Cas cracks open his bottle of beer, chews his bottom lip for a moment, then speaks.

“Dean. You don’t have to accept, but… may I accompany you?”

Dean goes still, regarding the alpha with narrowed eyes as he continues on.

“This man, he—he is significant to me, as well. I want to ensure that he is brought to justice.”

The thing is, Dean wouldn’t believe him if he didn’t look so damn earnest and pleading, his blue eyes wide and fixed on Dean’s. He doesn’t know what to think. The alpha seems to know a lot about him and his job, and while evidence says that he’s an alright guy, Dean knows instinctively that he doesn’t have the whole picture. But now he has to decide; does he just go for it, even knowing that there are things he doesn’t know? Should he trust the alpha sitting across from him?

Dean leans back and cracks open his own beer, eyeing the alpha thoughtfully.

“What significance does the man have to you? Why would I take a strange alpha who knows strange things about me and my mother along in a car with me?”

He watches as Cas stirs a spoon through the chowder, then lifts it to his lips, and his own shoulders relax with a tension he hadn’t known he was carrying. The food is okay to eat—Cas isn’t trying to poison him—and he digs in ravenously as the alpha returns his spoon to the bowl and taps it idly against the rim. It seems that he is considering where to start.

“I’ll show you my full files after we eat,” Cas tells Dean, “but in summation. Your mother was killed by a man named Azazel Masters. He went on a murder spree beginning in 1980, killed over thirty women of varying secondary genders; only twelve are accounted for in official databases. His daughter..."

Here, Cas pauses, as if it’s painful to get the words out, and when he speaks again, his voice has lost its professional edge, and wavers just slightly. "His daughter, Meg. He abused her when she was young, then walked out. He will be attending her funeral." Cas’s gaze drops to the table, studying the whorls of wood as he stirs his spoon through the chowder. "She... recently died in childbirth. I knew her. She was a friend."

Dean’s heart gives a sympathetic twinge at the grief in the alpha’s voice and the way Cas stares morosely at the table. He knows how it feels to lose someone you care about. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he murmurs, his own voice softer, gentler, as he addresses the grieving alpha. "I'll bring him in if I have the evidence, or put a bullet in his head if I don't. Either way, he'll be punished for what he did to my mom, and your friend, and all those other women. I'm very sorry to hear that your friend has passed away."

The grief and bone-deep sadness radiating from Cas is no doubt affecting his mind just as much as it’s currently making his stomach churn, but Dean means every word of it. He’ll kill this motherfucker if he has to, for killing his mom. It seems to be the right answer, because Cas looks up, meets his gaze, and smiles, suddenly collected once more. His eyes look a little too bright and shiny in the low light of the cabin, though.

“Thank you, Dean,” the alpha tells him, and he scoops his spoon idly around the edges of his bowl. “You understand my motivation, then. Knowing what I do about that… monster …” Dean bares his teeth in a silent growl of agreement at the descriptor, and Cas flashes him an amused smile. “I felt it was too delicate a situation to handle on my own, as I could mess up too easily. When I stumbled across you in my research, I thought it would only be fair to give you a chance to assist. He hurt you more than he hurt me, after all.”

Dean nods, taking a long pull of his beer—there’s no way there was anything put in it, since he opened it himself, which is reassuring.

“You were right to contact me," he tells Cas. "I'm way more qualified to go chasing down a serial killer. It's obvious you're no simple civilian, being so good with finding information, but dealing with a psycho serial killer would probably be a bit much." People say omegas are weak and timid, but Dean can already feel his blood thrumming at the thought of putting a bullet in the brain of his mother's murderer. Cas may be the intelligence expert, but Dean is the one with experience in the field, and he’s fucking determined to see this man receive his punishment.

Cas smiles at him, giving Dean the impression he said the right thing. They share the same desire to make his mom’s killer pay for what he’s done. "Thank you, Dean. I'm glad that you approve of this, I was... concerned." The alpha’s smile edges close to a smirk, and Dean has to admit that it’s an attractive look on him. "But the big bad omega is going to help me hunt a serial killer, hm? Have to say, I can't wait to see that."

At that, Dean bristles, and Cas must see the coiled tension returning to his muscles, because his expression shifts and he rushes to clarify.

“To be clear, I have no issue with your being an omega. I think it both makes you stronger, and proves how strong you already are, being in the field you are in. It's very admirable. I've hid my status as an alpha before, but that's not nearly the same as hiding long-term. My comment was only because I find the defiance of the stereotypes amusing."

And just like that, Dean is relaxing again, reassured that the alpha isn’t trying to demean his gender or imply that he’s less capable than any of his alpha counterparts. He’s hidden his secondary gender long enough that he hasn't received insults personally, but he's seen enough sexual objectification and stereotyping of omegas for it to make his hackles rise. It would have been a huge disappointment to get that from Cas already.

"Thank you," Dean says, inclining his head at the compliment. "I've worked very hard to get where I am, and unfortunately, pretending to be a beta has been necessary. That's why I need to be careful with this Azazel guy. I want to see him get what he fucking deserves, but I won't let it ruin my career." Cas hums his understanding, and Dean meets his blue eyes across the table, trapped like a fly in amber and unwilling to look away.

“Yes. We will need to be extremely careful, with all of this,” the alpha muses. “If, however, some part of this were to somehow go wrong, and the bureau were to find out about you –”

Dean’s eyes widen, and Cas raises a hand, preempting the omega’s panic.

“– which shouldn’t happen, because I don’t intend for them to follow us, and I’ve sealed your records as much as possible, but if. If it happens and you lose your job, then it will be my fault, and I will do what I can to make it up to you. I'm sure I can help you to get another job, if nothing else. I won't let you be punished for this."

Dean's jaw clenches at the possibility of things going wrong, but he can't allow himself to dwell on it for too long. His father had devoted his life to finding Mary's killer, and now that he's in the ground, it's Dean's cross to bear. Azazel needs to go down, no matter the cost. "Thanks," he tells Cas, and he means it. Cas is doing what he can to protect Dean from the repercussions of this, as well as providing Dean with information. Dean's just the muscle, but he's fine with that.

After he finishes his meal, Dean reaches for his beer and leans back in his chair to assess Castiel. Everything about him more or less checks out, and Dean has to admit that the guy has his omega getting a little antsy. He smells good, and isn't unattractive, with the blue eyes and ruffled hair and muscles beneath his white shirt.

Not that he’s going to show his interest, of course. He can’t. This is serious business, and complicated enough as it is. He doesn’t need to factor in attraction.

While Cas was previously focused on his food, he glances up as Dean leans back, likely feeling the weight of his eyes. The omega once again finds himself caught in the hold of a decidedly curious stare, unable to look away even if he wanted to.

“And what’s that look for?” Cas asks, and damn the tiniest hint of an amused smile Dean can see playing along the edges of the man’s lips. “Have I done something wrong?”

Only if being strangely appealing to Dean’s inner omega is a crime—which, to Dean’s knowledge, it isn’t. He takes a pull of his beer and shakes his head. “Not at all.” He holds Cas’s gaze, unafraid of challenging the alpha’s dominance in such a blatant way. Cas doesn’t even bat an eyelid.

"I'm just curious about you,” Dean decides to answer, after a few seconds. “I get a text out of the blue from a strange alpha who claims to have information on both me and my mother's killer. I'm then invited out to an isolated cabin and made dinner. It's not exactly my normal Friday night.” Dean’s fingers toy with the neck of his beer bottle as he examines Cas, one brow arched. He still doesn’t quite know what to make of the odd alpha.

Castiel chuckles. "Yes, well. I did tell you that I was a friend you just hadn't made yet, did I not? Being cryptic hardly proved that, I know, but I figured preparing you dinner was the least I could do." Dean’s gaze is drawn to the way the alpha’s throat bobs with a swig of his beer, the way his lips linger around the mouth of the bottle, and the grin the alpha flashes him after turns his insides to jelly.

What the hell is wrong with him?

Cas, seemingly oblivious, adds, "Should I have tried to appeal to your normal Friday night instead?"

Dean clears his throat, trying to rein himself in. Cas’s grin was all teeth and flirtation, and after his months-long dry spell, it’s not something he’s prepared to handle with any kind of coherence. Even before his dry spell set in, the beta girls he usually beds don’t do much to sate him—it’s been years since he last fucked an alpha, and the fact that he’s sitting here with one without his blockers isn’t helping him to curb his mind’s compulsions. That smile, the intoxicating scent of pine and rainstorms—it’s almost too much for him to handle.

He forces himself to pull his shit together.

"My usual Friday night is pizza and TV,” he replies, trying to set his mind on a different track and giving Cas a small smile, “sometimes hitting the bar with a few friends. This really isn't much different.”

Cas smiles back at him, looking amused. "Not a bad way to spend a Friday night. Better than my typical plans, at any rate. Which usually include myself, a dark room, and a laptop."

Dean nearly spits his beer, because Cas is obviously alluding to porn, but judging by the mischievous grin on the alpha’s face, that was exactly the reaction he intended to earn. As Dean recovers from his choking, Cas explains easily, "For research, you know. Looking up men like Azazel is time-consuming, and not exactly an activity to be done with friends."

A chuckle forces its way out of Dean’s chest unbidden, and he shakes his head in amusement. “Definitely not a social activity,” he agrees, trying to pull his mind away from Cas’s innuendo and failing spectacularly. Suddenly, he’s too hot, and since his sleeves are already rolled up, he settles for unbuttoning the collar of his shirt a little. “I guess we’re both doing better than our usual Friday night,” he muses, to which Cas gifts him with another of those brilliant grins, raises his beer bottle in a toast, then stands from the table.

In a gesture that seems as easy to the alpha as breathing, Cas drops a hand to Dean’s shoulder as he passes, clearing up the dishes. Though fleeting, his touch is warm and firm through the thin material of Dean’s shirt, and he feels himself leaning into it for just the barest second. Dean would likely freak out about it more, given the chance, if Cas didn’t choose that exact moment to bring them back to the matter at hand.

"Would you like to look at the dossier I've assembled on Azazel? There's no rush, but I don't know what your timing is like, so we can get right down to it, if you'd prefer. Up to you."

It’s the verbal equivalent of tipping a bucket of cold water on Dean’s head.

He hastily gathers his thoughts back from where Cas has scattered them to the wind. “Sure,” he replies, carrying his now empty beer bottle to the sink in an attempt to distract himself from the circumstances of his current situation. He’s about to find out about the man who killed his mom. It’s a sobering thought.

Cas is precise and efficient and has already finished clearing up after their dinner, but Dean’s brooding pensiveness makes him pause in his trajectory, and the alpha glances at Dean as he stands by the sink, gaze searching. After a moment, he speaks. “My laptop will be in the living room, probably on the coffee table. Let me finish up here, and then we can go take a look."

Dean nods absent-mindedly, letting himself be distracted by Cas’s movements for just a moment; grace and power barely contained beneath tanned skin and a white shirt. Since he hasn’t moved, the alpha seems to take it as a sign to continue the conversation as he plunges his arms into the soapy water of the sink.

“So,” he says brightly, conversationally, and Dean blinks. “What made you want to join the FBI? Quite ambitious for any secondary gender, wouldn't you say?"

Dean sighs internally. The big question. Why join the FBI, especially as an omega? It’s somewhat of a loaded subject, but around Cas, Dean finds that the words fall from his lips without need for conscious thought or censorship.

"Partly to catch my mother's killer and partly because I wanted to make a difference in the world," he replies, shifting to lean against the countertop as he folds his arms casually across his chest. "I used to entertain these... grand ideas of being super successful and then revealing to the whole of the FBI that I was actually an omega who could kick all of their asses."

Dean snorts bitterly and shakes his head. "Fear is a strong deterrent, though. I like having a job. And friends."

If they find out who he really is, it’s likely that they will never view him in the same light. Even as a beta, Dean is regarded as somewhat of an anomaly, as having the drive, guts, and strength of an alpha, but being too genetically weak to have a knot to match.

Many of his colleagues’ tiny brains would explode if they ever discovered he’s an omega.

Cas doesn’t look up, but from his vantage point close to the sink, Dean can see a small smile tugging at the man’s lips. It warms him, and he relaxes minutely.

"That's incredible, Dean, to put so much effort into this just because you want to help people. It's very admirable." Cas gives him a warm smile, his eyes crinkling and god, Dean could easily lose himself in that smile. His face heats at the praise, smiling softly even as he waves it off, but Cas isn’t finished.

"I'm sorry you don't feel like you could reveal yourself,” he goes on. “I would love to see the reaction to that. Perhaps you can still do it one day, maybe when you're feeling more confident and have a safety net of some kind. I'm glad to help facilitate justice for your mother, however. Maybe that will do you some good, as well."

The alpha’s voice, his words—they’re so kind, and exactly the sort of kindness he’s not used to experiencing. And it’s too much. Cas is getting into his head now, with his compassion and his wonderful scent. He can’t think straight, he needs some space.

Suddenly feeling the need to move, Dean leaves Cas to finish the last of the tidying up and beelines for the plush couch in the living room. Despite himself, he groans as he sinks into the cushions; of course it just has to be the most comfortable couch he’s ever sat on in his life. A pot clatters in the kitchen as if it’s been dropped, but Dean doesn’t have the energy to look back and see what happened. He’s been driving for quite a while today, after all. He deserves some rest.

The separation from reality also finally gives him the much-needed opportunity to consider Cas’s words. He really, really needs this distance.

“Maybe some day," he muses to himself, still thinking about the possibility of revealing himself. Though, it still seems unlikely. It's a big, bad world out there for omegas, after all. He doesn’t really need to make enemies with the government. He turns his head partway toward the kitchen and says, louder, "But thank you for helping me with Azazel. God knows how much longer that would've taken me if I was all on my own."

The sounds of Cas cleaning up the kitchen area cease, and Dean closes his eyes as he tracks the alpha by his footsteps. He only opens them again when Cas sinks into the cushions beside him, laptop resting comfortably on his thighs.

And what nice thighs they are, too.

Shut up, Winchester.

He only realizes belatedly that Cas is speaking. “–happy to help, in any way,” is what Dean catches, and he forces himself to pay attention to the rest as he spies the document open on the laptop. Suddenly, he doesn’t feel so tired. “Everything you could want should be here,” Cas tells him.

Dean takes the laptop from Cas, sliding it onto his own lap, and begins to read.

The alpha leans slightly closer, gaze flicking between the screen and the omega. Dean ignores him, and resolutely does not take comfort in his proximity.

He thought he was prepared for the contents of the dossier, but as he scrolls through page after page of the dossier, skimming paragraphs detailing many of the different women, he realises that his own investigations barely scratched the surface. He’d found so few victims of this man that he’d been unable to link the murders by motive in any way, but there are so many more than he could have imagined contained within Cas’s dossier.

When he sees Mary Winchester smiling back at him from the laptop screen, two-thirds of the way through the document, Dean wants to throw up.

It hits him like a punch to the gut, and he quickly scrolls past the page. It's not new information to him, anyway. It takes him a while to finish reading the rest of the dossier, and when he finally reaches the last page and can go no further, he leans back into the couch, processing. Dean’s jaw has been clenched tight the entire time, leaving the muscle aching, and his eyes shine with unshed tears in the soft light of the cabin. His scent reeks of anger and distress and deep, bitter sadness.

"Thank you," he eventually rasps, then clears his throat. "This should be enough evidence. Or at least enough reason."

When Dean looks up, he realises that Cas has shuffled even closer to him. Pain and distress are etched into his expression – the drawn brows, wide eyes, lips pressed together as if he wants to say something, do something, but is holding back. In the end, Cas settles for placing a gentle hand on Dean’s shoulder, and the omega doesn’t protest when the laptop is taken from him. He’s too busy blinking back the wetness in his eyes, and he clears his throat again.

The silence stretches out between them—Cas breaks it.

"Dean.” The word sounds punched out of him, heavy with emotion. “I know this is a lot to take in. I'm sorry for having to show you something so terrible, but... it's enough, as you said. More than. We can decide what to do from here. We can... take a break, though, if you need."

Dean shakes his head. God damn it, he shouldn't be so fucking weak. He's an FBI agent, he's seen this before. But knowing his mom is among the list of women kidnapped, beaten, tortured, murdered, knowing that she was just one of countless other mothers, daughters and wives... it makes him sick. He leans into Cas's touch, just a little.

"I think I do need a break," Dean whispers, green eyes dull and tired.

Cas’s fingers knead lightly at his shoulder, and the touch is gentle, grounding. “Take a break, then,” Cas urges. The alpha’s soft gaze pins him in place, and he’s too drained to look away, simply blinking wearily in return.

"Would you like to sleep?” Cas asks. “Watch television, or maybe just... sit? I can be right beside you, if you'd like, or I can go find a way to keep myself busy elsewhere. Whatever will help you most right now."

He… he doesn’t know. Fuck, he just feels fucking empty. The more Dean processes what he read in the dossier, the more he’s weighed down by a bone-deep ache that seems to reach deep inside and settle into his core. “Maybe sleep,” he concedes, his voice a scratchy rasp. If he can sleep, that is.

It will take a long time to forget seeing his mother's hell laid out before him in clean, clinical terms in the dossier.

“Of course, Dean,” Cas agrees, his fingers still kneading at Dean’s shoulder and sliding further towards his neck. Dean gives a soft groan as the alpha’s touch loosens more of his tension, going loose limbed and pliant beneath the hand working at the juncture of neck and shoulder.

"I'm afraid there is only one bedroom,” Cas continues, voice soft, “but you are more than welcome to take it. I can even put new sheets on the bed if you would like, so that my scent is not on them. I’ll sleep on the couch for the night."

In his exhausted, wrung out state, Dean can’t protest to taking the bed—especially after driving all the way from New York in one go. It had been stupid to imagine that he’d be able to leave to find Azazel right after his long drive and reading that awful dossier, so he simply mumbles, “Thanks, Cas.”

And because when Dean’s tired he has close to zero filter, he just has to add, "It would be awesome if you could put new sheets on your bed. Not wearing scent blockers makes my sense of smell more sensitive, and it's been a long time since I fully scented an alpha. It'd probably keep me up half the night if the bed reeked of you." It would probably pervade his dreams, too. He’s not naive enough to think otherwise.

A spike of something curls through Cas’s scent, but it’s gone before he can identify it. Dean brushes it off and leans further into the hand at the nape of his neck There’s pleasure winding its way into his own scent, but he can’t bring himself to feel self-conscious about that right now.

Instead of saying anything about it, Cas just hums. "I assumed that would be the case. I'm sorry if I'm causing you any problems, or irritation. I swear to you, though, I am not a threat. While you are with me, you are nothing but safe." The alpha pauses, seeming to think for a second. "I might be able to offer you painkillers to dull your senses a bit, if you think that might help. I'll go put new sheets on in a moment. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

Dean sighs and drowsily shakes his head, though he musters up a small amount of strength to force his eyes open and look up at Cas from where he’s sunk into the couch. “It’s not too bad, you’re not threatening,” he mumbles, and a soft sigh escapes his parted lips as Cas’s nimble fingers shift to work out another knot. "And if I can't sleep, I'll take some painkillers, but other than that I should–"

At that point, Cas slides his hand off Dean’s shoulder, evidently poised to stand and start preparing the bedroom, but Dean can’t help the low whine that bubbles up from his chest at the loss. He quickly bites down on the sound, eyes going wide in shock. Cas seems to have had the same reaction, because he’s perched on the edge of the couch, blue eyes wide and hand hovering in the air between them like he’s not sure whether he should return it or not.

A blush colors Dean’s cheeks. Fuck fuck fuck.

“I’ll just head out to my car and grab my bag,” Dean ventures, but neither of them move, and Dean’s gaze darts down to Cas’s mouth as the alpha wets his lips.

“Your… bag, yes.” Cas’s gaze doesn’t stray from Dean, and he sounds cautious as he speaks. "Dean, are you alright? I'm sorry for stopping, but. If that was helping you to relax, I would be more than happy to continue, once you are settled. You could lie in the bed, that way you can fall asleep."

The alpha reaches out, closing the distance between them and gently touching his fingertips back to Dean’s shoulder. The omega jumps up and away at the contact, as though he’s been burned.

He has to get a grip on himself. Now. He shakes his head firmly, ignoring the confusion and want which spiral through his scent. "No—no, it's fine," Dean stammers, stepping backwards from the couch. "I'll be okay. Just gonna go grab my bag." With that, he practically flees the cabin, gulping in breaths of fresh sea air as soon as he’s outside.

What the fuck is wrong with him?

Dean leans heavily against the railing of the cabin’s small porch as he draws in fresh air through his nose, trying to clear it of the overwhelming odors of alpha and Cas. He's spent too long using scent blockers, so he can't pick out any intricacies to Cas's scent yet—just alpha. And that in itself seems to be too much for Dean's brain to handle.

He shakes his head, telling himself that his behavior is caused by the fact that he’s more susceptible to alpha scent than usual because of his lack of blockers. It’ll get better as he adjusts, and his senses aren’t quite so heightened.

Once Dean’s settled on that, he heads down the steps to his car. Baby smells like home, and the familiarity calms him enough to compose himself as he grabs his duffel from the backseat, slinging it over his shoulder and closing the door again. He locks her for good measure, and heads back up the steps to the cabin.

This is only until they find Azazel, he reminds himself. He just has to be able to deal with Cas's scent until they’re done with Azazel, and then they can head their separate ways. Permanently.

When he walks back into the cabin, tense and defensive and ready to deny his strange reactions to Cas, Dean finds the alpha in the bedroom doorway with an armful of bedsheets, peering owlishly over the top of the pile at Dean. Before he can say anything, Cas asks, "How much have you packed? If you only have enough clothes for one night but need more, I can wash your current clothes, if it would help."

As if nothing strange had transpired between them moments ago. As if Dean hadn’t bolted from the room at just a touch.

Dean blinks in confusion as Cas carries the sheets to the washing machine, then looks back at him with a warm smile. "Is there anything I should add?” he repeats. “The bedroom is ready, by the way."

Are they really pretending nothing happened?

Thank god.

He returns Cas’s smile, though his own is smaller.

"I might get my clothes washed just in case, if that's okay. I have a couple outfits, though. I can give them to you when I change, but… thanks for changing the sheets, Cas." He sighs and scrubs a hand through his hair. Try as he might, he can’t stop himself from being embarrassed.

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I think not wearing blockers is throwing me off. I'll try and keep it under control." After experiencing the strength of Cas’s scent first hand, he knows how much it affects him. Sleeping in a bed that reeks of alpha, especially this particular alpha, would probably be the exact opposite of relaxing.

Cas simply tuts at him, that fond smile still directed at Dean. "Don't be embarrassed, Dean, you've hardly done anything wrong. You don't have to try to reason away why my scent affects you; you smell quite pleasant as well, and there doesn't have to be anything more to it than that. It's not as though I'm going to reprimand you."

Dean gives a grateful nod, even as he sways slightly on his feet. He tries to stifle a yawn; he needs to sleep, but before he sleeps, he would like to shower. The sooner he showers, the sooner he can get to bed. “Can I use your bathroom?” he asks. “I want to shower.”

The alpha gestures to the next door with one hand as he turns back to shove the last of the sheets into the washing machine.

"Bathroom is here, towels are under the sink. Make yourself at home. Once you're able to give me your clothes, I'll add them to the wash." Cas steps back and out of the way, allowing Dean to pass if he wants to. "I'll be in the living room, if you don't need anything more from me."

At this point, the shower is practically calling Dean’s name like a damn siren. With a small nod of understanding, he edges past Cas and slips into the bathroom. It’s small but tidy, and he drops his bag onto the floor by the sink.

He undresses with sluggish fingers, unknotting his already-loose tie, unbuttoning his shirt, pushing his slacks down off his legs. When he’d dressed this morning, he hadn’t expected his day to end in a strange alpha’s cabin in Maine. And yet.

He grabs a towel out from under the sink and eyes the pile of clothes now sitting beside his duffel. They should really be washed before they leave tomorrow.

They.

Dean frowns.

He hasn’t realised until now that he plans on bringing Cas with him when he leaves tomorrow. Sure, they’d discussed it over dinner, but Dean hadn’t committed to anything, and he certainly hadn’t made any promises. With all the work Cas has done, though, it seems wrong to leave him behind. The alpha could be a great asset. Plus… it’s crazy, and he probably shouldn’t, but Dean trusts him.

Distracted by his thoughts, he wraps a towel around his waist and scoops up his clothes. When he pulls open the bathroom door open and steps out into the main room, Cas is sitting on the couch, as promised. He’s facing away, probably looking at something on his laptop, so Dean covers the few paces to the washing machine and leaves his clothes on the floor beside it. “Hey, Cas?” he calls. “I’m leaving my clothes here. I don’t know how your machine works, so.”

When he straightens back up and turns, Dean finds the alpha staring at him. Cas’s eyes are wide and dark, his gaze roaming greedily over Dean’s bare chest and legs, lips parted ever so slightly until he speaks. "Um." His tongue darts out to wet his lips, and Dean catches a hint of arousal on the air. "Y-yes. Yes, that's... That's fine. I will, um. Wash them. Yes."

Dean finds himself caught in that stare, his throat bobbing as he swallows. His own arousal is pervading the air, and it’s difficult to force his legs to work, to back up towards the bathroom. But he does it. “Thanks, Cas,” he mumbles, then turns on his heel and hurriedly disappears back into the bathroom, slamming the door closed behind him.

Holy shit.

Even just the look in Cas’s eyes… Dean shivers, his omega practically purring at the knowledge that Cas likes his body, couldn’t keep his gaze off him.

There’s a tiny, self-satisfied smile on Dean’s face as he drops the towel and starts the shower, and it lasts even as he steps under the warm spray a few moments later. Maybe he shouldn’t appreciate Cas’s attention at all, but here in the shower, it’s not like it makes a difference, anyway. As long as Cas doesn’t know.

The hot water feels magnificent after a long day of driving, and he gives an appreciative moan as the pounding water hits his tense and knotted muscles. As he reaches for a bottle of Cas's body wash, his thoughts don't turn to either of his cases, or to his mom—he's already been upset enough tonight and doesn't need to linger, would rather distract himself. Gradually, as he scrubs at his skin, his thoughts turn to the alpha himself, becoming less and less restrained the longer he spends in isolation.

Cas is a good guy. So far he's been nothing but kind and accommodating, and the fact remains that Dean feels an insane pull toward him, blockers or no blockers. Cas's gaze on his bare skin, the look in his eyes, it was like a drug, and now Dean's already feeling hooked. He doesn't understand how this has happened—he hasn't been this attracted to an alpha in years.

Maybe it's because Cas knows Dean is an omega, unlike anyone else he knows or has encountered.

But whatever the reason, their time together is purely for business, to take down Azazel—he knows he can look, but can't touch. Touching will only get him into trouble down the line.

With a sigh, Dean rinses and shuts the water off, reaching for his towel to dry himself. The towel is left hanging up (beside the one he assumes belongs to Cas) when he’s done, and he pulls on a pair of boxers and a worn t-shirt.

Only a few minutes after he went in, Dean emerges from the bathroom with damp hair and bare feet, dressed in his pajamas with his bag slung over his shoulder.

This time, when he meets Cas’s (expectant) gaze, the alpha seems much more composed. He gives Dean a calm smile when he looks up from his laptop. "Ah," he says. "Hello, Dean. How was your shower?"

Dean's eyes are drooping now as he blinks at Cas in the brighter light of the living room, and he gives the alpha a sleepy smile. "It was fantastic, actually," he replies, stifling a yawn. "I used some of your soap. I hope that's okay."

Cas shakes his head, a fond look in his eyes and the hint of a chastising tone in his voice as he says,  "Dean, I didn't allow you the use of my shower only to deny you soap. Of course it's okay."

The alpha leans back against the couch and gazes up at Dean, the change in position exposing the column of his throat. Dean blinks tiredly at him, part of his mind absently noting how trusting and relaxed Cas looks and aching to give the same in return.

His body is telling him to sleep, and he wants nothing more than to go and fall into bed, but before that can happen, there are a couple things they need to discuss about tomorrow. Dean pads over to the couch, leaning his hip against the back of it and looking down at Cas.

"Can you make sure I'm not up too late tomorrow?” he asks. “We need to talk about what our plans are for the next few days and if we have a long way to drive, we'll need to get started early."

Cas nods, one hand pressing his laptop closed. "If you're not up on your own, I'll wake you on the early side tomorrow, that's not a problem. I'll make coffee and breakfast, we can talk, then be on the road before we lose too much time. We will be driving to Illinois, so we'll need every minute." He stifles a yawn of his own, then asks Dean warmly, "Is there anything else you need?"

Dean thinks it over for a moment, absorbing Cas’s words, then nods. "That sounds good. And I think I'm pretty set, but I'll let you know if I need anything." He smiles; soft, warm. "Night, Cas. See you in the morning."

He gives the alpha one last long look, and after Cas returns the sentiment, Dean leaves him. He retrieves his duffel from the bathroom and drops it just inside the threshold of the bedroom, then pushes the door most of the way closed behind him. It sits ajar, but he can’t be bothered fixing it; his feet are already carrying him towards the bed, and he’s too tired to fight for that last inch of privacy.

It feels fantastic to crawl beneath the sheets, fresh and crisp and smelling of laundry detergent. Only Cas’s pillow still holds some of the alpha’s scent, and Dean breathes it in as he sinks his head into it.

When he falls asleep, it’s with a churning mind and leaden limbs, and Cas’s scent in his nose.

Chapter Text

After Dean excuses himself for bed, Castiel stares at the closed bedroom door for a long time. He isn’t quite sure if he returned the omega’s bid goodnight; he thinks he did, but there’s far too much on his mind for him to be positive.

Dean admitted to having a strong attraction toward him.

Dean walked around the cabin nearly-naked.

Dean agreed to let him come along to find Azazel.

It’s all going so much better than the alpha expected, and with so much less bargaining, that he can hardly believe his luck. He had planned on dinner softening Dean’s defenses, but it still seems to have gone even better than he had factored into his pre-planning.

And now Dean is asleep in his bed, resting where there’s just enough of Castiel’s scent lingering… His alpha instincts practically purr in satisfaction.

But with Dean asleep, there is little for Castiel to do for the remainder of the night except follow his example. He closes out of the browsers on his laptop, all open to various news articles and blog posts about Roman Enterprises, and sets it on the coffee table. He unfolds the throw blanket from the back of the couch in preparation to sleep, but before he actually lays himself down, he turns his senses toward the bedroom, straining for any sounds he might be able to pick up.

He had heard the bedframe creak when Dean climbed into it, and though it’s quiet after that, after a few minutes there’s a soft snore proving that Dean has fallen to sleep. When he has the confirmation, he stands and goes to the bedroom on silent, socked feet, and eases the door open to peer inside.

Dean is curled up on his side with the blankets tucked in close around him. He automatically keeps himself contained to one half of the bed, which is both endearing and interesting. Dean hasn’t had a relationship in quite some time, Castiel knows, so he’s curious as to where that particular habit came from. Instinct, perhaps? That same lack of relationships means that his omega side is probably starved for touch, affection, validation.

Oh, how eager Castiel is to remedy that.

Once he drinks in his fill of the sight in the bedroom, he eases the door closed just as silently as had opened it, careful to leave it in exactly the same position he found it in. He wouldn’t expect Dean to think twice about his door being shifted slightly, but regardless, there’s no reason to bring undue attention upon himself.

He settles himself in on the couch with the image of Dean in his bed in the forefront of his mind. It keeps a smile on his face as he cocoons himself in his blanket and gets comfortable on one of the throw pillows—accommodations he would be far from thrilled with at any other time—and when he drifts off to sleep, it’s in a state of utter contentment, rich with hope for the future.

But he’s always been a light sleeper. So when Dean gasps awake only a couple hours later, Castiel is rolling off of the couch and crossing the distance to the bedroom door before he’s even fully awake.

Dean’s scent was already leaking out into the cabin through the crack in the door, but between the sleep-fog in his mind and his urgency to get to his omega’s side, he didn’t take any more note of it than was strictly necessary. Once the door is open and he is stepping through, however, it becomes impossible to notice. The scent of Dean’s fear is thick on the air, sharp and pungent acrid enough to make Castiel’s stomach turn. Instinct carries him toward the bed without hesitation.

“Dean?” he asks, softly, urgently. It’s dark in the room, but he can still see that the omega is curled in on himself in a way that’s not nearly as enticing as what Castiel saw earlier, his nose pressed firmly into the pillow as a whine of distress begins to form in the back of his throat. It only serves to alarm Castiel more, and he sits himself on the edge of the bed to reinforce his presence. “Dean, talk to me. What’s wrong?”

Dean’s hands are trembling, but he stills them by gripping at the pillow. His knuckles are white from the force of it, and his jaw is clenched tight.

“Bad dream,” he grits out, which seems like a massive understatement to Castiel, but the alpha holds his tongue for the time being. “Happens sometimes. Sorry if I woke you.” When he’s done speaking, Dean lets out a shuddering breath and, as if he’s only just realized that he’s breathing in Castiel’s scent from his pillow and taking comfort from it, sits up and shoves it away. By the ambient lighting from the main room, Castiel can see that his cheeks have gone pink, and he trembles from head to toe.

“Please don’t apologize,” Castiel says, eyes on the discarded pillow for a fraction of a second before returning to Dean. “I don’t want you hurting. I wouldn’t have gotten up if I didn’t care.” He places a hand on Dean’s upper arm, a light grip meant to steady, and he leans in to catch the omega’s eye. “Whatever it was, it’s alright. It was just a dream, nothing to fear. How can I help you with this? Do you think you can sleep again, or would you like to come out to the living room? I can make coffee.”

Dean relaxes under the touch of his hand, which inspires Castiel to start kneading his thumb into the man’s skin to relax him more. He gets a soft sigh for his efforts, and Dean sways, his green eyes dazed when they met Castiel’s in the dimly-lit room. His breathing is slower, now, no longer on the brink of hyperventilating as he had been. His scent, too, steadily begins to ease. Castiel takes a deep breath of his own, his relief tangible.

“I don’t know,” Dean mumbles, and Castiel smiles reassuringly. He continues to rub at Dean’s shoulder, and the omega’s eyelids droop as he continues. “I feel like if I have a coffee now I won’t get back to sleep, and I’ll be grouchy in a few hours. Probably not the best idea.”

“No coffee, then,” Castiel agrees easily. A glance at the bedside clock shows that it’s close to two in the morning; they could have coffee and start their day, but as Dean said, it’s probably not the best idea. “I just thought I should offer it,” he says, giving Dean a small smile. “Maybe it would help more if you were not alone, then? I can bring a chair in, or sleep on the floor. Alternatively, you can join me in the living room.”

Dean sighs again and shakes his head. He doesn’t otherwise move, though, and he certainly doesn’t make any effort to move away from Castiel. After the swing in emotions he has experienced, terrified by his nightmare and then brought back to rationality by the alpha’s presence at his side, he may very well not even notice how close they have become; Castiel wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

“I don’t want you to have to sleep on the floor, Cas,” Dean eventually says, “I’d feel guilty. It’d be okay if you slept on the other side of the bed. I don’t mind—as long as you stay over there.” He’s stopped shaking, finally, and though his stress is still clear, he’s now starting to look more exhausted than anything. The fact that he’s adamant about this demand is clear, but it’s more than Castiel had ten minutes ago, so he’s thrilled to be making any sort of headway.

“If you’re sure,” he says, slowly so as not to seem too eager. He shifts further onto the bed to move into his assigned place next to Dean. He smiles at the omega again as he does, hoping to forestall the glimpse of doubt he can see rising in Dean’s eyes and convey that he is completely okay with staying, and unbothered by what is being asked of him.

Dean is quiet as Castiel settles in, his shoulders tense and his scent forcibly devoid of the anxieties the alpha knows are lingering just below the surface. He’s having trouble meeting Castiel’s eyes, and the alpha sighs inwardly.

“I’m not sure what sort of etiquette should be appropriate, here,” he says, lacing his words with hesitance, “but if we are going to be in here anyways, and it helps… Would you like to sleep close to me? Only as close as you are willing, not—nothing extreme. Just…” He slides his hand up Dean’s shoulder, closer to the juncture of his neck and shoulder, and the omega instantly begins to go lax. Castiel barely contains his smile as he emphasizes, “I want you to be okay, first and foremost. I find myself… needing you to be okay. I can provide contact if it helps, and my scent is readily available.” He tips his head to the side, just barely exposing his neck.

Dean’s eyes go almost comically wide at the offer being presented. If he hadn’t reacted so perfectly to the touch to the base of his neck, Castiel might have been fearful of rejection as he offers himself now—but instead of rejecting him, Dean chews on his bottom lip for a moment, clearly thinking it over, and then slowly leans in. The tip of his nose traces along the tendons of Castiel’s neck, making the alpha shiver.

Dean breathes him in, and when he groans in appreciation for Cas’s scent, the alpha very nearly does the same. The omega practically exudes contentment, and every muscle in his body has gone loose and pliant. Dean’s nose is now pressed firmly against Castiel’s throat, and Castiel doesn’t even have to think before bringing his arms up around Dean’s shoulders to hug him closer. One of his hands lands at the nape of Dean’s neck, and he scratches lightly at the short hairs found there.

“You’re okay,” he coos softly, and he swears he hears Dean whimper in response. “I’ve got you.”

All of the fear has gone from Dean’s scent by now, and even his pulse, where Castiel is subtly monitoring it, has returned to a normal level. “Thank you, Cas,” he rasps, and he begins rubbing his cheek against Castiel’s neck as he curls closer into his embrace. A moment later, he begins to purr, and though the sound is soft and muted, it fills Castiel’s heart to bursting all the same.

If this weren’t such a delicate situation, he isn’t sure he’d be able to control himself as well as he is right now. At the very least, he doesn’t think he can be blamed for the small, answering rumble that picks up in his own chest, or the way his lips curve into a smile where they’re pressed into Dean’s hair. He wants Dean to sound like this always, feel like this always; tender and protected and cared for. Oh, the things Castiel would do to keep him exactly like this.

Dean distracts him from that only a few seconds later, however, asking a question which makes it easy for him to come back to himself.

“Cas?” the omega says. His lips brush Castiel’s shoulder when they move, and he sounds hesitant, unsure. His purring cuts off, and Castiel frowns. “What do I smell like? Do I… Is it good?”

“Hey, don’t stop purring for me now,” he says lightly, sliding a hand around to rub Dean’s back with firm, steady motions. He considers Dean’s question, trying to both formulate his best answer possible, and keep himself from becoming absurdly offended that Dean would even need to ask if he smells good. How can he think that he is anything less than perfect? Divine, in every way?

Dean’s self-confidence, though, is something for Castiel to deal with at a later date.

“You smell like apples,” Castiel eventually says, not wanting to make Dean nervous by drawing out his silence for too long. He presses his nose further into the omega’s hair and inhales deeply. “Apples, and a bright summer day. Hint of… leather. Dash of cinnamon. It’s—Jesus, Dean, it’s intoxicating. ‘Good’ doesn’t cut it. I think you may very well have one of the best scents in the world.”

While he pours out his praise, Dean’s purr roars back to life, twice as loud as it had been before. Castiel can feel him smile against his neck. “Okay. Good. I’m glad you think so. I was kinda worried that I smell gross or something. I’ve been using blockers for so long, it’s, uh. Kinda hard to tell.” He shifts against the alpha, inhaling deeply. “It’s the same for you too, though. You smell like… rain and parchment and pine. It’s perfect.”

The blockers. Of course. Considering Castiel has never been around Dean while his scent was blocked, so he’d nearly forgotten that that was a factor at any point in time. Dean’s scent is as wonderful as he told the omega it is; it’s a shame knowing that it usually spends its time concealed. Although, that does mean that Castiel is one of the few who have scented Dean in this pure form. He can’t help but feel powerful at the thought—a feeling that’s strengthened by the fact that Dean evidently likes his own scent in turn.

The rumble-purr in his own chest sharpens, almost loud enough to rival Dean’s. “Perfect, hm?” he repeats with a smile. “Thank you, Dean. That’s so very kind of you to say.”

Dean chuckles, but it’s quickly cut off by a yawn against Castiel’s shoulder. “We should probably get back to sleep,” he mumbles, though he still runs his nose along the line of Cas’s throat. Only a few seconds later, however, Dean goes still, and then draws himself back from the alpha, his purr quieting. He doesn’t go far, but it’s still enough to dampen Castiel’s euphoria. But it’s not rejection, he knows, just restraint—and he respects that completely.

“Let’s sleep, then,” he agrees. He’s plenty tired enough to sleep, so he certainly has no objections. He reaches toward the head of the bed and adjusts one of the pillows, then guides both himself and Dean to lay down. He keeps his arms around Dean, which means the omega ends up half on top of him. He knows that Dean is still clinging to concerns of boundaries, but to Castiel, the man’s comfort and well-being are more important. It’s worth taking this risk.

But of course, it is a risk, and it’s proven not to pay off when Dean frowns and pulls away from him. Castiel lets go without hesitation. “I’ll be fine on my own,” the omega insists, retreating to his side of the bed. “I’m calm now. You’re a good guy and all, but I barely know you. I’m not just gonna cuddle up to you like it’s nothing, nightmare or not.”

Castiel will have to get used to the notion of taking two steps forward and one step back. He bares his palms toward the omega in a show of innocence. “I apologize, Dean, I’m not trying to offend or upset you. I only want to help.” He props himself up on his elbows, watching Dean warily; he has to tread lightly, now. He asks, “Would you prefer I leave? The options I gave you before still stand, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”

Oddly enough, that makes Dean look guilty. He bites his lip, glancing off to the side while his shoulders hunch slightly. “You don’t have to apologize,” he mumbles. “It’s fine. I appreciate it, just… no cuddling.” He reaches out and touches Castiel’s thigh—a quick, reassuring touch—then moves to get under the covers. “I’m not freaking out anymore. You might as well stay, though, ‘cause it’s more comfortable, anyway.”

Castiel blinks, then follows Dean’s example and slips into the sheets. “No cuddling. Duly noted.” He catches Dean’s concerned gaze before he can settle in completely, though, and pauses to give a gentle smile. “I want you to be comfortable, too, you know. If that meant being close, I would have no complaints, but if not, that’s fine, too.” Dean relaxes yet again at the fresh wave of reassurance, looking pleased, and that gives Castiel the necessary courage to tease, “I’ll try not to be too heartbroken over the lack of cuddling. You wound me, but—I think I might endure.”

Dean flashes a grin that doesn’t quite reach his eyes, so forced that it pains Castiel. “I don’t cuddle, Cas. Not a cuddler. I’m more the love ‘em and leave ‘em type.”

Castiel stares back at him levelly, though he can’t keep the touch of sadness from his expression. “There’s nothing wrong with liking physical contact,” he says, cutting right to the heart of what he can see Dean is really saying. The alpha lets his eyes fall closed, both to give into the tiredness tugging at his eyelids and to forcibly stop himself from staring at Dean and making him feel even more vulnerable than necessary. “I think you would be a ‘cuddler’ if you allowed yourself to be. I doubt you have to ‘love them and leave them’, either. You have a good heart, Dean.”

For several long moments, Dean is silent. His breathing is far too shallow for him to be asleep, so Castiel holds himself awake, listening for any change.

Eventually, Dean speaks, his voice sad and brittle. “There’s no point.” The mattress shifts as he rolls over, jostling Castiel in the process. The alpha hardly notices, however, what with the way his heart feels like it’s shattering in his chest.

Without opening his eyes, Castiel reaches out to press a hand against the center of Dean’s back, palm flat, fingers spread. “Dean,” he says, so softly that he nearly questions whether Dean can hear him or not. He would doubt it, if he couldn’t feel through his palm how tense Dean is as he listens. He goes on, “Everyone deserves the chance to think about it, to try it. After this is over, say the word, and I’ll pull every string I have to get you the freedom you deserve. I can get you out of the bureau without anyone ever even knowing.”

Through his back, Castiel feels Dean’s lungs expand to their limits before the omega lets out a rough breath. He’s still wound tight, but Castiel can’t bring himself to regret saying what he did.  A minute passes in tense silence, and then, just when Castiel thinks he isn’t going to be getting a reply, he hears Dean’s head shift against his pillow in a nod.

“Maybe,” Dean rasps. “Let’s just—get through this first.”

Castiel’s thumb brushes over the ridges of Dean’s spine, a barely-there touch which elicits a shiver from his omega, before he withdraws his hand all together. “We’ll get through this first,” he agrees quietly. He waits a beat, then finishes, “Goodnight, Dean.”

Dean sighs and curls the covers tighter around his body. “Night, Cas.”

Somehow, despite the roller coaster of emotions Dean has gone through over the course of the hour, he falls asleep shortly after that. Castiel hangs onto consciousness long enough to hear him drop off, monitoring every breath until they’re slow, and even. The sound of Dean’s soft snores are like music to Castiel’s ears, and even half asleep as he is, he can’t help but smile.

Dean rolls into a new position shortly after falling asleep, moving from his tense spot at the edge of the bed once his brain is no longer actively telling him he must be there, so Castiel cracks his eyes open to take him in. The way Dean is sprawled is, quite frankly, adorable; his face is still turned away from the alpha, but almost every other part of his body has twisted around to be more open, relaxed. The sight warms Castiel to his core. He turns himself over to ensure that the alarm on his phone is set, then scoots the slightest bit closer to Dean before closing his eyes again.

When he falls asleep, he does so with a smile on his face, and Dean’s scent everywhere around him.

~

The alarm rings out early the following morning, while the sunlight peeking in around the edges of the bedroom’s curtains is still faint. Castiel blinks awake the second the sound begins, well-trained enough that he doesn’t bother trying to resist the blaring interruption to his sleep—even if it was the most comfortable sleep he’s ever had in his life. He turns the alarm off with ease, but it isn’t until his eyes have completely adjusted to the dim light of the rising sun that he realizes why he feels so good.

At some point in the night, Dean closed the distance between them and made himself at home on the alpha’s chest. He’s completely curled around Castiel, a warm, heavy, comforting weight, and nuzzling into his neck. It’s obvious that he isn’t fully awake, but even as Castiel stares down at him, Dean rubs his nose against his throat and breathes out a content sigh. They reek of each other, and the feeling of sleep-warm skin against sleep-warm skin is intoxicating.

Lord, Castiel could get used to this.

But for today, unfortunately, they have things to do.

Castiel runs his fingertips back and forth over Dean’s back. “You can sleep for a bit longer, but I have to get up,” he whispers.

Dean, for his part, doesn’t even stir. He presses his way closer to Castiel’s scent, but thankfully, his arms release just enough for Castiel to gently pry him off and slip out from beneath him. He lets his lips brush against Dean’s scalp as he makes his escape, and once he’s free, he replaces the spot he had occupied in Dean’s arms with his pillow to allow his scent to stay in Dean’s nose. At that point, Castiel knows he should leave, but… On impulse, he ducks down over the bed and presses a kiss to Dean’s forehead, before finally exiting the room on silent feet.

Worth it.

As he sneaks his way into the kitchen and goes about brewing coffee and putting together breakfast, he basks in the fact that he smells like Dean, and cares for little else. His thoughts linger on the fact that Dean was able to stay asleep while he left, and he can’t help but be even more awestruck by the development.

Under normal circumstances, Dean must have FBI-appropriate reflexes. Therefore, the fact that he remained sound asleep at the alarm, the alpha’s touch, his voice, and his escape from the bed is surprising—though, incredibly endearing, as well. Castiel isn’t stupid; he knows that it’s his presence that put Dean in such a deeply-subdued state, that allowed him to be so relaxed. He had known (deducted, assumed, hoped) he would have such an effect on Dean from the first time he discovered the omega, but knowing in advance doesn’t make him feel any less powerful. Any less blessed.

If he’s lucky, Dean won’t even remember the incident. Given the man’s reaction to the notion of cuddling while fully conscious, Castiel would much rather wage this war with Dean’s subconscious side instead.

He hears Dean get up and begin to move around the bedroom at about the same time that the coffee finishes brewing, so he momentarily steps away from the egg-bacon-potato scramble he’s making to pour out two mugs. He sets Dean’s aside, then adds a splash of cream to his own and takes a long drink. He swears he can feel the caffeine begin to diffuse into his bloodstream from even just that first sip, and hums appreciatively. By the time Dean eventually emerges from the bedroom, dressed in a faded band tee and worn jeans, the scramble is also ready, and Castiel pulls it off of the stove.

“Perfect timing,” he says, gracing Dean with a warm smile. “I don’t know how you like your coffee, but it’s in that blue mug. Would you like breakfast?” He pulls out two plates before Dean answers, anyway; it’s not as though he’s going to let his omega starve. And if he takes advantage of the turn to admire Dean’s relaxed-yet-gorgeous attire from the corner of his eye, well. He’s not hurting anything.

“That smells fucking amazing,” Dean says, drifting closer. He eyes the pan Castiel scoops their food from like it’s the greatest thing he’s ever seen, and pride blooms in the alpha’s chest. Instead of interfering with the serving process, however, Dean picks up his coffee mug and doctors it to his liking so that he can drink it. When he’s done, Castiel hands him a plate.

“It tastes even better than it smells, I promise,” he says with a grin. He props his hip against the counter and digs into his own helping, lacking the motivation to move to the table. He watches Dean carefully, waiting to see his reaction when he begins eating. “Well, tell me what you think. I didn’t have a lot of ingredients to work with, but I did what I could.”

Dean sets his coffee on the counter and trades it for his fork, scooping up a portion of potato and egg and lifting it to his mouth. When his lips close around the bite, the moan that accompanies it instantly has Castiel’s eyes going dark, and he has to bite down on his tongue to keep himself from responding.

“That's incredible,” the omega mumbles around his mouthful. He swallows quickly and shovels more food into his mouth like it’s the only chance he’s going to get. “Holy shit, Cas.”

Thankfully, Dean is too distracted by his plateful of food to take note of the alpha’s reactions. Thankfully, too, Castiel is able to keep his sudden, sharp burst of arousal under wraps and clear of his scent.  That sound Dean had made… It was downright sinful, and Castiel has a scorching desire to find every way imaginable to make the omega repeat it.

But that is, of course, unreasonable (for the time being). His teeth connect with his fork on his next bite of scramble, and he winces.

Focus.

“Thank you, Dean,” he hums. His appreciation comes out sounding genuine, not at all like the mask for other emotions that it truly is. He does mean it, though; he had wanted to impress Dean, and he’s thrilled to have succeeded. His next line comes out a bit easier. “I’m always happy to please.”

“Oh, you’ve definitely pleased me,” Dean replies absently, finishing off the last of his meal. And Jesus Christ, Castiel is steadily becoming convinced that this omega will be the death of him—how can he just say things like that? He can’t quite tell if he’s being messed with or not—is Dean aware of what he’s saying? Is he… playing along? Flirting? But no, Castiel knows better than that. Dean just seems to mean it… genuinely. Is that better? The alpha isn’t sure. All he knows is that now there are far too many images swirling in his mind, too many absent, pleasure-filled sounds playing on repeat—he clears his throat and tries not to choke on the coffee he pours down it when Dean reads the distraction on his face and asks in concern, “You okay, Cas? What’s on your mind?”

Castiel coughs a bit anyway, cheeks dusting pink. “I’m fine. Just thinking about our timing this morning.” He quickly shovels a few more bites of food into his mouth, eager to be finished. “I don’t think we’ll have to rush our drive too much. We can do it all in one stretch, or get a hotel halfway, it’s up to you.”

Dean purses his lips as he thinks it over, then nods decisively. “We’ll see how we feel this evening, if we can keep going.” He drains the last of his coffee, then, and moves over to the sink to start washing dishes.

Castiel shakes his head in silent amusement, but doesn’t try to stop him. “We can decide later, of course,” he agrees. He finishes off the last of his breakfast, then washes it down with the remainder of his coffee. Both dishes get deposited in the sink when he’s done, and he eyes Dean with just a bit of wariness. “You don’t mind washing the dishes? I need to shower and get dressed, so it’s helpful, but I don’t mind doing it, either.”

Dean answers with a crooked smile, already starting in on scrubbing the dishes that have accumulated from breakfast. “It’s fine, Cas. You cooked breakfast, you cooked dinner, you made my bed, you washed my clothes—this is the least I can do for you.” His hand is wet with soapy sink water when he reaches out and pushes at Castiel’s shoulder, shooing him away with a chuckle. “Get outta here, go shower. The sooner you’re ready, the sooner we can hit the road.”

Castiel hesitates for a moment longer—he does need to get ready, but he’s rather enjoying this burst of domesticity and is tempted to soak it in while he can—but eventually nods and turns away. “Thank you, Dean. I’ll be quick.”

He pads back across the cabin, though he makes a detour to the washing machine before going to the bathroom. Dean’s recounting of what he has done for him reminded him that he needs to move the laundry to the dryer; with any luck, it’ll be finished by the time he’s ready to leave. Only once it’s dealt with does he duck into the bathroom, closing the door behind him and stripping down with efficiency before turning the hot water on and stepping into the stall.

Despite their need to leave, Castiel washes himself with no sense of urgency. He soaps up his hair and lets it sit while he spreads body wash across his torso, mostly just letting himself enjoy the feeling of the water beating against his shoulders. He has always had a bit of a weakness for hot water, and lets himself enjoy it for longer than he probably should.

He enjoys himself right up until Dean distracts him, pulling him back to reality with the rap of knuckles against the door.

“Cas? I finished the dishes. Is there anything else you want me to do?”

Interest and want wind their way into Castiel’s core, automatic responses to the sound of the omega’s voice while he’s naked, and to the man’s (relative) proximity. He wets his lips and calls back, “You don’t have to tend to my home, but thank you, Dean. And thank you for doing the dishes.” The only things that he could even think of suggesting the omega do are horribly inappropriate; it’s best to keep his lips sealed for the time being.

Despite the water thundering against the shower stall, he thinks he hears Dean huff on the other side of the door. “Okay, well, I’m ready when you are,” comes the verbal response. Castiel is sure that he retreats after that, so he doesn’t bother to reply.

The alpha finishes his shower with focused, efficient moves. He doesn’t let his mind wander or his touch linger, despite how tempting either is, and is turning the water off only moments later. When he’s out, he rubs his hair dry and ties his towel around his waist, then brushes his teeth and, after a second of deliberation, shaves as well. He didn’t bring any clothes into the bathroom with him, so he’s still covered only with the towel when he steps out.

Dean stands on the opposite side of the cabin, his back to the bathroom as he stares out the bay window that overlooks the sea. Even though he can only see his profile, Castiel can tell the omega is deep in thought, his lip caught between his teeth and a crease between his eyebrows.

Castiel takes a single, hesitant step forward. “Dean? Are you alright?”

The omega startles slightly at the sound of Castiel’s voice, and his head whips around. When his eyes land on the alpha, mostly bare and still damp, they go comically wide. “I—I, um—” The thick, unmistakable scent of omega arousal floods into the air, highlighted by the barest, sweetest hint of slick, and Dean’s cheeks burn scarlet. A growl starts to pull at Castiel’s chest before he can control himself, and he staggers forward another step. His eyes are dark with want; Dean’s throat bobs when he swallows. “I’m fine,” he finally manages to stammer, then he snatches up his bag and hastily retreats toward the door, not once taking his eyes off of the perceived threat opposite him. As if Castiel would chase him. (He might.) “I’ll just—I’ll meet you in the car.”

And with that, he’s gone, the cabin’s front door slamming closed behind him. Castiel feels like he’s suffering whiplash in the omega’s absence; their emotions escalated so quickly and his arousal grew so strong in such a short amount of time, that now that there’s no outlet for either, the alpha is left reeling. He stands in place for several moments after Dean leaves, gripping at his damp hair and forcing himself to calm.

Castiel is plenty capable of admitting to himself that exiting the bathroom in just a towel was partially a retaliation attempt for when Dean had done the same—but even considering it to be revenge, he didn’t expect this sort of reaction. He wasn’t expecting for Dean to become so blatantly aroused, or for him to then flee with the urgency that he did. Perhaps that was a bit of a miscalculation on Castiel’s part, then.

Once he’s gotten himself under control—and the front of his towel is no longer tented—he goes to the bedroom and finishes getting ready. He dresses quickly, pulling on jeans and a plain, white button-down shirt, and lets his hair dry as it will. He takes his bag from the closet (packed the morning previously), and goes about turning off lights and closing up the cabin. He thinks about Dean all the while, even as he closes and locks the front door and goes to join the omega in his car.

He just has to be patient.

Chapter Text

Dean slams out of the cabin, his heart thudding hard against his ribcage and threatening to tear its way out of his chest. He stumbles down the stairs on wobbly legs and sinks to his knees in the dirt when they crumple beneath him, then stays there. His breath comes in great heaving gulps as he tries to process what the hell just happened.

Cas had been damp from the shower, nearly naked.

And Dean had reacted like he hasn’t in years—he’d gotten slick, for fuck’s sake.

Cas hadn’t even done anything, had pretty much just stood there, and Dean’s control had shattered. What the fuck is wrong with him? He’s never been so strongly affected by an alpha, and to be so aroused that a hint of his slick had curled into the air between them, inviting Cas towards him?

Dean shudders at the memory of the pure want in the alpha’s eyes, and curls his fingers into fists. His nails bite into his palm, and he takes a steadying breath. Truth be told, the attraction between them, so deeply ingrained and organic, scares him. He knows exactly how the alpha feels—Dean wants nothing more than to return to the cabin where Cas is dressed in nothing more than a low-slung towel, to let himself just be an omega for once instead of constantly having to hide his desires.

But he has his job, his career, his life to think about. Letting himself get involved with Cas— a stranger, he reminds his omega hindbrain—is a colossally bad idea. It takes him a few minutes to settle himself, taking deep breaths where he kneels beside the Impala, and letting the crash of waves and salty tang of the ocean air soothe him. Eventually, he’s able to stand on shaky legs and close the last few feet to his car, tossing his duffle into the back seat and climbing into the driver’s side.

The smell of well-worn leather calms Dean further, and he runs his fingers idly over the steering wheel as he waits, trying not to let any kind of tension seep into his muscles. It’s a pointless endeavour, though, because as soon as he hears the front door of the cabin close, Dean goes very still, and his hands tighten around the steering wheel. He can’t loosen his grip, even as his knuckles go white—it only gets worse when the rear door of the car opens then closes as Cas deposits his bag in the back seat. Only moments later, the alpha climbs into the seat beside him.

Dean stares resolutely through the windshield, wondering how the hell he’s going to survive this trip, and what even compelled him to allow Cas to accompany him. They haven’t even started yet, and he’s already regretting it.

The silence between them is thick, tense, and when Dean risks a glance at Cas, the smile he gets in return is more subdued and tighter than those he’s already grown accustomed to from the man. “I’m ready when you are,” Cas tells him. “Do you know how to get to the highway from here?”

Dean sets his jaw and turn his gaze frontwards again, starting the engine. As if he couldn’t find his way back to the highway. Cas’s cabin is the only one along this winding dirt road track, which comes directly off the main road. When his GPS had informed him last night that his destination was at the end of the corrugated and unsealed dirt road, Dean had almost assumed that it was glitching.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” he mumbles, forcing his hands to unclench from the steering wheel as they pull away from the cabin and start back down the narrow track. At least it’s easier to navigate in the daylight than it had been the last time he drove down it. Dean’s already stressed enough with the cocktail of scents in the car and the alpha sitting next to him that throwing in some pitch darkness would be enough to send him into a tailspin.

Some fresh air would work wonders right about now. Dean reaches down along the side of the door to roll the window down, able to locate the handle without having to look after so many years of driving his baby. Once the window is half-open and blowing sea-fresh air into the cabin of the car, Dean begins to feel the tense set of his shoulders relax, and his head clears. Thankfully, Cas has stayed silent so far, not mentioning Dean’s earlier panic—something that the omega is eternally grateful for. When he glances over at the alpha, Cas looks reasonably relaxed, leaning back in his seat and gazing out the window.

Cas’s relaxation in turn melts more of the tension from Dean, and after a few minutes, the confusing mess of scents dissipates from the car, leaving just the base scents of Dean and Cas , as well as the smell of the Impala and the remnants of Dean’s scent that have been engrained into the upholstery over years of use. This is his baby, his prized possession. While he occasionally drives her out for cases and has his partners or colleagues riding shotgun, those instances are rare, and so she smells purely of Dean. Honestly, he’s impressed that Cas is taking this so well—if Dean was in Cas’s situation, he’d be much more antsy. So far, though, Cas has shown himself to be a perfect gentleman, and it’s no surprise that he’s able to cope with being trapped in a small space with Dean and his scent so well.

Once they’re out on the highway, and there’s finally no lingering tension in the air between them, Dean doesn’t feel awkward about putting on some music to fill the silence (which has admittedly shifted from uncomfortable to amiable, anyways). He reaches out to the stereo and turns it on. It begins to play the cassette he was listening to on the drive to the cabin, but Dean turns it down to a slightly lower volume than where he would usually have it, so as not to disturb Cas. A tiny smile finally touches Dean’s mouth as his fingertips tap along to the beat.

Over the course of the next few hours, he finds himself sneaking glances at Cas every now and again. It’s odd—he’d expected Cas’s scent to be a jarring invasion into his place of solace and comfort, but instead it seems to fit perfectly, soothing him even further.

The fact that he catches Cas tapping his fingers against his thigh in time with the song every so often only serves to endear him to Dean even more.

Apart from Dean’s occasional quiet humming—usually he’d have no shame about belting out the song lyrics, but he doesn’t want Cas to think he’s too weird—and the sound of the stereo, the car is quiet, neither of them willing to speak and bring up the events of this morning and shatter the calm they’ve built for themselves. Eventually, though, when the sun is high in the sky above them, Dean’s stomach starts to rumble. He begins to scan the horizon for sign of a diner or fast food chain, suddenly antsy.

“Want to pull over and grab some food?” he asks Cas, breaking the silence for the first time in hours.

In his periphery, he sees Cas nod. “I could eat,” the alpha replies. “Stop wherever you’d like, I’m flexible.” Dean registers movement beside him, and winces as he hears Cas’s vertebrae audibly pop with the alpha’s stretch. It’ll probably be good for them to get out of the car, in that case—even though Dean could happily keep driving if properly nourished. Cas peers out the window, joining Dean’s hunt for somewhere to get lunch.

“After we stop, would you like me to take a shift driving?” Cas offers easily, momentarily stopping his scan of the horizon to glance at the omega. Dean is definitely not a fan of that idea, and his instant reservation must show in his expression, because Castiel quickly hurries to add, “If you’d rather I not drive your car, I won’t be offended, but I figure I should offer regardless.”

That soothes Dean’s ruffled feathers somewhat. He hates other people driving his car, but with the distance that they have to cover, he’d rather not drive the whole time, and knows it’s a necessary evil. Which is why he huffs out a reluctant, “Fine,” as he pulls off of the highway and into a parking space at a roadside diner. “You can drive the next leg.” He levels a warning look at Cas, who, for his part, doesn’t seem to be all that intimidated by it. “You’d better be careful with her, though. If she gets even so much as a scratch, I can guarantee you they won’t find your body.”

Cas laughs. Fucking laughs . Dean scowls out him and climbs out of the car, his scent radiating irritation. Fuckin’ dickbag alpha. He rounds the Impala to head into the diner, but stops when he sees Cas leaning against the side of the car and grinning at him, forearm resting on the roof. “I don’t have to drive her, if you’re truly worried. However, I can promise you that I’m a very good driver. I wouldn’t dream of harming such a beautiful machine.” The affectionate way he pats the shiny black metal of the car’s roof placates Dean, though he’s still annoyed that Cas laughed at his death threat. He’s an FBI agent proficient with a range of weapons, and highly trained in hand-to-hand combat. Cas is just an IT geek—though, admittedly, a buff one. Still; Dean could take him down.

Before he can quip back at Cas, the alpha continues on, as if he’s able to see inside Dean’s mind, “Let’s at least eat lunch before you plot my murder, hm?” And that sounds pretty reasonable. Cas straightens up and joins Dean on the sidewalk, and together, they follow their noses towards the diner and the smell of fried food. It makes Dean’s mouth water and his stomach rumble.

“Do you reckon we have time to stop and eat here, or should we eat on the road?” he asks Cas. While he doesn’t particularly like having food in the Impala, he also doesn’t want to lose more time than is strictly necessary.

Luckily, Cas doesn’t seem to think that they’re in a huge hurry, and gives a casual shrug as he steps forwards to open the door for Dean. “I think we can eat here, as long as we don’t waste too much time with it. If we’re considering stopping at a motel tonight anyway, I can’t imagine it makes a difference. Eating while driving is miserable—best to avoid it if possible.” Dean nods approvingly, glad that Cas shares his view on the matter. Getting crumbs out of the Impala’s upholstery is a bitch, as he knows from his childhood when John made them clean up any messes they left in the car.

“Sounds good,” Dean replies with a curt nod, stepping through the door of the diner—albeit with a small glare at Cas, because he’s more than capable of opening doors by himself, and the gesture rubs him the wrong way. Eager to brush off the sense of wrong, he’s quick to reassert himself. “How about we find a booth? And don’t worry about money, I’m buying.” He’s not an invalid, damn it, he’s survived on his own for long enough without alphas opening doors and paying bills for him.

Castiel doesn’t object, and instead heeds the order of the ‘seat yourself’ sign near the door, considering the only visible waitress is busy clearing a recently-vacated table at the far end of the diner. Dean follows him over to a booth in the front left corner, approving of the choice as he slides in and realises that he can see both the front and back exits, as well as the Impala, parked out on the street. Cas really does know what he’s doing.

Their knees bump under the small table as they each reach for menus, and Cas pulls a face at the sticky feeling of the plastic while Dean picks idly at the table’s peeling laminate and peruses his options. He’s quick to decide on the cheeseburger and curly fries, and finds Cas frowning slightly at the menu in his hands—when the alpha glances up and finds Dean watching him, his expression relaxes into something softer.

“Don’t make fun of me, but… I think I may order something green.” His lips pull up even further, into a teasing smile. “Unless you’re going to object to that while it’s on your dime?”

Dean doesn’t understand how it’s so easy for him to relax around the alpha—though the smiles and gentle teasing and respect for Dean’s physical and emotional space probably has a lot to do with it. He blinks, and realizes Cas is still talking. “I’d normally order a burger of some kind, but especially if I’m driving the next shift, it’s probably not wise to get something that will sit heavily in my stomach.”

He has a good point, but it’s still not enough to dissuade Dean, and he sets his menu back in its holder as Cas asks, “What are you getting? I’d imagine you must eat in places like this a lot.”

Dean’s not really sure what Cas is basing that assumption on, but as much as he hates to, he has to admit that the alpha’s not wrong. “Just a cheeseburger and fries for me. I’m not a rabbit food person, though.” Cas and Sam would probably get along wonderfully, bonding over their love of salad . Dean pulls a face, and the laugh that his expression pulls out of Cas makes the omega smile just a touch. He quickly clears his throat and glances away, but not before he catches the pleased look on Cas’s face.

“I do eat at lots of places like this, though,” he confesses, if only to keep the conversation moving. “Especially if I’m working a case or driving for long periods of time. Burgers have probably shaved years off my life.” He can’t help but make the joke, the same one that Sam likes to direct his way, even though it’s probably not true. He’s very careful to stay fit for his job, no matter what he eats.

Judging by Cas’s disbelieving expression, the alpha is of the same opinion. “First of all, I don’t think I’d call it rabbit food,” the alpha points out, to which Dean gives a teasing scoff. Cas fixes him with a glare, but it’s somewhat negated by the smile that he’s trying (and failing) to suppress. “Secondly, I don’t think burgers have ‘shaved years off your life’. You’re in excellent shape, I think you’re allowed to eat what you want.”

Dean has never been one to take compliments well, and he rubs the back of his neck as his cheeks turn pink.

It’s at that moment that the waitress, a young omega, makes her way over to them. “Well, howdy!” she greets, beaming at them both. “What can I get for you cuties?” And hell if that doesn’t make Dean’s blush increase, because from the way she’s looking at them both, it’s clear that she thinks they’re a couple . Now that Dean takes the time to scent himself, he realises that he’s carrying more than a hint of Cas’s rain and pine on him after last night and the car ride; to an outside observer, he’s probably carrying enough of Cas’s scent on him to suggest that the alpha is his boyfriend.

His cheeks burn bright red, and he stumbles over his words slightly. “A, uh, a cheeseburger and some curly fries, please,” he tells her, relieved when she nods and turns her attention to Cas.

The alpha’s eyes are narrowed slightly, as if he caught Dean’s slight stumble, but the expression disappears quickly when it’s his turn to order. Cas turns his attention to the waitress with a smile. “And I will have the chicken BLT sandwich with a side salad, please. Along with a coffee, when you have a minute.”

The young woman beams, scribbling hastily on her notepad before she tucks it back into her apron. “Awesome! I’ll have it out to you guys in just a bit, and I’ll be right back with your coffee.” She flounces off with a spring in her step, leaving Dean pinned under the curious gaze of the alpha opposite him.

“Are you alright?” Cas asks, and Dean fights the urge to swear under his breath. The alpha seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to Dean and how he’s feeling. It’s fucking freaky, and he scrubs a hand over his face, trying to come up with a plausible reason for why he would have been freaking out.

He catches his own scent again—omega with undertones of one specific alpha—and he has to fight to keep his expression unchanged as he remembers that he isn’t using his blockers. It only adds to the sparks of panic threatening to catalyse a larger reaction, but it’s a plausible reason for his stumble, so that’s what he tells Cas.

“I just realized this is the first time I’ve been out in public without my blockers on in over ten years. People can smell me, they know that I’m an omega, and it’s… it’s freaking me out a bit. I’m just not used to it.” Dean glances up across the table, and his glad to see that his ploy seems to have worked; Cas gives him a soft smile, and nods sympathetically.

“I see,” the alpha says. “I know it's not something that you're used to, but I assure you, no one thinks it's odd, or even that it's unusual for you. Furthermore, no one here is a threat to you by knowing." Cas’s reassurance helps to set Dean at ease—on that point, at least, though he’s still not sure how he feels about having the alpha’s scent all over him—and he gives the man a genuine smile as Cas gently bumps their knees together under the table. “Would you feel more comfortable if we made a stop so that you could purchase scent blockers? I’m sure we could find a pharmacy.”

While Cas’s suggestion is sweet and considerate, Dean doesn’t want to add any time to their trip. And now that Cas has presented the situation in that way, Dean realizes that going without his blockers isn’t really a big deal, anyway. Here, he’s just a random omega, travelling with an alpha through town—not Agent Dean Winchester of the FBI. He gives a non-committal shrug. “Nah, probably not,” he tells Cas—it’s nice to not have to hide. Plus, going without blockers gives him the chance to fuck with the alpha a little and regain some of his footing, after Cas has so often knocked him off balance. He grins as he adds, “Plus, considering you like my scent so much, it’d be a shame to cover it up with gross beta blockers, hm?”

He is not expecting the strength of the reaction that his teasing elicits from Cas.

The alpha’s eyes go wide, and he gapes for a second, suddenly finding himself on the back foot. His cheeks go pink, and Dean can’t help but laugh as Cas manages to stutter out a sentence. “I, um—yes, well. Your scent is very… appealing, yes. But that doesn’t mean…” Cas clears his throat, and Dean grins in victory at the flustered alpha. That was a better reaction than he’d hoped for. Before Cas can manage to reorganize his thoughts, their waitress appears with a pair of mugs and a pot of coffee, taking in the scene before her with no shortage of amusement and affection for the two that she assumes are a couple.

“Everything okay, fellas?” she asks as she sets the mugs down and pours them both some coffee, and Dean shifts his gaze from Cas to look at her.

“Everything’s fine—” He glances down at her nametag. “—Becky. Just having some fun.” Dean nudges Cas’s knee beneath the table, his green eyes sparkling wickedly, and Cas hits back with a little more force and a tight smile in retaliation.

The way the alpha lifts his mug to his lips to try and escape the situation is endlessly amusing to Dean, and apparently also to Becky, who coos over them. “Oh, you two are just adorable!” she exclaims, flitting away to another table before Dean can refute her assumption that they’re a couple.

Cas just sighs resignedly into his coffee, his cheeks still pink despite his show of coolness in front of Becky, and Dean wraps his fingers around the warm mug in front of him. Nothing bad had happened—it was all just a bit of fun, and it had been great to see the usually calm alpha so ruffled. “Hear that, Cas?” he asks as he raises his coffee to his lips, just to stir the pot. “We’re adorable.”

The alpha groans, but his smile refuses to be contained, and Dean chuckles between sips of coffee. “Well,” Cas sighs as he sets his mug down, tongue swiping out to wet his lips. “At least she’s right.”

Dean blinks in surprise at the comment and shifts in his seat—suddenly, the situation isn’t so playful when Cas is agreeing. He doesn’t respond, but instead keeps his gaze on Cas’s face as the alpha glances out the window. Dean finds that he misses the shadowy stubble that Cas had been sporting this morning before he’d shaved it off in the bathroom. It suits him better—but the man is still attractive clean-shaven.

And that is dangerous territory to be entering. Dean makes an effort to pull himself back on track. “So, Cas,” he begins, setting his coffee down on the table but still toying idly with the handle, pivoting the mug back and forth. “I feel like I hardly know anything about you. Do you have a job, or hobbies, apart from being a scarily good hacker? Tell me about yourself, I’m curious.”

Cas glances back at him, affection and happiness softening his features in the crinkles around his eyes, the uptilt of his mouth, the slight raise to his eyebrows. Damn it, Dean can’t help but smile back as Cas leans his elbows on the table and folds his hands together neatly, chin resting atop them. He seems to be considering his answer. “I’m not currently employed, actually,” Cas confesses. “Not steadily, anyway. I do some freelance work, for the right price. The ‘scarily good hacker’ thing is very marketable. Before, though, I went through med school. I was a practicing surgeon for a few years, but…”

Here, Cas’s expression shifts, falters, something heavier settling over his features. It makes Dean’s heart ache, and his fingers twitch with the urge to comfort the alpha in the face of the undertones of grief and a deep sadness that he can detect in Cas’s scent. “I lost too many people on the table,” he concludes, his gaze falling away from Dean for a moment. “Didn’t sit well with me.”

Dean’s mouth twists in sympathy, and when Cas looks back up at Dean, the alpha gives him a sad smile. “I’m sorry,” Dean murmurs softly—the look on Cas’s face and the scent coming off him a marker of something Dean knows all too well, and has seen many times throughout his career. “It’s never easy, knowing that someone’s died, and feeling like you could’ve done more to save them. It weighs on you for a long time.” Losing someone on the surgeon’s table is different to experiencing a death in the field, but it’s the same principle, and it still leaves anyone with a shroud of guilt hanging over them. Could I have done more? Dean’s felt it himself—wondered that if he’d only done that little bit extra, stayed up later, worked harder, would that person still be alive?

Dean notices the concern emanating from Cas’s scent, feels himself caught in the alpha’s blue gaze, and tries to rein in his thoughts—the darkness of them and their effects on his state of mind must be showing, and he doesn’t want to go too far down that path today.

The two of them share a long, quiet moment, each nursing their mug of coffee as they take a second or two to recollect themselves. It’s Cas who eventually breaks the silence.

"Yes, well. It could be worse,” he muses, and Dean hums a soft agreement. “And I would like to think that over the years, I've done a lot more good than harm, anyway. I may be unconventional about it, but I've saved lives." The alpha drums his fingertips over the table top, sipping at his coffee with his free hand, and Dean is glad when Cas decides—tactfully—to reroute their conversation. "One perk to my current lifestyle, however, is that I get to see my sister more frequently than I did while at the hospital. She's a few years my junior, lives in New York. She's a photographer for the New York Times."

Dean forces a small smile at Cas’s mention of his sister—the alpha seems so happy when he even brings her up offhandedly, his gaze growing warm and distant. Jealousy spikes through Dean’s heart, though he tries to keep his tone casual. "That's cool. It's good that you're closer now. New York isn't too far from Maine. Not like California." His smile is jagged and sad, and he drops his eyes to the faded laminate of the table. "My brother practises law there. Went to Stanford. He's got a girlfriend and white picket fence and everything, but we're both busy so we don't see each other very often." He hasn’t seen Sam in over a year—he doesn’t really have the funds to be jetting across the country, not to mention the fact that he fucking hates flying. And Sam is much too busy over in California with his work to be able to come see Dean. Their schedules never line up, and it’s exhausting.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Cas bob his head. "Stanford is an excellent school. Anna nearly went there, but she went to UC Berkeley, instead. She met her wife there, in fact, so it’s a good thing she did. But California is one of my favourite states—I have a house there as well, actually, much nicer than the one you've seen in Maine. It's not far from Palo Alto." He directs a slanted smile at Dean, who can’t find it in him to muster one up in return, and twitches his shoulders in a shrug. "Maybe you can visit. Might give you an excuse to visit your brother more, if you had a place to stay."

The offer is so unexpected that Dean’s eyes go wide, and his fumbling hand nearly drops his coffee mug. Cas is offering for Dean to come visit him in Palo Alto? He knows he’s gaping at the alpha in shock, but he can’t seem to be able to close his mouth. Having somewhere to stay would be a godsend; Sam’s house is small, and while it has a spare bedroom, he and his girlfriend are currently using it as a study and storage space, and are likely planning on turning it into a nursery sometime in the future. Plus, Dean hates feeling like he's intruding on their space, feeling like the odd third wheel, so he usually stays at a hotel. It’s not kind on his bank account, so to have somewhere where he could stay… it would certainly make things easier.

"I... really? Wow, Cas, that's..." Dean's smiling for real, now, his scent radiating surprise, and the alpha looks pleased with his positive reaction. "That's so awesome of you,” Dean continues—at this point, he’s so overwhelmed that he can’t really stop. “Thank you. Really. I'd love to come visit."

Cas beams at him, and Dean can’t help the giddy chuckle that escapes his lips. The alpha looks so damn pleased to have made Dean happy. "It's really not a hassle," Cas tells him. "I would be more than happy to share the space with you at any time. If I'm not on the road, I spend about half of my year there. It's very nice, three bedrooms, even—though one is currently a study." The alpha drains the last of his coffee and then sits back in the booth, his bright gaze still focused on Dean, as if there’s nowhere else he’d rather be looking. "But anyway, details about the house aside—I'm happy to help, Dean. You deserve to see your brother more often. Plus..." He shrugs. "I know I won't mind seeing you, either."

Against his better judgement, Dean has to admit (mentally, at least, not out loud) that he would enjoy an opportunity to see Cas outside of this short trip. So far, the alpha has been considerate and pleasant company, and Dean has enjoyed spending time with him—even without the way his body seems to sing and thrum with electricity every time Cas is near. “Yeah, me neither,” he admits, ducking his head and fixing his gaze on his nearly empty coffee mug. “Thank you, Cas.”

When he raises his eyes again, the look Cas gives him is soft and warm and intimate, and Dean loses himself in it for the handful of moments of privacy they have before Becky is making her way back to the table with their food and it’s shattered. There’s no way Dean could possibly be annoyed at her, though, not with her sweet smile and bubbly personality and the almost-naivety to her dampened omega scent. After she’s set down their plates and refills their coffee, she lingers by their table until Cas raises an eyebrow at her, obviously curious as to what’s going on.

“Sorry,” she tells them, her cheeks blushing a bright and endearing pink as she realises that he hasn’t moved from their table. “See a lot of folks come through here, but it's been awhile since any of them have been this happy with each other. It's refreshing." She wipes her hands against her apron and backs away. "Enjoy your meal!" she calls, then practically runs off toward the kitchen. Castiel shakes his head, chuckling softly, and Dean smiles after her as she retreats. Now that he scents the air around them, he realises that they do smell overwhelmingly of happiness—not just one of them, but both. It’s strong and heady and he doesn’t blame Becky for getting caught up in it.

At least she chose the happy moment to bring their food, and not earlier, when they were discussing death and Sam.

“She’s cute,” Dean muses, though he means it in an adorable way, and not an attractive way. Cas hums his agreement as Dean pops a handful of fries into his mouth.

“She’s earning herself a good tip. Good thing I have cash on me.” His eyes sparkle mischievously as he meets Dean’s gaze, and the omega scowls in mock grumpiness as he realises that Cas has found his loophole for Dean’s insistence that he be the one to pay for their food. There’s no way Dean can fight him on this, though—not with how happy the alpha looks, especially when he bites into his sandwich and makes a surprised sound of appreciation, apparently impressed.

“Damn,” Cas rumbles. “This is shaping up to be one of the best roadside diners I’ve ever been in. This is delicious.” He nods at the burger where it sits untouched on Dean’s plate—it’s only then the omega realises he’s been staring. “How’s yours? Edible?”

Dean blinks and shakes off his stupor, looking down to where his burger is waiting. “Fries are awesome,” he tells Cas, pushing the basket a little closer in invitation, “but I dunno about the burger yet.” He picks it up, sandwiching it between his hands to compact it and keep anything from falling out as he takes a bite. It’s fantastic, and he’s enough of an asshole not to suppress the low, pleased moan that rumbles out of his chest as flavor explodes across his tongue.

A spluttering sound from across the table draws Dean’s attention, and he glances back up to find Cas choking on his mouthful of sandwich, eyes wide and cheeks red. For a second, Dean fears that he’s gonna have to Heimlich the man, but after a few moments, the alpha manages to swallow it with a grimace. He pins Dean with an accusatory glare, and Dean just smirks back at him, chewing on his mouthful. “That was cruel,” the alpha grumbles, though there’s no actual heat behind his words. There’s a tilt to the corner of Cas’s mouth, suggesting that he knows Dean made the sound on purpose—and he’s pretty much right.

“I know,” Dean retorts cheekily, shooting Cas a wink. It’s remarkable how quickly the alpha can set him back at ease. “Can’t help myself. It’s a really good burger.”

He takes another, triumphant bite as Cas sets down his sandwich and opts to stab at his side-salad with a fork instead, though he wonders what’s going through the alpha’s mind as he smiles down at the leafy greenery. Dean narrows his eyes suspiciously and leans forward slightly—just enough to catch Cas’s mumbled, “And here I was never thinking I’d be jealous of a burger.” The words make Dean’s eyes widen—what does Cas mean by that?—but before he can question it too much, Cas stuffs a too-big leaf of lettuce into his mouth, and Dean’s thoughts dissolve into fond amusement at the sight of the greenery poking out from between the alpha’s lips.

Dean snorts. “I think eating rabbit food is turning you into one,” he teases, and Cas pouts as soon as he’s swallowed his mouthful.

“Are you always this mean to alphas?” he asks, fixing Dean with a set of puppy dog eyes that absolutely would have worked had he not grown up with Sam Winchester as a little brother. As it is, Dean just laughs and shakes his head.

“Puppy dog eyes won’t work on me, mister,” he tells Cas in between bites. “And yes, I'm just a great big bully to all alphas. It's totally the reason I'm not mated yet,” he jokes, sighing happily as he polishes off the last bite of his burger and reaches for a napkin to clean his hands. Damn, that had been good.

A grin overrides Cas’s pout, and the alpha chuckles around his next bite of his salad. “Mhm. I'm sure it's because you're a bully; no other explanation would make sense,” Cas muses, tapping the flat tines of his fork against his lips. “You're too perfect. Unless your fault lies in the fact that you don't give into puppy dog eyes. You break a man's courage by resisting, you know." He grins at the omega before tucking in and finishing off his salad, and Dean can’t help but smile as he lean forward on his elbows, munching on the curly fries as he waits for Cas to finish his meal.

When his plate is more or less cleared, the alpha sits back against the vinyl of the booth and gives a content sigh. Cas’s blue gaze meets Dean’s across the table, searching, his head tilted as if he’s trying to figure out the best way to approach a complex equation. "Anyone would be lucky to have you as a mate," he says, and suddenly his tone has changed—it’s softer, gentler. Real. Apparently he’d been thinking about this as he ate.

True to form, Dean balks.

He never lets himself think too deeply about mating, never more than just jokingly. He’s in a dangerous job that takes up most of his time, where he has to hide his true gender designation. Mating—or even being in a relationship—just isn’t possible. He sits back in his own space and forces himself to rebuild the walls that Cas has so easily torn down at least twice now, and judging by the disappointed slump of Cas’s shoulders, the alpha knows that Dean is closing back off.

“Yeah, sure, Cas,” Dean replies, his tone abrasive and dismissive as he pops the last fry into his mouth and crunches it obnoxiously between his molars. Cas’s brows are drawn down into a frown, but he doesn’t object, instead turning his head to catch Becky’s attention. Dean sees her nod at them and pulls out his wallet, ready to take care of the bill. Across the table, Cas wakes his phone up from sleep mode and taps at the screen.

“I think if we do this right, we can drive for about ten more hours tonight before we hit the point when we might want to stop. If we want to stop. Are you still okay with me driving next, or are you feeling refreshed enough to want to keep going?” Cas’s tone is level and his gaze remains on his phone, only flicking up to Dean’s face when he addresses the question.

Before Dean can answer, Becky appears at their table with the bill and a white box which emanates the mouth-watering smell of fresh, warm apple pie. If she notices that the happiness has ebbed from their scents, she doesn’t comment on it, and smiles down at them even as a cook shouts from the kitchen and her feet carry her away. “On the house! Have a good day, guys, thanks for coming in!”

The apple pie is an instant boost to Dean’s mood after the sore subject Cas had prodded open, and he pulls the box towards himself before counting out cash for the bill and a generous tip for Becky. Cas can suck it—he’s not going to let the alpha pay even a little bit for him.

He stands and picks up the pie as he slides his wallet back into the back pocket of his jeans. Cas is watching him, a hint of carefully tamped-down frustration barely lacing his scent, and it’s a moment before he stands too.

“You can drive,” Dean tells him. “Let’s get out of here.” He starts out of the diner without waiting to see if Cas follows. The alpha will or he won’t; right now, Dean doesn’t care either way.

Chapter Text

The speed with which Dean’s mood is able to sour is astonishing to Castiel. Did he make another risky leap? Yes. Did he know it was bound to have negative consequences? Of course he did. Still, the profoundness of the change is quite impressive. The set of the omega’s shoulders changes, the shade of his eyes seems a bit darker green in the absence of a spark of levity, his lips are tight at the corners. It’s fascinating to behold.

Although, Castiel still wishes that the sentence which had caused the shift had been better-received. He meant it entirely, and wants Dean to realize that.

He’s never been so thankful for a waitress as he is for Becky, however. The pie she delivered along with their bill didn’t fix Dean’s mood entirely, but Castiel could tell it was a serious improvement that will hopefully work in his favor. And that pie also means that, as Castiel follows Dean out of the diner, he diverts just slightly and slips a few more bills into a pocket of Becky’s apron as he passes. She notices, blinking up at him in surprise, but she’s busy with another table of guests, and so doesn’t have the time to question him. He smiles and tips his head in thanks, then pushes out the front door into the sunlight beyond.

She deserves a good tip, even beyond the one Dean already left on the table.

Outside, Dean has already unlocked the Impala and has the passenger door open to slide in. He’s frowning at the door when he catches sight of Castiel, likely wondering what the alpha’s delay was. Before he can ask, Cas goes to the driver’s side of the Impala. “Keys?”

Dean’s eyes narrow, and he purses his lips. “You better be careful,” he warns, but he tosses the keys over the top of the car without nearly as many threats as Castiel was expecting. Castiel catches the keys with ease, and when Dean gets into the car without another word, the alpha follows his example.

Even as Castiel starts the engine, Dean flips open his pie box and digs cuts a chunk off of the dessert with the plastic fork Becky included. The scent of his happiness blends nicely with the aroma of baked apples and cinnamon, and though the latter isn’t as enticing to Castiel as it clearly is to Dean, he likes the former well enough, and amusement tugs at his lips.

As it turns out, the Impala isn’t as easy to drive as Dean makes it look. The car is wider than he’s used to, heavy and awkward in comparison to the smaller, sleeker vehicles he tends to prefer, and the handling isn’t perfect, but by the time he has navigated them back to the interstate—and Dean is looking slightly green around the gills, attention diverted from his pie as he tenses every time the Impala so much as swerves—he’s driving her like a pro. He’s always been quick on the uptake.

Dean’s stress abates once it becomes clear that Castiel isn’t going to wreck his beloved car, and he happily returns to his pie. The last of the weirdness from the diner dissolves, and as Dean’s good mood grows, he even reaches out to flick on the radio, and the entire scene becomes scored by Led Zeppelin. Dean makes small, happy sounds over his pie all the while, and beams at Castiel when the alpha happens to catch his eye.

“Wa’ some?” Dean lifts the pie box in offering, less than half of the hefty slice remaining. A small bit of filling catches on his lip as he takes another bite.

Castiel licks his own lips and forces his eyes not to linger. “I won’t deprive you,” he teases, “but thank you.”

Dean hums as if to say, suit yourself, and continues devouring his pie in unadulterated bliss. The residue on his lips eventually gets cleaned by a swipe of his tongue, which Castiel is simultaneously grateful for and tortured by. Every time he glances over at the omega, though, and sees how happy he is, the alpha’s heart swells just a little bit more.

As the last of the pie finally starts to disappear and Dean’s happy moans turn into content hums, Castiel flashes him a warm smile. “Is this your happy place?” he asks, his tone only partially joking. “Road trip and free pie? I’m still a bit confused as to why Becky gave us that, but I have to say, I’m glad that she did.”

Dean grins widely. He quickly shoves the last bite of pie into his mouth and then closes the box and sets it aside, reclining in his seat and getting comfortable as he goes. “Yeah, this is pretty much perfect. My baby, good music, and good pie. Doesn’t get any better than this. Especially when I have a cool alpha with me.” There’s unmistakable fondness in Dean’s eyes when Castiel meets his gaze next, and it makes his heart soar.

“Oh, so now I’m cool?” he quips. “Really. Is that just because I haven’t objected to your dated music tastes?” He arches an eyebrow at the other man, lips pursed to hold his grin at bay. “To be fair, I was just planning on waiting until you fell into a food coma to change it. I was thinking of going classical. Or maybe country. But I would hate to ruin your ‘happy place’, and if it would make me lose my cool status…” He sighs heavily, like it’s a huge sacrifice he’s making. His grin starts to break free, and he lets it. “What a shame.”

Dean laughs, just as Castiel was hoping he would. “Wow. Country? Classical? You are just a terrible person. I don’t think we can be friends. I can’t be seen with someone who thinks classical music is better than classic rock.” He chuckles and shakes his head, sinking back in his seat and turning to get comfortable against the door as he lets his eyes slide closed. “Keep your eyes on the road, mister,” he instructs with a jab of his finger in the general direction of the windshield. “This is a food coma nap I earned. Also, for your information, your taste in music is not why I think you’re cool. Well, thought you were cool, until you were a jackass.”

Castiel’s answering laugh bubbles up within him, starting small but getting louder as his head tips back. “Okay, fine,” he concedes, “I loathe country music, classic rock is supreme. There’s no need to be a bully about it. As for the food coma…” He can’t help but eye the slight pudge at Dean’s stomach, endearingly soft. He can see why it’s there, now. It’s quite adorable. “If you’re going to nap, just do it. I’m driving us just fine, don’t worry. I may be actively working to make myself less cool in your eyes, but I think I’m still cool enough to be able to competently drive a cool car.”

“Yeah, yeah, okay.” Dean chuckles again, wiggling himself further into a comfortable position. “I’m trusting you not to total my car. And I’ll totally wake up if you change the music, I’m warning you.”

“Just sleep, Dean.”

“Bossy,” Dean scoffs. He does as he’s told, however, and gives into the tiredness Castiel knows for a fact is plaguing him. After one last mumbled, “Thanks, Cas,” Dean’s breathing begins to slow, and his scent mellows out—becoming headier, softer, sweeter, just as it had been when they were pressed together in Castiel’s bed that morning—as he drifts off. He doesn’t look particularly comfortable, with his head lolling against the window as it is, but he’s fully relaxed as he sinks into sleep, so Castiel figures it can’t be too bad.

Over the course of the course of the next hour and a half, the only change Castiel makes to the radio is to turn the volume down, to keep it from disturbing Dean’s nap. The omega sleeps soundly, and miles fly by beneath the Impala’s tires. Castiel glances over at his passenger on a regular basis, enjoying his presence even in sleep. He’s paying close enough attention that when Dean eventually begins to stir, when the sun is halfway back to the horizon and the afternoon is just beginning to fade, he sees it coming far in advance.

“Congratulations on not crashing us,” is the first thing Dean says when he wakes. The rough, sleep-heavy scrape of his voice makes Castiel smile. How is it possible that everything he does is so endearing?

He slants a look at the omega, eyes bright with affection. “I told you you had nothing to worry about; I’m very trustworthy. Did you have a good nap? I expect that was the lingering exhaustion from your nightmare last night that just reared its head up.”

It takes a moment longer than expected for Dean to reply, so Castiel tears his eyes away from the road once again to glance over to investigate. Dean’s gaze lingers on the alpha’s hands where they hang from the steering wheel, and he looks… faintly mesmerized.

For a fraction of a second, there’s a quick, barely-there dash of spicy something in Dean’s scent, gone again before Castiel can fully process it.

“Yeah, probably that,” Dean mumbles. He rubs the sleep from his eyes, then raises his arms above his head and lifts his hips in the best stretch he can manage in the cramped confines of the car. The strength visible in his limbs threatens to make Castiel’s mouth water. “It was a pretty good nap, though. How was the driving? I miss anything exciting?”

“Nothing exciting,” the alpha assures. He smiles, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I figure we can keep going for another five or six hours tonight, but we’ll need to stop for gas soon. Fifty miles or so. We can switch places at that point, if you’d like.”

“Sure, we’ll switch then.” Dean’s spine cracks with one final stretch, and then he settles back into his seat with a contented sigh. “We’re getting a motel room tonight, yeah?”

Castiel slouches in his seat somewhat, following Dean’s example and changing his position up to get more comfortable. “We can get a motel room,” he answers. “I would like to. I don’t want us pushing ourselves too hard.” He glances at the omega. “Is that okay with you?”

“Sounds fine to me,” Dean replies with a nod. He runs his hand through his hair, then slings an arm along the back of the seat, his fingers ending up near Castiel’s neck. Castiel has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling again. “How far do you think we can make it tonight? You have an endpoint in mind?”

“I’m thinking Cleveland. It’s a good mark to push towards for the day, and from there, Pontiac is only a few hours away. If we get back on the road by a decent time tomorrow morning, we can make it there close to midday.”

Dean nods in agreement and drawls, dipping into a Midwestern accent that’s far more endearing than it should be, “Cleveland it is, then. We can have a bit of a relaxed evening tonight and figure out what we’re doing in regards to Azazel.” The highway takes a slight bend, and around a copse of trees, a gas station becomes visible in the distance. Dean perks up at the sight, a grin tugging at his lips. “Hey—pull in there, and we can gas up and switch spots.”

Happiness pours into Dean’s scent at even just the prospect of getting behind the wheel again, and Castiel is definitely not going to deny him that sort of glee. He steers the Impala over a lane so that they can get off the highway, decelerating to a speed appropriate for the small town they’re stopping off in. He pulls smoothly into the gas station, cuts the engine, then tosses the keys across the front seat to Dean. “Fill her up,” he says as he opens his door and starts to slide out, “I’ll go inside and get snacks. Do you want anything?”

Dean flashes him a grin across the cab of the car, then climbs out of his own door. “I’m good with anything,” he answers, circling around the car to get to the pump. Castiel touches his shoulder in acknowledgement as he passes, then leaves him to fill the tank in favor of going into the Gas-n-Sip.

Under the too-bright fluorescents of the convenience store, Castiel wastes no time finding what he wants, a not-quite sense of urgency in his steps as he buzzes through the aisles. He doesn’t want to putter around and waste time that they could be spending on the road—so he doesn’t. Making what may very well be record time for the shop, the alpha grabs two bottles of water, a pair of protein bars, a pack of Skittles, some gum, and a bag of Funyuns. The clerk bags it all for him and he pays in cash. He doesn’t need his change, so he doesn’t stand around to wait for it.

When he’s back outside, the jingling of the bell over the door heralding his exit from the convenience store mere minutes after he entered, his steps falter. What he sees is bad enough, but he hears the words just as his foot hits the pavement of the parking lot, and he stops dead in his tracks, his vision tingeing red.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart? Come on, you little knotslut. You up for a quickie in the bathroom?”

The unknown alpha advances on Dean as he finishes filling the Impala’s tank, rubbing obscenely at his own crotch while the omega replaces the nozzle. The alpha’s cronies laugh, lingering just behind him in encouragement. Even from halfway across the lot, Castiel can see that Dean’s hands shake as he turns back to close the fuel cap. His jaw is clenched, his shoulders are hunched, and Castiel doesn’t know how this encounter began, but the gaps aren’t difficult to fill in.

And Castiel is furious.

His blood boils, and his hands, clenched into fists at his sides, shake uncontrollably. The alphas—four in total, two with alcohol on their breath, all out of shape and between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five, as Castiel instinctively catalogues—may as well be begging for their skulls to be smashed against the pavement. Castiel itches for it, can already see it happening in his mind’s eye. He starts toward Dean, fury boiling over and ready for an outlet.

“I’ll give you one chance,” Dean growls dangerously, and just like that, Castiel is stopping again, his interest caught, “to apologize for what you just said.”

The red clouding Castiel’s vision abates slightly—though his growl, whenever that began, continues on in full force. If Dean wants to handle this on his own… Castiel will gladly watch him beat these men to a pulp. And so he waits, his muscles coiled in anticipation, still closer to the convenience store than he is to Dean.

The lead alpha sneers, and his companions mimic the expression. “I’m not scared of you, bitch,” he tells Dean, chin raised in arrogance. “Deny it all you want, you omegas are all the same—all you want is to be hanging off of a fat knot.” He grabs at his crotch again, like it’s some sort of grand prize, and the alphas behind him crow as if it’s the greatest thing they’ve heard all day.

And that is when Dean snaps.

The first man’s nose breaks with a sickening crunch, and he staggers backwards, howling in pain as blood gushes down his face. The next goes down with a knee to the gut and an elbow to the back of the head, and it’s only then that the final two recognize the fact that they’re in a fight and jump to action, both men visibly bolstering themselves and scrambling to formulate an attack.

Castiel knows instinctively that Dean can take them, and he’s pleased he’s not going to be disappointed in that regard. Though his residual anger toward the offending alphas is still leaking from his every pore, he calms enough to stop growling, and his vision clears completely.

The third alpha of the group makes the mistake of trying to rush Dean, growling in an embarrassing attempt at a battle cry as he does; the omega ducks the man’s outstretched arms with ease, crouching down and slamming his shoulder up into the man’s stomach. The alpha flips over Dean’s back and lands hard on the pavement, his head bouncing once against the ground before he settles, still and unmoving. The fourth and final attacker looks for a moment as if he’s going to try to duplicate his friend’s rush, but his face pales when the man ends up sprawled out on the concrete. He makes the wise decision to flee instead, reeking of piss and fear and barely staying on his feet as he tears across the parking lot with his tail between his legs.

As the coward of the group makes himself known, the first man finally returns for a second attack. He grabs at Dean with bloody hands and bared teeth, and it’s almost too easy for the omega to catch one of his wrists and twist it until there’s an unnatural cracking sound. Dean kicks him in the balls, and when the man collapses to the ground, he spits on the ground beside him.

“Don’t ever treat an omega like that again,” Dean snarls, then turns and leaves the man on the ground without a second glance. His cold, furious gaze catches Castiel’s as he goes to get back into the car, and while the alpha knows his own eyes are wide with awe, he can’t help himself.

Castiel is thrilled by Dean’s power, his dominance; it makes the alpha’s blood pump through his veins in an entirely different way than it had just moments previously. He can’t bring himself to move from the spot he’s been rooted to until he realizes that Dean is getting into the car, at which point, Castiel hastens to join him.

And if he steps on the hand of the second alpha who had gone down as he passes, breaking his fingers and eliciting a scream—well. He couldn’t care less.

He climbs into the Impala, depositing his Gas-n-Sip bag in the back seat, but doesn’t say a word to the omega on the opposite side of the vehicle. He won’t, until they’ve at least left the scene of the crime. Or until Dean speaks—whichever comes first. Once they’re closed into the car, however, their roiling scents bottled up...

Castiel wets his lips and looks out his window, away from Dean. The smell of alpha arousal isn’t exactly subtle where it threads into his scent, and Castiel can pinpoint the exact moment that the omega notices it.

Dean’s head snaps up, his gaze immediately boring into the side of Castiel’s head. His surprise is apparent, but instead of offence or outrage like the alpha is expecting, instead of being told off, Dean’s response comes in the form of an answering wave of arousal. The sweetness of it highlights Dean’s scent in a way that makes Castiel’s mouth water. Dean’s throat clicks when he swallows, and even from the corner of his eye, Cas can see him forcefully wrench his gaze away. He’s silent as he starts the engine and drives back toward the highway, his knuckles white around the wheel.

Even though Castiel thinks he should at least try to look embarrassed by his base reaction (even though he feels nothing of the sort), the half-formed thought he has of playing that up dissolves with the new turn the situation has taken. Dean’s arousal is as thick in the air as his own, and he can hardly believe his nose. He manages to contain himself well enough in the face of it—right up until Dean’s scent gets even stronger, richer, sweeter. Castiel swallows down a groan.

“Jesus, Dean,” he mutters, voice drawn low with desire. He was struggling enough as it is, but now he can practically taste Dean’s slick, for how heavily the scent of it hangs in the air. He digs his fingers into his thighs to keep himself from reaching across the seat; his entire body is thrumming, twitching. The memory of Dean taking down the group of alphas plays on a loop in his mind, which really only serves to make matters worse. He clenches his jaw and tries to breathe through his mouth as much as possible.

He won’t lose control. Not unless Dean authorizes it.

Which may come sooner than later, if the way the Impala swerves is any indication. Dean lets out a soft sound that’s somewhere between a growl and a whimper that burns its way into Castiel’s mind, and smacks a hand against the steering wheel, his entire body wound tight. “We shouldn’t, Cas,” he says, but his voice wavers, and Castiel clings to that fact. The scent of slick sharpens. “We can’t.”

Every sound Dean makes, the way he smells—it all wears on Castiel, eats at his normally-impenetrable control, and damnit, he needs. Dean’s first word was shouldn’t. His can’t lacks conviction. It’s not a hard refusal, meaning that Castiel doesn’t have it in him to back down just yet. He swallows hard, grasping at what’s left of his sanity, his restraint.

“Dean.” His tongue sweeps out over his lips; he can taste Dean on the air. “Say no, and… we won’t. But we can,” he says, his words picking up pace as they pour out, “and it doesn’t have to be as detrimental as you have it built up in your mind to be. I would never treat you with anything less than the complete and total respect and admiration that you deserve, and I will never make any sort of demands.”

He pauses to take a deep breath. He hadn’t quite meant for that much to spill out, but, well. He’s feeling desperate at the moment; Dean looks ready to snap, and a small whine falls past his lips, but that doesn’t mean Castiel has won yet. “If nothing else—have you ever received a blowjob while driving? Maybe that would be most efficient.”

The final line secures Castiel’s victory, just as he hoped it would. Dean whines again, louder this time, and his hips twitch upwards. He’s already hard in the confines of his jeans, and the alpha has no doubt that those jeans are soaked through in the back as well. There’s sweat beading at Dean’s hairline when he gasps out, “Fuck, fuck, Cas, please.”

Castiel moans in response to the omega’s plea, but really, it was the movement in his hips which sealed the alpha’s fate. Even if Dean had followed that up by turning him down, Castiel probably wouldn’t have had the strength to hold back, not when Dean’s body is so blatantly giving him permission. He slides across the seat toward Dean and cups a hand to the opposite side of Dean’s face, tilting the omega closer so that he can trail sloppy kisses up his jaw and back to his ear. “You’re so fucking beautiful,” he whispers, then continues onward to mouth down his neck.

As he works, Castiel drops his hands down to the front of Dean’s jeans, stroking once, twice over the tent in the front of them, making Dean arch and whine. The button is easy enough to unhook, and the zipper slides down without resistance. Castiel leaves Dean’s neck only so that he can meet his eyes, bringing their faces level. They’re so close, Castiel can taste him on every breath.

“Is this what you want, Dean? Your please wasn’t very specific. Tell me what you want, and it’s yours.”

Dean’s eyes are wide and glassy where they’re fixed on the road, but he tears them away for just long enough to meet his alpha’s lust-blown gaze. The omega’s cheeks are flushed pink with arousal, and his eyelashes flutter as he bucks his hips up into the hand Castiel still has over his cock. “Please, Cas,” he gasps, the Impala swerving slightly. “You, you fucking tease. Please. Suck my cock. I want your mouth on me, please alpha.”

Castiel moans yet again. He knew Dean would perform perfectly, but every please from the omega’s tongue serves to make him all the more acutely aware of just how lost on Dean he is, and being called alpha in that way, while not something he explicitly seeks out from a partner, links them together in such a way that it ends up being more erotic than it ever has been before. With Dean like this, Castiel couldn’t resist him if he tried.

He nips at the base of the omega’s neck and confirms, voice thin and strangled, “Anything for you.”

And god, does he mean it.

He yanks Dean’s boxers out of the way to allow his cock to spring free, giving Castiel his first look at it. Longer than most omegas’, perhaps slightly thicker than average. Distantly, Castiel wonders how Dean would react if he were to ask him to fuck him with it. He’ll have to wait and find out another time, though, because his mouth has much more important things to be doing than talking. After one last, quick glance at Dean—and a wink, for good measure—the alpha dives down, swallowing Dean’s length in one go. He rests there for a moment, letting Dean feel the wet heat of his mouth and enjoying the moan that reverberates through the omega right through to Castiel’s bones.

“Fuck, Cas, fuck,” Dean whimpers, and Castiel takes that as his cue to move. He bobs and sucks, tracing the skin with his tongue and pulling out all the stops to get his omega to the brink as quickly as possible. It isn’t long before his efforts earn him a hand in his hair, gripping and tugging like it’s all Dean can do to hold on (and it likely is; as long as Dean is keeping the Impala on the road, however, any outlet would be fine in Castiel’s book), and the added sensation gives a new definition to the feeling of heaven. Dean’s fingers seem to fit perfectly along the curve of Castiel’s skull, unyielding and demanding and nothing short of perfect.

Castiel drops down as far as he possibly can, his nose pressing into Dean’s groin and the omega’s cock reaching past the entrance to his throat, and moans at the myriad of sensations that threatening to overwhelm him with their intensity. He knows that the vibrations may very well push Dean over the edge, but even if they do, so be it; the taste of precome is salty on his tongue, a hint at what the real thing will taste like, and he’s eager to try it.

Dean’s hips swivel upwards and his cock twitches, but he doesn’t come quite yet, despite how close Castiel can tell he is. The omega is practically writhing beneath him—as much as he can, given that he’s somehow still driving—and mewling softly. His hand flexes in Castiel’s hair and he’s chanting encouragements, and while that’s nice, it’s not what Castiel is going for.

In a final, valiant effort to push Dean over the edge, the alpha pulls back a bit so that he can tongue at Dean’s slit, and slides a hand in to fondle his balls. He hums, putting as much vibration into it as he can, and that finally gets him what he wants. Dean’s hips thrust up into his mouth one final time, and then with only a hoarse shout of Cas’s name as warning, he’s coming, spilling down the alpha’s throat. Castiel stays in place, drinking all of him down, but the firm hand that Dean keeps in his hair forces him to do so anyway, giving him no choice but to swallow.

Of course, even if it weren’t for the fingers tangled in his hair, there is no way in hell Castiel would ever voluntarily leave an opportunity as grand as this unfulfilled. As Dean’s cock pulses, Castiel traces small encouragements into his shaft with the tip of his tongue, and milks him until he begins to go soft. Once the omega is finally spent, Castiel lets off with an obscene pop, then gently tucks Dean back into his boxers. He’s breathing heavily when he sits up, and leans into Dean as he recovers. The omega, at least, is in a similar state. Castiel licks his lips and slants a grin at the man, eyes bright and jaw tired.

“Congratulations on not going off the road,” he says, almost directly into Dean’s ear. His voice is wrecked in the way that only happens when someone’s just had a cock down their throat. The thought pleases him, and pride bleeds into the heady arousal all but consuming his scent. “Feeling a bit better now?”

Dean stares at him with wide eyes, clearly struck silent by the sight the alpha makes. He knows he must look obscene, with his swollen, wet lips and blatant sex hair, but with the way Dean stares, he feels like more of a god than a man. The Impala wavers again and another car honks, forcing Dean to jolt back into focus.

“Holy shit,” he eventually breathes, his chest still heaving too much for him to speak normally, and Castiel grins. “That was… holy shit.”

The pride in Castiel’s scent only strengthens at the review. Struggling for air, struggling for words—if this is the effect he has on Dean, he has no complaints. The omega’s cheeks are tinted pink, flushed from his orgasm, and his eyes are bright to the point of nearly being glazed-over. He’s utterly devastating in his beauty.

Castiel sits back a bit, still close to Dean, but no longer latched onto his side to give him room. He can still taste the omega in his mouth. “It’s been a while since I’ve given a blowjob,” he admits, “I’d forgotten how fun it is. Though I’m sure the circumstances of today made it better, too.” His head is tipped back against the seat, but he rolls it to the side so that he can watch Dean.

Dean just chuckles. “Yeah, well. I can’t believe you thought me beating those guys up was so hot.”

Castiel moans softly, pinching his eyes closed at the reminder. It makes his body heat again just thinking about it; he may have sucked Dean off, but his own arousal was left unattended. He got enough satisfaction from Dean’s satisfaction that he’s lost the frantic neediness of before, his erection flagging somewhat, but returning to thinking about the incident at the gas station is definitely not going to help him continue to calm down like he’d like to.

But if he’s going to think about it…

“Christ, Dean, it was so hot,” he groans. “You’re a gorgeous man, and to get to see you take down three large alphas without so much as breaking a sweat? There I was, ready to step in and help if need be…” With his eyes closed, he sees the righteous fury Dean had borne through the fight on an endless loop, the light in the omega’s eyes as he crushed the lowly alphas who dared to so much as look his direction. Castiel blinks his eyes back open. Not helping. “I’m not even upset about not getting to help, though. I’m just glad that I got to watch.”

Dean laughs, likely because he can tell how much Castiel’s arousal skyrockets along with the train of thought. “I could take them down with my hands tied behind my back,” he declares with a smirk. “I am trained in several martial arts disciplines, after all. Three fat alphas are no problem for me.”

Castiel has to lick his lips at the mental image that that provides. Dean can probably do a lot with his hands tied, and breathtaking though it may be, fighting off a pack of ill-mannered alphas probably wouldn’t even make the top ten. Dean is fit, strong and probably flexible to boot, if he’s so well trained…

It takes the introduction of a darker note into the omega’s scent to pull Castiel out of his thoughts, and he blinks over at the man. Without thought, he raises a hand to the back of Dean’s head, threading fingers through his hair and massaging at his scalp. Now that he’s sucked Dean’s cock, he’s a lot less wary of intimacy. Dean flinches briefly in surprise, but quickly relaxes, sighing softly as his muscles loosen. Apparently the experience has been freeing for them both.

“They were trash,” he tells him, taking an educated guess as to the nature of Dean’s more serious thoughts. There are only so many things right now that could cause the frown line he sees, after all. “They deserved the beating they received. I know that sort of encounter is unusual for you, but do not think it indicative of all future encounters—knotheads like those men are the minority.” The hand not rubbing Dean’s head twitches toward a fist. “You still probably went easier on them than I would have,” he admits quietly. “It may have been more satisfying across the board for you to do it, but… Lord, I may have actually ripped that man’s throat out.”

There’s a soft whoosh of air as Dean exhales, and an interested bolt of something that goes through his scent. He shivers in response to Castiel’s words, and isn’t that just fascinating. “That’s murder, Cas,” the man jokes weakly. “I’m an FBI agent, you know.”

Castiel hums, remaining neutral on the declaration of ripping out a man’s throat being murder. It’s not like that would have stopped him; he meant what he said, and Dean’s physical reaction very much undermined any seriousness that his joking tone may have still conveyed. Of course, he plays along anyway.

“To relieve you of the legal obligation to arrest me, let’s say that I wouldn’t have ripped his throat out,” he amends with a smile. “Or his tongue, which was also possible. But I certainly would have broken a number of his bones. And I would have made all of them apologize to you.” His one, single regret with how that all played out is that Dean didn’t get an apology. He heard what those alphas had been saying; it was foul, dirty, completely unnecessary toward any omega but especially for Dean. He looks over at the man, expression drawn. “Speaking of. I am sorry that they thought it would be okay to treat you as they did. It’s not acceptable for anyone, of any primary or secondary gender combination, to be subjected to such filthy treatment. You are worth much more than that, Dean.”

The subject is making Dean quiet, quieter than Castiel wants to see him right now, so he sighs and changes the topic before the omega’s thoughts before his thoughts can get too dark on the matter. Castiel shifts closer to the point that their thighs are nearly brushing, and he pokes at Dean’s leg. “Are you alright? I’m sure you must be uncomfortable in those underwear. We can stop so that you can change, if need be.”

The darkness that had been setting in clears from Dean’s face, and he scowls playfully at the poke to his leg. He glares down at his jeans as if they personally offend him. “Yeah, I should probably change, no thanks to you. Do you see anywhere I can pull over?”

Castiel chuckles. “Do you think my underwear are doing much better?” he asks, an eyebrow raised as he gestures toward his crotch. His erection is mostly gone by now, but it’s still visible through his jeans. His situation might not be as dire as Dean’s, considering the omega has more substances coming from more places, but Castiel’s boxers are unpleasantly damp from precome, and he likes teasing Dean, anyway.

Chapter Text

Out of all the outcomes that could have occurred after he’d beaten the shit out of those alphas, Dean was in no way expecting this to have been one of them. Getting a blowjob from Cas as he tried to keep them on the road? That had not been what he was expecting—though he’s in no way complaining. That had been amazing, even though he’s still not quite sure how he didn’t end up wrapping them around a tree. Who knew Cas would find him beating up some alphas so hot? The alpha must really have some wires crossed.

But, then again, so does Dean.

While it’s nice to finally be with someone who knows he’s an omega (trying to hide his slick has been a nightmare over the years) it also makes clean-up a very necessary thing.

Dean shoots a glare (though it holds little heat; he’s still dazed after his blowjob) at Cas when the alpha suggests that their situations are in any way comparable—as if a little bit of precome could make as much of a mess as the puddle of slick that Dean can currently feel soaking into the seat of his jeans. At the alpha’s gesture towards his crotch, however, Dean can’t help but let his gaze be drawn to the area that Cas is pointing out.

The alpha is still at least half hard, tenting his jeans impressively, and the sight of it makes Dean’s mouth water. He has to tear his gaze away and keep it on the road, his grip shifting restlessly around the steering wheel as he looks for somewhere to pull over and tries not to think about how big Cas is when he’s fully hard.

From the rumbling chuckle and the scent of amusement curling through the air, Cas noticed both his glance and his subsequent attempts to not look.

With the sticky dampness of his boxers quickly becoming too much, Dean slows the Impala and pulls off onto the side of the road, then kills the engine. He has to get out of the heady cocktail of arousal and sex that’s swirling around the inside of the car. “Won’t be a minute,” he tells Cas, who simply replies with a nod and a, “Do what you need.” Cas has to lean back as Dean fumbles around in the backseat for his bag, as the alpha has somehow ended up in the middle of the bench seat, almost pressed against Dean as he drove.

Once Dean realises just how close Cas still is, he’s quick to climb out of the car—if he spends any longer in the alpha’s proximity, who knows what will happen. While there’s more chance of being seen out here, getting changed will be easier than trying to contort himself in the front seat—within reach of Cas, no less—so he’ll simply just have to be quick.

He kicks off his boots and peels down his jeans and boxers, reaching down to tug the ends of his jeans down over his ankles. The damp clothing is bundled into a ball, and he’s pulling out a clean pair of boxers and sweats when he hears a strangled sound from behind him.

When Dean turns to look over his shoulder, he sees Cas practically sprawling into the driver’s seat, lips parted as he draws Dean’s scent in over his tongue in greedy gulps. The alpha’s eyes are dark and lust-blown and fixed firmly on the sight of Dean’s bare ass.

Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea—especially when Dean’s gaze drops a little lower. If he’d thought Cas’s jeans were tented before, it’s nothing on the outline of the erection that he can see straining against the denim now. Dean’s soft cock gives a valiant twitch at the sight, and Cas looks as if he’s one heartbeat away from leaping out of the car and bending Dean over the nearest flat surface.

The omega can’t help but straighten fully and turn to face Cas, leaning against the open driver’s door with a wicked (if slightly breathless) smirk. “See something you like, alpha?” he purrs, and the desperate, broken sound that falls from Cas’s lips is going to be haunting every one of Dean’s fantasies to come. “Dean,” the alpha groans, his gaze flitting across Dean’s body as if he can’t decide where he wants to look—Dean’s face, his throat, his strong thighs, the near-soft cock that would definitely be filling with arousal had Dean not orgasmed mere minutes ago.

The alpha presses the heel of his hand to his cock, the muscles of his throat working as if they’re trying to pull in air and failing. “So fucking gorgeous,” Cas pants out, and Dean can’t help the soft moan that falls from his lips as the strength of Cas’s arousal hits him. At the sound, Cas screws his eyes shut and presses more forcefully against his crotch, his hips rocking minutely up to meet his hand. “Dean, don’t—don’t do this to me,” he grits out, and Dean can see his whole body tensing, trying to resist to urge to reach out, to close the distance between them. “Please, I can only keep my desires in check for so long.”

After so many years of suppressing it, the resurgence of his inner omega is forceful and overwhelming, urging him to present, to bare his neck, to let the alpha take him and breed him and claim him. It hits him with such force that Dean’s knees buckle slightly, and he reaches out a hand to support himself on the roof of the car as he tries to tamp it back down. Even if that was a possibility, something that Dean wanted, it can’t happen out here, on the shoulder of the road. But if Cas is hard and desperate, his hand grinding down for friction and his hips rocking up, dark, blue gaze locked on Dean—well, there’s something they can do about that.

Dean drops the boxers and sweats back into his bag, his heart hammering out a forceful staccato against his ribs as he moves back towards the car and rests one knee on the small section of seat that Cas has afforded him. The alpha arches up towards Dean, blue eyes wide and disbelieving, but despite his obvious desperation to put his hands on the omega hovering over him, he obeys the gentle hand pressing against his chest and shuffles back over to his own seat.

It’s evident from the way Cas’s face falls that he thinks Dean is rejecting him—which is why, when Dean follows him and swings a knee over his hips to settle into his lap, the moan of shock that rumbles out of Cas’s chest is all the sweeter. His hands twitch by his sides as if he doesn’t dare to touch the omega and shatter this moment, this opportunity.

Dean has to duck his head to avoid smacking it against the roof, and it only brings their faces closer when the omega speaks. “Well, alpha,” he murmurs, smirking at the needy sound that falls from Cas’s lips, “the thing is, I haven’t been fucked in a really, really long time. And when I finally am, it’s not going to be in the front seat of a car, capisce?” Dean rocks his hips teasingly against Cas’s, and it’s a testament to Cas’s willpower that all he does is shift his hands to the omega’s waist and hold him firmly in place. Dean gives a shocked gasp at the sensation of the alpha’s hands, hot and calloused and strong, against his bare skin. His head tips back, and through hooded eyes, he can see a muscle jumping in Cas’s jaw as he clenches his teeth together.

A low growl is emanating from the alpha, and Dean knows that they hit the point of no return when he let Cas swallow him down in the front seat of the car. There’s no point in denying the tension, the attraction, the need. So when Cas rasps out, “Damn it, Dean, just—please. I need something, love, don’t just—don’t tease me like this,” Dean can’t not oblige.

As much as he wants to free the alpha from the confines of his jeans and slide down onto what he knows is a perfect cock, he stands by what he said, that his first time in a long time isn’t going to be in a car (even if it is his beloved Impala). Instead, he climbs off Cas’s lap and settles his hand onto the tent in the denim. “Then let me blow you, alpha,” he rasps out, leaning in to lick and nip along Cas’s throat. “Where do you want me? Here? On my knees? Tell me.”

“On your knees,” Cas growls out immediately, and it’s clear that he’s done simply being a passenger in this, letting Dean have his way. Rough fingers twist into Dean’s hair and guide him down until he’s kneeling in the footwell, settled between Cas’s spread legs. Dean whines needily at the commanding tone and the firm hand in his hair, rubbing his cheek against Cas’s inner thigh. Cas lets out a pleased rumble, his eyes half-lidded where he watches Dean, and his grip softens until his fingers are carding gently through the omega’s hair. Dean lets out a short burst of a purr and leans into the touch for a moment before he’s raising his hands and making quick work of the button and fly.

He doesn’t look away from the alpha’s lust-dark eyes until his deft fingers are reaching into Cas’s boxers and pulling the alpha free—he can’t help his gaze drifting down then, and a whine escapes him at the sight of the long, thick alpha cock, steadily drooling precome from the slit. He’d forgotten just how big alphas are, and he can feel his hole clenching with want, slick trailing down the cleft of his ass. Holy fuck.

Cas hisses at the touch of cool air and moans when Dean’s warm hand wraps around the base, but the sound he makes when Dean slowly leans forward and drags his lips over the shaft of the alpha’s cock in a series of kisses is almost inhuman. Cas’s skin is velvety soft beneath his lips, smelling of alpha musk, and Dean rumbles out a pleased sound as he stretches his lips wide over the fat head of the alpha’s cock and tongues gently at the slit, lapping at the precome gathering there. Cas’s hips buck at the swirl of his tongue, and Dean moans as fingers tighten in his hair. “Dean—“ Cas gasps, his thigh twitching under Dean’s hand where he’s steadying himself. “So good, Dean feels so fucking good.”

It’s incredibly gratifying to hear, and Dean redoubles his efforts at the alpha’s words of praise. All he wants is to make Cas feel as good as the alpha made him feel earlier. Dean shifts up more onto his knees for a better angle, and he begins to slide his lips down the alpha’s cock. The thick girth of it means that Dean's mouth is stretched obscenely wide, and when Cas's cockhead bumps the entrance to his throat, he begins to bob his head, one hand coming up to stroke the rest of the alpha's length that he can't fit into his mouth.

Above him, he can hear Cas’s ragged breaths and moans, and the alpha’s fingers are still carding gently through Dean’s hair. It’s as if the alpha is treating him as some precious, breakable thing. He arches up into the hands in his hair every time he pulls up off Cas’s cock to tease at the head with his tongue, and soon enough, he can feel Cas’s knot beginning to swell against his palm.

“Dean, love, I’m—Your damn mouth, Jesus Christ,” Cas babbles, groaning deeply as Dean slides his lips back down the shaft as far as he can go. Still, though, those hands don’t tighten. Dean wants to feel owned, for Cas to manhandle him, and take his pleasure. As the alpha’s knot swells, he massages it with one hand and reaches the other up to place his palm atop Cas’s. When Dean looks up, Cas’s brow is pinched with confusion, but when he guides the alpha to tighten his grip, his eyes go wide and he groans. His fingers tighten in Dean’s hair, and when Cas lowers another hand to pull sharply and guide the omega with rough motions, Dean moans around the thick cock in his mouth.

Holy fuck, this is better than he’d ever imagined, and when Cas cries out, “Fuck yes, Dean,” it seems that they’re both on the same page. Dean gives Cas’s knot an encouraging squeeze, and Cas’s hips twitch in small, aborted thrusts. Beneath Dean’s free hand, the alpha’s thigh is beginning to tremble, and Dean realises that Cas is getting close to his orgasm.

With the way that Cas’s hips are bucking more and more as the alpha loses control, Dean can only try his best to relax his jaw and throat, the alpha’s cock nudging at his throat with every sharp thrust and making him gag and choke. Cas’s hands, fisted in his hair, pull him down as his hips rut up, and Dean has to just focus on breathing as the alpha fucks into his mouth with shallow thrusts. It’s terrifying and exhilarating all at once, having all the control and power in Cas’s hands. When he glances up, eyes dazed and glassy, lips stretched obscenely wide as Cas fucks into his mouth, it’s enough to send the alpha over the edge.

Cas’s knot swells in Dean’s hand, as large as it can get without being locked inside someone, and Dean’s blunt nails scrabble against denim-covered thighs as the alpha’s orgasm takes him by surprise. Cas’s cock is so deep that he chokes on the first few spurts of come, and some dribbles past the seam of his lips and down his chin until he figures out that if he pulls back to rest Cas’s cockhead on the flat of his tongue, he can swallow everything more easily. His fingers gently massage at the alpha’s knot, and Cas’s hips rock lazily through his orgasm.

Dean,” the alpha moans, his fingers twitching in Dean’s hair until he finally goes still, his spent cock slipping from Dean’s lips.

Overwhelmed and achingly hard, Dean settles back onto his heels and rests his cheek against Cas’s thigh as he tries to catch his breath. He’s pretty sure that was one of the hottest things he’s ever done in his life.

Cas appears content and sluggish, slumped back against the seat as his breath comes in heavy gulps. It takes a few moments for them both to recover, and when they have, Cas reaches out and curls his fingers along Dean's jaw. His thumb swipes through the come at the corner of the omega's mouth, rubbing it into his skin and smearing it across his swollen lips. He watches with sharp eyes, captivated, and Dean lets his lips part and his tongue curl around Cas’s come-smeared thumb. He feels his arousal spike at the lazy gesture of dominance and ownership, and Cas seems to notice it, because the next thing Dean knows, there’s a finger tapping at his jaw.

“Come up here,” he rumbles, and then there’s a guiding hand on Dean’s shoulder and he’s crawling back up onto Cas’s lap. His knee joints crack unpleasantly, but Dean firmly denies his body’s insistence that he’s getting too old to be giving blowjobs in the footwell of a car.

“Enjoy that, Cas?” He rasps with a chuckle as he settles into the alpha’s lap, his voice a hoarse, raspy growl after the thorough face-fucking he just received. The alpha gives him a lazy grin and leans in to trace his nose along the arch of Dean’s cheek.

“I think enjoy might be a bit of an understatement, but yes. That was incredible, Dean, thank you.” Dean shudders as Cas places a wet kiss over the corner of his mouth, tongue dragging over his skin to lick at the smear of come remaining there, and Cas’s hands tighten on his hips. The alpha is looking up at Dean through his lashes, and the omega only has time for the seed of suspicion to be planted in his mind before Cas is smirking and rocking Dean’s hips forward. His hard cock grinds against the alpha’s stomach, and Dean gives a shocked curse—that would explain the mischievous look. Fuck.

"Since we're already stopped... Let me get you off one more time?” Cas begs of him, nose nudging gently under Dean’s jaw and drinking in the omega’s arousal. “Please? I'll be quick, then you can get dressed and we'll be on our way."

Dean gives a soft sigh as Cas noses along the curve of his jaw and down his throat, the calm ministrations and the gentle rub of Cas’s thumbs into his hipbones completely at odds with the searing arousal simmering just under his skin. There’s no way he could possibly say no, not with the pleading tone in Cas’s voice, not with the gentle way he handles Dean, not with the way the alpha looks up at Dean from beneath his lashes, his blue eyes dark with desire.

He simply nods, his fingers digging into the alpha’s shoulders and head tipping back more to expose his throat. Cas smirks up at him, his hands rocking Dean’s hips down into his lap once again, and this time Dean follows the movement. He groans as his cock grinds up against Cas’s abdomen, smearing precome against the man’s white shirt—though it’s undoubtedly not as much of a mess as his slick is currently making of Cas’s jeans.

The alpha drags his teeth over the bolt of Dean’s jaw as Dean grinds in his lap, then shifts so that they’re almost face to face yet again, close enough that their breaths mingle and their noses brush. At the same time, Dean feels one of Cas’s hands shift, smoothing over his ass as the other keeps a firm grip on his hip. He whines into the air between them as Cas’s finger stops just shy of his hole, grazing over it teasingly.

They’re so close that they’re nearly kissing as Dean tries to rock back onto that finger, get it to breach him. “May I?” Cas breathes, and Dean doesn’t know which distance he wants to close, but Cas is driving him out of his mind and at this point he just doesn’t care.

“Please,” he gasps, his green eyes glazed as his hips writhe in desperate circles against Cas’s lap. His fingers claw at Cas’s shoulders, his nails scratching at the white fabric as if, should he try hard enough, he could simply tear it off.

Cas soothes him with a gentle sound. “Shh, it’s alright,” he coos, and the chaste kiss he presses to the corner of Dean’s mouth is nowhere near enough to quench the arousal raging through his veins. “I’ve got you, beautiful. I’m right here,” Cas tells him as he whines and shudders in the alpha’s lap, and then anything after that is an ecstasy-filled haze because all of a sudden there’s a finger pressing inside him to the knuckle and Cas is sealing their lips together.

The feeling of finally being filled, even though it’s not the stretch that Dean is craving, is incredible, and Dean moans filthily against Cas’s mouth as the alpha slides his tongue against Dean’s, demanding and insistent and forceful. Dean is wet and loose around Cas’s finger—which is why, after a few seconds, another is added, and now Dean is starting to get the stretch he’s been craving. The kiss between them is messy and clashing; a hot-wet slide of tongues and bumping of teeth, desperation and desire and a claim.

Everything in Dean’s mind has been reduced down to sensation and need and Cas, so much so that he can hardly think beyond his own pleasure and the coordination required to grind his cock against Cas’s stomach and fuck back onto the fingers pressed inside him. One hand finds Cas’s hair and pulls with little regard as to whether he’s hurting Cas—there’s no need to worry, because Cas groans out a, “Dean, fuck,” and bites hard at the omega’s bottom lip.

He must have distracted the alpha with it, because the kiss grows even less coordinated, as if all of Cas’s attention is on timing the thrusts of his fingers to match the rhythm of forward-back that Dean has set with his hips. When he adds a third, Dean moans desperately and kisses the alpha with all he has, licking into Cas’s mouth as if he can find his climax there. It’s so incredible to have something in him that isn’t a toy or his own fingers—he’d forgotten how much pleasure a partner can bring when he’s not the one who has to top all the time.

The pleasure is only increased by the fact that Cas knows how to play him like a fiddle—those skilful fingers tease across his prostate and Dean jerks in shock. Only seconds later, the pads of Cas’s fingers are rubbing over the bundle of nerves without mercy or reprieve, and Dean is shaking apart in Cas’s arms. He's trembling, his hands clutching at any part of the alpha that he can reach as he mewls and moans his overwhelming pleasure into the kiss—which has devolved into the bumping of mouths and messy slide of tongues and panting desperation.

His cock bobs between them, the omega too strung out and focused on the ministrations of Cas's fingers to rut against the alpha's stomach; as a result, his orgasm completely blindsides him. His eyes widen in shock, locked with Cas's blue, as he gives a punched-out groan and comes untouched in long stripes across Cas's white shirt.

Thankfully, Cas eases up on his prostate as he rides out the waves of pleasure, though he continues to finger-fuck him through it, the sounds of his fingers moving through slick nearly obscene. Dean presses his forehead against Cas’s as he tries to catch his breath, and the alpha’s eyes crinkle in a soft smile. “There you go, beautiful. You did so well.”

Dean slumps against Cas as he begins to come down from his high, feeling completely boneless, and drops his head to tuck his face into the crook of Cas’s neck. Holy fuck. Cas wraps an arm around his middle to keep him anchored and draws his fingers out, pulling a pitiful whine from Dean’s throat as his hole flutters and clenches, already missing the feeling of fullness. The alpha hushes him, wiping his fingers on his already filthy shirt, and smooths a calming hand across Dean’s back.

“Are you alright?” he asks, his voice soft as though he doesn’t want to shatter their bubble of contentment by speaking too loudly. His head tips down against Dean’s, and Dean feels him take a deep breath of his scent. “That wasn’t too much, was it?”

The hand tracing over Dean’s back is soothing, slowly cutting through the haze of overstimulation and post-orgasmic daze that's currently clouding his mind, and he just manages to register Cas's words. "I think you broke me," he slurs against the alpha's neck—he's pretty sure the sudden and ruthless assault on his prostate overloaded every single nerve and synapse in his body and now he can barely formulate a response, let alone move. It was fucking fantastic, though, having someone else give him pleasure like that, taking him apart so skilfully that all he could do was writhe and moan.

Cas rumbles out a chuckle that Dean can feel vibrating in his chest, and presses a smile into the omega’s hair. "I hope I didn't break you too much, love, because I think it needs repeating in the future. Constant repeating, preferably. It's quite possible that you've already ruined me for everyone else." He kisses the top of Dean’s head, then sits back up, leaning against the back of the seat and scratching his fingers through the short hairs at the nape of Dean's neck—which feels wonderful, and Dean purrs softly at the sensation. "Thank you for letting me pleasure you. It was quite enjoyable."

Dean knows that he’d have a problem with the nickname ‘love’ if he were fully coherent and functional, but right now, he’s in no place to protest it. As for being ruined for other people… he’s in a vulnerable enough state that he can admit it—Cas is doing much the same thing to him.

He’ll certainly never forget Cas, that’s for sure.

“Thanks for the great orgasm,” he mumbles with a tired grin as he forces himself to straighten up and sit upright. When he looks down at Cas, the alpha is smiling widely up at him, his blue eyes shining with happiness. “Happy to be of service,” Cas quips back, one hand splayed across Dean’s chest to keep him upright as he wobbles ever so slightly. Admittedly, Dean is still reeling.

Outside, the sun is dipping below the horizon, bathing Cas’s face in burnt orange and deep shadow and illuminating the blue of his eyes. It’s getting late, and they need to move on.

“We should probably hit the road again,” he tells Cas, and while the alpha looks reluctant to let the moment slip from their fingers, he has to agree.

“Yes, we should,” he rumbles, though one hand continues to smooth its way up and down Dean’s bare thigh, as if he doesn’t want to let the omega go. “Do you want me to drive, or are you okay to? You can sleep again if you need. We'll make it to Cleveland either way, so it doesn't make much difference to me."

“You should probably drive,” Dean admits; after that mind-blowing orgasm, he’s not sure that he should be behind the wheel. Currently he just wants to take his heavy limbs and dazed mind and curl up in the passenger seat and doze. Cas seems to agree—he sees a hint of relief flit across the alpha’s face when he declines. “I’ll drive then,” the alpha says, letting his hands slip from Dean’s body as he eases himself off the alpha’s lap.

Cas’s clothes are near-ruined, covered in enough come and slick that he may as well have just walked out of a brothel, and Dean can’t suppress his snort of amusement. Cas fixes him with a wry look, though it’s laced with amusement. “Messy, aren’t you?” he teases, and Dean’s cheeks flush red. Now that they’re no longer in the moment, the memory of his actions is a little embarrassing—but the pride and smug contentment radiating from Cas tells him that the alpha isn’t all that upset by it. Dean raises his eyebrows at the alpha, unamused, and the smugness only grows.

“I can deal with it until we stop for the night,” Cas tells him after a few moments. “You’ll just have to be the one to check us into the room, I think.” He chuckles, and Dean feels the corners of his mouth tilt upwards in amusement. Cas shifts and tugs at the hem of his come-splattered shirt, raising his gaze to Dean’s. “If I take this off, you could use it to clean yourself up, maybe? It’s not much use to me like this, and you could at least be cleaned up before putting clothes on.”

It’s a good suggestion, and he nods, forcing himself to climb out of the car on shaky legs. The sky is darkening as the sun relinquishes its hold, and the road is quiet—no one will see him. “That’s probably a good idea,” he tells Cas, especially now that he can feel the wetness between his cheeks and his thighs. Gross.

Cas is watching him from where he’s still sprawled on the seat, his gaze fixed on Dean’s naked lower half as if he’s trying to memorize it for a few intent moments before he unbuttons his shirt. He wipes half-heartedly at the mess in his lap with a clean corner before handing it to Dean, who sets down his clean shirt, boxers, and sweats on the driver’s seat and instead takes the ruined shirt with a grimace.

“We need to find a laundromat,” he mutters to himself as he wipes at his slick skin, trying to remove the worst of the mess. He hears Cas snort from the car, then mumble what sounds like an agreement. When he straightens up, Dean jabs a finger in Cas’s direction, who grins automatically. “And if you make me slick in public or somewhere that’s not private and indoors again, I’ll kill you.”

Again, the threat only makes Cas’s smile widen, and Dean huffs out his irritation as Cas pulls the clean shirt on over his head. “Duly noted,” comes the muffled reply—the rest is clearer when Cas’s head pops out of the top of the t-shirt. “As long as you don’t go picking any more fights, I should be able to contain myself.” There’s a wicked glint in his blue eyes, giving Dean the distinct impression that he’s recalling the scene from the gas station.

Dean pulls on his clean boxers and sweats, then balances on one leg to pull on first one boot, then the other. If anything, he’s most embarrassed about the fact that he’d had his sock on the whole time, and glares down at his feet—it only compounds the simmering anger that returns as he recalls what the alphas had been saying about him. “As long as no one insults me that badly again, we shouldn’t have a problem,” he mutters as balls up his and Cas’s dirty clothes and stows them in the back seat along with his bag. Wobbly legs carry him around the car to the passenger side, and Cas obligingly shuffles across to the driver’s seat to make room for Dean.

“That sort of behaviour is disgusting,” Cas says, closing the driver’s door and starting the engine. “Next time the consequences may have to be more severe.” His tone is low, dangerous, threatening, though it’s easy for Dean to see that his ire is directed at the alphas, and not him. Still, the declaration rubs Dean the wrong way, and his brows pull down into a brooding frown as Cas pulls the car back out onto the highway.

He’s evidently feeling protective of Dean, and there’s no doubt that Cas would severely punish anyone who even looked at him the wrong way—but that’s not Cas’s role to fulfil, and Dean is more than capable of defending himself. Dean rests his head against the cool glass of the window and stares out into the darkening twilight, his mind staying carefully blank.

Of course, Cas notices—he’s already scarily in-tune with Dean—and after a few long minutes, he sighs heavily. “I’m sorry. If that’s… not something I should say. I don’t mean to unnerve you, or—or upset you. You seem to have a unique ability to heighten my alpha instincts. If I’m ever overstepping at any point, with anything, please, just… tell me.” The atmosphere inside the car has changed—it’s heavier, more serious, and Dean glances across at the alpha just in time to meet Cas’s gaze before he has to turn his attention back to the road.

There are emotions in those blue depths, feelings, that Dean just can’t pinpoint.

While Dean has always prided himself in being strong and independent and able to fight his own battles, he can’t deny that the omega in him thrills at the idea of Cas defending him, making anyone who disrespects Dean come to regret it. And that terrifies him. Something about Cas brings out the omega side of him, the side that he’s kept suppressed for over a decade. And now Cas is revealing that the same thing is happening to him with his alpha instincts?

It’s unnerving, and it puts Dean on the defensive. He’s been stuck in his way of life for so long, evading discovery and keeping himself from getting too attached to any alpha—his instinctive reaction is to retreat behind the walls that he’s kept so carefully maintained for years.

So that’s exactly what he does.

“It’s fine, Cas,” he mutters, turning back to gaze out the windshield. The way the Impala’s headlights flood over the asphalt is suddenly incredibly interesting. “I’ll let you know if you cross a line. Just remember that I’m highly trained, and I don’t need an alpha to fight for me.”

The last words come out harsher than he’d intended, but he grits his teeth to stop himself apologizing. He needs to remain steadfast, and not let this… whatever it is with Cas get in the way of rationality—any more than it already has.

Chapter Text

Castiel blinks. Dean’s reply was not the one he expected, and the tightness in the man’s voice makes it clear that they’re not on the same page. The alpha is still buzzing from his orgasm, and Dean should really be feeling the same; how is the situation getting out of hand so quickly?

“Dean, I think you’re misunderstanding me,” he hedges, advancing the conversation with caution. He wants to stare at Dean outright, but unfortunately, the majority of his focus has to be on the road right now. “I don’t intend to fight for you. I’m not trying to be some… knight, swooping in to save you. If anything, I think I would ask you to fight for me if it came down to it. Doesn’t matter the opponent, you’d probably have better odds.” Castiel’s mouth quirks up in a smile, but when Dean clearly doesn’t find it as amusing as he does, it quickly drops again. Castiel sighs inwardly.

“Furthermore, I’m not speaking to you as an omega. I imagine I would be having the same conversation with you even if you were truly a beta, or even an alpha. I’m not interested in you because of how your reproductive system works.”

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say, because Dean straightens up in his seat, his eyes burning with irritation. “If I were a beta or an alpha, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because people don’t view them as sexual objects,” Dean snaps, baring his teeth. “Don’t think I didn’t see you or smell you back at that gas station. You were ready to tear them limb from limb for disrespecting me. Well, I don’t need your help, and if you ever try and step in where it’s not needed, I’ll tell you that you’re crossing your damn lines. Don’t pretend me being an omega has nothing to do with it, because it has everything to do with it. It’s who I am.”

Frustration washes into Castiel’s scent before he can help it, and he clenches his jaw. “Do not imply that I view you as a sexual object,” he says with a barely-contained growl. “Finding you attractive does not automatically translate to you being a sexual object. I stand by what I said—my reactions would be the same even if you were beta or alpha.” His hands flex around the steering wheel, his knuckles white. Damnit, how did this turn into a fight?

Dean begins to object, growling with frustration of his own, but Castiel swiftly cuts him off. “And furthermore,” he goes on, “I was enraged by the things those swine said to you, yes. That is true. And I was prepared to step in. But I was not stepping in because I thought you needed it, nor was it because you’re an omega. It could have been anyone else in your position, anyone at all, and if I heard similar filth fall from a group of alpha’s mouths, I would still be furious. They were in the wrong. You did not need protecting.” Castiel takes a deep breath and rolls out his neck, like that might somehow summon the calm where he otherwise has none. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t help. He does, though, manage to sound a bit more controlled when he adds, “You are an omega. That is a fact. But do not try to tell me that is what drives me, when you have no idea what my true drive is.”

Dean’s growl had quieted somewhat while he listened to Castiel speak, but now that the alpha is finished, it returns in full force. His hands are clenched into fists, and he beats them against his thighs in frustration. “Your true drive? I have no fucking idea what your ‘true drive’ is, Cas, because I barely know a thing about you! I could count every bit of personal information I have about you on one hand, but you seem to know so much about me . You practically know everything about me, Mr. Hacker. So tell me. What’s your true fucking drive? Is your friend Meg the only reason you want Azazel dead or imprisoned, or want my help with it? Fucking tell me, Cas.” He’s already spitting with anger, but now Dean sits up straighter, leaning into Castiel’s space and snarling, jabbing a finger in his face. “See? I don’t even know your real fucking name. ‘Cas’. What’s your last name? Is it even your real name at all? What’s your true drive?”

A growl underpins Dean’s entire rant, and Castiel mirrors it. Dean’s anger doesn’t mingle well with the alpha’s, whose lip curls back over bared teeth as he takes the verbal beating. Some of Dean’s points may be fair in this new turn to his argument, but that hardly helps. Castiel would tell him those things; he doesn’t need to be shouted down to open up. He’s never been one to respond well to threats.

For a long moment, Castiel doesn’t reply to Dean. His hands flex in agitation against the steering wheel, his one outlet while he tries to calm himself down. He refuses to shout back at Dean. He won’t be that alpha. His growl fades until it’s gone, his lip uncurls, and though he continues to glare—he doesn’t like being pushed into things, not like this, so he’s not going to roll over completely—he feels steady in his control.

Another few seconds pass before he starts to talk, forcing himself to sound calm when he is nothing of the sort. “My name is Castiel Novak. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September eighteenth. My mother’s name was Hester, my father’s name was Bartholomew. My little sister’s name is Anna. Bartholomew was abusive toward myself and my mother, physically as well as sexually. He hospitalized my mother a number of times, and would have done the same to me, if I hadn’t learned to stand up for myself. He died when I was twelve. My mother died when I was twenty. I do not tolerate anyone who seeks power over another, because I have seen it firsthand, experienced it myself. I would not wish it upon anyone.”

Dean’s anger is replaced by distress so quickly that it threatens to make Castiel dizzy.

The scent of his sadness and regret and guilt are so pungent, so rancid, that the alpha feels like he’s choking on them, and has to grit his teeth to keep from reacting. He might have the instinctual urge to take care of Dean, but he’s still irritated, damnit. The silence that stretches on in the wake of his confession picks away at that irritation, however, and when Dean eventually speaks, the final remnants wash away entirely.

“I’m sorry, Cas,” the omega whispers, his shoulders hunched. “Cas—Castiel. I shouldn’t have pushed. I crossed a line. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have accused you of hiding things.”

And suddenly, Castiel just feels weary, and all he can do is sigh. “Dean, it’s… It’s fine. Okay? It’s fine.” He scrubs a hand across his face, then glances over at the omega. Seeing him hunched in on himself, meek and reeking of sadness and regret, hurts Castiel to his core. He reaches out and lays a hand on his thigh, needing to touch him in some way. “The reveal may not have been great, but I would have told you those things whenever you asked. I was already planning on telling you my full name. Please don’t be upset. It’s alright, Dean. I promise.”

Dean flinches at the touch to his thigh, but doesn’t object to it. “I’m sorry I was such an asshole,” he rasps out, closing his eyes and slinking down in his seat. “I’m so sorry, Cas. Fuck. I shouldn’t have yelled. I just… It’s been a big day for me. I get defensive and aggressive when I’m… freaking out about things.” He sighs heavily and rubs a hand over his face, unintentionally mimicking Castiel from only moments prior.

Castiel shakes his head. “You have nothing to apologize for. You’re stressed, and I understand that. I was angry, too; you’re not alone in your guilt.” The alpha is a mess of emotions as well, so he understands exactly what Dean means. He would probably still be irritated with the omega if it weren’t for the reemergence of his protective instincts—which, right now, he’s extremely grateful for. Dean doesn’t deserve to be so upset, saturated in guilt and confusion.

“Do you… want to talk about what you’re ‘freaking out about’?” Castiel offers cautiously. “If it will help you to be sharper… I’ve just aired some of my own sordid personal details, hearing yours isn’t a problem. But if you’d rather not, that’s fine.” He clears his throat, trying to seem unaffected by whichever way the decision may fall. “Are you tired? You could nap if you’d like. Also, there should be a bag in the back, do you see it? I purchased some snacks at the gas station. Water, protein bars, some junk food. You can take your choice.”

Dean looks torn for a moment, then elects to take the offered distraction that the promise of food provides. He twists in his seat to retrieve the aforementioned bag, and pulls out the pack of Skittles. He tears it open at the corner and pours a few of the candies into his palm, then dumps them into his mouth from there. It’s clear from his scent that the snack placates him, which puts a thin smile on Castiel’s face. He’s grateful that food has yet again proven to be a suitable distraction for Dean’s overly-stressed mind.

“Everyone thought I’d be an alpha,” Dean says, surprising Castiel to the point of rendering him speechless. The alpha attunes every part of himself to the man beside him, listening intently as Dean continues. “I was tall, strong, smart—everyone expected it. My dad was so proud of me. He wanted it more than anyone. So when I went into heat the first time…” He swallows thickly. “It was awful. And when I finally came back out… he looked so disappointed. He never told me he was proud of me after that, for anything. He died when I was twenty, and I just… all I could think was that I never got to make him proud. So I started hiding my designation, pretended to be a beta, and joined the FBI. I moved to New York, where no one knows me. I just wanted to catch the guy who killed my mom, so that my dad could finally be proud of me. Being an omega was just another disappointment I didn’t need added to the mix, so I pushed it down so far, I figured it would never resurface, except for when my heats came around. But… then I met you.” Dean trails off, staring blankly out his window. He whispers, so softly that Castiel can barely catch the words, “It scares me.”

Difficult though it may have been, Castiel managed to keep his reactions to the story Dean wove limited to only a tightened grip on the steering wheel and uncontrollable fluctuations in his scent—anger, disgust, sadness; reactions in the core of his being that he can’t prevent. Knowing that Dean is as insecure as he is because of his father hits Castiel hard; he had known John Winchester wasn’t an outstanding man, but hearing it from Dean’s own mouth is much different. When Dean finishes by confessing his fear for the way they affect one another, it takes the alpha a moment to figure out how to reply.

He goes with what’s safe first.

“I’m sorry that your father treated you so poorly,” Castiel begins. “From what I’ve come to understand, they’re not supposed to be like that. My own father died before I presented, but I imagine he would have been the type to be disappointed that I popped a knot.” For a number of reasons, none of which he feels like examining. Dean may blanch at the suggestion, but Castiel stopped fearing his father long ago. He continues, “Your father was wrong to make you feel like your secondary gender is a cause for disappointment. Omegas are… the most amazing of the genders. Stronger than they’re given credit for, and capable of bearing so much. I’ve always believed that alphas suppress them because they know omegas are the superior gender, but just don’t want anyone to have the chance to find that out. You should be proud of your biology, Dean. And as for you and I…”

He wets his lips. He doesn’t even know where to begin with this one. “I don’t want to scare you,” he says softly, “I… Dean, I see you, and I want nothing more than to see you happy. As I tried to explain earlier, this isn’t about power, or our secondary genders. I don’t want to be anything that you could possibly fear.”

As soon as the subject turned to them , Dean went still in the passenger seat. He looks anywhere but at the alpha, his fingers fidgeting with the Skittles bag. “No, Cas,” he corrects, “it’s not you I’m afraid of, I promise. Well—maybe a little. But it’s the effect you have on me, not you. I’ve been a beta for so many years, and I’ve never been so attracted to an alpha. Not this quickly, not to this extent. I met you yesterday, for god’s sake, and you’ve pulled my omega out of me further than I thought possible. When I got back in the car at the gas station and smelled you…” Dean pins Castiel with an unreadable stare. “I wanted nothing more than to climb into the backseat and present. That’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do before, outside of a heat, and it terrifies me, because I’m not looking for a mate. It’s never been in the cards for me; I’m married to my work. But you… You make me want to change that.”

Castiel had known that Dean’s fears were rooted more in his nature than just his presence alone, but it’s still good to hear the distinction be made. He understands Dean’s explanation completely. (His eyes also darken at the admission that Dean wanted to present for him, but that’s a mental image he shoves far, far down; serious emotional conversation is not the time for fantasies about Dean’s ass. He clears his throat, trying to be casual.)

“Dean,” he says, and damnit, at this point, his voice is getting thick with emotion. Affection and trepidation clash together, neither claiming dominance and neither subsiding. “It’s disconcerting to me as well, if that makes you feel any better. I don’t think I’d be able to resist doing a single thing that you asked, if you were to do so.” He hadn’t planned on telling the omega that, but if they’re laying their cards on the table, then he figures he has nothing to lose. “And if you ever decide that you want to find new work, or want to balance it with a personal life… I don’t think I’m going anywhere.”

He pauses for a beat, weighs the pros against the cons. Dean is quiet, withdrawn, not objecting to any of the reassurances Castiel is trying to give, but not letting himself be eased by them, either. He’s listening, but even though he seems to be surprised, it’s clear that he’s not buying it. Castiel decides to take the risk.

“Dean, do you believe in the idea of soul mates? True mates, as I know some groups prefer to call them. People who are inexplicably drawn together, with more force than either can deny?”

It sounds corny, even he knows that, but even if they’re being set against legend, facts are facts.

Dean snorts, the sound barely above a scoff. “Cas, true mates are just an old wives’ tale, something to tell pups about. They don’t actually exist.”

The alpha shrugs. He had expected Dean to argue with him on the point of being true mates, if he’s being honest. It’s not a phenomenon everyone ascribes to in the present day and age—though as Castiel has noted over the years, those who don’t believe it are typically the ones who’ve never experienced it themselves or known anyone who has. Otherwise, it’s easy for them to be convinced.

Castiel’s lips pull into a tight smile. “I went through medical school, Dean. I can assure you, there is a biological foundation for the belief. It’s more than a wives’ tale. It’s a biological imperative designed to lure two parties together and keep them that way, based on supreme compatibility. It’s like love at first sight. It happens more than you might realize.”

Dean shakes his head, a tendril of agitation beginning to thread into his scent. “Cas, I really don’t think it’s a real thing,” he says, tone bordering on condescending. “I mean, sure, some people’s scents just smell really good, and yours is one of them, but it doesn’t mean that nature is trying to get us to bone. It’s just a comment on how good of a person you are—believe me, without fail, every scumbag of a person I’ve met smells completely rank.”

“Scents appeal to people for a reason,” Castiel interjects. He’s still not overly bothered by Dean’s denial of the existence of true mates (or so he’s trying to convince himself), but he can’t help but want to explain his denials away, anyway. At this point, the man’s doubts are appealing to Castiel’s inner doctor, the part of him laden with facts and figures and real, genuine experience. He goes on, “Scumbags smell bad to you because you’re not compatible with them. Your biology knows that nothing between you would last, so it doesn’t bother to try. But everyone’s scent appeals to someone.”

“Yeah, well, love at first sight isn’t a thing, either. Love is something that develops over time, it’s not instant.” Dean turns his shoulders away from Castiel, laughing bitterly as he directs his attention toward the darkness outside of the Impala. His scent smells fake, forcibly stale, but Castiel can’t figure out what’s lingering beneath that. All of it sets the alpha on edge. “It’s all just a bunch of bullshit, man. I don’t care how much you reason it out, we’re not true mates. And even if we were, it still wouldn’t make me stay.”

Castiel flinches as if he’d been slapped.

It still wouldn’t make me stay.

“Yes,” he somehow manages to say. It comes out as little more than a whisper; he doesn’t care. “Of course, Dean.” He forces his mind to go carefully blank after that, his scent forcibly devoid of emotion as he fixes his gaze on the dark road ahead of them.

The alpha’s devastation over the rejection clearly turns Dean on his head, because even as Castiel tries to close himself off, a new wave of sadness and regret begins to pour out of the omega. A broken sound claws its way out of the omega’s chest, and from the corner of his eye, Castiel sees Dean begin to reach for him, but abort the gesture halfway. Castiel barely holds back a wince.

“Cas, I… fuck,” Dean mumbles, and he scrubs his hands over his face. “I shouldn’t have said that. But it… It’s for the best. You can do so much better than me. You deserve so much better than me. I shouldn’t have said that—I don’t even know if I mean it—but if I don’t say it, it’ll wear down on me, get into my head, and I’d want to mate you. And you deserve a better mate than me, Cas. You’re basically perfect.”

The explanation—backtrack?—is jumbled and harried as Dean rushes to correct his mistake, but the point he is making shines through nonetheless. It saddens the alpha even more, and he can’t bring himself to look over at Dean.

You are basically perfect,” he counters. “ You probably deserve better than me. You could do better—but that doesn’t stop me from wanting you. You don’t have to want me in return. I do not intend to force myself on you. And I am fully aware of how bizarre these circumstances are, considering we only met yesterday. But I would wait a year, if it were necessary.” He swallows thickly, finally glancing over at the omega, though only for a second. His emotions are a mess, and he feels like he’s giving some sort of sales pitch; how did they reach this point? “We could do it the right way, if you wanted. I’m willing to court you. You could go back to masking yourself as a beta, even, and I would still court you. Just…” He drums his fingertips against the steering wheel, expelling the quick burst of energy his desperation has brought him. “I will respect your wishes, but please do not rule anything out yet. Not out of principle alone.”

For several long moments, Dean doesn’t respond. He sits, still and silent, processing what he’s heard. Castiel wonders if he may have gone too far, but even tense with his own uncertainty and anticipation as he is, he feels too exhausted to care. He’s nearly convinced that Dean’s silence is his answer, but just when he reaches that conclusion, the omega proves him wrong.

“Okay, Cas,” Dean finally mutters, his eyes downcast. His hands, Castiel sees, are occupied with destroying the Skittles package—an outlet for his stress and confusion and the other forefront emotions in his scent, for a man who likes to work with his hands. “I won’t rule it out on principle, I promise. Once this is all over, we… we can come back to this.”

Without quite intending to, Castiel sags with relief. It washes through him with such force, he feels like he could cry. “Thank you, Dean.” He looks across the seat, eyeing the continued fidgeting of Dean’s hands with a pang of regret. He may be relieved by the answer he received, but that doesn’t mean he feels any better about causing Dean so much stress to begin with. He continues earnestly, “You have no idea how much I appreciate that. Once this is over, then. When you’re ready.” He lets out a long breath, trying to reestablish an equilibrium and balance his emotions back out. “So for now, are we… okay?” He glances over at Dean, lips pressed tight with a final bit of worry.

Dean lets out a shuddering breath, but meets Cas’s gaze with a small smile. “Yeah, Cas. We’re okay.” He reaches out and places a hand on the alpha’s shoulder, his hand warm even through his shirt, before pulling back and getting comfortable in the passenger seat. “I think I’m going to have to have that sleep now, though. Do you want any food or water before I take a nap?”

Castiel’s smile is genuine, if still contained, and Dean’s reassuring touch proves to be all he needed to relax completely. “Will you hand me a water? You’re welcome to nap, of course. If you’re still asleep by the time we get to our stopping point, I’ll wake you to move you inside. The rest of our drive should be uneventful.”

Dean gets him a bottle of water as requested, and takes the second one for himself. He cracks it open and takes a long pull, then recaps it and drops it down by his feet. “Might just nap until we get there, then,” he muses. He settles into position, wedged against the passenger side door, and closes his eyes. He’s asleep before Castiel can even bid him a, “Sleep well.” Considering how tired the omega had looked immediately after their sex, however, Castiel is fairly surprised that he even lasted this long. Fighting, apparently, sapped the last of his energy.

Once Dean is asleep, the remainder of the drive passes uneventfully, as promised. Shortly after the omega dropped off, Castiel flipped the radio on to a soft, classic rock lullaby for him, which he accredits to being the reason why Dean manages to sleep so soundly. The drive itself is easy as well; the road is practically empty save for them, meaning Castiel doesn’t have to think about anything too much. It’s nice, really. Calm. And most importantly, it gives him the opportunity to recharge after all of their bickering. He cracks the window to aid in that process, and as the fresh air clears away the emotional cocktail that lingers in the air, and the sex smell from beneath that, he feels immensely better.

But while the drive is easy, it is by no means quick. In fact, it seems to take forever—mainly because Castiel’s eyelids grow heavier as time rolls onward, and he becomes far more desperate to simply be there already. When he hits Cleveland, he feels damn near euphoric, and a new wave of energy carries him to the first motel he finds.

The moment he parks and turns the Impala’s engine off, Dean blinks awake. His jaw cracks when he yawns, and he stares blearily at Castiel across the front seat. “We here?”

The alpha answers with a tired smile. “We made it. Hope you don’t have anything against Super 8s.” He gestures at the motel, his arm like lead. “Do you want to go in and get us a room, or should I? You can take another minute to wake up, if you need.”

Dean stretches and yawns, then returns Castiel’s sleepy smile. “Nah, it’s fine,” he mumbles, running a hand through his hair and then across his face. “You’re not really in any state to go in.” He nods at the patch of dried slick on the front of the alpha’s jeans with a smirk—Castiel hadn’t forgotten, but he’s too tired to care about the image it puts off, and was willing to ignore it—and shoots Castiel a wink. “I’ll head in and get us a room. You want to try to find us some takeout, though? I’m starving.”

“I’ll do a search, see what’s open at this time of night,” Castiel agrees, and Dean gives him a blinding grin before climbing out of the car and heading for the motel’s office. A quick internet search reveals that there are a couple options around, and, even better, they’ll deliver; he leaves the tabs open in his browser and gets out of the car feeling satisfied. He stretches for a minute, relishing the freedom, then starts gathering up their bags so that they can head straight in when Dean returns.

When the omega comes back out of the office a few minutes later, he flourishes the key he procured, and gives an embarrassed chuckle that matches the embarrassment in his scent. Castiel tips his head in question just as Dean says, “Room 8. I think it’s time for a shower, man. We smell like sex, and that girl knew it.”

Castiel’s face splits into a grin before he can help it. For a brief moment, he had worried that the clerk inside had given Dean grief—knowing that the man is actually just shy over the fact that he smells like his alpha is adorable. And, of course, he appreciates that Dean smells like sex, and that he was the cause of it.

However, their current state probably isn’t entirely sanitary.

Castiel chuckles and shakes his head, already heading to the door marked ‘8’. “Not that I have an issue with our scents, but a shower is probably a wonderful idea.” He deftly takes the room key from Dean’s fingers and unlocks their door, then shoulders it open and searches out the light switch before even setting their bags down. Once it’s on, his brows shoot toward his hairline. “Well. Apparently smelling of sex earns us a king.”

Dean makes a sound that’s partway between a groan and laugh when he sees the single, large bed. Even without looking back at him, Castiel can tell that he’s trying to decide whether he should be bothered or amused, and that in itself is amusing. No matter how Dean decides to view this, though, at least they’ve already shared a bed, and been intimate as well—this isn’t something that’s scary, or new.

“Well, isn’t that good fortune,” Dean grouses, tone giving the impression that he ultimately decided to fall on the side of amused. He starts to edge toward the bathroom. “Do you want to shower first, or can I...?”

“You can shower first,” the alpha answers. He drops onto the edge of the bed, their bags at his feet, and takes a moment to roll out his neck and shoulders. Dean picks up his bag and moves it to the desk so that he can easily rummage through it for whatever he might need for his shower, so Castiel takes the opportunity to ask, “What do you want for dinner? Our options are pretty basic, I can get something ordered while you shower.”

Dean, though, just shrugs, quickly retreating toward the bathroom and clearly not interested beyond the simple promise of food. “I don’t mind, man. Pizza, Chinese? Oh, and see if there’s a laundromat nearby, we need to get our clothes clean. Thanks, Cas.” And with that, he disappears into the bathroom. The door sticks slightly behind him and remains ajar, and though Castiel stares at the open sliver for a long moment, he ultimately shakes his head and turns his attention away, rolling his eyes affectionately.

He ends up calling in an order for pizza, since he figures that’s the least likely to stink up the motel room, and, in an educated guess based on Dean’s personality and known food preferences, gets a large, meat lover’s pizza in route to them. Steam billows out of the open bathroom door all the while, but despite the evidence of heat, Dean is efficient in his showering, and gets out not too long after he got in. When he emerges from the bathroom, he’s already dressed in boxers and a plain shirt. He flashes Castiel a crooked grin as they swap places, Dean moving to sit on the bed while Castiel takes clothes into the bathroom.

It’s a grin that gets seared into his retinas, the omega the image of utter perfection. Castiel’s heart aches with want, and he doesn’t even mind.

He tries to make his own shower as efficient as Dean’s had been, but beneath the hot spray of water, his exhaustion makes itself known once again. He battles his way through, but his washing is halfhearted at best, and he’s left feeling like a zombie by the time he gets out. When he finally goes back into the main room, a clean pair of boxers hanging from his hips and a shirt in his hand he couldn’t be bothered to put on, the only thing that manages to revitalize him is the sight of the open pizza box, and the omega happily pulling out his first slice.

For a moment, Dean freezes, staring at Castiel in the doorway like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. Castiel arches an eyebrow, and Dean’s expression finally cracks into a grin. “What? I’m hungry, don’t judge me.”

Castiel chuckles and moves to sit beside him on the bed. “I didn’t say a word. As long as you share, I don’t care what you do.” He takes a slice for himself and bites off the end, watching as Dean devours his slice nearly whole in a matter of seconds. He wrinkles his nose. “Just hungry, hm.”

Dean shoots him a look, hastily swallowing his mouthful of pizza. “Okay, I’m starving. Shut up.” He shoves the last chunk of his pizza crust in his mouth, and Castiel isn’t nearly distracted enough by his own slice to miss the way the omega’s eyes rake over his bare chest. “You, uh.” He clears his throat, his cheeks tinged pink. “You should probably put that shirt on, buddy. You still have to go to the laundromat.”

Castiel pouts. He’s actually forgotten about that one. “I’ll… go in the morning?” he offers, giving Dean a pleading look and shifting closer. The man might have a resistance to ‘puppy dog eyes’, but that’s sure as hell not going to stop Castiel from trying. “Let’s finish off this pizza and get some sleep. I’ll go out first thing in the morning to get our laundry done, and pick up breakfast on my way back. Is that acceptable?”

Dean’s resolve visibly melts away, and he directs a weak glare at Castiel before rolling his eyes. Neither hides the hint of a smile pulling at his lips. “Fine, yeah, whatever. But you’re the one who’s going to have to deal with your gross, crusty shirt in the morning. I don’t envy you that.”

“My shirt is already gross and crusty,” Castiel counters, “waiting a few more hours is only going to give me the patience to deal with it properly.” He’s oddly relieved by the fact that Dean isn’t going to push for being responsible now . He knows without a shadow of a doubt that, if the omega were to request it, he would get up, dress, and go out right now to find a laundromat, no matter the heaviness in his eyelids and the emptiness in his stomach. He’d much rather curl up beneath the bed covers, though.

The alpha makes the most of the new time allowance ahead of him by shoving nearly half of his second pizza slice into his mouth at once. Dean looks mildly horrified, and Castiel’s eyes crinkle into a smile.

“You’re gross,” the omega complains with a laugh. He prods Castiel in the side, which the alpha then playfully jerks away from as Dean continues, “I don’t know how I find you attractive.”

If Castiel were a lesser man, he might have choked on his pizza. As it is, he struggles a bit to get it down, but hopefully not noticeably. Roundabout though it may have been, he rather likes hearing Dean say he’s attractive. The other man’s scent is saturated with happiness, and Castiel is much too tired to even attempt to rein himself in. He only has to move his leg a few inches for his thigh to be pressed against Dean’s.

“I’m not gross, thank you very much,” he teases, his voice low and smile soft. He ignores the compliment for the time being, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it. “I just happen to enjoy food. I’m just as starving as you are, and considering you’re fifty-percent responsible for the appetite I’ve worked up—I refuse to be judged.”

Dean finishes off yet another slice of pizza while Castiel speaks, and he laughs at the accusation. “Yeah, okay, that’s fair enough.” He wipes his hands off with a napkin, then moves so that he’s lounging sideways in the bed, his thigh still pressed against Castiel’s while his locked elbows hold him up. “Not that you were complaining about the circumstances that led to you working up an appetite,” he adds, his voice intentionally sultry as he waggles his eyebrows. “I know you liked having me on my knees, in your lap…”

Castiel stares at Dean, fixing him in place with a heated look while he studies him. It seems as though the omega knows exactly what he’s doing—teasing like this can only end in so many ways—but aside from a hint of nervousness lingering in the tightness at the corners of his eyes, there’s only bright humor, and maybe even a bit of heat of his own.

Suddenly, their pizza isn’t even the slightest bit worthy of holding his attention.

Liked may actually be an understatement, love,” he purrs. Since Dean leaned back to get comfortable, Castiel drifts closer to him, lessening the space that has grown between them. Arousal creeps back in at just the thought of what Dean is reminding him of—Dean on his knees, Dean in his lap. A contented rumble works its way out of his chest as he plays it all over again in his mind. “As great as you were on your knees, I think I actually have to say you were even better in my lap. God, Dean, the sounds you make…” He trails off with an absent shake of his head.

Dean bites his lip just as a soft whine escapes from between them. The sound cuts straight into Castiel; he isn’t sure if it was his specific comment on Dean’s sounds that elicited it or not, but he swiftly decides he doesn’t care either way. Dean is starting to squirm, and overall, he looks pleased by Cas’s answer. He looks pleased to be the source of the alpha’s pleasure. And that’s more than enough to satisfy the alpha.

“Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did,” Dean replies, breathless. “And I’ve gotta say, I kinda liked the dominant Cas who comes out when you’re getting head. That was…” He blows out a breath and shakes his head. “So hot.”

The scent of Castiel’s arousal only grows heavier in the air at that—though, his arousal isn’t the only one he can smell. He shuffles minutely closer, his head tilted slightly to the side while he considers the man in front of him. “I held off on my dominant tendencies before that because I didn’t think you would like them,” he admits. With all of Dean’s issues about being an omega and being attracted to an alpha, attempting to exert any kind of blatant control over him automatically struck Castiel as a tremendously bad idea. But perhaps not, if this surprise confession is anything to go by.

He grins, expression both bright and predatory. “I’m glad you thought it was hot, though. Maybe next time I won’t hold back so much.”

Dean’s breath noticeably hitches, and for a fraction of a second, his playful persona slips. Beneath it, he looks unsure, overwhelmed, wary—yet when Castiel touches his fingertips to the curve of his jaw, the omega turns into them, and a little bit of his tension bleeds away. It seems to give Dean the courage he needs to speak. “Maybe you shouldn’t.” Then, in a slow, deliberate invitation, he tips his head back, exposing the column of his throat to Castiel.

The lines of his throat entrance the alpha, begging to be touched. Castiel exhales, knowing full well that his breath ghosts across Dean’s skin in the process, and gently reaches out to press the pads of his fingers against the taut muscles of the omega’s outstretched neck. His skin is soft and warm; Castiel can feel the rapid staccato of his heartbeat through the touch. He doesn’t let his fingers linger on Dean’s throat for too long before sliding his fingers up to card through his golden hair, instead. They’re gentle at first, but when they reach the crown they tighten, tug. Dean lets out a soft gasp, his eyes hooded, and Castiel wets his lips.

He repeats the omega’s previous statement, his voice a low purr. “Maybe I shouldn’t.”

Cas,” Dean breathes, the word little more than a needy whimper. A bit of his hesitation returns, twisting into the most basic parts of his scent, and he chews nervously on his bottom lip. “I—I thought you were tired.”

Castiel doesn’t let it deter him. His gaze darts quickly to the tent in the front of Dean’s boxers before he returns to staring at the omega’s stunning face, and he tugs lightly at his hair again.

“We can always sleep after,” he says, soft and coaxing. He’s tired, sure, but he’s been tired for hours; what’s a little longer? If Dean wants him, Dean can have him. Castiel leans in a touch more, their noses nearly brushing. “Don’t be a tease. Tell me what you want.”

Despite the uncertainty that flashes through Dean’s eyes, he moans under his breath. “I… I don’t know, Cas,” he whispers, admitting it like he’s ashamed. His gaze slides down and away. “I want you to touch me, but I… I don’t know if I want to have sex with you just yet. It’s been a long time.”

Castiel temporarily tamps down on his arousal to allow himself to take that as seriously as he needs to. He lets go of Dean’s hair to cup his jaw instead, gently directing his face back upwards so that he can meet his eyes. “I won’t do anything you’re not comfortable with,” he assures. “But if you want to have sex… We can take our time with it, be careful. I won’t hurt you, if that’s your fear. If we had lube, I’d offer to do it the other way around, but…” He shrugs, grinning crookedly. “I’ll touch you however you want to be touched.”

The offer of reversing their roles has Dean’s eyes going unmistakably dark, which would amuse Castiel a lot more if he wasn’t so focused on what’s happening now. The thought is evidently an appealing one to the omega, however, because the scent of his arousal somehow manages to increase tenfold. He can practically see the fantasies about it playing out in Dean’s mind, shining in his wide eyes. And then, once Dean has fully processed all that he’s heard, there’s a hand clawing at Castiel’s shoulders and the alpha finally gets what he wants.

“I want you to touch me everywhere, alpha,” Dean whines, and as his blunt nails rake down Castiel’s bare back, hauling him closer, Castiel snaps.

He gives in with a groan that edges on a growl, shoving the pizza box out of the way and collapsing down onto Dean. He blankets the omega’s body with his own and seals their mouths together in a searing kiss, fingers sliding back into hair and pulling sharply.

Dean whimpers his name into his mouth, but otherwise returns the kiss without a hitch. His nails dig harder into the alpha’s skin, hard enough that he’s surely leaving marks that will be visible for days to come. He hooks one of his legs over Castiel’s hip to draw him in even closer, letting their cocks rub together as Castiel licks his way into his mouth.

Castiel rolls his hips down, and is more than happy to swallow down the needy moan it pulls from his omega. The friction between their cocks is perfect, even with the layers of cotton separating them, and the alpha can’t stop a deep groan of his own from escaping him. He pulls on Dean’s hair and does it again, this time catching the omega’s lower lip between his teeth at the same time and biting until it’s swollen.

If Dean wants him to be rough and dominant, then that’s what he’ll get.

And Dean responds to it perfectly; a high whine rattles in his chest, and he doesn’t seem to be able to decide what to do with his hands, because they alternate settling on his ass, his hip, his shoulders, his hair. Wherever they land, though, Castiel’s skin is left scorching in their wake, and he has no qualms with playing into them. His hips grind continuously, and once his teeth have rendered Dean’s lip sufficiently bruised, he returns to simply kissing him, aiming specifically to pull a pained whimper or two from him in the process.

Dean, the vessel of perfection that he is, meets the expectation beautifully. He whines and writhes, his entire body shaking beneath his alpha’s. Eventually, Dean gains a bit more autonomy and hooks his second leg around Castiel’s waist, locking his ankles together at the small of Cas’s back. But as much as Castiel loves the feel the omega’s thighs around him, he swiftly reaches to push Dean’s legs apart and force them to unwind from around him.

“Cas, come on—”

“Be patient, beautiful,” Castiel interrupts with a chuckle. Dean grunts in frustration, but lets the alpha maneuver him without further complaint. Castiel nips at his throat in thanks, then takes the opportunity to strip Dean of his shirt, and then his boxers, as well. The look on Dean’s face when he realizes why their activities were interrupted is priceless; Castiel isn’t sure he’s ever seen anyone look more sheepish and turned-on at the same time. Once Dean is bare, Cas chuckles and captures his lips in a gentle kiss.

“Was that an acceptable interruption,” he teases against the omega’s mouth, “or are you going to complain at me now?”

Dean groans, already pulling at him again to return them to their previous position. “Stop talking so much,” he snarls. Castiel doesn’t argue.

Now that all of Dean is exposed to him, the alpha wastes no time in guiding his legs back around him and exposing his entrance. There’s nothing stopping him from accessing Dean’s hole, now, so he doesn’t resist the urge. He rubs the pad of his index finger over the pucker of muscle, relishing in the way it makes Dean shiver from head to toe.

Castiel is so focused on the feeling of slick beneath his finger that he doesn’t manage to anticipate Dean’s next move—which, in itself, is a surprise. He tries so hard to read the man. And yet, when he suddenly finds himself with his back on the bed and Dean straddling his hips, he’s completely unprepared.

Dean,” Castiel breathes, and Dean looks entirely too smug as he curves down to kiss him. The hand Castiel had previously had in the omega’s hair has since relocated to his hip, and while Dean is busy ravaging his mouth, the alpha takes advantage of the opportunity to slide his first finger up into the man.

Dean breaks their kiss to moan into Castiel’s mouth, his eyelashes fluttering in pleasure. Taking it as encouragement, Castiel uses his other hand to forcibly grind Dean down against him, bucking his hips upwards at the same time. Dean becomes caught between the two motions, being both pulled back harder onto Cas’s finger and rocked roughly against the alpha’s cock. The brief burst of control Dean had had when he flipped them is already long gone, and he hardly seems to be able to hold himself together.

Castiel sits upright to get himself closer to Dean. Though he’s not entirely sure which of them initiated it, their mouths collide again in no time at all. He works a second finger into Dean, driving them in with more force, and in retaliation, Dean tugs haphazardly on Castiel’s boxers until they’re out of range of his hips, tangling instead by his knees until Castiel uses his free hand to discard them completely. He considers himself lucky to have the wherewithal to do even that, though, because as soon as his boxers are out of the way, Dean is wrapping a hand around his cock and stroking, spreading the precome at the tip and generally making a beautifully debauched mess of them both, considering Dean’s own cock is still smearing against Castiel’s stomach, caught between their abdomens as it is.

But while the hand that works Castiel’s length is nice, a good relief to the building pressure in every cell of his body, it’s still far from being perfect. He has two fingers sliding in and out of Dean’s ass and slick is everywhere between them, and now Castiel’s cock is exposed and getting attention—but the juxtaposition of the two is already driving him wild, and his inner alpha is howling with need. A growl builds in his chest and he bucks his hips harder into Dean’s hand, still pulling the omega along for a counterthrust with every move.

As their rhythms continue, time begins to blur, lose meaning, leaving Castiel with no idea how much time passes before two fingers becomes three, and the three nearly becomes four. All he knows that Dean is utterly beautiful in his arms, writhing more and more as his pleasure builds and yet never once stopping in his stroking of Castiel in return. Dean’s free hand carves desperate lines into his back and tugs at his hair, his hips undulate wildly, and eventually, just when Castiel twists the three fingers he has buried in the omega and teases his fourth finger at his entrance, Dean shudders, whines, and finds the exact words to undo Castiel.

“Cas,” Dean whimpers, green eyes dazed yet surprisingly aware as he rides back on the fingers within him. He interrupts himself to moan, eyes momentarily screwing shut in pleasure, but they quickly snap back open so that he can finish, “Cas, fuck me. Want you so bad.”

The plea sends all of Castiel’s thoughts scattering—all, of course, except for the all-encompassing, “Yes.” He growls the word, fingers plunging into Dean with more force than before. He pulls them free and latches his slick fingers onto Dean’s hip, clumsily attempting to shift him into a better position.

Dean may have expressed doubt before they began, but if he’s asking to be fucked now, that’s good enough for Castiel. He’s too desperate for release to care about any specifics beyond that.

“Ride me, Dean,” he instructs, his voice more gravel than usual from arousal. He rakes his clean hand through Dean’s hair, then scrapes his nails all the way down the length of the omega’s spine. “Come on, sweetheart, let me see you. Let me feel you.”

Dean whines when he’s left empty, but his enthusiasm for Castiel’s request is obvious. He goes along willingly with the alpha’s guidance, raising up to his knees and shuffling a few inches forward so that he can position himself over Castiel’s cock. He holds Cas’s length in place with one hand and braces himself against the alpha’s shoulder with the other. Dean’s eyes are wide with concentration as he lowers himself into position.

When the head of Castiel’s cock breaches his entrance, they both gasp in unison. The hot slide that follows renders Castiel silent, his lips parted in awe, but a deep, dirty moan rumbles from Dean’s chest, and even that contrast is perfect. Castiel relishes the sound, committing it to memory.

The farther down Dean sinks onto his length, the better it feels; Castiel grips his omega’s hips hard enough to leave bruises, and he drops his forehead to Dean’s neck to muffle his moan. His fingers twitch with the urge to yank Dean the rest of the way down onto his lap, but he can’t, won’t, refuses to break this fragile gift he’s been given. He breathes heavily, doing his best not to lose control.

It feels like an eternity before Dean is finally—finally—completely in place, fully seated on Castiel’s cock. The omega’s round ass fits perfectly in the groove of Castiel’s hips, he can’t help but notice. They may as well have been made for the position. Waiting for Dean to adjust to the fullness within him is agonizing, but Castiel bears it; Dean is sweating in exertion from his own efforts, and his eyes are bright and glazed as he gazes down at the alpha, pressing their foreheads together.

Castiel is drawn tight, his every muscle taut and ready to snap. Dean’s hips rock just slightly, testing the feel of things, and the moans at the sensations that evidently crash through him in response. The small motion wasn’t quite permission to move, but it still picks at Castiel’s self-control, and the alpha’s hips buck of their own accord. Instead of being spurred into action, though, Dean just gasps, his eyes hooded and his mouth hanging open.

Castiel whines his desperation, and rubs reassuring circles into Dean’s hips with his thumbs. “Dean, baby, please.”

The words seem to finally stir Dean, and shortly after he finally deems himself ready. He rocks his hips, grinding down on the cock that’s impaling him. “Sorry,” he grunts, shifting his weight back in a way that allows Castiel to reach deeper within him. “It’s—ah—been a long time. Haven’t done this since I was a teenager.” He braces himself on Castiel’s chest and starts fucking himself back on the alpha’s cock in earnest, his movements rough and controlled, though a bit jagged.

Seeing Dean’s explanation for what it is, Castiel nearly laughs in disbelief. “You’re doing perfectly,” he says breathily, “all I could ever ask for.” And for the most part, it’s a true statement—at the moment, Castiel wishes for nothing but this. Dean is hesitant, sure, his uncertainty at being out of practice telegraphed in his every movement even with Castiel’s verbal reassurances, but that can easily be worked around.

Castiel flexes his grip on Dean’s waist, then begins to move him manually, lifting him up slightly and then slapping him down onto his cock again, grinding his hips in filthy circles. The rhythm Dean was establishing was wonderful, but the best way to dodge his insecurities is to leave them no room to exist in the first place. Castiel doesn’t like the self-consciousness he can smell on Dean, undercutting his lust. The alpha winds one arm around Dean’s back to give the omega support, and the hand that he rests on Dean’s shoulder allows him to pull the omega down more forcefully every time Dean seats himself on the alpha’s cock.

It takes a few moments for Dean to get in the groove of things, but once the last of his trepidation melts away, he starts riding Castiel’s cock like a pro. The alpha controls his movements with one hand on his shoulder and one on his hip until he no longer needs to, at which point he takes the opportunity to simply sit back on his elbows and admire the view. Dean is beautiful, and the sounds he makes—his whimpers, moans, even the obscene squelch of slick that accompanies every thrust—are perhaps even more so. Castiel remains relatively quiet by comparison; he moans and grunts when he can’t help himself, but for the most part, he prefers listening to Dean without interference. If the omega notices the behavior, he doesn’t give any indication.

Castiel is content to let Dean fuck himself on his cock, loves watching the omega’s freckled thighs tremble with the effort, but when his knot begins to swell, even that ceases to be enough. His thighs are slick when he sits back up and pulls Dean against his chest, and he can feel the excess slide down into the bedsheets from where it had previously been pooling in the grooves of his hips. The shift allows a change in the angle at which Dean sinks onto his cock, which draws a low moan from him as he pulls the omega in by his hair for a tender kiss. His hips swivel endlessly, and his knot catches on Dean’s rim on every pass.

Dean squirms and whimpers, the new angle apparently providing an improvement for him, as well. He presses his chest entirely against the alpha’s, and grabs at him wherever he can as his pleasure begins to peak. Castiel has no doubt in his mind that Dean’s fingernails are leaving angry, red lines gouged into his skin, but the sting of it only manages to push him closer to the edge in turn. His free hand pulls Dean down hard on every down-thrust, and soon it becomes difficult for his knot to slip back and forth past the tight ring of the omega’s entrance, excessive lubrication or not.

“Cas, Cas, fuck,” Dean gasps out, and then he’s spilling between them, moaning his orgasm into Castiel’s mouth as his muscles clench around the cock buried inside him—and that proves to be Castiel’s breaking point, as well.

Castiel grinds Dean’s hips firmly down against his lap as his knot inflates to its fullest and growls out a desperate, “Dean.” His knot locks them together and his seed floods his omega, still being ground roughly onto his cock. Dean is flushed and beautiful, keening at the feeling of being filled so thoroughly, and as Castiel stares at him, their faces hovering close together, the alpha’s need abruptly shifts, and his jaw begins to ache. The hand fisted in Dean’s hair pulls slightly, forcing Dean’s head back and exposing the beautiful curve of his throat. It’s so, so tempting.

But that— he won’t.

He grits his teeth, grinding them together like he can somehow defeat the alpha growling within him, strong enough that he’s actually growling, as well. Desperate to distract himself, he crushes his mouth against Dean’s, a rough, bruising kiss which he dominates with ease. Dean is pliant to his every touch, but he can still tell that the omega’s complete surrender to the attacking kiss is not as mindless as it seems. He’s never been more thankful to be understood. He practically devours Dean’s mouth, his alpha purring in satisfaction once that is accepted as an alternative to biting.

Or, now that he thinks about it, maybe it’s just him in general who’s purring. His mind is still fogged with bliss, and between the contact with Dean at both his mouth and his cock, he’s entirely too distracted to check, let alone care. It takes a few minutes, but eventually, the hard need to sink his teeth into Dean and claim what is his subsides. When it does, the alpha’s lips gentle and trail over the arch of a cheekbone then down Dean’s neck to press only the lightest of kisses to the meaty juncture of neck and shoulder where a mating bite would go.

“Sorry,” he pants, dropping his forehead to the same spot. He doesn’t elaborate and knows he doesn’t need to. He begins tracing lazy patterns into Dean’s hip with his fingertips. “You okay?”

Dean shivers slightly before winding his arms around Castiel’s shoulders, and he cards his fingers through the alpha’s sweaty hair. A purr starts to rumble in his chest. “I’m okay, Cas,” he answers, his voice rough and fucked out. He shifts in the alpha’s lap, and they both gasp when the movement tugs on Castiel’s knot. Castiel slips an arm around his waist to discourage him from doing it again, just in time for the omega to tack on tentatively, “Was that good?”

Castiel’s purr sharpens, and he smiles against Dean’s collarbone. He rolls his head down the omega’s shoulder just slightly, so that he can peer up at the man. “Dean. Good doesn’t even begin to cut it.” But now that they’ve both come, the alpha’s exhaustion is returning in full force. His eyes fall closed and he sways into the man in his lap, nuzzling back into his neck. “I think that was the best sex I’ve ever had in my life.  You are… so incredible. You have nothing to be worried about, I promise.”

Even without being able to see his face, Castiel knows that the praise thrills Dean. Pride fills his scent, and he presses a kiss to the top of Castiel’s head. “Me too. It’s been so long since I had sex with an alpha, that was... fucking perfect. You’re so perfect.” Dean’s words start to slur with unmistakable tiredness by the time he’s finished speaking, and Castiel chuckles.

“I’m glad it was perfect, but I’m pretty sure that was because of you, not me.” Castiel forces himself to sit upright so they don’t actually fall asleep like this, and he flashes Dean a gummy smile. Before his statement can be objected, he drops a quick kiss to the tip of Dean’s nose, then carefully adjusts to lay back on the bed, maneuvering out of the wet spot in the sheets left by Dean’s slick and getting into a prime position to recline back against the bed and go to sleep. Before he does, though, he looks back up at Dean, smiling tiredly. “How do you want to do this? I don’t believe I’m going to be able to stay awake long enough for my knot to go down, just so you know.”

Dean’s jaw cracks when he yawns. “I guess I can just stretch out on top of you, if you don’t feel like I’d crush you,” he says, already getting into that position. He continues to straddle Castiel, and presses a chaste kiss to his temple when they’re aligned.

“You won’t crush me, love,” the alpha purrs. His voice is beginning to slur as his bliss overwhelms him and sends him crashing toward sleep at an alarming speed. He blinks dazedly at his omega, then wraps his arms around him and holds him close while he maneuvers getting the blankets over them both. It’s careful maneuvering, but Castiel manages it, spending the last of his energy in the process. He only barely manages to keep his arms around Dean again before going lax, eyes falling closed and breathing already evening out. He thinks he presses a kiss into Dean’s hair, but he isn’t totally sure. Over his continuing purr, he mumbles out a soft, “Thank you, Dean.”

Dean’s weight on his chest is calming, reassuring, and Castiel is the most content he’s ever been in his life. He’s asleep before the omega can reply.  

Chapter Text

Dean just barely wakes as Castiel begins to shift around him at some unknowable time the next morning, the alpha gently extricating himself from the tangle of limbs that they’ve created. He keeps his eyes closed, still trying to cling to the comfort of sleep, but when lips press gently against the top of his head, Dean can’t fight the small upwards twitch of his lips. Cas slides out of bed, and Dean pulls the covers up higher around himself at the sudden loss of warmth. Not even the alpha’s absence could prompt him to open his eyes, though—after yesterday, he’s exhausted, and he’s going to get as much of a sleep-in as he can without jeopardizing the timing for today’s journey to Pontiac.

The sounds of the alpha moving around the room carry to where Dean is cocooned in blankets on the bed, but he doesn’t stir, simply burrows further into his warm little nest with a sleepy sigh. The air smells of Castiel’s fondness, and Dean hums as gentle fingers card through his hair.

“I’m going to a laundromat,” come the alpha’s whispered words. “I’ll get breakfast and coffee on my way back. I’m borrowing your car, keep sleeping.”

Dean hums, and his lips move in a drowsy, wordless mumble of acceptance. That’s as good as Cas is going to get—if Dean wakes up too much, he’ll never get back to sleep. Castiel seems to recognize this, and rumbles out a chuckle as his fingers leave Dean’s hair. Footsteps pad across the floor, the door opens and closes, and Dean is asleep again.

Half an hour later, he stirs, this time waking more fully and blinking blearily at the soft morning light that filters through the gauzy curtains. The bed around him is cold—Cas has been gone for a while—and when he stretches, his muscles pull and ache in protest. Perhaps the vigorous sex hadn’t been such a great idea. But it had felt damn good, and the memory leaves Dean with a content smile on his lips.

Still, he realizes how gross he feels when he forces himself up into a sitting position, wrinkling his nose at the come that is crusted across his abdomen and between his thighs. A groan rises unbidden from Dean’s chest as he untangles himself from the covers and swings his legs over the bed, pushing himself up to a standing position. Holy hell. He’s fit and flexible, but last night had used muscles that are not accustomed to that sort of workout, and they twinge angrily as Dean limps over to the bathroom. He crosses his fingers that a little light stretching will sort them back out.

When he stops in front of the bathroom mirror, Dean’s eyes widen. He’d realized that they were somewhat rough last night, but the full extent of it isn’t made clear until Dean sees the way his hair is spiking up, the come spattered across his skin, the finger-shaped bruises on his hips. There are two matching ones on each side of the V of his hips where Cas’s thumbs had dug into his skin, and Dean runs his fingertips over them.

He’s never borne anyone else’s marks, and that thought shouldn’t be sending a tingle of electricity along his spine.

Eventually, Dean has to move on, past his own mesmerizing reflection, and the blissful feeling of hot water running across his skin and gently pounding away at his sore muscles is enough to have him sighing happily. He scrubs at himself until the sweat and come has been washed away down the shower drain, until he no longer reeks of sex and alpha, and then a little longer after that. The water is too soothing, too calming; a haven from the day. He knows that as soon as he steps out, he’s going to have to think about work and Azazel and Cas, and the shower is the one place that he can let all that fall away and just be.

Over the sound of running water, Dean hears the front door close, and after a handful more moments, he shuts off the water. The smell emanating from the main room makes the end of his shower worthwhile, though, and Dean is bolstered by thoughts of breakfast as he steps out of the cubicle and reaches for his towel. Through the open bathroom door, he smiles at the alpha, who is sitting at the table and sipping at his coffee. “Morning, Cas.”

Castiel grins back at him, and Dean can’t miss the way that his eyes greedily drink in Dean’s nude form—lingering on the bruises that the alpha left on his hips. The corner of Cas’s mouth pulls up in a small, self-satisfied smirk. “Good morning, Dean. I brought coffee,” he says as he gestures at the other take-away cup. “Did you sleep well?”

“Fantastically.” Dean towels himself off quickly, then wraps it around his waist and pads out of the bathroom, following his nose to the food. As soon as he crosses the threshold, though, another scent assails his nose, and he falters in his steps as his eyes go wide.

Cas reeks of sex. Reeks of come and slick and Dean, and holy shit, did Cas really go out in public like that? Dean’s surprised he wasn’t arrested for public indecency. “Jesus Christ, Cas,” he chokes out, trying to keep a level head as he crosses the rest of the distance and takes a seat at the small table. Casting around for anything to distract him, Dean fixates on Castiel’s clothes. “Are those my sweats?” he asks, and his gaze narrows fondly. Of course Cas is already stealing this clothes.

From the amusement and satisfaction that roil through Castiel’s already-overwhelming scent, Cas knows exactly what Dean was reacting to, and bares his perfect teeth in a grin. “Is there a problem, Dean? You know, I think I quite like the way I’m currently smelling.”

Dean has to agree, even if the overwhelming scent makes his cheeks turn pink at the memory of what they did last night—but thankfully, before the silence forces him to respond, Castiel takes pity on him. “And yes, these are yours. Nothing else that I brought seemed fitting for a quick outing. Thank you for letting me borrow them.”

Dean doesn’t point out that he didn’t actually let Cas borrow them—he’d been asleep—but it’s not really worth contesting, so he shrugs, wrinkling his nose against Castiel’s scent as he reaches for his coffee and one of the breakfast burritos that the alpha brought back.

Of course, Cas catches the expression, and his playful mood smooths out to something a little more serious as he reaches for his own breakfast. “I didn’t want to wake you this morning—I’ll shower before we leave, don’t worry. I won’t torture you with this for the remainder of our journey.” Hearing that instantly relaxes Dean, because as little as he minds the combination of him and Cas and sex, he’s pretty sure that being stuck in a car with the alpha for the many hours it will take for them to reach Pontiac would drive him crazy. Not to mention that if Cas turns up in Pontiac smelling like a whorehouse’s Christmas tree, it’s going to draw unwanted attention to them.

“Thanks, Cas,” he replies around a mouthful of burrito, though he swallows it before continuing. “I think having to sit in my car with that smell in my nose may kill me,” he jokes, and the corner of Castiel’s eyes crinkle in amusement. Content, Dean sits back in his chair and sips at his coffee, pleased to note that his muscles are protesting significantly less after his hot shower.

It doesn’t take long for Dean to finish off his first burrito; as soon as he starts looking around for more, Castiel laughs and gestures to the plastic bag that still holds another two foil-wrapped packages. “There’s some more in there, help yourself.” The alpha downs the last dregs of his coffee, then stands and heads into the bathroom. Dean twists in his chair to watch him.

He could never get tired of watching the lithe, graceful, strong way that Castiel moves, but as the alpha shucks off his shirt, Dean’s thoughts freeze in their tracks. Angry, red scratch marks cover Cas’s back and shoulder blades, and they ripple over Cas’s muscles as he turns to drape his shirt over the edge of the sink. Dean doesn’t know how to feel about them. He hadn’t realized he was inflicting them last night, when he’d been rocking in the alpha’s lap. Seeing his marks adorning Castiel’s body ignites something primal and possessive in him, but at the same time, he hates that he hurt Cas, and he hates that he was so out of control that he hadn’t even realized it was happening. He swallows thickly.

Dean can pinpoint the moment that Castiel glimpses the marks in the mirror, because he goes still, then twists to try and see them better. When he turns to Dean a few seconds later, a smirk on his face instead of an irritated scowl, the omega lets out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. Cas radiates satisfaction as he teases, “You’re lucky I like it rough.” Dean’s tension dissipates, and he lets out a small, shy chuckle, turning his attention back to his burrito before Cas decides to strip down any further.

Dean chews through the rest of his breakfast in silence as his gaze traces the faint cracks in the wall, and his thoughts wander. He only glances up again when he hears the shower turn off, not all that long after it turned on, and glances up just in time to see Cas step out. The sight of the alpha immediately bolsters his spirits and clears the funk that had been threatening to set in – Cas just seems to have the uncanny ability to cheer Dean up with nothing more than his presence.

Castiel scrubs at his damp hair with the towel, then wraps it around his waist as he steps back into the room, directing a blinding smile at Dean. “Model of efficiency,” he jokes, and Dean’s gaze slides to the star-shaped clock that hangs by the motel room window. He had only been a few minutes – which is probably best, since they should really be leaving soon. He’s glad that Cas seems to share his thoughts.

When they don’t allow themselves to be distracted, the two of them really can be efficient, and not even ten minutes later, they’re packed, dressed, and ready to go. Dean waits by the door for Cas, who quickly emerges from the bathroom and grabs his own bag, slinging it over his shoulder. “Ready?” he asks, fixing his expectant gaze on Dean, who nods and grabs his own duffel. “Ready,” Dean confirms, opening the front door and heading over to where the Impala is parked to stash his bag in the backseat while Cas locks up. Dean is more than happy to wait in the driver’s seat with the engine idling as Castiel returns the key to the front desk, and only moments later, the alpha is sliding into the passenger seat and shoving his bag behind him into the back.

“I was a bit weary last night, so I’m not completely sure where the freeway was,” Cas admits with a sheepish grin as they pull out of the motel parking lot, and out of the corner of his eye, Dean sees the alpha fiddling with his phone. After a few moments, it emits a soft ping. “Ah! Here.” Cas squints at the screen. “Left out of here, right in a mile. Should be straightforward from there, and then we’ll be at Pontiac in about six hours.”

It sounds good to Dean, and he nods. “Sure thing—you’ll have to navigate when we get to Pontiac, too. It’ll be best to stay at a motel reasonably close to where the funeral is happening, and as close to wherever Azazel is staying, if you know that. But we can figure it out once we get there.”

Cas nods in agreement, and continues to tap at his phone while navigating. Sure enough, his directions lead him to the freeway, and Dean exhales a relieved sigh as they pull out onto the open road, miles of tarmac stretching out in front of them all the way to Illinois. He doesn’t mind the silence that he and Cas share—it’s more than comfortable now, after the past day and a half, and he just wants to enjoy the serenity of the early morning.

They’ve been driving for a while when Cas eventually speaks again. “We should be thinking about… how it should go.” The alpha’s voice makes Dean jump slightly—he’d become accustomed to the stillness, the quiet. Out of the corner of his eye, Dean sees Cas glance at him, then look back out through the windshield. "How to corner him. How to confront him. How to... enact justice. All of it will need to be done carefully. If he's tipped off, Azazel will run, and we may never see him again."

At even the mention of Azazel, Dean feels his jaw clench in anger, and he forces himself to calm. Still, his voice carries the hint of a snarl. “I want him to go to jail for the rest of his miserable fucking life,” he grits out. The man is a monster—Dean’s read the files, and the thought of what they contain is enough to make his stomach turn. "Even that wouldn't be enough punishment. A simple bullet in the head is too kind to that bastard.”

He blows out a long breath—there’s no use in getting himself riled up, not right now.

“If we kill him, we’re just as bad as he is,” Dean amends once he’s reclaimed his calm. “Vigilantes. We need to follow the law and bring him in, or make sure someone else can.”

A pregnant silence fills the car; when Dean glances over, Castiel seems to be weighing his response. A muscle in the alpha’s jaw ticks. "It may not be that simple," he says slowly. "Azazel will not go easily. He was arrested in the early nineties for one of his murders, but he got out of the charges and went on to kill six more women before 'retiring'. He's slimy. Even if we can get him in a pair of cuffs, lay out the evidence I have found in front of a court..."

Cas has a point, but Dean is an officer of the law, a federal agent, so the suggestion that proper procedure may not be the best way to go about this… It leaves him feeling all kinds of wrong. Castiel must be able to sense this, because when he speaks again, his voice is softer, and Dean can feel the weight of his gaze.

"The system is broken, Dean, you need to understand that. There's a reason why I find information like this and tip off individuals, not whole agencies. When they have less stakes in an issue, they tend to be lax. When they're lax, the ones who know what they're doing get away." As much as Dean hates to admit it, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try. Cas lets out a breath and continues, "I believe in your abilities, but I want you to know the potential consequences going forward. They concern me. They should concern you, too."

Dean knows what they should do. The easiest way to make sure Azazel never hurts anybody ever again, to make him pay for his crimes, is to shoot him, point blank. But Dean is endlessly torn between the different parts of him—the son of Mary Winchester, who wants to make the bastard suffer, and the federal agent, who knows that killing a person in cold blood is wrong.

On top of that, he hates being forced to acknowledge that their justice system is so fundamentally flawed—he’s spent so many years fighting to uphold it, to bring people justice within its confines. All in all, it’s not a pleasant train of thought, and Castiel doesn’t push him when he withdraws into himself to think.

After a few minutes of gathering his thoughts, Dean is able to formulate a reply, however brief. “I don’t want to kill anyone, Cas,” he admits, his voice soft. “I’ve always tried to trust the system.”

But there’s more to it than that, and this time, Dean isn’t sure if he can leave Azazel’s fate in the hands of the federal justice system. “And yet, I… I don’t want to run the risk of this motherfucker walking free.”

If it comes down to… to killing Azazel, it’s going to be Dean pulling the trigger. Cas can be badass, and he’s an alpha, but as a hacker, he has no experience in this kind of business.

Dean will be the one to end Azazel’s life, if it comes to it. Though, he can only hope that it won’t.

Across the seat from him, Castiel exhales a soft sigh, and reaches over to touch Dean’s elbow. It calms Dean enough for his hands to stop fidgeting on the wheel, and he blows out a long breath. "I know you don't want to kill anyone,” Cas murmurs, his voice low and soft. “I'm not saying that you have to, or that it's the only solution. But... I don't want to lie to you, either."

And god, is that good to hear. Dean is trusting Cas by going into this with the alpha by his side—he needs to know that the man has his back and his best interests at heart. It comforts Dean somewhat, even in the midst of the darkness and confusion swirling in his mind, knowing that Cas is so genuine with him.

The alpha continues, “We need to do what we must, is all I'm trying to say. I don't want him getting away any more than you do. We can evaluate more fully later, as it becomes relevant, if that's what's best."

Dean swallows, then nods, lifting one hand from the wheel to run it through his hair. “Yeah, okay,” he mumbles, shifting in his seat with the need to move, settle, center himself. "We've gotta be prepared for anything, and we'll have to make these decisions on the fly. Normally I'd be fine with that, but... this guy killed my mom, Cas." His voice breaks, and he clears his throat.

This isn’t the time for getting choked up.

He abruptly changes the subject. "Are you going to be okay at the funeral tomorrow?” he asks Cas, desperate to get the emotional spotlight off himself. “I know she was your friend. I'm here for you if you need, just so you know." Castiel’s hand falls from his arm, and Dean almost regrets shifting the focus when a bone-deep sadness begins to seep into the alpha’s scent.

"I... I'll be fine." Cas sighs, his head tipping back, and Dean’s fingers twitch with the urge to lay a soothing hand on his thigh. As though the dam has broken, words spill from the alpha, each one strained with grief. "Meg was... I loved her. Not in the way she wanted me to, which is probably why she's dead today. But she was a good woman. And she deserved a better life than the one she was given."

As much as he hates himself for it, Dean can’t help the small hint of jealousy that spikes through him when Cas mentions that he loved Meg. It feels weird, sharp and painful. He grits his teeth as he forces the irrational thought deep down and smooths out his scent—Cas is grieving, and needs his support. Not stupid, jealous-omega behavior.

“I’m sorry, Cas. That you had to lose her. It sounds like you were a good friend. You shouldn’t blame yourself for her suffering.”

Dean reaches across and slides his hand over Cas’s until he can interlace their fingers. Castiel swallows thickly, then directs a weak, watery smile at Dean, who just catches it before he has to return his attention to the road. "Thank you, Dean,” Cas whispers.

Dean squeezes his hand. It didn’t clear the misery from Cas’s scent, but Dean thinks it helped somewhat.  “Of course,” he replies. “Any time.”

Cas only lasts for a few more seconds before his breath leaves him in a rush, and it’s almost as if the alpha is crumpling, slowly and silently imploding beside Dean. “Damnit,” he croaks, and Dean is too shocked to reply as Cas falls to the side and presses his forehead against Dean’s shoulder. All he can do is let go of Cas’s hand and shift so that his arm is wrapped around the alpha’s shoulders instead, letting Cas take comfort from his touch, his scent. Cas doesn’t move, his exhales warm against Dean’s shoulder, and it’s a few minutes before he speaks.

When he does, it’s not what Dean expected to hear.

“No use being jealous, you know,” Cas rasps, and there’s a slightly teasing lilt to his voice, even when it’s raw with grief. Dean understands it, the need to tease or joke in order to deflect attention, and so he goes along with it. It’s no surprise that the alpha noticed, after all, what with how good he is at picking up on Dean’s emotions. “I knew her for years,” the alpha continues, “and I think we only ever kissed once. We just weren’t like that. But you.”

Cas rolls his head to the side slightly so that he can grin up at Dean, the expression finally coming up a bit more genuine. “I just can’t seem to keep my hands off you. I’d say that’s a problem, except it’s most definitely not.”

There’s no way that Dean can suppress the smug pride that bursts like fireworks within him, only moments after he had bristled at the thought of Cas kissing someone else. “It’s definitely not,” he agrees softly, lifting a hand to card it through Castiel’s hair. “I do like having your hands on me,” he admits after a few moments. “I also like seeing you happy,” And it’s true—every time the alpha smiles that wide, gummy smile, Dean feels his heart soar.

He drops his arm back down to Cas’s shoulders and keeps his gaze on the road. The alpha nuzzles against him, almost catlike in his affection—especially with the deep purr that rumbles from his chest. It’s quickly becoming one of Dean’s favorite sounds in the world, and his lips twitch into a smile as he drops his head to press a quick kiss to Castiel’s hair. “I appreciate that,” Cas rumbles in response to Dean’s words, and he remains slumped against the omega’s side, apparently comfortable. Dean isn’t complaining.

A few moments pass before he speaks again. "Thank you, Dean. Really. I know my personal drama isn't what you signed on to deal with, but I'm glad you're kind enough not to abandon me to it. You're too good to me."

Dean gives his shoulders a reassuring squeeze. “I would never abandon you to it, Cas,” he promises, and he returns his hand to Cas’s hair in the hopes that he can soothe the alpha and maybe draw out another purr. He’s successful, and he chuckles softly, happy to keep his hand there for now. “You’ve helped me with my drama just as much, if not more. I’m returning the favor.”

Cas is getting drowsy now—his movements, small as they are, are sluggish, and when Dean glances down, he sees Cas blinking slowly out at the open road, as if he can’t keep his eyes open. “I actually did sign on for your drama, though,” Castiel mumbles into Dean’s shoulder, and the omega raises an eyebrow. Obviously he means the Azazel thing, right?

Gradually, Cas slides lower, melting against Dean’s side as his mumbling becomes less and less coherent. “I knew what I was getting myself into when I contacted you. Mostly. Underestimated how amazing you were going to be, which is saying something.” And that sets off alarm bells. Dean’s brows draw into a frown—what does the alpha mean by that? It doesn’t sit quite right. How would Cas have known he was going to be amazing? Why would he have thought that in the first place?

His thoughts are interrupted by the yawn that stretches Castiel’s jaws wide. The alpha’s hand comes to rest gently on his knee. “Are you alright if I nap?” the alpha asks. “I can get off of you, if you want...”

Dean is still distracted by Cas’s comment, and his reply is somewhat automatic. “Of course, no, you can stay here.” The alpha’s words still eat away at Dean’s thoughts, and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t wrestle them into order. Finally, he decides to just bite the bullet and ask.

“Cas, what did you mean when you said you underestimated how amazing I was going to be? You say that like you always thought I was going to be amazing, even before you met me. How would you know that?”

Castiel’s eyes are closed now, his muscles loose and relaxed against Dean’s so it’s a miracle that he a reply even comes—when it does, it’s slow and drowsy, his words slurred and distorted by exhaustion. “Did my research,” Cas mumbles against Dean’s shoulder. “Knew you were good. Good man, good heart. Help a lot of people, hide who you are. Could help more, y’know. If things were different.”

As if Dean didn’t already have enough confusing things to think about from this sleep-addled conversation; Cas just had to go and throw that into the mix. If he wants an answer, he has to move fast, before Castiel succumbs completely to the clutches of sleep. “What do you mean, more? Different how?”

A long enough period of time passes that Dean has almost given up hope on any form of an answer. Cas must be asleep. All that the omega gets is a soft hum, and a continuation of the purr—up until it pauses just long enough for Castiel to mumble and handful of words.

“No more red tape.”

And then he’s out like a light, asleep against Dean’s shoulder.

It’s only Dean’s training and self-control that keeps the car on a straight course as he processes that answer. No more red tape. Cas had remembered what Dean had said in their very first conversation, about his frustration with the Ghost case and the red tape tying up the victims’ information and files, hiding it from him.

What does Cas mean by that? Any method he has of removing the red tape would surely be illegal, and for someone who has always done things by the book, Dean balks at that notion.

It doesn’t help that he has no way of discussing it with Cas, who is currently asleep on his shoulder, judging by the way his purr has petered out. All Dean can hear is the rumble of the Impala, so he continues to drive, one arm around the sleeping alpha and his brows drawn into a frown as he tries to process everything that’s going on in his mind.

Several hours pass before Castiel wakes up, and even then Dean’s thoughts are still circling round and round, trying to figure out the meaning behind Cas’s words. He’s humming rock songs to himself, since turning on the stereo would have required either dislodging the sleeping alpha tucked up under his arm, or letting go of the steering wheel for a moment—neither seemed like good options. When Cas shifts, Dean falls silent, retracting his somewhat-numb arm as the alpha pushes himself into an upright position and stretches. “I think I needed that,” Cas rasps, his voice thick from sleep as he blinks against the brightness of the sun. When he turns to Dean, his eyes are narrowed in a squint. The lines next to his eyes crinkle into a smile.

“You slept like a pup,” Dean observes—while he gives Castiel a small smile, it’s made terse and strained by the fact that he’s been trying to make sense of the Cas’s statements for hours now. He flexes his arm to distract himself, shaking the blood back into it. He didn’t mind having Cas sleep on him—it had been incredibly endearing—but now his limb tingles as it gets used to the absence of weight on it.

Like a pup,” Cas scoffs, though its effect is ruined by the smile that tugs insistently at his lips. Dean shrugs apologetically—it’s a term that the owner of his favourite diner, Ellen, uses all the time, and Dean has picked it up. Cas doesn’t protest further, instead twisting the crack his spine. His vertebrae pop loudly in the quiet of the car.

Dean knows that his scent and his posture are carrying the tension and suspicion that he can feel coiling heavy in his soul. He opens his mouth to speak.

“Cas, I—”

The alpha yawns, loud and exaggerated, and knuckles at his eyes.

“Coffee stop when it’s convenient? I’ll buy,” he suggests.

Dean’s traitorous stomach rumbles its agreement. The omega has to relent. “Sounds great. I might need a few more snacks, too.”

Castiel gives him a fond look, and reaches over to rub gently at the back of Dean’s neck for a few moments before his hand drops again. “Sounds like a wonderful plan,” he agrees. “Let’s hit the first place we see and stretch our legs, refresh. I need to wake up.” Ironically, the end of his sentence is punctuated by another large yawn. Despite that, Cas seems to shake off the grogginess more and more each second, and his blue eyes are bright and alert. “Sorry for falling asleep on you,” Cas apologizes, and Dean waves him off with the flap of a hand. He turns the motion into an exaggerated stretch, stretching out his wrist and elbow.

“It’s no problem, Cas. I enjoyed it—apart from how you managed to put my arm to sleep,” he teases, his grin growing wider as Cas huffs at him. Before he can retract his hand, however, he finds it caught between two warm, dry palms.

Dean is torn between keeping his eyes on the road and watching Cas as the alpha uses his thumbs to massage first the back of his hand, then his wrist, then up his forearm. His confusion quickly melts into pleasure—it feels fantastic—and by the time Cas presses one final kiss to his knuckles and releases him, Dean feels wonderful. “I apologize for making your arm fall asleep,” Castiel murmurs. “Forgive me?”

How could Dean ever refuse? “I forgive you,” he nods, placing his hand back on the steering wheel and ignoring the way it continues to tingle from the contact. There is an exit fast approaching them, and Dean slows the car to steer onto it, pulling them into a small town by the highway. “But you can show me that you’re really sorry with coffee and a donut,” he tells the alpha as they turn down a side street and stop in front of a small café, where Dean parks the car.

Castiel just shakes his head affectionately. “Donuts don’t make a good lunch, Dean,” he chastises—though Dean can tell that he’s not serious from the way the corner of his mouth pulls up. “But, if it means you’ll forgive me for being such a terrible passenger…” Cas flashes him one more smile before he climbs out of the car, and Dean follows suit.

“I’ll eat whatever the hell I want to eat,” he grumbles to himself as he stretches out his spine and makes his way over to Cas—from the alpha’s amused expression, he must have guessed as to the nature of Dean’s mutterings. Cas stays silent, though, as they make their way into the café, and he drops a hand to the small of Dean’s back. The gesture, however subtle, surprises Dean, and he feels his cheeks warm. He’s sure he would bring it up with the alpha, if the café didn’t smell so good and distracting—it’s almost a crime when all they order are two coffees, two sandwiches and a donut. What with all the different smells Dean can pick out, he’d be happy to stay here all day and sample the food they have to offer.

But luckily, Castiel acts as his impulse control, and uses the hand on his back to guide Dean out of the café without the omega buying any more food than they need, and soon they’re settled back in the Impala. Cas takes a long drink of his coffee, and sighs appreciatively. Honestly, Dean has to agree. He sips at his coffee with one hand as he navigates them back out onto the highway with the other, and all too soon, the cup is empty. He pouts at it, then sets it aside, his focus on his food.

“Can you unwrap that for me, Cas?” he asks, gesturing at the still-wrapped sandwich sitting in the alpha’s lap. The man shoots him a wry look, but complies, then passes the sandwich over wrap-free for Dean to munch. Now that he’s being fed, he’s of a much better disposition, and bumps the stereo on with his knuckles.

On a full stomach, Dean finally remembers what he had been about to ask Castiel about earlier.

“Hey, Cas,” he begins, without thinking, and he feels Castiel’s gaze slant across the car to land on him. “Yes, Dean?” the alpha rumbles, though there seems to be an edge to it that Dean hasn’t heard before. He can’t quite put his finger on what it is.

“You know, what you were saying earlier? About me being amazing? And… and the red tape?”

A dash of something flits across Castiel’s scent, and there’s a weighted pause before the man replies. “Yes?” The words is drawn out, as if Cas can’t possibly understand why it’s important, why Dean would bring it up.

“Well… what did you mean by that?” Dean’s chuckle is aiming to lighten the situation a little, but falls flat. “It was a… well, kind of a weird thing to say.”

Across from him, Castiel shifts, and unlike Dean’s, the alpha’s laugh is rich and smooth and warm. Amusement and fondness and affection fill Dean’s nose as the alpha slides closer. “Well, you are amazing, aren’t you, Dean?” Cas’s hand finds its way to the back of Dean’s neck again, and when he starts kneading at the tense muscles there, it becomes decidedly hard to focus.

Dean frowns, trying to remember what he was going to say, grasping at the thoughts that are minnows darting from his hands, fast and silver in the light.

Castiel purrs as he finds a spot on Dean’s neck that makes the omega sigh and go pliant, and when he speaks again, his breath curls around the shell of Dean’s ear.

“So responsive, Dean… so beautiful…” Castiel noses gently along Dean’s jaw, licks a broad stripe up Dean’s throat, and he can’t think, can’t concentrate—

Dean’s moan mixes with the quiet music emanating from the stereo when teeth worry at his earlobe, and Castiel’s free hand smooths across his denim-covered thigh. The car is thick with the scent of budding arousal, cloying as it fills Dean’s head. “Cas…” he breathes, and the alpha groans against his throat. “Dean,” he purrs in reply. “My Dean…”

The hand is straying dangerously close to where Dean’s semi is pushing at the denim covering his crotch, and his hips rock minutely, grip flexing around the steering wheel as he tries his best to concentrate on even driving under the sensory onslaught.

Castiel’s teeth graze against the curve of his throat, the alpha’s palm brushes over the tent in his jeans—and then Cas is chuckling, slow and deep like molasses. “Needy omega,” he purrs, and there’s no bite in it, only fondness. “We really shouldn’t stop the car again, not when we’re making such good time. But I promise, when we get to the motel tonight…”

The alpha’s flash of teeth is almost predatory.

“We’ll do whatever you want.”

And then Dean is left flushed and hard and dazed as Castiel retreats back to his own side of the car, a smugness radiating from his scent.

Dean can’t remember what he was going to ask, but he’s sure it wasn’t important.

Chapter Text

With his diversion a success, Castiel once again manages to relax into his seat. The scent of Dean’s arousal is sweet and heavy in the cab of the Impala, making Castiel’s mouth water, so the alpha doesn’t regret that part of how things progressed—he loves having Dean like this, aching and desperate for him—but he’s furious with himself for letting the situation develop in the first place. How much had he said when he was falling asleep? He hardly even remembers the conversation, just that it happened, and he told Dean he was amazing.

Given how few hours he had slept the night before, and then how quickly thinking about Meg wrung him dry, he’s not necessarily surprised that he did fall asleep. And, despite the lingering sleep-hangover that his coffee is steadily washing away, he feels better for it. But he’s not sure it was worth the price.

He was tired and comfortable, swaddled in his omega’s scent to the point that his guard dropped, and his filter failed. How much did he say, and about what? Where did he misstep?

Dean, evidently, is still thinking about the promise of sex that awaits them at their next motel, because when he shifts in his seat, a hint of the sweet aroma of slick joins their mingling arousal on the air. “Next time we stop, maybe we should grab a few things, so that we don’t have to later. Condoms, at the very least.”

Castiel’s brows pull together in confusion. “Dean, you’re on birth control.”

“Sure, but—” Dean stops abruptly. The most tempting parts of his arousal fall out of his scent almost instantly, and are swiftly replaced by careful control and a modicum of concern. “How do you know I’m on birth control?”

Castiel blinks, every inch of him gone still. “I know I told you this when we were texting, before we met. I discovered that you were an omega because the prescriptions for your suppressants were tied to your name, so I made an effort to conceal those records. I was a doctor, Dean, I know what the basic drugs are and what they do. Your suppressants include birth control.”

“Oh,” Dean says, an odd expression flashing across his face. It quickly smooths back out, however, his tension easing, and he gives the alpha a sheepish look. “Right. I remember that now. Sorry, I was just…” He waves a hand. “Never mind. Um—yeah. I’m on birth control. That’s not a concern.”

“Then why would we need condoms?” Castiel asks. He watches Dean closely, becoming more and more confused as this conversation progresses.

Instead of displaying any more suspicious behavior, though, Dean just flashes him a predatory grin. “I never said we needed alpha condoms.”

Dean’s arousal may have abated at the mention of birth control, but Castiel’s skyrockets, now. He had mentioned that earlier, but he hadn’t actually been holding out hope or anything like that. It was partially a confession of his own wants, partially a ploy to rev Dean up in the heat of the moment; he hadn’t expected it to be remembered. Now, though, he wants nothing more than to do that, to let Dean finger him open and fuck into him, to bring the two of them that much closer together.

He finally manages to reply with a breathy, “Oh.” Dean just chuckles.

“You gave me the idea,” the omega gleefully reminds him. “Don’t think that went unnoticed. I’ve never fucked an alpha before, do you really think I’m going to miss the chance now?”

“No, I… I would be disappointed if you did.” Castiel clears his throat. He makes a bid to regain control of himself, tamping down on his resurgence of arousal. “For the record,” he says with forced loftiness, “we still don’t need condoms. What difference could it possibly make if you come inside of me?”

Dean groans, and—ah, yes. There’s his arousal, again. Castiel smirks, riding the high of his victory.

“Okay, then,” Dean says, sounding strangled. “No condoms. I’d rather not have to use one, anyway.”

Castiel hums his agreement. “They’re not nearly as fun, are they,” he muses. Then, feeling the sudden need to be courteous, “Would you like me to use condoms? Last night was a bit… unplanned, but we can still purchase a box, in case…”

He hopes that Dean will say no, and is rewarded when the omega shakes his head, his lips pulling into a smile as he glances away from the road to look at the alpha beside him. “While I appreciate how polite you’re being, we pretty much just went over this, bud. I’m on birth control. It doesn’t make a difference.”

Castiel grins at him, his shoulders twitching in a shrug. “I just thought I would offer it. It would be rude not to.” The alpha stretches an arm out along the back of the seat, then turns his head forwards to squint out into the bright sun that envelops the highway and all of its surroundings. He doesn’t bother trying to figure out where they are; it’s almost one in the afternoon, so they must be within only a couple hours of Pontiac. He makes an effort to sound as conversational as possible when he continues speaking, too curious to resist shifting the subject slightly. “Your… suppressants. Forgive me if this is too personal, but—from a medical perspective, the field of omega health, heat management, and birth control is a very complex one, so while I recognized some basic facts about the prescription you take, I’m not sure where every boundary is. Do you go into heat at all? Or have you stopped them all together?”

The omega’s cheeks turn slightly pink at the subject, but that doesn’t stop him from answering. “It’s… not too personal,” he says. “I, uh, go into heat about once a year, to make sure I don’t fuck up my body too badly. Wouldn’t want to find out I’ve made myself infertile just as I settle down with a mate or leave the FBI, you know?” He gives a weak, humorless laugh, then huffs out a long sigh. “It’s hell, though. Puts me out of service for just over a week.”

Castiel runs his tongue across his teeth while he considers the new information, mildly perplexed. Worry over reproductive health seems like an interesting concern for an omega who rarely seems to want to be an omega.

After a moment of consideration, Castiel says, “I’m going to assume you don’t go through heats with a partner, given…” He makes a vague gesture; they both understand Dean’s situation, so there’s no point articulating it. “But since you put it off and only have one a year, it’s probably healthier for you to have someone with you, simply for the fact that your body is probably trying to compensate for the lost heats. It’s not supposed to be hell.” And while he’s sure Dean knows this, he wants to reaffirm it, anyway.

A part of him can’t help but feel guilty, knowing that his omega has suffered.

It looks as though Dean is considering whether or not he should argue the alpha’s point—likely because he’s unsure of the notion of sharing his heat with someone, if Castiel had to guess—so Castiel pushes the conversation onward before he has the chance. “Do you want to have children?”

Dean’s argument visibly drains out of him, and his lips press flat for a moment. He blows out a breath through his nose, then smiles thinly. “I used to not want to,” he confesses, voice a low rasp. “I could never really come to grips with it. Getting knocked up… My dad raised me to be an alpha; the thought of giving into the omega stereotypes and getting pregnant wasn’t exactly a good one. But now… honestly, I’d love to have kids. But I’m about at my prime, and still masquerading as a beta, working on murder cases. There’s not really any possibility of finding a mate and then settling down to have pups. It may never happen, honestly.”

By the time Dean is finished, he’s looking incredibly wistful, and Castiel’s heart aches for him. He can only imagine what it must be like to be in Dean’s shoes, wanting children but being afraid of his nature. He appreciates, though, that Dean does want pups. It’s endearing to hear that he’d not just like them, but love them.

When Castiel answers, his smile is sappy. “You should leave the bureau,” he says, his tone soft and understanding. “If that’s something you want, then you should pursue it. It will make you happier, and even if you’re not working on FBI cases anymore… someone else will fill your shoes. After your mother has justice, you could move on. If you wanted.”

There’s a quick burst of something akin to hope in Dean’s scent, and the omega allows himself to smile for a brief moment. But then reality sets back in, and he sighs heavily. “Maybe. I want to catch Azazel and solve the other cases I’m working on, first. I have priorities right now, and kids aren’t one of them.”

Castiel’s light mood slips a bit when the omega mentions his other case. He tries not to make it look like he stiffens, though that’s exactly what he does. He remembers Dean’s other case. He’s familiar with it, to say the least. He can tell that Dean is inching toward frustration even just thinking about his impossible case, and it sets Castiel on-edge.

He feigns innocence, casting Dean a curious look. “Remind me what your other case is? I remember seeing it when I hacked into your files, but I don’t remember the details.”

The frown lines marring Dean’s forehead deepen, and he lets out an irritated huff. “I really have nothing to go on. All the victim’s files are being blocked from me, so I only know the basics, and every time I ask around to try to figure out why, I end up going in circles.” He rakes his fingers roughly through his hair, then twists to face Castiel, waving his free hand around to articulate his points. “What I do know is that the victims are men and women, alpha and beta.  All adults, varying ages. They either had no ID or fake IDs, and most of them didn’t even hit anything on facial recognition. It’s frustrating as fuck. We call the killer the Ghost, but it’s like they’re all ghosts.”

The Ghost. Such an amusing, nonsensical name.

Dean’s emotions are turning his scent acrid, his frustration boiling over as he turns his thoughts back to his primary case for the first time in days. Castiel knows full well that that is what’s happening, but he finds himself helpless to stop it. Before he can even try to cut the cut the head off the snake, Dean scrubs a palm over his face and barrels onward.

“And on top of all that, to make matters worse—they all had fucking notes on them. They’re always gone by the time we get there, but we can tell they were there, because the pins are left behind, and sometimes there’s even a scrap or two of the same type of paper leftover.” Dean growls and smacks his open palm against the steering wheel. “It’s fucking impossible, man.”

Castiel regrets getting into this topic. Lord, does he regret it. He hates that they’ve stumbled their way to this point because he’s not ready for it, and most importantly, Dean’s not ready. It becomes even harder for Castiel to maintain his composure. What is he supposed to do? Continue to act as though he knows nothing? Give Dean a hint that would both accomplish nothing and potentially endanger his life?

Except—no. No, it wouldn’t endanger Dean’s life, not while Castiel is around. He won’t allow anything or anyone that ability ever again.

He’s silent for a long moment, caught up in his thoughts and processing the puzzle Dean has unintentionally given him. The entire situation makes him fidgety—or, it would, if he hadn’t long ago learned to quell his fidgets. “After Azazel,” he eventually begins, “I will make an effort to look into it.” He hazards Dean a quick glance, expression unreadable. “This sounds like a feud. Someone with a mission, someone trying to cover it up. Are you sure you want to be involved at all?”

Dean makes a scornful sound and shakes his head. “Cas, I know you don’t know me all that well—” Wrong. “—but you must know me well enough to know that I don’t back down from a challenge.” His laugh is short and sharp. “Besides, if it’s a feud, then both people need to be put behind bars. It’s my job to do that, Cas. To catch the sick fuck who’s been killing people.”

Castiel’s mouth pulls down into a frown at the tone Dean takes on, cold and flinty, and his own eyes harden. “Dean.” He doesn’t know when he clenched his jaw, but it’s a struggle to unclench it. “You’re making statements based off of assumptions based off of very few facts. You’re choosing sides, and considering how little you’ve been able to tell me about this case, I would say that’s unwise. You said the deceased have had evidence of notes on them.” He only now looks over at Dean, demanding an answer. The man’s knuckles are white around the steering wheel. “What conclusion can you draw from that? If the notes had been left intact, what do you think they would say?”

For a fraction of a second, Dean seemed more surprised by the turn in the argument than anything—and then his anger swoops back in, and he growls dangerously at Castiel. The omega’s emotions are a jumbled mess of negativity, but Castiel can easily pluck the tendril of fear out in his scent. Before he can investigate it, Dean is growling back at him, and the opportunity is lost.

“It doesn’t matter what the notes said, Cas,” he snaps. “Those people were murdered. Even if this person is being a vigilante or something, they’re still doing the wrong thing. They’re still killing people. It’s still illegal, even if they think they’re exacting justice. That’s the job of people like me, representatives of the law, not civilians. It’s my damn job, Cas. People who murder, no matter who they kill—they belong behind bars.”

Castiel has to physically bite his tongue to keep himself from interjecting in the middle of Dean’s tirade and saying something he’ll regret. When Dean is done, the alpha blows out a rough breath and forces himself to calm. He doesn’t want to fight with Dean. He doesn’t want to misstep. And he certainly doesn’t want Dean to be afraid, for any reason.

“There’s no reason to get defensive,” he tells the omega, his tone less sharp than it had been. “But Dean, you’re also missing my point. And you didn’t answer my question.” He drums his fingers against his thigh for a second before continuing, watching the man in the driver’s seat intently from the corner of his eye. “You’re forgetting that I’m adept at finding people. I’ve picked things up, I know which pieces of the puzzle are relevant and which are not. So. What could the notes have been? Think, Dean, because that, as well as how those people are connected, is what will lead you to the guilty party.”

Dean opens his mouth, his expression giving the impression that he’s going to say something else scathing, but then he fully processes what Castiel said, and his jaw snaps shut with an audible clack of teeth. Castiel can see the gears turning in his mind as he turns the clue over and thinks it through, and as he does, the omega’s frustration fades.

Dean blinks, then whips his head around to face Castiel, his eyes wide and disbelieving. “Could it be a name?”

For the first time since the subject turned, Castiel smiles, a small but genuine expression. He can tell that Dean’s question was more of a verbalization of his conclusion than an actual question needing an answer, but the alpha nods anyways. It’s exactly the result he wanted. “A name,” he confirms. “But if it’s a name, whose? And why? If it’s a name, then it’s probably safe to assume that the owner of said name is very much against the idea of it getting out. Why else would every crime scene be disrupted? Bodies are being left for the police to find, but they aren’t the first to find them. There is a line being drawn, dots connected, but someone is going to great lengths to ensure that it cannot be seen.”

“Jesus fuck,” Dean growls. He twists halfway around in his seat, looking into the back like he wants to reach for his bag. He quickly realizes that he can’t grab it, however, jerking back into focus when the Impala wavers in its lane and the wheels go over the reflective bumps at the center of the highway. “Damnit. I need to get my laptop when we stop. I’ve gotta let someone back at the office know. If we can just get our hands on one note, or a body with a note still attached, we’ll know the connection. There has to be a person or an organization that all the victims are connected to, I just need to find out what it is.” He huffs in agitation, fingers twitching against the steering wheel. “If there’s another murder while I’m here with you, there’s no doubt that this mystery person will get to the body first. We’ll lose another chance.”

Castiel hums in quiet amusement at Dean’s sharp rush of excitement. He knows the feeling of suddenly having a lead or new perspective after having seemingly been at a stand-still; he understands the omega’s reaction entirely. He raises an eyebrow at Dean’s insistence that he needs to pass his revelation along, however. “Has there been any sort of pattern to the frequency of the strikes?” he asks, gently leading Dean away from the possibility. “If you’re worried another body might turn up before Azazel is dealt with, I would advise that you be careful in how you pass your worry along. Telling someone to look out might raise the question of why you aren’t simply looking out. They’ll ask questions you may not have answers to if things don’t go well with Azazel.”

Dean’s shoulders tense, and he rubs a hand over his stubbled jaw. “The last one was… two weeks ago,” he says. “They’re usually about once a month, or close to. I can’t have people asking questions, though. I guess you’re right.”

“I’m frequently right,” Castiel replies, his tone riding the line between teasing and serious. In all reality, though, he’s grateful that Dean is taking his advice on not telling anyone to heart. Despite the strange, grey area that the circumstances of Dean’s case have put them in—put Castiel in—he still wants what’s best for the omega. If the bureau were to know that Dean went after Azazel, even if he gets arrested, there’s no way he’s going to avoid punishment. They’ll be even more upset if (preferably, when) Azazel turns up dead. Castiel doesn’t want that.

The alpha lets out a heavy sigh, and reaches across the space between them to rest a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Try not to worry about this too much, okay? We’ll get it figured out.”

“Yeah,” Dean says, and he smiles at Castiel in a way that makes him melt. “I know we will, Cas.”

~

Pontiac, Illinois has never been one of Castiel’s favorite cities. In fact, it has never even been in his top ten list of cities. And yet he still knows it like the back of his hand, and is hit with a sharp wave of nostalgia when they pass the ‘Welcome to Pontiac!’ sign on their way into town.

He used to spend a lot of time, here. For Meg.

Likely sensing his somber mood, Dean remains quiet until they’re well within Pontiac, and he’s exiting the freeway. “So. Where we headed?”

“The motel I was planning on staying in is about twenty minutes from here, and puts us close to Azazel,” Castiel says. “And then the funeral home where the service will be held tomorrow is another twenty minutes from there. Are you hungry? We can get dinner before we go to the motel, or check in and drop off our things first. It’s up to you.”

Dean shrugs. “I had that donut not too long ago, I’ll be fine checking into a room first and getting dinner from there.”

“Wonderful.” Satisfied with the answer, Castiel directs Dean through the city to their destination. Traffic is good, so it isn’t long before they’re pulling into the parking lot of their new motel. The section of town it’s in isn’t overly busy but is still reasonably populated, and the motel itself is clearly aged, yet well-kept even on the outside. Dean pulls smoothly into a parking space and cuts the engine, and Castiel is quick to undo his seatbelt. He says before climbing out, “I’ll get us a room, so that you can avoid having charges from Pontiac on your card. Sound fair?”

Dean smiles, then leans over to peck a kiss to the alpha’s cheek. The touch stops Castiel in his tracks, momentarily stunning him as Dean says, “Good idea. I’ll get the bags.”

Once Castiel’s mental functions come back online, he gives Dean a wide, gummy smile, and finally turns to slip out of the car with a final promise of, “I’ll be back.”

The office at the front of the motel is neat and tidy, and the older omega man working at the counter is perfectly polite as he runs Castiel’s credit card and checks him into what turns out to be the last availability in the motel. He passes Castiel back his card and a room key, and his eyes flicker toward Dean where he’s visible through the window, leaning against the Impala with one of their bags in each hand. Castiel just grins, thanks him, and pushes out through the door to return to his omega. He brandishes the room key as he approaches, still pleased as punch.

“Apparently there’s a convention nearby, which means the only available room was the honeymoon suite. Ground floor, fourth room down. I think we can make it work, don’t you?”

Dean raises an eyebrow and chuckles. “Honeymoon, huh? Probably a fair assumption, considering the fact that I can smell myself on you from here.” They chuckle in stereo, and Dean pushes off from the Impala to make his way toward their room. He bumps his shoulder into Castiel’s as he passes, nudging him along. “Well, come on. Let’s go check out our honeymoon suite, honey. I hope we’ve got another king size bed.”

The bed, when they reach their room, turns out to be bigger even than a king, as they’re both pleased to discover. With all that their night promises to hold, it’s sure to be put to good use. The entire suite is nice, and well designed for a couple; there’s a Jacuzzi with enough space for two, a shower stall with a fancy head and ample room, and air purifiers built into the air conditioning unit to prevent any scents in the room from building up.

Trying out the Jacuzzi is a very tempting idea—Dean would look so beautiful riding Castiel in the bubbling water—but it appears that his omega has other plans. And not the fun kind of plans that Cas is entertaining in his head.

“We’re getting dinner,” Dean announces, dumping the bags by the bed and turning on his heel to march right back over to the door. Castiel opens his mouth to protest—surely they don’t have to go right away—but as soon as he hears Dean’s stomach rumble even from a few feet away, he changes his mind.

He’s sure that Dean is scary when he’s hungry; he’d rather not push his luck until he has to find out.

With one last baleful look towards the Jacuzzi, Castiel turns away and follows Dean out the door. He has to remind himself that they still have all of tonight, but he’s barely gotten to touch Dean all day, and his fingers itch with the compulsion as he locks up.

Patience.

Dean honks the horn at him, and Castiel rolls his eyes, though it’s mostly out of amusement for his omega’s antics. He can see Dean grinning at him from the driver’s seat as he makes his way over to the Impala and slides in. “You’re bossy when you’re hungry,” he accuses, pulling out his phone and tabbing through it idly as they pull out of the parking lot.

Across from him, Dean simply laughs. “You bet, Cas,” he replies, and Castiel smiles down at the screen. He lets Dean drive uninterrupted, taking a short opportunity to catch up with his mail and the news.

“What should we get?” Dean asks, and Castiel shrugs, preoccupied by his phone.

“Whatever you want, love. I’ll be happy with anything.”

There’s an alert in his mailbox, and he tabs it open, clicking on the link that redirects him to a news article.

Senator Richard Roman Purchases Wellman, Inc., Nation’s Leading Provider of Omega Healthcare Products

The alpha bristles, his posture going from relaxed to irate in a second, and he fights to keep his scent level in the confines of the car as his eyes fly over the words on his screen. He pores over the article intently, to the point that he fails to notice the passage of time. He doesn’t even realize that the car is parked until Dean prompts him with a, “Earth to Cas—we’re here, bud.”

“Sorry,” Castiel is quick to say, closing out of his browser and glancing up through the windshield to see what their chosen destination is. The first sign that he sees, plastered on the building visible through Dean’s window, has him blinking in surprise. “A… sex shop?”

Dean practically yelps in surprise, and hastily spins in his seat. “What?! No! No, that—that’s just—” He huffs and turns back around, his cheeks noticeably pink. He reaches over and forcibly turns Castiel’s head in the other direction with a hand on his chin. “Dinner. The Italian place, dumbass.”

Castiel lets himself be guided, and spots the aforementioned Italian restaurant with ease. It’s small, likely a family-owned establishment as opposed to a chain, and so cute and picturesque that it’s almost startling. “Oh,” the alpha says. “That’s also a good option.”

Dean nearly chokes on his own tongue. Castiel smiles innocently until he recovers, at which point the omega smacks him on the shoulder. “We’re not going into a sex shop, you horndog. Just—get out of the car.”

Castiel grins, but does as he’s told. As they make their way through the parking lot to the restaurant, he can’t resist nudging Dean with his elbow. “Maybe we can go there if we skip dessert. If you ask nicely, I’ll even buy you something.”

Dean’s blush returns with a vengeance, his entire face burning red. It’s painfully adorable. “Cas, you can’t just say shit like that!” he whispers in return, ducking his head while simultaneously glancing around them as if to make sure no one overheard.

Castiel just gives him a fond—if slightly teasing—smile, and catches Dean’s hand in his own. “I can,” he counters, “and I will. If I decide I want to treat you, that's our business, and no one else’s. And besides—you deserve nice things. Surely you can't object to that.”

Dean blinks at him for a second, as if he can’t believe that Cas is serious, then ducks his head shyly. Castiel catches a glimpse of a smile pulling at the omega’s lips.

They walk through the front doors of the restaurant with their shoulders brushing and their fingers still linked. The interior of the building proves to be just as cozy as the outside had suggested it would be; low lighting, soft music and low-level ambient noise from the other diners, expensive bottles of wine on display on the back wall. It’s intimate, romantic, and Castiel knows he couldn’t have picked a better restaurant himself if he tried.

It’s perfect for a first date.

And really, he decides, that’s what it is. From the moment he and Dean enter, hand-in-hand and reeking of each other, no one in the restaurant would assume they’re anything but a couple. As long as that is the case, there’s no reason for them not to act accordingly. Dean deserves the extra attention, anyway.

When the hostess leads them to their table, in a dimly-lit corner, Castiel lets go of Dean’s hand so that he can step up to one of the chairs and pull it out for him. It’s a cheesy gesture, he knows, even if he’s considering this outing to be a date, but he hardly cares. He fights to suppress a grin as he nods toward the chair. “If you’d be so kind?”

Just like that, Dean is blushing again, and the hostess giggles as the omega takes the offered seat. The scent of Dean’s happiness at the gesture is dizzying, and Castiel just knows that his cheeks are still pink, even when he ducks over the table and hides his face behind the wine menu.

Castiel takes his own seat as the hostess leaves, and beams at the shock of brown hair he can see over the top of the wine menu. “Do you know much about wine, Dean?”

There’s a long, weighted pause, and then the menu is lowered to reveal Dean’s bashful face. “Uh… No. I don’t, actually. If I try to order us wine, I’ll probably just embarrass myself. More of a beer guy, you know?”

Castiel hums in amusement, then reaches over to pluck the wine list out of Dean’s loose fingers. “In that case, I’ll handle this. And you…” Castiel trades him for a regular menu. “Can decide what we have. This seems like the kind of place where we should order something large to split, I think.”

Dean visibly relaxes. “Yeah, I think I can do that,” he agrees, already scanning the menu as soon as he accepts it.

While Dean looks at the menu, Castiel looks at Dean. A small crease of concentration forms between the omega's eyebrows, a sign that he’s taking the task incredibly seriously, and it’s utterly adorable. Castiel watches it with blatant adoration. Even when Dean's look of concentration gives way to a bright smile a few moments later, the alpha is no less entranced. It's hardly a new revelation, but he finds himself struck by just how beautiful Dean is. He's blinding.

“Here,” he says, turning the menu around for Castiel to see and pointing to his selection. “‘The Lady and the Tramp’, spaghetti and meatballs. Serves two.”

“That sounds perfect,” Castiel agrees with a smile. He leans forward and props his chin on his hand, elbow on the edge of the table. “Are you the lady or the tramp in this scenario? Will we be sharing individual spaghetti noodles until we kiss?”

Dean laughs, mirroring Castiel’s posture without seeming to realize he’s doing so. “I’m totally the tramp,” he says without hesitation. “Scrappy and adorable. You’re much more dignified, just like the lady.” His lips shift into a crooked grin, and beneath the table, he hooks his ankle around the alpha’s. “Then again, isn’t Tramp the one pursuing Lady? Maybe that makes you better suited for the street rat. And I mean, I feel like we can kiss anyway, without the pasta mediator, but I wouldn’t say no.”

Castiel wrinkles his nose. “You might be scrappy and adorable, but I think I would rather we not kiss around mouthfuls of pasta, thank you very much. I’m not that desperate for an excuse to kiss you; I’ll do it anyway.” Dean laughs again at that, and Castiel knocks their ankles together as he smirks in satisfaction. “But,” he continues, going back to the larger debate at hand, “I can see us being the other way around, as well. If I’m recalling that film correctly, Lady is not uninterested in Tramp, you know. And seeing as I’m also showing you a new way of doing things in life… Tramp may be more fitting for me, anyway. And furthermore, you’re far more beautiful than I am—perfectly fit for Lady.”

Dean splutters. “I am not better looking than you! You’re like… walking, talking sex—”

Before the argument can advance any further (after what Dean said, they may be about to stray into territory inappropriate for such a public setting), he’s saved by the arrival of their waiter, a young beta who comes by with two glasses of water. Dean snaps his mouth shut as the waiter inquires as to whether they’ve decided on their order, though his green gaze still holds sparks of mirth and amusement. Castiel recites it—the Lady and the Tramp, a bottle of red wine that he chooses nearly arbitrarily—and soon enough, the man is disappearing again.

Castiel takes advantage of the disruption and changes the subject, just slightly. “Lady and the Tramp used to be my sister’s favorite movie,” he says, answering one of the unspoken questions he’s sure Dean has. “I watched it far too many times with her, when she was little, so I know it fairly well as a result.” Thinking about Anna makes him smile, his expression going sappy. “She played ‘Bella Notte’ at her wedding, even. Anna, of course, is much more of a Lady than a Tramp.”

At that, Dean smiles in a way that makes him look just as sappy as Castiel feels. “Alright, that’s pretty adorable.” He pauses for a fraction of a second, the hesitation only noticeable because Castiel is so attuned to him. “What’s she like? Anna?”

Castiel takes a sip of his water, then leans back in his seat. He smiles at his hands for a moment, laced together in his lap, then flicks his gaze back up to meet Dean’s. “Anna is… She’s very similar to you, I believe. She’s my little sister first and foremost, of course, but she’s also a tough, headstrong omega who got herself to a good place in the world, despite the odds being stacked against her from the start. She’s sweet, and kind, and caring, and I wouldn’t dare cross her because despite her gentle exterior, because I’m fairly certain she would actually kill someone, if the need arose.”

Dean chuckles, clearly not taking the statement as seriously as anyone in their right mind should. Castiel tries not to let his amusement be too obvious. Dean agrees, “She sounds pretty great, I gotta say.”

“I think you’d like her. The two of you would get along well.” The alpha leans forward again, just slightly. He never gets to talk to people about Anna, and now that he’s begun, the words flow freely from his tongue. He could restrain them, but he doesn’t bother; it’s not a bad subject, judging by the soft look in Dean’s eyes, as intimate as their setting, and he trusts the omega wholly, besides. Talking about his most precious subjects feels natural.

“I believe I told you, she lives in New York? For the Times. New York has a higher population density than I can handle with any level of sanity, but Anna and Ruby thrive there. As of the last time I spoke with her, they’re even trying for pups. She’s seven years my junior, and yet always showing me up.” He shakes his head, still undeniably wistful.

Dean tries—and fails—to smother a smile behind his hand. “Yeah, New York can be a lot. I really only adjusted out of necessity. I still find myself holing up in my apartment from time to time, though, just to get away from it all.” He traces the pad of his pointer finger around the edge of his water glass, a movement that draws Castiel’s eyes as the omega continues to speak. “I feel the same about Sam, honestly. Always showing me up? It’s only a matter of time before he and Jess marry and mate and start trying to add their own little horde of moose to the world.” He grins as if he’s said something particularly funny, to which Castiel simply arches an eyebrow.

Moose?” he repeats with a chuckle. “Do you think they’ll have particularly large children? If that’s the case, Sam better be very kind to Jess, because that could very well make for miserable pregnancies. Especially if there’s going to be a horde.” Castiel certainly plans on being good to his own mate while pregnant, of course, and will treat him like royalty—and that’s even without an expectation of having large children. He couldn’t imagine behaving in any other way.

Although, he does also hope for a ‘horde’. If he could be so lucky…

Castiel clears his throat and hurries onward. “Regardless, when they reach that point, it will be good for them. I’m already eager for Anna and Ruby to have children so that I can have nieces or nephews to dote upon. I imagine you feel the same way about Sam and Jess?”

If Dean is bothered by the quick advancement in subjects, he doesn’t comment. He doesn’t miss a beat before replying. “It’s probably a few years down the road for them, but yeah. They’ll be happy, and I can be cool Uncle Dean, who spoils the little buggers rotten and encourages them to torment their dad.” He laughs, excited by the prospect—but there’s an undercurrent of melancholy to his scent that is impossible to miss.

Castiel, tactfully, doesn’t comment on it. He can imagine where it’s coming from well enough; Dean wants children but imagines them to be unattainable with his chosen life path, so thinking about his brother’s potential pups cannot be easy.

But maybe he can push the boundaries, just a bit.

“You should be careful with that,” he instead warns, intentionally playful. “If you spoil Sam’s pups and turn them against him, he’s only going to be inclined to do even worse with yours, one day. It might be wise to avoid making enemies so early.” He has to grin, though, immediately undercutting his own seriousness as he goes on to distract Dean from the implication. “Of course, this is coming from the man who’s already promised his possibly soon-to-be-expecting sister that he’ll buy her first-born child a drum set. God, the look she gave me when I told her that…”

Dean had been beginning to look too somber for Castiel’s liking, but the diversion worked even better than the alpha had hoped, and he bursts out laughing, his head tipping back with genuine mirth. It takes him a few moments to recover, and when he does, his eyes are bright and his smile is brilliant enough to send the strongest of alphas to their knees. “Jesus, yeah, I can’t imagine she’d be too thrilled about that,” he says, though it sounds like he’s at the far end of a tunnel for all Castiel can hear. That laugh. Dean continues, oblivious, “Especially if they’re in some tiny place in New York like I am, they’d get so many noise complaints. I, personally, plan to teach Sam’s pups all the best pranks to play on their poor, unsuspecting dad. Destructive in an entirely different way.”

Castiel hums, showing amusement despite the fact that he hardly caught half of what Dean said. How is it possible that he’s so, absurdly lost on the omega? Distracted by the beauty of his laugh; and he used to think he was so unshakable.

By the luck of some divine intervention, Castiel is saved from having to either admit to his distraction or blunder his way around it by their waiter’s return. He arrives with a bottle of wine, and shows the label to Castiel for approval. The alpha settles easily into the game; the waiter pours a small amount for sampling, and Castiel swirls it in the bottom of his glass, inhales its aroma, tastes it, and then finally nods his acceptance. He can tell Dean is watching him like a hawk from the opposite side of the table, and the scrutiny threatens to make him laugh. He manages to hold himself together long enough for the beta to pour each of their glasses and disappear again, the bottle left behind at the center of the table.

Castiel picks up his glass and twirls its contents. He glances at Dean. “Full disclosure, I know hardly anything about wine. Don’t expect much more from me than I’ve already given.”

Dean’s answering chuckle bubbles out of him, refusing to be contained any longer. “Well, you do a damn good job of pretending. I was convinced.” He raises his glass and tilts it toward Castiel’s. “To tormenting our siblings with their own children.”

“And to being the best siblings our siblings could ask for,” Cas adds, raising his own glass to let it tap against the side of Dean’s.

They sip at their wine, both of them automatically adopting overly-serious expressions. Dean lifts his to his nose and makes a show of inhaling deeply—then promptly has to turn his head to the side and sneeze. Castiel barely suppresses a snort, and Dean glares sulkily down at his glass. “Fuckin’ grapes,” he mutters. “Just smells like wine. I’ll never understand all that bullshit.”

This time, Castiel can’t smother his laugh—thankfully, it pulls a smile from his omega. “I must say, I have to agree,” Cas tells him, and the fact that the alpha shares his opinion seems to widen Dean’s smile even further. “In my opinion,” Castiel continues, “good wine is good wine; so long as it pairs with the meal, the specifics are far from important. There are many things in the world more worthy of my attention.”

“Exactly,” Dean says, his grin wide and radiant. “I’m much more concerned with good food than good wine.” He props his chin on one of his palms, his other hand toying idly with the rim of his glass. “I’ll have to cook for you some time. I make a mean burger.”

The offer has Castiel’s heart beating unevenly in his chest. It’s so sweet, so genuine, and fills him with adoration. “I would like that, Dean. A lot.” He shifts, leaning in closer to the table, drawn to Dean like gravity itself is working to bring him toward the omega. He hardly notices, doesn’t care. “Burgers are my favorite, you should know. I will gladly take you up on that. But do you cook other things? Is cooking a skill you have, or a hobby you partake in on occasion?”

“I cook other things,” Dean says, tone bordering on defensive. “Burgers are my specialty, but I have a wider menu up my sleeve, too. I’m not just a pretty face, you know.”

Castiel smiles and bares his palms toward the omega in a gesture of goodwill. The defensiveness might be cute, but he doesn’t want to offend. “I never said you were just a pretty face, it was an honest question. I admire that you can cook—I wouldn’t want to adhere to some archaic stereotypes by assuming it’s something that you’re good at, though. Wouldn’t that be worse?” He lifts an eyebrow, confident that he won’t be challenged on that one. “But especially if your specialty is burgers, I will definitely have to let you cook for me.”

Reiterating his acceptance of the offer seems to strike a chord within Dean, because all at once, his confidence on the matter splinters. He looks unsure of himself—he’s probably unsure of them, of their future time together—and his gaze slides off of Castiel to land on the red in his wine glass instead of continuing to rest on the alpha himself. His fingers drum against the tabletop in a nervous, staccato rhythm, and he eventually hedges, “Maybe if you’re… in New York. Visiting Anna.”

Castiel accepts the hesitant answer with an easy shrug. “Maybe that’ll give me the motivation I need to visit Anna,” he says—hints. “Lord knows I don’t do it enough. So if I’m in New York, or, alternatively, if you’re in Maine, or if you’re visiting Sam in California…”

Castiel may not like to think of his time with Dean as being limited to ‘visits’ anywhere, but even if things between them do have to start out that way—he’ll manage it. So long as Dean doesn’t slip away from him completely, he’ll survive. Patience is one of his many virtues.

Dean’s fingers finally still, though their twitching doesn’t stop completely. Small victories. “I’ll definitely let you know if I’m around,” he tells the alpha, his smile seeming to come a little bit easier. “And if you’re in New York, you could always introduce me to Anna.” He pauses to send Castiel a teasing smirk. “It’s a shame that her pups won’t be old enough to corrupt, though.”

Castiel can’t stop himself from lighting up at the suggestion of Dean meeting Anna—he can’t believe that Dean was the one to say it—and laughs at the callback to corrupting her pups. “Anna would love you, as I said earlier. But remember, they’re still trying for pups, she’s not even pregnant yet, last I heard—if you meet her before they’re born, don’t mention drum sets or corruption of any form, or she may just gut the both of us before we ever have the chance to meet her pups. It will have to wait until they’re at least… three or four, I would say? To be most effective. And also to keep us both from finding our graves before we can become uncles.”

The omega hums in amusement, and he shifts his foot against Castiel’s beneath the table in a unifying gesture. “I’ll definitely keep my mouth shut, then. I’d rather we not get murdered.” Dean visibly sobers, and a flood of warm emotions cross his scent. Castiel is transfixed, caught by both that sweet aroma as well as Dean’s soft, affectionate gaze. “I do hope they get lucky soon,” he says. “I think you’d make a great uncle.”

The words send happiness buzzing through Castiel’s veins, and practically preens under the warmth the omega bestows upon him. His inner alpha purrs in delight; being told he’d be a good uncle is almost as nice as being told he would be a good parent, as far as his instincts are concerned. Mere seconds after he’s spoken, however, something unreadable passes through Dean’s eyes, and his face loses colour. Castiel blinks, startled by the abrupt shift in mood. He doesn’t know what caused it, and of course, their waiter arrives before he can ask.

Of course.

Castiel presses his lips together and leans back to give the man room to serve their dinner, muttering a quick, yet genuine thanks to him before he leaves again. Castiel’s stomach growls as the scent of the spaghetti hits him, but he hesitates before digging in. He could do that, and let Dean bury his fluctuating emotions in silence like he is so clearly trying to do—despite his alpha’s budding alarm over upsetting his mate—or he can push. He takes a deep breath and goes for the latter.

“Dean.” He ducks his head, catching the omega’s eyes and holding his gaze. He makes sure to keep his own soft, the crease between his brows conveying nothing but kind, earnest concern for the reaction he saw. He’s almost certain it was panic. “Are you alright? We can stop talking about our families, if you want. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“I’m fine,” Dean croaks out, too quickly and very obviously not, considering the way his panic triples in strength. His chest heaves with every breath, and once he tears his eyes away from the hold of Castiel’s, they land on anything but the alpha. He forces a shaky smile, almost pitiful in its transparency, and starts to scoop spaghetti onto his plate with a trembling hand. “Let’s just—eat.”

Dean’s distress is well-contained in the sense that it shouldn’t be obvious to anyone else in the restaurant—unless they were to come closer and intentionally breathe in Dean’s scent, but Castiel bares his teeth in defense at even just the thought, so that won’t be happening—but it hits the alpha like a physical blow to the chest. To be so contained means it’s being completely internalized, and no matter the cause, such a thing isn’t healthy. Forcing his fear and confusion down is not what Dean needs. Castiel has to fight back the urge to reach out to touch his omega, settling instead for the more subtle contact of pressing their calves together as he shakes his head.

“You don’t have to tell me why you’re freaking out,” he says, first and foremost, “but please, tell me how I can help you. I don’t know what this is, Dean, but there’s no need for you to try to force yourself to be fine if you’re not.”

Dean stays resolutely silent for several long moments, staring down at his plate. He’s completely still, more so than Castiel has ever seen him. The omega is almost always moving, even if he’s simply fidgeting with his fingers. The absence of motion is unsettling, and Castiel gets the distinct and concerning feeling that whatever Dean is internalizing is building up inside him, to the point where he’ll explode from the pressure.

Sometimes, he really hates being right.

“If you’ll excuse me for a minute,” Dean grinds out, the strain in his voice a perfect match to the budding panic in his scent. He doesn’t give Castiel a chance to respond before pushing up out of his chair and striding toward the front door. Castiel is left shell-shocked in his wake, but despite his surprise, his eyes don’t leave Dean once as he flees. And, as soon as the man pushes out through the doors, Castiel regrets letting him go. He regrets letting Dean out of his sight, beyond his range of control, his protection.

And he doesn’t even know what happened.

As the alpha sits at his now-empty table, haunted by the lingering scent of distressed omega that hangs in the air, he thinks back to the conversation they were having when Dean cracked and tries to piece it together. Try as Castiel might, though, he can't settle on an answer. Was talk about Anna's upcoming pups making him think about Sam in some way that he couldn't handle? Did he somehow start thinking about Mary? Or Azazel, and their plans for the following day? Was it Castiel himself, doing something he didn't realize? The latter seems possible, what with the way Dean suddenly lost the ability to look at him, but he still doesn't /know/. He twitches in his seat, unable to relax.

With no options left to him, he gets up from his seat and crosses the restaurant, finding a vantage point near the front where he can spot Dean through the window and watch, if nothing else, to make sure he's still there. It garners a few looks of concern from the other patrons, and a pair of restaurant staff start picking their way over to him, but he waves them off, and they don't argue. He keeps an eye on Dean and wills his inner alpha to calm down, waiting to see if his omega is capable of recovering on his own. He trusts that he will be, but he wants to be sure.

Dean is pacing back and forth past the front window, his expression clearly unsettled, and Castiel aches to hold him and sooth him and fix whatever he did wrong, but he knows that that’s not an option right now. It’s all he can do to watch Dean through the front window until the omega takes a deep breath, runs his hands through his hair, and starts back towards the restaurant’s front door.

Quick as an eel, Castiel slips back towards their table and retakes his seat. If Dean knows that Cas was watching him in his moment of vulnerability, he’ll clam up again. As the omega re-enters the restaurant and Castiel makes sure it looks like he never left his seat, Cas suppresses a sigh.

No matter how long it takes for Dean to trust him and open up to him, it will all be worth it in the end.

Chapter Text

Dean tries to force his breathing to steady, sucking in great lungfuls of air between his teeth as his hands shake. Damn it, he’s having a panic attack over a single, errant, fleeting thought—one that was seemingly enough to undo him. He shouldn’t be freaking out about this.

But no matter how hard he presses the heels of his hands into his eyes, the mental image of Cas holding a young toddler in his arms, one with Dean’s green eyes and the alpha’s shock of dark hair… it won’t leave him alone. Thinking about how great of an uncle Cas is going to be one day lead to thinking about how great of a father he could be, and now the idea is stuck.

He can’t let himself dwell on this. He won’t. He’s been able to keep his desperation for a mate, a family, bottled up for so many years. Why is it making itself known again now?

Except, he knows exactly why.

The reason for it is back inside the restaurant, sitting at the table he just abandoned. The table where they’ve been sitting, talking about their families, flirting.

Dean paces back and forth along the sidewalk, using every technique he knows to calm his racing, juddering heart and trying to keep his mind blank. Eventually, his breathing slows back down to normal. He has to steel himself to step back inside the restaurant, and he can feel the heavy weight of numerous gazes following him. It’s too much, to be under such intense scrutiny, and Dean’s cheeks color in embarrassment. He clears his throat as he sits back down, picking up a fork to prod at the rapidly-cooling bowl of spaghetti between them.

“Sorry about that,” he mumbles as he scoops some into his own bowl.

Castiel—thankfully—doesn’t press at the subject of the panic, instead giving him a soft smile as he serves himself some pasta. “There’s no need to apologize, Dean,” he says, twirling some spaghetti around his fork. The man just seems to know when Dean needs an out, and provides one. “This pasta smells amazing.” Dean tries a little of his own, and has to admit that it’s pretty damn good, even if he think he could give it a run for its money with his own recipe.

“It’s pretty damn good,” he replies around his mouthful, and the alpha’s responding chuckle even manages to pull a tiny smile from Dean. After that, the silence stretches out between them, but Dean doesn’t mind it. While the first few bites of pasta had settled uneasily in his still-churning stomach, now he’s much calmer. Soon enough, Dean feels much closer to normal. “I’m glad I spotted this place,” he says halfway through his second bowl—the heaped mound of pasta between them looks roughly half the size it had when it was delivered to their table. “I hope their dessert is as good as their spaghetti.”

Though, from the sheer size of the main they’ve ordered, they may not get to the desserts at all. Even so, Dean isn’t one to back down from a challenge, and Castiel shoots him an amused look. “I suppose we’re going to have to test and see if the dessert is as good, wouldn’t you say? If you’re still up for it after we eat all of this pasta, that is.” The alpha’s grin turns crooked, teasing.

Dean smiles back, popping a meatball into his mouth and not bothering to completely chew or swallow it before he speaks. “I don’t think it’ll be a challenge. I’m kind of starving.”

Castiel gives him a wry look, as if to say, yes, I’d noticed.

The alpha looks back down at his bowl of pasta, pulling a face as he considers it. “Actually, I’m fairly hungry as well,” Cas muses, apparently able to ignore Dean’s terrible table manners (the omega grins around his mouthful). “I’m confident we can get through this. I’m not sure I’ll partake in dessert for fear of falling into a food coma after, but the main course, at least…”

While they devour the rest of the large bowl, they keep the conversation light and casual, with Dean purposefully steering them away from the subject that freaked him out earlier, and Cas more than happy to follow his lead. Finally, when Dean has speared the last meatball from the bottom of the bowl, he sits back in his chair and groans. “I think I’m gonna have to skip dessert.”

Castiel looks to be in a similar situation, though he didn’t eat as much as Dean—the alpha has much better self-restraint. “As lovely as this restaurant is, I think it would be a good idea to head back to the motel. We need to rest up before tomorrow.” Cas’s gaze turns sly and wicked. “Especially if you’re going to fuck me.”

Both of them ignore the scandalised look they get from one of the diners at the table closest to them—Castiel clearly doesn’t care, and Dean is too busy gaping at the alpha.

Suddenly, getting the hell out of here seems like a mighty fine idea.

Everything that follows—paying for their meal, making their giddy way out to the Impala, driving the short distance back to the motel—feels like a blur, and it’s only when the door of their room is slamming closed and Cas is pushing him up against it and kissing him that the world solidifies again, sharp and crystal clear. Dean gasps and pushes closer, tangling one hand in Cas’s hair as the alpha slides his tongue into Dean’s mouth. They stay there for a minute or so, just kissing, hands roaming over clothes, and Dean is content to follow Cas’s lead, even though he’s the one who’s going to be topping.

And shit, he still can’t believe that Cas is going to let Dean fuck him.

The alpha is hot, confident, all sure movements and firm hands as he pulls Dean towards the bed. Dean’s head is clouded, both from the tongue sliding along his own, and from the strong scent of arousal that hangs in the barely-present space between him and Castiel—which soon disappears when the alpha pulls them both down onto the bed, his back against the mattress while Dean falls on top of him.

All Dean wants is to press himself as close to Castiel as he can get, and see what beautiful sounds he can elicit from the alpha—so when Cas breaks the kiss, placing a hand on Dean’s chest to keep him at bay for a moment, he whines. Why is Castiel denying him this?

“Dean,” the alpha rumbles, and there’s a hint of amusement colouring his tone as Dean pushes against his hand, but mostly it’s all seriousness.

“Are you sure you want to do it like this?”

Is he serious? Dean’s pretty sure that there are few things in life that he wants more than to see how beautiful Cas looks, all splayed out under him, with Dean’s cock in his ass. His eyes widen in an incredulous look, and he huffs out his disbelieving amusement. “Cas, are you serious? I want this so bad, you have no idea.”

The nervousness melts away from Castiel’s expression, leaving only excitement and happiness lighting his eyes and pulling at the corners of his mouth. A charged moment passes between them, and Dean feels as though he can’t move, trapped in that blue gaze like a fly in amber as Castiel’s thumbs rub circles into his hips.

“Just checking,” Cas mutters, and then the alpha’s lips quirk up into a smirk. “Get on with it, then,” he goads, and the spell is broken. Dean chuckles and drops his head to bite a gentle reprimand to the alpha’s jaw, then captures the alpha’s mouth in another kiss—keeping it slow, languid. He wants to draw this out, if it’s his first time fucking an alpha. Fucking Cas. And the thought that it might be Cas’s first time doing things this way as well makes Dean shiver, a bolt of possession sparking through him.

From the way Castiel moans, insistent hands twisting in Dean’s shirt and trying to pull it off, the alpha definitely noticed.

Dean intends to keep the kiss going a little longer, to tease the alpha a little more with sweeping tongue and gently rolling hips, but when Castiel’s nails rake impatiently at Dean’s sides through his thin shirt and a growl rumbles up from his chest, Dean knows that he isn’t going to get away with teasing.

He breaks the kiss and sits back to kneel between Cas’s spread legs so that he can pull his t-shirt off over his head; the alpha does the same, his abs flexing with the effort of holding his torso up off the bed for the handful of moments it takes him to complete the action.

When Dean leans down to lick a broad stripe over the muscles of his stomach, they quiver, and Castiel moans. Suddenly, Dean can’t wait to see what kinds of sounds he can pull from Cas’s lips, and his fingers fumble desperately at the button and fly of the alpha’s jeans. Castiel is all too happy to help, lifting his hips up off the bed, and soon enough Cas is completely bare to Dean’s gaze.

He takes a moment to just watch Castiel; the flush to his cheeks, the rise and fall of his chest, the upward curve of his cock towards his stomach. Blue eyes watch him back, raking fire across his skin wherever they fall, and Dean would be happy to drown in that perfect blue for all eternity.

Cas’s throat bobs with the creation of an insistent, demanding sound, and he splays his legs open a little wider. Dean chuckles and smooths a hand along Cas’s strong thigh, mesmerized by the paleness of the alpha’s skin in his most intimate areas when contrasted with the tan of the rest of his body. When his fingers wrap loosely around Castiel’s cock, the man utters a broken sound and bucks his hips up into Dean’s hand without volition, his hands twisting in the sheets with desperation.

It’s obvious why Castiel likes this so much. It’s a heady, powerful feeling, to have the alpha spread out beneath him, flushed and panting, waiting for Dean to decide what to do with him.

Cas trusts him enough to let him do this. And that realisation nearly steals Dean’s breath from his lungs.

When Castiel growls again, soft and insistent, Dean nods and lets his hand fall from the alpha’s cock. Cas slumps, though his eyes continue to watch Dean as the omega’s fingertips trail lower, past the alpha’s balls to the tight furl of muscle behind them.

And Dean stops short.

“Cas, we don’t have any lube,” he points out, trying not to let his disappointment show in the cadence of his voice, even though he knows that he must look crestfallen. He’d suggested condoms, but how the hell had they forgotten about lube? Dean spares a moment to berate himself for not dropping into the sex shop that Cas had pointed out earlier.

“I can’t… I’ll hurt you.” They won’t be able to do this tonight—and who knows if there’ll even be a tomorrow night. The realisation that either one of them may not make it out of the encounter with Azazel seizes him with cold, icy fingers, and he’s frozen in place when Castiel sits up to press a soothing kiss to Dean’s temple, as if he knows just what the omega is thinking. The small touch of lips and the gentle hands on his shoulders do wonders to unknot Dean’s fears. Cas is here with him, now, in this moment. That is all that matters.

“Dean,” Cas says, even his voice thick with arousal and topped with a heavy dose of fondness. He presses a soft kiss to Dean’s lips. “Use your slick, love.”

Of course. It’s the perfect solution, and lust sears through Dean at the suggestion. A beat passes in which there is only stillness, a moment captured and preserved for a single second and an infinity as Dean stares at Cas, and then Dean is moving, fumbling, pulling at his jeans and boxers until he’s gloriously bare and he can slot himself back in between Castiel’s legs, groaning at the blissful friction he finds.

Cas’s strong thighs close around Dean’s waist as their hips rock, their cocks sliding together in enough friction to whet Dean’s desperation while he reaches behind himself. His fingers slide easily through the mess of slick already gathering between his cheeks, and as tempting as it is to sink his fingers into himself, he shifts to prop himself up on one elbow and reaches down with his slick fingers to tease them across the alpha’s tight hole.

Beneath him, Cas gasps, his hips bucking up as Dean’s fingertips rub at his entrance, and Dean swallows the sound with a kiss. Seeing Castiel like this, so flushed and needy, willing to give in to Dean and let the omega take control… it’s one of the most beautiful and arousing sights that he’s ever seen in his life, and only grows more so as Dean presses with his index finger, and it slides into the tight heat of Cas’s body.

If the alpha is this tight around just one finger, how is he going to feel wrapped around Dean’s cock?

The omega shudders, and tries not to rush the process, desperate as he is to find out.

After a while, Castiel is writhing around the three fingers that Dean has buried inside him, panting into Dean’s mouth and raking blunt nails over his skin is his desperation to feel Dean already. Usually the growled demands would be orders that Dean would listen to, but he elects to ignore Castiel in favour of making sure that the alpha is stretched enough—considering that his muscles don’t naturally relax, and he doesn’t produce his own slick, Dean wants to avoid hurting him as much as possible.

The last time, when Cas digs his blunt nails into Dean’s ribs and growls out a ragged, “Fuck me already, Dean,” the omega listens, withdrawing his fingers. He’s practically vibrating with anticipation—so is Castiel, from the way he shifts restlessly, his gaze boring into Dean—and the whole situation seems surreal as Dean coats his cock in his own slick and drops back down to blanket Castiel’s body with his own.

The head of his cock nudges at Cas’s hole, and as if the alpha finally realises that he’s getting what he wants, he goes still. His legs are wrapped around Dean’s waist, hands clutching at his shoulders, and Dean isn’t sure which one of them is more shocked by the sensation when Dean carefully rocks his hips forward and the head of his cock slides past the ring of muscle. Cas’s eyes are blown wide and vulnerable as he’s penetrated, his lips parted in surprise—when Dean rocks his hips forward a little more, almost overwhelmed by the intense heat and vice-like grip around his cock, Cas utters a soft whimper. As soon as it’s escaped him, hovering in the air between them, his expression shifts, as though he wishes he could take it back, as though it was involuntary and he doesn’t want Dean to know that he’s uncomfortable or in pain.

Dean pauses anyway, kissing Cas slowly and gently until the alpha relaxes enough for Dean to continue pressing in. It’s one of the most frustratingly slow experiences that Dean has ever had to endure, and it feels like an age until his hips are finally pressed up against Cas’s ass, and he’s sheathed fully inside the man. Dean lets out a soft whine at the overwhelming sensation.

He’s fucking an alpha. His dick is currently inside an alpha—he can’t quite believe that Cas trusts him enough, is truly secure enough in his designation, to allow Dean to do this. It’s truly a gift, and Dean plans to treasure it. He must have been looking down at Cas for a while, drinking in the moment and wondering when they became so close that this was an option for them, that the alpha eventually huffs out a demanding sound and gives a shift of his hips that makes Dean moan.

“I thought you were meant to be fucking me, Dean,” Cas grunts, and it would definitely be incredibly sexy if it wasn’t also just a touch petulant.

As it is, Dean can’t help but grin, bumping their noses together in an affectionate gesture that makes Cas’s expression go soft. “Gotta be patient, Cas,” he hushes, running one hand across the taut muscles of Castiel’s abdomen and feeling them relax beneath his touch. “We’ll get there.”

It takes a little while longer for Dean to fully adjust to the sheer tightness that’s currently gripping his cock—he would hate to blow his load prematurely and ruin this amazing opportunity that has been afforded him. When he’s ready, he begins to move, starting off by pulling out just slightly and then rocking into Cas. At least he has experience with topping, even if it is usually with women.

With Cas, it’s so much better.

The alpha gasps every time Dean thrusts back into him, lashes fluttering and lips parting in a soft, shocked ‘o’ that makes Dean think that Cas is only now realising how good it feels to be on the receiving end for once. While not biologically programmed like an omega’s, Cas’s muscles still clench and ripple around Dean’s length, and before long his control is becoming tenuous as his thrusts turn harder, faster, drawing out further and fucking back in with more force.

“Not going to last, Cas,” he warns, his voice tight with the strain of maintaining control. The alpha surges up for a kiss, and while Dean had previously been trying to be as gentle as possible, the way Castiel kisses him with bruising force suggests that the alpha doesn’t want that. “If you aren’t going to last, then fuck me while you can,” Cas snarls against Dean’s mouth—the sound dissolves into a moan a moment later when Dean thrusts in with more force.

If that’s what Cas wants, that’s what he’s going to get.

Dean curls one hand around Cas’s hip with bruising force and braces himself with the other beside the alpha’s head. It lends him the power and strength he needs to drive into Cas hard, and Cas is clinging at him now, arms wrapped around the omega’s neck and lips parted around a series of soft ‘oh’s that seem to be punched from his chest with each thrust—especially each time Dean’s cock slides over his prostate.

It’s perfection, and Dean feels like he could drown in the wide-eyed vulnerability and deep emotion of the blue gaze that never wavers from his face.

All too soon, Dean’s thighs start to tremble with the sign of his impending orgasm, and he has to concentrate extra hard on staving it off. “Cas,” he gasps out—a warning—and the alpha clenches down around Dean’s cock, making him moan.

“Come for me, love,” the alpha growls, and Dean is powerless to resist.

His body trembles as he hilts himself inside Castiel one last time and stills, his orgasm rolling through and over him. Castiel sooths him through it with gentle hands and kisses to Dean’s skin, until the omega has gone still and boneless, panting against Cas’s shoulder. The alpha’s laugh is warm and gentle, almost caressing Dean—he can’t help the pleased purr that rumbles through his body.

When he comes back to himself more, however, his overstimulated mind registers the hard press of Castiel’s erection into his hip, and guilt washes over Dean. Cas hadn’t come.

The change in emotions must be reflected in his scent, because Cas just presses a kiss to Dean’s sweaty temple and shifts his hips so that Dean’s softening cock slips out. The face the alpha makes as Dean’s come slowly drips out of him is an amusing grimace, but Dean is too exhausted and overwhelmed to tease him about it right now. Instead, he’s all loose, pliant limbs as Castiel maneuvers him onto his stomach and straddles his hips.

Cas presses two fingers into Dean’s ass, loose and slick from his arousal, then replaces them with the head of his cock and slides inside. Dean whines low in his throat in discomfort—his body is overstimulated and he’s nowhere near stretched enough to take the alpha’s cock with ease—but Castiel just slides a hand along his spine and grasps one of Dean’s shoulders for leverage. Dean doesn’t protest when the alpha seats himself fully and sets a moderate pace almost immediately after. His body adjusts well enough, and he’s so boneless and exhausted and fucked-out at this point, that he’s happy to lie there and let his alpha take pleasure in his body.

His alpha?

There’s a problem with that thought, he knows, but he can’t quite grasp what it is, and the lingering sense of wrong dissipates into nothingness when the head of Cas’s cock slides over his prostate and pulls a moan from Dean.

Castiel’s thrusts gradually pick up in strength and speed until the whole bed is rocking, and when Cas comes, it’s with an almost-feral snarl as he folds forwards and bites down on the back of the omega’s neck, hard enough to bruise and hold Dean in place but not hard enough to break the skin. Castiel’s knot is swelling, tying them together as his release spills deep into Dean, and the alpha continues to growl against the back of Dean’s neck. His body blankets Dean’s, forcing him against the mattress as if he weren’t already pinned by the knot in his ass and the teeth closed around the back of his neck.

It takes a little while for Cas to stop growling, longer for him to release his grip on Dean’s neck, and when he does, his tongue laves at the teeth marks that he’s left imprinted into Dean’s skin. “My omega,” Cas purrs, reaching out with one hand to lace his fingers with Dean’s where they’re resting loosely in the sheets.

Dean’s eyelids are drooping, exhausted by the sex, and he’s already halfway to falling asleep when he feels Cas go still where he’s draped over him, then press his nose in against the bolt of his jaw and inhale, scenting him. “Cas?” he slurs, both the pillow pressing against his cheek and his exhaustion distorting his words. “Wha’s up?”

Castiel doesn’t reply for a few long moments, and Dean can’t pick anything from his scent—it’s level and calm, more so that he would have expected after what just transpired between them. He’s almost about to ask again, wondering if Cas heard him, when he feels the alpha press a kiss to his throat.

“It’s nothing, Dean. Go to sleep,” Castiel whispers, his voice soft and his touch gentle as he rolls them both over onto their sides. Cas is spooned around Dean’s body, knot still tying them together and one arm slung around Dean’s hips, hand resting by his stomach.

Sleep is pulling at the edges of Dean’s consciousness now, and he gives an unintelligible mumble in reply, then lets it claim him.

~

The sun is streaming steadily through the windows as Dean stirs—with the funeral not until noon, they have some room to sleep in, which Dean is more than happy to take advantage of after last night. Castiel’s body pressed up behind him is a warm, steady presence, and Dean smiles as the alpha huffs gently against his throat. From the steadiness of his breathing, it’s evident that he’s still asleep, and Dean is more than happy to snuggle back against the alpha and let his eyes close for a little while longer.

This is the best way to wake up, he thinks, simply letting himself enjoy the pleasure of waking with another person beside him, keeping him warm, bare skin pressed up against his own.

Castiel stirs gently behind Dean—not enough to wake—and shifts the position of his arm, pulling Dean more firmly back against him with the hand splayed across his stomach before he relaxes again. The two of them doze for a while longer, slipping in and out of sleep, until Dean no longer feels the heavy exhaustion weighing down his limbs and eyelids. As he shifts in Cas’s arms, the alpha mumbles out an unintelligible grumble and huffs again. Dean rolls his eyes in fond amusement.

“Cas,” he manages to mumble before his jaws stretch in a yawn. “You gotta let me up. I feel gross.” Castiel only holds him tighter, and Dean swears that he can feel the grin as Cas presses a groggy kiss to one shoulder.

“Let me guess,” Castiel slurs against Dean’s skin in a voice heavy with sleep. “You want to take a shower?” He’s obviously not as asleep as Dean had thought, because the next thing he knows, there’s a strong leg hooked over his hip and pinning both of his own legs to the bed. Dean huffs, and Castiel only rumbles out a very self-satisfied purr at how he’s managed to pin Dean beneath his body. “Can’t let you shower yet. I need time to fully appreciate this. You smell so good, washing it away would be criminal.”

When Dean twists to fix Cas with an unimpressed look, the alpha takes his opportunity to nose at Dean’s jaw and pulls in deep lungfuls of his scent—he looks positively drunk with it when he finally meets Dean’s gaze, all goofy smile and crinkled eyes. Cas is obviously showing no remorse for his actions, so Dean takes matters into his own hands, attempting to wriggle out of Castiel’s octopus-grip (though, admittedly, not with a lot of vigor).

He admits defeat when Castiel tightens his grip on him. “I get that you enjoy me smelling like you,” he complains, “but having your come between my legs is gross.”

Castiel’s eyes go dark, and Dean catches the barest hint of some emotion that he’s never before scented on Cas, a bolt of possession and something else, before it’s gone again, and the omega blinks.

“Fine, we can shower,” Castiel replies, though his voice sounds almost distant, as if his thoughts are elsewhere. Dean brows pull down into a frown, but before he can pursue it any further, Castiel is moving, and before he can even blink, the alpha is lifting Dean into his arms. Dean yelps in shock, his arms instinctively going to Cas’s neck to keep himself up, even though the man’s strong arms are apparently more than capable of lifting a muscled omega.

The alpha smirks down at him, and Dean glares, reaching up to flick at Cas’s nose with one finger. “I have legs, you know,” he points out—Castiel silences any further arguments by tipping his head down and pressing a gentle kiss to Dean’s mouth. Dean melts in his arms, his mind going blissfully blank. “I know, love,” Cas replies, and there it is again. That nickname. Dean’s too tired to protest it—plus, it’s a nickname that plenty of people use. The short amount of time he and Cas have known each other doesn’t make it weird. Right?

It’s too much for Dean’s brain to try and figure out so soon after waking up, so he tucks his head in against Cas’s shoulder and just lets the alpha carry him to the bathroom. He can’t be bothered putting up a fight—and besides, it’s kinda nice to be treated like this. Pampered, cared for. It’s not something that Dean has experienced in a long time.

He expects Cas to place him down once they reach the bathroom, but instead the alpha carries him right over to the shower, and Dean raises a curious eyebrow up at him, wondering if he’ll be put down now.

Castiel just looks back down at Dean, his eyes dancing with happiness and pleasure. “Will you turn it on for us, love?” he asks, shifting his grip on Dean and nudging the glass shower door open with his knee. “My hands are a bit full at the moment.” And he has a point, even though it’s a predicament that could easily be solved by Cas putting Dean down. Still, Dean isn’t going to protest a request from his alpha, and stretches out an arm to turn on the taps. A strangled, undignified sound escapes him when cold water rains down on his arm, and Cas quickly spins him away from the water so that he isn’t sprayed by any more.

When steam is billowing from the shower cubicle, Castiel turns them both back towards it, but pauses before he steps in. “Hold onto me,” he instructs, and there’s barely time for Dean to register the request and tighten his grip around Cas’s neck before the alpha is shifting him, carefully turning him in his arms until Dean can wrap his legs around Cas’s waist. They’re face to face now, and the alpha grins up at Dean as he finally steps them both into the shower.

“You really can’t stand to put me down, huh?” Dean teases, though the sound turns into a hiss as he back is pressed against the cool tiles of the shower wall. He knows it takes some of the weight off Cas’s arms, though, so he doesn’t protest it. Castiel’s face is tucked into the crook of his neck, and Dean raises one hand to card his fingers through the alpha’s wet hair. When it comes, Cas’s reply is muffled against Dean’s skin.

“You know,” he murmurs, his words interrupting the purr that has been quietly rumbling in his chest for a while now, “in certain eastern cultures, there used to be a tradition of alphas carrying heavy weights for miles in order to prove themselves as strong and capable prospective mates. Omegas had to be carried similar distances for matings to be accepted at all.”

Castiel’s quirky titbit of knowledge and the pleased smile he gives Dean when he pulls back to meet his gaze is adorable, and Dean lets his hand slide down to cup the alpha’s face. “Maybe this is one way for me to prove myself,” Cas murmurs, his voice soft, water flattening his hair to his forehead. He looks so vulnerable, so gentle, in that moment. Dean wishes he could be what Cas wants him to be—but he just isn’t.

It can’t happen, he reminds himself. But it’s getting less and less convincing every time he says it.

“I have functioning legs, Cas, you don’t need to be carrying me anywhere. I don’t need anyone carrying me places to court me, believe me.” It’s meant to be a reprimand, but still, Dean can’t keep the smile off his face. It seems to be an instinctive reaction—hell, an instinctive emotion—around Cas.

The alpha hums and shifts his grip under Dean’s thighs, hoisting him a little higher. Dean’s back slides against the tile wall, and his thighs tighten around Castiel’s waist in surprise. The man doesn’t seem to notice—he’s watching Dean with his head tipped to the side, apparently formulating his response.

“I know you have functioning legs, yes, and the cultures with those practices knew the same of their omegas. But I think you’re missing the point.” One of Cas’s hands smooths over Dean’s thigh and along his side. “The point is for an alpha to treat their omega like a god. To give everything to be with their omega, to put their omega’s needs and comforts above the alpha’s own. Omegas are to be cherished, and should be treated accordingly.” Cas raises an eyebrow at Dean—almost challenging him. “Does that sound like a suitable way to be courted, beloved?”

Dean freezes.

The shower is hot, steam and water warming his skin, but he feels cold to his core as though a bucket of ice water has been thrown over him.

Beloved.

Everything is white noise, because the word beloved is resonating through his head, and Dean can’t breathe. Yes, Cas has called him ‘love’ a couple of times, has been doing it all morning, but beloved has so much more meaning to it, and Dean can feel the weight of it crushing his chest, pushing down on his ribcage and it’s too much, it’s too much.

“Cas,” he gasps, planting his palms firmly on Castiel’s chest and pushing. “Cas, put me down. Put me down right fucking now.”

Castiel looks like he’s been punched in the gut, his expression crumpling in front of Dean’s eyes, as much as he tries to hide it. Even so, he complies immediately, one hand on Dean’s side stabilising him on the slick tiled floor before the omega is steady, and then he’s stepping back. The air around Dean feels too cold, too empty, but he’s desperate for the space between them, and eyes Castiel through the spray of water as panic claws at his throat.

“Dean.” Cas’s voice is strained, and Dean whines, pressing himself back against the tiles. “What did I say? What did I do? Tell me, please.”

The air around them is thick and cloying with fear—his or Castiel’s, he’s not sure—and every gulp of air that Dean heaves in is tainted with it. He bares his teeth instinctively, feeling cornered in this small space, with the man who elicits all the questions but provides none of the answers.

“Don’t call me that,” he growls, savage and fearsome, a trapped beast. “I’m not your beloved.” His voice chokes around the last word, and he has to force it out. “I’m not your anything.”

The fear in Castiel’s scent changes into pure, gut-wrenching hurt, and it almost makes Dean falter. His omega is screaming at him to return to the alpha’s arms, but the part of him that has been shut away from forming emotional connections and relationships for so many years is panicking, raw and visceral, and Dean has no control.

Castiel’s expression goes blank when no positive reaction from Dean is forthcoming, and his scent becomes flat and stale, devoid of all emotion in a wrong kind of nothingness. “Right,” he whispers, and Dean can see that his hands are shaking as he wraps his arms around his torso. “Yes. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” He makes a vague gesture with his hand, then lets it drop limply to his side. “I’ll just… Enjoy your shower.”

Dean can’t bring himself to move as Castiel turns and slips out of the shower cubicle—he watches through the frosted glass as Cas’s blurred form pauses only long enough to grab a towel before marching out of the bathroom.

Dean’s heart sinks as he watches Castiel go, and the enormity of what he’d said to the alpha sinks in. Cas has been nothing but kind to Dean, and now he’s hurt him, and the knowledge tears him apart even as panic grips him.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

There’s no order to his thoughts right now; he’s a frayed mess of emotion that he doesn’t know how to make head or tail of, and it’s all he can do to scrub at his skin until it’s pink and raw, as if his injury to Cas is a physical stain on his skin that perhaps he can remove if he just rubs hard enough at it. Castiel’s scent washes down the drain until all that’s left is Dean’s own sickening mix of emotions, and suddenly the glass cubicle is too confining.

He slams off the water and lurches out of the shower, barely avoiding a fall when his wet feet skid on the tiled bathroom floor.

Castiel was the only person who has ever truly cared about him, about all his fucking baggage, about Sam and his mom and all the unseen scars that John Winchester left on his soul. Cas is the only person he can be himself around. Cas… Cas feels deeply for him, and Dean threw that right back in his face.

He wouldn’t be surprised if Castiel hates him, after this.

Something in his periphery moves as he raises a hand to scrub over his face, and when he turns, Dean sees his reflection staring right back at him. Its expression is haggard and wild, lines etched into his face of sickening guilt and grief, green eyes flighty like an animal's and duller than he’s ever seen them. He’s a fuck-up.

He doesn’t want to look at it any longer.

Dean doesn’t think as he clenches a fist and throws it forward. He barely even registers the pain as his fingers connect with the glass of the mirror, or when shards of glass make themselves at home in the skin of his knuckles.

All he can do is sink to his knees in front of the sink and press his forehead to cool porcelain, clutching his hand against his chest as he wonders when the prospect of a life without Cas became so lonely, so terrifying, so unthinkable.

Chapter Text

After leaving the bathroom, Castiel behaves robotically, tamping down on his emotional turmoil while he dries himself off and begins to dress. Perhaps he shouldn’t have left, should have pressed Dean or maybe even groveled for forgiveness for crossing the line that he did—but the scent of Dean’s fear had made the alpha want to gag, the vicious snarl and bared teeth wrenching at his heart. Leaving was the best choice, for both of them. Necessary.

He feels like an idiot for losing his footing with the omega over something so simple, but more than that… He’s hurt by it. He’s hurt to know that, despite his gentle treatment of Dean and the bouts of it he receives in return, despite the tender way Dean had fucked him the night before and their soft, traded touches and kisses, despite all of the progress they’ve made—beloved is what tips Dean off. Beloved is what fills him with rage and disgust enough to lash out.

He’s hurt because he loves Dean, and, evidently, the first time Dean recognizes that fact, this is what he gets. From the omega that belongs to him more than any other, the one he was destined for.

From the father of his child.

The change in Dean’s scent after their final bout was unmistakable, barely detectable even to his highly sensitive nose, but still there, and the earliest sign that the omega caught. Smelling the hint of sweetness on his skin, the sign of a pup, his pup, had thrilled Castiel to no end, and as he fell asleep with Dean in his arms, he had been the happiest he’s ever been, elated with the knowledge that his suspicions had been correct, that Dean is his truemate.

It figures that he would lose that happiness so soon—though, maybe it’s to blame for the leniency which led to his mistake.

Castiel only gets as far as pulling on boxers and a pair of jeans by the time he hears the shower turn off, and he goes still automatically, listening intently for any sign of what Dean may be doing. Castiel left him alone to grant him to privacy he figured he needs in the wake of his panic attack, and to give himself the opportunity to think, as well—he was stupid, made more so by the scent of Dean’s pregnancy, but he’s not altogether sure he regrets the affection he has shown Dean, despite the setback it may have caused—but none of that means he suddenly stopped caring about the omega’s emotional state. He’s anxious to know what’s coming next, and counts his heartbeats as he waits.

Of all the things he may have expected to follow that long silence, the sound of breaking glass was not one of them.

Decision for space be damned, Castiel lurches into action, rushing back into the bathroom as quickly as his feet will carry him. He spares only a passing glance for the broken mirror before his eyes lock on Dean, looking crumpled and broken where he has fallen to the floor. The sight has a whine building in his chest, which he doesn’t bother to suppress.

His mate is hurt, because of him.

He’s dropping to Dean’s side before he knows it, heedless of the shards of glass that snag on his jeans. He has more defense against it than Dean does, bare and trembling as he is. Castiel reaches out a hand, but hesitates before he can make contact. He’s torn, unsure if physical comfort would be welcomed right now or make his mess worse. Ultimately, he pulls his hand back and resigns to letting Dean make the call.

He swallows hard, and ducks his head in an effort to catch the omega’s eyes. “Dean. What happened?”

Dean avoids his gaze, turning his head as he shrinks in on himself. Every muscle in his body is drawn tight, and a muscle in his jaw jumps; several long moments pass before Dean manages to speak, and when he does, it’s with a sob that sounds like it could tear him in two.

“I’m sorry.”

Dean’s scent has gone putrid, pungent with fear, but instead of anger toward Castiel being laced with it, there’s something that the alpha can only call self-loathing. From what he can tell, not only is Dean still buried in his internal panic, but he’s finding reason to hate himself for it at the same time. And that’s utterly unacceptable.

The choked apology and barely-restrained sobs are Castiel’s breaking point, and he doesn’t wait a moment longer before reaching for Dean. Mindful of the shards of glass littering the tiles, Castiel sits himself fully on the floor and scoots closer to Dean, pulling the naked omega onto his lap. The clothes he managed to get on will protect him from the worst of the damage; he can taste the coppery tang of Dean’s blood on the air, and refuses to let his omega be hurt any more than he already has been. Dean shouldn’t be hurting ever, but especially not like this, and not when there’s such a newly-created life beginning within him. And not when it’s practically Castiel’s fault.

Castiel cradles Dean in his arms and gently encourages him to drop his face into the crook of his neck, letting the man take the comfort from his scent that he clearly needs. Dean is tense at first, but once he starts to breathe in his alpha’s scent, his muscles go loose, and he curls and clings to him. The knot of fear in Castiel’s stomach eases slightly.

“I’m the only one who should be saying sorry, Dean,” he says, softly and almost directly into the omega’s ear. “I’m sorry for frightening you.” A neutral, understated assessment, but the best he can do without more information. If nothing else, he supposes he did take Dean by surprise. “And I’m sorry for walking away from you. I realize now that that was a mistake.”

Even now that the tension has begun to ease from his frame, Dean shakes, his hands trembling and his chest heaving unevenly around aborted sobs and ragged breaths. Castiel holds him tighter, as if that might somehow be enough to stop it all. It isn’t, but that won’t stop him from trying.

“I’m sorry I upset you,” Dean eventually mumbles against his collarbone. His voice is quiet, but ragged. Wrecked. “I just… You can’t love me. You just… can’t. I can’t. The world thinks I’m a beta. Whatever you think is between us, whatever you think you feel…” Dean shivers, and despite his fear, a shift in his scent betrays just how unconvinced he is of his own argument. “It can’t happen. Won’t happen.”

There are so many different angles Castiel can take with his rebuttal—he can insist that he does love Dean, can insist that he doesn’t have to play beta, can insist that none of it has to matter because Castiel will do whatever it takes—but most fail to meet his needs. And right now, he needs to get to Dean’s core.

Except, his newest and most valuable card is not yet ready to reveal. Dean isn’t ready for that.

So instead, Castiel seeks to understand. He presses his face into Dean’s wet hair, his eyes scrunched tight as he once again picks out the new, sweet layer to his scent and wraps himself in it. It give him the courage and the protection to ask just one question.

“Why?”

There’s no accusation in the question, no demand for the answers that he wants to hear. Just honest curiosity and the endless patience that he has when it comes to Dean Winchester.

Well—nearly endless. He’s willing to wait while Dean sorts out his thoughts, more than, but there’s a cut on Dean’s calf that Castiel has noticed and now cannot take his eyes off of. The sight of any sort of damage to his mate’s skin makes him twitch; he pointedly doesn’t let himself look at the man’s knuckles, dreading what he might see there.

When Dean has fully processed the question and begins to formulate his answer for it, Castiel closes his eyes to cut off the distraction and devote his undivided attention to the man’s words.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Dean hedges. “I’ve never been an omega, and I almost don’t want to be one, except when I’m around you, apparently. I love my job, as tough as it is.” He lets out a long, weary sigh. “I’ve never been in love, or been loved, and to have that with an alpha I’ve known for all of three days is crazy, Cas. You’ve gotta know that.” There’s another pause, longer than the last. “And I just… I don’t want to fuck anything up, and I know that I’ll make a mess of it all someday. I’m fine with my life how it is. Please, don’t push it. I can’t do it right now.”

Castiel’s heart aches at the continued fear layering Dean’s every word, and his mouth is dry from the final plea not to push. But… Was it just him, or did the ‘been in love or been loved’ part of Dean’s speech sound an awful lot like both are now currently present? Castiel wets his lips and forces down the flutter of hope. It won’t do to get ahead of himself again.

“I won’t push,” he promises. Every word he speaks is chosen with the utmost care. “This is something we can talk about later. But I just want you to know… I don’t need you to be an omega. And I don’t need you to be perfect, either. I just need you to be you. Okay? I’m sorry if you feel as though I’m pressuring you; that’s not my intention.” He sighs and absently rubs his nose into Dean’s hair. “I’m sorry for freaking you out. I’ll try not to let it happen again, but warn me if it does. We can talk about this more at a later time. I know this is a lot all at once.”

He can hear Dean’s throat click when he swallows. His words seem to have the desired effect, however, because once they sink in, Dean’s fear finally breaks, and his scent begins to ease. It’s not perfect, but it’s better, and Dean breathes out a gentle, “Okay.”

Castiel tightens his grip on his mate (if only in his mind) ever so slightly. “Thank you,” he whispers in return, then presses a bold kiss to the wet hair plastered to Dean’s forehead. He sits back afterwards, finally taking a look at the damage surrounding them. There are glass shards almost everywhere, mostly around them and in the area in front of the sink, though a few have scattered off a bit further. There is hardly any glass left in the mirror’s frame; with that many shards flying around, any one of them could have been the one to cut Dean. He touches his index finger to the skin next to the cut, and Dean flinches when he pushes in slightly to try to get a look at the damage. Castiel murmurs a gentle apology, then gently takes the omega’s right hand in his own and inspects his knuckles. They’re cut, bruised, but not as bad as he expected them to be, overall.

“Can I clean these for you?” he asks, looking back up to meet Dean’s eyes. “I need to make sure there’s no glass in any of these wounds. I have a first aid kit in my bag, if you don’t mind me moving you to the bed. I’ll clean up the mess in here once I know you’re alright.”

Now that Dean has ridden the high of his panic and crashed back down from it, he seems more tired than anything. His green eyes are more vacant than Castiel has ever before seen, when their gazes catch. He nods vaguely, his thoughts only catching up with him after the fact, when a frown forms at his brows. “I can clean up in here, Cas. I’m the one who broke the mirror.”

Castiel is already in the process of shifting Dean on his lap so that he can stand, but he pauses in favor of gracing the omega with a stern look when his offer is challenged. “Yes, you broke it,” he agrees, “but you broke it because I fucked up, did you not?” His lips pull up in a smile, and he lets his eyes flicker over Dean’s form. Dean’s naked and wet form. His eyes linger on the omega’s stomach for only a fraction of a second. “Besides, I think you should take the opportunity to get dressed, if you can. I’m at least halfway there already. Even if my jeans are a bit damp, now.”

He kisses Dean’s chin this time, taking advantage of the fact that his last kiss was well-received, then gives a roundabout warning of, “Hold on, don’t freak out,” before scooping Dean up and precariously getting to his feet. It’s a risky maneuver, what with the glass still covering the floor, but he would rather put his own feet at risk than his mate’s. He moves quickly and carefully around the mess, escaping the bathroom and depositing Dean on the edge of the bed as quickly as he can.

The first aid kit that Castiel keeps on hand looks plain, but is actually quite extensive, which he’s thankful for right now. In addition to basic medical tools and wound dressings, he also has a selection of a number of different medications, mainly of the pain-management variety and almost all prescription-strength. As he opens the kit up on the bed beside Dean’s hip, he finds himself hoping that Dean isn’t in enough pain to warrant him asking for any medication. His pregnancy may still be a barely-there thing, but even this early, Castiel would rather not take any such meaningless risks.

He settles onto his knees, his weight back on his heels, and tenderly lifts Dean’s calf to get a better look at the cut along the side. He inspects it closely, then frowns up at the omega. “There’s a small piece of glass that I can see,” he announces, displeasure evident at the fact. He holds an open palm up toward Dean, looking back to the cut as he instructs, “Hand me the tweezers.”

Dean winces, but reaches to rifle through the kit until he finds the requested tool. Only a few seconds pass before the tweezers are dropped into Castiel’s waiting fingers, and he murmurs a thanks as he flips them through his fingers and into the proper position to be wielded. His other hand is locked around Dean’s calf a few inches below the cut to hold him still; he uses the grip to turn Dean’s leg slightly, giving himself more light and a better angle as he leans in to peer at the wound. He tries to be as gentle with the tweezers as he can, but it still takes some rifling around for him to be able to catch the shard of glass between the points, and extricating it without undue pain is delicate work.

Dean grunts in discomfort, but Castiel removes the glass without any further issue. Once it’s out, he lets out a soft breath of relief. He reaches up to steal Dean’s towel, then sets his bloodied tweezers and glass on it, out of the way. “Saline, gauze, and a bandaid, if you will,” he says to Dean, offering his hand again and trusting the omega to be able to pick out the requested items in the neat organization of the kit.

Once Dean hands him what he needs, the remainder of the process goes smoothly. He ends up having to tear the towel in two so that he can keep his tweezers contained and also clean the blood from Dean’s calf—he pretends not to notice the quick, cinnamon-scented spike in Dean’s scent that follows that action—but aside from that, he cleans and bandages the cut with ease. When he’s done, Castiel drops a kiss to the bandage, simply because he can, and then takes Dean’s hand in his own before the man can object and subjects it to the same cleaning treatment. Unlike his calf, there’s no glass in Dean’s knuckles, which means they get cleaned of blood, rinsed with saline, and then wrapped in gauze.

“There,” he says when that is finished, too. He presses his lips to Dean’s fingers as opposed to the gauze, wanting him to feel this one. “All better. Are you feeling alright?”

Dean smiles, warm and fond. “Yeah, I’m good. I’ve had way worse, believe me. But thank you.”

Castiel gives Dean a quick, sharp look—he’s not a fan of the phrase, I’ve had worse—but nods nonetheless. “I’m glad you didn’t hurt yourself worse,” he says, one side of his mouth pulling into a wry smile as he watches Dean from his spot on the floor. He stays there for a moment longer to admire the view before getting to his feet, standing with his leg pressed against Dean’s bare one as he refits the equipment he used back into their proper spaces in the medical kit. He leaves it open when he’s done, turning and picking up the tweezers from where he left them on the floor. He gathers up the towel, as well, and shoves it into the room’s small garbage can.

“I’ll start cleaning up while you get dressed,” he tells Dean, preemptively easing Dean’s objections with a smile as he slips on his shoes and steps into the bathroom to do just that. He’s quick to add over his shoulder, “We’re checking out today anyway, it’s not a big deal. I’ll just be sure to leave an extra tip for the maid.”

Dean grumbles to himself, but nods and goes to his bag instead of insisting on helping in the bathroom. While Dean dresses, Castiel sets about clearing the broken glass in the bathroom away as best he can, squatting in the heart of the mess so that he can pick out the biggest shards and relocate them to the garbage can. Their last clean towel gets put to use as a makeshift broom of sorts, and he uses it to sweep the rest of the glass into a pile in the corner. The entire process only takes a few minutes; by the time he’s satisfied with the state of the bathroom and has taken a moment to clean his tweezers, as well, Dean is fully dressed, and sitting at the table with his gun, knife, and badge spread out before him.

Castiel raises an eyebrow at the sight, faintly impressed. Dean is clearly being thorough as he dismantles the weapon and puts it back together, and while the rhythmic movements of his hands threatens to be mesmerizing, it’s also nice for Castiel to see him behaving normally, and no longer lingering over the ‘beloved’ incident. The return towards normalcy eases the alpha, and he feels alright with turning his back to finally get a shirt out of his bag.

He pulls on a plain, white undershirt (an interesting contrast to the black undershirt Dean is currently sporting), then, though he hesitates for a fraction of a second before doing it, he retrieves his own handgun from its hiding place between layers of his bag’s interior lining. He doesn’t try to hide it, but he certainly doesn’t draw attention to it as Dean does, either; he quietly tucks it into the waistband of his slacks, then puts on a white, button-down shirt that does a reasonable job of hiding it. He’ll be sure to pull his coat on before he leaves, too.

“We should formulate at least part of a plan before we get into this,” Castiel says, careful to keep his tone casual despite the serious matter. He loops a blue tie around his neck and ties it into a Windsor, and Dean looks up, his eyes catching on the motion. “Meg’s service is at one, but I wanted to get a look at the place where Azazel should be staying first so that we know what we’re getting into after, if that’s alright.”

Dean’s eyes track Castiel’s fingers until his tie is properly knotted, at which point the omega clears his throat and stands from the table. He pulls a maroon overshirt out of his bag and slips it on, rolling the sleeves up to his elbows. His gun is concealed at his waistband similarly to Castiel’s and the collar of the shirt just barely covers a smattering of hickies at the base of his neck which is, admittedly, mildly disappointing. Dean steps into his boots and slides his sheathed knife down the side, out of sight—an action which is done casually, routinely, yet suddenly strikes Castiel as comical for how intimidating it might be to anyone else observing the scene.

And of course, on a more base level, he also appreciates how weaponized his omega is; utterly dangerous and ready to strike against anyone who crosses him. Castiel finds no shame in what he likes.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Dean eventually agrees, finally standing up straight and folding his arms across his chest. “Is he going to recognize either of us at the funeral? You knew his daughter, does he know you?”

Castiel runs his tongue across the front of his teeth, considering the possibility. “He shouldn’t recognize either of us,” is the answer he comes up with, “but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, so we should be prepared, regardless. It seems very possible that he killed the women he did without care, but in the event that he was obsessive over them to some degree, he could, potentially, keep tabs on the families they left behind.”

It’s not exactly a subject Castiel can easily research from a distance, but he’s fairly confident that even if Azazel has looked Dean up recently, the omega’s position within the bureau would have concealed everything about him save for his name. He highly doubts that Azazel can crack into files as well as he can.

“If we speak to him at the service,” the alpha continues, “we’ll use fake names, just in case. Meg always called me ‘Clarence’, anyway, so I suppose that would be fitting for the circumstances.” As he speaks, he retrieves his final layer of clothing from his bag; a long, tan overcoat that he’s discovered does wonders to deflect attention away from him. He shrugs it on, smooths out the lapels, and directs a wry smile at Dean. “Is there anything else you would like to add, or should we talk more in the car?”

Dean sighs, his gaze gone distant. “I’ll… figure a fake name out eventually,” he says, scrubbing a palm over his face. When he blinks into focus, his eyes rake over Castiel’s form, but aside from the small smile that tugs at his lips, he doesn’t comment on the coat. “Come on, then, we might as well get going. I’m not doing this without some food in me, and I doubt you want to be late to the funeral.”

Castiel does not, in fact, want to be late. As such, he has no problem packing up his things and leaving the room with Dean at his side, both of their bags in-hand. The honeymoon suite may hold memories for them now—the good that came from it still outweighing the bad of this morning, in Castiel’s opinion—but no matter how the rest of their day goes, returning to the same motel for another night would not be wise. In fact, regardless of the outcome with Azazel, they’ll want to be as far away as possible when the man’s body is found.

Dean is anxious to be free of the motel for reasons of his own, so Castiel encounters no resistance with his quick departure (and has no issue discreetly leaving a fifty-dollar bill on the desk as an apology tip to the maid for the mess they left behind), and they’re in the car and on the road in no time. They grab breakfast on their way out—though it’s really more like lunch, considering it’s already nearing noon and the fast food restaurant Dean pulls through has long since switched away from their morning menu—while Castiel connects to his remote drive and opens up file after file to help refresh himself on Azazel before they get too far.

Once they each have a coffee in their hand and Dean is navigating the Impala out of the parking lot and toward Pontiac’s main roads, the omega glances at Castiel, then reaches over to nudge him. “So. Where we headed, boss?”

Castiel sips greedily at his coffee, ignoring the scent of the greasy food awaiting him while he finishes with his foray into Azazel’s files and finally closes out of them. “The Greenacres Inn,” he answers. “Azazel should be there. I’m hoping we can catch a glimpse of him before the funeral, but if not, it’ll still be good to see where we’re going afterwards.”

“Yes, sir,” Dean says almost to himself as he indicates and makes a right-hand turn, two fingers of his left hand extended in a lazy, mock salute and the corner of his mouth curled just slightly upwards. He doesn’t seem to mean anything by it, but that doesn’t stop Castiel from pinning him with a heated look. Unfortunately, they have too much of a time crunch for him to comment on it, but that doesn’t stop his spark of interest.

Dean, of course, picks up on it with ease, and tosses him a wink. Even the omega doesn’t linger on it, however, quickly turning his attention back to the road and picking up his sandwich to scarf it down one-handed.

He’s going to be the death of Castiel.

They each manage to finish their breakfasts by the time they find Azazel’s motel, and as soon as they see the Greenacres Inn sign, their mess of wrappers goes forgotten. Dean parks along the curb on the road opposite the inn, and takes a contemplative sip of his coffee.

“So. What now?”

“Now we wait,” Castiel replies, swiftly draining the last of his own coffee. He peers at the inn, trying to decipher the labels on the room doors from their stakeout distance. He touches his fingertip to the window, pointing toward the last room on the second floor. “I think he should be in that room. If the powers that be are in our favor, he should be leaving for the funeral soon enough. We can trail him there.”

Dean sighs, and gives his answer in the form of turning the key in the Impala and cutting the engine. He stares at the motel as he settles into his seat, eyes following Castiel’s finger toward the indicated room. The 219 label is faint, gold lettering faded and peeled, but Castiel knows it’s the one. As the two of them stare, Dean’s scent fills with a sharp mix of anger and trepidation, the toxicity of it steadily flooding the car.

Without taking his eyes from their objective, Castiel reaches a hand back to settle over Dean’s knee, rubbing his thumb gently into the joint. He doesn’t bother trying to give verbal reassurances, instead trusting his presence and the steadiness of his scent to calm Dean down, if that’s what the omega needs right now. And unsurprisingly, it works; Dean’s scent mellows, if only slightly, and the tension he has been radiating begins to drain from his muscles.

And then door 219 swings inward, and Azazel Masters steps out. The man is unremarkable—tall, middle-aged, short, brown hair—but Castiel recognizes him from his photographs, and Dean doesn’t need anything more than context.

The omega growls at the sight of Azazel alone, lunging toward Castiel’s side of the car like he plans on crawling right over the alpha and going at his mother’s killer in a straight line. His scent is a riot of all of the rage and grief that is tied to his history with Azazel, and it’s acrid in Castiel’s nose. He can’t risk taking his eyes off of Azazel, but he clicks his tongue at Dean and tightens his fingers around his knee, forcing him to remain in place. “Bastard,” Dean snarls in the man’s direction, but he calms enough that he’s no longer looking as though he’s seconds away from launching himself over Castiel.

“Patience,” he chastises. “You can lash out at him when we have him later. Not until then.”

As they watch, Azazel makes his way to a silver truck, clearly a rental, and climbs into the driver’s seat. He sits there for a length of time that’s almost worrying before finally starting up the engine, whipping out of his parking space, and driving out of the lot.

Castiel finally turns to Dean, his expression carefully controlled. “Can you handle this?”

Dean slants a look at him, already fumbling for the ignition. “I’m a federal agent, Cas, I’ll be fine,” he bites out. He seems to have taken some of Castiel’s chastisement to heart, at least, if the new coldness in his scent is anything to go by, but his jaw is clenched and his shoulders taut, proving that he is far from calm about any of this.

It may be obvious that Dean doesn’t want to talk any further, but that doesn’t mean Castiel is going to let him stew in his mess of emotions in solitude. He leaves his hand on the omega’s knee, and keeps a steady eye on Azazel’s truck as it weaves through traffic ahead of them.

“I know it’s not going to be easy,” he says carefully, “but when we get to the funeral, we’re going to have to be good actors. Neither of us have reason to recognize him, neither of us have reason to like or dislike him. If we make a mistake, he will run, and he will disappear.” He takes his eyes off of Azazel in favor of turning them on Dean, trusting the omega to keep up the tail (though, even if they lose it, he knows how to get them to the funeral home). He studies Dean’s tense form for a long moment, then sighs and taps his index finger against the man’s knee. “If need be, you can skip the funeral. You can wait and be ready to follow him again when he inevitably leaves.”

Dean growls, evidently not liking the suggestion. Castiel tightens his fingers again in warning, and Dean deflates.

“Sorry,” the omega mutters, running a hand through his hair. “I’ll be fine at the funeral. I can pretend. It’s just a shock seeing him, is all.”

Castiel’s lips tick up in the hint of a smile. “It’s perfectly alright, Dean. If you say you can handle it, then I believe you. I just wanted you to have options.” The alpha glances ahead for a quick moment; Azazel is a small distance ahead of them, but still easily visible. Good. He goes on, “I know this is difficult for you, Dean, given all that Azazel has done, but I promise I am trying to make it as easy as possible. We’ll get him, you and me. Once we make it through the funeral, he’s ours.” He squeezes Dean’s knee once more in emphasis. “Alright?”

Dean huffs, but a spike of gratitude laces into his scent, and he manages a small nod. “Alright, Cas.”

Castiel watches as the silver truck ahead of them pulls into the small parking lot of the funeral home, and indicates for Dean to park on the road a bit further down the street. They still have an unbroken line of sight for the funeral home’s front doors and Azazel’s truck in the lot, which makes it a perfect vantage point both for now, and after the service.

Still, Castiel knows he has to brace himself for the worst. Dean’s scent might be mostly level again, the omega having calmed considerably after Castiel’s most recent reassurances, but every moment from here on out is critical. He trusts Dean to keep his head through the service, of course he does, but this is still a point of no return, because no matter how they handle themselves, engaging with Azazel cannot be undone.

Castiel unbuckles his seatbelt and turns in his seat to face Dean, watching him steadily. “I’m not sure how many people are going to be present for this event,” he warns, “so I’m not sure how many people we will have to be interacting with. Meg was one of my best friends for many years, but I was never friends with any of her other friends. I’m not going to use my real name, and I don’t recommend you do so, either, for obvious reasons. Additionally, since you didn’t know Meg, your excuse for being here is that you’re my mate. We need to be on the same page, here, so if you have any objections, speak now.”

It takes a moment, but Dean glances over at him, his bottom lip caught between his teeth. “I’m good with that,” he says, brow pinched as he continues to think it over. He sighs, then, a rough, abrasive sound. “You’ll be Clarence, I’ll be Michael.”

‘Clarence and Michael’ doesn’t sound nearly as good as ‘Dean and Cas’, and it’s a bit  heavy on the angelic imagery, but Castiel likes it nonetheless. It’s still them, and that is something Castiel will always like, no matter the form. He smiles at Dean, radiating a soft sort of pride at him for the strength he’s showing, then turns and exits the car before either of them can find any more reason to overthink or delay.

Dean does the same, and as he waits for the alpha to circle the car to join him, he surreptitiously touches a hand to the gun at his waistband. Castiel huffs a laugh, then reaches to catch Dean’s fingers with his own to keep him from making himself too obvious. Dean blinks at him, eyes wide, then relaxes into it. Their palms slide together comfortably as Castiel leads them into the funeral home.

A small marquee board beside the front door says Masters in neat, white letters.

Inside, there’s a short hallway then an open room to the left, wherein a small number of people are gathered before a coffin on display. The sight puts a lump in Castiel’s throat, so much so that for a brief moment, he doesn’t see anything else in the room.

The coffin is nicer than Castiel would have expected; the casing is a light, glossy teal, and intricately shaped. It’s not necessarily reflective of who Meg was, but it’s sweet nonetheless, an ode to the life she should have had.

The wave of emotion that barrels into Castiel wasn’t something he was prepared for. In all their planning for the day, the alpha neglected to properly think about the fact that despite everything else going on around it, this is still Meg’s funeral. His Meg. His best friend, and for a long time, his only friend. Her death had hit him hard, yes, but when it happened, he had already found Dean, and was under pressure in a lot of different areas, besides. He hadn’t had time to properly sit himself down and think about it.

Sensing Castiel’s distress, Dean presses close to his side. “It’s okay,” he says quietly, voice low and steady as he slips an arm around the alpha’s shoulders. “I’m here if you need me, okay?”

Castiel leans heavily into his omega, drawing strength from the contact for a few moments before his own strength returns to him. When he’s ready, he straightens up and presses a kiss to Dean’s temple, winding his own arm around Dean’s waist while he murmurs a soft, “Thank you.”

He takes a steadying breath and tries to do a better job compartmentalizing. He knows full well that they have other priorities at the moment unrelated to his grief, ones which are much more pressing.

Like, for example, Azazel, currently standing right beside the coffin and eyeing them like he can’t quite figure out how they fit into the scene.

Dean does a scan of the room, but despite the attention he must see Azazel directing their way, the omega remains calm, collected, unaffected save for a brief spike of anger that no one but Castiel would even recognize. His nose drags through Castiel’s hair as he breathes the alpha in, proof that they both need each other right now.

“What now, babe?” Dean asks, barely audible, and Castiel manages a small smile.

Now,” he says back, just as quietly, “we mingle.”

Keeping his arm around Dean’s waist, Castiel steers them both further into the room, over to where a handful of other people are grouped. Some of them seem to know each other, but of the seven or eight people present—excluding Azazel—Castiel knows none of them. He hadn’t expected it to be any other way, but he’s grateful regardless.

A pair of the strangers split off from the others and introduce themselves to Dean and Castiel, both claiming that they used to work with Meg and were good friends of hers. Castiel introduces himself and Dean in turn, though he’s thankfully saved from having to give too much background into his history with the woman they’re all present for. In fact, he barely gets past, “I’m Clarence,” before the two are nodding in understanding. It makes things easier, at the very least; Dean is nervous, and the pair they’re speaking to eye him almost warily, so it’s for the best that Castiel doesn’t have to be thinking on his feet too much.

Small talk has never been Castiel’s favorite pastime, but especially after the years he spent in a professional workplace, it’s at least something he’s good at faking his way through. That being said, he hardly pays attention to the people he and Dean are talking with. One of them excuses herself to the restroom and Castiel forgets her name as soon as she’s gone. Another body moves into the space she had occupied, and though Castiel is careful not to let anything show in his expression or scent, he discreetly tightens his hold on Dean.

“I’ve seen your face before,” the man says, his voice slimier than would have been expected and his scent devoid of anything beside a too-sharp alpha musk. He scrutinizes Castiel, and doesn’t so much as glance at Dean. “You knew my daughter?”

Castiel’s mouth pulls down in response to Azazel’s opening statement, while Dean has locked up at his side. He barely has the wherewithal to notice that the other person they had been talking with has melted away to strike up a new conversation with someone else; which is good. They’re better off without an audience.

“Mr. Masters, I presume,” he replies, letting the words slowly roll off of his tongue while he makes a show of sizing Azazel up, like he would if this were truly his first encounter with the man. “I was Meg’s closest friend, for quite some time. I’m Clarence, and this is my mate, Michael.”

Azazel’s yellowish eyes shift and land on Dean. Castiel doesn’t dare risk looking at the omega, but even without seeing him directly, he can tell that the man is keeping up appearances to the untrained eye, though maybe coming across as a nervous person. His voice is rough when he offers up a, “Nice to meet you,” but aside from that, the platitude comes across evenly enough, and doesn’t garner suspicion.

Azazel takes a breath through his nose that does not go unnoticed, and when his eyes scrape over Dean from head to toe, Castiel bristles. The man catches the reaction, but Castiel doesn’t care—false identities or not, he doesn’t take kindly to anyone looking at his mate like he’s a piece of meat.

Luckily, the man’s attention doesn’t hold on Dean for too long, and he turns to leer at Castiel instead. “Clarence, huh? You’re the one that Meg was always running off to instead of staying home, aren’t you? The sugar daddy she always went on about? Too bad she was just your side piece, I see.”

Castiel’s teeth clench together so tightly that his jaw pops, and a low growl starts to build in his chest. He doesn’t know much about Meg’s personal relationship with her father, but he’s fairly certain she wouldn’t have described him in any way like a sugar daddy. Which, of course, means that Azazel is intentionally trying to anger Castiel. It works too well for Castiel to worry himself with the reasons why.

“Excuse us,” Dean interjects, his anger just barely contained within his voice. He takes Castiel’s elbow firmly and steers him away—once their backs are turned, Castiel can see how Dean’s eye blaze with green fury.

Azazel’s smirk bores into the back of his head, and Castiel has to force himself to think of Dean, his mate, his beloved, to calm himself.

As they move to the corner of the room, he’s hyper aware of the funeral home attendant fussing around the coffin, and the priest at his side. They don’t have long until the service begins, and after, they’ll probably be leaving right away. The alpha takes a deep breath through his nose and closes his eyes, knowing full well that he needs to get himself under control, as soon as possible. His growl is easy enough to restrain, but the rest of it is less so.

Dean is in front of him in an instant, cupping his face with both hands and skimming thumbs over cheekbones. “Cas, baby, breathe. He’s only trying to get a rise out of you.” He kisses the alpha’s forehead, then rests their faces together at that same point. “Don’t let him get to you. Focus on me.”

The touches Dean gives Castiel are soft and intimate, and before long, the ability to breathe returns to the alpha. By the time warm lips press against his forehead, his heartbeat is almost back to normal, as well, and focusing on Dean as requested is easily managed. Objectively, he knows that Azazel was aiming to get a rise out of him, as Dean said—but that doesn’t make the taunts hurt any less, and none of it brings Meg back.

When Castiel finally reconstructs the last of his control and opens his eyes, he presses his lips against Dean’s, just briefly, and holds him close. “Thank you, Dean.”

Dean smiles thinly, and slides one of his hands up to card through Castiel’s already-messy hair. It feels divine, drawing tension from Castiel’s muscles as he curls into it. He nearly misses when the omega replies, “Anything for you, Cas.”

Meg would have liked him.

Coming face-to-face with Azazel might be shitty for both of them, but if nothing else, at least Castiel can be grateful for the fact that if it weren’t for this event, and if it weren’t for Azazel—Castiel might not have had Dean at all. Getting Dean out of this, to have and to keep, makes all of the suffering Azazel has caused worth it.

Dean is worth it.

Using that thought as his crutch, Castiel manages to steady himself once again, and before long, his scent has evened out and the worst of his emotions have been neatly tucked away. He wraps an arm around Dean in a hug and presses a firm kiss to his temple, a final, silent gesture of thanks. It earns him a quick burst of a purr from Dean in turn, and he smiles into the omega’s hair.

Castiel’s recovery turns out to be well-timed, because only a few seconds later, the priest calls everyone to attention to begin the official service, and everyone begins milling about to find seats among the folding chairs which have been set out. They end up in the back row, Castiel in the end seat and Dean pressed close to his side.

As is their luck, Azazel sits at the opposite end of the row. The three of them are the only ones in the back row, so despite the fact that there are plenty of seats separating the man from Dean, Castiel barely refrains from scowling. Thankfully his arm is still around Dean, so when the omega goes tense in response to the other alpha’s proximity, hints of anger and grief bleeding into his carefully flat scent, it’s easy to comfort him. However much he can comfort a man sitting this close to his own mother’s killer, that is.

Dean’s fingers pick and pull anxiously at the gauze covering his knuckles; the only visible outwards sign of his nervousness and anxiety. To anyone else, it would simply look like idle fidgeting, but Castiel can see the tightness in his jaw and recognises it for what it really is. He folds his fingers over Dean’s injured knuckles to stop him and presses a placating kiss to Dean’s hair. The omega gives an almost imperceptible sigh, closes his eyes for a second, then returns his concentration to the funeral service.

Splitting his attention between Dean, the funeral service, and Azazel is too much for him to have the capacity for at the moment, no matter how much he wants to keep an eye on the latter, so he once he’s sure Azazel isn’t going to be trying anything, Castiel weans his focus off of him. His omega is far more important, as is the service being given in his best friend’s honor. While he listens to the dull drone of the priest’s voice with half an ear, he holds Dean tightly, making an effort to keep his scent as steady and reassuring as possible, for his mate’s sake.

Their time is winding down, after all. Castiel hopes to god that he and Dean can both manage to keep their heads until they’re through with this, or so much of his planning will have been for naught.

After the last rites are given and the priest has completed the majority of his service, he makes a sweeping gesture and invites the attendees to each pay a moment of respect to the deceased. The old beta’s wording has a frown tugging at Castiel’s mouth, but aside from that, he can’t deny that he’s grateful for the opportunity.

Regardless of his gratefulness, however, Castiel isn’t going to call attention to himself by being the first to stand. No one, it seems, is anxious to take that initiative and be the first to stand over the closed coffin at the front of the room. For a few moments after the priest issues the invitation, the room is silent.

Sensing Dean’s eyes on him, Castiel glances sideways, locking eyes with the omega. There’s a question in those green eyes, a spark of uncertainty; Castiel’s lips tug up in response, and he just barely turns his head to convey his answer. He knows Dean would accompany him to the front of the room if he were to ask it, but Castiel doesn’t need it. This, he can do alone.

A man in the front row of chairs finally stands and goes up to the coffin. The priest backs off to accommodate him, and the funeral home attendant offers up a bouquet of flowers. Everyone watches as the man plucks a flower from the bunch so that he can rest it on the coffin, and then no one watches at all, to give him privacy as he speaks a few quiet words to Meg’s memory. Others follow his lead after he returns to his seat, and from there, the mourners rotate through steadily, each taking their turn to say goodbye.

When the time comes for it to be his turn, Castiel leans over and presses a soft kiss to Dean’s temple, whispering while he’s there, “Keep an eye on him.” At the far end of their row, Azazel hasn’t moved, or made any move to stand and join the rest of the attendees in saying goodbye to his own daughter. The thought sickens Castiel, but no matter how much he hates the man, he’s not going to allow him to be unwatched for even a moment. He waits until Dean nods in understanding, then slides out of his seat and heads up to the front of the room to pay his respects.

He ends up having to wait near the first row of mourners for the man who’s already paying his respects over the coffin to finish, but it doesn’t take more than a few moments. The man tips his head toward Castiel in deferment when he passes to return to his seat, and then it’s just Castiel and Meg.

For a moment, Castiel forgets all about Dean, about Azazel, about everything that has happened in the last few days or maybe even weeks. He closes the distance between himself and the coffin, and touches his fingertips to the smooth, teal lacquer coating the lid. Idly, he wonders who paid for it. Meg’s savings, maybe. Her friends and colleagues, perhaps. Certainly not her father, nor the alpha who knocked her up and therefore brought about her death.

And oh, but how Castiel yearns to see that alpha in the ground, as well.

Castiel lets his eyes fall closed as he keeps his fingers pressed to the coffin and gives himself a few moments of closure. When he’s satisfied, he does as everyone else did and takes a flower from the funeral home attendant—a single rose, colored white and pink—and lays it over the place where Meg’s heart must be. He presses a kiss to his fingertips and then passes it to the coffin, then finally steps down to let the next person come up. He returns to Dean with his expression drawn and hands deep in his pockets, sinking silently into his seat.

He won’t say it aloud, but he truly hopes that killing Azazel will suffice as a proper form of vengeance for all that Meg suffered at his hand. Castiel’s fingers twitch at the thought of the violence that the idea promises.

“Cas,” Dean says, his voice soft but urgent, cutting through the haze of revenge that is clouding the alpha’s mind. Castiel blinks, coming back to reality as if a bucket of cold water has been dumped over his head. The omega is watching him, leaning back a little as if to put distance between them, and Castiel only just realises how strong his scent is becoming, how dark. “Cas, your scent,” Dean whispers. “You’re freaking me out.”

Castiel glances at Dean, his expression still dark around the edges from the lingering thoughts of violence, but the worst of it quickly clears when he registers his mate’s distress. Dean is afraid of him. He forces his anger and thoughts of vengeance back down, putting all of his focus into the levelling of his scent.

Slowly, Dean shifts forwards again, lips slightly parted as he draws the air into his mouth and tests for the pungent, overwhelming rage that Castiel had been giving off mere moments previously. When he doesn’t find it, Dean sways closer as if magnetised, and the omega’s own scent is dizzying with relief as he noses beneath Cas’s jaw. Castiel’s scent seems to calm his mate, and Cas tips his head just slightly to the side to allow Dean space to more easily scent him. While he wraps his arms around Dean’s waist and pulls him closer against his side, Cas blows out a sharp breath. He needs to control himself. Being so forcibly reminded of Meg may not be good for controlling his temper, but even Meg does not surpass Dean on his list of priorities.

With that in mind, Castiel forces his the last of his rage from his scent, and it levels out completely. He doesn’t want to scare Dean. That’s the last thing he ever wants. As he continues to rein himself in, Castiel hugs Dean tighter to him, and kisses his hairline. “I’m sorry, baby,” he whispers. “I don’t mean to scare you. Everything’s okay, I promise.”

Soon enough, it truly will be.

Castiel feels the tension drain from Dean’s shoulders, the omega going pliant where he’s pressed against Cas’s side, nosing at his throat. The alpha has to smile at the effect his reassurances had; Dean’s apparent tendency to reflect his own moods is endearing, to say the least. Once the omega has drunk his fill of Castiel’s calmed scent and evidently deemed himself satisfied with his alpha’s newly-steadied state, he straightens, says a soft, “Okay,” and presses a chaste kiss to Cas’s lips.

Castiel nearly purrs in happiness, pressing back into the kiss but resisting the urge to deepen it. He adores how caring and affectionate Dean is being, adores seeing him rise to the occasion—but a subtle movement out of the corner of his eye keeps him contained.

Azazel is turned in his seat, watching them. Even without looking at him directly, Castiel can tell that the man is making no attempt to hide his staring. The attention isn’t enough to fully deter Castiel from his mate, but it certainly sours things.

He curls his fingers around Dean’s jaw and strokes his thumb across the arch of the omega’s cheek, both for the sake of holding him close as well as ensuring that he doesn’t see that there’s a set of unwanted eyes on them. He lets his nose brush Dean’s, pecks their lips together one final time, and then whispers, “Thank you.”

The dusting of pink that spreads across Dean’s cheeks does a thorough job of reminding Castiel why he loves him so much.

By this point, the last of the funeral attendees seem to have finished saying their goodbyes—Azazel excluded—and there’s a brief, awkward lull in which the issue from before is repeated, and no one appears willing to be the first to leave. The moment passes quicker than the last, however, and slowly, people begin to file out. Castiel laces his fingers through Dean’s, flashing him a tight smile. “Ready to go, love?”

Dean doesn’t so much as blink at the endearment, Castiel is happy to note. The movement of people around them, and likely the knowledge of what the end of the funeral means, holds his attention. “Sure,” he mumbles, gaze sliding around the room. The alpha doesn’t miss the way his eyes skip over Azazel, refusing to meet the man’s stare, and his green eyes have a new edge to them when his gaze returns to Castiel’s.

Castiel gets to his feet and pulls Dean along with, keeping their fingers intertwined as they begin picking their way toward the exit. Azazel, of course, continues to track them, but Castiel pays him no mind. He doesn’t know what it was that set Azazel on-edge with them, but he’s not exactly eager to find out, either.

If they made a mistake somewhere, if they raised Azazel’s guard—they need to act as though they’re oblivious. They need to appear innocent. He can’t know who they are.

They leave the funeral home and head back to the Impala. Dean makes to get into the vehicle, but Castiel stops him with a gentle touch, and boxes him in against the side instead.

“I’m sorry I had to drag you along for that,” he says, no longer mindful of his every word now that they have some privacy. “But thank you for being there, Dean. You helped me more than you know.” He punctuates his thanks by pressing a chaste kiss to Dean’s forehead.

Dean’s answering smile is a soft, private thing. He winds his arms around the alpha’s waist and tucks into his neck; when Castiel noses at his hair, he can just pick out the still-new sweetness in the omega’s scent. It makes him ecstatic, and turns his focus razor-sharp.

“’S okay,” Dean mumbles against his skin, and Castiel hums. The feeling of the omega in his arms, the steady drag of the man’s hand over his back—Castiel relishes every moment, and is wholly attuned to all of it. Dean continues, “You helped me, too, you know.”

“I would never do anything less,” Castiel replies. It seems to be the perfect thing to say, too, because it earns him a burst of a purr from his mate, and then a kiss that’s far less restrained than any of their previous ones have been since arriving at the funeral home.

When Dean pulls back, a crooked half-smile on his lips, Castiel exhales a slow breath. How is he so lucky, to have such a beautiful, wonderful, talented, capable mate? He can sense that Dean is nervous, but he can see that he’s also ready, determined, with something steely and dark swirling in his scent that Cas loves.

But as much as he would love to show Dean how he feels about the mix of pup-sweetness and dark determination in his scent, each as perfect as though they were made for Castiel himself… they have work to do. Castiel tears his gaze away and looks back to where they had exited the funeral home.

Azazel still hasn’t emerged; is he saying belated goodbyes, or intentionally waiting?

With his mouth close to Dean’s ear and eyes locked on the door of the funeral home, Castiel says on a breath, “No matter what happens from here on out, you can’t hesitate. Neither of us can. We have to do what we must to make it through this, alright?” He curls a hand around the back of Dean’s head, scratching lightly at his scalp. The front door of the funeral home swings open. Azazel steps through. “Dean. Are you ready?”

Dean lets out a shuddering breath. His nose drags along the underside of Castiel’s jaw one more time, then he steps back and composes himself. When he meets the alpha’s gaze, his green eyes are hard with determination. Azazel’s truck roars to life, deafening even from a distance. Neither of them so much as glance toward it.

Dean squares his shoulders and, amazingly, smiles. Castiel’s heart thuds unevenly in his chest.

“Let’s do this.”

Chapter Text

No words pass between them as they follow Azazel through the traffic. Dean and Cas are each too tightly wound for any kind of discussion, and Dean is wholly occupied with his task of tracking the silver truck that’s ahead of them, besides. The Impala mirrors every turn and lane change, albeit a few cars back, and not once does he lose sight of the truck. Beside him, Castiel’s scent is calm and level, and while Dean knows that the alpha is deliberately masking anything else from it, it still helps to relax him, at least a little bit.

Driving is easy. So long as he remains focused on tailing Azazel, Dean doesn’t have to think about what is coming up, how the interaction with Azazel is going to go, what the ultimate outcome will be. He can focus on his hands on the wheel, the rumble of the Impala’s engine and the way her tires turn over the road, and follow Azazel back to his hotel. It’s effortless.

Until Azazel makes a wrong turn, that is. At one of the biggest intersections along their route, Azazel turns left, when his hotel is only just off to the right. Dean freezes for a half a second when he realizes what’s happening, then swears and hurries to cut across three lanes of traffic to follow after his quarry.

“Cas, what the fuck?” he grits out. He makes the turn as reasonably as he can, desperate to be as inconspicuous as possible as he follows Azazel onto a significantly less populated side road. He was trying to be sly with his tailing, but now, there’s no way they won’t be spotted. They don’t have any cover, and Dean’s car isn’t exactly nondescript.

Castiel exhales, slow and steady. There was a spike of something in his scent when Azazel first went left, and now Dean can smell him wrestling it back to neutrality—or as close as he can get it. “Just keep following him.”

Which, no shit. They’ve come this far, and he’s this close to his mom’s killer, after years of fruitless searching and little luck. To give up now would be idiotic—but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to know what they’re heading into. Azazel is no longer heading for his motel like they’d planned, which means they can’t jump him by surprise. Instead, they’re heading into dangerous, unknown territory, where Azazel could very well have the upper hand.

If Dean were a praying man, he figures this would probably be a good time for it. As it is, he really hopes that Azazel isn’t onto them.

As they continue on, the buildings clustered on either side of the road begin to thin out, and less and less cars keep on in the same direction. Eventually, the one car separating them from the silver truck splits off, and then it’s just them and Azazel, traveling out to no-man’s land. If the man notices them, he doesn’t let it show, and holds steady in his path.

It seems to take an eternity, but eventually, Azazel’s destination becomes clear.

There’s a cluster of large, looming warehouses against the bank of a lake, dated and decrepit-looking even from a distance. In the afternoon sun, their shadows fall long and imposing across the ground, and Dean feels his stomach churning. He carefully turns them into the wide area that was once seemingly designated as a parking lot, but has now been abandoned to the grip of weeds and trash.

Azazel’s truck is parked by the middle warehouse, and the man himself is standing beside the driver’s door, staring directly at them as they round the corner.

Dean’s heart is suddenly in his throat, and his foot immediately flies to the brake pedal. The Impala lurches to a halt; the two cars are at opposite ends of the makeshift parking lot now, frozen in a standstill as Azazel stares them down. To his right, Cas has gone very still, his scent almost completely flat – but Dean can feel some strong emotions radiating off the alpha. Whether it’s fear, anger, or something else, he’s not quite sure.

But there’s no question about it; Azazel’s onto them.

Even from this distance, Dean can see Azazel’s lips pull up into a grin. It’s jagged and vicious and sickening, and Dean wants to tear the man’s throat out with his bare hands, because Azazel is playing with them now. The man nods his head, just a slight movement – but it’s not directed at Dean. No, it’s directed at Cas, who tenses even further in his seat, his knuckles gone white and fingernails digging into his thighs.

The address to Castiel specifically throws Dean a little – Dean’s the one hunting Azazel down for the death of his mom, after all. So why does it already feel like Cas is the more important one in the equation, in Azazel’s eyes?

He doesn’t have long to focus on that question, because Azazel suddenly turns towards the warehouse, shoving open one of the large double doors at the front and disappearing inside.

It could be a trap. It really, truly, could be a trap. It’s painfully obvious, how could it not be? But Dean has come so far, gotten so close.

He’s not going to give up now.

“C’mon, Cas,” he growls, cutting the Impala’s engine. When he looks over at the alpha, Cas’s features are set, and he’s already climbing out of the car. Sometimes, it’s almost scary how much they’re operating on the same wavelength.

Suddenly, the kiss they shared outside the funeral home doesn’t feel like enough. He wants to pull Cas close again and kiss him like it’s their last – because walking into this situation, it could be. And god help him, the thought of losing Cas is terrifying.

But he’s got a job to do. He’s a federal agent who doesn’t let emotions get in the way of his work, and if he’s fixating on Cas and the man’s safety, it’s going to compromise his ability to perform. Dean settles for a deep breath and a quick check of his weapons before following Castiel out of the car.

The two cross the open expanse of cracked pavement, side by side, each stride measured and perfectly in sync. Though Dean keeps his gaze on the warehouses ahead of them, his mind is focused entirely on Azazel, his righteous fury simmering just below the surface of his calm, well-trained exterior. Dean feels positively lethal.

And Azazel is about to learn that you don’t fuck with a Winchester.

They stop in front of the doors that Azazel disappeared through, and Castiel glares at them as if he could melt them with the force of his gaze alone, every line in his body radiating anger and distrust. Dean shares the sentiments – they have no idea what’s waiting for them on the other side. For all they know, Azazel could be standing right on the other side, a gun trained on the doors and prepared to shoot the first thing he sees come through, without pretense. They’d have to be idiots to trust this.

With a tilt of his chin, Dean indicates along the side of the building, where he can see a smaller door inset into the vast grey wall. If it’s unlocked, it could be a better option than the main entrance. Cas nods his approval, and they make their way along to the door in silence, their boots pressing scattered pieces of garbage into the wet earth beneath.

Upon first glance, the door appears to be padlocked closed, but as Dean takes the lock into his hand to examine it, the metal loop at the top falls away, and the chain slithers to the ground in a heap of rusting links. And that’s… not normal. Dean raises it to eye level – while the padlock is old, there’s no sign of rust near the point where the break had been. In fact, the break looks completely clean. No accidental reason for it to have opened as easily as it did.

“It’s been cut,” he tells Cas, whose brows draw down into a frown as he looks at the lock, then at the door, then back again.

The alpha turns the situation over in his mind for a handful of tense seconds, then decides, “This door is still our best bet.” And ultimately, Dean has to agree. He still knows that following after Azazel directly is a worse plan, as only a fool would take that bait – and Dean didn’t get to be such a successful federal agent by being a damn fool.

What this means, though, is that they’re going to have to be sharp if they’re going to make it out of here alive. They haven’t even gotten more than a glimpse of Azazel, yet the games have already begun.

Dean reaches for the gun tucked into the back of his waistband, and uses the routine of checking it over to steady himself, ensuring that everything is in order before he needs to actually use it. All of it is clean, and well-oiled. There’s a bullet in the chamber, more in the clip. Seven rounds. More than enough. He can’t feel the grip of his gun against his palm, due to the gauze wrapping his knuckles, but while it’s somewhat unsettling, he knows he can’t focus on that right now.

This is his job. This, he can do. He won’t let his emotions get in the way.

When he glances over at Cas, who has his gun out and ready and steely determination in his eyes, he realizes that his emotions may be harder to keep in check for this particular case than if his partner was Walker, like usual. If something happens to Cas inside this warehouse, he’ll never forgive himself.

But now is definitely not the time for turbulent thoughts such as those. Dean takes a deep breath, steadies his grip on the gun, then reaches for the door handle and wrenches it open.

The interior of the warehouse is dark. The hallway that waits for them on the opposite side of the door is lit only by a series of red emergency lights, which throw everything into dim relief, and twist the cracked walls into a grotesque hellscape of red-washed metal and pure-black shadows. It sets Dean on edge. Still, he steps forward when Cas does, entering the dimly-lit hallway while the alpha pulls the door closed behind them. The last wedge of bright daylight slims until it disappears altogether, and Dean’s stomach plummets in time with the muted clunk of the door relatching.

It’s just them and Azazel.

Somewhere in this rabbit warren of twisted metal and spray-painted vandalism, his mom’s killer waits. Glass crunches underfoot as Dean takes another step further into the belly of the great beast. Castiel is a welcome presence at his side, another pair of eyes that peer into the darkness, another pair of steady hands that hold another gun as though he’s an old pro.

For a computer geek, it’s actually pretty damn fine form. Dean’s impressed. But now isn’t the time to think about the sturdy lines of Cas’s body or the strength in his hands, so Dean shakes his head and sends the thought away for the time being.

From what Dean can see, the hallway that they’re in connects to what seems to be a cluster of small offices, which then branch out in either direction from there through an extended series of hallways. The glass windows looking in are covered in grime and dust, and running his palm across the surface doesn’t seem to do much to clean it. It’s unlikely that Azazel is lurking in one of the offices – especially seeing that the first office door Cas tries remains resolutely locked – so with a  wordless gesture and a nod, they continue along the hallway to the dark, gaping mouth at the end.

 

Despite Dean’s attempts to keep his footsteps quiet and even, they reverberate in the confined, metal-lined space, mingling with Cas’s at his side and growing far louder than he’s even remotely comfortable with. The occasional sound of glass splintering beneath the thick sole of his boot would make him flinch, had he not trained the reflex out years ago, but each time it happens is an added gunshot-loud sound in the silent hall. Dean blows out a rough breath, desperate to steady himself. He won’t be scared by this bastard’s mind games.

When the PA system above their heads crackles to life with a screech and a sharp burst of static, however, Dean does jump, his heart jumping up to his throat and beating wildly. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Cas go so tense that he’s almost trembling with it. The alpha’s grip tightens reflexively around his gun. The two of them shift closer together without so much as exchanging a glance, naturally reinforcing each other’s presence and support, but when Dean pulls in a lungful of air and draws it over his palate, he can barely identify the rain-and-pine scent of mate over the smell of mildew and metal and fear. The reassurance he’s getting from Cas’s proximity isn’t enough to offset the unsettling whine emanating from the PA system that it at just the right pitch to set his teeth on edge.

The speaker just above the door at the end of the hallway abruptly goes silent, then, and Dean is sorely tempted to put a bullet into it to see if that would shut it up for good. Knowing that it’s operating is putting him on-edge, and he can’t stop himself from speculating over just what other surprises might be lurking in this unmapped warren, and what other installations are working despite looking like they shouldn’t. He wonders where they’re going to find Azazel in this rat’s nest, and is already dreading finding out what other tricks he has up his sleeve.

There’s another crackle of uncertain sound over the nearest speaker, and then a deep, unmistakable chuckle emerges out of it. Even without the warping effect of the outdated PA system, Azazel’s voice sounds twisted, inhuman. It chills Dean right to the core.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t little Castiel Novak,” Azazel purrs, a layer of static undercutting the words that irritates Dean’s ears just enough for him to grit his teeth, and set his jaw. Cas glances over at him, then looks back up to the PA. His feet shift, scuffing across the layer of dust and debris on the floor, and then the alpha tilts his chin. Press on, the gesture says. Dean nods – but wherever Azazel is, wherever he’s holed up inside this hulking, monstrous building, he keeps talking.

“I should have known you’d show up to the little slut’s funeral.”

Cas growls, a deep, dangerous sound. It sends a thrill down Dean’s spine, and god, he’s fucked up if arousal is his body’s response to Castiel’s wordless threat of death, of pain, of enemies torn limb from limb. Dean shakes his head and forces himself to concentrate – this is not the time for errant thoughts. Shit like that could get him killed.

Azazel continues, already sounding more amused as he does. “She was always running off to you, as though you could save all her problems. Big, strong Clarence, as she called you.”

Dean does his best to block out the slimy, sinister words. He keeps his gun lifted, trained on the echoing spaces ahead of them in an unwavering grip as he steps over the raised lip of a doorway and into the next hall.

There’s another PA here, he notices instantly, mounted in the center of the stretch of stained wall to their right. The speakers must be all over the building – it makes sense, then, why Azazel is using them. He knows he can get in their heads with just a few well-placed words, wrap them around his finger while they’re powerless to even escape it. Judging by the tightness in Castiel’s frame, Dean notes when he glances over his shoulder at the alpha, it’s already working.

“Of course, she knew what your real name was. It took me a little while to figure out, you know.” Azazel pauses – when he next speaks, he sounds far too smug, far too proud of himself. Dean’s trigger finger twitches minutely.

“But, of course, the apple never falls far from the tree. Ironic how, in trying to run from me, she ended up with you. Isn’t it, Castiel?”

Dean’s footsteps falter slightly. What the hell is the guy talking about? Dean is the one who came after him. Cas is only along for the ride – sure, the man who murdered Dean’s mom is also the father of a woman who was once Cas’s best friend, but surely that’s a tenuous enough connection that it wouldn’t merit such complete focus from Azazel. And yet, it’s like Dean isn’t even here.

And that doesn’t change the fact that some of the things Azazel is telling them are downright weird. What is he trying to insinuate about Castiel? About his character, and his relationship with Meg?

Cas’s hand lands on his shoulder, a touch too heavy, fingers digging in slightly too hard. Dean half-turns to look at him, and the emergency lights glow red against his skin. “Just ignore him, Dean.” The alpha’s voice is strained, as though it’s forced, and his scent is carefully neutral. Apart from the base elements, Dean can’t pick anything from it.

But it’s Cas, his mind tells him. He can trust Cas.

And so he forces down his concern and his fear and his wariness and nods jerkily. He can’t let anything Azazel says affect him – he’s just doing it to get in his head, after all. Dean won’t give him the satisfaction of succeeding. Castiel’s hand falls away from his shoulder as Dean straightens his spine and raises his gun again, and he thinks he catches the faintest wisp of satisfaction and relief before it’s gone, leaving only Cas’s blankness and the underlying mildew remaining on the air.

The speaker crackles to life again, giving Dean a fraction of a second of warning in which he can brace himself.

“I suppose the little slut stuck with what she knew when she befriended you, Novak,” Azazel muses; the only sign of Castiel’s fury is a muscle that Dean sees jump in his jaw. Apart from that, he’s cool, expressionless as marble. “You didn’t think your little stunt could get you out of daddy dearest’s shadow, did you? Maybe it felt good to put him in the ground and free your whore mother, but that doesn’t make you a hero, Castiel. It makes you just like me.”

Dean’s steps falter, and he nearly trips over a discarded wooden pallet as he turns his head to stare fully at Castiel. Blue eyes are staring right back at him, and the alpha’s gun has been lowered slightly, as though it’s no longer at the forefront of Cas’s mind.

If Azazel is implying what Dean thinks he’s implying…

Castiel is right up in front of him, and Dean blinks. The alpha’s hands come up to grip his biceps, the right pressing the cool metal of Cas’s pistol against his bicep. It feels ice-cold, even through the fabric of his overshirt. It should make Dean want to move, should be sending him skittering away just as much as Azazel’s words should, but instead he’s rooted in place, and the feel of the icy metal keeps him grounded.

“Dean,” Cas says, his voice low and insistent. Dean doesn’t know how to read the emotion that he sees in the alpha’s eyes; is he scared, and pleading? Or angry and murderous? Does he trust the wideness of Cas’s eyes, or focus on the way his lip curls in the hint of a snarl? He can’t decide, doesn’t know what to do. “Dean, you can’t listen to him. He’s trying to turn you against me, he wants to get in our heads and crush us before we can even get to him. We can’t let that happen, do you understand me? Don’t let him get to you. We have to work together on this.”

“Cas, he said you—”

Or maybe,” Azazel chooses that moment to interrupt, and Dean and Cas both go still. They look up, staring at the speaker that is almost directly above them. Idly, Dean wonders if they’re being listened-in on in return. Azazel goes on, “Maybe we should talk about your new whore, since the last one is gone. Fresh subjects are always more fun, anyway. What did you call him? Michael? Funny. He seems a bit too naive to be as… angelic, as you are.”

Cas snarls, and then, moving so fast that Dean doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s done, raises his gun and sends a bullet into the base of the speaker, severing its power supply. There’s a spark of electricity and a slight sizzle in the air, but aside from the ringing in Dean’s ears, nothing but silence follows.

It was a nice shot. Especially for someone who’s just a computer geek.

Cas continues to glare up at the destroyed speaker, and when he finally returns his gaze to Dean a few moments later, there’s flint in his eyes that only serves to unsettle the omega more.

“We have to keep going. Are you taking point, or should I?”

Swallowing down his uncertainty, Dean sets his shoulders, and steps in front of Cas. His mind is still a messy jumble of thoughts, but falling back on his training is easy. Reliable.

His body knows the motions after years and years of practice, but it gives his mind a chance to wander, despite his efforts to remain focused.

Azazel doesn’t know who he is. Azazel isn’t doing this for him. Unless he’s the kind of psychopath to double up on the reverse psychology, and is only letting Dean think that he’s anonymous to lull him into a false sense of security, then the point of his game can’t be about Dean. Even as an unknown figure, Azazel can still be aiming to turn Dean against Cas by saying things that aren’t true. If Dean stops trusting Cas, and Cas starts to spiral as a result, then Azazel wins.

That must be what it is. That’s all that makes sense.

Only a few seconds after they’ve started making progress again, the PA system crackles back to life, coming online midway through a hearty laugh from Azazel. His voice isn’t as distinctive now that the speaker nearest to them has been destroyed, but there are still more than enough all around them to make him impossible to ignore. Dean bristles, but no matter how much he tells himself that listening to the man’s taunts is only going to lead to trouble, he can’t make himself do anything but.

“Oh, Castiel,” Azazel says when his laugh has petered out to a chuckle. “Oh, that was rich. I heard that all the way from here, you know. At least, I’m assuming that was you. Don’t like me talking about your bitch, do you?”

Behind him, Cas growls and mutters something venomous under his breath. It sounds like, “I’m going to rip his fucking tongue out,” but Dean isn’t sure. He doesn’t know if he wants to be.

He presses on, telling himself that the tremble of his hands is due to the chill that hangs over the warehouse, and nothing else. He turns into another room to his right, then quickly steps through to a new, slightly more open one to the left after that. The lights here must be working, because this room isn’t bathed in red, but instead a dim white that fails to illuminate the thick shadows that still linger in the corners of the room and down near the floor.

Azazel hums in consideration. “He is rather pretty, I’ll give you that. What is it that drew you to him? Was it his cock-sucking lips, or that perky ass? Or, better yet, was it the way you knew you could get him wrapped around your finger? Don’t think I didn’t notice how well he submitted to you at the funeral. Such a good omega. He could make a lot of alphas happy, if he had the chance. I know even I could put him to better use than you do.”

Dean’s world tilts, and nausea rises in his stomach for a moment before he can force it down. Vile as they may be, he can’t let Azazel’s words get to him. He can’t.

Somewhere far off in the building, there’s a gunshot. By the time it reverberates off of the twisting labyrinth of hallways and reaches Dean’s ears, it’s far more muted than it could have been, but it’s still loud, and nearly has Dean jumping out of his skin in surprise. He twists, gun held at the ready while he scans his immediate surroundings. When he turns around, his stomach plummets to his feet.

Cas is gone.  

Dean has no idea when he disappeared or where he went, just that he’s now surrounded by empty corridor on both sides. With as distant as the unsilenced gunshot sounded, his alpha can’t be anywhere close.

“Cas?” he calls, his voice too loud in the silence of the building. The single syllable reverberates back at him and echoes throughout the corridor until it peters out into silence.

There’s no reply.

“Cas!” He shouts it this time, worsening the echo effect, but he doesn’t give a damn about that. His stomach is twisting itself into knots at the thought of Castiel alone with Azazel, out of his sight, where he can’t protect his alpha.

For the first time since he stepped foot inside the building, fear grips Dean, its icy fingers wrapping around his throat. Cas could be bleeding out somewhere at the hands of a madman, for all Dean knows. He fights against the steel bands crushing the air out of his lungs, trying in vain to keep his breathing level, and he’s forced to resort to propping himself up against the nearest wall to ensure his knees don’t give out on him. The flaking paint and blood-red rust swim before his eyes, and he resists the urge to press his forehead against it in a moment of weakness.

The speaker at the end of the hallway crackles with an impatient sigh.

“Now, that wasn’t very polite, Castiel. I just want to chat, you know. I wonder what your pretty little omega thinks of all this violence. You shouldn’t have dragged him into this.”

Relief washes over Dean in a giddy wave. Azazel is still using the PA system to talk to Cas – which means that his alpha is still alive, still separated from Azazel. He’s so thankful for that fact that he doesn’t even care about the misogynist stereotyping of Azazel’s words. He’ll make the bastard eat them later, anyway. Right now, all he cares about is Cas.

Knowing that, it’s easy for Dean to find the strength to push away from the wall, take a moment to steady himself, then press on down the corridor.

If he finds Cas, he’s going to kiss him, and then punch him in the damn face for fucking disappearing. If he finds Azazel… Dean allows himself a moment of dark satisfaction at the idea of putting a bullet between the murderer’s eyes. There will be no arrest. Azazel isn’t making it out of this warehouse alive.

“Honestly, I’m not sure why you brought him here at all. Unless you wanted to intentionally dangle him under my nose…”

There’s a long burst of distorted static, and Dean gets the vague impression that Azazel is inhaling, because all of a sudden there’s a sharp rush of sound, as though someone had exhaled directly into the microphone. It pierces into Dean’s skull, and he winces, disoriented for a fraction of a second.

“He smelled so good, Castiel. So… freshly sweet. As if you’d wrapped him up in a bow and presented him to me. You know I don’t usually go for male omegas, but that one…”

Bile rises in Dean’s throat at the nauseating words, and at the hunger in Azazel’s voice, only made more perverted by the contorting quality of the PA system.

“Trust me when I say I would make an exception for your Michael. He fits the rest of my criteria, did you know?”

The sentence has hardly even ended when three gunshots ring out in quick succession – they sound closer now, and Dean turns his head sharply in the direction they came from. The shooter’s exact location could still be difficult to determine what with the way the rooms here interconnect and wind together, but there’s no doubt in his mind that following the sound of the gunshots, he’ll find Cas.

So that’s exactly what he does.

Dean deftly dodges the fragments of shattered glass and piles of debris that litter the floor as he makes his way through room after room in search of his mate, his footsteps as quick and quiet as possible. Azazel is silent now, and the PA system remains dead save for a dull hum to confirm that it’s still on. The quiet is almost more unnerving than the constant taunting; now Dean is left only with his own thoughts, his own breaths, the steady rhythm of boots on old concrete.

He shifts his grip on his gun and exhales a long, steadying breath. If the mind games start to get to him, then it’s game over. When he’s already separated from Castiel, that’s really not a state he wants to be in.

Dean compulsively checks every speaker he passes, eyeing them warily out of fear that Azazel’s voice is going to come echoing out of them once more, even as he focuses on searching out the one that he’s sure Cas must have shot. In the next hallway, he finds what he’s looking for. The wires connecting the speaker above his head to the power have been neatly severed by a small, round bullet hole, and there are two additional circles punched into the mesh covering which couldn’t have aided its ability to function, either.

Dean remembers exactly what Azazel had said before he’d heard the gunshots that had created these bullet holes. While he doesn’t know how he fits Azazel’s criteria—he was never able to find a motive connecting the victims apart from them all being female, which Dean certainly isn’t—whatever Azazel was insinuating by citing it was enough to drive the calm alpha to this violent excess.

He needs to get to Cas before the alpha can do anything fucking stupid. Dean is the one with the tactical experience, after all, not Castiel. That’s why Cas contacted him. The idea of the alpha out there all alone, with limited experience and being hunted by a serial killer, has Dean’s omega going wild with anxiety. It takes all of Dean’s mental strength to force that side of himself to take a backseat so that he can keep a level head for as long as he’s going to need it.

After one last look at the busted-up speaker, Dean continues on, his gun at the ready.

The twisting labyrinth of rooms and corridors leads him further into the warehouse, Dean playing the part of Theseus in search of the Minotaur. An eternity of walking later, his pathway finally opens up into a larger space, unlike anything Dean has seen from the warehouse so far. Given the huge, closed doors at the far end of the cavernous room, and the stacks of abandoned crates and boxes cluttering up the space, it’s clear that he’s found a loading or storage area.

Dean steps into the huge room. It’s brighter than the rest of the warehouse; when he glances up, Dean sees that the ceiling is dotted with large skylights, the glass covered in grime and covered in spiderwebs of cracks in most places. Still, though, they’re clear enough to be able to let light through to the floor, and that’s what matters.

A crash, somewhere further into the vast space, draws his attention.

He doesn’t want to be seen just yet, not until he’s assessed the situation. It’s easy to use the boxes for cover and move between them with quick, silent steps, his gun held loosely towards the ground but ready to come up and fire in an instant. As he creeps through the maze of debris and crates, he picks up on the sound of voices, and soon enough can identify Azazel’s slimy tone and Castiel’s deep rumble.

There’s a precarious stack of pallets blocking him from their view, but if he just peeks around the edge, he can just see the two alphas. Castiel is standing perfectly still in the cleared-out space, his gun gripped tightly by white-knuckled fingers and pointing directly down at the ground. Azazel, in contrast, seems to be enjoying the upper hand he’s managed to gain over Cas. His stance is casual, gun pointed at Castiel’s feet but with the potential to raise and fire in a heartbeat.

Dean wants to shoot the slimy, self-satisfied grin right off the man’s face.

But before he can lift his gun, however, he actually hears the words of their conversation for the first time.

“He doesn’t know.”

Cas’s voice is steely with anger, and his grip around his pistol flexes. From his crouched position behind the pallets, Dean frowns. There’s no-one else Cas could be talking about but Dean himself. Right?

But what doesn’t he know? Is Cas keeping something from him? Does this have anything to do with Azazel’s taunting?

“You haven’t told him?” There’s an element of genuine surprise in Azazel’s words, and then he chuckles. “My, my, Castiel. More deceptive than I thought. Genius, though. You’re not properly mated yet, I can see why you’d want to employ other methods to keep that hot piece of ass around.”

The air vibrates with the force of Castiel’s growl. “Don’t you dare talk about him like that. About us. You don’t know anything.”

“Don’t I?” Azazel’s gaze narrows, and Dean’s stomach churns at the sight of it, because now he sees the man who could murder women in cold blood, in that calculating, inhuman stare. “Don’t think you can fool me, Castiel. If he knew who you really were, he wouldn’t be here, I’m sure.”

He cocks his head to the side and bares his teeth in a sickening grin.

“It doesn’t matter, though. Neither of you are going to make it out of here alive. And you made a big mistake in bringing your little fucktoy. I don’t usually go for males, but for him, I’d make an exception. Maybe I’ll even make you watch, as retribution for meddling in my affairs.”

Cas snarls, and his muscles bunch as though he’s about to move. Azazel’s gun snaps up to aim at his torso, stopping the irate alpha in his tracks, though Cas’s scent is still so strong that Dean can nearly taste the electric crackle of rainstorms in the air. The murderer’s stance is sloppy, crooked and stiff with his hands too tight on the grip, but any gun is a danger, no matter the skill of the person holding it.

He’s moving before he even realizes, stepping out from behind the pallets and drawing himself up to his full height, his gun aimed firmly at Azazel’s head. There’s no way Dean can get a shot out without putting Cas in any more danger, but at least now there’s some pressure on the other alpha. “Freeze! Drop your weapon!”

Dean isn’t expecting it to work, but he really isn’t expecting Azazel’s laughter, loud and hearty as it echoes through the storage room. “Oh, how adorable!” the man exclaims. “The little omega, playing at being a cop!”

Dean grits his teeth and shifts his stance. Azazel obviously doesn’t know who he is or what he’s capable of, but that doesn’t matter. As long as he doesn’t let the slurs and the mockery get to him, he’ll be okay. He has to believe that.

He tilts his chin up in a gesture of defiance toward Azazel’s mockery. “I’m FBI, actually, you son of a bitch. And I’m not playing. Now drop the gun before I make you drop it. You’re under arrest.”

Azazel blinks, clearly surprised by this turn of events, and then—

“Ha! Oh, Castiel, this just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?” Azazel laughs again, the sound of it sending ice down Dean’s spine. Azazel glances at Cas, true amusement in his eyes. “You’re really playing with fire, aren’t you? You might actually be even crazier than I thought.”

Although Dean fully intends to make good on his threats, or even to use the weapon in his hands if he has to, but Azazel’s words trip him up. That wasn’t the reaction he was hoping for, when he revealed his FBI status. Being FBI means he’s trained, the best of the best at what he does, and yet instead of complying with Dean and putting his gun down, he continues to taunt Cas like it hardly means a damn thing.

Why the fuck does him being FBI mean that Cas is crazy and playing with fire, anyway?

“Fuck you,” Cas growls at Azazel.

The older alpha just smirks. Without dropping his gun from Cas, he finally turns his attention back on Dean, and looks him over like he had at the funeral. It’s just as disturbing now as it was then. Eventually, the man says, “FBI or not, sweetheart, make a move, and I shoot your lover-boy. I’ll have you know that you’re on private property right now. My property. You charged in here with intent to murder, certainly without a warrant—Oh, dear. It looks like I’m still in charge, doesn’t it.”

Dean bristles. His index finger twitches where it rests over the trigger of his gun, but he doesn’t pull it, like he yearns to do. He can’t, just like Azazel intended. He won’t let Cas get hurt. Especially since he was cocky and decided to reveal that he’s a fed, and that clearly only made Azazel even more defensive and ready to snap.

Fuck fuck fuck.

It leaves them in a bizarre standoff, with Azazel’s gun trained on Cas and Dean’s trained on Azazel. One wrong move, and everything could go to hell. But for now, there’s nothing but the near electrical scent of anger and the thirst for retribution on the air, the tension so thick that Dean could probably cut it with the knife hidden in his boot.

Azazel is either oblivious to the fury and the danger of the pair who have come hunting him down, or is so unhinged that he just doesn’t care. Either way, there is no filter to his words—in fact, it’s clear that he’s deliberately working to rile them up, catch them off guard. He has them right where he wants them already, he’s made that clear.

The man smiles to himself, slow and sick, and his fingers shift around the grip of his gun, as though he wishes he were holding a knife.

“I’m going to enjoy slicing up your little slut from throat to groin, Castiel. Would you like to watch? Watch your bitch die right in front of you, and your unbo—”

Cas lunges before Azazel can finish, and the bravado of it clearly takes the murderer by surprise. He stumbles back a step, although he tries to cover the movement as a change in stance to fire his gun. The sound of the shot reverberates loudly through the open space of the warehouse, but the bullet goes wider than Dean is sure was desired.

He may have terrible technique and nonexistent control, but neither matters at such close range. The force of being shot pushes Cas back a step as the bullet tears through his shoulder, and Dean’s stomach gives a sickening lurch at the sight, his world swimming around him. His gun nearly slips from his hands, fingers gone numb.

Cas!”

If there was ever any doubt that Castiel is a complete badass, though, it’s completely eradicated when the alpha simply presses a hand to his bleeding shoulder and straightens back up. He’s growling louder than Dean has ever heard, and though his brows are creased in pain and there is blood seeping out from between his fingers, steadily staining both his beige coat and the white shirt beneath it a dark crimson, he radiates pure fury.

“You’ll have to do better than that,” he snarls. It’s somewhat of an empty threat, considering his gun hand is now dangling uselessly by his side, but Dean sees a flash of fear pass through Azazel’s yellowish eyes.

Good. The motherfucker should be running scared.

The fear is only there for a second, however, as Azazel’s cocky, sinister expression quickly returns in full force. His gun is still trained on Cas, and even though Dean’s autonomy is returning to him, his awareness sharpening once again, he’s powerless to do anything but stay exactly where he is.

Next time, they might not be so lucky with Azazel’s aim.

Azazel hums a note of laughter, gaze flicking between Cas and Dean. “Don’t like that idea, do you, Novak? So protective of him.”

Dean growls, the sound rumbling deep in his chest. “I don’t need to be protected. At least I know how to use a gun properly.”

Azazel tuts. “Fighting words, Michael. But I’m a knife man, I have no shame in that. I like it to be slow, and messy. Don’t know if I can reason it the same way for your alpha, though. You’ll have to ask him yourself why he prefers them over guns. And if you want me to practice my shooting, I can always use the two of you for target practice.”

Despite how threatening the last sentence is supposed to be, Dean can hardly hear it over the ringing in his ears. It’s not hard to figure out what Azazel is trying to allude to, but this time, he just doesn’t want to believe what his brain is telling him. This is Cas they’re talking about. Cas, who he already trusts with his life.

While Dean is having his internal panic, Azazel keeps talking. He can see that he’s hit a nerve with the omega, that he’s beginning to throw him off his game. The smirk on his face is clue enough to prove that he knows exactly what he’s doing with his next words.

“Then again, I don’t think I want to put any bullets in you. You’ll die nice and slow, Michael. It’s not often I get such a newly pregnant omega to play with—even if you are a male. We can’t always get what we want, I suppose.”

And just like that, the panic that Dean had been having is blown clear out of the water by a whole new wave of horror. For a second, he can’t think, can’t move, can hardly think. He can’t be…

He can’t be.

Blood rushes in Dean’s ears. His hands are trembling, and he watches the barrel of his gun shake, then dip, as the world tilts around him. He has to shift one foot to keep himself standing, combating the wave of dizziness that is making him sway, balance completely thrown by this new revelation.

He fits the rest of my criteria, Azazel had said over the PA system. That line in particular had stuck with Dean.

He never had managed to figure out what Azazel’s victims all had in common.

His mom was...

Cas is looking at him, his mouth forming words than Dean can’t hear, his blue eyes wide and frantic. Azazel simply watches the spectacle unfolding before him, a crooked smirk on his face as Dean unravels.

“Tell me he’s lying, Cas,” he begs his alpha. His tongue is too-heavy in his mouth, not quite obeying him. Even his own voice is hardly audible until he shakes his head slightly, and the buzzing in his head dims—though the action brings with it another wave of nausea.

Castiel opens his mouth, then closes it again and looks away, hand flexing uselessly against his bloodied shoulder, and Dean knows. He knows that Azazel isn’t lying.

Has he lied about any of it?

“Son of a bitch.”

“Dean—” Cas starts to say, but Azazel makes a gesture with his gun, and the alpha falls silent.

“Doesn’t look like you can talk your way out of this one now, Novak,” the man muses with a self-satisfied grin. He raises an eyebrow, and twists the gun in his hand in consideration. Its aim never once wavers from Cas. “Is this enough pain for you, yet? You know, I had planned on making you suffer the old fashioned way, but this is turning out to be just as fun. Do you want to die knowing that your lovely Dean hates you? Because it could be arranged, if you ask nicely.”

Castiel’s gaze had been fixed on the floor, the alpha looking more wounded, more devastated than he had even when Azazel had shot him through the shoulder. When he lifts his eyes to Dean, they’re wide and pleading, but there’s also a hint of resignation in there, as though the wedge Azazel’s words have driven between them is totally insurmountable. Cas looks more crushed and broken by the idea of Dean hating him, of dying knowing Dean hates him, than he ever had before.

Which is why Dean can’t let that happen. As soon as he gets his chance, he’ll take it; neither he nor Cas will die here today.

It’s only later that he makes no promises about, when he has the chance to ask the alpha for some goddamn explanations.

“Shut your fucking mouth,” Dean snarls, setting his shoulders and tightening his grip around his gun. There’s no room for doubt or error in this moment; he has to be the federal agent he’s trained to be, not a terrified omega. “You won’t kill him. I won’t let you.”

Dean can taste Cas’s shock on the air, it’s so strong, but he doesn’t look at his mate—the man he thought could be his mate, one day. Instead, his gaze remains fixed on Azazel with singular, intent focus.

Azazel raises an eyebrow, meeting Dean’s gaze even while his gun remains pointed at Cas.

“No?” he asks, and Dean realizes his mistake a half-second too late.

Azazel shifts the gun a fraction higher, and Dean isn’t fast enough to do anything about it, stunned as he is, and sickened by his own fatal slip-up.

The gunshot is deafening.

Almost as if it’s in slow motion, Dean sees Cas fall, his knees crumpling under him as he collapses to the concrete ground. There is red on his hand, red on his shoulder, red on his temple. Cas’ gun skitters away from limp fingers and spins to a stop a foot away from where the alpha lies immobile, his trench coat flared out around his body like the wings of an angel.

There‘s a vice gripping Dean’s chest and he can’t think, can’t breathe, can only stare at the body of his mate where it lies still and unmoving on unforgiving grey concrete. Cas’s eyes are closed, his blood-smeared hand resting over his heart and the other flung limply out to the side.

Dean can’t tear his eyes away from the blood that is slowly pooling beneath the alpha’s head.

Cas is dead.

Azazel chuckles to himself, low and amused, and when Dean wrenches his gaze away from Castiel’s prone form, he sees the man holster his gun and instead pull a long knife from the sheath attached to his belt. The blade glints wickedly in the dim light, and the alpha’s murky, yellow eyes glow with a sickening amount of mirth. “Now that that’s out of the way, pretty omega…”

Azazel twirls the knife in his hand and grins.

“Shall we dance?”

Dean bares his teeth, lips peeled back in a silent snarl. There’s more rage pumping through his veins than he knows what to do with—that is, until Azazel saunters forward a step, and suddenly everything in Dean sharpens down to a single, deadly point. He feels honed, more focused than he has been since before Azazel’s voice first began to ring out over the PA system, and in that moment, he knows exactly what he’s going to do.

Killing Dean’s mom was one thing. Even if it still stings, it’s in the past, and something that Dean has long since come to terms with. But killing Dean’s mate?

He’s going to make Azazel pay.  If it’s a knife fight the man wants, a knife fight is what he’s going to get.

Azazel saunters forward, surefire and cocky as he juggles his knife between his fingers. Faced with such a sight, it’s all too easy for Dean to imagine how this typically goes with Azazel’s victims. The women who he has killed were probably advanced upon in similar ways, probably saw the dance of his blade as menacing, and were frozen in place by fear as he closed in. Dean doubts any of Azazel’s victims voluntarily walked into his den as he did, which means that even if they were capable of fighting back, they were likely too unprepared to ever stand a chance.

It’s a good thing that Dean isn’t one of those victims.

Azazel raises his blade, but whatever it is he was planning on doing with it after that, Dean doesn’t stand around to find out. He dodges under Azazel’s arm and slams the butt of his gun into the man’s kidney, and while the alpha is left grunting and doubling over, Dean tosses his gun away and slips his own knife out of his boot. By the time he’s straightened out and has his weapon at the ready, Azazel has recovered, and is glaring after him.

“Feisty little bitch, aren’t you, Dean?”

Dean rolls out his neck, and answers with a sharp smile. “Oh, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” He imitates the alpha’s earlier move and flips his knife between his fingers, inviting Azazel forward. “Try me, you sorry sack of shit.”

Azazel’s lips curl back in a snarl, and that proves to be all the warning Dean has before the man lunges.

Azazel’s first swing is lucky. It catches Dean’s left bicep as the omega spins out of the way, slicing the sleeve of Dean’s maroon overshirt and snagging on the muscle beneath. Dean hisses at the pain, but doesn’t let it stop him from making a counter-strike. It goes wide, missing Azazel entirely, but the alpha has to contort himself for that to happen, meaning his balance is momentarily sacrificed.

Dean leans into the momentum of his own maneuver, and while his adversary is still staggering to catch his footing, Dean sinks his knife into the back of Azazel’s thigh.

Azazel howls in pain, his face contorted in agony, and Dean feels a burst of satisfaction. He reels back sharply to avoid another swing of the alpha’s knife, this one less coordinated than the last, and dances backwards a few feet to get the chance to regroup. His arm still stings, but he knows it’s not nearly as bad as the damage he’s already done to Azazel. When he looks back at the alpha, he finds him hunched over, clutching at the new wound in his leg. It fills Dean with a dark sort of pleasure, and his fingers twitch around the handle of his knife.

He could do this all fuckin’ day, as long as the man who killed his mate ends up bloody and broken at his feet.

The brief moment of respite doesn’t last long; as soon as Azazel locks eyes with Dean, the alpha’s rage once again peaks. He snarls obscenities and launches himself at Dean, pain be damned.

The dance continues.

Where Azazel is all blunt force and sharp edges, Dean is quick, graceful on his feet and precise in his strikes. He and Azazel are well-matched for height and size, but the alpha specializes in preying on the innocent, and his lack of finesse shows it. Dean, on the other hand, was a top agent within the FBI for a reason. He fought tooth and nail to get there, sometimes literally. Azazel is no match for him, and it takes no time at all for him to prove that.

Azazel gets a few more lucky slices in, but none are well-executed enough to disable Dean. Dean does better; after cutting into Azazel’s thigh, he also catches one of his forearms, lands a solid kick to his stomach, and even manages to carve a deep gouge across the span of the man’s back.

His best move, however, comes after Azazel decides to make another play at taunting him.

“That all you got, boy?” the alpha says, and spits at Dean’s feet. “The only thing that’s going to come of making me work up a sweat is that I’ll build an appetite, too. Maybe once I string you up nice and pretty and get to have a play with you, I’ll feed you your dead alpha’s entrails. What do you say?”

Dean sees red.

He’s hardly aware of anything beside the growling in his own chest as he crosses the distance between himself and Azazel. The alpha’s lips curl in a smug grin, having gotten exactly the reaction he wanted, but when he lifts his knife to make a move, Dean bypasses it entirely, and punches him square in the nose. The alpha’s knife is all too easy to knock away, then, and with the man momentarily incapacitated, Dean encounters no resistance when he drives his own blade into Azazel’s side.

Azazel howls, and when Dean yanks his knife back free with a sickening sound, the sharpened metal dripping with blood, the alpha begins to fall, apparently unable to keep his feet under him any longer.

Begins to fall--because Dean is having none of that. “I’m not finished with you yet,” he hisses, grabbing the alpha by his collar and shoving him backwards against the nearest stack of crates. The old wood creaks in protest with the force of it, but ultimately keeps Azazel upright, which means that he stays eye to eye with Dean. The man clutches at the wound at his side, his hands slippery with blood, but there’s no way he could even stand, let alone get away.

Good. Dean wants to watch every second of this.

A broken chuckle finds its way past Azazel’s lips, the crimson of them stark against his ashen skin. The internal damage Dean did when he stabbed him is already taking him apart, but even the inevitability of death isn’t enough to stop the man. “Well, look at you,” he croons. “Less of a bitch than I thought. Too bad your alpha is still dead.”

Dean holds his knife tightly to Azazel’s throat, ready to slice if he makes the wrong move. His other hand, though, is free; he punches it into Azazel’s stomach. “Shut the fuck up.”

Azazel grunts in pain, but only a moment later, his smile is returning, his teeth bared in a macabre grin. “Sore subject, I see. But that’s alright. I only—”

Dean punches him again, harder this time, and higher up his stomach. Azazel nearly chokes, and blood starts to trickle from the corner of his mouth. “I said shut up, you son of a bitch!”

Azazel shakes his head. “I only did your job—”

Dean pulls back, and punches him across the face. Azazel spits blood to the concrete.

“—Did your job for you, you ungrateful bitch—”

Dean’s fist connects squarely over the point where his blade entered Azazel’s flesh, but despite the alpha’s renewed howling, he still isn’t deterred. His voice is rasping, venomous, more deadly than the blade of Dean’s knife.

“—because your alpha was a serial killer.”

Dean stops dead in his tracks. He doesn’t mean…

There’s blood on Azazel’s teeth now, but he’s grinning, as though he knows he’s gotten the last laugh, even in his last seconds. Dean wants to hurt him, hurt him worse, make him scream for all the agony he’s inflicted.

But he’s already tried. And no matter what, Azazel just smiles and takes it.

“You heard me, sweetheart. You’ve heard me all along. He was no better than I am.”

Dean snarls, and before he even realizes what he’s doing, he lifts his blade and slashes it across Azazel’s throat.

Azazel chokes, his blood spraying out in an arc from the force with which Dean severed his arteries, soaking the white gauze still around Dean’s knuckles and leaving flecks of red across his face. The alpha struggles, grasping at his throat like he can somehow hold everything in if he tries hard enough. It’s a losing battle, of course; more and more of his blood is escaping between his fingers with every beat of his heart. But even as his life slips away, his eyes remain locked on Dean, angry until the end.

“That’s for Cas,” Dean tells him in his last seconds, voice dripping with venom. “And for my mother, Mary Winchester. This is the least you deserved.”

Azazel’s eyes go wide. His lips move, though whether that’s because he wants to speak or because he’s gasping for breath, Dean has no idea. He doesn’t care either way. Only a few moments later, the alpha’s eyes go dull. His lifeless body slumps to the ground, leaving a bloody streak against the wooden crate.

Dean steps back, away from the blood steadily pooling beneath the corpse.

He killed Yellow Eyes.

He should be happy, elated. He’s finally avenged his mother’s death, and brought to justice the man he’s been hunting for over a decade of his life.

Instead, he just feels empty. Broken.

The hand holding his knife trembles, and when he opens his fingers, the blood-smeared hilt slips away and clatters to the ground. It’s shockingly loud in the sudden silence.

Azazel’s dead eyes stare up at him, glazed and empty, and Dean has to turn away. The man deserved everything that he got, Dean tells himself. Even more so after killing Cas.

Cas.

His alpha is still, unmoving, even as Dean falls to his knees beside his shoulder. One hand splays across Cas’s chest, across the shirt saturated with blood from the bullet wound in his shoulder. The other trembles as it cards through Castiel’s hair, and his thumb smudges red across the alpha’s cheekbone.

“Cas,” he chokes out, his voice wavering and wobbly with sobs that he’s only just holding back. All the adrenaline is gone; now he’s simply weighed down by thick, all-encompassing grief. He’s the reason that Cas is here, motionless on grimy concrete, the side of his head wet with blood.

Except, when Dean gently cradles Cas’s cheek with his hand, the alpha’s head tilts just a little, and Dean sees the wound.

Instead of the gaping, bloody hole that Dean had been imagining… it’s only a graze across Cas’s temple. Enough to bleed profusely, no doubt, enough to incapacitate or concuss…

Enough to kill?

Dean’s bloody fingers are slippery against the alpha’s throat, smearing over the tanned skin as he forces down the bubble of hope growing in his chest.

If he’s wrong, it’s going to break him all over again.

But just beneath the pads of Dean’s fingers, just faintly…

There’s a pulse.

Chapter Text

Dean Michael Winchester. Age 32. Born January 24th, 1985 in Lawrence, Kansas, to alpha John Winchester and omega Mary Winchester. Brother to alpha Samuel Nicolas Winchester, age 28. Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University of Pennsylvania, Master of Criminal Justice degree from University of Missouri, Kansas City. Worked for the Kansas City Police Department during his final studies, and earned a name for himself as an infallible detective. Currently one of the most successful agents for the New York branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with more cases closed than any other of his tenure.

Omega.

There were several interesting details to be found in his files on Dean Winchester, but that last one in particular is one of Castiel’s favorites. It was buried beneath the rest of the information on the agent, uncovered only when he searched the case’s lead for weaknesses, and had taken significant detail checking and cross-checking, as well as a fair number of lines drawn on nothing more than hunches, to figure out. Of all of the agents who came before Dean, nearly all had been alpha, only a few breaking the pattern by even being beta. Dean already stood out, even from the surface of his file—murdered parents are not as common of a motivator as one might think when digging into FBI background checks, after all. He should have known right then that there would be more to the story.

Castiel had several options available to him at that point. He could find a way to remove such a proficient agent from the case of ‘The Ghost’, and there were certainly several available to him. All he would need to do is tip off the bureau, direct some suspicion the man’s way, and he would be found out for sure. What would his punishment be, Castiel wonders? Termination of his employment, of course, and likely a discrediting of all of his work-to-date, as well. He might be jailed for fraudulent records. Even if the agent were to claim an alternate identification and gender dysphoria, that clearly wasn’t his true intention, and it wouldn’t be likely to save him.

Castiel wonders if the circumstances would end up being resolved as they were in the olden days, when unruly omegas were simply mated off to a viable alpha to be taught discipline, control. To be taught their place in the world. That is not their place in the world, not anymore, if it ever was, but there are always extreme circumstances. Infiltrating one of the most important government agencies could very well be one of those circumstances. And, staring at the identifying image of Dean Winchester available in the Bureau’s records…

Castiel would be happy to ensure that he was in the right place at the right time, if the need were to arise.

However, despite how tempting some of those possibilities are, Castiel can’t make himself go through with them. Not while Dean is so… interesting.

Castiel aches to learn what makes him tick. He wants to know what made him the way he is, but not just in the way that black-and-white files on his computer can tell him. He reads all that he can about the man and then reads it again, reaches farther into obscure details—where Dean went to school, who he knew growing up, what his extended family was like, how his brother did on the LSAT, how his boss talks about him behind closed doors—but no matter how much time he spends learning about Dean Winchester, it never quite satisfies him.

He needs to see this omega for himself.

Which is how he came to his current plan. It’s harebrained, he admits that, but he fears that if he puts too much effort into it he will overthink something, somewhere, and draw undue suspicion to himself as a result. All he wants is to see Dean; there is no need to overcomplicate things.

And that is what lead him to this point, standing across from The Ghost’s latest crime scene, standing far closer to such a thing than he ever rightly should just for the chance of catching a glimpse of the agent he knows will be one of the first on the scene.  

As is always the case when there’s a crime scene in a public space, there is a crowd of onlookers gathered by the police barriers, craning their necks in the hope of getting a glimpse of something interesting. Castiel blends in seamlessly, then migrates to lurk behind a news crew when they arrive on scene.

Sometimes, there are benefits to the unquenchable interest society has in violence.

By the time the federal agents arrive, there are more than enough faces gathered for Castiel to simply be one among the crowd. Nothing about him stands out, or is worthy of catching an eye. He even applied scent-blockers before coming; no one will think him anything more than a beta, taking an interest in the newest drama developing in his city.

The local police keep the crowd sequestered, and while they can’t actually see the crime scene from their vantage point—the body was left down an alley situated between two buildings both owned by subsidiaries of Roman Enterprises—Castiel has a perfect view of the sleek, black, government-issued SUV that pulls up not half an hour after he began his wait. Anticipation courses through him, and he shifts back around the front of the news crew to get a better look.

From the moment Dean gets out of his car, Castiel is completely taken by him.

Castiel can’t scent the agent—the distance, the crowd, and the blockers that the man wears all making sure of that—but even just from looking at him, Castiel can imagine it well enough. Long, bowed legs, broad shoulders, a stubbled jawline that could likely cut Castiel to pieces—there is no doubt in the alpha’s mind that this is the omega for him. Even if their paths through life weren’t so tantalizingly entwined, Castiel would be drawn to him under any possible circumstances.

Dean makes a beeline toward the corpse on display in the alleyway, flashing his badge toward the local police officers to be admitted past their barriers. It’s at this point that his partner catches up with him, and grabs him by the elbow to keep him from advancing.

The growl that builds in the back of Castiel’s throat earns him more than one concerned look from the civilians around him. They begin to give him a bit more space, but he pays them no mind, anyway.

He doesn’t like the sight of another alpha touching his omega.

Dean’s partner leans in close to his ear and whispers a handful of heated words, judging by the way his mouth forms around them. Dean’s expression goes forcibly blank in response, though it still ripples with unbridled fury around the edges, and that is what Castiel truly takes note of. He watches as Dean yanks his arm out of his partner’s grasp, then gestures sharply toward the alleyway. The alpha—Castiel does recall his name from his research, knows that it’s Gordon Walker, but simply doesn’t care enough to put it to use—smirks as he takes point.

From there, the pair of agents disappear into the alleyway, and Castiel is left blind.

Despite being blind, however, Castiel has no problem imagining how every moment goes after that. Dean and his partner will walk down the alleyway to where the body has been strung up, hanging from the fire escape like the puppet that the man was. They will ask for the man’s identity—there will be none on his person—then examine the corpse and everything around it. No damage other than the stab through the heart. There will be a pin pushed through the man’s silk, blood-stained tie, but the note that it once carried is long-gone, removed along with the man’s identification by one of the victim’s cohort after he failed to check in when he was supposed to, when Castiel was gone and before anyone else arrived.

Castiel knows his adversary. Their web is complicated, but unfortunately, today was not the day to begin unwinding it.

Shortly after Castiel’s mental timeline has Dean discovering that there is no note attached to the pin through the man’s tie, the omega emerges from the mouth of the alleyway. Even from this distance, Castiel can see the frown creasing his brows. His hands are empty, and there’s a smudge of red on the side of his thumb. 

The alpha is so utterly mesmerized by the omega’s focus and the sheer beauty in every line of his body that he barely notices Dean’s trajectory; it’s only when he gets close enough to the barriers for Castiel to be able to see the freckles dusted across his cheekbones that he realizes how close they actually are.

No matter how entranced by him Castiel may be, now is not the time for them to meet. It will be soon, he hopes, once he can figure out where the gift he wants to give Dean is currently hiding himself, but not yet. Not until he has Azazel.

Castiel ducks behind the news crew so as not to be spotted, and uses the new vantage point to keep a less conspicuous eye on the stunning agent. Up this close, Castiel can even hear his voice. It sends a shiver down the alpha’s spine.

“Special Agent Winchester,” Dean introduces himself to the police officer standing guard with a practiced flash of his FBI badge. “I’m told you were the first on the scene. Mind if we have a little chat?”

The officer frowns, but after a cautious look back at the crowd of bystanders he’s been keeping an eye on, nods in answer. He and Dean move back away, going just far enough that Castiel can hear the rumble of Dean’s voice when he begins asking questions, but cannot make them out in any detail. The interview doesn’t last very long; the police officer shakes his head a lot, leading Castiel to believe that he (unsurprisingly) has very little to offer, until Dean ultimately dismisses the man, shaking his own head in frustration.

He stalks back toward the alley, undoubtedly to relay the failure to his partner. And that is Castiel’s cue to leave.

There won’t be much more for Dean to find at the body, and once he reaches that conclusion, the crime scene will be cleaned up. The crowd of onlookers won’t last much longer, and once they’re gone, the same can be said of Castiel’s cover.

He waits until a few of the other onlookers reach similar conclusions and split off, then follows after them to make his exit seems as natural as possible. No one so much as glances his way, but that doesn’t stop him from keeping up his casual façade until he’s rounding the corner, two blocks away. He smiles to himself the whole way, his mind whirring as he thinks about Dean, and considers all the possible avenues he can take from here.

He will have Dean Winchester, if it’s the last thing he does.

~

When Castiel comes to, the first thing he registers is the ringing in his ears. After that it’s the ache between his temples, then the soreness both in his shoulders and in his shoulder from where he was shot, and finally, the heavy, metal handcuffs pinched tight around his wrists.

That last item in particular should be worrying, but he’s too exhausted to put the effort into caring. The plush bed beneath him indicates that he’s not in a jail cell, anyway, so he figures there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Although of course, he still needs to know what’s going on, which means he does have to find the strength of will to open his eyes. The room that awaits him isn’t overly bright, but even the yellowed light from the fixture in the ceiling makes him wince. His migraine has the gall to get worse—a feat he wouldn’t have thought possible, truth be told—but he doesn’t allow himself the reprieve of closing his eyes again. The unfamiliarity of the motel room that he’s locked within is more than enough motivation for him to stick out his pain.

Unfamiliar motel. Cheap, stained, smells of misery and mold—not a reputable establishment, likely paid for by the hour. Temporary accommodations. Off the beaten track. But who brought him here? Azazel? Or, since the man knows so much about him, did he sell him up the line, and now he’s about to find himself at Roman’s mercy? But no, that may not make sense. Castiel may be restrained, but he’s also shirtless, bare from the waist up save for a neatly-wrapped bandage around his shoulder and the right half of his chest to seal off his wound there. The last thing he remembers—

Azazel shot him. He saw down the barrel of Azazel’s gun, was furious about the fact that the man would dare to try to take him from his mate and unborn child, then was engulfed in pain as everything went dark. He remembers wishing for Dean to kill Azazel, but he has nothing beyond that.  

Dean.

There’s someone in the bathroom. 

The sink’s pipes loudly protest their use, and Castiel can just make out the sound of disrupted water that gives away the fact that someone is washing their hands. Who that may be, however, he can’t even begin to determine. The wall between the main room and the bathroom may be paper-thin, as is evidenced by the ease with which sound travels through it, but with Castiel’s head aching as much as it is, he can’t smell a damn thing.

The sink turns off only moments later. Castiel tenses in anticipation, and watches with eyes that aren’t nearly as sharp as he wishes they were for the unknown occupant to come around the corner that the wall provides and make themselves visible.

And then the person does just that, and Castiel blinks. “Dean?”

Dean’s eyes are on him in an instant. He looks surprised, at first, then unmistakably relieved, the latter emotion clearly hitting him so hard that tears spring to the corners of his eyes. But within moments his expression closes off, all of that disappearing behind a carefully-controlled mask of indifference.

Or, it would be indifference, if not for the fury curling at his lip.

Castiel shifts on the bed, desperate to go to him, but is stopped by the clank of metal on wood, and the pinch at his wrists. With his arms twisted behind him as they are, he can hardly move. “Dean. Dean, what’s happening? Is Azazel—?”

“He’s dead.” Dean’s voice is a barbed, dangerous thing, just as intimidating as his expression is at the moment. “I slit the bastard’s throat. Set the place on fire to cover our tracks, and dragged your half-dead ass out of there before the cops could show up.” His gaze is cold and flinty when he tacks on, “You’re welcome.”

The alpha frowns. Did he really miss witnessing that? Damnit. “You killed him? But I thought you were—”

“Thought I was going to arrest him?” Dean scoffs. He starts to pace at the foot of the bed, and when he turns, Castiel gets a clear line of sight on the gun tucked loosely into the waistband of his jeans, silver metal and white grip stark against his plain, black t-shirt. The omega’s voice shakes with anger as he continues, “With the sick shit that son of a bitch said, I wasn’t going to let him keep breathing. He deserved it and worse for what he did to my mom, and all those other women. And for shooting you. The fucking nerve of that guy.”

The pacing abruptly stops, then, and Dean slowly turns to face him. “But you know,” he says, eyes narrowing dangerously, “he had some pretty interesting shit to say, Castiel. He seemed to know you pretty well, didn’t he?”

All of the air leaves Castiel’s lungs in a rush. Suddenly, the handcuffs make sense, as does the menacing light in Dean’s eyes. He swallows thickly, and tugs compulsively against his restraints. “Dean—”

“Don’t Dean me, you bastard,” Dean cuts in with a scowl. “You owe me some explanations. As of right now, there’s nothing stopping me from walking out of this room and calling the fucking cops. So unless you want me to do just that, I’d suggest you start talking, you son of a bitch. I want explanations.”

Castiel sighs, his eyes momentarily falling closed. He should have known that this would happen. He had hoped, however, that Dean would listen to him and disregard all of the foulness that poured from Azazel’s rotten lips. He wonders what it was that the man had said to Dean after Castiel was incapacitated that so clearly sealed the alpha’s fate.

When he opens his eyes again, Castiel is resigned, and he relaxes into his restraints. “I believe I’m a bit concussed,” he says wearily, “so I don’t recall all that was said back there. Would you mind being a bit more specific?”

A muscle ticks at the side of Dean’s jaw, a testament to how tightly he is clenching his teeth. For a moment, it doesn’t seem as though he’s going to relent—but reminding the omega of the fact that he’s injured eventually has its desired effect, and Dean’s posture loosens, if only marginally. He orders, tone leaving no room for argument, “Start with Meg. You told me you were just friends.”

That’s not at all the place where Castiel expected his interrogation to begin, and he’s sure that that fact is reflected in his expression. Considering, however, that Dean expressed jealousy over the possibility of Castiel being with Meg in the past, he assumes that that same emotion may be at play now, even if Dean likely wouldn’t want to admit it aloud. Castiel really wishes he could pick up Dean’s scent right now. As it is, however, the sense is slow to return to him.

“I told you before what my relationship with Meg was like,” he begins obediently. “We were not involved, sexually or romantically. I cared for her deeply, however, and she loved me in return. I was her safe haven, an escape from the unfairness life typically dealt her. Azazel said those revolting things about her to get a rise out of me, as he knew he could.” Castiel’s lip curls at the thought, and he adds, “He abused her, Dean. And you saw how he behaved at her funeral. He is not a reputable source on that account.”

Dean is completely still as he processes Castiel’s answer. After a few seconds of contemplation, he must determine that Castiel is telling him the truth, because he tips his head in a curt nod. Close on the heels of that decision, he asks, “Is he a ‘reputable source’ on the fact that you killed your dad?”

Castiel forces himself not to look away from Dean as he answers that one. “While I’m guessing that he didn’t actually have any evidence to support that claim, it is true.” Dean tenses, and his fingers twitch like he might want to grab for his gun, so Castiel hurries to explain. “You have to understand, Dean, he was a despicable man. He did horrible things to both my mother and myself, and on that day, he—he was hurting my mother. He was beating her. He would have killed her. I panicked, Dean, I was twelve years old, I didn’t know what to do. I hit him with a shovel to make him stop, and he fell to the floor, and never got back up. We buried him in the back yard, no one ever knew, and my mother and sister were better off for it.”

Dean hisses out a long breath from between his teeth, and raises a finely trembling hand to rake it through his hair. “Jesus, Cas.” There’s a moment where he half-turns away, his hand still resting atop his head, and it’s clear that he’s trying to compose himself, to pull back together the pieces that Castiel has shattered with his confessions.

When he turns back, Dean has successfully reined himself back in, and he directs an icy stare over Castiel’s shoulder. “I guess you started young, then.”

Castiel flinches. The movement draws Dean’s attention, and the omega’s gaze slides back toward him. Dean’s hands clench and unclench, and Castiel can see blood still staining his cuticles and under his nails, where he couldn’t scrub it off. The omega seems to be building up to something as he grits his teeth and inhales deeply through his nose.

“Are you the Ghost?”

And there it is; the subject Castiel has known they’ve been building toward since Dean first began to interrogate him. He takes a deep breath, gaze not wavering from Dean’s even for a moment, and answers, “Yes.”

The omega’s tough exterior dissolves instantly; Dean whines as if he was physically struck, and flinches backwards.

Castiel sighs internally, his eyes turning sad. “Azazel told you.”

Dean doesn’t answer right away. His chest heaves, and he looks utterly distraught; Castiel watches as he doubles over, his hands on his knees, and the alpha’s chest aches with it. His mate is imploding right in front of him, and Castiel yanks at the handcuffs keeping him in place, a whine of his own rattling in his chest. He knows that he’s the cause of Dean’s pain, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting to ease it, from needing to ease it.

After a few, agonizing moments, Dean manages to straighten up. He scrubs a hand across his face, pinches the bridge of his nose, then pins his gaze back on the alpha. It’s terrifying to see Dean’s eyes so utterly devoid of emotion, and Castiel can’t make himself look away.

“He told me you’re a serial killer. I figured out which one on my own.”

“How?”

Dean’s lip curls back in a barely-there snarl. “Don’t underestimate me, Cas. You pop up out of the blue, rope me in with information about Azazel, and ask a bunch of questions about my current case. You’re not sly.”

No, Castiel supposes, he isn’t. He never once underestimated Dean, but he had still hoped that it wouldn’t come out this way, if at all. It’s one thing for Dean to know what he does, but another entirely to know that he is also the person called the Ghost.

“God, I was so blind,” Dean growls to himself. The corners of his eyes are tight; he looks furious, devastated.

Castiel wets his lips. “In your defense, love, I worked very hard to blind you.” Dean’s expression threatens to crumble, right before Castiel’s eyes, and the alpha tacks on, “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

That last part proves easy for Dean to cling to. He grips it tight, using it to steady himself while he scoffs in Castiel’s direction, emotional devastation once again taking the backseat.

“Don’t give me that shit,” the omega growls, curling his fingers into fists that shake. Castiel would bet anything that his nails are leaving half-crescents indented in the skin of his palms. “You’re not sorry. You fucking lied to me, Cas, manipulated me for your own end. You’re a fucking murderer, and I’m a federal agent. It’s my job to put murderers in prison.”

He breathes out a harsh sigh, his green eyes dark, and forces his hands to uncurl.

“Azazel was right,” he spits, rubbing his thumb over one palm. “You really are a crazy motherfucker.”

Castiel’s lips press flat. “I never lied to you, Dean. Never once. Everything I’ve ever said to you was the truth, in part, if not wholly. If you believe nothing else, please. Believe that.”

“Never, huh,” Dean repeats. His lower lip is beginning to tremble, his facade once again failing him. “This whole shit-show happened under false pretenses, and you’re trying to tell me you haven’t lied? Really. You didn’t need me to kill Azazel. You could’ve done it on your own, just like you apparently always do.”

“I never claimed to need help with Azazel,” Castiel refutes, a touch of irritation bleeding into his voice. Damnit, how does Dean not see? “Azazel Masters was the one thing you wanted most in this world. You wouldn’t still be pursuing new leads, if that wasn’t the case. But even if your boss didn’t think it was a waste of your time, you needed to handle him for yourself, get your own retribution, not handle it like the bureau would. I was giving you what you needed, Dean, and giving you freedom. The best gifts I could possibly imagine.”

For a fraction of a second, Dean looks awestruck. Like he can’t believe that someone would ever do for him what Castiel did. It fills the alpha with indescribable pride. And then, just as quickly as it arrived, the moment is gone, a less easily interpreted expression crossing the omega’s face before he turns away. 

“So you’ve been stalking me, too. Fun just never ends, does it.”

Castiel says nothing. A beat passes in silence, and then Dean says with an impossible degree of calm, “You didn’t tell me that I’m pregnant. I’d count that as a lie, too.”

It takes a long moment for him to find his tongue after that one. When he does speak, he studiously ignores the way his voice cracks on the first word. “You only just conceived. It’s so faint in your scent, Dean, but it’s there, and it’s ours—”

Dean is on him in a flash, straddling the alpha’s hips and fisting a hand in his hair to yank his head back and expose the column of his throat. The sharp jerk sends Castiel’s vision reeling with pain, but the metal of Dean’s gun is ice cold against the underside of his jaw and provides a clarifying counterbalance, making Castiel’s breath hiss out between his teeth. His eyes are dark, however, blown wide with equal amounts of awe and lust.

“You sabotaged my suppressants,” Dean accuses viciously. “You raped me. What did you do, huh? Put something in my food? Inject me while I was sleeping? Tell me what the fuck you did to me, you son of a bitch!” The gun presses harder against his throat. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t kill you, right fucking now.”

The press of the gun makes it difficult for Castiel to swallow, but he forces it to happen anyway. He tips his head back in an attempt to win himself a bit more breathing room, and his lips part, allowing him to taste Dean’s rage with every breath.

“Don’t you see, Dean?” he asks the omega, his omega, more breathlessly than he intended. “We’re true mates. That’s the only way your birth control could have failed. I didn’t sabotage them. Your body let me in, just as your heart did. I love you, Dean, more than anything. I would do anything for you. All you would have to do is say the word. Let me prove myself, Dean, let me show you that I am yours—”

When the alpha’s babbling is cut off, it’s by the hard press of Dean’s mouth against his own. The omega’s teeth sink into his lip with enough force to draw blood, and Castiel’s head swims in pleasure, even as he grunts at the pain.

Dean—”

Shut up,” Dean growls, and Castiel does so instantly. The alpha can do nothing but watch and tug uselessly on his handcuffs while Dean retreats slightly, and then does the last thing Castiel would have ever expected. 

The gun is tossed aside onto the covers as Dean’s hands go to the buckle of Cas’s belt, undoing it with harsh, jerking movements and pulling it free of the belt loops with a sharp snap. Rough hands fumble with the button and fly, and then the omega’s fingers are curling into the waistband of his boxers and yanking them down. 

With the awkward position that Castiel is in, they can only go so far as the tops of his thighs, but that’s all that’s needed to expose his cock--quickly going from half-hard to fully hard and beading precome in the cool air of the motel room.

While it certainly feels like they’re falling into sex, there’s still a dangerous, violent glint in Dean’s eyes that has lust and trepidation warring in Castiel’s gut. On one hand, them being naked (or even partially so) has always had enjoyable results, but on the other, he feels far too exposed and vulnerable, especially with his hands cuffed behind his back as they are.

By the time Castiel regains a level head, rationalizing away that sense of vulnerability by reminding himself that this is Dean, the omega in question has already managed to strip his lower half bare, and is climbing back into Castiel’s lap.

He chooses to blame the fact that he somehow missed that progression of events on the concussion that he’s sure he has. 

Castiel groans and tugs against the cuffs as Dean reaches behind him with one hand, desperate to see, to touch, to be the one opening the omega up on his fingers. As it is, he’s relegated to simply drinking in Dean’s grunts and occasional soft, breathy sounds, each one only making him more desperate. He has no doubt that Dean is still running high on adrenaline and anger, and he’s incredibly glad that he’s taking that out in a different way than he had with Azazel.

The thought of Dean slitting the man’s throat only increases his frustration. God, does he wish he could’ve seen that.

There’s a growl rumbling in Castiel’s chest by the time Dean retracts his fingers—too long for Castiel’s liking and yet too short for the omega to be properly stretched—and wipes them clean on the bedspread. Usually the response would garner a teasing remark or grin from the beautiful omega, but now Dean just fists his hand in Castiel’s hair and pulls. Thankfully, it’s not as hard as the last time, and besides; he’s somewhat distracted by the sight of Dean levering himself up and sinking down on his cock.

It’s tight, god, it’s so tight. Dean definitely isn’t stretched enough, if the curl of his lip and the wrinkling of his brow weren’t indicative, but this is no sweet, sensual, playful lovemaking. It’s not even like last night, when Castiel had lost himself in Dean, buried his teeth in Dean’s neck with the near-overwhelming urge to bite down.

No, Dean is in charge here, and it’s wild and feral.

There’s a moment of stillness, in which they each catch their breath, gazes locked and ragged pants mingling in the air between them.

And then Dean rocks his hips, lifts up, and slams back down again, and Castiel practically howls.

Dean is taking no prisoners, fucking himself with sharp movements on Castiel’s cock like his life depends on it. The omega’s hands twist in Cas’s hair and pull, exposing his throat. Castiel is completely at his mercy, and fuck if it isn’t driving him absolutely wild.

Every time he tries to rock his hips and thrust up into Dean, the omega snarls and pulls on his hair, his other hand gripping Castiel’s shoulder hard enough to bruise. Eventually, Castiel has to force his alpha side down—as much as he wants to struggle, to somehow get out of these cuffs, every excessive movement sends pain lancing through him. He did get shot twice today, after all. He probably shouldn’t be partaking in strenuous exercise.

But he has never been able to deny his mate (can he still call Dean that?) anything, and he isn’t about to start now, as much as his inability to touch is driving him crazy. If Dean wants him still, he will do his best to be so. He can be a good mate for Dean, he just has to prove it, to regain Dean’s trust now that the omega has discovered his secrets.

So Castiel goes still, his lips parted and eyes wide as he watches Dean ride him, completely subservient to his omega. He tips his head back a little more, baring his throat to Dean completely, and the omega lets out a low whine.

“Cas,” he groans, and while there’s still an urgency to his movements, they become a little slower, a little less harsh. “I should hate you, but I fucking—”

Whatever Dean was going to say is cut off when he crushes his mouth to Castiel’s in a bruising assault of lips and teeth. When he pulls back, there’s a smear of Castiel’s own blood on his bottom lip, and he whines with the urge to return to the kiss and lick it off.

Instead, Dean keeps moving, keeps fucking himself down onto Castiel’s cock. He’s less guarded, less sharp, his eyes hooded and sounds of pleasure falling from his lips. As much as Castiel wishes he could fuck his omega properly, make him feel really good, it’s almost better to see the way that Dean’s walls gradually come back down, until the omega has their foreheads pressed together and is just grinding in his lap.

Dean gasps softly as Castiel hitches his hips just a little—but the omega isn’t so far gone that he doesn’t notice, and the hand in his hair tightens in warning. It’s not hard to get the message. “Anything you wish, love,” Castiel breathes, and the soft sound that Dean chokes out doesn’t even sound human.

“I should hate you,” he gasps. “I should fucking hate you with every bone in my body.”

But the omega is pressing closer, still moving in Castiel’s lap, still talking.

“But, I don’t Cas, I—”

Dean exhales a shuddering breath and grinds down onto Castiel’s cock in a way that would have his eyes rolling back in his head were he not desperately anticipating his mate’s next words.

“I love you. I love you so fucking much.”

A sound that is far too close to a sob bursts from Castiel’s chest. He’s wanted to hear those words for so long, has waited so patiently, and now there they are, offered up when Castiel needed them most yet expected them least. The alpha yanks relentlessly at his handcuffs, now more desperate than ever to be free. The jerking movements send pain lancing through the wound in his shoulder, but even that isn’t enough to deter him. 

“Dean, love, please—”

Cas,” Dean growls, and the tone of his voice is enough to make Castiel pause in his attempts to exploit any potential weaknesses in the wooden headboard. “I love you—” God, he’ll never tire of hearing Dean say that. “—but if this is going to work, you can’t keep secrets like that from me.”

There’s an edge of steel in the omega’s voice that completely entrances Castiel, leaves him hanging on every word.

“If this is going to work, we do things my way.”

Castiel doesn’t know what Dean’s way entails, but he’s already nearly lost his mate once. He’s pretty sure he would agree to anything in order to keep Dean by his side, to be able to hear Dean tell him he loves him over and over again—not to mention being able to raise their pup together.

He has a mate who loves him and a pup on the way. Nothing else matters so much as those two things. 

He’s done so much to get to this point, after all. All the time that he invested before even being able to meet Dean in person, the meticulous efforts he went through to ensure his mate would accept him—they’re destined to be together, Castiel has known that from the start. To lose Dean now would kill him. 

Which is why he is so quick to agree, nodding as much as he can while Dean’s grip in his hair holds him in place, “Of course, Dean.” His hips roll up of their own accord, but he hardly notices his own movement, and judging by the fact that Dean doesn’t reprimand him, neither does his mate. “Anything. Anything you could possibly want.”

Dean shudders against Castiel and then shifts, one hand bracing against the alpha’s uninjured shoulder. Anything Castiel was going to follow that statement up with completely disappears from his mind as Dean lifts up and then slams himself back down, fucking himself on the alpha’s cock with complete abandon. It’s a beautiful sight, even if he can’t touch; the omega’s head tipped back in pleasure to bare the expanse of his throat, his thighs trembling with effort, his cock bobbing in the air between them with every movement.

His mate is beautiful, the envy of all others, and he’s Castiel’s. Dean loves him.

The knowledge is enough for his knot to begin to swell. Dean must feel it, because he moans and drops a hand to fist his cock, his movements growing more frantic and erratic as he chases his orgasm.

There’s no sight so alluring and absolutely captivating as his mate coming apart around him, but while Castiel was anticipating the clench of Dean’s ass and the come that paints his bare chest…

He is not at all expecting the sharp tug on his hair that bares his throat completely.

He is not expecting Dean to lean forward, lips still half-caught around a growl of pleasure.

He is not expecting the omega to sink his teeth into the side of Castiel’s neck in a claiming bite.

Castiel moans, and his knot finally swells to its full size and locks itself inside of Dean. The alpha’s orgasm hits him hard, crashing through him with enough force to leave his vision dark around the edges. He can’t breathe, can hardly think, hears nothing but the rush of his own blood in his ears as every cell in his body reorients itself and all thoughts of his own are replaced by Dean

Dean claimed him. Dean made him his. Dean, his true mate, solidified his half of their bond, willingly tied the alpha to his side for the rest of their lives. 

For the first time in his life, Castiel understands what it means to have a purpose. He’d thought it was saving people on the surgery table, or ridding the earth of vermin like Azazel and Dick Roman, but everything else fades in comparison to the pull he feels towards his mate. He wasn’t lying about it before, but it feels so much stronger now. He would do anything for Dean.

Dean’s tongue swipes over the bite mark that he’s made, and when he sits back, there’s blood on his lips. His gaze is fixed on Castiel’s throat, as though he can’t take his eyes away from his own claim.

A low whine escapes Castiel. He isn’t sure what he wants to do more; kiss Dean so that he can taste himself on his mate’s tongue, or return the bite, and bind the two of them together completely, eternally. The two desires war for dominance in the alpha’s mind, but the latter quickly wins out, instinct too powerful to ignore. He leans forward, giving into the gravitational pull that is his mate and nosing along Dean’s neck, searching for that perfect spot, and when he finds it—

Dean’s hand closes around his throat, not tight enough to choke him but enough to be firm, and pins him back against the headboard. His voice is low and rough.

“No.”

Castiel would gasp, if he had the breath for it left in his lungs. Dean’s fingers give him no room to breathe—he has to press back against the headboard, away from the steady pressure, to be able to take air in, let alone speak.

“Dean—”

Dean’s grip tightens just the tiniest bit more, cutting him off.

“You are not going to bite me,” he growls, his lip curled in a snarl. Fire flashes through the omega’s eyes, and Castiel has never in his life but so simultaneously devastated and aroused. “You bite me when I say you can bite me. When you’ve earned it, and when I trust you not to lie to me. Do you understand?”

Castiel makes a pitiful sound, but tilts his head as much as he can in agreement. The terms are fair, and he knows he deserves to be given a probationary period, if not worse. Dean is still giving him a when, though, and not an if; the alpha clings to that fact, needs it to stay afloat. 

He can still have Dean. He will have Dean, and he is Dean’s. Castiel has waited this long for his mate, he can wait longer, if that’s what it takes. He can prove himself. He would kill for Dean if he had to, cut through swathes of his mate’s enemies, lay waste to any alpha who looked at him wrong. Dean could treat him like a mercenary for hire, like a slave, yet as long as they returned to the same bed at night, Castiel would consider himself to be the luckiest man in the world. 

Seeing that Castiel has surrendered to him, Dean finally loosens his hold on his mate’s throat. The sudden ability for Castiel to take full breaths again makes him dizzy, and it isn’t until the room stops spinning (spins less; his concussion is making itself known yet again) that he manages to find his tongue. 

“Tell me what I can do.”

Dean’s hand comes up to cup his face, and his thumb smooths over Castiel’s cheekbone. The gesture is soft, tender, at odds with the way the same hand had splayed across his throat just moments before.

“You need to be honest with me, Cas. You can’t keep secrets from me, not if we’re in this together.” He pauses, his gaze dropping for a brief moment as if he needs the opportunity to collect himself. “Not if we’re going to have this pup. Okay? Just… no more lies.”

Castiel nods. He can do that. Up until now, there was so much he couldn’t say to Dean, so much he had to protect his mate from. He needed Dean to be ready before he even tried to tell him anything, and though this isn’t how he would have ever imagined reaching this point, he no longer has the option of holding back. Not while he wears his mate’s claim on his neck. He will tell Dean anything he wants to know, anything at all. He belongs to the omega, in every sense of the word.

“Of course, Dean.”

Dean breathes out a long sigh and slowly folds forwards until his forehead presses against Castiel’s. He aches to hold the omega in his arms, but Dean will release him from the handcuffs when he’s ready, he assumes, so he has to be patient. For now, he takes comfort in the touch of Dean’s forehead, his hands, the steady pressure around his still-swollen knot.

Several minutes pass before Dean speaks again. His voice is quiet, soft, but it trembles just slightly.

“Why did you kill those people, Cas?”

It takes a moment for him to find an answer to that. Castiel knows his reasons, of course he does, but how does he best present it now, in this setting, to his mate, without sounding like one of the same monsters that he hunts? 

“Dean,” he begins, just as softly as his omega had. It’s fitting, given the intimacy of their position, and helps to keep the tone of the conversation controlled. “What I do is not all that different from what you do. I track down murderers, rapists, abusers. People who seek to do harm to others, and thrive on the pain they cause. I help the world by stopping those who wish to make it a darker place.” 

He pauses to take a breath, and tilts his head up just enough to touch his nose to Dean’s. They’re too close for Castiel to see anything but the soft green of his mate’s eyes, but that serves him just fine. There’s nothing else that he needs. 

He continues, “The people you would say were killed by ‘the Ghost’. Do you recall what I tried to tell you about them, when we were driving through Indiana?”

Dean’s brow creases as he tries to think back. “When we talked about red tape?”

“Yes, but a bit after that. I guided you to the realization that the notes that were left contained a name, remember?”

“Oh, yeah, I—” Dean stops abruptly and sits up, eyeing Castiel with an odd expression. “Holy shit, you wrote those notes.” Then, with blatant excitement, as if this is any other lead on a stale case, “Who is it? What’s the connection?” 

It’s an incredibly serious situation, Castiel knows, but he can’t stop himself from smiling at his mate’s intensity. The omega has always fought tooth and nail to follow his leads within the bureau, but seeing it in person is far better than reading about it in his files. 

“Richard Roman.”

Dean wrinkles his nose and tips his head to the side. “The senator?”

Castiel’s lip curls in distaste. “Unfortunately. I pinned him as the ringleader too late, when he already had the election locked down. His opposition was spineless.” But of course, that isn’t the point; he takes a deep breath through his nose, using what he can detect of Dean’s scent to maintain his calm as he pushes forward with his explanation. He knows Dean will ask for it, anyway. 

“Roman is dirty. He uses his power and influence to grind omegas into the mud. Kidnapping, human trafficking, sexual slavery—if you can imagine it, he has probably done it, or wants to see it happen. What parts of it he doesn’t operate himself are done through lackeys, all of whom he keeps shielded from the law. They’re either part of his governmental staff, or work for one of his many companies across the nation. I’ve already spent two years trying to untangle his web, and I have too little to show for it.” 

“Jesus fuck,” Dean blurts out. Castiel is still struggling to scent him properly, but even with his nose weakened, he can tell that fury is starting to spread through Dean like wildfire. The omega is tense in Castiel’s lap, and after a few seconds of consideration over what he’s heard, presses a firm hand against his alpha’s chest. “You’ve been taking out his lackeys. Without his support network, he’ll start to fall apart eventually. Who’s been getting to the bodies after you’ve left them?”

Castiel twitches his uninjured shoulder in a shrug. “Other lackeys. After the first few I took out, Roman caught on. He doesn’t know who I am, but he knows that someone is working to execute him. To combat my efforts, he’s unified his highest-ranking men, and has even tried to make efforts to have them protected. At the moment, however, he seems to have taken the hydra approach. I cut off one head, and he replaces it with two.” 

Dean’s eyes are wide, and for a second or two, he can only open and close his mouth, no words coming out. He looks as though his whole world has been tipped on its head—and really, it has. Since he can’t touch Dean to soothe him, Castiel has no choice but to wait until Dean comes to grips with his explanation. 

Fuck,” he breathes, and now there’s a hint of distress in his scent. “I was going after the wrong person. I mean, killing his lackeys isn’t great, but… Human trafficking? Jesus, Cas. What a fucking monster.”

“Trust me, love, I know.”

Castiel explains everything to Dean, every little detail that he knows, and watches his omega become more driven, more determined, with every disturbing revelation. Finally, when Castiel’s knot goes down enough for Dean to slip off, his mate reaches for the pocket of his discarded jeans and pulls out the keys to the handcuffs.

Finally free of the biting metal, Castiel winces, and shifts his shoulder so that he can tuck his arm to his chest and rub the numbness from it. Dean looks a little guilty, but he didn’t do anything Castiel wouldn’t have done, had he been in Dean’s position. A gentle touch and a soft kiss to Dean’s temple reassures the omega, and Dean smiles at him.

“Come on, let’s clean up that bite of yours, then we’d better get out of here.”

Not even ten minutes later, Castiel is dressed, with a new strip of gauze covering the bite on his neck to match the one on the side of his head. He can’t stop touching it, reminding himself that it’s really real, that he’s Dean’s.

His mate catches him, and grins as he shoulders his duffel bag. With fresh gauze wrapped around the cuts on the omega’s knuckles, they make quite the pair—they’ve been knocked down repeatedly, but refuse to stay there. 

Unlike his own gunshot wounds or the evidence of Dean’s earlier breakdown, however, Castiel knows that at least the bite on his neck will be cherished forever.

“Come on, you sappy alpha,” Dean calls teasingly from the door. “Are we going or not?”

Something in his face shifts, then, and his next words are more serious. They hold an edge of warning, and Castiel knows he isn’t quite off the hook for his actions just yet.

“But don’t forget. We’re doing things my way. Capisce?”

Castiel would follow Dean to the ends of the earth, if he so desired. He inclines his head in answer. “Of course, beloved.”

“Good.” Dean nods decisively, then turns on his heel and starts out toward the Impala while Castiel follows after. “We’ve got work to do.”